Saturday, July 30, 2011

Aperture and depth of field

One who is interested in serious photography would do well to use a camera with manual controls (as well as automatic), and to know things like what does the aperture numbers mean, and how do they affect depth of field (background blur).
I recommend a book. I read at least a dozen when I started, including every single one the library had. But here's a start, on the subjects above.

From the mouths of babes and aliens

Is Apple dropping its pro customers?

Is Apple dropping its pro customers?, article on my gadget blog.

Why I was banned on Google+

Why I was banned on Google+, article.

I took for granted that if Google wanted to compete with FriendFace, sorry FaceBook, then one of the things they would correct first would be the horrible relationship FB has with privacy of its customers. Silly me.

Radical solutions

A woman was terribly overweight, so she visited her doctor. He put her on a diet.

"I want you to eat regularly for two days, then skip a day, and repeat this procedure for two weeks," the doctor instructed. "The next time I see you, you'll have lost at least 5 pounds."

The woman followed the doctor's instructions. When she returned two weeks later, the doctor put her on the scale and was amazed she'd lost nearly 20 pounds!

"That's amazing!" the doctor said. "Did this happen from just following my instructions?"

"Yes," the woman replied, and then added, "I'll tell you though, I thought I was going to drop dead on the third day."

"From hunger?" the doctor asked.

"No," the woman answered. "From all that skipping!"

Friday, July 29, 2011

A metal sculpture (updated)

Can anybody tell me what this chinese sculpture is likely to be made of? It has rusty spots, but surely nobody would make a sculpture out of iron?

Andreas said:
Why not iron? Find a magnet and find out ... 

Of course!
... Well, it's not iron.
Funny about those rusty spots then.
[By the way, those and the general weathered look has a large part in why I wanted exactly this one. I even mailed to make sure I wouldn't get another sample.]

Bert asked for macro pictures, which I now provide below, and had a question:

How heavy is the statue? 
Not bad, maybe 6 kilos, it's definitely hollow. The bottom is a thin sheet soldered on, the body is more solid, walls must be several milimeters. Definitely metal, heavy-ish, and doesn't feel like it would dent easily. ... I think on the site it said it was bronze, it could be low-grade bronze with steel and stuff mixed in, perhaps.
It's 40cm (16") tall.

(Click for big pic)
By the way, the pics are from a years-old Canon Ixus 960 (Powershot 950). Those small Canons are awesome. I got it in 2007. Here are some other pics from it. I think the best of class presently is the S95. 

Anarchy in the UK


I don't think this is in production yet, but it's a great idea. It lets you glide safely down from a tall building in case of fire or such.

I guess there'd have to be a couple different models depending on how far you need it to reach.

Good old days

My friend Charles wrote:

I was, at  the time, a representative with an Apple Reseller in Philadelphia when the Mac was rolled out.  We were scheduled for training prior the  Jan 22 1984 roll out date.  The training was scheduled at a hotel and when we got there we were first shown how the Mac went together.  The first thing I noticed was the shipping cartons the computers arrived in were assembled inside out so the shippers would not know just what they were transporting.  Those were halcyon days, the margins on computers at that time was about 40% .  We made money, Apple made money, there was no internet sales.  Ahh to live in the past.

Yes, I remember nearly as long ago (late eighties?), a friend told me he had talked his big company into buying a specialized computer, for something like $5 grand, call it $8k adjusting for inflation. I asked him what for, and he laughed and said “just desktop publishing”. I asked him years later what that super-duper-NASA computer had been, turns out it was just a standard Mac costing that much at the time! (Probably with a laser printer.) May have been fun and carefree times for the resellers, but we customers have more fun now! 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cradle of Filth - Her Ghost in the Fog

Good lullaby music.

Google+ Pulls In 20 Million in 3 Weeks

Google+ Pulls In 20 Million in 3 Weeks, article.

It's just funny, cuz Google has attempted the Big Social thingy at least two or three times before, and those were complete flops. I guess they have done something right this time.
I haven't tried it yet, so I don't know if they have eliminated whatever factor(s) it is that makes FaceBook rub me the wrong way so harshly.

