Miniature Village

Enlarge this picture and take a good look. Isn’t this miniature village fantastic?


It’s really detailed… and it should be, since it’s a real life full-size town. It’s actually a real photo of Ouray, Colorado, and here’s the original:


I Photoshopped the image to simulate a type of lens called a “tilt-shift”, where the image plane is not parallel with the lens plane. This causes certain parts of the image to appear out of focus. When taking a picture like this, focus is set at infinity, so everything at distance in the image is in perfect focus. If this was really a miniature, everything would be very close to the camera, so only part of the image would normally be in focus. Also, miniatures tend to look brighter and more colourful when compared to weathered, washed-out buildings and cars.

I followed a great tutorial on how to do the effect. Also, here’s the lens that lets you take these photos without any messing around.

New Camera!

I’ve finally upgraded to a “proper” SLR camera after outgrowing my tiny Rebel XT.

Canon 7D

It’s the Canon 7D, and it goes perfectly with my 24-105 “L” lens. Once the workload at the office starts to ease up in December, I’d like to take a wider variety of photos for my portfolio. I’m especially interested in live bands, so if you need some photos taken for free, please let me know. I’ve been working silly hours since I got the camera and I’ve had almost zero opportunities to take any interesting pictures. However, I did manage to sneak this one in. If you can tell me where this was taken, I’ll be impressed!


Building Android on Snow Leopard

In a break from writing about my life, I thought I’d give some Android developers out there a hand with a problem. Google don’t yet support the building of Android on OS 10.6 (Snow Leopard), but I managed to get it working. To do this, you’ll need to do four things:

  1. Install Rosetta
  2. Install JDK 1.5
  3. Install OS 10.4 support for XCode
  4. Change some gcc headers

First, install Rosetta from your Snow Leopard installation DVD. This allows you to run flex from the command line. Without this, a file in libwebcore won’t be generated correctly and you’ll get an error about a missing lex() symbol.

Second, install JDK 1.5. I found a guide online to do this. Instead of using update 4 as mentioned in the article, download the 1.5 JDK update 5 from…. Update: after doing this, change the current SDK version by using the Java Preferences utility in Applications->Utilities.

Third, download the XCode 3 package from Apple and install support for building for the OS 10.4 target.

Finally, you need to add symlinks from some OS 10.4 gcc includes to the 10.6 ones. This is fairly easy to figure out when building, but the ones I changed were all in /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.4u.sdk/usr/include and are as follows:

  • emmintrin.h -> /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/usr/lib/gcc/i686-apple-darwin10/4.2.1/include/emmintrin.h
  • float.h -> /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/usr/lib/gcc/i686-apple-darwin10/4.2.1/include/float.h
  • mm_malloc.h -> /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/usr/lib/gcc/i686-apple-darwin10/4.2.1/include/mm_malloc.h
  • mmintrin.h -> /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/usr/lib/gcc/i686-apple-darwin10/4.2.1/include/mmintrin.h
  • stdarg.h -> /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/System/Library/Frameworks/Kernel.framework/Versions/A/Headers/stdarg.h
  • xmmintrin.h -> /Developer/SDKs/MacOSX10.6.sdk/usr/lib/gcc/i686-apple-darwin10/4.2.1/include/xmmintrin.h

If you are building Android, then I am fairly certain I don’t need to tell you how to make symlinks.


Update: in order to build the kernel, you’ll need to grab a copy of the elf.h header from Linux and copy it to /usr/local/include on your Mac. Comment out the #include <features.h>, otherwise you’ll get a compilation error.

Also, the following patches may be required on a 64 bit system:

Bird Cam

Usually when we go away on holiday, something happens with either the server (power supply fails, Comcast decides to knock it off the Internet) or the security cameras (transmissions mysteriously stop, etc). This holiday was no exception. I noticed after we landed that there appeared to be a large piece of tumbleweed completely blocking the lens. I thought it might have been put there deliberately – and I was right.

I give you exhibit A:

Bird on camera

It built a pretty good nest, but the camera mount couldn’t hold it up and eventually tilted downwards, at which point the bird gave up. There was a single blue egg inside, but sadly it never had a chance because there was a snow storm a couple of days after the bird finished the nest.

