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Showing posts from 2012

Year-end Camera Purchase Cliffhanger

I have been holding back purchasing replacement equipment for my stolen 4:3rds gear for quite some time. I wanted to wait as long as possible before making any kind of commitment to any camera, let alone a given vendor or product line. I wanted to be sure I was making the right purchase. To that end I've gone through a considerable amount of foot work and research, pinging a number of knowledgeable folks, at times pushing the limits of friendship with endless questions (sorry, Matthew).

I have yet to make the purchase, but I've narrowed my choices down to just two cameras, the Nikon D600 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5.

Nikon

For some really odd reasons, Nikon sellers (B&H and Adorama, just to name two) have been selling the D600 body with the 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR zoom for a smidge less than $2,000, the same price the D600 body only was first introduced at. It's like getting a free lens! What's not to like?

I'm well aware of the admonition to not look a gift hors…

Late night rose

Out with my wife to sup at Lime Grill. This late in the season the sun sets around 5pm, so it was pretty dark by the time we got there. I love the little roses on the large bushes that are planted around the place. In Florida, in December, they're still covered with buds and blooms. I don't know of any time (except when it's really cold) when they don't bloom. Lighting was whatever artificial light was out there. The camera was the NEX 5N, with the OM 1.4/50mm and Fotodiox adapter. The 50mm was stopped down to f/2. ISO was auto-selected 1250 after I dialed in -2EV. SOOC.

Casual Photography

The problem with us "dedicated" amateur photographers is that too many of us pursue it too grimly, never stopping to just enjoy the moment. Every photo has to come out of the camera as a Work of Art, each one perfectly composed and exposed as if our very lives depended on it. That attitude carries over into post-processing, where over saturation, over contrast and over sharpening come into play.

It's also a carryover from the early 2000s, when you had to post process if you wanted what the camera's sensor was capable of  recording. So you purchased an expensive computer with expensive post-processing software to go along with your expensive DSLR and you became an expert on post and workflow. And if you were any good at it you wrote books on it and gave seminars. Here we are in 2012, long since past that point, where the cameras now have sophisticated JPEG engines with lots of tunable parameters to give us all what would worked so hard to accomplish five or more year…

Comparison

I was at RDV for my second weekly physical training session (I run three per week). As I was leaving I happened to spy the dramatic clouds over the complex. I had both my Sony NEX and one of my Pens with me, so I took a few very unscientific photos just to see how they would compare photographing the same general subject matter. Both photographs were taken straight from their respective cameras and put directly into this post. Both photos are at the largest JPEG size from each camera. Both cameras were configured to use natural color, and the natural setting was further tweaked so that contrast and saturation were set to -1 on both cameras, and sharpness set to 0 (the default).

They are definitely different, but I'll be damned if I'll say which is better than the other. The Olympus seems grayer, more neutral, because I forgot to set it to AWB. The Sony appears to have a bluer cast, but not so that I would complain all that much.

Both show reasonable details in the shadows and…

A Random Act of Kindness

Today was supposed to an uneventful day, one of the last before I head back to work next Monday. For most of the day it was uneventful until I headed out for PT, and made the fateful decision to take a route to I-4 that lead down Hollywood Way (from Turkey Lake) right onto Universal Blvd, which led directly to I-4 east. It was after I'd just turned onto Universal that a car came very close around my right front and I swerved left to avoid them. I hit a low curb with the left front tire and blew out the tire's sidewall. The other car, in such a hurry to get around me, kept right on going.

And that's the way it was, with heavy traffic flowing around, and no-one bothering to stop (there were a number of witnesses). It didn't take long to see I was going to need to put the spare on, the problem being my healing leg getting in the way. So I decided to use, just this once, my AAA Premier service I pay over $300/year for to see if they could schedule a wrecker over to at lea…

More Progress

I have been making reasonable (some might say remarkable) progress this week towards healing in my left knee. I'm pushing myself to do as much exercise as reasonable while I'm still off from work. I've been mixing workouts at RDV in the therapy pool as well as regular "dry land" PT, to the point where I'm doing something every day. I've been doing that now for nearly two weeks.

For many of you this may not sound like much, but this past Sunday, three weeks to the day after being discharged from Florida Hospital, I was able to drive to RDV and the pool. And I've been driving every since. Not very far and not for long, but still. Tonight I was able to take both Labs, together, for a regular one mile walk in the neighborhood. They were ecstatic.

I'm on track to go back to work next Monday, four weeks after the partial knee replacement. My company is still allowing time off for me to go three days/week in the afternoons to RDV for continuing PT throu…

Shutter Therapy

My personal road to knee surgery recovery continues. Today was my second visit to RDV, with more exercise. More tissue is healing and more feeling is returning across the knee. Flexibility continues to slowly increase. In spite of the increased flexibility I'm still just a passenger, which requires that my wife drive us around. When we arrive at any given destination I get out and help do whatever is necessary, such as carry items to the car.

