Saturday, May 22, 2010

Animals are totally gay

Animals are totally gay. And they don't mean that in the South Park sense, meaning "shite". They mean gay.
Giraffes have all-male orgies. So do bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, gray whales, and West Indian manatees. Japanese macaques, on the other hand, are ardent lesbians; the females enthusiastically mount each other. Bonobos, one of our closest primate relatives, are similar, except that their lesbian sexual encounters occur every two hours.

I imagine that gay-rights fighters and many fundamentalists will be very excited about this news*, except in opposite ways.

* Or "news", if you prefer. It's been known for a while.


This guy has stolen my text. But I can't see how to contact him, nor how to contact anybody at ModelMayhem. Does anybody know how?
Update an hour later: seems somebody notified him, the page is gone now. Hmm. Okay.

Ebook reading

A note about ebook reading. And I mean that in the broadest sense, including for example web articles which have been collated and converted to a more readable and distraction-free format by apps such as InstaPaper. The note is:

Fine-tuning is important for comfort.

I started to use calibre again, an app which can do what InstaPaper does, except do it automatically for a whole bunch of sites, and then send the articles/mags to your ebook reader, like the Kindle. I now found out I can use it on the iPad (slightly less automatically though), if I have the app ReadMe.

The first few articles I read in ReadMe, I was less comfortable reading than I am with InstaPaper. But then I remembered, as one always should: heck, there are probably settings/preferences for this! So I fine-tuned the background color (sliders for all three colors!), and changed the font from Helvetica to Georgia (better optimized for screen readine), and made the text a couple of points bigger. And bimbo, I felt much better when reading. Despite these changes being small ones individually.

I also note that you can't do this with paper reading... if a magazine thinks it's kewl to have a tiny, thin font and the text placed on top of a photo, you can't do anything about it.

Update: Ooooh, I just remembered an important business book which I've repeatedly gotten almost nowhere with reading, because the font is so dang tiny that it's ridic.
... And.... no, it does not seem to be available in audiobook... But: it's available for the Kindle! And I have the Kindle app installed on my iPad of course.
Bing, bam, boom: literally two minutes later it's done: I have the book digitally now, and now I can read it without dreadful eye-strain. In fact it's perfectly comfortable!

Personally I'm willing to do without the "fell and smell of the paper" to be able to read comfortably.

Ganesha Games said:
And every device has its own weird things. For exmple I have discovered that I read much better on the iPad if I use off white/gray text on a black or dark background! In print, I would have never done that... but on the iPad screen, especially if reading at night, an off-white or cream text on black means your eyes will tire much less. It's still not beating the Kindle for me, but for short reading (one hour) it will do.
I think my eyes are more sensitive than the average, as I turn my iPad's brightness to the minimum all the time. This has the pleasant side effect of extending the charge.

The last typist is kicked out

Last typist refuses to switch to laptop, gets boot from Writers Room in Greenwich Village, article.
"In the event that there are no desks available, laptop users must make room for typists," read a sign posted in the "Typing Room" for years.
When Ferrante returned to the Writers Room in April after an eight-month break, the sign was gone and his noisy typewriter was no longer welcome.

I guess we can learn something from this, but I'm durned if I know what.
(Except that some people are willing to pay $1400 a year for a cubicle to write in!)

One-day O'Reilly sale

O'Reilly, one of the best publishers of Computer books (and one of the most progressive with ebooks and non-DRM), has a sale today, $10 for any ebook. (Of course I got iPad, The Missing Manual.) Only one day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Sony NEX

Another video'ed review of the new small/big camera, Sony NEX-5. It seems it has indeed beaten the competition in the size area, and takes high-quality pictures. But the interface is a bit clunky.

I did have feeling somebody could do better than the current M4/3 cameras... the sensor actually seems pretty small inside them.

Of course it also hangs on getting some good lenses for the NEX cameras, and so far, they seem a bit average.

App store warning

This is a warning you get in the Apple app store when trying to buy ReadMe, an ebook reading application:

(Circle added by me.)

