## Tuesday, 17 January 2017

### eBay watchlist cleaning

So, it's that time again when I clear out completed listings from my eBay watch list and make a note of any that I think sold particularly cheaply or expensively. If you're wondering what the point of this is, it's just a reminder that good deals on expensive items on eBay do come along every so often, you just need to be patient.

• Fuji 56mm f/1.2 lens faulty sold for £300 inc P&P. It was described as SUSTAINED IMPACT AT SOME POINT, AF UNTESTED, MF UNTESTED, OPTICS GOOD, MOUNT IS COMING OFF BODY, APERTURE SCALE IS STIFF HARDLY MOVES. Seems a lot of money for a broken lens to me.
• Sigma EX 300-800 mm f/5.6 APO HSM Lens for Canon sold for £2025 + £200 P&P. A very good price, but quite risky. The seller only had 1 feedback, which was a purchase (not a sale) over a year ago. Furthermore, the seller was located in Hungary. Generally these types of deals tend to be dodgy, but the buyer left positive feedback, so it seems they lucked out on this one.
• Le Creuset Double Oven Glove (new) sold for £18 + £3 economy delivery. That's currently £2 cheaper than Amazon, but I'm pretty sure Amazon was quite a bit cheaper at the time the auction ended. (CamelCamelCamel shows the price on Amazon seems to go up and down constantly).
• Mamiya 645 Pro TL Prisim kit with 45mm and 210mm lens sold for £365 + £25 P&P, which is a pretty good deal.
• Mamiya 645 Camera, 80mm f/1.9, 2x Vivitar TC, 45mm f/2.8, 110mm f/2.8 lenses and flight case sold for £294.99 + £10 P&P, which is an excellent deal. Just the 80mm lens by itself is worth at least £200. I would have bid at least that amount myself if I hadn't just bought myself the 80mm lens for said 200 smackers.
• Leitz Canada 280mm f4.8 Telyt visoflex lens sold for £200 + £10 P&P. Not sure on this as it's not a common lens, but I think that was a pretty good deal, especially considering the as-new condition.
• Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM sold for £523 inc. P&P. A very good deal. Had a crack in the lens hood, but that doesn't really affect performance.
• Canon FD EOS Converter sold for £300 + £12 P&P. These are pretty rare (a genuine Canon model), I think this was actually quite a bit cheaper than the normal selling price but not totally sure.
• Cokin Creative Ring Flash sold for £15 + £5 P&P. Not sure how I missed bidding on that one. No box or anything, but a good price.
• Voigtlander MACRO APO LANTHAR 125mm F/2.5 SL For Nikon sold for £1,562 inc. P&P
• Voigtlander- nikon APO LANTHAR 125mm - F/2.5 SL - 90mm 3.5 SL - 180mm F4 SL sold for £2,495 inc. P&P, which is presumably a good deal given the price of just the 125mm macro lens. I think the other two lenses are even rarer than the macro.
• Xbox 360 S 250GB Development/Debug Console Boxed sold for £273 inc. P&P. This seems like an excellent deal. Not sure why it was so cheap as current development models of consoles tend to be very expensive normally.
• Canon EF 600mm f4 L sold for £1,171 + £25 P&P. A good deal, but it was missing the gelatin filter holder, which I think is needed for use. And no hood either. (Accessories / parts such as these for the superteles tend to be pretty expensive).
• Panzer Dragoon VHS sold for £2.70 + £3.35 P&P. This was one of those annoying occasions where I was intending to bid on it, but thought there was longer until the auction finished as I had forgotten to force-refresh my ebay.
• Sigma EX 300-800mm f/5.6 APO HSM DG Lens Used Excellent NIKON fit sold for £2,250 + £121.70 P&P. A very good deal, this included both the Sigma padded bag and also a large photo rucksack that fits the lens. The P&P cost is a bit weird though.
• Nikon 400mm f2.8 AF-I D lens sold for £2000 (collection in person). While not the latest version of this lens, it seems a pretty good deal for an autofocus fast super tele.
• Nikon AF-I 600mm f/4 ED lens sold for £1,700 + £41.20 P&P. Again, an old version of this lens, but still quite a good price for an autofocus fast super tele.
• Steel Battalion Line of Contact Controller Xbox Original Used Once To Test. PAL sold for £85, collection only. A very good price if you lived near the seller to collect it.

## Thursday, 29 December 2016

### Extracting audio from video and generating a cuesheet from a tracklist

I quite often listen to mixes on Youtube. Only problem is, you need an internet connection to listen to the music and on some videos the mix seems to be constanty interupted by ads.

The solution to this is download the video - there are plenty of free Youtube video download tools available. But then you have a video file that's much larger than it needs to be (because you only want the audio track), and can't skip from one track in the mix to another.

So to this end I decided to write a script that could be used to extract the audio from the MP4 video file and generate a cuesheet based on the tracklisting (copied from the video description). And I thought I might as well share it here.

For the initial setup you'll need MP4Box, which comes as part of GPAC.

Ensure GPAC is in your Path: System > Advanced System Settings > Advanced tab > Environment Variables... In User variables find Variable Path. Select it, click Edit, and add to the end: ;C:\Program Files\GPAC (Assuming that's where you installed GPAC to).

