Saturday, August 07, 2010

Adam Hughes girls

Comic artist and writer Adam Hughes feels he is being pigeon-holed as a drawer (that word is OK) of pretty girls. I think it's the problem of doing one thing "too well". People want more of it. When he is not doing girls, he's once again down at the level of competing with hundreds of other talents equally, and that's of course a bucket of cold water.

E-reading upheaval

You may have noticed, as a reader, as well as writer and a publisher, I am rather fascinated with where the digital publishing is taking us all, and whether there will still be much of a viable business there for anybody in twenty years.
So here are a couple of articles I found interesting.

Readers Are Abandoning Print, Yet Don’t Trust the Web, NYT article.

$200 Textbook vs. Free. You Do the Math., NYT article.
Scott McNealy is pushing free textbooks.

No E-Books Allowed in This Establishment, NYT article.
So many people can't tell the difference between a Kindle and a computer? Weird. But perhaps the problem is that the owner of the cafe didn't inform his staff of the reason for the no-computer rule. I don't know, but perhaps he feels laptops take up too much table space during the busy lunch hour. Whereas a Kindle takes up no more space than a paperback book.

Post-Medium Publishing, Paul Graham article. He poses the interesting question:
"Publishers of all types, from news to music, are unhappy that consumers won't pay for content anymore. At least, that's how they see it.
In fact consumers never really were paying for content, and publishers weren't really selling it either. If the content was what they were selling, why has the price of books or music or movies always depended mostly on the format? Why didn't better content cost more?"

I'm amazed by Paul Graham. With this article he once again makes me see a very central thing in a wholly new light. Highly interesting.

Gojin Ishihara art

Gojin Ishihara art.
Apparently most of it is from childrens book in Japan. Holy moly. They don't cuddle them like westerners do, it seems.

Finally explained

About design

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.
           -- Steve Jobs

I've been trying to cut down on the Apple-related posts, but clearly it's a battle I'm losing. Oh well. C'est la guerre. 

I feel this is an important idea. Design is not just cosmetic. Design work, or at least good design work, goes right to the core of the object. If a designer is not working together with the engineers, he just can't do a good job.

Ballmer: If We Can’t Compete w/Google, Shame on Us; Apple’s Another Story

Ballmer: If We Can’t Compete w/Google, Shame on Us; Apple’s Another Story, article.
(Right now is not loading for me.)

This is a funny turnaround. Traditionally, MS has poo-poo'd Apple but taken Google very seriously.

I think though that he is putting a brave face on it. Even if Android is still a little green as a platform, it is already quite popular, and in any case it is way ahead of anything MS has to offer in smartphones/tablets. I think it will be very tough for MS to catch up when there are already two big platforms which have a head start of this magnitude.

Don't get me wrong, even if it would surprise me to see MS get ahead in this one, I would still love to see really good hardware and software from them in this area. The more competitors, the better for the buyers. (Well, except perhaps for compatibility issues, but I think cross-platform file formats have pretty much handled this.)

Friday, August 06, 2010

Mary Roach: 10 things you didn't know about orgasm

Mary Roach: 10 things you didn't know about orgasm, TED Talk video.
For example, many people can get them from other things than genital stimulation.
Also, apparently more-often-than-weekly ejaculation keeps the sperm healthy. So masturbation is just basic instinct for the survival of the species.       :-)

Mary is cute. And funny.
She also shares that my native Denmark is ahead of the curve in pig reproduction, having established that if you stimulate a sow while artificially impregnating her, you get a six percent increase in piglet yield. Now, that's gotta be a weird job: "... sure, the real estate market is down, but I do OK. So what do you do?" -- "I give orgasms to sows."
Here is the kicker: she actually shows a clip from a DVD about how they do it. Now, this may be illegal to watch in the UK after their new law against erotica involving animals!!! (Which goes some ways to show that many sex laws are crazy.)
(OK, I'm not quite serious, since this clip is obviously educational, not erotica. But they do now have a law which includes illegality of erotica involving animals. As well as corpses! Neither is capable of giving consent, see...)

Bear cub in a tree

"This little cub got himself stuck in a tree around the same time that his mother wanted to leave."

A silver lining

UK Kindle store

Amazon has just launched their UK Kindle book store, which means bigger book selection for us UK (and European?) customers, and also means we now can get magazines, blogs, and newspapers on the Kindle, like US customers have been able to for a while.
Oh, and in case you have an iPad but no Kindle, don't forget that their free Kindle app for iPad allows you access to all that content, including a million older but free books.  And beyond that, some Kindle ebooks now include video, which plays on the iPad but not on the Kindle's own e-paper display (it won't update fast enough to show video). I guess this also works in the Kindle apps for Mac and Windows machines (less sure about the Kindle apps for iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android). 

Mila’s Daydreams

Mila’s Daydreams, photo series.
Cool idea. At first I didn't understand all of them, how you're supposed to convert them mentally to three-dimensional pictures to get what she's "dreaming".

