Archive | Technology

Until 2005 I was stuck with Windows, until I finally gave Apple a chance and never looked back since.

Fantastic service: Browser Shots

Now that I’ve finally updated my site to a new theme – more on that later – I had to check it with various browsers.

That’s when I realized that I had been using Browser Shots for way over ten years! It is such an awesome service. You submit your website URL, and they check it with up to 159 different setups. Insane! Of course, you can choose by operating system and / or browser. It is just so helpful when you need to do thorough checking.

Thanks for being around all this time, Browser Shots!

Here are some examples of the results.












645 PRO Image quality.

645 PRO Image quality.
645 PRO has been designed, from the ground up, for professional and serious amateur photographers. So it works the way a camera works, not some piece of computer software.
Every setting is managed directly from the camera—no layers of menus to negotiate. You have instant access to everything that can be controlled, from focus/exposure and white balance locking to a 645 PRO-exclusive choice between spot and multi-zone metering.
And you have all the information you need, all the time, including a real-time ISO and shutter-speed reading and even a live histogram!
645 PRO is the first and only iPhone camera app to give you lossless “developed RAW”—dRAW—TIFF files*, a workflow essential for many professionals. Its HI-quality JPEGs, too, are of a quality typically associated with higher-end digital cameras, with the option to save MAX-quality JPEGs with no visible compression artefacts at all.
The JPEGs are enhanced by 645 PRO’s seven gorgeous Film Modes, inspired by classic film stock as used by top photographers from the 1960s through to the present day. You’ll get photographs from your iPhone like you never imagined!
Get the app thru iTunes in the Apple app store, here.


Empire Avenue, a cool stock market simulation social network game.

Nowadays it’s rare that you miss out on something, thanks to the internet and its many sudden notification systems. The more stunned I was when I stumbled upon “Empire Avenue”, which is an awesome stock market simulation. The twist is, you are a stock, and so are you friends.

Wikipedia explains it better than I could: “Players have their own portfolio in a virtual economy. The price of a player’s share depends on the ticker’s stock buying and selling, along with social networking activity. Players can choose their own ticker symbol. The players can have multiple investors, which will garner them a higher share price, and they can invest in other players.
Players win Achievements for their actions, such as advertising and adding services such as Twitter. Players gain dividends from the other shares in players they invest in, which are counted as Credits. Social networks supported by Empire Avenue currently include Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Instagram, WordPress hosted blogs and the player’s own blog and RSS feeds.”

Those mentioned achievements are lots of fun, and keep the game interesting. After a while, you don’t need to check in so often anymore, your stock will just grow in the back. But it’s so much fun to see it grow, then to see it drop and to make it grow again by helping it back on its feet.

“Empire Avenue is designed to drive social media activity and social media interaction between the registered members. Players’ value increases, in part, as a result activity on social media sites and their own verified blogs and rss feeds. In addition, a player’s value increases through dividends paid-out by other members he or she has invested in.
Thus, the social media activity of a player’s investments also contributes to his or her game wealth. It is in players’ self-interest to follow, favorite, or otherwise contribute to the social media activity of those they invest in.”

“Much like other social media games, Empire Avenue uses a strictly virtual currency called Eaves as a means of purchasing shares in other players, additional rights within the exchange, advertising and services. Eaves can be purchased with real-world currency via PayPal, but cannot be exchanged for real-world currency.
The founder and CEO of Empire Avenue said there are plans to introduce features that will allow players to exchange Eaves for real-world rewards.”

Here’s my ticker:

You can buy my stock at – I’ll make sure to buy you back in return.


HDR 2009 Tutorial: Make a nice HDR image in 10 minutes or less.

HDR Tutorial 2009

There are great HDR tutorials on the internet, but many or most of them require you to invest an hour or even more into the editing of a single image. The problem is, I don’t have that kind of time! HDR is an hobby, and sometimes I’ve got really little time for it. But I love HDR pictures. So over the last three years, I’ve learned to make HDR’s faster and faster. My HDR’s are by far not the best in the world, but some of my Shanghai Skyscraper HDR’s made it into the New York Skyscraper Museum among other things. So I guess they aren’t the worst either. This tutorial will teach you how to create a HDR image in about 10 minutes that will look great.

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Getting disconnected…

Sweet Jesus! I need to clean my keyboard

Since a certain government decided that websites such as Facebook or Twitter could harm the harmony, they were unavailable here in Shanghai. When that happened in 2005, I actually asked my wife to call the internet company and to tell them that I am a foreigner, hoping that they’d ‘unblock’ my line completely. Well, that didn’t happen. And they tell you always the same thing, anyway: The website is offline. Facebook is offline for weeks now? Yeah, sure.

So, to access the websites – that’s one of the ways I’m staying in touch with friends and family – I used to use a certain software which would open me a gateway to the country of the free, from where on I could access anything: Facebook, Twitter, YouPorn YouTube.

But yesterday, something weird happened. After the little icon turned green and I surfed around for about three minutes, my internet got disconnected. It simply stopped delivering data, the modem said it is connected. After an hour, the connection was back. I thought it was an error in the line, probably someone somewhere was fixing a cable or something.

Wrong. It happened again, as soon as I turned on the proxy software. Damn. 60 minutes later the censored web worked again.

I used my iPod touch to connect by some random neighbors open WiFi signal – worked for a couple of minutes, then he went DOWN! Jesus. It just happened again today. I was out most time, but just now I was off for 60 minutes again after turning the shield on. Damn it!

I mean, that’s just great. Now I’m really disconnected. Thank you, dear Hu. It’s more and more enjoyable here.

Better City, Better Life. Definitely.


