16 Oct

An Old Friend Returns – 13 October 2017

There’s not much to be said about the morning. It rained and it was windy, then it rained again.

Tried to copy a folder of videos from the MBP (Mac Book Pro) to the iMac. It was doing it over WiFi and reported that it would take about an hour. Videos are notoriously large files and there were a lot of them, around fifty at last count. In fact there were more like a hundred because I converted the MOVs to MP4s to make them more portable and ensure they would play in the majority of platforms. Anyway, I decided that an hour was far too long, so I stopped the transfer and used a portable hard disk to copy the files from the MBP. Then it was a simple job to unplug the portable HD and re-plug it to the iMac. There were two partitions on the portable HD and I should issue a warning that there’s a fair amount of Technospeak in this part of the blog. If you don’t want to hear all the geek stuff, maybe you should move down to the but that says “SAFE NOW!” Anyway, now the lightweights are gone, here’s where we talk about the ‘techy’ stuff and this is where things go awry.
The HD was partitioned into two parts. Part 1 was mainly for photos backup and Part 2 was for general use. Both partitions were formatted to NTFS. Now Macs can read NTFS, but natively,they can’t write to it. When I plugged the HD into the iMac it could only read the photos part and I’d copies the files to the other part and it wasn’t showing up. It wasn’t mounted that’s why. I ejected it and plugged it back in to the MBP and it read as normal. I checked it using Disk Utility and it showed up as ok. Ejected it again and plugged it back into the iMac. Still no go. Now I said that Macs can’t natively write to NTFS, but I use a wee app by Paragon that allows the Mac to write to an NTFS disk. It also has a disk checker, so I used it to check said HD. It told me it was dirty. That’s computerspeak for something’s screwed up here. It tried then to repair the damage, but after about ten minutes had got nowhere. This needed the big guns. Ejected the disk and went upstairs to where the PCs live and powered up the laptop, then attached the HD. Yes, it loaded, but only after a lot of clicks and whines. Went into a DOS command prompt and tried to run CHKDSK which is the program that CHecKs the DiSK. Unfortunately you can’t simply do that. You need to go to the Elevated Command Prompt as an Administrator. Typical american idea. Yes, you can buy a gun, or two, or three over the counter, but you have to be Administrator to fix your own disk on your own machine! Finally typed in the command CHKDSK G: /F, pressed enter and five minutes later the job was done. Ejected the disk and re-connected it just to check, and everything was fine and dandy. Ejected it again and took it down to the iMac where it loaded as if nothing had happened. The files copied in just under 6 minutes. The entire process from cancelling the WiFi transfer had taken just short of two hours.
The moral of the story is: If it’s working, don’t mess around with it.

SAFE NOW!

After the disk copying fiasco we had lunch and while Scamp was blowing up a storm on the clarinet, I slipped out to St Mo’s where I spotted the spider, the caterpillar, the chestnuts (although they were arranged tastefully first) and finally I chanced upon Mr Grey. I think it was Mr Grey my grey heron adversary in St Mo’s, but this one looked a bit thinner and smaller than Mr Grey. Maybe it’s Son of Mr Grey. I got a few photos of him before he made his exit down to the other end of the pond. I must say at this point, the photos on the retina screen look amazing. It totally transforms the editing process when you can see the detail so clearly.

Today’s sketch was of Mambo No 5, my trusty iPhone 5s. I think it deserved a photo after all the hard work its done and the hours of music its played. I even took the photo of the drawing with it, as I always do with sketches.

Now I’m off to bed. I’ve got a wee tickle in the back of my throat. Probably caught some nasty cold germs from all the sniffling passengers on the train yesterday. Looks like more rain tomorrow. Don’t have any plans, but may go somewhere for lunch.

16 Oct

It was still there in the morning – 8 October 2017

Yes, Santa hadn’t taken it back during the night and I hadn’t dreamed it either. There is was sitting on the table where I’d left it.

It was another day of backbreaking work adjusting, cajoling and a fair amount of swearing as anyone who knows me will testify to. Strangely, also a lot of talking to myself. Maybe that’s because I’m the only one who has the slightest clue what I’m doing. Most things are working now and the backbreaking, which was due to me stretching across the laptop in front of me to see what the iMac was telling me, has subsided a bit now that I’ve repositioned the monitor at a decent distance and angle.

