Thursday, 27 September 2012

NO! I don't want that!

This morning I was updating my websites and emails to say that I'm away. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, mainly because I have a few different websites.

The rest of the day I was getting ready for going on holiday tomorrow, mainly just doing stuff on the Nexus 7.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Getting annoyed by wordpress

This morning I was trying to publish the blog post I wrote for my photo website yesterday. I wanted to link to some Amazon and ebay items in the article, so thought I might as well affiliatize the links. This wasn't such a good idea though.

To affiliatize the ebay links, I decided to use my ebay wordpress plugin (since this is quicker to use than generating links through EPN and also automatically serves correct links based on the user's geo location). But, the plugin is still in an alpha stage of development, so I wanted to make sure it worked okay on the development copy of my photo website before I uploaded it to the live copy of my photo website.

Unfortunately when I tried to access the blog of my development site, it came up with a load of PHP errors thrown up by wordpress. I did some googling, and found something that suggested these errors had been fixed in the latest version of wordpress. So I downloaded the latest version of wordpress, then made it XML compatible (replacing named entities with numeric entities). I then tried it out, but was greeted with a number errors, just different errors to what I got before the upgrade.

Again, I searched google for some info on fixing the errors. But the only relevant info I could find was a thread on the wordpress forums. There was one reply where the thread starter was directed to read an article about integrating wordpress with an existing website. This seemed to be irrelevant to the errors, which were due to the wordpress class WP_Widget having two constructor methods (one using the same name as the class, one using __construct).

Eventually I decided to just go back to my previous install of wordpress. I then turned off display_errors in PHP (and restarted PHP). This allowed me to test my post on the dev version of my website okay. (I normally always have display_errors switched on for my dev website since I want to see any errors my code throws up.)

By the time I got that sorted out and the article posted to the live blog, it was well into the afternoon.

I contacted my credit card company to let them know that I was going to be using the card abroad. I also downloaded an MP3 album from Amazon, who had a special offer of downloading one album (from a reasonably big selection - 26 pages) for 99p. I worked out what time train to get to the airport on Friday. I took some photos of Mauser's stuff:

Above is part of Mauser's windowsill, where he has his Lenin bust. Surrounding Lenin are the Chicken Pope, an England Bulldog, Major Armstrong, and a Golliwogg playing a drum. The Bulldog and Golliwogg Mauser won on 2p machines. Major Armstrong is a character from 'Full Metal Alchemist', an anime that Mauser likes.

This photo shows the Scary Monster, which is actually an audio cassette holder. I think inside it has some random tapes, like The Best of William Smith compilation album that I made ages ago.

Above shows the Fly Swat from the Philippines and my C-3PO bag, on top of a pile of DVDs and Blu-rays including Mahabarat. On Mauser's main DVD shelf he has a Belarus flag that he got when he went to the Olympics football in Manchester. And also a Cochem-Mosel flag that Billy got when he visited Deutschland.

This last photo shows Mauser's Bavarian hat that I bought him for his birthday when we visited Bavaria this summer.

In the evening I watched an episode of VR Troopers and a film called Ghengis Blues. The film was about a blind American guy who taught himself to throat sing and then visits Tuva (along with some other people) to join in a Tuvan throat singing competition. Pretty good really.

After that I spent ages trying to fix an ebay wireless flash trigger. I had to try and solder a wire into a hole, but it was very difficult. The problem was that the hole was filled with solder. So you had to push the wire into the solder at the correct position on one side of the circuit board while melting the solder on the other side of the board with the iron. Then pushing the wire against the board, it should go through the hole when the iron melts the solder. Much trickier to get right in practice than it is in theory.

I did eventually get the wire part-way through the hole, and that seemed to be good enough. For the rest of the evening I wrote up this blog post.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Zip zip zip zip zip zip zip It's not a pip

This morning I prepared the panos I processed yesterday for upload. Then I uploaded them. I cleaned the insides of my mouse, then put it back together again. I calibrated my pano head for use with my fisheye lens at 10mm on the 5D2. I did some vacuuming and washing up.

