Friday, 31 January 2014

Posting is sometimes tricky - who I want to be.

I like humour.

I like beautiful, kind, generous and gracious things, things that build people up - but I also like sarcastic humour that exposes unpleasantness or stupidity, and that frequently tears people down.

It can make posting on both blog & facebook difficult, because those little humorous snippets so often target an individual or a group. Yes, it feels great to be part of a group that has it all right - if we weren't all right then we'd fix ourselves to be right, wouldn't we - but that means that somewhere, someone isn't right, and by the same token it's OK to mock them somewhat.

Facebook is the ideal vehicle for this - post a meme picture, witty comment etc and belittle the 'dumb' people who are the amusing subject of the meme - including those who post meme pictures, that I upset so effectively last year. Irony doesn't always soften the blow. ;-)

I don't want to get sucked into the thumper principle, but I want to post good stuff, happy, healthy, up-building things, rather than things that kill one chuckle at a time.

Nuts to sarcasm, the highest form of wit.

A bad-tempered, self-obsessed, whining nutcase.

Is an epithet I'm tempted to apply in a wide variety of scenarios, maybe even one or 2 because of descriptive accuracy instead of just humorous intent.

It's also a quote from Mac to the future on El Reg, which I found quite entertaining in places. Mostly we like our history in revisionist form, and this blows entertaining scorn all over that way of presenting things.

I don't see this as anti-Apple at all, so much as an illustration of how we have sometimes no idea of what will make a business sink or swim. Give the public what they want - apparently almost fatal. Create poorly performing computers in weird turquoise plastic cases and you won't be able to keep up with demand. This should be compulsory reading from Dragons Den presenters and judges.

Another IT update - puns in operating systems.

It seems that the operating system that could be called W8 actually runs reasonably light.

Things have moved forward with the windows install, and having resigned myself to using 8.0 from there on, just a day after getting things up & running I was offered the upgrade to 8.1 that I'd tried (unsuccessfully) to download & create as a DVD earlier.


For what I 'understood' to be a service pack?

So it downloaded while I was here at work, then I ran the install at home, which took around 30min. The only fly in the ointment was that it REALLY, REALLY wanted me to sign up for a windows account and I really didn't want to do that. In the end I couldn't find a way out (there is supposed to be an option to continue with a local account, but I'm CERTAIN I wasn't offered it) so gave it an email address that I couldn't read to activate it, yet it required activation to create an account. Not well thought through. I was, however able to change to local login on first running the software, through the user accounts settings.

So now I have a fresh install of 8.1. Frankly, I have to say that Microsoft are doing something very right here - it's snappy, responsive, clearly running with relatively low overheads because Lightroom works really well, and I couldn't replicate the horrid laggy behaviour under OSX, even with extensive masking and brushwork.

One thing that amused me was that installing DigiKam for windows also installed a portion of KDE including a control panel. I've no idea if the tools there do anything (and I wasn't going to risk making a mess of the OS if they didn't) but they were a nice 'friendly' thing to see pop up on screen. I also installed Photodirector and GIMP for when I need them, plus Libreoffice. VLC for video playback, Opera and Firefox for browsing while keeping Google's Chrome spyware away.

Went through monitor calibration somewhat this morning too, using the windows calibration tool and then an external site. The monitor I have at home is a 7 year old Samsung unit, and while it was really nice back then, it's sadly lacking now. Moving up & down relative to the screen changes the way colours are displayed and the brightness of an image to the point where some of the finer features of a simple on-screen calibration could not be set, and I gave up. Recently most of my image editing has been done using a Dell 2412M IPS monitor in the office, and this is much less affected by viewing angle. At some stage the Sammy is going to have to go, sadly, and another IPS screen found to replace it.

It's still windows, so therefore still proprietary, still restrictive, still using slightly naff icons and menus, still un-secure and prone to virus infections and all that goes with that. But at the same time it's a nice environment to work in, and I feel like it could use this as happily as OSX or Linux.

