Useful Consumer Review

The backlight to the monitor in the hallway half died, and the monitor was more than ten years old, so getting a replacement seemed more prudent than trying to get it fixed.

I wanted a kinda small monitor for the table. The main use cases is me scanning record sleeves and paying bills (because this is the only computer I have with a numeric keyboard), so it’s not like a need a huge one. The rest of the time it’s showing the cover of whatever album I’m playing in the stereo…

But then I happened on to the Eizo EV2730Q monitor: It’s square! I mean, as in having a 1:1 width/height factor! 1920×1920! How cromulent! Album covers are square, too, so that’d perhaps look totally cool in the hallway?


It is, indeed, square. It kinda visually looks like it’s taller than it’s wide, but I’ve measured it, and it’s not.

So what’s it like?

Well, it’s… a monitor.

I was briefly excited when I learned that it had a USB hub built-in, because I thought I could use it to charge gadgets and get rid of an external USB hub, but it’s a fucking non-powered hub. How lame is that? If I connect my keyboard and something power-draining to the hub at the same time, my keyboard goes AWOL. So its utility is severely limited, and since I have to have an external powered hub, anyway, there’s no point in using it at all.

They could have spent a couple of dollars more and made it powered, but they didn’t, the cheapskates.

I was also briefly excited when I read the manual and saw that it had speakers built-in. Not that I’d use those to play music or anything, but it’s occasionally useful if I were to check something out on Youtube. The monitor has a 3.5mm jack input, but I thought that surely it would also have audio input over either DisplayPort or over the USB input, but nope. It doesn’t have any other audio input than that 3.5mm jack. At least no audio device pops up in Linux when I plug in the DisplayPort cable, but surely this is the Year of Linux on the Desktop, so it has to be the monitor’s fault.

I don’t want to pull another cable from the closet where the computer is over to the monitor, so I guess I won’t be using that speaker, either.

So after those brief oh-so-exciting periods were over… what’s the picture quality like?

It’s fine, but the black levels aren’t very black. I’m spoiled by having an OLED TV, where black is black, but it’s a disappointment that you can’t get things blacker than you see in the picture there. I even went into all the menus to tweak, and you can make the black levels even more grey, but you can’t make it go darker.

So I guess it’s fine? But there’s nothing exciting about it.

Except the form factor, which is pretty neat. It’s hip to be square again.

Cropping Images in Emacs

I woke up in the middle of the night and started thinking about cropping images in Emacs, as one does. I started wondering how Emacs processed mouse events, and that turns out to be very easy: You just use `read-event’ inside a `track-mouse’ form, and you get all the events and coordinates, offset from the window or the image under point, which is just perfect for my use case here.


So after work today, I started typing, and there it is.

Now, cropping an image in Emacs is one thing, but the other is… what do you do with the result? I mean, just displaying the cropped image is nice, but pretty useless. I mean, you can save it, I guess, and that would make sense from an `image-mode’ context. But more generally useful would be from a document composition mode, so I just stuck it into the package for editing WordPress posts.


I think it may make sense to factor this out into its own little package so that it can be used elsewhere, but I don’t really have the time at the moment, so I guess it’ll have to wait…

The code is up on Microsoft Github as usual.

August 1943: Hi Diddle Diddle

This is a B movie, I guess? Cheap and cheerful. It’s got a convoluted and silly plot that putters away in a very pleasing manner. Much intrigue and running around.

It’s not exactly a cinematic masterpiece, but it’s really funny. It’s just an almost-perfect bundle of silliness, and everything works out like it’s supposed to.

The newlyweds even get some private time at the end due to a helpful maid.

Hi Diddle Diddle. Andrew L. Stone. 1943.

Popular movies in August 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
7558 7.5 Heaven Can Wait
2894 7.5 Watch on the Rhine
470 7.3 Holy Matrimony
279 6.9 Hi Diddle Diddle
3965 6.9 The Seventh Victim
692 6.8 The Man in Grey
958 6.7 The Fallen Sparrow
870 6.6 Destroyer
738 6.6 A Lady Takes a Chance
4651 6.5 Phantom of the Opera

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

July 1943: This is the Army

Oh Em Gee! Colour! It’s a movie in colour! Is colour even possible?! My eyes!

An Irving Berlin eleganza extravaganza. It’s about a bunch of guys drafted into the army and then they put on a show. As one does. It’s great! It’s got lines like

Angry sarge: “Did you sleep well?”

