Stefano’s Stuffs

Ipod/iphone software selection…

appli

After a month I’m ready to write about which applications I downloaded for my Ipod Touch:

Facebook client for Ipod is really fantastic. I often prefer to use it instead the web application. Everthing works flawlessly, from notifications to youtube video links. The best social network mobile software.

Price : Zero – Vote: 9

The free version of Twitterrific shows some ads but they don’t bother me; the layout is really clear, easy to use and, like FB, absolutely preferable to the web interface. The Pro version has some advanced stuffs and it costs 2.99€.

Price : Zero – Vote : 9

The Google Mobile software for Ipod/Iphone is simply a short link to the real Google pages, open by Safari. Because Safari and Google web pages works very well…Ok, that’s it: not really useful but convenient. Where’s the Wave appli???:-))

Price : Zero – Vote : 6

AppBox Pro is probably the most downloaded application for Ipod/Iphone. It’s a collection of tools, from a battery checker to a ruler. At this price it’s a must for everyone.

Price :  0.79€ – Vote : 8

Despite Ebay is a very rich website with a lot of stuffs to control the software for Ipod/Iphone is very well done and usable (maybe in combo with Paypal appli;-)) for check auctions when out of home.

Price : Zero – Vote : 7,5

For a fan of beer like me, to have a beers’ bible, Beer Brands, in my hand is really convenient (I know many of them, but…;-)). More than 7000 different brands with really few advertisings.

Price : Zero – Vote : 8

Kotoba! is a wonderful japanese vocabulary, with a very rich database (obiouvsly Jim Breen’s EDICT) and a perfect interface.Fantastic.

Price : Zero (!) – Vote : 8.5

Allsubway is a big (in terms of bytes!) appli with the most important subways of the world. You can see a map and zoom on it, like a paper version. Often up to date by the author. At this price is useful.

Price : 0.79€

Vote : 7

Linkedin website is very well realized but the Ipod/Iphone appli lacks some features and imho you cannot use it as a substitute of its “big” version. Hope it will be improved.

Price : Zero – Vote : 5

Talking Japanese is a very useful application with a good phrasebook written in romaji and japanese with audio features!Cool and yasuiii!

Price : 0.79€ – Vote : 7.5

Tokyo Underground is a good software about Tokyo Metro system, with a map, POI, search features and GMap compatibility.

Price : 0.79€ – Vote : 7

Probably I expected too much from Find!Tokyo. I dreamed about a Tokyo’s bible with everthing in one single appli, without internet connection!Instead is a not so big collection of maps, easily findable on internet, with few POI and a large zoomable map. The starting point is good but it needs great improvements (and a greater price will be good in this case); with this content it’s a 1€ software max..

Price : 3,99€ – Vote : 5

Enjoy also the other software I downloaded/bought (the n.1?Obiouvsly Skype, the father of all modern software…And I haven’t a microphone!:-)), someone is for italian people only.

October 11, 2009 Posted by | computer | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Camera Combos dreams…

Time to dream about some new cheap “combos” I could eventually buy in the future to enhanced my photo skills…Film developing in my city started to become really expensive and difficult in some situations (like 6×6 films…Not to mention cross processing or other cool stuffs) so the next step will probably related to digital gears (damn):

Scenario n. 1 – Updating of digital Nikon, with a used D200 and a used Nikon Ai-S 50mm F/1.2; this lens is one of my all time favourites and its “manual-only focus/absence of modern chips” is the winning reason against the newest 1.4D and 1.4G (especially the last one has a very fast AF, too easy IMHO;-)). A good total price could be near 600 Euros.

+ Always Nikon, always the same feeling and lens compatibility

+ Reasonable price

– This “old” manual lens with few technology on a digital camera could become tiring to use at night for casual shoots than a modern ultra fast AF 1.4

Scenario n.2 – Completely conversion to Canon. This would mean to sell every Nikon camera/stuffs/lenses to gain some money for buying used Canon. The original 5D is always in my mind with its FF at “nice” price but the reason for a conversion would be the unbeatable “USM” serie, especially the perfect 50mm F/1.2 . The total price is high, at least 1600 Euros.

