Jan 292017
 

In a comment to “3744 – The Organic Emerging From The Liquid“, Joe Jarosak said, he’s

contemplating upgrading from E-M1 to the MkII but balking at the price. Curious as to the sensor upgrade.

Well, so am I. We’ll find out soon 🙂

While writing this, I am on the train. I’ve bought the MkII, an EP-13 eyepiece (the deep one) and a spare battery an hour ago. What I found while the train was not yet moving, was that, using the 17/1.8, I could hold an image at 1.6 seconds. Then the train started moving and I couldn’t get any spectacular results. I’ll try again at the next station 🙂

I have no idea how good the sensor is, but I wouldn’t expect noticeably better performance than on the PEN-F. But then, let’s see. I’ll try to make a few images under identical conditions tonight, and this should clarify things.

OK, we’ve just held in a station and I could take an image at 2s and two images at 3.2s. All sharp – and that’s not yet the crazy mode of the stabilized 12-100/4. It’s just a normal, non-stabilized lens. Cool.

By the way, no chance to do that while the train moves, but for wide lenses and dim churches I see great opportunities. I’ll try the 75/1.8 at the next station and see how slow I can get.

Yes, it keeps impressing! I’ve made an image at 1/10s and it’s razor-sharp. One more at 1/4s is still sharp, but as it’s textile, it’s a little bit hard to judge. 1/8s while the train was already moving was probably luck.

One stop later: 75/1.8 at 1/2.5s, twice at 1/3s, once at 1/4s, all of that series completely sharp.

On the MkI I could repeatably hold the 75/1.8 at 1/30s, but I have one image taken at 1/25s in last year’s Lightroom catalog. Slower might be possible, but 1/10s never was. I’m pretty sure about that. Next stop: 12mm 🙂

Bad news! I can’t hold 4s. Two seconds were OK, 3.2s sometimes, and more I didn’t get time to try. This is not better than with the 17mm, but it may well be that 4s are more a restriction of myself than of the camera. In any case it seems incredibly long.

Let’s be conservative. I think it is safe to say that the MkII has more than one stop advantage in image stabilization. How big is it really? My first tests are of course pretty unscientific, especially because I don’t have the MkI to compare with, but it certainly feels like 2, maybe even 2.5 stops. That’s pretty much consistent across focal lengths as well.

OK, here we are. So far a damn fine camera for my needs.

Jan 272017
 

What could possibly be wrong with my new Lenovo ThinkStation P310? Well, turns out, a lot.

Basically I’ve never had a worse customer experience in my life. It all started out with my super-expensive hard drive not being available for a week. The dealer had advertised it wit 1-2 business days. Really not Lenovo’s fault, but it set the mood 🙂

Last Friday it was finally there. I unpacked it, opened the case to put in the data drive and … was dismayed. I have built a few PCs, I have seen a few PCs built buy companies like Fujitsu, but I have never seen something like this. It looked like a garbage can. Cables thrown in, unorderly, cheap parts and sharp edges everywhere, the SATA heads on the motherboard hardly accessible. So that’s for the heir of IBM’s PC business. I swallowed my anger, closed the case, started the PC and saw it boot … Windows 7!

Really. Windows 7 Pro! Yes, I had known that the computer came with both Windows 7 Pro and Windows 10 Pro, but I had assumed naïvely, that Windows 10 Pro would be preinstalled, with an option to downgrade to Windows 7 Pro.

Nope, so let’s search the box for the Windows 10 DVD. Tedious, but … where … no … can that … that can’t …

Turned out it could. Instead of a DVD I only found a sheet of paper with a URL. Grrr!

On my new Windows 7 computer I used Internet Explorer to call Lenovo’s support site. There I found that I had to enter the serial number of my computer (that was easy) and, lo and behold, I was eligible for downloading a Windows 10 recovery medium. I only needed to login with my Lenovo ID.

Lenovo ID? OK, I need one. Thankfully they allowed me to log in with my Google ID. Cool?

Not so cool in fact, because what sounds easy in theory, is pretty nerve-wracking when you are on a web site from hell. Lenovo’s support site is a web sie from hell. They even managed to deliver an internal server error on the support home page 🙂

Anyway. I finally could log in and on that download site I could even convince the page that I was already logged in. It had taken a few iterations, and I guess the majority of users would already have given up. I didn’t, I persevered and …

It turned out that they wouldn’t let me just download a damn installation DVD. Instead I had to download a program that would download the data and then burn it on a 16 GB USB stick. Imagine that: Lenovo saved 20 cents for a DVD, and instead they force me, the customer, to buy a USB stick and to burn hours and hours of my precious time in an attempt to recover what I’ve paid for and what should already have been installed.

