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Sunday, 1 September 2019 Dereel Images for 1 September 2019
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Blue Heelers: done!
Topic: multimedia, technology, opinion Link here

Finished downloading my episodes of Blue Heelers rather more quickly than I had expected. That was due in part to the fact that many of the episodes were in lower resolution:

01/S1-E05---Waiting-For-Apples-BLUH-005.mp4     VIDEO:  [H264]  1280x720  24bpp  25.000 fps  2495.2 kbps (304.6 kbyte/s)
01/S1-E06---Apprehended-Violence-BLUH-006.mp4   VIDEO:  [H264]  1280x720  24bpp  25.000 fps  2497.4 kbps (304.9 kbyte/s)
...
08/S8-E03---Dead-For-Quids-BLUH8-003.mp4        VIDEO:  [H264]  896x504  24bpp  25.000 fps  1499.3 kbps (183.0 kbyte/s)
08/S8-E04---On-The-Road-BLUH8-004.mp4   VIDEO:  [H264]  896x504  24bpp  25.000 fps  1497.0 kbps (182.7 kbyte/s)

So in the end I had “only” 349048 MB. And the numbers don't add up: according to the episode list, there should be 510 episodes, but I only have 508. In once case I know what's wrong. The download failed:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/6) /spool/Series/Blue-Heelers/06 300 -> yt https://7plus.com.au/blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042
[7plus] BLUH6-042: Downloading JSON metadata
ERROR: No video formats found; please report this issue on https://yt-dl.org/bug . Make sure you are using the latest version; type  youtube-dl -U  to update. Be sure to call youtube-dl with the --verbose flag and include its complete output.

But why? Yes, I could report a bug, but why should only one download out of 509 fail? What about playing directly from the web browser? It plays the uninterruptible advertisements, but then hangs. What's it really trying to say? Downloaded the page and the previous one to compare:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/6) /spool/Series/Blue-Heelers/06 297 -> fetch https://7plus.com.au/blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-041
blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-041                       12 kB  111 MBps    00s
=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/6) /spool/Series/Blue-Heelers/06 298 -> fetch https://7plus.com.au/blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042
blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042                       12 kB  111 MBps    00s
=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/6) /spool/Series/Blue-Heelers/06 299 -> diff -wu blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-04*
--- blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-041   2019-09-01 09:50:23.696833000 +1000
+++ blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042   2019-09-01 09:49:47.864950000 +1000
@@ -11,12 +11,12 @@

-      <meta name="description" content="Ben becomes the centre of an emotional triangle when his ex-wife arrives unexpectedly, seeking a reconciliation, and a victim of domestic violence misconstrues his support for affection.">
-      <meta property="og:description" content="Ben becomes the centre of an emotional triangle when his ex-wife arrives unexpectedly, seeking a reconciliation, and a victim of domestic violence misconstrues his support for affection.">
-      <meta property="og:title" content="Blue Heelers - Married To The Job">
-      <meta property="og:image" content="https://imageproxy.swm.digital/image?u=https%3A%2F%2Fimagemap.swm.digital%2Fimage%2FBLUH6-041&format=jpeg&w=1200&q=80">
+      <meta name="description" content="PJ is inconsolable when the Heelers discover Maggie's missing car in flames with a charred body inside.">
+      <meta property="og:description" content="PJ is inconsolable when the Heelers discover Maggie's missing car in flames with a charred body inside.">
+      <meta property="og:title" content="Blue Heelers - Web Of Lies">
+      <meta property="og:image" content="https://imageproxy.swm.digital/image?u=https%3A%2F%2Fimagemap.swm.digital%2Fimage%2FBLUH6-042&format=jpeg&w=1200&q=80">
       <meta property="og:site" content="7plus">
-      <meta property="og:url" content="https://7plus.com.au/blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-041">
+      <meta property="og:url" content="https://7plus.com.au/blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042">

     <link rel="preconnect" href="https://component-cdn.swm.digital/content" crossorigin>
@@ -72,7 +72,7 @@
     <link rel="icon" href="/favicon.ico" type="image/x-icon" sizes="16x16">

-      <link rel="canonical" href="https://7plus.com.au/blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-041"/>
+      <link rel="canonical" href="https://7plus.com.au/blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042"/>

Clearly this isn't a youtube-dl problem. It must be the veil past which I could not see. But in fact, youtube-dl had a suggestion. At one point I mistyped a partial URL and got an interesting message:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/6) /spool/Series/Blue-Heelers/06 300 -> yt blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042
ERROR: 'blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042' is not a valid URL. Set --default-search "ytsearch" (or run  youtube-dl "ytsearch:blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042" ) to search YouTube

OK, that's worth trying:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/6) /spool/Series/Blue-Heelers/06 301 -> youtube-dl "ytsearch:blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042"
[youtube:search] query "blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042": Downloading page 1
[download] Downloading playlist: blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042
[youtube:search] playlist blue-heelers?episode-id=BLUH6-042: Collected 1 video ids (downloading 1 of them)
[download] Downloading video 1 of 1
[youtube] _ejNUPiOUbA: Downloading webpage
[youtube] _ejNUPiOUbA: Downloading video info webpage
WARNING: Unable to extract video title
[youtube] _ejNUPiOUbA: Downloading MPD manifest
[dashsegments] Total fragments: 521
[download] Destination: _-_ejNUPiOUbA.f134.mp4
[download]   6.3% of ~103.08MiB at  1.03MiB/s ETA 03:48

How about that! What did I have?

