JPEGs

I seek to better understand JPEG compression. My camera takes pictures that are on the order of 700KB, but after minimal or no adjustment in Picasa, they save to about 1/3 the original size. Now, I know there’s EXIF information as part of the file, and that’s still there after the resave. I also know that JPEG’s are supposed to degrade with successive saves – however, I can’t detect any degradation of the image. So my questions are thus:

1. Am I loosing quality, or is my camera’s compression algorithm that shitty? I have taken snippets of both the original and the compressed image and blown them up to 800% and I cannot see any difference. At this point I’m seeing the JPEG gradients, not any recognizable part of the image, so I doubt it’s that I’m just not noticing it.

2. If I am not loosing quality, what’s different between the images? Can I reliably resample all my pictures and save my self several gigs of space?

Interview

So… I have an interview with Lockheed on Friday, and I’d really like it to go well. Leave me splendiferous advice and say lots of prayers if your that type of person, or even if you’re not, because God might listen to you anyway.

Hymnotism

In browsing aged emails for my remnants Kaiserslautern address I found this… from Steve and quite funny.

On Wednesday evening, I went over to the Milliken Auditorium to see Tom Deluca, the hypnotist. I tell you this was one of the most outrageously funny shows that I have ever seen!!!! There were about 1000 people waiting outside and it only holds 400. I made the cut to the side and got in. He took about 20 volunteers~ I seriously considered being hypnotized, but thought it would be much more fun to observe, since those hypnotized remember nothing. It took about 10 minutes of him playing this dreamy music, along with him saying the same thing over and over again, snapping his fingers, and stomping his foot to get them in his power. This show went on for over 2 hours without these people cracking a smile or anything, so this was GENUINE. It was astounding.

Here’s a rundown on all the acts I can remember:
-He began by having them be fishing, so they all hung on to imaginary RODS and were reeling in. Some were pulled across the floor by an enormous fish! -He had them driving a Ferrari (from their seats), getting her up to 200 mph, having a bottle of wine, and then the cops come up. Everyone instantly threw the bottle out the window! HAHAHAHAH They slowed down, and the cops passed them. Deluca then said what do you do now? Half of them flicked the cop off!!
-Adriano was one of the volunteers which made it extra hilarious, and he did a ballet dance with another guy- this was one of the funniest of them all!!!!!
-One kid was told to think he was Ricky Martin when he heard Deluca snap his fingers twice. They cued up LA VIDA LOCA and this kid went nuts on stage, knowing all the words and tore up the dance floor- UNBELIEVABLE!
– Later, he somehow got them all to regress o five year olds, adn he’d ask them about their favorite cereals, toys, and TV shows- they all sounded just like little kids- THUNDERCATS came up, as did Gem, and VOLTRON-
-A few girls were told that when they were very, very hungry for chocolate, but when they would get it near their mouth, their hands would quake uncontrollably- it worked- they couldn’t get it in their mouth because they were shaking so much. They had to have other people feed it to them!!!!
-Next everyone was told that someone was tickling them so much that it was near painful- some of the girls were on the floor in a fetal position screeching in near orgasmic tones- just like T.G.I. FRIDAYS! -Another one involved taking someone else from the audience and telling the hypnotized that this was the coolest, smartest, best looking guy in the world. Therefore, they hung on to his every word, and all wanted to shake his hand and hang out with him. When asked, no one knew WHY he was so cool- they just loved him! Deluca would ask him questions, like what is your favorite fruit, he’d say Grapes, and everyone chimed in how much they liked grapes too. Deluca asked why Vozza why he liked grapes and he replied, “They are great for foreplay!!!” (as I understand this, hypnotism makes you fall back on your habits and instincts, no conscious thought takes place, so you see people as they really are—which makes sense for Voz)
-The following event involved having one girl believe she was from Mars. She spoke in the most ridiculous language ever, but one of the guys translated it for us and then we asked her questions. Somehow, they understood each other!
-One guy was led to believe that his hand was talking to him. He tried to silence it by sitting on it and hitting it. Then he was so embarrassed he tried to MOVE off stage. Vozza told him since his hand didn’t have a mouth it couldn’t talk, but he only yelled louder, DON’T YOU HEAR IT TOO????
-The next event was that they all were supposedly in a body building contest. they all flexed for the audience and showed their stuff. Then they were told they had some body building oil, and this one kid started smearing it all over his ass-
-Another was that Deluca programmed the people to each have a response to his question, “What is your name?” – One girl answered SCREW YOURSELF every time he asked, another one lost all control of his tongue, just slurred it all
-They were all convinced that they had their shoes on the wrong feet. So they kept switching them. Then they “realized” the person next to them had their shoes on, and they all traded around. You had guys in high heel boots and fancy girls in catepillars-
-It ended with Deluca programming Vozza to respond to his snaps with either “You are so SWEET, so AWESOME” (one snap) or “THIS GUY SUCKS” (two snaps) Vozza played right to the audience telling us to leave because this show sucked, and was half way out the theater and he snapped his fingers again, and he went running up the stage to shake Deluca’s hand and praise him endlessly on his knees. He played with Voz about 4 times like this & he’d turn on a dime!!!!
I tell you, all in all, a fantastic show, I wish you had seen it. This power of suggestion is powerful and dangerous. I’d like to have this skill for parties! After the show, all the volunteers had no recollection of any of this, and thought they were only on stage for 5 minutes or so, not 2 hours!

