Dec 31

Die-hards dying off

Even for the die-hards who deny global warming despite all the evidence, it’s getting more difficult to keep their addled pates buried in the sand.

I have firsthand (albeit anecdotal) evidence that climate change is occurring. I grew up in North Florida, an area that sits right at the border of the northern hardwood forests and more subtropical Central and South Florida.

When I was a kid, there were no butterflies at all during the winter. Not the first one. Now when we visit North Florida in the winter, we see a wide variety of butterflies throughout the season. That’s an observable change in my lifetime, all due to climate change.

Dec 30


Go here to tell Mozilla how horrible and worthless the new Australis interface is, and to protest them removing all features that are useful to power users.

They think they will increase adoption of the browser by removing everything useful, but in reality what will happen is that people like me who others look to for tech advice will steer people away from Firefox. Which is in point of fact exactly what I have already done.

I was helping a small company get set up. They asked what browser they should use and I said, “Just stick with Internet Explorer. Chrome is unsafe from a privacy perspective and Firefox has lost its way. IE is good enough these days and little different from Firefox.”

Good job, Mozilla.

Dec 30

Wallet feeling the pain

I shelled out for a 13” Macbook Pro with Retina Display tonight for the project we’ve been working on.

We plan to leave Mavericks on there. It’s been a long time since I’ve used Mac OS so that will take some getting used to. But having such a nice screen will be great.

Since I ordered it online though it looks like I might have to wipe the OS when I get it and reinstall.

Dec 29

The plurality of the real

There is some weird cult on a photo site I visit where people post uncropped “unaltered” images from their cameras, insisting that what their cameras captured is “how it really looked.”

There is no “how it really looked.” It does not exist. I cannot stress this enough. The how it really looked does not exist. It cannot.The belief that it does demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of cameras, physics, physiology, human nature, color perception, human memory and basic optics.

First of all, a camera captures both a subset and a superset of what your eyes can see. Your eyes have a far, far higher dynamic contrast ratio than any camera. For most people, it’s somewhere on the order of 1/2,000. The best widely-used camera extant right now has a contrast ratio in the realm of 1/20. (This means that you can discern detail in both a bright and a dark area, the bright area being 2,000 times brighter than the dark area.) In other words, the average human can in this particular way see a hundred times better than any camera.

At the same time, though, a camera can capture a bit farther into the infrared and the UV than any human eye (if you don’t believe this, it’s quite easy to demonstrate).

That’s barely even the start of it. A human eye works fundamentally differently than any camera ever made. Going into the details of this would make the post 10,000 words long but to better my photography I extensively studied how the human eye works and how my camera works. And trust me, they are as different as a submarine and an albacore tuna.

All of that isn’t even 20% of the difference, though.

The rest of the inapplicability of the straight-from-the-camera approach has to do with the human mind, the covering of which even in relation to photography only would make the post infinitely long.

As much as I hate to defend those who inflict Instagram filtering to their photos, their approach is more accurate and closer to the full spectrum of human perception than the “how it really looked” contingent. I object to it only because as used by most it is artless and thoughtless rather than any other reason.

The human mind perceives a constantly-updated stitched-together totality; the camera sees one thing only and freezes it forevermore. The mind builds a gestalt that include all that happened before, during and after a memory was made; the camera knows only what was in front of it, and only captures some small part of that. The human mind perceives color relatively, and the camera does as well, but in completely different ways that are by necessity at odds.

I could go on. This post could be so very long, but I’ll wrap this up.

If you see someone claim that some photo is “unaltered” or “how it really looked,” realize how little this means. There isn’t such a thing as how it really looked. No camera captures this. They can’t. No mind captures this either. To recurse the metaphor, there are only snapshots, brief glimpses of some truer reality only the edges and surfaces of which we perceive differently with each different tool: our eyes; the camera; a drawing; a memory.

None of these depictions are true, and none of them are how it really looked, or how it really was — nor can they ever be.

Dec 29


There is no one who is “who they really are.” We are all different people to one another, and to ourselves.

Personalities are adaptable, and adaptive – because they have to be. Humans are social animals by necessity and by evolution. A single human sans society is a cipher and nearly helpless as even the most asocial of us are defined and delineated by our relations to others, even if only oppositionally.

That still doesn’t explain to me why so many people insist that their preferences should be mine, or vice versa. This part of human nature I think I will never comprehend.

Dec 28


What have I learned in this life? A lot, and a lot of it early. Perhaps too early.

But I think this is the most important lesson.

A small kindness from you may completely change someone else’s life.

I’m largely asocial, and reflexively pugnacious due to my past, but I try to remember that as often as I can.

Dec 26


Although I was a very precocious child, one thing I learned only as an adult is that propaganda is extremely effective and nearly impossible to combat.

The efficacy of propaganda and how it pervades all aspects of society – primarily these days coming from corporations in the US, not government – is probably the most disappointing fact I fully realized only after I was 25 or so.

That 90%+ of people believe only what has been blasted into their brains by propagandists, hucksters and corporate PR forestalls the possibility of any real social improvement. Which is, of course, the idea.

Dec 26

Another terrible argument

It’s a truly terrible argument that because children can use Windows 8 more easily than a start menu-based or similar more complex OS that that somehow makes it a good OS for me to use.

Children can also drive a Big Wheel more easily than a full-size vehicle. That doesn’t mean I should start commuting to work in a Big Wheel.

It’s amazing to me that those who make that argument cannot see how incoherent and idiotic it is.

I also found it much easier to use my playtoy Fisher Price hammer when I was a kid than an adult hammer. Should I now continue using that any time I need to pound a nail?

Even if I were a supporter of a phone or tablet interface on a desktop, I would not use such illogical arguments to advocate for it. How people’s minds can operate so poorly I will never understand.