Monday, 31 December 2012

Writing and writing

I've been tasked with making a simple calendar booking system for CTH, so I've been working on that the last few days as well as playing on Civ IV a bit.

In Chrome I had open an offer for cheap Canvas prints, but it seems that offer has now ended. This is what the page looked like today:

I also wrote an article for my photo tips website today, though I still need to proof-read it.

Monday, 24 December 2012


Today I was just working on the Christmas video most of the day. I didn't even get started on the 'filming'.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Listening to Perrey & Kingsley

This morning I updated my pog website, then did some more christmas video modelling work. I went to church, then most of the rest of the day I carried on with the christmas video modelling work.

I have all the people made now, and I did one background today (painted). Billy did two backgrounds, and Clare drew an outline for one background. Hopefully we can get it finished off and start shooting tomorrow. There are still quite a few bits that need to be made though.

This is the factory manager after I had to peel up his body to make his trousers go higher up (and a bit fatter):

Saturday, 22 December 2012


Most of today I was working on models for the Christmas video. I finished off Uncle Sam (but haven't done his hat yet), did the boy's body, St Nick's body, St. Nick's bible, armature for the factory owner, and sculpted the factory owner's head.

This is the cat before it got made into part of Uncle Sam's body.

This is a sculpey bloke before he got his face chopped off to be made into the factory owner's head

Uncle Sam's hands grabbing his shoes

The boy and Uncle Sam are near the front, Santa Marx, Legolas, and St. Nick are near the back

I also went down town to pick up Shaz's christmas present.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Percolating Penguins

This morning I worked on an article for my photo tips website.

In the afternoon I tried to fix one of my websites. Unfortunately the cause of the problem is not obvious, and the errors are not repeatable, so I now need to wait some time to see if the change I made has stopped the errors or not.

I did a bit more website stats checking in Bing webmaster tools. And I recorded 'Mystery' by the Rah Band, which I received on record today, onto my PC.

In the evening I did some sculpey while L played on Civ. I made Legolas' body, and one leg of Uncle Sam. On HFM, Will Challoner had Liz with him, so that was great!

For my birthday I got some new boots from McRad, some chocolates from L, and some chocolates, £10, and a silver cloth from Clare. So they were all good presents (the silver cloth is for making a softbox).

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Google plus is so unorganised

Most of this morning I was trying to record a quick (2 minute) photoshop tutorial video. The first time I recorded no audio was recorded. I made a few checks to make sure that audio was being recorded, and it worked okay (despite not changing any settings) in my short test recordings.

So I tried to record the video again, but the PC became so slow and laggy it was impossible. After doing some more testing, I found that whenever audio recording was enabled in the screen record (MS Expression Encoder), then the PC would become really slow.

I tried a few different things, but couldn't get it working okay, so I posted in the EE forums: Extremely slow and laggy with audio enabled. Then I tried out some other software called Webinaria. This worked reasonably well, but has a max FPS rate of 15fps, and generated a nearly 9GB file (probably would have been 100-300MB in Expression Encoder). After editing the file and exporting it as an MP4, I also found that there was a small skip (in the audio and video) part way through the video.

In the afternoon I tried out the Wray 3¼ in. Supar Series III lens I bought from ebay a week or so ago. I wanted to test it for UV photography, which meant adding a filter to the front. It doesn't have a filter thread, and I didn't have any filter rings small enough to fit it.

I cut up a toilet roll and wrapped this round the outside of the lens, then sellotaped it to act as a collar round the lens. I took a piece of cardboard, then cut a hole out of the middle for the lens to 'see' through. I taped this to the toilet roll collar. Then to use filters, I just held the filter up against the cardboard front.

This meant that the filter threads were pressed up against the cardboard. Without this, the filter glass would have been pressed up against the lens.

The lens is actually quite dirty, despite being described as a Clean lens. Unfortunately the dirt seems to be inside the lens, as well as possibly a scratch. However, optical performance seemed fine. UV performance was similar to my 80mm/5.6 EL-Nikkor, i.e. there was visible focus shift. Here is a UV-Vis diptych:

When viewed at 100%, I noticed that there were a few mites on the flower. Clare reckoned they were probably dust mites. I couldn't find any 'normal' images of dust mites online, they all seem to be electron scanning microscope style photos. According to Wikipedia they are about 0.5mm in size, so this seems about right.

Although they are probably all over the house, in my clothes etc. anyway, I still didn't like actually knowing they were there on the flowers. The flowers were going over anwyay so I threw them away. Now I keep feeling like there are little dust mites crawling all over me.

