Saturday, January 15, 2011

Coming Down, Out of the Clouds

Coming Down, Out of the CloudsJohn Martellaro article, with several links to interesting articles about tech right now.

History DVDs

I bought these in a department store today. It's historic footage from different years, seemed they had most of the last half of the 20th.

They are packed flat with a postcard. This handy, I wonder why I have to keep selling my durn DVDs in their cases to have room for new ones? (I guess I could chuck the cases, but mmmm.)

David Bowie, Kate Bush, and Ms. Hepburn. Kool. The first two were the great mainstays in my musical taste  for a couple of decades.

Small and big cameras

Here is an article touching upon what is the difference between small/cheap cameras and big/expensive ones.
...about how you could get very similar image quality from a decent digicam as from a good DSLR. All you had to do was shoot the digicam under optimal conditions.

After-sales rebates

I don't take after-sales rebates anymore. I did once, and it took months and continued nagging, even snail-mail letters, to just get the promised money.

Tommy said:
Rebates are one of those big rip-offs in life. I think in all that I have sent in, I've received the money once.
I think it's their way of not selling something at a sale price. They promise the rebate and then delay it for so long that you; 1) forget all about it or 2) simply give up. And of course all this time they have your money.

nomautm said:
Anyone interested in this subject beyond the level of speculation and anecdotal evidence may want to research MIR (not the space station but the acronym for 'mail-in rebate') or visit the Wikipedia page.
Surely, in the USA even the Less Government More Liberty faction must be yearning for federal legislative intervention on this matter — or perhaps they are at home oiling the guns.

Body in vacuum

Has it been tested what happens to a mammal in space vacuum? How long can it survive and what happens if it stays? The scary cliche is that it "explodes", but that seems unlikely.

Thanks to Bert.
And Kaner referred to this article.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fear and Loathing with a camera in the streets

Many people, myself included, have a bit of an issue with doing street photography, because a few people will get upset due to the general paranoia these days. And when it is security guards or policemen, who have particularly much hard-suppressed fear, this will often convert to anger and a desire to demonstrate their authority. This has been trouble for some photographers, even when they were fully in their right.

In most countries, if it is in a public place, you can photograph it legally. That includes children technically, but that's a very, very sore spot these days, and I doubt it's worth the trouble, sadly.

I read a tip somewhere, probably on The Online Photographer, which is: when you get confronted, you smile kindly and say that you're just an amateur photographer enjoying his hobby. And then you point to your camera and say something like: "oh, you'll love this camera, it's 12 megapixels and yet it's small enough for a jacket pocket, and it even has a 5x zoom..." Blah-blah-blah, full geek mode. You don't give him a chance to get a word in edgeways.

While doing this, you take a step forward, not too fast, to show them the camera. And after half a minute, almost anybody will quickly get the idea that you are no threat, you are just a very, very boring camera geek who they will want to walk away from very soon now. Show's over.

Zinio magazine e-subscriptions

I just have to mention Zinio e-magazines again, because I keep being so impressed by how excellent that service is. This is so rare. (For example, the Wall Street Journal app, I just can't use, it is so non-intuitive.)

The billing is easy. The magazines look perfect. Seriously, you can zoom to your heart's content like a well-done PDF file. (Perhaps they do use PDF, why not.)
And the internal links from the the Contents page work too.

Last year I gave up my last subscription to paper magazines because I rarely got around to reading them. But for some reason I enjoy reading on my iPad more, and I now have around half a dozen subscriptions via Zinio which I really enjoy having. I hope this company is doing well and will survive and expand.

Looking to the Past for the Future of Camera Prices

Looking to the Past for the Future of Camera Prices, article by Ctein.

It refers to an article, The End of Cameras? Will a "serious camera" industry survive when cheap cameras have all been replaced by phones and tablets? I hope so.

About being normal

A friend once told me that one day she had suddenly had this mental "flip", thinking: "Oh my god, I'm just so normal! I have a normal name (Hi Judy), I live in a normal town, and so on!"

Another friend I've know since childhood will say: "that's not normal!", and be meaning that therefore it's not desirable. This is just obvious to her.