Talking of OSX.

Still not impressed with Mavericks.

First impressions were that the machine was slow and really bogged down and with the fans going fairly hard as though it were running a big load. 30sec in google told me that spotlight was going to be frantically indexing everything in sight, and so it turned out. And the next day too, up until about 1pm - about 6 hours worth. I have the macbook connected to an external drive with 2 1TB partitions for file storage and time machine backups, and there's hundreds of thousands of files there, so fair doos. I didn't experience the terrible lags & un-usability like some have, probably because of the SSD.

And yet spotlight still sometimes draws significant energy, even when it has no reason to be doing anything.

Something else I've noticed is that the beachball appears quite often, if only for a moment, when moving between browser tabs or opening files in a program that's already open. Memory use has gone right up: before running firefox, skype & entourage would typically leave  between 2.1 and 1.5Gb free, where as now I typically have around 800Mb free, even with Skype closed. And what seems the ultimate power test for this machine, lightroom, is even more sluggish than before.

That same google session turned up various suggestions about hard disk repair etc and I did boot into safe mode (cmd-R) and verify/repair the disk & permissions. There were errors/faults that were successfully fixed, but it's not significantly changed things.

Anything else?

The screen font seems to have changed, becoming chubbier, less clear and easy to read.

Guess I'm asking too much really, to expect a 5 year old bottom of the range machine (though mid-range by other standards) to cope with the latest version of the operating system. I'm wondering if a clean install would help? Another 4Gb ram? Or have things moved on so far that upgrade is the only way forward?

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Starting to ask if there's a way back from Mavericks - embracing Windows 8.

I should do some net research, but the latest update from Apple seems to have increased the overhead on this Macbook to the point where having 5 or 6 tabs in use with Firefox, plus entourage and Skype running causes the fans to start going. Scrolling around in Firefox is distinctly jerky and Lightroom also runs even slower.

I'll try it to the end of the week, but it looks like a step too far on this hardware. An 8GB memory upgrade would help, but returning to OSX 10.8 in a fresh install might be a more cost-effective way of restoring performance.*

Conversely Adobe Lightroom 5.2 on Windows 8 was a revelation compared to 5.3 on OSX. While there was the odd bit of lag, I was able to clone out a dozen items, then draw extensively across the image with the brush with a quite acceptable degree of lag. Gone was the frustration of adjusting noise reduction and wondering whether the change had been made or not yet, this was so different.

This morning I did some final setting up & installation to the new install before leaving for work, before finding it was inviting me to download & install Windows 8.1 - hopefully that will go in OK and the machine will be a bit more robust. Windows 8 seemed very susceptible to things not going exactly right, and since starting this I've found that trying to do things while any kind of installation process is going on is likely to lead to hangs or crashes, and on one occasion damage to the OS from which it never seemed to recover properly - one of the reasons for this additional round of re-installation.

Talking of which, the Western Digital 1TB 'Green' drive I put it on this time is almost silent compared to that old 250GB Seagate, and noticeably faster too. Hard drive performance apparently doesn't affect Lightroom (according to an optimisation video from Adobe running from SSD makes no difference except in startup time) since presumable all the modules are loaded into ram. To get the best performance you need the fastest processors and at least 16GB ram. Having investigated a little more, it seems that the processor in my home computer is a lowly socket 775 model, released as a lower-mid range unit in 2008, and I wonder, considering this computer was sold as a performance model 3 years ago, if the original purchasers didn't get 'done'. The only place I'll find an upgrade now is on ebay.

Still debating over memory purchasing, but don't really want to spend more money on computing right now.

Apparently Spotlight was still indexing my external drives. There's somewhere north of a terabyte of data shared between the 2 partitions, pretty much all of it small files, documents and spreadsheets, images etc and it's taken several hours to just grind through. This wasn't my discovery BTW, but a few seconds in google and a couple of clicks. Apparently there is sometimes a warning that comes up after installation telling a new user their machine will be slow at first, but I don't recall seeing that or consider 6 hours of up time 'a while'.

