Good riddance to Orange Blotus

At approximately 16:25 UTC today, 2020-11-07, the result of the 2020 US presidential election was finally called. Joe Biden is the 46th President elect of the United States. Apparently Orange Blotus is somewhat displeased and is threatening all sorts of court action and other nonsense. Seems Trump thinks he can bully the United States government with threats of court action, the same way he bullies his tenants and former minions. I rather doubt the US Supreme Court will be involved this time around. Biden actually has quite a substantial majority now. Furthermore, Trump announcing he would take it to court… Read More ►

Remote shooting using “IP Webcam” software.

Folks considering remote shooting via smartphone may wish to experiment with Pavel Khlebovich's "IP Webcam". Basically it's an amazingly clever and full-featured app that allows you to control the camera(s) on your smartphone with a remote computer, using standard internet protocols. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pas.webcam I initially got into it because it plays nicely with Zoneminder. Thus any of my smartphones can be used as security cameras. I use it quite regularly on my rooted Ulefone 3w. to stream video to our Zoneminder installation. But it actually does way more than that. For a start, it offers several different methods of displaying video… Read More ►

A surprisingly straightforward studio flash repair

Back in 2015 I bought 3 pairs of  studio flash heads (one pair 400 joule, one pair 360 joule and one pair 200 joule). They were supplied as bargain bundles, complete with stands, brollies etc. via sellers on eBay. They were quite a bargain. Each flash head worked out at approximately £50 per unit,  They are branded "Senweit" but were actually manufactured by Shenzhen Nice Photographic Equipment Co.,Ltd. They were "end of line" products. In fact, I understand the product was discontinued in or around 2014. They are also beautifully made with (mostly ) metal casing and all-metal 16mm mounting… Read More ►

Ulefone 3w ruggedised smartphone

I recently purchased an unlocked Chinese Ulefone Armor 3W. - c/w  Mediatek chipset, 8-core 64-bit CPU, dual unlocked SIM slots, 256GiB TF slot and 10700mAH battery. I have quite a soft-spot for cheap generic Chinese phones. Of course, one has to choose the product quite carefully. One also needs to be prepared to a little work oneself. Because of its high power and relatively low cost, I did not feel particularly scared about experimenting with it via ADB (Android Debug Bridge). If one is successful, then  the device becomes a seriously useful handheld computer at a bargain-basement price. And if… Read More ►

Why does Google think I’m at Barnard Castle?

In fact, I am 416 kilometres away from Barnard Castle, as the crow flies, or about 500km by road. Granted, I very seldom use Google as a search engine. I use privacy-aware searches instead such as DuckDuckGo. I have also been to great lengths to prise my rooted smartphone from Google's clutches too. But my PC connects via a permanent IP address that hasn't moved location for 8 years! Last time I personally went anywhere near Barnard Castle was back in 2001. I honestly haven't made this up. This is a full-screen grab, unedited, captured 13:42 UTC today. What is… Read More ►

Sliderule – the eco-friendly computer from days of old

Some of my favourite computers require no PSU, no batteries, no RAM, no disks, no upgrades and they are 100% resistant to all known malware. No, I'm not talking about some newfangled Linux. I'm talking about good old fashioned sliderules. :-) Sliderules top to bottom... Top: Darmstadt 304. Despite its German-sounding name, this sliderule was in fact British. 1970's. Middle: Beautifully engineered but rather faded, all-metal (except the cursor) Picket and Eckel N-500-T, from the United states, c/w original real-leather case. Early 1960's. Bottom: The schoolboy's favourite - a British Thornton AD150 log-log slide rule. This example is a bit… Read More ►

Backups: NAS vs external hard disk

Discussion came up on a forum to which I belong whether it is better to use NAS (network attached storage) or external hard drives for backup. My answer is why not use both? Effectively I have three NAS servers. One is a media server. The others are purely backup - though they can quickly be repurposed as a media server if the first one were to suffer a catastrophic failure. I also have a number of external drives too. But in all cases they are devices I have chosen to build myself, rather than buy off the shelf. Here's why...… Read More ►

Home made light modifier

OK, so we are still in coronavirus lockdown here in the UK and I have spent the afternoon playing! :-) I saw the basic idea on a web forum on a photography site, and decided to look around my garage and see if there was any thing suitable to produce something similar. I also took a few quick hand-held snaps of the results. This is my last piece of (rather battered) perforated stainless steel sheet, cut to a roughly rectangular 29cm x 18cm, c/w edge protector (to prevent cutting ones hands on the sharp edges). Excuse the extra hole. It… Read More ►

Virtual backdrops and wallpapers

Freebies to beat those lockdown blues This is a collection of virtual backdrops and wallpapers that you may download, manipulate and enjoy, for free. These images were created by capturing and saving a large number snap-shots of an open source music visualisation application for GNU/Linux called ProjectM - not to be confused with a 2008 computer game with a very similar name. I originally created these as desktop wallpapers for computer systems. A purpose for which they work pretty well, even if I do say so myself. However, as a keen photographer I discovered they could also be deployed as… Read More ►

