Archive for December, 2006

Post Christmas Post

evil santa

Evil Santa indicates the true meaning of christmas (out of shot).

This is one of the first pictures I created when I tried out Painter 5.0 + graphics tablet, several years ago. I really should have drawn something new and made cards this year, but unfortunately I have been just too damn lazy.

And here’s a semaphore elf (also of christmas past).

semaphore elf

You can see a lot less work has gone into this one, and it’s mostly compositing. Next year I will make cool stuff again, so I guess that’s my first resolution for 2007.

Gift-wise, I think my ideology is showing… For christmas this year I received both The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and [finally] Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion.

The 2006 Annual Intepid Awards for Online Goodness

Pharyngula – Best Science Blog. I only discovered this recently but have found myself reading (and commenting) a lot. In a sense I read it more for the politics than the actual science, but hey, it’s still a science blog.

Neopoleon – Best Personal Blog. Entertaining and shamelessly narcissistic. Needs more cartoons.

Woot! – Best…errr.. something. A perfect example of how clever writing can really make a difference.

Language Log – Best Language Log. Lots of great stuff here, about language in media, politics and everyday life.

The Perry Bible Fellowship – Best Web Comic. Surreal and slightly rude, in a variety of visual styles.

Crooks and Liars + Wonkette – Best US Political Commentary. Shamelessly liberal, both of these sites act as clearinghouses for media snippets that will make your blood boil with righteous indignation.

Drawn! – Best Art Blog. Constantly showcasing different work, showing just how much talent is out there (makes me jealous, in a good way).

Untitled #684

′Tis the season

Even without my recent attempts to appropriate the asterisk I still think this a mildly interesting idea. In this case the symbol can be considered a wildcard, and therefore more deliberately inclusive as a holiday greeting– although I guess you could also imagine it standing in for a swear as well…

The font used here is Palatino Linotype, one of the minority featuring a five-lobed asterisk.

2006 Pre Post Mortem

Nearly twelve months ago, I made a bunch of resolutions for 2006. Here’s how I score on them so far:

  1. Get a decent flat (and car)Done.
  2. Get out of debt – Done, although it still hurts to think about.
  3. Not be tragically single for the entire year – Shitshitshit.
  4. Grow a pair – Hard to say, I haven’t really had the need.
  5. Not take up smoking again – I am still a non-smoker, although I have smoked once or twice for old time’s sake. Chances of me picking it up again seem to be near zero right now.
  6. Submerge myself in a naturally occurring body of water at least once – I did go swimming at the beach last summer.
  7. Not be grumpy on my birthday – Hard to say, but I’m suspecting I failed this one, since I didn’t even post that day, and in the next entry I’m buying crap to make my life feel less pointless. Still loving the electric shaver though, and still swearing at this stupid Mac keyboard.
  8. Learn something new (unrelated to work/programming) – Another hard one, very subjective. I guess I’d have to say yes, but I haven’t learned anything particularly earthshaking.
  9. Chide someone who deserves it – This falls into the same category as 4, I haven’t really had the need to (I’m quite good at avoiding evil people)
  10. Write a bestselling novel about a computer programmer who solves a two thousand year old mystery encoded in the pages of the New Testament – Ok, so this I’ve totally failed at, but then it’s just a typical dumb joke resolution to undermine the real ones.

Don’t slouch

…or you may step out of the shower one day, attempt to put some pants on, and wind up lying on the floor in agony wishing someone would come and inject some morphine into your spine. Luckily I had my phone with me and was able to call a health advice line, where they basically told me to call an ambulance, which seemed a bit excessive (the pain had subsided by this point so long as I didn’t move). So instead I lay on my back and stared at the ceiling for a bit, then rolled onto my side and stared at the wall for a bit, then rolled onto my stomach and observed the carpet for a bit, then finally managed get up onto all fours and crawl to the arm of a sofa where I spent another fifteen minutes or so hauling myself into a kneeling position.

An hour or so (and some codeine + paracetamol) later and I am sitting bolt upright in a chair wondering if I’ll be able to stand up again anytime soon, but planning to do some research before I try.

Make Pretty!

Many years ago I was fooling around with Photoshop when I noticed that a particular combination of filter and blend amounted to a quick and easy photo enhancement technique, which at the time I christened the "Make Pretty" filter. I have never seen a portrait photo which couldn’t be substantially improved using this technique (especially if it was taken using a flash).

The photo below was taken at a dinner a couple of weeks ago, and before processing is typical of the sort of photo that I hate because it makes me look like a pasty git. After processing I think maybe it’s worth keeping, especially because it is almost impossible to find a photo of me smiling.

