Monday, 30 April 2012

wheels (and metals and tyres)

Recently a mate of mine showed me a picture he'd taken of one of his wheels on his car which had failed (broken) hitting a pothole.

This sort of highlights to me why for ordinary cars (not race cars on tracks) we benefit from lower priced but less "glamorous" steel wheels and tyres of more ordinary profile.

There is a common belief that mags are somehow stronger than steels, with some web pages (written by people who probably don't have any qualifications other than in "cut and paste" research) outlining why mags are tougher. This is only true in a narrow view of the world: the racing world. Certainly the wheel shops are happy to propagate this view.

In racing mags are chosen because for the same mass they can be made to have stronger torsional rigidity, and for less weight they can be strong enough for cornering and breaking.This helps when you are trying to get the best handling (and 100ths of a second matter) by reducing the unsprung mass of the wheels (allowing suspension to work better).

Lighter maybe, but they shatter on impacts.

Normally most racetracks don't have potholes. Potholes are unfortunately common on the roads outside of the highways and high traffic areas, especially with all the rain we've been having this last couple of years.

Further low profile tyres may have less squirm in corners than regular profile tyres, but guess what? That extra baloon effect on regular tyres provides more give than low profile tyres, so saves your butt (and your wheel) when you hit a big pothole. Not only is the regular tyre is more likely to absorb impacts and not ruin your wheel (and your day) but will be far more informative as to low pressure. Running your tyres on too low a pressure will cause blowouts and make this sort of wheel shattering more likely. Because of the nature of low profiles you're not as likely to notice a tyre with lower pressure than normal because it can't 'sag' as much to show you.

Catastrophic failure of a mag wheel in a pothole in a corner (or even just the rough shoulder of the road) could cause you to loose control of your vehicle and end up.

My mate was lucky.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Australian Bees

Blue banded bees Amegilla cingulata is one of the Australian native bees.

very cute, and perhaps often called "bumblebees" when they aren't

We often get a few of these little fellas hanging around the back yard. Unsurprisingly they have a brightly banded blue abdomen. My wife (who likes bees) reckons that despite the number of good images on the WEB for these little fellas there isn't much really showing off their colour.

They have really shinny eyes ...

There is a more dedicated website here for the interested. But like they say:

Unlike honey bees, blue-banded bees are capable of hovering, which one would assume makes them easier to photograph. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and taking a clear photograph of a blue banded bee in flight is reason for celebration.
 took a bit of time to get even these shots with my FD300mm on my Panasonic GH1


Friday, 27 April 2012

Nokia E72 cam VS digicam

I've been using this phone for a little while now and have been impressed with its capability. People often say (when discussing phone cams that "you can't compare it to a DSLR". I'd say this is about as obvious a statement as you can get and I'm in complete agreement with that.What I do think you can compare it to is a compact digicam.


Since we often take the phone with us on outings, do we need to bring along the camera? Certainly for SMS and Email almost anything is enough (like 1600x1200 pixels will be more than enough), but with the though in mind of a print one needs more pixels. Even a 5x7 inch print needs a good 2100 pixels width to print neatly. Its been my experience for a long time that a good 5Megapixels was a good basis for a print up to 8 x 10 inch and most of my digital cameras have been a good 5MP for a while (like since I started using a Nikon Coolpix 5000 in mid 2003). Even my Canon10D (which is 6MP isn't really much more pixels than 5MP) didn't really outdo my CP5000 in good conditions.

So with that in mind I thought I'd compare it to my (wifes) Panasonic DMC-F3 (details here) ... a compact zoom digicam which we paid about $130 for. Its not a startling camera, but has been quite a handy little thing to augment our other cameras (and our much loved Canon A520 bit the dust).

Now the Pana is natively a 12MP camera (4000x3000 pixels) but to be honest it sort of sucks at 12 so we often leave it on 8MP (which allows the camera to scale it down to 3264 x 2448 cleaning it up a bit too) . Even there its not really as good as my Nikon 5000 is, but hey
  • it cost less
  • fits in a pocket easily
  • was cheap
So no gripes there. The Nokia E72 has a 5MP camera built in (which for the record produces 2592 x 1944).

