This is my Blog, on it I simply write stuff that I feel like writing about. You'll find it heavily slanted towards tech, games, entertainment and the like. I write about other stuff too, and somethings I write about things. I also do photography, the link is on your right.

Saturday, 26 May 2012


Saddle up kids, I'm feeling kind of feisty today.

It seems like these days every bored housewife with 600 bucks to spare buys themselves and entry level DLSR, and takes shitty pictures of their horrible monsters they call children.  They then make a crappy website and claim their spare bedroom is a "studio."  Not everyone who simply picks up a camera is a photographer.  I've got countless examples of this nonsense.  One time on a message board about photography, specifically, post processing of photographs, one member asked another what editing software they used.  The reply?  Instagram.  I'll let that sink in for a minute.....  So, some kid with an iphone and shitty photo software is on message boards calling themselves a photographer, I think their is a little more to it than that.

Here's another great story.  One time when I worked at a camera shop, this lady came in, absolutely incensed about the prints she had done of a wedding.  She was shouting that she was a professional wedding photographer and the colours were all wrong on her images.  The lab manager came out to talk to her (one the most talent photographers I've ever met).  He explained the that colour correction that he performed were to get the best possible quality out of her photos.  She then whipped out her camera (a shitty $200 dollar point and shoot jobbie) and exclaimed, "then why don't they look like they do on the screen on the back of my camera!?" (insert facepalm here) He tried to explain that the crappy 2 inch LCD screen of the back of her camera was not an accurate representation of what the final image will look like.  These kinds of technical details were way beyond her.  So in the end to make this "professional photographer" happy, what he did was get her to hold the camera up beside the editing screen.  (A perfectly calibrated high end monitor)  He then adjusted the color to look as close as he could to the LCD on the back of her screen.

Fucking kill me now.

I have to admit the merging of high end technology into cameras has completely changed the face of photography, and for the most part, changed it for the better.  Things that were extremely difficult only a few short years ago on 35mm film have been made trivial by the introduction of the world of digital to photography.  Although I appreciate all the R&D camera companies put into new camera technology, it sometimes seems like they are deliberately trying to trivialize the actual art and skill of good photography.  Which in turn creates a perceived devaluation of what a good photographer can do.
You see it everyday in the ads, "make professional photo in minutes with this camera or that piece of software."  All camera's now have fully automatic modes, build in "creative filters" special effects, hell some even have little clip art you can add to your photos.  Everyday it gets push a little farther, there is even a camera out now that you don't even have to worry about focusing, you can set the focus after the fact, it's a light field camera, and it's call the Lytro. 

Not exactly what looks like a pro grade camera, it has almost no controls what so ever, and the resolution is laughably low.  Now, this is quite and advanced piece of hardware all things considered. It uses cutting edge technology to achieve things never before seen in digital photography.  It's still in it's infancy, but you can see the direction things are going in.

However, no amount of technology can be substituted for skill and practise.  A camera can't compose your shot for you.  A camera can't setup proper lighting for you.  A camera can't set up scenes for you.  Most importantly though, a camera can not see, or feel, or have a gut instinct, know when to take the shot, or when to wait. In short, it doesn't take the picture, you do.

I'm not trying to sound like and elitist prick here.  I genuinely applaud anyone who has an interest in learning photography.  That's the thing though, you need to actually LEARN about.  Study composition, study colours, study exposure.  Experiment with things, go crazy.  I find it to be a fascinating hobby, and once you start tumbling down the rabbit hole you will see how deep it really goes.  I've been doing it for about 8 years now, and I feel like I'm still scratching the surface.  I'm not happy with anything I shoot, but that's not a bad thing.  I keep trying to make the next one a little better.

I would never have the audacity to call myself a professional, in my mind, that would be an insult to the true masters of the trade.  Maybe someday, but if you've seen my photos, you know that day will be long from now.


Thursday, 17 May 2012

Diablo 3?  More like Diablo Pee! Amirite?

If there's one thing you can count on, it's that the Internet at any given time has got it's panties in a bunch about some stupid thing or another.  Right now the totally hot thing to bitch about is Diablo 3, and I don't wanna be left out.  If all the cool kids are doing it, then I want to as well.

