Monday, November 27, 2006

Taj Mahal cools his heels in Berkeley again, blending thirst for world's music and its link to the land

Looks like I'll have to be on the lookout for Taj Mahal sightings when I go to Shattuck Ave. for lunch!

Taj Mahal cools his heels in Berkeley again, blending thirst for world's music and its link to the land

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I Ain't Gonna Get No More Socca!

Socca Oven, which I blogged about previous, has closed: The East Bay Express Blog � Gregoire Sticks a Fork in Socca

(At least in this location.) Too bad, they were just about to go on my list of Berkeley-area pizza places!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Wiki Wiki Woo

The other day, I set up MediaWiki as a kind of household chronicle. You might ask, why yet another system when you already have half a dozen e-mail accounts, Palm desktop for to-dos, at least 3 calendar systems and 3 address books, not to mention spreadsheets for general-purpose lists, this blog or my personal site or my iWeb experiments for prose, and PBase for photos. (Note to self: must set up Flickr and SmugMug accounts soon.)

Good question.

It's an experiment. We'll see. I like how categories spring into being when referenced. So do stub articles -- create a link to a non-existent article, and the link goes red to show it's for future expansion. Follow the link and you're editing the article.

The ease of cross-linking appeals to me. Brings back memories of
Lotus Organizer. Back before the abomination of Notes, Lotus actually had a product that was enjoyable to use. ("To get away from Lotus Notes" is one of my stock answers to the question of why I left IBM.) You could link disparate things together in many-to-many relationships.

I'm also interested in the ease of getting pictures into the system, auto-thumbnailing, and how well the text flows around a layout with a lot of pictures. You know, all those travel stories with dozens of links off to photos, rather than photo galleries where all the text takes the form of captions.

The real test will be, how easy is it to get data out? Printable format for informal to-do lists. XML export format for bringing stuff up to my personal site. Copying the MySQL database to sync with another MediaWiki instance. These aspects are yet to be explored.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Tea for More than Two

In the ongoing search for good vegetarian dim sum in the Bay Area, tried out Tin's Tea House in Walnut Creek. Several reviews focused mostly on the traditional (i.e. meat-heavy) dishes: East Bay Express, San Francisco Chronicle. (Is there an editorial rule at the Chronicle that they are forbidden to mention a single vegetarian dish, unless it's a lame salad?)

But by wading through dozens of mini-reviews on Yelp etc., I pieced together that they really do have some vegetarian dishes. And it's true. I especially liked the sesame balls with lotus seed paste. In addition to half a dozen vegetarian choices on the dim sum menu, there is a vegetarian section on the regular menu and we ordered a couple of larger dishes there. (Mongolian faux beef for me, veggie chow fun for Lotus.) The only knock on the veggie offerings is that both the dumplings and the potstickers were jammed full of mushrooms and nothing else. A bit more variety there would be welcome.

All in all, a nice find now that Long Life Vegi House in Berkeley has stopped doing weekend dim sum.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Can I See Clearly Now?

Previously, I did some monitor calibration by eye using various test charts. I finally tried out some real calibration equipment (the Gretag Macbeth "Eye One Display 2"). Now, I know someone in the business of high-end color management who scoffs at all the consumer-level products. So my expectations are not sky-high.

Running through the wizard on the Easy setting turns out to be a snap. Just hang the mouse-like contraption over the front of the monitor, let the software flash different colors on the screen to be measured by said contraption, and it's done. Watching the software do a binary search with white and black squares to locate the sensor against the screen is kind of entertaining.

I read one review (ehhh, can't find the link now) that concluded that the Eye One Display actually was more accurate on the Easy setting than the Advanced one, so I left it at that. (Ran the process on new 24" iMac, old 15" iMac, and old 15" Aluminum Powerbook.) I can say that, subjectively, I do see some difference, with reds and blues looking a little deeper. The real test will be working with skin tones, gently graded skies, and high-contrast scenes.

My skepticism about color profiling comes from the fact that most color problems I experience are rooted in the camera (3x Canons). The S30 takes pictures that are a little too saturated. The G3 tends towards too much yellow in the color balance in any kind of tricky lighting. And The 20D oversaturates the reds (by about +15 in Photoshop terms) in any picture with big patches of red.

After a couple of days of use: I am actually seeing over-saturated reds now on the monitors, both flesh tones in news photos and solid red patches in GUI apps. The next test will come on Tuesday, when I'll have a couple of post-calibration images projected in the local camera club competition.