Saturday, July 10, 2010

Pentax X90

Pentax X90.

A 26X zoom!! O mai gawd. When will the insanity stop? Will we end up with a 500 megapixel camera with a sensor like a pinky nail, and a 150X zoom lens plus 50X digital zoom?
Look, it's pretty useless, OK. Just ask reader and fellow blogger Ray. He has tried a couple of these super-zoom cameras, and all we hear is questions about why the pictures look like they're taken through a dirty plastic bag. (Update: I exaggerate... in good light and at short zoom levels, there are no problems.)
For good picture quality you need a biggish sensor, a short zoom at best, and no digital zoom at all. And you don't need anymore than 10 megapixels for prints and five for the web.

(I didn't even remember that Ray has the predecessor.) Ray says:

Here's a picture of my Pentax X70 on its Optex T25 tripod, in front of your web page on the monitor.
That Pentax X90 you show in the blog looks very similar to this X70, and probably is, except for a bit more of optical zoom. The right lighting has a big effect on zoomed pictures, I think... If the light's good, the results are much better - not so much noise in the images. I've noticed that for shots after dark, of lights or objects in the sky, there's a lot of noise in them. Shots in bright daylight come out much better. But I guess that's true of any camera, really...

That is true, only it's true in inverse ratio to the size of the sensor. These kinds of cameras look like they might have a rather big sensor, but it's really very small (less than ten milimeters to a side), which makes it not great for weak light. A camera like the big Canon 5DII, on the other hand, has a great big sensor (24x36mm), and you can hand-hold night-time pictures with it if you do it right (the right lens etc).
The downside is cost and size, especially for long zoom lenses, which will get  huge.

Testing blogging app

I could only find, to my surprise, a single app (with the simple name of BlogPress) which is aimed at blogging to Blogger from the iPad. So that's what I'm testing.
It seems pretty basic. You can add photos, but you can't format text in any way, and I think it's rather more fun when you can make bold and italics, change text size, indicate quotes with text color, and such. Though admittedly none of it is essential.

Mobile blogging via Eolake's 'pad.


mywritingnook, tweets for the writing app of that name. Good tips for indie writers. (I guess that's a pseudonym for "writers who are not all that successful yet"      :-)

What's included (dictaphone)

I keep getting amazed by how much is included in iOS devices (or, I'm sure, many other similar devices). For example I only noticed today that my iPhone 4 includes a dictaphone ("Voice Notes"). It's better quality than the Olympus digital one I paid good money for a few years ago, it's easier to use, has way higher capacity, and it can email voice notes to myself so I have them on my mac too (or to others of course).

I mean, this is seriously useful stuff, but in amongst everything that this little device can do, it's just thrown in as a extra you may not even notice.  Jeepers.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Big wallpaper photos

I found this great page for wallpaper photos, up to 1600 x 2560 (Apple Cinema Display) size.

If you know other sites with good photos or art in such size, please share.

I just wish it weren't so common for photos on the web to be over-saturated and over-sharpened. I might even go for some more BW ones...
Like this one, very nice indeed:

Update: KabelYaache said:
Just in case you have ever taken a tripod and a camera out at night to do some shots, you might notice that the saturation of the lighted areas is increased. As well as the contrast.
But, it's easier to sit pretty writing about things, than actually doing them, n'est pas?

Eolake said:
I was not talking about those pics I had selected, but rather about those I hadn't.
And it's not all of them, just some. Like these:

iRetrofone goes steampunk

iRetrofone goes steampunk, post.

The handsets are connected to the iPhone. The lower one is resin, the top one is cast in copper! 

I think I may like the design of the black one better, actually.

Two And A Half Men

I am watching a recent episode of 2 1/2 Men. I learned a few things:

  1. The kid is now so big, next season will be called 3.2 Men. 
  2. You can say "ass" on TV, but not "whore" or "bastard". That puzzles me a bit. 
  3. The real estate agent's fee for a 60M dollar home is 2 million! That puzzles me a lot. 
Why do teen boys (including myself back then) think that hair hanging almost over the eyes is cool?

I'm not sure if the words were bleeped (actually silenced) from the US or the UK.

Why do people not bypass real estate agents? Their fees are usually nuts, and it doesn't seem to me they do a lot to earn them.

Update: Jan said:
I've sold two houses, both times without an agent. It was no fun, but allowed me to avoid the extortionate fees.
If you plan to do it yourself, I suggest you get price estimates from several professionals who know the local market well. You can ask a bit more, but it will help you keep your feet on the ground (my original asking price for the first house was way too high, which made me lose a lot of time and some interesting buyers)
It also helps to take great photos and to fix it up a little bit (some paint can do wonders) to make it look more appealing.

