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Posted 2015.12.24 16.14 in Cats, Family/Friends

What do you get a cat who doesn’t really enjoy much more than eating and sleeping?

A cat toy filled with herbal sleep aid, of course!

Wait, what?

Misha is one of those cats who likes Valerian Root more than catnip. A LOT more than catnip, in fact.

You don’t often (ever) find valerian cat toys though, so I made it myself!

MM is her initials - Misha Musashi

I hope she digs the DIY flair.

Cats & Their Toy Mice

Posted 2012.08.18 10.19 in Cats

I think it’s kind of cute that the cats tend to keep their toys all together. I’m sure it’s just coincidence or whatever, but they play with the toy mice then when they’re done playing, the toy mice all end up in a little group.

Except there was something… unusual about the collection of toy mice, this morning.

Maybe don’t read on, if you’re easily squicked out.

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A Multilens Camera

Posted 2011.09.04 9.10 in Hobbies, Photography

Going in a completely different direction from my usual photographic interests, I recently picked up a totally plastic novelty toy camera – a multilens Actionsampler.

These cameras have four lenses in a two-by-two layout, which result in four 1/4-sized images on a single 35mm negative. The four mini-frames are taken sequentially (rather than simultaneously) so that the four mini-images are each a fraction-of-a-second apart. Thus, it lets you ‘sample’ some ‘action’.

Lomography Actionsampler

The camera has no focusing or exposure controls. The lenses have a 26mm focal length and the shutter speed seems to be about 1/100th. Focus is fixed, 1.2m to infinity.┬áThe aperture is unknown, but small – probably around f/11. They have some suggestions to vary the film speed based on the weather (sunny, cloudy, et cetera) but I’d ignore that and go with ISO 400 at the slowest. In fact I used ISO 800 and that was acceptable from bright daylight to dusk. Indoors it was inadequate – this is an outdoor daytime camera only.

The interval between pictures is listed as 0.22 seconds, so all four frames are taken in just under 3/4 seconds. With a 1/100 shutter speed, fast action will show some motion blur. Slow action may not show enough difference between the four frames, so there’s a trade-off to be had – either the four images will appear nearly identical, or you’re likely to see some bluring.

The camera does not take any batteries, winding and rewinding is simple and manual, and the shutter release is also a simple plastic button. There is no viewfinder as such – you frame your shots via a simple fold-up plastic frame. Or you just ‘shoot from the hip’ and hope for the best.

The camera is very light – 100 grams. It seems a little bulky and blocky, and feels like they could have made it smaller if they wanted. The size and light weight make it feel very, very cheap and toy-like. The biggest complaint I have though is actually the noise – when you trip the shutter, it makes a noise that is a bit unpleasant and quite noticable. Sort of a brief plastic grinding sound. I suspect it is a clockwork that causes the 0.22 second delay between each of the four shutters.

The Actionsampler’s four images start at the upper-left and end at the upper-right, moving anti-clockwise. With some practice one can figure out what kinds of motion / movement are most appropriate for this camera, and then I’m sure it would really shine. It does seem to love people, and although the focus is set for 1.2m to infinity, it’s mini-image format will make it happiest with people 1.2m to 5m. Not a great camera for landscapes or architectural shots, I think.

Overall, it’s not a good camera by any means. It’s a toy, and a novelty. So why’d I buy it? I was curious and I wanted to play!

Best Toy Ever

Posted 2010.11.24 23.50 in Hobbies, Uncategorized

So I was thinking about trying some electronics, to see if I could revive any interest or ability there. I got a couple kits, one easy and one hard, but some stuff was missing so I went down to the electronics supply place to get some parts. Big disappointment, most of their retail operation is now discount / surplus junk, with electronics being relegated to a tiny little cramped and mostly out-of-stock corner.