Whereas my mother quoted a learned man she's met for saying: "if Normal is like most people are, I'll just as well leave it, thanks very much." My mom was quite fond of the thought of being bohemian. (Being outside the normal rules and mores of general society.) She was not, but she liked the idea.

Me, I am abnormal in most ways you can be, I never had to work to stick out. In some ways I treasured this, having the Need To Be Unique, I guess, the need to be Special. But it also makes daily connections with people harder on the other hand because eccentricity is offensive to some people for some reason.
In any case, this desire seems to be lessening a lot, I don't really care anymore if I'm noticed or remembered much. I still have a drive to share ideas though.

What do you think? Do you prefer to be normal or be exceptional?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

This is me too, 7 years later, self-portrait

(Click for big pic, should anybody care.)
(Pentax K-5, interval shoots. Photo by me.)
(Rather perifiral, but the T says: 665, the Neighbor of the Beast)

(It's "seven years later" than this: 
(photo by Laurie Jeffery, thanks friend.)

What's an interest

I wonder how the mind chooses what it's interested in?

I am fascinated by art and gadgets for example. John A whose photos I've shown, is very interested in the history of Christianity, and very educated and insightful in it. Another friend is a keen collector of stamps.

An interest is probably a way of dealing with a big universe, I'm just wondering what would cause a specific choice. Admittedly this is probably way too metaphysical to have a good answer for us humans.

Snail mail from Google

Google, the Ultimate Internet company by any standards, is sending out ads to their customers for online seminars... by snail mail!

This is shrewd. We all see so much online advertising now that we've virtually stopped seeing it. But a paper postcard in my mailbox? That I notice.

... Actually I've heard that in the US, people are drowning in catalogues and such junk mail in the post. But fortunately here in the UK, at least for me, there is virtually none such. Don't know why, since in most other respects this country seems to follow the lead of the US.

Back in Denmark there is a bit, but they instituted a clever thing 20 years ago: you can get a little label for your door from the PO, which says you prefer to not get junk mail. The sender has to respect this for it to work, but they have no reason not to, why use money to send to people who really don't want it. Good system.

Science which is "coming soon"

When I was younger I used to read magazines like Scientific American, and sit in breathless wonder and anticipation of all those wonderful things which were Just About To Come.

As the years passed though, I realized that none of those things I'd read about ten-fifteen years earlier had arrived yet! So my interest fell.

So, while I like the site dVice for pointing to new things, I think it's slightly irresponsible reporting to write a thing like: "All those 3DTVs and virtual reality goggles are soon to be rendered obsolete by contact lenses with built-in LED arrays that can display images on top of your retina..."

This sounds like it's coming within three or four years at most. But to my best judgement, technology like they describe here is probably thirty years away if that. And even if/when they can get the components small enough, I can't get my head around how they will manage to get the image in focus when the display is actually sitting on your eyeball. The eye has to focus on an object for it to be in focus, or some other kind of lens has to focus the light on the retina.

Immodesty vs honesty

Immodesty and pride in others tends to be offensive to us.
I know I have sometimes offended people gravely by being too obviously proud of what I was doing.
I didn't like that.
But I'm thinking, modesty and humbleness are doubtlessly desirable qualities. But so is honesty. If a person, say David Bowie, has done undeniably impressive work, would you prefer him to either be unaware of that fact, or even to suppress that knowledge just not to offend?

Bowie actually is not just a good example, he is one of the reasons I thought this. In the early nineties or so, when he was in the band Tin Machine, the whole band were interviewed, and he said he'd gone back and re-listened to his back catalogue, and said: "I think I have done some wonderful work. I have to be honest..."
And I think I'd prefer him to be honest, too. It might not feel pleasant always, but it's valuable in the longer run.

New horror flicks?

Rumors have it that that two new movies are planned in the long-running slasher-movie franchise about the knife murderer Jason in the hockey mask. One is called Saturday the 14th, Monsters Don't Sleep, and the next is called Thursday the 12th, a Horrid Prequel.

