Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What are the odds of any one person being born?

That is an interesting question. You are an individual with a specific pair of parent contributors to your very specific DNA structure (i.e. combination of genes) … so if you take into account all of the wars and everything else that might have snuffed out your lineage at some point in time, how likely was it that you would be born at the very point in time at which you popped into this world?

Apparently, the odds were pretty low …


The source (and a good watch) …

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Sigma 19mm DN – A sad story of a great lens felled by a double failure in barely 2 years that no one will warrant …

So I made a huge mistake when I bought the lovely pair of m4/3 Sigma lenses – the 19mm 2.8 and the 30mm 2.8. Terrifically sharp, fairly small, and smooth video performance. Decent lenses all around …

I purchased them both from B&H Photo in New York, the very best outlet for Canadian buyers who want good service and fast and cheap shipping. Accept no substitutes.

And then calamity struck … the 19mm would not start (these lenses have a funky mechanism that requires a special power-up sequence) on any of my m4/3 bodies. I tried them all and all the lens would do is click repeatedly on a slow cadence until the camera gave up and posted an error on the LCD screen.

I eventually thought that I should look into warranty service. The lens was barely 2 years old, which is a veritable new born for lenses, but that turned out to be a serious issue.

Canada has a 7 year warranty on current Sigma lenses, and may have been running the 10 year warranty at the time I purchased this lens. This warranty is actually offered by the distributor – Gentec International – as there is no Canadian Sigma company. Gentec offers a long warranty because Sigma lenses are generally that good. However, they do not warrant lenses purchased in the USA, even though all Sigma lenses are manufactured in the same factory!

In the USA, there is actually an American Sigma company that offers the oh-so-confident warranty period of 1 year, for which I obviously do not qualify as my lens is older than that. I called BHPhoto and they confirmed that I was screwed by the short American warranty.

So … paper weight.

Well, not quite. I decided to send it to Gentec to get a repair estimate. They came back after a week or so with $176, which of course is not far off the retail price of $249.99, itself up 20 bucks in the last few months (thanks Sigma / Henry’s.) Sheesh. Too high a price for a repair to an obviously fragile lens that still would not have a proper warranty. I’d be a moron to spend that.

So I called Gentec back when I got the email in order to decline the repair and tell them to keep the piece of junk. The technician said hang on a minute and told me he would look at it again and get back to me in a day or so. I got busy for a few weeks and remembered it just a few days ago, after 3 or 4 weeks.

I called back and spoke to a guy who said he would get back to me in 15 minutes. That took a couple of days :-) … but he did call me yesterday. That conversation was fascinating …

He had tried really hard to push it through as a courtesy repair, and he almost got it done. But … there are two faults in this lens – the main board, which they had already replaced, and the AF motor, which was also not working. In fact, they think the AF motor is slowly ruining the main boards.

The AF motor pushed the cost above Gentec’s cost for the lens, at which point their rule kicked in and the courtesy repair was denied.

Note: The technician was the person putting all the effort in here. He did not say it this way, but clearly he saw that I was getting screwed for having bought a Japanese made lens in the USA instead of buying the same lens made in the same factory in Canada. When it came time for Gentec themselves to put up a little extra cash to create a happy customer (me), they balked at the cost. And here is the kicker – they spent some of that money on an overnight courier to ship me back the half-repaired lens. SIGH … I would have paid the shipping had they offered to repair the lens.

So: Sigma builds a fragile lens, which has almost no useful warranty in the USA and is not covered in Canada because Sigma does not even have a presence here. Gentec will not cover me because I had the temerity to spend my money in the USA. OK, I sort of get that. Their technician tries like crazy to do the right thing, but a very slight cost overrun on the repair nixes it, yet they spend money sending me the new main board and sending by courier over night. And I sit here with a lens that will actually start up on my GF3, but won’t AF reliably and will only shoot once in a while. And who knows how long that will last, because the technician says that the successful start up “comes and goes.”

I would call Sigma and their flexible / inflexible / sometimes nonexistent warranties a total mess here in North America …

My recommendation

Buy Sigma lenses in Canada for the much better warranty.

Or better yet buy another brand for the peace of mind that a lens should last longer then 2 years.

The final slap in the face was that they sent it back without the caps I had on it … sigh ….

