Tuesday, 30 May 2017

the camera you have with you ...

despite my overwhelming urge to pound my phone into a rock every time I try to type on the fucking thing (only those who can't type, have never used a decent QWERTY keyboard and can tolerate so many spelling errors and interpretation errors could confess they like on screen keyboards) the phone makes a good camera. Not least because its always  with you. Like today, I was out wandering around and enjoying the beautiful weather when I looked back (in anticipation of some good backlighting) and found just that:

These days I reflexively put the camera into RAW and then I've got that too. I've earlier found that this combination is about 85% of the quality my GF1 (with the 14mm f2.5 lens) gives.

The camera app did a pretty decent job of this challenging lighting situation (I'd tapped on the brightest cluster of leaves over there mid lower right) but RAW and Snapseed enabled me to pull the highlights down in development and sharpen up a good image.

Here is a full segment

Based on my experience with printing I reckon this'll be good for 52.6 x 71.1 cm (20.69 x 27.97 inches).

I reckon this'll go nicely on a wall back in Australia (to remind me of here when I'm there).

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

bicycle usage preference in Finland

Growing up in Australia I've pretty much always had "derailleur" style gears. I say "pretty much" because as a kid under 10 I had a "Dragster" style bike (like this, but I don't have a picture of mine)

 which pretty much got changed into something which would later become (yes, I'm old) BMX.

One thing about that bike that non of my other bikes (until I came to Finland) had was a "Sturmey Archer" style "internal hub" gear system.  For those unfamiliar with them (and mistakenly thinking that that shifter was just for looks because "that bike doesn't have gears" this is what they look like:

Clean, and simple, with no requirement to bend the chain as it moves across the lower cassette.

I quickly discovered (with my first 10 speed bike) how sensitive the rear hanger was (riding though bush all the time) to impacts and how often one needed to tune the system (something many folks could never properly do) or it wouldn't shift properly, would make a "rattle" sound all the time (while it was partially attempting to climb up or drop down on the cluster.

A great example on how you need to adjust your derailleur:

My last bike in Australia was a Giant Yukon, which I loved and rode to work (and on trails as well as for general exersize) quite a bit for many years. Finally after some thousands of Km (literally) I needed a new rear cluster, but the Shimano Deore with "Rapid Change" worked great for me with only occasional adjustments and I loved the ability to keep a decent cadence and constant energy irrespective of slope or headwind.

Gears work. But most riders just don't know the first thing about how to use their gears properly, especially with a Derailleur system. For instance you can't just sequentially shift UP or DOWN, as you need to keep the rear sprocket more or less in line with the front sprocket, especially if you have more than 5 gears on the back sprocket. So as you shift up you eventually move from the smallest sprocket on the front to the middle, but you should do that before you've gone to the smallest on the back. Probably this will mean you'll need to change back down on the rear before changing up on the front ... which the rapid change system allows you to do (but you still need to be careful to not make a tangle of it).

It may sound complex but eventually it becomes second nature (or you just fluff it around like most people do).

Then I came to Finland where "entry level bikes" have most commonly got no gears (meaning a single gear fixed gear but with a coaster clutch / brake system not a "fixie") or a (most commonly Shimano Nexus) 7 or 9 speed hub. By most commonly I mean most of them.

These systems have the advantage that you just shift up or down with no thought of "do I need to change the front sprocket" ... just change.

Dead Simple ...

To show how common this system is here, here is a "for instance" just walking along and decided to film "poll" at my local small supermarket:

Note the number of mudguards and racks in that video. Its easy to see that bikes here aren't like most Australian bikes, they are clearly fundamentally practical transport. Because (unlike Australia) many people ride bicycles all the time, in all weathers for most of their daily stuff (like going to the shops or stuff like that).

After using my hub now for a few years I totally love it. Actually it was pretty much love at first pedal. Indeed while I see that "derailleur" style has some advantages in competition, almost none of that translates to street.

