April 4, 2007

“You Have Not Read The Entire Internet”

My chum Adam recently posted this Tweet [*] which nicely encapsulates my RSS scenario (in addition to his, apparently):

At some point, having an unread count on your RSS reader becomes as useful as an app that says “You have not read the entire internet”.

[*] For those who aren’t aware, “tweets” describe messages on Twitter, “a social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send ‘updates’” to their friends.

Indeed, while I don’t think of myself as a pack rat (as I actually find it rather fun to throw things away that I no longer need), I’m starting to realize that I may have tendencies toward information pack-ratting. Fortunately, this is typically harmless; for example, with hard disk storage as cheap as it is these days, there’s little disadvantage to keeping old photos those I’ve taken.

On the other hand, it can be overwhelming to have thousands of unread items in one’s RSS reader. And, now that my taxes are out of the way, this may be a good opportunity to get a handle on that. I’ve only been able to find one article addressing this so far (not that there aren’t more, but I just haven’t found them). Kathy Sierra has an informative entry about The myth of “keeping up”. Much of it is written with an eye toward paper-based media (magazines and the like) but most of the advice is just as applicable toward RSS-based subscriptions as well.

Probably the most significant of her suggestions is to “Unsubscribe to as many things as possible”. If I were being glib, I might be tempted to write that off as being “easier said than done” ;). Kidding aside, while that may be difficult, I think that it may also be the most fruitful of her suggestions. Then again, with the number of feeds to which I subscribe, I feel like I almost need a meta suggestion (or even a rule of thumb) about triaging my feeds to figure out which to delete and which to keep. Meta-suggestion or not, I think I feel reinvigorated toward trimming my feeds.

March 23, 2007

Carlos Mencia Steals Jokes

I’ve never been much a fan of Carlos Mencia’s comedy, but stealing jokes from other comics just isn’t cool. And, of all people, wouldn’t stealing from Cosby only make it all the more obvious?

What I do find amusing, however, is that his real name is Ned Mencia (and, no, that’s not a joke). (Via: Digg)

March 19, 2007

Photos from SXSW 2007

Aaron Gustafson makes an effort to listen as he plays with Lego bricks

I had a great time at SXSW and I was able to take a bunch more pictures. I’ve finished processing those and I’ve posted those photos on Flickr. For those who may be curious, I took 43 photos, chose to process 20 of those, and posted 8 shots.

For what it’s worth, I made use of raw mode this time (well, RAW + JPEG Fine) and I my shots seemed to have a better resistance to having their highlights getting blown out (a reoccurring problem that I was running into as I was taking shots during my trip to South Africa in February). Then again, the lighting was almost completely different between those shots and these; in South Africa, I was mostly dealing with either bright sunlight or incandescent light, while in Austin I mostly had cloudy days (not that I'm complaining — cloudy days can be very handy for their diffuse light!).

Standard photo-entry text: All my photos are released under a Creative Commons license which roughly states that you’re free to “copy, distribute, display, and perform the work”. One exception, however, is this shot of the Q & A session after Helvetica — Andrew Dupont was trying my camera to get a feel for it; that’s one of his shots and he mentioned to me ahead of time that he’d like to place that under CC-Attribution license.

March 16, 2007

First-Person Shooters Improve Eyesight

LiveScience reports on a study which concluded that “action video games that involve firing guns can improve your eyesight”:

A group of 10 male college students who started out as non-gamers and then received 30 hours of training on first-person action video games showed a substantial increase in their ability to see objects accurately in a cluttered space, compared to 10 non-gamers given the same test, said Daphne Bevelier of the University of Rochester.

[…]

First-person action games helped study subjects improve their spatial resolution, meaning their ability to clearly see small, closely packed together objects, such as letters, she said. Game-playing actually changes the way our brains process visual information. […]

I think this may be just the motivation I need to play Doom 3 more often — it’s for my own good, right? ;).

March 9, 2007

SXSW 2007 Panels I’m Going To

It’s early March and that can only mean that it's time for SXSW, a multi-part film / music / interactive festival. I’m only going for the interactive part, myself, which focuses on design, web coding, and such. Anyhow, if you’ll be down in Austin, here’re some of the panels I’ll be going to:

Saturday

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

March 6, 2007

Photos From My Trip to South Africa

View From Table Mountain, Cape Town

As you might be aware, I went on vacation to South Africa in February with my family to celebrate my mom’s birthday. There’s not need to focus on numbers — or at least that’s what she would say ;) — but let’s just say that it was her 3Cth (hex) birthday. Anyhow, I’ve finished processing the photos from my trip to South Africa and I’ve posted those at Flickr.

I was also pleased to be able to make use of my new camera, a Nikon D80 that I had bought just a few weeks beforehand. I went with the 18 - 135 mm kit lens at the time and it worked out great. I’ll probably buy a faster lens at some point (this one is F3.5 - 5.6) — or maybe even one of those fancy vibration reduction lenses — but I wasn’t about to start dropping big money on accessories right after the purchase of the body & kit lens.

I was away for about two weeks and I took 110 shots. I selected about 60 of those to process and, in doing so, whittled down the list to 35. It’s not that I don’t like processing photos — once I get going, I find that it can have an almost zen-like quality — but some of them just didn’t work out for one reason or another. Most often, one of those reasons was that I ended up blowing out my highlights for one reason or another. Put another way, once you hit pure white (255, 255, 255), you’ve lost all color information for that pixel and even if the image as a whole is darkened (such as to correct exposure), that pixel can only become grayer.

For example, if you’re taking a shot from within a darkened restaurant that happens to include one of its windows, you’ll probably end up with a big ol’ block-o-white where that window would be since the camera is attempting to set its exposure based on the rest of the (darkened) scene. Or, in my case, you might be taking some shots from within a museum that happens to include a handful of skylights (to name just one example). Dangit. I guess when your colorspace has “only” 256 shades of gray, there’s not much you can do. (Maybe shooting RAW might help?)

PS I offer a tip of my hat to Scott Kelby’s book, “The Photoshop CS2 Book for Digital Photographers” — though I’ve been making use of image editors for years, I hadn’t extensively used Photoshop up until I started processing these photos. The book is very down-to-earth and has screenshots every step of the way; I recommend it highly.

Standard photo-entry text: All my photos are released under a Creative Commons license which roughly states that you’re free to “copy, distribute, display, and perform the work”. Also, I’ve resized all the images to 1024-width before uploading them as it can be a bit hard to get your head around a full 10.2 MP image. However, if you want the full-resolution version of any images, just ask.

Feb. 21, 2007

Power Searching with Advanced Google Search Operators

Some friends and I were talking about Google’s advanced search operators over dinner at Mia’s last night (for example, with the operator “site:”, you can limit your search results to a single domain, such as “site:metafilter.com pancakes”). In any case, that’s just the tip of the iceberg and I’ve found them to be fantastically helpful toward my Google-fu.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a Google samurai, but I know my way around a handful of these search operators and I’ve found them to be remarkably helpful toward finding what I’m looking for.