+ The lens I need

+ The camera I need

– High price

– What can I do with only ONE lens???;-) At least I need also a wideangle one…

Scenario n.3 – Visit a new world. The new Micro 4/3 system produced little cameras with interchangeable lenses, but I don’t like those of Panasonic; instead one of the coolest combo of last years is the new Olympus Pen with Leica M adapter!Obviously I cannot buy Leica lenses, but there are other interesting choices (Cosina, for example) : one is the Nokton F/1.1, that on Ebay costs about 700-800 Euros.

+ Very cool combo for everday use

+ Some very good 3rd part lenses with M mount at reasonable price in some used markets

– Olympus Pen is a new camera and Nokton is a new lens so heavy price…

Scenario n.4 – Holgaroid 😉

September 22, 2009 Posted by | Photo | 2 Comments

I cannot wait!

google_wave_logo-747727

100.000 invites will be send from September 30th…

September 5, 2009 Posted by | computer | Leave a comment

Vmware ESX ethernet problem after “migration”

Generally, the command “migrate” of the Vmware Infrastructure Client is a very safe operation and you can move completely one virtual machine from one ESX server to another in few steps and few minutes.
The n.1 error that could happen is that the single virtual ethernet controller eth0 is “disappeared” after migration and your machine lost its ip address.
The solution, in my cases (on a Suse 10.1 with only one ethernet), was always the same:
go to /etc/sysconfig/network
locate a file similiar to ifcfg-eth-id-XX:XX… that’s related to the old mac address of eth0
rename it to ifcfg-eth0 (with mv command)
go to /etc/udev/rules.d
edit a file named 30-net_persistent_names
inside there are X lines where X is the number of your eth devices (old, new, used, unused…); in a default situation there are two lines, one old related to eth0 and one new related to eth1
delete the line related to the same old mac address you saw before (related to eth0 as you can see at the end of that line) and change from eth1 to eth0 in the remaining line, that’s the one containing the new mac of your ethernet card.
Save and reboot.Now your eth0 should be ok as in the past.

Generally, the command “migrate” of the Vmware Infrastructure Client is a very safe operation and you can move completely one virtual machine from one ESX server to another one in few steps and few minutes.

The n.1 error that could happen is that the single virtual ethernet controller eth0 is “disappeared” after migration and your machine lost its ip address (and this could be REALLY dramatic).

The solution, in my cases (on a Suse 10.1 with only one ethernet), was always the same:

go to /etc/sysconfig/network

locate a file similiar to ifcfg-eth-id-XX:XX… that’s related to the old mac address of eth0

rename it simply to ifcfg-eth0 (with mv command)

go to /etc/udev/rules.d

edit a file named 30-net_persistent_names

inside there are X lines where X is the number of your eth devices (old, new, used, unused…); in a default situation there are two lines, one old for eth0 and one new for a new created eth1

delete the first line that includes the same old mac address you saw before (related to eth0 as you can see at the end of that line) and change from eth1 to eth0 in the remaining line, that’s the one containing the new mac of your ethernet card.

Save and reboot.Now your eth0 should be ok as in the past.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | computer | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Little HDR guide for beginners

Wow, another HDR guide?Yes, because a lot of people everyday start to enjoy HDR and because my friend Hector , a very talented digital photographer always ready to learn interesting things, asked to me in the past about it. The difference between this very little guide and the others on the Web is probably the software I used: Dynamic Photo HDR for Win or OSX, not the really famous Photomatix; I found the one from Mediachance really fantastic, please buy it if you want to create wonderful HDR (Photomatix is good too, but I think it’s more difficult to get good results at first time, I tried it after some practice).