The scripts I created using powershell, so you need to allow executing powershell scripts. Run Powershell as admin. Then enter: Set-ExecutionPolicy Remote Signed.

Now you need to allow running those scripts without signatures. From powershell:

Unblock-File create-cue.ps1
Unblock-File video-convert.ps1

That's the initial setup done, which you shouldn't need to do again. Now onto converting the video file.

To convert the video you need a folder containing the video file in mp4 format and a tracklist file. The tracklist file should be a plain text file containing lines in the format:

00:00 Artist Name - Song Title

Many (though sadly not all) Youtubers who upload mixes will have a tracklist in this format as part of the video description, so you can copy-paste from there.

The tracklist file and the video file should both have the same filename (with .txt and .mp4 extensions respectively), which should be in the format:

Album Artist - Album Title

You can run script in several ways:

• From powershell: path\to\video-convert.ps1 \path\to\video.mp4
• From powershell:
cd \path\to\video
path\to\video-convert.ps1
• Copy both .ps1 files to the video dir, then double-click on video-convert.ps1 to run it. (This is easiet IMO).

The script will extract audio from the mp4 video, wrap it in an mp4 (m4a) wrapper, and generate a cuesheet from the tracklist file. Because it just extracts the audio, not converting it, there is no loss in audio quality.

If you want the track split into separate files, there are various cue splitters available that will split an audio file based on a cuesheet.

## Tuesday, 2 August 2016

### Choosing the fields shown in the details pane in Windows Explorer

I just noticed that weirdly in the details pane of Windows Explorer it would not show the total file size when I selected a bunch of Fuji RAF files. Yet it did show this information when I selected a bunch of JPEGs. The other fields that were shown were also quite different between the two file formats.

Thankfully it is possible (though a bit messy) to change what information is shown in the details pane. The information that should be displayed is set on a per file extension basis and stored in the registry under HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\SystemFileAssociations\.

I found the answer here: Customising Explorer Details Pane? (If you read through that thread you'll notice that the OP has to answer their own question after being given irrelevant answers by people who couldn't be bothered to read what was being asked. Unfortunately a common problem on internet fora.

In case that post ever dissappears, the solution is as follows:

1. Run Regedit.
2. HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Classes\SystemFileAssociations\.mp3 (Or whatever file type you want to edit.)
3. Edit the PreviewDetails string.
4. If needed, log off and back on.

## Monday, 23 May 2016

### eBay watchlist cleaning

It's time to clear out my eBay Watched Items list again, and make notes on any items I found that sold for high or low amounts.

NIKON AF-S NIKKOR ED 600mm f/4G IF VR Lens
sold for GBP 2730, which seems very cheap for this lens. Despite the auction finishing on 22nd March, no feedback for the seller has been left, so you can't be sure if the buyer did actually get the item in good condition for that amount.
Carl Zeiss Softar III 67mm screw fitting
sold for GBP 5.79 - not super cheap, but screw mount versions of these filters are quite rare - they tend to be Hasselblad bayonet mount.
W.Acall Kyoei 1:3.5 F=35mm UV-Objektiv f. Exakta
Didn't sell several times, often finishing around the EUR 20 mark or less. I don't know what the reserve was, but they had a EUR 150 buy it now.
Canon 400mm f2.8 L Lens EF mount (AF non IS) Pro Prime +BN= 1.4x Extender MK II
was listed with a BIN of GBP 1430 inc. P&P. However, the listing was ended by the seller because the item was lost or broken. I suspect they sold it to someone off eBay for a slightly lower price to avoid the eBay fees. Although this is the non-IS version, it seems a very good price to me, particularly with the TC.
Canon EF 600mm F/4.0 L Lens
ended for GBP 1,191 + 60 P&P, however it didn't meet the reserve price. It would've been very cheap otherwise. The body was a bit bashed up, but paint chips don't harm the lens' performance.
Ananda Shankar And His Music LP Rare Orig EMI HMV India Pressing 1976
Ended for GBP 19 inc. P&P, which is very cheap. This was one of those ones that I actually wanted to bid on, but had forgotten to force refresh my ebay watch list, so by the time I went to bid on it (near ending time), the auction had actually already ended.
Canon Lens EF 135 mm F2.8 Softfocus
sold for GBP 62.50 inc. P&P. Possibly a bargain, however the description does state the AF is UNTESTED and Optics do have some signs of dust and possibly a small amount of fungus although it is very difficult to see. The buyer left positive feedback though. (This item normally goes for around GBP 130).
Tiffen Standard Hot Mirror Filter 77mm
Sold for GBP 40 inc. P&P. This is a good price. I'm glad I didn't purchase it myself though, as on further research it seems to have the same problem on wide-angle lenses as my B+W 486 UV-IR cut filter has.
sold for GBP 20 + 12 P&P. This included not only the lens, but a large (and heavy looking) piece of equipment the lens was mounted in. Difficult to say what condition the lens was in, but looked okay. I would quite like one of these lenses, however from images I've seen taken with them, I don't think they are actually that great.
Sigma 800mm f/5.6 EX DG HSM APO Ultra Telephoto Lens for Nikon SIGMONSTER
sold for GBP 876 inc. P&P. I don't think these are listed often, I suspect this is probably the going price, neither cheap nor expensive.
Télé-objectif Canon FD 600mm f4.5
sold for EUR 371 + 100 P&P (to UK). Again, these don't seem to sell that often so I'm not sure if it's a good deal. Manual focus only, but I think this lens is meant to be pretty good.
Canon EF 400mm F2.8 Mk 1 lens
sold for GBP 860 + 40 P&P. Seems a good deal to me.
Wimberley Plamp
sold for GBP 40.56 + 10 P&P. The new model is 'only' GBP 45 new, so seems really expensive to me.
Very nice Petri Film Camera complete with Petri 1:3.5 f=35mm C.C Lens & Strap.
sold for GBP 27.15 + 2.85 P&P. This is quite a bit more than the other seller's Petri 1:3.5 lens didn't sell for. (Though of course this one includes a camera too).

