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Photo Bombing for Pros March 30, 2009

Posted by baldricman in General, POTD.
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Ever heard of Photo Bombing? It is the act, nay, the Art, of ruining a perfectly good posed photograph or portrait by having some random, uninvited person insert themselves “in-frame” just in time for the shot to be taken, (theoretically) before the photographer notices.

Anyway, I have a friend who is a master in this arcane practice, so I’ve always had an interest in it. Imagine my joy when I stumbled across this site, SpoiledPhotos.com

Here are a few samples.

Epic Timing Win

Points for Style


Proof: Computer Games Improve Your Eyesight March 30, 2009

Posted by baldricman in General, News, Tech.
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In what is arguably the most important scientific discovery of the year, researchers have published the findings of a study on the effect playing action computer games has on people’s eyesight, specifically their ability to better process contrast levels.

[The] researchers studied two groups that played video games for 50 hours during a nine-week course. One group played action games such as “Call of Duty 2” and “Unreal Tournament 2004.” Another group played non-action games such as “Sims 2,” which doesn’t require precise, visually guided aiming actions. People who played the action games showed enhanced contrast sensitivity compared to those in the non-action game group, with improvements ranging from 43 percent to 58 percent, according to the study.

50 hours may seem like a lot, but the good news (depending how you look at it of course) is that it seems you wouldn’t need to keep it up. Says Daphne Bavelier, professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester:

…we’ve found that action video games train the brain to process the existing visual information more efficiently, and the improvements last for months after game play stopped.

I knew I was right. Mom, I hope you’re reading this.

Find the cnet article here, and the full study here.

Thanks to Deems for sharing 🙂

Roleplaying D&D: Great memories March 27, 2009

Posted by baldricman in General.
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Warning: The following post gives away my geekishness, and my age.

I remember spending a not-insignificant portion of my youth planning and playing roleplaying games. The real, pencil & paper type, with funny shaped dice and everything. We played everything from ShadowRun to StarWars, but our favourite was surely Dungeons & Dragons. The games would take days to plan and prepare, and even longer to play, and as such, involved a necessarily huge amount of coffee and junk food. We’d gather round in someone’s lounge or bedroom, fighting to get an actual chair to sit on, otherwise propping ourselves up against a wall with a mangy cushion (if we were too slow), and then letting our imaginations, and that of the DM, dictate our entertainment for the next few hours. 

I came across a great set of posts by Will Wheaton, who is currently leading a D&D game at home for his teenage son and friends. For those of you who know that unique, and uber-geeky joy of roleplaying, you might enjoy browsing through them, as he describes in quite good detail how they progress…..

First post is here, then followed here, here, and here, with a closing note here

Gym, a Brave New World March 26, 2009

Posted by baldricman in Baldric-Man, General.
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Brave? Bah! I barely held on to my dignity today. It was my first “real” gym session this morning (yesterday being just the assessment – read about it here). And as promised, I was up even earlier, to be at the gym at 5:45AM. (What the heck??)

So my personal trainer Suresh, bless his soul, starts me off with a light warm-up on the treadmill. Now, I haven’t done a lot of significant walking on my ankle for the past 6 months, and even though its fine, I’m still a bit tentative. Oh, and I’ve never been on a treadmill before. (They are the epitome of uselessness, in my opinion…. but I have to say, the heartrate monitor part is kinda cool)

So it was just a 10 minute walk, if I recall, and I quite enjoyed it mostly because of the warning label on the machine, (more…)

Gym, the final frontier March 25, 2009

Posted by baldricman in Baldric-Man, General.
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I’ve spent many years hurling abuse, snide comments, and sarcastic witticisms at gym-goers, and I’ve enjoyed it. The very notion of spending hundreds a month to do exercise that could be done outdoors in fresh air, and with a view, just seems silly. (Of course I concede the point that your only idea of a good view might involve a pair of lycra tights…. in which case its a fair call)

That, and the subtle personality changes that many gym-converts seem to undergo: they start wearing stretchy t-shirts, and seem to look down a lot more. They also pick up everyday objects like coffee mugs and pencils in an entirely new manner (often with a slight, barely perceptible grimace)

And then, early this morning, at the butt-crack of dawn, bleary-eyed and feeling a little sheepish, I find myself  in one. A gym that is, not a pair of lycra tights.


Facebook redesign March 24, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News, Tech.
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The new Facebook design really sucks. I hate to post something like this, and I’m usually the last to pronounce (negative) judgement on “new” looks etc for sites (or anything for that matter), and I count myself as one of the positive people, the optimists, when it comes to this sort of thing. In fact, I happened to really like the last major UI change to Facebook, which was met with massive criticism indeed. And that is why I thought so carefully about posting something like this after I first opened Facebook after that changes.

