Friday, 30 July 2010

Photo processing

Today I was just sorting, processing, and uploading photos. The main problem was that for most of them, Wikipedia didn't have a good description, so I had to research and try and write the descriptions myself.

In the evening I watched an episode of Star Trek TNG, and amazingly it was actually quite good. It even had a couple of purposeful jokes that were funny. It was where Q becomes human ('Deja Q'), I gave it 7/10 on IMDB. After that I finished watching 'My Best Fiend' with Mauser and Bo.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Visiting Barnsdale Gardens

This morning I went to Barnsdale Gardens with Clare, Brian, and Ben. I took a few panos there.

In the afternoon I was mainly just sorting out the photos I'd taken. I also did a bit more work trying to improve my photo website batch upload script. But I couldn't get anything to work, so I posted to the Sitepoint forums to see if anyone could help me.

In the evening I watched an episode of Star Trek TNG with Mauser and Bo.

Then I spent ages filling up the pond with water from the waterbutt. The weather keeps saying it's going to rain, so I hadn't topped the pond up for the last week or so. But of course, it never does rain, or if does, it doesn't rain much, so the water level in the pond was relatively low.

For the rest of the evening I worked on a blog post for my photo website about doing Infrared photography. There was a nice sunset, but I didn't take any photos of it as I haven't processed my sunset photos from the other day yet.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Stuff not working

The last few days I have mainly just been struggling with Wordpress stuff, trying to get the Filosofo comments and Subscribe2 plugins working how I wanted.

Today I spent ages trying to get my XMP File Info panel to work in Bridge CS4 - my CS5 trial ran out, so I went back to CS4. I tried various different Flex versions, building the examples panels from the CS5 File Info SDK and also the CS4 File Info SDK, and also building the example project as directed in the File Info SDK Programmers Guide. But nothing worked.

In the afternoon I took some photos of my fisheye lens with filters on, to use for a new blog post on my photo website. In the evening I went out and used the fisheye lens with filters to take some photos of the sunset. It was okay, but not particularly great. I was glad that there was an actual sunset though rather than the sun just setting behind a bank of cloud. (Actually it did set behind a bank of cloud, but managed to shine up onto other clouds from behind the cloud bank).

Friday, 23 July 2010

Format completed!

This morning the format of my replacement drive from Western Digital finally completed, only took 41 hours!

I switched the PC off, then replaced one of my current drives with the new drive. I switched the PC on again, and then copied across the pictures folder to the new drive using Windows Explorer. This eliminated most the factors that could be causing a non-faulty hard drive to be slow - the power cable, SATA cable, SATA hot swap drive bay, not enough power, and the Beyond Compare software.

The copy worked okay, about 60MB/s transfer rate, and the 1.25TB backup completed in about 5 hours. So it seems the problem is not with the drive, but one of the above factors. I couldn't find a spare SATA cable (other than the one I swapped out a week or two ago that I thought might be faulty), so I emailed Mauser to ask him to bring one back from work.

While I was waiting for the backup to finish I just went on the internet. In the afternoon I finally finished off my defished Tokina fisheye comparison blog post for my photo website, and posted that.

Later in the afternoon and a bit of the evening I sorted some more photos.

Also in the evening I watched 'Braindead' with Mauser, which was pretty funny, but also a bit weird in places (like a giant naked zombie version of the guy's mum).

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Still waiting for hard-drive to finish formatting.

Today I spent quite a long time trying to get a lightbox javascript to work on my photo website blog post. Part of the problem was my own fault for deleting some code from the jquery lightbox script I was using.

I was using an inline javascript block in my blog post to initialize the lightbox script for the images in the post. Now, as my photo website/blog is XHTML, I enclosed the javascript code in a CDATA tag. But Wordpress, for some unknown reason, converts the end ]]> into and ]]> for some cheesun. I spent ages trying to work out what wordpress function was causing this, and how to fix it, until I eventually found this thread on the Wordpress forums: the_content breaking inline javascript. So it seems it just a Wordpress bug that none of the developers wants to fix.

So in the end I just removed the CDATA tags, I didn't have any &s, >s, or <s in the javascript code anyway. I'm not sure what to do if I do need to use those characters in javascript in a future post though. I guess I'll just have to comment out the offending line in the Wordpress core.

In the afternoon there was a Sigma SD14 DSLR camera coming up near the end of the auction on ebay. It was only £300 at the time (it ended at £420 + £15 P&P), and came with 2 lenses, a flash, and a 2GB CF card. So I looked into the camera and main lens to see if was worth buying.

The Sigma 18-50mm f3.5-5.6 lens didn't seem to get particularly good reviews. Next I looked into the camera's Infrared abilities, which is what I'd be purchasing it for. Strangely, I couldn't find much info or examples on this. Most of the examples I could find were black and white, or false colours that I didn't find particularly appealing.