In the evening I watched an episode of Dai Rangers with Billy (as usual), and did some sculupey. Today I made the body for Santa Marx, which used up most of a packet of red newplast. And I didn't even make him fat.

I also helped out Peter with his computer so he could scan an old photo.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Right Ting

Here is a photo from the walk I went on the other day:

There was a giant puddle around one side of the stile, too wide to get across, and no stepping stones in the puddle. Luckily there was a gap between the barbed wire fence and the hedge at one side of the stile before the puddle. So you could carefully climb over the barbed wire, then walk a few feet between the hedge and fence to get to the other side of the stile without getting wet.

And here is a random photo I took without looking when checking the flash was working:

Most of today I was working on a post for my photo website. In the evening I did some sculpey with L.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


Today I was mostly writing an article for my photo tips website.

In the evening I also made some spiced fruit buns.

While I was waiting for the buns to rise, I checked my email and saw there was a Zeiss 35mm f/1.4 lens on ebay for Canon EF mount. I checked the auction and saw it had finished already. The winning bid was only £205?!?

The lens retails for $1,843.00 on B&H Photo. The seller was from Lithuania, and had no feedback. But even on auctions that look decidedly dodgy (this one just looks slightly dodgy), the ending price would be somewhere near normal value. I wish I'd checked my email earlier, as even if it is a dodgy auction, you'd be double protected by paying by card through paypal.

Sunday, 16 December 2012


Today I was partly doing sculpey / models with L, and partly checking stats / fixing website errors.

I forgot to say a few days ago that the ebay seller I bought the cheap Zeiss lens from did contact me and say it was just a pricing error. They said they would send me a gift though (some cheap photographic accessory I expect). And of course they refunded me. Here is the screenshot I took before I bought mine:

Saturday, 15 December 2012


This morning I was still checking the stats of my sites, looking for errors. I found some quite bad (but non-obvious) errors on one site using Bing Webmaster tools.

One error was that I had left some debug code in one page, so that if the URL wasn't correct, it would print debug info instead of redirecting to the correct URL. The other error was that if you visited the site without www. you would be redirected to www. with the query string appended twice. e.g. visit, you'd be redirected to

I found this was due to how nginx handles rewrites, and my use of the $request_uri variable in the rewrite: rewrite with $request_uri auto appends args.

For quite a bit of the afternoon I did some sculpey / painting. In the evening I did some more, and got all the old Halloween models out from the garage. They were rather cold and on many of them bits of plasticine had broken off. Hopefully by tomorrow they will have warmed up a bit and I can fix them up.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Website error fixing

This morning I was doing more website error fixing. Looking at the server logs I found I had several 499 errors for pages. The errors seemed to be pretty random though. Doing some more research, I found this article: Why does Nginx return 499 errors? That article explains that the code just means the client terminated the connection before the response was complete.

So that got me wondering whether the modification I made the other day to wp_cron to prevent 499 errors was actually necessary. If the client terminates the connection early, but PHP continues processing the request, then the response goes into the ether, that is okay. But if PHP stops processing the request when the connection is terminated, then that would be bad (as it would mean that wordpress cron jobs would never be completed). I posted a question on the wordpress forums asking about this.

In the evening I did some more Christmas video sculpey, just painting St. Nick's crown and a bit of his and Uncle Sam's faces. Painting the crown took most of the evening.

I have now finished going through awstats and my server logs, so tomorrow I need to check Google and Bing Webmaster Tools to see if there are any problems with my sites showing up on there.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Website fixing

Today I was doing more website error fixing. I found in my error logs another 499 error for wp-cron, even after making those changes about a week or two ago. But only one error, and other POSTs to wp-cron succeeded with 200 reponse code. So I will leave it as it is for the moment, and not switch to a real cron.

I also noticed lots of 302 temporary redirects. These came from requests for wp-comments.php. Looking into this, I found that this is a standard practice to avoid the likelyhood of a form accidentally being re-submitted: Wikipedia - Post/Redirect/Get.

I also had 499 responses to some Google Earth requests for kml. I don't know why they generated a 499 code. When I tested the one of the requested URLs, it worked okay. I actually need to check whether my KML is working properly, that particular request returned a KML with no points. (Of course that is possible, but strange for a user to load dynamic KML then zoom into an area with no markers).

I also posted on the Google Webmaster forums about some issues I was seeing related to bad / incorrect behaviour by google. While doing this I checked a few other threads that were on the forums there. People seemed to be pretty unhelpful, just accusing people of having spammy websites or engaging in webspam tactics, rather than offering any practical advice. Unfortunately most of the issues would really have required someone from Google to reply as to why people's sites had dropped down / out of Google's results.

