SciBlogs

Archive October 2011

It’s a mirrorless world Brendan Moyle Oct 31

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Well, I've finally joined the world of mirror-less camera owners. These are a new development in digital photography. They began with the launch of the Panasonic G1, which was then followed by the Olympus PEN and the Sony Nex systems.

So, what makes them different? Well, unlike digital compact cameras, these mirror-less designs have inter-changeable lenses- and more importantly, a much bigger sensor. This means that each individual pixel on the sensor is much, much larger. This in turn, means the camera gets more information when light hits the sensor. It will have better detail, better colour fidelity and better dynamic range (ability to record bright and dark regions of the scene).

Unlike a digital SLR camera though, it has no mirror. This means that the mirror-less design is better suited for things like video applications. It also means the camera can be made much, much smaller. Without the need for a mirror inside the camera to flip up and down, the mirror-less design can be made much smaller. It doesn't need such physical volume.

So the mirror-less design is a camera that uses a sensor usually found in larger SLR cameras, with the added bonus of being ability to change lenses. The compact design makes it much easier for travel or casual use.

Nonetheless, the mirror-less design has a couple of weaknesses. The first is that it lacks an optical viewfinder. This isn't critical for many general uses. The second is that is uses a different focusing system (contrast detection) to lock on to subjects. This is a slower system than the phase-detection used in SLR photography. So for action photography it has less value.

The selling point for the serious photographer remains the compact size and large sensor. My motivation here was going to the Armageddon Comic/Gaming convention in Auckland this week. The press of the crowds meant I kept my SLR with 28-70/2.8 lens in its bag. There was simply no way to take discrete photos with this gear, and people were quite happy to bump into the camera gear as they wandered around. There are times when less-is-more, and this was one of them.

How to be a successful stalker Brendan Moyle Oct 28

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Disclaimer: the following is intended as black humour, not encouragement to be a stalker. If you have stalker tendencies you need help. Seriously. The voices aren’t your friend.

When we look at the careers of two recent prolific cyberstalkers (David Mabus and Dawn Gordon), we can see that they have managed to convert this skill into an occupation that goes on for years.  You may think being a cyberstalker is risky, but in actual fact it can be done with near impunity.

So, what exactly sort of qualifications do you need?

The traditional standby of having a mental illness still applies. If you’re going to spend hours per day on the internet, tracking and following your victims, then clearly, an attachment to the real world will be a hindrance.

The neat thing now, is that getting on the web is so much easier. In the early 1990s, the internet was the preserve of people who worked in academic and research institutions, supplemented by some relatively wealthy technology-enamored individuals. Now you can stroll into libraries or cafes or even use a cellphone.  You can be poor and crazy and cyberstalk. In fact, being poor is probably a consequence of being a mentally-ill cyberstalker in the first instance.

Now people might think that being a stalker is wrong, and that your victims have rights. You will be stopped. This is of course just a myth. Of course your victims don’t have rights. There are all kinds of institutions that will enable and support you in your stalking behaviour.  You have the right to make other people’s lives hell. Don’t worry, nobody is going to try to stop you. They’ll just make the issue the victim’s problem.

So for example, you can send hundreds of pages of emails a day to a victim. If your victim tries to complain, they’ll be told to block your email. Because as far everyone knows, people are only allowed one email account on the internet- ever- in their entire lives. IT security is based on the premise you can’t set up a new email account. Brilliant stuff huh? And you’re not at fault for sending the emails. It’s really your victims fault. If they didn’t want to be stalked, they should have blocked all your email accounts. Especially all the ones from the accounts they don’t know about.

If you don’t want to use email, there are other ways to get to your victims. You can use social media- facebook, twitter,  or the like. You can set up dedicated blogs with the sole purpose of harassing people. People will let you do this. So it must be all right.

If your victim complains, then hey, the service you’re using will probably back you. The victim will be given advice on how to block the blog. Of course, that doesn’t stop anyone else from reading your toxic diatribes.  See, a lot of people who monitor abuse think that stalking is done by sane people. People who have a mild infatuation. Something that will ebb after a month or two. So the victim has next to no chance to be taken seriously. You can keep doing this for years. The victim will just keep getting the same spiel- block-and-ignore, she’ll go away eventually. The fact that various institutions won’t ban you for stalking (even with anti-stalking policies), proves you’re not doing anything wrong.  This is what makes being a successful stalker so easy. Nobody believes the victim that you’re bat-shit-crazy. Do whatever the voices tell you to, it’s all fine. Nobody is going to stop you.