OK, I admit I made that up. Might be some variation though.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tilda Swinton again

Thanks to Martyn.
I've blogged Tilda Swinton more than once before, she is gorgeous and amazing.

F.A.Q. About Time Travel (and Garden State)

Recommended: BBC movie "F.A.Q. About Time Travel". Very funny, and has Anna Faris.

While I'm at it, Zach Braff's movie Garden state is very under-rated. Not only does it have Natalie Portman in it, but it's one of those rare movies which really combines a good story with good, maybe even seminal, humor. It's also full of really amazing observations, an outstanding script, also by Braff.  Different and enjoyable, dunno why it was not bigger. Perhaps because it plays at a slower tempo than movies tend to do these days, but I think it was absolutely the right choice.
Oh, and it has a part with the guy playing Sheldon on Big Bang Theory.

Natalie Portman's character is great. She's that kind of person who often just makes stuff up out of thin air when she's talking to people, and they'll believe her because they have no reason not to. I've known a few people like that, and I find it interesting. They'll tell you wild stories about themselves or others, and you don't know if it's true. I tried it once as a kid, simply giving a different name to a new playmate I met, and it was weird, the fear and guilt was too much for me! Funny. Do you know anybody closely who'll do that, invent stuff wholesale? An adult I mean.

By the way, I think I figured out why I got all those double-posts. I had been using the Back button to get back to the Writing page instead of clicking the Edit button under the post. So I guess Blogger got confused, understandably.

Iggy Pop, Lust For Life

This sound like the original recording from ca. 1977, but with a much later Iggy lip-synching to it. OK with me.

Midweek quotes

Some days you're a bug, some days you're a windshield.
-- Price Cobb

Do not think of knocking out another person's brains because he differs in opinion from you. It would be as rational to knock yourself on the head because you differ from yourself ten years ago.
-- Horace Mann

Never does the human soul appear so strong and noble as when it foregoes revenge and dares to forgive an injury.
-- Edward Chapin

The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.
-- Walt Whitman

DELACROIX, Eugène: The Women of Algiers

Is 3D TV ready (and Pioneer Vlogger)

"The Daily" and names

So Murdock's new Net-only newspaper The Daily is coming soon.
That might be interesting. At least as a phenomenon.

I never liked the tendency of some companies, though, of making the names of their products so generic. In effect they are nouns instead of names. "Windows". "The Daily". "Remote". "App store" (two different apps now.) "Word".

It is confusing. I've heard many people who have no clue about the difference between "Microsoft", "Word", and "Windows". The words are meaningless for being so generic, so it all floats around in their head. "I write on Microsoft, can you open those files?" ... Do you use Windows? "Sure, I have a view of the garden".

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What is the new Mac App Store?

Adam Engst has a fine introduction/analysis of Apple's new online Mac App Store and what it might mean.

So, the Verizon iPhone is real

Rumors about an iPhone in the USA outside of AT+T have been flying for years. Now it's finally here.
Analysis by MacObserver. Apple's Tim Cook has said:
“In every case, in foreign countries, where Apple changed from exclusive agreements with carriers to non-exclusive agreements, market share went up. The only remaining exclusive agreements with carriers are the U.S., Germany and Spain.”

I know for sure that I'm happy that we can and could get iPhones here in the UK with a choice of carrier and without a contract, only pay-as-you-go, which is much more reasonable for people who don't phone all that much but use the gadget for, I dunno, games, reading, web shopping, car navigation, whatnot.

Many have wondered what took Apple so long. Here's one reason:
The Verizon-compatible iPhone departs from the model that’s available from AT&T and other carriers around the world because it supports CDMA technology. All other iPhone models ever shipped only support GSM wireless technology, which isn’t compatible with Verizon’s CDMA network.

Another one has been speculated that until now, Verizon has made demands that Apple would not mean, which might be that they wanted to install their own apps as default like many cell phone carriers do.

Ooh, I wish we had this here, I could have saved time and money on getting a Mifi: will offer MiFi-style tethering...

A "Mifi" is a portable wifi hotspot, very small, which can make your laptops or iPad go wireless anywhere there's cell phone coverage. I have been wondering why my iPhone could not do that, it has all the hardware necessary.