Scamp is keeping an eye on me as is the wee man in the Fitbit on my wrist, getting me to take their advice and walk around a bit every hour. It’s difficult though, with this marvellous piece of equipment just sitting there in front of me. To that end, we drove down The Green this morning and went for an autumn walk. There’s a big chestnut tree near where we park and I was lucky enough to find a chessy as we used to call them when I was wee. This one was just breaking out of its shell. I stuck it in my pocket with the idea that if nothing else, it would make a PoD. As it happened, it was a view down the Clyde from behind the Glasgow Uni boathouse that got PoD. I liked the leading lines in the pic of the wee man and seagulls or to give them their Dundee name, shitehawks are always a good subject. The chessy as you will have noted became Inktober sketch number 8.

I worked for another hour or so after we came back, installing more stuff and swearing even more. For a break I went for a walk around St Mo’s before dinner, but the light was poor by that time and I didn’t get much.

That was about it. Sat for an hour or more afterwards working through the photos and being even more amazed at the quality of that screen.

Tomorrow I think I’ll go to the gym for a gentle workout and then sit in the steam room for half an hour. If I can drag myself away from the iMac.

16 Oct

Living the Dream – 7 October 2017

Today we drove in to Glasgow. Parked in the JL carpark and walked down Bucky Street and said to the bloke in the Apple shop. We’ll have that one, please. That was about 1.30pm. From then until now I have been re-installing software and marvelling at the fact that all of it is, whisper it, LEGAL!

It’s an iMac 21” with a 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, 8Gig Ram and a 1TB Fusion drive. It ways almost a ton, or so it seemed when I was lugging this big white box up Bucky Street. The retina screen is simply superb. I’m over the moon.

That’s as much as you’re getting tonight, because I’m knackered.

Good Night. More nonsense tomorrow.

16 Oct

Paperwork, paperwork – 25 September 2017

 

Checked my mail this morning and the registration document for the car had arrived. That meant it was time to get the insurance arranged. Hard to believe, but in the two weeks since I last got a quote, it had gone up by £30 from both companies, Nissan and Tesco. After a bit of moaning and wheedling with Nissan I got it down by £20. Tesco, on the other hand, were as flexible as an iron bar. No way were they going to shift an inch on their extortionate quote. Such a shame as I’d been with them for three years and their quote for the Megane had been fairly good. After a bit more paperwork and emailing we were done. Looks like Thursday will be “J Day”.

After that I spent some time swearing at Windoze 10 Creature Edition. I don’t think it will be staying with us very long. Gone, now are the days when you could just access the BIOS with a couple of keys at startup. Oh no, that would be too easy. Now you have to delve into settings, restart the machine, do more configuration on the blue screen that load and then you can access the BIOS. And then you wonder why Macs are so popular? Added to all that, it runs like a slug with a hangover. I do so wish I could go back to the original Win 10 I upgraded Win 8 to. That was brilliant, well, not exactly brilliant, but sooooo much better than The Creature From The Black Lagoon I have now.

Went out for a walk later in the afternoon after I’d taken the Megane for a wash and brush up. By then the sun started poking its face through the clouds and I found it was a beautiful autumn afternoon out there, warm too. Got some photos, two of which are above. Also saw two potentials. Will keep them in mind for tomorrow, perhaps. Today’s PoD was the Brambles. Not Blackberries, that’s for the english. These are fierce, jaggy Scottish Brambles and proud of it. If you look at the Flickr version and click to magnify it there, you’ll see a wee spider waiting to catch unwary flies enticed in to sample some bramble juice. Didn’t see it when I was taking the photo, only when I got it into the computer. The other plant’s name evaded me for years, but now I know it’s a Butterbur of the genus Petasites. There, you’ve learned something today (I learned it yesterday, so I’m a day ahead of you).

Strange night tonight, not having Salsa on a Monday is quite unsettling. Hopefully Wednesday will arrive soon and we’ll get our Latin fix.

Weather seems favourable tomorrow. We may go out for a run. In the car of course!