Job Application

Filling out forms trying to get a job with Lockheed… the things I’m expected to remember…

My addresses for the last 10 years… well, we have:

Home in TC

A209 Bryan Hall (I think)

254 Mason Hall

Kaiserslautern Germany
– don’t have a clue how to enter this one into a form that requires a state
– I don’t know for sure what the address was, but I can make a decent guess based on info I have for other people in that area
– I don’t have the foggiest idea what apartment number I was in

238 Mason Hall

Dovers Crossings – figured this one out based on my account with skylighter.com – online pyrotechnic retailer who I last ordered from two summers ago.

Beachwood – had to sort through all old receipts… ended up finding one of my first verizon billing statements.

587 Cornell

My employment for the last 10 years:

Kabat Farms – cherry crew
McManus – cherry crew
Riverside Canoes – canoe bitch 😛
MSU – PA with Dr. Ofria
DFTI / MSU – work in the lab
MSU – Grad assitant for CSE 101

I seriously doubt they take my word for any of this anyway, so why not just save me the effort and get it straight from the CIA or whatnot…

If you’re from Lockheed and read this, disregard it and just keep in mind that I’d really really like to work for y’all.

Toronto Visit

Took a little trip to Toronto with Steve, Elizabeth and Mark for MLK day weekend. Fun. Very nice city to visit, went to the CN Tower, Hockey Hall of Fame, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Science Center and Casa Loma. Also spent some time wandering around town. Toronto has an amazing amount of underground tunnels / corridors through many blocks of the city, and they’re not just tunnels, but extensions of the buildings above. Other than the lack of windows and the fact that you never had to venture out into the cold to cross streets the tunnel areas were exactly like any other mall area. They also seem to enjoy enclosing their alleys so rather than a bunch of shops lining a downtown street, the storefront is in the back which is entirely indoors – very nice. We’ll have to visit again sometime – it’s not exactly a cheap trip, but worth it.

I have many pictures and will post some on my web site soonish. I was going to yesterday, but I wasted most of the day piddling with my guest book page instead. I’m trying to convert it to use PHP and make it look decent in both Mozilla and Internet Explorer – the never ending pain in the ass brought to me by Microsoft.

Anyway, back to working on job app. related stuff since I really haven’t done that much along the lines of looking and will soon loose any advantage that early graduation has gotten me.

Olive Garden

I went to Olive Garden tonight to join Lynn for his birthday.  That much was good, it’s good to have a group get together on someone’s birthday. But…I noticed for the first time the pushing of the wines. Maybe it’s because I’ve only been there with parents before, that they haven’t done it in the past. As soon as we sat
down the waitress explained the wine menu, showed a bottle of their house blah blah with some history of where it was made. This one was actually a blend of various wines – sure to go with anything.  Which was good, because if we were intersted in wine, we could get this – since we didn’t yet have menus or any clue
what we wanted to eat and thus what wine would go with it. Alas, no one wanted wine. Oh yeah, only half of us were old enough to have wine anyway, but never mind that. This stuck out to me because I had read reports of it online but never experienced it for myself up to this point.

