Blog entries from July, 2008

Three weeks into the digital SLR course

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008 at 08:37pm

Last night was the third week of the digital SLR course, and this time we were outside taking long exposures:

Long exposure traffic - Fire truck

If you look carefully you can see the fire truck.

On the second week we were assigned some homework to get photos of moving water and to do some panning which David and I went out to get on Saturday afternoon down at Dandenong Creek. At 3 seconds the water flowing around the rocks looked more like fog than water:

Moving water (3s f/32)

More photos can be found in a Flickr set and I will be adding to it as the course proceeds.

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Jumping on the bandwagon … in 7-14 days

Saturday, July 19th, 2008 at 02:49pm

After thinking about it for a week I finally decided that I would get an iPhone. So, after hearing that some people who signed up last weekend had received their phone, this afternoon I went up to the shops and signed up at an Optus reseller.

While I wait I’m going to start researching cases and docks…

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The gaps are slowly being filled

Friday, July 18th, 2008 at 09:29pm

Over Easter last year I went for a ride to cover the new section of the Plenty River Trail that connected with the Yarra Trail and, at the top of the Yarra Trail, the Lower Mullum Mullum Creek Trail. Before being interrupted by a chain failure I ran out of path along the Mullum Mullum Creek.

Today, via the Bicycle Victoria email newsletter, I found out that a new section is under construction that will bring it closer to the EastLink Trail. It doesn’t reach all the way, but the final section is in the planning stages.

Gradually, as these gaps are filled, the Metropolitan Trail Network is becoming a real network. This makes it easy to get lots of variety for easy weekend rides as covering the same sections of path in the same order can easily get boring.

Then there are the long rides to consider. Now the EastLink Trail is open you can get from Craigieburn to Patterson Lakes on nothing but off-road paths. Which one ride I intend to do later in the year.

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Canon vs Nikon

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008 at 01:54pm

Back when I started thinking about getting a digital SLR camera my choice was between a Canon and a Nikon.

Last night I started a seven week digital SLR course over at Box Hill TAFE. This was actually David’s (who I host for) idea as he also has a digital SLR, specifially a Nikon D80.

I don’t expect to learn much on the theoretical side, which is what happened last night as it confirmed what I had read or heard from people about apertures and shutter speeds. Practical techniques should be another matter, both from the exercises (some of which are outside with a tripod for long exposures) and from the teacher’s 20 year experience.

What does this have to do with a choice between Canon and Nikon?

Almost of the people I know with a digital SLR have a Canon, the others being two Nikons and an Olympus. From this and what I had seen online I expected this distribution to continue at the course. I was mistaken.

There are ten students in the course; five Nikons, four Canons and a single Olympus. The teacher even commented that not that long ago that Canon dominated (out of 15 students max) with only a couple of non-Canon cameras in each course.

Something that could be indicitive of the recent rise of Nikon (in the type of people taking this course) is that four of the five Nikon’s were the D80 with a single D40x. On the other hand the Canon’s were all different; a handled down 350D, my 400D, a brand new 450D (nice and shiny) and a 40D (even nicer and more shiny).

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Skipping the iPhone bandwagon … for now

Monday, July 14th, 2008 at 02:06pm

The release date for the iPhone 3G has passed, and I didn’t get one. Even though a couple of people I know lined up in the early morning to get one.

Do I still want one? Maybe.

As I had the day off work (using up annual leave before I lose it) I went up to the shops to have a look at one in person. It was nice.

So now the question comes back to money. How much do I want to pay and do I want to sign up to a contract? I am only on my second mobile phone and I bought that outright through eBay. I just hate the thought of a two year contract.

Of the three phone carriers, Optus has the best pricing and, by announcing their pricing well in advance of the release date, screwed people around the least. So that is who I am looking at.

Of their plans (including buying it outright from them) I’m leaning towards a 16GB iPhone on a $39 plan (just a plan, not a cap plan) for 12 months. The big draw for me is the 500MB of data and 18c per SMS message which is where I anticiate most of my usage to be.

So, do I sign a ‘raincheck contract’ with Optus that has a 10-21 day delivery time (who knows how realistic that is), or do I simply wait until the end of the month to see what actually happens with stock levels?

(I will be calling around some of the Optus resellers to see what they have to say)

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Don’t run SATA optical drives under AHCI

Sunday, July 6th, 2008 at 05:43pm

One of the first things I did when building my new computer was to switch the SATA controller to AHCI. You know, because it is supposed to be better than the IDE emulation mode.

It wasn’t, at least for me…

Shortly after getting it all up and running I found that the system would regularily lock up. But only when burning a DVD which led to a lot of coasters. Thinking it was a driver problem I made sure I was running the latest ones, which partially fixed the problem. Now the burn would still fail, but the system wouldn’t lock up. Instead the drive would just disconnect.

Now I thought it was a hardware problem so I tried different cables, different power connectors and even a different drive (but still a Pioneer). The problem didn’t go away.

At first I researched problems with SATA and optical drives. Many pages ended up pointing to fix (KB928253) that seemed promising. But the fix for that was included in SP1, which I was already running, so I turned to another possibility that involved deleting the UpperFilter and LowerFilter registry entries (KB314060). This seemed like it might be relevant as I had had problems with installing burning software. But continuing the trend, this also didn’t work.

Last weekend I decided to do a fresh install. Partly to see if that would fix the problem, but mostly so I could start with a good install that I hadn’t experimented with. At first I thought this worked. Until the second DVD I tried to burn.

Which brought me to a solution I had discounted. During my research I had found pages talking about how SATA optical drives don’t behave properly under AHCI and the fix was to run them under IDE emulation. I couldn’t see why a recent SATA optical drive wouldn’t work properly under the native SATA mode, haven’t they bothered to implement the spec properly? Or maybe the controller doesn’t?

It has now been a week since I changed back to IDE emulation mode and it as been stable. I haven’t noticed any difference in performance so I’m not really sure what the fuss about AHCI being better is all about.

Aparrently there are motherboards that let you run part of the SATA controller in AHCI and part in IDE emulation. My board, an ASUS P5K Pro, does not support that. But I don’t think that would have affected my choice.

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