Friday, July 19, 2013

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Watercolor robot

Very cool toy.

It has already gotten a lot of funding ($39,000 out of 50k goal with a month to go), so I'm sure it'll be a go.


One of the biggest photo gear review sites in the world (the biggest?), DPReview, which was bought by Amazon a couple of years ago, has set up their own store, selling the gear they review. "... every product in the store has been approved for inclusion by the DPReview editorial staff."

Many people believe that it's inherently a conflict of interest for a publication to be selling or have ads for the things it is reviewing. That they can't possibly be independent and unbiased after that.

I don't know. It can be difficult I guess. If, say, Sony treats them really well, say, sending expensive review samples early to them and offering especially good offers for their readers, it might be difficult for them to decide to stand up and give a scathing review for a Sony camera if needed.

It was an accident that I used "Sony" as example, probably simply because I'd just seen them mentioned somewhere. But just now by interesting coincidence I came across this little tidbit.
"A simple fact. The Sony NEX-7 is not on the list of the top 100 selling cameras at Amazon (the Sony NEX-6 is on the list – dead last at 100.)
I received the following email from an agent for Sony…
[...] I want to reach out to you with an invitation to a very exclusive opportunity with Sony Electronics! The elite Sony Ambassador Program [...]
Participation in the Sony Ambassador Program will include tons of free products and perks like an all-expenses paid trip to sunny San Diego to meet the Sony team..."

I dunno, maybe I had a feeling that old photographic companies like Nikon or Pentax run their business in a different way than multi-faceted electronics giants like Sony. But I don't know.
But: "tons of free products"...  And I wonder how many of the "Sony Ambassadors" bother to disclose this relationship regularly to their readers?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Coming up, Wings, Paul McCartney

Just remembered this one, always liked it.

I heard another version many years ago, a remix where the chorus "coming up..." was not sung in falcetto, but I can't find it now.
But it's sung like that in this live version, probably to avoid playing recorded, processed material:

New Beginnings

Every beginning ends something.
 -- Paul Valery

One of the wisest things I've heard in a while.

Off topic (if there were one), a job ad

One of my friends is looking for work in these areas:

• 3D modeling in SolidWorks
• technical writing in English
• technical translation from French to English

If you know of something, comment here or email me, it would be much appreciated. My Gmail address is eolake

What they get away with?

It always confuses me what people can get away with and what they can't.
For instance, it had been years since I saw any of the old John Hughes movies. And I thought of them as the ultimate in sweet, innocent family entertainment. But, huh!, I watching Sixteen Candles, and sweet, sweet, young redhead extraordinaire Molly Ringwald uses both the F-word and the S-word, and there are fully nude shower scenes with bosom close-ups to show how unfairly well endowed (and well sculpted!) the protagonist's main rival is. Wuh?!

Speaking of what they got away with, there's a Chinese exchange student in the film, and his name is, wait for it... "Long Duk Dong"! Not only that, but every time somebody says his name, the film plays a gong!

Pratchett virtuoso

The more I re-read his books, the more I get impressed by Terry Pratchett.

He is entertaining on every single page, and yet he constantly gets threads woven in subtly about ethics and how people work, and even metaphysics if you look. It's almost frightening, it's like watching one of those classical piano players who sound like they have six hands.

His hit ratio is outstanding too, almost unique. He's published maybe fifty books, and there's only a handful of them I thought were weak, and even those were not bad (in fact I'm sure some readers love them, for they are partly the Rincewind wizard books, and I know they have many fans).

I'm currently re-reading Unseen Academicals, and recently I read again all four Tiffany Aching books, they are awesome.

Below is various Tiffany Aching fan art. They all get it right, and remember that Tiffany, unlike most Pratchett witches, wear blue or green, not black. "'When I'm old I shall wear midnight', she'd decided. But for now she'd had enough of darkness."


BaronessBlack said...
Did you know that he was made an honorary Brownie for his portrayal of Tiffany Aching?

'Not many men can say this,' Terry says, proudly, 'but as a result of The Wee Free Men I was made an honorary Brownie for writing a proper girl in a book. I've got a woggle and everything. No kidding.

'Anyway, the Brownies wanted to kidnap someone famous and they decided on me because they liked Tiffany Aching. But they didn't know how to go about it. And I thought, "All we need is a signing queue, two little girls and a yellow rubber chicken." (I don't know why it hasn't been established before, but a yellow rubber chicken is the secret of all humour.)'

