Sunday, 29 January 2012


This morning I updated my pog website, then went to Church.

In the afternoon I watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise with Mauser and Bo. We did some laminatating and started to make some new flash stencil things.

In the evening we played on Secret of Mana and watched Jurassic Park.

Here are some pics of the Yoshi Electron and Yoshi models I made a week or so ago:

Saturday, 28 January 2012


This morning I prepared the images for updating my pog website tomorrow. I also tried some more to find detailed boundary data for civil parishes or towns and villages in Scotland, but couldn't find anything. I finished writing the descriptions for the two Scotland panos I processed yesterday, and started uploading some older panos to as well.

In the afternoon I uploaded the panos to my websites, went on a walk with McRad, Mauser, and Bo, and made some Parkin. I finished my image of Bruno Mars as well:

In the evening I watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise with Biddle Bertie and Digital Bertie. The 360cities panos had all uploaded, so I had to do the descriptions etc. for them.

Friday, 27 January 2012


This morning I put together the video of Yoshi Electron taking away Sir Fred Goodwin's Knight hood. I did the photos a couple of days ago, but made them into the video with titles etc. today.

In the afternoon I processed a couple of Scotland panos.

In the evening I watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise with Mauser and Bo, then did Sculpey with them. I also looked to try and get boundary info for Scottish Civil Parishes. Unfortunately the OS Civil Parishes boundary shape files only seem to cover England.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Article writing

I spent most of today writing a blog post for my photo tips website.

In the evening I watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise with Mauser and Bo. Then the rest of the evening I did photos of YE and Yoshi.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Windows batch scripting

I spent most of today trying to write a windows batch file to work with ImageMagick to create the process the images for the slit scan style turntable photo.

I found a reasonably good tutorial on Windows batch script writing here: Win32 Shell Scripting Tutorial. However, it didn't cover everything I needed. One of the things was that a command line variable was always quoted, so when I used it in a string, the string looked like this for example:

echo Hello %1 Bye
Hello "This is the contents of a variable that was set on the command line" Bye

I found a solution here: Remove quotes from named environement variables in Windows scripts, but then found that actually when passing the variable to a command, it didn't mind that the variable was enclosed in quotes anyway, e.g.

convert "%%i" -quiet -crop 0x%i%+0+!offset! %1/files/%%~nxi

Worked fine

Next I found that my %offset% variable wasn't updating in a loop. Eventually I found the answer to that here: Why That Batch For Loop Isn’t Working. It turns out that if you want to get the current value of a variable updated in a loop, you need to specify setlocal EnableDelayedExpansion before the loop, and then access the variable using ! exclamation marks instead of % percent signs, e.g. !offset! instead of %offset%.

Another thing was how to store the output of a command in a variable. In bash, you do this using backticks. For windows batch scripting, I found the answer here: Batch equivalent of Bash backticks. So for getting the height of an image into a variable, I had to do this:

FOR /F %%x IN ('identify -quiet -format "%%h" "%%i"') DO SET /A height=%%x

There were numerous other problems I had, but I can't specify them all here.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Slit scan turntabling

This morning I was getting ready to try some slit scan style turntable photography, but then my memory card wouldn't work. The camera said it had a write error, so I switched it off and on again. Then it said that the card was write protected.

I tried moving the write protect tab on the card, doing a full format and quick format on the PC, etc. but nothing seemed to work. So I checked the manufacturer's website, which had an RMA form, but the form was in French with a French address.

I tried to find the original packaging for the memory card, in case it had an English RMA address on it, or anyway it may be needed to return the packaging for an RMA. But I couldn't find the packing, I think I must have thrown it away.

Doing some googling, I came across some advice SD reader (disk write protected), which says to place tape over the write protect switch area on the card. Before doing this, I thought I better check a different SD card before putting tape on the card and possibly voiding the warranty.

So I tried a different SD card in the camera, but the camera said this card was write protected as well. I hadn't tried a different card earlier as the problem card would come up with 'format couldn't be completed' (or similar) message when I formatted it in Windows, indicating the problem was with the card.