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rogers IGNITE Gigabit (was 500u (was 250u)) Internet – INSANE SPEEDS! ** Updated 11 June 2020 **

The way to read this post is to realize that each blockquote below is one generation of the article older. Basically, I jumped to Ignite a long time ago with their 60Mbps service and was very happy. It always performed higher than I paid for. This was also true for 250u (with the "u" standing for unlimited caps I believe). I upgraded to 500u as the result of one of those rejigging of my plan in order to qualify for more "legacy" discounts. And finally, the same process caused me to advance to the Gigabit service. The 500u and Gigabit services do not outperform the stated numbers, but they are right in the ballpark, so one cannot really complain. My latest measurements using speedtest are at the bottom of the article if you are impatient. If you want to see my trials and tribulations, then read on :-)
For those who may have noticed a drop in their speeds on the legacy 250u service -- and especially upload speeds -- lately, there is a fix. If you are eligible, have Rogers swap your older model for the new Gigabit modem. This restores your previous speeds because they changed the protocols, which in my case dropped my upload speeds to the lower amount og the nearest plans (because that's all the older modems are now capable of). My speeds came back to what I pay for immediately. Scroll down to the Aug-Sep time frame for 2017 to see what I mean.

It turns out that the new Rogers IGNITE bundles are the smokin’ deal of the century. I had the Hybrid Fiber 60 plan with the addition of unlimited bandwidth and the basic modem rental, which at the time was a pretty excellent deal as I documented ad nauseum here:

Edit: I’m not so sure about the quality of the deal I am getting. The prices have gone through the roof and I will have to call Rogers to threaten to leave again just to get some relief. This is the most tiresome aspect of letting the big network lobby set policies indirectly.

When I noticed that the Internet packages had changed, I checked out the availability in my neighbourhood and found that I could get all the packages for the first time! AND the cost of the 250u package is actually lower than what I was paying already, since it includes unlimited bandwidth and the advanced modem rental already. And that modem is the new Rocket modem, which I have to say is the fastest thing I have ever seen.

So far that the 250Mbps is actually over 300Mbps …

I cannot say enough about this package … the price is right and the speed is staggering ….

What the heck are you waiting for?

(And yes, it’s not cheap … but the value is immense.)

19 April – Just in case it was a fluke, I thought maybe I should test it again … and …

Wow …

21 April – Noon time … just checking how daytime speeds hold up. Pretty well, I have to say Smile

13 May 2015

We had a major Internet outage yesterday, which turned out to be the cable burying crew come buy to finish the replacement of the cable from the green box in a neighbour’s back yard. This took about 20m and everything went back to normal, which is to say … amazing.

That is effectively a tie with my fastest ever result … and it cam in the middle of the afternoon when I tested to see if there was a reason for a long write cycle for a small bit of data on a mail server. Well, not at my end :-)

I can’t stress enough how absolutely incredible these speeds are. and for basically what I used to pay for 1/4 the download speed.

30 August 2015

After several days of difficulties, where the upload speeds were between 9 and 11, I finally got a good run with the Telus server in Toronto. The server in Kanata, which is only 5 miles from here, is a total dog. The one at Nexicom, which used to be my favourite, seems to have limits of 11Mbps upload … so Telus is it …

20 October 2015

It's been a while since I tested and I must admit that I am always surprised at how fast this service is day to day. Still loving it ...

27 November 2015

Both Kanata and Toronto are fast these days …

6 July 2016 – Mid day … the highest speeds in both directions that I have ever recorded!!

Rogers is not sitting on their laurels …

2 August 2016

Having problems today. Using the Telus site in Toronto, I can get good download speeds, but upload speed sucks on every site today. Will be calling them when I get a moment …

6 August 2016

The performance of our 250u Ignite is in the literal toilet. This is 10:36pm on a Saturday evening. WTAF?

The issue has been going on now for a month, of which I was away from home for 75% of the time. I finally had time to complain to Rogers at the end of last week. They sent me an email yesterday apologizing for a delay in fixing the issue. I tested the link today just for S&Gs and the result was better on the download side -- 330 mb/s and very quick jump to that speed, but the upload side peaked at 11 mb/s, which is about half what I pay for. It too was smooth in its acceleration curve, which is a big improvement over a few weeks ago. So here's hoping they get it together soon.

