Saturday, March 20, 2010

Brian Regan on appliances

Brian Regan on appliances, pretty funny.

Phantom Menace review

[Thanks to Illustro]

Interesting choice of sounding like a moron while doling out some seriuos criticism.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Paris 26 Gigapixels

Paris 26 Gigapixels is a stitching of 2346 single photos showing a very high-resolution panoramic view of the French capital (354,159x75,570 px).

The famous dress

At some weddings, it's hard to keep your attention on the bridesmaids you were supposed to be hitting on.

Do not Trust Profile Pictures (updated)

[Thanks to Sam]
I'll never trust FaceBook pictures again.
... bad link .... OK, try this on here.

Custom iPad idea

I just had an idea:
An artist, say a musician, a "drawer", a writer, etc, could load all of his digitalizable works onto an iPad, plus a selection of exclusive new works for this purpose. Then sign it on the back, and sell it for, say, $800 or $3,000, depending on how bankable his name and signature is.

The 'pad also works as a picture frame and can stand on a shelf and show a slideshow or whatever, as an object d'art.

Of course the device itself will become obsolete within a few years, but I think many can live with that. If it dies after the warrenty period, the artist can offer to replace it for only the price of a new one plus S/H.
Maybe he can even sell regular upgrades every couple of years as he makes new work. Or he could make different "volumes" instead of putting everything onto a single pad.

I'm considering making a Domai pad. It could come with an exclusive collection plus a several-years membership, which can be accessed on the pad itself or on another device. Maybe priced at $800 or 900.

And of course such a thing would still have the full functionality and thus value of a normal iPad.
One issue is how to take payment. My usual biller can't take it for physical items, and Paypal won't work with "adult" material.

Men don’t like appliances

Men don’t like appliances. We want things that can do lots of different things, that we can tweak and fiddle with, and then argue with each other about which one is better.

It's true. We like things with many buttons and power that can be expressed in numbers, so we can impress our friends.
"Man, my new laptop has a 200-gigabyte hard disk!"
"Oh. Got it used, did you?"

More instapaper

Here's another review of Instapaper. (The 148Apps site seems nice.)

Another comment of my own: Instapaper's steps when you change the size of the font are very fine. This is excellent, most other apps are very crude in this respect. I like to really fine-tune things like this.

Also, since Instapaper saves articles, you don't have to be online whereever you are, when you later want to read one. Great especially for an iPod Touch or a wifi iPad.

Midnight In The Land Of Lost Souls

Pentax K-x, 50mm F:1.4, 1600 ISO.
Not easy to handhold at maybe 1/30th with an (effectively) short tele, I had many duds (unsharp). [Update: on closer look they were actually focusing errors, I guess a combination of the low light and my not paying attention enough to whether the camera had achieved correct focus before pressing the button.] But some were perfect. And the autoexposure did a fine job. The auto-whitebalancing too, actually, the light is really that orange.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Jacqueline Mannering

I'm totally in luuurve!

Here's an older one, she's 14!

Jes said:
Yeah, I've been aware of her for a while now. She's a monster on guitar, there's no doubt about that. But I think she still has some things to learn about melody and feeling, which she has improved on since she's been posting. I wouldn't say she's a guitar heroine yet, but in a couple of years, she probably will be.

But I have admit, it's damn impressive that she could play like THAT at fourteen. She must've been playing since she was in diapers, that's the only way I can make sense of it. I've been playing guitar for six years, and I'm nowhere near that level.
My favorite youtube guitarist is Jerry C. He's the dude that originally arranged Canon Rock.

Hmmm, I just noticed I got a gazillion "friend invites" on YouTube. Does anybody know what's to gain from accepting them?

A Tech-Filled Life, Without Power

A Tech-Filled Life, Without Power, David Pogue article.

Phone and power lines always go in storms. Is it really that much more expensive to dig 'em down?

Culture commentary

Why are seemingly most people who make commentary on movies and TV so snide and unpleasant?

A new platform

My pal Laurie demonstrated to me an iPhone app which will listen to any song playing in the room you're in, and will compare it to a huge database, and more likely than not, find a match, and then of course you can buy it from iTunes.
This kind of thing is new. It did not exist before the iPhone and the app store. I think this too everybody by surprise. Certainly the scale of it did.

Now maybe the iPad considered as a new publishing platform is not quite as surprising as that, but I still have to make a comment on it, because I really have a profound feeling that it is just right for it. It's perfect. Especially for graphic-rich ebooks. (Comics, art books, illustrated books, etc etc.)

Penguin apparently want to make all ebooks into interactive applications. I think that's a mistake. It's simply no longer a book when it's a toy, and books still have and will have forever a communication value which can't be replicated in anything else. You're not thinking in the same way when you're playing.

I am so looking forward to using the iPad in the future, both as a reader and even more as a publisher, writer, and photographer/artist. I feel that for this use, the Internet before now was like cars without any roads. Now we can go, for real.

Beard cheat sheet

BTW, I'm amused that apparently the American public "distrusts bearded people". Assuming it's true, how the f**k do people come up with that kind of prejudices? Who decides, and how? Why not people over 6.2, or people with green shirts, or... frig, I dunno.