So a 16-year-old is not allowed to buy a book-reading application, because some books contain sex or swearing? Oh Hey-Zeus.
Why is this warning not on web browsers then? Or on the door in book shops? Children should really not be allowed in book shops! :-)

"I'm first!"

"First" means much to many people. You'll notice that on some forums, the first post often just says "First post!!!"...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Is this really necessary"

Pogue about over-doing security measures.

Rob da man

Rob Cottingham just visited, and invites you over to read his nice cartoons. Funny and dead-on about the Net age, I think.

"Google TV"

"Google TV"? Mmm, I'm sure I don't know. Very little on the box keep me on the couch. And if the browser, mail, and twitter are calling an inch away on the screen... ?

I'm sure many will keep a window of TV running while they work and browse. But I get too distracted that way.

(As a side note, I notice from twitter that they are in Demo Hell, asking people more than once to turn off their mobile phones, trying to get the new tech to work.)

... Oh, this is hilarious... remember Apple's "1984" ad? It's just been reversed:
“If Google didn’t act, we face a draconian future. One man, one company, one device would control our future,” Gundotra told attendees at the conference, making a clear swipe at Apple — without mentioning Apple by name. “If you believe in openness and choice, welcome to Android.”

"draconian future", wow. No, no, don't hold back now, let it all out.

Disney princesses

Comic book artist Scott Campbell re-imagines famous heroines. (And something about upcoming live-action remakes of old Disney movies??)

(I used to like Scott's comics, not the least for the dames. What's he made it recent years that's good? (And out in paperback or digital.)

Wabi Sabi

Talking about home-made books, here's an interesting one about the Japanese concept of Wai Sabi. (It's PDF, and a big file, about 65MB. Contains pictures and much formatting, I guess.)

Art Frahm pantie-droppers

Look particularly at the third one. This may explain why that Danish artist did not make a big uproar when Gasolin used his painting as cover...

The new, faster, Italian police

"Paging David Pogue"

So the title is now becoming a cultural icon. Congrats, David.

And it's so useful:

"How not to strike out at the prom, the Missing Manual."

"How to understand what women are saying when they're not saying it, the Missing Manual."

"How to get men to lower the lid after use and remember your anniversary, the Missing Manual."

The Konrath effect

The Konrath Effect: Will New Technology Ruin Talented Authors?, an interesting article about the ease of self-publishing these days.

Chinese Counterfeiters Release First Android Tablet

Chinese Counterfeiters Release First Android Tablet, article.
Priced at $150, the Android tablet is haphazardly labeled “MINI iPadⅡ8 Inch Android1.6 Ebook Tablet PC UMPC MID Netbook.” According to the product description, it features an 8-inch touchscreen, Ethernet and Wi-FI connectivity, a USB port, 88MB of built-in storage (expandable to 16GB with a TF card) and an 800-MHz VIA processor.
Holy knock-off, Batman, that is cheap at the price!!

Like the article says, China has a huge business in cheap knock-offs. Of everything. Also fine art. My friend, professional sculpturist Victor Issa, who did the Domai figurine, is at his wits end, because the Chinese make copies of his sculptures but use inferior materilals and dirt-cheap labor, and can sell them at a third of his prices.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Time Traveller

My old friend Roger has published a free ebook: Confessions Of A Time Traveler. [Update 20 May 2010: new file with some typo corrections.] (Link goes directly to a PDF file. If it opens in your browser, you should be able to save it from there to your disk if desired.)

Update, (Thanks to M Pipolo):
You can download directly from the link by right-clicking (or control-clicking) and selecting Save from the popup menu.
Or, if you're a Mac user, just Option-click any link, and the linked file will begin downloading immediately without having to leave the page.

Jan said...
I've read the first ten pages and loved it.
Wish I could write as well as Roger!

Water color books (updated), Italian paper

[Update: these are not just for painting watercolor. The are for drawing, writing, anything you can do on paper. Or they can simply be decorative objects, unique ones.]
[Umbra added: Or use them for high-end scrapbooking, photo albums, or signature books at weddings, art shows, etc.]

