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iPhone 11 Pro, et al.

Posted on September 10th, 2019

Dave!AND LO DID TIM COOK DESCEND FROM ON HIGH TO DELIVER A NEW iPHONE TO THE APPLE FAITHFUL FROM THE SANCTITY OF THE APPLE SPACESHIP HEADQUARTERS!

He dropped some other Apple stuff too, but the only thing I really cared about was the iPhone. And the only reason I cared about a new iPhone was the possibility of an improved camera inside of it.

Apple Event screen showing the Apple logo constructed from transparent pastel-colored ribbons.

And here's all the crap Apple talked about, along with my notes...
   

Apple Arcade

I love video games. I've loved video games since video games were invented. Alas, I never have time to actually play them, which means my Nintendo Switch sits mostly unused and any game I buy for my iPhone is never finished. So when Apple announced "Apple Arcade" I was ready to take a big 'ol pass... but then you find out it's just $4.99 a month (a third less than I was expecting) and a part of me is like Hmmmmmm?!? $5 is (on average) what I pay for a single game. Now I can get hundreds of games for that same price? That's a pretty sweet deal. And every one of the games are exclusive to Apple. So who knows? Maybe a couple times a year I'll pay my $5 and play when I can for a month just to see what's up. Sure beats paying $5 for one game that will never be completed. There's a one-month free trial to check it out on September 19th...

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Apple TV+

I already pay far more for television every month than I am comfortable with (or can afford). But looking at the cool shows that Apple has lined up for their streaming service is certainly compelling. And, again, I'm more than a little blown away that Apple is only going to charge $4.99 a month given the money and quality of shows they are producing. This will be yet another case of paying for a month of service a couple times a year so I can binge all their content. And then Apple drops the other shoe... any purchase of a new iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV comes with a FREE year of Apple TV+, which is pretty mind-blowing. Apple developed a streaming service not as a monthly revenue model... BUT TO SELL MORE OF THEIR PRODUCTS! No idea if people like me who are a part of the iPhone Upgrade Program will get a free year every time they trade in their old phone for a new phone, but that would be pretty sweet...

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iPad

I have a new-ish model of iPad which I purchased to paint with. And I love it for painting. The Apple Pencil is fast, intuitive, and there's all kinds of apps available to unleash your creativity. But what I need an iPad for is drawing, not painting. I want to be able to draw on the thing, and I have a really hard time with that. I just can't seem to get the precision needed for drawing down, and every time I try I end up reaching for a pencil and paper. What I need to do is just sit down for a week and force myself to learn. But I can never find the time so my iPad sits in a drawer. For that reason, iPad news is kind uninteresting to me... but I do tune in, because nothing would make me happier than to use an iPad for travel instead of lugging my laptop everywhere. And if things keep advancing like they have been, we are closer to that becoming a reality than ever before. Would I buy a new 7th Generation iPad if I could afford one in the first place? Probably not. But I still want one, and that's how Apple gets you. The latest model is sublimely fast, capable, and beautiful to look at and draw on. What's not to want?

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Apple Watch

The only way that I would ever buy one of these would be if they made it considerably thinner. Because while I would absolutely love to own one... I would likely never wear it. But, again, I want one anyway because Apple makes such a compelling case as to why I can't live without one. The health features alone are pretty spectacular. But now the display is ALWAYS ON which addresses my other major pet peeve about Apple Watch. The fact that they innovated a way to make this happen without sacrificing battery life is insanely great. All the other new stuff in Series 5... like a compass... is cute, but not compelling enough for me to shell out $500.

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iPhone

iPhone 11. This is the new entry model iPhone, which I'll just skip right over, since it doesn't have the cameras I am looking for. Faster, better Face ID, better cameras, blah blah blah... it's dope, we get it. The base model starts at $699.

iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max. Here we go...

Durability. They claim that the new iPhone Pro models are constructed with the toughest glass ever created for a mobile phone. Will this preclude giving up a protective case? That would be nice, but I'll have to wait until somebody tests that. Since I am on the iPhone Upgrade Program and have to return my iPhone in pristine condition if I don't want to pay a fine to get a new one, I'll probably end up with a case unless the glass is so tough that it's impossible to scratch. Not likely.

Display. Apparently "Super Retina" displays just aren't good enough now. Apple has leapt forward with Super Retina XDR. It's got better contrast, better color gamut, better brightness... all while being 15% more energy efficient.

A13 Bionic Chip. Apple's line of chips has been fine-tuned specifically for doing exactly what Apple wants their phones to do and nothing more or less. There's no wasted energy going anywhere because Apple designs them that way. This makes them crazy-powerful all while drawing less power from the battery. Nowhere is this more evident than with Apple's dedication to "machine learning" via their "Neural Engine." This is a special set of routines that can analyze massive amounts of data and provide tools to use that data in intelligent ways. Feed it a bunch of images of an object to define an object, for example, and you can ask it to look for the object in new images with very little coding. That's pretty basic scenario, and creative programmers are able to do much, much more. This is a case of Apple providing killer tools so developers can come up with killer apps.

