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Saturday, 22 June 2019 Dereel Images for 22 June 2019
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Google messages revisited
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

A bit of finger trouble switching tabs on one of my firefox instances today, and I got this message:

 
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OK, two questions: why do I need a “supported” browser, and why did I only get this message today? Off to try on another instance (firefox tries very hard to ensure that I only run one instance, but it doesn't understand X displays). Oops, wrong password: I hadn't logged in to Google since the repair of my Nokia 3 phone 4½ months ago, and of course I had changed the password. OK, enter the new password, log in—no “Unsupported browser” message. Clearly Google has been confused.

That wasn't the end of it, of course. It seems that every time you have a password failure followed by success, Google tells your phone about it:

 
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How about that, it came with some useful and correct information. I think that's the first time Google has claimed that I'm in Dereel.

That wasn't enough, of course. I also got an email:

Date: Sat, 22 Jun 2019 00:16:23 +0000 (UTC)
From: Google <no-reply@accounts.google.com>
To: groogled@gmail.com
Subject: Security alert
Message-ID: <P8F-fmJ-HQcs_JTszIyZ1w.0@notifications.google.com>

New device signed in to

groogled@gmail.com
A new device just signed in to your Google Account. You're getting this
email to make sure it was you.
Check activity
<https://accounts.google.com/AccountChooser?Email=groogled@gmail.com&continue=https://myaccount.google.com/
+alert/nt/1561162583000?rfn%3D31%26rfnc%3D1%26eid%3D3892960885526096440%26et%3D0%26anexp%3Dgivab-fa--mdv2-f
+a--hsc-control_b--ivab-fa>
You received this email to let you know about important changes to your
Google Account and services.
© 2019 Google LLC, 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA

That's the entirety of the message. Google, you know how to format emails, and it should be relatively simple to complete sentences with useful information. Why don't you do it? Why do I need to go through this rigmarole to find out what it's all about? Not even the HTML version contains the useful information that gets sent to the phone. Come on, it's not hard to do it right.


Why document garden work?
Topic: general, gardening, music, opinion Link here

Yesterday's article about the garden plants took up the equivalent of 3 pages of printout. Why do I go to the bother?

It's not for other readers of this diary, though they're welcome to read it. It's for me, and today I had—by coincidence—a good reason for it. 14 months ago we planted a bed in front of the “shade area” in the north garden:

 
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What was planted there? In general, I have a reasonable idea, since it's all still there: the bush at rear left is an Osteospermum, the one in the middle lavender, and front right is Carpobrotus. Only the plant at front left—a Pelargonium, I think—seems to have died, strange for a pelargonium. Everything else has grown immensely; if the rest of the garden did as well I would be really happy.

Only the plant at the rear right is a mystery. It is bigger than any of the other plants, in fact far too big. Here today:

 
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Clearly it has to go. But what is it? When we planted it, I didn't even mention what Mick did; I had to look at my weekly house photos to find when it happened.

Here are more details of the plant:

 
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I have some recollection of a yellow flower, and that we kept it on the south side of the house before planting. But I can't identify it.

And that's the reason that I write down so many details. This particular incident is just a coincidence, but I started keeping a diary over 56 years ago, and again and again I've found that I haven't written enough detail. Some time during my school time Peter Pears came to our school and gave a private concert. I was there, mentioned the concert—one of many—but not the performer.


A wall for Trump? Many!
Topic: politics, opinion Link here

Interesting article from Statista today: as a result of climate change, many parts of the US coast are at risk of flooding. The solution: “seawalls” to protect the coast.

Donald Trump has always wanted a wall in the south of his country. But why stick to the original concept, especially since Vicente Fox divulged a way round the concept: a ladder. Instead, build multiple walls in the sea.

Think of the advantages: the Democrats would probably agree to the financing. You can't easily get over them with a ladder. It's never been done before. If Trump can convince his moron followers that a border wall is necessary, surely he can convince them that many sea walls are even better, many big, beautiful walls, the best ever. He just shouldn't mention “climate change”, or they might no longer believe.