-rw-r--r--  2 grog  home  894,381,099 29 Aug 09:17 S6-E40---Dirty-Money-BLUH6-040.mp4
-rw-r--r--  2 grog  home  894,360,821 29 Aug 09:38 S6-E41---Married-To-The-Job-BLUH6-041.mp4
-rw-r--r--  1 grog  home  150,764,279  1 Sep 09:56 _-_ejNUPiOUbA.mp4

That's rather less than the others. Took a look at it. The good news is that it does indeed appear to be a representation of the episode. The bad news is that the quality is terrible, and even worse, it only seems to be the top left quarter of the view. Still, it's intriguing. I wonder what it did there.

So that accounts for one of the missing episodes. What about the other? They've done everything they can to make it hard to find a missing episode: first, they have renumbered them (now 14 seasons instead of 13), and they have reallocated the episodes apparently at random. They also appear to have renumbered some of them, though that's not the issue here. So I numbered them sequentially to match the Wikipedia page:

=== grog@teevee (/dev/pts/6) /spool/Series/Blue-Heelers 335 -> k=1; for i in */*mp4; do echo -n $k: $i; echo; k=`expr $k + 1`; done | less
...
428: 11/S11-E40---Running-Scared-BLUH11-040.mp4
429: 12/S12-E01---Mind-Wide-Open-BLUH12-001.mp4
430: 12/S12-E02---On-The-Inside-BLUH12-002.mp4
431: 12/S12-E05---Secrets-and-Lies-BLUH12-003.mp4

According to the online list, there should be another episode between 428 and 429, “Reasonable Doubts”. Where is it? The detail page has the answer:

This episode of Blue Heelers went to air LIVE. ... NOTE: This episode is not included in the original DVD release. However, it is included in the ViaVision release as a special feature.

That explains it, but why doesn't Seven have it on their web site?


Understanding Trump supporters
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Does Donald Trump lie? As we used to say years ago, “Is the Pope Polish?”. But recently I read a question on Quora: What do you think of China disputing that any calls took place regarding the trade wars with the United States over the weekend?. For me the answer is clear: Trump lied, maybe just to keep his hand in. But Stan Fasack answered differently (quoted verbatim, including punctuation):

Chinas stock market biggest loses in its history , growth slowest in two decades , needs it USA currency to purchase internationally , millions have lost their jobs , and companies are planning to move their manufacturing to a more friendly environment.

Then you ask the question which seems to dispute what trump has said ….

Guess it comes down to who do you believe ….. I choose our president , because it makes sense .

It takes all kinds, I suppose. I simply commented “… and because he would never tell a lie.”.

WRONG! I don't know what a lie is:

The clarion cry of the left ,truly falls on deaf ears of the 64 million American citizens who back trumps words and policies .

Trump exaggerates , so what ! But what is important is what trump delivers …. The left has so painted themselves into a corner that they think past rhetoric ,if repeated enough times would be believed by trumps base .

Here is the bad news for liberals, trumps base has grown , and three years of Russia Russia which had no legitimacy, has worn thin in trumps America .

Here is what IMO liberals never seem to understand, politicians have lied to mid Americans for decades , they lied to inner city minorities for decades , and educators have lied to all of America ,when we graduate young men and women who can not read or write at a high school level ,can’t do basic math , and have little chance of success in the real world.

Trump has made promises during his campaign to 64 million Americans , who believe two things about Trump … one is promises made promises kept , and the second is even the promises he has not delivered yet , he remains steadfast in trying to implement those policies and principals .

A final note , he has accomplished this without the help of a single democratic in congress ,

Later he made a further comment:

What you have misconstrued is what constitutes a lie ….. will give you two examples

When Obama said you can keep your doctor and you could keep your hospital , that was a lie ….why you may ask , well because he was president and he lied about a policy he initiated …

When trump says that unemployment is the lowest for minority inner city citizens , in all of recorded history…. That might not be accurate but it is true enough to be accepted ….. WH.Y. Because it is a positive outcome due to his policies …

Trump said for three years he did not collude with Russia to win election that was a true statement ,,, when Schiff and nadler said they had proof positive that he did , that was a lie .

