05 July 2009


Links of interest 2006-06-28 to 2006-07-04

Once again, while I'm on my blog break, my edited Twitter posts from the past week, newest first:

  • Photo of Obama picking up his infamous housefly victim.
  • Guess that U2 iPod is never coming back.
  • And now: "Ant and Buttercup," my debut HD macro closeup movie from our summer garden:

  • My first experiments with off-camera flash during close-up photography:
    Veins 1 Veins 2 Veins 3 Veins 4 Veins 5
    Veins 6 Veins 7 Veins 8 Veins 10 Veins 9

  • If I'm passed at high speed by someone with a Washington plate BOKEH, I now know who it is. He says he'll wave.
  • Mammals will play, even between species, even when you'd never expect it—wild polar bear and huskies (slide show via Dave Winer).
  • A couple of crows are nesting nearby; they keep landing in our birdbath and on the house and lamp stands, looking ominous. Too smart, crows.
  • Sitting in a B.C. garden
    No waiting for the sun
  • CompuServe finally shuts down.
  • Just in case you're looking for a $2.1 million convertible.
  • Congratulations to Buzz Bishop, Jen, and Zacharie.
  • I presume this tiny USB-driven monitor screen is Windows-only, because of drivers? Looks pretty swell. (Via Neal Campbell.)
  • Definitive proof I'm not afraid of heights: I love this idea.
  • Via John Biehler, I found that as well as MythBuster Adam Savage, his co-workers Grant Imahara and narrator Robert Lee are also on Twitter.
  • When I had my first Nikon 25 years ago, I wouldn't have believed I'd ever own one (a D90) with 66 pages of the manual (out of a couple hundred total, in a 16 MB PDF file) just for menu options. Then again, 25 years ago, a friend showed me a shoulder-mounted Betamax camera from Hong Kong, and it was the latest in high tech video too.
  • That's the funkiest beat I've ever heard a marching band play (via Jared Spool). Maybe some James Brown next?
  • Has anyone pinpointed the exact day that Victoria Beckham stopped being able to smile? Angus Wilson speculates, "whatever day she began to look less like a hot English babe and more like a velociraptor."
  • Meg Fowler: "Sarah Palin's quitting politics like Ann Coulter's quitting evil."
  • As the 40th anniversary of the first moon landing approaches, some fabulous photos from the missions, via Bad Astronomy.
  • From Ben Englert: "Thank you, gdgt, for institutionalizing the arduous task of dick-measuring by figuring out who has more toys."
  • Ten best uses of classical music in classic cartoons.
  • Our fridge magnet: "I love not camping."
    Our favourite fridge magnet

  • How did I manage to bite the inside of my upper lip while eating a peach? If this were high school, the guys would say, "Each much?"
  • Back to short hair for summer. And now I realize that it's Colbert hair.
  • I think my guts have calmed down now. Time for bed. In the meantime, enjoy a naked Air New Zealand flight crew.
  • In case you'd like to watch Jeff Goldblum reporting on his own "death," on Colbert Monday: links for Canada and the U.S.A. (sorry if you're elsewhere!).
  • Didn't attend various Canada Day parties because of tired family and my usual intestinal side effects. Hope you had fun in my stead. Managed to avoid intestinal chemo side effects for a few days, but they're back with a vengeance. Could be a looooong night. (And it was. At 2 a.m., my chemo side effects were "over" and I went to bed. Bzzt! Wrong! Finally got to sleep at 9 a.m., woke up at 1 the next afternoon. As Alfred E. Neuman says, Yecch.)
  • Whatever you think of the 2010 Olympics here in Vancouver, VANOC is doing a good job with graphic design.
  • I, too, welcome our new ant overlords.
  • I had no alcohol on my birthday yesterday, but still had a Canada Day headache on July 1. Here's my new free instrumental.
  • Inside Home Recording #72 is out: Winners, Studio Move, Synth 101, Suckage! AAC enhanced and MP3 audio-only versions.
  • Normally I really like our car dealer's service dept, but today the steering wheel came back oh-so-slightly to the left. They had to re-fix it.
  • World's geekiest pillows (via Chris Pirillo). My guess: they didn't license the Apple icons. Get the pillows while you can.
  • Officially made it to 40. Thanks everybody for the birthday wishes. Most people are bit melancholy to reach 40, but I am extremely glad to have made it.
  • Just returned from a Deluxe Chuck Wagon burger (with cheese) at the resurrected Wally's Burgers in Cates Park, North Vancouver:
    Derek Wally's burger 2

