Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The joy of the guitar riff

Was a BBC program you can catch up with here for a few more days.

I did something unusual for me and watched it to unwind the other evening - it is almost unknown for me to watch TV, even through iPlayer. Chris was in the room at the same time, and we got talking about guitar music and riffs, how they make you feel excited, energised, a little bit naughty and rebellious. That may be good or bad (or both) depending on theology and world-view.

Then it got to the Smiths and Johnny Marr.

They talked about how he refused to listen or be influenced by metal or rock, returning to a clean, bright tone (I know he also tuned guitars above concert pitch to make them sparkle and discourage string bends). After hearing him play a bit, Chris made the observation that he deliberately took away all the things that made guitar sound good, exciting and fun, then used what was left. That pretty much covered it. For those who care, there was also an amusing bit where they were talking about Rickenbacker jangle while the guitar actually played was a telecaster, but I guess it's hard to find music journos with a background in music.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Apparently I astound.

With my weirdness. According to Chris. I continuously surprise her with my hitherto unimagined ways.

Comment resulted from seeing I'd taken a picture of a steel washbasin on Granville Island.

Well, I finally finished processing images yesterday.

We've made our selection for printing (152, down from 1935 of mine and 270+ of Chris's) and soon I hope to get some on-line galleries up. Her initial comment was that she'd like to print all 530 shortlisted imnages!

Working through them again I kept seeing mistakes, some of which could be rectified by careful processing, while those cropped a little too tight couldn't be saved at all. Using Adobe Lightroom has made the processing quicker in some ways, but by providing more tools it has also encouraged more manipulation which has the effect of slowing things further. I've deliberately not worked on the 'best' images more than necessary because I just wanted them done good enough for 6X4 prints and low res web work.

I really appreciated the tools in lightroom that enabled identification and selection of specific images for printing and upload, and it's made the whole affair enormously easier than trying to process in one package, then shuffle copies the actual post-processed images around in order to ID selected images. Last time we ended up writing file numbers in notebooks (that got lost) and still managed to miss some pictures. It's so much less stressful when the images are stored in a single database along with all processing information.

The techie bit.

For those interested, this experience has really brought home to me how much better it is to process RAW data files than .jpeg images. With RAW output from the Sony and careful exposure it was almost always possible to retain data in clouds, flowing water etc (though not in chrome parts on cars) and pull detail from shadows. By comparison the .jpeg files from the Panasonic almost always had blown highlights and muddy shadows, and any kind of image recovery resulted in colour noise and detail blocking up. Noise reduction just made loss of detail worse. On top of that I was surprised at how much colour correction was necessary for the Panasonic. Files from the sony still needed correction, but it was *usually* a tiny amount, where the camera was being fooled by large areas of a single shade.

This very much reminds me of why I've abandoned using the old Samsung compact - image processing was always damage limitation and control for anything above websize.

Marc - you were asking about Lightroom on the MBA. Adobe have a free 30 day trial, and I'd definitely recommend giving it a go. Then wait & see if they have any 'very special' offers like they did last Christmas.

Did an image ever speak to you?

This one did to me, even though it's one of my own:




I've called it The Pastor, and I wonder if everyone who has ever had any kind of pastoral ministry would recognise themselves in it? You know sometimes that rock will be sticking out, other times it will be buried below the water that's rushing over it. Most of the time it will just be there, whatever swirls around it, being worn down a bit here, maybe smoothed a little there.

Then one spring you may go back again and find it's gone, washed by a greater force to reappear somewhere else.

In the warmth of a day like today it's hard to imagine being immersed in meltwater, rushing down from a mountain. That morning in Banff was also very warm, but while the water looked inviting, it was incredibly cold and fast flowing, and wisdom dictated staying out of it.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Vancouver is also known as Raincover apparently. Wonder why?




These were all taken on our first walk around the city while fighting to stay awake so we coule adjust our sleep patterns. And now bed for me, since thats just what I'm doing again.

Monday, 14 July 2014

At some stage I plan to write things up.

But it might not actually happen.

Yawn.

Had a bizarre thing that started just a few minutes into the flight home, where the slightest movement of my head made me feel out of control and dizzy, and at the same time I broke out into a clammy sweat and felt queasy: Chris said I went an odd colour. Pretty sure it was pressure changes, and I'd been having occasional wobbly moments throughout our time away, but it *felt* like it might be the start of food poisoning. After an hour or so everything settled down and I was OK for the rest of the trip.

Another curious thing was that, unlike when we've done North America to arrive early in UK in the past, there was no night-phase to the trip. The plane went pretty much over the pole, resulting in a flight through endless daylight and a reduction in a desire to catch sleep.

