Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Encrypting zips on OSX

If you are backing up or archiving to DVD or other non-ACL'd media, encryption is a desirable option. Sadly OSX doesn't have any good encrypted zip possibilities. Imagine if you backed up your profile to DVD, someone got hold of the backup and now has access to all those banking web sites with saved passwords etc. OK so they would need to get your keychain password, but there is a better way.

What we can do is to create an encrypted Disk Image using Disk Utility.

Go to File>New Disk Image from Folder

Select the folder you want to turn into a disk image.

Give it the correct options ie encrypted at 256bit, and what you want to call it

After a few seconds you get the box to apply your password

And then the disk images process continues. Be warned that 256 encrypted images even for small amount of data can take a long time to create. The folder I've used here had 800Mb of photos in in and it took about 20 minutes

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Slowing Down or Speeding Up Quicktime Movies

There is a manual method of slowing down or speeding up Quicktime movies which I wrote about a few months ago.

Now if you have the foresight to run OSX there is a utility to do this much easier. TransformMovie from

Remove the Navbar from Blogger

Removing the Navbar from Blogger may nor not be against the Terms of Service. I've not been able to find out. Anyway if you want to, here's how.

Go to "Dashboard", click on the "Layout” link for your blog, and then the “Edit HTML” link.

Look for the following lines

    Updated by: Blogger Team
    ----------------------------------------------- */

    /* Variable definitions

and insert "#navbar-iframe {display: none !important;}" in there.

    Updated by: Blogger Team
    ----------------------------------------------- */

    #navbar-iframe {display: none !important;}

    /* Variable definitions

Save and view your blog.

Update: if you are using the new templates, do this instead.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nikon D300 v 1.10 firmware

Nikon have released firmware v 1.10 for the D300.

It has the a fair selection of fixes and improvement. The ones that spring out to me are that you can now apply a photographer and copyright meta tag.

  • The Highlights playback display option has been moved from Display mode > Basic photo info > Highlights in the playback menu to Display mode > Detailed photo info > Highlights. 
  • The size and color of “Demo” displayed in the monitor with playback when No memory card? in the Custom Settings is set to Enable release, have been modified. 
  • The range of settings available for ISO sensitivity settings > ISO sensitivity auto control > Minimum shutter speed in the shooting menu has been increased from 1/250 – 1 s to 1/4000 – 1 s.
  • When shooting in hand-held live view mode and the frame is magnified prior to autofocusing, operation has been modified so that display returns to the magnified display rather than full-frame display. 
  • Images captured with Rotate tall, in the playback menu, set to On are not automatically rotated for display immediately after capture (image review).
  • A Copyright information item has been added to the setup menu. When Copyright information is enabled, the copyright symbol (©) is shown in the shooting info display. 
  • Recent settings can now be displayed in place of My Menu. 
  • Custom Setting e3 Flash cntrl for built-in flash (e3 Optional flash when an optional Speedlight is mounted on the camera) can now be added to My Menu using the Add items option in My Menu from Add items > Custom setting menu > e Bracketing/flash. 
  • The degree of the High ISO NR setting can now be confirmed in the shooting info display while the High ISO NR setting item, in the shooting menu, is being applied.
  • Ankara, Riyadh, Kuwait, and Manama have been added to the Time zone options for the World time item in the setup menu. 
  • When a GPS device is used and no heading information is available, ---.--° is now displayed for the Position > Heading option in the GPS item in the setup menu.
  • When shooting in live view mode using Camera Control Pro 2 (Ver. 2.2.0 or later) with a PC-E lens, the aperture setting can now be adjusted from the computer.
  • Focus acquisition performance in dynamic-area AF mode has been improved.
  • Focus acquisition performance with contrast-detect AF has been improved. 
  • Auto white balance performance has been improved.
  • The fourth digit in seconds display for GPS latitude and longitude information is now rounded off rather than omitted.
  • The current MB-D10 battery type setting can now be confirmed in the shooting info display when R6 / AA-size batteries are used with the Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D10. 
  • An issue that caused an increase in noise with shooting in [M] exposure mode at a shutter speed setting of bulb with the shutter held open for less than 8 seconds and Long exp. NR enabled has been resolved. 
  • An issue that prevented shutter release at the specified shutter speed when no operations were performed for 30 seconds in mirror up mode has been resolved. 
  • An issue that caused abnormal image display when Image review was set to On and the playback zoom in button was pressed immediately after shooting at the following settings has been resolved. 
  •  Image quality: NEF (RAW ) + JPEG
  •  NEF (RAW) recording: Lossless compressed or Compressed
  •  Image size: S or M
  • When the Speedlight SB-800 was mounted on the camera with flash mode set to distance-priority manual (GN) mode, and the camera recovered from standby mode triggered by the auto meter off function, the distance information displayed on the SB-800 changed. This issue has been resolved.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pictures of Fireworks

