3D Star Wars? Are you kidding me?

The Hollywood Reporter tells us that George Lucas is planning on re-re-re-re-re-re... re... re-leasing Star Wars in 3D. Really? Because the 3D experience in Avatar proved that 3D was viable. Really? All of this despite the evidence that movies filmed for 2D and then later converted tend to... well... suck.

Is my incredulity coming through here? This is the same George Lucas who refused to release Star Wars on DVD for years after the format could be considered viable. So next year you will finally get the movies on Blu-Ray and then the following year will start the 3D super-duper, extra special, pad George's retirement fund edition releases.

I swore off the entire Lucasverse years ago. He is more than welcome to run his business however he likes, but my personal opinion is that I think he lost whatever he had years ago. I was already annoyed by the double/triple/etc. dipping that was going on back in the VHS days and the ridiculous prequels (of which I only saw Phantom Menace) and his... "reimagining" of the original three movies only cemented my disdain for the entire franchise.

Like many children of the 70's, I was a huge Star Wars fan and I have fond memories of those days. But those days are gone and there is no going back. I will mourn those days as much as any pop culture icon deserves to be mourned and move on.

OK. I'm done.

'Star Wars' saga set for 3D release starting 2012

Creating Backgrounds for the iPad

I know what you're thinking.  Any picture can be a background.  The iPad lets me pick something from my Picture Library, move and scale it.  How hard can it be?  No wait.  You are thinking that backgrounds on the iPad are silly.  At least those that are so busy looking that the app icons get lost.

OK.  Fine.  So I don't know what you're thinking.  But it doesn't matter.  This is supposed to be about what I am thinking anyway.

The iPad screen is 1024x768 and you might imagine that any 1024x768 image will do the job.  The problem is that the iPad screen is also 768x1024.  Confused?  Basically, this is the difference between Landscape and Portrait orientations.  So we need to create an image that is as large as each orientation's longest side.  A 1024x1024 picture is what we need.

This piece of information might be all you care about at this point.  But if you are like me, you will soon realize that there is another factor to consider.  Apple overlays three bars across the backgrounds (at least on the lock screen): the status bar (where the carrier, signal strength, etc. is displayed), the time and date area and the unlock bar.  We probably want the most interesting parts of our backgrounds to miss these areas and remain unobscured.

And one more twist.  The size of these bars are different (both height and width) depending on the orientation.  Lovely.

Confused yet?  Well a picture is worth a thousand words (lucky for you).

Click the image to see it full sized.  You might even want to save it somewhere to use as a template.
If you decide to use this as a template, you can overlay a picture on top of it and reduce the opacity enough to see the boxes.  By scaling and resizing  your image to completely fill the 1024x1024 square while keeping the "important" bits inside the "sweet spot" area, you should end up with a background that works reasonably well in either orientation.

And the following shows the end result in both Portrait and Landscape.

Of course, you can always just guestimate.

The background used above is called Seagull Cyanotype and can be found in my Flickr iPad Backgrounds set.

ENHANCE! [Gizmodo]

One of my pet peeves in movies and TV is where the Authorities are reviewing video footage to find clues regarding the perpetration of some crime.  Invariably, the local cameras have been taken out, but the criminals neglected to account for the convenience store camera across the street.

So with this grainy, low-resolution picture, the super-smart police person/detective/android points to a portion of the screen, barks out some coordinates and yells ENHANCE!  And wonder of wonders, through the magic of whatever technology is available to the Powers That Be, details are created ex nihilo.

It's enough to make one weep.

Enter Adobe with some plenoptic lens technology and this is not a completely farfetched scenario.  OK, it still is.  But this is almost as cool anway.

ENHANCE! [Gizmodo]

If you have no interest in lenses, then at least enjoy this sketch with the crew from Red Dwarf.

Top Ten Myths of Copyright, Plus One [Pixiq]

Thought this was a pretty interesting post regarding copyright.

Top Ten Myths of Copyright, Plus One | Pixiq

Frankly, between this and the reported issues with Creative Commons, I'm not sure there is any reasonable way to protect one's creations.  Then again, I'm not even sure how much protection I need or want.

Feedly Is Having Problems

Feedly is a service/browser extension that creates a magazine-like view of your Google Reader feeds.  I love it and whenever I have to be without it for some reason, it makes me sad.

This is one of those times.  They appear to be having some technical difficulties based on the tweets I saw from them yesterday and the default Apache page from their web server.