  • From Rob Cottingham: "The hell with putting a ring on it. If you liked it, you shoulda made a secure offsite backup."
  • Info about recording old vinyl records into a computer: You need a proper grounded phono preamp, with good hot signals into an audio interface or other analog-to-digital converter. A new needle might be wise if yours is old, but the real phono preamp (w/RIAA curve) is the most necessary bit after that. Route it thru an old stereo tuner if needed! See my old post from 2006 at Inside Home Recording.
  • Myth confirmed: Baby girl evidence (named Stella) shows MythBusters' Kari Byron actually was pregnant.
  • My new Twitter background image is the view we saw at sunset during my birthday party on Saturday. (I've since replaced it again.)
  • Back from another fun sunny summer BBQ at Paul Garay's new house—it's been a burgers-n-beer weekend.
  • Photos from my 40th birthday party now posted (please use tag "penmachinebirthday" if you post some).

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

15 April 2009


Links of interest (2009-04-15):

Most of these come via Jason Kottke or John Gruber:

  • Nine science words that came from science fiction. See the (inevitably snipey) comments for some others, like robot, cyberspace, waldo, grok, avatar, and the delightful thagomizer.
  • "I can’t think of a way that the entire [computer] desktop metaphor can be overhauled without either everyone in the world switching over at once (which won’t happen), or becoming a 'data island' like the Newton or Classic Mac OS."
  • The MythBusters have a regular column in Popular Mechanics.
  • "If you're married to page views, never assume that I am. If you're angling for 1,000,000 Twitter followers whom you pretend to read, never assume that I am. And, if your project is based on generating compulsory year-over-year growth vis-a-vis market domination and fiduciary responsibility, never assume that I am."
  • Rush Limbaugh's 10 dumbest remarks.
  • Stephen Colbert won't get a space station module named after himself, but he will get a space treadmill instead.
  • Our pal Kris Krug takes great photographs of people, and is enormously prolific in publishing them online, and Miranda and Reilly Lievers make amazing wedding pictures. But when my other friend Alastair Bird, who's made his living as a photographer for many years, publishes the occasional portrait online, there's something about his shallow-focus work with a medium-format camera that I find just astounding.
  • A nice summary by "Bad Astronomer" Phil Plait of Jerry Coyne's book Why Evolution is True.
  • I am a photic sneezer, and it runs in my family (my grandmother did it, I think my dad does it, and one of my daughters does too). I'm glad to read an explanation.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

10 September 2008


Adam Savage laughs maniacally

I've never seen this effect (via Bad Astronomy) before:

Man, I just laughed and laughed out loud. No, you should not try it at home.

Labels: , , , ,

08 September 2008


Thinking about science

Arches NP Last Light 015b at Flickr.comHow strange that many people find science distant, or useless, or boring, or suspicious. I think the scientific impulse is naturally human, and that only the way some of us learn about it, and the way it is presented in our societies, is what mutes our interest.

Today's link on Daring Fireball to Wired reminded me of that. Writer Clive Thompson says that:

Science isn't about facts. It's about the quest for facts.

A few months ago, web comic xkcd made a similar point in reference to MythBusters:

Ideas are tested by experiment. That is the core of science. Everything else is bookkeeping.

I learned lots of things from my science degree, but the key thing was that it's not a catalogue of knowledge, but a process to find that knowledge. A process that, fundamentally, is fun for the people who practice it. We should all understand that to be the foundation for the many things we have invented and come to know over the past few centuries.

Labels: , , ,

24 August 2008


Gnomedex gets back its mojo

PirillaptopLast year there were worries that the annual Gnomedex conference in Seattle might have lost some of its mojo. This year Gnomedex got its mojo back. Several 2008 sessions, for instance, blew away my bedridden 2007 remote-video appearance, which I'd heard some people had then considered a highlight. (Yikes.)