Thursday, July 08, 2010


Supergirl as Superman's cousin was killed off in the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" storyline by DC in the eighties. Since then there clearly was hot-young-supergirl shaped hole in the readers' mind, for she appeared in various forms over the years, including an android. But now she's back to being Kryptonian and Superman's cousin. But it does not seem she has the Linda Lee Danvers secret identity of old days. A pity. On the other hand, she's not averse to showing her tight midriff, a definite plus. 

In the well-regarded Justice League Unlimited animated series, her top is white, which I think is a bold idea (breaking with Superman's colors), and looks good on her.

Powergirl and Supergirl.

How computers think, part 112

I wrote a mail which I did not send immediately, because I was still uploading something which was linked to in the mail.

When it came to send the mail, I opened it from Apple Mail's "drafts" folder, and... it just sat there, empty, thinking and thinking and thinking, trying to recreate the content of the mail.

I did something else, giving it time, and it finally succeeded after several minutes! It turned out that I was opening a temporarily created version of the email where I had mistakenly copied/pasted the name of a folder on my computer instead of a web link, and Mail, unlike my old email app, does not interpret this as simple a bit of text, it understands it as me copy/pasting the actual folder into the mail... And in this case it was a 600MB folder with thousands of files, all of which it apparently, bravely, was getting itself reading to email to my poor correspondent!

If I have to send a list of files to somebody, I have to first copy/paste the list into a text editor, which converts it into just text, and then copy/paste this list, otherwise I end up mailing the files instead of the list!

I guess it's useful once you know about it and get used to it. Though I still think simple drag/drop is the easiest way to add an attachment.

The Mactini

[Thanks to Pascal]

Wow, finally a proper manual!

I wonder if it can be used for CAD/CAM?

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Cheap classical collections

[Thanks to Andy]

Sadly and typically only available to US customers, here are ultra-cheap MP3 collections of classical music.

For Europe/UK, here's a similar offer. (Still highly economical, and I have just bought several of them. A remarkable and sudden expansion of my collection!)

All the world's a stage

"The American: businesslike, unwilling to be distracted.
      The Canadian: self-absorbed and disconnected from  reality.
              The Italian and the French: ”LOOK AT THAT BUTT”

Big Body, Big Screen

State of the Art - Big Body, Big Screen - Droid X Is This Month’s Superphone, NYT review article.
Interesting to hear of all the upsides, dowsides, and sidesides of the best of Android phones right now.
The first thing I noticed is that the cheapest contract with this phone is $90 a month! When the two years is up, you've paid over two grand to use your smartphone! This is clearly not not meant for weekend users.

How to Make Free iPhone Ringtone with iTunes

How to Make Free iPhone Ringtone with iTunes, article.

It works on my Mac, I haven't tried it with Windows.
(It only works with DRM-free songs.)

I've not been into the whole ringtone thing, particularly not paying two or three bucks for one, as the kiddies seem quite willing to. But now I got an iPhone finally, and I could take a bit of song to make a ringtone, it seemed the time to do so. So I made one from Bowie: Heroes (live), Talking Heads: Wild, Wild Life, and Ugress: Decepticons. (Mail me if you wannem.) 
I admit it does spice up a phone call, like a custom wallpaper spices up a computer screen.
It can't be one with great precision, though,  it seems the export process does not allow for split seconds.

Update: Laurie says:
It's better and very precise if you use Garage Band. Also you can use any track in your collection, not just the DRM free tracks.

iOS oddities

Here's an oddity I've noticed on both the iPad and the iPhone: I plug in the device, iTunes pops up and does its stuff, and then reports that the device is now updated and synced. But a new app I bought has not appeared on the device. So I sync manually via the File menu, and now the app does appear on the device after sync. The last time I did (on the iPhone, two minutes ago), it was quite many items which did not cross over until I did it manually. I think this is quite odd behavior. I'd think a sync is a sync is a sync, but it seems not.

Another thing, when texting on the iPhone, how do you get around the flippin auto-word correction!? I can't get the flippin device to accept the word "hmmm", it writes all kinds of things instead.
(I'd be thankful to know 1: how to turn it off altogether and 2: how to override it manually in particular instances.)

Update: Anonymous said:
RTFM, numbskull!!!!!

eolake said...
It doesn't *come* with an effin' manual, blockhead.

OK, so I'll do my own research, jeezz, just trying to communicate here...

... It turns out that until quite recently, you actually had to jailbreak the phone (voiding the warrenty) to do this. But after a recent update, it can be done under Settings/General/Keyboard.
Although I still haven't found a way to override it in individual circumstances.