My friend Umbra in Italy deals with a man in the country side who sells Umbras art. The man is also one of the very few independent producers of fine watercolor paper in the world.
And the man (I never got his name, perhaps for security reasons :-) makes these books. The pages are blank, and real hand-made watercolor paper, ready for artistic production or anything.
I think they are outstanding. I just had to get a couple.
Everything is made by hand. Hand-made paper, bound by stitching into leather and old, found wood.
This is the real deal, folks. Nothing like it elsewhere.

The smaller ones are about 10 x 14 centimeters, and the larger ones are about 15 x 20 centimeters. (I trust well-educated Americans to know centimeters these days.)
They are priced at 40 Euros for the small ones and 70 Euros for the large. Plus shipping.
Mail me if you want to buy, I'll forward.
It takes up to two weeks to produce them, plus shipping.

UPDATE:  It is a great surprise and disappointment to me that there has been zero interest in these since I posted this originally. It really saddens me regarding the perceptions and appreciation of quality and beauty which people have, or rather seemingly don't have.

He also sells the watercolor paper on its own, 3 Euros per A3 sheet (about 12 x 16.5 inches). Minimum order is ten (10) sheets. He will smooth it to taste, but on the whole, it's quite rough paper, which I myself like for drawings. Italian hand-made paper is world famous, and this is some of the best I've seen.

pad keyboards

Here is a nice and thorough comparison of the two main iPad keyboards from Apple, the normal wireless keyboard (very small and compact and light), and the combined keyboard/dock (bigger and clumsier, but with a few more features).


Occasionally I have use for the payment and money-transfer company ePassporte. But I need to prove that I can pay, and there are only two ways:
1) pay something via a US checking account, and I don't have one.
Or 2) get a payment from somebody with a ePassporte Business Account.
It seems it needs be only five dollars. So if a reader here has such an account and will do me a favor... ?
Email me here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another fun combo

iPad with Datamancer keyboard.
Works perfectly too.

BTW, sometimes new Photoshop's Content-aware Fill works great. In both pictures I had table edges or objects I wanted to get rid of, and it did it in a snap.

Afternoon trees 'n stuff

To sleep or not to sleep...

That is the question.

As many of you are aware, I work from home. And so my sleep schedule often gets mixed up.
Like now, it's just past six a.m., but I can barely keep my eyes open, I just want to go to bed. But if I do, I'll wake up in a few hours, then be up all night, and then I'll have to sleep tomorrow in the day, which will be very inconvenient because I have several deliveries coming tomorrow.
So, any tips on staying awake until bed time? I've doubt coffee will solve it, since I've been a coffee drinker since pre-pubescence.

Speech recog

I don't get it, I just can't get Speech Recognition (dictation) to work. I have tried it with four different machines, three different platforms, four different OS's, three different apps, and five different microphones. And I could never get accuracy better than at least one or two bad errors per sentence, in other words pretty useless.

All Bs

A professor of organic biology stood before his class of senior students, about to hand out the final exam.

"I want to say that it's been a pleasure teaching you this semester," he announced. "I know you've all worked extremely hard and many of you are off to medical school after summer. So I've decided that, to make sure none of you get your GPAs messed up because you might have been celebrating a bit too much this week, anyone who would like to opt out of the final exam today will receive a 'B' for the course."

There was much rejoicing in the class as students got up, walked to the front of the class, and took the professor up on his offer.

As the last taker left the room, the professor looked out over the handful of remaining students and asked, "Anyone else? This is your last chance." One final student rose up and opted out of the final.

The professor closed the door and took attendance of those students remaining. "I'm glad to see you all believe in yourselves," he said. "You all get 'A's."

Wired about Wired

This may be my AndyWarholian fifteen minutes of fame: my humble Neo/pad video is now featured on Wired.
(Although they mistake my barely visible ReaderMate Book Holder for a home-made stand made of clips. :-)

Maybe I'll buy myself one of these... 2 kilos of gold! (Not to mention the diamonds, but they are just over the top.)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Luminous truck

(Manipulated in computer.)
Click, and view in full size, to see the outstanding graininess.

