Travels and Images
WEEK 23 2005
Sun- Mon- Tue- Wed- Thur- Fri- Sat- Next Week
Picture of the Week
Saturday 11 June
- what is the connection between "The Sound of Music" and German U-boats? [via Castle Argghhh]
A week ago I posted a amusing link to a post about someone with too
much c*** in their homes. The sorry truth is that I am one of those
people. I had so much computer detritus in my second spare bedroom that
I could no longer open the door all the way:
When you can't open the door more than halfway - time to clean!
So today, since I was not on the road, and did not feel up to
going out to enjoy what is actually a pretty nice day, I decided to
clean it up. I have now filled my trash can after three hours of work.
Filled. But there are still eight
dead/dormant PC's in that room . Plus a monitor, two scanners, and
someone's old Classic Mac (complete with keyboard and printer!). I will
have to pay to have the monitors disposed of, since they are considered
toxic waste, but some of
those PC's will be going in my trash later this summer. I think I am going
to move a lot of the PC's down to the garage and side yard in
anticipation of this.
I threw out all the Redhat Linux distros for 5,6, and 7. Also a bunch
of ancient Windows 3.1 and Windows 95 software. Also all of the
PCI/telephone modems - I no longer know anyone using dialup. Multiple
386 and 486 motherboards. I threw out my bad ethernet routers (in my
defense they did, sort of, work as ethernet firewalls - but all my
friends/relatives now have their own), but I did save the ethernet
cables. Ancient SCSI drives went, and mystery adapters, and so on. I
did save power cables, hard drive cables & case hardware, some old
PCI video cards, assorted usb/ps2/ethernet adapters. Saved the old
mice, and the RAM memory. Everything I saved now fits into several
small boxes, which in turn fit on the closet shelf!
Of course, Robert Thompson has me beat.
About a quarter to ten in the evening - still cleaning. I've been going
through old reports, books, magazines and tossing a lot of them.
The cat's are very excited about all the new real estate I've
I've also lost internet connectivity again. I think a switch to
broadband cable is in the works for next month. I'm tired of rebooting
my modem once or twice every day.
Speaking of "on the road": I have a friend who is picking up a used car in Texas, to drive back to
California this weekend. He'd invited me along, but I declined as I
was not feeling good, and was
feeling cheap ($200 one way to Fort Worth). So: I get a call from him
last night as he is driving along the interstate. He was talking to the
sellers, a nice couple, and the conversation turned to a visit they
made to California, perhaps ten years ago. The conversation continues,
and after a few twists and turns, it comes out that they had come to
California to visit me on some engineering business. What are the odds?
They now live on a private lake, with three kids, two planes, and a hangar... Maybe I should think about moving to Texas?
Friday 10 June
Friday - some people think waaayyy too much about STAR WARS: Was the Alderaan Incident consistent with Just War theory?
On the other hand, I suppose it would probably make for a more interesting philosophy or history class.
I had intended to drive up to the bay area this weekend, but was
inadvertently exposed to someone who has since come down with some sort
of throat crud. Acckkk. I was feeling under the weather myself
yesterday, and am not fully recovered today :-( I think I will
hold off on the drive until Sunday.
I have used the Pentax Optio WP a bit more (although I haven't yet
submerged it). I have fewer blurred pics - at least blurred pics that
weren't my own fault. Possibly I had inadvertently changed the camera
settings in my first outings; it's easy to do, via a rocker switch on
the back. Anyway, I'll hold on to it for a couple more days, just to
see if I like it.
The picture quality is about the same as my old Olympus 3040, or
perhaps a bit less, but the extra pixel count helps. I don't care for
having to use the LCD as a viewfinder since small objects - such as
planes or birds in flight - are hard to find. I first noticed this with
my digital camcorder's electronic view finder (EVF). If zoomed out it's
hard to see small objects - they may only be a few pixels wide and the
contrast ratio of the LCD or EVF makes them hard to pick out; but if
you are already in telephoto mode then it's hard to find a small moving
object with the reduced field of view.
And the LCD is hard to use in bright daylight. Don't listen to the
manufacturer spiel about "easy to use in bright sun". I'm getting
better at it - I never used the LCD on the Olympus, only the optical
viewfinder - but I suspect there will always be an element of guessing
about the composition while shooting in the bright outdoor sunlight.