I would like to hit this from a slightly different angle then most though.  To start off with, I have not bought the game, and don't intend to for at least a few more weeks.  In that regard I can't bitch about not being able to play the game I spent my hard stolen lunch money on.  Before the game even came out I just knew the whole thing would be a fiasco wrapped up in a debacle.  Me!  Just some asshole with a shitty blog that nobody reads knew that the launch would be a disaster.  So, why didn't the network engineers at Blizzard know this?  You know, the guys that have the capability of 12 million simultaneous connections on their WoW servers.  Or maybe they did know, and this was part of thier evil plan the whole time! (dun dun duuunn!!!) No, most likely it boils down to simple dollars, as things so often do.  Why go on a spending overkill to ensure that all their paying customers can all get in the game smoothly if they don't have to.  Someone at the top decided to launch with a bare minimum and ramp up as demand ramped up.  Only the ramp was much steeper they could handle.

Now, like I said, I don't own the game, so I couldn't care less about whether the game is up or not, but here's the twist kids, hold on to your  He-man underoos.  My problem with this travesty of a launch is  this:  It servers to undermine ever further the validity of the PC as a viable gaming platform.  Think about this: When was the last time you recall a triple A title released exclusively on the PC?  (Not including MMO's)  In this console happy day and age, that happens, well, this is probably the last, thanks to Blizzard fucking the whole thing up.  This is how it looks to people on the outside looking in: Blizzard one the largest game companies in the world, renowned for it's impeccable quality standards, can't get thier game up and running on this platform.  If they can't do it, who can?  A lot of  deveoplers are saying, "ah fuck it, let's just poop out our game on iOS and call it day."  When's the last time you fired up the old xbox and just couldn't seem to log on to Barbie's Horse Adventure?  Never!  That shit just works!  Turn the sumbitch on and play.  That's what Diablo 3 NEEDS to do.  Double click the icon and just play, no muss, no fuss, just play the damn game.  That's one of the reasons PC gaming is losing ground to consoles.

So thanks Blizzard, this is why we can't have nice things.


Friday, 11 May 2012


Life is full of all kinds of little mundane tasks that you have to do, day in and day out.  As a public service to everyone, I've decided to start posting little "how to" guides for various tasks, to make these little things slightly less bother.  With out further ado here is my first how to guide:

How to survive a nuclear explosion:

First things first, if you are with about 3-5km of the blast, depending on the yield of the bomb, you will be instantly vaporized, and this guide is useless to you.  If you are within 5-16km you will likely be either burned alive by the heat wave or your lungs will explode from the sudden violent pressure change.  Possibly both at the same time if your are really lucky.  Either way, you are still very dead, and thus this guide is still useless to you.

Let's suppose you are 20+ km away from the blast.  Well, now your chances of survival have gone up from zero to slim, but that's something I suppose.  The first thing you will see is a flash of light brighter than the sun.  If you happen to be looking directly at the blast, that's the last thing you will ever see, your eyes will damaged beyond repair.  Even if you are facing away from the blast the reflection of the flash off of buildings and whatnot can still temporarily blind you.  Try not to panic, you have about 10 to 15 seconds to find a good place to hunker down, there is a shockwave incoming.  This shockwave will be like a gust of wind, only it will be travelling at around 900km/h.  It will be bringing with it all kinds of debris and shrapnel, like glass, chunks of concrete, wood, a Volkswagen, etc. so plan your shelter accordingly.  Once the shockwave passed over you, don't get up, there is another one coming, this time in the opposite direction, this is call overpressure.  As an interesting side note I've heard if you keep your mouth open, it will stop your eardrums from rupturing.

Ok, the shockwave is dealt with, and you are alive, maybe you hid under a car, or underpass, or something of that nature.  You'll start to realize that your skin is red and tingling.  That's because depending on how far away you are, have been inundated with gamma radiation and have the world's worst sunburn.  You may already have skin cancer, that sucks.

At any rate, now comes the tough part.  You have a few short hours to make some key decisions and plans before the nuclear fallout starts to settle in.  Fallout is not very fun.  Essentially what has happened is the blast has kicked up thousands of tons of dust and particles, which are now saturated with heavy isotopes, into the atmosphere.  This would be called beta radiation.  This will kill you, and it's going to start falling back to earth, possibly in the form of black rain.

Cover as much skin as you can, dampen a cloth and put it over your nose and mouth.  You need to get moving and find a place to hide.  It needs to be a place that you can seal off from the outside world as best you can for at least 48-60hours.  After that, the radiation levels should have subsided significantly.  Start moving perpendicular to the direction the wind is blowing.  Don't go directly away from the wind, you can't outrun the fallout.  Just try to get out of it's way.  Use these couple of hours you have to travel as far as you can.  You should try to collect food and water as you go.  Do not eat or drink anything that has been exposed to the air.  Prepackaged food is good, so is bottled water.  If you are in a residential area, the back tank of toilets and hot water heaters will have safe water, get as much as you can.  Bonus tip: if you can swing it, get some cloths, and seal them up in a plastic bag.  Have you still been moving perpendicular to the wind?  Good, because now you have to make your shelter.  Under ground is good, a basement perhaps, just as long as you can seal it off from the fallout.  Just remember fallout is not some magic force, it is dust, and if your shelter can keep out dust and rain, you are doing good.  Another handy tip is this: If you can manage to make your shelter in a tall building, 14 or so stories high, you will likely be safe from the fallout.  Those heavy isotopes we talked about earlier won't go that high.

