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Sunday, 19 November 2017 Dereel Images for 19 November 2017
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Object schema-validation controller throttled?
Topic: technology Link here

Tim Bray wrote an article yesterday days ago about the image quality of his Pixel 2 as processed by various software. Interesting, but not spectacular. How would a real camera have handled it? Decided to leave a comment. But of course there was a form to fill out. Did that (“How many sides does a triangle have?” Three, of course), and got an error message:

Insertion Aborted
Error: Object schema-validation controller throttled; exiting.

Huh? Deliberately obfuscated “error message”? It seems so. Subsequent attempts (including replacing “three” with “3”) brought no joy, but interesting variants on the error message:

Configuration Interrupted
Error: Subsystem normalization controller failed health check; exiting.

Initialization Problem
Error: Model parse controller has invalid index; exiting.

Queuing Malfunction
Error: Origin consistency-check initializer not authenticated; exiting.

Creation Malfunction
Error: Module synchronization activator mismatch; exiting.

Update Problem
Error: Microservice marshalling responder missing; exiting.

I wonder what the real problem was.


Leucospermum flowering
Topic: gardening, photography Link here

The Leucospermum cordifolium in front of my office window is gradually starting to flower:


This should be Leucospermum-cordifolium-3.-PMax.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Leucospermum cordifolium 3. PMax          Dimensions:          5186 x 3888, 3565 kB
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This is a halfway stage before all the stalks extend.

This also gave me another chance to take a focus stacked image, this time hand-held with 20 exposures. I can't see any evidence that Zerene had trouble with it, though it's gradually becoming clear that PMax creates cleaner backgrounds than DMap. Here PMax, then DMap (run the cursor over an image to compare it with its neighbour):

 
This should be Leucospermum-cordifolium-3.-PMax.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Leucospermum cordifolium 3. PMax
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This should be Leucospermum-cordifolium-3.-DMap.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Leucospermum cordifolium 3. DMap
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The other issue that I still need to address is the relatively flat output. Here the PMax variant in comparison with a single image:

 
This should be Leucospermum-cordifolium-3.-PMax.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Leucospermum cordifolium 3. PMax
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This should be Leucospermum-cordifolium-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Leucospermum cordifolium 2
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In this case, the single image might be preferable, though clearly the depth of field is insufficient.


Revisiting old focus stacks
Topic: photography, technology Link here

I'm gradually getting to the stage where my Zerene results are sufficient for most purposes. What about my older attempts? Can it help there? My first attempts at manual focus stacking go back nearly 5 years, but on that occasion I had to give up because my software wasn't up to it. Today I got:

 
This should be Garden-flowers.PMax.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Garden flowers.PMax
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That's not perfect by a long shot. It can't be: I only had two images, and there's an intermediate area that is out of focus in both shots. But it works, and in this case there's no significant colour or gradation difference.

Then, on 18 June 2015, I tried to merge a series of images of a Eucalyptus flower. By this time I had the version 4 firmware for the Olympus OM-D E-M1, but problems with DxO Optics “Pro” stopped me by giving me converted images with different sizes. That's still an issue, but now my scripts correct for it:

 
This should be Eucalyptus-flower-PMax.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Eucalyptus flower PMax
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In this case, the default DMax image has an even worse background:

 
This should be Eucalyptus-flower-DMap.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Eucalyptus flower DMap
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Started reading the documentation, which suggests that DMax really requires tuning to get good results, but that they can then be very good.


Bloody autofocus!
Topic: photography, animals, opinion Link here

Another series of horse riding videos today, like the ones I took three months ago. I wasn't keen: I had had serious focus issues last time, and I didn't know how to fix it. But Chris and Yvonne were insistent, so out again, this time with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm f/4.0 IS PRO, using a medium-sized focus area and autofocus with tracking. And how about that, with one minor glitch the camera kept focus.

Or at least, it claimed to have done so. The focus system showed a green frame round one of the horse heads that tracked perfectly. But it was lying: the image didn't stay in focus, like here at about 1:20:

 
This should be Chris-Yvonne-focus.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: Chris Yvonne focus
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Dimensions: 686 x 393, 424 kB
Dimensions of original: 1930 x 1106, 2045 kB
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That's really frustrating. What do I do?


Buddlejas: the fat and the lean
Topic: gardening, opinion Link here

A year and a half ago we planted five Buddleja saplings to the south of the house. Their fate has been varied. The two at the end both died. One did really well, and the others look like they have barely grown. Here the westmost two:


This should be Buddleja-1-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Buddleja 1 detail          Dimensions:          953 x 283, 213 kB
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This should be Buddleja-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Buddleja 2
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It's difficult to recognize the small one; it's at the extreme left of the first image, and the bottom of the second one. Why has it done so badly? My best guess is that the soil there is really poor, and there were no nutrients. I've fixed that now, and we'll see how (if) things improve.


Monday, 20 November 2017 Dereel Images for 20 November 2017
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Wikimedia error messages
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Some while back I linked to some images on Wikimedia. Today I discovered that one wasn't loading. My loading mechanism includes some JavaScript magic, so all I saw was a “loading” message that took too long.

