Day out

wildflowers

It looks like fine weather till I get outside, then I am hit by a freezing cold wind despite the sunshine. Unusual for April in my experience as usually it is over 20C by now instead of struggling to reach 15C. I descend to the shops through the forest on the usual zigzag path. There are no walkers today and it seems more deserted than ever, which is surprising as yesterday Germany removed some restrictions to allow more shops to open. When I reach the first supermarket I note that the guy who usually dispenses hand sanitizer at the entrance is no longer there. A sure sign things are getting better, I think. However when I enter the second supermarket after spraying my hands with sanitizer I am told by a checkout lady that I cannot go in without a shopping trolley. I always pick up a basket here and no one has questioned that for the last two months. I ask why and I am told it is to ensure the 2 meter distance is kept. I can only laugh! Every time customers pass each other in the aisles they are within inches of each other. Probably just another head office opportunity to use the virus to their advantage and get shoppers buying more. I leave and shop down the road.

What’s up II

My Whatsapp was disconnected yesterday, I got a message informing me that my number was no longer valid!

When I attempted to reconnect I got an error message to say that Whatsapp could not connect to Google play. (This was resolved eventually … Google play services needed SMS permissions)

Whatsapp help say that either my number is incorrect or there is a problem with my Internet connection. Neither of which is true. Funny how I have been using this number with Whatsapp for several years without a problem, why would it suddenly no longer be correct.

There is nothing wrong with my Internet connection or with my number. These companies … Whatsapp is part of Facebook, always manage to blame the problem on someone else. That of course is easy to do these days with the complexity of digital communications. Someone is messing about, but who and why, God only knows.

Update 01.04.2020 for anyone interested in the mysteries of present day digital communications.

So, after numerous messages exchanged with Whatsapp help yesterday and this morning neither of us were any the wiser. I had by now resigned myself to no longer using it.

However I had reinstalled it successfully despite losing all my data, so I messaged a friend to try it out.

‘Hej, new number’ he replied.

‘New number’?

‘Yes, the previous was Spanish!’

‘Spanish?’

This explained a lot. A Spanish woman had called me the day before my Whatsapp was stopped, curious to know why my number was on her new phone. I had no idea, thinking it was my German number she was referring to.

In fact my old Spanish number was still connected to my Whatsapp account despite the Yoigo account having stopped in 2018. How can a number still be active when the account is no longer in use … answer me that.

… and where is all my data.

 

 

 

What’s up!

shopping

I venture out into the new world once again.

Bright sunshine makes for a pleasant descent into town but it is still freezing cold with ice and snow much of the way. The birds chatter along with sounds of melt water dripping from the trees. Otherwise the new world is silent, I pass no walkers on the way down, no laughter of children playing or adults in conversation. Once out of the forest and onto the tarmacked road there are a few cars and just one or two people shopping but otherwise little sign of life.

I’m visiting the supermarkets mainly for flour so that I can make some fresh bread instead of lugging it up the hill. A guy wearing an orange safety vest stands guard outside the first supermarket, not sure what he is doing. I buy toilet rolls while I can but they have run out of frozen wild salmon. I always thought I was the only person buying wild salmon. I stopped buying farmed salmon several years ago as here it is invariably Norwegian and I was not happy with how it was produced. There was an abundance of farmed salmon, which I ignored and bought cod instead. Anyway this supermarket seemed to be fully stocked otherwise. The next supermarket had a restriction of 60 customers but there were few customers inside. There was no guard here and maybe that was the previous guard’s job, to control customers entering. A hand sanitizer dispenser was a new addition as I entered and I gave it a whirl.

When I got to where flour was sold, four shelves were completely empty the entire length of the aisle, apart from one small bag of Buch Weizen Mehl. I am not sure what it is (brain disengaged) and asked if I could make bread with it. One employee and three customers all claimed ignorance as to what it was. I put it back as it was too small and I was really looking for white flour. On my way back up the hill it dawned on me that it could be buckwheat flour and I’m annoyed I did not check Google on my phone! I actually wanted buckwheat flour too for crumpets and blinis. My brain is definitely not what it once was and lets face it, it never was much in the first place.

I also made a mistake last time quoting 15kg shopping when it was in fact 15lbs. Things are not what they once were, that’s for sure. I keep making the simplest of mistakes. Once settled at home I get a message from Whatsapp. ‘Your number has been deleted and is no longer connected to this account!’ I am asked to reaffirm the number but I get an error message, Whatsapp cannot connect to Google play services.

FFS, isolation is complete!

… and would you believe it, I discovered part of my shopping list even had buckwheat on it. Bizarre.

list

Corona

That used to be a fizzy orange drink I seem to remember in my youth. Anyway that’s slightly off topic. Does anyone remember the crisis before the Coronavirus. The environmental crisis maybe … well the Coronavirus appears to be the best thing that has happen for that little problem, at least for the moment. In one giant leap or at least in the space of a couple of months the environmental problems may well have been halved. Of course there will be a price to pay but then that was always going to be the case.

It is interesting that when problems are ignored or not taken seriously mother nature has a habit of taking over and putting the boot in. Just to remind us that we should not just be talking and taking note of what’s happening, but also acting. Like they say, actions speak louder than words … every cloud has a silver lining … a stitch in time saves nine … please feel free to add your own …

It may well be that the Coronavirus outbreak has such a devastating impact on the world’s economies that our lives will be changed forever and new ways of working, playing and meeting will need to be found. However personally I doubt that and I am more inclined to believe that by the end of the year it will just be another event in history like the Spanish flu, Bird flu, Sars, the financial crisis and mad cow disease.

There is also another ‘positive’ aspect to the Coronavirus that is rarely mentioned. Normally this time of year, certainly in Europe, influenza takes the lives of many, many people, in fact thousands more than the Coronavirus has up till now. However because everyone with the slightest cough or cold is self isolating the chances are that deaths from normal flu virus could be the lowest ever seen and adding the two together we may yet see the lowest figures ever for flu virus deaths in 2020.

I don’t wish to down play the danger of Coronavirus, just put a few things in perspective as the media loves disasters and it becomes a bit of a feeding frenzy. That isn’t to say that we should ignore the news but it would be nice at least to hear a few more balanced views, rather than the gloom and doom that is pumped out daily.

Everything happens for a reason …

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.

 

 

Hummingbird 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!