In the afternoon I took photos of some sculpey / plasticine / milliput models:

Kim Jong-eun

David Roberts

David Cameron

Namtsop Tap

Marko Repairs Dol hareubang (made by Mauser)

My first ever sculpey model


Sculpey monster (The original one was much larger, made from a whole sheet of sculpey. But it broke in half when it kissed Mauser. It would have used up a lot of sculpey if it had been cooked anyway.)

Man with a mouth

Cat that eats intestines

Horse, weird thing, and a koala. The horse and koala are both made of left-over milliput when making armatures.
Face, bear, and little bloke. The face and bear are both made of left-over milliput when making armatures. The little bloke is made of left-over bits of coloured sculpey.

The rest of the afternoon and most of the evening I was writing a blog post for my photo website.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Still planning

Lately I have still been doing Ukraine holiday planning.

One of the things I noticed in my planning using google maps was this building that looks like a paint explosion:

View Larger Map

Above is a live map, or below is a screenshot to preserve the memory for prosterity in case Google update the satellite imagery.

I am pretty sure that this is caused by the building having a very reflective roof, which reflects bright sunlight directly into the satellite's camera. The very bright area causes the sensor pixels in that area to overflow into the surrounding pixels, causing the strange effect you see here. (I can't remember the technical term for this at the moment - sensor or pixel overflow comes to mind, but I'm pretty sure that's not correct).

I also had some strange effects occasionally in Google Earth when dragging a placemark to a folder. The placemark in the Places pane would go all black and weird while dragging it.

I looked at getting some foreign currency today as well. The Post Office website says that it offers Great rates and 0% commission. But their exchange rate for GBP to UAH is 1 GBP = 12.0925 UAH. gives the rate as 1 GBP = 13.2108 UAH. So the Post Office is actually taking around 10% commission. I looked around for other foreign exchange providers, but most don't offer UAH, or have a very similar exchange rate to the Post Office.

I thought that if you used your bank (debit) card to withdraw money abroad, you were given a similarly skewed exchange rate, plus had to pay extra conversion fees. However, after looking into this, I was wrong. Apparently exchange rates on card transactions are set by the card provider (i.e. Visa or Mastercard), not the bank that issued the card. And both Visa and Mastercard offer very competitive rates, just a little bit worse than that quoted by The Mastercard foreign exchange conversion rates page is here: MasterCard Currency Conversion Tool, and the Visa one is at: Visa Exchange Rates.

In the afternoon today I made a cake.

In the evening today I went out to take some photos, and also watched Dai Rangers with Billy and Mauser.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Holiday planning

The past week (or maybe more?) I have mainly been trying to find out how to get to all the different places we will be visiting on daytrips during our Ukraine holiday. I guess it will still take me a couple of days more until I am done.

Finding out where bus stations etc. are can be quite tricky, even with Google, Google Earth, Google Maps, and Wikimapia at my disposal. I was quite pleased with myself that I managed to work out the location of image 36/37 on this page: Photos Kiev >Page 3. It took quite a bit of work though.

Saturday, 15 September 2012


This morning I prepared my pog website update for tomorrow and wrote a blog post for my photo website.

In the afternoon I did some sculpey with L, and made a body for David Roberts. After that I took a UV photo in the garden. It took me a long time to get everything set up to take the photo.

After dinner I watched Dai Rangers with L, which had another really good bad guy. This time it was a tofu monster that gets drunk and makes other people drunk.

I played on Eledees with L for a bit, then put away all my photography equipment.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Testing USB3 hub

This morning I was doing some more work on my wordpress plugin.

After lunch I was going through some old emails. One I got a week or so ago was from ebay, inviting me to write a review about my ebay purchases. The purchase specifically mentioned and linked to in the email was a Nikon Nikkormat EL 35mm SLR Film Camera Body Only. Only problem is, I never purchased that camera. I've not even bid on one or watched one.

I received my Sumvision USB 3 hub this afternoon, which I think must have some of the worst designed packaging ever.

What are all those bright coloured lines and the Comics-sans-esque font about? The package is also much larger than it needs to be. It just contains the hub and a usb connection cable, the packaging doesn't need to be much larger than the hub itself.