Getting back was good, since here is where home is. The smell of a land long lived in, driving a car with a manual gearbox (oh the joy of a direct connection between engine and wheels) road signs as one expects them, glorious countryside, gentle sun and cool breezes.

And finally getting home went fine. When we opened the front door our poor old house ponged to high heaven downstairs, and getting the windows open and rubbish outside became a matter of urgency. We managed to put a wash on, have a nap, then I got shopping in - life is going back to normal pretty quickly then. But at this point I'm determined not to go back to how things were before we went away - maybe more later on that. We did have a great time away, but more than that, I think we have more clarity on how to move in our situation here, even if there isn't a specific direction yet to move in.

So here we are, back in the land of the overcast sky, but not quite the same as before we left.

Waiting for the bags

Good old Gatport Airwick. Never been through passport control so fast before.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

This man isn't Moses



I believe this to be true because he told me so just now.

But he's shown me Jesus over the last few days in a way that's brought refreshing and, if not a specific way ahead, a chance to think through things and to seek a way forward in a better way than I would otherwise. Randall and Lauralea have welcomed us into our home and spent precious time with us, and I'm honoured they would value us to do it. Tomorrow morning we leave and fly home again.

We've known each other for a long time now, and I am grateful for that knowing.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Sat in a quiet house in a field

It's a hot afternoon outside - probably 28'C - and we've been out, had brunch, then wandered round Ponoka, picking up goodies in thrift stores. Now we're back to nap & relax for the rest of the afternoon before I start dinner (as promised).

We have a big decision to make when we get back, and I really don't know which way it will go: do we take the path of struggle and being discouraged or do we take the path that has been life and encouragement.

Monday, 7 July 2014

So we are sat.

.......outside a house in a field. Travelling time was a little shorter than previous experience led us to expect and I've been able to hop on our gracious hosts wireless connection.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

The curiously named lake Minnewanka.

Canadians don't double entendre by halves, and this place is right by Johnson and Two Jack.

Pun aside, it's beautiful.


Friday, 4 July 2014

Mountain life

Mount Revelstoke, yesterday.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Faith and expectation.

And having put a title I now don't want to write.

And when I started writing, the words I wanted to put didn't bring life, but reinforced a negative message. Which I shall not accept.

In many ways it's been a really good afternoon, putting together the maps and directions for our trip to Canada. That was a challenge in itself with one particular place requiring me to 'drive' 42km from Jasper along highway 16 with google maps to find the place we're staying.

The Macbook (my travel computer on this journey) has just finished updating, and I'm getting the Kindle app to download the latest books. Next will be to sync Kobo app and delete unwanted information from the drive to make space for photos.

I think that I shall leave the office shortly (and a little early) to go for a run so that I'm recovered in time for dinner, followed by packing. Going through clothes >24 hours ahead of departure is always a good plan to avoid panic.


Sorry things are quiet here.

That's just how it's going to be for now. The important things are still in process, and there's no will to talk about the trivia.

Monday, 23 June 2014

So I've been doing a little route planning just now.

We shall shortly visit a friend who lives in a field (his expression!).

For someone who grew up in the greatest city on Earth (;-)) and lives in a 300 year old house just up the lane from a chapel that was recorded in the domesday book and where every local route, track, thicket and pond has been named, probably several times over, it is astonishing to look up a house by map reference.  Road names are highly descriptive: Township road 442, Range road 230, 231 etc, and with the highlight of Highway 822 running through the middle. Of course we have some long, straight roads here too, just like them, but they were built by the Romans......

I'm really looking forward to this time in a different place. I've a sense it's very different from the places we've been before, even if people are the same everywhere.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

ALL Dell computers are called Dellboy round here. ;-)



Quick summary - glad I bought it, not perfect, an equivalent Macbook pro was not worth an additional £800.

So I'm getting used to windows land.

Having a Mac has made me lazy, dumb and careless, partially because OSX is so well set up that you don't have much fiddling to do when starting fresh, but significantly because there is so little of the annoyances you can fix that one loses a will to get under the bonnet and tinker.

The things I miss MOST about the Macbook is the really excellent trackpad, time machine backup software and less pastel colours in the OS interface (see above comment - I've been too lazy/sheep-like to even think about changing them). The trackpad on this *looks* like apple's track pad, in that it's the same size and rocks at the front edge to provide a positive click. However it's covered in black rubber-effect coating and just lacks reliable sensitivity, occasionally glitching or scrolling in jerks. When the 'forearm protection' setting was turned on originally it was bad to use, where as now it's just not as good as something that is best in class, but quite useable. The keyboard is also a little less good, but that might be because it's located further away from the front of the device.