The Nokia has no zoom (well, only digital zoom which simply crops from the capture and upscales), while the Panasonic has a x4 optical zoom. Clearly it will have the advantage when zooming in! Since that was a foregone conclusion I thought I'd compare these two cameras at their widest setting.

I took the shots in the back yard standing at the same position and holding the both the phone and the camera in my hand as steady as I can (and I reckon that I'm pretty good at that compared to many). I kept that tree with the 'air fern' on it in mid picture.

Test Results

I thought I'd start with some overview shots, first the Nokia E72

Then the Panasonic F3

I guess that the first thing you can observe is that the Panasonic (with its advertised 28mm wide) lens is a bit wider than the phone is. Probably about 28mm vs 35mm effective focal lengths (that'd be compared "full frame" cameras of course).

Well something which is important to notice here is that the difference in pixels of 8MP vs 5MP is illustrated to the left here. It quite neatly corresponds to the difference in 'angle of view' that happens to be recorded by the Nokia with its 5MP image (blue line) and the Panasonic with its 8MP (green line).

This is useful as it essentially equalizes the comparison of the cameras a little bit. Sure the Panasonic will capture a wider area, but when viewing at 100% you will see scene features occuping nearly the same number of pixels. This is helpful to determine how well the rest of the imaging systems cope with their tasks. Lets get back to that in a minute...

The next thing you'll spot is that the colour balance on the Nokia was pretty darn good. Better than the Panasonic by a heap if you ask me. This is something I've come to expect (from both cameras actually ... the Nokia is always sweet and the Panasonic always blue) as even my Panasonic GH1 and G1 cameras were a little 'off' in their choice of colour balance.

Zooming into the images at 100% (which this isn't, its further reduced by Blogger, so you'll need to click the image if you want to see that) one can see that the Panasonic has about the same sort of pixel to feature ratio as the Nokia (as mentioned above).

but bugger me its neither sharp or has as much detail as the Nokia does. The colour is washed out so the the flowers have no detail either.

Next looking at the top left hand corner have a careful look in the left side image and you can see the neighbors brick wall through the foilage ... and see the bricks!

Moving over to the top right hand corner the Nokia again shows its better clarity and colour rendition.

Frankly apart from the fact that the Panasonic gives you a wider view and has a zoom to allow better telephoto the Nokia does quite well (and no my lens isn't filthy either!)

Being careful in examining this in terms of colour I'd call the Nokia image a bit blue and 'vibrant', with the Panasonic perhaps a bit more natural (particularly with respect to blue, the bin is perhaps a bit blue as is the fence).

But bloody hell its good for a phone cam. For example the Nokia has an outstanding macro. For example this shot below was taken with the Nokia of some paper dasies going to seed.

Impressive if you ask me


If this was the only camera you had with you it would be equal in many ways to top digital Pro-sumer cameras of just a few years ago. In some ways it even manages to hold its own against smaller compacts, so apart from missing telephoto images its makes a good run of competing with a compact digicam.

So would I take the phone in preference to a dedicated camera? Well certainly not my GH1 and probably not even the Panasonic F3, simply because of the flexibility of the zoom. But compared with other digital cameras I've seen in the $200 range yes I would take it in preference.

Heck, even though it lacks all the integrated apps, its a better camera than the iPhone 4 (sorry Charles)

None the less, I'm not at that point where I could use this to replace my Panasonic GH1 in my photography. I need better lens versatility for one thing (and access to RAW for another).

I'd feel a bit like this magpie if I didn't have my 'real camera'
when I wanted to or needed to get a shot like that.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Sweet little things

Ya know as a Mini Moke owner and long time lover of the Mini its just impossible not to share this.

Pulled into the 'servo' this afternoon as I was filling up my Pajero and sounded as good as it looked.

