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A gem of the iPhone game scene must be, I feel, the quite odd Aqua Forest. It's a physics based game, essentially; want to pull an object over to the other side of a chasm? Just draw the right length of rope at the correct anchoring position, and see if that does the trick. Or draw some water, and let it fall into the waiting receptacle. Their YouTube clip demonstrates it well, once it gets going. It's not one of the cheaper titles, at $4.99, but it's earned every bit of that, and more. (As far as relatively expensive apps go, I'm sorely tempted by X-Plane, which'll be familiar to users of its original desktop versions - by all accounts, they've done an excellent job of porting it across)

The one I'm most anticipating, though, is Rolando. It seems clearly inspired by Loco Roco, but very much its own creation nonetheless - check out the promo video there.

Alea iacta est; I've ponied up for the signing certificate required to load one's own code onto a production iPhone, and later on, uploading it to the App Store. ^_^

Speaking of iPhone apps, one interesting phenomenon is many developers' shocking discovery that very low prices attract customers - so there are quite a lot of prices in flux. Mostly downwards, some down to free, but some upwards. A handy resource for keeping an eye on such changes is AppShopper, allowing you to filter by category of app, or all; to list all, free, or paid; or just view price changes. (Like Touch Arcade, a very good site for keeping abreast of new iPhone releases, it's from arn, the same guy behind MacRumors)

A veritable bevy of Oxbridge podcasts is now up on iTunes; "Oxford lecture and interview highlights include the former Chief Economist of the World Bank Professor Joseph Stiglitz speaking about the global financial crisis, Dr Craig Venter on genomics, Sir Nicholas Stern on the economics of climate change, and Professor Julian Savulescu on ethics."

Or, for something a touch more energetic, Speedycake live (07-06-2008) is worth a listen. (As schnee noted, they're best known for a certain remix of the Caramelldansen - this is a bit different)

But for something furrier, how about a rare, comparatively unknown gem, unearthed from the digital mire - Anthony Quayle's 1973 BBC Jackanory reading, over five episodes, of Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH? (Long since out of print, regrettably) This is the audio only, but as the show's format was strictly camera-on-reader, there's not so much lost.

A couple SL places well worth a visit, by the looks of things: Mouseworld, bearing a slight resemblance to a certain SoCal establishment, and the 7 Days Magic Bakery, with quite a Pixar influence in its character designs.

I was rather warmed this week to discover a friend's landed a nice position with a particularly fun San Francisco-based company. ^_^ I'd noticed they were in need of folks in his line of work, and the series of interviews apparently finally came to a happy conclusion on Friday, cutting the commute down from a tiresome Peninsula slog to a more relaxed ambling across a bit of the City.

Food recommendations for the week. ^_^ The Co-op aged Gruyère is very good indeed, well up there with the best Whole Foods Market can offer - nicely spicy, peppery taste, whilst still retaining its kind's innate creaminess. On the coffee front, Union Roasted's Rwandan Sovu Golden Cup is quite wonderful - I'd liken the flavor profile to champagne, with a bright opening, and a long, long, gentle tail, never overly acidic nor heavy. (When ordering from them, rather than in a supermarket, they'll grind your pack to any of eight grades, from whole bean to Turkish. Yet, the prices for most of their offerings remains similar to any other whole or ground coffee you might buy. Tell me again about how the supermarkets enable vast economies of scale..)


I've posted it before, but it bears repeating. ^_^ Animal Kwackers, an ITV show from the 70s, featuring surreal lycra furry costumed characters, who patently had no effect on my early psyche. If anyone has any other episodes, please shout! This seems to be the solitary surviving episode anywhere, as far as I can gauge.

Also, the 10 year old Hereford Cider Brandy from the King Offa Distillery - absolutely gorgeous, retaining its essential apple nature, whilst posing a formidable opponent to its Armagnac kin. Smooth, delicious, lovingly crafted. 'Sgood. ^_^

The Jaguar motorbike - literally. =:D

Interesting.. I'm typically very wary of US versions of UK series, which usually range across Queer As Folk over to Red Dwarf, though there are occasional exceptions. And a US version of Life on Mars seems like a particularly awkward transition to attempt - still, Harvey Keitel as Gene Hunt does have quite a ring to it. ^_^ I'll have to see how it's shaping up.

There are quite a few friends I can think of who might like this music video amelitatwinstar pointed out to me: Xiu Xiu - Boy Soprano, which doesn't really have much to do with the title, all lovingly rendered in SNES style graphics. It's the kind of music video Nocona's MTV runs.

