Saturday, 30 September 2017

(DIY) coffee banger - updated

well, having moved house twice since 2012 when I wrote about my coffee banger last I felt the need for a new one in my new place. As per my last post (here) I still don't see the point in paying $30 for what is essentially a waste holder (holding it before it gets transferred to the bin).

So let me introduce my Mk2 coffee banger:

I was inspired by some connections of roof gutter drainage pipes that were for connecting and angling the pipes.

This is essentially two pieces of 90mm PVC-U, one a 22.5 elbow bend and the other a "cap".

Pressed onto the bottom, the cap makes a good removable base, which is handy because often after a few days the coffee in the bottom of the banger is a bit hard to clean out. This design just allows the bottom to come off with a twist (its a tight seal, nearly, but not watertight), yet the rim on the cap keeps the damp grounds from leaking out.

I used my dremel to cut some (rough) grooves to hold my traditional "stick" in place, with some assistance from a bit of hot melt glue which will no doubt come off easy as the stick (inevitably) needs replacement.

The bend makes an almost ideal angle for striking the banger stick with the coffee handle and the "rim" catches the splashes from small amounts of water left in the handle.

So, in summary, its:

  • durable
  • cheap (less than $5)
  • easy to make
  • easy to clean
win win!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Moons, Stars & wind mills

Nothing much to say, but I enjoyed being out taking this shot

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Snapseed and noise (but from where?)

The other evening I was out walking (to watch the ISS go over) and took this image with my Oppo F1 phone (it being the only camera I happened to have with me) while I was out. (Note, blogspot seems to be causing posterisation on the images I load with its recompression of gradients ... Uhgg)

I took it with the phone/cam set to RAW so that I'd be able to play with the image later (cos I already know how much better that can be). I put it into Snapseed (which has become my default phone image processing tool) and applied my basic preferred steps and was disappointed by then noise it had in the image. I wanted it for Facebook so knowing it was going to be scaled back anway (meaning noone would notice) I cropped it a bit and resized it down and loaded it up. So wonding if the processing of HDR Scape was introducing the noise I pulled this image out of the same DNG file and had a look around. Even at this scale the noise is clear..

so lets have a pixel peep ... (cos even scaled back it looks a bit 'rough')

quite noisy ... and applying a little HDR (I've found gentle HDRI to adjust the brightness and at a low filter level cleans up a lot of vignetting) to it only made this worse.

I tried a few tools to remove the noise and was resigned to it being "how it is" at an ISO over 1000 (1229 actually) in low light.

Then it occured to me "I wonder what DCRAW Mobile would render" as I know DCRAW has wavelets for noise control. So while I was unable to see any difference using those parameters, DCRAW did a significantly better job.

without seeming to make the image any softer really (no sharpening applied, but I think Snapseed always does a bit).

So while this makes me feel comfortable that I can push my phones limits that bit more, it also makes me wonder what Snapseed are doing. I suspect that they may be adding noise in their process because (to save space) they may work with lower bit depths. Its well known that adding noise can cover gradient posterisation caused by inadequate bit depth. If you are interested I suggest reading this article over at the University of Chicago (totally worth the read for the technically inclined). The author examines how you can keep apparent tonal range with reduced bit depth (faster to process) as long as you have enough noise to cover it up.

NB: from that page

Given how fast Snapseed processes my DNG files (compared to DCRAW) it makes me wonder if they are not doing something like that. I already know (from asking the developer) that once the conversion from DNG to a demosiaced image occurs they only work in 8 bit ... hmmm ... I for one would be very interested to know why there is so much more noise even without the HDRI filter.

So I have reached out to the developer of DCRAW Mobile to ask if the wavelets are actually doing anything and hopefully they'll comment back here. Perhaps even answer if the slowness of demosaic in DCRAW is exacerbated by lack of threading on phones.

Meanwhile, my final image is this one, which somehow I find not quite punch enough but anyway:

Friday, 15 September 2017

The Kicked Down Sand Castle Effect

Imagine you are a kid down at the beach building an elaborate sand castle. Your family gets there early in the day and in between swims you build this great structure.