Fascinating! It would be easy to put this down as just plain nonsense, but there's something very interesting in this answer and the response to my comment: an insight into how Trump can lie (my definition, thank you) as much as he wants and people will still not only support, but also defend him. It's also interesting that he considers it sufficient for Trump to support his supporters, and not all the US American people.


Power fail!
Topic: Stones Road house, general, opinion Link here

In mid-afternoon I heard a beep from the office UPS. That was nothing unusual when it was behind the flaky Eaton UPS in the garage, but now it's fed directly from the inverter. Something wrong there?

Yes! Power failure, continuing. OK, what do things look like? There was a mixture of overcast sky and shy sunshine, the battery had 63% charge, and the PV array was charging slightly. Nothing to worry about until things change. First, turn off the air conditioner: it could drain the battery in 90 minutes. And then do the cooking I had planned on gas rather than electricity.

Powercor was its usual confused self, reporting the fault multiple times with different causes. Durham Lead had two different faults, it seems, and I've decided that Buninyong-Mount Mercer Road is one of their favourite guesses at where the problem might be:

 
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Can I hold out 3 hours? As it turned out, yes, no problem. The power actually came back at 17:20:03, by which time the battery state of charge had climbed to 70% and fallen back to 66%. But it was a good thing it happened when it did: it was getting dark, and I would soon have been dependent only on the battery. In fact, I had less than an hour's reserve:


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The top line (bathtub) is the grid voltage, between 0 and 252 V, and the purple line is grid power consumption, up to 5 kW round 18:30. The dirty green area is the battery state of charge, which hit 20% at 18:16; without grid power it would have decreased to 5% by about 18:30, then shut down.

Summary: yes, the PV system saved me from an extended power outage. No, it didn't save me from nail-biting.


Monday, 2 September 2019 Dereel → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 2 September 2019
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First tulips of spring
Topic: gardening Link here

The first tulips are out:


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That seems early, and indeed looking back over the last few years it's about 2 weeks earlier; normally they come pretty much exactly in mid-September:


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The only exception was 3 years ago, when they were there in late August:


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I suppose it must depend on the rainfall as much as anything, though it has (subjectively) been relatively mild.


Ashampoo fail
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Processing my photos involves putting it through Ashampoo photo optimizer. It often delivers good results, though I have had multiple issues with it over the years.

But then yesterday I had no results at all. After putting it through my comparison program, there was no obvious difference. OK, do it manually. Crash! “The photo could not be optimized correctly".

What caused that? Lots of experiments, and also bug reports, in which I established:

  1. The problem was not related to the photo itself. I was unable to optimize photos that I had already optimized previously with exactly the same combination of software and hardware.
  2. The problem was related to the version of optimizer. I have three different versions: “Photo Optimizer 6”, “Photo Optimizer 7” and “Photo Optimizer 2016” (this last a free version which doesn't produce results of obviously different appearance from the other two). Optimizer 7 "works", but produces result files that are at least double the size of the original, and up to 5 times the size. The others fail in the same way.
  3. It doesn't depend on the computer. It fails on euroa (laptop) in exactly the same way as it does on dischord (desktop). euroa, in particular, has not had any software updates of any kind in months, and was last rebooted on 10 August.

So what does it depend on? I had guessed some library, but that wouldn't explain the problems with euroa. At Tandem we once had a microcode bug that was triggered by an overflow in a (local) time counter, and we watched it start off in Australia, progress via India to Europe, and it would have gone on to the USA if we hadn't caught it first. Could it be something like that?

That's not the only bug with Ashampoo. In particular, it can't handle big images (somewhere round 50 MP seems to be its limit, and my E-M1 Mark II can generate 80 MP images). Time to look for something else, once again noting that “optimization” tends to mean “shrinking”, clearly not what Ashampoo 7 does. About the only thing I found was yet another Ashampoo version, the free “Optimizer 2019”. Downloaded that and ran into yet another Ashampoo bug that I have already seen but not recorded: entering the license key can take up to 30 minutes because of the slow echo on the input screen. Related to remote desktop, maybe? In any case, that was enough for today.


Kehr um!
Topic: general, music, opinion Link here

Off to pick up Yvonne this evening, the first time I've driven at night in quite a while, to the sounds of „Die schöne Müllerin“.

But something was wrong. The headlights seemed so dim. I was halfway down Grassy Gully Road as the singer (Peter Schreier?) sang „Kehr um!”, from part 15, „Eifersucht und Stolz“. Turn around! OK, stopped, turned around, went back home and changed cars. I can look at the cause of the dimness some other time, but I didn't want to discover that I had run out of electricity half way to Ballarat.

Who says that music has nothing to say?