16 Oct

A more down to earth day – 6 September 2017

It seems like the last few days, in fact the last week have been a whirl of buying. Holidays, oops, forgot to mention that we are going on holiday! So apart from holidays, there were suites, hoovers dash cams and cars to look at, admire, assess investigate and purchase. Anyone would think we’d won the lottery. Now that would be unlikely because you have to buy a ticket before you can win and there is the downfall!

Today was more down to earth. A day to pick a drawer in a chest of drawers and clear it out into one of three piles using the KFC method:

  • Keep – It goes back in the drawer
  • File  – Find somewhere else to put it (where you can find it again)
  • Crap –  It goes into the bin. The more you can fit into this pile the better.

As usual, it’s really amazing the things you find in the back of a drawer. Things you’d forgotten about, things you knew you had but couldn’t find (previously filed!) and the things you find and haven’t a clue what they are, or why you were keeping them. After an hour of this I’d halved the contents of the drawer, filled two bags of rubbish and filed away numerous things, never to be found again. I just know that next week I’ll suddenly remember why I was keeping a 20mm long piece of dried clay in a zip top poly bag.

After lunch I started another painting. This one was of a real place it’s based loosely on a photograph of the Forth estuary at Torryburn in Fife. I’m quite happy with it at present, but I’ve a few bits and pieces to add and maybe, just maybe I’ll post it tomorrow, all being well.

I went for a walk along the canal in the late afternoon, just to get some fresh air in between the rain showers. It was too windy for any decent insect photos and the spider was the best I got. It was only when I was post-processing it I realised it was in the act of spinning its web. That’s my PoD.

Drove into salsa tonight and used the dashcam again. The video quality is really amazing. It even made a couple of ’emergency’ photos which it stores in a special ‘private’ folder. Impressed as I wasn’t actually braking hard, honest officer. Went to pay for parking at STUC and a prick was trying to talk to someone important on the phone that he had pressed between his shoulder and his skull whilst trying to feed about fifty 20p coins into the machine from a poly bag he was holding. It kept rejecting them then telling him to take his money, he kept on doing exactly the same thing again. After two iterations, I said to him that there’s a limit to the number of coins you can use in these machines. He looked at me as if to say go away old man. So I just said “Just trying to help and that’s what you get. WANKER.” I’m sure the person on the other end of the phone already knew he was a wanker, but I was said it loud enough to let them know that I knew too. I went across the road put in my £2.50 (no 20p coins were used) in another machine and came back as he was retrieving his ticket. It’s simple really. People who’s brain chip is an Intel Celeron single core shouldn’t try to do difficult things like parallel process. That’s only going end up in tears. Also, that’s what he gets for raiding one of his kid’s piggy banks to get his parking money. Just to annoy him more, I waited until he was back in his car and crossed the street again and photographed him. He’s sitting somewhere just now thinking “What’s he going to do with that photo?” No, probably he’s forgotten. Like my new dashcam, his brain chip will delete old data to make way for new stuff. You have to do that when you’ve only got 128k of RAM.

That last thought came from the tidy up today. I found a 128k memory module for a Sinclair QL (c1984). 128k what could you store on that now? A really small photo? About 8 seconds of music? Just shows how time and technology has moved on.

Salsa was great fun with the beginners starting to get adventurous with Exhibela and Exhibela Ronde. We even taught Jamie G a move we called Setenta Abaho. We’ll be teaching our own class soon!

16 Oct

Go out walking in the rain – 6 August 2017

It wasn’t the most inspiring day today. It had been, earlier on. Then we had hills from the back window, but later in the morning the hills had disappeared under a sheet of white, low lying cloud and the rain looked as if it was just about to appear. It did, and it stayed for the rest of the day.

We didn’t have any decent bread, so when I was getting the lunch sausages out of the freezer (fried lunch on a Sunday) I pulled out a 500(ish)g piece of frozen bread dough and set it to thaw out. After lunch the rain got a bit lighter, then the sun tried to come out, failed and the rain took its place again. It was about then I decided I was going out to take some photos, in the rain if necessary. So dressed in an old pair of jeans and my trusty rainy coat, I walked over to St Mo’s to feed the ducks and hopefully get some photos. The one above is my favourite. It was taken with the Nikon and a Sigma 105mm macro lens. A beautiful lens designed for taking close-ups. No zoom. It’s a Prime and with a maximum aperture of f2.8, depth of field is minimal. If none of that makes sense to you, then I’m sorry. Let’s just say this is one of my oldest and most favourite lenses.  Brilliant for beasties!