However, with this new information that the camera may actually be at fault, I googled for info on this problem. I found a suggestion in this thread: card write protected on new canon eos 450d

I've not experienced this problem myself but I know someone who has and they were able to fix it very easily and this is what they did.

If you look inside the slot for the SD card you should see a little micro switch which is what detects the position of the write protect slot on the card itself. His was stuck in the on position the whole time but he found that with the use of a small screwdriver he could just tap the micro switch and it pinged back into the off position where it should be normally and from then on it worked perfectly and has never caused him a problem since. Essentially it had just got temporarily stuck and just needed a little tap to free itself.

Now obviously you do this at your own risk and you may very well not want to stick anything inside the SD slot of your new camera and I dare say that if you did and the company found out that this is what you had done that they wouldn't give you a refund so I'll leave it up to you to decide if it's worth the risk or not.

My 450D is out of warranty, so I took the battery out for a few minutes, and also tried poking (with a wire) the side of the SD card slot where a write protect slot detector would be located. I didn't hear or see any micro switch pinging back into place, but after replacing the battery the camera now works again.

Most of the rest of the day I worked on doing the slit scan style turntable photography.

In the evening I also watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise with Mauser and Bo, then made a Knight hood for Fred Goodwin and did nothing for most of the evening.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


This morning I went to Church, it was a churches together service at St. Dionysius. Near the start of the service someone fainted (I think), then there was a paramedic there most of the service. I don't know what happened, but it seemed a bit strange how you couldn't see the person (presumably they were lying on the floor or the pew), but they didn't take them out to an ambulance or anything.

I also updated my pog website in the morning.

In the afternoon I watched an episode of Star Trek Enterprise with Mauser and Bo, then read byThom and the Luminous Landscape. I made a Google plus page for my pog website, and added a link for it to the website.

In the evening I watched an episode of NHK Let's Learn Japanese with Mauser and Bo, it was the final episode of series 1. After that I started looking into why my wordpress ebay plugin wasn't getting links based on the correct locale from the visitor's IP address. I didn't get very far with that, then did some more sculpey / plasticine with L and Mauser.

I finished Yoshi, so now I need to do some better photos of Yoshi and Yoshi Electron, and then try and make Yoshi Electron sit on Yoshi.

Saturday, 21 January 2012


I spent most of this morning trying to get some text to print out in a specific place on an A6 card for Clare. Unfortunately, while the Lexmark printer software would let you choose A6 or a custom paper size for printing, when you pressed OK it would go back to A4. Very annoying.

McRad suggested trying making an A4 document with the printing bit in the correct place, and then putting the A6 card on the right of the paper feed tray set to A4. But this didn't work as the card was only gripped by one roller, and so twisted as it went through the printer, so the printing was all messed up.

I also cut out some pogs in Photoshop for my website update tomorrow.

Most of the afternoon I wrote a blog post for my photo website about the LS-5 Clare and McMauser got me for my birthday.

In the evening I watched an episode of Bouken Rangers with Belly, then watched David Robots (NHK Let's Learn Japanese) with Mauser and Bo. After that we did sculpey / plasticine and I started work on my Yoshi plasticine model. So far I've done most of the body, but no feet, hands, saddle bit, neck spikes, or eye whites.

Friday, 20 January 2012


Today I spent quite a while uploading a photo to various photo sharing websites. It's amazing how long it takes. The problem is that different sites use different formatting for specifying links, and I like to always include a link back to my website(s). Also, most don't pull the image description and keywords from the exif, so I have to copy and paste them manually. Some websites also use different formatting for keywords e.g. space separated instead of comma separated, which also makes more work.

In the evening I watched the rest of A.I. with Mauser and Bo, did some sculpey with them (I just made an armature for Yoshi), and took some more photos of my sound recorder.

This is Mauser's Michael Rosen, the original Lenin body, and a capitalist pig that L made with a swan that I think Clare made on his back.