Then they go around and get drinks, Lynn orders a coke. They find out it’s his birthday and basically pressure him to buy a drink.  “Maybe a little rum or whiskey in your Coke? For those of you who don’t know Lynn, he doesn’t drink, which made this even less appropriate. Sorry Lynn if this was supposed to be private information – I doubt it. Anyway, no alcohol was added to the drink… Now we get food, food is good. Lynn’s pizza took forever to bake, which is semi-shitty because it was his birthday, and he was the one who didn’t have food.

At the end of dinner, we discover that they auto-added an 18% “gratuity” because we were a party of 8 or more. I’m not a huge fan of this, but hey, whatever. Steve notices that it says “optional” on the receipt, which is odd, since it’s added in and we weren’t asked about it :-D. So, he asks what the optional means – to which there is no answer. This was not an effort to be cheap, just Steve noticing the detail that his included tip was
optional. Anyway… who cares. Well, in this case it was a bad idea. We were all on separate checks, but the tip was included as if we were one big group. The downside to this for them is that when you are paying for a single dinner, people will generally round up – rarely would someone leave $1.75 tip. But with tip included, they got the exact amount. The moral of the story is that included tips are bad.

1 – Nobody likes seeing that the ‘extra’ that is supposed to reward good service is automatically added.

2 – It got you questioned about the optionality of the tip, which by the reaction, you didn’t like too much.

3 – You actually got less money out of the deal.

Congrats, you got less money and people like you less – I guess on the upside there’s….. well, nothing I guess.

Blade Trinity

I just watched Blade Trinity, and now I’m going to ruin it for you… if this does not sound like fun for all, quit reading.  You’ve been warned.

Movie starts with some vampires unearthing Dracula – who apparently does exist, is the first of all vampires, and is “flawless.”  That being said, he’s uglier than any other character in the movie – I guess they didn’t count that when looking at flaws.

Now, there’s a Blade fight scene where the vampires get him on video killing a human.  Whistler warns Blade this is bad – gee, ya think?  A while later government agents – vampires, humans, familiars – who knows – bust into Blade’s place kill Whistler and take him into custody.

Now, come to find out there’s another vampire hunting cult out there called the night stalkers – because the name “Care Bears” was taken – props for this insightful and humorous statement goes to Ryan Reynolds, who’s witty comments litter the rest of the show.  And by litter, I mean like the trash you see along highways – except there were no crews to clean up after Ryan’s shit spewing.

New weapons are introduced by the night stalkers – most look cheesy and very plastic.  I’m not talking about some add ons, this looked like a gun out of the wal-mart squirt gun aisle.  The UV arc – something that takes a few seconds to start up and then looks more or less like a bow only has a UV light beam instead of a string.

Redeming qualities at this point:
1 – Hot chick bow sniping – you can’t go wrong with archery killing in
an action movie, and I’m willing to bet that the majority of Blade
fans are interested in hot women.
2 – A nerd who’s asked “have you ever been laid?” by Benny.  To which he replies “Many times, with ladies.” 
This of course is similar to in Road Trip when the nerd brags about sex
… “with a girl.”  Why is this necessary???

Anyway, back to the synopsis of the movie.  This is when it gets really good.  Blade and Ry-ry hop in their GMC SUV.  Now flash to the back see and see hot chick there checking off songs on a list on her iBook.  Ryan: “Shes making a play list.  She likes to listen to MP3’s when she hunts.  Like her own internal soundtrack, you know…  darkwhore triphop… whatever kids are listenting to these days.”  Thanks Ryan, you’ve proven your use to the world as a giant douche again.  More importantly though we got to see her putting songs on her iPod.  Now for the speical part, she only listens to it while in the SUV with her computer.  You’d think she’d keep listening while fighting, but no.  So, this means she made a playlist to listen to on her iPod while in the SUV with her laptop right there – isn’t the iPod for when you don’t have a computer handy?  I guess not when it comes to advertising.

Now, these three go to find Mr. Dracula – and succeed.  This alone is quite amazing but never mind that.  They find him, and he proceeds to run from Blade like the world’s biggest pussy.  Eventually he steals a baby and uses that to distract Blade long enough to escape.  As we will see later, he could have killed Blade right here, but doesn’t.

