Last week I picked up a 42″ UHD TV for pretty cheap (Hisense 42K320UW, discounted because generally no one interested in a UHD TV is bothering with anything below 55″). It’s packed with functionality like most modern TVs, but of course the UI and remote are unbelievably shit, as I have come to expect from most electronic gear, especially cheapie brands.
Since the Panasonic plasma TV it is intended to replace is still mostly working (although some glitching on HDMI signals) I thought I’d give this one a tryout as a monitor first, replacing my old 2009 iMac which I was only really using as a display for my work laptop anyway.
Using a DisplayPort to HDMI converter (newish one supporting 4K via HDMI 1.4) I can run this TV as a monitor in full native UHD resolution.
- At only $550 this was cheaper than the cheapest 4K monitor I could find.
- 3840 x 2160 resolution!
- Feels excitingly huge!
- Feels uncomfortably huge! 42″ is just too damn big for a desktop monitor.
- HDMI 1.4 only allows UHD resolution up to 30Hz refresh rate, meaning there’s noticeable juddering and lag on cursor movements (the screen itself doesn’t flicker though)
- Unbelievably terrible UI… eg just adjusting brightness means about 5 or 6 clicks through the crappy menu.
- Using it in standard HD mode (1920 x 1080) results in higher refresh (60Hz) but weirdly much greater latency, even in “game mode” with bullshit features turned off. This would actually be a really bad TV for gaming.
So, it’s taken an awful lot longer than originally expected, but I have finally moved in to my new workspace.
This means I no longer share a room with babby, and also that I can’t just step out of my office to snack in the kitchen, so hopefully I will stay a little more focused on my work.
Hard to say if this will actually be the case, as I’ve only just moved in, am still in ‘holiday’ head space, and am still surrounded by piles of clutter.
Bought myself a new camera recently, after an awful lot of vacillating about it (since iPhones are almost always good enough for anything I would want to shoot).
As with so much technology, I find myself simultaneously impressed by the hardware while being annoyed by shitty software and firmware.
- Basically this is a really nice ‘enthusiast’ level camera, and I’ve barely even started to understand most of the functionality, so best just to refer you to DPReview (the place to go if you’re researching cameras to buy).
- It has that classic silver and black look that makes no difference to the photos, but makes it somehow feel more… authentic?
- It has amazing image-stabilisation built in (sensor based, 3-axis), which is rather important for Mr Shaky Hands here.
- I got it for 20% off (or 36% off if you believe the nonsense RRPs that camera manufacturers stick on their product pages)
- I can take extra nice Polly pics now.
- It gives me something to hide behind at social events where I don’t know many people.
- Doesn’t charge from USB, so you have to actually pop the battery out and stick it in its own custom charger. Can’t believe this is still a thing.
- On a related note: NO EXTERNAL POWER OPTION. Again, could have been solved by using USB power.
- Host only Wifi. One of the cool features becoming standard with digital cameras is Wifi, which sounds great (in the picture above I am actually taking the photo remotely, using my iPhone to control the new camera), but there’s a major pain about the way Olympus (and others?) implement wireless connectivity; namely that it’s host only, ie: your camera becomes a wifi hotspot and you connect to it with your phone. See the problem here? In order to connect to the camera you first have to disconnect from any regular wifi, thereby losing internet access (at least if you’re using iOS). In typical tech journo fashion, this article neglects to point out this limitation, while going on to praise…
- OI.Share – the app for controlling the camera remotely is probably the ugliest, flakiest app I currently have installed on my iPhone.
- Olympus Viewer 3 – probably the ugliest, least intuitive application I have installed on my iMac.
As posts here get a little sparse, I’m switching to the Disqus comment system, mainly because it means you can sign in with your preferred network and track replies etc more easily. Disqus seems to be pretty ubiquitous lately, to the point where if you want to have a reasonably functional comment and threading system which people will actually use, it’s either this or Facebook.
Note that all past comments have been imported into the new system, but currently show up with generic avatars. If you have commented here in the past (with a valid email) please consider doing a ‘merge’ as described on this page. If you do so your avatar (and name if you choose something different) will be updated in all the old threads and you will be able to track upvotes, replies etc.