I have seen occasional posts on bicycle forums in Australia enquiring about these systems and usually they're regarded as "expensive" ... which is weird because in Finland they are fitted at almost the bottom end of the market. I expect its just another example of Australians being shagged up the butt for stuff because (either) the retail system just wants to simplify and have one thing to pedal (or the bike shops are populated by dedicated enthusiasts who just can't see the point of not being "comitted").

My bike (with the Nexus 7) has been a great transport unit and I paid 50 buck for it second hand (in really good condition. A real "low maintenance practical work horse" and my daily driver over here since 2013 (without as much as a screw driver put to it).

I wish Australians were as wise as Europeans.

PS: lastly if one is to get hung up on issues like efficiency , then I suggest reading this good reply on a forum here, its a good one.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Getting DoF at a distance

one of my pet "disturbances" is people taking pictures of a tiny toy on their keyboard from 5cm away and going on about the DoF and Bokeh of their new lens, especially when its clearly going to be useless at "normal focal distances"

The only way to get DoF is by pupil diameter, not "f stop" ... the bigger the pupil the shallower the DoF

Of course to get that pupil bigger for the same angle of view one needs either a bigger f stop OR a larger format. For instance a 50mm lens on a FullFrame camera has a pupil diameter that's about 25mm at f2 ... while the pupil diameter of a 25mm lens on a 43rds camera (capturing the same view from the same spot)  will be 12mm. Meaning less DoF

So I thought that (not having a full frame or a good 50mm f1.4 lens handy) that using my 45mm f1.7 would do the job at imaging my favourte tree if I stitched together an array of 4 shots (as it would approximate a 50mm on a full frame single frame grab).

Here that is:

Seems that while its better than my earlier attempt with the 20f1.7 (single shot with m43) it looks like its not really doing what I want ... a pixel peep (or a big print) shows that it does indeed have better DoF popping it out of the background, but not as much as my 4x5 had (standing pretty much in the same spot).

Well its better and shows more "separation" from the background.

So, I was right but there was a lesson to be learned

On a larger (again) format (like what is called Large Format) a "normal lens" (like the 50mm) is a 180mm lens and (my f5.6) lens yeilds 32mm at "wide open".

Perhaps a Full Frame with a 50mm @ f1.8 (using a 1.4 lens so as to not get too much corner darkness) would do it. However when one is using even 100ISO full sunlight will require super short shutters (or a ND filter) if you're using f1.8 ... Then there is the highlight clipping to deal with...

I still keep my 4x5 camera and some chemistry around for just this sort of specalised thing (and its cheaper than a Sony A7).

way to precious

WARNING: This may have content which is offensive to some. Please read no further if you're that precious.

The "Alt Right" tends to label the "Alt Left" as Snow Flakes ... not the least because they vanish when there is any pressure.

Today I get an email notification that a friend of mine on on Twitter (who hardly ever says much) has retweeted something. So I go and look ... to find this:

I wondered what "horrors" lay there that this sensitive material bore hiding from a sentient adult. Scenes of torture and human dismemberment? Pictures of Donald Trump masturbating nude?

So I went to review my settings and it still didn't show ... so I had to actually uncheck the "Hide Sensitive Content" under "Safety"

to reveal:

FFS people : grow up

Friday, 12 May 2017

Electric Cars ... one day

I just couldn't resist posting this

..as usual, Elon Musk managed to fool those who were only focusing on the headline numbers, which were both good and bad: while TSLA missed earnings, reporting a (non-GAAP) 4Q loss per share of $1.33, or $215 million, far worse than the consensus estimate loss of $0.82. On a GAAP basis, the company reported a loss of $330 million, or $2.04 per share, compared with a loss of $283 million or $2.13 a share in the year-earlier quarter. This amount to a loss of over $13,000 for each of the 25,051 cars delivered in the quarter.