Battery. I don't use my phone a lot, so the battery has barely drained when I charge it each night. Even when I travel and am using my phone constantly, it still lasts me all day. I rarely ever run out of battery (which used to happen all the time with earlier iPhone models). Even so... the new Pro has up to 4 hours more battery life... the new Pro Max has up to 5 hours more battery life. And they are including a more powerful charger, so you can charge your phone quicker as well (assuming you still want to use a cord... ugh!). It was expected that Apple would introduce "reverse wireless charging" so you can use your iPhone battery to charge another phone... or your Apple Watch... or your AirPods... or whatever. This was introduced in the previous version of the Samsung Galaxy phones, but didn't happen this time for the iPhone. Maybe next year.

Haptic Touch. As rumored, Apple has eliminated 3D Touch from its displays, which allowed a "deep touch" to perform different functions from a "touch." This is a real shame, because 3D Touch is a frickin' amazing feature (no wonder it wasn't even mentioned at the event!). So now instead of a display that's pressure-sensitive, we instead get "Haptic Touch" which relies on the length of a touch instead of the hardness of a touch to deliver different functions. This is most decidedly not the same thing, even though Apple is essentially selling it that way. I'm sure it will just be a learning adjustment. But it's weird that Apple would be removing features like this. I guess it makes for cheaper displays... but how is that a consolation in a phone that starts at $1000?!?

Lightning Again. The dream was that Apple finally move to USB C for the cable hookup. They didn't. It's still a Lightning connector, which means you have to continue to pack stupid Lightning cables with you everywhere. I rarely use a cable at home thanks to wireless charging, but I use it all the time when I travel, which is why this sucks.

Sound. Dolby Atmos on a phone is an absurd claim... probably more "Dolby-Atmos-like," but I don't doubt that the spatial sound abilities are much improved.

Camera. I use my iPhone as a camera more than anything else. By a ridiculous margin. To me, it's not a phone at all... it's a camera which happens to be able to use the internet and make phone calls. When I travel now-a-days, I rarely take my actual camera with me. My iPhone is enough. And with each new version that Apple unleashes, my "professional camera" is less necessary. I haven't needed to buy a new mobile phone in years. But I do so anyway because I want a better camera.

Night Mode. Apple has always had pretty good low light capabilities. But with the advent of mobile phones like the Google Pixel with its amazing "night sight," Apple's efforts are downright pitiful. But now they've addressed this shortcoming in a big way to add far better low light photography to the iPhone. This is a pretty big deal...

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Lens Trio. Saying that the iPhone Pro has "three lenses" is actually wrong. It has three cameras, each with a different lens. A 12MP 26mm f/1.8 Wide Camera, a 12MP 52mm f/2.0 Telephoto Camera, and a 12MP 13mm f/2.4 Ultra-Wide Camera...

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Note that we haven't gotten an increase from 12MP in a while now. This is probably smart given the massive storage space needed, but they really need to get to at least 16MP real soon for those who want it... maybe even giving just one of the lenses 24MP or something. Anyway... it's the ultra-wide that's important here...

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Most any time I've taken scenic photos I end up having to take panoramas, which are great but problematic. Far better if I can take a wide photo in one shot, which is going to be much more likely now.

Deep Fusion. And here's where things get interesting! Deep Fusion is a technology which uses the iPhone's machine learning to to build fantastic detail out of multiple shots... automatically. Every time you initiate the shutter, iPhone takes nine photos (four of them happen before you even touch the shutter). It then analyzes every pixel of all the images and builds a finished image which combines the best pixels from each... in less than a second. The demo image is phenomenal, and has me totally sold...

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Video. All three cameras can shoot in 4K. New editing tools allow for adjusting attributes like brightness. That's impressive. But it's Mickey Mouse stuff when you consider what it can actually do with these cameras. To demonstrate that, Apple had the CTO from FiLMiC show off the next version of their app which takes full advantage of the fact that the iPhone Pro can record from MULTIPLE CAMERAS AT THE SAME TIME!

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So you can have coverage at the wide and telephoto levels in the same shot. And you can use the selfie cam as one of those cameras.... Which means you can record both sides of a talking heads conversations in one go...

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Insanity. But in the best possible way.

5G. Ain't got it. Which is a bit of a dangerous game to play. As the 5G rollout gains momentum, having a phone with the option of connecting to it seems like something you want to have in a $1000 phone for future-proofing. But Apple, of course, doesn't want to future-proof. They want you to keep buying new phones to get those sweet new features.

Price. No increased retail on the Pro. Still $1000 for the "regular" sized one... which seems absurd, even when considering all it can do. I don't have $1000 to throw around, so I will be upgrading from my current iPhone with the iPhone Upgrade Program I bought into last year...

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Artistry. Apple gave some of the new iPhone Pro phones to professional photographers and let them loose. Using the new tech, they created some amazing images...

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And that's all she wrote.

My iPhone Upgrade Program renewal date isn't until the 20th, and I'm too cheap for an early buy-out, so I'm fine waiting until then (which, coincidentally, is the actual release date). Of course by that time the waiting list queue for backorders will likely have me getting my new iPhone 11 Pro in October, so I won't get to try out the awesome new camera(s) until then.

