lotsa toys

I dug out an old friend last night, the Psion 5mx, and can happily report that it still works. I bought this back in 1999 on my first trip overseas. I borrowed $10k from my dad which I mostly used to spend 4 months backpacking around the world. Mostly. About $1,000 of it was spent on the psion 5mx which was released shortly after I arrived in the UK. 16 years later and it’s still amazing: light, portable, around 19 hours battery life, and packing a full computer. Some even ported linux to it. It remains an impressive piece of engineering, particularly with a keyboard that, while small, was still comfortable to use. It even had a touch screen with a stylus that locked into the case. For me, this was the height of portable computing. Connectivity was either cable or infrared and I used to use the infrared connection to connect to a mobile which in turn, I used to for dial up internet. With that, admittedly clunky, setup I was able to live blog conferences many moons ago.

These days, I have all the power of a reasonable computer in my mobile phone, which is not much smaller than the psion. A little lighter but not much lighter. The psion is smaller than my 7″ nexus tablet and 6″ sony ereader, but thicker. It is dwarfed by my 11″ vaio laptop, which in turn is only 2.5 times heavier. I’ve had the vaio for two years and it still impresses me, there’s not much on the market that can really match it. Those few that can are usually heavier than the vaio’s 800g.

The vaio is my main machine these days, with the mac pro tower mostly gathering dust though I’m currently using it again to manage my photos…and play angband. The tablet is great for casual reading, newspapers, a tad small but bearable for magazines, and general browsing. I use it for reading occasionally but prefer the dedicated ereader. The ereader is super light and I can comfortably hold it in my hand for as long a I need, whereas the tablet was a touch heavy. As all my devices are so light, I tend to have most with me most of the time. My work bag has the vaio, tablet and ereader. The phone is always in my pocket. On weekends, I change over to a satchel and usually have at least the ereader, and sometimes the tablet.

Interestingly, you can still buy the psion 5mx.

Posted in june, tech | Leave a comment

onion identities

I’m a few days behind and feeling sleepy so I’ll let a meme do the talking for me.

Layer One – Outside

  1. What’s your preferred name? snail (with a lowercase “s”), though fine that some people prefer to call me Sean
  2. Do you wear glasses? Yes. Since first class. I have a stigmatism in one eye and the glasses are to keep my eyes balanced. I’m long-sighted in one eye and sort of short-sighted in the other. I can get by without my glasses altogether.
  3. How would you describe your fashion style? somewhat casual. I mostly wear jeans and sneakers. I prefer tshirts though am picky. For work I have a nice selection of shirts I wear with an open collar. I like variety and colour.

Layer Two – Inside

  1. What do you fear? Dying in a slow and horrible way eg drowning or burning.
  2. What is your guilty pleasure? dodgy scifi movies and soppy romance flicks. I also have a weakness for bland, poppy top 40 music.

Layer Three – Thoughts

  1. What was your first thought when you woke up today? Where’s the snooze button on the alarm. Stayed up too late reading last night, and thought a little sleep in was in order.
  2. What you think about most? Deep and meaningful…oh look, shiny thing :-) I think I think about just everything except what I need to think about.

Layer Four – Better?

  1. To be loved or respected? I’ll take both thanks.
  2. Dogs or cats? Neither. Like both, had cats at home for most of the first half of my life but I’m not good at looking after animals so I don’t have any.

Layer Five – Belief

  1. Believe in yourself? Some of the time. I also have occasional anxiety about my ability to get things done and no doubt have the occasional bout of imposter syndrome. Yet I know I can get stuff done and can do good stuff.
  2. Believe in love? Yeah, even when it hurts.

Layer Six – Talents

  1. Do you play a musical instrument? Nope. Also, I suck at singing. I have been accused of being tone deaf. There may be some truth to that accusation.
  2. Do you enjoy cooking? Not particularly and it needs to work according to instructions. I can fudge some but find it hard to tell when meat is cooked for example. With that said, I make excellent, restaurant quality mash.
  3. Are you any good at gardening? I’ve heard of gardens but generally refuse to acknowledge that it is a thing connected with me.

