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Some introductory text to go here. Probably.
The Blog of Life
The Fog Of Things - FoT
Has anyone coined the 'Fog Of Things' yet? If not then I will. Clouds are isolated things which sit far away. Basically servers as far as I can tell. The Internet Of Things (IoT) is therefore lots of things things on the ground all talking to 'the cloud' (or clouds?). But some things on the ground might talk to each other not necessarily via a cloud. Therefore fog, unlike with Clouds, is all around us (at least when it's foggy). You can see the stuff right close by but for things further away you just have to guess as to their location, and in fact you perhaps don't need to know it's location as long as you can hear it. Ah, yes, fog obscures vision but not sound - that's another good analogous trait. I might start saying I'm working in the Fog Of Things, the FoT. What happens when the fog lifts - ah ha - the Drizzle of Things: the future state where we as unsuspecting humans (consumers) are bombarded with things after things measuring every bit of data that can possibly be extracted from us and our environment. Oh I can't wait for my fridge to tell me I need to buy more milk and stop eating so many pies.[2014-08-11]
Still don't know how these happen, bit of a mystery.[2014-08-07]
I'm not much of an historian, I didn't get on well at school with all the memorising things and, apart from one hilarious history teacher, I never found school History very interesting. Often it was too much about the war, and as a child I really felt disconnected from history - it was all too far removed from my very short experience of life. I hoped it would be one of those subjects that build over time and becomes more interesting as you piece together the long tapestry of historical events into a single (ish) narrative.
That said (and slightly irrelevantly now I come to think about it), today one hundred years ago, Britain was on the eve of war. We were walking through the fields around Histon a couple of weeks ago and I was struck by people exactly like us who might have walked those very same paths a century previous aware or not that war was looming. Perhaps a gorgeous sunny day, feeling free and footloose, off work for the day and taking a picnic into the fields. People who lived in my little victorian house getting out of the village for the afternoon in peace. But for those people just a few weeks later war would come to them, perhaps in the horrors of being called up, leaving this home and travelling off to die. For once I feel a real sense of connection to these unknown people of history, the normal everyday people living their lives back in time. That's the sort of history that triggers my interest. I guess all very Time Team.[2014-08-03]
The Blog of Photos - past 30 days
Astrophotography tip of the dayLast night I think I learnt a valuable lesson when it comes to astrophotography - leave long exposure noise reduction off. Two things this does, firstly it speeds up the whole affair meaning that after a 30 second exposure you don't gave to wait another minute while "job nr" displays before you can see if the image was any good. This also saves a heap on battery life. Instantly you can check if the composition was gold and if you got the white balance anywhere near something sensible. Secondly the image is not devoid of stars. Yes the black of night is not a lush deep smooth black, but then that's pretty much what I'm after - stars, which to a machine look a lot like digital noise. The other win last night was the raw K white balance setting allowing a far greater gamut of colours from 2500K to 10000K. I settled on about 3500 toy give the green of trees and the blue of the night sky. Results to be posted later. [2014-09-01]
New Black Cat
I went to visit our new cat who's presently residing in the local Cat rescue centre. We went last weekend just to have a look and ended up deciding there and then on one. They had quite a lot of black cats (as has been in the news recently), but we felt that actually a black cat will go quite well with our furniture (not to devalue the little critter). She is a 'He' and is currently called Sooty (though he might become a Schubert). This was my third visit and he was definitely much more friendly this time round. So hopefully when we get him home he'll only improve and get more friendly. He does rather enjoy fishing which could be some cause for concern amongst our friendly blackbird community.
turns out they're right, black cats really are hard to photograph
and a little bouncy
a fabulous japanese anemone
More Flys Macros
Sitting on my table in the sun this fly landed and started warming itself up on the ceramic surface. Out again with the camera and macro lens. At the other end of the garden I came across this bluebottle in the gravel. There my friendly neighbourhood Robin kept an interested eye on me from the fence.
bluebottle on takeoff
bluebottle on soil
in a little closer, the detail is glorious
this little chap kept a curious eye on me
This little bumblebee spent just long enough servicing the sweet peas (wild, so sadly not fragrant) that I was able to get a few shots of him. I still need to work on the aperture to improve the focus depth and capture more detail.
having a drink
up close and personal
Heather Walk in The Peak District
Some photos of our walk in the Peak District with my parents. We were up in Sheffield of the weekend to celebrate the baptism of my cousins’s children. The weather was simply glorious and it was so lovely to get out into some PROPER GEOGRAPHY. When I see hills I can see the point of living somewhere; in East Anglia the flatness makes life just that little more futile. As we drove out from Sheffield the heather was simply stunning, clothing the hills in a rich blanket of warm pink. Where we were heading - a ridge walk from Mam Tor - turned out to have no heather at all, so after getting back to the car and a quick refreshment stop in the pub, we drove back to find a heather patch to walk in and experience. It really was quite magical.