When using the hub, the first time I tried it, I plugged it into my PC, and plugged my external HD case and card reader into the hub. I then copied a folder of images from a CF card in the card reader to the external HD. But the copy got stuck part-way through. It actually messed up my PC, and I could only get my PC to shut down by unplugging the hub. Task Manager wouldn't kill the copying process for some reason. Process Lasso couldn't kill it either.

I tried again (with a different HD), and this time the copy went smoothly. I then tried with the hub connected to my Nexus 7 instead of the PC. But I couldn't write to the (NTFS formatted) HD. After much messing about, I found the following worked:

  • Plug HD and card reader into USB hub. Plug hub into Nexus 7. Stickmount will auto mount the card reader. Switch on the HD, and stickmount will auto mount the HD.
  • Open Paragon NFTS/HFS+. It will mount the HD. Unmount the HD in Paragon. Mount the HD again, and choose the auto location (/sdcard/ParagonNTFS).
  • Now you can access the HD contents via /sdcard/ParagonNTFS, and it should be writeable.

I thought that because I was using the Motley Kernel (which is supposed to have NTFS rw support), that copying files to the HD would be easy (and not require extra software like Paragon NTFS/HFS+). But obviously I was wrong. The strange thing is that when the drive is mounted through stickmount, but not Paragon, then the drive contents show their properties as being writeable. But if you do try to write to the drive, you just get an operation failed message.

Also, when Paragon first mounts the drive, it is not writeable. You need to unmount it in Paragon and then mount it again to make it writeable. Very strange.

I still need to see how the whole setup will work when trying to copy multiple cards to the HD. That will be my task for tomorrow.

In the evening I watched an episode of Dai Rangers, which was very skill. The bad guy was a magnet priest who kept saying degauss. He put different polarities on people and objects so they either repelled or attracted each other. Very funny.

After that I went out on a walk. There was a nice pre-sunset, but I was too late for that. The sun set behind a bank of cloud, the sky was probably still reasonable, by the way I walked you couldn't see down to the horizon. I think in future I would need to go out straight after dinner (around 6.15pm) to get sunset photos.

Thursday, 13 September 2012


This morning I started recording a video on modifying the Vivitar 283 flash. Then someone came round to service the fire and boiler, and they were too noisy for me to do the video. So I did some more work on my wordpress plugin instead. I now have import and export of settings working okay (I think).

In the afternoon I finished off my video and then edited it. While it was exporting I looked for screen protectors for the Nexus 7. There seem to be two ones that are recommended Bodyguardz anti-glare / anti-fingerprint screenguardz and Steinheil Ultra fine matte. Both are recommended at reducing smudges, reducing glares and reflections, and having little to no effect on touch operation and screen resolution.

But unfortunately I couldn't find either for sale in the UK, they both seem to be US exclusives. I did find Mofred Nexus 7 case with screen protector and stylus on Amazon UK, which has a lot of good reviews. But I think that the screen protector they include is just a standard one, not an anti-smudge or anti-reflection one.

In the evening I made some macaroons. Unfortunately I made them using semolina, I didn't realise until after I had poured the semolina in with the icing sugar that it was semolina and not ground almonds. I did add almond flavouring. They taste a bit weird, not too bad though.

I also looked at how I could mount my Nexus 7 on my camera for use as a monitor. (I used it flat on the table as a monitor for my video earlier, using the free Helicon remote app.

I found this suggestion: Nexus 7 mounting bracket for your DSLR rig. But unfortunately, like the screen protectors, it is difficult to get hold of the parts in the UK. There are UK ebay sellers selling that RAM mount parts (so no astronomical intl. postage fees from the US). But their prices are much higher than the USD prices from

So I still want to try and find a reasonably cheap way for mounting the Nexus 7 for use as a camera monitor / controller.

Oh yes, here is a link to how to use Google chrome browser on android.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Trying to get my HD recognised

This morning I did some more work on my wordpress plugin, then did some more Ukraine holiday planning.

In the afternoon I did more Ukraine holiday planning. My USB OTG cable arrived today, so I tried to get the Nexus 7 working with my card reader and USB hard drive enclosure. The only USB hub McRad had was a USB 1 one, so I ordered a USB 3 hub. Apparently the Nexus 7 isn't USB 3, but I thought I might as well get a USB 3 one anyway. It should be backwards compatible with USB 2 and slightly future proofed compared to a USB 2 hub.

