My Brain Is Leaking

Got a minute? I'll waste it for you.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Last boating day of the year?

It's 85 and suny on September 10th.  Probably the last day this season for boating and swiming.  Seven successful days on the water thiss summer isn't too bad of a track record... especially compared to last year.  At least I feel like owning a boat was actually worth it this summer.  Next year I'll see if I can get up on one ski.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

New Camera was "back-focusing."

I recently upgraded my Sony Alpha-200 camera to an Alpha-580.  And when I say "upgraded" I really mean "replaced because my clumsy ass knocked my old camera onto the concrete."  Of course, everyone knows that when something breaks, it's always a good excuse to upgrade instead of sending the broken one in for service.

Upgrade time!!

After having owned the new one for a while and the feeling of "OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING SINCE THE INVENTION OF SCOTCH!" wore off, I started to notice that my images were a bit soft.  I originally chalked this up to the new camera being of much higher resolution (16MP vs 10MP) and that it may just be out-resolving the lenses I owned.
After downloading a test chart and printing it off (NOT using any company resources such as internet connection or the printer) I set up the camera and snapped a pic of it looking down at a 45 degree angle.

The idea is that you are supposed to focus on the dark line in the middle and the focus should degrade equally in front of and behind the line.  It might be hard to tell on this small picture, but the focus drops off around 10mm in front of the center line, and about 20mm behind the line.  Therefore, the perfect focus is around the 6mm line behind center.  Hence the term "backfocusing."

Of course, photographers don't take pictures of test charts all day (unless you have some sort of sick test-chart obsession),  so what this means in the real world is that whatever you're telling the camera to focus on will be slightly out of focus, and the object just a little further away from that point will be in focus.  For example, if you're trying to shoot some run-of-the-mill midget-porn and you focus on the midget-dong, you're actually going to get a great shot of some midget-balls.  And nobody wants to look at midget balls.

Except maybe this guy.

This phenomenon is caused when the autofocus sensor on a digital SLR camera is not the exact same distance from the back of the lens as the digital imaging sensor.  The camera thinks it's in focus according to the AF-sensor, but the image that gets captured is a little off.  To correct this, one needs to peel the sticker off the bottom of the camera next to the tripod mount, revealing three set-screws.
NOTE:  I can only vouch that this is true for Sony Alpha cameras.  (You Canon-fags and Nikon-bitches are on your own.)
Turning these screws adjusts the distance the AF-sensor is from the lens elements.  Clockwise rotation helps get rid of back-focus, and counter-clockwise will make it worse (or correct front-focus).  There are three screws so that the plane of the AF-sensor is triangulated, so you must turn the screws the same amount.  If not, one side of the frame will be more back-focused than the other.

For my camera, only 1/12th of a revolution of the set-strews was required.  I first turned them 1/6th of a turn (one point on the hex) and that went to far and into front-focus land.  After I backed the screws off 1/12th of a revolution, this was the result:

By looking at the 14mm and 20mm markings on both ends, I can conclude that my camera is now properly focusing.  No more migdet-balls for me.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

I am now mobile.

*blows dust off of neglected blog*
So, I downloaded this handy Blogger app for my phone.  Now I can make short posts on the go. I just have to work one being more interesting.  I suppose short, boring posts about how I just had a half hour argument about sideburns are better than no posts at all. 

Friday, March 19, 2010

Which Metallica Album Is The Best?

Back before Metallica made a living suing its fans, they used to make kickass metal albums.  So which one is the best?

Obviously there is no "correct" answer to this question, but I'll try to give it a semi-fair shot, colored with my own subjectivity. 

Unlike some of the die-hard fans, I do not outright reject “Load” and “Reload,” but I’ll admit they were not as good as their other albums.  “Death Magnetic” was a refreshing return to their roots and was a pretty good album, but not on par with their earlier ones.  “Enter Sandman” is their biggest chart-topping song, but I don’t think that makes the “black album” their best.  One could argue that the “black album” reached out to the broadest audience and brought people into the world of metal who would not have otherwise listened to “that crazy Devil-music!”  Seriously... sneak “Enter Sandman” into your next party’s playlist, right in between a couple hip-hop, techno, dance, classic-rock or whatever songs.  Everyone present will be air guitaring and headbanging in no time.  That being said, I don’t think the rest of the “black album” can support “best album” status.

This leaves us with “Kill ‘Em All,” “...And Justice For All,” “Ride the Lightning,” and “Master of Puppets.”