You spend hours between swims and a bit of belly boarding adding to this castle.

Then someone (like your mean brother) comes along and kicks it over and you're in tears about it.

Depending when it happens in the day (say early) you may start again and build on that foundation and make a better castle. If it was nearly time to go home you may just give up and walk away, being mad at your brother all the way home (and perhaps for some time to come).

This is how I have come to currently understand my own grief at the loss of my wife.

The metaphor is not too far from the truth because we are all only here on this "beach" for an amount of time. We eventually "go home" and must leave behind all we have made here. Yet when we are building our sand castles we are not thinking of "when we leave" we are absorbed in the the thing we are making, in making it better, in making it "just right". Sometimes we've only seen the sand castles of others, and we shape our own on that. Other times we've also had a little experience in building them in previous summers when we were younger, so we can do a better job.

Although we know that we must eventually leave them, we may harbor the idea that it will be there again tomorrow (sometimes it is). When the time comes to pack up and go home many will plead for a little more time, no matter we always look back at what we made as we are leaving the beach. We know that in time the wind, rain and tides will erase it leaving no trace, but if we have it leveled down before our eyes it somehow hurts more, because we are attached to it and because it seems so unfair.

Past the initial shock and spending time in reflection (not just being upset, although there is surely a time for doing only that)  I came to see that without Anita, all that I'd built was smashed and meaningless. I soon also saw that my time on the beach was drawing to a close and there seemed less point in trying to rebuild.

Unlike sand castles much of what we have in life is needed to live comfortably; the houses we live in, the furniture we use, the stuff we have. Much of it is needed to make our lives comfortable, easier and doing things more convenient.

I don't believe I have enough time to ever make a castle again but I'm trying now to make something. Its not easy and I'm always struck with "what's the fucking point" ... I regularly think "fuck, can I just go home early". Of course some do just that.

As I've reflected earlier this happened to me at an awkward time, too old to really ever be able to build a decent sand castle again, too young to just "go home early".

So now I've bought another house, in a different place. There is much that needs doing to it, but its actually livable right now. Its small enough that I don't need to attempt anything grand, but enough work to keep me "on task" for some years.

Many times I feel like its all too hard, and I wonder "what the fuck have I done". But having kicked the can down the road for some 5 years now, I have decided its time to try. Its a total break from where I've been and in some ways like nothing I've ever done before.

Lets see what I make of it.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Camping Cooking at Home

I haven't been camping for a while now (just day trips), mostly because of the unsettled life I currently lead (indeed I feel like I'm camping most of the time sometimes). So I thought I'd share some cooking ideas which I essentially adapted from what I make and eat when I go camping.

Camping cooking is (well for those who aren't packaged food types) identified by the following points:

  • easy to make and serve
  • easy to be carried (no need for refrigeration)
  • easy to clean up
  • good nutrition (energy which you need and vitamins too)
Oats features in my cooking a lot actually. Not "instant" oats, but just good stout rolled oats, which look like this in the pan:

For this recipe I basically use a non-stick frypan (to minimise my efforts needed in stirring). 
So one of my favorites: savoury oats

Ingredients: chopped leek, sliced salami, sesame oil, chilli flakes, oats, water.

Method: Fry the chilli and leek in the oil for a bit, toss in the salami. 
Mix a wet slurry of Oates and pour that in. 
Cover and reduce heat / flame to minimum. 5 minutes later whack on the plate, add a little Tabasco sauce if you like ...

For an extra dash of colour add a quick sprinkle of Paprika powder at the frying stage (helps release the aroma of the paprika)


Saturday, 2 September 2017

keeping away the "GrassHoppers"

In my family at least we have a tongue in cheek way to call Kangaroos "grass hoppers", not the least because they hop out of the grass at you.

So motorcycling around up here at the moment the use of a tool for that is intended to make encounters with the little furry lovelies less likely by making them aware of me sooner. They are little ultrasonic "whistles" and look like this.

A quick video

I'll let you know how it goes