Category Archives: geek

Webcams As Cameras, Webcams As Mirrors

So, do the majority of webcams display an image of you as if you are having your picture taken, or do they show you as if you are looking in the mirror?

I have seen people use webcam pics on their websites, as their avatar, etc. Often times when there’s writing in the picture, it’s horizontally flipped. This ANNOYS me.

Despite my annoyance, I’m genuinely unqualified to make a judgment regarding what looks “right” and “wrong”. What’s more natural? To see one’s self as a camera does, or as in a mirror?

Let’s throw out the obvious flipped nature of mirrored text. What is more natural to you? If you spend a fair amount of time talking to others via your webcam, wouldn’t the webcam-as-camera be more natural to them? Do they care either way?

Is a mirrored webcam a tool of the ego? Am I crazy?

This beat-up old Dell laptop I am using has a checkbox by which you can choose to flip the webcam image horizontally. I think it defaults to *not* flipping the image, but I’m not entirely sure. That’s what it was when I first went into its settings.

I have no doubt that most webcams give you control over the mirror/camera nature of the picture.

From what I have seen, Mac laptops display a mirror image by default. Are Mac users more narcissitic? OF COURSE. THEY ARE MAC USERS.

Splotchy learns something in the midst of making this post

I was looking at myself in the webcam and moving around a bit. The webcam was set as a camera, not a mirror. When I went left, my image went right. I went right, my image went left. It was disconcerting! Okay, I can see why people might want to have the webcam be a mirror image. When they are obsessively looking into their own eyes, preening, making kissy-faces, it can be helpful to see the image move the same direction.

Now what you’ve been waiting for, but didn’t know it – a terrible camera filter

I have played around with the preset webcam filters on a Mac laptop. It has some nice effects (stretchy stuff, sepia, comic book, etc.).

When I was playing around with the webcam for this post, I noticed this Dell laptop *also* has some “nice” effects. I would be remiss if I didn’t at least give you one sample. It’s called “ArtyFarty” under the “Fashionista” category. YES, REALLY.

Note, the playing card isn’t part of the filter — that’s me. The sneer is all me. But the beret, luxurious hair and sexy glasses? Filter. ALL filter.

Happy birthday, Internet!

41,132 Rickrolls And Counting

You know about Rickrolling, right? (e.g. Here, this is my theory on quantum physics)


On the Twitter I use a URL-shortening service called It takes long URLs and scrunches them. There are other websites like Tinyurl and the even slightly shorter, but I like using for some reason. (and the other URL-shortening websites, I presume) use some sort of algorithm to reduce URLs to their small form. It really has nothing to do with *who* is requesting the shortened URL — the smaller URL will be the same.

One thing neat about is it will show you how many clicks have gone through one of their shortened URLs.

Out of curiousity, I picked the most-viewed video of Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” (over 18M views thus far) and’ed it.

I personally want to thank and the other URL-shortening services for making Rickrolling possible.

A Change To How Blogger Parses Comments

You may or may not know this, but you can do limited HTML markup in comments on blogs that run on the Blogger software (* websites).

I will occasionally use tags (you can use lower-case or upper-case i’s, it doesn’t matter) to italicize text in a comment. I like to do this to another person’s text that I am responding to, so it’s clear the text wasn’t written by me.

What I type:
Hey, how’s it going, Splotchy?

Fine, thanks for asking!

The text above gets displayed in the comment as:
Hey, how’s it going, Splotchy?

Fine, thanks for asking!

Well, I noticed when I tried to italicize some text in a comment earlier this week that things are a little different. When I previewed the comment it looked fine, but when I actually published the thing there were no line breaks.

Instead, the comment appeared like this:
Hey, how’s it going, Splotchy?Fine, thanks for asking!

Icky, eh?

Previously, Blogger was converting my line breaks into HTML line breaks, which are represented by the
tag. Now, it appears that they have modified their software. If Blogger now sees an HTML tag included in a comment, it no longer converts line breaks to the
tags recognized by browsers.

A little sidenote for those who want to know. A line break in an HTML source file does not equal a line break in a browser. Blogger does the heavy lifting of converting the line breaks that you make in your blog posts to HTML line breaks (
— case doesn’t matter here — it could just as well be

So, you have the option of giving up your use of italics in comments, or you can be a little amateur HTML coder and add a
to force a line break yourself.

Here’s an example how to do it:
What I type:
Hey, how’s it going, Splotchy?

Fine, thanks for asking!

Which will display in a comment as:
Hey, how’s it going, Splotchy?

Fine, thanks for asking!

Anyways, I’m a geek. Happy commenting! Feel free to give this a try on this post, you nice people, you.

Try it with and without the
tags if’n you don’t believe me.

Google Begins Blurring Faces In Street View

Via Slashdot:

Google has begun blurring faces in its Street View service, which has spawned privacy concerns since its introduction last year. Google has been working for a couple of years to advance the state of the art of face recognition. Quoting ‘The technology uses a computer algorithm to scour Google’s image database for faces, then blurs them, said John Hanke, director of Google Earth and Google Maps, in an interview at the Where 2.0 conference…’ Google wrote about the program in their Lat/Long blog.

Of course, geek that I am, I immediately thought about advertising billboards with people’s faces on them. I look forward to many blurred ads in our Google Street View future.

We Have Been Street Viewed!

The other day I popped my home address into Google Maps search and was surprised to find my street and home visible on Google Maps Street View.

Here’s one of the cars Google employs to take its pictures of streets like mine (and possibly yours). There is a multiple-camera doohickey on the top of the car that enables the capturing of 360 degree composite images.

Here’s a zoomed-in picture of my living room window. A little invasive, no? Is that someone lurking among the curtains?

Rotating the view around, I can see that the Google Street View car must have been by our house in late summer/early fall, as the leaves are changing on the maple across the street from us.

There’s helpful pointers on the web instructing one how to use Street View, but I’d figure I’d include my own sample Street View, for the lovely Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs.

Search for Wrigley Field!

Found it! Now click the Street view link!

Look at that throng of people! Perhaps a Cubs game was in progress, or had just let out? (click on pic for a much larger image)

Rotating the view, we see a shocking scene. Either one of the Street View Car’s cameras malfunctioned, or there was a disruption in the space-time continuum at the Wrigleyville Taco Bell! (click for bigger)

I’ll be attending a Cubs game tomorrow night, so I will inform you of what I find, assuming I don’t get sucked into a black hole.

If any Cubs fans want to take a stab at what game is happening in the Google Street Views, please feel free to do so.

I did see a helpful message on the Cubby Bear’s ticker sign (click for bigger):
The sign is congratulating swimmer Christina Loukas on winning a silver medal.

Help, My Font Is Too Big

My choice for a RSS feed reader, the Google Reader app, with really, really big letters.

I did the font-enlargening on purpose. Please don’t worry.

You can click on each Reader image to see the font rendered in its proper behemoth size — each image represents a maximized browser window on a 1280 x 960 monitor.