But hang in there.  This is the first major outage I have experienced with them so I am inclined to cut them some slack.  In fact, when they are back up I might just throw together a quick review for those of you unfamiliar with them.

Check it out!  (But not right this minute.)


UPDATE - 2010/09/26 2:20pm CDT
Looks like everything is back up and running.

Blu-Ray Picture Quality Rankings

I came across this today and as an HD snob, it seems to me to be a very useful resource.  Basically, this forum posting is updated with listings of Blu-Ray releases grouped by picture quality rankings.  If you care about getting the best looking releases possible, you will want to keep the following link bookmarked.

The New PQ Tier Thread for Blu-Ray - Rankings - AVS Forum

Old Columbia Marquee

Old Columbia Marquee, originally uploaded by Thomas Gehrke.

I'm somewhat fixated on the Columbia theater in downtown Paducah, KY. I wish it were a living, breathing business instead of a reminder of what was.

The things that really stand out to me are the metal, glass and terra cotta bricks and decorations. I would love to see what it looked like at night with the neon, signs and lights on.

An Apples Versus Androids Comparison

I am not an Android hater by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, while I have never touched an Android phone, I would love to have one to play with.  Unfortunately, I am not independently wealthy and I'm not sure what I would do with another phone.  But I digress.

Today Android 2.2 (aka "Froyo") was released for the Droid X on Verizon.  And this is a Big Deal.

What confuses me is that Android 2.2 was released around the end of May.  The Droid X was released by Verizon in mid-July (that's about a month and a half later) and it had Android 2.1 installed.  So today, at nearly the end of September, the phone finally gets the latest and greatest.

So for the last four months we poor iPhone users have had to endure the shame of not having features that come with Android 2.2 when 2.2 has only existed on all Android-based handsets in potentia?

My problem is that it appears that different standards are applied depending on which phone OS camp you sit in.  So I can't install any application I want on my iPhone without jailbreaking it (which I refuse to do), but I can install iOS updates pretty much the day they are released.  "Open" apparently means different things to different people.

The reality is that each phone OS ecosystem has its pros and cons.  Let's stop pretending that Apple and Google (and RIM, Microsoft, etc.) are fighting a battle over ideals.  Ideals might make for great marketing, but ultimately it's about how much cash these companies are raking in that matters most to them.

15 Years of Internet Explorer Logo Design

This article from the Internet Explorer team blog is a pretty interesting look at how much thought goes into some of the most basic things that most of us never even consider.  If you have any interest in logo design, this is a great peek behind the curtain.

User Experiences: Evolving the blue “e” - IEBlog - Site Home - MSDN Blogs

TinkerTool Updated

TinkerTool is a utility for Macs that allows you to easily configure hidden OS features.  It's pretty handy even if you only use it for one or two things.  Here is a rundown of the latest changes.
  • Added preference for Snow Leopard and iTunes 10 to use a standard window with title bar and horizontal buttons for controlling iTunes.
  • Added preference for Apple Mail to prefer the plain text alternative when displaying messages.
  • Added preference for the Dock of Leopard and Snow Leopard to automatically hide all other applications when using the Dock to switch to or launch an application.
  • Added preference for Safari 4 and 5 to disable all RSS features.
  • Changed the layout of the General pane to enhance compatibility with small screens. The Dashboard settings have moved from the General to the Applications pane.
  • Changed the layout of the Snow Leopard pane to enhance compatibility with small screens.
  • Enhanced compatibility with Safari 5.
  • Corrected a problem where reactivation of deactivated login items was not working as expected in Leopard and Snow Leopard.
You can find a complete change log here - TinkerTool: What's new?

Personally, it's worth the download just to put those iTunes buttons back where they belong.

So go get it!

Terry Pratchett, Author and... Swordsmith?! [News.com.au]

Terry Pratchett is my favorite author.  Ever.  His output is incredible just in terms of the number of books he has released.  We are talking some quality stuff here.  I own a good percentage of his catalog (mainly Discworld novels, naturally) and have read most of them several times at least.  I am a huge fan and I have to say that the following story does not really surprise me in the least.
Go, Sir Terry!

Terry Pratchett creates a sword with meteorites | News.com.au

Star Blazers the Movie Trailer [YouTube]

Oh, how I hope this ends up coming to the States as a subtitled Blu-Ray!

Fonts! Get Your Free Fonts!

