Tuesday, 30 April 2013

I like cakes

This morning I took some UV photos in the garden. I actually found a flower that has UV markings. I only managed to get shots of 2 flowers though, the process takes me so long.

In the afternoon I processed the photos and updated the CTH website. I also did quite a bit of research on Miksang / Contemplative photography.

In the evening I watched a Joey L. seminar on Creative Live.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Today I had another SEO email to one of my websites. The email said:

We are a leading SEO Company offering dedicated search engine optimization (SEO) and Web design services to help you score over your competition. We have a team of 375+ highly qualified professionals who are certified in Google Adwords and ISO standards providing a wide range of services in order to generate higher visitor traffic to your website. This ensures that your website gets higher rankings on the search engine pages.

The bit that particularly caught my attention was certified in Google Adwords and ISO standards. ISO is the International Standards Organisation, and they produce a wide range of standards, but I'm pretty sure no standards to do with SEO. Possibly they could be referring to ISO 9001:2008 Quality management systems, but if so, then why not explicitly state this?

I did do a quick search now, and it could be possible they mean Image Search Optimisation by ISO. But there are no standards to do with Image Search Optimisation.

Google Adwords certification does exist, but it only means they have taken a course on how to use (and sell the benefits of) Adwords. It doesn't mean they can pull off a profitable (other than for Google) adwords campaign.

The email goes on:

We offer the following Services at a cost that proves much more affordable than similar in house services: -
(1)    Full SEO package (with plan and activities)
(2)    PPC (pay per Click)
(3)    SMO (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and MySpace etc)
(4)    Technical Content Writing
(5)    Website Design
(6)    Website Development

Numbers 3 and 4 basically mean that they will spam social networks, article directories, and blogs with low quality content backlinking to your website. This is more likely to lower your rankings in Google than raise them! They can't write high quality articles on your behalf since they are unlikely to be knowledgeable about the subject your website covers.

In the morning I updated my pog website (and went to Church).

In the afternoon I made some Eccles Cakes & Shortbread.

In the evening I watched Man with the Golden Gun with Billy & Mauser. Then I watched a bit of a Dave Cross Photoshop tutorial. Sadly I didn't learn anything from it. But the website I watched it on seems quite good.

It was on a website called Creative Live. What they do, is they have live webcasts for free, then you can buy a download / access to recorded webcast.

Saturday, 27 April 2013


After finally getting the VHD image for IE9 downloaded and set up yesterday evening, I found that it didn't work and said it wasn't a licensed copy of Windows. I checked the download page to see if there were any notes on how to activate it, and noticed that it said the latest versions had moved to modern.IE.

So, what was the point in keeping up the old outdated downloads? Just to waste people's time? Why didn't they just point directly to the downloads on the modern.ie website instead of having a page of downloads that won't work when you try to run them?

I must have wasted about 3 hours of time yesterday trying to download the different parts of the IE9 VHD yesterday, only to find out today that I need to re-download the whole thing, but as an updated version from a different website. Very annoying.

After getting the latest IE9 VHD set up from modern.ie, I found that it would keep logging me out. I haven't looked into why too much (other than to know that it's not screen saver or power saving settings). But at least I could check my website in IE9.

In the afternoon I made some cakes.

In the evening I watched a weird film with Mauser called The White Bus. Then we went on a walk along the canal, but didn't find any bees.

Microsoft wasting my time as they often do

This morning I went on a walk. The weather was a mixture of warm sun, cold wind, rain, and hail.

In the afternoon I did some work on my photo website. Getting the online payment thing set up is taking a lot longer than I thought. So I thought I should probably just add a link that says to email me for details. Then I can replace that with the online checkout when it is ready. So I was working on doing this link.

In the evening I watched Diamonds are Forever with Mauser and Bo.

When testing my website amendment I found that a different part of the webpage wasn't showing up properly in IE8. So I spent most of the rest of the evening trying to find out what was causing the problem and how to fix it.

I also spent a long time waiting for the IE9 testing VHD to download. Unfortunately IE9 isn't available for XP, so you have to download a very hefty Win7 VHD.