Ballarat by night
Topic: photography, general, opinion Link here

Arrived in Ballarat deliberately a while before Yvonne's bus was due to take some night photos, something that I haven't done in a while. I was going to take the Leica Summilux 25 mm f/1.4 and the Leica DG Summilux 15 mm f/1.7 ASPH., but by coincidence I had received a newsletter from Olympus about... taking night photos. OK, worth reading, photos from different photographers. And they all recommended the M.Zuiko DIGITAL ED 7-14 mm f/2.8 PRO.

OK, I can do that too, so off with it instead. It was raining, and arguably some of the results didn't look that bad:


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It's interesting also to note the fact that I was able to take photos hand-held with shutter speeds as slow as ½ s without any obvious camera shake. Tried some photos of car lights going past, like this one:


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What puzzles me is that the car itself seems to have almost completely disappeared, not only in this photo.

Despite the rain, managed to keep the lens dry until the last 2 shots, showing the bus arriving:


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Another thing that's really complicated is white balance. Which of these is correct?


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I chose the first one, but the white lines on the street are clearly yellow. The second one, taking the white balance from the rego plate of the car on the left, is even yellower. But taking it from the road markings makes it unacceptably blue.


Außer Spesen nichts gewesen
Topic: animals, general, opinion Link here

Yvonne back more or less on time with a long story of her weekend. The course was Introduction to Trauma-Informed Horsemanship™ (admire that ™) with Sarah Schlote, who came from the other end of the Earth and had already caused me grief with payment.

Yvonne wasn't happy. She ended up with the feeling that Sarah really didn't know much about horses, and she was clearly also neither a good presenter—she kept repeating material—nor able to control the participants, who kept interrupting. And what she presented seemed to have little to do with the syllabus (PDF). In the end, apart from being $1000 or so poorer, Yvonne didn't have much to show for it. As the Germans say, „Außer Spesen nichts gewesen“, which doesn't translate well into English. Roughly: only expenses.


Tuesday, 3 September 2019 Dereel Images for 3 September 2019
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Echiums under way
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

This time of year is fun: there's always something new coming into bloom. Today it was the Echium:


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A replacement for Ashampoo?
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Got round finally installing Ashampoo Optimizer 2019 and getting past the license checks. It looks just like Optimizer 7: it seems that about the only difference from the older versions is the gratuitous change of the user interface. It works. But how about that, it, too, enlarges the images. But it has one difference from Optimizer 7: no batch mode! For that you have to pay money and upgrade to Optimizer 7. So that's a non-starter.

OK, I had some other package that looked like it might be able to do the same job. What was it... ah, right: movavi photo editor. Found out how to start it (why is it so difficult to find programs on Microsoft?), and sure enough, it didn't do too badly. But:

Before:
-rw-rw-r--  3 grog  lemis   2,916,842  3 Sep 14:49 Eurphorbia.jpeg
After:
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel  14,540,829  3 Sep 17:02 Eurphorbia.jpeg

Once again the “optimized” version is nearly 5 times the size of the original. What causes that? Could it be that the images use different JPEG transforms from the ones that Ashampoo and movavi expect? I have some recollection of a base set of transforms (directory?) that each JPEG image uses, and potentially there's a conflict here. How can I find out? I really don't understand JPEG very well.


Air fried steak and kidney pie
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

Individual steak and kidney pies for dinner this evening. Normally we do this in the toaster oven (the real oven seems too energy-hungry), but today I tried it in the bigger of the two “air fryers”. I was just able to get the two forms into the device, but only because the bigger one is slightly oval:

How long? I started by pre-baking the bases, and then gave them 10 minutes at 200°. They didn't look bad at first:


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But only the part in the middle of the fryer was properly browned; the outside was still raw. I had to turn it around and give it another 8 minutes at 180° (I think) to get a reasonable result:


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I wonder if it's worth it. Like so many things with “air fryers”, it certainly doesn't scale.


Wednesday, 4 September 2019 Dereel Images for 4 September 2019
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More flash fun
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

Yesterday's flash photos of the steak and kidney pies worked well enough with the mecablitz 15 MS-1 ring flash, but on comparison discovered that the background was underexposed:


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Why? Did a couple of comparisons, and once again the studio flash came out best:


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But on reflection (well, consideration), that makes sense. The pots were correctly exposed, and since the background was further away, it got less exposure. That's a general limitation of on-camera flash, especially with larger distance ratios.

In the process of taking the photos, noted a further limitation of Olympus' remote flash: no information about the flash unit(s) in the Exif data. That's partially understandable, but it could at least report the flash unit on the camera.


Cleaning teevee
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

teevee has been making fan noises from time to time recently. Time to clean the dust out:


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Put it back together, turned it on. Yes, the noise had changed. Now it was continuous. I had forgotten the graphics card, which took a lot of trouble to get out:


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OK, more compressed air, ...


