Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Insulting a daisy (Diss aster)

This morning I was updating the CTH website, then for quite a bit of the rest of the day I was working on my photo website.

I had an annoying problem with my PC where it suddenly 'lost' the drive that my Ubuntu VM is located on. I restarted, but the drive wasn't loading during the POST. So I shut down and fiddled some wires, but then I got a message about the drive not being bootable, and Windows wouldn't start.

So I fiddled the wires a bit more, started the PC up again, and went into the BIOS setup. During POST the 1st drive wasn't loading now. I checked the drive priority settings, and modified these so I could choose my Windows drive as the boot drive. I fiddled the wires a bit more, saved the settings, and thankfully it restarted with all drives detected and booted from the Windows drive successfully.

Friday, 25 July 2014


This is probably one of the most unusual super telephoto lenses I've seen for sale - a Canon 400mm f/2.8L II (non IS) lens signed by Madonna -

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Oh the joys of IE

Today I was testing my new responsive design on IE11-8. It works fine in IE11 and other modern browsers, but there were numerous problems that needed fixing in the older IEs (different problems for each version). So most of the day was spent trying to figure what the problem was, then how to fix it.

I guess I should really be thankful that Chrome and Firefox both update their browsers often and automatically, so I only need test in the current versions of the rather than having to test in 30 different versions.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Stormy and sunny

Today I spent quite a bit of time working on the church 'mag'. I also watched some more of Art Wolfe's Creative Live seminar, which was mostly just 3 episodes of his 'Travels to the Edge' TV series. The seminar didn't really teach anything new, but it was still full of good advice / reminders. The main points he made were:

  • Don't put your horizon line in the centre of the image - include more of whatever is most interesting (sky or foreground).
  • Get closer to (interesting) foreground elements to help make them more of a real part of the image and anchor the image / create depth.
  • Make the interesting thing in the frame larger, don't include elements that either don't add to or distract from the subject
  • Choose unusual angles - he likes shooting down on subjects a lot
  • Work the scene - start at a wide angle, then go in closer to something in the scene, he often ends up with something that is just an abstraction
  • Not mentioned in the bits of the seminar that I listened to, but in the TV series I noted that he nearly always uses a tripod (slows you down, makes you think more, keeps the camera steady)

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

IE wasting my time (as usual)

This morning I spent a lot of time trying to debug two issues I was having with one of my websites in Internet Explorer. The first was that a border that was meant to have rounded corners (using border-radius) did not have rounded corners. Yet the border-radius properties were showing up in the IE Developer tools correctly.

Eventually I tracked this down to a bug in IE9, which means that a fieldset cannot have rounded borders when it contains a legend: IE9 fieldset rounded corners.

As part of debugging this issue, I found that IE wasn't acknowledging my X-UA-Compatible meta tag. After researching that, it seems that this tag must come before any other script or link tags in the page's head: X-UA-Compatible is set to IE=edge, but it still doesn't stop Compatibility Mode. So I just changed the site to send it as an HTTP header, as recommended in that thread.

The other main issue I had was that IE was overflowing text out of some table cells. I did recall that I had had a problem with this before, due to single long words breaking it. But I was sure that I had fixed that. It took a lot of debugging, but eventually I did track the issue down.

As described in this thread: word-wrap:break-word not working in IE8, it turns out that the element must have hasLayout for the word-wrap to be applied. To get it to work, I had to style my anchor containing the long word so that it had display: block and a max-width set. Other tricks to force hasLayout didn't work for me. (And the IE Developer tools for IE 9 weren't helpful at all here as they don't seem to show whether the element has hasLayout at all. Luckily the IE8 Developer tools do.)

In the afternoon I spent quite a long time trying to work out how to get an element to stretch to the height of its parent table cell (actually a li with display: table-cell). Reading various threads on Stack Overflow it seemed they all came to same conclusion - it's not possible. Actually, it is possible if you use position: absolute on the child element, and set the top, left, bottom, and right to 0. But then I couldn't find any way to get the contents of the child element vertically centred. So in the end I went with a flexbox menu rather than a table one.