This photo was taken as a local Bubbalous we'd stopped at to pick up our smoked Thanksgiving turkey. On the way back to the car I spied this combination of items which triggered something odd in my mind. Right before we left I grabbed a shot of this with my Olympus E-P2 and the Panasonic 20mm opened up to f/1.7, the 20's fastest aperture. Ignoring the "quality" of the image for the moment I want to direct your attention the lack of distortion in the photo, all those very straight lines. The JPEG was converted from Raw (ORF)…

Walkabout

Every day I get out of the house by running small local "errands" with my wife. I ride in the front passenger seat while my wife drives. I can't drive until I get a clean bill of health to do so from the surgeon. While I walk where-ever I stop, my left leg still lacks the flexibility to bend far enough for comfortable and safe driving. It's certainly gaining in flexibility from one day to the next, but I'm not back to the same level of flexibility I had pre-operation. But as I've written before, I'm no longer at the same level of pain either. I am, for the most part, pain free.

Today's trip was to Sears at West Oaks Mall in Ocoee. We had to return some items we couldn't use. On the way up to the store's second story we passed a lot of merchandise that was marked 10% off. We also passed all the trappings for an early Christmas, including this sparse display. The pink flying pig in the foreground was going for $80. Snooppy on the mailbox was $1…

Aftermath

I didn't realize it until I went back and looked, but it's been a year and a day since I first had to deal with my left knee, other than to use it and ignore it. It was a year ago that I took my first trip to the hospital emergency room and from there to physical therapy and then more doctors, leading up to the MAKOplasty operation two weeks ago.

Since that event I've been home recuperating, daily following the directions of the physical therapy people to slowly gain complete reuse of the left knee, and the left leg. The pain caused by the loss of cartilage within the joint is gone. Completely gone. The pain I feel now is different, more a healing pain, and far less intense than before the operation. My walking is limited, but I no longer walk with a limp. That's gone completely.

The only issue at the moment is lack of flexibility in the left knee. It's still swollen, but the swelling goes down slowly but steadily. The home-based PT helps me to build up flexibilit…

At home recuperating

They discharged me Sunday afternoon from the hospital. I'm home ensconced in my big leather recliner in the TV room to keep the knee up at a proper level. I get up to go to the head because I'm drinking lots of water to rid my body of the residual anesthesia. That gives me lots of opportunities to exercise the knee.  I've also got plenty of time to do my 11 physical therapy exercises three times a day. Thing hurt, but it's a healing hurt, and I'm taking my sweet time to make sure I don't do anything wrong. The physical therapists at Florida Hospital worked with me Friday, Saturday and Sunday to go over the key exercises. Today I'm flying solo. Starting tomorrow for the next two weeks I'll have a nurse come by once/day to check and make sure progress is being made and nothing goes wrong.

And of course I have my security camera with me. Photo was taken with the Sony in black and white and post processed on my wife's Macbook Pro. I resized it in Olymp…

So I got myself a new (partial) knee

WARNING: NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH

After a year of limping and increasing pain in the left knee, I finally went under the knife on Friday to have a partial knee replacement. I'd already gotten three separate opinions that all said essentially the same thing: the knee was a bit of a mess and needed some degree of work/reconstruction/whatever. I eventually went with the Florida Hospital Fracture Care Center. My wife had her left knee replaced by them (a second time) in 2008. Her surgeon was Dr. J. Dean Cole. I knew and trusted the group, but I was still too chicken to do it before now. My surgeon from that group was Dr. Brian Vickaryous (pronounced "vicarious" or simply Dr. V). I like Dr. V for a number of reasons, but the most important is his past. In the mid-2000s he was a Major in the Army and an orthopedic surgeon with the 8th Forward Surgical Team in Iraq (In Iraq, 'it's us versus death'; Mass.-based unit on constant call). Dr. V has seriously got his act tog…

The Good Old Days

You're looking at something I'd completely forgotten about, something I built around 1980. It's a custom perf board I built on a slab of aircraft-grade aluminum, on which I wired a complete 6502-based embedded computer. It has 4,096 bytes of static RAM, 16K of EPROM (2716), a combo-peripheral chip that included two serial ports and two eight-bit-wide parallel I/O ports, a fully decoded keypad and a six digit display broken into four digits for an address and two for data, all in hex. I was proud of those displays. They were special HP multi-segmented alphanumeric displays that read ASCII bytes. I had them display hexadecimal and special words, and then got them to scroll text. Although the keypad looks like it will only handle hex digit input, I had added software so that if you held the key down it would give you a display of the function and an alt function. Primary and alt key functionality was toggled by the tiny switch on the top left.