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The second photo is a view of the heat sink under the fan. Not much difference. I had to go at it with cotton swabs before I finally got something worthwhile:


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After that, no noise any more. Well, not until the evening, when it started up all over again. Time for a new graphics card, I think.


fsck!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Rebooting teevee wasn't the normal procedure I had expected:


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Why? And didn't I have this on SUJ? Oh, no, I had had hangs with large updates with SUJ. But this should have been a clean shutdown. And there were a couple of interesting details in the recovery. Yes, under some circumstances you need to repeat fsck, and this was one of them. But then something caught my eye:


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Why did the first pass say that the link count for the directory should have been 1? That's never a valid link count for a directory. It was empty, so 2 is correct (specifically, the directories . and ..). And once again I'm puzzled by the fact that such an old, dead directory should still be floating around.


More Ashampoo pain
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Many responses to my Ashampoo bug reports today:

I'm sure that, once again, their bug tracking software is a big part of the problem. But surely it must be in their interest to provide better support than this.


Ashampoo 7 sizes: workaround
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

More thinking. Why should Ashampoo Optimizer 7 create output files that are so much bigger than the original? Then it occurred to me: you can influence the size of JPEG images by setting the compression. How was it set on versions 7 and 2019? 100%! What nonsense, but at least it's a partial explanation. What happens if I set it to 75%? It's still larger, but almost acceptable.

So: I have reported this problem on multiple occasions. I'm told that only I have the problem, and that it must be my camera. It has (ostensibly) been reported to software development. Yet at least part of the problem is the ridiculous default compression that they set in their newer versions.

What can I say?


Daily NBN outage announcement
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

I wonder if there will ever come a day when no threat of an National Broadband Network routine outage exists. Today's came as usual:

NBNCo has let us know that they are planning network maintenance in your area, and that your service at <strong>29 STONES RD, DEREEL VIC</strong> will be affected.<br>

The details are:
  - Start date and time: Fri 27th September 2019 00:00 AEST
  - End date and time: Fri 27th September 2019 06:00 AEST
  - Window: 6.0 hours

You may experience the following interruptions during the maintenance
  - 1 min

The only surprise is the length of the outage. One minute, some time between 0:00 and 6:00. I can live with that, especially since they already have 8 hours of scheduled outages spread out over that whole day.


Drosera!
Topic: gardening Link here

Walking the dogs today, found these flowers:


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Not many of them, but noticeable. It proves that they're some form of Drosera:


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And I've never seen that many in flower at once.


Thursday, 5 September 2019 Dereel Images for 5 September 2019
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Another power failure
Topic: general Link here

Another short, harmless power failure this morning at 2:50:02.


Olympus high resolution again
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

While researching the Ashampoo problems, checked the high resolution mode on my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. I'm pretty sure that Ashampoo can't handle it.

Yes, that's the case. It seems that it can handle the JPEG output (just shy of 50 MP), but this native 80 MP image brings the message “Could not load the image. It is possible that the file format is not supported”:


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How good is this high-resolution stuff? The first was taken with the E-M1 Mark II and the M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8, at f/1.8. That should be fine from the sharpness point of view, but maybe not from the focus point of view, so I tried another with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 30 mm f/3.5 macro. Here a detail of a Hibiscus (of course), first at 20 MP, then at 80 MP:

 
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Is that worth the trouble? Or should I try with something that is less likely to move between the individual images?


Ashampoo problems: solved!
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Mail from a different person at Ashampoo today, with the usual plethora of attachments of previous messages, a total of 3175 lines. It started with:

Kay Hasbargen, Sep 4, 17:22 CEST

Dear Ashampoo customer,

We've recently received word about software issues from a few Ashampoo® Photo Optimizer 6 users.

We'd hate for you to experience similar issues, which is why we're happy to offer you a free upgrade to its successor!

Use Ashampoo® Photo Optimizer 7, worth $39.99, completely free of charge! This program supports Batch processing as well.

That was in reply to my message which included the line:

I would really appreciate it if you would read my responses.

And the next attachments, also from me (how do they order these things?):

On Wednesday, 4 September 2019 at 6:15:00 +0000, Patrick Bartsch (Ashampo=
o GmbH & Co. KG) wrote:
> Patrick Bartsch, Sep 4, 08:14 CEST
>
> do the recent problems also occur in Ashampoo Photo Optimizer 7?

I have already answered this question, and it's described in the link
I sent you. To repeat: no, but the output files are up to 7 times as
big as the original, making it useless.

As if that wasn't enough, as generous as the offer is, they should have noticed that I already have a license for Optimizer 7.

I'm left wondering how I would solve the organizational problems that Ashampoo has if I were in charge.


Ashampoo file sizes investigated
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Why are the output files from Ashampoo Photo Optimizer so big? The original 7 fold size increases have been explained: they were due to the 100% “quality”. But even when I select 75%, they're significantly bigger than the original. A poor choice of converter, perhaps? What happens if I create TIFF images, optimize them, and then convert them to JPEG with ImageMagick? Bingo! Much smaller images.