It seems that the camera handles IR photos a bit differently to other cameras. I think this is probably because one third of its (RGB) sensor is red pixels, while normal Bayer (GRGB) sensors are only one quarter red pixels. From the comments I read, it seems that exposures times without the IR blocking filter are also much quicker than with other cameras.

However, after reading this post, which says
I've used a Sigma SD 14 before. Removing the hot mirror is stupid easy then all you have to do is add a visible blocking filter (or a couple sheets of unexposed, developed E-6 film) in front of the lens. The downside is it is around 4.something Megapixels. That said, it's uninterpolated. I feel that it's as sharp as a 10MP camera, not a 14 like sigma claims. You can up-res or just print it at 100-150dpi.

I currently work with a Fuji IS-Pro for doing infrared photography of paintings. It works extremely well, except many lenses seem to have hot-spot issues at small apertures, so it took a little while to find a good lens (even the Zeiss Makro they originally bundled the camera with had hot-spots.) The advantage of the IS-Pro is it has live view. If you're using a completely visible opaque filter, the live view still works for framing and focusing.
I was less sure. If the SD14 was really good for Infrared, it's unlikely they would have switched to the Fuji IS Pro. And I already have my nikon mount lenses (and accessories) I could use with the Fuji IS Pro.

Then I also read the posts on this thread: Digital IR cameras, where it is suggested that even the very old Nikon D50 would be better than the Sigma SD14. Particularly in the last post, which says:



Quote:

Unfortunatly some of the Sigma users on the DPreview forum can get a bit carried away at times but, the point still stand that the Sigma out of the box can do IR photography with no modifications apart rom removing the dust cover NONE of the other DSLRS can do that.




None? The Fuji UV/IR can do IR out of the box (and UV which the Sigma doesn't do), and it doesn't need a filter to be removed. Plus, the Sigma filter is fragile:
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1027&message=25194633
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1027&message=25212031
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1027&message=25213943
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1027&message=25214601
http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1027&message=24390827

However, most cameras do require a modification for IR, and an unmodified D50 isn't too bad either.

Quote:

As to the point about the D50 being a better camera in which way?




Many ways. The D50 is cheaper, faster buffer write times, faster and more reliable autofocus, fewer firmware bugs (no lock-ups or corrupt images), has an easier to use interface (no ridiculous FUNC button), an orientation sensor, auto-ISO, lower noise especially at higher ISO settings, more sophisticated flash system, substantially better battery life and a significantly wider selection of lenses including fast normal/tele and stabilized lenses. On the other hand, the SD-14 has depth of field preview and mirror lockup and the D50 does not. And although the SD-14 can use non-Sigma lenses with adapters, they won't autofocus and they require manual aperture control, and sometimes they even need to be disassembled so that protruding parts don't hit the dust filter. It's a good thing that filter is removable!

Quote:

body yes very probably but image wise not in a hundred years, show me an A0 print of a D50 image that has the detail of any one of the Sigma images go on have a look at the sigma forum on pbase or is it that because its not a Nikon or Canon it can't be any good or is it a case of being to blinkered to actually see that the Foveon sensor could just be the way to go and get rid of all the bayer mush.




There are literally millions of very sharp and detailed Bayer images printed at A0 and larger and that the 'Bayer mush' is invariably due to focusing errors, lens choice, shallow depth of field, camera shake, etc. Also, Sigma images are heavily sharpened (even 0 sharpening in SPP is actually a heavy dose of USM). And lets not forget that those huge Sigma images had a LOT of postprocessing done to avoid all of the jaggies and other artifacts.

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1027&message=22514745
So I decided I'd probably be better off getting a Fuji IS Pro, and it was only worth getting the Sigma if it was really cheap.

In the evening I watched 'Cyclists special' and 'Holiday' (both British Transport films) with Mauser. I thought 'Holiday' was better than the other films so far, being shot in a more artistic manner, with good music, and little narration. It was quite interesting to see Blackpool in the fifties (not that I know what it's like now though). Some of the local kids had small carts they would use for transporting tourists suitcases. The film showed them waiting together, like mini rickshaw drivers.

After that I wrote this blog post, did some more work on my photo website blog, helped Mauser with Photoshop, and looked into Neutral Density filters.

I found on ebay some 'Fader ND' and 'Fader ND Ultra' filters that sound very similar the Singh Ray vari-ND filter, with the standard Fader ND offering 2-8 stops, and the Ultra version offering 9-12 stops. The 'official' Light Craft Workshop versions are quite expensive though, £122 for the 77mm standard version or about £150 for the 77mm ultra version.