The new Pentax 645D (updated)

I'm glad Pentax decided to push through with their medium format camera. For one thing, this market is in dire need of competitors, and for another thing, it seems like a highly interesting camera. Very cheap for the market intended, and yet seemingly serious pro quality.
It's very rugged and rain-proof, and designed centrally for landscape photography, although obviously it can be used for pretty much anything its competitors can.

It's also the only medium format camera which has features taken for granted in smaller DSLRs, like multiple autofocus spots and such.
It's the first medium format camera I can actually imagine I might get.

It's the first medium format camera I've really been attracted to. It's gorgeous, and I like everything about their philosophy. It's not made for "product photography" and all that bullshit, it's a real photographer's camera.

KabelYaache said:
Since when is 'product photography' bullshit? Do you have any minimal idea of what product photography involves?
Every catalog you look at - or website you search involves product photography:
The photography of products - to put them in their best light (so to speak) and advertise them for sale - or for use.
Since you really know nothing about photography as a business and as a professional endeavor, Please GFY. And do shut up.

I stand corrected. Product photography is a useful and noble endeavour.


[Thanks TCGirl]

What is Apple up to in China?

What is Apple up to in China?, article.

Apple will open 25 stores in China.
From the article:

But why would the iPad be a success in China? Well,
  • Premium UI, multi-touch, battery tech = Hard to knock off.
  • Made in China = National pride.
  • 499 USD = Affordable to a middle class that is still a minority but huge in absolute numbers.
  • Long, crowded commutes = A compelling real-use case and an opportunity to show off.
  • iPhone OS = Best-in-class Chinese language support right out of the box. Far superior to any home-grown device — seriously.
  • iTunes = All those pirated mp3s and movies will work just fine on the iPad. (Don’t expect the Chinese to pay real money for their music or movies — ever. Sorry.)
  • App store = It’s just a matter of time before a third-party Chinese-language ebook app sells cheap literature.

Can you say "big potential market"!?

And in the broader view, mobile computing and phones are taking off very, very fast in the East and the third world, because many huge areas simply don't have any telephone lines! And now will never need them.

Groovy pics

[Thanks to PetaPixel.]
Music at 500X! Amazing that you can get good quality sound out of that!

(It's a vinyl record, obviously!)

Mini NYC

Thanks to Mike, this is really good fun, especially on a large screen. (It's another one which is not what it seems.)


Instapaper, article.
It's an easy way to later find articles you wanted to read on the web, maybe on another device, and with better formatting. I'm surely gonna get it when it comes for the iPad.

The iPhone app, by reformatting articles, also actually makes the web usable on a handheld device, something I have definitely not regarded it as before. Actually it's an excellent reading experience for the screen size. Especially with the pro version's "tilt scrolling" which sounds silly, but is done well, if you have it turned on and tilt the iPhone (or iPod Touch) slightly, you can have it scroll at about the same speed you read [update: that turns out to only be true for news and such, for more substantial text, not], and it's surprisingly easy to control. It's actually much better than the hit-the-right-side-of-the-screen system used for ebooks. (Is it still called "clicking" when there's no button and no mouse?)

I think this will replace my Kindle for article reading. On the Kindle (even with the Calibre app to update it) it's very slow to sort through several web sites and see what's updated and what's interesting. It's much easier on my Mac Pro, and I just click the Instapaper bookmark for desired articles and read them later on the Touch.

Update: You can also get Instapaper as a browser to convert a web page to a single long column which fit on the small screen. This is brilliant! It's a feature that Safari on the iPhone/Touch really should have had since long.
It also has a dot and a "com" key in the keyboard by default for typing in URLs, something I also don't get why Safari has.

In Snow Leopard, this service will make it so you don't have to load a page before saving it. (You need to have "Growl" installed.)

M. Pipolo said:
Instapaper is GREAT. It, along with Mail and Safari, is one of the 3 absolutely essential apps on my iPod/iPhone. I imagine his iPad version will rock. Everyone should at least download the free demo version... you'll be hooked.
I particularly like the fact that my RSS reader, NetNewsWire for Mac, has Instapaper support built right in, so I can send articles to my iPod directly from the headlines view with a simple keystroke. Brilliant!

Finally an easy Waldo

iPad and resolution

Me, I'm hoping that in a year or two, we'll get an "iPad DX", maybe the same weight and pixel pitch, but twice the screen size. (The weight is the tough part, I'm hoping some new super-materials are around the corner.)

The question is, though, when it comes, will they have to make new apps for it again, like the jump from iPhone apps to iPad apps, or will it scale? Well, if the info I got from the engineers at PanelFly comics application can be generalized (and I think it can), then it will scale to the device. That's good news.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


It's just awesome that with today's pocketcamera I can take dead-sharp and color-accurate photos hand-held indoors of such a demanding subject as books.

Hamster-Powered Night Light

Ray found this Hamster-Powered Night Light. (A bit noisier than Sheldon's gold fish night lights, but still.)


[Thanks to Ian]
This is a bit blunt, but clear.
Also, people tend to not realize that the progressive taxation used in most countries is akin to socialism.