For most people, it’s easy.  “Justice!”  While “Justice” was an excellent album, I’m going to have to respectfully disagree.  “One” is an epic song, and so are many others on that album, but that’s precisely why I don’t want to call it their best album.  Each song is so long and complex, I need to devote too much attention to it to really appreciate it.  I feel like I have to be in a very specific mood to listen to it, similar to how I feel about classical music, which should be no surprise since progressive metal shares a lot with classical music structurally.

“Kill ‘Em All” is decent, and has “Seek & Destroy” and “Four Horsemen,” but the rest of the album doesn’t do it for me enough to call it the best.

So that leaves me with “Ride the Lightning” (RtL), and “Master of Puppets” (MoP).  This is gonna be tough.  Both are very solid albums, that are similar in structure.  They both have big radio hits, complex instrumentals, heavy slower songs, and fast thrashy songs.  I’ll try to be as fair as I can in comparing them.

Hit Single:
“For Whom the Bell Tolls” vs. “Master of Puppets” ... RtL +1

“Orion” vs. “Call of Ktulu” ... MoP +1

“Fade to Black” vs. “Welcome Home (Sanitarium)” ... Very close, but I think I have to go with “Fade to Black” ... RtL +1

Fast “thrash” album opener:
“Battery” vs. “Fight Fire With Fire” ... MoP +1

Mid-album heavy hitter:
“Leper Messiah” vs. “Creeping Death” ... Another one that’s very hard to call, but I’ll go with advantage MoP on this one.   MoP +1

The rest:
“Disposable Heroes” vs. “Escape” ... RtL +1
“Trapped Under Ice” vs. “Damage, Inc.” ... RtL +1
“The Thing That Should Not Be” vs. “Ride The Lightning” ... RtL +1

RtL - 5
MoP - 3

Winner: "Ride The Lightning"

Hmm... didn't think it would be such a landslide when I started this post. I love MoP and each track was a photo finish, but I guess I like RtL more.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

My Review of "Zombieland."

Okay, I know... welcome to last year, Scot.  Whatever.  I’m going to go ahead and say it. “Zombieland” is the best zombie movie ever made. Yes, even better than the 2004 remake of “Dawn of the Dead.” That was tough to say, since “Dawn of the Dead” was epic.

The thing with “Zombieland” though, is it doesn’t take itself very seriously, which is great because you can ignore questions like: “Where is all the electricity coming from? Is there a zombie-run powerplant somewhere keeping the grid online? How some he never runs out of ammo?” None of those kinds of questions bother you here, because of the tone of the movie. In fact, it’s almost a satire of zombie-movies in general. However, it is just serious enough to make you actually care about the characters.

The movie opens up with one of the best opening credits sequences I’ve seen in a very long time. It consists of ultra-slow-mo clips of people running from zombies (these are “fast-zombies,” by the way, not the slow ones of the 1970s) smashing, shooting, and killing stuff. When you see a guy in a business suit running from a zombie-stripper with bloody singles stuffed in her bikini in the first couple minutes of a film, you know you’re in for a good time.

Anyway, a movie--even a ridiculous zombie-movie--can’t be all headshots and explosions. You need a decent bunch of characters to pull you through. In this movie, you have the lead guy, who is a nerdy kid who’s paranoia, introverted-ness, and anal-retentive adherence to his own set of zombie-survival rules has kept him alive. He’s a lot like any character ever played by Michael Cera, except he has some unidentifiable endearing quality that makes you not want to run up and kick him in the dick. Oh yeah, and he plays WoW, so he the perfect loser.

Then there is the requisite badass female lead and her adorable kid-sister (played by the girl from “Little Miss Sunshine”) who will inevitably fall for our nerd-hero (the older sister, not the kid, you sick fucker.) Oops. Sorry. *** Spoiler alert*** Oh well... like you wouldn’t have called it 5 seconds after her introduction into the movie.

Woody Allen is in it too. He fulfills the role of “guy who beats the shit out of everything in his path” and is responsible for 90% of the movie’s awesomeness. Whether he’s destroying a zombie’s face with a banjo, or going apeshit on a minivan with a crowbar just because, he is the testosterone reservoir in this movie.

The plot is pretty boilerplate for a zombie-movie: a bunch of people, trying to survive, maybe trying to get here or there for whatever bullshit reason... It doesn’t matter. The characters have good chemistry, and there is copious amounts of gore, badassery, and dark humor.

I give “Zombieland” 9.5 crushed heads out of 10.