The weather was a mixture of sun clouds, and rain, with it raining quite heavily for a bit.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Waiting for a hard-drive to format

This morning I processed some photos.

My replacement hard-drive arrived from Western Digital, and when it came to formatting it, I saw that there was an exFAT file system option. I looked at exFAT, and then how the Linux ext2/3 file system compares to NTFS. After reading this thread: NTFS vs Ext File Systems, I came to the conclusion that ext3 doesn't really have benefits over NTFS.

So in the afternoon I did a quick format, then tried to backup my Pictures to it. But it was being really slow, the same problem I had with the drive this new one replaced.

So I started doing a full format, in case the problem was something to do with not doing a full format of the drive. I went out in the garden for a bit and took a few more photos, then wrote a bit of a photo blog post. I couldn't publish it though, as I 'need' to upload the stuff to my Ubuntu VM before I upload it to the live website. (Allows me to keep a copy of the live website without uploading to the web server first and then downloading it back to my PC).

And I didn't really want to load up my Ubuntu VM while I was formatting the hard-drive in case it caused any problems with the format.

The Bananas were getting a bit over-ripe, so I made a banana cake with them. But when I tried to tip the cake out onto a wire rack (as the recipe said to), the insides of the cake fell out. Obviously, the cake should have been left to cool in the tin before trying to tip it out onto a wire rack.

After dinner I watched 'City of Violence', a Korean film a bit kill bill-ish, but also with elements of other various movies. It had a couple of reasonably good action scenes, sometimes the cuts (that's camera cuts) were too quick too see what has happening properly though. The story wasn't that great either.

When the film had finished I decided that I might as well start up Ubuntu as the format was only 15% done. If I didn't do any CPU / HD intensive work on my PC until the format was done, I'd be waiting too long.

Annoyingly, I'm going to have to leave my noisy PC on overnight as the format is only 22% done, and its 22:40 now.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Too hot

This morning I looked into using feedburner a bit more, for allowing users to subscribe to email updates. Unfortunately it seems that after you submit your email address you have to fill in a captcha, which is a good way to discourage people from signing up to your mailing list.

Next I tried the Enroll Comments plugin for Wordpress. I liked this plugin better than the Subscribe Comments plugin as it uses the admin area to allow users to manage their subscriptions, making it work similarly to the Subscribe2 plugin.

The only problem was that when you first comment, it signs you up as a new user. This is okay in itself, but it doesn't send the login information if the new comment hasn't been approved yet (which it won't be if this is your first comment). So I fixed that, and then spent the rest of the day altering the Subscriber2 plugin so that it would include an unsubscribe link in any email (and that the unsubscribe link would work).

In the evening I watched 'October' with Mauser. It was quite good, but as often happens with these Soviet Propoganda films, it had bits that didn't make much sense, e.g. everyone is worried about a general and his 'cut-throat' (or something similar) army approaching the city. Then it just says that the general was arrested, and doesn't give any explanation.

After that I sorted a few photos and went on the internet a bit.

The weather was cloudy nearly all day, but it was hot and humid. There were loads of annoying little black bugs about that would go on you and would squidge when you tried to get them off (they were quite itchy).

Monday, 19 July 2010

Wordpressing

This morning I processed a couple of photos, then looked into Wordpress mailing list plugins again. The one I found yesterday was Subscribe to comments, but I also wanted users to be able to subscribe to new blog posts / newsletters.

One of the commenters on the Subscribe to comments plugin page said:
I’ve seen that some other blogs have two checkboxes under the comment box, the first being ‘subscribe to comments’ and the second being ‘subscribe to email newsletter’. I have a feedburner email newsletter and I’d love to give commentors the option on opting in, especially since they’re already entered their email address.
So I looked into Feedburner, and while you can easily add a subscribe to posts via feedburner widget to your blog, it doesn't look easy to integrate the ability to subscribe via feedburner into your comment form.

Feedburner also uses a form for users to subscribe to the email service, and obviously it requires a different action URL to the action URL of your comment form. So I think what would be required is a plugin that intercepts the comment submission, POSTs to the feedburner email subscribe page for your feed (using cURL), and then processes the comment submission normally.

I did search for feedburner plugins for wordpress, but couldn't see any that offered this functionality.

So next I found another plugin called Newsletter. I tried to test it, but had a problem creating a page with the [Newsletter] shortcode.

After getting the Newsletter plugin working, I found it didn't offer what I wanted, so I thought that maybe I would have to write my own plugin to allow subscribing to feedburner email updates via the comment form.

I checked my email and then had lunch.

After lunch I went out in the back garden and took a few photos. The Montbretia was looking very nice, but there were loads of wasps around it so I had to keep running away when they came near me. Then I found a friendly moth, so I took quite a few photos of that.