If you've never seen one in the flesh then you probably can't really appreciate just how tiny they are.

I'll have to watch the 'Italian Job' tonight (and I mean the Michael Cane one from the 60's)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Stormtroopers - what happens to a clone army

As a starwars fan, a long time SciFi fan and a Blade Runner fan (seeing any themes there?)

Back when I first saw Star Wars (a new hope) we only heard briefly about the clone wars and thought not much more of it.

Well after I saw "Attack of the Clones" we found that the storm troopers seen in the first three mkvies were actually Clones (which was an interesting turn).

So harking back to the fate of the replicants (essentially clones) I often think about the Storm Troopers and wonder about what happens to the clones as they get older. Will some or any of the older survivors learn about their lives? How long will they live ... stuff questioned in Blade Runner so many years ago..

with "Roy's" final words giving perhaps a eulogy for all of these people.

When watching Blade Runner (many years ago) I wondered if by making clones as our new slaves what will happen to human rights? Strangely the human rights laws enacted to protect slaves are now snagged by companies who become 'corporate entities' with rights. Would be sort of tragic if their 'products' then didn't get  that same set of rights.

oh well ... that's enough for today.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Looks like fun to me

foggy Morning

Unexpectedly foggy this morning.

I love the way foggy mornings show up all the spiders webs. .like this little guy

Sunday, 22 April 2012

duck it

In Australia we have an old expression along the lines of "fuk a duck"

This expletive serves the purpose of expressing surprise and perhaps a touch of consternation. The phrase has been adapted to the more genteel "love a duck" (for when grandma is around) and was adapted to Australian Television with the famous "Plucka Duck" on Hey Hey its Saturday (night).

So you have to understand this 'cultural background' before I can present my latest supermarket find: Tubs of duck fat with the brandname of luv-a-duck


I don't know what to say about this other than "fcuk a duck!"

[and please, could someone tell me why anyone would want tubs of 'delicious duck fat'?]

Saturday, 21 April 2012

brightly coloured bugs

My wife was pruning the Mandarin tree this morning and this little fella flew out.

Stunning colours

gosh I love seeing the almost metallic colour of these guys ... sorry about the image quality as I was using the macro lens balanced on my foot. No tripod here.

Early Morning Baloons

Looked out the window the other day to see this balloon heading in for a landing.

It was nice to see the tip of Mt  Warning over there behind the nearer mountains still semi shrouded in clouds and trailing a cloud effect behind it.

Love these clear Autumn mornings

Enjoy :-)

the olde dunny

Walked past the local footy fields the other night.

 The Old DunnyGood to see that they haven't knocked down the old outhouse. looks like it could use a coat of paint though.

Friday, 20 April 2012

808 Pureview - further peeping

I wrote earlier a few quick thoughts about The Nokia 808.

One of the things which interested me was I wanted to see what the full res pictures would be like. Not because I want 39Megapixels from any camera but because if you're going to digital zoom it means cropping the image down to size. On a full wide angle image it would just be a reduction technique which (reading that they are using some intelligent pixel binning techniques) would result in quite good images.

So beside this image on the Nokia Photostream ..

The next image in their stream was this one ...

Which looks like an original full size and a 5Mpixel digital zoom version.

To support this supposition, the first image's size of the available 'original' was 7152 x 5368 Pixels (38.39 MPixels). So in all likelihood, this is an original full size image. I don't know, but it seems reasonable. Given that they don't say much its easier for them to deny any criticism.

I'll assume it it a full res version.

I know that it doesn't say "this is a sample of the digital zoom", but I get the feeling that it is. Things like the 'zoomed' shot is 5Mpixels (which is the claimed output 2592 x 1944 = 5.04 MPixels) and the obvious aspect that one is 'zoomed in tighter'. Links to these on Flickr are here: original and digizoomed.

