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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Finding Vivian Maier


I have to wait a while to see this. It hardly showed up in cinemas and the Region 2 DVD isn't ready until November. Enigmatic.

Truly finding Vivian Maier.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

beside a field of grain

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After the Newcastle jaunt we were off to Surrey for a gossip-laden lunch. Then to a garden where we watched a combine harvester clearing the adjacent field.

And so the season moves along.

Back home Sunday, give or take a Burger Bar stranded sideways blocking the motorway. Then a surfeit of water on my bike ride on Monday.

Now back to normal, with a couple of conference calls today and then Bristol early on Thursday.

Monday, 25 August 2014

deep breath and tucker?


I watched the lavish new Doctor Who, which was washed with a Victorian brown colour palette. It included a few good lines and some very Scooby-Doo plot moments and hyper melodrama.

There were times when a dibble-dibble-wisst type sound could have accompanied the entries and exits of some of the characters.

At times I thought it was trying very hard to MAKE A POINT about something, like the APPARENT AGE OF THE REGENERATED DOCTOR, or the lizard kiss. Stripped back, there was a good 'alien robots eat my flesh' kind of story, complete with a hardly used giant dinosaur to look good in the trailers and some steampunk Sweeney Todd-style family restaurant moments.

The show was more about introducing Capaldi as the new Doctor busting some shapes, establishing some new series boundaries with his assistant and showing that there will be whacky fun as the series runs on. It suffered from a post-regenerative wired Capaldi being forced to stumble around for a bit too long. I'll take a deep breath before the next episode.

Darkly, as Tucker Who might say...

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Aperture to Lightroom conversion

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I finally finished the test transfer of my Aperture photo library to Lightrooom. There's many pictures that have suddenly come back to life in the process, that were buried and mis-filed in Aperture.

For Aperture I'd learned to save pictures into separate year-by-year libraries, to avoid getting performance hits.

I've put the whole collection into a single library in Lightroom, and it does open up some new ways to look for images. So far the performance on around 100,000 images/500Gb seems okay too. The catalogue backup is fast and the separate backup of the photos can be done all at once and then incrementally, using Chronosync.

Working with the new single Lightroom library, instead of the faff of remembering which year something occurred, the whole set is available at any time.

I'll look into best ways to do tagging now, alongside the keywords that I carried across from Aperture plus the useful file hierarchy tags that were added by Aperture Exporter. I may need to do some googling for keyword advice.

In case it sounds like a lot of work, it wasn't really. The main reason it took an elapsed week was because I was way for five days and only occasionally checked progress to start the next library.

I'll still add my new pictures to Aperture and wait to see what Photo can deliver, but at least I'll have a point of view on Lightroom.

Friday, 22 August 2014

time for two wheels

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The latter part of August has been surprisingly hectic with a further short-term project just added to the heap.

At least the bike had an outing today, although my accumulated miles has dropped back considerably from last year.

I predict my work-related travelling over the next few months won't be as hectic, which should give me back more time on two wheels.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

what? a cat post? here?

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A very long time ago I learned that the internet was made of cats.

It's a derivative of the Alchian-Allen theory where high quality apples go from Seattle to New York, because the cost of transport outweighs the cost of the goods, so you might as well send and sell the best ones.

Applied to the internet it gets reversed. Cheap bandwidth means we don't just consume more, we consume differently. A five minute fix of internet cats instead of a day at the zoo.

Why raise this? It was @mysadcat ruffling fur with the tweet (miaow?) that we are all just prisoners here of our own device.

I had to go on a long car ride just after I'd seen this - one of those things that you somehow can't 'un-see' - and inevitably Hotel California was rolling around in my head. In general, I'd play this kind of thing when I was on a highway, maybe looking for sign.

But on this occasion it was Eagles on the car stereo as I was driving around Putney on my way to the Wandsworth gyratory.

Ah well.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

remove annoying bell icon in mac


The little set of Mac icons at the top right of the screen have been progressively marching left as new functions decide they are important. One of the little irritations is a fairly pointless bell icon which appears greyed out and when clicked remains mute.

It's part of Chrome, which has taken to booting itself up when I start the computer. I've disabled the startup, but the little bell persists. I eventually found how to remove it by using a well-hidden feature of chrome called flags. Essentially, the sync'd notification flag has to be disabled. Yeah, right. Its a pull down menu buried in the midst of the flags page.

Someone else explained that in Chrome 36(!) the flag bell can be removed ny using a proper menu sequence. I've reproduced it below. Somehow this doesn't fit the 'it just works' agenda.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

backing up Lightroom images using Chronosync


The test transfer of files to Lightroom seems to be working well. I need to be sure whether Lightroom can handle a large volume of images and so far it is standing up pretty well.

So far I've transferred around 50,000 images from Aperture 3.5.1 to Lightroom 5.6 using the Aperture Exporter utility, but I've still several more years of Aperture libraries to go. The whole process is hands-off so it simply burbles away in the background.

Something that I've noticed is the different backup regime with Lightroom, which will back up its catalogue, but doesn't seem to do the same for the actual images.

I anyway feel the need to back up the entire Lightroom folder system to somewhere else, and on this occasion to place it outside of Apple's Time Machine. I'm using Chronosync for the purpose, copying from the thunderbolt RAID disk connected to the iMac, to a separate LAN-attached RAID system. This should ideally give me a complete copy of the folder structure in Lightroom, purely as a safety copy.

Apple is usually quite good at making systems management functions like backup transparent, but for what will amount to a terabyte of data, I really want to use something that will take a managed safe copy to a different device and also provide incremental backup of changes.

