a little east of reality

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

say 'cheese'

I haven't had a digital camera for a while. I borrowed one from work recently to take some photos of items I was putting on eBay, but I knew I wouldn't get away with keeping it long enough to take it to Japan with me ~ would have been super cheeky even to ask. And in truth I love owning a decent camera and my last digital, which came to me secondhand from my mum, was a tiny el cheapo with not much zoom (though it was devilishly easy to sneak into a concert, being so little). I decided that this trip was a good enough reason to put a camera on my credit card (tough decision given that NOT putting stuff on credit is my life theme right now) and so I've been researching cameras for a couple of days.

Today I bought this:

I not only got a $70 discount, but because I'm travelling overseas tomorrow, I'm also going to get all my GST back (around $80) because it's duty-free. The camera shop guy also threw in the extended warranty (two extra years) and gave me $15 off each of my new memory cards. It has a lithium battery and the charger accepts both 240V (Australian power) and 110V (Japanese power) so all I needed was a $12 adaptor to change the shape of the plug and I can now recharge it while I'm in Japan. This is very good because I tend to use the display when taking photos, so I was chewing up AA batteries with both my previous cameras.

It has an optical stabaliser and intelligent ISO. It's 8 megapixels and doesn't have that lag some digital cameras do when you press the button to take a picture. But the coolest feature by far for chosha the zoom junkie is that it has an 18x optical zoom. Yes, that's right...I said 18x. I was estatic at the thought of the Canon S5 IS having 12x zoom. I nearly passed out with delight at the thought of 18. I will be able to take close-ups of an ant's eyeball with that level of zoominess! (Yes, of course that's a word.)

Here's a very long paste from a review site that gives all the details:

Panasonic has expanded its LUMIX family of digtal still cameras with the introduction of the LUMIX DMC-FZ18, an 8.1 Megapixel compact camera with an impressive 18x optical zoom. In addition to a premium 28mm wide-angle LEICA DC lens, the DMC-FX18 joins the LUMIX DMC-FX33 and DMC-FX55 as the first Panasonic digital cameras to offer the revolutionary Intelligent Auto Mode, which include Face Detection, Intelligent Scene Selector and Continuous Auto-focus functions, allowing users to easily capture clear, professional-quality images in any situation or setting.

When this powerful camera, with an optical zoom up to 18x, is put into Intelligent Auto Mode, the multi-faceted functions engage automatically, so there is no need to adjust settings every time conditions change. The DMC- FZ18’s intuitive Intelligent Auto Mode is comprised of:

- Intelligent Scene Selector, which automatically selects the appropriate scene mode from the most frequently-used modes such as Portrait,Scenery, Macro, Night Scenery and Night Portrait

- Face Detection System, which helps the camera to focus, set auto exposure and detects up to 15 human faces capturing them clearly and brightly, and

- Continuous Auto-focus, which allows the camera to keep focus on the subject without having to press the shutter button halfway and allowing for the best results out of a shutter chance by minimizing the auto-focus time.

“The Intelligent Auto Mode in the DMC-FZ18 does all the work for you, making photo-taking trouble-free,” noted Alex Fried, National Marketing Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. “When taking into account the camera’s 18x optical zoom, which is among the industry’s longest zooms, and then adding 8.1 Megapixels, a 28mm wide-angle lens, MEGA Optical Image Stabilization, and Intelligent Auto Mode, the DMC-FZ18 delivers professional-level photo quality, in a powerful camera packed with advanced features that is still easy to use.”

Similar to the entire 2007 line of LUMIX digital still cameras, the camera sports advanced countermeasures against blurring - the Intelligent Image Stabilization system, which combines MEGA Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.) to compensate for hand-shake and Intelligent ISO Control to detect and adjust for motion blur caused by subject movement.