Think of all the cat photos I'll be missing out on.

   

Ooh… Upgrades

Posted on July 29th, 2019

Dave!I started publishing regular updates to a website in the mid-90's (first called DaveWorld then DaveSpot then DaveBlog). Back then it was simply an "online journal" that was manually created and updated. By the year 2000 "weblog" (eventually "blog") was an increasingly commonplace term, and online publishing tools became available which made it easier and easier to do. My first blog was started in 2002, but was eventually scrapped in April of 2003 when I started Blogography.

Being a blogger in 2003 was a different world (wide web).

Most people had much slower connections to the internet and there were wild concepts like "bandwidth throttling" which could severely dampen your visitors' online experience (and will likely dampen it again if our pig-fucker politicians kill net neutrality). On top of that, disk space and bandwidth were precious commodities for which your hosting company made you pay dearly. More than once I'd end up with a massive extra fee on my monthly statement when a photo I posted went "viral" (a term than didn't even exist back then) and slaughtered my bandwidth quota. Because of the expense, bloggers had to be really careful about publishing images on their sites. Photos were rare. When you did post them, they were tiny and compressed to death. And back then they were likely scanned from paper photos or shot at really low resolution, so they looked pretty bad.

Looking back, it was a primitive time. But back then it was just they way things were (unless you were made of money) and we accepted it because we didn't know any better. Or have any other option, really.

A couple weeks ago I was searching through my old entries for something and started noticing how bad my early photos were. To save as much disk space and bandwidth as possible they were saved at 210×160 pixels then displayed at 420×320 pixels, like this shot of the Hard Rock Cafe Osaka Universal Studios in 2003...

Lo-lo-res photo of the Hard Rock Cafe Osaka Universal Studios

Once bandwidth costs started dropping and people had faster connections, I upgraded to photos which were actually cropped to the full 420×320 pixels they were being displayed at, like this...

Lo-res photo of the Hard Rock Cafe Osaka Universal Studios

Not a ton better, but a bit easier to look at, which is why I went back through all my old images and "upgraded" them to the 420×320 size.

In 2010, I got a new camera and my images were "widescreen," so I switched to a full resolution of 500×330. This time I didn't go back and upgrade all my old photos because the size ratio was different (and I had so many entries that it seemed like it would be a lot of work).

In 2012-2013 I transitioned to bigger images, this time 600×400. If I linked back to an old entry with smaller images, I would usually "upgrade" the image (again) if I still had the original photo, like this...

Medium-res photo of the Hard Rock Cafe Osaka Universal Studios

Then on June 29th, 2012, everything changed. That's when I got my first "Retina display" MacBook Pro. It had a much higher pixel-density than previous laptops, and photos looked so much better on it. Unless you were looking at a website with standard-resolution images. So on July 10th, 2012 I switched to 1200×800 pixel images, but still defined them as 600×400 pixels so people with high-density screens would have far nicer images to look at. That's been my "default" ever since.

A couple weeks ago I decided to start upgrading my old images (again-again) assuming I still had the original photo available. I wasn't expecting much improvement but, even on those old paper photo scans, the images ended up looking much nicer...

Medium-res photo of the Hard Rock Cafe Osaka Universal Studios

A far cry from what I started with...

Lo-lo-res photo of the Hard Rock Cafe Osaka Universal Studios

A part of me was wondering if I shouldn't go even higher... 2400×1600 pixels... because you just know that eventually we'll have VR displays or direct brain-implants to take us there. But these earliest photos wouldn't benefit from that much, so I've decided to hold off. Odds are some revolutionary new tech will come along to upscale lower-res photos anyway, so 1200×800 is probably good enough. For now. Maybe in the future I'll start uploading dual files for all my new photos. Just to save me time for when the inevitable happens? Worth a thought, anyway.

But image quality isn't the only upgrade I've been working on...

When I was in the "middle-period" of blogging where images were cheaper to host... but could still be expensive if I posted too many of them... I would sometimes host half of the images on an external service to share the load.

As these image hosting services disappeared (or started charging money!), I’d just delete the links to the images they held. This made early entries even skimpier than they already were, so when I started upgrading again-again, I also went back and added some of the missing images. On my post about Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, for example, that meant my photos weren’t just increased to 1200×800 pixels, the count went from two photos back to the five photos I had original posted. Pretty sweet.

I have a LOT of entries left to upgrade. Too many. Which is why I'm not going to kill myself in the attempt, I'm just going to do a couple dozen every week and see where that gets me.

Probably nowhere. Why do I blog again?

   

Bullet Sunday 622

Posted on July 28th, 2019

Dave!The world may be turned up-side-down, but there's at least one thing you can still count on... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...

   
• Moon! The 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing was July 20th. As a build-up to this amazing event, NASA unleashed a flood of images from their archives. The photos are stunning...

An astronaut descending from the lunar lander on the moon.

An Apollo astronaut on the moon.

The earth as seen from the moon.

The scanned resolution is quite high, so you can zoom in for some great detail...

Closeup of the earth as seen from the moon.

