Strange days

So, last night I updated the Safari on my Mac. At least that is what was displayed on my screen. I had updated my Mac OS a few weeks ago and that download was 1.98 GB! That in itself is pretty large for an update but it was the OS, so I was not unduly concerned.

Yesterday however the Safari update was also 1.98GB. A truly staggering size for an update when you consider that the full software to download is only 65MB!!!

I repeat 65MB, that is no typing error!

So WTF is going on.

The last (OS) update took over an hour to install once downloaded and yesterday it took almost an hour again to install the Safari update. The computer restarted several times and occasionally informed me how long it might take, but more often left me in the dark to wonder whether I would be staring at the screen for the rest of my life.

FFS

This morning I discover almost all my favourite websites have been deleted from the Safari browser but it had left a number of important ones. Why had the others been deleted and why had certain ones been left ??? Who decides, what decides?

(Update to above paragraph) Favourites were not deleted I discover they were hidden.

Initially I thought my WordPress link has been deleted, so I went to Google and typed in ‘WordPress login’ to login. It did not recognise my password. I try the ‘forgotten password’ link and type in my username (email address). I am informed there is no account under this name.

By now I am slowly fuming. How can I contact WordPress if I cannot access my account? I go back to my Safari favourites page and go through the icons and to my relief find that the WordPress link icon is still there so I click on it and am able to login as usual.

You really do have to wonder what is going on in the background on our computers and the Internet. How concerned should we be? This is a recurring problem that I have had with both Microsoft Windows and Mac OS and yet when I use Ubuntu (Linux), it is updated in minutes and you hardly notice. Open source software is NEVER a problem and it is free!

Previous posts about 3D software (Blender vs Rhino) have similar issues. Rhino is paid for while Blender is free. Rhino is always a pain, updates are useless and it often creates havoc on my computer, meanwhile Blender is never a problem and in many ways it is vastly superior to software that cost 1000s euros to buy.

Maybe someone can explain these anomalies to me.

 

Rhino 6

Blender:File:/Users/apple/Desktop/3D/Stratos/stratos08092019HQ4.blend

After much tweaking it’s time to put the Stratos to bed. This is the final image and I am pretty happy with the results. Although most of it was done in Blender 2.8, it would have been impossible for me to achieve this quality without building the initial model in Rhino 5.

However, I have seen plenty of stunning examples on YouTube built solely in Blender, but how this has been done is still a bit of a mystery to me. Even using shrink-wrapping I was unable to achieve the quality I was after.

The next step is to try out the updated Rhino version 6. I have avoided this up till now but my Rhino 5 has a Windows license and I no longer use Windows, so it has been rendered obsolete. Rarely do I enjoy the ‘thrill’ of trying new updated software as it’s a bit like walking in new leather shoes compared to comfy old ones (a pain) … but unlike shoes, which have to be replaced, software does not wear out.

So I download the Rhino 6 trial for Mac successfully, unlike when I last tried via Windows 10. My initial impression is that nothing has changed. I glanced over all the drop down menus and could not see any additional functions, though there may well be one or two lurking somewhere. I can only conclude that this new version 6 is more of a bug fix than anything profoundly earth shattering. That is a shame as I found many functions in Blender superior, which they could easily have adopted to improve user experience. Examples of these I will post later as I come across them. On the plus side, as little has changed I at least do not have to relearn it all over again and can carry on as normal, which is a great relief.

Now I don’t want to get too picky as it is early days. However within the first hour of using Rhino 6 it crashed. I may have been pushing it to its limits but that is no excuse. It should just ignore my commands or at the very least give me a warning that proceeding is inadvisable. Also a .obj file that was previously saved in Rhino 5 (16mb) was now (167mb) saved in Rhino 6! I have yet to discover the reason for that. I would also be interested to know why Rhino 6 software (1.3GB) is almost 4x larger than Blender software (350mb), despite having less functions!

Open source software like Blender (Linux) are invariably more stable than bought software and you do have to ask yourself why is that. Well? Answers on a postcard please.

Watch this space for any further reviews, groans, moans and meltdowns.

Democracy … rambles

BanksyPhoto: Unknown, image Banksy

Britain, the heart of democracy? … don’t make me laugh!

First, let’s take a look at a few things, while we ponder the present confusion surrounding us.

I am sick of hearing the phrase, ‘this is what the British people voted for’ in regard to Brexit from the likes of Boris and Mrs. May clan.