5 second delay

Is anyone else seeing a 5 second delay when they visit I am, and indeed any site on my server. I don’t think it’s the DNS because one of my sites is using a different DNS provider. That leaves either my ISP (comcast) doing something weird with incoming requests, my router (which hasn’t changed) or my server (which hasn’t changed in a while either). Anyway, let me know…

Bye Bye, Windows

We’ve finally been given permission at work to reformat our computers to use as Ubuntu workstations – yay! This is my final stage in my abandonment of Windows. Three years ago, I realised I was spending a good portion of my weekends and evenings fixing Windows because of stupid problems. I’d install something and I’d get an error every time I booted Windows (if it booted at all), or it would get horribly slow, or I had a USB device that would work on one port but not the others. The usual solution was to reformat if it would take less time than to fix the problem. My solution three years ago was to go to

I still have an Acorn RiscPC 600 on my desk at work, and it still works. It was manufactured in 1994, which makes it 15 years old. At home I still have an Iyonix (same type of computer), which is now 6 years old and still working well. Neither machine has ever been wiped. My MacBook Pro has not had a software problem in 3 years.

Windows XP was almost good. Almost good in that it almost didn’t suck completely, but it still managed to do things magnificently wrong, such as regularly lose all its icons, open tooltips below windows and change the height of the locked taskbar.

I won’t miss Word 2003 and its hundreds of autocorrect options that are impossible to turn off completely. I won’t miss having to install a USB driver once for every USB port on the machine. I won’t miss critical security updates. I won’t miss Windows Search that can’t find files that are in the first directory it looks at. I won’t miss playing games – that’s what I got the PSTriple for.

Windows, you won’t be missed. As Lily Allen would say, “fuck you, fuck you very very much!”

Atheist Bus Update

Slogans saying “There’s probably no god. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” have started appearing on London buses in response to a particular religious message that pointed readers to a website telling them they were going to have to endure torment in hell for all eternity.

As expected, the campaign has already drawn complaint from a religious group.

Now, a few things piss me off about the complaint. If it’s fair to have religious slogans on buses, then it’s also fair to have these atheist/agnostic ones. You could even argue that it’s fairer to have the atheist messages, since they are based in science. Put simply, if I told you that there was an invisible flying spaghetti monster that created the earth, you would have absolutely no way to disprove it. After all, non-believers cannot even see him. The lack of a way to disprove him simply means he has been designed to be impossible to disprove, not that he exists.

I hope when the complaint is brought to the Advertising Standards Agency, it is laughed at.

The Atheist Bus

The BBC and other news sources are reporting on an initiative to start promoting atheism to counter similar public religious messages. They want to put signs on London buses telling people to enjoy their lives and stop worrying about nonsense questions. A fundraiser was started, and the aim was to collect £5500. As of the time of writing, £125,711.32 has been collected so I hope to see lots of these signs.

For the USA

What was one of the biggest reasons I got rid of my Verizon phone? Aside from the sucky service and terrible battery life, it was because of poor customer service. Not only didn’t they care when I called customer service with my issues, but they were unwilling (or unable) to solve a basic problem for me: my phone couldn’t display dates in UK (dd-mm-yyyy) or ISO (yyyy-mm-dd) formats, and it couldn’t display times in 24 hour. I think it would take a programmer less than 15 minutes to add those as options for future phones. It still wouldn’t work outside the country, though.

I’ve noticed this kind of thing a few times. Today I had to enter some security answers for online credit card access, and a hell of a lot of the pre-defined questions that I have to pick from are solely geared around the USA.

“What high school did so-and-so attend?” – they don’t call it high school in England, but I’ll let it slide as it’s a translation issue.

“When is so-and-so’s birthday (MM/DD)?” – I am not sure why they even need to know the format, since it accepts any string input.

“What is the last name of your 1st grade teacher?” – I can’t remember that far back. Even so, they are not called grades in a lot of other countries, including the UK. Translation issue again, but who remembers that far back? For me, that was 1985!

“What was your favourite college year?” – Questions like these are really problematic to me. Not only are college and university two separate things in England (we have two years of college before we go to university), but asking me what my favourite year was may result in a different answer depending on my mood.

“What’s the name of your elementary school?” – I am still not certain what elementary school is.

“In which city did so-and-so get married?” – City? Many times I am asked what city I am from in England. Addresses don’t work that way in Europe; we don’t all live in or near a city.

“Who did you go to prom with?” – We don’t have prom in England. Oops.

“What state did you first visit (other than the one you were born in)?” – That’s a big assumption! I guess I can still answer this one…