Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tonight's super perigee moon a rare treat

Tonight's super perigee moon a rare treat, article.
Check out the full moon this evening--it could be 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than usual.

The Appearing Man

Pretty kewl photo series.

Commercial paintings

I like this painting, I like the composition and the freshness of the colors.
I'm wondering, though, if what the painter is not mostly doing is dazzling us with his superior skills. "Oooh, look what I can do with only a painting knife."
Don't get me wrong, his skills *are* superior. You try and and make a painting like this with a painting knife, wow, damn near impossible. I'm sure he's been doing it for at least twenty years. ... The detail in the buildings, the tones of the Eiffel Tower, the sketched coats and legs, the quick details of the umbrellas, the reflections in the wet pavement... very damn impressive.

Though the technique reminded me of paintings I just saw today in a furniture store. They were small original painting, framed, being sold for ludicrous prices like twenty dollars each. They were painted with quick tools like painting knives and such. And the thing is that a trained painter can make one of them in like ten minutes. He can spew out 40 in a day.
So you're basically paying just for the materials and for something to make your wall look less boring. Which, admittedly, may be what most paintings are sold as, unless they are investments in a famous artist, hoping he will appreciate in time.

My dad saw such an artist work once. He had ten big canvasses lined up next to each other. Then he took a big roller and applied green paint to the bottom of all of them. Then another roller and applied blue paint to all of them. Then he painted in a couple of trees, all a bit different, on all of them. The foliage was hinted at with texturing and a few detailed leaves at strategic places. In the end, these things were sold at very good profit in low-end galleries and shows.

The problem of course, is, how do you know what is "good art" and what is hack work? If for example it turns out that the artist above makes twenty paintings like this every day... but I just really like it, it speaks to me... who's to say it's not "serious art"... for me?

21 Habits of Happy People

21 Habits of Happy People, article.

More real estate crisis?

House prices, although having gone through quite an adjustment, have not fallen as they were expected to, if they were to correct for the crazy bubble of the early noughties.
This article is about the UK, but I have little doubt that similar situations exist in most developed countries in the world. A bit scary. Only good news are for those who are waiting patiently for house prices to fall even more...
it is dangerous to dismiss historical norms as irrelevant. The long-term average house price to salary ratio is something in the region of three and a half to four times. Today, depending on whom you listen to, it is around five and a half to six times.
That's the kind of disparity that can only be resolved by one of two things: rising real incomes or falling real house prices.
[...] The Bank of England hasn't raised rates for 25 months, but when it does, says the charity, it could push those assuming that low rates are forever into a "spiral of debt and repossession". 

iPad interface maturing

I've been trying out a few new apps for the iPad, for example TextForce (online/offline text handling and file handling) and ReaddleDocs (online/offline file manager/viewer), and I must say I'm pretty impressed.  The interfaces of iPad apps are getting better looking and also more intuitive month after month, and the apps are getting more powerful. TextForce for example showed me in less than a minute a very understandable interface for handling and editing text documents on the iPad and in the cloud, and there was not a thing which was not clear. Very lovely.
The same is true for PhotoGene, very simple and intuitive interface, and yet quite flexible and powerful. It can do pretty much all the thing I normally want done to photos.
If things continue in this direction, and nothing indicates they won't, then small- to mid-sized tablet will become very powerful tools for many people a lot sooner than I'd dared hope.

I keep getting astounded by the flexibility of this tool, it really is a thousand things. If you are mobile, or indeed quite immobile (as in bed-ridden for example), you can practically run the whole non-physical part of your life on an iPad. You can read on it, from dozens of different sources, you can watch all kinds of videos, again from multiple sources, you can write on it, just email or real work, you can use all kinds of games and then also productivity apps... it's just ridiculous.
I had a friend who was pretty much limited to her bed for a few weeks after an operation. She had just gotten an iPad, and she was amazed to how much more pleasant and productive that thing made those weeks for her, she did research and studies, found entertainment, was even productive in some ways...

Friday, March 18, 2011

St. Patrick's special

Where I had my lunch yesterday, the very big waiter tried to sell me on their "St. Patrick's Day Special" meal. I declined. One of the ingredients was a sausage which practically stained the photo with fat, and another was a keg-sized glass of some dark beer. He insisted it was really good, but I just couldn't imagine how anybody could ingest such a meal, much less stand up after. Maybe if you're a logger or a coal miner or something, you need the couple thousand extra calories, but I dunno...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beam of evening sun coming in

How One Man Waged War Against Gravity

How One Man Waged War Against Gravity, article.

Pretty funny. But still, "crackpot"? Emotionally, perhaps, but who are we to say that anti-gravity is not possible? Most of the technology we take for granted today would have seemed impossible to most people at some point in the past.

JBL On Stage 3 Portable Speaker

I just got a JBL On Stage 3 Portable Speaker. I like it. 

It runs on the mains or on six AAs, and the sound is real dang powerful for the size, good both for podcasts and music. I've never before heard anything this size sound this good or loud. 

I like it for when I'm not around one of my speaker systems, but I don't want to wear earphones, they are not always practical. 

It takes various shapes of iPods, and it also has a regular small sound-in plug so you can use any device. (It comes with a short male-male cable.) 

Ereaders vs tablets

Are ereaders and tablets really competitors? Are they in the same market?... Article on my eReaderJoy blog.

Google photo art

Kewl photos collected from Google's street cameras.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Colbie Caillat - I Do, and compostions

Cute song and singer (though I think her tan is over-done, makes her look like a Malibu Barbie).

But mostly I like all the imagery of the video, there are many lovely compositions in there, strong enough that they could be framed still photos on their own.

See? Lovely stuff.
It's actually surprisingly rare to find photographers with a real sense of composition.

Update: TCG found the maker, Ethan Lader, interview.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Pricing e-books

Here's an interesting tidbit: I just saw an author write of an experiment: he had increased a small technical book from 99c to $2.99... and the sales tripled... af increasing the price!

On the other hand, fiction author J. Konrad dumped the price from 2.99 to 0.99, and his sales shot up so much that his earnings tripled!

I think that from tech books and business books, where people expect to get something useful, perhaps profitable, from a book, the right price is much higher than for a book which is just bought for airplane reading.

Flying car "Maverick"

[Thanks Jimmy]
I'd like one of these.
One engine, two purposes. It's brilliant engineering, so simple. If it has no major drawbacks, this could really be useful. Think of crossing a big wild country, how often you might want to be able to fly over major obstacles. And how little space it takes to take off or land (less than a football field.)

Not only that, it drives really well too (see near the end).
I'm glad he has ambitions for it, I think this thing could be really useful for so many things.