First of all we need an image: IMHO not every image is good for HDR and the most important thing is to choose the right image to process. We need something with lights and shadows, maybe taken during the day (night HDR is really complicated and often useless) and with clouds. You have two possibilities: take various shots of the same thing at different exposures (at least 3: one with nice exp, one underexp and one overexp; a lot of people uses 5 images, with two different underexp and two different overexp) or take a single, hi-quality image (the best your camera can) and modify by using a photo editing software (you know, Photoshop/Photoshop Elements is the right choice if you can, but you can also use the lovely Gimp or others:-)) for create and save other files with different exposures (for example in Photoshop the command is “Image->Adjustments->Exposure”; at this point create 2 files from the original, one with -2 and one with +2 exp and save them in the same directory of your photo).

Open Dynamic Photo HDR and click on the menu to create a new HDRI:

createnew

In the next step, click on “Add images” in the window and select your 3 files; remember to choose the right exposure for each of them (-2, 0, +2 like before) , deselect “Align files in next step” and click “OK”.

addimages

After some seconds the HDR image is produced, but we need immediately to “Tone Map” it to obtain a good result.

tonemap

This is the funniest part and the creative one: in this menu you can choose some templates: the perfect one for the “wonderful HDR images you can see everywhere on Flickr” is “Ultra-Contrast”:-). Now start to play with settings, pump up “Natural/Saturated” and “Vivid Colours” and eventually increase/decrease the “Dramatic” ones (it depends by the image). Probably you need to turn off the “3D filter” and add “NR” (Noise Reduction) for a good job.

ultracontrast

After clicking “Process & Edit” you’ll see a window with your final image and some buttons for little editing: click on the upper left menu and select “Save as”; choose always the maximum quality.
Now you’ll have a nice image, but it’ll be probably full of horrible pixels, especially in the sky and in the most luminous parts.

skypixels

Let’s come back to your photo editor, open your HDR image and apply some “Blur” filter to those parts. For example in Photoshop select the affected zones with “Magic Wand” or some “Marquee Tool” (better, because with Magic Wand you often cannot select the 100% of pixels)and apply a “Gaussian Blur” filter with a 3,o/4,0 pixels radius. You can now try to increase/decrease saturation and other settings  inside your photo editor like a normal image and also apply a dark canvas to maximize dramatic effect. Voilà!

August 8, 2009 Posted by | computer, Photo | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Twit, Twit…

I’m trying in various way to understand the real power of Twitter and how to use it in a “pro” way. There are great difference of skill levels between novices (like me) and Twitter long-time experts: the use of some wonderful 3rd parties software, the right use of command like “RT”, “#”, “@”, the complicated netiquette of so short messages makes the things heavy like understand how to write in some late 90’s BBS/Chats.
The change of Twitter homepage (now is “Share and discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world”…With a recent modern minimalist webdesign that probably will overtake every type of internet layout in a few time) made me realize that the project behind this site is really big and complicated (and the authors know about it, because they say “We plan to build Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.”)and I don’t know how fare will it go at the moment.
In Italy Twitter is not really diffused now because a lot of people thinks about it like a “castrated” version of Facebook (a totally different site, fully of contents, advertising and images of your old schoolmates…But obiouvsly SO good, I give it a 9.5/10 score) or because, in simply words, it’s not so easy to understand the reason to use Twitter(and the new webpage surely doesn’t help a lot…:-)) but I’m sure that people has yet to discover it.

I’m trying in various way to understand the real power of Twitter and how to use it in a “pro” way. There are great difference of skill levels between novices (like me) and Twitter long-time experts: the use of some wonderful 3rd parties software, the right use of command like “RT”, “#”, “@”, the complicated netiquette of short messages makes the things heavy like understand how to write in some late 90’s BBS/Chats:-)

The change of Twitter homepage (now it is a colossal “Share and discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the world”…With a recent modern minimalist webdesign that probably will overtake every type of internet layout in a few time) made me realize that the project behind this site is really big and complicated (and the authors know about it, because they say “We plan to build Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.”)and I don’t know how fare will it go at the moment.

