Showing posts from 2013


I have created a new Wordpress-powered blog called arcanesciencelab. That's where I will be publishing all my words of wisdom in the future. If all goes according to plan, this will be the last post on this blog. Note that all commenting has been turned off and all comments have been hidden. You spammers finally won. As did Google's lack of caring for Blogger.

merry christmas from chitose

I don't know why but Chitose near where I'm staying has Christmas fever. There's Christmas decorations everywhere, and Christmas music (carols and other seasonal American songs) are playing in the background. This Colonel, at a Japanese KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken to all you old timers) was dressed out in a Santa suit right near one of the entrances into the store. I would have eaten there except they were cash (Yen) only and wouldn't take plastic. I've since fixed the yen problem, finding out that the hotel will exchange dollars for yen at the rate of 97 yen to the dollar. Tomorrow I'm going to have my Japanese KFC meal.

I walked around the hotel a bit, exploring the nearer blocks, keeping the hotel in view to avoid getting lost. So far I'm remembering landmarks, so that I can begin to walk farther and farther on my explorations. This view from the ninth floor gives you an idea of the weather here; it's cold and snowy. I haven't seen snow on the g…

blogging (nearly) naked in japan

So here I am in Chitose, Japan. This is the first time in my life I've ever traveled this far, although I've certainly had my fair share of air travel within CONUS. Even my few trips across the border to Canada and south into Mexico (back when Mexico wasn't nearly as dangerous as it is today, and well before 9/11) don't count.

Oddly enough this is the first time I've used my passport, the second update to a passport I originally obtained back in the mid-1990s for travel to Japan. I worked for Mitsubishi Wireless up in Lake Mary, Florida, and I was meant to travel to Japan on a business trip. But the trip never came about, and I left the company. Now, almost 20 years later, I'm using the passport for (almost) its intended reason, but for a far different company and set of circumstances.

My trip from Orlando to Chitose started around 6:30am Thursday morning, and didn't end until 10pm Friday Chitose time. The flight itself took a solid 24 hours across three i…

day 2 with the olympus e-pl3

It's Thanksgiving week. I'm taking a few days of personal time before Thanksgiving Day because I'll be flying on business to Japan on Thursday. My wife and I are running around trying to get as much done as possible before I leave her alone with the two Labs and the three cats. She'll have our two daughters to come and visit as well as all her friends and our neighbors, but still, I worry. And because I worry I plan accordingly.

One trip was to our vet with Max and Lucy. Max needed his ears checked, and Lucy needed to have a minor operation checked to see if she was healing well. Both little guys came away with flying colors. Max in particular is happy because his ears are in great shape. Max is a Lab, and Labs are Hounds, and a Hound's ears are very important to them.

While we were in the waiting room for out turn with the vet, many little characters, large and small, came over to pay their respects to The Man. Max was very laid back with all the greetings. No ba…

can't get enough - olympus e-pl3

Some men pass the time by chasing women. I did that and wound up married, and we all know how expensive that gets, especially when you add in some children. Some men pass the time with hobbies like fishing or golf, and wind up spending considerable sums on expensive boats, expensive fishing gear, or expensive golf equipment (some very expensive). Some men even have photography as a hobby, and we all know how expensive that can get.

I, on the other hand, with my limited budget, have a hobby collecting and using older cameras that have passed their prime (no pun intended). So I wait, usually several years, until all those former new hotness cameras become old and busted in the eyes of the market and they go on considerable markdown. The Olympus E-PL3 is one of those cameras.

Introduced the latter half of 2011, it was the last of the 12MP ยต4:3rds cameras (the other two being the E-P3 and E-PM1). The next cameras to come out of the Olympus camera chute, in fact the very next camera, was …


You're looking at the cover of a short story written by Cory Doctorow in 2007. That's a good six years ago. Note the title of the story. I've known about "Scroogled" since 2009 when I first stumbled across it. So it's not like Microsoft or anyone associated with them came up with the term.