Or will they? David Mabus was eventually caught because he threatened a member of the Canadian law enforcement system.  So the trick here is not to threaten your victim. Let’s look at a sample of posts made to me:

’…get ready to have your life destroyed’

’…I am going to ruin your life.’

’…I am going to make your life hell

I will make sure you regret it to your living breathing days…You watch. You are going to be suffering by the end of this. Screaming to yourself

’by the time I am done with you..you will be a crying suffering fool

’I will fuck you like you have never been fucked in your life’

Can you tell, which of these are not threats?

The answer is of course, all of them are not threats. These are all acceptable ways to communicate with your victim. They’re absolutely fine, they’re all up there with ‘come around for tea and crumpets‘. It’s an easy mistake to make if you’re not reading the remarks in the proper way.

The neat thing too about your victim being told to ignore and block you as much as possible, means they won’t be collating incriminating evidence against you. This is just one more service offered by IT security on your behalf. Complaints against you will be hindered by this advice given to the victim.

And the neat thing too, is one of reasons no-one will stop you is because nobody takes your threats seriously. After-all, people who hear voices telling them to do things, are such model citizens. And crazy-people, it’s a well-known fact that unlike the rest of the world, crazy people aren’t aware of things like air-travel. So the victim has nothing to worry about. Whoever heard of a stalker traveling to meet a victim and killing them?*

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* Sarcasm alert if you didn’t pick it up the first time

Feeling better than I have in months Brendan Moyle Oct 10

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Nope, I haven't won lotto and nor have I managed to get into full time conservation work.

The good feeling comes from having completed my police complaint about my stalking problem. It has been accepted by the NZ Police (with sigh, about 12 appendices of substantiating evidence). The sense of relief that people were going to take this stuff seriously was liberating. This particular issue has been going on for nearly 15 months now. Escaping the continual stress of this and the constant scrutiny I've been under, feels… WONDERFUL!

We’re only human? Brendan Moyle Oct 05

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The recent paper on Australopithecus sediba once again, brought up the issue of our own evolution. The evidence we have now is extensive and consistent with Darwin's original hypotheses. These are that we have an African origin and that we are on the same evolutionary branch that led to chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans.

The main tweak has been that we now accept that chimps didn't branch off with gorillas. Rather chimps and humans stayed on the same branch until a split about 5-7m years ago. If we ever get over our need to feel special in the animal world, then we might accept that we're nothing more than a third chimp species (chimps and bonobos being the others).

So, what's some easy ways to tell that we are an ape species?

Well, first of all, look at your hands. Turn your fingers so that they're pointing towards you. You'll see that your fingers are actually a bit flattened, and you've got finger-nails. Now look at your thumb. You'll see it's opposable and that it's not elongated relative to the fingers. You won't find these characters on carnivores like cats or dogs. Nor on rodents like rats, nor lagomorphs like rabbits. These are traits that are limited to primates and apes.

Second, feel around your skull. Your eye sockets are large and forward looking. Then feel around to the bone that is just behind and to the side of your eyes. That's the post-orbital bone. You should be able to feel it arch a bit, but more importantly, it's closed. That's an ape trait.

Now try feeling the shape of your face. You'll notice that your snout- or rostrum- is pretty flat. That distinguishes monkeys from apes. That flat face puts you in the same family as gorillas, chimps and orangutans. If you feel behind your skull, you'll realise it's rounded and compared to monkeys, it's large. That rounded and enlarged brain-case again, makes you an ape.

If we move onto the finer detail of the skull, we have the jaw. Some primates have an unfused mid-line joint. If you've ever seen an x-ray or model of the human jaw, you'll notice the mid-line joint is completely fused. You can't see it. Guess what- that's the same as the gorilla, chimpanzee and orangutan. The frontal bones of your skull have the same thing. In some primate species these frontal bones preserve a joint. In ape species, these joints have fused completely. And the ape species that have this fusion are humans, chimps, gorillas and orangutans.

So, it's quite easy to see your ape ancestry just by looking at the skull and hands. These are all inheritable traits. It was these sorts of physical traits that led Darwin to deduce our ape-ancestry. What Darwin didn't have was the fossil, molecular and DNA evidence we've since accumulated. And that, will come next…





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