Ho hum - I'll know better next time - wonder if it's sorted now?

If at first you don't succeed

Try a third time.

In the quest for more ram for the computer I raided an older machine upstairs. Sadly it turns out to be incompatible with the stuff already in there - 8500 =1066GHz apparently.

Anyway, I installed W8 on my Western Digital drive using the DVD created Monday, only to find it rejected the license because I'd done a clean install instead of replacing a version of windows. Ho hum.

On with W7 (not activated) then on with 8 and all went fine this time round. 1Gb of updates to download, which seems par for the course these days. Annoyingly it hung at 86% downloaded because it wanted me to manually download & install a printer driver. Also annoying is the lack of legacy soundcard drivers for Creative products. My 'Live' card  very clearly isn't and consensus is that creative don't support legacy products. Meh.

Also turns out that Firefox is really crashy under W8 too as well as openSUSE (but not Sabayon or Pear it seems). Just waiting for it to finish installing those updates & will start the next lot of downloads (Libreoffice for one) before heading to bed.

Writing from my Philips H12Y lappie under LinuxLiteOS. :)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

It seems this week is all-change week

I'd thought my times of operating system fiddling was finished after Christmas, but then I'd not banked on other things happening.

First of these was the issue running Adobe Lightroom 5.3 on the Macbook. While it meets Adobe's spec, in performance terms once I began using brushes and spot-removal techniques it slowed to a crawl, to the point where it was taking 20-30 seconds to show the spot I'd brushed over. Discussion online suggested a memory leak in the OSX version, and I'd already seen training videos where the demonstrator (using a Mac) described version 5 as 'herky jerky'.

Adobe's answer is, of course, use a top end machine with at least 16GB ram and a 6 core i7 processor and it will work great.


But users of the windows version reported a smooth, jerk-free performance, so I finally found a way to use the windows 8 pro upgrade I'd paid for last year and yesterday installed it on a spare HDD. And it WAS smoother and faster* - very noticeably so, rendering images in about half the time that the Mac required. The downside with this machine is that it uses 'old' DDR2 ram, and that's now expensive compared to current DDR3 stuff that won't fit. Offers of 'old' DDR2 2GB or 4GB memory sticks at bargain prices gratefully received. ;)

But, as always, there's a fly in the ointment. I tried to use a package I'd downloaded - perfect effects 8 - which requires a minimum 8GB memory, and it wasn't lying. Shortly after opening the package, while W8 was installing some updates PE8 took the system down and appears to have damaged the W8 install judging by the half-speed performance when it had repaired itself. Looks like time for ANOTHER install then. :p

And then my Macbook announced to me that it really, really wanted me to install OSX9 Mavericks. So made a backup-backup at home 'just in case', let it download the 'upgrade' all 5.3GB of it (!) and then off it went.

There's a few extra bits in there that are visible - an app to sell you books, a map app, calendar that looks different, a few odds and ends, but otherwise I can't *yet* see a significant difference between that & 10.8 that I had been running.

* A quick note on W8.
Microsoft do themselves no favours with their OOTB experience for users new to W8. This is the second time I've set up a machine with a fresh W8 install, and because the last time was a year ago, more or less, when you first arrive at the metro screen it's a bit uncompromising and intimidating TBH. They really shot themselves in the foot by not providing a walkthrough video or anything to help a new user - even Apple moving to an upgraded OS that looks just like the previous OS provide a walkthrough (maybe that's to convince you that you really did install an upgrade?). But Microsoft - no chance apparently.

Fortunately I'd remembered enough from last year to know that you have to use the right mouse button to access the login screen, then the windows key switched between start and desktop screens, and to turn off you have to move the mouse to the far right.