When I got back and got changed out of the sodden boots and jeans, I started to solve a puzzle that has appeared since I started using El Cap. The problem is Photos. It’s an app that is part of OSX and every time you plug in an SD card it pops up wanting to handle your photos for you. Well, actually I have my own software to do that, thank you very much, so bog off Photos. Except, it won’t, or should I say it didn’t until I fixed it today. You see, because it’s part of the operating system, it can’t be uninstalled. Actually it can, but apparently that causes more problems than it solves. I used Keyboard Maestro, a clever little piece of software that allows you to write ‘macros’ that can go behind the Mac OS and make things happen for you. What my macro does is wait until it senses that Photos has been triggered. When it has, it immediately shuts it down. It was with great satisfaction that I watched that colourful wee icon appear on the task bar, bounce a couple of times, then bog off! Isn’t technology wonderful when it works?

Went to Salsa at La Rambla. Had tapas first and it was very good indeed. Sat with Ronnie, Sharon and Peter and were entertained all through the meal. Dancing was good, but with Cameron in charge of the music, there were a few too many bachata tunes. Glad we agreed to drive instead of getting the train. About 25 minutes journey time instead of an hour and a half. Would certainly go back.

Tomorrow? More rain I think, so more walking in the rain perhaps. Today’s title is from Alex Harvey – Faith Healer.

16 Oct

Losing your memory – 9 July 2017

It started off just dull, then the rain came.

It was a dull, dreich morning, but there were a few brighter periods. We’d bought some large bamboo canes to increase the height of the sweet pea frame and today we just got it built when the rain came. It forgot to go away again. Actually it did dry up for a wee while, but not long enough to entice me out.

What I did do was try to fix Scamp’s computer which has developed a memory problem, but nothing serious. I’d pulled the memory board out of the seating and then pushed it back in. It’s a simple thing that usually works. It didn’t. I remember Val telling me once that if the computer appears to start but there is no display, then memory is the problem and that is what was happening.  It had gone from a minor problem to an absolute disaster. I had taken the usual precautions.  I had earthed myself before I touched the memory module and even made sure I didn’t move my feet on the carpet in case I generated a static charge that if transferred to the chips on the memory board would fry them. I took a deep breath and told Scamp “I might have blown the computer.” To her praise, she just said “Ok. What do you want me to do? Shouting at you won’t do any good.” I took it apart again and nearly made the fatal mistake of removing the memory with the battery still attached! After plugging the memory module in again, it powered up. Thank goodness. Now, looking back, I think either a tiny bit of dust had found its way into the memory slot and it was preventing a proper connection or I simply hadn’t seated it properly. Anyway, it lived to fight another day … and so did I. It’s still not fixed. It may need a new memory board, because it’s losing its memory, but it is no worse than it was yesterday.

I finally decided that I wasn’t going to get a walk outside today and took a few shots from the back door. Next door’s washing line made today’s PoD. The highlight of today was roast chicken with potatoes and cabbage. Lovely!  I made some bread but it was too late for dinner, so we’ll enjoy it tomorrow.

It was a poor day for photography today and it looks as if we get to do it all again tomorrow.

16 Oct

Coffee and Larky – 7 July 2017

After a lazy start, I went for coffee with Val and Fred. The usual subjects: Art, Politics and Life in the ‘70s. Just three auld guys.

After we split up to go our separate ways, I went looking for a PoD. Tried along the Luggie but nothing worth while sprang to mind. Drove round for a while and eventually gave up and designated the yellow flowers as the PoD.

Sketch of the Day was a quick (very quick) SP drawn blind, looking in the mirror. By the very nature of blind drawing, it has to be done quickly, it’s gestural and mainly line work with little or no shading. It’s a reasonable drawing and it’s done.

Out to Crawford and Nancy’s at Larkhall tonight and had a good time. Nancy cooked a ham and it was delicious. Must try that some time. Their grandson, Jack was there and I did feel a bit jealous when he called Crawford ‘Papa’. It’s not often I feel jealous of Crawford, especially now that I’m retired.