Thursday, August 05, 2010

HP publishes (updated)

Digital mags, a new, fierce battleground.
Backer said:
HP will publish and monetize your magazine, but at the moment they insist it be given away free for the iPad: that's almost British in its spirit of compromise.

You can make your own mag, the digital edition is free, the paper version sold for a premium price, necessitated by print-on-demand prices.
I doubt anybody will get rich on this, but it might be fun for some.

It is looking like the free issues are only available in their (also free) iPad app. But then there are many many of them. An interesting development that the Kindle and the iPad have also become keys to getting a lot of free reading material, which either is not on the web or is just better organized and formatted, and easier to find on the smaller devices.

Of course much of the free material is only bait to lure people to the new platform. But it is going to continue for a while for sure. And then it'll be a bit of a trick to get people to pay for it, if they have gotten used to free, like we did with the web.
I do hope that some kind of professional platform develops on tablets, it'll help to get people to work to create professional-quality material.
They say though that the Wall Street Journal has 1.1M online subscribers, that's not peanuts, especially as they save printing and distribution cost compared to the paper version. So I think it's doable.

List of common misconceptions

List of common misconceptions, a long and eclectic, but interesting Wikipedia article.

Time Inc. Frustrated by Apple Over iPad Subscription Issue

Time Inc. Frustrated by Apple Over iPad Subscription Issue, article.
Last month, the publisher was set to launch a subscription version of its Sports Illustrated iPad app, where consumers would download the magazines via Apple’s iTunes but would pay Time Inc. directly. But Apple rejected the app at the last minute, forcing the Time Warner (TWX) unit to sell single copies, using iTunes as a middleman...

This is puzzling, actually. I wonder if Apple has a solid reason for this and similar instances (though there are actually a few customers, like Amazon, who are allowed to sell from their app), or if it is just their control-freakishness? Everybody wants subscriptions, it's convenient for readers and profitable for publishers, so surely it would be to Apple's advantage to work out some kind of deal with huge customers like Time.

Murdoch: iPad Key to Paid News Online

Murdoch: iPad Key to Paid News Online, news post.
Information, according to the argument, wants to be free.
From Mr. Murdoch’s perspective, that notion is wrong, and people will pay for their online news. “The argument that information wants to be free is only said by those who want it for free,” he said.

Beats me, but at least it's a rather strange argument. How can information want anything? People want something for information, and different people want different things.

Vanity plate

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Forty billionaires halved

Forty billionaires today agreed to donate at least half of their fortunes to charity, as part of “The Giving Pledge” program launched earlier this year by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.

Forty!! I have to admit, I did not see this one coming. There's a new wind blowing for sure.

E-Books Top Hardcovers at Amazon

E-Books Top Hardcovers at Amazon, NYT article.
In that time, Amazon said, it sold 143 Kindle books for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there is no Kindle edition.
[...] The figures do not include free Kindle books [...]
The growth rate of Kindle sales tripled after Amazon lowered the price of the device in late June to $189 from $259, Amazon said.

(And the upcoming Kindle 3 is even cheaper, for the wifi model.)

OK, we don't know how the figures compare to paperback sales, which surely are quite another story, but still this seems remarkable to happen this early.

Book lovers mourning the demise of hardcover books with their heft and their musty smell need a reality check, said Mike Shatzkin...

Hey, here is a business idea (I just want 5% of the gross, thanks!): somebody should make a Kindle case which is like a harcover book, complete with a dozen paper pages (replaceable) in the front, and the smell of offset ink...
Perhaps one could buy old hardcover books by the gross, and hollow out half of them to fit the Kindle 3. I'm only half kidding about this.

Speedy photo grandpa

Home-built rig for speedy macro-autofocus. It uses two laser beams to track an insect.

Jim Denevan sand art

Jim Denevan sand art.
Wow, even in a temporary medium, this guy is not afraid of a bit of work.

Tooled leather case

As you know, I'm getting tonnes and tonnes of requests for more posts about Apple products, particularly the iPad and its accessories, and they are not falling on deaf ears, trust me.       :-)

It's not hard to find a variety of iPad covers. Here is a special case. As it were.
(He also makes them for the Kindle.)

Obviously a luxury item at $130. But then, many people consider it nothing to use such an amount in an evening in town, burning braincells with overpriced alcohol. (Of course, most of those same people would think you're insane to use that money on an ebook cover. But hey, they have their addictions, and I have mine.) (I'm not saying I'll get one of these. Probably not, though the designs are cute.)

Phil McAndrew comic

Phil McAndrew comic. Puzzling, but very funny.

Kris Kuksi sculptures

Kris Kuksi sculptures.

Amazing stuff. I like art which successfully mixes features on the large levels and on smaller levels. It's actually pretty unusual.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Superman Saves Home From Foreclosure

Superman Saves Home From Foreclosure, article.
A freak find of the world's most collectible comic book, the first occurrence of Superman in Action Comics no. 1.

Jade moods

I was out to a very nice lunch with Jade and her mom, and took these snaps.
Sadly the smiley one is shaken, I guess they can't yet build anti-shake into the minuscule cameras in phones (iPhone 4). I hadn't thought of that, I've gotten used to be able to take indoors snapshots even with a compact camera.