Rather than write out a big summary (you can read what others had to say), here's what I was chatting about on Twitter before, during, and after Gnomedex 8.0 with various people. The @ links are Twitter's way of letting you target your messages to other Twitter usernames. The #Gnomedex tags are there so that search sites know that various Twitter messages ("tweets") are about Gnomedex. You can probably ignore both and still get the point:


  • Big-ass iPhoneTook a pill that can upset my stomach, didn't eat soon enough, threw up in the sink with almost no warning a few minutes later. Better now. 09:50 AM August 20, 2008
  • Packing, last minute, before leaving for #Gnomedex today. 10:49 AM August 20, 2008
  • jjtoothman @penmachine its awesome that you are going to gnomedex. words don't describe how good it is to read that. 11:05 AM August 20, 2008
  • Just ate @ Shari's in Bellingham 03:19 PM August 20, 2008
  • brooksduncan @penmachine What is Shari's like? I always see them but I have never dared enter. 03:25 PM August 20, 2008
  • @brooksduncan it was tasty! 03:42 PM August 20, 2008
  • bajema @penmachine What brings you south of the border? 03:28 PM August 20, 2008
  • @bajema gnomedex.com in Seattle 03:42 PM August 20, 2008
  • Derek will have dinner in Lynwood, then on to Seattle. This weather could easily be February here in the Pacific Northwest. 05:41 PM August 20, 2008
  • geoffduncan @penmachine In February, there are fewer daylight hours and everything is grey and brown, not grey and green. :) 05:59 PM August 20, 2008
  • Derek is in Seattle early for #Gnomedex, uploading photos to http://flickr.com/photos/penmachine -- and will spend tomorrow with his lovely wife. 12:06 AM August 21, 2008


  • Air and PonziDerek had a great sleep-in in Seattle. 11:26 AM August 21, 2008
  • The Red Lion Fifth Avenue in Seattle makes a pretty mean clubhouse sandwich. And the sun is out! 01:24 PM August 21, 2008
  • Derek is off to #Gnomedex start party in 90 mins or so. 05:31 PM August 21, 2008
  • inkbase @penmachine I'm watching you live at pirillo.com - freaky. 10:27 PM August 21, 2008
  • Derek plans to be up in less than six hours. 01:34 AM August 22, 2008