But the real gold here? NASA has also posted some panoramas they've stitched together. They're huge...

Panorama of Apollo astronauts on the moon

Panorama of Apollo astronauts on the moon

To see them in all their glory, you'll need to head over to Flickr. Well worth your time.

   
• Emoji! As I mentioned previously, I question Apple's emoji strategy. Most times what they come up with is beautiful when seen at large sizes... but fall apart at smaller sizes. Which is crazy, because the vast majority of the time emoji are displayed tiny. Google, on the other hand, creates more simple, easily identifiable emoji that read well at small sizes. Their cartoonish style just works SO much better...

Apple's beautifully-detailed emojis for ape and skunk vs. Google's more cartoony take.
   
That's Apple on the left and Google on the right.

With the upcoming emojis for 2019, Apple seems to be shitting the bed. Their emoji for falafel looks like a plate of turds... even at large sizes! Google, on the other hand, has captured the spirit of falafel with their gorgeous, more cartoony take...

But the one that REALLY bothers me? Apple's take on the new waffle emoji...

Arguably, the Apple waffle looks more delicious. But no butter or syrup? Who eats a waffle like that? Google's waffle doesn't look as appetizing, but at least they gave us a little butter! Step it up, Apple!

   
• Hey Boys! And so... Amazon's adaptation of The Boys has been released. It's faithful to the idea of the original comic book series in many ways, has incredible acting by a terrific cast, and is pretty entertaining (assuming you're not opposed to violence and gore)...

An image of The Seven, a super-hero group from the Amazon mini series The Boys

There are some negatives, however. First of all, the editing is weird. Scenes are made confusing by cuts or appear in an order that seems backwards. Second, it ends on a massive cliffhanger (fortunately the show has already been renewed for a second season). And, of course, there have been some massive changes from the comics which I found bothersome. Yeah, I know, that's par for the course, but the changes made were kinda self-defeating. Even so... it's an interesting look at the super-hero genre that might be worth a look if you're into that kind of thing.

   
• Just the Equifax, Ma'am! In case you haven't heard, odds are highly likely that your private information was leaked by Equifax, a consumer credit company. In a hilariously inadequate punishment, they agreed to a direct payout settlement with the FTC for up to $425 million in order for citizens to help clean up the mess they created (when Equifax earns $877 million per quarter... and rising). If you want your part of this absurd slap on the wrist, the FTC has a page for that. But before you go running... you should know that the amount of money they have to pay out is capped. The $125 you think you're applying for is not a guaranteed amount you'll receive. It's the maximum amount you'll receive. If one million people make the request, you'll just get $31. If all 147 million people who were affected make the request, you'll get a whopping 21¢. So when I had to choose between the "$125" and the free credit monitoring, I went with the free credit monitoring. It's pretty much nothing compared to the damage Equifax has done. But I'll take "pretty much nothing" over actually nothing any day. The good news is that I can cancel the $10 a month service I have been using, and that adds up to real money.

UPDATE: Well, that was fast... no more "$125" settlements are offered. Oh yeah, and then there's this from the FTC.

   
• Keyboard Katasrophe! Oh wow. Maybe Apple isn't as stupid as I thought. They're apparently going to finally replace their shitty "butterfly keyboards" with something that (hopefully) won't suck shit through a tube. Except they are pretty damn stupid considering they waited far, far longer than they should have to ditch these crappy, horrendously evil keyboards, didn't they?

   
• Schadenfreude! Mitch McConnell is a festering pile of crap, and I'll take my moments where I can...

Jon Stewart smiles as Piece of FUCKING SHIT Mitch McConnell walks by

This is before the vote where the Senate approved legislation to permanently fund care for 9/11 survivors and first responders who suffered health issues. Something PIECE OF FUCKING SHIT MITCH MCCONNELL has been fighting against since day one. Which is business as usual for a GAPING ASSHOLE LIKE MCCONNELL, who is perfectly fine letting our 2020 elections be hacked, has no problem breaking the law if it means he can make money, and wastes no opportunity to forward the agenda of the lobbyist handlers who have bought and paid for his ass. He is the epitome of corruption in government. He is the best ever example for why we need congressional term limits. He is garbage who profits off of the misery he is elected to relieve. I try my best not to hate people. Hate consumes you. Hate destroys you. But I fucking hate Mitch McConnell to such an extremely illogical degree that it doesn't even register as "hate" on my psyche. When this fucker is finally dead and rotting in hell, I plan on celebrating like I won the lottery. Because his death is apparently the only thing that will keep him out of office given how Kentucky keeps sending his heinous ass back to "represent" them. I guess they like getting fucked, and he's happy to keep fucking them. Over and over and over and over since 1984.

   
• Divine Voice! Because I'd like to end on a positive note today... here's a really cool video of Simu Liu telling the story of how he found out that he was cast as Shang-Chi in Marvel's upcoming movie...

I've only seen Liu in a few things... but he's crazy-talented and I'm sure he's going to do a great job.

   
And that's the end of that. See you next Sunday.