As I've said many times before if it worked it would be working already (oh, but I fogot about the conspiracy theories)

As I've also said, if we want to use electricity to power vehicles we need to change the paradigm entirely. Stop making them as heavy as vehicles are today (because the power needed is related to the weight, turns out Newton is still right) and start making urban environments that don't need cars to simply get you from where you live to where you work / shop.

I know people can't grasp numbers, but hopefully those don't read my blog (or if they do then just accept that this is right).

From this Tesla source: https://forums.tesla.com/forum/forums/battery-size-base-model

What will the battery size be for the base model that provides <= 215 miles of range? A 70D is 240 miles, and a 70 is 230 miles. A 60 was about 210. Since the 3 is 20% smaller, does that imply it would get about 20% more range for a given battery size, or is it non-linear? 
Seems like they should be able to pull off 215 miles with a 50kWh battery on Model 3.
If you think about that number and what it means, I used a total of 800kWh in my whole house for the entire quater which was winter (in Australia so not super cold).

So to drive for a week (or in reality probably less) a Tesla will use about what I need for my house (fridge, freezer, hotwater, lights ...) in the same period. Oh and that assumes charging is 100% efficient (which it isn't) and you don't tear off at the lights or drive in hilly areas.

Get a grip folks ... where the hell is that energy coming from and how will you get it there?

If you want to be green and sustainable - ride an electric bicycle or better yet pedal the thing and get some exersize too.

Stop paying to be serviced by a service industry which sees you like the way Pastoralists use the term service.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

An open letter to Sophie

Dear Sophie

I fully concur with your position that being a widow is nothing like being divorced (which is a kind of breakup).

I listened to your audio "standup" and would have laughed more if it wasn't for the fact that it didn't seem like comedy so much as a documentary.

I think your main point of focus should be that you still love your husband (just as I still love my wife) and that should form the basis of all your decisions. I believe that even in their absence your knowing what they would have wanted can help guide you.

You need to take your time and be cautious about your desire to "step out" (laudable) or "listen to friends" who tell you about what you need (when they barely understand your situation). Of course you need socialization, but as you've found out the "dating game" is actually a horror show with the potential to strike deeper wounds into an already hurting heart.

Back in 2013 I wrote this blog post, where I compared the situation I was in (similar to that you are in) to being cast into a pit. Just as I too was climbing out of my pit others around me were also climbing. While we may or may not have the same destination in mind one needs to be mindful that they don't see you as a disposable handhold on "their way up" and not mind if you get knocked back.

While I'm not saying to "withdraw and not take risks" I am saying to be wary of the risks. A good climber knows to take their time (and use a safety line).

You've already seen that the "dating game" isn't far from the "gladitorial game" and it seems that players are in it to "win" not form partnerships (and I seriously doubt many even know what that means).

To my mind people in that "game" are like serially abused victims. People who have been in and out of "love" and been hurt so many times that they have both barriers and baggage.

Of course we all come with baggage ... recognition of that is important. But (without knowing) I'd say that 2 years is still "early" and that while you may have desires you need to also temper them with your capacity and your fragility.

Having joined a forum or two on grief when I first found myself this way (a widower) I read of enough cautionary tales about people (with kids) moving into relationships and (for instance) having the new partner resent the partner who had passed on and even tried to re-establish themselves as the "new mummy" for the kids. Dreadful stuff.

Myself I feel that the bond between myself and Anita was special and I remain unwilling to allow that to be destroyed or injured by an uncaring person.

Give yourself time and be reflective. You had a love and a life and you need to probably spend time in grocking that more. I've put great emphasis in the last years into learning everything I could from the many lessons that Anita was teaching me (well, that we were teaching each other). I've wanted to do that because

  1. I liked the person I was becoming with her influence
  2. I respected and cared deeply for her, in her absence all I had was that
I have a number of posts on my blog about my approach to reconciliation with her loss. I have put a "tag" in the topic cloud on Grief which mainly deals with my feelings and my observations. It is unfortunately presented in "newest first" order (so looking backwards from my time perspective) but there may be something of benefit for you in there (link), who knows.