I came back in, and decided to have a look at the Subscribe2 Wordpress plugin before attempting to write my own plugin. It took me ages to find out what the 'token' was I needed to use to get the subscription form to display. The various FAQs for Subscribe2 mention the token, but don't actually specify what it is. After some googling I eventually found out that it is %lt;!--subscribe2-->

After getting the plugin working, I found it looked quite good. But I didn't like that the registration form only asked for the email address. I couldn't see any option to add subscribing as a tickbox option in the comment form either.

So I did some more googling and found a post that showed how to make your own Wordpress registration form where the user sets their own password: Fast and Easy Custom WordPress New User Registration. But I didn't want users to have to set their own password, I wanted what that post described there as the default Wordpress behaviour - Wordpress sets the password for them automatically.

So I did yet more googling, and found this post: How do I turn on user registration in Wordpress site? That said that you just need to enable user registration in the control panel, and then a 'register' link will appear in the 'meta' widget on the sidebar.

I don't have the meta widget showing on my themes, since I didn't want a link to the wp-login area on the blog. So I added the meta widget to the sidebar to check, but it didn't have any register option when I was logged out. So I tried the TwentyTen theme, and then the old Kubrick theme, but still no register option in the sidebar.

Then I checked the options in the Wordpress admin panel, and guess what - the option to allow anyone to register wasn't ticked! I must have ticked it on the live site or maybe a different wordpress installation. Anyway, after ticking it, the register option did appear in the meta sidebar widget.

I spent the rest of the day trying to get a register widget in my sidebar. I did get it working, but the Subscribe2 plugin doesn't include an unsubscribe link in the emails it sends out. The subscribe to comments plugin does have an unsubscribe link, but obviously doesn't give any way to unsubscribe from the general emails sent by the Subscribe2 plugin.

So it seems like I wasted most of today. The only thing I can think of is to try and write my own plugin, but that will take ages. Mainly due to the large number of different wordpress functions that are available - trying to find if a function exists, then if it does exist, if it does what I want, or if it can be filtered to do what I want, or if I have to write my own code.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Submitting a film to IMDB

This morning I cut out some pogs in Photoshop and went to Church.

In the afternoon I finished updating my pog website, then watched 'West Country Journey' with Mauser. After that I went to bed for a nap.

In the evening I did some photo stuff and also looked for a Wordpress subscriber plugin. I spent quite a long time submitting 'West Country Journey' to IMDB, as it wasn't on there.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Waiting in a field for ages to see if there will be a sunset

I spent most of today processing the rest of the photos that I didn't finish processing yesterday, and uploading various photos to my photo website.

In the evening it was quite cloudy, so it didn't look like there was going to be a visible sunset, but then the sun came out, so I quickly got my photo stuff together and went out. But the sun went back behind a bank of cloud. I waited in the field for about an hour. Since you can't see beyond the horizon, you can never tell if the sun will be able to light up the bottom of the clouds from below the horizon. But it never did.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Trying to Infrared, but not quite getting there

This morning I was processing / sorting some greenbottle photos. In the afternoon I went out to test my fisheye lens with the Cokin P filter holder and a Hitech ND0.9 filter. I also decided to test my cameras with my Hitech Infrared filter.

It took me quite a while to get all the camera stuff together, then I went out to a nearby field. Unfortunately the old piece of farm machinery that used to be in the field wasn't there any more. And the grass had turned from being red about a week ago, to being yellow / brown.

Anyway, I tested the ND0.9 filter, and found that at f/11, it only got the shutter speed down to about 1/10s. So I would need a much darker filter for doing long exposures in daylight.

Next I tested the Hitech Infrared filter on my different cameras, I found I needed about 5s at f/8 on the Canon 450D and Nikon D200, and 1s at f/5 on the Panasonic FZ5. I found that the lens / filter needed shading to prevent flare. I didn't bring the lens hood(s) for the Cokin filter holder, so I just used my hand as a lens shade.

I was surprised not be disturbed by anyone walking their dog all the time that I was out in the field (about an hour I think).

When I got back home I started processing the images, and found that they were very IR - the trees and green foliage was still quite dark. Also, some of the images still had some bad flare from the filter, and some had my hand in them.

After dinner I watched an episode of Star Trek TNG, and it was just so incredibly maniacal and rubbish. The only thing that could have made it any worse if Picard and Riker were doing stretching exercises along with Dr. Crusher and Troi. I did notice that Gates McFadden's hair was shorter in this episode. It does still look a bit like dog's hair, but no longer looks like a horse's tail.