And finally, it is fixed as of 14 September 2016!

After 6 weeks in performance purgatory, Rogers has fixed my line. Note that they did not send a final email indicating that the issue is fixed, but I noticed this morning that web performance had low latencies for the first time in a while, so I tested performance using my favourite server (Telus in Toronto.) And the results are again magnificent.

The moral of the story is of course to test now and again and stay on top of Rogers to maintain their excellent speeds. If something feels wrong, it probably is.

Two weeks later, on 28 September 2016 …

Can’t complain about that …

21 October 2016

Still tracking the highest possible speeds. Looking good.

28 August 2017 -- 8 September 2017

Rogers is performing extremely poorly again. It is 3:16am on 28 August 2017 and the internet should be flying. But it is barely crawling when measured against my usual 320Mbps download and 21Mbps upload speeds. Sigh.

I ran it three times this morning and it recorded 320, 309 and now 293Mbps down. Of course, we are at the peak demand time right now for businesses in Toronto, so I cannot judge my usual speeds by this. Suffice it to say that the download speed is well within the norms of what I expect from Rogers. But the upload remains locked at 11Mbps, which tells me that this is no accident. Someone has downgraded my account for the second time in a year. This is really irritating.

And it is finally fixed. As you may have read in the block quote at the top of the article, speeds dropped when Rogers changed the plans and the modems, introducing the Gigabit modem for the super high speeds. I now have the speeds I pay for once again and remain very pleased with 250u.

Ignite 500u

A new era … I got this because my loyalty package would have costs pretty much the same as my now-defunct 250u.

First test:


<cough> Holy shit!

29 Jan 2018

I’ve not been overwhelmed by the performance of this link. It is fast, no doubt, but it is not really any faster than 250u was before they changed everything to accommodate the new GB modems.

This is actually a bit slower than it used to be under 250u, and this result is fairly typical of the best servers, with most servers not getting to these numbers. So I have to say that real-world performance of 500u is fairly disappointing.

Of course, if I want to get my jollies, I can always just go back to Rogers’ own speed demon test, which confirms that their own network can sustain ultra-speeds. After all, with net neutrality under attack, ISPs will be the last domain pf pure, unfettered speeds.

Interestingly, Rogers’ own network cannot quite match the upload speeds of the real-world, but their download speeds double the real-world. If only I could do all my computing on Rogers’ own network.

14 February 2018 – Valentine’s Day

Perhaps it is fitting that Rogers is spreading some love on this particular day with speeds that are starting to look like those I have been paying for …

Now that’s looking like a serious connection speed …

25 April 2018

I just installed a new TP-Link AC2300 router to replace my aging Airport Extreme. This new router has many new and powerful features, including 3x3 MU-MIMO for 3 independent streams to the router (with appropriate adapters of course) and the AC standard, which offers better performance over wifi with longer reach and stronger connections. But what I did not expect was the better wired performance. Wow …

This is my Macbook Pro wired …

These speeds come and they go, but I am really pleased with this kind of performance.

29 August 2018

Back from holiday and was curious as to how things were running. Cannot say that I am disappointed, but it would be nice to get what I pay for more often. Still, this is fast …

7 January 2019

I had so much trouble this morning – terrible speeds (30mbps down, 10 up) and things looked bleak on all my machines. So I performed an update to the modem, which means unplugging and waiting 30s then plugging in again. After it came back up (and there was a delay that I think indicates that it received a new build) I rebooted my external WiFi router as well and then went upstairs to test. I connected to my main machine – Megapixel – which is a decently fast machine with excellent hard wired networking. And I finally got what I am paying for after years of wondering why the speeds were the same as on my old 250u.

I have been seriously contemplating the switch to Bell Fibe networking, which works very well at the office, but my neighbourhood continues to have mediocre speeds, topping out at about 100mbps … which would send me back most of a decade. Anyway, if you are running Rogers and are not happy with your Internet performance, I think it is time to perform a full reset. Remember to wait the 30s as you want the system to notice when you reconnect and to update the cable modem. Best of luck.

17 February 2019

Just sayin’ ….

11 June 2020

So a while I jumped to Gigabit service and Ignite TV. I love both, but the speeds on Gigabit were underwhelming because I was using WiFi as my basement location was busy being renovated. It's not quite complete, but deadlines have forced me back to the basement and I am wired up now with home run CAT7 wiring, so I was finally able to test it. My main Windows box gave me a truly underwhelming 360Mbps give or take, but my Linux box blew me away with a very nice over 800 result. I am very pleased.