So as I was on my way out, having found almost nothing I was looking for, I saw they had some toy remote-control helicopters on final-sale discount. I figured, meh. It might be fun for a few minutes. I’m so bad with R/C cars that I’d never be able to get insurance, but maybe it’d be amusing to crash a helicopter into things for a while. And it was either that or my big bag of disappointment, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Well! Forget about the electronics kits – this little whirly-bird is supercool!

It’s super easy to fly! It only took me 3 or 4 big wipe-outs before I was able to do complete flights, like from take-off to landing. It flies with two counter-rotating main rotors, steers by varying the speed of one of the mains, and goes foreward / reverse by tilting the nose down or back, using a small rotor on the tail boom.

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I Gotta Dingoo

Posted 2010.04.14 7.34 in Computers/Internet/Technology

I got me a Dingoo. It’s suposedly an open-source generic handheld gaming computer. Designed and made in the People’s Republic.

I managed to brick it in about an hour.

I’ll try and unbrick it today. Then maybe I can have some fun with it.

Winter Olympics

Posted 2010.02.17 17.35 in Sports

I’m not much into the winter olympics. Don’t have too much to say about it. Not terribly interested in it.┬áSure it’s nice to see Canada win a few medals, but I’m not sitting there watching it on tv or anything.

The only winter olympic sport that I was ever marginally interested in was the biathalon. It just seemed like a good combination – the boredom and drudgery of cross-country skiing, punctuated now and then with gunfire. Back when my folks had one of those ‘nordic track’ exercise thingies in the basement, I bought an air rifle and that made the make-believe basement skiing much more fun. Every 10 or 15 minutes you stop with the skiing and plink some targets.

Anyhow, I did end up watching a few minutes of something. What struck me most, was that the starting pistol seems to be some kind of orange plastic electronic doodad. It had like a xenon bulb at the tip that went ‘flash’ when the guy pushed the button, and the loudspeakers made a ‘bang’ sound. And that’s when I sort of thought, WTF?

I mean, is this just a Canadian thing because we’re so afraid of guns? Or is this actually a common olympic / sporting thing now? Where they use toy plastic electronic guns that make a ‘bang’ noise and go ‘flash’?

If they still do the biathalon, are they allowed to use real guns in that? I mean, I think it was 8 or 12 years ago when I last paid attention and they were using these funky super-expensive .22 rifles that were more or less specifically designed for olympics… but who knows now? Maybe they use laser-tag guns and blinky target lights that go ‘beep’.

I’m pretty sure the biathalon was based on the concept of having to hunt for your dinner in a snowy environment. All this technology and safety and stuff waters things down, IMHO. I’d rather see them just grab whatever the heck they were comfortable with or was the most fun. Like an actual hunting rifle? .303 or a .30-06 or something. Ski for a few minutes, then BLAMO! they obliterate some target 300 yards away.

I saw the news about the tragedy on the luge track last week. That was sad. They said that the Vancouver luge track was the fastest and most dangerous in the world. After the olympics are over, do they have a ‘special winter olympics’ like they do for the summer ones? Do they have all the same events? Will they be sending special olympians down the same luge track?

Anyhow, the winter olympics really just boils down to two things… first, there’s only a month or so till the next F1 season starts. And second, there’s only a few months till the World Cup. Not that I’m much of a football fan, as in, not at all, but I like the way the World Cup brings lots of nations together to kick a ball around. And I like hearing phrases like “injury time” and “time added on”. Canada typically sucks at it, so I root for England instead.

That’s about all I have on my mind for olympics. Cheers!


Posted 2006.09.01 0.00 in Lasers

I haven’t seen one of these things in person yet, but the pictures seem kind of neat. I understand there’s a very low-power (1mW) laser diode inside. Wonder what it’d be like if that was replaced with something a little brighter, say 10mW or so?

Not that I’m in a position to find out any time soon, have emptied the purse so-to-speak on real lasers, so I don’t need to mess around with the toys any more.

Still, it seems kind of neat.