KC Aussie said...
When you are typing something and it offers a correction (a little bubble above or below the word you are typing, text is blue), you can press the "x" in the in the bubble to dismiss the bubble and the correction offered.
What I have found is that over time it seems to learn words or abbreviations. For example, in notes to myself I often write the first three letters of the day of the week (Mon, Tue, Wed, etc) and it would always change the "Wed" to We'd" ... what I found is that if I dismissed the offered correction eventually it was no long offered.
I'm not sure how many times you have to dismiss a correction before your preferred spelling becomes added to the dictionary iOS uses.

Thanks, friend.

By the way, why isn't there an effin manual? When I buy a camera, it comes with a manual. At the very least a PDF one. You would think that a company like Apple puts so much care and pride into creating an awesome product like the iPhone, they would want people to be able to figure out all the hundreds of features it has.
And surely the features are documented somewhere, otherwise they couldn't even build the phone. So why don't they hire somebody to convert that document into a public-friendly manual which would make their customers that much more happy? It's not like they can't pay, they have like $20B in the bank.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Books as apps, on iPad

Small tip for iPad users: beware when buying ebooks as "apps", because most of them were made for iPhone, and were never updated to the iPad, so the screen/text is either very small or very blurry (if you double-size it).
Looks like this:

Twitter limits bandwidth

I wrote to the maker of my Twitter app (Kiwi) and told them that I have problems posting pictures. They replied that Twitter recently has dramatically reduced the "rate limit" for all twitter apps, and it's creating many problems (like user lookups) which it's hard to do anything about.

For me, it helps to post pictures to my own server (or DropBox), and then just post the link with a tweet. (Only thing is I think those posted on Twitpic is available to more people, but I'm not sure.)
But in the bigger picture, it shows the potential problem with all free services: it attracts millions of people, but 'who you gonna call' when the caca hits the fan? What are you gonna demand, your money back?

DS Styles iPh case

I've gotten a case for my iPhone. First case I've ever gotten for a phone. But since the iPhone is mostly glass, and despite testing showing it to be at least as tough as phones are generally, it felt appropriate.
I quite like this case. It sits well in the hand, works against slipping, feels like it protects the phone, has a nice pattern, and yet you can see the steel and other features, which I feel is important. All the access openings are perfect. It exists in a few other colors too.

I tried Apple's bumper case, and I feel it's a failure compared to this case. The Bumper hides the beautiful steel, and it does not protect the back glass.

CS-Styles have wasted no time in promoting that it helps with Apple's little antenna problem too.       :-)

I like their Chinese-English promotional text:

"Now the world is crazy by the new release iPhone 4. Come on everyone. Keep your pace on and do the complete prepare for it. DS Lattice Silicone Case is a have-must. The lattice pattern is simple but fashion."

It's poetry.

Monday, July 05, 2010

The Targus chick

I can't get over this chick, she does something to me. If she used that face and tone of voice to tell me a shirt she was selling looked nice on me, I'd be helpless.
She sounds like every mundane little feature of the product gives her personal and abundant joy and pleasure. Kool.

What's funny is that she can do it every time. There are several different cases, and her: "Love your new iPad? Want to keep it safe and sound?" sounds the same and exactly as bubbly as the first one. Good performance.

"The Z-case features a fashionable and sophisticated look, designed specifically to suit your personable style."

Well, that assumes that I'm fashionable and sophisticated... which I've not often been accused of. :-)

But if this lovely woman will come round to my house, she can sell me *all* the cases in all the colors.

The one below may be my favorite. The moment where she lovingly rubs the case up and down is not suggestive at all though, no no no, don't get me wrong.

Making a portrait on the iPad

Like I predicted before the iPad came out, there is already lots and lots of good art being made on it. Apart from pressure sensitivity, there's really not a lot you can do with the more expensive Wacom Cintiq that you can't do on an iPad. (And an intriquing area, barely explored yet, is replacing speed for pressure sensitivity, for example making a line thinner when you move your finger or stylus faster.)

Dodocase web page

I haven't gotten my Dodocase yet (they're backordered), but one thing I know: this is an exemplarily beautiful web page.  Beautiful, big photos on a good looking, minimalistic page, neutral background color, gorgeous logo and buttons, and again, wonderfully simple. A lot of web designers might do well to take note.

They have some videos here. Here's a video review.
One thing though: a couple of vids on youboob shows how the pad is no longer held firmly in place after a few weeks. This is unfortunate to say the least, it might fall out onto a hard place. I have mailed Dodo to get a solution to that, should it happen with mine. Update: I got an answer, they'll include some extra corner rubber bumpers.

Modern parking tech

[Thanks to Mark]
High-tech parking technology in Budapest, video. (Note: loud sound, which can't be adjusted.)

This is very cool. One only has to hope that Budapest is not prone to power-outs, or the software prone to Blue Screens Of Death.       :-)

Don Norman at Business of Software 2009

Don Norman at Business of Software 2009, video.
This is a fun video with many good points.
He mentions how he worked once as a consultant for Apple, and he wanted a legacy and decided to try to coordinate just one little simple thing: the power switch. And everybody agreed that it would be great if the power switch was recognizable over their whole product line, division by division. But after half a year of trying, they gave up, it couldn't be done. Big groups of people simply can't agree.