I had a brief moment of vacancy after reaching the start screen for the first time and was confronted with a collection of icky-coloured tiles to begin with. Fortunately I remembered quickly enough & culled almost everything except the desktop, internet exploder and bing tiles before replacing them with more obviously useful ones for computer management and program access. I really like the start menu when populated usefully, but bunging all the social networking, weather & news junk across it just makes it un-recognisable to anyone without a windows phone. Which is almost everyone. Bad move.

The other thing I'd forgotten is how much windows does disc access.

I'd used an old Seagate 250Gb SATA 1 drive, and the thing was making an absolute racket, all the more obvious because this computer is now almost silent. It's also noticeable because Linux installs simply don't seem to access the hard drive very much, at elast by comparison, and with 4GB ram available I guess they mostly load up what the need & run from there. Maybe that's why they also perform so relatively quickly compared to both windows and OSX?

Since there is now a DVD made after downloading yesterday I may well try W8 on the 1TB western 'green' drive, since that is also very quiet. It will wipe out my Pear and Sabayon partitions, but that's not an issue since I can easily reinstall them. Just need to check there's nothing on there not backed up.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Ever have an event that's the emotional equivalent of standing on your own shoelace?

Just had some news from elsewhere, and it's one of those things that makes your head spin an little and resolve soften for the moment. Chris and I are fine BTW, just in case you wondered.

You find that you care for people, and when things don't go well for them it makes for bumps in the road of emotion. I've not fallen over, carrying the analogy forward, but it felt a loss of balance for a bit.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Jesuits won Austria with schools and plays.

I have been reading a book given by my mother some time ago: The Book of Austria by Ernst Marboe.

Although it's a history of a place I half know, one can make useful observations for dealing with a post-modern culture. In order to counter the rise of the Lutheran protestant church the Jesuits were invited. They set up schools and established a tradition of oratory, rhetoric and theatre which took hold of the imaginations of the middle and upper classes and created a firm Roman Catholic foundation over the next 200 years until they were ejected from the country in the 18th century. Austria still has their influence through its society more than 150 years later.

What's the big deal?

They went to Austria to be missional and found the key for their generation and those to come. I wonder what equivalent there might be for the modern church, that would create a legacy - not of allegiance to religion as a political power broker and institution - but that would build a society with healthy, Godly values, where love and care was important instead of greed and acquisition?

Lightroom 5

So today I ordered a copy - actually spent money on software, which is a thing I never like to do!

Hopefully I can find a way to use the upgrade I paid for to update XP to W8 at home so it will run.

Taking a quick review

In the back of Christianity magazine there was an article by someone calling themselves Popeye, quoting the rhyme he repeats:

"I yam what I yam, and that's all I yam, I'm Popeye the sailor man"

His observation after a lifetime in pastoral ministry was that people don't change, despite that being the direct opposite of expectation for as as Christians. It seemed to finish up with a little dig at the reader, that it was really them that didn't change, and that actually the author was changing really - or maybe I misread it/missed a nuance lost in translation from umerkan to inglesh.

But it's good to review, and I can see I'm not the man I was 5, 6 years ago. On the one hand I'm gentler, slower to speak & correct, less inclined to try to prove myself, demonstrate ability, wear clothes because I think they make me look good, feel a pride in myself. The flip side is I'm quiet and becoming shy, tending to lack confidence, much less outgoing and inclined to feeling down, far less enthusiastic about being sociable and spending time with others.

So today I downloaded a 'free'  (they still require your email address as payment) e-book on Simple Ways To Be Missional from The Verge, and there were a range of suggestions about how to interact with your co-workers. Some of these I find I'm already doing quite naturally because they fit my personality, faith and expectation, but some - like organising social events and inciting people round for drinks or dinner are an effort I've realised I've not wanted to make for a long time.

There's a danger one can easily slip into, where you 'do' so much church that you start becoming hedged in about the way you think and feel and interact, and I've been realising that's where I am right now. I have a desire to be missional, to reach out, to work in the community, but at the same time I've lost the push, dynamics, energy to drive through where others are unhappy or apathetic, I prefer to be at home quietly instead of with others and find it difficult to talk to people these days. It's no-one's fault in particular - other than mine, maybe.