Chronosync seems to fit the bill and is also schedulable, so I can get it to take a look at the photo library every day and just backup the changes.

My test sync of 200 Gigabytes took around 4 hours across the LAN - which is 50 Gb per hour. As I was elsewhere for the whole time it was running, I didn't really notice, and the next backup to the same destination only took about 2 minutes, with only 1.25Gb of incremental changes.

If this works it could be a pretty good solution. I'm still using Aperture as my main image workflow at the moment, but am quite pleased at the progress with this alternative.

Friday, 15 August 2014

hotel development opportunity

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I've been spending a few days away in hotels, but it looks like there could be new ones on the scene too, judging from this interesting example of optimism.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

rearranging the pictures

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I have to decide whether to re-arrange the pictures.

Apple have said that the pretty good Aperture software that I use for storing my snapped images is to be 'stabilised', so I have to figure out the next step.

I suppose I could just wait for the new Apple Photos application to see whether that will do the trick, but I'm wary that it will take a few goes before it is really quite right. Then there's the collection of 'plug-ins' that I've accumulated to help make it quick to change the pictures or to tag them.

Most of the stuff I have at the moment is also compatible with the Adobe Lightroom, and I notice I have a copy because of my Adobe subscription. I'm tempted to try it out.

I've also just found a further utility called Aperture Exporter, which can take a whole Aperture library and convert it back into a form suitable of use with Lightroom. As I've got 10s of thousands of pictures, I'll need to mull this for a while, although I'm now running the Aperture Extractor on 2014 (around 7000 pictures) to see what happens when I test import it to Lightroom.

I'm away for a few days now, so I'll find out how well it works when I get back.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Using the Olympus Stylus 1

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I've struggled to find the right balance between usability and weight with cameras when on holiday. My big DSLRs are really too big to be convenient for much of the time. Aside from taking much backpack/luggage space, they can be heavy, rattly and sometimes draw too much attention.

This year I took my little Olympus Stylus 1 camera to Norway and I've been very pleased with the experience. I've already had it a while, so was fairly familiar with its use. It is the size of a point and shoot and has a fixed zoom lens, from the equivalent of 28-300mm with f2.8 aperture.

Of course, it won't create the depth of field of a 35mm camera, but it still has plenty of controls as well as the basic 'auto' mode. The camera has a high quality feel and I really like the control wheel around the lens, which can either be used for manual focus when it is smooth to operate or for other controls such as aperture, when it is clicky to turn. It is very reminiscent of the old ring on an OM-1/OM-2 type film camera and a great asset to handling. I'd quite like to see Olympus introduce it on their next generation of OM-D E cameras.
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Somehow the controls are about right on this camera. Its easy enough to put into unfussy automatic mode, but has plenty of fairly analog-type adjustments right at hand. Others have said the menus are complicated, but I've found that by using the switches and dials this feels much more like a camera than many of the highly computerised and menu dependent DLSRs.

In a way, the Olympus's OM-D is my camera for comparison with the Stylus. The OM-D is really a category or two 'higher' in functionality, but actually I'm surprised how good the regular pictures are from the little Stylus. It's clear that Olympus took many of the design cues from their other more fancy modern digital cameras.

Like a proper SLR, it also has a good quality electronic viewfinder as well as a swivelling back finder. I somehow still prefer the viewfinder way of taking pictures in most circumstances, compared to holding a camera at arms length and watching the mini TV screen on the back. Exceptions to that are maybe concerts or crowds, when an adjustable back screen is quite useful.
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I took a picture of the Stylus next to one of my old-school 35mm film Olympus OMs too. The Stylus shape is somehow reminiscent of the OM-4, although it is quite a lot smaller. Compared with a Canon 5D DSLR, it is positively tiny, yet possible to get some pretty snaps.

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Geraingerfjord
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Ålesund
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er, penguins?
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something dramatic
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Flam waterfront
I'm about to go away again for a few days. I'll only take the Stylus and see what it can do.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Shakespeare in Love


Great to see 'Shakespeare in Love', along St Martins Lane.

This is the stage adaptation of what started as a movie from Tom Stoppard.

Lee Hall, who wrote Billy Elliott, penned this adaptation and its a cracking evening at the theatre.

They've given the stage at the Noel Coward Theatre a superb three-tier treatment recreating a kind of 'Globe meets Rose' Elizabethan look. The cast is huge, more than 20 players, many with cameo roles as well as ensemble playing and there's always lively things both in the action and cast eavesdropping from the sometimes reversed stage and from the galleries.

The rom-com plot is about how Shakespeare overcomes writer's block assisted by his new found muse Viola de Lesseps and with help from his sometimes rival Kit Marlowe. There's plenty of in-joke Shakespeare references, with many famous lines dropped into new phrases. 'Out damn Spot' springs to mind, but there are many others. A slightly pantomime reference to being delayed at Putney Bridge also got a knowing Londoner laugh (the bridge is closed for road-works at the moment, creating some interesting west London snarl-ups).

The production is lavish, with many dramatically-lit tableau scenes. Queen Elizabeth I is accompanied by an excellent Lord Chancellor and there's a suitably authentic band with lutes, mandolins and a hurdy-gurdy to accompany the action.

Both Tom Bateman as Shakespeare and Lucy Briggs-Owen as Viola play their parts well, balanced with the rest of a strong cast.

A thoroughly good night out and a great choice for the West End. It might be knowingly a bit 'Shakespeare-lite' but it has swagger and a full Romeo and Juliet style storyline interwoven with the humour.