Saturday, October 02, 2010

Time Likely To End Within Earth's Lifespan, Say Physicists

Time Likely To End Within Earth's Lifespan, Say Physicists, article.
"There is a 50 per cent chance that time will end within the next 3.7 billion years, according to a new model of the universe"

Think twice before making any long-term plans.

A matter of cost

An Old Jewish man is walking down the street one afternoon when he sees a woman with perfect breasts.                                

He says to her, "Hey miss, would  you let me BITE your breasts for $100?"

"Are you nuts?!" she replies, and keeps walking away.  

He turns around, runs around the block and gets to the corner before she does.

"Would you let me bite your breasts for $1,000?" he asks again.

"Listen you; I'm not that kind of woman! Got it?"
So the little old Jewish  man runs around the next block and faces her again.

"Would you let me bite your breasts -  just once - for  $10,000?!"

She thinks about it for a while and says, "Hmmmmm, $10,000... Ok, just once, but not here. Let's go to that dark alley over there."
So they go into the alley, where she takes off her blouse to reveal the most perfect breasts in the world. As soon as he sees them, he grabs them and starts caressing them, fondling them slowly, kissing them, licking them, burying his face in them - but not biting them.

The woman finally gets annoyed and asks, 'Well? Are you gonna bite them or not?'

"Nah," says the little old Jewish man... "Costs too much!"

My office corner

Here is a small example of my current home-improvement efforts. 
I have this small office, fit for a world-wide monopoly of post-porn cheesecake art.
The back wall and  corner had gotten very messy with three printers, old computers and keyboards stacked up, and various cables thrown and snaking everywhere whether used or not. (Almost wish I had a before-picture, it was ridiculous.)
So I got use of all the stuff I was actually not using which freed up the floor and a tabletop. Under it is my laser printer, and under that again is a cupboard with printing paper and such.
So I put up some of my home decor and my new Zeppelina watercolors, and I'm very happy every time I walk into the room, there's more space and it looks way prettier. There are still two printers, but they have stepped way into the background.

First human-powered ornithopter

[awr-nuh-thop-ter]  –noun
a heavier-than-air craft designed to be propelled through the air by flapping wings.

See full-screen video of flight.

"Built from carbon fiber, foam, and balsa wood, the Snowbird weighs just 94 lbs. and has a wingspan of 105 feet, which is comparable to that of a Boeing 737–amazingly, the Snowbird weighs less than all of the pillows on board."

Another Ray sky

Ray took this nice picture, nice for wallpaper.
The second version I have adjusted to my taste for contrast, color, and noise-suppression.

Gittin' Pentax K-r

I've decided to git the Pentax K-r.

The K-x is my current go-to favorite. It is a tremendous camera for the size and price. And the K-r has all the K-x has, but souped up. A bit higher ISO settings, a bit stronger, a bit faster. In short, a bit more professional.

I admit I rarely need the pretty astounding 6 frames per second this one takes (the Canon 5D Mark II only does 3), but I think that speed is indicative of ruggedness and also of responsiveness, and when I have used a speedy camera (like the Nikon D200), I like it. It feels more trustworthy and at the same time feels more like a living thing working with you.

If you have a K-x, stick with it, but if you're considering a Pentax camera, I think the K-r or the fully pro K-5 are excellent options. Compared to Canon and Nikon, they have in-body stabilization which works with any lenses, including the many outstanding compact prime (non-zoom) lenses Pentax has (which is a weakness for the otherwise strong Nikon and Canon systems).

If you prefer working with a standard zoom, they now have built-in stabilization, and then Canon or Nikon will do you fine. They are all very good these days. (Note, Canon and Nikon also have some outstanding prime lenses, but they tend to be very big and heavy, and very expensive.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A new world order

I've been putting a little further order in my apartment (though not started on the closets yet), and I feel grand about it. I think I'll take a relaxy-time over t'weekend.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Speech recognition trial

I am writing this with the new app Dragon Dictate for Macintosh. This is going surprisingly well.