Lately, Microsoft has been selling merchandise, titled appropriately enough, Scroogled. You can get tees and ball caps and coffee mugs and other paraphernalia with Scroogled emblazoned across each item in the Google logo colors.

And everybody has been making fun of the Microsoft efforts, including, interestingly enough, Cory Doctorow via BoingBoing. But as Cory writes in his latest article on the subject:
It's a clever parody and Microsoft's point is actually a good one, but Microsoft doesn't have much moral high-ground here. The company's long history of dirty tricks against free and open source software, its role in patent trolling, and its eager cooperati…

2012 nexus 7 updates to kitkat

My 2012 Nexus 7, which is barely a year old, updated over-the-air to Android 4.4 yesterday. This occurred after a long home commute across Orlando through some fairly heavy (and welcome) rain. When I finally plopped down in my La-Z-Boy and reached for my tablet, I was greeted with a notification that the full upgrade had downloaded to the tablet and the tablet was ready to reboot and install Android 4.4.

It took around 30 minutes for the installation to finish, but when it was done the Nexus 7 actually looked a bit better and was better behaved than it had been when I first bought it back in October of last year.

My tablet, which has been discontinued and replaced by the 2013 version of the Nexus 7, has been faithfully upgraded by Google over the past year. The 2012 Nexus 7 first shipped with Jelly Bean, Android 4.1. Since that time my Nexus 7 has been upgraded with every successive release of Jelly Bean. Over the year I've owned it my 7 has been the best value for a tablet I'…

a tale of two distributions: linux mint 16 vs. fedora 20

I've installed two more Linux VMs on my little ol' Windows 8.1 notebook using VMware Player 6.0.1. They're Linux Mint 16 RC and Fedora 20 Beta. No need to clog the entry with numerous installation screen captures from both; if you've worked with either Linux Mint 15 or Fedora 19, then there's little if any difference between the two. The primary reasons for moving up to the next release are the software updates.

I installed both with the Cinnamon alternative desktop. From a personal perspective I prefer Linux Mint 16's Cinnamon over Fedora's because of Mint's leaner window decorations. When I can change the desktop wallpaper and be done with personalizing for productive use I call that a small personal victory. That happened with Mint, but I still wanted to find a way to narrow the rather large window top, and paradoxically, widen the rest of the window borders to make it easier to grab and resize with Fedora's Cinnamon.

Having made that observatio…

why we'll never have a true digital nikon fm3a, and why the nikon df is wrong for me

I came across this scale comparison on the Internet's today. In one simple picture it summed up why the Nikon Df isn't the digital FM3a so many want it to be. It also illustrates in part why (outside of the price) I won't purchase the Df.

If you look at the top plates of both cameras, you can see the top plate outline of the FM3a literally sticking up from the Df body. The Nikon Df is much deeper than the FM3a from the front (the lens mount) to back (the LCD).

What we have here is an odd-ball digital camera design that appears to have bits and pieces of the FM3a stuck on it like a collection of spare parts someone had lying around at the time.

When old people like me say they want a digital Nikon FM3a (or in my particular case, a digital Olympus OM-1), we want the film sized body with a same-sized digital sensor replacing 35mm film. And as the Nikon Df illustrates so eloquently, that won't happen, at least not with this version of Nikon technology.

If you're wonde…

cat-in-a-box channels greta garbo

So I'm sitting at my computer, when I start to notice a racket in back. I ignore it for a while until I hear a load "thump!", as if something had been dropped on the floor, followed by a lot of loud rattling. I turn around and see Lucy in the box just having a grand old time, rolling around and rattling that box a good one. I grab the GX1 and snap a few shots before she notices me and the camera, then leaps out and back into her chair (which used to be my chair before she decided it was her chair).

Just like caring for Katie my black Lab taught me about dogs, caring for Lucy is teaching me about cats. She finds me fascinating, as I do her. And she expresses great affection and love toward me without coaxing. I try to return the affection and love, but she is a cat, and she takes a bat at me on occasion, although I think that's just her being playful. She always has her claws in when she does that.

