Saturday, April 30, 2011

Big Bang 4, and comics today

This is the cover of the upcoming collection of the fourth season of Big Bang Theory. I like it. Especially Sheldon's pose, he really does look like some powerful time-traveling detective/ambassador or whatnot.
Does anybody know if it's a homage to a specific Sci-fi show or just generic?

Sheldon says Raj has difficulties "parsing American comics idioms like "BAMF" and "SNIKT".
I'm very proud (or maybe not) to say that even though it's been years, I still know exactly what those mean: "bamf" is the sound of Nightcrawler teleporting, and "snikt" is the sound of Wolverine's claws extending. Ah, the good old days when you could follow the story of a Marvel comic without having to buy thirty titles to make sense of it. And that's only the X-Men titles! 

I used to read lotsa comics all the time, but the past few years, hardly any. Right now I'm trying the Power Girl mini-series, it's not bad, pretty humorous. Can anybody recommend any series, preferably available digitally? Like I hinted, I prefer something where I don't have to read several titles for months to get an idea of what's going on. I guess that pretty much means mini-series, unless ongoing comics have changed a lot in the past couple years. 
Ooh, I am open to off-beat, independent comics too, unless they are they are the kind which are autobiographical despite the author's life consisting basically of masturbating and arguing with his parents. I never took to American Splendor, but I liked a lot of Love And Rockets. 

New York bookstore stocks only one book

New York bookstore stocks only one book, article.

Outstanding marketing stunt, and it's not even loosing money.

I don't care how good the food is, I'm not eating there!

More here.

Mixed media art

Friday, April 29, 2011

"It was a dark and stormy night"

Snoopy was always one of my literary heroes, even though he was under-appreciated by the publishing establishment of his own time.

So when I got the gift of this Snoopy doll, I knew just where to sit him.

Funny enough, I got him as thank you gift for helping a friend get a friend a typewriter (in the modern form of a laptop). A perfect circle.

Typewriters are not dead, but it's close
I do suspect though that for decades there'll be a tiny market for them at premium prices, for specialized and sentimental purposes. 

As far as...

Here's a funny little thing... you have the expression, for example:
"... as far as the colors go, you have three options, white, black, or blue."

But recently, everybody is dropping the "go", they say:
"as far as the colors, you have three options..."

To me it's obviously incomplete, but since I've been noticing it for a few weeks, every single person (at least a dozen) I've heard use the phrase have used it sans the "go". Trez bizarre, as Finns say.

Royal wedding day

OK, so today is/was the big Royal Wedding Day here in the UK. I'm not a fan, but I've been told it was well done, so respect for that.

It's clear though that the sheer magnitude of the event and the noise about it has divided the country pretty hard. I only heard two short radio snippets yesterday, and one was: "so tomorrow is the royal wedding. And whether you think that's wonderful or dreadful..." And the other one was a well-spoken man calling to a program and saying that the wedding is a cover-up of the governments and economy's collapse. Not a distraction, mind you, but a cover-up! And from the host's comments, he was far from the only one to say so. Wow. While the weather is really nice, it's not hot enough to justify that kind of thinking, if so it can be called.

Spring Light

(Click for big pics.)
Fujifilm X100. 

Spotify Unlimited

I have signed up for a Spotify (music) account, a paid one. They have two levels: "Premium" at ten quid per month, and "Unlimited" at five quid per month, which has less features. I find it very humorous that the "Unlimited" account is the one which has limitations. Sort of like cell phone providers, who can with a straight face say that an "unlimited" data plan is defined as 250MB per month...      :-)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Facebook shoots first, ignores questions later

Facebook shoots first, ignores questions later, article.
Got enemies on Facebook? Facebook is so eager to protect copyright that the mere accusation of copyright infringement is enough to get an account locked. Ars found this out the hard way Thursday morning when our own Facebook page became inaccessible, with no warning, no explanation, and no clear appeal process.

This reminds me of my first US web host (called Tabnet, soon bought up by somebody else), back in the nineties. I checked with the salespeople if the content was OK, and they said it was. Then a couple of days later, the site disappeared. Typically, it just had to happen at the beginning of a three-day weekend (4th of July), and amazingly even though this was supposed to be a big outfit, I couldn't get hold of anybody with authority. So I worked fast to set up temporary hosting with a friend (though he was a bit stunned by the traffic. High traffic was the reason I'd been forced to find hosting in the US rather than Scandinavia where I lived).
So when I finally got them on the horn, they said that despite what I had been promised, I was not allowed to have nudes on the site, and there was nothing that could be done about it.
The worst part, to my mind, was that it was done without discussion and without warning. Like something would explode unless they got this site off their network now. I would have minded much less if I'd just been given a week's notice, and they'd been polite and apologetic about it.