  • caseorganic @penmachine hello to you! #Gnomedex 08:39 AM August 22, 2008
  • Derek is at #Gnomedex, seated next to @kk who is first to present. 08:50 AM August 22, 2008
  • Thanks for the name-check, @chrispirillo -- @kk now onstage 09:27 AM August 22, 2008
  • #Gnomedex audience photo panorama http://snipurl.com/gdex8pano 10:09 AM August 22, 2008
  • netchick @penmachine - retweet: #Gnomedex audience photo panorama http://snipurl.com/gdex8pano (great job, D!) 10:12 AM August 22, 2008
  • Gnomedex 8.0 day 1Gnomedex 8.0 day 1 - Tara Hunt and Larry Halffjabancroft @penmachine just asked "what the heck does ma.gnolia DO?" Sad it got to the end of the preso before that tidbit was mentioned. 10:19 AM August 22, 2008
  • #Gnomedex is now the top search term on Twitter 10:28 AM August 22, 2008
  • Don't forget the #Gnomedex photo pool at Flickr: http://snipurl.com/gdex8 and the FB group: http://snipurl.com/gdex8fb 10:41 AM August 22, 2008
  • Ben Huh from #icanhascheezburger is a great speaker here at #Gnomedex 11:07 AM August 22, 2008
  • uncleweed @penmachine added both links and your panorama to raincitystudios post - thanks! 11:29 AM August 22, 2008
  • @dannysullivan @ #Gnomedex: "Haven't talked to my kids yet, because you don't want to freak them out..but you do want to freak them out." 12:06 PM August 22, 2008
  • Derek is getting ready for #Gnomedex lunch. Danny Sullivan is also passionate and interesting. 12:14 PM August 22, 2008
  • glaciermedia @penmachine most definitely 12:43 PM August 22, 2008
  • uncleweed @penmachine i got an XL here for you and (disclaimer) this parody derivative artwork is not licensed and not to be confused with Star Wars 01:54 PM August 22, 2008
  • mndoci @penmachine Thanks for clarifying. IMO they are important through your life, :). Agree that business skills should be taught as well 02:07 PM August 22, 2008
  • buzzbishop @penmachine very sage advice, my friend. 01:17 PM August 22, 2008
  • buzzbishop @penmachine then, of course, there's scoble http://twitter.com/Scobleizer 01:18 PM August 22, 2008
  • @markbao Most attractive #Gnomedex slides so far. 01:41 PM August 22, 2008
  • @jackbrewster I agree about @markbao - there have always been supersmart kids who don't need school. Most kids aren't that #Gnomedex 01:54 PM August 22, 2008
  • @uncleweed Darth Drupal! Want. I'm sure it's totally legitimately licensed from Lucasfilm as well. 01:51 PM August 22, 2008
  • @mndoci I think @markbao was saying that History & English *are* important in school, but not enough about making a business etc. 02:02 PM August 22, 2008
  • #Gnomedex My advice on information overload: learn to love ignoring things. 02:14 PM August 22, 2008
  • @hardaway at #Gnomedex: We have to redefine "experience," bc we have to unlearn as much as we learn. See, there is such a thing as wisdom. 02:17 PM August 22, 2008
  • Derek is charging his Nikon DSLR battery, which is a remarkably rare event. Mid-#Gnomedex, alas. 02:25 PM August 22, 2008
  • trishussey @penmachine I have a spare and charged EN-EL3e if that works in your Nikon 02:32 PM August 22, 2008
  • uncleweed @penmachine where are you sitting? i'll deliver your shirt next break before it is snagged 02:36 PM August 22, 2008
  • @uncleweed Row 2 middle aisle with hat and tripod, next to @kk 02:39 PM August 22, 2008
  • @TylerGraffam Sad to say, but #Gnomedex $600 is pretty inexpensive for a tech conference. But look into #BarCamp and #NorthernVoice though. 02:51 PM August 22, 2008
  • Agh, I feel like a heel by phrasing my question to @kanter at #Gnomedex badly. 03:08 PM August 22, 2008
  • uncleweed @penmachine nah, made sense and she gave a useful answer i thought 03:08 PM August 22, 2008
  • Suggestion: a #Gnomedex that raises $2500 to send a Cambodian girl to college is better than one where Winer/Calacanis argue about Mahalo. 03:36 PM August 22, 2008
  • davedelaney @penmachine You have that right brother! 05:38 PM August 22, 2008
  • betsyweber @penmachine - I second that! 06:38 PM August 22, 2008
  • @kk Archives need to live forever. I still get people hitting things I uploaded in 1997. 03:41 PM August 22, 2008
  • kk @penmachine the domain expired last week. oopsie. i'll fix it momentarily. :P 03:44 PM August 22, 2008
  • Gnomedex 8.0 day 1 - Nathan WadeThe most inspiring speakers at #Gnomedex have a phrase in common: "...so I tried an experiment." 03:48 PM August 22, 2008
  • trishussey @penmachine exactly. Now imagine if we all just took the leap to just experiment. What could we accomplish? What problems could we solve? 03:50 PM August 22, 2008
  • caseorganic @penmachine Experimenting is how amazing things happen! hooray! 02:50 PM August 22, 2008
  • dbrazeal @penmachine Great point.... and we need to experiment even if we have to do it on our own time, without the backing of the institution 05:53 PM August 22, 2008
  • @kanter #Gnomedex Sorry to phrase my question poorly to you re: other charities. Sounded more negative than I meant. Great answer, BTW. 03:58 PM August 22, 2008
  • Okay, this #Gnomedex cyborg talk is hard-hard-hardcore geekery. 04:33 PM August 22, 2008
  • @penmachine understatement. But again follows "so I did this experiment..." 04:35 PM August 22, 2008
  • #Gnomedex Medical imaging » hi-end 3D graphics » mech eng » machine tooling - where will this end up? 04:36 PM August 22, 2008
  • uncleweed @penmachine hard freakin core man ... but i am now a flickr picnik premium member 04:35 PM August 22, 2008
  • #Gnomedex Ah, of course, it's an art installation with an interactive lighting installation. I am not worthy. 04:39 PM August 22, 2008
  • @uncleweed http://flickr.com/photos/lockergnome/2782985591/ 04:46 PM August 22, 2008
  • Derek is too tired to finish processing #Gnomedex photos for upload for day 1. More tomorrow. Now bed. 01:07 AM August 23, 2008
  • My favourite photo I took at #Gnomedex so far: http://shrinkster.com/11hj 01:30 AM August 23, 2008


