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Author MarcusRowland


Recent entries from Meme-Free Zone - the blog of MarcusRowland

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Someone has WAY too much time on their hands...
Posted: 21 Nov 14 10:45 • Comments
This happened in Porchester Road (about 300 yards from my house) some time between 1.50 and 3.10 today - I have no idea how it's even possible to drive fast and badly enough to do this on this particular bit of road, which is usually very slow moving traffic:


I can only assume they got the corner incredibly badly wrong or something...
Posted: 21 Nov 14 10:36 • Comments
…was a TomTom 1 satnav - for a fiver! Seems to work, so I should be able to flog it for a good deal more on ebay. Also got a spindle of 10 16x DVD-R disks for £2 - the shop that had them have several more packs, but I'm not sure I really need them at the moment.

later - looks like CEX buy these for more than I'll get on Ebay if I take a voucher rather than cash. I'll see what they say if I take it in.

later still - turns out that they want the charger, box, etc. to give that price - since I don't have them, I'll bung it on ebay instead.
Posted: 21 Nov 14 05:44 • Comments
I've just received a survey about expanding Heathrow, accompanied by a pamphlet about how vital Heathrow is to London. Needless to say this comes from Back Heathrow, the organisation that wants to expand Heathrow, so not exactly unbiased. Neither is the survey, the wording is all in their camp even though they do ask about alternatives, and the survey document contains another page of pro-Heathrow "information"

I suppose that I should be grateful that they are at least being honest about where they're coming from, though I suspect that the results will be spun to make it appear that this is an independent result.

In other words, this is a text-book example of a biased survey, and more or less worthless as real research. I'm not planning to return it.
Posted: 19 Nov 14 08:38 • Comments
I mentioned a while ago that I was looking for a laptop to replace my aging iBook G4. As of this weekend I own a MacBook (late 2006 Intel dual core) purchased from Illustrationautopope of this parish, and will be using it as my main laptop from now on. So far the main problem is that most of my older Mac software is PPC only, but I'm gradually sorting out replacements - the major one was simple, I've installed the current Libre Office instead of Microsoft Office 2004. Getting used to OSX 10.7 has been dead easy so far, it's a lot more like OSX 10.4 than Windows 7 was like XP.

So... This currently leaves me owning rather a lot of computers:
Windows 7 desktop PC
An older PC currently running Linux that's hooked up to my TV and hasn't been used in a year or so.
The 500Mhz iMac G4 I refurbished earlier this year - currently my bedroom computer but getting very little use. A bit slow and some issues with compatibility on some web sites.
The 1.1ghz iBook G4 the MacBook is replacing. Still reasonably usable, apart from compatibility issues, just a little slow compared to modern machines.
I'm trying to decide whether to sell the iMac G4, the iBook G4, or possibly both, or keep both. Resale value is probably around £50-£75 for the iBook, a little less for the iMac. In terms of practicality I'd probably be better off keeping the iBook as my bedroom / spare computer and selling the iMac, but I really like the look of the iMac, it's just amazingly cool somehow. As an excuse to keep it, I'm wondering if it will become more of a collectable as time goes by. Anyone have any thoughts?

Finally, does anyone have any suggestions for fun free software for the MacBook? I've installed Oolite, maybe a couple more games and some util...
Posted: 18 Nov 14 17:17 • More • Comments
The XKCD Rosetta thing speeded up a little:

Posted: 13 Nov 14 17:56 • Comments
...we appear to have landed a probe on a comet!
Posted: 12 Nov 14 11:11 • Comments
Just back from a visit to the eye hospital, where they've been assessing some slight distortion in vision in my left eye, basically the retina is creased slightly due to cell growth. The good news is that it's minor and harmless; the bad news is that fixing it would require serious surgery, more invasive than e.g. cataracts, and just isn't worth it - there might be a minor improvement but it's almost as likely things would end up worse. If it gets a lot worse they will re-assess it, but if anything I think it's slightly better than it was a couple of years ago, or at least I've adapted to it to some extent.

Currently my eyes look like this due to eye drops:

That's from the last time I had a serious eye exam, three or four years ago.

I'm trying to think of things that might help with this, and the one I keep coming back to is to get a pair of medium distance glasses for reading and computer use, rather than wearing varifocals all the time. That way I won't have to move my head so much for optimum focus. Anyone got any idea if this is likely to help?
Posted: 12 Nov 14 06:55 • Comments
If anyone else here bought a Ricoh SP C240DN network laser printer when they were on offer very cheaply, and was annoyed that they weren't supported by Ricoh's IOS printing app - they finally are. Not quite sure when support was added, some time in the last few months I think.

Not sure if there's a good place to post this sort of information, but please pass it on.

Now if I can just figure out how the hell to get Linux to print to it... but that isn't even slightly urgent, my only Linux PC right now is the old one hooked up to my big TV, and it has to be a year or more since I've even switched it on.
Posted: 10 Nov 14 12:27 • Comments
This seems to be something like Celestia but a lot prettier - I'm not sure I understand its controls yet, but it looks like it could be pretty good if I RTFM. There doesn't appear to be a tutorial mode, which is a shame, unless I've missed something.

