Back from holiday with a new lens.

Well that’s the holiday over for another 6 months – very cold and wet !!!!! But log fires and good malt whisky helped.

I think UK is getting more than its fair share of rain this year – almost as bad as 1963 if my memory proves me right, at least this time the rain has not turned to snow (yet).

I think the snow of the last few years was better because at least one could keep dry!

Where is global warming (sorry Climate change) when you want it…….. Sorry I must not talk about the cult of Gaia otherwise I could upset a few people.

Hope everyone had a great holiday and looking forward to what 2014 brings in the way of happiness.

My Xmas gift  🙂

product_01Image taken from Nikon UK.

A Nikon 35mm f1.4 AF-s lens for my D800.

A very nice gift from my wife and one that I will look forward to using in the coming months. It will even work on my F4 in Shutter priority or auto mode: says a lot for Nikon backward compatibility, although the lack of aperture ring will take me a while in stopping my fingers going to the lens.

As I have got rather a lot of FLAC audio files on my computer, I thought it time I figured out how I could play them through my audio system.

This is the result of endless research:

The Xmas gift I got for myself.

The Meridian Explorer DAC.

xmas_explorer_gallery_1Image from Meridian Audio site.

The Explorer replaces my computer’s sound card with a USB-powered DAC which gives three optional outputs.

3.5mm combination analogue/digital jack with mini Toslink digital optical output and 2-ch analogue line out.
3.5mm jack with variable-level headphone output.

All sorted and I am more than pleased with it, a nice well thought out item that gives me the option of playing my files through my audio system and using the laptop as a control unit from a 2TB hard drive.

I am using it while I write this and I must admit it drives my Stax mini phones a lot better than the inbuilt audio of my computer. Money well spent and one of those items that lived up to all the good reviews it got.

All I must do now is start going through the blog posts that I have missed in the last few weeks. Ho and guess what, I left rain in UK and met rain here in Muscat. Although it did mean an early departure from work so must not complain.

Back on my travels soon, work getting in the way of photography, but I am sure I will find time in the driving for my camera ……..

Merry Xmas & A Happy New Year.

It’s been a short year….. it does not seem like 12 months since I last posted that I am stepping off the world until the second week in February.

No computer, no newspapers, no news (if I can avoid it!) just a quiet few weeks. There is a troublesome flight in there somewhere (unavoidable) but all in all; peace  & quiet.

Thanks for all the comments and likes over the year – much appreciated; for those that celebrate Xmas, have a great holiday period.

Animated musical notation.

One of the advantages of the internet:
I sometimes like to listen to music while following the score, made much easier now that these can be down loaded for free in most cases.
But when first doing this, it can be a little daunting (apart from needing to be able to read music that is 🙂 ) so I concentrate on one instrument and then progress.
But I have found a series of videos on YouTube by someone called ‘smarlin’ & others that uses an animated score – basically it reproduces each instrument with a coloured line and the duration of the line is the note being played. The colour represents the instrument or in the case of, for example the piano, the finger being used.
I have found these a great help when first following a new score, it is almost like a visual representation of what goes on in the brain (mine anyway) when trying to combine all the instruments.
There are some that show the bowing movement for solo stringed instruments (everyone goes in the same direction with the bow David !….. 12 and the knuckles on my right hand got sore from being tapped).
Example : If you want to follow Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor, the above shows the complexity in a very clear and understandable manner.

Just in case anyone is interested 🙂

Cloud Storage.

I keep getting asked by my new computer if I would like to use ‘Cloud’ storage for my files.

Good idea ? in principle, but Very bad idea in practise, for many reasons and not just my paranoia  🙂

See this article as an example from the Spiceworks site –spiceworks the-great-dropbacle-personal-cloud-storage-in-the-work-environment

If you Google “Cloud storage who’s stupid idea was that” then you will find lots of examples of those who understand and also work in the IT sections of both large and small companies. They all warn against the security issues (both up & down loading) so the above article that I have linked is not alone.