A quick glance shows that they are not the same shot, but two shots from different angles.So playing with the full shot in photoshop reveals some interesting things:
  • clearly the shots are from a different angle and perhaps even a different place (even a bit closer). This could make the 'zoomed' image look better.
  • colour balance is a bit different: but as they have different cameras on the shoot and are stated as being pre-production that further explains the differences (btw I tried to alter the colour balance a bit to get skin tones to match, but the sky didn't)
  • If this is a digital zoomed images then the results are spectacular
Now, lets look at the full sized image cropped and then adjusted in Photoshop to get the same size as the 100% view of their (I assume) digitally zoomed image. On the left is digitally zoomed by me in photoshop and image on the right is their digitally zoomed shot (click to load larger image)

The above screen grab of viewing at 100% shows both as being very clean. I'd have no issues in getting A4 prints from either of them!

Very interesting stuff.

BTW, if you're happening to wonder why you'd be after such a good digital zoom, the answer in a nutshell is:
  • the most fragile part of a digicam is the zoom when its extended. Bringing that in and out is both noisy and takes time and makes the camera vulnerable if you drop it.
  • the noise control methods you use to make the zoom work will also work in helping you get great HIGH ISO images out of the camera on wider angles
  • it is likely to make the camera cheaper to make (and you to buy)
  • even with 10cm close focus its likely to give shit hot macro

So hopefully Nokia can pull the rest of the phone together, in which case I reckon they'll have an iPhone contender!

Fingers Crossed for Finland

Wind swept beach

One thing I like about clement weather is that it keeps the tourists off the beaches.

Since the locals hardly come here we get to have the place to ourselves.

The place still has oodles of character and beauty, even when the sun isn't shining or the day calm.

Sometimes its nicer to feel nature when shes showing you her a bit of her darker side

Clouds like these

Well, the very next day after I mention the sorts of clouds I was meaning, they appear. I was too slack to deviate off my route to a better vantage point (and it was threatening to rain on me). But these sorts of clouds a little later in the day with the sun lower in the sky produce some fantastic contrasts of darkness, reds and distant blue skies beneath them.

I guess its nearly 20 years since I was coming past this scenery and wished I had a camera. If I see it again you can be sure you'll be seeing it here


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Nokia's new director

Reading this morning that Nokia's new Windows Platform phones seem to be taken badly by the actual customers (that'd be the Telcos) while the people who actually pay money for phones seem very interested in their 808 pureview which does not run Windows.

So it looks like Stephen may know more about Microsoft and Fried Chicken than phones at first glance of these results

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Very cool clouds

Strips of clouds like this sometimes occur around this area when we have the sorts of rainy weather we've been having lately.

They get to look the most interesting when they're a bit further west and you can see the sun setting under them while they're pouring rain onto you (and its totally clear skies to the west)

gotta love nature

Nokia Messaging issues

as a Nokia user I find its difficult to get much information  out there on how to get around problems which Nokia seem to introduce into their phones and their services. Some help can be had in the Nokia Support Groups (as in that link) but often there are no answers of any technical significance.

To allow others who have issues with Nokia Messaging to post here and perhaps provide others with answers (or just confirmation they are not alone).

I set up Nokia Messaging on my E72 phone recently using their website. It was quick and effective and pushed up the mail settings onto my phone. That part was good.

This gave me with 4 email accounts being checked on my phone:

  • gmail
  • my corporate mail (as it happens handled via google)
  • one ISP account as a POP account
  • one ISP account as an IMAP account (different to above)

I noticed some things which it would seem remain unresolved for Nokia (at least on their forums).

reply to email from my corporate mail using Nokia Messaging created 2 entries in my sent items and makes reading messaging threads on the web browser messy because each of my replies appears duplicated.

the Nokia Messaging system allows you to specify times for your mail collection. This is nice but has a few issues:

  • when you set connection times they are global, so your times set for your work mail will now override what you initially set for your personal mails being collected by Nokia Messaging. Meaning you can not choose Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm for work emails and 7 days 8am-10pm for private ones.
  • you can not choose to check mail "asynchronously"; meaning I can't just 'check when I feel like it adhoc' I can only follow the schedule.