Layer Seven – Favourites

  1. Favourite animal? Duck, particularly in a slow cooked confit…when the meat is so tender that it can be spooned off the bone. Goes well with a good pinot noir. Very fond of lamb too and kangaroo is probably my third favourite – rich and tender, cooked right it melts on the tongue.
  2. Favourite movie? So many possibilities including Love Actually, The Great Escape, Blade Runner, The Sound of Music, Four Weddings and a Funeral and there’s likely a bunch of others.
  3. Favourite book? Horrible question, even worse than movies. I refuse to answer.

Layer Eight – Age

  1. How old are you? 46 – rapidly approaching 50. Fun times behind, fun times ahead.
  2. Does age matter? Meh. Irrelevant. Though I think it’s easier to say “irrelevant” now rather than 20 years ago. It may matter again in another 20 years.
Posted in flotsam, june | Leave a comment

back to the photos

One of the tasks that I have been putting off for a long, long, long time is sorting out all my photos. I did some of the job a few years ago and winnowed out the duplicates and reducing my photo archive from around 25 odd gig to about 6 gig if I recall. I also need to add a lot more photos to my public space on flickr, which apart from the occasional upload from the phone has been almost nonexistent. I have a few local holidays to add and I’m sure there’s at least one European trip I haven’t documented via flickr.

My photo archive is stored on my ageing mac pro, managed with iphoto, and backed up to the NAS. As the development of both has halted I had been wondering whether to upgrade to better options or fudge on. The mac itself still runs beautifully and is quick enough for my needs. I wouldn’t mind some better software and had initially considered Aperture (now discontinued) but think if I go down that path I’ll probably get Adobe’s Lightroom. However Lightroom is mostly sold as a sub these days ($10/month) and not so much as a standalone package. I’m undecided on this though am curious around the potential of running it on my various machines and devices. Running on stationary computer and mobile gadgets is only available via the subscription path.

snail at Keith Tulloch Wines For now at least, iPhoto continues to suffice. I’ve just finished loading all remaining photos from the multitude of SD cards I have accumulated, including this photo from my Hunter trip last year. Unfortunately the mac is not recognising my samsung galaxy s5 phone though it used to recognise the s2. I suspect I’ll need to transfer the files to my windows lappy, from there on to a USB and then on to the mac and into iPhoto. Now that I think about it, I have to do that anyway as my phone archive is stored on the laptop. I could also do the transfer from the lappy straight to the mac via the NAS but suspect sneakernet will be faster and more efficient. I will never escape format wars.

Posted in june, photography, tech | Leave a comment

filmfest done

A week and a half later, filmfest is over. I failed to be healthy but didn’t get too sick, though had nasty sneezing/sniffles/watery eyes for much of last week. 15 films that were mostly good; the Greenaway was disappointing, the Maddin was good but could have been a little tighter. “Foodies” was ok though didn’t really explore food blogging “culture” to any great depth. “People, Places, Things” was rather enjoyable and better than expected.

I loved Palio, and Sherpa. Mother was fabulous (this version was remastered in black&white though the original had been in colour) and I enjoyed Love & Mercy and Mr Holmes. Seymour and The Red Light Bandit were good.

I managed to chat to most of the folk I used to sit with, and chatted to some random strangers here and there. I am having to adjust, alas, to the glow of mobile phones as people regularly used then to check the time during movies, and in a few cases message people.

Though I saw less films than I used to with my subscription I enjoyed having to read the programme and choosing what I saw. I enjoyed the negotiation of making selections and working out what could fit and what couldn’t. I felt more engaged with the festival and saw films in several venues. Dashing between the Event cinema in George St and Dendy Quays was a little challenging particularly as it also involved navigating the crowds in town for Vivid. Still fun.

Posted in film, june | Leave a comment

sort of now

Borrowing a meme from Con and Kate, though it’s more in a general now-ish rather than an immediate, “right now” sort of thing.