Now we are snug as a bug in our shelter, what to do next?  Did you manage to get a change of cloths?  Now would be a good time to get rid of the cloths you are wearing(do not burn them) wash yourself off as best you can, and get into your new gear.  Again, try to keep your skin covered, as long as there is no blistering or cracking.  If there is, keep it clean and don't cover it.  Now grab yourself a book, and wait.

In case you are wondering how important is is not to get caught in the fallout imagine this:  Your internal organs are slowing being microwaved and liquefied over the course of several days, you start to get painful blister and rashes on your skin and you get violently ill.  Your body begins to shut down and you'll die one of the most horrifying deaths imaginable.  Same thing will happen if your food and water is not safe, so get that shit sorted out son.

After two or three days of cooling it in your shelter, it should be safe to come out, but follow the rules!  Cover your skin, watch what you eat and drink. 

Now the most dangerous part of all.  Dangerous because you can not make a plan for it, you can not predict it, you can't have any idea what might happen.  This newest threat is people, good luck!


Sunday, 6 May 2012

Come gather 'round people wherever you roam
And admit that the waters around you have grown
And accept it that soon you'll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Here's a topic that seems to come up fairly often:  How soon is too soon for a child to have a cell phone, or a smart phone?  If you asked me even a few months ago, I would have said there's no way a kid has that much of a social life that they would need a cell phone.  I didn't have one when I was a kid, they didn't even exist, and we got along just fine.  I realise now, and I can't believe it has taken me this long, that this is an amazingly myopic view to hold.  What's happening now in our society is a kind of digital Darwinism.  We as a species have long since screwed up the whole concept of natural selection, the weak have just an equal of opportunity as the strong to pro-create.  However the concept as a whole is still sound, and always will be.  Now it has become about who can adapt easily and quickly to our seemingly break-neck speed of technological leapfrogging.  Life skills that were pertinent even a few short years ago, are completely irrelevant today.  Take cursive writing for example, I remember spending hour upon hour in school practising my "J's" to get them just right.  Now it's not even taught in schools, it kind of like calligraphy, a sort of quaint hobby.  Handwriting is outdated, and a virtually a useless skill.  Even entire thinking patterns have changed.  How many phone numbers do you memorise these days?  I know next to nobodies phone number, I don't have to know.  What I do need to know however, is how to quickly access that information.  That right there seems to be the zeitgeist.  There has been a subtle change in out thinking from collecting knowledge, to knowing how to access knowledge.  Ask any IT person, and they will tell you 90% of their job is simply Googling problems that users present to them.  They don't need to ever detail about every piece of software and hardware in the world, they can't.  All that they require is the skill is obtain, interpret, and implement the knowledge.  I don't mean to trivialise IT work, far from it.  Just saying it sounds easy, but in practise, it's extremely difficult, and requires a very specific set of skills.  Skills that we still are only scratching the surface of, and as we move on, will become more and more essential in every aspect of everybody's lives.

So, how soon should a child get a cell phone or smart phone?  I my opinion, they should get one as soon as they can understand the implications of what a smart phone can be capable of.  The skills to access, manipulate and utilise data should be given to them as soon as possible.  Trying to shelter children to the way the world works, simply because thats the way it was when you were young is doing them and incredible disservice, and leaves them at a terrible disadvantage.

The keystone to this entire thing however, is not yet in place.  That keystone is adults.  So many of us wander around with the latest shiny gadget and have no idea of the potential it harbours.  Instead we have $600 angry birds devices.  There's nothing intrinsically wrong with games, I love games, but that is only a small fraction of what these devices are going to become to us.  I currently hold the sum total of all of human knowledge in my pocket, and you probably do too. 

These devices are going to become, our communications, entertainment, wallet, learning tools, working tools, key's, shopping and even a great number of uses that haven't even been invented yet.  Don't believe me?  By this time next year, Canada will have an official digital currency, it's called the MintChip.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to get left behind, and old fossil with an irrelevant skill set.  It's still survival of the fittest, and you have to want you and your children to be the fittest, don't you?  If you do, all you need to remember is this:

the times they are a-changin'.