I love a good font and there are are a plethora of options out there, but if you want to avoid the seedy underbelly of font trafficking, you will probably want to give FontPark a try.  They offer tens of thousands of non-commercial fonts so the odds that you will find something that works for you are pretty good.

Follow the linkage below for more information.

Free fonts for both commercial and noncommercial use | FontPark.net

Get Off My Back!

Get Off My Back, originally uploaded by Thomas Gehrke.

I took this picture of King Louis IX in front of the Saint Louis Art Museum and was disappointed to find that I had completely blown the focus. Instead of Louis being sharp, his horse's head was the focal point. Ugh!

But when I looked at the horse, I was struck by a funny thought (funny to me, at least). So I just kind of went with it, defocused Louis even more and then made adjustments to make Mr. Ed even more prominent.

Probably not my best work, but it beats leaving something on the cutting room floor (figuratively speaking).

Plus, the sentiment seems all to common lately.

So Why *Are* Apple iPhone Users Slow to Upgrade?

Localytics poses this question. Why are Apple iPhone Users Slow to Upgrade?


I think this is the wrong question.  It is way too generalized.  All this study seems to show is a comparison between 3GS users going from iOS 3.x to 4.0 and Android users going from 2.1 to 2.2.  When framed that way, there are several answers that seem obvious.

Unless you are synching your iPhone regularly, people may not realize there is an update.  An OTA upgrade is more "in your face".  The study actually does point this out and that was the point of this graph given the "Benefit of OTA upgrades" caption.

Next, one upgrade represents a move to a completely new version and the other is a point release.  People seem more incline to jump right into incremental upgrades because the perception is that there is less chance that something major will break.

In a related thought, Apple's application ecosystem might have something to do with this.  A full version upgrade is more likely to cause issues with applications already being used.  A delay to allow developers the opportunity to get apps tested, updated and into the app store seems likely.

And finally, there is the matter of the return on investment.  Is the time it takes to download and install the update and the risk that something will break worth the perceived benefits.  There seemed to be, in general, a higher level of satisfaction with iOS 3.x than there was for Android 2.1.  Add to this the amount of time between Android 2.2's release and when it was actually pushed out.  It was clear that 2.2 offered huge improvements over 2.1 so that by the time the update trickled out, everyone was primed to grab it.

I love statistics (actually I love the graphical representation of data), but I'm not sure this is an apples to Apples comparison (pun intended).

Free Photoshop Addon - Photoshop Edge FX 2.0

This add-on for Photoshop adds some nice border effects to your images.  It seems fairly straightforward and appears to allow you go create your own borders and effects if so inclined.

Oh!  And did I mention that it's free?

Photoshop Edge FX 2.0 - Enhance your photos!

iOS 4.2 on iPad: There's No Going Back [Gizmodo]

This pretty much sums things up for me so far. Folders and threaded conversations in mail, FTW!

As mentioned in the article, Netflix is a bit wonky, but those are the kind of issues that these developer releases are designed to weed out.

iOS 4.2 on iPad: There's No Going Back

Like A Dove

Like A Dove, originally uploaded by Thomas Gehrke.

Broadway United Methodist Church in downtown Paducah, Kentucky.

This is a HDR image created from two exposures using Photoshop CS5's new HDR Pro feature.

Art of the Title Sequence

A buddy of mine sent me a link to a really interesting site.  While some movies may jump right into the action and give you title credits that are either easily missed or obnoxiously apparent, some make the entire title sequence almost a little featurette that is quite engaging on its own.

The Art of the Title Sequence site showcases these gems.  Thanks for the link, Todd!

Art of the Title Sequence

Seagull Cyanotype

Seagull Cyanotype, originally uploaded by Thomas Gehrke.

Seagulls are nasty, mean birds that are a plague upon any town that borders water. But then they can be so darn pretty sometimes. Stupid birds.

Captured this one flying over the waters of Lake Erie off a pier in Sandusky, Ohio. Granted, it's probably cliche' and boring, but that's the thing about photography. You're allowed to be cliche' and boring. I hesitated to do anything with this picture because of that, but I liked how it made me feel and thought there might be one or two people out there who would agree.

If you want to use this as wallpaper or a background on your desktop, iPad or iPhone, use the links below.

iPhone Background | iPad Background | Complete Wallpaper Pack

Old Guardian

Old Guardian, originally uploaded by Thomas Gehrke.

