Shower Thoughts II

Have you ever thought about the meaning behind being “Self Taught”? I was thinking about it in the shower the other day and came up with some interesting points.

Most people would assume if you are learning by yourself without the aid of a teacher that you are essentially teaching yourself – so, self-taught. But what are you using to teach yourself? Books? Audio files? These are resources that have been created by other people. So you are, in fact, being taught by someone else indirectly.

Then I thought about the methodology. Technically, in a class – you watch and listen to the teacher. Many classes have little interactivity, limiting your exposure to that which, essentially is the same as a book. So, would attending a class be counted as an effort on your behalf to further your knowledge? Would that be counted as being self-taught? Where do you draw the line?

Being able to learn something by yourself without any interaction with another human being, or work created by one would be the most strict definition of being self-taught, but would that be possible? Everything you know, you owe to some interaction with someone else.

To most people the idea of being self-taught most likely involves reading books and self-study. Obviously everyone will have their own opinion but in the end it all comes down to semantics.



Decisions, Decisions

What to do? Lens or camera body? The opinions of the lovely folks at (forums) indicate the general consensus is that lens > body. I can see the sense in this but why does it still feel like a body upgrade is a better deal?

Enough questions! The choice has been made. I will be getting a new Pentax K5 to replace my (still excellent) K20D. My reasoning is this – with greater ISO performance I can essentially reap the speed benefits of the faster (2.8 etc) lenses by bumping up the ISO. Doing this on the K20 produces easily noticeable noise at ISO levels higher than 400. Obviously it wont be possible to get nice bokeh and that the image quality wont be as good, but for now the body is going to make me happier than a new lens. I hope.

This is not to say I ignored the excellent advice from the guys in the dpreview forums. No! They almost convinced me to change my mind and buy a lens. Originally I was 100% set on the body, but now I am at 40/60. Still, they made a strong argument. The outcome of this discussion basically lead me to look for a temporary second job so I can finance the camera purchase, and hopefully a decent lens too.

For those of you wondering which lens I was considering – I was stuck between two options, the SMC PENTAX DA STAR 200MM F2.8 ED (IF) SDM and the Sigma APO 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM.

Now the waiting game begins. With the recent takeover of Pentax by Ricoh (Today!) and news about a new camera on the horizon it would only make sense to wait for the price of the K5 to drop further. Here’s to hoping it will be sooner rather than later.


Which would you choose?






HDR Panoramic Test Shot

I really should make an effort to post more. Anyway – I thought this would be the best place to upload my HDR panoramic test shot. I don’t think Picasa or Facebook would be very good for an image with such a high-resolution. After taking a bunch of shots (multiplied by five times for the HDR) the image size came out at a staggering 383 megabytes (23909×2803) and Photoshop was using 7 gigabytes of memory! After bringing it down to a more reasonable resolution and optimizing for web, it came out at 6.8MB.

For those of you on slow connections, you may want to pass on this one. I tried a few different panorama plugins for WordPress to try and make the image scrollable, but none worked very well. WP-PhotoNav came the closest, but it seemed pretty buggy. Not sure if it was the plugin or my theme however. I guess lightbox will have to do for now.

iPad impressions.

I havent written about much for a long time so I though I would enlighten you with my brief review of the iPad.

When it was first announced I laughed at the idea that it would be useful for anything. I teased a few people who were considering buying one, arguing that it was just a giant smart phone. Almost a year later, I purchased one for myself.

The 3G model is basically a giant iPhone. There is no camera (iPad 2 is rumored to have one) or any phone function. The screen is obviously much bigger, but other than these few differences, the iPad is essentially the same as the iPhone.

That said, I would never buy an iPhone. There is just too much freedom that you get with Android, I couldn’t live with all the restrictions. Back on topic:

So, why did I buy the iPad? Well, there was the ‘Cool’ factor that came into play, but the reason I gave my wife was: To use it in class. In all honesty, I was expecting to have it replace my grades / attendance book. Pretty expensive replacement right? Anyhoo, other than playing around with downloading apps and messing with jailbreaking, the primary use for my iPad has been in the classroom.

I use an app called TeacherPal, which I highly recommend, to take attendance and grade students performance in class. The app itself is a little confusing at first, and exporting your data is only possible via email / iTunes (No dropbox support) but it does the job pretty well.

It’s also great for showing students pictures, videos and presentations in class. While dragging a laptop to each class is a pain, the iPad is light and small enough to make things easier.

The iPad is a unique device in that, it doesn’t make your day to day life easier unless you actively try to find uses for it. While I was always expecting to use it in class, I initially couldn’t think of any other uses for it. This is where the iPad’s size and battery life become an advantage. I deliberately brought it everywhere I went. Slowly, I found more and more uses for it. Taking notes, drawing pictures, computer administration. The apps available make the iPad such a versatile device and paired with the large screen basically make it a super portable laptop.