  • Gnomedex 8.0 day 2 - Sarah LacyDerek is heading back to #Gnomedex. 08:39 AM August 23, 2008
  • OK fine fun conversation. This conversation is precisely what #Gnomedex managed to avoid yesterday -- and what made yesterday awesome. 10:16 AM August 23, 2008
  • jackbrewster @penmachine Amen. 10:17 AM August 23, 2008
  • Yes @kk -- here is info on @uncleweed's "f*ck stats make art" http://shrinkster.com/11hr - http://shrinkster.com/11hs -- he should speak here. 10:21 AM August 23, 2008
  • #Gnomedex Blogs don't have to have comments. http://daringfireball.net, http://kottke.org etc. - almost more valuable because they don't. 10:27 AM August 23, 2008
  • I feel like this is #Gnomedex 5 -- but I enjoyed Gnomedex 5. 10:30 AM August 23, 2008
  • I wonder how much of the tension in that @sarahcuda #Gnomedex session was slopover from the whole SXSW thing & how much was the actual topic 10:36 AM August 23, 2008
  • My photos of #Gnomedex day 0/day 1: http://shrinkster.com/11ht 10:40 AM August 23, 2008
  • dbrazeal @penmachine I think it was 90% SxSW hangover. Gotta give @sarahcuda credit for guts to show up and do it that way. 12:48 PM August 23, 2008
  • davidrisley @penmachine It was the actual topic. I don't think any of that was because of SXSW. 01:54 PM August 23, 2008
  • uncleweed @penmachine thanks for the plug amigo - here's audio and notes on f@cking stats and making art http://is.gd/1Rf9 sign me up for next year! 10:57 AM August 23, 2008
  • #Gnomedex Okay, Adeona looks extremely cool and useful, and these are the right people to do it: http://tinyurl.com/6jfgdd 11:49 AM August 23, 2008
  • Gnomedex 8.0 day 2 - Scott Maxwell@leelefever #Gnomedex Removing bullet points is easy - use no text on your slides at all. 12:28 PM August 23, 2008
  • uncleweed @penmachine yes! use photos for visual accompaniment and then talk the things on the list rather than listing them 12:29 PM August 23, 2008
  • Today's #Gnomedex - so far not as inspiring as yesterday, but cooler geekiness. A good mix overall. 12:32 PM August 23, 2008
  • @kegill Here are my photo tips @kk mentioned http://snipurl.com/cameraworks (reverse chronological order) 01:48 PM August 23, 2008
  • kegill @penmachine Thank you!! 02:41 PM August 23, 2008
  • #Gnomedex Scott Maxwell brought a tear to my eye, and got a standing ovation too. 03:51 PM August 23, 2008
  • @jabancroft If you don't already have one, get a 50mm/1.8. Or save up for the 85/1.8, lovely lens. 03:34 PM August 23, 2008
  • jabancroft @penmachine I have a 50mm/1.8, but it doesn't autofocus on my D40 (which I knew when I bought it). I thought I'd use it more than I do. 03:35 PM August 23, 2008
  • @jabancroft There's a new autofocusing Sigma 50/1.4, but it's pricey. The Sigma 30/1.4 DX is nice too. http://shrinkster.com/11hy 03:42 PM August 23, 2008
  • theMetz @penmachine Jeez, did I Robot get you torn up too? 03:53 PM August 23, 2008
  • jabancroft @penmachine I teared up a little, too, at those photos. Amazing stuff. 03:54 PM August 23, 2008
  • An extremely impressive #Gnomedex this year, a definite recharge. Thank you @ponzi @chrispirillo and everyone else. 05:36 PM August 23, 2008
  • kegill @penmachine Derek ... these are *great*! Takes me back to photoJrl class as an undergrad. :-) Love the sketches -- for the "touch" and info. 08:45 PM August 23, 2008
  • Derek is back at the Red Lion Seattle. Getting last #Gnomedex photos ready to uploade. 10:04 PM August 23, 2008
  • Uploading final batch of #Gnomedex photos to Flickr. Find 'em 2 places: http://snipurl.com/gdex8 and http://shrinkster.com/11i6 10:38 PM August 23, 2008