From Fireworks November 2008

Trying to photograph fireworks is a very hit and miss business!

The first rule of photographing fireworks is that all the usual rules just do not apply!

I captured these pictures and other images
from Bonfire Night using the D300 and Tokina 12-24 lens on a tripod.

I used the following settings:

exposure: 5 seconds
aperture: f/4.5 and f/11
lens: 12mm = 18mm at 35mm equivalent
iso = 800

and I used an intervalometer to take photos after each other.

It looks to me, and you have to remember that the results are very random, that f/11 is not enough exposure, and f/4.5 is too much so I would reduce the exposure to say f/8.

It would also be worth trying a shorter shutter speed say 4 seconds, or longer say 6 seconds. But, if you get a nicer picture you won't necessarily be able to say it was due to a different setting.

Oh yes, the wind was blowing at about 5 to 10 miles per hour, which means the light traces are longer.

So less wind would require longer shutter and smaller aperture.

You've just got to try stuff!

From Fireworks November 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

MSI Wind / Advent 4211 - update to 10.5.5

You'll want to update to 10.5.5 since it has some security and other fixes in it. However for the hackintosh its a problem since it installs an incompatible kext 'AppleIntelCPUPowerManagement.kext' and this will cause a kernel panic and crash.

If you are in this situation then you can get yourself out using these instructions.

If you used any installer other than msiwindosx86 you'll need to do the following before you run the 10.5.5 updater

sudo su

while sleep 1 ; do rm -rf /System/Library/Extensions/AppleIntelCPUPowerManagement.kext ; done

handily msiwindosx86 uses disabler.kext to prevent the installation of the problematic kext.

After I updated, the machine started and then restarted and then started up OK. I then installed the updated kexts from

Another restart and things seem OK apart from the screen resolution which is wrong, and then I get a pop up that says some of the graphics drivers have not been installed correctly. So I re-installed AppleIntelGMA950.kext and AppleIntelIntegratedFramebuffer.kext using Kext Helper b7.

Another restart and the screen resolution is OK.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Microsoft Webmaster Tools and Blogger

Lots of people who run a blog also use other Google tools such as Analytics and Webmaster tools. I was curious to see what Microsoft had to offer.

You go to and sign in using your Windows Live credentials, and then you can start the process.

You need to choose the meta tag option. So get this and then in Blogger go to Layout> Edit HTML add it right after the "head" tag.

The tools themselves are somewhat rudimentary, and the documentation is laughable. Obviously I wanted to know where to place their meta tag. The process of getting a meta tag does not tell you where to put it. So I looked at

In the FAQ it mentions "How does Live Search know that I own a site?" and the talks about using a .xml file or a meta tag to show you own the site. And then it says "Use the to submit or update your verification method."

Umm use the what? This whole project seems to not have a name. This happens elsewhere. For example "Once you have decided on your verification method, use the to make sure Live Search knows what it is."

What am I supposed to be using??

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Using Preview to adjust photos

If you need quick and dirty image adjustment, and don't want to load iPhoto or even a shareware application like GraphicConverter, you can use Preview.

You can crop

Adjust image properties such as hue, saturation, exposure, brightness, in fact all of the same properties as from inside iPhoto

and others such as resize.

These features and the ability of Image Capture to download selected images means quick for some jobs you just don't need iPhoto or Photoshop. These tools load quickly, are very lightweight and take very little RAM.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Image Capture to download selected items from your camera

Rather by luck I discovered that Image Capture can download selected items from your camera ie if you have a camera that does not mount to the desktop so you cannot just drag the photos over.