Dell have included their own backup software, which I've yet to explore fully. Again, Time Machine is a remarkable product, and I'm hoping to get something with this that is useable, but with reduced convenience compared to TM (as long as it will do incremental backups and I can actually recover if I need to then that's all I need). It did allow me to create a USB drive to return the laptop to it's factory-fresh state, and that's a brilliant bonus to have when it doesn't come with installation media. Drive created and stored!

The pastel colours I am becoming use to - the ribbon menu was an unfamiliar blur to begin with, but with customisation (that I should know ALL ABOUT as a Linux/KDE user) it's become quite useful. The ribbon menus are definitely a backward step from a traditional menu system, but were designed for touch-screen control, so no surprise they're a bit of a backward step. Ribbon has also happened on the Mac, so even if I'd bought another Macbook I'd still have been stuck with the same old silliness, and I would have HAD to get a new version of Office because 2008 was not working properly under Mavericks.

So outside of that.

Most of the time it's a brilliant upgrade. A lot of stuff 'just works' like it 'just worked' on the Macbook, sometimes better. Networking is a great example, where I can see things on the network that were hidden with the Macbook. There's a shared printer in the next room, for example, that windows will automatically connect with and print to if I want. I also really appreciate that it will run several applications at once without getting its knickers in a twist, and it's nice to be able to watch DVDs or video clips online without the internal fans sounding like a hurricane. The only time it sweats is when creating smart previews under lightroom, where it's manipulating a lot of data and really causing the processors to run flat out for a period. But even then it will still manage other tasks, rather than slowing to a crawl. It did have a hiccup with a crashed application seizing control of the cursor, and that was fixable through the start page.

Battery life is a bit better than when I first bought the other Macbook. It will do around 4 hours of surfing with the wireless on, about 5 hours working in outlook, word and excel, and probably about 3 hours working in Lightroom. By comparison the Macbook would do about 3 hours surfing, about 4 hours with wireless off - wireless and especially bluetooth really hammered the battery - in office.

The screen is still a wow factor, while on the Macbook it was a disappointment, even at the beginning. Startup no longer feels astonishing, and I'd guess has slowed to around 15-20sec from a sub 10sec time on a virgin machine. I may replace the 30GB cache mSATA card with a proper SSD at some stage, reinstall from scratch for improved performance.

Anything else?

Updates. People get reallygripe about windows updates, but stuff for the OS only comes out once a week as a few meg, and is no trouble. I also get daily downloads for windows defender - which is great - who wouldn't want regular updates to virus definitions?

The start window is useful. I really don't mind hitting the windows key on my keboard to be taken over to the start page if I want to run an application not pinned to the taskbar. It's possibly less hassle than a conventional start menu, and certainly no worse.

Well the carbon fibre bottom of the case feels nicer against the legs when you first sit down with a cold machine compared to an ali case, and the sheer skinniness of it still surprises. The front speakers are also clear, loud and fuller sounding than any laptop I heard before. As long as it keeps up this good behaviour then I shall be very happy indeed.

This is my 3000th post.

Not that I want to say much particularly.

And although blogger records this as my 3000th post, not every post has actually made it through to publication*, sometimes because I'm not read to say that, and sometimes because you're not ready to read that.

Chris and I sometimes joke about things we might say on here - but you're DEFINITELY not read to read those things!

So for better or worse, this is post 3000.


*I've just remembered TBOTAM that was a temporary haven while this place got sorted out, so overall I've posted fully 3000 comments.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

What do you feel when you read?

This morning I read this article on the BBC website about a Christian Palestinian family who are being persecuted by Israel in an attempt to drive them from their land.

The article has been written with some spin (replicated in my opening statement) to provoke anti-Israeli feeling while showing the Palestinians as represented by this family as being essentially good, peaceful people. Clearly not all Israelis are rapacious, landgrabbing and evil, while clearly not all Palestinians are peace-loving, Christian and gentle. But it made me proud to be part of the same family as people like these, who continue without malice or violence and plotting to resist wickedness perpetrated by those who should stand for righteousness.

We had a discussion in housegroup last week, about the return of Jesus and Israel. I very seriously wonder if the present nation of Israel have disqualified themselves from the blessing of God through their treatment of the gentiles around them.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Downloading.....

Linux Lite 2.0, based on the latest LTS Ubuntu version (what ever number that is now).

I've been running Mint 17 with Mate on the little Philips laptop, and it's simply too demanding to run well on an old 1.6GHz dual core with 2Gb RAM. Which is crazy really, but hey ho (tempted to pop, say, windows XP on there). Mint also behaved a little odd with some of the hardware, whereas LLOS always did well.

46min left.