## Sunday, 6 March 2016

### Looking for photos

Today I was just looking for photos to illustrate an article. Yes, it really did take me all day. Quite annoying.

## Friday, 4 March 2016

### Elephant dream

This morning I had a dream that there was an Elephant on Welland Park road, and I think I was trying to wash its ear. I was around the same height as it though, maybe I was standing on top of a car or something. I'm not even sure it was actually an Elephant at this point either, it may have been a giant wood pigeon.

Anyway, the Elephant walked down the street and then turned left at the mini roundabout to go up Farndon road. As it started going up the road, I saw that the skin just under the backs of the knees on its rear legs was ripped. It was as if the elephant's skin was just an outer covering over its pink body, and the skin covering had been torn in this location.

There was a bloke walking the other way down the road, and he said the elephant had its trunk cut off. While the elephant actually had a trunk in my dream, it was also true at the same time that its trunk had been cut off. It must have been a quantum trunk.

I explained that it was from a circus (the point being that as it was from a circus, it had been badly abused). When I looked at it again all the skin had been ripped around its bum and you could see its pink buttocks through the hanging flaps of torn skin.

Then the bloke started riding the elephant. Suddenly we were on top of a cliff on the coast, and the elephant was running really fast towards the edge of the cliff. There was a single storey hotel (or similar) building that blocked my view as the elephant was heading over the edge of the cliff. So I ran into the hotel and went into the room at the far end of the building so I could look out of the window and see what happened.

I could see that the elephant had landed in the sea. I think it was still alive and swimming out into the ocean, but I can't quite remember. Near the shore there was a person coming out of the sea while holding another person in their arms. The person they were holding had either been killed or badly injured when the elephant jumped off the cliff into the sea.

Then the bloke who had been riding the elephant ran into the room with me to look out the window and see what was happening below. He had managed to jump off the elephant just as it jumped off the cliff. Then he had ran round the hotel and down the corridor into the room where I was really fast. But in the dream it wasn't weird how quickly he'd got there, or that you needed to look out the window in this hotel room to see what was happening over the cliff edge.

Then we ran away, back down the corridor and out the front of the hotel or whatever building it was. (It didn't have a reception area, but there were rooms along the corridor like in a hotel and the room we'd been in was like a hotel room). In my dream (and also now), I thought it was weird that you could just go into this building and go into an unlocked room.

Then I was feeling like I was partly responsible for the injury or death of the person who I had seen being carried out of the sea. And I wanted to get away in case anyone found out I had anything to do with the elephant, which could lead to me being arrested in connection with the incident.

That was the end of the dream.

BTW I don't actually think that all circus animals are badly abused, that was just dream logic.

## Thursday, 11 February 2016

### Why am I not surprised a bank's website is rubbish?

Recently I decided to finally do something about my rubbish Alliance & Pester / Santander bank account that pays no interest, and go through the hassle of opening a new bank account that pays a better rate of interest. TSB offer quite a good rate, so I applied to open an account with them online. Their sign-up / security process is pretty bad though:

As you can see, it didn't like my username containing non-alphanumeric chars. Underneath the username section it says Your user IS must be between 9 and 30 characters long and can include letters, numbers and special characters (see the tip section above for ideas on which special characters to include). (emphasis mine).

Yet when you look at the tip section, it makes no mention of special characters. And with alphanumeric only password but 'special chars' in my username I was not able to continue. But without 'special chars' in the username I could continue onto the next page. So clearly special characters are not allowed in the username.

As well as giving incorrect information on the signup page, the fact that they don't allow special characters and also make the username / password case insensitive is bad for security. The smaller the number of possible character combinations, the easier it is for someone to make a brute force attack and guess a correct user ID / password combination.

It wouldn't surprise me if the user id and password are also ASCII only. While this also decreases security, it's more of a problem from an accessibility standpoint. If I was Chinese, my preferred User ID may well be something in Chinese. But you'd be forced to use something in ASCII. It's not a big problem - you could still use the same keystrokes combination, but you'd see a jumble of random letters rather than the Chinese characters, making identifying typos a bit more difficult.