February 21, 2007

On Vacation

Been in Hawaii (hence veeerry little posting...) for a little while now - I'll be back next week (ish :))...

February 12, 2007

High Frikkin' Larious


I mentioned this about Vista the other day, but Apple already got the joke.

And decided to share :)

Ouch.

February 8, 2007

Bit shifting

I always forget that shifting positive integers and negative integers always rounds down (not towards zero), such that 126705>>3 = 15838, but -126705>>3 = -15839, which, of course can be subtle but disastrous for things like, oh, I don't know, rasterization fill conventions. Its supposed to be "live and learn", but it seems like "live, rinse, and repeat"... fixed precision computer math requires surprisingly high attention and focus...

... sigh...

But even that aside, as someone recently pointed out to me, preserving symmetry and sub-pixel accuracy is still an unsolved problem (font hinting could be considered a special case of this domain). I think its not a rasterization problem, but a geometry problem - context matters.

February 6, 2007

New stuff: Vista, Lightroom, GeForce 8800

Some recent product launches of note:

- Microsoft Vista Home
Overall, its a great improvement over XP - looks good, works well; I like it. But underwhelming after all this time (not sure there's a killer feature), and a mess from a consumer perspective, in two ways in particular (thus far that I've noticed):

a) It takes a loooooong time to get installed and started. I bought a brand spankin' new PC with Vista pre-installed, turned it on (expecting to be able to play with Vista), and it was probably, oh, 45 minutes to an hour, if not longer, before I actually made it to the desktop. Between the install, performance check, customization, etc. - oy. I mean, it was probably much less time if you sat there the entire time, but of course, like most real users, I kept getting up to do other stuff after any progress bar took more than a minute or two. Contrast that to the Mac mini I just bought, which was an out-of-the-box joy... that "what if Microsoft produced the iPod" spoof spot really rang true whilst I waited...

b) The "everybody's-a-limited-user" mentality in the pursuit of security is well intentioned, but just awful in practice. Everytime my kids put in a CD to play some game, they get two different dialogs - one to ask whether they want to run whatever autorun application the CD has, and another asking if its OK to run that file. The dialogs look completely different, and you click in different places on different actions to continue, and to add aesthetic insult to injury, the entire screen flashes black in-between the dialogs (the second dialog, for security, is a hardware interrupt, like ctrl-alt-del). All this is teaching my kids is to click "ok" or "allow" ALL THE TIME because these warnings pops up so often - but I guess it permits Microsoft the legal high ground, so that's good, right?

I can see the marketing slogan now: "Vista! Now with less Class Actions!"...

- Adobe Lightroom
Its shipped, and its a really nice execution of a productivity tool for photographers. But although its a good value at $199, I think unfortunately that the preponderance of good free image organization/editing software (most notably Picasa) will limit the impact and reach. Adobe should consider a version that's free, but limited in some way (for example, only support 8-bit channels so that they can preserve the pro-market, who are the only people who are going to pay anyway).

- GeForce 8800
Holy mother of god is that thing fast! I bought the GeForce 8800 GTS, the "lesser" of the two models, which has a mere 640MB (on my video card - hah! :)), and only a 24 BILLION pixel fillrate. That's with a "B".

Installing it was a mess, and its HUUUUGE, but its cool... though the gap between the low end and high end for consumer graphics continues to widen, which means in practice, no game looks as good as the demos ATI and nVidia produced 3 years ago (and yes, I've played Oblivion :P)

February 5, 2007

SEO and the real world

The impact of the internet (and search applications specifically) on editorial and programming (not programmer programming :P) in the real world seems to bubble up every few months (case in point, courtesy of slashdot). I've been sucked into discussing it before (and again now, I guess :)).

Ultimately, I guess its appropriate that headlines adjust, even if it seems arbitrarily driven by our new content navigation overlords.

So I think we're left with either news content as a business, in which case this is simply adapting to new influx channels, or that its a service, in which case clarity over wit doesn't seem like a bad thing (even if it happens to be today's search tech view of "clarity").

But it still bugs me. Go figure.

February 1, 2007

Review: Pure Digital DV Camera - Nice Product

I was talking to John McKinley the other day - he of "I'm leaving, and I'll tell you about it on Valleywag" fame (sorry John, couldn't resist :P)... but I digress... I was talking to John, and he recommended a product he'd been using recently - which I purchased and had sent to me two day overnight from Amazon.

John was the one who first turned me onto Flickr, Skype, and LinkedIn (waaaay back when), so his track record for "cool tech/products" is pretty good, with me, at least.

And I have to say, he's right again... John's been using the Pure Digital PSV Flash RAM DV camera, which looks (and feels) a little like a piece of junk you'd buy at the checkout counter at Rite Aid.

But its not.

First of all, its hyper easy to setup and use: it has all of four buttons, and you're literally recording video within two clicks of opening the box (hit "power", hit "record" - it comes preloaded with the two AA batteries it requires to function). It has a built in USB port/jack for connecting to your computer, and stores a full hour of MPEG-2 (I think) video. You can also connect it right to your TV for display with included cables.

It records at VGA resolution, and I have to admit that although the quality isn't QUITE good enough to replace my 3CCD mini-DV Panasonic just yet, I'll still be using it quite a bit.
It also does a fabulous job adjusting to all manner of lighting conditions automagically - its a category defining product in my opinion; its really that polished.

The aesthetics of device and software could really use some work (for example, I've often stopping my recording when trying to zoom-in/out because of poor button placement), but the thing is small, light, durable, completely portable, entirely self contained and easy to use. It even includes software to immediately upload, e-mail, or copy your videos on your PC right on the flash RAM on the device, so when you plug-it into your computer, it just works - nothing else you really need.

I'm not sure if Pure Digital's specific implementation will carry the day, but its a good execution.

Go buy it. It's even cheap(ish)!