So I need to take stock, see what needs to be done to lift the eyes, re-energise, push out, see new directions and opportunities. At least I know that I am still changing, and have not yet become so cold as to solidify and become immovable.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Thar be mOnSTorS

Or at least large bits of machinery designed to tear buildings to bits.

ROAR - Run away little man!

Monday, 13 January 2014


Here's 2 of the images I reprocessed. When I did them originally it was on the Macbook, which is really too small to see anything clearly with a 13" screen, and the screen is also not terribly good and washed out. Spent a little time working on them following comments I'd received (after asking for critique) about them having too much black and being dark & uninteresting - which was true.

My concern is that they're less natural and a bit gaudy, though I've tried to be careful with the colours.

I'd love to go back to mainland Greece again.

Even though it's cold.

Just had a quick look at Akis Karamanos' blog (look for the translate option if you don't read Greek) and was reminded of another land we've come to love. It's not like western Europe, and culturally I'd consider it barely European, even though it was once the centre of European culture.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Blogposts are like London busses

You wait an age, then a bunch arrive together.

I have sore fingers tonight from playing acoustic guitar for an hour or so in today's meeting. Open worship seemed to be good though, and we had several people sharing things (including at least one who normally does not) which is also great.

Tomorrow I'll take a bass along to music practice. :-)

Following on from the last post - dissatisfaction!

In this case, with software for processing images.

I had a go at re-processing some images that I'd not really been happy with, but using DigiKam instead of Lightroom/Photodirector, and it's really hard to go back. The level of control available and the way in which the raw image is handled when imported into those 2 packages is just so good, it's really hard to use a more conventional package without HSL control for individual colour channels and sliders for different parts of the basic curve. At the same time DigiKam's  sharpening controls are much better than sharpening in either LR or PD, and resizing/cropping and then sharpening the final product  given much better results for web work.

Looks like multiple image processing packages are going to be the way to go.

We all do this but.......

I've read a couple of things from the bible in the last 24 hours that have made me think "Oh, never saw that before".

2 Corinthians 2
Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.

It seems slightly amazing that the great Paul should go somewhere but feel off-colour because the friend he was hoping to see wasn't there, and so, even though he was being effective, he decided to move on until he found him. 

Luke 19 
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.’

Living in an age of super-abundance, wealth and property, where those who have so much feel such an intense reluctance to release their tax dollars because they are THEIRS, this aspect of giving half my possessions to the poor really struck me. It's such a contrast to those who were wealthy then and now. I recall yesterday an online friend in the US pointing out to a British socialist who is another online friend about how the communists of California want to take away their freedoms (principally guns) and their money - the whole emphasis was me and mine, and it's an ethos I've seen over and over again from some Christians I've known in the US. 

So salvation for Zaccheus was to release the things he'd held dear in exchange for faith in Jesus, and the response was to give away half the stuff he couldn't keep. It's preaching to me too: I have way more stuff than I need and lots of people have barely what they need to live.

It's nice to remember.

This is how our Christmas tree looked just over a week ago - welcome to our livingroom.

No, we didn't try lighting the candles. Hopefully it will continue to live & grow and we'll be able to bring it back inside again next year.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

More on why men (and women) don't sing in church.

Chris said to me the other day "I only like the songs I know". Then I saw this article. They have a very good point, and although I don't agree in all respects, the basic issue is spot on.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

A few from this evening.

Images from the flooded valley.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Just an old card.

On deeper digging regarding Distro Hunt it seems my graphics card may be the source of the trouble. Even though it's not too slow, my Nvidia 7900GS card was actually made in 2007 - 7 years ago, and is really legacy and being pensioned off by Nvidia.

Ben is always updating his system, and a quick enquiry regarding alternative cards produce a monstrous red  ATI 4890*. Which in turn required 2 (!) power connectors, which required another power supply, which required gutting and rebuilding the inside of my PC after PCC meeting was over. So here I am at 11.45pm, having just finished playing Lego with computers in hardware (there's plenty of lego software already) just lining up a Sabayon install.