   

Maybe Yesterday

Posted on July 17th, 2019

Dave!I've taken to blogging in the early mornings before I go to work instead of late evenings when I'm done with work. It's not been working out for me. How am I to comment on my day's events when I have barely started the day? And so... I will probably go back to late-night blogging, even though I'm usually so tired that all I want to blog about is how tired I am.

In the meanwhile though? Here was my yesterday!

Last year when I learned I needed to keep my blood sugars intact, I started walking to work so I can still eat bread and pasta. It's a short walk... 7 to 9 minutes... and I've come to really enjoy it. It's a chance to plug and clear my head, which is something that's kinda rare these days. The good news is that switching to Coke Zero and walking has been working for me. I had a great checkup with my doctor, and everything is going well. And so... more bread and pasta.

On yesterday's walk I was assaulted by a rose that was reaching outside its garden fence...

Rose on my Walk

Rose on my Walk

You don't get nice surprises like that driving a car.

But the bigger surprise was later that evening when I made guacamole for the first time. It was Taco Tuesday and a nice chunky guac as a topper was exactly what I needed...

Rose on my Walk

It was phenomenal. And perfectly chunky enough for tacos (and chips!). And easy.

But not as pain-free as I was expecting.

In order to eliminate waste, I've been making a lot of changes in my house. Instead of buying single-use products like plastic wrap, I've been using something more sustainable or learning to live without it. I have one roll of Saran Wrap left and, at the slower rate I'm using the stuff, it should last me the rest of my life. And I've not stopped there. I've bought my last box of plastic straws. I've switched to reusable grocery bags. I'm transitioning from poly to paper wherever I can.

And I've eliminated single-use latex gloves from everywhere except my emergency kits.

The latex gloves I used to wear while chopping jalapeño peppers.

I (foolishly) thought that if I just washed my hands after cutting the peppers for my guac that everything would be fine.

As I found out later that night while falling asleep watching television, things did not turn out fine.

I reached up to rub my eyes and... ZOMG! THE BURNING!!! From the level of pain I was experiencing, you'd have thought that I squeezed a full jalapeño in my face. I can safely say that now I know what it feels like to be doused in pepper spray. It hurt a little bit when my eyes were closed... it was excruciating when my eyes were open. I have no idea why washing my hands didn't prevent this, but now I know better. I had tried some reusable kitchen gloves but they were too thick to work easily, so I guess next time I'll use a towel or a piece of wax paper or something.

Because... yowie.

One other thing that happened yesterday? The 2019 Emmys nominations were announced. For some inexplicable reason Game of Thrones, on its worst season ever, managed to rack up 32. As you can probably tell from the wrap-up I wrote, I totally don't get it. Seven seasons of brilliant set-up that was rushed to a shitty, mind-bogglingly bad conclusion deserves 32 nominations? INCLUDING BEST WRITING?!? Um. No. About the only category I think they should win is Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, because Peter Dinklage was still exceptional. He was making all the stupid be entertaining right up until the very end. He won last year, so I'm not sure he'll get it, but I sure hope so.

There was a pleasant surprise, however. Schitt's Creek, long one of the best shows on television, was nominated for Best Comedy Series. And the awesome Catherine O'Hara and Eugene Levy were nominated for respective Best Actress and Best Actor in a Comedy Series. Of course I think they should win, even though this season was not as good as the previous two seasons (when they really should have been winning all the awards). Alas, Emmy voters will probably give it to Fleabag (which probably deserves it) or Veep (because it's the final season) or The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (which I don't like at all). If Schitt's Creek can't win it, I'd hope for Barry or Russian Doll, but those seem like longshots too.

I was happy to see My Dinner with Herve got nominated for Best Television Movie, even if Peter Dinklage wasn't nominated for Lead Actor in it (which he deserves).

If anybody is interested, I've put my picks for the major awards in an extended entry. If you're not interested, I'll see you tomorrow. Probably tomorrow evening.

→ Click here to continue reading this entry...

   

The (Not So) Long Walk Home

Posted on April 22nd, 2019

Dave!People who know stuff have said that in the future most people won't own cars. Instead they'll summon one of a fleet of robot vehicles in their area that will take them where they want to go. Robot cars will be smarter, faster, safer, and cheaper.

I'm fine with it. Partly because I like the idea of not having to maintain a car or buy a new one when the old one dies. But mostly because I love the idea of being able to work or play video games or read a book while traveling somewhere. How great is that?

In the meanwhile...

The weather has been way too nice for me to have any excuses not to walk to work. Not only is the brisk seven-minute exercise good for me... but I like being more environmentally friendly by not firing up my car for such a short drive into town.

And look at all the stuff I would miss if I was driving...

First of all is a rock that's asking for help...

Rock with HELP ME Written on It

Then there were these damn pigeons who have no respect for authority...

Pigeons Ignoring a Sign That Says KEEP OFF!

And just look at these blossoms...

Tree Blossoms!

Who knows what tomorrow's walk will bring?

Hopefully finding money.

