Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Really Should Be Working...

...but I came across this piece in Radar magazine that I thought was pretty good. Basically, an adult poses as a kidand writes to famous people.

In the late '90s, pop-culture historian Bill Geerhart had a little too much time on his hands and a surfeit of stamps. So, for his own entertainment, the then-unemployed thirtysomething launched a letter-writing campaign to some of the most powerful and infamous figures in the country, posing as a curious 10-year-old named Billy.
Some favs. Nightstalker's response:

Know any Asian girls willing to correspond?

Charles Manson:

JUST to forgit I didn't take your money when I had ALL your credit cards locked up in my dreams—Rife with Con Va Lution due 2 subjewgashen.

Larry Flynt:

Until then [when you are 18 and subscribe to my magazine] you should read the Sears Roebuck catalog.

Clarence Thomas:

I like the Egg McMuffin.


3G iPhone $199 -- Sold. Maybe

Checking teh tubes this morning, saw this article (Fortune).

AT&T is preparing to subsidize $200 of the cost of a new [3G] iPhone, bringing the price down to $199 for customers who sign two-year contracts, the source says.

That would easily put me over the edge. But then this:

The average iPhone user however, runs up a $100 tab each month due to the higher priced data and calling plan.

$100 would be a deal. With my current Blackberry voice & data plan, I end up paying ~ $150 a month. I suspect with better browsing capability, I would be paying far more.

The real kicker, however, is that I plan to leave my company which currently pays for everything. $1,800 a year to have YouTube, big maps, and voicemail as email is probably not worth it. I will probably kill my data plan, my world roaming plan, my international dial out plan, and my 900 min a month plan. I have 3,000 mins saved up--which could probably last me a year.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How a caterpillar grows and becomes a moth. Nothing technologically fancy about the site, but I couldn't peal my eyes away. A great way for an alonergist to enjoy nature.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Muppets singing Danny Boy. I don't remember where I got this from, could've been one of you. The world still has no Jim Henson replacement.

Ps - also see Beaker singing Yellow by Coldplay, thanks to modern video re-editing technology:

Monday, April 21, 2008


I am going to go ahead and convert "You See This?" into my own personal "You Comparison Shop Comput4rs!" I am headed back to grad school in the fall (btw, I visited Stanford's campus last week and loved it, I am headed there unless Columbia MBA accepts me) and need a new computer. Well, I need a new computer system and I am hoping for recommendations from my geek mentors.

I am not convinced that a single all-purpose laptop is the right approach for me anymore. If I get everything I need* (note: need = want) like Bluray DVD / george foreman grill drive, 18 TB RAM, 4 PT HD, 12 USB ports, etc. then the laptop is too big to carry around. If I slim it down to something I would feel comfortable lugging around, then it is a nightmare to work on for a long time.

So I am trolling for ideas on what to do. I am tempted by the following:
- new small portable notebook (thinkpad, apple, dell, hp...)
- new desktop (dell, or the ilk)
- a networked storage solution (hp)

The problem is that is at least $4,000+ worth of stuff.

I assume that you readers are more tech l33t than me--so my question is what do you people do? What sort of solution could I get for $2,000 that would:
- give me a super portable notebook to take to classes
- let me work comfortably on papers as well as watch movies, stream music, etc.
- allow me to trash my 3 or 4 USB backup drives (that never seem to work that well anyway)

I am not set on buying a desktop and a separate storage solution--maybe combine the two? I don't know, just thought I would put this out there. Anyone know of super deals on laptops?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Direct Note Access

When first I read Gizmodo hailing this as the "Photoshop of Music", I was a little skeptical. But after watching the video with the bearded German, Peter Neub├Ącker, a former guitar maker turned programmer, I'm convinced it will have huge repercussions on the music scene. It basically gives you midi like control over recorded samples. Maybe there are other products that can do this, but this is the first I've been told. Very cool.

Chop Ikea

Chop Chop

What can be better (and more geeky) than a.) getting stuff at Ikea, and b.) transmorgifying it? Like this:

(source: Ikea Hacker post)

One day I'ma build a car that runs off of grass using only Ikea hardware.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

IrfanView And So Can You


Okay, Karl. Here is my secret. Its name begins with Irfan, because Irfan made it, and ends with View, because it's an image viewer. But it is also much more than that. In fact, it's one of my favorite pieces of software ever in terms of simplicity, speed, and power. But definitely not in terms of logo design. (Sorry, Irfan, but I'm just not sure if "bright red roadkill burglar cat with a magnifying glass" accurately conveys the coolness of your app. On the other hand, now that I see it written out, it does have a certain je ne sais quois...) Loading instantly and taking no memory is always a good first step.

