Saturday, 27 May 2017

Annoying VM issues

I spent all this afternoon trying to get my VM working so I could get some work done. I got a new PC recently, and if I tried to save settings in the BIOS then it wouldn't POST. So I updated the BIOS, and it seems that by default in the new BIOS settings hardware virtualisation is off, so when I tried to start my VM it wouldn't boot. So I turned on hardware virtualisation in the BIOS (which did save properly now, though it seems the failure to POST was due to RAM settings, not BIOS version, and it's actually worse on the new BIOS version).

After doing this vagrant started creating a new machine when I ran vagrant up, rather than running my existing VM. So I thought I'd leave it for later and just run it on my laptop (since no changes had been made there). But then that had exactly the same problem, and created another VM instead of booting the existing VM.

Back on my PC I found this thread: Re-associate vagrant with vm. The main piece of advice there is:

• Ran vagrant status
• At this point the VMs where still listed as "(not created)".
• Ran VBoxManage list vms to find the ids of the VMs
• Went in to ./vagrant/machines/dev/virtualbox/id and updated the id
• Ran vagrant status

After that I got a successful result, and so ran vagrant up. But it couldn't ssh into the machine as it had generated a new private key. So I thought I could just copy across the backup of the folder where the vagrant config files for the VM were. But after doing this it went back to trying to create a new machine again, and removing all the vagrant config files.

Running VBoxManage now, I saw that the correct VM wasn't even listed. But it was listed (the only VM) in the VirtualBox GUI and the VirtualBox config file. I tried running VirtualBox GUI as admin since I was running VBoxManage as admin, but still the same.

Eventually I just restarted the PC, ran VBoxManage again, and now it showed only the correct VM. I copied the vagrant machine config files back over from the backup, ran vagrant status, and it all looked good. Ran vagrant up, and the machine started up correctly!

If the same thing happens again in the future, hopefully I'll remember this blog post so I can sort it in 5 minutes instead of 5 hours.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

eBay watchlist cleaning

Seems I only ever post on here now when cleaning out my eBay watchlist of old items. Oh well...

Eh? Where's my post gone?!

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.