Addendum:
Although this is dated Friday 7th July, I must confess that I’m writing it on Sunday the 9th because I’m frantically trying to catch up on my blog posts and Flickr posts after a busy week. Hopefully, I’m up to date now.

16 Oct

The Dragons are back – 4 June 2017

We had intended going to the West End Festival in Glasgow today, but decided to have a lazy day at home instead.  There was to be no procession and that’s the highlight of the event every year.

Scamp got busy planting, planting and more planting.  Me?  I went for a walk instead.  Walked around St Mo’s and got a few photos of a couple of mating damselflies.  I was using the Oly 10 because it was the most versatile tool for general shooting.  The 45-200 zoom is a great lens and works well for close ups when you attach the extension tubes.  You lose a couple of stops of exposure, but it was a bright day again and exposure wasn’t a problem.

On my second circuit of the pond, a dragonfly caught my eye.  Waited for it to land and get comfortable then got one shot before it flew away to circle the wee pond.  Then it returned to the same grass stem, but it wasn’t comfortable and with each move I made it flew off.  Eventually it settled down on a reed and I got the shot above.  I was quite pleased with it.  It’s a Four-spotted Chaser male as you probably already knew.  Set the shutter speed high (1/800) and aperture fairly deep (f9) and that amounted to an ISO of a manageable 1250.  You just couldn’t do things like that with the Teazer, so it had a day at home.  The dragonfly is a Four-spotted Chaser male but you probably knew that already.  Lots more beastie pictures on the Flickr page.

Came home and Scamp was finished working in the garden.  Finished working, but not finished with the garden.  No, she wanted to get some photos of us sitting outside with our new drinks holders.  We got them yesterday as well as a barrow load of plants.  Set up the tripod, bolted on the Oly 5 only to find that the battery was flat and the spare one had just started charging.  I tried using the Teazer, but it’s so hard to use without a flip up screen.  Eventually got the photo using Scamp’s camera and it has already been sent out to all my readers I think.

Took my dodgy left knee to the physio to see what he could deduce from a bit of prodding and pulling.  His deduction was that it was a healthy knee.  He thinks I’ve maybe nicked a ligament at the back of the knee and it’s now well on the way to being repaired.  He gave me some exercises to do and wouldn’t take any payment.  Good guy.

Today’s sketch is of the Campsie Fells viewed through the back bedroom window.  Just a quick watercolour that gains entry into J’ Ink because of the penwork.

The only fly in today’s ointment is the fact that I’ve got a fasting blood test tomorrow morning and a full dance card for the rest of the day.  Never mind, it’s all in a good cause.  May take my healthy knee out for a walk if the weather allows.

16 Oct

Before Ten? Ok Boss – 1 June 2017

Contrary to what we expected, it was dull, but dry this morning.  While Scamp did some washing, I started today’s Sudoku.  Each to his (or her) own.

Later, Scamp started to defrost the freezer.  With two of us on it, we did actually get it done a bit quicker.  Then we had to decide what would go back in.  The oldest item we found was a set of pork ribs dating to 2015.  They were a no-brainer, they had to go, in fact they almost walked to the bin themselves.  The rest was more difficult, but we did create some space by dumping some of the older bits and pieces.  Some space that could accommodate a couple of tubs of ice cream if only we had some.  If only we had a reason to got to the ice cream shop in Muirhead.  Scamp decided it would be good to go out to lunch and I decided to go to a tiny wee garden centre and cafe at Johnston Loch which is about two miles from the ice cream shop.  Sorted.

Lunch was a simple toastie, a panini and a couple of pots of tea.  Then we went to the ice cream shop for Toffee & Fudge for Scamp and Strawberries & Cream for me.

With the freezer replenished and the rain starting to get serious, we headed for home.  I went for a wet walk to St Mo’s and got the photo you see above.  Not brilliant, but given that it was taken at ISO 5000, it ain’t at all bad.

Spoke to JIC on the phone tonight and he asked for the blog to be up by 10pm.  Hope this is what the doctor ordered!

One last thing.  I know it’s after the 10pm curfew, but here goes.
I’ve become lax with sketching recently.  In an attempt to jolt myself back to inky fingers again I’ve started J’ Ink 17 J’ Ink 17 is short for June Ink 2017. A challenge to  myself to do at least one sketch, drawing, painting etc. a day for the month of June.’   This is day one.