One of the strong "mother figures" in my life lost her husband with two girls (of high school age) back when I was in primary school. I've known her my entire life more or less. She eventually remarried to a fine (migrant German) man who I am also very fond of. We were neighbours when I was a child and again neighbours when Anita and I moved back into my childhood home.

The importance of that relationship is that she was (after many dark years) able to allow someone into her life and he was (being divorced) able to accept that she loved both him and her deceased husband. Equally and with no favourites. Just like it is with the children you have - love is love and it is unconditional
Lastly we are of different ages and so perhaps we have entirely different goals. As a man who is 53 I am too young to just die (like my grandfather did) at the loss of my wife and old enough to recognise that the sort of relationships I had as a younger man are just that ... the sort of things done in youth.

I know that the road will be long, and I know that there will be more dark nights and tears shed, but that's not something to be afraid of.(see "the crying"). You have lost something which was a part of you, not unlike losing your legs. You will always feel phantom pains from lost limbs (so I'm told by many who have lost them) and so your loss is not just "some one" it is indeed part of yourself that has died too.

... I can only wish you strength.

Best Wishes

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

cliché as oral social knowledge

If you read the dictionary you'd get a negative view of cliché; something like this:

which hardly seems like a positive thing. Over the last few years I've had a few clichés delivered to me by people who meant well.

Anyone with an ounce of experience knows the old cliché of "its the thought that counts not the gift". That people wish to give something but are poor does not devalue their desires or intentions or genuine care or demean the gift.

Even myself in describing my situation to people have found myself uttering what are clichés because frankly they sum the situation up. Earlier I'd rejected using them (when forming up my words) but ended up in reflection seeing that the cliché actually phrased what I wanted to say neatly and succinctly.

Was this because I had simply heard it so many times I was unable to see things another way? I don't think so. I have come to realise that like many memes these phrases have been honed by master wordsmiths who themselves probably felt what the cliché was about.

The problem I have however is that while our words give us a way to transfer this data, words do not have a way to transfer wisdom. So cliché is in some ways the goal, just without the road map there.

The roadmap is wisdom. Without wisdom we are unable to find our way out of what troubles us, even if we can hear the guidance of a cliché and know that its trying to communicate something. Cliché is not just a "worn out phrase" any more than "love is never old" or "loss is hard to deal with" are any less true over the centuries.

There are many times that I have wished for someone to help guide me, but I come to see that because "we are all on our own journeys" meaning that no one else really knows the way for me either so I in the end have to just "go it alone".

They say "time heals all wounds" ... which I can assure you it does. But healing is not the same as never being wounded, the bleeding may stop, but there will always be scars.

So don't be ashamed to offer a cliché if your heart is really in it. (even if you don't really grasp it, I know from experience you'll be sorry you did really grasp it)

Friday, 5 May 2017

thought for the day

The English language lacks a non gender specific third person infinitive (and they doesn't work here) so I encourage you to translate the "he" into "she" as needed...

I've observed a lot more tails out there than heads, indeed the distribution is best explained by ... well the "normal distribution" ... so refer to this when challenged by those "face palm" moments

(*warning: sufferers of Dunning Kruger Syndrome will be confused by the above)

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Vappu - off to a shaky start

So, this weekend I was off with some friends out in the beautiful nature of Finland enjoying Vappu. (Vappu for folks who don't know what it is)

It was off to a shaky start (in fine Finnish spring tradition) with some iffy weather. Starting out with sunshine and warmth the day before and ending the 30th with something less fun:

We didn't let that put us off, and instead worked on fixing the pontoon for the jetty out in the sleet.

Perkele himself rewarded our Suomen Sisu with beautiful weather the next day.

Which led to some really fine sunset

and (as looking along the length of the jetty from the house is looking North) a glimpse of the coming "Midnight Sun" in a few months

with "sunset" moving along the sky line till it reached this minimum before "dawning" again.

Our accomodations were humble but entirely delightful.

Gotta love "The North"