*edit*

Installed. Twice as quick as Mint/Mate - it's fluid & doesn't keep pausing - and prints OK. bound to be some teething somewhere, but all seems good thus far.


Now.... bed.

That was the day that was.

To slightly corrupt a line from Alan Wicker.

Fathers day is my most un-favourite of days of the year. I can never lose the sense of failure as a father, of having lost a child, of feeling I've not done as well as I should with our son, and these days starting to feel old, tired and futile. God has been gracious to me, giving us children that we didn't raise, and one of the high points of the day was a text from one of our God daughters to wish me a happy fathers day.

My friend Randall posted an amazing picture of 4 generations of men in his family, each of whom led the people of God in their own generation and illustrating the heritage that he walks in. This is interesting for me, because the Austrian side I most naturally identify with had no such Christian heritage, yet the English sides have a strong line of leaders and preachers in the church, and it seems I have inherited some of that after all through my mum. My English grandfather would speak at a number of different churches covering quite a wide area, but by the time I might have known him as an adult he'd buried 2 wives and was not at all the person he had been. My own father has been dead more than 20 years too, and memories of him are more like photographs than videos these days.

It's a very mixed time emotionally, and mostly either neutral or not good. Right, maudlin time over for another year - on with something else.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

I've been borrowed.

Someone has used my home email address to spoof the 'from' address field in a spam/malware email, and I'm getting large numbers of bounced emails as a result.

I know it's not from an infected machine because it started while my usual computer that receives that address was offline for a few days, and I'm running Linux so none of the usual windows email tools will work. Tedious, but not hard to deal with. All the bounced are coming from German addresses, presumably that's why my address was selected, in order to look German, so at least it's unlikely anyone I know will be getting infected junk from 'me'. Just hope I don't end up blacklisted.

A little recent output.

I live in the country, so photograph what's around me.

The sun can do some magnificent things.



For new life there often needs to be a loss of beauty.


Where are you looking?




PoMo the bear - embrace the doubt.


From The Sacred Sandwich. Those who know me will appreciate the humour for me in this even more.

No bears were harmed in the making of this image.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Ever wanted to read a new Bill Watterson cartoon?

Y'know BW: the man who wrote & drew Calvin and Hobbes?

It seems he has just done a few small cartoons.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Yay - my old Firefox is back.

FINALLY managed to import my Firefox profile from the Macbook into Windows, not helped by Apple's inclination to hide things that might be useful, and inconsistent behaviour (so it seemed) of the Finder when trying to find the hidden Library folder. Nuts.

Being without the various add ons I'd installed made me realise just how much adverts mess up the web, with even this (new Dell i7 based) machine being slowed at times because of streamed flash movies. Advertisers - your golden goose is dying a slow and unpleasant death.

In other news, my face is miserable. Forgot to bring analgesics with me today, and Ibuprofen has now worn off.

Grump.

And my mouth feels/tastes horrible still, with the roof sore from the injections.

I've just re-read that - it's almost funny, me grumbling away - life could be SO much worse!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

It wasn't the micky what got extracted.

Yesterday I had an upper left molar out, and while modern dental practice is excellent & relatively pain-free compared to how it used to be (I've had a fair few extractions before) it's left me feeling traumatised. Maybe I was tougher when I was younger?

Hopefully it will stop seeping blood/wound fluids today and the mouth will settle down around the injection sites. Injections used to be more painful than the extractions (but still a good trade-off) and often had longer lasting soreness.

Hopefully the aches & thick head will dissapate during the day.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Do you ever?

Have something (many things) you want to say, open a page in which to write, then discover you don't want to say them after all?

Hum.

Just evaluating Linux Mint running Mate as desktop environment as a possible alternative to openSUSE. None of my ordinary base units are working right now, so using that little Philips freevents laptop I picked up cheap a year ago to take to Africa. Thing is that it's fairly old now and not terribly quick/highly specified, so can struggle a bit, and the Mate desktop is meant to be lighter weight than Cinnamon. Mint is a little slower than LinuxLiteOS, but there were no problems getting the printer up & running whatsoever, which was really important since I've not been able to print here for a few weeks.

Just had an interesting time moving the menu panel across from the laptop screen to the external monitor - it was moved automatically when running from the live DVD, but not when running fully installed. alt-click & drag worked, but weird not to make it default to the default screen.

In a few min I'm going to start taking pictures of guitar-related stuff to flog. Chris observed we have too much, and I quite agree with her. It would be nice to release some cash too. So 8 pedals, 2 guitars, maybe an amp or 2 and a bass as well. It's all stuff I've used and enjoyed at various times, but aren't doing so now and can't see a need for it in the future, and maybe it's also a little of the anti-consumer in me coming to the surface.