12 June 2020

This have settled nicely and I am getting pretty amazing speeds on an older machine running Ubuntu 20.04.

Thursday, April 16, 2015


Compact XF16mmF1.4 R WR brings weather-resistant portability to wide angle photo enthusiasts and professionals

Valhalla, N.Y., April 16, 2015 FUJIFILM North America Corporation announced the new FUJINON XF16mmF1.4 R WR, a weather-resistant, fixed focal length lens (24mm in 35mm format equivalent) that delivers a dramatic wide field of view and stunning image performance. The F1.4 maximum aperture in the XF16mm gives users extraordinary image quality in low-light conditions, and pleasing bokeh-rich macro photography with a minimum working distance of less than 6” / 15cm for numerous creative photographic possibilities.

clip_image002The XF16mmF1.4 R WR features a high-speed autofocus of 0.11 seconds, a weather- and dust-resistant structure that can work in temperatures as low as 14°F / -10°C, and great portability thanks to its compact size. The XF16mmF1.4 R WR includes a depth-of-field scale on the focus ring that is perfect for landscape, travel and street photographers who want to calculate the distance, adjust the aperture setting, and shoot spontaneously.

Perfect match for the FUJIFILM X-T1

The XF16mmF1.4 R WR pairs perfectly with the award-winning FUJIFILM X-T1, a weather-resistant premium interchangeable lens camera with a large OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF). It has the latest generation 16.3 Megapixel APS-C X-Trans CMOS II sensor and an EXR Processor II that allows photographers to capture amazing, high resolution images anywhere.

FUJINON XF16mmF1.4 R WR key features:

  • FUJIFILM X-Mount is compatible with all FUJIFILM X-Series interchangeable system cameras
  • Weather-resistant design with 9 sealing points in 8 areas
  • 0.11 seconds autofocus speed and nearly silent operation
  • Uses 13 elements in 11 groups, including 2 aspherical lens elements to control spherical aberration and distortion, and 2 ED glass lens elements to reduce lateral and axial chromatic aberration
  • Nano-GI coating alters the refractive index between glass and air to reduce ghosting and flare
  • 9 blade aperture creates smooth and circular bokeh
  • 1/3 EV steps
  • Minimum working distance of less than 6 inches / 15cm

The FUJINON XF16mmF1.4 R WR will be available in May 2015 for CAD $1,149.99.

About FUJIFILM North America Corporation, Electronic Imaging

For more information, please visit, go to to follow Fujifilm on Twitter, or go to to Like Fujifilm on Facebook. To receive news and information direct from Fujifilm via RSS, subscribe at

FUJIFILM Holdings Corporation, Tokyo, Japan brings continuous innovation and leading-edge products to a broad spectrum of industries, including: healthcare, with medical systems, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics; graphic systems; highly functional materials, such as flat panel display materials; optical devices, such as broadcast and cinema lenses; digital imaging; and document products. These are based on a vast portfolio of chemical, mechanical, optical, electronic, software and production technologies. In the year ended March 31, 2014, the company had global revenues of $23.9 billion, at an exchange rate of 102 yen to the dollar. Fujifilm is committed to environmental stewardship and good corporate citizenship. For more information, please visit:

All product and company names herein may be trademarks of their registered owners.


Matthew Schmidt

(914) 789-8529


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April showers bring May fl…. WTF??

Here we are into the second week in April and what to our wondering eyes does appear?

20150408_192508_SGH-I747M_3.7 mm_ISO 80_1-75 sec at f - 2.6

The forecast suggests that tomorrow will be warm … but today I think we can all be pretty sure that climate change is not a myth …

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Corgi vs Pug

Sophie, the 10 year old Pug, has found a temporary home with us and the boys have become completely enamored with her. So much so that when she goes home, they think that we’ll have to have another one immediately. Interestingly, they originally had thought about a Corgi, which is another small dog but with an equally interesting heritage. I’ll leave you to Google that.

I happened to see this cute play fight between a Corgi and a Pug and thought I would share this link here on the blog.

And while I am at the sharing … here is the type of illusion I LOVE …