Seasons Greetings.

I wish everyone seasons greetings and especially – A Happy New Year – thank you all for visiting.

I am now going to take my usual twice yearly departure from the world: avoid all contact with news, computers and work (never a complete success, but one can hope   🙂   ) see you in 2015 !

Remember ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ ? (some of you must be old enough……) I remember watching it in the cinema and thinking how far in the future that date was.

It has now long gone and here we are approaching 2015, how the world has changed; I am not sure I can honestly say for the good. We have all this new technology, but that has given us such things as ‘rolling news’ when disaster became entertainment (don’t even think about the video game approach when reporting war) it has trivialised death.

So, once in a while I escape and reset my equilibrium; it helps me view the world with less pessimism  (a pessimist is only an optimist with experience) so hope for me yet.

On a brighter note – with luck WordPress will have stopped all these changes that have bedevilled us and we will have a change free year (I see four-legged pink things flying by and it’s not the Guinness!) we can but hope.

I think I will take my copy of 2001 with me on the plane and wonder, what will happen when we eventually find a real TMA.1. that should put the cat among the pigeons…… 

Rosetta’s lander Philae.

Rosetta’s lander Philae has landed on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Philae_s_primary_landing_site_mosaicPhilae’s primary landing site mosaic.

On 6 August 2014, the Rosetta mission achieved a significant milestone by becoming the first mission to rendezvous with a comet. During the coming months, Rosetta will orbit the comet, deploy the Philae lander and accompany the comet through perihelion (August 2015) until the nominal end of the mission. During its 10 year journey towards comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the spacecraft has passed by two asteroids: 2867 Steins (in 2008) and 21 Lutetia (in 2010). The spacecraft entered deep-space hibernation mode in June 2011, and ‘woke up’ on 20 January 2014.

Journey milestones:
1st Earth gravity assist: 4 March 2005
Mars gravity assist: 25 February 2007
2nd Earth gravity assist: 13 November 2007
Asteroid Steins flyby: 5 September 2008
3rd Earth gravity assist: 13 November 2009
Asteroid Lutetia flyby: 10 July 2010
Enter deep space hibernation: 8 June 2011
Exit deep space hibernation: 20 January 2014
Comet rendezvous manoeuvres: May – August 2014
Arrival at comet: 6 August 2014
Philae lander delivery: November 2014
Closest approach to Sun: 13 August 2015

rolis_web_img5The comet seen by Philae from 40 metres above the surface. ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR

Touchdown was confirmed at ESA’s Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt, Germany at 16:03 GMT/17:03 CET on 12 November. Studying the first data returned from the lander, revealed the astonishing conclusion that the lander did not just touch down on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko once, but three times.

ESA_Rosetta_OSIRIS_FirstTouchdown-1024x702The mosaic comprises a series of images captured by Rosetta’s OSIRIS camera over a 30 minute period spanning the first touchdown. The time of each of image is marked on the corresponding insets and is in GMT. A comparison of the touchdown area shortly before and after first contact with the surface is also provided.

The images were taken with Rosetta’s OSIRIS narrow-angle camera when the spacecraft was 17.5 km from the comet centre, or roughly 15.5 km from the surface. They have a resolution of 28 cm/pixel and the enlarged inserts are 17 x 17 m.

Above images and information obtained from ESA web site.

A fantastic achievement: I wonder what discoveries are going to be made in the coming months ?

This is as important as watching the first moon landings. I still have lots of news clippings & magazine articles, not to mention that famous Earth image. I could never have believed that a mission landing an object on a comet would be achieved in my lifetime. Moore’s Law has a lot to answer for  🙂

5 November 1605.

 From a transcript of the: Examination of Jhon Jhonsone (sic), 5 November 1605.

And confesseth that when the king hadd come to the parliament house this present day, and the upper house hadd bene sitting, he meant to have fored the match and have fledd for his owin safety before the Powder had taken fier, And confesseth that if he had not ben apprehended this last night, he hadd blowen upp the upper house, when the King, Lords, Bishops and others hadd ben there………

The attempted removal of James I of England VI of Scotland and his whole parliament, by blowing them up on the eve of the state opening of the second session of James’s first English Parliament.