It’s really not that tricky, you just need to sign in with the same email and then choose to “Merge” the comments attributed to that email address. Another benefit of doing so is that you get to edit or delete your own comments.
Hey, did you hear they’re going to make invisible planes soon? How cool eh? Just like Wonder Woman’s stupid jet. Here’s an incredibly convincing picture from an equally convincing article:
You see it’s apparently totally possible because it’s not actually invisible, it’s just magic technology projecting the scenery on the interior of the plane. Brilliant!
Except actually stupid!
The reason this is a stupid idea is not because it is expensive, unnecessary and unnerving, but because it simply can’t be done, and anyone who suggests it can obviously has not sought the opinion of anyone who has a clue about optics or aircraft. After checking the comments on this article, I realised that no one had really pointed this out, so I decided to do so.
The problem with saying something smart on the internet, is that some people are so used to everyone else being wrong, that they often don’t think about it much before assuming they know better.
Sturla Molden, he gets it. But then there’s this th3r0n guy. I mean, he has numbers in his name so he must be some kind of nerd genius right? Not about this he’s not. I am somewhat annoyed at his poorly reasoned dismissal of my criticism, and so feel it’s now extra important that people understand just how stupid the ‘project exterior onto interior’ idea is. It’s like, REALLY stupid, and yet no one seems to understand this!
I attempted to add a reply to further clarify the issue, but it turns out this is one of those terrible comment systems that only tells you the thread is closed AFTER you have entered your comment and clicked POST.
And so, because I have to record it somewhere or I will go mad, here is my [attempted] reply to the incorrect correction, further elaborating on my original, actually correct criticism:
I don’t know what led you to make this assertion, but it is not correct.
Imagine sitting in your seat, enjoying what seems to be an amazing panoramic view. You look to your right, at the horizon projected on the wall beside you. Place your finger on the wall so it’s touching the horizon. Now realise that a person standing up should see the horizon at their eye level, but instead will be looking down at the level of your finger. The distortion for all the other viewers in the cabin would be ridiculously bad.
Another example, imaging you are sitting towards the back of the plane, heading east, and you see a beautiful full moon rising. From where you are sitting it is superimposed over an exit door near the front. Hold your thumb up and you can obscure it. Now imagine what the person next to the exit door sees. An entire wall of bright shiny (distorted) moon blasting at them.
If I seem a little pedantic and/or smug, then fine, I don’t care. This is an area in which I have earned that right. I know the rules about projection and parallax and occlusion.
You know how words on a t-shirt are flipped in a mirror, but only left-right and never up-down? I KNOW WHY THAT IS.
How the moon seems bigger on the horizon? I CAN EXPLAIN THAT.
How the eyes on a well painted portrait seem to follow your around the room? TOO EASY!
Unsurprisingly, I haven’t managed to complete my mini-office build, but at least I’ve got the wall and door in place now. My plan to avoid cornices and skirting board may need revising though, as the alignment of the perfectly rectangular door panels shows up the crookedness of the ceiling and floor more than I’d like, and adding a bit of trim is a way to hide that.
I had to temporarily remove the center panel because within five minutes of fitting the door lock and handle I (of course) managed to accidentally lock myself out. Luckily I hadn’t yet fixed all of them in place from the inside, so didn’t actually have to break down my brand new door.
(At least it’s not a dead-lock, so there’s no danger of accidentally locking myself in my tiny storeroom/future office)
I took this last week off to try to catch up on sleep and a few odd jobs. My main project is the construction of a new mini-office space, as my current office does double duty as Polly’s bedroom and it’s just a bit awkward to juggle that. If all goes to plan, she will have her own room (nursery?) soon, and I’ll be commuting to work by walking downstairs (exercise!).
So far it’s not much to look at, but at least I finally made some tangible progress today, putting up a frame and hanging the door.
All that crap on the other side of the wall frame is where my new office will ultimately be (in theory by Monday!). On the near side of the wall will be the now-truncated rumpus room, where visiting nieces will continue to be welcome to play Lego Batman on Xbox and scatter corn chips about.