I've now tested my site in various browsers, and will hopefully make the changes go live tomorrow. The main problem I have is that while I test in IE going back to IE6, I have no way of testing in the much more used browsers on phones. When the site is live I can hopefully use to get some screenshots of what it looks like in various browsers including phones.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Exercising & Bread making & Birds

Today I spent quite a bit of time exercising, bread making, and doing bird related stuff.

Most people probably wouldn't consider what I did today as exercising. But because I'm such a feeble Chinese person (weak Ling), it was exercising for me. As well as doing some weights, I went shopping. This involved carrying a 12.75 kg bag of bird food and two 4 pint bottles of milk back home from the shops, so that counts as exercise as far as I'm concerned.

Similarly, making bread is good exercise as you have to knead the dough for 10 minutes. This gets my poor little arms quite tired.

I made two loaves today. The first was just to use up the rest of a pot of yoghurt. I used a fruit loaf recipe and added the yoghurt instead of part of the milk. I also added in some fresh apple and pumpkin and sunflower seeds I bought at the shops.

I was surprised by how expensive the seeds were in the shops. The seed were 85 p each, and they're only really tiny packets. Pine nuts were £2 for the same size tiny packet!

This got me thinking whether you could just have bird seed instead. After doing some research online, I couldn't find anything saying that you shouldn't eat bird seed. Only that it contains lots of bits of stalk and dirt and stuff.

So I went through some of the bird seed and took out some of the wheat (it seems the bird seed is around 90% wheat) and some small round seeds, maybe millet? Then I made some more bread, and put the wheat seeds in one half and millet (or whatever it is) seeds in the other half. I soaked the millet for about 5 minutes in warm water, but I forgot to do that with the wheat.

After cooking, I think I didn't really have enough seed. The wheat one has a lot more seeds than the millet, but because I didn't soak the wheat, the grains are quite hard and crunchy (not bad, but probably would have been better soaked). The millet one I can't really taste the grains as I didn't get enough.

^ Bird seed loaves and Seed and fruit loaf
^ Seed and fruit bread
^ Birdseed bread

I think in the future I might try making some bread (or other food) using sunflower kernels bird food. It should be much easier to get the seeds from that than the mixed birdseed I used today. With the mixed birdseed it contains chaff, sunflower seeds with the hard outer casing still intact, bits of corn, and bits of plant (I even found a poppy head), as well as the wheat and millet. So separating out the wheat and millet suitable for adding to the bread from the rest of the stuff isn't as easy as you might first think.

Eating a slice of the fruit and seed loaf, I felt like a combination blackbird-sparrow. Does that make me a pigeon?

Friday, 4 July 2014


Today I was still geo-coding my holiday photos.

On eBay I noticed there was a listing for a Nikon 500mm VR lens, which had a very cheap buy it now price (£2,200). The picture appears to be the same one as has been used in some previous fraudulent listings, though it seems I've deleted them from my watch list, so I couldn't find them, and Google Image search was no help.

I thought I would let eBay know of my suspicions, but the 'Report item' link didn't work. I tried it in both Chrome and IE, but it didn't work in either browser. However, there was a 'eBay Live help' chat box (not seen that before) that popped up on the page, so I thought I should report the item through that.

However, I received no reply to my message, and then after a bit just got the message 'Chat closed'. I guess that goes to show how seriously eBay takes fraudulent listings. Really they should be policing these high ticket items themselves. I would guess that around 50% (or maybe more) of listings for Canon / Nikon prime super telephoto lenses are fraudulent ones. (And normally obviously fraudulent, with the description stating a buy it now price and saying to email a gmail address).

Edit: Actually I just realised why they didn't reply - the auction wasn't on eBay at all, but a fake site. Weird thing is, the My eBay link goes to the real eBay, not a fake eBay page asking you to sign in (so they can collect your account details). Also, the auction counted down and ended when it should have, so they must have put some work into this fake site.

However, it is still concerning, since I got to this site through clicking a link in an eBay watched search email:

Trying the link again today it appears it does go through to the real eBay, where I see a brief flash of a page with 'the seller ended this auction early because there was an error in the listing', then the fake page loads up. Maybe eBay allow you to include javascript in your auction listings? Rather dodgy however they've managed to hack it.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


Today I was doing various church related work and geo-coding photos.