The avalanche of Tablets (updated)

The big problem is the OS. The best bet, Android 3.0, is not released yet.
CNNMoney video.

I do like the Lenovo tablet which runs Windows, but you can run Android and take out the screen for a tablet. Sounds like the best of two worlds, but we'll have to see if it really will work well in practice.

Obviously 80 different tablets will not survive on the market.  What I wonder, if you're not Samsung or HP, why go into this market at all? At least this early. You don't have a snowball's chance in hell of surviving. It's like a Chihuahua joining a bear fight.
But I guess the "me too" impulse is just damn strong, and companies are desperate to get in on the ground floor of the Next Big Thing.

What is often overlooked is how good a niche market can be. "There can be only one" works best in the movies. Apple was a highly profitable company for twenty years, in a niche market. Find something you do well that others don't, and go in there. Don't try to do what everybody, his dog and his brother are doing already.

The Fruitcake Lady

I hadn't heard of her, she totally rocks.

"At my age, you have to be bossy."

"Ladies, eat your heart out."

By the way, re her advice to women over forty: I have an aunt who lost her husband suddenly when he was about to retire, both at least 60, I'd guess. So she put the word out in her smallish town that she was looking for new companionship. Granted, she was always a good looking, friendly, bright woman, ran her own business too. But anyway, almost before the door hit her behind on her way in, she already had several enthusiastic offers from eligible bachelors.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

48 Hours of the Mac App Store: Good and Bad

48 Hours of the Mac App Store: Good and Bad, article.

This will be of interest perhaps for Mac users. But I mainly post it because it illustrates that our feeling that Time is running faster and faster might be real. I mean, this is pretty much an in-depth review of a service which right now has existed for 48 hours! Holy mama this is getting cwazy!

Some Line Has Been Crossed...

David Pogue reports from the CES convention.
Then, of course, there’s the Be a Head Case combination iPhone case and bottle opener. It probably goes without saying that the included app counts how many bottles you’ve opened. I think some kind of line has been crossed.

Uhm... Yeah! Some kind of line for sure, though I'm too confused to say which kind. I thought the bottle opener was one of David's famous eccentric jokes, but it seems to be real. Too much too soon for me.

It’s also the Year of the 4G Vaporware. The big cell carriers are battling to see which one can spend the most money promoting 4G networks (super-high-speed cellphone Internet) that don’t exist yet.

What he said. Why don't they announce that it's compatible with your personal space ship too?

Neil Pasricha talk

[Thanks to Norm]

"You'll never be as young as you are now."

Article on GQ

I found this old article while searching the phrase "tres jolie, Coco". What an amazing article, so bitter, so sarcastic. But at least it proved to me I'm not the only one who feels that pop magazines are unbearably superficial.

"From the profile of DMX, the "next Tom Cruise": "Spend time with DMX and soon enough the rapper mystique falls away. What you are left with is someone who seems utterly genuine -- someone as vulnerable as he is occasionally vicious, who can say and do only what he feels in the moment -- and you are struck by how rare that is." Subsitute DMX with, say, "Brendan Fraser" or "Hugh Grant" or "Whoever the Fuck" and this could be any celebrity profile written in the last ten years. Mwaa, mwaa, mwaa Charlie Brown, mwaa mwaa Linus, mwaa mwaa mwaa DMX, mwaa mwaa Kate Hudson, mwaa mwaa mwaa."

Russian turnips

"If you want to win contest, your mind must be hard and joyless, like Russian turnip."  - Sergei, American Dad

What he said. I'm reminded of that Chinese girl I saw on a documentary. She was maybe eight years old, but her and perhaps even more her father had only one thing on their mind: Olympic gold. She trained gymnastics severely for hours seven days a week, and had no time for fun or a social life.

Maybe one day at seventeen against great odds, she gets the medal. Now all her life so far has culminated, her goal is reached. So now what?

I can't say, but I know it's quite common for people who reach a major goal they have not thought beyond, to head for severe depression, just when they had thought they would be happiest.

Tame life photos

Well, there goes my theory that wildlife is difficult to get close to and photograph.