This tree was growing right in the middle of the path and for some reason it really stood out to me.

So this is actually a composite of two shots taken at different exposures. It's not a HDR image, but I did use a slightly underexposed shot to pull a little detail back into some overblown areas.

The DoF blur is actually real for once (I didn't add it in Photoshop). Otherwise, there were some channel and curve adjustments made as I converted the original color image to black and white.

Acme Barber

Acme Barber, originally uploaded by Thomas Gehrke.

I love finding these little slices of Americana. This was taken in downtown Sandusky, Ohio on a trip to Cedar Point. I enjoy the colors in the bricks and the neon sign, but there is something that is iconic in a good, old-fashioned barber pole.

It also amuses me to think that this must be where Wile E. Coyote gets his hair cut.

Hipstamatic Competition Results [ACMP]

The Australian Commercial and Media Photographers just completed a photography competition which required using the iPhone camera and the app Hipstamatic.  Check out the winners and then go review all of the entries for inspiration.

Hipstamatic Competition Results

iPhone HDR Photography Testing

December 1, 2010
You may also be interested in a later article: "Exposing for the Best iPhone HDR Results"

If you are anything like me (Heaven help you), then you were excited to hear about the built in option for High Dynamic Range (HDR) in the upcoming iOS 4.1 release.  Granted, there are apps that do this now (and very well from what I hear), but to have something reasonably good out of the box would be great for the consumer.  At some point I'm sure there will be comparisons between what you can get in apps and what Apple is offering, but for now I am interested in judging the built-in option on its own merits and flaws.

Anyone who has attempted to create HDR photos in the past by combining multiple images taken at a range of exposures knows that the first thing that needs to be done is to align the images (the software typically handles this).  Almost every time someone explains how to get started you will hear how maintaining a steady camera is crucial and the use of a tripod is strongly recommended.  This is not particularly feasible with the point-and-shoot nature of the iPhone, but to be reasonably successful, Apple needs to make things as fool-proof as possible.

Since I like to start with the hard stuff first, I took some pictures on the way in to the office this morning since the sky was just gorgeous.  (Don't try this at home, kids!)

iPhone HDR Test 1

The top shot is the "original" picture.  It is was the iPhone would have produced without the HDR option enabled.  The bottom shot is the HDR image that the iPhone produced.  You get a good feeling of what the possibilities are.  The ground in the HDR shot has visible detail where in the original the details are way underexposed.

However there are ghosting issues.  Ghosting occurs when the different exposure images have not been aligned properly or if something changed between one shot and the next.  I was curious to see how fast the iPhone camera was while taking its three shots and what it would do, if anything, to ensure proper alignment.  This probably wasn't a fair test.

But I'm not a fair kind of guy!  A quick look at the HDR image above on my iPhone didn't reveal any ghosting on the iPhone display (at least not while driving 60mph) so I figured I would kick things up.

iPhone HDR Test 2

If a car traveling west at 60 miles per hour takes a picture of a truck traveling east at 60 miles per hour, will the picture suck or is the photographer just ridiculous for even trying this?  The answer to both is "yes".  It seems safe to say that the iPhone really tries to get it right even though the result is not particularly usable.

Let me reiterate that these tests were totally unfair.  So why bother?  Because a consumer may think that they can hit the magic Make-My-Picture-Pretty button and just leave HDR enabled all of the time.  I think it's a good bet that most people do not understand the HDR process so their expectations may be set a little high.

I wonder if there is a way for Apple to add something to the camera app that checks for alignment problems based on some threshold and warns the user to review the picture for ghosting or recommend that HDR be disabled if more of the same kind of pictures are going to be taken (e.g. taken from a moving vehicle).

What about something more reasonable?

iPhone HDR Test 3

This is where Apple will really shine with their customers.  In an everyday kind of setting with a very typical problem that people have with regards to exposure, the results here are pretty good.  Foolproof even.

I love the iPhone 4 camera and it's true that the best camera is the one you have with you.  Between the large number of great photography apps and Apple's continued improvements, it's a great time to be a shutterbug.  I cannot wait to keep playing.

My First Computer

In one of the IRC rooms I lurk in, someone asked everyone what the first computer they owned was.  Sadly, I think mine was the crappiest since most of the responses were like 286's or something with a math coprocessor.

So follow the link below and kick it old school.  Chiclet keys, baby!

Mattel Aquarius - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia