Archive for May, 2010

Another picture of the Japanese Garden in Clingendael

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

This photograph was taken on a rather sunnier day this last weekend that the photos in the previous post about the Japanese Garden, and illustrates some of the colours of the garden.

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ADSL Router failure

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

I think that out of all of the solid state electronics that I have, routers/modems seem to have the highest failure rate (other than equipment that fails due to battery problems).  Over the last few years, I’ve had old fashioned dial-up modems (or even modem cards) that seem to have barely lasted a year or so, and I’ve now got through a few ADSL routers.  Given that the failures have typically been fairly soft, in the sense that they have “not quite worked” rather than “not worked at all”, I assume that in many cases they’ve fallen victim to surges on the power supply or through the telephone line, or even the networking cables.  I certainly had one router where everything seemed to work but for one of the ethernet ports.  I try to use surge protectors these days, including on the phone lines, but still seem to have some problems.  I also wonder about the temperature at which some of these devices seem to operate.

The latest casualty was a (Thomson, at the time) Speedtouch 780 WL which came “free” with my ADSL connection here a little over 3 years ago.   Last night I’d just got into bed and was about to check some news stories on my iPod Touch, but no wireless connection.  I got out of bed and checked the router only to find it repeatedly trying to reset itself and slowly bringing itself up — sometimes not even to the point of starting to go through the ADSL synchronisation, when it would reset again.   I know that in some circles it’s fashionable to deride the Speedtouch routers, but I’d found this one pretty good, and you could do all sorts of fancy things with it if you were prepared to brave the terminal interface.  Indeed, for some things, you had to brave the terminal interface.  For example, to unbind the SIP connection which otherwise interfered with iChat, or to make the NAT in to a simpler “full cone” NAT.

Fortunately, I had a spare ADSL router that I had bought while waiting for the “free” router to arrive back in 2007.  This is a Sitecom ADSL2+ Modem/Router 54G Turbo WL-174 which was probably the cheapest, reasonable device that I could buy from the nearest large electronics store.  The web interface on this wouldn’t win awards for ease of use, although there are a lot of settings most of which I don’t know what they do.  I do know that although my iPod Touch supports 11g, I have to use the 11b/11g setting for the Touch to reliably communicate.

Fingers crossed, I can go to bed tonight and read a few news stories before falling asleep.

Updated MacBook to Snow Leopard at last

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

follow-up to this post is here.

I bought a family pack of the Snow Leopard upgrade when it came out last year, but was reluctant to update my various machines immediately because of lack of time to deal with any problems, and because I rely on some fairly obscure software (like GnuCash). I updated my iMac some months ago, but have only just updated my MacBook this morning. My MacMini will wait until I crack open the case and upgrade the memory (it is a 512MB Intel Core Duo model).

It has been mostly a smooth process. Far better than the upgrade to Leopard which I undid on my iMac and delayed for a long time on my MacMini and MacBook. Mind you, I’ve delayed this update a long time as well.

I did some housekeeping yesterday on the machine to get some spare disc space — I’d actually fallen below the 5GB minimum, and updated my SuperDuper backup over night.

The Snow Leopard upgrade predicted 58 minutes to do the update and in fact it was pretty accurate, the actual time being about 5 minutes longer most of which was when the upgrade was stuck at “less than a minute” for several minutes at the end.

I knew that I would have to run Software Update immediately, and the first log-in to get me to Software Update took almost 15 minutes. This was somewhat worrying and I was beginning to think that I’d be backing out of the upgrade. The first Software Update was around 837MB being the 10.6.3 update, an airport base station update and an iPhone SDK update (not sure why the latter appeared as I’ve never downloaded the iPhone SDK — and I don’t think it was actually the SDK). This update took about 35 minutes.

I then logged in (much quicker this time) and did Software Update again which brought down a much smaller update of Safari, Java and a Security Update. That took about 10 minutes.

This whole process took almost exactly 2 hours.

I notice that the version of flash (even after the software updates) had reverted to an earlier one than I already had on the machine so needed to update that from the Adobe web site.

Software that I was concerned about such as Gnucash appears to work although I probably won’t know for sure until I’ve done some more serious use of it later today. I’ve just updated Acorn to version 2 (I’d already purchased the upgrade licence months ago, but was waiting to install Snow Leopard). I can update to MarsEdit3 from version 2 which I’m using to write this.

The machine is busy doing an enormous 8.38GB Time Machine back up now which may be slowing things down. I seem to be getting a lot of spinning beach balls, even while editing this post, for example.

I’ve certainly got much more free disk space — about 25GB now (I know these are slightly smaller GBs than before)

Problems

Printing

I haven’t yet managed to get my Canon iP4300 printer recognised. I thought that printers were supposed to be managed and work much better under Snow Leopard than Leopard with automatic installation of drivers, but I’m stuck at the moment. It seemed quite happy to leave the Brother 1050 laser printer driver that I use via an Airport Express, but to remove the driver for a printer connected directly via USB.

