Saturday, June 16, 2012

Save the Troy Library "Adventures In Reverse Psychology"

[Thanks to Bert]

The city of Troy, Michigan was facing a budget shortfall, and was considering closing the Troy Public Library for lack of funds. Even though the necessary revenues could be raised through a miniscule tax increase, powerful anti-tax groups in the area were organized against it. A vote was scheduled amongst the city's residents, to shut the library or accept the tax increase, and Leo Burnett Detroit decided to support the library by creating a reverse psychology campaign. Yard signs began appearing that read: "Vote to Close Troy Library on August 2nd - Book Burning Party on August 5th." No one wants to be a part of a town that burns books, and the outraged citizens of Troy pushed back against the "idiotic book burners" and ultimately supported the tax increase, thus ensuring the library's survival.


Mac OS 7.5.3 desktop patterns

I started with Mac OS 7.5, and suddenly I got nostalgic for those old destop patterns, from before the system itself supported large wallpaper images (though you could use a plugin called Decor. Decor was more intelligent than OS X is still, it had more options, including hiding none of the image under the menu bar, which OS X still can't do!)

I had to look around a bit, but a genius named Mike R extracted them and posted them  (small zip file). (Backup link.)

Funny enough, admittedly, on a modern high-res screen with its powerful color rendition, many of these patterns, even the more subtle ones, are sort of loud and dizzying.
One reason they lack subtlety is that they were designed to work on screens which could only show 256 colors.

A lovely gal named Dung

Just got this in the email:

Hello, darling! How are u? What's up?
I am Dung.
So, I have not got any idea from what to start. Maybe from this...
One of my friends showed me your pictures and I liked them so much! 
I am searching for interesting, sedate fellow for for a very long time but there are so many assholes who're just banging and then staying me alone. 
I hope that you are one of them! 
So, if u're a nice fellow then I am waiting for ur mail.

If the "u're" and such did not convince me that she's a catch, the name did it!

And I was very pleased to be called an "interesting, sedate fellow".

Friday, June 15, 2012

Victor Borge - 80th birthday, Michala Petri

My mother used to complain that VB never finished his music pieces. A fair complaint, he was very funny, but also a bril pianist. 
He was Danish, for those who don't know. There are subtitles on the video. If they don't show, try the CC button on lower right.

He addresses Michala by the formal form of "you" in Danish, something which is quite unusual in modern times. But he seems to like her. I don't blame him, what a luvverly woman.

His Danish is nigh perfect, even after having lived in the US for over fifty years.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramee

Carved Book Landscapes by Guy Laramee, post.

In the ebook age, paper books are more and more becoming aesthetic objects rather than carriers of information.

Those Olympus accessories

You know something is a luxury/high-end item, when a lens hood costs $100, and a lens cap $50!
OK, a plastic lens cap is apparently included, but the lens is not exactly cheap (approaching one grand), one would think they might include the nice metal cap?

Mark said:

In the 1970s I used and loved an Olympus 35RC. The standard hood was effective but costly; it didn't come with the camera. My sister, who happened to be living in Tokyo, bought me a couple of replacements at a SUBSTANTIALLY reduced cost (compared to US/Canada pricing). Lens caps of the simple spring-loaded after-market variety did the job better than the original which relied on a felt-trimmed friction fit.

Later, flexible rubber aftermarket screw-on lens hoods did better duty than the available but costly hoods from Asahi for my Pentax Super Program and various lenses. The caps were never very effective.

Oh! On my first camera (well, first serious camera), Konica TC, I had a wonderful hood of rubber, which folded back over the lens when you packed in the camera. My problem with hoods is that they increase bulk so much, and makes the camera much more visible when shooting candidly.

... Ah, I see one can still get the rubber hoods (not the S/M kind), I'll look at that.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The JB hate society

It seems like everybody hates Justin. First he was killed in South Park, and now in Mongrels. I guess to many he seems to be the very incarnation of that kind, you know, boneless, masculinity-less, brainless, talentless, substance-less, cream-puff prettyboy. Uhm, not that there's anything wrong with that!
Oh dear, that came out wrong! I didn't mean to hint that he's gay. I'm sure he's not a cent more gay than Liberace or Rock Hudson.
But oddly, this preposterous thought has come to a lot of people, just look him up on urbandictionary, too funny.