I’ve tried to like it, honest. I’ve really, really tried. I’ve looked for benefits to the new layout. But I just can’t find anything, ANYTHING that is better about it! I recently signed up on Twitter (just a day or so before the change in fact), and still have not “clicked” with it… I just don’t see it as something I’ll use much. Imagine my surprise and dismay when I opened Facebook to see…. Twitter. Wait a sec…. I’m sure I typed in “faceb…..” Damnit! They’ve mated! They’ve produced an evil, ugly red-headed spawn!
In my opinion, Facebook has merely indicated its concern over the growing Twitter “phenomenon”  by immitation. (What do they say about flattery?) But did they not think that Twitter was never really in competition with them in the first place? They (used to) fulfil different needs.

As you probably are acutely aware, there is an overwhelming majority of facebook users who agree with my sentiments. So far, of the few who have supported the change, I still have not heard any reason why the new look is better (not just a good reason, I mean any reason at all).

The only argument is that “people complained previously about changes, but now they like them”. I’m sorry, but that’s not an argument.

Anyway, I felt most vindicated when I came across this article today. It turns out that Facebook employees hate the new design too. 

The feedback on Facebook’s new look, which emphasizes a stream of Twitter-like status updates, is almost universally, howlingly negative. Why isn’t CEO Mark Zuckerberg listening to users? Because he doesn’t have to, he’s told employees.

Mark Twitterberg, wake up.

Wave Photos March 24, 2009

Posted by baldricman in General, POTD.
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So cool: I came across these photos by Clark Little, an (ex-?) surfer who now specialises in wave photos – the sort land-lubbers like myself never get to see.


© TreeHugger.com 2008 - Clark Little

© TreeHugger.com 2008 - Clark Little



Take a browse through them (there are 21 in all), there are some truly spectacular ones in there…

Keystroke Logging Taken to New Level March 23, 2009

Posted by baldricman in News, Tech.
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So you think you’re pretty safe because you’re visiting trusted sites only, not installing software unless you’re absolutely sure its safe, and you use pretty strong passwords…

Well, maybe you are, but did you know that your keystrokes can now be identified with equipment costing only about $80!? Oh, and there isn’t a need for installing some kind of spyware on your machine either, as it can be done remotely – maybe in another office, or perhaps from outside your window.

Presenters at the CanSecWest security conference detailed on Thursday how they can sniff data by analyzing keystroke vibrations using a laser trained on a shiny laptop or through electrical signals coming from a PC connected to a PS/2 keyboard and plugged into a socket.


Check out the article here.

I guess my only consolation now is one I usually rely on for most high-tech, sci-fi, big brother type snooping: I’m probably not important or interesting enough to actually be a target 🙂

Firefox is dead? March 23, 2009

Posted by baldricman in General, Tech.
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I came across this great article today which got me thinking about the seemingly prevalent “feelings” about current browsers, that I see so often when chatting with other users, and reading comments on blogs and boards. There aren’t many open proponents of IE, thats for sure (though its market-share can’t be ignored), and so the heated discussions (how sad…) generally fall between Firefox, Chrome, and Safari (pure). There are occasionally a few Opera supporters out there too (I used to be one…), but we can ignore them for now 🙂

Lets for a moment focus on the Chrome VS Firefox debate. The interesting thing is that the majority of Firefox users rabbit on about the add-ins and plugins that are supported, and many claim they would switch to Chrome in a flash should it start supporting them. I used to be an avid supporter, and installed countless addins in my time. But I have to say, I honestly can’t think of any plugins now that I miss. None at all. Seriously. Not even the ad-blocking ones – I guess when you use the intertubes enough your eye adapts and can find the content and ignore the ads quite easily anyway. Maybe I just don’t have a problem with ads. In fact, now that I think about it, I can barely remember which ones I had even (but I sure had a whole bunch installed…)

Back to the browsers though. I for one have gone “Retro” in a way – I’ve gone back to basics because I don’t really care about all the little gadgets I can use to better my browsing experience. I don’t need colour coded tabs. However, there’s still one gadget that can’t be installed in Firefox: Performance (you may remember it, if you’re quite old, from the early days of Firefox). Nowadays, it takes for bloody ever to load, and sucks up all your memory. Chrome however loads in a flash.

Chrome may have some shortcomings, such as the inability to functionally load the microsoft website successfully (but hey, Firefox is in the same boat), but I avoid that website like the plague anyway :). And I still have IE and Firefox installed (and Opera somewhere), so if I really *need* to load a site in a specific browser, then I can. (Though I choose not to in most cases, cos I don’t really wanna support limited development efforts like that anyway, right?)

Oh yeah, here’s the article which I read, its not too long but raises some interesting points.

VOTD: Good Morning Internet March 19, 2009

Posted by baldricman in VOTD.
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Thanks Deems 🙂