Jumping chasms

Don't be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps. 
- David Lloyd George

No kidding.
I wonder if the fear of a big change is the main reason you see so many people who are just stuck for years or even decades in undesirable jobs or situations or relationships.
Of course not all big jumps are good just because they are big! So it takes some evaluation of the situation, and some guidance with the higher self, or inner feeling, whatever you prefer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

BookBook for iPhone

This one, on the other hand, is a really purty case. Admittedly I have a weakness for distreessed things, and old leather books. But this is a seriously charming idea and execution. There's long been one for iPad, but I like this one even better.  I think I'd get it if I didn't already have the Grove case, and if an iPhone 5 wasn't probably imminent.

(It seems to be a trend to make compact wallets without space for change. I wonder where people keep their change? Loose in a pocket? It doesn't tend to stay there unless it's a closed pocket.)

Extreme Sleeve for Laptops

Extreme Sleeve for Laptops, review.
Man, pretty it ain't.       :-)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Gotta love customer service

I sometimes buy things from the US, which are delivered by DHL, and then later I get a bill for the inport tax. If it's UPS, I just pay cash to the delivery man, which is much easier. With a bill for ten pounds, I have to call up, or write a check, or wrestle with their web site, which apparently doesn't work on a Mac. A bit of a hassle for a tenner.

Today I had a charge for £9.61. I called up, and the guy found the invoice and confirmed the amount and my name, and then he put me on hold a couple of times and then... he told me to call another number...
This number did not work.
So I called back to the first number. This time I got a girl. She told me that she could not find any invoice by that number!
She did however have an invoice by a similar amount, unpaid. I said, what the heck, let's pay that, while we are partying. She did some of her stuff, whatever they do, and then she told me that I don't have any outstanding invoices, I don't owe them anything.
Well, best outcome if it has to be this way, but still, very weird.

Flash irritation

Recently I'm always getting these covering videos, and they are very sluggish to go away, even with much clicking. Anybody know what it is and any solution? (Upgrading Flash didn't seem to help.)

The perv register

The UK government is pushing for legislature which would require that you register with a government list before you're allowed to access porn on the Internet.
Finally somebody is thinking of the children!!

More on fake Apple stores

The fake Apple stores in China is getting attention on the big sites. Here's an updated article with a video of the store.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gyulnara Karaeva Waterbowl

Talking about the female figure and water, Carter found this interesting video of a water dance.
OK, she looks nearly nude, which doesn't hurt, but it really is very skilful and beautiful.

Fountains of Wayne - Stacy's Mom

I just liked the tune, I swear I didn't know the video would be that, um, provocative.
Hmm, the "mom" is pretty young for a "MILF" type, no? They could at least have used somebody over 30, methinks.    :-)

... Hmm, a Canadian reader says it's blocked for him on copyright grounds. I can see it in the UK, I wonder if I got it from the UK Youboobs site? Anyhoo, by searching on the title, he found a version which worked.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

666 megabytes, the number of the beastly bloat

I just downloaded an update to the software on my iPhone. It was 666 megabytes!

Apart from the unfortunate number (the same as the price for the Apple 2 back in the day*), that is just huge! And that's just for an intermediate update to the Operating System on a Phone! (admittedly more of a palm computer than a phone, really.)
I realize features are being added all the time, so I have to wonder, how much of this bloat is necessary, and how much... not? Say, if Apple or MS only had programmers with IQ 666, and 666 hours to work in every day, how much smaller could the OS be with the same features?
It's a pretty abstract problem, I'm sure we don't see perfect programming anywhere. Nobody writes in machine language, it's all cobbled together from biggish blocks of programming in the coding apps. And serious streamlining would probably take serious time, so I guess we're all simply dependant on hardware getting better all the time.