OK, follow the link manually. A remarkably vague error message taking up the entire height of a 2560×1440 screen:

 
This should be WP-error-message-1.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: WP error message 1
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OK, page down...


This should be WP-error-message-2.png.  Is it missing?
Image title: WP error message 2          Dimensions:          857 x 315, 50 kB
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Wouldn't you think that they would have found a better way to report that particular error? The one they mention is Just Plain Wrong.


Wildflower photos
Topic: gardening, photography Link here

It's only been 3 days since I noticed this wildflower:

 
This should be Wildflower.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wildflower
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They shot up all over the place, and I had planned some macro photos of them. But only today they seem to have finished flowering. Grabbed a couple and took them into the office, where I got at least one reasonable photo:

 
This should be Wildflower-1-PMax.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wildflower 1 PMax
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Oh. That's not the same plant. Friday's flower looked like this:

 
This should be Wildflower-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wildflower detail
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OK, still worth photographing. But it's really not easy. I'm gradually coming to the conclusion that the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II focus peaking fails badly with extreme macros. And how many steps? How many times have I asked that? Once I expressed the opinion that a default of 99 steps was ridiculously many, but now it seems that it's only rather silly to say 99 and not 100. This image was taken with 20 images, and it's clear that only the closer half is in focus.

 
This should be Wildflower-6-PMax.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wildflower 6 PMax
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The colour balance and contrast are also rather strange. This is a primarily white flower, but it looks almost grey. That's particularly obvious looking from the front, where at least most of the flower is in focus:

 
This should be Wildflower-7-PMax.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Wildflower 7 PMax
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So what do I need to do? Optimize exposure and work out how many images to take. Yes, I could take many more, but somehow that goes against the grain. It must be possible to calculate the number of steps. But there are still too many unknowns.


Upgrading mplayer
Topic: multimedia, technology Link here

One issue I still have with teevee is “tearing” of the displayed image on images that pan (horizontally). That's a common complaint, but in my case it started after my upgrade in June, where the software stayed the same and the hardware got faster. No obvious reason why it should start tearing.

Went searching on the web and found the usual recommendations, including VDPAU. Looking at my wrapper scripts, I found that I didn't specify VDPAU anywhere. Try out with explicit -vo vdpau and got:

=== grog@tiwi (/dev/pts/1) /teevee/spool/Series/Deutschen 24 -> /home/local/bin/mplayered -vo vdpau Die-Deutschen-II-\(6_9\)-20171004-153000.mp4
MPlayer SVN-r37862-snapshot-3.4.1 (C) 2000-2016 MPlayer Team

Playing Die-Deutschen-II-(6_9)-20171004-153000.mp4.
libavformat version 57.36.100 (internal)
libavformat file format detected.
[mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2 @ 0x215a810]Protocol name not provided, cannot determine if input is local or a network protocol, buffers and access patterns cannot be configured optimally without knowing the protocol
[lavf] stream 0: video (h264), -vid 0
[lavf] stream 1: audio (aac), -aid 0, -alang deu
VIDEO:  [H264]  1280x720  24bpp  25.000 fps  3155.9 kbps (385.2 kbyte/s)
Error opening/initializing the selected video_out (-vo) device.
Clip info:
 major_brand: mp42
 minor_version: 1
 compatible_brands: isommp42
 creation_time: 2017-09-28 09:16:17
 copyright:
 copyright-eng:
Load subtitles in ./
SUB: Could not determine file format
Cannot load subtitles './Die-Deutschen-II-(6_9)-20171004-153000.txt'.
==========================================================================
Opening audio decoder: [ffmpeg] FFmpeg/libavcodec audio decoders
libavcodec version 57.39.100 (internal)
AUDIO: 48000 Hz, 2 ch, floatle, 128.0 kbit/4.17% (ratio: 16000->384000)
Selected audio codec: [ffaac] afm: ffmpeg (FFmpeg AAC (MPEG-2/MPEG-4 Audio))
==========================================================================
AO: [oss] 48000Hz 2ch s16le (2 bytes per sample)
Video: no video
Starting playback...
Error opening/initializing the selected video_out (-vo) device.
A:   0.0 (00.0) of 2610.0 (43:29.9) ??,?%

Why that? In any case, it looked like a good time to upgrade my mplayer, not made easier by the requirement to merge my own patches. But that went relatively easily. This time I created a directory hierarchy /usr/ports/multimedia/mplayer-local, copied the contents of /usr/ports/multimedia/mplayer to it, and then merged my own patches. Surprisingly, it worked out of the box. And the total build time for mplayer was a little over a minute, quite surprising with today's bloated ports.

And it worked. In particular, I didn't need to specify -vo vdpau: the tearing went away without it. Is it invoked by default, perhaps?

It wasn't until we were watching TV in the evening that I discovered that the remote control didn't work. But that almost seems normal; somehow LIRC seems to have it in for me.


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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