  • Patio at the Red Lion Hotel, SeattleDerek is pretty much all done in Seattle after #Gnomedex -- the sunny hotel buffet patio is going to turn to rain soon, so we'll head out. 12:30 PM August 24, 2008
  • Derek is at Shari's in Bellingham again. Food is decent, but it's the free Wi-Fi that brings us back. 04:40 PM August 24, 2008
  • Derek is home and unpacked. Time to pick up the kids. 08:02 PM August 24, 2008
  • It wouldn't have been a trip to Seattle without mysterious traffic slowdowns on the I-5 near Everett. 09:00 PM August 24, 2008

Gnomedex 2008 was a remarkable and refreshing forum of ideas, which is the best anyone could ask for. I also won a cool prize thanks to Eye-Fi and Chris and Ponzi Pirillo, and they played my Gnomedex song at the end. Yay!

P.S. You know who'd be cool to have speak next year? One of the MythBusters crew.

Labels: , , , , , ,

06 February 2008


Fun fun fun

Fun fun fun at Flickr.comOnce again, it is snowing crazily here in Burnaby. It seems like we've had many more days of snow this year than usual. I like it, it feels very Canadian here, but I can't go out and enjoy it.

That's because today I started my ninth chemo treatment (out of twelve total) in this cycle, which began in October and will finish at the end of March. I'll spend most of tonight in bed watching Iron Chef America and MythBusters. I'll probably also be lying down most of tomorrow.

If things go as they usually do, I'll be a bit better by Friday, and pretty much back to normal by Saturday, when I hope to play drums with my band for the first time since July.

But right now I feel just gross. Bleah.

Labels: , , , , ,

19 December 2007


How to take better Christmas photos

Working away at Flickr.comOur handsome pal Kris "kk+" Krug just did an interview on CBC Radio's On the Coast with lots of cool tips on how to take better holiday photos.

He knows how to take the pictures, so his advice is worth following. You don't need the big monster camera like his, by the way.

I'm also fond of the holiday eating tips ("If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy.") passed along by Arieanna, who also got an insanely huge Christmas tree this year.

Finally, don't forget the Mythbusters Christmas Rube Goldberg Machine:

It has Diet Coke and Mentos, as well as a holiday beef roast propelled right out of an oven. Thanks to my daughters for finding that one.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

11 October 2007


Grim up

Tory Screaming at Flickr.comAs I've mentioned a few times, this year MythBusters has turned into my favourite TV show. My wife and oldest daughter like it a lot too.

I've now found my favourite quote from the show. One member of the build team, Tory Belleci, is joking around in advance of possibly launching his coworker Kari Byron into San Francisco Bay with a water-bottle rocket. When she's a little upset, he quips:

Kari's too nervous. No more joking. Let's grim up.

Grim up. A great expression I hadn't heard before. The stunt ended up being too dangerous, so they launched a dummy instead.

Labels: , ,

14 September 2007


That wasn't all that bad

Compared to everything else that has happened recently, that surgery was a walk in the park. I'm home now, and going to have a nap. Or watch some more MythBusters.

Labels: , , , , , ,

08 May 2007


Off the grid

If you've been trying to reach me, you'll have noticed that I haven't been reading email or returning phone calls, nor have I been online with IM. I haven't been posting to this blog or taking photos. I haven't even been listening to music or podcasts, though I have watched some TV (several episodes of MythBusters, for some reason). This is the first I've cracked open my laptop since Sunday.

I am amazingly sleepy. I'm doing okay, but I'm heading into my last week of chemotherapy, and together with the radiation they are taking their toll—on me as well as presumably on my cancer itself. My wife has managed to get me to the Cancer Agency each weekday, but that is the extent of it. Otherwise, I have hot showers where I kneel on the floor of the bathtub to feel better, I eat, I use the washroom, I try to help put the kids to bed, and I sleep.

I'll come back on the grid soon enough, but for now I'll be a flickery presence. Back to bed.

Labels: , , , ,