When I started that program, it asked for my Lenovo ID (Ha! I’ve got one! Take this!!) and my … password? C’mon! I’ve logged in with my Google ID. I did’t use no freakin’ password!

Again I logged in to the Lenovo support site (I guess it was there that I encountered that hilarious “Internal Server Error”), went through a “reset password” routine (the only way to set a password), and finally I had my password. I entered it, download began, and it would take no more than a few hours.

After an hour or two I came back, only to find that the PC had gone to energy saving mode. My fault, yes, I should have thought of it. Anyway. I moved the mouse, the screen went on again and … the download program crashed.

Fortunately when I restarted it, it recognized what had already been downloaded. It tried to continue and … failed! No network.

A few reboots and a few “network repair” wizards later, I thought I’d try to uninstall the McAfee firewall and anti-virus product. And really, one more reboot and I had my network back. Carry on downloading, can we? Oh yes, I first changed the energy saving settings to avoid sending the computer to sleep during download again.

It took half of the night. When I woke up, I had already two thirds. An hour later I still had about two thirds. Download speed was at 10 kB/s. Another network problem? I decided to interrupt the download (it picks up anyway, doesn’t it?) and reboot, but instead of a proper reboot, I saw a message telling me that update 1 of 88 was being installed, and that I shouldn’t turn off power.

Great! My useless and unwanted Windows 7 had dowloaded updates, thereby starving the Windows 10 downoad program.

It took an eternity, but then I could restart the download. Finally I had everything downloaded and the download program started to format and write my USB stick. It did so and … failed. The error message was all but useless. I tried it again, but it told me that some file was missing and that I had to restart the process.

What now? Downloading again, only to probably find myself in the same situation? I was almost ready to give up, but I thought, well, let’s try to just boot from that damn stick. Maybe it has already been written.

And so it was. Seemingly the stick had been ejected automatically, and the program had not recognized it. It boooted and a weird custom installation of Windows 10 began, full of scary and useless messages. Needless to say that it also terminated with an error. Needless to say that the message was again completely misleading. Needless to say that in fact it was not an error at all. Instead I had … a Windows 10!

From then on, it was just the usual installation process. It still took me enormous amounts of time to move my data, it’s still not finished, but at least I have now what I should have already had out of the box.

Lenovo? Never again! I mean, granted, it’s not easy to provide a perfect customer experience, but delivering a known, virgin product, and delivering an update process that fails so miserably so many times, that is nothing but pathetic. In terms of customer experiences it was nothing but a nightmare. What do they think? I have a degree in Computer Science. I have built computers myself. I am their best-case customer, and even I was close to throwing in the towel, giving up on that included Windows 10 license, and simply buy a new one from Microsoft. What would a normal customer do?

Dec 132016
 

No, I don’t know what it means, but I’m sure the experts who figured out #pizzagate could tell you exactly 🙂

Well, did you go down the rabbit hole that is #pizzagate? Actually I didn’t, but at least I’ve tried to understand what it is supposed to be all about. There are a few comprehensive lists of the “findings”, and I admit that it can look quite convincing. I have no URLs and I don’t want to link to them anyway, but they are not hard to find.

Hillary Clinton and John Podesta dealing in children? Sexual abuse as a business model of the Democratic Party? In a pizzeria?? How weird is that?

But again, read through the list of “facts” and tell me that they didn’t make you wonder at least for a moment. Why is that? Basically you have a long list of facts and plausible reports, each one harmless by itself, but suddenly someone demonstrates how they fall together and result in a monstrous big picture.

Have you ever read Umberto Eco’s “Foucault’s Pendulum“? If not, you definitely should. It explains a lot.

What happens in those cases is, that we try to create order in randomness. We see patterns, but we don’t see just any type of pattern. What we see is what we expect to see or fear to see or want to see. We have lots of weak indications. Each of them proves nothing. For each of them we have a small probability that it is related to a bigger “conspiration”. We know that we have not anything solid, and therefore we look further, and, surprisingly, we find more of the same.