Here is the image as it came from the camera:

And here is the most "correct" image I can make out of it (straightened up, and shadows lifted as much as I could without getting the great grain):

Blow your lunch.

[Thanks to Ihnatko]

pad robbery, feature against?


I've heard from more than one person that there are some places they won't travel with their iPad, they are afraid of being mugged with it.

Perhaps Apple could build in an anti-muggery feature: when the motions sensors detect a violent struggle, it charge up a single powerful charge, using most of the battery's capacity. And when the struggle ceases, the pad will give a powerful electric shock, incapacitating the robber.

Of course the rightful owner will be aware that if he wins the struggle, he should put *down* the iPad very fast!

Going out in Texas

Daughter: My friends and I want to go out tonight.

Mother : Where are y'all going?

Daughter: To the new cowboy bar on the edge of town.

Mother : I don't think you should. There's been a lot of trouble at that place. I heard there was a fight there last weekend, and several people got hurt.

Daughter : But mom, please!! It'll be okay.

Mother: No! Your life is more important than going out!

Daughter : But Tina is going with us.

Mother: Oh WELL! In that case, it should be okay.. Y'all have fun!

iPad aloud, not

The Kindle has very few points over the iPad, apart from weight and battery life. But I have found one more: it's much easier to get it to read aloud.

The iPad has the technology built in, it can read for vision-impaired people. So why isn't there a standard command which will let it read any document on the screen aloud?

Apple wrote prior to release that iBooks would read aloud, but I can't even figure out how that works.

I have found two apps which will read aloud. One called Read Aloud, an iPhone app which crashes every time it begins to read more than a couple of lines. One is called Speak It, and is more advanced. But it still demands that you copy the text and paste it into the app. And I find it very, very difficult to do exact selections on the iPad if it covers more than a screen. Also this app will start at the beginning of the text every time you start it up. It won't even start at the cursor, which would have been a natural choice.

Like writing apps, this is a clear area for improvement on the pad, hopefully soon.

Unusual rugs

[Thanks to Carter]
Unusual rugs.


BTW, here's a long-term irritation: why does Blogger not place an image where the cursor is? I spend so much time moving images from the top of the post down to where I want them.

Durn toolbars

It seems to me that the latest wave of bad malware, at least for Macs, is toolbars. Apart from the Photoshop upgrade issue, the last two times I've had problems with my machine I just could not solve for a long time, it concerned commercial custom browser toolbars that I could not get rid of.

And this one, "Community Toolbar" (as if I've have not have quite enough of the social web, thanks), I had not even installed! And yet I kept getting error messages from it. Even when using other apps! And I'm not alone.

OK folks, it's cool to enhance browsers, and it's OK to try to earn money on it also. But for Lord's sake, don't make your software cling to the user's computer like a cold in summer. It's very bad manners.

Illuminati: Sunshine's Children

If you like a sweet melody, an original female vocal, and heavy guitars, check out Jana Uriel KRATOCHVÍLOVÁ/Illuminati's Sunshine's Children. (Link to .zip file of an m4a music file.) Very seminal work.

If you like it, try Deadly Matter by the same band. A bit harder rock. Well, in fact it's outstanding rock of the purest kind.

Jana Uriel is an artistic chameleon who constantly changes style, names and bands, but I think her/their present incarnation is Illuminatica. (I suspect they changed it to not be confused with the famous Big Secret Cabal.)

Durnit, I know they have a large MySpace page, but it seems there is another band by the same name which is black-holing all my search attempts.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A cute ass

Photoshop CS5

Just a quick note on Photoshop CS5's "content-aware fill".
It is not quite as "magical" as the demoes let us to believe. It only works really well half the time. Sometimes you get odd results which look it has simple cloned another part of the picture willy-nilly.
Also, you would think that the new Content-aware option for the Healing Brush would be a fantastic solution for removing scars and such. It really should be. But sometimes it looks like hell, for instance leaving skin much darker than the surrounding skin! This is frankly a poor show.