I consider these noteworthy limitations and to the best of my knowledge remain issues with all the Nokia Messaging based phones.

So hopefully somone in at Nokia will pull their heads out of their arse, stop being negative about the negative feedback and start grasping that complaints are from people who want to keep using the products but just want issues fixed.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Sincerest form of flattery

I happen to really like the music of Queen.

About a year ago we found out about a local band who goes around doing copies of Queen music live at small clubs and pubs. The audience is usually small (like under 200 or 500 on a good day)

They're pretty darn good actually and its fun to go to their gigs.

Last New Year I dragged my sorry arse (and man it was sorry) along with some friends to see them at a Brisbane venue. They played for some hours past the slated time to end and kept on playing just covers and stuff (not queen) till way past 1am.

So they have a good attitude about it too.

Today I noticed they are playing locally again and see that they are doing a charity gig, donating their door take to a local charity called Paradise Kids.

Thats just got to be a worthy cause.

So my respect for this band has just gone up a lot. Not only are they fun and energetic on stage but they have a great social conscious too.


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

we're not the customers anymore

In a recent conversation with a fellow on a forum it was pointed out to me that the reason companies like Nokia take no notice of what people want is because of the obvious:
we're not the customer anymore, the Telco's are
Seems strange, but the more I think about it its clear. People don't go to shop for phones, they go to a telco to see what they have on what plans and sign up.

The telco then tells Nokia or HTC what it is they want to be offering to their customers.

Now that I see it this way, its clear that since people are no longer looking to purchase a phone. So no matter what experts or advanced users or even small businesses want to roll out to their sales people, the phone companies don't make what people want; they make what phone companies want.

I think that iPhone is the only exception to this ... which is perhaps why the Telcos often charge more for those on a plan.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Some years ago there was an error at the Water Supply company at Nokia in Finland where sewerage was mixed accidentally with the water supply

Just as Nokia's water department delivered up shit in the water to the Finns in Nokia, it would seem Nokia is intending to do the same economically to both Finland and other supporters of their products. Both would seem to be down to management and 'accidents' of procedures.

Reading this interview shows that their new "director" is helping them transition to economic death.
Q. How do you evaluate the changes happening in China’s smartphone market?

A. In such a dynamic and competitive market, lower-priced mobile phones have flooded into the market. Nokia will frequently release new products to meet the demands of the market. In addition, we will create innovation for China based on the unique tastes and needs of Chinese consumers.

what a fcuking tosser. He can make all the glib answers he wants but at the end of the day their shares are falling.

Finns need to kick this guy up the ring
Q: You mentioned earlier that Nokia hoped to convert 200 million Symbian users to Windows Phones. How are you going to do about it?

Elop: In the transition to Windows Phones, we need to make sure our Windows Phone system and mobile phones will attract consumers with good services. Besides, we will install relevant programs on the Windows Phone platform, ensuring a smooth transition from Symbian to it.
more twaddle ... I mean how are they doing that? Installing relevant programs won't matter a tinkers toss if the phone is too dear and too restricted.

Arguments about it not coping with changes or it being too restrictive are a bit hard to swallow. Considering that Unix OS was written in the late part of 1969 and is still doing strong today.

Funny that iOS and Android are both based on an older OS which was written to work on machines with tiny fractions of the power in even a humble phone today.

Pissing off 200 Million customers and telling them what they want rather than selling them what they want is not a good strategy if you ask me...

Does the average phone user really give a hairy rats arse if they have a quad core or if it just works? I'm willing to bet its "just works" ... longer battery life might be nice too.

This site has an equally dim view of Nokia:

Seems the rot will kill the company.

I wonder if the director will bring what he learned from his time directing Microsoft Office to Nokia? Strangely I don't hear much good about that transition either. But then he's already arranged a marriage to Microsoft so perhaps he'll get his pay in growth in Microsoft shares?