I couldn't get my 3TB HD working with the Nexus 7, but the other drives I tried and my card reader worked fine. (Though I didn't try copying any files, just checking I could browse the disks). When I get the USB hub, then I can try copying files from the card reader to the external HD.

I tried a lot of different apps, and plugging, unplugging etc. in trying to get my 3TB drive to work. It was the first drive that I tried, so I didn't realise that my other drives would work okay. I just thought the tablet wouldn't work with NTFS formatted drives.

I also had a look at how to view RAW files. There is an app called RAWdroid, which should let you view RAW files. Nik Snapseed should apparently be released for Android soon, and will hopefully include RAW support.

In the evening I watched an episode of Shinkengers with Billy, then played on Eledees with him for a bit.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

WP plugining and Nexus 7ing

This morning I tried to update the kernel on my Nexus 7. Apparently the linaro optimisations can make up to 100% performance improvement: Linaro Android Nearly Doubles ICS Performance, And Now Parts Of It Are Being Added to CM9. I was trying to install the Motley kernel, which includes linaro optimisations, and often seems to be recommended.

I did some research, and it seemed like you copy the zip file of the kernel to the nexus. Strangely, when I connected the Nexus 7 to my PC without USB debugging ticked, it did not show up as a drive. But it did show up when USB debugging (in the developer options) was ticked.

I copied the zip file across to the Nexus 7, I just placed it in the root (which I'm not sure is the real root, as it often seems to be referred to as /sdcard? I then booted into recovery mode. I downloaded an app to do this, but you can actually do it from the ROM manager app, or there is a manual way to do it: How to Put Nexus 7 Into Recovery Mode.

But when I booted into recovery mode it just had a fallen over android with a red exclamation mark triangle above him. After trying a few times I gave up and did some work on my wordpress plugin.

I was thinking that the work I wanted to do on my plugin today would be quick and easy (add an import and export settings option). But actually it was quite difficult. I had a number of problems, such as:

  • registering actions too late (but I didn't know it was too late)
  • checking an array was empty when actually I wanted to check it contained no values (an array with an empty key is not empty)
  • Serving a file (Can't serve a file and a page)
  • Saving a file using a user provided name (can't allow forward slashes)
  • cron task not working

The cron task not working I haven't solved yet, but in the afternoon I decided to take a look at getting the new kernel installed on my nexus 7 again. It turned out that when you boot into recovery mode, the tablet must be connected to your PC. So I did that and got the new kernel installed. Easy when you know how!

After writing this blog post so far I did a bit of work in the garden. Then I made a cake.

In the evening I was watching more Nexus 7 videos. It turns out there is an N64 emulator for it, and it works well. The emulator is called N64oid. It costs a few dollars. There is another one that is free, but it isn't meant to be very good performance wise, as well as having lots of adverts.

You can also use a PS3 wireless bluetooth controller with the tablet: Unofficial how to set up ps3 Sixaxis controller App thread.

This post here has a good list of different emulators (though it doesn't mention the MAME one): [GAMES] Nexus 7 Gaming Thread.

I also watched an episode of VR Troopers and played on Eledees with Billy in the evening.

Monday, 10 September 2012


This morning I did some more work on my wordpress ebay plugin.

In the afternoon I did more Ukraine holiday planning and Cyrillic learning.

In the evening I watched an episode of VR Troopers with Billy. The rest of the evening I read tutorials and watched a couple of videos about unlocking and rooting the Nexus 7. My Nexus 7 arrived today, so I followed the procedure. I think I still need to install a custom kernel, I am not exactly sure how to do that. So I will look at doing that tomorrow.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Cooking and cleaning

This morning I prepared my pog website update for tomorrow. I started making some apple and cinnamon and raisin loaf.

In the afternoon I spent more time making the apple and cinnamon and raisin loaf, and also did some cleaning.