To me this is a better option than using iPhoto for just grabbing images. Of course I can still use iPhoto to manage images and adjust them.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Replace WiFi card and HD MSI Wind / Advent 4211

Replacing the WiFi card and the hard disk in the Wind / Advent is straight forward.

After undoing all the bolts on the bottom, and easing off the bot
tom case, you will see the bolt that holds the WiFi card in. Undo it and the card slips out. Remove the aerial leads, and to put in a new card, do it all in reverse.

To replace the hard disk first of all remove the WiFi card.

You need to do this to get access to the retaining bolt for the HD.
With the WiFi card removed, you get access to the HDs bolt, undo and pull the HD out.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

OSX Hackintosh - You Need to restart your computer

I installed 10.5.5 on my hackintosh, but it crashed, and I had to hold the power key down to shutdown and then restart.

On restart I got the message "You Need to restart your computer. Hold down the power button for several seconds or press the Restart button".

When you do this you get the same message all over. If you look at the top of the screen in the boot messages you'll see "Unsupported CPU \n" and "AppleIntelCPUPowerManagement".

Whats happened is that the updater has installed the kernel extension (kext) AppleIntelCPUPowerManagement.kext so you need to remove it.

To do this boot from the DVD.

On my MSI Wind / Advent 4211:

- hold down F11 on boot
- select 'boot from DVD'

after the usual whirring away you'll get the start of the installation.

- select you language. I selected English
- click 'continue' at the welcome message
- click Agree when asked

At the 'select destination screen' go to the Utilities menu and select Terminal.

When the terminal window opens type:

cd /Volumes/HardDisk/System/Library/Extensions
rm -rf AppleIntelCPUPowerManagement.kext

Quit from terminal
Quit from the installer and click restart.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Opera - sends all queries to

I don't generally use Opera, and I also I use a web filter service, the rather excellent ScanSafe, I feel fairly safe against web based threats.

If you have a similar service you may not need the free service from Opera that sends all your DNS queries to a 3rd party, Seattle-based Haute Secure.

The Opera Fraud Protection can be enabled/disabled from Tools > Preferences > Advanced > Security by checking/unchecking the box marked "Enable Fraud Protection."

You will see the protection operating by querying your firewall for requests to

The Washington Post has an article about this, and also some weaknesses, like sending the query clear text, having a weak HMAC so you can reverse engineer the process, or, if you are a malware / phishing 'vendor' querying to see when you need to change hostnames.

It seems performance is not very good. The report says that on a sample page with nearly 3 dozen bad links, the browser blocked just two.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sharing Google Sites outside your domain

Previously I wrote about one way to do this. Having experimented, I've found another. You start by sharing your site.

The person gets an email with the link in it

If they do not have an account, and the presumption is they don't, then they need to create one, so they click the 'sign in with a different account link'.

On the next screen they click 'create an account now'

This takes them to the new account screen. Fill in the details - use your own email address, the one the invite was sent to

do the captcha and it takes them to the Site

Future Logins

When returning to the Site, the visitor does not need to create an account, they login by clicking 'sign in with a different account'. Even if you share multiple Sites with them, a single login only is required.

Also, if you have shared multiple Sites with the same person, they can navigate around by clicking the 'Sites' link at the top right

which takes them to a summary page

Sunday, August 31, 2008

MSI Wind / Advent 4211 Wireless issues solved

From previous blogs, I'd been having problems with the wireless not connecting to a WPA network. Unencrypted worked fine. Don't know about WEP since I don't run it.

It seemed to me it was possibly a wireless card problem, since running WPA involves the OS pushing code to the card, and I'd noticed that the card was 'unknown'. So after trying a few things, one day while browsing ebay I saw a genuine Apple Airport card, for the grand sum of £10. Bought it, fitted, and now I'm on WPA.

So my previous suggestion to get the Broadcom 1490 based card I would now revise to get a genuine Apple Airport, if you can. I'm sure that there are 3rd party ie non Apple branded cards that work OK with WPA.