  • I’m reading – working my way through the complete works of Feist. Also some Capt America comics.
  • I’m watching – aside from filmfest, at the insistence of Ms14 we have watched the first 2 phases of Marvel movies (10 movies) in order, so we could then watch Age of Ultron (which we saw just prior to filmfest).
  • I’m cooking – this is mostly a fail though I do good mash and I do excellent rice in a rice cooker.
  • I’m drinking – I drink occasionally these days and not every day. I have recently taken a liking to Malmsey, a sweet dessert wine.
  • I’m thinking – about happiness. Workwise I have made it through a restructure, and home is a happy place too.
  • I’m taking – time to stop and appreciate where I’m at, and what I have.
  • I’m missing – decent cold weather, or at least a decent Sydney winter :-)
  • I’m enjoying – life and family
  • I’m planning – a family holiday to New Zealand later in the year
  • I’m listening – I don’t listen to much music these days. I like it loud which is ok when you’re living alone but not so great when there are other people around.
Posted in flotsam, june | Leave a comment

odd moment in film

I caught a couple of movies last night at filmfest, a good doco/recreation on Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, and the other, a re-mastering by Korean director, Bong Joon-ho of his 2009 movie, Mother. It turns out that it was originally in colour however the director has re-mastered it in black and white and it looks absolutely stunning. I didn’t see the original version but loved the look of the new version; the framing and cinematography looked amazing. The story too, was strong, emotional and well played.

However there was an odd moment at the start of the film. The opening scene is of the main character walking across a field, stopping, then breaking into a dance. There is no context at this point, that comes later, and a chunk of the audience burst into laughter. I found the reaction jarring and couldn’t perceive any humour, and as we discovered later, there was no humour in that moment. I’ve come across this elsewhere too, moreso for non english, or culturally diverse movies. I sometimes wonder if it’s some sort of audience reaction to the unfamiliar, removed from the expectation of western devices and approaches.

[spoiler] I recall seeing The Truman Show many years ago and experiencing a similar sort of thing. Jim Carey’s character had grown up in a reality TV show but didn’t know it wasn’t real.  There’s a scene toward the end of the movie as he’s beginning to realise that his world may not actually be real and he’s on a boat sailing to the horizon. The boat reaches it, and cracks a hole in the “sky” – the sky being the painted wall of the set. I burst into tears every time I watch it as it’s a moment of truth for Carey’s character, the proof that his world is not real. However the first time I saw it in the cinema, the audience laughed and found it hilarious. That reaction too felt wrong and jarring.

Posted in film, june | Leave a comment

bread products

I rather enjoyed Mr Shaddow’s toast review recently, both it and the associated chat on the twitters. I also like taking the piss out of my initial “is blogging a thing” post. Admittedly, I like taking the piss out of most things; I am amused and curious and happy with all the conversations that have happened this last week. But particularly I am liking toast and #toastjune though I have another post brewing on defining blogging, or the need to define.

Right now however, I have a need to talk about toast.

I do not ascribe to Mr Shaddow’s preference for wholemeal; I am a white-bread man. Much to the disappointment of some, perhaps many, who know me. No grains here. Even worse, I love the very commercial tiptop sandwich bread. I used to demolish half a loaf each day after school, usually plain though I would go through margarine phases – to be consumed upside down with the margarine side on the tongue. I can still happily devour many such slices.

However, toast. I liked Mr Shaddow’s description such

…the inside light and fluffy. Coupled with the perfect crunch of the outer toasted layer…

and thought yes, that describes how I like toast. When I just have toast that is. Toast alone and unadorned is a sublime pleasure. I do not usually apply condiments and such, though occasionally I may spread butter so long as the butter is soft and spreadable; not hard. It goes without saying, though I have said it often, that vegemite is the sacrament of satan.

However, when I break fast while out, I take a different approach. These days, I like turkish bread, lightly buttered, with poached eggs resting atop. I used to have sourdough but these days turkish is my preference. Sides I prefer either sausage or chorizo, sometimes one, sometimes the other. However cafes will do one, but rarely both. There was one cafe that did neither and I moved on quickly. My local cafe does very nice mushrooms so I now add them to my order whenever I visit.

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