Is the quality really comparable? How can you tell? With lossy formats, you can't expect two images of the same quality to be identical.


More spring flowers
Topic: gardening Link here

Walked through the forest with the dogs today. The Drosera are flowering there too, though not as “profusely”:


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Also Pterostylis:


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An unidentified wildflower, about 1 cm across:


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And lots of different Acacias:


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Garden work and dead plants
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

Finally got round to pruning our « Monsieur Tillier » rose, removing probably 80% of the growth. Also a chat with Garry and Diane Marriott from next door. They're planting lots of plants along the border between the properties, apparently not for the first time. They, too, have experienced the remarkable plant death that I've been reporting over the last 4 years. As if to make the point, Diane gave me another lilac plant to replace the many that have died. I wonder what's wrong with the soil round here.


Friday, 6 September 2019 Dereel Images for 6 September 2019
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Ashampoo bug search
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

Another email from Ashampoo this morning:

Date: Thu, 05 Sep 2019 11:47:17 +0000

please send an example picture (original before optimization and optimized after optimization) so we can take care of it.

What a good idea! I should have had it myself. In fact, I did:

Date: Mon, 02 Sep 2019 07:15:47 +0000

I don't understand why this has happened.  I haven't changed any software or settings.  I'm attaching one image in JPEG form (output from DxO PhotoLab). The original raw image is available, but your software doesn't like the size.

But you can't really blame them for that. Their bug tracking system is so terrible that nobody can find anything in it. But if my assumptions are correct, this should happen with any image. And it does. Tried it with the sample images they supply, and got:

  -rwx------  1 grog  lemis  1,085,839 16 May 15:07 optimized/statue-batu-caves.jpg
  -rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis    773,256 16 May 15:07 originals/statue-batu-caves.jpg

Now admittedly that's not as bad as my experience, but it should give them something to go on. But why do they have to ask me about this?

In passing, how horrible is Microsoft file system navigation. It took me 15 minutes to find those files. The original proved to be in C:\Users\Public\Pictures\Ashampoo and the result ended up on eureka's /Photos/Ashampoo_grog/photoOptimizeHistoryDataBase. How did it get there? This was a virgin installation of Ashampoo Optimizer 7, but clearly it sucked in knowledge from version 2016 without so much as a by-your-leave.


Summer meets spring
Topic: gardening Link here

Flowers in the lounge room today:


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The roses (admittedly, not the prettiest, nor the biggest) are from last summer, and the daffodils are, of course, fresh.


Saturday, 7 September 2019 Dereel Images for 7 September 2019
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Improving JPEG size
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

After my experience of the last few days, spent some time today converting my photo processing workflow from using JPEG intermediate images to using TIFF. A couple of surprises:


Investigating Ashampoo compression
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

So how do the file sizes of Ashampoo Optimizer compare with Optimizer 6 when using the same JPEG compression setting? I can't convert with Optimizer 6, but I have plenty of images which have been converted, at the rather unusual default setting of 92%. Why not take the one I complained about six months ago? There I had:

=== grog@eureka (/dev/pts/11) ~/Photos/20190316 89 -> l _Ashampoo_Photo_Optimizer_Backup/Hellebore-2.jpeg Hellebore-2.jpeg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  wheel   4,323,518 16 Mar 17:29 _Ashampoo_Photo_Optimizer_Backup/Hellebore-2.jpeg
-rwxrw-r--  2 grog  lemis  23,475,024 16 Mar 17:29 Hellebore-2.jpeg

OK, take that image (the unoptimized one) and put it through Optimizer 7 at different compression rates. Here the results.

Original from DxO (85%): -rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis  4,323,518 16 Mar 17:29 Hellebore-2.jpeg
Optimizer 6, 92%         -rwxrw-r--  2 grog  lemis  6,632,721 16 Mar 17:29 Hellebore-2.jpeg
Optimizer 7, 100%        -rwxrw-r--  2 grog  lemis 23,475,024 16 Mar 17:29 Hellebore-2.jpeg
Optimizer 7, 92%         -rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis  6,973,661  7 Sep 16:23 Hellebore-2.jpeg
Optimizer 7, 85%         -rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis  5,737,038  7 Sep 16:37 Hellebore-2.jpeg
Optimizer 7, 75%         -rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis  4,700,721  7 Sep 16:21 Hellebore-2.jpeg
ImageMagick 100%         -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis 28,018,272  7 Sep 16:28 43166663_DxO.jpeg
ImageMagick 92%          -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  8,072,150  7 Sep 16:29 43166663_DxO.jpeg
ImageMagick 85%          -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  4,207,519  7 Sep 16:29 43166663_DxO.jpeg
ImageMagick 75%          -rw-r--r--  1 grog  lemis  2,995,312  7 Sep 16:30 43166663_DxO.jpeg

The Ashampoo images were optimization of the original 4.3 MB image. I can only compare Optimizer 6 at 92%; there Optimizer 7 is roughly 5% larger than Optimizer 6, and 61% larger than the original. Even at 75% the result is larger than the original.