Almost half the country did not vote for Brexit. It has since been alleged that the Brexit parties lied, misused EU funds and broke electoral law… and many of those who did vote for Brexit feel they made a mistake and would now vote Remain.

There are millions of Britons living in EU countries who are directly affected by Brexit yet have no say in the matter because having lived outside the UK for more than 15 years they have no right to vote. Meanwhile, Americans along with many other civilized countries have a lifelong right to vote in their own political systems regardless of where they live. Who came up with this arbitrary 15 year cut off for British expatriates and WHY ?

Had those Britons voted it may well have changed the referendum result.

As for Britain’s relationship with Saudi Arabia that is a whole other can of worms.

How did a buffoon like Boris become prime minister … he went to public school and can quote Latin, which he thinks makes him look cool and intelligent. Dream on Boris.

Women in Britain only finally got equal rights to vote alongside men in 1928! Long after the British empire had dominated the world and the industrial revolution had already been going for two centuries.

The majority of conservative MPs now governing the country are privately educated, went to Eton, Oxford or Cambridge and live in a world remote from your average Briton.

The UK is the only undisputed democracy in Europe to use ‘First past the post’, others use systems that better reflect the overall proportion of votes cast, rather than who wins in each constituency. This is why the UK Green party has only one MP and the German Green party has 21 MPs!

As to the Banksy artwork. I was very impressed that he could paint so well. I have long been a fan of his work but saw him more as a political spray can artist. This painting, if it really is from him, puts him in a whole new category of genius.

 

 

Humming hawk moth

hhmoth3

The arrival of the humming hawk moth must be a sign that the climate is hotting up. I have only seen this interesting insect once before and that was in southern Spain 2500 kms south of here and that was also relatively recently.

This insect gets its name from the humming bird, which it resembles as it darts about hovering in flight, but there the similarity ends. On closer inspection it looks more like a mix between a fish, crustacean and butterfly.

While sat on a park bench I was surprised and delighted to see one hovering around flowers and quickly grabbed my camera for this rare photo opportunity.

hhmoth2

Damn! The autofocus once again refused to work, despite trying everything. In my frustration I banged the camera down on the wooden bench and gave up. When I picked the camera up again I noticed the lens focus ring was stiff and thought that might be the cause, maybe dirt had become trapped. Then the focus ring suddenly detached itself revealing the innards of the Tamron 18mm-270mm lens. At first I thought the problem was with the camera but it seems to have been the lens.

hhmoth

The Nikon D300 has a magnesium alloy body, so it is pretty robust and I did drop it once onto concrete to no ill effect. However the Tamron lens is not build to the same standards and I may well have damaged it by banging it down on the bench. Anyway, I was still fuming as I wrestled with the focus ring, trying to force it back in place, all the time thinking a new lens replacement would set me back over 300 euros.

hhmoth4

With anger and brute force I knocked the ring back and resigned myself to replacing the lens as the ring was now stiffer than before. So was I surprised to find it working properly once mounted back on the camera … even the autofocus, so maybe I had dislodged some dirt in my frustration.

Having cooled down a bit, despite the hot sunshine, I resumed taking photos but a little more relaxed. Even with autofocus capturing this insect is a real challenge and this was the best I was able to come up with, but at least I got something. Maybe time to upgrade to a D500.

Egrets

egrets

… a change of scene.

This is an old composite image of egrets I photographed mainly in Spain some years ago. I felt a short break was needed from nature walks, Boris and 3D modeling. What with Boris getting his just deserts, Rhino 3D software update costing me 1000 euros and with the summer being all but over, time to reflect on where I am going, what I am doing and what in the world is going on.

Hello Boris!

How to make Britain Great again?

A few thoughts …

Scrap HS2 unless you can fix the present railway system. Presently train services are the worst and most expensive in Europe. They should be cheaper and more efficient.

High speed Internet, yes! Long overdue and free hotspots in some critical locations like railway stations would be welcomed.

Improved bus services. Experiment with free Hop ‘n’ Ride in a few towns.

Scrap grammar schools and introduce comprehensives nationwide. Bring back polytechnics and colleges of further education. Turning all colleges into universities was the dumbest thing ever.

Introduce national service for all 18-20 year olds for one year. (Social work or military optional) Maybe even a one year culture/arts course option. Encourage more voluntary work.

More cycle paths for bicycles, e-scooters, Segways and the like and pedestrianize more town centers.

