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Welcome diggers and delicious people

November 29, 2005

This is my first time in the digg and del.icio.us limelights so an obligatory big welcome to everyone.

You may have come here for the XP Limits half-open connections to 10 article but I urge you to have a look around for more on Internet, gadgets, Java development and photography.

have a nice stay,
David Kaspar

delicious digg



Who's the daddy

November 29, 2005

The doctor recommended it so we followed his advice and waited 3 months before letting anyone know.

Our baby is due June 2006, just in time for the football world cup. I immediately take that as a sign that it will be a world class player especially with the Brazilian and Czech heritage.

So after three months of explaining to people why my wife was so ill for so long I was running out of excuses. There are only so many flues, food poisonings and jet lags one can blame on.

Reactions? Great joy mixed with just a tad of anxiety and nervousness. I can barely take care my self so how will I managed another human being? I will let you all know in 18 years.



Panning in the park

November 16, 2005

Camera panning is a technique where you select a slow shutter speed, track a point on your moving subject and press the shutter release geeently.

If all goes well you will have photo with a blurred background and a subject that is relatively sharp which makes it stand out.

Panning is the ideal way of capturing a sense of motion in a photograph.

Getting the correct shutter speed is tricky because it depends on the speed of subject, distance to subject and the focal length (zoom) used.

If you do select a slow shutter speed but keep the camera still then the subject will be blurred just as the background and not be very distinguishable.

If you select a fast shutter speed then all of the image will be frozen in time and look as if motionless.

Having a digital camera helps immensely because you can check the results after each shot and adjust accordingly. You can also snap away and select that one gem in the comfort of your home and your favourite RAW image editing software.

Below are some photos from one fine sunny Autumn day in the park with a few dogs. The first photos are quite abstract because the shutter speed was too slow.

The last photo is kind of OK.

camera panning

1/8s @ 105mm (35mm eq.)

camera panning

1/15s @ 105mm (35mm eq.)

camera panning

1/4s @ 105mm (35mm eq.)

camera panning

1/30s @ 105mm (35mm eq.)

Now get out there and snap!



Annoying unsolicited telemarketing phone calls: your rights

November 15, 2005

The number of unwanted telemarketing phone calls we receive have increased a lot after a recent telephone number change.

There are various ways dealing with such calls:

1. For a short term relief just hang up.

I am a honest and polite person and for the last 5 years I tried to be rational and sensible when dealing with unwanted telemarketing calls. This did not help. It was a waste of time.

Once I overcame this politeness, I can now terminate an unwanted call in just 10 seconds. "Hello I am calling from Super Cheap Calls, would you be interested in... CLICK".

2. The better solution is to register your number with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). By UK law it is unlawful to make unsolicited direct marketing calls to registered numbers.

Save the registration confirmation as it is required when submitting a complaint.

The registration can take up to 3 months to come into effect so wait this long before submitting any complaints.

It is the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) who enforces the above law. You can find handy complaint templates at their making a complaint page.

Even if the phone call is originating from abroad, there will be an UK company that is responsible for the offered product/service and is intended to receive your money.

Ask the caller who you will be paying to.

3. If you have a lot of spare time, a third approach is to try and waste as much as possible of the callers time.

The conversion rates (successful sales out of total calls) are low so the call centers rely on quick finishes on calls that do not result in a sale.

If enough people did this, the call center operation would become unprofitable due to high calling costs and amount of time spent on unsuccessful calls.

Ask about every single option in the offering, tell them to hold while you are getting a pen and paper, tell them you don't understand, ask about costs and cancelations, tell them to call back in 5 minutes and start asking the same questions.

My personal record is 8 minutes, can you beat that? (leave a comment)



Before and after pumpkin

November 13, 2005

This poor pumpkin looked so much better before Hallowe'en.

Before
before-pumpkin

After
after-pumpkin

The question is, how did you feel before and after this year's Hallowe'en party?



Fix iPod click wheel problem is not working

November 10, 2005

ipod clickwheelThe iPod is a little more than a year old, just out of warranty. After using it extensively on the Bose SoundDock, the click wheel stopped responding.

This is a reported iPod bug and the common fix is to reset it. With this 40Gb, 4th generation model you flip the hold button to on and back to off. Following that you push and hold the select and menu buttons simultaneously... and pray.