Eventually he comes back to the night stalker’s complex and kills most everyone.  He takes Ryan and the little girl they keep around hostage, and Blade and hot chick aren’t there at the time.  Now we switch to the interrogation of Ryan, where he continues with his enlightening chit-chat while getting the shit beat out of him.  One cool thing at this point is that the vampires made a vampire Pomeranian.  You gotta love a fuzz ball that wants to eat people.  This beating and berating of Ryan last for about 15 minutes.

Finally, Blade and chica track down Ryan and we get into a 15 minute fight scene with all the vampires – especially Dracula.  One notable scene is when the girl uses the UV beam deal – it’s up and out in a split second – in contrast to the few seconds it took when being demonstrated.  Oh well, I guess this must be forgiven, because it happened in Star Wars also (and Star Wars cannot be wrong).  Eventually Dracula transforms into his standard big purple armor plated self and starts layin’ the smack down on Blade.  Fortunately, by this time the night stalkers have invented a vampire virus which conveniently needs only be mixed with Dracula’s blood to be complete.  Naturally Blade stabs Dracula with the virus, killing him and all the other vampires.  If only Dracula had killed Blade earlier when he had the chance instead of running like a 12 year old.

Anyway, the plot left something to be desired, and the fight scenes took up a good chunk of the movie as expected.  The above numbers are approximations, but not exaggerations.  The biggest annoyance to me was the ipod product placement – it was marvelously contrived and stuck out like a sore thumb.  It would be fine if we just saw one in use, but to center a dialog around it?  WTF?  By the way, I would probably be more convinced to buy one if I just saw it than if my movie were interrupted by a discussion of it.  Oh yeah, later we go back and see her making a new play list including a lot of Jurassic 5.  This wasn’t s blatant and probably would have blended
fine if the previous ipod shenanigans hadn’t occured.

That’s my two cents on Blade Trinity.  Actually, it might be worth more like $7 and two hours of your if you read this and save money by deciding to do something other than going to see the movie.

So Much To Do So Little Time

Holy shit this semester is going to bite me in the ass.

Today I find out that I have an exam on Friday. Not only that, but it’s in one of the more difficult classes I’ve taken in my 5.5 years at MSU.

Same class, I have a project due the following Monday, and have to present it on the 10th (which is commencement for grad students). Yay, I’m going to sleep through my own graduation.

I don’t yet have a job, nor do I have a cover letter to use in applying for such a job.

I have been contacted by a recruiting service and there is a chance they have a job for me, but I’m too damned busy to deal with that.

Work is going to get nice and busy toward the end of the semester – bah.

Argh, too much to do and too little time to do it in… geschit.

Added:

Almost forgot, I have a pile of rebates from post Thanksgiving shopping that have to be sent out otherwise I’ll be out way more money than I really would care to be.

Darwinism

Hmmm… Part of me wants to write a long drawn out entry about life and shit like that. Another part of me, a much lazier part of me, wants to just make an entry for the sake of an entry.

Anyway, I need to get on with finding a job and such. And yes, that includes writing a cover letter and sending it to you. You know who you are, and I know you’ll read this.

In other news: I hit a deer just south-east of Caddilac on my way home for the weekend of opening day for deer season. Well, technically it hit me, as the impact was on my rear driver’s side door. Somehow it broke itself well enough to kill itself, so being a good redneck I put it in the back of the jeep and took it home. Not very big, but hey, I got a deer prior to even going out hunting. And yeah, the jeep got a dent in the door, but now the two sides match.

The Great Strawberry Pop-Tart Fire

by Dave Barry

The thing I like best about being a journalist, aside from being able to clip my toenails while working, is that sometimes, through hard work and perseverance and opening my mail, I come across a story that can really help you, the consumer, gain a better understanding of how you can be killed by breakfast snack food.