Some things you usually want to do when browsing and editing a folder of photos:
1. Press Enter to go in and out of showing the photo full screen. Use the + and - keys to zoom in and out when not in full-screen mode.

2. Whenever a photo is open, simply use the scroll wheel or arrow keys to go between photos in the same directory. (These may also pan if the image is larger than the screen, but you can disable that.) There is a slideshow mode to flip through images automagically.

3. To delete the photo from your computer, press Delete. (This is, sadly, pretty revolutionary.)

4. It's not just a viewer. You can adjust contrast, gamma, hue, saturation, etc. in the "Enhance Colors..." dialog. In fact this is where I do most of my photo editing. It also works with Photoshop plugins.

5. You can also Crop (Ctrl Y), add a border (Canvas Size...), Resize/Resample (Resize/Resample (Resize/Resa... oops))), and so forth.

6. Set the jpeg output quality to about 95, and your filesizes will likely be two thirds or less of the camera's original output filesize, with little to no loss in image quality. Which is especially handy when you can...

7. ... batch edit a whole folder of files. Simply resaving with no changes is an excellent method for saving hard disk space, but you can also do all the other things mentioned above, resulting in a whole folder of resized, bordered, sharpened, corrected photos. So there.

8. And more! Lots of settings and customizability, as well as other useful functions such as the robust screen capture abilities used for the above picture, and the ability to display non-images such as pdfs, movies, or flash files, though I usually set it to only show images for the sake of simplicity.

9. Finally, be sure to get the plugins, which are handily all available as a single download. One of them will let you view EXIF data within a JPEG. (Press "i" when viewing an image to open its info, and then "e" to view the EXIF.) This data usually includes camera specifics such as model, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, date/time, and, if the picture is of a person, what that person looked like at the time of the photo. All useful tools for spying on the internets.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Free Wi-Fi Finder

I think just about everyone on here could use this one:


Sorry, that's a bit clannish to follow some company's style guide for English, but I happen to like the company:

Reaper DAW

Not touted on their homepage is probably the coolest and single best reason to get this ($50 for private, noncommercial use although the demo never times out and is fully-functional). Imagine you have a few bits of old networkable technology lying around (laptops, old desktops, whatev) and you're thinking "hey, wouldn't it be cool if I could use these old machines as plugin hosts so I can spare cpu cycles on my main machine?" Yeah, the dream is over. Reaper lets you load plugins and (after you install Reaper and the plugins on the slave machine) start them up on the remote machine, leaving your main CPU ready for handling whatever you want to throw at it. The best reason IMHO to upgrade to gigabit ethernet. Today I purchased a new switch just for this purpose. If your laptops start disappearing to go live at my house, you'll now know why. 802.11b is too slow btw (I know because I tried). 802.11g may work but I haven't tested it yet.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Canon camera magic?

So, I haven't looked into this beyond reading the Lifehacker article and skimming the linked page, but I imagine that there are one or two avid photo takers in this group who might enjoy hacking their cameras... Sorry it's only for the Canon ones. :(

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Code Geekery

A little bird once told me that a certain project was being ported to C#. Wouldn't it be fun if a good portion of it could also be ported to Javascript? This might save me mucho time and sweat and tears (not to mention countless hours googling random Javascript language constructs) on my current project. Web-enabled graphics applications may or may not apply...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ambition Makes You Look Pretty Ugly

I predict this post will be heaped with scorn—if not outright deleted-- because
a) it’s not nerdy enough
b) Tom surely disapproves of at least 90% of these bands.

However, in my attempt to bring Culture to the masses and stick it to The Man (while using Gratuitous Capital Letters as much as possible) I have to point you to Stereogum. This music website has compiled cover versions of three iconic albums, available to stream from the website or download for free. I like the Radiohead collection the best, but that’s probably because OK Computer is such a classic, well-written album. Some songs are stronger than others, but overall they are fun re-imaginings of some of my favorite songs.