The problem was that the iPod did not want to reset it self, no matter how hard and for how long I pushed. Next step was to flash it with updated software. This did not help. Following step was to restore it from the computer and deleting all music on it. That did not help either.

I was desperate so I bowed my head and entered the Apple church shop on Regent's street, London. It was full of prospective Appleheads (or is the expression Macheads?) fingering G5's with monstrous flat screen displays.

#PAGEBREAK#

There was a presentation of iMovie HD going on. The presentation was watched by 50 or so people, all crouched over their Appletops and clicking away.

The so called Genius Bar was all booked up. Almost. I could get an appointment 5 hours later but I had evening plans by then. Subsequently I tried booking a slot online but 3 days in a row all day was booked out just 5 minutes after opening time. Do people camp outside the store to get support?

A trendy assistant was passing by me so I caught his attention and explained the problem. He put on a fantastic smile and informed me that "iPods are so cheap nowadays that it's better just buying a new one instead of trying to repair a faulty one". I asked whether this was the official Apple company policy and was told nervously that "no, just his personal opinion".

#PAGEBREAK#

Five days later during which time the iPod had been turned off and unused I turned it on by performing the above mentioned resetting ritual. To my amazement the click wheel was back and working.

If you need to copy any music back to your PC you may have noticed that iTunes does not allow that. You can browse for the music directly but it's all in hidden folders, highly unorganised.

The best way to copy music back to your computer in my opinion is to use WinAmp media player with the ml_iPod plug-in. Once you have tried it out, you may even prefer it's media library to iTunes and just get rid of iTunes!.

Update
Here is a great advice from the reader Tim:

#PAGEBREAK#

"I had the problem with the click wheel not working . Sure enough after switching it on hold andwaiting a few minutes then turning it back on the click wheel would work but only for a few minutes. The answer is to get something very thin but quite tough (I used the corner edge of a blister foil pack of pills I had) and very carefully go around the outer and inner edges of the click wheel. You will notice that small debris gunk will come out. After having done that switch to hold and wait for a couple of minutes and then switch the hold off and away you go. Completely fixed. I'm over the moon"



Plasma Irony

November 06, 2005

The recent "Win a free plasma TV" campaign on Sky Digital is causing a ghost image on the plasma because it is bright and stays in the same position for a prolonged time.

Can't think of a good analogy at the moment. I'm sure there is one.



Mirrormask (2005)

November 03, 2005

mirrormaskCurrently the only chance to see Mirrormask in the UK was to catch it at the 49th London Film Festival. So we did just that.

Neil Gaiman was part of the team creating the movie and this of course is why me and many other Sandman fans were excited about watching it. Sandman is a cult comic book with very original illustrations and stories.

The movie starts of with some very colourful and loud scenes from a circus performance were we are introduced to the main characters.

There is Helena (Stephanie Leonidas) who is a child but very mature for her age and unhappy with the nomadic lifestyle of her family.

Her father, played by Rob Brydon, seems to be in charge of the circus as well as of the family but only until there is a crisis. He then descends into a sad state and is not even able to comfort his own child.

Helena's mother Joanne (Gina McKee) falls ill early in the movie. When she has to undergo a risky brain surgery, Helena experiences a very vivid and strange dream.

In this dream Helena's meets Valentine (Jason Barry) who will become her guide and hero. Had Helena been a bit older Valentine might even have been a boyfriend.

Valentine is not your ordinary knight in shining armour. In addition to bravery and the care taking of Helena, he also displays common human features like fear, greed and jealousy.

Neil Gaiman's influence is constantly obvious in the many illustrations, masks and surreal plots throughout the movie - surely a treat to any Sandman fan. Unfortunately this was not enough for me to cover what I thought was mediocre acting. I suspect the fact that the actors had to act in front of a blue screen and some behind masks for long periods is partly to blame.

A nice touch to the performance was the fact that some of the main characters from the movie were on stage before the movie to introduce them selves personally. There was Stephanie, Jason and Rob. At that point however we were not yet familiar with the characters so it wasn't such a treat as it would have been after the movie.

A Q and A session was promised for after the performance. We missed it however because after sitting in first row and being bombarded with CG (computer generated) graphics and loud sound track we escaped quickly back into the real world.

Oh yeah, the short story by John Williams called Hibernation shown before the main performance was spectacular!