Don’t accept US chlorinated chicken. The USA needs to get its act together. Britain should stand up to America and not act like a pathetic lapdog, otherwise under Trump Britain will be used and abused.

Stop sending recycled waste to far off countries in container vessels that pollute the environment more than any other form of transport.

Maintain EU standards or even better improve on them.

Maintain Green Belts. Stop building on them, they were green belts for a reason.

Stop strimming wildflowers! In fact, stop strimming. Plant more trees. Britain was once covered in forests. Now they are virtually all gone and the few remaining hardly worthy of the name.

Scrap the honors list. Jimmy Saville need I say more. It is over FFS!

Build cheaper innovative eco housing and less of the mock Tudor Barratt rabbit hutches.

Wave energy, vertical wind energy and solar energy … where are you?

More police on the beat. It is less polluting and healthier for all. Police need to be seen and heard. Walking the streets should be safe for all, regardless of the time of day.

Four day working week. Max allowed 40 hours. No overtime.

Charge a nominal quarterly fee to visit a doctor to make people think twice before using the NHS. Stop giving free treatment to foreigners. Britons don’t get free treatment abroad!

More youth centers especially in deprived areas. Skateboard parks and better play areas for children. Maybe take a look at Germany next time you visit.

Legalize medicinal cannabis. Stop state sponsored gambling. Stop snorting cocaine.

Allow all Britons even those living abroad a lifelong right to vote, this has long been a right for Americans in the USA. Funny how Britain always seem to adopt the worst of American culture but fails to adopt American rights and freedoms. Somethings wrong there folks. I am not a object, I am a citizen. Better start now before there is a revolution.

Give all EU citizens living in the UK before Brexit the right to stay and vote with the minimum of fuss and no payments thank you. Bureaucrats and civil servants earn enough already, they make our lives difficult while enjoying well paid jobs for life. Time to start weeding out the chaff. Stop screwing your interns.

Much more I could add but I think this will do for the moment.

Actually much of this could also be applied to many EU countries too.

NB. I have not visited the UK in recent years, so some things mentioned here may have improved but from my experience of visiting on and off over the past 40 years and having been born and educated there I doubt that much has changed in recent years.

Note to: GCHQ

Please pass this on to the appropriate authorities. Thanks!

Focus, focus, focus

Well, it´s been one of those weeks. A very frustrating one in my role as nature photographer. It began after debating whether it was worth carrying my heavy D300 down into the valley. I usually do but I decided not to bother on this day. Lo and behold the unusually hot weather had forced a grey heron to land on the local duck pond and four black swans took great interest in this new arrival. It made for a great shot as the four swans inspected the heron perched on a small island. I took some shots with my mobile but with it wildlife rarely comes out in focus and it was no exception on this day. The following day I took my camera along but of course there was no sign of the heron.

buzzard1

A few days later I spotted a buzzard perched on top of a pine tree. It was there for at least 15 minutes but the D300 autofocus refused to lock on despite trying everything. I even switched to manual focus but that is pretty useless on these ‘new’ DLSRs. I miss the days of SLR manual focus with split frenzel screens. A 500mm on a tripod would have done the trick but I have to make do with a handheld 18mm-270mm and the buzzard was a fair way off.

focus1

Above: Chaffinch and buzzard out of focus shots and a jay caught in flight and in focus (sort of) but a long way off and too small to be of much use.

This afternoon I had a perfect opportunity to photograph squirrels collecting hazelnuts on a nearby tree. The sun was going down and the tree was shaded so I was forced to shoot a low shutter speed. Added to this it was hard to see the squirrels through the lens and be sure the focus point was on them. So like the buzzard this resulted in 50 or more photos that were out of focus and had to be trashed. A professional photographer would have nailed it for sure.

squirrel

A little later two jets flew so low down the valley I could almost see the pilots, I managed to grab my camera for the second jet but as usual the auto focus refused to lock on, not that manual focus would have been any better as I had no time to focus anyway.

Below this woodpecker shot shows how difficult it can be avoiding branches and such like which can play havoc with autofocus.

woodpecker

When auto focus works it is wonderful, particularly for nature work but often even with spot focus it finds something in the foreground or distance more interesting much to my dismay and the loss of many a good photo. In the days of analog you would have taken more time, been more selective and only taken a few shots.

… but hell, who wants to wait two weeks for 36 expensive postcard prints to arrive and still be disappointed.