Here is Yoshi Electron leaning back on the sculpey box, on the table you can see a bit of wire for the Yoshi armature I was making today.

I probably did some other stuff today as well, but I can't remember now.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Website health checking

Yesterday and the morning I was checking awstats, google webmaster tools, and bing webmaster tools for my websites, to see if there were any issues that needing addressing (there was). Unfortunately I still haven't finished this yet.

In the afternoon today I went into town to test my Olympus LS-5, then went on a walk through Farndon fields on my way back home. Farndon fields looked like there were quite a few places that might be good to take a pano and document the development there, so I went back out at 3pm hoping for a warmer light near sunset.

Unfortunately, the sun was behind some clouds, and the clouds didn't really get lit up nicely. They just filtered and diffused the light so there was no shadows. Good for portrait photography, but not what I wanted. I had checked the website, which said sunset was at 4.15pm, and I knew that the other day the sunset reached peak about 4.25pm. So I walked really slowly around a field, and kept stopping, to at least wait until 4.25pm in the hope the sunset might improve.

About 4.20pm I arrived back at some puddles I thought would look nice with a reflection of a good sunset in them, but the sunset still wasn't great. There was a nice purple cloud in a Z shape near the horizon, but you would really have needed a longer lens e.g. 50mm+ probably to enlarge it enough to make a meaningful photo. And I only had my fisheye lens.

To the east though, there were thinnish clouds on the horizon that were purple, again they didn't go up very high from the horizon though. I thought that I might as well take a pano by some trees there anyway. Then when I had finished that, the sunset got a lot better, with the sky around the horizon becoming more of a purple colour. So I took a pano by the puddle, though my boots made lots of marks in the mud there.

Then the clouds by the horizon became a much deeper purple. Again, it would have been best with a longer lens, and probably also in landscape orientation. I'll have to remember to bring my 50mm lens and a ball head next time, though of course today it would have meant having to carry more weight around for an hour while I was just waiting for the sunset to get nice.

In the evening I made some Eccles cakes, then finished watching the film 'Shane' with Mauser, Bo, and Clare.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Article writing

Yesterday and today I have been mostly writing an article for my photo tips website (and finding relevant images to illustrate it).

Also today I watched this cool video from DigitalRev where they get Chase Jarvis to do a shoot with a lego camera:

I thought the Oly m4/3 Pen photos he took looked pretty good for such a small camera.

Then I found out that Canon has announced the G1X large sensor compact, and Fuji has also announced their interchangeable lens mirrorless camera. I have to say that the G1X looks a bit bulky, and 28mm starting point of the lens puts me off. The Fuji also looks quite bulky, but mainly the price would put me off that model, around $1700, with lenses in the $650 region.

In the evening I watched another episode of NHK Let's learn Japanese with Mauser and Bo, then made an armature for Yoshi Electron. I spent most of the rest of the evening looking for train prices to London and shops in London that sell Newplast as Mauser said we should go to London. In the end he changed his mind, so I just bought it online. We also need some more milliput, Mauser put a bid in on an auction for 5 packs, so we will have to wait and see if he is outbid, and if so then just buy a single pack.

For the rest of the evening I was looking at autumn photos to try and plan when to take our Ukraine holiday.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Task listing

This morning I updated my pog website, started going through a backlog of emails I hadn't read yet, and went to Church.

In the afternoon I finished going through my emails, and one of them said that people who set goals do much better. This is an old thing I've heard many times before, but this time they said a study had been done whose results backed this up (and disproved some other theories).

I already have a task list and To do lists for a couple of my websites, each task is essentially the same as a 'goal', so I took most of the tasks in my task list, and split them up for each website / thing to do. So I still have just as many tasks to do, but my task list looks much cleaner as I just put a 'link' to the text file containing the subtasks for that thing.

I don't set dates to have things done by as often things seem to take ages when you think they won't take long, or something else pops up that you have to do that prevents you from completing a task on time. Also, rather than spending a set amount of time on one task, and then moving onto the next, I think that if you are 'on a roll', it is better to keep on with what you're doing.