Which is the entire point of the iPad, portability. I find that with a laptop, I need a purpose to carry it with me – a presentation, work etc. With the iPad, its different. I have it with me all the time. This makes it so much more useful than a laptop.

Some might argue the functionality of a smart phone makes the iPad less useful. This is true to a certain extent, sending sms messages and checking friends status updates are all pretty easy to do on a smartphone however, having the larger screen makes it a less frustrating experience. The other great thing is it is perfect for sharing. Almost every time I have had to show someone something on my phone, they scrunch up their eyes and complain about being unable to see anything.

The iPad can be as useful as you want it to be.

The negative:

Coming from an Android environment, I was quite used to trying out apps before paying for them via ad supported demos. Some apps follow this trend in the Apple app store, but most don’t. The biggest annoyance for me is that the app store does not allow for refunds (in this sense). On Android you have a 15 minute window (Used to be 24 hours) to download an app, try it out – and see if it is what you wanted. If not, you can get a refund, simple as that.

On the app store however, no such luck. I was looking for a timetable app to manage my class schedule and I came across something that looked like what I wanted, and after paying for it – found that it was pretty useless. No refund for me – money down the drain.

But that’s not an iPad issue, it’s an Apple issue. My image of Apple is a pompous, greedy, self centered and stuck up company. They do whatever the hell they like and will keep doing it until the users start complaining en masse. This wont happen as the average iPhone user isn’t the same kind of person the average smart phone user used to be.
They don’t care if they can’t tether their phones via wifi/bluetooth, or that Skype doesn’t work over their 3g connections. They only care that they have the latest and ‘greatest’ phone that looks good. These people buy Apple for the image, not for the device. Apple is well aware that this demographic makes up most of their users, and as such they can do whatever they like.

For those of us who like to have control over our own devices, thankfully the iPad is also jailbreakable.

Love the iPad for what it is. Hate Apple for who they are. Don’t ask me why I hate Apple, I just feel it. I have nothing against their hardware. I think Apple hardware is some of the best out there. I also have nothing against OSX. I just don’t like Apple the company.

Ill leave you with an interesting note that may or may not be a good indicator of this attitude toward Apple:

Search google for:
“Hate Apple” – 9,690,000
“Hate Microsoft” – 6,750,000
“Apple Sucks” – 1,400,000
“Microsoft Sucks” – 273,000

Take the results as you will.



私はHC510D-A/WのカーナビとソフトバンクのHTC Desire(X06HT)を使っています。電話、オペレーターサービスと音楽はBluetoothで動きますが、データサービス(Google マップ、最新交通情報など)は使えません。

カーウイングスのデータサービスをご利用するには、普通の(対応している)携帯電話ならBluetoothで使えますが、アンドロイドや、iPhoneや、スマートフォンはそのままでは使えません。なぜなら、BluetoothのDUN (Dial Up Networking)プロフィールは設定してないからです。

Bluetoothは色んなプロフィールがあります。例えば、友達の携帯にBluetoothを使ってファイルを送るとBluetoothのOPP(Object Push Profile)を使用します。Bluetoothのヘッドフォンなら、A2DP(音楽)か、HSP(電話)を使用します。

HTC Desireで、オペレータサービス(通話の方)はHSPだからOKです。それに、音楽はA2DPだらか、Bluetoothで携帯からの音楽も車に聞けます。データサービスを利用すると、DUN (Dial Up Networking)プロフィールが必要です。


Space Battleship Yamato K-Truck !

Currently for sale at the Yahoo auction Japan website is a K-Truck (Small truck) that supposedly looks like the Space Battleship Yamato. The truck itself is listed as a 1989 Nissan “real yamato.” The truck has done 180 thousand kilometers, has a 5 speed manual gearbox, a 550cc engine and is 4 wheel drive.

After looking at the pictures, one has to wonder what kind of person would want to drive something like this.

If you take another look at the third picture, you may notice that there seems to be a microwave, laptop computer,  typewriter, telephone, blow up doll, champagne and a bottle of Dom Pérignon in the back! CRAZY! You would have to pay me to even think about driving that around.

So, you may be thinking – “Who on earth would want to buy that train wreck.” Well, it turns out there are (at the time of writing) 16 bidders. And the price is an astronomical (for what it is) 1,631,072 Japanese yen or US$19,667. According to other news sources, the seller initially didnt expect anyone to be seriously interested – apparrantly accepting bank transfers for payment to an account held by the Starsya branch of Isukandaru Bank (ンダル銀行スターシャ支店) – Which is a fictional bank as far as I can tell.

Yahoo Auction Link :

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