I was seeing some 206 Partial Content response codes. When I looked into this, it seems that you can request just part of a file. Most of the requests were coming from facebookexternalhit/1.1 (+ This is a facebook bot, but I don't know why it is making 206 partial requests for some files from my website.

Some other requests that generated 206 responses seemed to be from normal browsers, and some were referred from google image search. So long as the browser / facebook bot did request partial content, then I can't see any problem with this. I don't think I can check what (all the headers of) the actual request was though.

Another error I had was that some of my sites were configured to send all .php requests to PHP, without checking whether the file existed first. Solution is to add try_files $uri =404 to the PHP location block.

I had a blog post where I had forgotten to (or didn't think I needed to) make it so that a larger version of an image would open in a lightbox when the link was clicked. (Instead it was just a plain link to the large image). I had a strange error when I checked that the page would work though: Refused to execute a JavaScript script. Source code of script found within request. I had no idea what this meant, but apparently it is just a security feature to prevent XSS attacks: Refused to execute a JavaScript script. Source code of script found within request.

Just refreshing the page got rid of the error.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012


Today I was mostly trying to get Mailpress configured how I want it on my photo tips website.

I also had a bad headache in the morning.

In the evening I did some sculpey for a christmas video. I made a St. Nicholas head and crown.

Oh yes, here are some photos from a couple of weeks ago. I just hand-held the camera and moved it during the exposure:

And another thing, there were quite a few lightning deals on Amazon today that were 0% claimed (in other words no-one thought the lightning deal price meant the product was worth buying). E.g.

£640.60 (7% off)
Canon EOS 550D Digital SLR Double...
0% Claimed

£930.97 (14% off)
Sony NEX6 Interchangeable...
0% Claimed

£549.99 (15% off)
Olympus Pen E-PM2 Compact System...
0% Claimed

£299.99 (20% off)
walimex pro 35mm f/1.4 Lens for...
0% Claimed

The deal for the walimex pro 35mm f/1.4 Lens is actually very good though, it doesn't seem to be any cheaper than that even from ebay. And at least from Amazon you can return it easily if there is any problem, as well as getting a warranty.

I also paid for a Zeiss 15mm lens for £265 on ebay. It is obviously a mis-price, and I don't expect to get it. The seller had about 50 for sale at this price with something like 23 sold already. Most of them sold just to one or two people. They must have been hoping it wasn't a misprice and would like to re-sell them for a 900% profit.

Monday, 10 December 2012

article writing

I spent the last few days (must be about 5 days, or maybe even more) just writing an article for my photo tips website. In the end, the article was so long that I split it into 3 articles (and each of those articles is still quite long).

I also recorded some videos to accompany the article(s), so that added quite a bit of time onto the article production.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Going to Church

Today I checked the stats for my websites, and noticed a load of 499 Unknown Errors on one of my sites. I couldn't find much info online on 499 errors, so I downloaded the server logs for the site. Looking at the log, I had regular errors such as: - - [25/Dec/2011:06:41:52 +0000] "POST /wp-cron.php?doing_wp_cron HTTP/1.0" 499 0 "-" "WordPress/3.2.1;"

(Yes, that error message is from Christmas Day 2011 - looks like this problem has been around a long time but I'd somehow not noticed it). Doing some googling, I found posts from people about wp-cron using too much memory and killing their sites. I didn't think this was the issue here though.

Then I found this post: WordPress: ошибка 499 wp-cron.php в связке Apache + Nginx. With the wonders of Google Translate, it seems the problem is that when someone requests a page, wordpress will fire the wp-cron function. This makes a request to /wp-cron.php?doing_wp_cron, and immediately severs the connection (so the user doesn't have to wait for the cron job to finish before the page they requested loads). But apparently Nginx sees the connection was severed, and so returns a 499 error. (And the cron job is not done).

In that article they suggest making the timeout 5 seconds, and also to make php sleep for 5 seconds. I think this would mean that any time a user visits a page and a wp-cron job is fired, that the user would have to wait 5 seconds though. Instead I have changed the timeout to 0.1s (from 0.01s) and added a 0.1 sleep. I will have to wait a week or so to see if this works. If not, I will use the other option of disabling wp-cron, and using a real cron to request the wp-cron page every so often.

I also unlocked and rooted my Nexus 7 while waiting for the server logs to download. There seem to be quite a lot of errors in my server logs, so I'm going to have to look into some of them a bit more tomorrow.