I received a package yesterday of an ebay item I had bought, and it was sent using myhermes, who I'd never heard of before. Then today I had an email about selling on ebay that mentioned myhermes as a cheap parcel service. However, I looked them up, and it seems their service is pretty abysmal: DO NOT USE INTERPARCEL/MY HERMES.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

I am too sleepy

I noticed today that Google Shopping is changing so that it is effectively just a form of adwords: Recent Changes to Google Shopping

Online retailers submit feeds containing product information to Google Shopping and pay each time someone clicks to their website or makes a purchase directly from their site. ... Ranking in Google Shopping is based on a combination of relevance and bid price - just like other ads on Google today.

So products will no longer be ranked by relevance, and what about those companies / people that don't want to pay Google each time someone clicks on their product listing? If they just stop listing their products with Google products then Google product search will be pretty useless.

The whole benefit of Google Product search was that it allowed you to quickly and easily search for a product and see where it could be purchased cheapest. Now the cheapest companies won't list their products, or will have to increase their prices to pay Google's commission fees.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Article creating

Most of this week I have just been working on an article for my photo tips website. It was about product photography on a cheap budget. Part of this involves controlling the lighting, and I was reading about how you can get barn doors for a speedlight flash: Barn Doors and Blue Dragons. (Normally barn doors are just available for studio strobes).

Unfortunately the barn doors listed in that article seem only to be available from B&H in the US, and now cost $20 instead of $10. When you add on postage to the UK, they become extremely expensive. Surprisingly I couldn't find alternatives anywhere else (e.g. eBay).

But you can make your own, I followed this tutorial here: How to make barn doors. It worked reasonably well, though the use of foil as a hinge does make controlling the exact angle of the doors a bit tricky. What you need really is a proper hinge, though it would need to be stiff rather than loose. Are they even available?

Friday, 12 April 2013

Panjit G

Today I was mostly doing more website work.

I had an issue with getting PDT data from paypal when using cURL, the problem being that the SSL certificate was not trusted. The paypal docs said about using curl_setopt to add the location of cacert.pem using the CURLOPT_CAINFO field, but do not say where to get cacert.pem from.

A bit of googling found this article: Using cURL in PHP to access HTTPS (SSL/TLS) protected sites. However it didn't work for me. I tried saving all 3 levels of the SSL certificate on www.sandbox.paypal.com and tried both X.509 Certificate (PEM) and X.509 Certificate with chain (PEM) options when saving, but none of them would work.

I then found this post on stackoverflow: SSL certificate issue: unable to get local issuer certificate on payapl ipn verification. The answer given there is:

If you don't have an up-to-date cacert list yourself, I'd recommend downloading the one supplied by the cURL maintainer(s) himself: cacert.pem.

I did that, and now I could connect to the paypal sandbox okay and retrieve the PDT data.

Clamps for my home-made plamp arrived today, so I made a plamp. It is definitely not as good as my real plamp as the wire bends too easily and is tricky to get it to stay where you want it. But it might be useful.

I also prepared my pog website update today.

Thursday, 11 April 2013


We got our first clump of frogspawn (this year) in our pond today and Mrs Blackbird started making a new nest (just over the fence next door).

I made a swiss roll, but one of the yolks was marbled so I only used 3 yolks instead of 4. I wondered what blackbird eggs would be like, and found some info here: Eggs

I've eaten pheasant and blackbird eggs (the nest was disturbed i'm not evil), one had the embryo inside and had been kicked out of the nest mind you...!

But the ones that were undeveloped and thus like eggs that you buy to eat taste very interesting, delicious for a start (if a bit gamey, which is a sign of high nutrition) slightly saltier tasting whites.

The yolk is a different kettle of fish to bought eggs, the blackbird eggs were almost red, rich 'creamy' tasting, not pasty, generally a much richer taste, like an egg most of us know just about 3x more concentrated taste with a wild edge.

Today I was mainly doing some website work. I also wrote an article for my photo tips website (but it still needs photos to illustrate it) and made a swiss roll.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


Today I was doing some work on my photo website. I am trying to implement payment through paypal, but paypal have recently changed their website, and the new site makes it incredibly difficult to find the relevant information.

Previously I'm pretty sure you would just click on sell, click on create a button, and then you could click a link from there for more information about all the different variables that are available to use in the form. Now you just get sent round in loops and are forced to sign up for a business account. Eventually I did manage to find the info I needed, which is here: HTML Variables for PayPal Payments Standard.