Update: Found this link to some possible options on ebay

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Slowing down mp3s and other sound tracks

In a previous tip I showed how to slow down a movie.

This technique does not seem to work for mp3s.

For one purpose I needed to slow down a sound track about 10%. For this I used Audacity which works really nicely.

Open the file, and then from the Analyze menu select 'Change Tempo'. Put in a percentage. As a guide if you don't want the ear to 'hear' that things are slowed down / speeded up you cannot change more than about 10% or 12%, your mileage will vary.

Since Audacity can open various file types eg .wav .aif and even .mov, and then export to mp3 if you get the free LAME plugin, this technique works well for most sound sources.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

OSX Leopard - changing the Startup Image

There are 3 ways to change the image OSX starts up with.

1. Save your new image in the path /system/library, and then change the loginwindow prefs: (command may wrap)

sudo cp /path/to/picture/picture.jpg "/library/desktop pictures/picture.jpg"
sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ \ DesktopPicture "/Library/Desktop Pictures/Aqua Blue.jpg"

2. Replace the startup screen image

cd /System/Library/CoreServices
sudo mv DefaultDesktop.jpg DefaultDesktop.jpg.old
sudo cp /Path/to/picture/you/want/to/use/image.jpg DefaultDesktop.jpg

3.There's a shareware application to do it for you - it also does the login window as well.

Download Visage from and register for

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

OSX - Changing about this Mac picture

The MacVent (OSX on Advent 4211) still has small issues, but one thing that is easy to fix is the 'About this Mac' picture.

First I got a nice picture of the machine off the internet. Then I photoshop'ed in my actual screen. After that we have to make it into the correct format.

Make it the correct size which is 214 x 124. First I used 'Image size' and made the smaller dimenion so it would fit which turned out to be the height. So I made that 124, and then used 'Canvas Size' to expand the canvas to 214. In fact you may want to ensure a little transparency at the bottom else it'll overlap with the OS version information, so if I did this again I would use 214 x 120.

2. Make the image so it floats on a transparent layer

3. Then save as 'tiff' - don't worry about the color profile

4. The key bit is the Tiff options. Make sure you have 'save transparency' selected

6. Now save as 'MacOSX.tif' somewhere convenient, say your desktop.

7. We need to copy it to the correct place. Here the commands - may wrap

cd /system/library/coreservices/
sudo mv
MacOSX.tif MacOSX.tif.old
sudo cp ~/desktop/
MacOSX.tif MacOSX.tif

This copies the current one so we can get it back if we want, and the copies the one we just made into the correct place.

Log out and back in, and the go to 'About this Mac'

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Summary of OSX on MSI Wind / Advent 4211 after a few days

Well so far so good. The ethernet is fixed, it runs my Dell 24" monitor at 1920x1200, the workaround for the graphics problem is found.

Only 2 issues remain: audio from the headphone socket, and it will not run WPA.

I have a few new items on the wishlist:

- to properly hibernate.

- turn off tap to click

- lid-down operation would be good. Maybe this requires wake on USB?

OSX ethernet problems on MSI Wind / Advent 4211

One of the final problems to be resolved in my mac-inating my MSI Wind / Advent 4211 was that although the Realtek ethernet adapter showed up in the Network control panel. its status was always 'Not Connected', even though the cable is known to be good.

After investigation it turns out that the issue is an auto-negotiation error. To fix I clicked on the ethernet adapter, selected 'advanced' and then the 'ethernet' tab. I changed 'automatically' to 'manual', and then went to the lowest common denominator which is 10baseT and half-duplex.

Click OK and the apply, and it connected and got an IP. From there I worked through the various ethernet combinations.

Friday, August 22, 2008

OSX screen resolution issue on MSI Wind / Advent 4211

My hackintosh conversion of the Advent 4211 is going nicely.

However, the graphics card does not always get picked up correctly and I get an incorrect resolution 800x600. The workaround is to delete the kext cache which you can do by using kexthelper to install any old kext and reboot(the system rebuilds the cache), or use scripts to do it on shutdown / startup.