My long-term readers  will be aware that I have had many problems in this area. And there are still a few. For example, when I wrote “long-term readers”, Dragon Dictate wrote "long-term weakness”.  Pretty funny, I think. Of course I have some training to do and yet, but already I can correct most of the mistakes with speech instead of using the keyboard. This is definitely a step up.

I tried first with a couple of different headset,s but none of them worked. I heard the sound recorded from the first one,  and it sounded like I was speaking from under 2 I'm doints [20 blankets]. I cannot believe how bad that sound was, and I can't blame the program for not being able to work with it.

I am now using the blue Snowball, ambiguously microphone. That should have bene [been] a big USB microphone.

There are also some issues wiht some of Ms. tidings, I mean but missed five things, I mean I'm Ms. tidings of, I mean some misprints. And the computer little confusing. I meant it can be a little confusing.

So I guess instead of sayign “surprisingly well”, I should say “reasonably well”. And I don't know wh go to end of document areu can't spell saying unto symptom to a
 I guess I will try to dictate into
 Dragon Dictate's own notepad

Perhaps Dragon Dictate's own notepad is more precise. I'm not sure why this should be, but it might be, so I'm trying it.

An issue issue is that I can't even sigh or make any other noises without Dragon Dictate typing in some kind of word.

But I think it's going better than the multiple of different machines apps and solutions and microphones I have tried in the past.

If I get it going really well, you will hear about it.

Update 28 Oct:
Well, it did not continue to go so well for me as it did right in the beginning. It still bogs down at a level where I have to stop and do corrections all the time. Sigh.

One fine night at 2am in the industrial district...

(Canon 5D2, at 3200 ISO, 85mm F:1.2.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Clearing out stuff

I'm in a project of clearing out unneeded stuff. Space-wise, I'm about halfway now, and it feels great. Much more space in my home now.
I'm looking forward also to have cleared out and sorted all the old junk I've been having stuffed away in the multitude of closets in this place. (Really, six huge closets.) That'll free some attention units for sure.
A friend is working with a charity for battered women, they get most of the benefit, so that's kewl too.

One more benefit is it forces you to make decisions about your life. Like: "I haven't used or even thought of this thing for years now. Realistically, is it really something I need or want in the future?" Whatever the answer is, it makes it clearer in your head, instead of this blurry indecision which is a black hole for attention.

A tricky point will be finding some sort of sorting system for all the gadgets and gadget accessories (chargers, sleeves, cords...). I have two shelves filled with them, and I can never find anything in there. But I just don't know how to sort it so it'll become easier.

Another tricky point which will also feel freeing when finally done, is sorting out the stacks of paper which have built up. Official information of various kinds which I might need, or not, things I might decided to use soon, etc. It holds a mystery in the minds as to what is really in those stacks, and surely at least 80% can just be tossed now, and the rest filed or done something about. It can be a little stressing, for there was a reason it got pushed away. But so much better when it gets done. 

Multitasking is a lie - your brain needs a break

Multitasking is a lie - your brain needs a break, article.
A long article, but a very worthwhile one.

"You shouldn't be afraid of boredom. Boredom serves a purpose, whether or not those few minutes you spend free from pursuing goals and sensory stimulation is actually cleansing your brain of foul ichorrs and humours. It's just good to let your mind off of its leash and run around free for a few minutes. That's when creativity happens. [...] 
All that's really required is that you carefully observe yourself as you interact with the world. Ask yourself 'Why did I excuse myself from a fine meal with good friends so that I could close the bathroom door behind me and spend a little time harvesting fake crops on my make-believe farm?'"

The ScottEvest in the airport

I'd written:
"Actually they say it's perfect for air travel, you can carry much more aboard, and in security you just slip off the vest and slap it onto the scanner band."

Phlocalist commented:
Don't try this unless you have a great sense of humour, a tolerant nature, and PLENTY of time to spare before the flight.........
I flew out a few days back, and in front of me at security was a garment similar to this, without too much empty space in the pockets ... was this guy smug or what? :-)
Off comes the coat, onto the belt, into the box and it beeps ... at which point the guy is 'invited' to step aside.
Something set off the sensor; EVERYTHING came out of the coat, much to the amusement of the other passengers.....