See – my rant is turning into a big one 🙂

Trials & tribulations of Windows 8.

An update:

I now have both my Canon 9950F and Plustek 7600i scanners working, all be it only with Vuescan (not that I am complaining about this software – it’s a good scanning programme and sells at a very good price). But there in is the problem, Silverfast which is not cheap ! so far does not work……

It seems that if I buy Silverfast 8 all my troubles will be over; but I purchased two copies of an earlier Silverfast iteration which worked well on Windows 7, so am disinclined to spend another large chunk of money just for an upgrade: why is it so expensive to upgrade from a previous version?

My Nikon ViewNX2 works although the European site initially said they only had a Win 7 version, but found it on Nikon USA.

My Canon Pro 9000 printer just about loaded itself – which is how it should be.

Photoshop Lightroom & CS6 are loaded, all I now need to do is set the preferences the way I like them.

Colour calibration is as yet unknown, as I have not tried the Colourvision software, but I live in hope; although I must say the Samsung screen on the ATIV one 7 is brilliant and comparing the colour with my calibrated screen, it shows no difference.

Ho and for those that are contemplating a new computer pre-loaded with Windows 8, be aware that most computer manufactures do not give you a sticker with the Windows registration details any more.….They are locked in the BIOS so do a back-up asap! Otherwise you are screwed (yes there are ways of finding it) but exactly what the consequences of needing a new hard-drive are is anyone’s guess. Digitally, we no longer own things, they are on rent from the manufacturer. My feelings about this are not printable.

As an aside – Down loaded Foobar 2000 which is a great audio player, far better than media player, in that you can throw any file format at it and away it goes, my Stax headphones sound very good with FLAC files. As for audio equipment: I still play those black discs and use a Shure V15iv cartridge in an SME III arm and own 1980’s Quad amplifiers but do acknowledge that digital FLAC files seem the way to go for quality (MP3 even at 320 kbit/s it terrible) and with memory being so cheap now, should not be on anyone’s list of formats.

 

What passes as normal on this site, will resume shortly.

New Computer…….

Beware:    a rant !..

I have at long last got a new computer (A nice shiny Samsung with lots of memory for my D800) but…………………….

It has windows 8 – ukkk…….. what the heck are all those tile things ! ho and it will not let me use my Plustek 7600i scanner (yet! ?) I  will give it a go for a while but can see me re-formatting and loading my windows 7, time will tell.

I hate new technology, I thought it made life easier ? but …… A camera takes pictures, a phone makes calls,  a computer allows one to control things; but no, it seems I can now talk to friends I didn’t know I had, join FaceBook (I don’t think so)  play games on line with all those new friends I didn’t know I had – and so it goes.

Ho well, back to getting Firefox working the way I like it and where did I put all those serial numbers for software.

I think I will continue looking for a good Nikon ‘F’ at a fair price because at least it is clockwork 🙂

p.s…. I have just been told all the things on Windows 8 help improve my life-style and help connect with people: what the hell is that .. my life is ok (much the same as most I think) and as far as connecting with people – I thought face to face conversation or the very least pen & paper did that!!!!!!

For Tomorrow.

Aftermath

Have you forgotten yet?…
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked while at the crossing of city-ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heaven of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same–and War’s a bloody game…
Have you forgotten yet?…
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you’ll never forget.

Do you remember the dark months you held the sector at Mametz–
The nights you watched and wired and dug and piled sandbags on parapets?
Do you remember the rats; and the stench
Of corpses rotting in front of the front-line trench–
And dawn coming, dirty-white, and chill with a hopeless rain?
Do you ever stop and ask, ‘Is it all going to happen again?’

Do you remember that hour of din before the attack–
And the anger, the blind compassion that seized and shook you then
As you peered at the doomed and haggard faces of your men?
Do you remember the stretcher-cases lurching back
With dying eyes and lolling heads–those ashen-grey
Masks of the lads who once were keen and kind and gay?

