New faucets

27.11.2009, originally uploaded by FransBadger.

This is probably the least sexy topic for techno-blogging like, ever, but here we go. Our old faucets were having rather bad leaks over the tables and over the floors, I was getting water to my head from the shower while trying to fill a bucket with water from the faucet underneath, and so on. It was definitely time to move on. After some deliberation and consideration, we ended up ordering the installation of Oras Vega (the new eco-button model) to the upstairs wash basin, the slightly more fancy Oras Vienda faucet to the parade side basin in the first floor, and two Oras Optima thermostatic bath and shower faucets to the bathroom in the cellar. There are all sorts of nice engineering details in the valves etc., but I really liked the overall functionality of design and the feeling of workmanship. Using the shower faucet is now a small, everyday pleasure: the control movements feel natural, and mechanisms react with pleasing, muted ‘clicks’ and ‘snaps’. Donald Norman has written about “emotional design”, and this is exactly it. Oh, and we bought a new toilet seat also. IDO Seven D Image model. It has something called Siflon on its inner surfaces (no need for detergents, I am told). Dunno. But it looks cool and feels good…

DVD collectors' databases found missing

Star Trek (2009) blu-ray box cover
Star Trek (2009) blu-ray box cover

I have been using some DVD collection software before, but inserting all the movie details manually has proved too much work, and my collection listing is seriously out of date (meaning that with this lousy memory of mine, I am likely to start buying doubles at some point). A practical solution would be to use a bar-code scanner that would produce the product code that then would be used to automatically fetch the right details from a movie database. However, I test drove two programs/services tonight — www.dvdcorral.com and www.collectorz.com/movie/ — and at least in the new Finnish market blu-ray releases that I tried to input, could not be found in the database (Collectorz could find the new Star Trek blu-ray, that was the only match). It looks like the databases these solutions are using are rather heavily relying towards the US market data, or that was the impression I got at least. Oh dear. Need to work on that long-term memory of mine, then.

Future Play and GIIP: new research projects

Some news: our team has been awarded with funding from Tekes Verso programme to two new games research projects. The other one is GIIP (Games Industry Innovation Processes), which aims to survey and strengthen the state of innovation processes in Finnish games industry. This project is part of the TDP (Transformation of Digital Play) research consortium, and continues the work carried out in GaIn and GameSpace projects earlier. The other one is called Future Play and it will look into the future of game design, play and technology through expert interviews and analyses. Particularly it will pay attention to the digital distribution and publication models as well as to the games becoming embedded and integrated with online social media, thus continuing the work carried out in Games as Services project particularly. For more information, please contact the project managers: Annakaisa Kultima (GIIP) and Olli Sotamaa (Future Play).

Canon EF 70-200 mm L

My old Sigma tele-zoom lens is pretty useless nowadays, particularly in cold (the mechanism gets stuck, and you cannot zoom even by using force). I went shopping, and got a Canon EF 70-200 mm L — my very first L class lens. This is the cheapest of line, and does not have an image stabilizer, for example. But it should produce much better images than my old one, the aperture should be enough for daylight at least, and the usability is a huge upgrade to my old Sigma. A review is here: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/Canon-EF-70-200mm-f-4.0-L-USM-Lens-Review.aspx.

Canon EF 70-200 L
Canon EF 70-200 L

Bird table in the night

Lumiyö / Night with snow, originally uploaded by FransBadger.

These days you can find pretty nice bird tables, like this little house we have now in our front yard. It was originally designed to be hung from a string, but it was pretty easy to hack into a suitable stick. So, now we have a regular show going on, with five pheasant, a flock of small birds and a squirrel fighting over the nuts and seeds.

Quiet at the night time, though. The photo was taken at the point when the snowfall had turned into light rain (of water), using my trusty old Canon EOS 350D (exposure time 3,2 seconds, I was using a Manfrotto stand), and I admit a serious graving of 7D with its environmental sealing and advanced autofocus point selection system… (More here: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/canoneos7d/ )

Windows 7 sleep problems

The sleep state problems that I have previously blogged about in Windows Vista appear to haunt the OS even in its new incarnation. It appears that the default behavior of Windows 7 (as set up in Redmond) is to enable ‘wake from sleep’ in all peripherals, including network card, mouse and keyboard. And for some reason all these peripherals send up some kind of signals that wake up the OS pretty much the very moment is has put itself to sleep state. Most irritating, making ‘sleep’ in Windows 7 totally useless. It took me a week or two to find out all the different devices that were sending the wake up signals, and disable them in the Device Manager > device properties. Here is a tip: you can save much time by going to ‘cmd’ prompt, and writing there ‘powercfg -DEVICEQUERY wake_armed‘. That should give you a list of the potential culprits for the sleep problems. Read more e.g. from here: http://www.michaelaulia.com/blogs/fix-windows-vista7-sleep-mode-from-waking-up-by-itself.html

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