14th October 1066.

Senlac hill – the morning of the 14th October 1066.

The last uninvited army in England

“My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for share
When he conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:–

“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow – with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.

From: Norman & Saxon by Rudyard Kipling.


“Listen: this story’s one you ought to know,
You’ll reap the consequence of what you sow.
This fleeting world is not the world where we
Are destined to abide eternally:
And for the sake of an unworthy throne
You let the devil claim you for his own.
I’ve few days left here, I’ve no heart for war,
I cannot strive and struggle any more,
But hear an old man’s words: the heart that’s freed
From gnawing passion and ambitious greed
Looks on kings’ treasures and the dust as one……..”

Abolqasem Ferdowsi, Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

That’s how the light gets in.

The birds they sang
At the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
Has passed away
Or what is yet to be

Ah the wars they will
Be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
Bought and sold
And bought again
The dove is never free

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

Leonard Cohen.

I Digress: Nikolaus Kopernikus (Copernicus) 19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543)

An X-class solar flare Credit: NASA/SDO

Nikolaus Kopernikus (Copernicus)  19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543)

De revolutionibus orbium coelestium – Copernicus:

In which he asserted that the universe comprised eight spheres. The furthest consisting of fixed stars, with the Sun motionless at the centre. The planets then known, revolved about the Sun with each in its own sphere: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter & Saturn. The Moon, revolving in its own sphere around the Earth. What appeared to be the daily revolution of the Sun was infact the Earth’s daily rotation on its own axis about the sun.

He may have been wrong with his ideas that the orbits of celestial bodies must be perfect circles, but his change from geocentric to a heliocentric cosmology helped move the views of science away from Aristotle’s theories and turned astronomy on its head so to speak.

People were not happy …….

Martin Luther was quoted as saying in 1539:

“People gave ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon … This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy…….”

Considerations on Representative Government.

Considerations on Representative Government. by John Stuart Mill .

P.S. this book can be got quite legally for free (the wonders of the internet ) see link below:  if  by chance you are interested.

Maybe this should be compulsory reading for certain members of society !!

On page 200 he says………

“Until mankind in general are of opinion with Plato that the proper person to be entrusted with power is the person most unwilling to accept it.”

Referring to this paragraph from Plato, Republic:

The good are not willing to rule either for the sake of money or of honour. They do not wish to collect pay openly for their service of rule and be styled hirelings nor to take it by stealth from their office and be called thieves, nor yet for the sake of honour, for they are not covetous of honour. So there must be imposed some compulsion and penalty to constrain them to rule if they are to consent to hold office. That is perhaps why to seek office oneself and not await compulsion is thought disgraceful. But the chief penalty is to be governed by someone worse if a man will not himself hold office and rule. It is from fear of this, as it appears to me, that the better sort hold office when they do, and then they go to it not in the expectation of enjoyment nor as to a good thing, but as to a necessary evil and because they are unable to turn it over to better men than themselves or to their like. For we may venture to say that, if there should be a city of good men only, immunity from office-holding would be as eagerly contended for as office is now.

No country has a monopoly on truth no matter how big they are.

Are you sure that the world you see in colour is the same one I see?

