January 26th, 2011

Akahna excited bunny

Chic^Wbunny bunny bunny

Well, it's been a while. I've waved farewell to the previous gig, which proved to be a suitable venue to demonstrate my C abilities, with even some modest measure of assembly, speeding up the core event processor by around eight times, for greatly improved latency. Hey, I should do this for a living!

As a few of you may have noticed, I've taken my photography a little more seriously since last time I posted. (Not seriously, one should understand - it's way too much fun =:) I'd been enjoying the TZ5, but I couldn't shake the feeling that at full zoom - where I usually was, for wildlife - the effective, useful resolution wasn't anywhere near 9MP, with the noise level rendering full resolution somewhat useless. Then there were other obvious aspects, like being unable to play with shallower depth of field beyond macro shots, or even having direct control over shutter speed, making it very difficult to catch action shots.

And then the coworker brought in his new Sony A380. I took it out for a spin. And thus began my quest for knowledge, learning about the manifold lens mounts - different for just about every manufacturer - the way Nikon and Canon keep stabilisation in the lens, whilst all others move the sensor, the virtues of RAW vs JPEG, and just what the essential differences are between the various models in each maker's lineup.

A couple months later, I was ready to take the plunge myself, with the Nikon D5000 seeming like a fair choice - not quite up to the D90, but noticeably cheaper. However, the salescritter wouldn't match a price I'd seen elsewhere (and not a net-only establishment, either, but a genuine camera store) - but, in the process, he gave a nod to the idea of buying used, mentioning one or two places. And thus it came to be: a D90 for not much more than a new D5000, with only 2,821 shutter activations. As for the lens, I went for a superzoom, aware such designs are always something of a compromise: a Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 VC DX (model A20). Last September, feeling the weaknesses of the lens somewhat, I opted for a prime: the Nikkor 300mm f/4 AF-S, as it was relatively affordable (moreso than, say, the Nikkor 500mm f/4 =:), and received universally glowing reviews. Used, from the same place as the camera, making it 60% of the new price - an offer I couldn't refuse! And here is the new, improved Bunnycam:

And indeed, it is very good. No chromatic aberrations - color fringing, especially noticeable with sharp contrast boundaries - I can see, and nigh perfect acuity, even from across a field's length. Very fast (and quiet) focus, too, though the D90 might let it down now and then, as it seems the adjustment in AF-C (continuous autofocus) mode isn't always as fast to respond as it might be - again, one of those characteristics that improves with the pro bodies.

But what can it all do?

I'm happy. ^_^ I enjoyed the TZ5 for a year and a half, but could never quite shake the sense that, at full zoom - where, inevitably, I usually was for my wildlife photography - the noise level was simply quite high, effectively reducing it to a 2MP camera or thereabouts, not to mention a subtle lack of realism. The TZ5 is nonetheless quite an accomplishment of technology, and certainly cheaper and lighter - but, no question, the above are worth the tradeoff.

And to catch up, some Things™ that have appealed to me sufficiently that I would like to share their joy with you. ^_^

First up, a remarkable short, "The Third & The Seventh", by Alex Roman. It's Baraka of a world that never existed, for every frame is, unbelievably, purely CGI. It's gentle, and unutterably beautiful; I was in tears in awe.

If anyone's had the good fortune to enjoy the BBC production of The Box of Delights (partly filmed in the proverbial back yard of our esteemed loganberrybunny!) - and if you haven't, I must recommend it most heartily - then you might be interested to learn that Mike Newell (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", et al) and Frank Cottrel Boyce (Code 46, Millions) will be bringing a new version to the big screen, possibly this year. ^_^ "'I first heard 'Box of Delights' as a radio play on the BBC when I was a boy,' Newell said. 'I was immediately seduced by the tingling, opening harp music and the fantastical, mysterious, magic story that followed.'"

The production company, Brilliant Films, is a recently formed venture, with directorial talent including Mike Newell, Martin Campbell (Goldeneye, Casino Royale), and Duncan Jones (Moon) - so they're emphatically not lacking in cluefulness! It's possible, however, that the project has sunk into Development Hell™, as there doesn't seem to be any news later than that announcement; I've asked their PR peeps for comment, so perhaps there'll be illumination yet.

Here's a discussion about the reasons people do, or indeed, don't, use an avatar of the opposite gender in SL. It does, unfortunately, get a little rocky at points, as some of the landmines get set off, but it's a worthwhile thread for all that. What about you?

RockerFaerie's machinima for Pornophonique's "Sad Robot" (available as a free download here) is worth enjoying:

I should like to direct your attention to timberwoof's guide to transformative bloodborne pathogens.

Some phrases about lapines.

A while back, I finally discovered why I'd been having problems getting some Windows programs to install and/or run successfully (such as Keil ARM MDK, TI SmartRF Studio & Sniffer) - old XP! (ie the original release) Yes, not one of them could be bothered to check their requirements and say something. Of course, updating brought its own fun, with repeated attempts to run Windows Update failing to install SP2, and the coworker's OEM Dell CD not being a match for the company's volume license. Rather than mess around with getting an installation up-to-date on another machine, exporting that, and bringing it into Parallels, a quick visit to the Bay of Pirates provided me with a perfectly current SP3 - much faster to install than from a CD, too. (And lo, Keil and the Sniffer work perfectly well now, though Parallels doesn't appear to be as good as VMWare Fusion in alerting Windows to new USB devices; I had to manually scan for them after connecting the Keil µLink, before the IDE would accept one was connected)

Via darac, news of a stunning (but only, for now, proposed) sculpture destined for North Wales - a huge Welsh dragon. =:D

For a soupçon of political salaciousness, this Top Ten Anti-Gay Activists Out of the Closet, and page 2, is delightful reading, lending credence to the notion that those who bray most loudly against gay equality quite often turn out to be quietly flaming. Quite what compels such people to work with such passion against perfectly normal behavior they themselves understand (or at least, know), I shan't pretend to be able to fathom.

Quite an absorbing look into Japanese bladesmiths making unparalleled kitchen knives, with many good photos. Not a sterile article by any means - this is more of a travelogue, looking closely at the processes and the people.

iFixit released repair manuals for the major game consoles. An excellent site to visit for other repair manuals, whatever the device - they cover various branches of electronics, having originally started with Apple's wares, but branched out in 2010 with the aim of offering any and all repair guidance they can.

I realised I was wretchedly unprotected against loss of most of my iPhoto libraries, and picked up a cheap StarTech RAID0/1/JBOD box, and two 1.5TB Samsung 5400rpm EcoGreen drives, for RAID 1 (mirroring) storage. So far, so good! Transfer speed over USB seems fine - around 30MB/s - and configuring it was as easy as setting the jumpers for RAID 1, and formatting the single 1.5TB drive visible to Dandelion, just as any plain external drive. No problems with heat after a couple hours of copying - did I mention the libraries from the start of 2009 until July 2010 occupy about 360GB? ^_^; (And for all of 2010, about 600GB..)

King Kazuma figure! (Sadly, sold out by now.. though I hear he was at FC =:)

Don't suppose anyone can identify this raptor? My knowledge of avians is strictly limited. I just happened to be looking skyward, and had the Nikkor on the camera, so I decided to try taking a closer look at what seemed like some big kite, or maybe a paraglider. ^_^

Apparently, the net really does offer all things: here's where one may obtain owl vomit by mail order)

Finally, a shot I took a few days ago..