* Steve Wozniak was asked about it:
"He laughed and told me that when he and Jobs came to an agreement on the retail sales price for the Apple 1 of $666.66 - he didn't even realize that the 666 number was in any way related to Satan and it had nothing to do at all with the '666' number of the beast or anything pertaining to satanic stuff. He said: "I simply like triple digit numbers with all the things I'm involved with, the cost of making the Apple 1 was around $540 or there abouts and we agreed on the best markup, retail price above the cost of building it, which worked out to $666. Jobs then tacked on the 66 cents to make it an eye-catcher price for the ads with the sale and promotion publications of it to the public."

How to be jolly

"I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them."
           -- E. V. Lucas

Isn't that true? They are jolly, having fun... sometimes with a quick "apology" to those who've been waiting, but completely oblivious to their perceived rudeness, and therefore much happier. 

An old friend of mine (hi Sven) who is just like that, called me on late Friday afternoon years ago. We were a group who were often making the Art and Music segment of a radio show, early Friday evenings. He said that he was scheduled to run the show that evening, but he had coughing fits (though I never heard one), and could I take it instead? I said it was inconvenient because I was making a painting and I was much into it, and it was very late notice, in fact hardly any at all. 

But he was insistent, and I said that if he could find somebody to interview me (that always works fine, whereas if I do a show alone, I lose the energy), I would do it. 
So he came and drove me to the station, and wanted to say goodbye at the door. He said he had found a replacement for the technician, and the present technician, John, would interview me, and it'd all work out fine. I said, "does John know this?". "Nooeee, but he'll be fine with it, you just see..." 

Heck, I was not gonna deliver such a message, he could sort out his own mess, ten minutes before air time! So I dragged him into the studio, and as I suspected, John was not at all happy about being dumped into that job in the nick of time. But he's not a grouchy fella, so we did the interview, and as it happens it went very well indeed, something I found was the case at least as often when we were unprepared as when we were well prepared. 

"How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months" (updated)

How I Sold 1 Million eBooks in 5 Months, book (kindle or paperback).

I'm not done with the book yet, but it is promising, and I know at least several of my readers are aspiring writers, so I thought I'd mention it.

John Locke takes a very entrepreneurial approach to writing, even fiction. Find a very specific niche audience, write exactly to them, and find them and market exactly to them. And it seems that he might become as successful a writer as he has been in his earlier various businesses, which were all very lucrative.

One might find it very art-less to write books this way. But OK, I think any artist has to decide for himself the relative priority of things. Do I do it for Art's sake, or do I do it for Money's sake? And the two do not lock out each other, some of the best books in the world wouldn't have been written if the author had not been hungry and behind on the rent.

It's also very illustrative when Locke tells about all the money and time he used to use on scatter-shot marketing which didn't sell any books at all: radio shows, blogs, press releases, etc etc. Basically all the things people generally do. They reach a host of people, but only a tiny percentage of these people are in the target audience.

It's illustrative of his distance to the "Art" author, that he thinks that one should not really begin to think seriously about marketing until one has a handful of books to promote! Because when they want more, they must have something to buy!
But for the guy who struggles five years to write one novel, that's hard words to hear.

Shock- and water-proof Ricoh

Ricoh has announced a new compact camera, Ricoh PX, shock-proof to a 1.5m drop, and water-proof to three meters depth.

I really like the super-simple design. (I wonder how it auto-focuses though, I can't see any focus sensor. It has a zoom, so it can't be fix-focus (no focusing at all, depth of field covers it).)

It woulda been kewl if they'd removed all text and the flash from the front, so there would have been only the lens. Now that's clean design, I'd love to see that.
"Artist's impression" of that:

(Not real)

It's all doable, the name can be on the top, the flash can too (though probably not in a water-proof camera), and even though it seems like all lenses have their data engraved on them, I doubt there's any law that says they must have. (And if there is, the subtle engraved text is not bad at all.) 

It's a very compact camera, so it's pretty amazing that it has a 5x zoom which does not extend from the body! The lens sits side-wise in the body and "looks out" via a 45-degree mirror. But still, that's very compact, I wonder if that affects the image quality.