Pogue interview

Cool interview with David Pogue about the Missing Manuals books and other stuff. (He has written forty of them personally!)
It's nice to hear David being the interviewee, being more relaxed and so on.
His upcoming TV series Making Stuff sounds fantastic, I hope I can get to watch it somehow.

Diane Birch "Fools" LIVE

[Thanks to Umbra]

(You would think you could scale down the video picture size by editing the numbers in the code, but it does not work.)

My video listed

Great, my Neo/iPad video is listed on MacSurfer, that site has excellent traffic.

Kim Gammelgård informs:
And now you are on TUAW too.

Nice. And the writer, Michael Rose, seems to be an observant guy, he remembered me from a mention in TidBITS. Thanks, Mike.

The Herbaliser - The Sensual Woman

[contains "strong language".]

Sorry to ruin the mood, but in case anybody takes the jello part seriously, sexual guru Susie Bright warns against using sweets in the female parts; it invites fungal infections, which can be tricky to kick out again.


I just remembered a little exchange from about 25 years ago when I was a young amateur artist. (Now I am a middle-aged amateur artist.)

There's a small, but classy and charming arts supplies store right in the heart of Copenhagen (close the famous Walking Street), Rubin Og Magnussen, next to a gallery of the same name. I think the original founder was in the store that day. I was looking at his bigger watercolor brushes and I was a bit shocked at the prices, which were like five times what I would have expected to pay. (Though fine watercolor brushes are made from the hairs from the marten and such.)
So I commented to him about how I'd seen brushes at dramatically more reasonable prices, and he said with conviction: "Hvis du har købt sekunda, så har det ikke været her". Or "If you have bought second-rate tools, it has not been in this store".

I don't remember if I've ever heard any other person use the word "sekunda" in Danish, but from the tone and the origin of the word clearly referring to "second", it was clear what it meant. What a wonderful and economical word. Just one word to convey all the significance and attitude about "second-rate tools".

And also the fact that even though I was clearly just an ignorant youth, he did not explain or make excuses about their prices, he just in one short sentence make it clear that his shop carried only first-class materials, and had the prices which naturally follows those. Gotta love it.

Keyboard question

Here is another reason to get a bluetooth keyboard for the pad, instead of Apple's odd combined keyboard and dock: with that one you can only write with the pad in portrait format, and that's a bit weird.

Other reasons include that it's much more beautiful by strength of simplicity, and that it packs much easier, since it doesn't have that dock sticking up at an angle.

iPad Girl

iPad Girl rules. I want one.
Here she reviews My Writing Nook.

A humble tip

It's a well-known problem for well-equipped men: you can't find underwear with room enough to hold your equipment securely down while you sleep. So some men use a belt to tie the monster to their knee. Warning: don't do it. Last year I had a dream about Halle Berry, and I dislocated my thigh from my hip.

Richard's Notes

A good blog, Richard's Notes. Richard and I have been running a bit in the same circles for years, for instance on Flickr's Alphasmart discussion group.

For instant he recently noted this interesting thing, that the iPad will soon be used for airplane inflight entertainment system, with games and movies and such. Good idea. I wonder if the planes will loan or hire out iPads to passengers who don't have one?
Apple should get really behind this, because it'll be fabulous exposure for the iPad. It's easy to sneer at it from a distance, but many who hold it and use it, get hooked.

Richard discusses his need for a keyboard/screenholder for the iPad, and then finds the ClamCase™ the all-in-one: keyboard, case and stand for the iPad. Interesting.

The fabulous Jack Donaghy on 30Rock says: "The corner office doesn't go to the guy with the weird hobby". So he had to get rid of his cookie jar collection. But my guess is that this girl wouldn't want that corner office anyway.

Glare reduction

Everybody is, justifiably, complaining about the iPad's glossy screen. One way of reducing is is faintly matting it, but that reduces contrast. What I don't get is: why don't they use real, actual anti-glare coating? If they can do it on eye-glasses (and it makes a big difference), surely they can also do it on a screen the size of the pad?