An economics professor made a statement that he had never failed a single student before but had once failed an entire class. That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said, "OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A. After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little. The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F. The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed. --------- "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it." ~~~~ Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931 ~~~~

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New long Tamron lens

I remember when Tamron started their SP "Superior Performance" line in the seventies, it was an attempt at making third-party lenses which could compete with the quality of brand name optics (Nikon, Canon, etc). And they often succeeded.
For their sixtieth anniversary, they reveal a new 70-300mm full-frame zoom with extra-low dispersion lenses, which is very rare.
But 70-300 is a well-covered range, I even have one on my desk here by Pentax. So it must have something special, yes? Tamron says so:
"...the SP AF70-300mm... boasts sharper contrast and greater descriptive performance than all others in its class."
Woa, quite a claim. If it's true, that should be a heck of a lens.
Press release.

Big Cintiq updated

Wacom (pronounced Wah-com) has released a new version of their top model pen-display, Cintiq 21.
I have two earlier models (an 18-inch and a 12-inch), and they are top gear. For retouching, drawing, and painting, there's nothing like it.
I find it interesting that Wacom has a monopoly in this area, I wonder why. I'm sure it's hard to do well, but when has that ever stopped anybody? (Just look at all the iPhone wannabes where the touch-screen behaves like a 3-year-old on a sugar high.)

Ah, Valkyrie found a competitor tablet.

Great camera deal

Hannah asked:
My last camera just died again. What brand would you advise for a small, cheap camera?

I recommend Canon PowerShot A1100 IS

I see it has gone down to 99 Pounds Sterling, a fantastic deal! High quality pictures, and it's stabilized. Only way you can tell it's cheap is that the body is rather plasticky.

You can see it here on Amazon UK and here on

It's the camera I gave to my friend John, and which he uses here.

When I bought it a few months ago, it was £160, and already a good deal!

Canon 85mm f/1.8

I love my 85mm F:1.2, but the F:1.8 model is also excellent, and waaaaaaay cheaper and waaaaaaay lighter/smaller. Here are some pics from it.

Here's a comparison between those two lenses.

Portable windmill

Portable windmill.

Absense of good

Snopes has an interesting essay regarding idea, circulating in several anecdotes, that evil has no existence, except as absence of God. (Or absense of Good.)

Pentax K-x Gets The DxOMark Treatment

Pentax K-x Gets The DxOMark Treatment, post.
"Especially spectacular is the Pentax K-x’s performance in terms of dynamic range, where it is bested only by the Nikon D3X, the Fujifilm S3/S5 Pro (both built for maximum dynamic range) and medium-format backs."

In other words, this entry-level camera has some of the best dynamic range of any camera with the same sensor size. Impressive.
More detail.

iPad reads aloud

This just in: the iPad will read ePub ebooks aloud! Excellent.

Why not web sites and other text, though? Same deal.

Fast iPhone typist

81 words per minute on "soft" keyboard. (Actually glass is harder than plastic.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Special typewriters

TC Gal found a gallery of typewriters which give my Remington a run for its money re visual appeal.

I love that the industrial revolution made it possible for the working man to acquire all the goods of middle class life which were out of his reach before. But on the other hand, mass-production encouraged simple and utilitarian designs, and much beautiful design has been lost.
At least I think that's why it happened. In any case, ornate design has been pretty much like the dodo for many decades.

An American in Switzerland

I've heard that an American who worked in a Swizz bank, stole account information about hundreds of American citizens and supposed tax avoiders, and gave it to IRS.
What do you think? A good citizen? Or an a-hole?


Two things which are fun to photograph, because they introduce abstraction, are shadows, and reflections. Here's a fun collection of the latter.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Travel mug

A Canon lens travel mug? Holy frig.

As seen on Enticing The Light. Go and click on all his ads.

iPad rotation lock

Remember I talked about how I was fervently hoping that the iPad would incorporate some sort of lock to screen rotation, so you can use it while lying on your side?
They did it! The button which used to be Mute is now Screen Rotation Lock. Zippidy!

There are also reports that pre-orders on the 'pad are through the roof. Apple is telling customers that if they change their order from delivery to in-store-pickup, it will create a new order, they'll go to the back of the queue, and they won't get it by April 3, meaning all they have now has already been ordered.
I had a feeling this would happen, which is why I ordered within a couple of hours after it went on sale.

By the way, I have added links to the top of my MacCreator site, which collects post from this blog about Apple, iPad, and such.

Trekkies, assemble

I'm watching the latest Star Trek movie. (US link -- UK link.)
The few times I've watched a Star Trek episode, I've not cared for it much, I'm sorry to say. But I quite like this movie so far. Engaging story, great visuals.

Although one thing: with all the fantastic make-up effects they can do these days, how come they can't make a green woman who does not look simply like she's been painted?


By the way, just once I'd like to see an action movie or show where the hero is the guy who applies some forethought, and not the suicidally reckless guy... :-)

Joss Stone - Sleep like a child

Apparently Joss is a gal.

What happened to those cute hippie chicks?

What happened to all those cute hippie chicks from the sixties?