Hope valley from Mam Tor
Vale of Edale to the north
Nether Moor, Peak District
Back Tor above Castleton
rather too friendly sheep
weathered post on Barker Bank
fields towards Eyam Moor and Hathersage
the nobly top of Win Hill above the Ladybower Reservoir
the heather of Bole Hill
more heather in glorious pinky purple
Dragonfly Photography #supersenses
This chap landed in my garden at the weekend and hung on the clematis for ages enabling me to shoot far too many photos trying (and not quite achieving) the money shot I was after - the compound eye in crisp sharp focus. Hand held, I can't get the utter clarity I desire. Furthermore, when you condense the image to the web (from 6k to 0.6k) all the resolution is kind of lost. Still, more pleased with the results and realised that I need to switch to aperture priority more often and perhaps centre around 7.1 to give more focus range to capture with. Insects are just too small for fully wide apertures.
dragonfly on the clematis
a little closer
and closer still
lower thorax and wings
abdomen in sharp relief
lets have a look at those beady eyes
the best compound eye shot of the day
two wings with some lovely foliage shining through
in this photo you can see catch the clear panels in the dragonflies wing
this crop is a little filtered for the colours
and an arty dragonfly shot to conclude
It looks like my stigmata is flaring up again...
I trust this is a good omen
First Raspberry Pi Booting
This was the first boot of my new Raspberry Pi. I'd plugged it into the TV as a monitor along with a spare tiny keyboard and mouse. The lack of a MicroSD card was nearly a spanner in the works, but then I discovered one languishing in my old HTC Desire S. This was nearly scuppered by the lack of SD converter until I realised I could (with some trickery) connect the HTC to my Mac in order to format and copy over the NOOBS image successfully. Then install took 20 minutes or so by which time I was fairly tired and ready fo bed. Once booted I wiggled the mouse in Debian to prove success then shut down.
raspberry pi first boot
Further Into The Light
When last in London I took some nice photos aimed into the sun. I was really pleased with the results captured, the exposure was such that the scene was visible but with some tremendous bleaching light effects. Not what I expected - with a crappy phone camera all you get is darkness with a bright spot. That's the joy of a proper camera. And so (when I remember) I've been taking more photos aimed into the sun rather than using the sun as a backlight. Here are a few recent results from Scotland.
green leaves of the horse chestnut
tall grasses in the evening light
my impression of a Brian Cox documentary
Why All The Flies Nick?
I was sorting through my catalogue of desktop backgrounds and found these three fly photos that I took back in 2005. Now with my new D7100 I thought it about time to try my hand again at some fly macros principally in search of the perfect compound eye shot. I've not made it yet, but I'm getting reasonably pleased with the preliminary results. More to come I'm sure, but to temper the files (which are otherwise getting a little too annoying in the house at the moment) there is a picture of a bee in flight (the focus is not particularly sharp I'll admit).
a rather cute blue bottle. I love the colours of the rock (2005)
sepia filter applied to this, but the eye is magnificent (2005)
the focus of this was well caught (2005)
this bee was visiting the morning courgette flowers (recent)
This morning I was just about to head off to work when I spotted the hover flies performing their rather cute aerial display. So it was back out with the macro lens.
hoverfly in a courgette
coming in to land...
close up of the little critta
Even More Garden Macros
Perhaps we'll get bored of these macro photos soon, but for now here is another batch from my Sunday in the garden. I've experimented with a balance between aperture and ISO, sacrificing sharp quality to be able to capture the macro while hand held. One of those mono-pod camera holders would probably be idea here to enable repositioning of the body but with the stability of the ground to improve crispness. Taking multiple shots each time allowed me to cherry-pick the sharpest successes and discard the rest, not ideal but a useful compromise with digital.
a green bluebottle fly
white cosmos, possibly from seed collected in Korea
rudbeckia petal up close
another rudbeckia from the side
Was Jesus Really Perfect?Google is making me question the perfection of Jesus. It's frequently preached that Jesus was (/is) perfect. I've just had a quick check (ironically, using google) and come up with two results:
- Matthew 5:48
- Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
- 2 Corinthians 5:21
- For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Why google is giving me reason to question this is that if something is perfect, or perhaps the more perfect something becomes or attempts to become, the less perfect it appears. With Google, it used to just work. They did one little thing really well, not perfect, just better than others. But now they're trying to do everything and seem to be under their own self delusion that they are the best at everything. You could just brush this off under the consideration that they have relinquished their earlier claims and simply become evil. But as a user, the more they have conquered each aspect of life and tried to second guess actions - pre-emptive searches, google now, map routes - all these things are essentially suggesting to us that they've got our back, they're always there with the answer, they're perfect.
But of course they aren't and increasingly little flaws which previously you would overlook on a rough object, become increasingly noticeable and annoying. The way google navigation speaks in an almost but not quite human way, the auto complete which fill out when I didn't want it (& the reverse), chrome spell check's inability to suggest "anti-aliasing" from "antialiassing", the blandness of their search results, the advertising of things I've just purchased. All these little niggles are getting more and more annoying each passing day. There is an analogy with computer generated animation - the closer they get to simulating reality, the more those subtle slight differences like the odd jerk of a limb, appear to break the impression. Whereas with a cartoon, Wile E. Coyote runs out over the ravine, pauses then falls - fine. Even with my blog posts now, I leave one spelling mistake and it breaks the flow, whereas before there were hundreds and all was good (fun at least).
Perhaps It's human nature to seek out flaws in others. Certainly people who give that impression of being perfect (confident, cleaver, happy all the time etc) really tend to grate on me. I fear that if I came across Jesus and he was this perfect individual then either the tiny flaws he did exhibit would stick out like logs in the eyes, or I simply wouldn't like him.[2014-08-20]