Manufacturer's probably prefer the LCD's and EVF's. Being of solid
state design, they've no moving parts; since they are parasitic off the
existing imaging CCD there is no optical train to design and
synchronize with the main zoom mechanisms, and to try and fit inside
the camera case, and so on. A LCD can gain up, so it's more useful in low light situations. But the contrast and resolution just aren't as good as an optical viewfinder.
Camera impressions so far:
Pro: Small, quick shutter release, fast charging battery, easy access to menu's, no protrusions to snag.
Con: Mediocre optics, no optical viewfinder, slippery case, colors sometime off.
But I knew all this stuff when I bought the camera - it was the bad shots that were a deal breaker. We'll see.
Here's a Pentax Optio WP shot, of a cat that ran across the road in front of me today. (Friday cat blogging continues!) Click to get the original - note that it is 2.6 Megabytes.
Cropped to just the tabby.
Looking at the picture, now, I can see that there is a blue fringe on
the left side of the cat's body, and a red fringe on the right, along
his tail. Hmmmm. Not good.
Thursday 9 June 2005
- the other day a Virgin Atlantic plane apparently sent out a hijacking
signal by mistake on it's transponder. The transponder is just a little
radio beacon the sends out a four
digit code. Ground control uses these codes to identify planes on radar
and route them safely. Probably the ground control told the Virgin
pilot something like "squawk 3500" and he somehow set it to 7500
which is the code for "hijacking in progress"! This is mistake, which as a pilot after 9/11 that you really really really don't want to make.
My friend Tim saw it on the news and reminded me of a basic
ground school class we took some time ago. A thing the instructor
emphasized was to never pass through any of the high number emergency squawk codes, that is, 7400, 7500, 7600, and so on.
We were taught that one way to do this is to always make sure the high
digit (the leftmost or thousands digit) was set to something besides 7
before changing the hundreds knob. There are other ways, but this was
the simplest. Always check that the left knob is not set on 7 before
changing any other knob. Touch it, just to make sure. Change the other
knobs. Then, set that left knob by rotating away from the 7. Never pass through 7.
That's how I remember it. But the memory is a bit hazy. It's fifteen years since that class.
But that Virgin Atlantic pilot - his memory was hazier yet. Poor guy.
Nivea has an advertising blitz on television, trying to convince men to use moisturizing cream. Ugh.
Someone just stopped by, and after taking a quick look at the pictures
from the Optio WP, said "The Pentax is focused at infinity". Which was
interesting. Some shots had the mountains and sky in the background,
and the mountains were clear. The other blurred shots had no distant
objects, so I can't tell with them, but it may just be that this particular
camera is refusing to focus occasionally and that the default is indeed
infinity. Maybe I'll exchange it for another of the same make and see
Wednesday 8 June 2005
Wednesday - hmmm. Not too impressed with
the Optio WP. Some pics come out OK, others not so good. In about 20%
of the shots the focus isn't working. A shot of some birds feeding on a
lawn across the street - blurry. A kid on a bicycle going by - blurry.
In addition the macro sometimes locks up the camera, refusing to allow
shutter release. I haven't decided yet, but it may be going back!
Tuesday 7 June 2005
Tuesday - I bought the Optio WP at Costco.
I tried a couple of shots indoors, but the battery needs to be charged.
That is another strike against the camera - it's a proprietary
Lithium-Ion battery, but if I like the camera I can get another. The
camera came with a little case, strap, battery charger, good sized
manual, USB and AV cables. It also came with a decent sized memory
card, a 128Mbyte SD card. So, tomorrow we'll take both the new and old
camera's out and see how they perform.
I took the opportunity of a pause to replace my aged 10-base-T switch
with a newer 1000-base-T switch. The old one had stopped working
properly - some of the ports no longer worked, so I replaced it with
the switch I bought a while back in expectations of having lots of time
to work on my parallel processing project. Hah! But it has come in
handy. I also took the opportunity of putting two computers onto the new
UPS as well, and removing a lot of the intertwined cables and cords
from when I had three separate monitors hooked into these boxes. The
Belkin 4-port KVM switch is working perfectly, so I don't need them now.
Monday 6 June 2005
Monday - a bit of yard work and a lot of work stuff.
Sunday 5 June
Sunday - did a bit of biking in the
morning with my brother (a lot of fun), and some yard work (not so much fun).
I need to take some pics while biking - the Optio is tempting me as a
good go-anywhere camera. Costco has them for slightly more than the
online sites, but is local with a good return policy. Hmmm..