Windows only so far, but they're working on Mac and Linux versions.
Posted: 9 Nov 14 17:47 • Comments
Two Cokin-fit square photographic filters - square rulings to give a 4-point star flare effect, and a diffraction grating, both apparently new and in wallets - and an old Agfa "Rapid" 35mm film can, now somewhat of a collector's item albeit a bit battered and some rust. The lot for 50p! I am rather pleased about that.
Posted: 7 Nov 14 11:41 • Comments
Posted: 5 Nov 14 07:27 • Comments
A longer version of the Age of Ultron trailer which starts out with the Avengers relaxing together, and has a few seconds more action at later points:
Posted: 29 Oct 14 20:18 • Comments
Marvel has announced dates for the next tranche of movies after Avengers 2 (LATER - And Ant Man, which I'd completely forgotten until it was mentioned in comments, which may be a big problem since it looks to be a common reaction). The source is here:

Captain America 3: Civil War on May 6th, 2016
Doctor Strange on November 4th, 2016
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on May 5th, 2017
Thor 3: Ragnarok on July 28th, 2017
Black Panther on November 3rd, 2017
Captain Marvel on July 6th, 2018
Inhumans on November 2nd, 2018
Avengers: Infinity War Part One in May 2018
Avengers: Infinity War Part Two in May 2019

Really don't see how the Civil War storyline works without mutants etc. (the X-men and Spiderman aren't part of the world for these movies) but they seem to be saying that there will be events in earlier movies that will make governments demand regulation. I presume that this means that Avengers: Age of Ultron will involve a LOT of property damage, and with SHIELD officially out of the picture and Hydra using a lot of power-crazed supers (in Agents of SHIELD etc.) there's a turf war over control.
Posted: 29 Oct 14 09:44 • Comments
An unusual way to get rid of the Ring...

Links to the first of two pages, each with an animated GIF - some bad language
Posted: 28 Oct 14 14:36 • Comments
Went out to Kensington Gardens with my camera, tripod and the IR filter and holder, took some more pictures. A LOT turned out to be no good for one reason or another, mostly because I used long exposures and it seems like 1/4 to 1/8 second may be the best setting for my camera in good light. What follows is a small selection. Unfortunately there were very few clouds, because infra-red is particularly good with a cloudy sky.

For each picture I've given the unedited image, an image with contrast equalised, and a B&W version. There are a few problems with flare and with marks on the filter in a couple of shots, but I think these are an improvement on my first attempts, if I take things a bit more systematically the next time I try this I ought to get good results. As usual photobucket has reduced the width of the images to 800 pixels.
Posted: 27 Oct 14 13:57 • Comments
I think I need to be a bit more careful about canned goods. I was just looking for some soup and found five cans outdated, four of them from 2010-11. The other is only a couple of months and will be supper, but this is not good houshold management...
Posted: 24 Oct 14 17:51 • Comments
A couple of days ago I ordered this cheapo infrared filter:

It arrived this afternoon - since I didn't want to go out again, I just took a few pictures through the windows to see if it worked and haven't done much beyond that. I didn't even use a tripod, and held the filter square over the lens by hand, and I'm surprised at the quality of the results I got. Exposure was 1 second at F8. I've taken the two pictures I liked best and produced three images - one as taken by the camera, one with contrast equalisation, and one after conversion to black and white. I know that there's a lot more that can be done to improve the quality and impact, but as I've said this is just a quick test. In view of the slight shakiness of the images I've hosted them on Photobucket, if anything the size reduction makes them look better.







Next step I think will be to get a Cokin or similar filter holder, hand holding was a bit of a pain, and take the camera out with a tripod to see what it ca...
Posted: 23 Oct 14 11:25 • More • Comments
First teaser trailer - looks like it'll be fun
Posted: 23 Oct 14 07:54 • Comments
This was mentioned in a reply to Illustrationcuriouswombat's repost of my Hobbit video rec yesterday - Air New Zealand's Hobbit-themed safety video
Posted: 23 Oct 14 07:15 • Comments
The hawthorn tree in the front garden of the next house, which grew very close to my kitchen window, died earlier this year. Not sure of the cause, but it didn't grow many leaves or blossom much in the last couple of years, has been shedding rotten bits of branches, didn't blossom at all this year, and lost the few leaves that had appeared by June. We'd asked their landlord to sort it because there are often children visiting the lower flat here, and it wouldn't be good if a branch fell on someone. Yesterday there were very heavy winds in London, and while I didn't notice that tree being especially affected I'd imagine more bits fell off. I know a couple of people were hurt by falling trees elsewhere in London. I suspect that the landlord took note.

Today I woke to the sound of chainsaws, and by the time I got out of the house the tree was gone. It's a real shame because it was a very pretty tree - unfortunately I don't seem to have pictures but the blossom was like this:
Posted: 22 Oct 14 14:46 • Comments
VERY silly but nicely done.
Posted: 22 Oct 14 07:03 • Comments
While I haven't given up on the idea of converting a camera for infra-red, it turns out that my main SLR, a Nikon D50, is actually moderately sensitive to infra-red. The test is simple - set the camera to manual and an exposure of a second or so, then point a video remote at the lens and hold a button down while the shutter is open. If you see a bright light at the end of the remote it's sensitive to infra-red, just how sensitive depends on the camera. The older the digital camera, the more likely this is to work.

So I should be able to take infra-red photos without actually modifying the camera if I use a filter to cut out the visible light. The snags, of course, are that exposures are long - a second or two - and you need the visible light to focus the camera, so this is very much a camera on tripod and manual operation scenario, with a lot of trial and error. But I'm going to give it a try - I've ordered a cheap infra-red filter on eBay, if I can get it to work and get interesting results I'll look at a better setup.
Posted: 22 Oct 14 05:18 • Comments
Agents of SHIELD S2 will start to air in the UK on Friday at 8 PM on C4.
Posted: 20 Oct 14 12:59 • Comments
...was a disaster; looks like I've killed the camera. Displays aren't working, it makes the noise it should for the shutter but there's no image, USB doesn't seem to want to work. I've spent four hours on it and reassembled it twice, I think the next step is the bin.

Annoying, but I'd pretty much written it off anyway, so never mind.
Posted: 19 Oct 14 10:05 • Comments