I did a bit more reading about how the paypal payment process works, and it seems you need to setup something to do with IPN - Instant Payment Notification. However, when you view the IPN page on the Paypal website, it has a 'Get Started' button that wants you to sign up for a new account. At the top of the page it says 'Log in', indicating that you aren't logged into paypal.

But if you login and then navigate back to the IPN page (either through the back button and a page refresh or forward navigating by searching for the page after signing in), then you get the same state of affairs. It has a 'Get Started' button that wants you to sign up for a new account, and at the top of the page it says 'Log in'.

Given how large paypal is, it's amazing how bad their website is.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


Today I was just finishing off more photography tips articles I'd written in previous weeks.

On eBay I was watching another auction that ended up at a silly high price. A Mamiya/Sekor f4 / 21mm M42 screw mount lens ended up at £118.60 + £4 P&P. Not actually a bad price, until you read the item description, which says the lens has a bad fungus problem, so bad the image is soft. The item was listed as for spares or repairs with no refunds.

Here's a random blog I found that has a funny screenshot of router settings: You're not getting into the network in THOSE shoes..

I bought some more stuff and I think some other things happened, but they disappeared now.

Monday, 8 April 2013


This morning I was testing my Seagull SYK-5 optical flash trigger. I had tested it yesterday and found that it didn't work at all, and so had messaged the ebay seller to say it was faulty. The ebay seller responded asking me to test it on a different flash.

Since the SYK-4 optical trigger I have works on the flash, but the SYK-5 doesn't, I thought this would be a pointless exercise. (The SYK-4 is a dumb trigger, while the SYK-5 has a small dial to allow adjusting delay to account for the pre-flash when using a non-manual flash as the trigger light). But I decided I might as well do what they said anyway.

So I tested it on my SB-800, and after a few tries and fiddling with the dial and flash - redeye switch, I managed to get the flash triggered by my camera's pop-up flash. So it seemed that actually the flash it is used with does make a difference.

I tested it with my Vivitar 283 again, but it still didn't work. I tested it with my other Vivitar 283s as well. On one flash it did work, but only once. It seemed like that was just a fluke. I also tried it on my Sunpak 383 Super, but it didn't work with that flash either.

Then I had an idea, since the SYK-5 seemed to work okay, but presumably didn't pass enough voltage to trigger the Vivitar 283, why not connect the SYK-5 to a radio flash transmitter, and then the 283 to a radio flash receiver.

This worked in that the camera's pop-up flash would now trigger the flash. But it didn't work in as much as the pre-flash still seemed to be triggering the flash, and the flash output from the Vivtar 283 was not being recorded in the photo. I tried adjusting the delay (or is it strength of flash needed to trigger it?) dial on the SYK-5, but it was the same result at all settings.

So it seems that sadly there is no ultra-cheap way to use off-camera flash with a compact camera. I have now ordered a YN-460 II flash, which includes a built-in optical slave that can be set to ignore the pre-flash. This is a lot more expensive than an SYK-5 trigger, so I really hope it does work well.

Most of the rest of the day I was writing / taking photos for an article about how to mount filters on a reversed lens. I also had a meeting with Gary at 1.30pm that I had completely forgotten about, so by the time he had phoned to remind me and I'd got down there, I was half an hour late.

In the evening me, Billy, and Mauser watched Ghost Rider 2, which was even more maniacal than the first one. Nick Cage does lots of good faces while riding on a motorbike. Very funny.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The Mauser Returns

I spent quite a bit of today adding more passwords to my lastpast account. Although I had already added all my personal accounts to it, I hadn't specifically added accounts to do with my websites. So that was what I was adding today.

I also had an annoying error when trying to send an email, Thunderbird came up with the error

An error occurred while sending mail. The mail server responded: 5.3.4 Requested action aborted; Local processing error.. Please check the message and try again.

Doing a quick web search came up with this thread: Error message 5.3.4 when sending... but that didn't help much. I've been able to send emails on this account fine until today. It might have something to do with hotmail changing to outlook.com in the last couple of days. According to MS help, the settings are the same though: My Hotmail account was upgraded to Outlook.com (and when I checked the settings info in the help, they were the same as what I already had - Send and receive Outlook.com email from an app).