After that I looked into IR photography, and found that all 3 of my cameras have strong IR blocking filters. The Hitech IR filter cuts at approx 720nm, which apparently lets in some of the visible spectrum of red light. So in effect, the Hitech Infrared filter was acting more like a red filter than an infrared filter.

Looking at my images, I would say the Panasonic FZ5 is the most IR sensitive of my cameras, though it seems that even the FZ5 has a strong IR filter.

I found out that the B+W 093 filter cuts out all visible light (which should mean that I could take real IR photos with my cameras, just with much longer exposure times).

So I looked to see how much the B+W 093 Infrared filter was. First I tried to find the place I'd seen cheap B+W filters before, but I couldn't remember its name. After some searching on the dpreview forums, I found it was hvstar, and they have now changed to maxsaver.net. But looking at the B+W 093 filters on their website, they are still quite expensive. Actually, if I had to pay VAT plus Post Office fee, they would work out cheaper to buy from the UK ($149 from maxsaver.net vs. £129 from UK shops for the 77mm filter size).

I would want to get the 77mm filter size so it would be compatible with possible future lens purchases, e.g. the Canon 24-70mm/2.8 or the Sigma 10-20mm/4-5.6 DC lens.

Since the filter was very expensive, I looked at IR compatible cameras, the Fujifilm IS Pro (which has no IR cut off filter, so you would need to use an IR cut off filter on your lens for normal photography), is currently £599 from Warehouse Express. While the the Sigma SD14 (which has a user-removable IR cut off filter) is about £279 from thedigitalcamerashop.co.uk. Of course, both cameras would still require an IR filter to let only IR light through, but they would 'absorb' a lot more IR light than visible light (unlike my current cameras).

I won't purchase either at the moment though - I need some money!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Trying to get jquery lightbox to work

This morning I was trying to get a simple lightbox set up on my photo website for showing larger versions of some screengrabs I'd used in a blog post. While I could write something myself, it seemed like it would be much easier to use a script someone else had already written than re-invent the wheel.

So I downloaded the jquery lightbox plugin, set it up, but then it didn't work! After some investigating I found the problem was that they were using the nice 'n' easy jquery syntax for creating HTML. They had written the HTML using HTML syntax and not XHTML syntax (which is what my website uses), and so there were unclosed <img> tags that were causing the lightbox function to break.

So I fixed this by self closing the image tags:
$('body').append('<div id="jquery-overlay"></div><div id="jquery-lightbox"><div id="lightbox-container-image-box"><div id="lightbox-container-image"><img id="lightbox-image" /><div id="lightbox-loading"><a href="#" id="lightbox-loading-link"><img src="' + settings.imageLoading + '" /></a></div></div></div><div id="lightbox-container-image-data-box"><div id="lightbox-container-image-data"><div id="lightbox-image-details"><span id="lightbox-image-details-caption"></span><span id="lightbox-image-details-currentNumber"></span></div><div id="lightbox-secNav"><a href="#" id="lightbox-secNav-btnClose"><img src="' + settings.imageBtnClose + '" /></a></div></div></div></div>');


I was slightly surprised at this, as I was of the understanding that jquery would just parse the HTML string and then use DOM methods to create the elements and set the attributes as needed. So I guess that either jquery doesn't do this and just does something like innerHTML, or else maybe it checks your syntax against the DOCTYPE and throws an error if they don't match up.

Now the lightbox worked okay, but I didn't really want the 'back' and 'next' buttons on the lightbox since you would need to read the bit of the article between the images to understand what the next image was showing.

To fix this, I edited the script at about ln. 45, and added a new showNav setting:
   keyToNext:    'n',  // (string) (n = next) Letter to show the next image.
showNav: true,
// DonĊ½t alter these variables in any way

Then I altered the _show_image() function so that the navigation would only be activated if showNav was true.
function _show_image() {
$('#lightbox-loading').hide();
$('#lightbox-image').fadeIn(function() {
_show_image_data();
if(settings.showNav){
_set_navigation();
}
});
_preload_neighbor_images();
};

Then when I call the lightbox initializer, I just set showNav to false
 $('a[rel*=lightbox]').lightBox({
"showNav":false,
"otherSettings":...
});


After getting the lightbox working how I wanted I took my broken hard drive down to the post office to post it back to Western Digital. It's been quite showery lately, I did get a bit of rain on the way back home, but not much. I was actually quite hot by the time I got back home (wearing a jumper).

After lunch I got my website working with the latest versions of jquery and jquery-ui. There wasn't actually any problem with the latest versions compatibility wise, but I had to minify them a bit more (removing new lines) and fit them in with my combined javascript file.