In Italy Twitter is not really diffused now because a lot of people thinks about it like a “castrated” version of Facebook (a totally different site, fully of contents, advertising and images of your old schoolmates…But obiouvsly really good and powerful) or because, in simply words, it’s not so easy to understand the reason to use Twitter(and the new webpage surely doesn’t help a lot…:-)). I’m sure that people has yet to discover it.

whale

image copyright: Twitter Inc.

July 29, 2009 Posted by | computer | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Heretic Body

On http://www.casadeilibri.com I saw a very interesting book, “Il corpo eretico” (The heretic body) about a japanese performer/dancer that I didn’t know: Tatsumi Hijikata.
He reached Tokyo from the countryside and he found a city that tries to revive after the WWII; in this path he developed a type of dance named 暗黒舞踏 (Ankoku Butou – The dance of the darkness) explained with word like taboo, nostalgic, awful, grotesque, full of absurd environments and often performed in full-white body makeup. Hijikata became a sort of heretic who had a project about “body insurrection” and a point of reference for japanese intellectuals and artists of that time.

On the italian site www.casadeilibri.com I saw a very interesting book, “Il corpo eretico” (The heretic body) about a legendary japanese performer/dancer : Tatsumi Hijikata.
He reached Tokyo from the countryside and he found a city that tries to revive after the WWII; in this path he developed a type of dance named 暗黒舞踏 (Ankoku Butou – The dance of the darkness) explained with word like taboo, nostalgic, awful, grotesque, full of absurd environments, performed in full-white body makeup. Hijikata became a sort of heretic who had a project about “body insurrection” and a point of reference for japanese intellectuals and artists of that time.

poster Hijikata

Photo by Hiroshi Yamazaki, Design by Ikko Tanaka(C)1998

July 22, 2009 Posted by | Japan | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Break the 1%

Following this chart, Linux finally breaks the 1% wall regarding the percentage of different OS installed worldwide.
It’s nice but unfortunately it’s still really low!I’m pretty sure that during next years “Cloud OS” and web applications will have a lot of important in home and business environments. I hope in the future that all the OS will become unnecessary;-)  Imagine a sort of “Adobe Air” OS, where applications works at the same on every pc, without be worried about the maintenance and all the other stuffs…Could someone explain to me a thing: with supersolid Linux distros (and Ubuntu 9.04 is one of them!), with Win Xp still alive and strong (it’s like a phoenix after the diffusion of netbook) and a Win Vista absolutely usable, with all the wonderful enhancements of Snow Leopard (have you seen the new way for chinese characters input?!!)and with Google apps that do everything everywhere on every pc…WHO is interested in Win7?:-)

July 21, 2009 Posted by | computer | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

KeyHoleTV

Oh God. I’ve waited for this software at least 20 years;-) It’s a very simple program that stream japanese tv channels via P2P…And there are FujiTV, Asahi, TBS…..The video quality is really poor (and the audio is worse)even with a fast connection but it’s a dream comes true, it’s a door that is finally open!On the internet there are Linux and Osx versions, too…Hope about an HD version in the future!:-))

immagine

March 21, 2009 Posted by | computer, Japan, TV | , , , , | Leave a comment

Unbox

On the internet I discovered a very funny tag for videos on youtube: “unbox”.
There’s a sort of subculture related to “unbox otakus”, who love to unbox everything, especially hardware, with great care and a great sense of pleasure:-)…Some example, like the fresh, cool, enjoyable unboxing of an EEE box:-)

(courtesy of NetBookItalia)

A guy and his new ps3:

(courtesy of jordanash84)

A wonderful D3 becomes “naked” in few seconds;-))

(courtesy of mettaaa)

Really funny!I remember well that during a visit in Tokyo with a friend  who look for a “Soul of Chogokin” (a metal action figure of famous japanese robots) the clerk opened the box with gloves and a knife to not bend it….Wonderful:-D
PS=Don’t try “unbox Maria Ozawa”…Probably it will return you no results… (at least on youtube;-))

February 26, 2009 Posted by | computer | , , , , | Leave a comment