The ImageMagick results aren't directly comparable, nor should they be. They reflect the alternative that I have chosen: convert to TIFF with DxO, optimize it with Optimizer 7 (producing a TIFF output file) and then convert that TIFF to JPEG with ImageMagick. The results are interesting: at 100%, the image is significantly larger than the Optimizer 7 output from JPEG; but the sizes diminish rapidly as the quality decreases. I still need to think this one through.

The other issue is that Ashampoo claimed that the problem appeared to be due to my camera. OK, what's a popular DSLR? Canon 80D? Let's look at some sample photos from that camera. Digital Photography Review has galleries, in this case here. Took a look and found this one:

It's interesting because it clearly needs optimization; in fact, the DPReview people did one themselves with Adobe Camera Raw:

OK, download JPEG and raw image, convert the latter with DxO PhotoLab, optimize:

-rw-r--r--  2 grog  lemis  10,452,866 24 Mar  2016 0370580967.jpg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis  18,406,050  7 Sep 16:53 5922129759-100%.jpg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis   2,922,363  7 Sep 16:58 5922129759-75%.jpg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis   4,075,477  7 Sep 16:45 5922129759-85%.jpg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis   8,674,434  7 Sep 16:56 5922129759.jpg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis  25,016,811  7 Sep 16:54 Dan-Canon80D-22_DxO-100%.jpg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis   4,742,910  7 Sep 16:57 Dan-Canon80D-22_DxO-75%.jpg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis   6,079,607  7 Sep 16:45 Dan-Canon80D-22_DxO-85%.jpg
-rwxr--r--  1 grog  lemis   5,875,583  7 Sep 16:55 Dan-Canon80D-22_DxO.jpg

5922129759.jpg was the original downloaded JPEG, and Dan-Canon80D-22_DxO.jpg the converted raw image (at 85%). The difference in size is surprising, as is the difference between the original JPEG and the one optimized with Adobe Camera Raw (10.5 MB). But one thing is clear: here, too, the images are much larger. Clearly Ashampoo can't have tested their software very well.

In passing, once again I note how hard it is to live with Microsoft. How do I delete the old images to start again? It seems that I have to eliminate the entire hierarchy, otherwise Ashampoo loads all potential images, including the backups, which have the same file name and appearance, and there's no way to tell them apart.

And apart from investigations, how did Ashampoo's automatic Optimizer compare with DPReview's manual use of Adobe Camera Raw? Here are the comparisons, first the out-of-camera JPEG, then the output of DxO PhotoLab, then the Ashampoo optimization, then the manual optimization (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):


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  ;

Clearly it's one of the last two (Ashampoo or ACR). I asked Yvonne, and she preferred the Ashampoo version. I'm wondering if it isn't a little too green.

About the images from DPReview: I've contacted them and asked for confirmation that it's fair use. Potentially, though, they will ask me to remove them, in which case only the text will remain.


Cailles aux raisins again
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

It's been pretty much exactly 2 years since we last ate caillles aux raisins. Yvonne no longer likes the idea, but surely there must be a way to get rid of the 10 quails that we still have in the deep freeze.

Minor tweaks this time: more brandy, bacon over the quails, add a shallot (these last two both from the cailles aux raisins secs), and more grapes. The results were OK. I didn't change it today, but I've decided that the 30 minute cooking time isn't enough. I'll try 45 minutes next time.


Blog admirer
Topic: general, opinion Link here

We had just sat down for dinner when my mobile phone rang in the office. That's unusual. So far no spammers have found it. It's also unusual that I heard it: on my home page I write:

Since getting the second radiation tower in Dereel, we now have coverage, and the phone is usually turned on. But I don't carry it with me, and I won't hear if it rings. Use only if I tell you that it will be answered.

Who was it? I don't know. I have the phone number, of course, but whoever it was didn't give his name—possibly I didn't answer in an overly friendly tone, but it wasn't that unfriendly either. “Just wanted to tell you that I love your blog”. “Thanks”. And then he hung up.

Who was it? Nobody who read my diary, you'd think, if he refers to blogs. But the blog is 13 years out of date, so maybe he hasn't read the bottom, where I say:

This is a diary, not a “blog”

I don't have that many admirers, and I'm left wondering whether I didn't come across as overly unfriendly. The time certainly didn't help.


Sunday, 8 September 2019 Dereel Images for 8 September 2019
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Flash problems after all
Topic: photography, food and drink, opinion Link here

Mee soup for breakfast. Yvonne thought it looked good, and that I should take a photo.

