This is a Public Service Announcement: Do not see Ghost Rider.

It is a lukewarm piece of Hollywood comic murder scat. It is the final stage of Marvel’s unraveling as a hot intellectual property holder. The Spider-man movies remain as the only good thing left with the Marvel name attached to it. They are the only ones with a good, proven director still behind them, and everything else now is being produced by hacks like Mark Steven Johnson and Brett Ratner.

No, in fact, go see it. Because I can’t prove to you here spoiler-free how bad a movie Ghost Rider is. It is made doubly bad by the presence of Nicolas “No Typo” Cage. How low can a former A-list star go!? Snake Eyes? Con Air? The Wicker Man – Reloaded? Inaccurate Ghost Rider comic translation with ridiculous sappy mid-Western romance story thrown in? Bingo! The shame and embarrassment of his overstated performance will only be matched by your own as you walk out, 2 hours closer to your death with nothing to show for it.

Fluid Logo Theory

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Fluid Logo Theory (20070216), originally uploaded by sangsara.

One of the best feelings I know is going into old notebooks and harddrives, and finding things I don’t remember doing. In this case here, I was bored and started a chain of websites that I’m sure nobody visited (and that I never finished). There was some kind of weird philosophy behind it all, but I don’t recall exactly, and I’m not sure whether I was consciously trying to be ridiculous, or if I just was.

Right now I’m simply amazed that I once had the time to write so much nonsense on a page that was never uploaded. The working life is hard, and my blog/s are dying slow deaths of being updated only when my memory reflects upon its own fragility – like turning on a digital camera and seeing something briefly on it’s screen before the battery dies. “Oh yes, I took some photos once. Maybe I should upload them. Where’s that cable gone to?”

And I’ve forgotten how I made those damned circles, which I’d really like to know at this point!

Holy Grail of Photo Fixes

Wow, my bad. In the last post I said that it was highly unlikely the Olympus Stylus 1000 could meet its claims of fixing motion blur after the fact, with a software process. It seems such things might be possible (although not with the Olympus). This program, Focus Magic, claims to be able to undo motion blurring and also offers an alternative method of sharpening photos. I’m about to try it out.

UPDATE: It sucks, and is very slow with its unspectacular processing. There is, of course, the chance that I wasn’t meticulous enough with my noodling on a sample photo. But anyone who doubts my Final Word of Damnation is free to knock themselves out.

Olympus Stylus 1000 review

This camera is a bit of a disappointment. I’ve owned 2 other Olympus point-and-shoots (film), and they were fantastic. Olympus pretty much led the way for compact camera technology and adoption, and it’s a bit sad really to see them in the state they are today, playing the megapixel game with loser companies like CASIO and producing sub-par products.

The Stylus 1000 is their top-of-the-line digital P&S. 10 megapixel images, 3x digital zoom, and ISO sensitivity up to 6400 (ISO1600 for full-sized 10mp shots). The Stylus 750 might actually be a better buy, as it features mechanical Image Stabilization. The 1000 model pictured above relies solely on high ISO sensitivity to eliminate blur.

Does it work? Sure, if you like blur-free photos splotched with green and red color noise. Even worse, photos taken at ISO3200-6400 are limited to 2000 pixels across. That’s significantly less resolution, and suddenly you’re doing digital photography from the nineties. Dude.

The new Styluses/Stylii also feature in-camera photo editing, called Perfect Fix. The audacity! If I weren’t so good at deduction, I’d look at their shitty results and conclude the Olympus engineers were all heroin addicts. Perfect Fix is made up of 3 functions that can be applied to your photos. Sometimes only one or two are available. No reasons are given, other than the fact that never knowing when you won’t be allowed to Perfect Fix your photos keeps you trying harder.

1) D.I.S. – Digital Image Stabilization. This claims to reverse the blurring caused by camera shake at the moment of capture. It may also alleviate subject blurring. Wow. This is the holy grail of photo editing, folks. Time for some bad news: if details aren’t present because of blurring, there’s no way in hell software can reconstruct what should be there. And as expected, when you run this function, all the camera does is apply a sharpening effect. Wowwee. It’s like doing it yourself in Picasa/iPhoto/Photoshop, only worse. It increases noticeable noise and oversaturates colors.

2) Lighting Fix. This brightens dark areas of photographs. Sort of compresses shadow/highlight dynamic range, but not very well. Again, increases noise and can’t beat a simple levels adjustment in Photoshop.

3) Red-eye Fix. I haven’t been able to test this because the flash doesn’t seem to be strong enough to cause red-eye.

So the final word for tonight is that this camera is just barely a decent purchase, and only if you’re planning to take throwaway candid shots in good light. The sensor doesn’t seem up to the task of capturing 10mp pictures, and shots are plagued by noise and a lack of sharp detail. Auto White Balance performance is also unremarkable and cannot handle tungsten. You have to manually select a preset. It scores marks for being splash/rain-proof and having an attractive metal body. I would take it around with me for fun, but not for work, or on holiday.

In my opinion, there is still not a digital compact camera that can rival the Fujifilm ‘F’ series. I use an F30 and the results it delivers under all lighting conditions are solid, and most importantly, natural. It combines high ISO sensitivity with very good noise-suppression routines (good enough to rival Noise Ninja) that run automatically after each capture, without the added hassle and time wasting of Perfect Fix. Canon’s IXUS range comes in a close second for having mechanical Image Stabilization, which the Fuji cameras lack but rarely need.