Saturday, September 11, 2010

This is Your Brain on Video Games

This is Your Brain on Video Games, article.
"A number of studies have revealed that game playing triggers dopamine release in the brain, a finding that makes sense, given the instrumental role that dopamine plays in how the brain handles both reward and exploration."

Why Technology Is So Addictive, and How You Can Avoid Tech Burnout, article. (Don't miss the video.)
"Like video games, we can develop a dopamine release from many kinds of addictive behavior. Checking email is one in particular. You may not like spending long amounts of time in your inbox, but you probably think about checking it pretty often. When you hear that ding (or vibrate), you know there's something waiting for you."


Pad stands

Pad stands from LEGO bricks.

And cheap/compact, the Fellowes Study Stand.

I've mentioned this one before, but I bought the other wire stand. However, that one is not quite upright enough.
By the way, I have a couple of nicer stands, but none of them allows for an iPad which is wearing any kind of protective cover, that's why I'm considering this, apart from portability (it folds).

... Irritatingly, I can't find it outside USA, and all the retailers I've tried so far, even Amazon, say they can't ship it outside the US. I may have to use a re-mailer, which seems ridic for such a cheap item! 

Siphon coffee video

[Thanks to Jeff C]

A beautiful video about making coffee.

A good example of the cool videos one can make now with DSLRs, which couldn't be made with normal digital video cameras.

Bic M10

I have just ordered some Bic M10 ballpoint pens. Man, I have used many of these in my life.

It's funny to me that one of the cheapest pens on the market is also (to my taste) one of the best. I have tried a lot of different pens in many price classes, and I've found nothing which writes smoother and more pleasant than this bulk item. (Not to be confused with other Bic pens.)

I suspect it's because almost all other pens, for lord-knows-what-reason, have too small points. They dig into the paper and makes the writing less smooth. But this one is a pleasure to use.

I prefer the black and red ones. I have even used them for drawing. The black is pure, deep black, and the red is pure, deep red, like blood. Other red pens tend to have a too light, too orange-ish color.

About ballpoint pens: If not used for a while, they can block from dried ink. A good tip is to warm the tip (uh) with a lighter, that softens the ink.

Speech from 1893

Almost 120 years ago. This must be the oldest recording I have heard.

Robots at Work

Friday, September 10, 2010


Pressure washing

This was done in Copenhagen too. Until the eighties, the city was pretty much grey/black. Then they had a big campaign over some years to pressure-wash the buildings, so the natural brick colors came out. Much nicer city.

Steadier photos

Good tip for sharper photos with an iPhone: keep your finger on the shutter, and when the camera is still, lift your finger to take the photo. Less risk of jarring the camera.

Here come the Android tablets

There is the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the Archos tablets, which are cheap.
I like that the 10-inch Archos is a lot lighter than the iPad. I just wonder if it's even close to being as speedy, responsive, and userfriendly. I suspect that's very hard to do, probably harder than to pile on the features. I hope it is, though, it would be cool to have several serious choices in the tablet arena.

The Galaxy Tab seems very responsive  (this video, despite poor quality in the beginning, is good and has a lot of info) (I wonder what camera and mic he used).

I sorta like the size of the Galaxy Tab. That you can hold across it with one hand. (And it's only 380 grams) (13.5 oz).  I wonder if people will feel silly making calls on it though.
But I guess all sizes have their pros and cons. The bigger a tablet is, the more user-friendly and full-featured it can. The smaller it is, the more portable it is. I can't see any perfect compromise.

Here is more about the Galaxy Tab (and here). I note they say "we can't and also don't want to compete with Apple, we're trying to attract different target groups". I can understand why they don't want to compete with Apple (!), but the question is, can they avoid it? Even if it's mid-sized, the GT is clearly in iPad's/iPhone's market space, methinks.