Roamer Ten

I was 12 years old when I built my first multi-band shortwave radio - a Radio Exchange Roamer Ten kit - as pictured above. After many nights surreptitiously listing to it hidden under the bedclothes so my mum never found out, I soon realised just how insular and generally pisspoor most our media is in here the UK. Back in the day, at least we had a fairly "world class" BBC World Service - which of course has been severely downgraded in recent years since the FO decided not to fund it any more. Meantime, my father read the Daily… Read More ►

Sony ICF2001

The lovely Alexa Allure wearing a cheongsam dress and listening to the world on a 1981 vintage Sony ICF 2001 multiband receiver. Back in the day, Sony used to be one of the market leaders in shortwave radios. Its big selling feature was the continuous AM band that covered all the standard LF, MF and HF frequencies, 150kHz though to 30,000kHz. Thus it received conventional longwave, mediumwave and shortwave bands in a big single band. In addition to standard AM reception it would also handle SSB (single sideband) and CW (continuous wave) transmissions via the switch on the front. It… Read More ►

Working from home during the current crisis

Seems a lot of people are struggling working from home rather than going into the office. Some are suggesting that a daily routine helps them. Personally, I don't really have a daily routine - providing I can start the day with a strong black coffee and have my daily "number two's", then I'm sorted. :-) I'm lucky because I love my work, and I have worked mostly from home for almost three decades. I tend to work well into the night, and get my most creative ideas between about 23:00 and 02:00. I don't need any special motivation to do… Read More ►

First day of National Lockdown

So here we are, first day of national lockdown here in the UK. How are things in your part of the world? Round here (Havant, South East Hampshire) things seem eerily quiet this morning. Our street is a sleepy little cul-de-sac and pretty quiet even at busy times. But we are 300 metres from the main Brighton line, 400m from the London Waterloo line and 600m from the main A/M27 Southampton-Brighton trunk road. Standing in the garden during working hours we can normally hear the rumble of trains and the woosh of distant traffic. Seems today there's hardly anything out… Read More ►

Coronavirus misinformation

Evil bastards exploit crisis in order to turn a fast buck Seems Facebook does not have a monopoly on coronavirus misinformation. Just checked a honeypot email account I keep active just to see what spam is currently doing the rounds. In addition to the usual plethora of luscious babes who are dying to have sex with me, and ads flogging pills to ensure it stays up long enough to do the business, it seems there's also plenty of disingenuous shite exploiting the coronavirus crisis too. The spelling mistakes in this particular example rather give the game away - and I… Read More ►

Shattaf – a healthy solution to the toilet roll shortage

As the coronavirus crisis deepens, seems we also have the deeply undignified spectacle of fully grown adults publicly fighting each other as they snatch and hoard toilet rolls. At the risk of seeming crude, I'd rather wipe my arse on a stinging nettle than squabble with strangers in a supermarket over who takes home the last effing bog roll. However, I'm pleased to report that both my dignity and my bottom are safe, since I dragged-out my "Happy Plumbers Tool Kit" and fitted a shattaf  to our toilets instead... Left: complete installation including toilet, cistern, isolating valve hose, mounting bracket… Read More ►

Covid 19 “Honest Government Ad”

They say "many a true word spoken in jest". This seems particularly applicable to this short video produced by Australia's JuiceMedia... Background to the video JuiceMedia's "Honest Government Ad" started life as satire.  But its probably the most truthful representation where we are right now with COVID-19. This associated video podcast explains its background... Read More ►

Reliable COVID-19 information

The World Health Organization is arguably one of the planet's foremost sources of accurate medical information. I have admired WHO for many years and its site is always worth a visit, even when there isn't a global public health crisis. But its Daily Situation Reports are superb. Lots of information presented in a clear and easily understood manner... https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports You might also find its main COVID-19 page helpful. I certainly do... https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/ WHO Health Emergency Dashboard... https://extranet.who.int/publicemergency Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation... https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/685d0ace521648f8a5beeeee1b9125cd Meantime the following simulation helps one to understand better how a disease such as COVID-19 can spread... https://meltingasphalt.com/interactive/outbreak/… Read More ►

Batch processing in GIMP

In my early days of using GNU/Linux full time, we had an application called Gwenview. It was, and still is an excellent thumbnail viewer. But back then it also used to have an excellent set of plugins called KIPI. Sadly the really useful ones such as resizing and changing format completely disappeared when KDE 5 came along. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="690"] Screengrab showing BIMP plugin for GIMP. System uses KDE Neon Ubuntu-based OS c/w modified "Ghost" theme.[/caption] Alessandro Francesconi's BIMP plugin for GIMP is excellent for doing Gimpy things en-batch. It also allows sequences of multiple transformations which you can… Read More ►

Safer modelling lights for Chinese flash head units

An interesting question came up a little while back on one of the photography fora to which I belong "I'd be interested in knowing how you swapped the halogen bulbs for led's though waist_it because I have the same problem and as you say those bulbs are hotter than hell, makes using modelling lights with a grid or snoot very fraught?" Well, I had already been down that road in 2015, when I successfully converted all six of my generic Chinese flash heads from halogen to LED modelling bulbs. Firstly, one needs to do a little homework Determine what voltage… Read More ►