'So, it's all set up and I tell the two little Brownies, "You stand on one side of me and you on the other and just look at the camera, all sweet and innocent. Then without looking at me, one of you must raise my hat and the other has to hit me over the head with the rubber chicken. Then the first Brownie should place my hat back on my head as I slump down in the chair."

'The only problem was that people saw me apparently doing a signing and a massive queue built up. So then we had to explain to everyone that I wasn't in fact doing a signing, but I would sign their books if they wouldn't mind waiting until these two little girls had knocked me out. It was one of those surreal moments that you just treasure.'

Thank you, that's cool.

It was delightful when Tiffany arrived, because so far as I know, he'd never done a child character before, at least no girls, and then right out of the gate he makes this outstanding, well-rounded, strong character in Tiffany.

And as only a young teen, she is the only one who can not only stand up to (unofficial top witch) Esmerelda Weatherwax, but she also gains Weatherwax's respect and friendship because she's competent and resourceful, and probably the only one who may become stronger than W herself.

(Except maybe the dutchess' daughter. It's a shame if TP never gets around to use her again.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tootsie The Killing

I just got an email from Lovefilm, my film rental service:

Good news! We've just posted Tootsie The Killing - Disc 2 Evil Woman to you, so please look out for them.

"Tootsie The Killing - Disc 2 Evil Woman"?! That sounds like one hell of a film!

Sadly it turns out the email was just missing the commas, it's three different titles. Too bad, I'd looked forward to seeing Tootsie, much worse for wear, come back from the dead for her revenge, like some Freddie Kruger or that ridiculous killer doll ya know.

Mercedes dilemma

A blonde walks into a bank in New York City and asks for the Loan officer.
She says she's going to Europe on business for two weeks and needs to borrow $5,000.
The bank officer says the bank will need some kind Of security for the loan, so the blonde hands over the keys to a new Mercedes Benz SL 500.

The car is parked on the street in front of the bank, she has the title and everything checks out. The bank agrees to accept the car collateral for the loan.

The bank's president and its officers all enjoy a good laugh at The blond for using a $110,000 Benz as collateral against a $5,000 loan.

An employee of the bank then proceeds to drive the Benz into the bank's underground garage and parks it there. Two weeks later, the blonde returns, repays the $5,000 and the interest, which comes to $15.41.

The loan officer says, "Miss, we are very happy to have had your business, and this transaction has worked out very nicely, but we are a little puzzled. While you were away, we checked you out and found that you are a multimillionaire.
What puzzles us is, why would you bother to borrow $5,000?"

The blonde replies, "Where else in New York City can I park my Car for two weeks for only $15.41 and expect it to be there when I return?"

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Jobs" trailer

A new, super-short trailer for the upcoming Steve Jobs movie.

I think the trailer at least is compelling.
But I've seen two trailers now, and one thing which strikes me, although I have higher expectations from Kutcher than it seems most do, he could have done more to sound like Jobs. For instance, in this trailer he sounds very emotional. And Steve never sounded emotional, he had a very controlled voice. When speaking in public anyway, he's infamous for his rage or even weeping in the workplace. (Which was probably why he sounded so controlled, he had to keep a tight lock on all that emotion when it counted.)

"Abridged" should be marked

A tip/Open letter to Apple about audiobooks

It has happened to me now at least three times that I have bought an audiobook, read it partially or fully, and then somehow finding out that it was an abridged book, which had not been shown when I bought it. (Last time I found out, it was only because I'd also bought the ebook version, and I found material in there which was not in the audiobook.) 

Then I had to buy the book again, because it seemed that later, an unabridged version had come out. 

It would not be a problem if not for the fact that the abridged state of the books was not adverticed on iTunes store. I had no way of knowing it was not the full book I was  buying. 

So, readers, beware of this, look at the price and length of the book, if it seems cheaper and shorter than usual for the author, try and find out (how, I don't know) if it's abridged before buying.

The latest example is Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett. When I read it the first time, I thought it was pretty good, but not a favorite. Now that I have the missing material (over 60%!), I'm finding that it's a much better book than I thought.
Why does anybody want to abridge Pratchett books anyway? He writes so tight, there is nothing weak you can trim.


E. Blackadder said...
I had this problem once. When I complained they pretty much told me to fuck myself.

Yes, I admit that's a phenomenon. Amazon has fantastic, outstanding customer support. You call and complain, and you have a replacement product in your hand before you've hung up. Sometimes even if it's clearly you who broke it.  With Apple it's a different story, I'd hardly know how to contact them even.