Private: “Sure. This bed has the softest mattress I’ve ever slept on the floor next to.”

that almost kinda make sense, which I like very much.

This DVD version, though, leaves a lot to be desired. It’s got so many artefacts (especially when there’s a lot of action) that it’s obvious that it’s been sourced from a torrent site with a very bandwidth-restricted codec. Which is a shame, because it looks like it was originally quite pretty.

At least the audio quality is pretty swell.

For major bits of the movie they give up on the pretence that it’s a real film and just show one musical stage performance after another. But they’re pretty impressive. A huge number of people performing, and the Berlin’s music’s pretty nice. (The movie started off as a Broadway musical where the profits were donated to the Army Emergency Relief fund, and they raised the equivalent of $135M in today’s money.)

Ronald Reagan is unexpectedly perfect for his part.

But… is it a good movie? It’s barely a movie at all. But I found it quite entertaining.

This is the Army. Michael Curtiz. 1943.

Popular movies in July 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
1405 7.3 Stormy Weather
6544 7.0 For Whom the Bell Tolls
634 6.8 Victory Through Air Power

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

June 1943: Hitler’s Madman

Douglas Sirk! I love his 50s melodramas, but I haven’t seen any of his earlier stuff, so I’m excited to watch this movie.

Virtually all of the war movies I’ve seen so far in this series (that are set in foreign countries) are set in the Czechoslovakia. I guess it makes sense… it was an early invadee of the Germans. But why not, say, Poland? Is it a way to avoid the complications of the Jewish Question?

Just like the Fritz Lang/Bertolt Brecht movie, this is staunchly anti-Nazi, but it’s a completely different approach. That movie had cartoon evil Nazis (which is great and very Brecht), while this one has more melodramatic evil Nazis (which is also great). The scene where the Nazi commander picks out Czech girls to be sent to the front (as “entertainment” for the German soldiers) is absolutely horrifying.

Both movies are about the same event, sort of: Killing Reinhard Heydrich, the Gestapo chief in Czechoslovakia. But plot-wise, they have nothing else in common, really.

Like the Lang movie, it’s not completely successful as a movie. But it’s a very successful anti-Nazi piece. And you’d have to be a Nazi not to be moved by the final scene.

Hitler’s Madman. Douglas Sirk. 1943.

Popular movies in June 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
10322 8.2 The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
1163 7.2 Hit the Ice
1794 7.0 Bataan
901 7.0 The Constant Nymph
488 6.7 Hitler’s Madman
298 6.7 Coney Island
1179 6.6 Stage Door Canteen
676 6.5 Best Foot Forward
708 6.4 Jitterbugs
260 6.4 Crime Doctor

This blog post is part of the Decade series.

May 1943: The Ox-Bow Incident

Oh! A western! With a name like that I thought this was going to be about an obscure Pacific naval battle or something.

This is from a director, William A. Wellman, who’s done a shit-load of movies, but who’s unknown to me, for some reason or other.

Aaaanyway. This is a kinda odd western. It’s about a posse going after a criminal, but it’s mostly about the moral ramifications of taking the law into your own hands and all that stuff. Which makes me wonder whether this, taking the timing into account, is a pro-Nazi movie in disguise somehow. Is cow-rustling a metaphor for invading Poland?

Oh, oh, I get it! I mean, this is American movie making a passionate case against lynching people. The people being lynched at the time in the US were black people… so is this really an anti-racist movie?

Or is it just generally saying that a judicial system is a nice thing?

Or is it a totally metaphor-less movie just telling a story about the Old West?

Difficult to read.

“I thought there were one white man among you.”

So I don’t know what’s this about, but is it any good? This is Clint Eastwood’s favourite movie, and has a generally positive reception. There’s a lot of very pretty imagery here. The actors are arranged superbly to catch their best angles, and the matte painting is superb.

But I don’t know. I was scratching my head more than I was getting into the characters, really.

The Ox-Bow Incident. William A. Wellman. 1943.

Popular movies in May 1943 according to IMDB:

Poster Votes Rating Movie
16529 8.1 The Ox-Bow Incident
4261 8.0 The More the Merrier
5151 7.8 Ossessione
2093 7.6 This Land Is Mine
3821 7.4 Five Graves to Cairo

This blog post is part of the Decade series.