Have you forgotten yet?…
Look up, and swear by the green of the spring that you’ll never forget.

Siegfried Sassoon

Winter.

For those who like a rather minimalist style: this musician requires further exploration and well worth the trouble……..

O winter! bar thine adamantine doors:
The north is thine; there hast thou built thy dark
Deep-founded habitation. Shake not thy roofs
Nor bend thy pillars with thine iron car.

He hears me not, but o’er the yawning deep
Rides heavy; his storms are unchain’d, sheathed
In ribbed steel; I dare not lift mine eyes;
For he hath rear’d his sceptre o’er the world…..

Part of the poem Winter from from Poetical Sketches, 1783 William Blake.  

Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil).

 

 

Facilis descensus Averni:
noctes atque dies patet atri ianua Ditis;
sed revocare gradium superasque evadere ad auras.
hoc opus, hic labor est.



“The gates of hell are open night and day;
Smooth the descent, and easy is the way:
But to return, and view the cheerful skies,
In this the task and mighty labour lies”

Publius Vergilius Maro  (Virgil) 15th October 70 BC to 21st September 19 BC

I digress: The Higgs boson.

Peter Higgs and Francois Englert have won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on the theory of what came to be known as the Higgs boson.
A Higgs particle is a boson with no spin, electric charge, or colour charge. It is also very unstable, decaying into other particles almost immediately after it pops into existence. Which is why it has taken so long to prove there is such a thing and probably the raison d’être for the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

So what has this got to do with photography – nothing really, it’s just a passing interest that I have for Quantum Mechanics 🙂

This is a very good easy understanding of what all the fuss is about (A Video by CERN).

Reading Robert Frost.

Acquainted with the Night

I have been one acquainted with the night.
I have walked out in rain — and back in rain.
I have outwalked the furthest city light.

I have looked down the saddest city lane.
I have passed by the watchman on his beat
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,

But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
A luminary clock against the sky

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right.
I have been one acquainted with the night.
Robert Frost

Iain M Banks 1954 – 2013.

All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory, to use an unfashionable word.

In this, the future is a game; time is one of its rules.

The Player of Games: Iain M Banks 1954 – 2013.

Two Poems by Rudyard Kipling 1865 – 1936.

I normally avoid comments on news, but looking at what has been happening over the last few days in UK; it brings to mind two poems by Rudyard Kipling:-

The Covenant

WE thought we ranked above the chance of ill.
Others might fall, not we, for we were wise –
merchants in freedom. So, of our free-will
we let our servants drug our strength with lies.
The pleasure and the poison had its way
on us as on the meanest, till we learned
that he who lies will steal, who steals will slay.
Neither God’s judgement nor man’s heart was turned.

Yet there remains His Mercy – to be sought
through wrath and peril till we cleanse the wrong
By that last right which our forefathers claimed
when their Law failed them and its stewards were bought.
This is our cause. God help us, and make strong
our will to meet Him later, unashamed!

 

The Beginnings

It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late
With long arrears to make good,
When the English began to hate.

They were not easily moved,
they were icy-willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the English began to hate.

Their voices were even and low,
their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show,
When the English began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd,
it was not taught by the State.
No man spoke it aloud,
When the English began to hate.

It was not suddenly bred,
It will not swiftly abate,
Through the chill years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the English began to hate.

Both the above poems by – RUDYARD KIPLING

1865-1936

William Shakespeare’s birth.

Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,
Live register’d upon our brazen tombs
And then grace us in the disgrace of death;
When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,
The endeavor of this present breath may buy
That honour which shall bate his scythe’s keen edge
And make us heirs of all eternity.

Love’s Labour’s Lost – W.S.
As no one really knows the exact date of William Shakespeare’s birth, although he was baptised on the 26 April 1564, and died on the 23 April 1616: It seems universally acknowledged that today is his birthday.

St George’s Day.

“If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven”.

Rupert Brooke.