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Thursday, 21 September 2017 Dereel
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Where's my disk?
Topic: general, technology Link here

On Monday I discovered I hadn't paid for an eBay item, so I rectified that quickly. Sent a message to the seller. No reaction. Sent another message to the seller. Still no reaction.

OK, time to take further steps. Where eBay had claimed that the item was paid when it was not, it now claimed that it was not paid when it was. Back to eBay's confusing web site. “Take action”. What action? I've been there before on Monday. OK, get eBay to call me “valued customer” and walk me through. Maria called back pretty quickly. Problem: she had a strong fake American accent (probably originally from the Philippines), and I really couldn't understand her. I don't like doing it, but I had to ask her to get somebody else to call me back.

That was Michelle, not much more intelligible. I'm beginning to wonder if it isn't the telephone. I must try changing to the other phone some time. In any case, she was not able to walk me through the matter: there is no way to “take action” in this case. “Take action” means “Pay with PayPal”, and if I pay by other means, the system can't handle it. I need to contact ask a question of the seller and get him to “answer” it by closing the case. She was prepared to give me his phone number. No, sorry, I want some kind of record. OK, she would contact him. That sounded like a reasonable workaround of the site breakage, so we left it at that.

And that's where it stayed. No evidence of any activity. OK, I can open cases too. Sent the seller a message asking for response by tomorrow evening.

Some of there things are inevitable, but eBay's system makes it much more difficult.

By coincidence, received a message from eBay sent to my second account, the one I set up trying to fix the breakage they caused three years ago. It seems that they're celebrating their 18th birthday! I've been with them since July 1999, so I must have signed up with them some months before they were born. There's an explanation, of course: this is eBay Australia, but they didn't tell me that.


Goodbye TV
Topic: multimedia, opinion Link here

Six months ago I finally gave up on TV, mainly because of the appalling usability of the software available. We still have live TV reception, but I gave up on that in late 1983 when I got my first video recorder. Clearly technology is overtaking the concept of transmitting information only at fixed times.

So it was interesting to see that I'm not alone, at least if I pretend to be a young adult:

Surprisingly, Statista followed up this with a less focused article about the display device:

Here they distinguish between a TV set (“only”) and a digital device (“only”). Apart from the fact that I'd expect the vast majority of people to use both, what do they mean by “digital device”? Everything in a modern TV set is digital with the exception of the tuner. I suppose they're lumping mobile phones, tablets and computers (remember them?) into the latter category. But there are enormous differences and considerable overlaps. My TV is a real TV, with tuner and toy digital functions, but I use it only as a large monitor. And that's why: I can get a decent sized image. In an age where people are rushing to resolutions of 3840×2160 and larger, displayed on screens with diagonals of 160 cm and more, who wants to be limited to a mobile phone with a diagonal of, say, 10 cm and an aspect ratio that makes much of that useless?


Friday, 22 September 2017 Dereel Images for 22 September 2017
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Damaged pump unit
Topic: gardening, general Link here

Finally a day that was warm, sunny, and not too windy. Just what I need to spray the weeds. And the battery of the spray unit was flat! OK, put on charge. Came back half an hour later to find the thing rattling to itself and producing smoke. Had I forgotten to turn the power off? No, the switch was off. But this thing has a stupid knob (potentiometer?) that bypasses the switch. It looks as if the unit is dead. I think that's worth a return to the seller.


Pterostylis
Topic: gardening Link here

I don't think I've ever seen as many orchids in one place as in our “house forest”, the wooded area at the west of the property:


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They're some species of Pterostylis, and there are at least 4 patches of them. There must be hundreds of them.


Focus stacking again
Topic: photography, gardening, opinion Link here

I've done many attempts at focus stacking over the last couple of years, and even bought a tripod to help. But I've never used both outside the house. Today was the day, taking photos of the Pterostylis:

 
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And this time I definitely hit the limits of in-camera processing (“focus stacking” as Olympus defines it). Here both foreground and background are out of focus.

 
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OK, “focus bracketing”, the main difference of which is that I can take more than 8 images (a ridiculous 99 by default). But what's the correct number? I guessed at 20, but when I looked at the images, I found I had 35! That turned out not to be such a disadvantage: I used 24 of them. But how did I get that number? Did I set the number incorrectly? Checking the camera, I found it set to 9.

There's something funny here. It seems that the camera stopped because focus had reached infinity—maybe. According to the Exif data, the last 7 images had a depth of field reaching infinity. Theoretically I could have failed to save the new number of shots—the menu system makes that easy—but that doesn't explain why the camera was set to 9 when I checked. And it also doesn't explain why the camera carried on taking 6 further images after reaching infinity. There's more stuff to puzzle about here.


More panorama refinement
Topic: photography, opinion Link here

The weather was good today, and tomorrow they're promising rain and wind, so I took my house photos a day early. After last week's experience, it was clear that I needed to remount my rail so that it wasn't so visible, they way I did at the end of July. That worked, up to a point. I still have the issue of the side of the panorama rail in the right hand side of the image:

 
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That will be difficult to remove. It really does stick out in front of the horizontal axis, by about 2.5 cm. The horizontal angle of view of the lens is only 144°, so I can minimize it by moving it closer to the camera, but that brings the rail back into view. I wonder if any specialized panorama hardware addresses the issue, but I rather suspect that not.

Fortunately it's not that important. Today I had another problem. I left the cable for the remote shutter release hang forward:

 
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That, too, proved not to be that much of an issue, though it did require masking.

And what about flare? Today the sun was low in the sky, and I had some direct shots. Happily, the lens is quite good there. Here a comparison with the new M.Zuiko 8 mm f/1.8 Fisheye PRO (first image) with the Zuiko Digital 8 mm f/3.5 fisheye:

 
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In each case, there's a reflection below the sun and to the left, in a very similar position:

 
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Here the old fisheye seems to be just better. It is round the sun and with the flare below the sun as well:

 
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But then it has an additional reflection to the right, where the new fisheye has none:

 
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On the whole, I think that for flare the old fisheye is (barely) better than the new one. But I think both are very good. There aren't many lenses that can deal with direct sun in the image. I must compare with some other lenses.


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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