Sunday, 23 June 2019 Dereel Images for 23 June 2019
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Pleasant landscape
Topic: general, opinion Link here

Walking the dogs takes us through some pleasant countryside. For some reason I have always found this view particularly pleasant, but I don't know why:


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That's a view south-west to the “schoolyard”, where indeed there was a school 130 years ago, on the corner of Bliss Road and what became Stones Road, at the top left of this section of the Krausé map:

 
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But why is it pleasant? I don't know. I'm not even sure I have captured it there, but Yvonne tells me that she finds it a pleasant view too.


Focus stacking revisited
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

It's been some time since I discovered some flowers at the east end of Grassy Gully Road, and I've been meaning to take some focus-stacked photos of them since then; I now have three cuttings in various states of decay.

In the meantime, I have a number of other issues: the problems with my Olympus STF-8 macro flash unit and focus stacking, the failure of my Viltrox JY-670 Macro Ring Lite, the arrival of the RF-550 “MacroLED Ring Flash” and the availability of new firmware for my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Today I finally got round to trying out what I had planned to do when the LED “flash” arrived.

In each case, I planned to run a series of 8 images with what Olympus calls “focus stacking”, in other words with in-camera stacking (straight series for focus stacking are called “focus bracketing). The first one was with available light. Damn, forgot that the camera was set for manual exposure, and took a series underexposed by 8.2 EV. Miraculously, DxO PhotoLab managed to extract something:

 
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OK, now set the exposure correctly.

 
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Yes, the focus depth isn't enough. One of my pet peeves is that setting the number of steps is left to guesswork. Clearly I'm going to have to come back and do this photo another time with more depth of field (100 images?). But it doesn't look that bad.

That's with available light, though. What about with the flash units? First, take individual test photos with the LED flash, which wants 1/100 s instead of the 1/250 s for real flash units:

 
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The first was at f/5.6, the second at f/4. Clearly f/4 is better. That's with full power, subject distance: 6 cm. That corresponds to a guide number of 2.4! And that's at ISO 200/24°. A normalized guide number (ISO 100/21°) would be 1.7! In fact, it seems that the whole idea of “flash” and shutter speeds is nonsense: the “flash” is no brighter than the normal LED light. Here “flash” and LED light with the same exposure settings:

 
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So given the camera constraints, I should get double the light at 1/50 s, but the subsequent photos didn't bear that out. And of course with focus stacking, there are other issues as well:

 
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Oops, the camera wants 1/50 s, but is too polite to say so. Try again:

 
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Next, try the STF-8. Yes, this time it tells me in its own inimitable way: no TTL flash with focus stacking! What a useless piece of hardware, especially since it doesn't even have a flash test button for me to do an exposure measurement. Tried anyway, one stop down from the “LED flash”:

 
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In the past I have complained about the weakness of the STF-8. It has certainly met its match. Tried again and again and got good results at 1/16 strength:

 
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So the STF-8 is 5 stops brighter than the “LED flash”. Based on that measurement, and knowing the guide number of the STF-8 (6.5), the guide number of the “LED flash” is 1.3, even less than what I calculated from my images above.

But wait, there's more! Next I had to upgrade the camera firmware. Connected up and started the Olympus Viewer software, which of course first wanted to upgrade itself. Then connected the camera and saw a popup. something like “The E-M1 Mark II setting is not supported”. While I was setting up a screen grab, it reconsidered and let me upgrade the firmware, with the usual misleading comments.

Try again. There were two things I wanted to check: does focus stacking now work with the monitor connected, and can I now use TTL flash with focus stacking? In each case, the answer was “no”. No difference.

What's causing that? My guess was electronic shutter, but no, that still seems to work (and it limits the shutter speed to 1/50 s, as one would hope). Time for a bug report.

And the RF-550 “flash”? What a useless piece of hardware! Less than one-tenth of the advertised guide number, applicable in equal proportions to the use of foot guide numbers in specs otherwise in metres, and just plain lying. Should I return it? It cost almost nothing, and maybe it could be useful.


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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