I'm gonna be studying Guy Kawasaki's AllTop site. It is congregating newsfeeds into subjects, supposedly making it easier to get all your news on your favorite subjects (mine are Linux and woodworking) in one place.

Freedom of work thought

Here's a thought: if somebody paid you  a life-long grant to do whatever kind of work you'd like, what would you do?
It has to be something that some people are actually earning money on, it can't be "watching sports" or "drinking cocktails".

Monday, August 02, 2010

Destruction in slowmotion

Here's something for the real men, Tommy found this video of things being destroyed (and other things) in slow motion.
I like the double wammy of the egg in the mouse trap.
And how people smash stone with their hand is... well, it must be mind-over-matter.
Anyway, it's amazing how much poetry there can be in such mundane matters if shown right. 

iPad as "mini-Mac"

With apologies to my most macho and pragmatic readers, I find this really cute and beautiful. With the Hexapose stand and the Apple wireless keyboard, the iPad, visually at least, turns into a "mini-Mac".

Is it a good replacement for a laptop? It depends. For example, so far it does not have any really good software for working on Office files, if you depend on a lot of formatting like tables and such. But for pure writing and most web use, and many other uses, it's great. And doubtlessly, the software situation will be very different in a year or two.
A laptop is more flexible and powerful, but it is twice or thrice the price, it's twice as heavy, twice as big, and, well, it's simply not an iPad when you take it off the stand.
If you don't like this, you don't. If you do, well, you know who you are, and don't need my convincing.       :-)

I also like that Hexapose holds the 'pad higher than most stands. 

Pre-war cars

Pre-war cars.

Dey don' make 'em like dat anymoe.

10 Things You Might Not Know About SUPERMAN

10 Things You Might Not Know About Superman, article.
... And perhaps more than many people really care to know.

I knew some of it, due to my being an avid reader of Superman as a kid.
In later years, I think the series lost most of the Sense Of The Fantastic it had once. One who did resurrect much of that was Alan Moore, but he did it mostly in his books for America's Best Comics, notably in Tom Strong and Top Ten. And also in his stories with Supreme, from Image Comics.

For example, Tom Strong met an alternate Self who had literally ran across the galaxy to meet him, using planets as humans may use stepping stones to cross a stream! I think that's just such a totally ludicrous idea that it has a poetic beauty.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Unusual sculptures.

I like the horses, not the least the lines from them.
"Sayaka Kajita Ganz created these wild horse sculptures from trash-picked objects like plastic utensils, toys, and metals."

The Sunday paper

As an experiment, I have subscribed (via the local newspaper shop) to the Sunday Times. I am wondering, how the heck do people read this thing!? Plus the daily papers, plus other reading material etc etc? When I have been on a course various places, I have always been one of the fastest students, but I would say such a Sunday paper would take me until next Sunday to read. And I don't mean reading every dang article, just the more relevant stuff.
I think people cheat somehow.       :-)

Moby-Dick, or The Whale

On audiobook, I am reading Moby-Dick, due to recommendation in the books of Jed McKenna who claims it's a parable of awakening, and to my surprise I'm finding it quite enjoyable, even entertaining. You may be aware that the book has the reputation of being "the one book everybody wants to have read, but that nobody wants to read", so I expected it to be long-winded and dry. So far, I don't find it so.

"Reading" in audio, I got curious about the spelling of the names in the book, and I realized I could surely get the text as ebook too for little or nothing, and so it was. Both Kindle and iBooks have several editions. (Oddly, iBooks US has more than double the number of iBooks UK.)

But this is funny, see these price variations in this iBooks screenshot: from zero dollars, all the way to $14! Hah! This shows the oddity of selling things, particularly digitally: the value is all in our heads. A price is simple whatever you can get an agreement upon between buyer and seller. In western countries, haggling is frowned upon in normal shops unlike in the East and Middle East, so we tend to have an idea of prices as being something set, a natural quantity.

By the way, on audiobook, it shows its length: a full twenty-four hours, some versions more than that! But there is also a dramatized version on iTunes, at less than two hours... I wonder at sheer gall it takes to make an abbreviation that is that dramatic. You must really be quite certain that you know what a book is all about and what the author meant with each passage.

More by the by, a note on ebook reading software: Kindle software on iPad has six choices of text size, and iBooks has eleven.  I think the differentiation in those sizes is too crude. In contrast, the excellent Instapaper software (exports articles to iPhone or iPad) has twenty sizes to choose from, and I can find precisely the size which I find most comfortable at the moment, depending on the material and how tired I am, etc. This is not the case with iBooks and Kindle, where I often wish for a size in-between two options. I wonder if it is lack of sophistication, or a desire from Amazon and Apple to keep the interface as simple as possible? Personally I think a choice of fixed sizes (with numbers to help remember preferences) and a sliding scale of nearly stepless choices would be ideal. Or the ability to type in a font size number, if you wish for 16 point text instead of 14 or 18 point.