New big-sensor compact (updated twice)

The new Sony RX100 (yes, one more "X" camera, very trendy) is bound to get interest from enthusiasts. In short, it's very much like the popular high-end compact Canon S100, only slightly bigger, and with a much bigger sensor.  Extensive review here (the review has an interesting test-image comparison of several compact cameras at different ISO speeds). This is a real compact, a bit larger and rather thicker than the S100, but still shirt-pocket sized. (Note: the S100 is really small.) It's not cheap though, about $650, almost twice the price of the Canon. That's a serious price, but then it has some serious advantages per reviews.

It improves on the Canon not only in sensor size, but also in autofocus speed. It has always been a problem of really compact cameras that the AF was much slower than bigger ones. The S100 has around a half-second focus lag, which is a lot when shooting moving subjects. The RX100 cuts this down to a quarter second in tele mode and 1/8th second in wideangle mode, which is really good.

This must be the first real pocket cam (the Fuji X10 is barely one) which can shoot pretty much useable quality at ISO 6400. (Notice that it has the ridic resolution of 20 megapixels, so artefacts will appear worse than they are, viewed at 100%.)

Even though Canon S100 is one of the best pocket cams around, the test images show a clear advantage to the RX100 in terms of resolution even at base ISO, showing that the hard work to mash in the biggest possible sensor in this small body has paid off.

Above; base ISO, below, ISO 3200.
(Click for full size.)

Holy mama, the sensor is actually much bigger than the one in the Fuji X10. Didn't see that coming in a clearly smaller camera, I thought they were already pushing the limits.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Not a compact

Bert found this live evidence of the need for more compact camera systems...

(I really hope this guy has a *very* healthy back.)

Self control

[Thanks to Anna]

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Matt LeBlanc, Episodes, and Tamsin Creig

It's amazing how fickle success is. When Friends was on air, those six actors ruled the world. Look now, except for Aniston if you like romcoms, forgetting Friends you'd probably not have heard of any of them. Who'd have thunk.

I am pleased that Matt LeBlanc's Episodes is having a second season. I liked Joey a lot, but apparently it was a bit of a miracle that it got two seasons, it was not a hit at all. I thought it deserved to be and might have been. Problem was, probably, that people tuned into it and expected Friends II, and it just wasn't that, it was a very different show. Perhaps a more traditional sitcom, I dunno, but anyway, I liked it.

Au contraire, I didn't expect Episodes to be any hit. Not cuz I didn't like it, I did, but unlike Joey, it was a lot less traditional, and I thought maybe too brainy or "British" for the big audiences.

But here it is, second season, and I mention it mainly because I'm quite amazed that to me that the second season is even better than the first, maybe even considerably so. Sometimes it's just real damn funny. Particularly, it has several female actresses (not the least of which is Tamsin Creig from the outstanding Black Books) who are not only gorgeous, but first class comediennes. Hilarious.

Oh, she was also on Green Wing, which was an awesomely weird and also seriously funny show. (Sadly not released in region one format.)

By the way, I think it's a pity that a TV show has to have audiences in the millions to survive. Perhaps made-for-web productions will change that over time. The Long Tail and so on. Of course, good production values and many dozens of people paid full time will not get really cheap. But Hollywood productions is supporting a lot of expensive old real estate, and a lot of expensive old men.

But maybe Episodes is sort of an example of that. It's apparently non-Hollywood, and sadly it can be seen in episode 2.1. It seems that LeBlanc was not in the same place as the other actors for that episode, for it has a lot of gawd-awful green screen work. Really, the first time we saw him it was in the show-in-the-show, Pucks, and it was so bad I thought it was parody. Bit of a pity.

... Damn, Matt won a Golden Globe for this show? Didn't see that coming, although he is good and very ballsy playing himself as a philandering doodoohead (though of course as lovable as Joey was. He only really ever plays himself, I'd guess, though hopefully more promiscuous).  Dang. Oh, by the way, that's one way to tell this is no Hollyweird produ: occasionally, not often, but occasionally, they will have the most astoundingly filthy mouths you ever heard on a TV show. In a nicely relaxed way.