My keyboard hasn't been fully cleaned since I got it, which was over 5 years ago. I found a good guide to cleaning keyboards here: How to Thoroughly Clean Your Keyboard (Without Breaking Anything). So I pulled all the keys off the keyboard for washing. I wonder how many other people have a model of Moley with a square wheeled penny farthing standing next to a draining board with keyboard keys on it?

In the evening I watched an episode of Dai Rangers and the latest Cooking with Dog with Billy. I tried to fix the zip on my strand camera bag, as it had broken (open both sides of the zip puller). But I think the zip itself must be broken, as after re-aligning the zip it would still open up in different places.

I did an Island lap with Billy, then we spent the rest of the evening doing sculpey / sculpey painting.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Buying a Nexus 7

This morning I bought a Google Nexus 7 tablet. The annoying thing is that Google charge you £10 postage, and don't let you choose any cheaper postage options. So although they advertise the tablet at £159, it is actually about £170 with the postage included (for the 8GB version). The 16GB version can be ordered for £200 with free postage from other online retailers (like ebuyer), so it is only £30 for the extra memory. Still, £30 for 8GB more memory seems too expensive to me. You could buy a 64GB USB memory stick and a USB OTG connector cable for less.

I then spent quite a bit of the morning trying to determine if the Nexus supports USB3. I couldn't find specs anywhere, or anyone saying that it was USB3. The only relevant discussion I could find was where someone asked if it was worth buying a USB3 hard drive caddy to use for connecting an external HD to the Nexus. The answer was no, it's not worth it.

So, I assume that the Nexus 7 does support USB3, since the answer was not "It doesn't support USB3". That it wasn't worth using USB3 was only that one person's opinion, so I decided to look at purchasing a USB3 OTG cable and hub. After all, I need to purchase a hub and OTG cable anyway, so might as well get the latest tech even if it has no current benefit.

But I couldn't find any USB3 OTG (or USB superspeed OTG) cables. I guess that either there aren't any, or all USB OTG cables are USB3 compatible. So I just bought a standard USB OTG cable. I also bought a USB3 hub from ebay. And I might buy a USB3 to SATA kit. I'm not sure if it will be worth it to replace my current USB2 / eSATA enclosure though.

Before lunch I tried taking a UV photo using both of my Vivitar 283s (and a third one arrived today).

The memory card also had some older UV photos that I hadn't copied to my computer yet.

The one above shows a flower in visible light top left, then UV top right. Below are both the images converted to grayscale to make the differences more obvious. There doesn't appear to be a hidden UV pattern on the flower, but it reflects much less UV light (so appears darker) than it does in visible light.

The photos below show my glasses. The top one is the glasses that I wear normally, and the bottom one is my spare pair. Although I bought them from the same place, and both pairs are very similar, the ones that I wear seem to be much better at blocking UV. They could have a more effective anti-UV coating. Or the reduced UV tranmission could be due to them being covered in greasy smears. (My glasses are really hard to clean).

Here is a video of raindrops running down the window I recorded a few weeks ago. It is recorded in portrait orientation, so it is sideways.

And here is a photo I took a few weeks ago:

It shows the only way I could get my markins ball head to mount on my gorillapod. There is a 1/4" female to female adapter (maybe not meant to be an adapter, but that's what I'm using it as) connected to the gorillapod. Screwed into the top of that is a Manfrotto spigot that has a 1/4" male end screwed into the adapter, and then the 3/8" end is screwed into the bottom of the ball head.

The three screws you see by the foot of the gorillapod are 1/4" to 3/8" thread adapters. These are hollow, with a 1/4" thread on the inside, and a 3/8" thread on the outside. So you screw them onto a 1/4" thread to convert it into a 3/8" thread. My gorillapod has a 1/4" thread, while the Markins ball head screws down onto a 3/8" thread. So it should just be a case of using one of these adapters on the gorillapod thread, then the Markins ball head should screw on okay.

But none of these adapters work with the Markins ball head. The head screws onto them a little way, but then gets stuck. I don't know why, as the Markins screws onto the 3/8" thread of my tripod just fine. The adapters do work for my cheapo ball head though (upside down in the image). So if I want to be able to use a ball head on both my tripod and the gorillapod, I am going to have to start using my cheapo ball head. And indeed, that is what I have been doing.