E.g. If I was debugging something, it's generally best to continue until you find the problem. If I stopped after a set period of time, moved onto something else, and then picked it up again the next day, I probably would have forgotten the different things I'd tried and where I'd got to in the debugging process.

In the late afternoon and evening I started writing another article for my photo tips website. In the evening I also watched a learn Japanese program, 'NHK Let's Learn Japanese' I think it was. It was even more maniacal than Yan Sama! I guess it goes to show that 80s language learning programs are the best (I mean the best out of all TV programs, not just language learning programs).

After that we did a Chinese lesson, but we couldn't pause it, so didn't learn anything. And while we were doing that (and for a good while after it had finished), we did sculpey. I made a Yoshi Electron head, I had to use the handle of a paintbrush for tooling it as I didn't have any other tools available, so it was quite difficult.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Article writing

Today I was mainly writing an article for my photo tips website. Amazingly, I managed to get it finished by the afternoon. After that I went out on a short walk with McRad, Mauser, and Bo. I checked a few emails, then it was dinner time.

After dinner I checked a few more emails, then made a fimo owl using the instructions in L's Polymer techniques book. It is one of the things to do at the Holiday at Home thing I will be doing.

Me, Masuer, and L went to see K.K., I typed this blog post, then I'm going to bed in a few minutes.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Adding sound to a pano

Yesterday evening I took a pano, and then processed it the same evening, including adding all necessary metadata, which I think must be a record for me. However, this was my first pano where I recorded sound for it, so despite having the pano ready to upload yesterday, I had to spend most of today trying to work out how to get the audio for the pano to work.

The first problem was that the audio had some stutters (I need to look into why, I think maybe auto levelling was switched on), and it also needed converting into a loop. I created a new multi track file in Adobe Soundbooth, then cut the audio at the points where the stutters were. I then arranged the sections for a small overlap between each, spreading them over two tracks, fading one clip out while the other faded in.

I split the clip shortly after the start as well, and then moved the start to the end, again doing a fade between the clips. Doing this made the file so it would loop correctly. However, when I saved it as an mp3, it no longer looped correctly. Trying various things, I came across this page: Gapless looping MP3 tracks. Unfortunately I had numerous problems trying to get the software to work. I think it was mostly because my filepaths / filenames had spaces in them, and while quoting the filepath would pass it to the program okay, the program would then pass it on to LAME without quoting it, so it would fail.

Anyway, I did eventually get it to work, though it gave an error message about there being 1056 frames when it expected 0 or something, I can't remember the exact error. I did google for my LAME version, and couldn't really find much info, but I think it has the same encoder delay value as the default setting for the program. So I'm not sure what the issue was or how to fix it. Anyway, the resultant mp3 file was much better than a normally exported mp3 file, though still not as good as the .wav.

Then I spent ages trying to get the mp3 loading okay in the flash panorama player. I do have it working now, but it's a bit of a kludge. I have one pano.swf, one pano.xml file, and then each pano has its own directory with the cube faces in it. The pano directory name in passed to pano.swf via the panoName parameter, e.g.

Now, the problem is, I can't modify pano.xml to point to the sound file since pano.xml is loaded for all panos, but the sound file will be different (or non existent) for each pano. There doesn't appear to be any way to use variables in the xml file e.g.


If $panoName was parsed by the swf as a variable equivalent to the value of the url parameter panoName, that would work okay. But you can't use variables in the xml (as far as I could find).

Likewise, if the value could be set as a url parameter, e.g. that would be good. But again, this doesn't seem possible. The mp3player.swf is a plugin, and everything I read only stated using plugin parameters in the xml file (or possibly from as3).

So in the end I created a separate pano.xml file for this specific pano with sound, and I will have to do the same for any other panos I create with sound. Of course, the pano.xml file could be generated dynamically, but this is not an ideal situation. The pano.xml file is exactly the same for every pano, except the filename of the sound file. Having to have a separate pano.xml file for each pano means that the user's browser has to make an extra HTTP request and download an extra file. Having said that, that is only if the user is viewing more than one pano, for the first view they will always need to download the pano.xml file.