By the way, I had a similar thing happen a couple of years later: I was using Yahoo groups (because typically the excellent small company I'd been using (and paying) to run my newsletter had been bought up by them) to host my newsletter. There was of course no "service" really, but I was happy because I'd collected almost ten thousand readers, gold for a business. But suddenly the group was gone, and there was nothing which could be done about it. All those contacts, just lost. I found a helpful supporter just too late, he told me that if I'd known of the procedure to do it, I could have downloaded the reader list for backup on my own machine...

Maybe the problem is that big companies begin to think they are invulnerable. Like Apple these days, when they have a big PR stink (like the current iPhone thing), they just clam up, instead of stepping out quick and explain their side of the case.

The Other Road Ahead

This older article by Paul Graham talks about some interesting things happening right now.
Hardware becoming virtually exchangeable and disposable, data becoming device-independent, etc. Google with the cloud service machine and the whole tablet movement is steering right into this. And most important: ordinary users not having to know how and when to install or upgrade anything, or what "DSS" or "ZIP" means. They just need to tap a button to make it happen.

With Web-based software, most users won't have to think about anything except the applications they use. All the messy, changing stuff will be sitting on a server somewhere, maintained by the kind of people who are good at that kind of thing. And so you won't ordinarily need a computer, per se, to use software. All you'll need will be something with a keyboard, a screen, and a Web browser. Maybe it will have wireless Internet access. Maybe it will also be your cell phone. Whatever it is, it will be consumer electronics: something that costs about $200, and that people choose mostly based on how the case looks. You'll pay more for Internet services than you do for the hardware, just as you do now with telephones.

See, that's a tablet, in two or three years.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Ball Girl

[Thanks to Jimmy]

I'm not interested in sports, but you gotta admire ability like this.
And as far as I can figure out, a "ball girl" is not even a player, but just there to pick up stray balls.

Durn it, sadly it was faked for a commercial.

Note: sometimes the wrong video shows in a post. Miserere comments:
I opened the individual post in its own tab and the video came up fine (you're right, that was an amazing catch—Jackie Chan would be proud of her) but it's still a different video in the main blog page. I then Ctrl+refresh and the correct video showed up, so the problem might be Firefox not handling Blogger's idiosyncrasies correctly.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Vivian Maier home page

[Thanks to Beth]

We've talked about the excellent Vivian Maier before. She now has (though she's dead) a home page with many of her photos, in good size too, which I appreciate, it's too rare.
Her compositions are so good, I almost wish she'd focus less on people. (It could be the editor of course.) My uncle once said: If you include people in your photos, then the viewers only look at the people. And there's definitely something to that. Most people are so interested in People to the degree that everything else is peripheral. A bio about Mozart will sell much better than a book about his music.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Chinese multiple Girl

Must take a lot of training.

It's funny how in the West, the Individual is everything, and in the East it's virtually nothing. The Group is everything.

Mobile apps prices

I wonder if things have gone too far with mobile apps, price-wise? Android and iOS apps that is.
In the desktop app market, if an app is $5, that is considered virtually free. But now I see and hear in mobile app reviews all the time stuff like "if it was a buck, I can take a chance, but if it's five dollars, it really has to deliver something special."

One- and two-dollar app seems to have become the norm, even for quite important apps. And I'm wondering if in the slightly longer term, this won't stop developers of important software (valuable utilities and production software) from making any money with their work, and so just walk away from it.

I hope not. But somehow this shift has happened, and since price is a virtually 100% subjective thing, once the public has been trained to consider five dollars "expensive", well, that's how they see it.

I don't know what Apple (iOS App Store) and Google (Android Market Place) could do about it. Perhaps they could make a push sometimes for premium software, apps costing five dollars and above, and help educate the customers that some things are worth paying more for than a pack of gum. After all, it hardly helps Apple in the long run if the only developer who keeps working is the maker of Angry Birds.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why and how to use fast lenses (updated)

tOP post about the merits of fast lenses.

(Pentax K-x, 50mm F:1.4 at 1.4, ISO 3200.)

Personally, I find that fast lenses, which have greater potential for shallow depth of field and soft backgrounds, are a blessed gun in the photographer's arsenal. Not only do they isolate the subject, but they also add a form of abstraction. For a documentary photographer, abstraction is optional at best, and certainly something to be handled with care. For a pictorial photographer, abstraction is often what keeps him/her interested. It makes for a picture, instead of a picture of....

Although, if the photographer wants people to relate to the subject/scene rather than the picture, wider lenses and deeper depth of field is usually preferable. It gives a greater illusion of putting the viewer There.