Yay! Got the memory card returned fine. ^_^ It seemed to be flaky, twice winding up unable to be formatted, the second time terminally; eBuyer happily took it back and sent a replacement immediately, confirming the original had turned out to be faulty. So I have my shiny 8GB class 6 SDHC back in the camera, rather than the coworker's very kindly loaned 2GB MMC; as per the standards, the MMC was quite a bit slower than the SDHC, making for slower transfers into iPhoto, no HD video, and no infinite rapid shooting. (Well, "rapid" - it'll manage around three a second constantly, or about six a second for several seconds)

Hmm.. seems to work, but it's cut out during HD recording a few times, with the camera saying the card wasn't fast enough. It claims to be Class 6, as required, but perhaps that's a measure of wishful thinking on the manufacturer's part.

Egad, but rent varies widely.. I think the lowest I've ever paid was back in Orrygun, in yon days of Trilobyte (truly a fabulous place to work, without question. I wholly approve of interviews that conclude with half a day's skiing at company expense, and pizza & wine at the boss' house. You've never met a more enthusiastic, passionate band of employees. I might not, either), $545 for a 2br townhouse in a reasonably convenient bit of town. Most was the 3br place in San Jose, $1950/mo, a small walk from the Blossom Hill LRT station. I suppose the current £750/mo falls in the middle, overall, with the bonus of the inclusive gardening service, but the peaceful neighborhood comes at no cost. ^_^ I suppose it might be nice to share the burden, but it's not exactly a hot property locale, and I wouldn't be interested in sharing with anyone I didn't know well.

I do have to wonder who's actually responsible (in some manner of speaking) for the presence, or otherwise, of videos on the iTunes Store.. Seeed have three up, not including Ding; but most baffling must be the genii of Warner, making available seasons 1 and 2 of Babylon 5. And that's it. =:D On the other paw, I do see Squarepusher "Come on my Selector", and the Avalanches' "Frontier Psychiatrist". Which has just become my first iTunes Store music purchase - I've been looking for a good quality version of it for a while now, and it doesn't seem to be present on any DVD compilations.

Finally! I can convince the TZ5 I really want a fast shutter time, by forcing ISO 800 sensitivity. Here's 1/500th of a second of two buns' lives. ^_^

 
 
 
 
 
 
You have a Lumix TZ5 too? Try putting it in Sports mode, I think that speeds up the shutter.

(I'd recommend the FZ18 over the TZ5, it's got a longer zoom and can do manual exposure, though at the expense of considerable added bulk.)
ISTR it does, but insufficiently, perhaps somewhat surprisingly; the firmware seems to err on the side of obtaining the lowest noise shot, rather than the clearest. That might be quite a handy feature, in fact - I keep finding myself visiting the quick menu to flip between auto sensitivity and manual, where a button to toggle between "fast" and "low noise" would be markedly more convenient. Similarly, given the spot focus still doesn't seem to be especially accurate, a button to offer a "near" and "far" preference would be most useful in ensuring that even if most of the view was nearby, it's actually that further spot you want it to pay attention to. (Ah, tall grass, my ancient nemesis.. we meet again!)

I actually chose the TZ5 over a couple other longer zoom models for the size - the TZ5's compact enough to just slip into a pocket, so it's much more likely to be on me if I happen to want to take a chance shot. The downside, of course, is that lesser (but still quite impressive for the size!) zoom, and the inexplicable lack of super-high quality JPEG or RAW. Still, I suppose it's all a matter of trade-offs. Sometime, I'd be quite inclined to get something like the FZ18 for the rabbits, although if I went towards the higher "consumer" (ugh, how I dislike that word) end, I might just hold out for a real, albeit low-end, DSLR, though those pesky laws of physics dictate that anything much greater than 20x zoom starts involving lens assemblies that almost touch the subject you're wanting to zoom in on. =:)

Any idea what order of magnitude of efficiency current camera sensors afford? I'm wondering how much better low light performance one might hope for in a 2015 camera. Of course, I suppose another way around the problem would be - as current image processors probably already do - analysing many frames and calculating the real image, sans noise, from the elements that remain common to them all. Perfectly feasible, but maybe not within the power available in the embedded resources currently available.

The current trend among camera manufacturers is towards more megapixels, without actually increasing the size of the sensor. This can only lead to less sensitivity.

I have three digital cameras, a Pentax A30 which is small enough I carry it around in my pants pocket all the time, an FZ18 which I consider my primary camera now and a TZ5 which I bought as a compromise between size and capabilities. I think I paid the same price for all three, which combined is still cheaper than what I paid for my Ricoh KR-5 SLR film camera and lenses about 15 years ago.
I don't understand the 'more megapixels' thing when you're still stuck with using a lens half the size of a dollar. OK, well I *do* understand it - from the 'bigger is better' school of marketing!

Truth is, for all but the pro-DSLR market the limiting factor today is not the sensor but the quality of the lens. All the smart electronics in the world can't regenerate image resolution that the lens has not allowed through, or reliably correct for lens-based distortion.

[My 'default' camera is a Canon EOS400D with a Sigma 100/300 lens].