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Friday, 22 September 2017 Dereel Images for 22 September 2017
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Damaged pump unit
Topic: gardening, general Link here

Finally a day that was warm, sunny, and not too windy. Just what I need to spray the weeds. And the battery of the spray unit was flat! OK, put on charge. Came back half an hour later to find the thing rattling to itself and producing smoke. Had I forgotten to turn the power off? No, the switch was off. But this thing has a stupid knob (potentiometer?) that bypasses the switch. It looks as if the unit is dead. I think that's worth a return to the seller.


Pterostylis
Topic: gardening Link here

I don't think I've ever seen as many orchids in one place as in our “house forest”, the wooded area at the west of the property:


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They're some species of Pterostylis, and there are at least 4 patches of them. There must be hundreds of them.


Focus stacking again
Topic: photography, gardening, opinion Link here

I've done many attempts at focus stacking over the last couple of years, and even bought a tripod to help. But I've never used both outside the house. Today was the day, taking photos of the Pterostylis:

 
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And this time I definitely hit the limits of in-camera processing (“focus stacking” as Olympus defines it). Here both foreground and background are out of focus.

 
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OK, “focus bracketing”, the main difference of which is that I can take more than 8 images (a ridiculous 99 by default). But what's the correct number? I guessed at 20, but when I looked at the images, I found I had 35! That turned out not to be such a disadvantage: I used 24 of them. But how did I get that number? Did I set the number incorrectly? Checking the camera, I found it set to 9.

There's something funny here. It seems that the camera stopped because focus had reached infinity—maybe. According to the Exif data, the last 7 images had a depth of field reaching infinity. Theoretically I could have failed to save the new number of shots—the menu system makes that easy—but that doesn't explain why the camera was set to 9 when I checked. And it also doesn't explain why the camera carried on taking 6 further images after reaching infinity. There's more stuff to puzzle about here.


More panorama refinement
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The weather was good today, and tomorrow they're promising rain and wind, so I took my house photos a day early. After last week's experience, it was clear that I needed to remount my rail so that it wasn't so visible, they way I did at the end of July. That worked, up to a point. I still have the issue of the side of the panorama rail in the right hand side of the image:

 
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That will be difficult to remove. It really does stick out in front of the horizontal axis, by about 2.5 cm. The horizontal angle of view of the lens is only 144°, so I can minimize it by moving it closer to the camera, but that brings the rail back into view. I wonder if any specialized panorama hardware addresses the issue, but I rather suspect that not.

Fortunately it's not that important. Today I had another problem. I left the cable for the remote shutter release hang forward:

 
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That, too, proved not to be that much of an issue, though it did require masking.

And what about flare? Today the sun was low in the sky, and I had some direct shots. Happily, the lens is quite good there. Here a comparison with the new M.Zuiko 8 mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO (first image) with the Zuiko Digital 8 mm f/3.5 fisheye:

 
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In each case, there's a reflection below the sun and to the left, in a very similar position:

 
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Here the old fisheye seems to be just better. It is round the sun and with the flare below the sun as well:

 
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But then it has an additional reflection to the right, where the new fisheye has none:

 
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On the whole, I think that for flare the old fisheye is (barely) better than the new one. But I think both are very good. There aren't many lenses that can deal with direct sun in the image. I must compare with some other lenses.


Saturday, 23 September 2017 Dereel Images for 23 September 2017
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VoIP problems, worked around
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

CJ Ellis has problems with his MyNetFone VoIP service again! That's the fourth time that he has had the same issue: outgoing calls work normally, but incoming calls divert immediately to voice mail.

This time it happened at a particularly inopportune time for me, with the Arne Koets clinic taking up most of my time, so by this morning I had had time to consider what I could do without getting MyNetFone support involved. Clearly there's something wrong if the ATA thinks it is registered, and can make phones to prove it, but the network thinks it isn't. But what's causing the problem? Could it be the ATA itself? In my experience, they're particularly unreliable, and this one is a cheap, old model. How about power cycling, long enough to drain the electrons allow the registration to time out (a maximum of 20 minutes) and then try again. So we did that, and how about that, it worked!

What next? Is it necessary to let the registration time out? Next time I'll get CJ to try a normal power cycle (2-3 seconds) and see if that does the same thing. And maybe we should be lining up a new ATA.


Dinner panorama with obstacles
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Tuesday's dinner panorama wasn't an unqualified success. In fact, it was a barely averted disaster: somehow the on-camera toy flash caused the room flash to fire at the wrong time, probably too early. Time for more experiments. Last time I had the toy flash set off the room flash as a slave. Is it possible that the timing was insufficient? The wireless flash triggers also have a cable input, so I tried that.

For the fun of it, I also tried using a different lens, the Panasonic Lumix G 20 mm f/1.7, which doesn't see much use. Testing it before the event was surprising: it hunted for a while and then took a completely out-of-focus image:

 
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OK, maybe the focus point was on the wall, where it can't get a good focus. Try again with me sitting there:

 
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Disaster! After more playing around, it really seems that the focus on this lens is much worse than on the Leica-branded 15 mm and 25 mm Summiluxes. That's disappointing, and it makes the lens much less valuable to me. But at least this test (without toy flash) confirmed that the cable solution works, even if it looks messy:

 
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OK, back to the issue with the flashes. There's a known problem with on-camera flash that they make a short pre-flash to eliminate red eyes. That would trigger the room flash too early. So I checked the settings, and no, no pre-flash. The result:

 
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No flash at all! How could that be? Somehow I need to do more checking. On the off chance that it might be flashing in advance to help with autofocus, I turned that off, but it made no difference. More experimentation needed.

Today's real results weren't so different from before:


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ALDI “eye” filet
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

We buy lots of stuff at ALDI, but not fresh meat: past experience has made us wary. But last week Yvonne saw a good-looking piece of beef filet (“eye fillet”, as it's called in Australia):

 
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OK, worth trying. Sous vide again, 2 hours at 53°. It came out somewhat loose:

 
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That's not necessarily wrong; many people recommend tying a filet up before frying, and fortunately 53° isn't so hot that you can't handle the stuff:

 
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And how did it taste? It confirmed our aversion to ALDI meat. Here's some of the stringy stuff left over:

 
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You can take stuff back to ALDI for a refund if you don't like it. I half thought of doing so.


Old horse videos
Topic: photography, animals, opinion Link here

After dinner, Chris said that Piccola—now pushing 9 years old—had become much friendlier, and that she always used to run away when she was young. Not my recollection, so I checked:

 
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That was on 11 April 2009, and the diary showed that on 19 April 2009 we had gone to Mount Wallace to pick up a colt. A colt? What colt? Chris couldn't remember. But then, she doesn't keep a diary. So we went looking for videos. And yes, Yvonne had taken horse videos in those days, with my Nikon “Coolpix” L1, not a camera I bought for its video capabilities. For some reason, Yvonne hadn't processed them, but we looked at them directly. And all of them had the noise of an old dot matrix printer in the background. That was all the more surprising because this was in the open air:

After a while we came to the conclusion that this was the autofocus of the camera. How things have improved since then!

And no, by the end of the evening we still didn't know who the colt was.


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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