This is just such a time. I have received, from alert reader Richard Rilke, an alarming article from The New Philadelphia (Ohio) Times-Reporter headlined: “OVERHEATED POP-TARTS CAUSE DOVER HOUSE FIRE, OFFICIALS SAY.” The article states that fire officials investigating a house fire in Dover, Ohio, concluded that “when the toaster failed to eject the Pop-Tarts, they caught fire and set the kitchen ablaze.” According to the article, the investigators reached this conclusion after experimenting with Pop-Tarts and a toaster. They found that “strawberry Pop-Tarts, when left in a toaster that doesn’t pop up, will send flames ‘like a blowtorch’ up to three feet high.”

Like most Americans, I have long had a keen scientific interest in combustible breakfast foods, so I called up the Dover Fire Department and spoke to investigator Don Dunfee. He told me that he and some other investigators bought a used toaster, rigged it so it wouldn’t pop up, put in some Kellogg’s strawberry Pop-Tarts, then observed the results.

“At five minutes and 55 seconds,” he said, “we had flames shooting out the top. I mean LARGE flames. We also tried it with an off-brand tart. That one broke into flames in like three and a half minutes, but it wasn’t near as impressive as the Kellogg’s Pop-Tart.”

A quality you will find in top investigative journalists such as Woodward and Bernstein and myself is that before we publish a sensational story, we make every effort to verify the facts, unless this would be boring. So after speaking with Dunfee, I proceeded to my local K-Mart, where I consulted with an employee in the appliance sector.

ME: What kind of toaster do you recommend for outdoor use?  EMPLOYEE: A cheap toaster.

I got one for $8.96. I already had Kellogg’s strawberry Pop-Tarts at home, because these are one of the three major food groups that my son eats, the other two being (1) pizza and (2) pizza with pepperoni.

Having assembled the equipment, I was ready to conduct the experiment.

WARNING: DO NOT ATTEMPT THE FOLLOWING EXPERIMENT YOURSELF. THIS IS A DANGEROUS EXPERIMENT CONDUCTED BY A TRAINED HUMOR COLUMNIST UNDER CAREFULLY CONTROLLED CONDITIONS, NAMELY, HIS WIFE WAS NOT HOME.

I conducted the experiment on a Saturday night. Assisting me was my neighbor, Steele Reeder, who is a customs broker, which I believe is a mentally stressful occupation, because when I mentioned the experiment to Steele he became very excited, ran home, and came back wearing (this is true) a bright-yellow rubber rain suit, an enormous sun hat, and a rope around his waist holding a fire extinguisher on each hip, gunslinger-style. He also carried a first-aid kit containing, among other things, the largest tube of Preparation “H” I have ever seen. Also on hand was Steele’s wife, Bobette, who pointed out that we had become pathetic old people, inasmuch as our Saturday Night Action now consisted of hoping to see a toaster fire.  Using an extension cord, we set the toaster up a safe distance away from the house. I then inserted two Kellogg’s strawberry Pop-Tarts (“With Smucker’s Real Fruit”) and Steele, wearing thick gloves, held the toaster lever down so it couldn’t pop up. After about two minutes, the toaster started to make a desperate rattling sound, which is how toasters in the wild signal to the rest of the herd that they are in distress. A minute later, the Pop-Tarts started smoking, and at 5 minutes and 50 seconds, scary flames began shooting up 20 to 30 inches out of both toaster slots. It was a dramatic moment, very similar to the one that occurred in the New Mexico desert nearly 50 years ago, when the awestruck atomic scientists of the Manhattan Project witnessed the massive blast that erupted from their first crude experimental snack pastry.
We unplugged the extension cord, extinguished the blaze and determined that the toaster’s career as a professional small appliance was over. It was time to draw conclusions. The obvious one involves missile defense. As you are aware, President Clinton has decided to cut way back on “Star Wars” research, so that there will be more money available for pressing domestic needs such as creating jobs and keeping airport runways clear for urgent presidential grooming. But by using currently available electronic and baking technology, we could build giant toasters and place them around the U.S., then load them with enormous Pop-Tarts. When we detected incoming missiles, we’d simply hold the toaster levers down via some method (possibly involving Tom and Roseanne Arnold) and within a few minutes WHOOM the country would be surrounded by a protective wall of flames, and the missiles would either burn up or get knocked off course and detonate harmlessly in some place like New Jersey.

Anyway, that’s what I think we should do, and if you think the same thing, then you have inhaled WAY too many Smucker’s fumes.

(C) 1993 THE MIAMI HERALD
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.