Look for the files /etc/rc.shutdown.local and /etc/rc.reboot.local. If they exist then add the lines below. If not create them, and then make them executable:

sudo touch /etc/rc.shutdown.local
sudo touch /etc/rc.reboot.local
sudo chmod +x /etc/rc.shutdown.local
sudo chmod +x /etc/rc.reboot.local

the lines you need to add.
If the files already existed then add at the top of the file.

#!/bin/bash <----- if the files already exist then not required
rm -rf /System/Library/Extensions.mkext
rm -rf /System/Library/Extensions/Caches/
rm -rf /System/Library/Caches/

After this you should get 1024x600 all the time

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Install OSX on MSI Wind / Advent 4211

You can find plenty of places that tell you how to do this. I found the best was

- Some talk about getting the Wind / 4211 to boot from the USB/DVD. I had no problem with this. Went into the BIOS by pressing the 'del' key and set the DVD drive to be the first boot device. I used a plain vanilla IDE drive with a USB adapter like this one from Maplin.

- I did have a problem with the first boot routine getting stuck. After selecting the region and then the keyboard it goes to the transfer data / settings "transfer from another mac" screen. I've got nothing to transfer so I select "I dont' want to transfer data at this time", but it gets stuck and after 2 minutes goes back to the select language screen. I solved it by booting into safe mode by holding down the shift key on boot. Then go into the terminal and type:

sudo touch /var/db/.AppleSetupDone

You should also create a user account and change the administrator password, which is blank at this point.

- The update to 1_Kalyway_UpdCombo10.5.3 seemed to fail. It got stuck at 96%. After 30 minutes I force quit the installer and moved onto the 2_Kalyway_10.5.3_kernel. This installed OK and on reboot I did the 'update -v' as instructed.

The supplied wireless is not supported, so I installed one I got from Ebay - click this link. You have to turn on the wireless by using the hotkey which is Fn+F11.
I find 10.5 to be fairly poor with WPA anyway, and the kalyway one is not exception! So if you don't get onto your AP at first go, be patient.

Opening the case is easy. Use a small cross-head screwdriver to undo the screw, then gently prize off the bottom case. I used a wooden lolly pop stick so as not to damage the case. The wireless card is held on with a screw so undo that, take off the aerial connectors and reverse to fit the new one. Some people have said that the standoff (the small sticking up thing) can interfere with the bottom of the wireless card. If you find this you either clip off the standoff or you can put some tape on top of it. I used the tape which held down the aerial wires so if I ever I need t take it back I can ;-)

The Fn+F11 hotkey also turns the Bluetooth on, but it seems to be a toggle with the wireless ie I don't seem to be able to have both on together. If this turns out to be a problem, I can use a Belkin USB Bluetooth adapter which is natively supported.

Update: Fn+F11 rotates through wifi on, bt on, both on. So just cycle round until you get what you need.

The camera turns on and off using Fn+F6 and is useable in Photo Booth so I guess thats OK.

The screen res and some other 3rd party KEXTS have intermittent results. For example when I boot only sometimes do I get 1024x600. When I do its great. Sometimes I get a cros through the battery, even though it has a battery.

Update: this is due to a kexts caching thing. Workaround being worked on.

Also I do not seem to be able to get the wired ethernet working. I'll try installing the KEXTs again.

So right now the only thing of note that doesn't work is the wired ethernet.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Uninstall CISCO VPN client OSX

If you have the joy of running the Cisco VPN client on your Mac, you will rejoice the day you can remove it. Actually that could be unfair.

Whatever. There is no uninstaller, so you need to use to following command from the terminal:

sudo /usr/local/bin/vpn_uninstall


You are prompted to remove all profiles and certificates.

If you answer yes, all binaries, startup scripts, certificates, profiles, and any directories that were created during the installation process are removed.

If you answer no, all binaries and startup scripts are removed, but certificates, profiles, and the vpnclient.ini file remain.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Nokia Maps 'waiting for device' 'unable to read all information'

So you've read my adventures with Nokia Map Loader, well it turns out that v2 should be able to load maps from PC Suite when the phone is in PC Suite mode.

Well maybe. If you launch Map Loader and it just sits there saying “waiting for device” then you need to delete a directory on the SD card in the phone.