Yes, we figure, one of them can be chance, but when all of them subtly point in one direction? Then it can’t be chance any more, can it? Somehow those small probabilities must add up.

Only they don’t. What we forget is, that while every “fact” has a certain probability that it means what we expect it to mean, there is also a much higher probability that it is indeed random, and that there are any number of perfectly plausible explanations. It’s only that we completely ignore anything that does not confirm our bias, and due to that ignorance, those aspects don’t contribute to the overall picture.

And there’s more. A central argument of #pizzagate is, that there is a code used by producers and consumers of child porn. I don’t remember exactly, but “pizza” was supposed to mean “girl” and a few other words from the pizzeria context are supposed to mean boys and rape and whatever.

The problem with that is, that the same words make perfect sense in any pizzeria. Now take one with a playing area for children and lots of activity in social networks. If the main nouns connected with the concept of a pizzeria are systematically re-interpreted due to such a key, it is practically inevitable that you can find lots of “reckless talk” about “child abuse”. And why not? In reality they talk about pizza. That’s their core business. What else should they talk about? And of course it’s for sale.

But all those seemingly absurd sentences, that don’t make sense in normal pizzeria context and that suddenly make sense when interpreted as a conspirational code?

It’s only that this again ignores, that we have ignored everything else, that perfectly did make sense. The weird sentences are somewhere in between. But there are always weird sentences in between everything.

Weird, absurd sentences are written all the time. For instance they are written by people who use mobile devices with all sorts of input prediction. Often the author even sees the error, but most mobile virtual keyboards lack cursor keys, and that makes it extremely inconvenient to go back and correct the error. And why so? The receiver will figure it out from the context, and apart from that, it is not worth the effort anyway.

And again, here we talk about communication that has all its core concepts systematically misinterpreted. You could as well use a different key and would easily get equally plausible results. The insiduous trick is, that you don’t replace just a single noun, you replace all of them. You change out everything that is not basic syntactic structure. Pizza gets a new meaning and so do cheese and bread and soup and wine and …

You see? It could mean anything. It could even mean what the conspiration theory says it means, only that it is so much more likely that it literally means what it means in any other pizzeria as well, namely the very stuff that they make and sell: pizza, cheese, bread, soup and wine.

3655 – Modes of Human Communication

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO  Comments Off on 3655 – Modes of Human Communication
Oct 212016
 

Both of today’s images were taken through my spying glass, the big, heavy 40-150/2.8 PRO. What did I bring along? The usual vacation gear (aka “The Big Gear”), meaning the trinity of the Olympus PRO lenses. Additionally I carried the small fisheye. I had bought it only days before the trip, and I figured I should use it while it was new, otherwise I’d probably forget about it 🙂

Do you still write post cards? I used to do it on vacations, but I have stopped at least ten years ago, maybe much, much longer.

In a way it was a nice ritual: searching typical, beautiful post cards that still avoided clichés, trying to perfectly match cards and recipients, trying to write individual, witty messages tailored to their recipients, buying stamps, finally searching for a mailbox. Yes, it sounds tedious, and that’s probably the main reason why we stopped doing it 🙂

Oct 202016
 

Does not look like stereotypical Provence, does it? Well, don’t fear, we’ll get to that 🙂

Today’s images (and tomorrow’s as well) were taken on Place des Cardeurs, where we sat for our first dinner. It’s one of the few places spacious enough that you can sit outside in the sun. Most other places crowded with restaurants are narrow and always in the shadow. It does not matter after sunset, but with long June days I enjoyed dining in the sun.

Sep 302016
 

It’s not really fair, is it? When I started posting images taken with the E-P5, it was already almost replaced with the PEN-F. It’s unfair, because I didn’t write about it while my enthusiasm was still there.

On the other hand, you just got the opposite with my short series about the PEN-F: a lot of posts about a new camera and new experiences, but no pictures to back it up.

Can I do better at the moment? Can I buy new cameras when they are actually new on the market, and can I write about them as soon as I get them?

You know the answer and you know that I can’t. I’ve played the game for some time, I’ve reviewed the D300 when it was very new, I’ve reviewed some lenses when almost nobody else had done it, and those efforts still lead people to my blog.

For me it’s not about hits any more though. In two weeks this blog will have its ten year anniversary, and I can only sustain my efforts when it continues to be fun. The way I do it now, it is. In the long run I keep losing readers, regretfully yes, but in the log run we’re all dead anyway 🙂