On a slightly related note, those MS help pages are quite terrible for linking to - long pages and no fragment identifiers for each section. You'll need to scroll down the pages to find the relevant parts I was talking about as the lack of fragment ids means I can't link to the relevant bits directly.

In the evening I spent quite a bit of time cutting and filing out a rear lens cap. Mauser came back from Japan and had a good Mr Resetti plush and other souvenirs. He gave me a bee (might actually be a hornet) in a jar of yellow liquid (maybe honey).

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Photo finding and taking

I spent all day today just trying to find / take photos to illustrate some the articles I wrote last week for my photo tips website. I only got the photos done for 2 or 3 articles though :(

Friday, 5 April 2013

Catching up

Today I was cleaning up my (Windows) Desktop. One of the items I had on there was a text document called 'copy speeds.txt'. I might have posted the contents of it before, but thought I might as well record it here before I delete it.

I did some tests regarding the speed of copying a memory card to a computer compared to an external hard drive. It seems that it is always much slower, similar to copying the memory card first to the host computer, and then copying it from there to the external hard drive. Maybe this is the way the copying works?

Copying from PC to Memory card: 3 mins 6s
Copying from Memory card to HD via USB: 2 mins 40s
Copying from Memory card to (different) HD via USB hub 5 mins 18s
As above but with Nexus, about same speed

Most of the rest of the day I was going through my backlog of emails.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Working computer again

Today I received the part from Amazon I needed to get my new power supply working with my motherboard - a 4 pin to 8 pin 12V ATX adapter. I signed up for an Amazon Prime trial when ordering it, which is meant to be free 1 day delivery. But I ordered it on Tuesday morning, and received it about 12.30pm today (Thursday). So it seems to be more like 2 day delivery than 1 day. (I did know this when ordering as it said estimated delivery Thursday).

So in the afternoon I got my computer up and running again and dealt with part of my backlog of emails.

The past few days while I haven't had a computer I've managed to write a few photography tips articles on Mauser's laptop. But there is still a lot of work to do to finish them off, in terms of finding / taking relevant photos to illustrate them.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


This morning I finished making the hot cross buns I was making yesterday. The biggest size tray we have will only fit 6 buns, and the top oven (used for rising the buns) will only fit one tray. The recipe makes 15 buns, so I made 6 yesterday, and then the rest this morning.

I wrote up yesterday's and part of the previous day's blog posts.

Yesterday when I was looking for PSU reviews on anandtech I came across the Razer Edge, a gaming tablet that has a nice controller add-on. This adds gaming controls on either side of the tablet. I would like something similar for the nexus 7. Unfortunately the Razer edge controller only works with the Razer Edge tablet and is very expensive.

An alternative I found, though maybe not quite as good, as it positions the controls directly below the screen rather than to either side, is the GameKlip. For the universal clip, this is a clip that glues to a tablet / phone case. The clip then let's you clip a PS3 controller into it.

The GameKlip costs $20, plus postage to the UK would be quite a bit. Then an extra £5-10 for a case, and a dual shock 3 controller appears to be around £15 - £30 on eBay. There is also an extra £1.07 for the six axis controller app needed to work with the dual shock controller. Since I don't play a lot of games or use my Nexus 7 much, this is too expensive for me. It is good to know that there is a solution available though.

Before lunch Shaz came up to visit for a few days.

After lunch I finished putting the components back in my PC. Hopefully I can buy a replacement PSU from Arkel tomorrow, then it will just need screwing in and everything connected up.

Monday, 1 April 2013

No PC = make hot X buns

Since I had no computer, this morning I just read some of a Rodchenko book. It was a bit disappointing really as it was arranged into sets of pages featuring his work, alternating with sets of pages containing an essay on Rodchenko / his work. The essays often referenced Rodchenko's work, but since the essays had no / few pictures, you couldn't actually see what they were referring to.

A format where the book was a paragraph of essay with relevant images on each page would have been much better in my opinion.

After church I checked the forum thread I started yesterday about my broken PSU. One person said it should be safe to test, and the other person said the bang could have been the fuse. So I tested the PSU with pins 14 and 15 shorted on the motherboard connector. (See instructions here: Tutorial: Suspect a Dead PSU? How to be sure).