I spent quite a while trying to find a minified version of the jquery-ui ui-lightness CSS, but it seems there isn't one. I couldn't put it through a minifier as it uses some comment hacks, and the minifiers I know of remove comments (which you want, but not when a comment is actually a hack). So I just left it as it is - each CSS declaration only spans a single line anyway, I just wanted to remove the extra spaces between properties and values and the comments that weren't needed for hacks.

Next I made an adapter for my Tokina 10-17mm fisheye so I can use the Cokin P adapter (filed down to only hold a single filter) on it. I can't see any vignetting looking through the lens from 12mm, and it looks to be just about usable at 11mm (a little bit of the cardboard 'adapter' can be seen in the bottom right hand corner). Whether you get any vignetting when taking photos is a different thing though, and something that I haven't tried yet.

After that I put out the washing, then updated my photo website.

Mauser came home, and Beatles Rock Band had arrived for him, so we set about putting it together.

After dinner we went on Beatles Rockband for a bit, then I took some photos of my FZ5 on a monopod, and processed the photo(s).

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Various stuff

This morning I checked my email, then read a PDF on SEO. I then received an email back from Western Digital support, and they said my hard drive, (which had been running an extended test for about 24 hours and still had another 13 hours to go), should be RMA'd.

So I stopped the scan, and at least I should hopefully get a better night's sleep tonight not having my PC on with its loud humming noise.

In the afternoon I updated my pano website with some new old panos. It took quite a lot longer than I anticipated as somehow I had managed to create the cube faces for each pano from just the first pano.

In the evening I watched an episode of Star Trek TNG with Mauser and L, then did some work on a blog post for my photo website.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Error checking a hard drive

This morning I did a backup, but one of my backup drives wasn't working properly (this particular drive been really slow for quite a while now). So I downloaded the Western Digital Data LifeGuard Diagnostics program for Windows, and started running an extended test on the drive.

In the evening the test was still going, and said it had about 40 hours left to go, so I raised a support ticket through Western Digital's website to check if this was normal. I really don't want to go through two nights of having my PC on overnight unless absolutely necessary. (The PC is in my bedroom and I can't get much sleep when it's on).

For the rest of the day I sorted / processed a few photos and went on the internet a bit.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Rain at last

This morning I finished off getting the pog images ready for my pog website, then updated the website.

After that I checked my email and wrote yesterday's blog post.

I sorted some photos, then spent most of the rest of the day waiting for them to upload to my photo website. While I was waiting in the afternoon I tided up my bedroom a bit, which had photo stuff everywhere, and also made a diffuser for my FZ5's built in flash.

In the evening I watched M with Mauser, then tried to find info on some aphids I had photos of. Unfortunately the only info seems to be in a book that costs about £30 (and of course I don't actually know how much info the book has in it about the specific species of aphid I'm interested in).

It finally rained today, though I think we would need about a week of constant rain to make up for the lack of rain over the last few months.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

World Cup Final

This morning I went out on a walk after I got up, and then had a shower etc. when I got back in, normally I do it the other way round. It was quite a good idea since I was hot and sweaty when I got back from the walk.

I did a backup, then went to Church with Mauser and L.

After Church I cut out some pogs in Photoshop.

After lunch I watched the Guns of Navarone, then went to bed with a bad headache.

Later in the afternoon I cut out some more pogs in Photoshop, then watched the World Cup Final with Mauser.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Photo taking and processing

This morning I went out about 7am again, but this morning it had started off sunny, and so the butterflies were already quite active. I did manage to get some photos, but the butterflies always seemed to settle on the lowish grass, giving an ugly background of the other grass blades. It also made it hard to get a shot without grass being in front of the butterfly.

I got back home about 8.30am as it was too hot outside, and spent the rest of the morning sorting and processing the images.

In the afternoon I did more photo sorting and uploaded some photos to my photo website. I also went on the internet a bit.

In the evening I watched an episode of Life and then watched the Uruguay vs. Germany match, which was pretty good and close fought. Unfortunately Klose was injured, so he couldn't equal or beat the World Cup goals record, and he's too old now to likely play in the next World Cup.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Blah blah blah

This morning I got up at 6am and went on a walk down the old railway line. Most of the birdsfoot trefoil, Clover, and buttercups seemed to be dead now, so they didn't flower for long this year. I would guess it's just too dry (it hasn't rained more than a few drops for ages).

There didn't seem to be any insects around (other than moths) either. After a bit I did find some Juncus with a spider eating a fly on it, and loads of common red soldier beetles, lots of whom were mating. I took a few photos of them, then started back to the house as the camera battery was showing low charge.

On the way back (it was now 8am), I saw lots of Ringlet butterflies. I did stop to get out my Canon macro kit (before I had been shooting with my Panasonic FZ5), but there was an annoying mosquito that kept biting me, so I decided to just go home. Hopefully I can get up early enough tomorrow to go out again and get some good ringlet photos with my Canon gear.

