Support the EFA

25 03 2010

I’ve written in the past (1, 2) about the Australian government and their misguided attempts to censor the internet.  The EFA are a non-profit organisation that defend against the freedoms and rights of online users and one of the (many) battles they’re fighting is against mandatory filtering in Australia.

The EFA do good work.

They’ve recently launched a fundraising campaign so if you like what they’re doing and have a few clams to spare, throw ‘em their way.

Support EFA





iPhone Love

21 10 2009

A couple of months ago now I finally jumped in and bought an iPhone 3G S.  I love it!  I’m definitely a gadget-y kinda guy but this device is one of my favourite purchases ever.

The iPhone. Photographed in a rare moment when we were separated.

Some history.

I’d had my Nokia 8210 since first year uni – truly amazing to think that I’d used it for almost a decade.  It was a pretty amazing device – well ahead of it’s time – with a lithium battery, brilliant interface, exceptionally good predictive text and, best of all, was small and light at only 79 grams.  Tiny!

(Although the Nokia is smaller these pictures are not to scale!)

Arguably the best thing Nokia has released.

However I keep a constant eye on the gadget market and had been watching phones improve over the years.  The whole smart phone craze almost sucked me in early on but having used Windows Mobile phones I was distinctly unimpressed.  They were capable of so much but were horrendous to use.  Whenever I picked one up it was only a few minutes later that I’d be fighting a desire to throw it hard at something solid.  BlackBerry’s nearly won me over too, having used one in the US for six months it almost had to be pried out of my fingers when I left.  But they were frustrating devices too; RIM only really got email and scheduling right – it wasn’t a good phone, had a terrible browser and couldn’t do much else.  "Play music?  No, this is a business device!"

So I waited.

The first generation of the iPhone came out and I was impressed.  Finally a powerful device is in a form that is acceptable.  And the interface!  Beautiful, innovative and easy-to-use, classic Apple.  But it was lacking in some areas.  No 3G was the killer; in Australia it was the only real option.  But battery life was poor, the camera crappy and storage space was stingy.  Further, it was impossible to create applications for the device except as web apps.  Crazy talk!

I waited some more.

The iPhone 3G came out a year later and resolved most of my issues with the device.  It still had the crappy camera, underwhelming battery life and storage was still a little on the tight side.  I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations and figured I’d be happy with 32GB as a minimum.

More time passed.

The 3G S arrived.  I bought one. Me = Happy!

 

However it’s not perfect.  Next I’ll share some of the issues I have with the iPhone…





New iPhone!

7 08 2009

I’ve finally got my hands on an iPhone! This is just a quick post I’m writing while on the train. Will write more soon!





Music Appreciation Day

30 07 2009

Screws (real name Mark), Jiggy (Jeremy) and I likes us some music.  We all keep an ear out for new interesting artists and songs and, when we find something we like, we let the others know. 

Awhile ago we started Music Appreciation Day (actually, the first one was Night but it did feel weird saying I was having a MAN with Jiggy & Screws!).  Simple concept.  The three of us get together and take turns playing music that we like – music that we think the others may like.  Typically we hear new albums that we must have and end up at JB HI-FI a couple of days later giving our credit cards a workout.

This time around I kept a few notes about some of the music we played.

Jiggy kicked it off with a track he later tried to deny was a real entry…

Jiggy, first set:

Screws, first set

Matt, first (only) set

Jiggy, set two

Screws set two

 

The last couple of sets were so short because I had to leave early…a pity as the three of us were just getting warmed up!  Still, as always, I had a good time, we’ll have to have more of them!

[Check out Wireless Cranium, Jiggy's blog, predominately about his love of music.  He's currently working on his Top 100 of all time!]





Nikon announcements

30 07 2009

Nikon have been busy recently.  Two lenses I own have been replaced with new models and my current body has also received an overhaul. 

Apart from the drop in value of my gear (if I were thinking of selling, which I’m not!) this is all great news.

The 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 now has the "II" moniker and they’ve reduced the zoom creep (which never bothered me) and added a zoom lock (more useful; keeps the lens locked to the shortest length).  Improvements to the optics system are going to be marginal at best with the only change a different lens coating.  While these are quite minor refinements this was already an excellent lens in it’s class.  For me it’s the perfect travel lens.

The 70-200mm f/2.8 however has been given a completely new optical design.  This is my favourite (and most expensive) lens and it’s sublime on my DX D300.  It has been criticized (by pixel peepers if not commercial shooters) on FX bodies for being soft, particularly in the corners, and an update has been expected for a long time.  I’m sure this update will improve this fantastic workhorse.

The D300S (more info) replaces my D300 and some nice features have appeared.  Video, of course, faster shooting, SD card slot (to complement the CF) and a slew of other refinements.  Although there’s nothing here that are making me think "upgrade" all of the changes are welcome.  New owners are spoiled with a sensational camera.