They don't know when the GT will be available, though, and it seems (at least in the US) that it will only be sold with a phone contract, boooh. 

iPhone camera HDR

I've long been saying that the limited contrast range of cameras is more or less the last big obstacle to overcome. And I said that the camera in the iPhone 4 is a pretty serious camera. So it's actually not trivial news that the new iOS 4.1 software allows the camera to take "HDR" images. It means it combines three varied exposures to capture a bigger range of contrast and combines them in the camera.

It's been possible before, but because you had to take separate shots manually, you needed to use a tripod, otherwise the pictures wouldn't match, and I was not impressed by the software available to try to make them match.

It seems that the iPhone takes the three images within a split-second, making this a non-issue, unless you or the subject is moving. Admittedly I have hardly made extensive testing! I just remembered it this evening and captured this "amazing" shot of a ceiling and lamp. But notice the difference in range, it's impressive. Can't wait to use this feature in real life.

Without HDR:

With HDR:

The iPhone (only model 4 can do this, by the way) also saves a normal-exposure JPG next to the HDR file, so there's no big reason not to use this feature anytime the contrast is sort of high. (It does not save a true HDR file with the full contrast range which can't be shown on screens or print anyway, it only saves the combined, processed JPG file, which is fine by me, it seems to do a good job of the processing.)

This feature ought to appear in "real" cameras pretty soon. Perhaps it is already in a few compacts, but I've not heard of it being in any cameras with exchangeable lenses.
... Ooops, reading on about the new Pentax K-r, it seems that one actually has the feature, hurrah. I just hope it takes the three images very fast, without slapping the mirror down between each. Should be logical, but you never know.

Pentax NB1000

Pentax NB1000: Taking "customizable" to a whole new level, article.

Looks like a toy camera, but it seems that under the non-LEGO, it's a good camera.

New: Pentax K-r (updated)

Long term readers may be aware that I love my Pentax K-x. It's one of the most compact and handy DSLR cameras you can get, but it's right up there in performance. My feeling is that that to get any palpable improvement in quality (especially if used with Pentax's excellent non-zoom lenses), you have to take a big jump up both in bulk and in price. (To, for example, the Canon 5D2 with L-lenses.)
The new K-r seems to improve on it in various ways, including higher ISO settings. The K-x's low-light performance was already very impressive, so this should prove interesting.
I also think the new black model looks more professional than the K-x.

Update: this article gives a lot more info.  It looks like rather than an K-x replacement, the K-r is placed between the K-x and the professional K-7 in many ways. This also means it's not quite as compact as the K-x. I had hoped it would  be as small, but on the other hand, I guess this means it's potentially stronger and has better handling.
I like that they have kept the sensor resolution, instead of like Canon to boost the resolution to insane numbers like 16 or 18 megapixels in a non-full-frame camera. (Which they have actually done with the new K-5. But that has a very high ISO limit, so it seems they are relaxed about performance per pixel.) With the 12 megapixels you have better potential for really good low-light (high-ISO) performance (less grain in the pictures in low light).

Altogether, I have no doubt this will be a very powerful camera for the serious amateur. And there's no reason many pros shouldn't use it either, unless you need to calm down big apes with a bump of a 3-kilo camera.

A trompet in the night

[Thanks to Tommy]

Thursday, September 09, 2010


This is the ad which has just appeared in the Australian lesbian-oriented mag LOTL. The one in Bound is for Domai and different and appears in a week or two.
I'm very happy with Umbra's artwork for GoddessNudes.

Hubble Ultra Deep Field 3D


(HD on youtube.)

Apple feedback

I've mentioned that I'd really want a light-weight iPad, it's about my only issue with it. But I can't expect Apple to read my blog, so I just remembered that Apple actually has a feedback page. Of course one can't expect that they take one or two wishes important, but if hundreds of people write in, they might take note. For example, Jobs said that they put back the buttons on the iPod Shuffle due to customer wishes.

That wouldn't fly these days...

[Thanks to Kirk]

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The rise and fall of empires

A pretty map of rising and shrinking empires around the Middle East in the past several millennia.