She soon wished that she hadn't. Things didn't go quite as planned. I grabbed my trusty mecablitz 15 MS-1 ring flash, put it on the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm f/4.0 IS PRO , and took a photo:


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Image title: Mee soup 2          Dimensions:          5394 x 3888, 4915 kB
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What's that black ring? And that shadow? The ring was clear: vignetting. The flash extends so far in front of the lens that it obstructs it at focal lengths less than about 16 mm:


This should be mecablitz-15-MS-1-3.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: mecablitz 15 MS 1 3          Dimensions:          5192 x 3888, 2136 kB
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OK, longer focal lengths, here 25 mm:


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Image title: Mee soup 3          Dimensions:          5187 x 3888, 3717 kB
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That shadow is still there! Is that available light from the window? No, it's clearly coming from above, while the window was on the left. To be sure, after breakfast I tried once with available light, and once with flash and 1/250 s exposure:


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Not only is the shadow different (and less pronounced this time), the exposure is 5.6 EV less.

Is it the position of the flash tubes? Tried rotating the thing in increments of 90°, to no avail, and in any case, I later confirmed that the flash tubes are where you'd expect:


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In passing, it's interesting that you can take this kind of photo and get correct exposure. At least that works. And in this case there was no issue with the shadow.

Different lens? I tried with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 30 mm f/3.5 macro, again with no clear explanation. These two should have been identical:


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This should be Mee-soup-8.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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It's clear that the shadow must have something to do with the flash unit itself. But it's always at the bottom. And how could it take up half the image, like in the image immediately above? It can't be flash sync problems; they're very different in shape, perfectly straight, and they also come down from the top of the image, not up from the bottom. It can't be the lens, since it happened with two different lenses, though not the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60 mm f/2.8-4. I suspect that that's a coincidence.

I'm baffled.


Another power failure
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Short 2 second power failure this afternoon at 13:07:03.


Monday, 9 September 2019 Dereel Images for 9 September 2019
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Ring flash vignetting compared
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

I'm still puzzling about yesterday's flash vignetting issues with the mecablitz 15 MS-1, and at some point I'm going to have to do some more experiments, once I have thought things through.

The big puzzle is the shadows at the bottom of the image:


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I still have no idea what that could be. Camera strap? No, apart from the fact that it's too repeatable, I didn't have a strap on the camera. It was still mounted on the panorama rail from Saturday. The rail itself? No, it was behind the flash, and I had to remove it to mount the shorter macro lens, but the shadow remained.

Other comments on vignetting on the web? No, couldn't find anything useful. I wonder how many of these flashes Metz sold.

The other issue, the real vignetting, is more obvious. How do the flashes compare? I have four ring-like macro lights: the “Viltrox JY-670 Macro Ring Lite” (now disowned by its makers web site), the Olympus STF-8, the toy LED flash and the mecablitz. How do they compare? Here on the E-M1 with the Leica DG Vario-Elmarit 12-60 mm f/2.8-4, which exhibits similar vignetting to the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm f/4.0 IS PRO:


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This should be Olympus-STF-8-5.jpeg.  Is it missing?
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From this point of view (and really only from this point of view), the STF-8 is the clear winner. But it took me 5 minutes to attach. It's really a horrible unit. And clearly the mecablitz poses the biggest problems. Why didn't they put the mount further forward? Might that make it more difficult to attach?


The eternal Brexit
Topic: politics, language, opinion Link here

Brexit continues to fascinate from numerous viewpoints. The good news is that British democracy is more resilient than the US American democracy. But the activities of the last week are still mind-boggling:

  1. Boris Johnson loses the parliamentary majority for his party, narrowly not because of the defection of his own brother Jo, who waited to take second place.

  2. 21 of his own party members voted against him in a critical vote. What do you do if you're in a hole? If you're Boris Johnson, it seems, you kick them out of the party (or, to use a term that most of the world has heard for the first time, withdrew their whip, which, it seems, means party membership). With another couple of protest resignations, that's round 25 below majority; I've lost count.

  3. The vote was to avoid a “no-deal Brexit”, which was looking more and more likely, especially as Johnson appears to have done nothing to improve the chances of a deal. It went through the House of Lords on Friday and was approved. In the meantime, Johnson stated that he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than ask the EU for an extension.

    And that would put him in contempt of parliament, with the threat of imprisonment if he didn't comply. On the other hand, he has also ruled out resignation.

Today the Queen has approved the bill for the extension. And, as promised, parliament has been prorogued (there's another word nobody knew) until 14 October, at a session where Johnson was not present. They're certainly not going down without a fight:

Johnson's future hinges on him getting a “deal” Brexit by 19 October. Given the turmoil of last week (six lost votes in six days), I can see lots of fun and games happening between 14 and 19 October.

People compare Johnson with Trump, some even disfavourably. But what they have overlooked is that the British parliamentary system, maybe because it's not cast in concrete like the US Constitution, looks like it will weather the tide better.

How will it end? Here's a rather unlikely possibility from