The calculator is a TI Programm…

Intermission

Last week I was up in Virginia, near Alexandria, participating in an system-of-systems integration event. I took the Sony with me and practiced using the camera. Up to this point I've not been particularly pleased with the output from the camera, attributing that to my lack of familiarity with the NEX system. The only way to gain familiarity, and thus satisfactory results, is to practice as much as possible.

Something must be happening because these last few groups of photos are actually beginning to look good. I can still see the flaws from the Sony 18-55mm kit zoom, but they don't bother me anymore. Instead I'm doing something I think I forgot how to do. I'm standing back and looking at the whole picture. And when I do I find the flaws disappear and I like the kind of photos the NEX-5N is capable of producing. I like them very much.
Whether taken during the day or after dark, the photos turn out rather well. Part if this comes from working with the various features …

At Work with Linux: Back to Fedora 17 and WiFi Now Works

Well, I'm back to Fedora 17. I've learned a lot these past two days, and I managed to get WiFi working. You know what the problem was? Are you ready for this? Are you sitting down?

The bloody external switch was off. Yes, off.

When I bothered to look at the side of the notebook and saw the state of the switch I could have screamed. I had basically forgotten that it was even there. I looked at my E6510 that runs Windows 7 Enterprise, and yes, the switch enables WiFi. And of course it works. But the switch on the side of the E6510 I've been installing various Linux distributions on, it was disabled (red showing on the switch). As soon as I turned it on the WiFi icon changed state on the panel. And it found all the local WiFi hotspots. And I was able to log in just like I log in for every device in this house, from Windows notebook to Apple Macbook to smartphone and all the various Barnes & Noble tablets. And WiFi under Fedora 17 on the E6510 with Centrino 6300 WiFi is r…

At Work with Linux: openSUSE 12.2 + Cinnamon on a Latitude E6510

I've been spending far too much time with this over the weekend, but then, I figure why not. This is one of the few times I can install Linux distributions with impunity. So I grabbed a DVD ISO of the latest openSUSE, version 12.2.

Funnily enough I installed the Gnome 3 desktop (Gnome 3.6 according to the openSUSE site) rather than the KDE desktop. After messing with the latest Gnome 3 desktop while I had Fedora running I actually liked the underlying technology, if not the visible implementation. When openSUSE finished installing I found I liked it's implementation a bit more than Fedora's, primarily for such little touches as a computer shutdown entry on the far upper right drop-down user menu.

In the end I would up installing Cinnamon 1.6.1 as my desktop. I would have done the same under Fedora 17, something I'd already said I would in an earlier post. With Cinnamon I finally have a desktop with a minimal touch that reminds me a bit of the Metro desktop and Google …

At Work with Linux: Fedora 17 on a Latitude E6510 (UPDATED)

I spent the majority of last week at an integration event. Part of the toolkit I took with me was a Dell Latitude E6510 with RHEL 6.3 installed. Running on top of that was VMware Player to host several VMs that ran additional systems as part of the event. I'd also installed Google's exfat driver to support a 64GB SDXC card and additional drivers from EPEL to support a 500GB LaCie external drive formated as NTFS. It was a decent enough system, and certainly supported the integration event to a very successful conclusion.

When I got back home, however, I wanted a more advanced kernel on the notebook, one that had a chance of supporting the E6510's wifi wireless chipset. The older driver under RHEL couldn't see it (or I never saw it with the tools), so I installed Fedora 17 to get at least the drivers installed. Sure enough, dmesg logs that the Intel wifi chipset was found and enabled on boot:

[ 5.406423] iwlwifi 0000:03:00.0: loaded firmware version 9.221.4.1 build 2…

Toronto 9 September 2012

Subtitle: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I have several thousand photos from the September 2012 Road Trip stashed in my digital shoe box. When I remember to do it I go back and rummage about in there, looking and being reminded of that intense two week trip up to Toronto and back. Today I looked at a few of the 9 September photos that were taken that day with Matthew, Penny, and Judy about. The first three in this sequence were taken at the 2012 Cabbagetown Festival. The last four were taken after dinner at the By The Way Cafe. After we finished our excellent meal we walked slowly down Bloor Street for a ways while attempted a bit of very amateur street photography. Nothing matches the charm and rich cultural texture of a sophisticated urban center like downtown Toronto. Orlando, unfortunately, doesn't have that.
While the subtitle could refer to Toronto, it was written more with my NEX 5N experiences in mind. While there's a lot to like about the 5N, and it has feature…