I *think* all my data is backed up.

*When it first started there was a loud 'whoosh' as the fans came on, then it all went impressively quiet. Excellent thought I, it won't have any load and will run nice & quietly. However as the KDE desktop came up, so did the fan speed, and it's far from quiet. I've a feeling a budget passive card is going to be on it's way soon - who needs to game?

Is Evocation a word?


Do you ever see a picture where you can feel the sun on your back, smell the smells and imagine the feel of the cobbles under your feet while strolling around?

Here is one such picture.

You can take the boy out of etc etc.

It's hard to say if my sense of connection with Vienna is really any deeper than a dose of wishful thinking and a few childhood memories, but this article was a good one, on several levels, even though it starts off very shallow.

Beautiful weather right now.

You'd never believe that this morning the wind and rain had been lashing away here, and the flood waters in the valley below were pouring across the road. All the fields are underwater and the Cherwell valley has become one huge river.

Distro-hunt, maybe.

I'd thought I was done with trying new Linux versions over the Christmas break, but it seems I may not be.

openSUSE 12.3 that has been my mainstay since March 2013 has begun having problems, and moving distros may be the path of least effort to fix it. Libreoffice has begun to save files with truncated filenames, firefox crashes all the time (though thast happens with v26 in several Linux distros) and now after running for a few minutes the screen becomes corrupted with red and grey marks before the system eventually hangs. When openSUSE 13.1 was launched late last year I was very keen to try it, but there were some show-stopping issues with graphics card drivers: while there is a fix, it's not ideal and requires some command line work & fiddling to try to get it running, and I don't really want to go there. I wonder if the infamous graphics card driver bugs have made their way into 12.3 as a trickledown from 13.1?

So I'm considering going back to Sabayon linux, at least for a while, if only I can find a way of turning off LVM (logical volume management) that renders hard drive partitions created this way unreadable from other OSs. I never want to be in a situation again where my most up to date data is on a hard drive that is unreadable because an update broke the OS and the only way to access that data is through that specific OS. Backups yadda yadda yadda, but a backup is never *quite* as current as your data, and having a piece of software *tell* you it's completed a backup isn't the same as actually being able to restore data.

We'll see how this one goes. Sabayon 14.1 is downloading as I type this, to create a live DVD. If it looks good then we'll see. I've created a partition on a second HDD for backing up data to make it globally accessible on my main machine, so tonight I can see a few hundred Gb getting moved across while the PCC meet, ready for a wipe & start again session.

Normality reasserts itself post Christmas.

It's curious how life is different and yet just the same after a week or so off. The curious bit, for me, is how it does actually feel different in some very intangible ways, possibly the result of stopping and thinking? But at the same time, despite really feeling different, the previous patterns push so vigorously to re-establish themselves that it's almost as if the break and celebration never happened.

Rust never sleeps, as the phrase has it, and it feels as though, having succeeded in making heterosexual fornication socially acceptable, a highly vociferous liberal minority are pushing again to get the same acceptance for all kinds of sexual behaviour. It seems funny writing that, because it sounds so inhibited, repressive and old-fashioned, yet a normal orthodox Christian view of sexual practice would see heterosexual marriage as the only place for sex, and would also see the identity of an individual as being bound up with all facets of their personality and character, rather than primarily identified by their sexual desires.

In light of the above, there was a fascinating report on the BBC website, where in India the offer of sex in exchange for a promise of marriage which was then broken was being used to allege rape. The judge in this particular case saw sex outside marriage and cohabitation as a product of a decadent west, and recognised that no religion accepted sex outside of marriage (not true historically speaking, but he had a point). It's a shame when a judge in India has to remind us that sex outside marriage is not good and healthy and acceptable. I would not want laws made to punish those who fornicate, but rather individuals would honour and esteem sexual purity in themselves and others.

