Blog entries from October, 2008

A proper tripod. Cheap.

Thursday, October 30th, 2008 at 8:44 pm

Another thing I picked up at the digital SLR course was how much better a proper tripod could be. For the long exposure shots in the last class I was lucky enough to use Moses’s Manfrotto tripod with its 486RC2 ball head. It was rock solid, yet so easy to adjust … but almost anything would have been an improvement over the $15 tripod that I had.

So I started watching eBay and it wasn’t long until I got a 484RC2 ball head – the smaller version of the 486RC2 but still ample for my camera – for $78 inc postage. This wasn’t much cheaper than it was listed online, but I was happy.

Now I needed something to attach it to and I was lucky enought to come across an older, but unused, Manfrotto 190 tripod that had no bids – because the tripod was pickup only from Frankston. So for one bid and a drive later I had it for $82 including the EastLink tolls.

But it gets better as I didn’t just buy a tripod. I bought a 190 tripod with a 141RC head, which I have recently sold for $56. This means that it ended up costing me $26. ie just over $100 for an excellent tripod and ball head.

I am quite happy with it.

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Geohashing, this time with other people

Saturday, October 18th, 2008 at 4:50 pm

This afternoon I drove down to Fountain Gate to complete my second Geohashing expedition. Amazingly shortly after I arrived two other people arrived. We hung around for about half an hour and even picked up some rubbish.

More details (including photos) are on the expedition page.

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Commute videos

Friday, October 17th, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Yesterday I was fiddling with the PowerShot A430, the second secondhand camera I got, and for some reason decided to look up how long it could record video for. Unlike other cameras I have used, such as the S45, which have a time limit of a couple of minutes this camera will keep recording until the output file reaches 1GB.

When set to 640×480 it says that it can fit 47 minutes on the 2GB card. To say it another way: 33 minutes per video. That’s enough to record my commute so before I left home this morning I mounted the camera to my bike. and they have just finished uploading to YouTube

The ride to work:

The ride home:

I only started using that route home a week ago and it is the shortest yet. Not to mention that there isn’t a single traffic light and I avoid a couple of dodgy bits caused by riding on the footpath up Blackburn Road.

Here it is in map form:

Monash Uni to Glen Waverley (October 2008)

The file from the camera is 640×480 at 10 fps and around 800MB for each 20 minute ride. Converting to Xvid at average settings dropped that to around 140MB. To fit under YouTube’s 10 minute limit I sped it up 3x, which also makes it a bit more interesting. Also to make it easier to upload I reduced it to 352×288 to get a much smaller file. I also removed the audio as there was lots of wind and other noises.

While recording video worked well, it’s not an option for longer rides. For those I still want the camera to automatically take a full resolution photo at frequent intervals.

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Riding in a big loop, thanks to Eastlink

Sunday, October 5th, 2008 at 4:28 pm

Last weekend I went on another ride with Hamish. This time in a big loop from my place, out to Eastlink, in along the Eastern, down the old outer circle railway to Alamein then across to his place in Ashwood. I then wimped out and caught the train from Jordanville to Glen Waverley instead of riding all of the way home. Despite that it was still a decent ride for me at 52km in 2.5 (riding) hours.

The night before I had worked on a second version of the camera mount, but as it ended up conflicting with my GPS unit I reverted back to the first version. However, this meant that I was able to assemble a second mount that Hamish attached to his bicycle with another secondhand camera that I had bought. Although they both required a manual trigger we got over 350 photos.

Although it isn’t the ride we did, I have drawn up the following loop that is almost entirely on offroad bicycle paths:

Blind Creek, Eastlink, Koonung Creek, Anniversary, Scotchmans Creek and Dandenong Creek Trails

The following trails are used:

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I did need a Lego earthmover

Sunday, October 5th, 2008 at 3:15 pm

Yesterday Dan said that I needed to get a Lego earthmover which are currently on special. As I was already planning to stop via Kmart, and needed to get my mind off a specific project at work, I decided to get one.

Which then led to a relaxing couple of hours where I first assembled it, and then (temporarily) motorised it. Since I don’t have the current motor set (which integrates extremely nicely inside the model) I turned to my 18 year old universal motor set. As there was an intermittent fault with the battery box I got my first ever technic set, the Technic II Set, down from the roof. After playing with it for a while I reverted the earthmover back to its non-motorised form.

It’s a very cool model and contains heaps of pieces that I have never seen before, not surprising since my next most recent set is the Supply Ship from 16 years ago. Unlike Dan I do miss the studded-beams, but I think that is mainly because the style of construction is now quite different and I am reacting emotionally to the change.

At some stage during the week (after I have printed the downloaded instructions in colour) I will break it down and reassemble it into the B model. And then probably back into the A model.

And that project at work? Just one of those projects that if not done properly will have a negative impact on most of the users and could even have major negative impact to the production environment. All because when the two developers on the project were asked to start designing (thinking, planning, etc) they started writing code without even looking at what specs existed. So at the time when the project should be ready for end to end testing; the specs are incomplete, there is no technical design and the code that has been written is only partially functional, not to mention it being overly complex for what is needed. And don’t get me started on our style and standards that have not been followed…

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