In the afternoon today I tried to learn a bit of Ukrainian Cyrillic and did some gardening. It was very nice and warm and sunny.

In the evening I wrote this blog post and did some sculpey with Billy.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Looking at Nexus 7

This morning I was looking for a laptop / tablet to take to Ukraine as Mauser's laptop that I used in Bavaria is big, heavy, and slow.

I looked at the Google Nexus 7 tablet. Unfortunately this only has one USB port.

I looked at the iPad. Unfortunately this has no USB ports. There is a camera connection kit, but it seems this is only for connecting your camera via USB (very slow) or using SD cards (my camera uses CF).

I looked at netbooks - not as good for using on a train etc as need to rest the base on your lap. Heavier and larger than a tablet as well.

I looked at the macbook air - too expensive, even 2nd hand off ebay.

I looked at laptops - still large and heavy, would have better performance than Mauser's. But price is about £300, which is a lot just for a bit better performance.

Then I had a thought about using a USB hub with the Nexus 7. I then spent the rest of the morning researching this, and trying to see whether it would possible to get it working with NTFS formatted hard drives.

It is possible to use Nexus 7 with a USB hub, and memory sticks, you need a USB OTG cable, and the Nexus 7 rooted and with an app (stickmount) installed. I read on forums people talking about using the Nexus 7 with external hard drives, so that sounds good. It should work with card readers okay as well. To get NTFS write support, it seems that you need to install a custom kernel.

Here is a video I found, which shows using the Nexus 7 with a USB hub:

For viewing RAW files from the camera on the Nexus 7, it seems an app is required for that too.

Also this morning I had a look at the Nex 5N camera, as it seems like it might make a good snapshot camera (with an autofocus lens).

In the afternoon I received a Vivitar 283 flash, but the battery contacts were all rusty. So I had to spend quite a while cleaning the contacts. After that I removed the flash's fresnel lens and replaced it with clear plastic. This also took quite a long time since I had to cut out the plastic using a lot of strokes with a craft knife.

In the evening I went out to test a filter I got the other day.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Not getting much done

I spent all this morning and part of the afternoon still trying to compile PHP. In the end I gave up and filed a bug report. A 'problem report' would probably be a more accurate description than a 'bug report', but PHP doesn't have a 'problem' tracker.

I found the contact form not working (which was what I was trying to solve by recompiling PHP) was only a problem on my pano website. So I just removed the contact form and put an email link on there instead.

I also had another problem, which took me a while to fix. And I managed to get the ebay carousel plugin on my photo tips website working again. It was just a case of editing the entry for it in the database to change it from using the EPN RSS feed for its source, to use the ebay API for the source instead.

I topped the pond up. I also cleaned the washing line, bird table, and bird feeders. Unfortunately the sparrows seem to use them all (plus the Buddleia bush) as a toilet.

In the evening I was working on my ebay wordpress plugin. I found out that Wordpress has a settings API that you are meant to use when creating admin pages. Unfortunately I only just found out about this now when I already done a lot of work on the plugin's admin area. Looking at the tutorials, e.g. Using The Settings API: Part 1 – Create A Theme Options Page, it looks like using the settings API isn't too different to what I've got now. But I'm not quite sure how it would work since the form is POSTed to a wordpress page, and not your plugin admin page.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Website problems

This morning I was preparing the panos I've processed recently for upload, and then uploading them to my pano and photo websites.

In the afternoon I checked the stats for my websites and found a couple of problems. One of them was relating to my contact form not working, and the other was to do with my KML not working. Both problems seemed to stem from when I last upgraded PHP. It feels like only a few weeks ago, but I think it might have been back in May.

So part of the afternoon and all evening I was working on trying to rebuild php with SSL support. (Lack of SSL support is why my contact form is failing I think).

Sunday, 2 September 2012


This morning I updated my pog website and went to Church.

In the afternoon and part of the evening I processed a pano.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Various but not much

This morning and the first part of the afternoon I processed a pano.

The rest of the afternoon and quite a bit of the evening I made some eccles cakes.

In the evening I also prepared my pog website update for tomorrow and watched Dai Rangers with L.