This blog isn't going to become a platform for ranting about sex and sexuality, but it is also an aspect of the Christian faith that is under attack, and therefore worth speaking up about. Comments off because this isn't up for discussion - if you disagree go post on your own blog.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

C'est mort

A young friend's Macbook pro.

About 3 1/2 years old, all she does is surf, watch movies etc. so not exactly thrashed within an inch of it's life unless it spent all its time on youtube.

First sign of trouble was a no-entry symbol on a grey background at boot, meaning that the boot region of the drive can't be found. A few attempts later and not even the no-entry symbol appeared, although it would chime with the 'Apple sound' when starting.

Initial diagnosis was a failed hard drive. None of the usual tricks, like CMD-R and CMD-S had any effect whatsoever. I pulled the hard drive, popped it in a caddy and had no trouble reading it. Popped a spare HDD in followed by an OSX10.6.3 install DVD.... and waited..... and waited...... and waited. It began reading the DVD, then span it down and then, after 7 or 8 minutes, span it back up again. Eventually a pointer appeared that would move following the trackpad, and then another couple of minutes later there appeared a dialogue box asking for a main language selection. English was pre-selected, clicked OK and nothing happened, dialogue froze. After another few minutes the DVD stopped spinning, and at that point I shut the machine down.

As a 'just in case' I carefully reseated the memory, popped the original drive back in, and it then refused to boot from either the HDD OR the DVD. Eventually had to recover my disc using the credit card trick, jamming the DVD at power on until the superdrive ejected it.

What value a carefully crafted block of aluminium and plastic? Looks great, does nowt.

3 1/2 years doesn't seem very long. In researching possible causes it seems mainboard failure isn't too unusual when these symptoms are seen. Guess I'm lucky the mainboard went in mine in the first few months of life, and here we are 5 years later and it still works (although the battery is misbehaving). Wonder what a mid 2010 Macbook Pro mainboard replacement costs, and whether it's better value than a refurb + landfill with the old one?

Bit horrified to see what *some* are asking for a used MBP on the bay. No way is an early 2009 model of ordinary spec worth £450 - that's madness.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Now here's a question for those who organise and process photographs:

Should I look for an alternative to Adobe Lightroom, and if so, why?

For the last few weeks I've been using Cyberlink Photodirector 4 (as a free package via a magazine) and have also tried Lightroom on their free 30 day trial as well as Corel paintshop pro X6 (fails on the raw handling).

The same raw files processed by both LR and PD look different. Lightroom handles images of people really well, producing beautiful skin tones for portraits, especially if the clarity control is backed off a bit, with generally better colour reproduction. PD offers what I feel is a slightly higher degree of control over the raw file and some aspects of the manipulation tools (for fixing skin, teeth & eyes) seem better, and images produced seem to be a bit harder and more detailed. To be honest, PD 4 is so close to LR5 that it's quite astonishing, and I'm more than a little tempted to spring for the current version, with even more tools.

What's the question then?

I don't want to run 2 very similar packages for manipulation and processing. Both have shortcomings, and I'm drawn by the possibility that the Adobe package may be better in the long run and by the portrait processing qualities. Aperture from Apple seemed a little interesting, but I keep hearing about how updates break it, and I can't get it on trial either.

I may look at Photoshop elements at some stage to run alongside too, for deeper manipulation, intelligent removal, layers etc.

So comments from those who know or those who don't - what would you use?

So today I need to

take the decorations off the Christmas tree.

Deep joy. :p

Eating a marzipan petit four helps though.

We also have a curious occurrence of a few flies appearing over the last week or so, and Chris has asked me to check through all the booxes with decorations we brought down from the loft in case something died in one of them. :p :p

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy new year Father Noah.

Well, Jan 1st 2014 has passed us by in cold and damp: torrential rain has been happening, along with high winds, and there's a small river running down the road outside today. Too bad for a walk, we've just pottered indoors all day.