With the power lead that I normally have connected to the computer, nothing happened when I switched it on. I tried another lead and it made a crackling noise when switched on (I quickly switched it off again).

So the person that said the bang might have been the fuse was probably right. (The fuse was certainly gone anyway). I'm glad they mentioned that though or I probably wouldn't have thought about the fuse and then wondered why my new PSU (when I get one) wasn't working.

After dinner I watched Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger with Billy. Most of the rest of the day I spent making hot cross buns. In the evening I went on animal crossing as it was Bunny Day.

computer broken :(

This morning I finally finished going through my list of passwords, adding them to Lastpass. Some of the sites no longer existed. On other sites the password I had written down didn't work and I had to reset it. On some they couldn't recognise my login details at all, and had either deleted my record or switched to a new forum / login system. For example, I had a Sun, MySQL, and Oracle account. Now all 3 use the Oracle system.

One of the sites that no longer existed was selectcheaper.com. Strangely they still have a facebook page, which was created on 7 May 2010 and only had one post, made on that date.

In a couple of cases I think my account data has been deleted, but the reset password link doesn't give an error like 'email address not registered'. But despite trying a few times with no error messages, I haven't received any reset password emails from these two sites (Firefox addons and Ironport training).

With Worth1000, it wouldn't let me login, so I reset my password. After resetting the password (the link lets you choose the new password and you must enter it twice to avoid mistyping it), I still couldn't login. I think that probably they allow you to choose a password with non alphanumeric characters in it, but don't let you login with it. Very strange.

One of the sites I logged into was PCPro, and this article about using picture passwords in Windows 8 grabbed my interest. It does seem that they should be more secure and easier to remember than text passwords.

Another site / password I had listed was Asda Digital Newsagent. When I searched for this, the only info I could find was websites announcing the launch of the service. Links to the site from the articles didn't work.

Eventually I tracked it down to http://www.immanens-delivery.com/. But the link on their website to download the "My Delivery" software was a 404 not found. After a while I managed to get the software by changing the language on their website to French, and clicking the download link from the French download page.

After installing the software, the magazine I'd downloaded long ago through Asda Digital Newsagent wasn't showing up in the Library. I compared the "My Delivery Folder" the application uses after it's installation to a backup of the old one from before installing the new software. The new installation had added a new folder called "My Delivery documents" that wasn't in the backup. So I tried moving the magazine file (.dly file extension) into this folder.

The magazine now showed up the Delivery Reader application's library. But when I tried to open it, I got a message

The document ... cannot be opened on this computer

Searching for this, I didn't find much, but I did find this French forum thread: Delivery Manager. It seems that Delivery uses DRM on the files, and there is nothing you can do if this happens to you. It makes me glad I never paid for any subscriptions through this service.

I do have some subscriptions through a similar service, Zinio, but Zinio seem to be more professionally run. I would hope with Zinio that once a magazine has been downloaded, then it can always be read with their reader.

Anyway, I tried opening the file using 7Zip, but this didn't work. I tried opening it in a PDF Reader, and interestingly it asked for a password (rather than saying not a PDF file). Unfortunately I have no idea where you would get this password from.

Later in the afternoon my PC just suddenly switched off, a few seconds later there was a bang and the power went off. I checked with Billy, and he still had electricity. So I checked the circuit breaker in the garage and one of the switches had been flipped. After flipping it back I had electricity again.

I thought the bang must have been a capacitor blowing somewhere in my computer. I looked, but couldn't see any blown capacitors on the motherboard, sound card, or graphics card. So this left the PSU as the likely culprit.

I tried disconnecting everything from the PSU, but I couldn't get the connection to the motherboard loose. So I had to dismantle the computer and take everything out. After doing that I could get a good grip on the plug where it connected to the motherboard and pull it out.

I undid the casing of the PSU, but I couldn't see any blown capacitors in there either. It did smell a bit more than the other components though. I wanted to test the PSU to see if was broken or not. But I wasn't sure whether powering up a PSU that has possibly blown a capacitor would be safe. So I posted on the anandtech forums to get some advice.

I cleaned the PC case and all the components of dust (of which there was a lot). And that took up most of the rest of the day. In the evening I also watched VR troopers and played on Donkey Kong with Billy.