I also like his many fine examples about how complexity is not always bad. Its very true. Many years ago I wrote a poem which included a line about the Beautiful Complexity of the Universe, or something on those lines, and people disagreed with it, because Everybody Knows that simplicity is beautiful, not complexity... well, have you looked at the scoring card of a piece by Bach?

Sunday, July 04, 2010


I mentioned how I've read at least a couple of books, or the equivalent, per week all my life. I don't really "get" people who don't read, even though there are many, many of them. For me it's like not breathing.

I remember having a discussion at nine or ten with a playmate. He insisted Batman could fly. He proved it by pointing to a drawing in a comic where Batman was hovering under the ceiling in a room. He had not read the text, which said that a big magnet was pulling up Bats by the metal things in his gadget belt. It was a shock to me that he did not read the text in his comic books.

ganesha games said...
I broke up with a girlfriend when I realized that having her around all the time was preventing me from reading. 'Nuff said.

eolake said...
Exactly. If that had really been the case, I would have done the same thing. And I think *very* few people have their priorities that way around. Most people will change *everything* for their lover.

A field of tablets

It seems from various reports that there are some quite interesting smart-phones out there running the Android system. Well,  I'm not interested in getting another phone, but a thought occurred to me: somebody might attempt to compete with the iPad. Well, actually that's pretty much a given; the "might" comes in here: some of these products might actually be good!

Perhaps using the Android system (which I've not tried), but that's less important (this article does not make me optimistic). I would like to see a field of choices of interesting tablet devices, both from Apple and other makers. For example a small and light one like a Kindle, but faster and with a better screen. Or a larger one than the iPad, for more complex tasks and productivity and connectivity. Or whatever, I'm sure there are thousands of options and functions we haven't dreamed of yet. It could become interesting.

I hope it does. I hope they won't all be like the Zune, brown in reality and in spirit. (Brown?? Who wants a brown gadget?)

Update: Alex mentions Cisco's interesting Cius. (I'm not sure what it does, I got too distracted by the buzz words and the beautiful vicepresident.)

Crossing from Free to Paid options

I've made a new kind of promotional page on Domai: a full thumbnail page in the free section, but just a few of the thumbnails (clearly highlighted) links to big images.

This kind of page was an attempt to replicate something I heard in a podcast.
Marco Arment, the maker of the excellent software Instapaper, talked about how people, surely partly out of sheer inertia, will keep using the free version of a thing forever, unless missing something becomes too uncomfortable. In his case, he limits the free version of Instapaper to save ten articles*, which helps a lot of people over the mental hurdle to sign up for the Pro version for five bucks.

It's an issue for a very big number of internet businesses: how to get more people to cross over from the free content to paid content.

So I'm experimenting on how to get a larger percentage of the huge number of free-bee visitors to feel that they are missing out until they actually get their membership. Showing thumbnails of the pictures they aren't getting for free is one idea, I don't yet have data on whether it works.

*Marco says he added the 10-article limit last summer (2009). Clearly he changed his mind, in this 2008 blog post, he strongly denied a rumor that this limit existed then:
"There’s no limit of how many articles you can store with Instapaper Free [...]. There has never been such a limit. As I have previously discussed in depth, I never want to impose artificial, frustrating restrictions on Free that make it a bad product."
So I'm guessing he changed his mind at some point about whether such a limit would make the free version a Bad Product.  I'm not saying this is bad, it's a reasonable limit, it's his product, and he's free to change his mind however he wants.

I'm just wondering whether it's ten articles total, ten per day, or ten unread at any one time. I'm guessing the last one. 
(BTW, I don't have experience with the free version, because when I heard of Instapaper, I got so enthusiastic that I bought the Pro version right away (and haven't regretted it one second).)
Update: Marco informs me:
It's 10 unread articles stored on the iPhone at once. As people read and Archive them, it downloads more until it has 10.

Live in the Now?

I'd heard it all the time, 'Live in the moment.' But if I did that, I'd weigh more than a dump truck. Losing weight wasn't about the moment at all; it was about having faith in the future. It was about knowing there would be another meal in a few hours.
           -- Stephanie Klein

Yes, "live in the Now" was a hugely popular mental and spiritual admonishment in the noughties. But I never really understood why it was.
For one thing, "Now" is just another part of Time. You're still validating the falsehood of time.
For another thing, how do you do it? It's all very easy to say "stop worrying about the past and future, just live in the Now", but how do you do it? I find it hard to believe that many people have been able to go from gut-wrenching worry to peaceful relaxation by simply remembering to "live in the Now".