I always suspected there was more to the film Matrix than meets the eye………

Are you sure that the world you see in colour is the same one I see; your answer is probably yes. In reality one should probably so no!
The more science begins to understand the connection between what we see as our perception of reality, particularly that which is developed through language and culture. The less certain it is that we all see the world in the same way. For example, there is a tribe in Namibia called the Himba who have fewer words for various shades of colour than English-speaking people’s; they didn’t need them. There are certain colours they cannot see and it is not colour blindness. They just do not have a word in their language that describes that colour so the brain does not see it. Give them a colour wheel containing a uniform set of colour patches but include one colour they do not have a word for; they will not distinguish this different colour from the rest. Hard to believe but has been demonstrated through independent testing; colour and language are inextricably combined. Remember, a child does not fully see colour until it is several weeks old and then learns through language to differentiate colours.
One of the things most artists learn quite quickly is an understanding of the colour wheel and complimentary colours. The other is, where dark and light should be perceived within an image and how it is interpreted by the viewer. Unfortunately, this can have some unexpected consequences.
For photography this can be manifest in an undesirable magenta cast with certain ink and paper combinations under differing light. For traditional gelatine silver papers it showed as a green cast on fibre papers, which needed selenium toning or a change of developer to remove it. Both problems could be removed with careful consideration of the lighting used when viewing the image.
J M W Turner exploited the play of light and human perception of its qualities with great success in a lot of his painting. The Morning after the Deluge c. 1843 is a fine example. He utilised his understanding of colour to create drama and depth within this painting. Strip away that colour and all one is left with is a bland canvas, devoid of shadows and subtle shades of light.
Black & White photography removes the distraction and interpretation of colour and allows the brain to concentrate on detail. Which is why a lot of the best war photography is in B&W; it focuses the mind on the subject matter and avoids the distraction of colour perception. What do I mean by that; take the popularity of HDR imaging, it is not reality and can be quite disturbing for some. So my first decision has been, do I like the colour and if not, then the image gets ignored, no matter how good it may have been. The impact the photographer was trying to impart has instantly been lost, I don’t like the colour so I ignore the picture.
This is not to say that B&W does not have its problems, more so these days with the advent of digital and screen viewing. One of the things I hate is black shadows and glowing whites, E6 slide film wrongly exposed gave this with a vengeance. Bad printing could give what was known as the ‘soot & chalk’ look, hence the phrase – expose for the shadows and develop for the high lights. Unfortunately for people like me who are somewhat challenged when it comes to scanning; a negative that prints well, does not always scan well.
If you have been kind and patient enough to get here. Please make more time and watch the following YouTube video, which will demonstrate that what one sees is not always reality. It is but an interpretation, given by a particular set of circumstances.

I know it is yet another long one – sorry but the world does not revolve around sound bites…..


I digress again – Tea this time.


I don’t always drink Guinness or Malt Whisky……….. ho and Whisky is the real drink, anything with an ‘e’ in it is a mere reflection 🙂

As it is St George’s Day and William Shakespeare 450th birthday, I thought I would celebrate with a nice afternoon cup of tea – an undeniably English habit.

Teas from China:

Oolong is one of my favourites; I never drink tea from the Indian subcontinent unless a polite refusal is inappropriate, as I find the stuff rather strong and bitter for my taste.
The one thing about high quality Oolong tea is that it can and should be steeped several times from the same leaves; unlike a lot of other teas, it improves with re-brewing.
The best way of doing this is with a measured amount of water, so that the leaves are drained and fresh water used for the next brew. Never let a pot of this stuff stand half full otherwise the tea will become stewed and you might as well have used cheap tea bags! Another point worth mentioning is, use fresh water that has not reached boiling point, otherwise the tea will lose its flavour.
It is best without milk and never sugar (a little honey if required) the light Oolongs have a very subtle sweetness so no real need for more.
There seems to be three main varieties of this tea, going from sweet honey through woody or earthy and then green and fresh tasting.

The other tea I love!! Is Lapsang Souchong:

This tea has a smoky flavour like a bottle of Laphroaig Single Malt whisky; the good stuff gets gently smoked in small batches over wood fires. A subtle and enjoyable drink, but like Laphroaig, not everyone’s taste in fine teas.
It can benefit from milk if so desired and the water is boiled before brewing. Another that can have a number of brews before the leaves are thrown away (the good stuff that is).

All I need now is some scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream (I should be so lucky – here in Oman) one can always dream………


Not a happy Bunny ….!

Am I being particularly inept because I cannot figure out how this new image editing facility (the one with that stupid fat pencil) works.

Gone is the percentage in-post resizing, it seems to be guess-work with multiple images, for instance one below the other.

So far dragging a corner to resize seems to work until I publish and then the image reverts back to full size.

I hate changes for no obvious reason: what was wrong with the old method (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it) or is it like windows 8 and designed for tablet users?



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!!!!!!