OK, you say. But check the directory. Its where the maps are. So the advice is delete the maps and download them all over. Grrrrr!

From Nokia forums, posted by Nokia person:

- People having problems with “waiting for device” or “Unable to read all information…”, you could try the following:

1. make sure you have maps 1.2 wk30 or later (or 2.0)
2. connect the device in mass storage mode, it will show up as a drive in windows
3. delete the folder E:\Private\20001f63 (including sub folders)
4. start maps on the device once, it will recreate the folder in a different location
5. connect the device in pc suite mode and start maploader

Yes, great. I'll connect in Mass Storage mode, thank you!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Nikon D70 - reset file numbering

Now that I've got the Nikon D300 (and what a great camera) I'm selling the D70. I've found most of the accessories for it and the deal is done.

But the new owner is not going to want to continue the file numbering from me, they will want to start from zero.

To do this you go to the menu, go down and select the 'spanner' (setup menu) and in there is an option 'File No. Seq.'

You have three options:

- Off which is the default. File numbering is reset to 0001 when a new folder is created, a memory card is formatted or a new memory card is inserted in camera.

- On - file numbering continues from the last number used, even if a new folder is created, memory card formatted, or a new memory card inserted in camera.

If a photograph is taken when the current folder contains photograph numbered 9999, a new folder will be created automatically and file numbering will begin again from 0001.

- Reset - As for On, except file numbering is reset to 0001 with next photograph taken (a new folder will be created if current the folder already contains photographs).

So for most people the best option would be to change to 'On' anyway.

What I will do is to select 'reset' when I hand it over.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Nokia Maps Part III - problems with mapping in France

Following my previous adventures with Nokia Maps involving some basic things like loading maps, and using the advertised bluetooth, I (eventually) got France downloaded to the 2Gb card in my N73, because we were getting the ferry to Calais and then driving to the Bayeux area. To the best of my knowledge Calais is in France.

So what happens to the hi-res maps of France north of Boulogne? They stop thahts what.

When we got off the ferry at Calais at the default zoom there was nothing, so we had to revert to 20th century navigation ie paper maps.

ut 30 minutes later I tried again, and this time all is working OK. After investigating it seems the Nokia France map is missing quite a lot of Northern France, and worse at certain zooms levels shows nothing.

Of course I know this whole thing is (mostly) free, but whats the point. And what if you paid the subscrition?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Picasaweb: unlisted does not mean private

There is a misconception that Google's photo service, Picasaweb, has a private option. There is an 'unlisted' option, but no 'private' option. There is a clear difference: the unlisted option required an Authkey to access to album, but if you have this then you get access with no further input required.

If you put the link to an unlisted album with its Authkey on a web site indexed by Google, then your unlisted album becomes findable and accessible.

This has happened quite a bit as you can see by using the search term "". You get back 40,000 hits in Safari, and 60,000 in Camino. Curious difference!

You can refine your search by adding, say, "London" (5 hits), or Bankgkok (4).

You can also add your own Picasaweb / Gmail ID to see if any of your own albums are findable.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Gmail now has fulltime always use https option

As reported in the Register, consumer gmail now has an 'always use https'. You can choose to stay opportunistic if you want. The difference is that always on means if you try to load after (https) login you'll be re-directed to, while with opportunistic means after login you'll go plain http, although you can manually change to https.

Personally I don't see why wouldn't want to use fullltime TLS.

Read more here

To use the fulltime https, go into Settings and scroll to the bottom and select "
Always use https", save the changes and off you go.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Google Apps now have forced SSL / https

It seems Google Apps now have a force SSL / https option available. In order words you can enforce access over https. Hurraay!

I noticed in the control panel this morning a box that says

" Automatically enforce Secure Socket Layer (SSL) connections when your users access Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and Sites."

The help page are here at


Friday, August 1, 2008

Automatic Text Generation

Well its a quiet day for bloggin...

Quite funny:

"Hong Kong Phooey, number one super guy. Hong Kong Phooey, quicker than the human eye. He's got style, a groovy style, and a car that just won't stop. When the going gets tough, he's really rough, with a Hong Kong Phooey chop (Hi-Ya!). Hong Kong Phooey, number one super guy. Hong Kong Phooey, quicker than the human eye. Hong Kong Phooey, he's fan-riffic!