This is my first ever wall building project, and a truly vast amount of my time and energy this week has gone into making plans, visiting the hardware store, and then totally changing my mind. It was originally to be a classic stud wall with gyprock cladding (drywall), but kind of morphed as I thought about the different materials involved and how little I was into the idea of plastering and painting, so now it’s going to be a semi-permanent wall using doors as panelling instead of plasterboard. This should make it stronger and easier to remove if/when it’s no longer needed, while giving the whole thing a retro minimal vibe from outside.
Although the idea of an office with no actual windows might seem like a really bad idea, even when I do have a window in my office I always end up leaving the blinds closed anyway, so I’m treating the absence of natural light as a challenge to be solved with various flavours of LED trickery. I may even attempt something like a fake window effect, but that’s probably a project for some other weekend. (Adequate ventilation on the other hand is something I need to finalise before I start working in there.)
Worst case scenario: it turns out to be a terrible space to work and so we just use it as a store room, so my efforts aren’t completely in vain.
Polly is 6 months old now. Jolly and chubby, a little sooky, and we still love her to bits! I keep meaning to write at length about my experience as a new dad, but it’s all going by so fast I feel like by the time I compose something coherent it will be out of date. Too busy doing it to write about it, basically :-/
Created by a friend, an iOS game which is both simple and hard, and visually beautiful.
So, sorry the blog is practically dead, been a bit busy hanging out with Bubs. The only reason I’ve somehow found time to post this is that I’m supposed to be getting my damn tax sorted out.
And as you can see I’m doing a great job keeping in shape too!
Polly is doing great, she’s frikkin huge at over 9kg, and she’s probably teething but we haven’t actually seen any teeth yet; only copious drooling and frantic gnawing behaviours as well as some rather grumpy faces.
We took her to the doctor for some 4 month jabs on Friday, which she did not much enjoy, but on the whole she dealt with the ordeal reasonably well. She had her first official weigh-in for a while and measured just shy of 8.4 kg, which means she’s as well nourished as ever (length 66cm).
She has grown quite fond of her dummy (pacifier) and loves to scrunch and manipulate stuff. She is not quite rolling over yet but we are expecting her to work it out any day, as she is certainly making more of an effort to move herself around. She is becoming like an owl in that she seems to be able to swivel her head a crazy amount to see what’s going on behind her, and (coincidentally?) she also has razor sharp talons that grow faster than bamboo and a remarkable bite force for someone with no teeth.
From the many computer keyboards kicking around my office, here are closeups depicting the most common arrangements of Function and modifier keys:
This unwanted variety in layout (and function) drives me nuts. It slows my typing, as I have to work harder to make sure I’m hitting the right key when copy-pasting, application switching etc.
- When Microsoft decided to add the Windows key to the standard PC keyboard, they idiotically put it between the Ctrl and Alt keys, so it wasn’t consistent with the already established convention of Apple’s command key (which in early days was also labelled as the Apple key)
- Most manufacturers, when faced with the need for yet another modifier key (especially on compact keyboards), further cluttered the lower left key area with a Fn key. Again idiotically, Apple and Microsoft failed to standardize on the location of this, so on Apple keyboards Fn is the first key whereas with Windows keyboards it is the second.
- On Windows, common hotkeys for manipulating text are all based on the control key, whereas on Mac they use the Command key (which didn’t have an analog on PC keyboards until the the Windows key was added, in the wrong place). Note the control key and the command keys are in very different places, so the finger positions are very different for common operations.
- The Windows key is DUMB. It’s primary purpose is [was] to open the Windows start menu. It’s also a modifier key, but I’m guessing not widely used as such (every now and then I hit Windows-E to launch Explorer, just to remind myself I can). Also it doesn’t even have a symbol I can type, because Microsoft decided to brand it with the goddamn Windows logo. At least Apple’s command key has an actual glyph that can be typed (⌘) and isn’t in and of itself a trademark.
Special credit goes to the refreshingly simple key layout to be found on Google’s Chromebooks, which actually dispenses entirely with the Command/Windows key and the Fn key.
I really kind of love what they’ve done here; it’s like Google looked at existing layouts and said “Wait a sec, why do we need so many modifier keys anyway? And what’s the deal with the caps-lock key? Why such prominent placement for a key that is almost never used?”
Bravo Google for a bold design choice. Boo Apple and Microsoft for not sorting your shit out and saving everyone a lot of time and typing mistakes.