The LUMIX DMC-FZ18 also is equipped with a 2.5-inch large, high resolution LCD with 207,000 pixels, a 0.44-inch Electric Viewfinder with 188,000 pixels, f/2.8 brightness and is powered by the high-quality, high-performance, Venus Engine III, which boasts shooting at ISO 1600 in normal recording mode.

The DMC-FZ18 has been redesigned to make the camera more stylish and easier to use. The auto focus, auto exposure lock, and Macro buttons are now independent, to allow quick and direct operation, a metal-finished mode dial adds design strength and an enhanced rubber grip makes the camera easier to hold. The redesigned body also incorporates the joystick made popular by the DMC-FZ8 model, which enables a host of settings, such as manual focusing and exposure, to be done quickly and easily.

Other advanced features of the LUMIX DMC-FZ18 include:

- Custom Setting Mode that memorizes your frequent setting patterns for instance use applied by simply selecting this function on the mode dial

- 1920 x 1080 pixel photos ideal for full-screen viewing on a wide-screen

- Six auto-focusing methods including: face detection, multi, three-point high-speed, one-point high-speed, one-point normal-speed, and spot.With the one-point auto-focus or spot auto-focus method, the auto-focusing area can be chosen from as many as 11 points with the joystick or cursor button

- Advanced Scene Modes provide users more control over some frequently-used scene modes such as, indoor and outdoor modes when selectingportrait or sports mode and nature or architecture settings whenselecting portrait mode

- Bundled SILKYPIX Developer Studio 2.0SE software application for editing and developing images in the RAW file format

- 27 MB of built-in memory: Perfect for backing up SDHC/SD Memory Card recording

- Extra Optical Zoom feature extends zoom power to 28.7x at 3 Megapixels

- Compatibility with large-capacity SDHC memory cards

- Title Edit Function allows inputting of text and additional picture information

- Picture Playback by category: Sorts images into categories such asportraits, landscapes, nightscapes, events and motion pictures. Also, allows slideshow playback of images in the same category.

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a neil gaiman themed item I won't be wearing

I can just see myself catching a glimpse of that slung over a chair and having a freaking heart attack.

I'd rather wear one of these:

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

so dumbledore was gay

Pick up your jaw and get over it already, World.

The only reason I find it interesting at all is because of the 'love is blind' slant it puts on the Grindelwald episode ~ partly why Dumbledore didn't see Grindelwald for what he really was.

I did find this anecdote from JKR cute:
...recently I was in a script read through for the sixth film, and they had Dumbledore saying a line to Harry early in the script saying I knew a girl once, whose hair... [laughter]. I had to write a little note in the margin and slide it along to the scriptwriter, "Dumbledore's gay!"

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Anna Osk is one of a few photographers whose work I like to keep track of. She's generally good, but every once in a while she creates something that is really striking. This picture is called Spaceball and was the latest piece to make me look twice...and then a third time.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

three days and counting

...till I leave for 18 days in Japan.

I'm so excited! I have a glorious JR railpass which takes me pretty much anywhere I want to go by bullet train (so smooth, so quiet, so much more comfy than a plane while being nearly as fast). I've contacted people all over the place to catch up with. There are about three people I haven't found yet (the email addresses I had for them were mobile phone addresses, which have changed over the last four years) but I have people on the case in Japan, and will hopefully still get to see them while I'm there.

I'm going to just three live shows while I'm there - one is Carole King/Mary J Blige/Fergie, one is an indies band I like a lot (KING), and one is a band I've never seen before (that link's for you Roofshadow, in case you're curious what the boys are up to lately) but which features the guitarist and the drummer from my second favourite indies band ever, Plastic, which unfortunately broke up in July. They're just playing support (that is, they aren't new members, just fill-ins). I'll just be glad to see them play, especially 'my' drummer boy, Tsuki. The one other band I was hoping to see isn't playing while I'm there...sad.

I also plan to go to at least one place I've never been before and do at least one thing I've never done before. I just haven't quite figured out what those will be just yet. Suggestions welcome. (Ai, where did you see those fun monkeys??)