Ten years ago a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem and no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-team.

Ulysses, Ulysses - Soaring through all the galaxies. In search of Earth, flying in to the night. Ulysses, Ulysses - Fighting evil and tyranny, with all his power, and with all of his might. Ulysses - no-one else can do the things you do. Ulysses - like a bolt of thunder from the blue. Ulysses - always fighting all the evil forces bringing peace and justice to all."

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Converting Nikon RAW files

For some time now, in fact since I owned my D70, I almost always capture in RAW+JPEG. Of course on the D300 this means each exposure consumes ~20Mb, but hey storage is cheap!

Anyway, I do this for three basic reasons:

- most of the time the JPEG is fine

- if the JPEG is not fine for some reason eg compression artifacts, colour balance etc, I can use the RAW

- using the Nikon software, currently NX, you can convert from NEF to TIF or 16 bit, with the settings the camera used to make the JPEG.

So since most of the time I am happy with the white balance and profile etc used by the camera to make the JPEG, this works really well.

No other RAW converter can do this even Bibble, Adobe etc.

Even better, you can adjust the following parameters in the NEF file without changing the underlying data:

white balance
color space


Friday, July 18, 2008

Quick browsing of EXIF data from the Finder

The 'get info' command in the Finder has another option few people know about: The Inspector. Instead of cmd-I you do opt-cmd-I.

The info window opens, but now it auto-updates the file you have selected. Then you can use Quick View as well.

Nikon D700 - which lens?

Another day, another post about the Nikon D700 and lenses. Ken Rockwell has a page which goes through the various options. I found it very interesting.

He also has some thoughts about the D300 vs D700 vs D3 and D3 vs D700 vs Canon 5D.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nokia Maps part II

So you've read my adventures with Nokia Map Loader, well it turns out that v2 should be able to load maps from PC Suite when the phone is in PC Suite mode.

Well maybe. If you launch Map Loader and it just sits there saying “waiting for device” then you need to delete a directory on the SD card in the phone.

OK, you say. But check the directory. Its where the maps are. So the advice is delete the maps and download them all over. Grrrrr!

From Nokia forums, posted by Nokia person:

- People having problems with “waiting for device” or “Unable to read all information…”, you could try the following:

1. make sure you have maps 1.2 wk30 or later (or 2.0)
2. connect the device in mass storage mode, it will show up as a drive in windows
3. delete the folder E:\Private\20001f63 (including sub folders)
4. start maps on the device once, it will recreate the folder in a different location
5. connect the device in pc suite mode and start maploader

Yes, great. I'll connect in Mass Storage mode, thank you!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nokia Maps vs OSX

Nokia, bless them, have only released the Map Loader for WinXp / Vista. Which is a pity if you don't have / want to use those systems.

You would think it wouldn't be too hard to write a little java app that works cross platform like on OSX. They must have enough customers using OSX. I mean its not as though they invested any effort / money in the GUI, is it? And they wrote a photo downloader for N series to iPhoto workflow.

Well anyway, I don't use those systems (by choice) but if I want to download the maps in advance of a trip, then I guess I have to sigh.

The current versions of PC Suite (7.0) and Map Loader (2.0) in theory can transfer the maps by bluetooth.

In practice I never got this working... so I used the USB cable.

Oh yes, and another thing... why does Map Loader not allow you to selectively delete the cached maps on your device? I have a 2Gb card in the N73, a substantial amount of which is used for cached maps. Do they really want me downloading another 2Gb from their server? Bandwidth is that cheap for them?

If you are wondering why I want to cache the maps, well when you are places with no signal eg Mojave Desert, Joshua Tree, Yosemite etc...

Monday, July 14, 2008

Kill / force quit a program / process in OSX

Sometimes a program or process gets into an unresponsive or other undesirable state and you cannot quit it from the GUI.

What you can do is to force quit, or kill it, from the command line. You can either do this locally or by SSHing in.