Olympia: Opening Ceremony images faked?!

Wow, this is pretty interesting.

Jetzt fand die Zeitung “Beijing Shibao” doch noch das Haar in der Suppe: Das Feuerwerk, diese Kunstform mit so großer Tradition in China, war gefälscht. Zumindest ein Teil davon. Ein Angestellter der Video-Produktionsfirma “Shui Jing Shi” gab gegenüber dem Blatt zu, dass man einen Teil der spektakulären Feuerwerke zuvor aufgezeichnet und in die weltweiten Live-Übertragungen eingespielt habe. Es handelt sich dabei um die Bilder von den “Fußabdrücken” im Himmel über der Stadt, die sich vom Stadtteil Yongdingmen südlich des Stadtzentrums auf das Stadion im Norden “zubewegten”. Mehr als ein Jahr lang seien diese Sequenzen mit Computeranimation vorbereitet worden. Nur die Übertragung des letzten der 29 Fußstapfen sei live gewesen, wie der Video-Mitarbeiter Gao Xiaolong der Zeitung berichtete. Die Zahl 29 stand dabei für die Tatsache, dass die Olympischen Spiele der Neuzeit zum 29. Mal stattfinden.

That’s a quote from the magazine “Spiegel” in Germany.


The chinese newspaper “Beijing Shibao” found out, that part of the TV images from the opening ceremony were fake: The part, where footsteps in form of fireworks walk towards the stadium have been animated at least a year in advance, the magazine was told by an employee named Gao Xiaolong from the video production company “Shui Jing Shi”. Only the last footsteps were real. As to why they did this, Gao stated, that it would have been too difficult to shoot this live. He said, if you look closely, you can see that the video beginning was brighter then the live ending.

Whatever. I liked the show, anyway.

The magazine also points out that Xinhua released an statement that 40 billion people watched the opening ceremony on TV, which is quite a number, given the fact that there are currently 6.7 billion people on earth totally.

And NBC has to deal with anger from the american citizens: They edited the entrance of the american sport stars towards the end so that the people would watch their station longer. Haha.

We got some tickets for a soccer game in Shanghai on Wednesday. That’ll be my little Olympia experience.


Grand Theft Auto IV sucks.

Yesterday night, I finally managed to finish the last mission. I’m now 70-something percent through the game, only having side missions and other stuff left. But I’m not gonna play that anymore. I am so damn bored from the game!

I’ve played GTA. GTA II. GTA III. Vice City. San Andreas. I enjoyed them all, except San Andreas, and after reading some reviews of GTA 4 it became clear that I would love it. And I did, for the first three days or so. I really enjoyed driving around Liberty City in 1080P Full HD listening to cool radio stations in Dolby Digital with awesome music and all.

Don’t get me wrong, visually the game is absolutely gorgeous, the best there is at the moment probably, the radio stations are great as always… There’s only one problem, and that’s a big one: The missions are so boring. So unbelievable boring.

They keep repeating themselves too much. GTA 3 and Vice City had missions that rocked so hard, they were always different and tough but yet manageable. GTA 4 has some cool missions, the bank robbery for example, or the last one. But 95% of the missions are in the end like this: You drive 5 minutes to the contact mission point. Then you drive 5 minutes to point A to pick something up. Then you drive 5 more minutes to bring it to point B. Then you drive 5 minutes back to the contact mission point for the next mission. And so on.

C’mon! One helicopter mission with shooting? And I don’t even shoot myself? Where are the tanks, the military? Why is there no mission to blow up a landing or starting airplane? Why do I only fly that idiot Brucie around all the time? Why are there 50 car pick-up missions that take hours to complete and that are not different at all?

Do young people nowadays enjoy simply driving through huge digital cities all the time?

And the police is a goddamn joke in this part. One star is like no star. Two stars are easy to get rid off, too. Three stars? Just drive fast on a long street. Four or five stars? Get to a paint shop. Boring! Too easy!

And then there’s some five missions that are so unbelievable difficult that you wonder who the hell made them and why he didn’t invent all of them. The best mission anyway, in any GTA game, was the golf club mission in GTA 3. That mission was difficult, funny, challenging, rememberable, it could be solved in different ways… Now that was a mission that you’ll never forget. I’ll remember GTA 4 as the game where I had to drive around 95% of the playing time. And that’s just sad, isn’t it?

You failed to impress me, Rockstar. Sorry. It’s great to see that you’re using all the technology to create these wonderful, colorful, vivd worlds for players – but next time, increase the budget for those who develop missions. Then it’ll be truly great.

Digg this review.


Cranes In The Sky.

Is this not the most insane building in the world?

You can buy a print of this image at imagekind.

digg this pic.

About the building:
The project was started in september 2004 following a review of the design by a panel of Chinese experts. The construction is scheduled to be completed in time to broadcast the Beijing Olympics in 2008. The development is being undertaken by the Chinese Government as part of a plan to redevelop central Beijing with innovative and functional architecture, while preserving historic buildings at the same time. The new building will involve two ‘L’ shaped high-rise towers linked at the top and the bottom at an angle to form a loop, which has been described as a ‘Z’ criss-cross. The total construction cost is estimated at €600 million ($750 million). The CCTV tower will employ 10,000 people following completion in 2008. But the construction was daleyted because of the opposition against this buildings cost, so the developers say the building will probably not be completed before 2009. (Source: SkyscraperCity)

About the image:
This high definition range image was created with three RAW files. I’ve created four different HDR versions and edited the best out of each version on top of the other. Took me over two hours to finish this beast in Photoshop.

Taken in Beijing, China.

– Jakob

Cranes In The Sky., originally uploaded by Montrasio International.