Archive for March, 2012

Loosing the good looks of your Harley

Posted in Harley-Davidson on March 22, 2012 by bleiglass

We all want our Harley-Davidson to look best, and use the web to distribute pictures taken with our digital camera.

But suddenly, the initially bright and sharp picture turns blurry and pixelated. How come? Well, you need to know and respect that jpeg, the format most often used in digital cameras, is a lossy format. This means that each time you resample and save your picture, the file size gets further compressed, and the quality suffers.

Take a look at these 3 “generations” of the same original:

1: first generation, resized and cropped from original (filesize: 61kb)

4th generation: saving the picture without changes (filesize: 20kb)

8th generation: further resampling (filesize: 15kb)

One can clearly see how the versions deteriorate, helmet and fuel tank are not shiny anymore, details start to look pixelated. This is due to repeated compression of the file while saving as jpeg over and over again in a photo editing software.

If you simply save a copy from a USB stick, you do not resample, the file size does not change, but as soon as you open the picture in a editor, and resave, resampling takes place, and the file size reduces, with it the picture quality.

You may want to use different crops or aspect ratios of a picture, creating different versions, or adding text, that is fine, but remember: always try to use the original jpeg to start a new version, a new generation 1. Then you will have a chance to achieve the highest quality in a lossy environment. Never open and edit a lower generation, as brilliance and sharpness will quickly fade away. And re-save jpegs in high quality settings, the file size may increase, but you keep the quality high.

You may see that sometimes the picture quality deteriorates in Facebook, or your blog. The reason for this is that the hosting software resamples your picture in the background, it tries to reduce its size to save storage and speed up future downloads. The Facebook profile pics are sometimes strongly affected, and there is little you can do, except providing the highest quality initially. So always upload a optimised generation 1 picture, as the original is too large in size, un-cropped and often not properly aligned. But that is another subject.

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What in the word “buslane” do cyclists not understand?

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2012 by bleiglass
When you are invited to a party, do you ask the host not to invite certain guests? If a guest I invite would suggest such exclusions to me, I would show him the door and remove him from my Xmas card list.
 
Cyclists seem to have trouble to understand certain concepts of modern road traffic. Red lights for example. They think they are not for stopping. I do not like all red lights, some make sense to jump, but trust me, some red lights make real sense. Even more dangerous is that some cyclists do not understand the meaning of a blinking amber left indicator light, and are taken by complete surprise if the vehicle showing this brightly blinking light actually turns left.
 
Unfortunately these misconceptions sometimes end tragically.
In a latest twist of clear misunderstanding, cyclists seem to consider the buslane their own and even want to regulate its use. What in the word “buslane” do cyclists not understand? The three letters “BUS” stand for these big, often red and large vehicles, that transport many people of the public at the same time. And these buses own the buslane, that’s why its named after them – BUSLANE. Its not a taxi lane, nor a motorcycle lane, and surely not a bicycle lane, as they have their own. Sometimes part of the bus lane is now painted in blue, nice artistic touch, but not more then a really slippery guideline. Its a bit like being invited to a party and wear too much cheap perfume.
So please lets agree on a simple truth: we are all guests to the party in the buslane, invited by the bus drivers. Recently, the busdrivers extended the invitation to motorcycles, and this makes a lot of sense. Motorcycles do not disturb bus traffic, they do not slow down buses, and motorcylces do not force the bus to leave his lane as bicycles do. In fact, bicycle traffic in the buslane is the primary factor for congestion and bus delays. And motorcycles are very happy to be invited y the bus drivers, as it gives the space to breeze, space away from stationary cars, motorcyclist now have a greater chance to survive. But sometime I wonder why the buslane is not opend for pedestrians, not much would change, except maybe the cyclists would now also start complaining down the vulnerability food chain, and not just up. What do I mean by vulnerability food chain? Its pedestrian > bicycle > motorcyle > car > bus > lorry > army tank, in order of vulnerability.
 
But enough ranting, lets try to be friends!
 
Why cant we all share the roads. Yes, there are mad motorcycle riders, as there are mad bicycle riders, but they are not the majority, they are the bad exceptions, on both sides. Motorcycles are not the real threat to cyclists, they may be noise and smelly, but in a inner city accident between a cycle and motorcycle, the physical damage will be pretty much equal. So we could easily coexists if we start to respect the other a bit more and understand his strengths and weaknesses.
We can even join forces and help each other. When I ride my my motorcycle in London, I feel like I protect the cyclist, as I introduce faster moving traffic into the buslane, discouraging car drivers to move into it. I position myself between cyclists and cars, being a bit more noisy and faster I have a fighting chance against a car, something a cyclist does not have. I fully respect the priority cyclists have in the bicycle lane, I never push or harass them, but if this narrow piece of real estate is clearly empty, I move into it. And again, I think this helps to protect the cyclist, as car and lorry drivers realise that the cycle lane is a busy lane, even without cyclists, and they better stay out of it.
 
In return, I would wish that cyclists understand motorcycles better. First, it is technically difficult for many of us to drive for longer period at walking speed. And the same way we do not block the bicycle lane for cyclists, I would hope that cyclists do not block the full buslane width for us. It would be a start if the cyclists would see the motorcycle dude as his stronger brother, and I am sure he will see the protection that can be provided by sharing the same lanes. And I promise: we may come close, but never touch.