Make Pretty

Three easy steps to making [white] people look better using Photoshop:

  1. Adjust levels and move mid point to lighten the shadow areas (in over-exposed shots you may need to darken rather than lighten).
  2. Apply a Gaussian blur with a radius such that facial features are still discernable but small details (eg a zit or greasy highlight) are smoothed out. Depending on image size this could be anywhere from 3 to 16 pixels.
  3. Use Edit->Fade and set the blend mode to overlay and the opacity to somewhere between 40% and 70%

-> -> ->

The actual numbers will vary from image to image, but the process is fairly straightforward after you’ve experimented a bit. The net result seem to be that the blurred version combines with the original in such a way as to bring out facial structure and color while de-emphasizing surface detail. The above sample was processed with a blur of 3 pixel radius and a 70% overlay blend. I also cheated a little and desaturated my teeth in this case, but that step isn’t essential to achieve an improvement.

Using values 70% or higher for step 3 you will see significant saturation of colors, to the point where you might want to reapply the original colors (keeping the luminosity from the new image).

Hmmm I think I’ll avoid posting any more pictures of myself for a while, since looking back over recent posts I’m starting to seem a little obsessive over my appearance…

BTW I’m not planning to make a habit of OSX’ing my images– I just like experimenting in Photoshop to reproduce various effects.


zooma zoom zoom

My pictorial output has been pitiful lately, what with all the working, moping, eating and hair-coloring. Jujusketch is still in super crappo prototype concept phase, in spite of the fact that people have expressed interest everytime I’ve talked about it. Meh. One of these days I’m going to put aside a bit of time to work on Drivey too– it’s been so damn long since I had anything new to show.

I seem to have a lot of visitors at the moment but I’m not sure where they’re coming from (no obvious surge in referrer traffic). Hi to all who are new here, hope you’re real people and not just some weirdo forcing a refresh on my front page every 5 minutes…


BTW Drivey related posts can be viewed using

Cautious Optimism

Kevin Rudd, in his inaugural speech as leader of the (opposition) Australian Labor Party:

Compassion is not a dirty word. Compassion is not a sign of weakness. In my view, compassion in politics and in public policy is in fact a hallmark of great strength. It is a hallmark of a society which has about it a decency which speaks for itself. For us in the Labor movement from which we proudly come and have come this last century, these values of security, liberty and opportunity are not incompatible with equity, with sustainability and with compassion, because that in our view is what the Australian people are about as well.

The Australian people are a decent bunch. When you talk to Australians around the world, they cannot help but be engaged in the interests of other people. Australians are not by their nature a selfish mob. The Australian people are deeply concerned about the wellbeing of others. What we have seen instead on the other side of politics is an attempt to corral that basic decency of Australians into an alternative vision for the country′s future – a vision which simply legitimises a doctrine of me, myself and I; a doctrine which says that we as a country can only be about the aggregation of personal greed. That is what it is about. They try to make you feel good about the fact that that is what you are on about. I think that is a great tragedy of the way in which this government has attempted to shape this country over the last decade.

If nothing else, a change of leadership offers the party the opportunity to reaffirm its principles, and Rudd is far better at articulating these than Kim Beazley (previous leader) has been over the last few years. I watch with interest.



(thanks Richard)

More fun with hair

Ok, I am well sick of fake blonde now, after trying three different levels I’ve concluded it always looks bad, so I’ve decided to try an equally unrealistic color at the other end of the spectrum…

Dying hair black is a LOT messier than I realized… the actual process took less than half an hour (I’d even bought a second treatment in case it didn’t come out black enough haha), but the cleanup took forever. After mixing the goo to a light tan color and rubbing some in my hair, I looked down to mix some more and when I looked in the mirror it suddenly appeared that someone had emptied a chemical toilet over my head. Wow.

I also tried a bit on my eyebrows (you can see my aim is terrible) but it didn’t seem to make so much difference. I think the reason it worked so quick up top was that after bleaching the hair is incredibly damaged and porous and just sucks the pigment right up. It will be interesting to see what color it is by light of day (I think there’s a fair bit of blue in there).

Another point to note is that fingernails are made of keratin, the same protein that hair is made of. This means that unless you want blue-black nails you should not remove your gloves during the process!

Children of Men

When I saw the preview a while back I loved the look of it (and you can’t go wrong with a bit of Sigur Ros for a soundtrack) and the concept is just so big and chunky that I knew I had to see it.

Sure there’s not so much by the way of story… but the theme, the setting, the premise, the design, the cinematography– I loved it!