First run 'top' and see if you can find the culprit. If the process is consuming too much CPU you can find it using 'top -o cpu'.

Make a note of the PID (process ID), so if the PID is 1292, then you do

kill -9 1292

and it'll be gone.

If you get a no permission error then it could be that the process is owned by root or another user, n which case you can do

sudo kill -9 1292

put in the root password, and its killed.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

DX or FX lens?

Now that Nikon have released the D700 with its FX (full frame sensor) its becoming obvious that in a couple of years most serious DSLRs will be full frame. But, everyone knows that its the glass thats important.

This means that if you buy a lens and you think you'll still be doing semi/serious photography for at least another year or two, you really need to consider if you buy FX capable lens or not.

But knowing whether a lens can do FX is tricky! Would that Nikon had adopted a consistent naming scheme...

Into this breach steps Thom Hogan and his page which lists current lenses and their FX / DX capability.

Of course I have considered getting the D700... who wouldn't! But its a big big spend. Not only do I need the $3000 camera, then I need glass to do it justice.

I LOVE my Tokina 12-24 on my D300, example picture here. The FX equivalent would be 18-36, so the nearest equivalent would be ummm well there isn't one at the moment that I would want to buy. Its only a matter of time before Nikon fix this of course.

More pictures from Yosemite

Friday, July 11, 2008

Growl says requires updating, even after updating

If you get this you may need to upgrade to 1.1.4, or, you ay need to check that you have got rid of all the pref panes.

Check your users pref pane ~/Library/PreferencePanes, as well as the system one in /Library/PreferencePanes.

Might require a log out / in afterwards.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Nokia N800 - version check

If you've flashed your Nokia tablet, you'll want to check that you're running the correct version.

To do this on the tablet Application menu, select Settings > Control panel > About product.

On mine it now says "Internet Tablet OS: meamo Linux based OS2008 version 4.2008.23-14"

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Nokia N800 - flashing from OSX

Flashing your Nokia Internet Tablet 770, N800, N810 from OSX is not formally supported, however, it can b done using a 3rd party piece of software, from

  1. ensure your tablet is off. You can have it connected to your USB.
  2. download the file 770Flasher-2.0.dmg
  3. open and drag the application to your applications folder
  4. download the latest .bin file for your model from
  5. double click the flasher application and when it asks open the .bin file you downloaded from Nokia
Turn on the tablet and watch the messages as the image loads to the 770/N800/N810 after which it reboots automatically.


If the host doesn't see the tablet on boot then try removing the memory cards. For me at first it wouldn't. I removed the cards and it went through no problem.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Apple OSX reducing PDF file size

Everyone knows that OSX can print to PDF, and you can do this 2 ways: in the print dialog box you can select "save as PDF" which does exactly that, or, you can "open PDF in preview".

An advantage of opening the PDF in preview is that when you can save you can apply some filters, courtesy of the Quartz engine.

You can also save in a different file format, which is cool.

But what about a PDF thats been sent to you? Well you can load it into the ColorSync Utility

and you can then select 'export'

since the underlying engine is the Quartz engine you get the same options. Cool!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Quick highlight recovery from RAW files

On a recent trip to Yosemite to capture the waterfalls, I used an ND4 on my D300 to give a slower shutter speed. In some shots the mixed (full sun and shade) lighting caused the highlights to blow.

The RAW converter supplied, Capture NX has highlight recovery capability of up to 2 stops.

Here's the original jpg (I always shoot RAW + basic jpg).

and here's the detail of the blown area

photoshop levels shows the damage

Here's what it looks like in Capture NX

First save the file as .tif with no adjustment.

Then we need to recover the highlights and save as a different file. We'll combine them later.

Drill down into RAW adjustment

and move the slider to -2

gives the following result

Save as .tif, and then open both files in photoshop. On the file that was converted with no changes, drag the layer onto the the file that we converted with the recovery ie put the straight conversion over the recovered highlights layer.

Add a layer mask, and then paint on the mask to selectively reveal the recovered layer below. I use a brush with about 30% opacity and 30% flow. Zoom in and use a brush size to allow you to gradually build up the effect. I found 50 pixels about the right size.

And here's the final result