When I came home I wrote up yesterday's blog post. I copied across the morning's photos and geo-coded them. After that I looked into the bug with my website in IE7 on Vista.

When doing some testing, I also found some problems with the website in K-Meleon, which doesn't recognise inline-block. One thing I fixed with setting -moz-inline-box. But with some other inline-block elements, when I set their display to -moz-inline-box, the text inside these elements stopped flowing and would just disappear or overflow. So I left them as they are - they don't look as they do in other browsers, but still display well enough to be understood.

Most of the afternoon I was working on an article for my photo website.

In the evening I watched an episode of Life, and a John Wayne film with Mauser and Bo.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

VMing

This morning I processed some photos, then started to get my VPC VMs setup so I could test my websites on IE6 and IE7. I followed the guide at Sitepoint: Run IE6, IE7, and IE8 on the Same Machine Using Windows 7 XP Mode, except I didn't get as far as making the shortcuts to abbr title="Internet Explorer">IE6 & 7 as the VMs both had loads of updates to install.

In the afternoon I finished installing the updates, and did some website testing.

During the time between Vista constantly breaking and Windows 7 arriving, I was stuck with a base install of Vista (with no updates installed). When I had looked at my pog website in IE7 during this time, I found it wasn't working properly. So now I had my IE6 and 7 VMs setup in Windows 7, I loaded the site in IE7 to try and debug what the problem was.

But the main problem I was looking for wasn't there. I wondered if it was a problem with IE7 only on Vista, so I downloaded the Vista IE7 VHD.

When that was all downloaded and installed, I tested the site, and indeed, the problem did exist on IE7 in Vista, but not in XP. I then spent quite a while updating the Vista VM, and trying to install the integration tools and SP1 (with no luck).

I did fix one problem with my site in IE7, which was that an element with display: inline-block wasn't displaying inline. Through googling I found the fix was that the element must have hasLayout and display: inline, then it will behave as an inline-block element.

It took me quite a long time to figure this out though, mainly because my CSS declaration for the element in question was more specific than the one in my IE7 stylesheet (so the main CSS declaration took precedence). If I get time then I will try and rewrite my CSS according to the advice given at Top 5 Mistakes of Massive CSS.

I also spent quite a while trying to debug a problem where IE7 stops applying a margin-left at certain window sizes. I couldn't find the answer, but at least now have a test-case page.

In the evening I watched the new Star Trek film with Mauser and Bo, then took some photos in the garden.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Photo processing

This morning I was processing some photos of a Montbretia and Osteospermum.

In the afternoon I added metadata to some more Osteospermum photos, and also looked into moving my webhosting to HostGator. Unfortunately it seems that HostGator run ImageMagick 6.3.9, when I need version 6.5.4-10 or later, as there is a bug in earlier versions that can mess up the EXIF/XMP.

I also saw on their website that the maximum execution time for a PHP script is 30s, and they don't let you change this to a longer time. When dealing with large image uploads (like me), then 30s is too short.

HostGator also says that if you run a fast-cgi service (e.g. perl), then you can't change any PHP settings from their (HostGator's) defaults. HostGator run MySQL 5.1.3, which is quite an old version now (released 29 November 2005 I think), and I could be using functionality not available in 5.1.3, as I'm using 5.4 (I think I would probably be okay though).

Anyway, the maximum execution time for a PHP script means that I can't use HostGator.

I spent quite a bit of the afternoon just uploading photos to my photo website.

In the evening I watched the Germany vs. Spain match, Spain were too good at defending and intercepting passes for Germany.

I looked at GretzkyHosting, which had been advertising extremely cheap VPS packages, but they seem to have disappeared (no website). I then looked at Site5 hosting, but they use an even older version of ImageMagick than HostGator! And the MySQL version they are currently running is 5.0.67!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Getting MS Virtual PC and VMware to play nice together

This morning I processed a few photos and also tried to get Windows Virtual PC and VMWare running okay alongside each other. The problem is that VMWare doesn't like the CPU being in VMX operation, which VPC puts it in.

In Virtual PC 2007 you could change the setting to disable hardware virtualization on a per Virtual Machine basis, but in the Windows 7 version of Virtual PC no such setting exists. And you can't install the older Virtual PC 2007 in Windows 7 either.

On the thread I started in the Windows 7 forums, I was told that you would need to disable hardware virtualization in the BIOS. But I thought that might negatively affect my VMWare Virtual Machine. So I thought I'd see if I could run the Windows XP mode VHD in VMWare.

Reading this thread: How do I convert a .vhd disk image to work with VMWare? there were two suggestions I thought sounded good - one was to convert the VHD to a VMDK, and the other suggestion was to mount the VHD as a drive in Windows, and then use that drive for your VM in VMWare.