Now this  is a bit confusing, because the reason they have the x-ray machines is because there it is expected that there'll be metal items in there, and the x-ray shows them just what it is. (For example, I once had a Swiss army knife in a carry-on, and I had to send it via baggage claim.) So I think it should only be a problem if for some reason they can't identify an object and it might conceivably be a weapon. (Or perhaps if you're really being a pest.)

I also thinks that Scottevest would have heard about it if it were a common problem:

Mountain goats on the Diga Del Cingino dam in Italy

It beggars belief what these fellers can climb on.

OK phone contract

Normally tech things are cheaper in the US than Europe, but it seems mobile contracts may be an exception. For my mifi device I have a contract-free deal, which gives me 5GB of data usage per month, for fifteen Pounds Sterling ($25). I think US citizens often pay the same for only 250MB, and with a longer contract, ainit right?


I was asked where I bought this bathrobe, and for a picture, so I might as well promote this small company, they make exceptional products: (not to be confused with, which is blah).

Being ten

On the local railway, children age 10 and under travel at half-price.

A woman and her daughter were taking the train into the city.

As the conductor began collecting fares, the woman said to the daughter, "Now remember, you are only 10." The girl nodded her head.

The conductor approached the two of them.

"One adult and one child please," the woman said to the conductor as she pulled out her wallet and withdrew the proper amount of cash. The conductor began punching the tickets.

"What a cute little girl!" the conductor said. "How old are you?" he asked in a friendly voice.

"I'm 10." the girl answered.

"And when will you be 11?" he asked in that same friendly voice.

The girl answered, "As soon as I get off this train!"

Monday, September 27, 2010

HTML guide

Here is an HTML guide for the basics, which I've had recommended as being superior.

Hackers and coffee

Linus Thorvalds seem to have a sizeable cappucino habit.

Gamma and mid-tones

I was taught years ago that photos will generally look darker on PCs than on Macs, because Macs had a built-in correction of "gamma", which lifts the mid-tones, but PCs didn't. Does anybody know if this difference is still in place with modern machines?

Landslide video

[Thanks to Kirk]

Amateur video of a landslide in Italy. Pretty amazing, it just keeps moving and moving.


To be great is to be misunderstood.
           -- Ralph Waldo Emerson, An Essay on Self-Reliance

I guess it's often so. Though one should not count on the converse to be true!

Coupl'a funnies

The first one is pure Domai.

 (I must admit, around the latest Madonna video I saw, I was thinking: "so, lady, maybe it's about time you went for Classy rather than Sexy, hm?")

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Instapaper Mobile site

Instapaper is one of my favorite mobile apps. Now they also have a mobile site, which lets you browse many sites on a hand-held device in simple text form.
For some reason it does not work with some sites, like my blogs, but it's works very well with sites like NYTimes and Wall Street Journal.
(The latter, by the way, has excellent tech coverage. I would have bought a mobile subscription, but once again I found out upon trying to buy it, that it's not sold to "forriners". It's really getting old.)

Hasselblad and Ferrari

Hasselblad and Ferrari cross-branding.
I'm not sure I see the point. You can't photograph while driving. And the Hassy is definitely a working camera, and I don't think there are all that many working photographers who can afford a Ferrari. Especially not after they have invested in a Hasselblad system! (That's easily $50k or more, for a body and a couple of lenses and such.)

Bruce said: 
"This camera is not made to be used. It is made to be collected. Leica does special collector's editions like this quite often."

Quite so. And I never really got "collectors' editions" or "items" either. If something is made only to be "collected", it has zero worth. It's completely artificial. How can it be interesting? It's quite a different thing and more interesting, I think, if you're collecting stuff which was put into the world for another purpose than to drain money from Collectors, say stamps or first edition books or uhm, wha'ever.

Quotes of the meek

There is no security on this earth, there is only opportunity.
           -- General Douglas MacArthur

Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it. No idleness; no laziness; no procrastination; never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
           -- Lord Chesterfield

You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, where you don't know what was in the newspapers that morning... a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.
           -- Joseph Campbell

I seek constantly to improve my manners and graces, for they are the sugar to which all are attracted.
           -- Og Mandino