Long live digital I say! 🙂

bee1

 

Nostalgia

ARomeo2-200-E

For me these simple old-timers are still beautiful to look at and in many ways much more harmonious than some of today’s tortured designs. SUVs that look like they were created by a frustrated designer on coke or by committees only interested in their next cafe latte. What with bland one-box people carriers and family saloon cars that all look alike, it is hardly an inspiring sector. Of course times were simpler back then and there were less people involved in creating a product. Today it is probably a case of too many cooks, or something …

… one thing is for sure design aesthetics has not really advanced since the advent of the motorcar, it has just changed fashion and adapted to form following function, which is no bad thing of course. This old Alfa Romeo is a racing car too, so it is a little unfair to compare them but I think most petrol heads would agree the heyday of car design is over and we are now entering a more rational, controlled era … and talking of racing cars there is nothing more tortured than today’s Formula One cars with their nasty spoiler add-ons, bits stuck on here and there like wind-tunnel test models or an old guy’s shaved face flecked with bits of bloody tissue paper. The driver has also disappeared from view so you might just as well be watching slot car racing for all the entertainment.

Environmental waste

3304
Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

As a Briton I found this article in the Guardian today truly shocking. Hazardous waste found in metal waste sent to Sri Lanka. Not just hazardous waste but body parts, yes, human remains oozing from the containers! WTF.

This is upright Britain sending their crap to poorer countries and making out they are whiter than white. This is just one example of what has been going on for years in the West as they dump waste anywhere but at home. I am glad to see now that some of these countries are having it no longer and sending the waste back.

I watch the UK politicians pontificating in parliament about making a better Britain. Oh really! I just tried to contact the UK environmental agency but like Facebook, EasyJet, Google etc this is virtually impossible. There is no telephone number, no email address and not even a postal address. Yet the first thing they ask for is YOUR email address. No doubt so that they can keep tabs on you to ensure you do not interfere with their profitable projects funding their high paid jobs.

I think it is a fucking disgrace what is going on in the world today. Meanwhile factory farms are expanding at an ever increasing rate, causing more pollution and disruption to local neighbourhoods.

What will Boris Johnson really do for Britain? Will he clean up Britains act or will it just be more of the same, Britain’s elite living it up at the expense of the rest of the world just as it was in colonial times.

I am ashamed to be British, it really disgusts me how politicians can turn a blind eye to what is going on around them. If Britain really wants to lead the way to the future it needs actions not words and needs to clamp down hard on all these activities that are probably run by gangs and underworld mobsters that include well known Billionaires trafficking underage girls.

What are you really going to do Boris?

I am watching you.

Guardian article

On a lighter note it could be that the human remains in question are those of a mobster who may have been crushed in his car Goldfinger style. Who knows, my concern however is that the whole business is questionable. Sort your own rubbish out, then you might realise what a lot of garbage is created and begin dealing with it and bringing in new laws to control waste, instead of turning a blind eye. All this rubbish, recyclable or not, is being shipped around the world in cargo vessels that pollute more than any other form of transport.

Update 03.08.2019

Boris is right about one thing. Britain needs fibre-optic high speed Internet. How can a country that considers itself one of the leading nations in the world be so far behind technlogically. Taiwan had faster Internet and trains than any other European country and much of it was free. WHF are you doing Britain!!!

Pforzheim today

Having just read that a politician in Madrid, Spain will revoke a project that has reduced pollution in the city, nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to dumb politicians.

Today the traffic in Pforzheim was ‘chock a block’ and for all Germany’s talk of saving the environment, I noted that most of the traffic was made up of large luxury cars, BMWs, Mercedes and SUVs with just one person inside. Meanwhile the bus struggled to make its way through the congestion totally unable to keep to its schedule. Pforzheim has an excellent bus service, which is quick, efficient and cheap yet still most people prefer to take their over priced, over sized cars into the centre and then spend most of the time trawling the streets trying to find a place to park.

I could go on and on about this subject, talking about design, marketing and product planning in the car industry and town planning but I know now after all these years I am just wasting my breath. All I can say is that as I am unlikely to be around in 20 years, this is a problem you and your children will need to face. As usual money talks and most of those in power are only interested in keeping their positions no matter what the cost to others. The car was meant to set us free but instead we have become a slave to the car industry imprisoned in a metal box that rarely moves much faster than it did back in the early 1900s.