There were other announcements (particularly the D3000 to replace the entry-level D60) but these were very relevant to me since they upgraded so much of my own gear!  Good work Nikon, these are all solid refinements.





Comedy Festival

26 07 2009

[This post has been in draft for months. Waiting at the E&E has given me the chance to finish it!]

At the beginning of every Melbourne International Comedy Festival I am determined to go to a bunch of shows but only ever end up seeing one or two.  I continued the trend this year seeing two, but they were both quality.

Daniel Kitson

Kitson, one of my all-time favourite comedic performers, slipped mostly under the radar this year, performing a string of small shows at RRR studios.  Tickets were sold at Polyester records and, despite very limited advertising, sold out quickly.  Thanks Desci for the heads-up

The show was called "Work In Progress" as he was trialling out new material to be complete for the Edinburgh Comedy Festival.  Tickets were remarkably cheap at $14 contributing to the rapid sales.

Work in Progress was an apt title.  The show didn’t have his usual…flow.  Numerous times he rhetorically asked "What was I saying?", his stutter was stronger than usual (less rehearsed?) and his material still needed some polish.  However, it was Kitson.  The man is a genius; I’d listen to him talk about tax returns.  I just love the left-of-centre way he looks at the world and his emotional, human, stories.  Funny, funny man.  If you’ve never seen Kitson live go do it next chance you get.

 

Tim Minchin

Australian lad Minchin kinda exploded on to the Comedy Festival scene a couple of years ago winning over audiences by performing his rare breed of musical comedy. 

Obviously a talented musician – a gifted pianist with a great voice – it turned out that he also had a talent for writing insightful lyrics that were intelligent and funny as hell. 

As expected, Minchin nailed every one of his songs.  From Ginger (a song about redheads – he’s a blood-nut himself though you wouldn’t know it with his crazed hairstyle) to I Love Boobies he was pitch-perfect and hilarious.  However the most memorable part of the show was where he delivered a nine-minute spoken-word piece about a dinner party he attended where he argued with a beautiful woman who rejected scientific claims (Minchin, a self-professed geek, was completely in his element).  The delivery was extraordinary.  Nine minutes, no prompting, nothing written down, just Minchin and his killer diatribe.  Sensational!

His only real weakness is with audience interaction.  When he’d get out from behind the piano and start talking with the audience he was only adequate.  Some people have that knack (Ross Noble and Arj Barker come to mind), Minchin hasn’t yet acquired it.

Still, a very polished, funny show and I can recommend him to anyone.  Thanks to Jen for organising the (front row!) tickets.

Oh, you should also go check out Rock ‘n’ Roll Nerd.  It’s a documentary about his early days as a struggling comic and is both touching and inspiring. 

 

Hopefully next year I’ll see more shows!





Eye & Ear hospital visit

26 07 2009

I’m writing this from the waiting area of the Eye and Ear hospital.

All this week I’ve had a "mangy" right eye.  Bloodshot and weepy I’ve got some sort of irritation that isn’t going away on it’s own.  More worryingly, the past couple of days have revealed a new symptom: slightly blurry vision.  Ick.  Saw a GP today (tried to get in yesterday; no dice, all busy) and she was very thorough, careful and understanding 1 but was unable to pin down the exact source of the irritation.  She recommended I bite the bullet and go to the E & E.

Expected waiting time is around four hours.  Can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday evening…  ;)

I’ll let y’all know what’s going on when I find out…

[Update]

It wasn’t four hours.  Oh no.  Five and a half.  The staff were very friendly, patient and efficient but damn are they understaffed.  And apparently the government wants to close them down and push everyone through the public system…

Anyway.  Turns out a small ulcer on my eye is causing the irritation.  It’s treatable with antibiotics – I have to squirt some goop on my eye three times a day.  In parallel they’ve taken a swab of my eye and are going to see if any bacteria grows on it.  If my eye doesn’t respond to the current treatment they’ll know if it’s something more exotic and can use the bacteria to figure out how to progress with further treatment.

Despite the long wait the E&E staff did a great job.

Now it’s midnight and time for some dinner!

 

[Update #2]

All’s good!  Well, on the mend anyway.  I visited the E&E again Monday and the doctor took a look at my eye…"It’s actually a textbook case of marginal keratitis".  "Ohhhh" I replied.  Internally I’m wondering what the hell is that?!  "Yeah, it’s due to posterior blepharits.".  Naturally.  "Doc, am I going to see properly again?".  He laughed, "Yep, no problems – use these drops and you’ll see a big improvement in the next day or two and you should be at close to 100% in a week."

Now, two days later, my vision is at about 80-90%, the redness and irritation has all but disappeared.  I’ve got a check-up with them next Wednesday but it’s looking really good (pardon the pun).

 

1: Thanks Dr Alison Sands (at the Ivanhoe Doctors Clinic)!








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