I looked into the second suggestion first. Mounting the VHD as a drive via the Disk Management snap-in was very easy. But when I tried to create a new VM in the VMware Server 2.0 control panel, there wasn't any option to use a physical drive.

After doing some reading I came across this thread: How to use Physical Hard Drive or it's partitions with VMWare server 2 ? (Linux), which made it sound quite difficult.

So I decided to try converting the VHD to a VMDK instead. After converting the XP mode VHD to a VMDK, and then creating a VM using this disk image, the VM started up okay. Windows (in the VM) then said that it had found lots of new hardware, so I told it to install the drivers automatically.

But then after installing the drivers the keyboard and mouse stopped working (in the VM). So I restarted it, and the keyboard worked, but there was no mouse cursor. Using the keyboard I went into the control panel and disabled 2 mouse device entries. After restarting the mouse now worked okay.

Next I installed the VMWare tools on the VM using the VMWare control panel on the host machine. But this then messed up the mouse - although you could see the cursor and move it around, where you clicked seemed to always be right on the edge of the screen (making navigating with the mouse impossible).

So I decided to just try disabling hardware virtualization in my PC's BIOS. However, when I went into the BIOS, I couldn't find any options to do with virtualization. After doing some googling, I found that for the Asus p5b motherboard, the option is called 'Vanderpool Technology'.

After disabling Vanderpool technology in the BIOS, I can now use both VMWare and VPC at the same time.

I processed some more photos for the rest of the afternoon.

In the evening I watched an episode of Life with Mauser and Bo, and then watched Uruguay vs. Holland.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Processing photos

Today I was just processing photos of a moth all day. It took me so long because they were nearly all focus stacks, and I did them manually using layer masks in photoshop.

In the evening I also watched an episode of Life and played on Mario Galaxy 2 a bit with Mauser and Bo.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Various stuff

This morning I cut out some pogs in Photoshop and went to Church. After Lunch I watched an episode of Life with Mauser and Bo, then went to bed as I had a bad headache.

Later in the afternoon I updated my Pog website, then upgraded Wordpress on my local copy of my photo website. After fixing it to use numerical entities instead of named entities (and so be XML/XHTML compatible), I upgraded the various plugins that had updates.

I edited the smart youtube plugin to use the cross-browser XHTML valid youtube embed, but when I went to test it on IE8, I found the video wasn't working. So I spent quite a while trying to figure out why it wasn't working. It would just have an empty flash object instead of the video. I checked youtube, and that was working okay.

Eventually I gave up and thought I'd just test it on the other browsers. But when I tested it on Firefox, it didn't work there either. So I followed the advice on this thread: Why is it I can't see embedded YouTube videos? I didn't think that uninstalling Flash and then re-installing it would fix the problem, but it did.

I also had a problem with not being able to disable Hardware Virtualization in MS Virtual PC, as it conflicts with VMWare. I tried installing Virtual PC 2007, but you just get a message saying that it isn't compatible with this version of windows (Windows 7). So I posted on the Windows help forum: How to disable hardware virtualization?

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Not a lot

Today I sorted and processed a few photos and watched quite a bit of the Germany vs. Argentina match, and the first half of Paraguay v. Spain.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Processing photos

Today I was just processing photos of Mirid bugs.

I did catch a moth in my bathroom last night that I was intending to photograph today, but it had died overnight (and laid a few eggs). I took a few photos of it, but you can't photograph a dead moth like you would a live one. I think it must have just died of old age, as it was already quite bald on top when I caught it yesterday evening.

After taking the photos I put it and the eggs out in the garden. Hopefully the eggs will survive okay and some animal can eat the moth.

In the evening I also watched a bit of the Ghana v. Uruguay match.

There was a nice purpley sunset today.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Writing a tutorial

This morning I finished off processing some Scorpionfly photos. After that I took some photos of a moth that I'd captured in the Kitchen last night.

In the afternoon I wrote a post for my photo website about How to add some ‘pop’ to a flat photo using Capture NX 2.

In the evening I watched an episode of Life with Mauser and Bo.

Mauser had brought home a replacement for our wireless router/modem, because the wireless on it keeps breaking. But the replacement turned out to only be a wireless router, not a modem. So we had to plug the new router into the old modem/router. Now we can either connect wirelessly to the old modem/router, or when the wireless on that stops working, we can connect wirelessly to the new router.

Also in the evening I tried to make a quick video to go with the blog post I'd written for my photography website. I found that I couldn't get the images to blend from one to another nicely in Photoshop, so I had to resort to Premiere Pro, which produced a very nice smooth blend.