My main impression: Man, folks on this planet sure love their empires, don't they? I guess some are not big on Live And Let Live.

Find affordable services

Some people (Tim Ferris?) have talked about some sites where you can find people from all over the world to do services for you for very competitive prices (many of the freelancers live in the East). At the moment I'm thinking about simple photoshopping. Does anybody know some of the sites to find that? (A googling was not very helpful.)

It's A Book - By Lane Smith

What's funny is that the video and the book are clearly meant to promote paper books, but I found the video in this blog about obsolete things...     :-)
(Hey, I'm not against paper books, I own hundreds.)

By the way, I don't get why there is still no cell phone coverage in the subways! Talk about an unmet need.

Ads, Danish language

These are pretty funny, but oddly it did not sound like Danish accents, more like Norwegian. And then in the end of the second one, it does actually seem to be some kind of promotion for Norway, somehow. Dunno what the purpose was though.

Long ago, I posted a song from a Danish TV series. It turned out this series had been remade in Norway, and this post got the most comments I ever had, but it was only nationalistic arguments about which of the series was best!

Wanna Learn English?

[Thanks to PM4-Equivalent (I think)]
This is not actually as claimed a Danish commercial, I think it's German.

(Warning, explicit language.)

Update: Sam tells us it's Dutch. Which makes sense, along with Denmark, The Netherlands is one of the few places where an ad such as this could be conceived.

Tom Shannon's anti-gravity sculpture

Solar Roadways: The Prototype

[Thanks to Mark F]

As usual, click on the YouTube logo to see it bigger on their site.
(And by the way, I have a nice Safari extension (YouTube Wide) which makes the biggest size the default on YouTube. There are a ton of extensions.)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Debra Paget in "Das indische Grabmal"

Ray found this and said "This was pretty hot stuff for 1959." I say, hey it's pretty hot stuff for today! Like Pinoccio, no strings on her.
And how fit she is, wow. Not so common then. She's a pure "ten".

Alex found another dance scene from this movie.


The ArseStore - That Mitchell & Webb Look

I like that BBC has taken the should-have-been obvious hint and forestalled the inevitable pirating of sketch shows to YouTube by immediately doing it themselves and harvesting all the excellent promotion this creates!

By the way, some of the new Apple Stores are amazing. Beautiful, bona fide landmarks. I can't see HP or Microsoft doing anything like that.

The World's Best Lens

The World's Best Lens, article.

I think my regular readers will recognize why I'm quoting this:

"We've been on a Leica kick around here lately, and people are starting to complain. Hey, look at it this way: if I weren't a little obsessive-compulsive, I could never, ever keep this blog going day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, could I? Everything's good for something."

Well said, Mr. Johnston. Replace Leica with "Apple" or "ebook readers", and it could have been my own statement.       :-)

Monday, September 06, 2010

LED backlit

Has anybody tried these newfangled LED-backlit displays (any maker)? Is there all that much difference in practice?

Rosenthal wood sculptures (updated)

... No way!

"All Work Hand Carved From One Block Of Wood And Hand Painted"
How the heck does he do that?

It gets more ridiculous yet, look at this. How can he carve and paint that?

Update: Philocalist points to this, which I just refuse to believe was made by human hands. 

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Philco PC

I think this is beautiful. I'd get it if it ran Mac OS. Well, and if I had more space.
I wonder if the dial adjusts sound volume? 

Sometimes I wish I had more space. But I suspect I would fill it up with tons of stuff I really don't need (like, um, this beautiful thingamabob). I dunno.

Well, sadly it does not even exist yet

A top car for gamers

Beautiful car.  But no wheel, no pedals, only a joystick. I'd think it was a joke, only it's too well made.
I know I couldn't drive it. But I know some who could!
Pete points to this.

[Thanks to Kirk]

CGI bubbles

Manipulate the bubbles with your cursor.
I don't know what tech is loading it.

Monkey drunks