   

Photo Wall (Stairwell Edition)

Posted on January 25th, 2019

Dave!As I mentioned a few times (or maybe it was just yesterday), I'm building a photo wall in my stairwell. Originally it was going to be a wall for friends and family, but it became much bigger than that when I realized I wouldn't have enough wall space for everybody. So now I'm going to have a Blogger Friends Wall in the stairwell, another Blogger Friends Wall in the dining room, a Family Wall in the upstairs hall, and a Friends Wall in my entryway.

And figuring out how to go about it all is not as easy as it sounds. There are hundreds of photos to organize and frame which requires some planning. For the sixty-six photos in my stairwell, I measured all the frames I've been collecting over the past two years and drew up a schematic...

Stairwell Photo Wall Plan

   
If you'd like to see a zoomable image, you can go to the project page I made right here. It has a magnifying glass so you can see everybody up-close-and-personal...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
Despite being a huge amount of work and more frustration that I imagined it could be, the results are amazing...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image
My cats don't seem to know what to make of it yet. But they're keeping their paws off. For now.

   
The most important part of the plan was determining how low I could go and still see everything. If I were to put photos too far down on the wall, I'd have to be on my hands and knees to see them. After hanging test photos, I was able to see what photos I could see as I approached the stairs...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

Then what I would see with each new step...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
As I was testing placement I found out that my eye went to a different area depending on whether I was climbing the stairs... descending the stairs... or looking down from the second floor...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
Going up the stairs I tend to look downward so I see the photos along the bottom. But going down the stairs my eyes tend to go down the middle for some reason...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
This is perfect, because I end up seeing all the photos. Even the photos that are too high to be seen from the stairs are perfectly visible from above...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
I couldn't be happier with how it all came together, and I actually look forward to using the stairs now so I can see my friends...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
Even if hanging the photos at the top was a bit precarious thanks to my homemade scaffolding setup...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   
And now for my notes on creating this beautiful monstrosity...

  • When planning a collage, I found it's important to not only vary frame placement by size, you also need to be mindful of randomizing the depth of the frames. Otherwise you end up with high spots or low spots that look weird. This was harder than it sounds. I used all black frames, so it was easier than it could have been. I have no idea how insane it would be to add different colors to the mix. I drew out the above template on my computer so I could move things around to try and get a pleasing pattern. Frame depth was shown as different colors so I could more easily come up with something looking random.
  • Finding picture frames I could afford was a lot of work. The only time I went truly crazy was when the local Michaels Crafts store went out of business. The prices (which were already pretty good) were crazy cheap, so I bought as much as I felt comfortable piling up on my credit card. Everything else was purchased from buy-one-get-one sales (Fred Meyer's is great for these), special sales (Pier One is insanely expensive, but their sales are terrific), or clearances (Target flushes out their old stock at great prices to make room for the newer stuff). Some stores (like IKEA) have good quality and decent prices all the time, which was handy for filling in spots where I didn't want to wait for a sale.
  • I tried to be sensitive to people who were friends that had a falling out or couples who are no longer together, but there were a few times I didn't have any choice but to use what I had available. I also tried to avoid shots with people I don't know, but that too was unavoidable a few times. I'm okay with this. I hope the people in question are.
  • There are people I've tried hard to erase from my life, and leaving them off my wall is just another opportunity to remove them. It's tough, however, when they were so prominent in your life that Photoshopping them out of photos you'd otherwise like to use is often times impossible.
  • On the flip-side, running into photos of people you love that are gone is tougher.
  • Few things are more frustrating than trying to find photos you know exist but can't locate. Either because you've lost them or they were taken by somebody else and you don't have the originals to work from (or it's just a low-res image that got posted to your blog). There are people and shots I would have loved to have included, but simply could not find anything workable. I am trying hard to track them down in the hopes that those I missed can go on my second Wall of Bloggers.
  • Originally the smallest frame in my plan was 5x7. I had to change everything when I realized that some of the photos I had were of such low resolution that this was too big for them. So I went down to 2.5x3.5. There's not too many photos that can't go down that small, and even web-resolution images look okay. At first I was blowing them up anyway and trying to paint out some of the JPEG noise, but then everything looks fake. Better to print at a smaller size and have it look good than printing too big and have the problems magnified so the photo looks bad.
  • I was shocked at how many photos I wanted to use were blurry and awful upon closer inspection. Which is to say I'm not shocked that most of my blurry photos were taken at events where I was drinking.
  • On the wall, there's not much difference between a $4 frame and a $20 frame, because people are looking at the photo not the frame.
  • Quality is not governed by price. One of my most expensive frames that I really loved ended up falling apart when I took it apart to put the photo inside. That being said, cheap-cheap frames are going to be exactly that.
  • I found it much easier to work from the top down in strips rather than assembling a collage from side to side. And starting from the middle and working outwards was the smartest decision I made. Check your measurements often, especially if you are centering your photos on a wall.
  • To hang everything, I used 3M Command Strips which I bought in bulk to save money (thanks, Tim Gunn!). I also used a small level, which is essential for getting things to hang straight. There are pluses and minuses to using Command Strips. The plus is that it's very easy to get things placed where you want and they can be easily removed without damaging the wall. The negative is that they are visible on thin frames where you want to use every last bit of frame to attach them to. Also... not as environmentally-friendly as a nail and far, far more expensive. For a project like this though, the pluses far, far outweighed the negatives, and I am happy with the results.
  • Acrylic does not look the same as real glass for some reason. Unless my frame is so big that glass would be dangerous, I've been buying only frames that have real glass because I like the look better.
  • Working those little metal tabs that hold in the picture/backer/glass on most frames got to be painful after a while. Eventually I started using a putty knife to save my nails and fingertips.
  • Manufacturers who staple their corner protectors to the frame should be slapped.
  • I printed all my photos on an old HP printer that I had stored in the garage and hadn't used in years. The printheads were completely plugged and it took many soaks and flushes with cleaning fluid to get them unclogged. The ink cartridges were all dead, which meant I had to track down replacements. When I couldn't find them for a reasonable price, I ended up getting refillable cartridges that worked amazingly well at a fraction of the price. Now that I've printed all my photos, I'm pretty sure the printer is due for recycling, but I'm extremely grateful it lasted long enough to get through what I needed. Not that I am endorsing HP printers, mind you. The company is complete and total shit, and I won't be buying anything from them ever again if I can help it. The paper I had saved was still good, except one corner where moisture or something got to it. No big deal, but it was sealed in a plastic bag so I'm not sure how it happened.

