The iPhone as a serious piece of photographic equipment.

You see that photo up there?  That was taken with the iPhone 6.  It's just one of a number of images released by Apple today from iPhone users around the world.   This gallery proves one thing.

THE BEST CAMERA IS THE ONE YOU HAVE WITH YOU.

Check out the rest of the gallery for yourself.   If your work isn't up to this level even with thousands of dollars of bodies and lenses, think about spending your time and effort on improving your technique instead of just getting another piece of gear.

A good eye will beat a good camera 90% of the time.   And even then, let's face it, after a few years of evolution,  the iPhone has one hell of a camera.

Posted on March 1, 2015 and filed under Photography.

Nightwish - Èlan Review

As a huge fan of new Nightwish singer Floor Jansen,  I have been eagerly anticipating Nightwish's new album.   I had strong hopes that it would be a return to form for the band that had, at least in my mind, been languishing a bit since former lead singer Tarja Turunen was replaced by Anette  Olzon.  Such a shame that Nightwish's new single Èlan is probably the most boring song I've heard in 10 years.  

Where to start with the bad?  The guitars are so far down in the mix that I've heard heavier Paramore songs.   The pan-flute was a cool little introductory bit,  and then I found out that it is persistent (and annoying) throughout the song.   Even worse, I found out that the flute artist Troy Donockley is now a permanent member of the band.   I can only come to the conclusion that the entirety of this album is going to be a pan flute-heavy guitar light mess of an album.  I desperately hope I'm wrong about that.   Wrapping it up with boring structure, a forgettable hook, and flat production leads me to that sad conclusion that this is probably the most disappointing metal single since Opeth's "The Devil's Orchard".

So is there anything redeeming?  Yes!   Thankfully Floor Jansen shows off singing skills in this song that you don't generally get to see her bring out.   She really is a brilliant front-woman.  She deserves better material to work with than this.

Also, this may win the award for strangest music video I've seen this year.   Here's hoping the full album has... SOMETHING interesting?

Posted on February 19, 2015 and filed under Media.

Mother Jones tries to stir up lame Bill O'Reilly "controversy"

Anyone who knows me, knows that I think that Bill O'Reilly is a first-class dick.   That being said, I would say that writing a hit-piece on his reporting from THIRTY THREE years ago is grasping for straws at the most desperate level.   Come on Mother Jones, you can do better than this.

After NBC News suspended anchor Brian Williams for erroneously claiming that he was nearly shot down in a helicopter while covering the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly went on a tear. On his television show, the top-rated cable news anchor declared that the American press isn’t “half as responsible as the men who forged the nation.” He bemoaned the supposed culture of deception within the liberal media, and he proclaimed that the Williams controversy should prompt questioning of other “distortions” by left-leaning outlets. Yet for years, O’Reilly has recounted dramatic stories about his own war reporting that don’t withstand scrutiny—even claiming he acted heroically in a war zone that he apparently never set foot in.
— Mother Jones

I mean, let's be honest here.   If you want to write a hit piece on O'Reilly, I'm sure you can find something better than that.   Like... oh I don't know.... this.

Posted on February 19, 2015 and filed under Politics.

American Passport Holders increase from 3% to 38% since 1989

According to this chart from DadaVis,  the number of American Passport holders has seen a tremendous increase since 1989.   The number has gone from 3% of the population to over 38% of the population.   Does this have to do with the face that passports are now required at the Canadian and Mexican borders?   Does it have to do with the exponential growth of the Cruise industry and/or Caribbean vacations?   Or is this a sign of the rats starting to leave the sinking ship?  Curious.

Posted on February 19, 2015 and filed under Politics.

Sony hocking $160 "Premium Sound" SD cards

You know what they always say.  "A fool and his money are soon parted."

Seriously though, Sony has decided to take the Monster Cables scheme to another level by selling absurdly expensive SD cards that supposedly "produce less electrical noise" than say... any other SD card.  How any company can have the balls to actually release something so scammy blows my mind.  From an article at PCWorld:

Need the perfect expandable storage solution for your $1,200 Walkman? Sony might have a bridge to sell you.

The company is now selling a 64 GB Micro SDXC card “for Premium Sound” in Japan. At $160, it’s four or five times more expensive than a typical 64 GB card, but as the Wall Street Journal reports, it’s supposed to produce “less electrical noise.”

Now, the idea of audiophiles obsessing over barely-perceptible details is nothing new. The speaker market is filled with products whose frequency response exceeds the 20 Hz to 20 kHz range of the human ear, and you can spend thousands of dollars on audio cables in pursuit of eliminating noise.

But while those expenses at least have some technical justifications behind them, the case for audiophile storage is flimsy at best. As writers at The Register and PC Perspective have pointed out in the past, a storage device couldn’t affect digital sound quality without actually changing the actual data being transferred. And if that happened, it be a much bigger problem for all kinds of applications—not just music.

Still, that hasn’t stopped some people from believing the storage device makes a difference, perceiving “more organic” tones in some products and “edgy grain” in others. So when Sony tells the Journal that “we thought some among people who are committed to great sound quality would want it,” it might be onto something.
— PC World
Posted on February 19, 2015 and filed under Technology.