Update: after two hours the printer driver seems to have appeared and is working. Actually one can now get the ink levels directly whereas it used to require the Canon maintenance utility.

1Password

The integration between 1Password and Safari seems to have got broken. I’ll need to investigate this.

Update: Next time I loaded Safari, the 1Password button was back!

System sluggish

Since trying to use the machine, it has got a lot slower: lots of spinning beachballs. Activity monitor doesn’t show anything untoward, but overall the machine is hanging a lot.

Update: Since Time machine finished and I reloaded most things, the beachballs seem to have reduced in number. Time will tell.

QuickTime Player 7

I had a licensed version of QuickTime Pro on my laptop before the update. According to the Apple Support Article,

If you have a QuickTime 7 Pro registration code on your computer, QuickTime Player 7 is automatically installed in your Utilities folder during the Mac OS X v10.6 installation process. QuickTime Player 7 recognizes your valid registration code and enables QuickTime Pro functionality.

Well it doesn’t seem to have done so in my case.

 

Update: Installed QT Player 7 from the installation CD. It automatically recognised my licence.

Conclusion

Overall the update has gone fairly well — its now about 5 hours since I started. The main lesson seems to be to leave the machine to sort itself out for a few hours after the update. Stuff that doesn’t seem to work magically seems to sort itself out. Still the test will be how it stands up to my normal use during the week.

 

Once again caught by not checking camera

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Updated on May 21 to add link and correct typo.

I’ve spent a few days on holiday using my old Canon EOS 300D. As described in a previous post, once again I was caught out by what I consider to be rather poor user interface on the camera combined with my lack of concentration. Some of the time I was taking photographs inside without flash which meant that to hand hold the camera I was using it at a higher ISO setting and also sometimes adjusting the exposure to underexpose by a stop or so. Inevitably, I sometimes forgot to change the settings back when outside again. Fortunately, as I mostly shoot RAW the photos were generally recoverable in iPhoto afterwards but I wish that there was a reset button or similar. I think there is a custom setting and I really ought to find out whether that would help me to do what I want to do.
When I buy a new camera I really want to buy from a shop with a number of the Canon and Nikon cameras in my price range so that I can really handle them and check for some of the problems I have had with focus settings and exposure settings going wrong.

Japanese Garden in Clingendael, Den Haag, Netherlands

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

I’ve been fortunate to be able to visit Clingendael during the open period for the Japanese Garden for the last four years. This morning was not particularly good weather being rather overcast and dull, but with a little tweaking, here are a few photographs. This small garden is always busy when it is open, but these photographs show few people, and it really always feels very peaceful.

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Vintage Tech Ads: The 15 Funniest Videos | ITworld

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Vintage Tech Ads: The 15 Funniest Videos | ITworld

Not being an American I’d not seen most of these (other than the 1984 Macintosh advertisement), but these definitely capture another age when technology was going to be so much help to us.

Some of the Malvern Spas

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

During the four days from May 1st to May 4th 2010, some of the spas in Malvern were “dressed”. The following are photographs of some of these spas.

Railway Trough at Great Malvern Station received a Silver Award and was decorated by Malvern Parish Church of England Primary School
Railway Trough at Great Malvern Station

Lyttleton Well was decorated by the Brighter Futures Before and After School Club and won a Silver Award.
Lyttleton Well

Enigma with statue of Edward Elgar
Enigma

Malvhina
Malvhina

Holy Baptist Well — This one is hidden away behind the Baptist Church which was appropriately built on the site of a former bath house.
Holy Baptist Well

St. Ann’s Well
St. Ann's Well

Lower Wyche Spout
Lower Wyche Spout

Lower Wyche Trough won a Bronze Award decorated by The Carillon Team.
Lower Wyche Trough

The beautifully decorated tap room at the Holy Well won a Gold Award.
Holy Well

The water flowing behind the Holy Well
Holy Well

The Eye Well which would be easy to miss when not decorated
Eye Well

Wyche Spring won a Bronze Award decorated by Sheila Maund
Wyche Spring

Willow Spring
Willow Spring

Royal Well
Royal Well

Hay Slad. This was dressed by the Malvern Division of the Girl Guides and won a Gold Award.
Hay Slad

Dingle Spring — this is another spring that would be easily overlooked when not decorated. This was decorated by Phil Ironside and won a Silver Award.
Hay Slad

Westminster Bank Spring which was decorated by Malvern St James School and won a Silver Award.
Westminster Bank Spring

Clock Tower which was decorated by the Grove Primary School and won a Silver Award.
Clock Tower

Stocks Fountain
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