She sits next to me during the evening in her chair while I sit in mi…

notes and snaps for 6 november

Panasonic GX1 with 20mm f/1.7 at f/1.8. Post processed in LR 5.2 and Silver Efex Pro 2.

affordable tacos and affordable photography

I have experienced a barrage of new camera announcements for the last few months and today I reached a point of saturation. I realized just how well past tired I was of it all when the final official reveal of the new Nikon Df (which must stand for "Dumb fools", as that's the marketing niche it's aimed at) occurred today. When I read faux-tography sites such as Forbes gushing about how wonderful the Df was, then read the reactions of real photographers such as Tom Hogan (The Df very well may be the first camera marketed and sold to the AARP crowd) and Mike Johnston (Omigod, be careful what you wish for), I knew for certain that Nikon had finally jumped the shark. And a $3,000 dollar shark at that.

Me, I just wait at the trailing edge of photography, where everybody drops their old and busted gear for the new hotness, and then I just pick up perfectly good equipment for pennies on the dollar. Like, for example, the GX1 with its 14mm pancake. Total cost was about $380…

the day after the day after halloween

We had a large number of Trick-or-Treaters come by the house this past Halloween. It started early (just barely past sundown) with two little kids, probably first graders. Parents stood on the sidewalk watching, laughing when Ruby came out in her costume to greet the kids. And the kids, even ones afraid of dogs, were immediately put at ease with Ruby's costume.

As the night grew progressively late the age of the treaters grew progressively older until the last, a group of polite ninth graders, showed up around 8:30pm. I gave them the rest of my dwindling candy supplies, then turned off the outside lights and called it an evening.

Every single kid was nice and well behaved.

I had my E-M5 set up for the evening with the flash that comes with the camera, but the only subjects I used it on were Ruby and Lucy. I had the Panasonic 25mm mounted on it and opened up. As this is the first time I've ever used flash on the E-M5 I'm not to keen on the exposure, but what the hey. You l…

a new cat in the family

We (meaning the human family) have a new cat. Her name is Loki and she lives with my oldest daughter in Gainesville. I don't know how old Loki is, but I peg her age at around a year. She's an all black cat with a touch of white on her brisket. She's an extremely shy little creature, especially around humans she has no familiarity with, such as myself.

Everything taken with the Olympus E-M5 and Panasonic Leica 25mm at f/1.8. Heavy flaring due to shooting directly into the sun coming in the window (Loki felt safer in that spot, so you go where the cat is). I also set the E-M5 to the gentle sepia (#9) art filter and took everything straight out of the camera, except for resizing.

If you're wondering why she's named Loki, everybody thought she was a he before the vet told them different.

why i've come to hate the internet

While slumming the Internets this morning I came across the wonderful editorial on the New York Times website, "Slaves of the Internet, Unite!", written by Tim Kreider (someone I'll have to start paying more attention to).

In his wonderful editorial I linked to, out pops this one jewel among many:
Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge. I now contribute to some of the most prestigious online publications in the English-speaking world, for which I am paid the same amount as, if not less than, I was paid by my local alternative weekly when I sold my first piece of writing for print in 1989. More recently, I had the essay equivalent of a hit single — endlessly l…

ubuntu 13.10 + windows 8.1 + vmware player 6.0.1 = success

Last night my copy of VMware Player 6 automatically updated itself to version 6.0.1. In the process the VMware Tools that are installed on the various virtual machines were also updated, in particular those for the latest Linux distributions such as Ubuntu 13.10.

Under VMware Player 6 the shared directory kernel module failed to compile. Under 6.0.1 the module successfully compiled, installed, and executed, allowing my Share directory on the Windows 8.1 host side to be seen. And of course, as I reported earlier after repairing the version 6 installation, networking out of the VM into the outside world is working just fine.
As the picture captions note, this is Ubuntu Gnome, a distribution built up from Gnome 3.8 and Ubuntu 13.10. This combination has resulted in a stable and pleasant distribution. I find it somewhat amusing that two of the more controversial desktops (Gnome 3 and Unity) are now the most polished of the desktops out there. In my earlier Ubuntu 13.10 post I called it a…