Wednesday, April 30, 2008

XQuartz breaks OpenOffice on OSX

People tell me that Apple's X11 is not as good as it could be and that I really should install the Xquartz community version from So I did, but I found that doing so broke OpenOffice. As I've noted before running OpenOffice under X11 gives you current version, rather than 2.2 based code on which NeoOffice is currently based, although of course NeoOffice is a great product.

The underlying problem is the OpenOffice launcher which fails to call stuff correctly.

You can get OpenOffice to launch by using the following command (line may wrap):


Should launch OK.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Moving and migrating email to GMail

I needed to help a family member move their email from a very space limited email account into a nice roomy comfortable GMail account.

No problem I thought, Thunderbird will do the job. Load both accounts as IMAP folders, and drag and drop.

Well, no.

The email moves thats true, but Thunderbird does not save the dates of the emails. All the email shows up as brand new.

Not good!

Fortunately being a Mac user I was able to use Apple Mail to move the emails over.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Mac OSX X11 application - turning off the 'sure you want to quite notice'

I run Open Office on my Macbook Pro, which because it doesn't have its own windowing, requires X11. When you quit X11 you get an alert asking "are you sure you want to quit X11' and giving the dire warning that all X11 applications will also be stopped.

If you want to turn this warning off you do (from the command line)

defaults write org.x.x11 no_quit_alert true

If you want to go back run it again - just swap true with false.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Upgrading from a Nikon D70 to a Nikon D300

Having taken the decision to get a Nikon D300 as an upgrade and replacement for my D70, I am seeing quite a few differences as you would expect.

In no particular order:

  1. The screen. The D300 allows you to zoom right in
  2. File sizes. I always used raw+jpeg on the D70. I surveyed the files sizes generated from a trip to Switzerland (a small sample of pictures) and found that NEFs averaged 5.29Mb with a standard deviation of .29Mb, while the jpeg averaged 746Kb with a standard deviation of 52Kb. I don't have enough history on the D300 (yet), so I took these numbers from the manual: 14 bit cmpressed NEF - 16.7Mb, jpeg (normal) - 2.9Mb. So the 'combo' file size has gone from about 6Mb to about 20Mb.
  3. CF card required. If the combo file size has gone from 6Mb to 20Mb then you need 3.5x card size to get the same number of photos per card. I got a 2Gb so I should get ~100 per card. The odd thing is that Nikon's own numbers on page 402 don't add up. ie how is that 14 bit lossless NEF at 16.7Mb fits 75 on a 2Gb card, the same as uncompressed 14 bit NEF at 25.3Mb. Longer term I am going to shoot 14 bit NEF compressed, so I'll get some history.
  4. Grid lines. You'll probably want to turn these on - page 281 (Framing grid)
  5. Display more information about the pictures - choose your options - page 250 in the manual
  6. Bracketing. There's no autobracket ie one press takes all the pictures required. Set up bracketing from page 118
More as I find them

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Getting started with the Nikon D300, and useful links.

My Nikon D300 has arrived, along with its 421 page manual. There's a bewildering array of options, and the manual doesn't tell you _what_ a feature does, only what features and settings are available.

So I'm collating some links and additional information. After going through these links I mostly get it, apart from the autofocus system.

Still need persuading? Read the DPReview.

Have a look at the Nikon D300 special site.

DWM on Nikonians has created a spreadsheet of all the available options. No explanations though.

Get any firmware and software updates from Nikon Europe.

The D300 supports a lot of older Nikon and Nikkor lens. See which ones here on Nikonians.

PDF manual here. It has printable and non-printable versions - to get the printable version you will need your D300 serial number.

If the official manual doesn't do much for you, you can get a third party one, such as the one by Thom Hogan. Thom also has an excellent review of the D300.

Thom has quite a go at the menu system, and I can see why. The way of selecting things changes depending on what you are selecting. Try changing the Photo Information and NEF 12/14 bits, by way of comparison.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

What lens do I need? How to use EXIFTOOL to find out

My trusty Nikon D70 and two lenses (kit 18-70 and Tokina 12-24) have been plenty of places with me, and I'm curious to know if I should continue using them when I get my D300, or if I should consider getting a different lens, say the fabulous Nikon 17-55.

To do this, we can use EXIFTool to extract camera model and focal length information for lots of photos, and then apply some analysis to the result.

First you need to see which EXIF fields you need. To do this run (NB lines may wrap)

exiftool -a -G1 -s 'IMG_4107_Wheat_&_Olives.jpg' >all_tags.txt

from which I can see that I need to extract '
FocalLength' and 'Mode'

so my next command to check is

exiftool -FocalLength -Model DSC_2671_Salt_Flats_2.jpg


Focal Length : 44.0 mm
Camera Model Name : NIKON D70

An alternative field would be 'FocalLength35efl' which gives the 35mm equivalent. Handily this field seems to be present in both my Canon files and my Nikon files.

exiftool -FocalLength -Model -FocalLength35efl DSC_2671_Salt_Flats_2.jpg


Focal Length : 44.0 mm

Camera Model Name : NIKON D70
Focal Length : 44.0 mm (35 mm equivalent: 66.0 mm)

So now I need to run this on a directory, and recurse through the various folders and put the result into a file.

exiftool -FocalLength -Model -FocalLength35efl -r ~/pictures >big_extract.txt

Now I can take this file, put the fields onto the same line for each photo, grep out pictures not taken by me, cameras I'm not interested in eg my Nokia N73 and Olympus C2020Z, and separate the fields I want with commas.

After that I will put the file into OpenOffice and run the analysis. Thats the next tutorial.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Apple OSX and SSH Tunnel Manager

If you're using an Intel Mac and you use SSH tunnels, and you like an easy life then you should use SSH Tunnel Manager.

You can of course use syntax like

ssh user@server.address -L localport:

but if you have quite a few ports to tunnel, this gets tedious.

SSH Tunnel Manager is the answer, but the original authors version is not Universal Binary. Now a Universal Binary has been compiled which you get from here.

Great work - thanks!

Update - new location and owner