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

things are heating up

Recently I read a kind of essay about how the data on global warning was skewed in order to produce a certain result...basically was faked to scare everybody when the 'truth' is that either global warming isn't happening, or that it is but humans aren't causing it. Now the first suggestion is crazy, because global warming IS happening. Whether we are causing it, however, is still very much up for debate. Some experts say that global warming is a natural phenomenon that occurs every 1500 or so years and it just looks to us as though fossil fuel burners and carnivores are depleting the ozone. If it's not caused by us, then it inevitably leads to the question of whether everything we're doing to try and reverse it is pointless.

Here's why I don't give a rat's...

It might be pointless in terms of stopping global warming, but it certainly ISN'T pointless in terms of improving our environment. Cutting back on the use of fossil fuels, greener industry, fewer and better cars on the road, energy efficient homes, recycling...this is all sounding a lot like cleaner air, cleaner land and cleaner waterways to me, and that sounds good.

So, all you thickheaded naysayers whining about the Kyoto accord and the cost to industry wah, wah, wah - pipe down with your complaints and get used to the idea that all of these initiatives are only about doing what we should have been doing all along. And plant a tree.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

i heart jim halpert

##Full of 'The Office' SPOILERS##
Nemesis introduced me to Jim Halpert with this 'jelly bean' spot. Of course at the time I thought Jim Halpert was the name of the actor. But now I know he's the most adorable fictional character since Vinnie Teranova, the undercover cop I spent my romantic formative years desperately in love with. (I didn't discover Mr Darcy till I was an adult.)

I watched the UK version of The Office a while back, so coming into the US version I was all primed and ready to love Jim, because he was the equivalent character to (UK version) Tim, whose romance with Dawn was adorable (clip of when they finally got together). But oh my goodness Tim is so beyond crush-worthy. He's actually pretty goofy, but in the sexist possible way, haha.

There are two reasons I watch The Office:

1. To watch Jim play pranks on Dwight, and

2. To watch Pam and Jim's romance...

and wish it was me. *^_^*

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

oblivious on both sides of the camera

[Disclaimer: Now let me just say at the outset that there is going to be a link at the end of this story and if you don't want to see a man waggling his penis about for two seconds, just don't click it. It's actually rather harmless - while you can clearly see what it is, it's far enough away to look more funny than pornographic. But the warning's there for those who don't want to see naked bits at all.]

The big story doing the rounds in Australia yesterday was that of Fox News doing a locker room interview with Manly Sea Eagle Steve Menzies and inadvertantly filming his teammate Michael Robertson "swirling his genitalia about" on the far right of the shot. Apparently it was just a silly attempt to lighten the mood in the locker room (Manly had just lost their rugby grand final), but somehow Robertson managed to completely miss the fact that the TV camera was pointed in his direction.

But here's the thing...it wasn't a live broadcast, and Fox did spot the problem later and scrap the footage. It should never have aired. And then an enterprising young Fox employee decided to email the footage to a friend. Can you grasp already where this is headed? Yep. The friend immediately posted it on Youtube. You guessed it...one fired Fox employee! I've always wondered if cameras in the locker room were a good idea. After that shmozzle, Michael Robertson probably doesn't think so.

And as promised, here's the link.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

cutting out the pocket money middle men

A Moldovan teenager has been arrested for ordering the contract murder of both his parents. The 15-year-old was reportedly incensed at the mere $US1,000 ($A1,120) per month pocket money he received and paid an (undercover officer posing as) a professional hit man around $US600 ($A670) to kill his parents. He would then, as an only child, have been the sole heir to the family business. If convicted of attempted murder, he'll face up to ten years in prison.

Still, who can blame him, right? I mean, when your parents are so stingy that they will only fork over the equivalent of just over six times the average salary (which in Moldova is around $US150 ($A168)) for your pocket money, obviously the only sensible course of action is to have them killed. Especially when you can do this for the bargain basement price of just over a week's pocket money per person.