And now on to planning my next wall.

Remember there's a zoomable image here that has a magnifying glass so you can everybody (maybe even yourself!)...

Stairwell Photo Wall Image

   

Bullet Sunday 596

Posted on January 20th, 2019

Dave!Rejoice and be saved... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Stuck In Your Head! Oh man, I cannot wait for February 8th!

And... it's stuck in my head! So good!

   
• Judas? Two of my favorite YouTubers are John Crist and Trey Kennedy. Every once in a while they collaborate on a video and the result is darn funny. Like their latest: If Bible Characters Had iPhones...

Here's another one that's entirely too funny...

More, please.

   
• Baroque! There's an artist named Christy Lee Rogers who is creating these stunning underwater photos that look like amazing baroque paintings...

Underwater Paining by Christy Lee Rogers

The article over at My Modern Met is a must-see.

   
• NEWS! Conservatives are outraged a gay couple is on the cover of ‘Parents’ magazine
“Mothers and fathers are seeing more and more similar examples of children being indoctrinated to perceive same-sex couples as normal, especially in the media,” an unsigned blog post on One Million Moms’s website says. — Oh dear. My eyes just rolled to the back of my head and are stuck there. I am typing this while blind, so please excuse any spelling mistakes.

If a same-sex couple is what you have for parents... and they love you, care for you, provide for you, and foster your growth into adulthood... THEN YOUR PARENTS ARE FUCKING NORMAL! Likewise, if you have only one parent (for whatever reason) and they are doing their best to provide the same? THAT'S A FUCKING NORMAL FAMILY TOO!

XXX

“It could be displayed in waiting rooms of dentist and doctor offices, where children could easily be subjected to the glorification of same-sex parents,” the blog post says.YES, GOD FORBID YOUR CHILDREN SEE A PHOTO OF A HAPPY FAMILY. THEY MIGHT THINK IT'S OKAY TO NOT BULLY THE KID WHO HAS TWO DADS!

   
• Dads! AND, YES, IT DOES OCCUR IN NATURE. IT IS ACCORDING TO GOD'S PLAN. AND ALL YOUR ENERGY HATING PEOPLE WOULD BE BETTER SPENT NOT BEING ASSHOLES. WHY NOT TRY BEING ACTUAL CHRISTIANS FOR ONCE?

Penguins are the best!

   
• Jesus Christ. When you lie, like, ALL THE TIME... it gets hard to keep your lies straight...

I mean, holy shit...

You know it's fucking bad when the Saturday Night Live parodies aren't as funny as our actual government...

This is just exhausting. I am physically and mentally checked out.

   
And... I'm done. DONE!

   

Bullet Sunday 595

Posted on January 13th, 2019

Dave!Don't let the long cold nights of winter get you down... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

   
• Duck! It's no secret that I love museums. I've made it my mission in life to see many of the world's great (and not-so-great) museums as I can. Which is why I got a big kick out of this article: Museums around the world are soliciting duck pics from each other...

A very old duck photograph
Image Courtesy of The Museum of English Rural Life.

If you're even a little fan of art, this article is a must-see.

   
• Cars! These Walmart curbside pickup "cars" commercials are phenomenal...

I can't fathom how much money it cost to license all these properties.

   
• Akeem! One of my all-time favorite movies is Coming to America starring Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall in multiple roles. It's a great story chock-full of funny situations and had some real heart to it...

Coming to America Movie Poster

There are many other things to love about the film... namely James Earl Jones and Madge Sinclair as Eddie Murphy's parents. But there are also the incredible designs for the country of Zamunda. Make no mistake, Zamunda was Wakanda way before Wakanda was the benchmark for fictional African countries!

And now it comes to light that there is a sequel in the works with Eddie Murphy reprising his role as Prince Akeem. Right now, I am deliriously happy about that. But given how badly things could go wrong, I'm also more than a little nervous.