And after all that work, using the mp3player.swf, the mp3 file doesn't loop properly! (It loops but not seamlessly). Still, I don't think it's too bad though.

I also got my North Korea 2012 Centenary of the birth of Kim Il-Sung calendar today. There's a bit of a faux-pas on January though, obviously the calendars were produced before the Great Leader's death. If they produced lots for consumption in North Korea, I'd guess they'd all have to be destroyed. I'm not sure if it is for consumption in North Korea though, given that it has writing in English. (How could they bring themselves to use the devil's language?!)

Anyway, the calendar has lots of nice big colour photos of North Korea, each taken in (or at least representing) the month it is for. I like it.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Blog writing

Today I was mostly writing / looking for photos to illustrate a blog post for my photo tips website. As part of the blog writing I spent quite a bit of time reading differing opinions on how the HTML <abbr> markup should be used. In the evening I also looked a bit more for places to visit in Ukraine and Transnistria.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Holiday planning

This morning I finished off my article I was writing yesterday evening for my photo tips website. Considering that I had most of the article written in 1-2hrs yesterday, it seems quite amazing how finishing it off took most of the morning. The time was mostly taken up finding relevant CC licensed images on Flickr to illustrate the article, and then there was also getting / checking links and html, spell checking, and proof reading.

In the afternoon I read the instructions for my Olympus LS-5 sound recorder, I didn't read all the instructions, but enough to work it. I did think of going out before dinner to photograph the Christmas tree in the town centre (assuming it's still there), and also using the recorder to record the sounds there. But it was so windy I thought the wind would blow the tree about too much, so wouldn't be great for a photo / pano.

When setting up the recorder, one of the things I was wondering about was what sound quality option to choose. I found this article here: 16 Bit vs. 24 Bit Audio - Discussion of the mysteries behind bit-depth, sample rates and sound quality, which suggests that 44.1Khz 16bit should be good enough for most purposes. It does advise to use 24bit quality if you have it available (the LS-5 goes up to 96Khz 24bit), but considering I am only recording natural sounds, not music, I think 16 bit will suit me fine. In fact, I may well go for MP3.

Then the rest of the afternoon and most of the evening I was looking at possible locations to visit on a holiday to Ukraine / Transnistria / Moldova later in the year. So far I only looked at Ukraine places. Probably we will visit Kiev, south to a central industrial area, south to Crimea, along the coast, then up to Odessa, on to Transnistria and Moldova, back into Ukraine to Chernobyl, then to Kiev for the flight back home. Lots of places in Ukraine look nice, so I'm not sure exactly where we'll stop or how long we'll stay for.

Monday, 2 January 2012


This morning I went out on a walk with the rest of the family, then we got back home shortly after 2pm. In the afternoon I geo-coded the photos from the morning's trip, did some washing up, and tried to think of some ideas for a new photo tips article.

In the evening I watched the last episode of Life on Earth and then a program about the making of it. The cameraman they had in the studio to talk about it had a nice jumper and a beard. I started working on my photo tips article as well.

I also received another email about SEO services, very similar to the two I received before, and again their website is very similar with just one page, and one contact link.


Firstly I would like to introduce myself my name is Helen and
I'm a SEO specialist managing among other sites.

In my portfolio you'll be able to see quality websites that
can fit perfectly in SEO terms such as topic, content,
page rank & more.

As a SEO expert I managed to bring excellent results to my
partners in all major search engines such as Google, Bing & Yahoo!

I hope you are interested in hearing more about my proposal
so don't hesitate to contact me and we can take it on from there.

Thanks a lot,

Helen Murray

Sunday, 1 January 2012


This morning I updated my pog website and went to Church. After dinner I watched an episode of The Life Collection (David Attenborough) with Mauser and Bo. The rest of the afternoon and part of the evening I processed, metadatared, and uploaded some photos.

Also in the evening I got my 2012 shirt from Tortimer, and played a couple of games of Cluedo with Mauser, Bo, and Clare.