Thursday, November 27, 2014

No More iTunes

Well, it had to happen. ITunes has finally mangled my music library beyond all recognition. The spectacularly arrogant Apple engineers have created a real monster with this application, even though I had been enjoying it for the last few generations, since it stopped being utter crap in the later oughts.

But no … they could not leave well enough alone and they started changing the structure of my library without ever notifying me. So now I have this Frankensteinian  hodge podge of folders that are incomplete, duplicated, and just generally FUBAR.

Thanks Apple … never again.

I had set the library to D:\iTinesLibrary … a rather nice setup and trivial for them to use. I never cared where the metadata (library XML files, album art, etc) went, they were welcome to manage that. But I never gave it permission to restructure.

Yet here we are …


So what you see there is from BeyondCompare, a truly remarkable tool for comparing pretty much anything. Highly recommended.

What iTunes did at some point was to create a subfolder structure and start using that to manage my music. And things might have been fine had it respected the “manage my music” check box and asked me if it could move all my music to the new location. But it simply moved some of it and started using both locations. What a fricken mess!

You can see that a lot of the music is in the new location on the right, and some is in both locations. The red icons show you where there is duplicated music that is in fact in both locations but with different sizes. This duplication shows up in my new favourite streaming server, Plex. ITunes seems to weed some, but not all of the duplication out.

So in the end my library must again be reset. I will be removing the music from the itunes folders and will be consolidating it into a separate location. ITunes will be allowed to only manage its own data and not the actual music. It’s incompetence (and that of Apple’s software team) have broken my back after a decade of stuttering steps forward and then backward. And I have had it.

Plex is a far better streaming service and application set anyway … you really owe it to yourself to look into it … it runs on everything and the server is actually intelligent.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Phone Scammers

There are one of the many scourges of the modern world. They set up in places where they cannot be held to our marketing laws and they hire people who are effectively wage slaves. We treat those people badly on the phone when in fact we should be tossing their bosses in jail …

The worst group I have encountered is the air duct cleaning people. They tend to be relentless, although I must say that they have slowed the pace of their calling recently.

Meanwhile, I received a really peculiar call this morning … and here is the transcript. See if you can figure out what was peculiar about it ….

Ring, ring.

Me: Hello?
Him: Hello, this is credit-card services. I am calling you about your credit card. Is that all right?

Me: No, it is not all right. You did not identify yourself as VISA nor as my bank. So why on earth would you be calling me?

Me: Excuse me?



He seriously said that. Perhaps it was one of the bosses having a moment of veracity … we will never know …

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

1.75 Million

I have tailed off in my blogging over the last year or so, and I am not sure that I can reach the same intensity I once had about it. But thanks to all my readers for 1.75 Million page views. I hope you have found something interesting in all these articles …


Onward and upward we go …

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Published again in the Ottawa Citizen

For the second time in three weeks, one of my images will be used at the header in the Ourtown section of the Ottawa Citizen newspaper this coming Thursday. I’m very pleased, obviously. My thanks once again to Robbi Hay, the editor of Ourtown, for choosing my images several times per year.

This is a new image I had submitted some months ago, a squirrel munching on a nut in a tree at the Fletcher Gardens on Prince of Wales Drive.

Click on it to expand to a more readable size, and grab yourself a Citizen on Thursday to see the complete list of events.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fuji S1 – Review Part 31 – “Winter is Coming” in JPEG

Well, it appears that we cannot escape the “Stark” reality that winter is happening whether we are ready for it or not. In fact, we seem to “beheaded” that way right about now … with “Dire” weather hitting for two days in a row now … in fact, it would not take much more for me to hit “The Wall” ….

Ok, enough of this “Game of Puns” …

This is only loosely tied to the Fuji S1 review because, well, I shot these with that camera. And the JPEG angle came about because I reset the cameras before sending them back, which happens very shortly.

So I woke up yesterday morning to see snow on the ground and rooftops everywhere. By lunch, it had melted so I decided that it did not yet count as the arrival of winter. And that karma bought me the big dump I woke up to today. And it kept snowing … no chance of a quick melt this time. Sigh ….

So here is what it looks like when you shoot the S1 with a basic A Prio auto everything setup, and this is a full-sized JPEG so you can click on it and open it in a browser window.

Now, that’s a little cool for me. I prefer the snow to be white (neutral) instead of blue. But Fujis lean blue and so you have to live with it if you shoot JPEG and don’t process. And there is little on this camera to adjust in the JPEG settings.

But … I tweak everything, so it was a simple matter in Lightroom to adjust this: neutralize the white balance, open shadows, reduce contrast, add local contrast to the snow, reduce the size and sharpen to taste. Just a moment it took, and I applied it to all the snow images by synching it up. I did have to go and set white balance on each image, since the camera responded slightly different each time … in raw you would not have to, but the camera has applied a different white balance for each image and the pixels are bruised differently each time. That’s the big price for shooting JPEG.

If you look closely at the images, you will also not that the noise reduction even at base ISO removes a lot of the inherent sharpness of this sensor. That’s another big price to pay for shooting JPEG.

Here is the adjusted image … and by the way, this is shot from my front porch.

You could see it snowing against the dark background of my neighbour’s fence across the street.

I have a brick walkway and it appears that the brick retains heat while the sand in between does not …

Sophie (the pug) hates walking in the rain and snow is not much different. She pretty much refuses to go off the yard in this weather :-)

At full wide angle, the snow that has been hitting the front element of the lens is starting to show on the images …

But at zoom, it’s not much of a problem …

Now, here is that last image in the original JPEG for another comparison point …

Note: If you see the second image as neutral and the first image as very warm, then check your monitor’s calibration.

And that’s that … Winter is Here …

I am not fond of JPEG at all, but it did an adequate job on these images. At least as they are presented here. Were I to try to enlarge one, things might not turn out very well at all …

Monday, November 3, 2014

Fuji X20 versus X30 JPEG at 800iso ***UPDATED***

Lots of controversy on this. Imaging Resource has released first shots on the X30 (just the standard lighting still life series) and people are comparing them heavily and rendering a lot of opinions (as have I.)

The problem is that it is easy to make mistakes (comparing NR1 against NR3D at any given ISO) and things look a little different depending on the level of calibration of your monitor and the quality of the panel. And since the majority of people continue to buy cheap crappy TN panels and the vast majority continue to work on monitors with no attempt at calibration at all, the actually value of most opinions on the forums is somewhere between zero and nil.

Of course, that doesn’t stop anyone from chiming in based on their own agenda … so the beat goes on. And on. And on.

So let me add to the cacophony on these two cameras. But first, let me cut to the chase: the image quality differences in JPEG are almost not worth discussing. I had thought that there were significant differences, but in fact they aren’t that obvious at the highest truly usable ISO the camera can handle – 800. After that, you are getting into web images only, or you are lowering your standards. Not that big a deal, because sometimes you just have to get the shot and raising ISO is the best way to do that in really low light.

Anyway … here are a number of crops from the IR 800 ISO images at NR1. A matching pair … and so labeled.

If you are on a decently calibrated monitor, you won’t see much difference at all. And the majority of the differences actually favour the X20. Slightly smoother background / shadow noise, and sharper details like the striped lettering and the tick marks on the wheel. All in all, I would give the nod to the X20 at 800 ISO. YMMV.

EDIT: The image was uploaded to Picasa automatically by Microsoft Essentials Writer and it got completely mangled. Very sorry about that. I have rehosted on my own server, as I should have done in the first place. The price of being a bit lazy.