Do people like, still blog?

Tag Archives: neat

For kicks, I’ve been playing around with the 8-bit pixelate effect; you know, to make your pictures look like they came out of an original Nintendo system. Here’s an example:

With a little experimentation, I’ve found a procedure that seems to work well:

  1. Crop your picture to whatever you want to 8-bit
  2. Resize by a multiple of 2, using best quality. For normal pictures I do 1/8 (12%) or 1/16 (6%) size.
  3. Increase the contrast (I increase by at least 30/100)
  4. Convert the picture to use 32 – 64 colours. This depends a bit on your content, but you don’t want to make it look completely black & white.
  5. Resize up to the original size (i.e., 800% or 1600%) using nearest neighbor algorithm.

And now you’ll be in 8-bit glory!

Earlier this year, I bought a neat wallet. It’s designed to look like lined paper (one of many designs) but built from a patented type of paper that resists water and tearing.

I bought it because I liked the design, and because the material was very thin. The thickness of the wallet is mostly made up of your bills and cards, rather than the wallet itself.

I should have blogged about this earlier because I kept getting asked whether I folded it myself! The second question that I get invariably asked is its durability. I used it for over half a year until I switched back to a conventional wallet. It didn’t fall apart per se, but the design started fading (I guess my pant pockets are dirty) and it started warping. I think the fallacy is that it is folded together rather than glued (to be flexible for various contents).

The three people in the picture below are me, me and me.

Or at least, they would’ve been me if I were African/Caribbean, Caucasian or West-Asian. I found this neat face transforming applet which morphs your face so you can see what you would look like with a different heritage or at a different stage of life. It’s pretty neat and I spent some time saving all my different possibilities. Their site is a bogged down this morning, so maybe you will have better luck at a later time.

It’s kind of neat that you can do conversions from one facial type to another through mathematical equations. I feel like a Matrix.

My (corded) phone broke so I went out to Walmart (I know I had to go all the way to Scarborough — I was scared) to pick out a (corded) replacement. I had a cheapie so I picked out another cheapie for $10, although I swear it said $6 on the shelf (but I digress…). Anyways, I took it home and set it up, something supposedly straightforward that even my parents could do; but, I was stumped because they only gave me one wire for the phone??

Apparently, technology has advanced to such a stage that you no longer have to connect the phone to the base, and then the base to the wall. You simply connect your handset…to the wall! Wow. I feel old. The still provide a base though, because you can wrap your excess wire beneath it, and it pushes in the toggle to put your phone “on hook”. Although, I would have preferred if there was a switch that served the same function, which would permit me to throw out the base.

In The Economics of War, the author mentions an example, that has nothing to do with war, about people’s driving behaviours. He talks about people who race through a yellow light during a rush hour, only to be stopped before they clear the intersection. This impedes the flow of traffic in the other direction until their light turns yellow, and a couple of cars in their direction race the light and obstruct the intersection again. So on and so forth. The author argues that the last few cars are acting economically sound because it lets them reach their destination a little bit quicker, at the expense of slowing everyone else down. Basically your micro vs macro argument.

I see examples of these quite frequently when driving, especially in rush hour where I think you need to be aggressive or be a chump. But I noticed a situation which is counterintuitive in that putting one’s interests ahead of society’s actually helps everyone out.

On my drive home, the onramp to the highway has to merge the cars from two directions, with my direction being the lane that actually ends up on the highway. Now some cars that approach, merge at the first sign of a space; which is good for society because they end up waiting in their assigned space in line. Other cars however, accelerate ahead until the very end of the lane before merging in, thereby jumping several spaces in the queue even though they were side-by-side with you at the beginning. This is beneficial for them because they get home sooner, but it pushes everyone else back one space.

But here’s the interesting thing that’s wrong with this analysis. There will always be people who wait until the last minute to merge, because it’s the most beneficial for the individual. So the people who are merging early, in actuality, are allowing the cars behind them to jump ahead of them and merge closer to the front of the line. Now if you’re behind all of these cars, and watching cars merge early; instead of being behind x cars, you end up being behind x+y cars, which is bad for the society of cars waiting to go on the highway. So always merge at the last minute unless there is no traffic.

When I first started at IBM, I was quickly impressed with one thing that has been a problem at other places I’ve worked. Usually, the security policy at a corporation is to use a person’s sense of responsibility to cut down on tailgaters — the people who enter the buliding without badging in by following someone close enough to keep the door open.

Of course, this doesn’t work because usually people don’t challange strangers, and being nice, we hold the door for them anayways. Well at IBM, they use a revolving door with a weight sensor in addition to the badge system, so if you badge in, the door will only let one person’s weight shift to go through (similar to parking lot barriers).

Of course this still has some problems, such as a weightless person going through (i.e. ghost), the normal door on the side for large packages, and the fact that you can tag in multiple times in succession.

Someone should make headphones that are wireless and in the shape of hearing aids, you know, for those times when you want to be inconspicuously not bored as hell sitting in certain classrooms. I would pay a good $50 for a decent pair.

It can’t be too hard, just use bluetooth, RF or even FM. Sound quality isn’t a great concern given the alternative. Have some sort of rechargable battery thing that I can dump into a dock at night for the next morning. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone in university will go slightly deaf overnight (I tell ya, it’s all the iPods) but will miracuously recover when they graduate.