   
• Again! Again! Speaking of an Eddie Murphy movie getting sequels... apparently Boomerang, another movie I love more than butter, is getting a television sequel...

Coming to America Movie Poster

The show will continue the story with Marcus and Angela's son and Jaqueline's daughter. No word if Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry, or Robin Givens will be making an appearance. But I sure hope so. The thing that gives me hope is that Lena Waithe is onboard. As is Halle Berry as an executive producer. Fingers crossed.

   
• Monument! As somebody who loves travel photography but can't stand people walking through my shots, I was excited to hear about "Monument." This new technology that Adobe is developing will automatically remove moving objects from photos. It's a fascinating idea that I'm anxious to try out. There's a video which takes a look at Moment but Nick Offerman is an idiotic distraction throughout. Why in the hell they couldn't have just presented the tech without the comedic bullshit is beyond me...

It's only a matter of time before machine learning with this kind of smarts gets dropped into all our cameras. As popular attractions become more and more crowded, it will be a handy and very welcome thing to have.

   
• Puck! My new brown sugar container came with a small terra cotta coaster in the box. I was telling a friend about it and laughing because I don't have any glasses small enough to fit on it. "ARE YOU HIGH? YOU SOAK IT IN WATER AND PUT IT IN THE CONTAINER SO YOUR BROWN SUGAR DOESN'T DRY OUT!" In my defense, there weren't any instructions. Just the little puck thingy in a baggie. How was I to know?

Brown Sugar Terra Cotta Disc

Is this some secret everybody knows but me? Is there some brown sugar conspiracy to exclude me from this magic?

   
And... I'm spent. No more bullets for you.

   

Big Pixel

Posted on December 20th, 2018

Dave!The idea of "deep pixel" images is a fascinating one. You take thousands of photos, align them, stitch them together, layer them, then create a virtual environment where you can pan around, zoom in and out, and otherwise have free reign to explore every aspect of a scene.

Probably the most famous company doing this is Gigapan, which I've mentioned before.

But I recently saw another company in the deep pixel arena... Bigpixel Technology. They've got a number of terrific images. To truly experience them, you'll have to visit the site. But here's a static taste...

   

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Zoom

Hong Kong Zoom

Hong Kong Zoom

Hong Kong Zoom

Hong Kong Zoom

   

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Zoom

Phi Phi Zoom

Phi Phi Zoom

Phi Phi Zoom

Phi Phi Zoom

   

Shanghai

Shanghai Zoom

Shanghai Zoom

Shanghai Zoom

Shanghai Zoom

Shanghai Zoom

   

Shanghai

Shanghai Zoom

Shanghai Zoom

Shanghai Zoom

Shanghai Zoom

Shanghai Zoom

   
When last I checked, the entry price for deep pixel photography was nearly $1000. Looking at the GigaPan site now, I see they have an entry model at $340. Still out of reach... but that's a massive drop. When it gets to below $200, I'll be taking a serious look.

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Adventure in Florals

Posted on June 9th, 2018

Dave!The lady who owned my home before me loved flowers. She had them planted everywhere. Particularly impressive is the flower bed in the back yard, which is filled with roses and other beautiful stuff. She also had a bunch of flower pots in the front yard, but I removed them one-by-one as they died off because I'm not home to water them when I have to travel.

The flowers in the back yard continue to flourish because there's a water line that's connected to the sprinkler system. My front yard flower bed is just a bunch of river rock. I've always felt bad about this, because everybody else in the neighborhood has flowers out.

Last Fall as I was cleaning up leaves, I noticed that there was a water line poking up from under the river rocks. Turns out that there was automated watering there all along but it wasn't used for some reason. So I decided that this year I would plant some stuff so my home fits in with everybody else.

And yesterday was the day...

Flower Bed Construction

I didn't want to completely fill the front flower bed because that would cost a fortune... and I really didn't want stuff growing up next to the house where bugs could breed, so I decided to clear out a space in the river rock for my new flower bed. I found some nice grey brick to keep the rock from intruding. I finished building just as the sun was setting and it started raining...

Flower Bed Construction

This morning I woke up early to start planting stuff. After setting things up I realized that I didn't have the parts I needed to tap off of the water line, so I had to run to the hardware store... where I picked up another couple plants. I didn't notice that one of the of the purple things I bought was badly damaged, but decided to plant it anyway...

Flower Bed Construction

Everything turned out quite nice. I threw away the tags with the names of all the plants, but here is what I got...

Flower Bed Construction

Because I'm old, all that crawling around in the dirt left me pretty sore and I decided to call it a day and watch television.

So there I was... lounging around watching Ask This Old House when it occurs to me THAT I DIDN'T TEST MY NEW SPRINKLERS BEFORE I BURIED THEM! It would be just my luck that I screwed up the install and kinked a line or something, so I managed to get up off the couch (I am SO old), tell Alexa to turn on the water, then waddle out to see if they work. I am soooooo lucky...

Flower Bed Construction

And that's that. Now my house will be pretty just like everybody else's. And since all the flowers I bought are perennials, they'll be back year after year.

Assuming I don't end up killing them.

   

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