Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Update, with extra links and a disclaimer or two!


I exist. I am real. Well, real enough to cause myself some damage. 

Apologies for not staying up to date and posting more often, but, well... Life.


No excuses. I'll be back. 


General disclaimer: thoughts and musings are my own. Opinion is opinion, and if unattributed, it's likely mine. If I quote, I link. Please use your discretion. I am not giving medical or legal advice, either!

Specific warning: if I post to a link which references a product or service, it may be something that I am selling (a service, product, advice, or photography) or something provided via Amazon's provisioning and delivery enterprise. Which is a reminder that as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Did I mention photography? I use Nikon gear mostly, and they pay me nothing for mentioning that. I use Skylum's Luminar editing software, and they may give me something in return (could be a commission) if you follow a link here back to their site.  

I may also be found on Quora, and some content there earns me a few cents. I may be on other sites, like Medium, too. And Flickr. And Instagram.

I may be found also on Patreon. If you want to patronise me, go right ahead.

And finally, I have a tip jar via PayPal. If you find my musings useful, consider a contribution. I'd appreciate it. 

All the best, and take care.

Reminder: as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

I'm still here...


Sorry about the ongoing failure to post, but I have plans to get back to something more consistent... soon. 

In the meantime, you may like to follow me on Quora. I do post there (almost daily) on many topics, including finance, business, economics, society, and science. Even cameras and computers.

Stay well, keep safe.

Friday, March 03, 2017

More successfully... WiFi, apps and the Nikon D5200

Running a WiFi dongle off my Nikon D5200 dSLR and installing Live View controlling apps on both a Windows 10 tablet and a Samsung Galaxy Note has been very successful, so far.

It gives me an intervalometer function that the 5200 doesn't natively have and allows both Live View and full camera control on the tablets (or smartphone for that matter), which can be handy for timer shots, animation and macro work. Studio photographers who want to show their work to a client as they shoot it would also have a need.

I'm using WiFi Wireless Live View Remote Nikon D810 Df D610 D600 D800 D7100 D7000 D4 D3x with dslrdashboard bundled in at no extra cost.

The dslrdashboard would work with other WiFi devices, including Nikon's own WU-1a and the like, but I can only vouch for what I have. (It also suits Canon and some Sony cameras.) You can buy the dashboard alone via the Play Store for a small fee. I'm using Android, of course (and Win 10).

The dongle I've bought needs the standard Nikon cable which comes with the camera, by the way, and just hangs loose on the cable, sadly. Whereas the WU-1a plugs straight into the connector on the camera. Other designs are even more convenient, mounting on the flash hot-shoe; but then you have to relocate your flash of course.

So far every function works with my combination of hardware, but it won't fully work with Nikon's 3XXX series and perhaps other models. The Nikon D5200, FWIW, is both a bargain and a very good DX or APS-C format dSLR. It works for me, anyway!

Happy Anniversary Update? Fun things to try... or not

Sometimes it's easy, other times it's not.

Upgrading my old Toshiba L500 to the Anniversary edition of Windows 10 (it's running 1507 right now) hasn't been easy. I lost count of how many times it has made it to 95% and fallen over.

Despite trying...

(a) clearing out the upgrade folder and downloading again and...

(b) being patient and...

(c) resetting Win10 (that failed) and rebooting off a fresh Win10 installation USB (which also failed).

I'm no closer to a solution.

I did get a glimmer of hope when I logged in under a different account (I have at least 3 on that box) so I'm backing up - again - after a failed backup and will try all of the above again.

Oh, and I tried to download and run the update manually, too. It failed. And yes, I was logged in as Admin. And made lots of space. And disconnected anything I didn't need.

All good fun.

My other Win 10 boxes - all Lenovos - shamelessly updated effortlessly, by the way. But they are newer, which always helps. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What makes a brand worth paying extra for? Or, what's under the hood and does it matter?

So you just bought the latest XYZ brand laptop, eh? And you've been an XYZ brand fan since way back, I hear. Well, that's cool. Hope you didn't pay too much extra for that "cool brand" buzz, though.

Presumably many of us realise that we have "Intel inside" most of our PCs (or AMD, or whatever), and a host of other known (like NVIDIA) or unknown brands that form an ecosystem of mainboard, graphics, hard drive, I/O and other componentry lurking inside our machines as well.

This more-or-less minor brand ecosystem includes what's inside smartphones, notebooks, laptops and almost all popular consumer-grade hardware, of course. Your brand-name hardware is not all made (or even designed, let alone invented) by one company, you know.

So much commonality does make you wonder exactly why XYZ brand is considered so "different" and worth the extra bucks, of course.

And yet there are differences.

Not just in marketing and support, which can be crucial, or in the out-of-box experience for that matter. Some hardware has a greater degree of bespoke design and innovation, and some brands get "first pick" of the best, highest-grade and newest stuff.

And you pay for that privilege. Or not.   

Some shortcuts are mission-critical and you probably don't want to take the risk. Lower-grade components may go "pop" just out of warranty, for example. So there are tiers - levels - of acceptable performance, assembly and component quality. Of course you aren't to know which tier you are buying at, although price is often - not always - a good indicator. 

For the unwary and uninitiated, many - perhaps most - PC manufacturers buy a great deal of proven hardware from somewhat 'hidden' suppliers, often extending to a re-branding exercise based on a "barebones" build.

And that's a good thing. It maximises production runs and reduces costs. What you are buying and possibly paying extra for may be the same as another brand "under the hood", true; or it may be a premium version with the very latest build or higher-spec components.

Or you may be getting a better standard of service and support. Or not.

Comparison shopping is essential, and asking questions is key. Dig deep before buying.

Just out of interest I wondered who actually made the 2016-spec "Kogan Atlas Pro" brand of laptops, for example, and with a bit of poking around I'm fairly certain (mostly based on a spooky resemblance in pictures) that they are Clevo barebones builds. And the spec is good. Technically perhaps a tad behind the absolutely cutting edge but performance-wise excellent and great value for money. Of course this can change in the blink of an eye, with the simple up or downgrade of component levels. And whilst I have never had a bad experience with Kogan electronic products (a smartphone and a TV, both rebrands as well), my anecdotal experience is just one amongst many.

Don't rely on one or even 2 opinions, after all. They (a re-branded like Kogan) may sell hundreds or even thousands. The happy customers rarely say so, but the unhappy ones can get out the loudhailer.

The Clevo website is interesting, for those who like to explore these things...  and for those with some technical nous who crave a little excitement as well as a bargain, check out RJ tech, who will supply you a barebones box (just add your own chips et al) or build it for you.

Tempting, I know. Or just let someone else worry about it and buy a popular retail brand instead.  

(Oh, and I should mention that Intel Inside is a trademark of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries in the U.S. and/or other countries.)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fantamorph v5 review

Morph 2 images into 1 or an entire sequence. It even does layers. It's Fantamorph!

Quick review: WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe

Monday, November 05, 2012

Watch out for fake ebay transaction emails

Never click on links embedded in emails - at least unless you check 'em out first. Your email agent or virus software may flag it as a "scam" - or not - but be wary anyway. Just hover your mouse over any suspect link to disclose the real address that you are clicking through to... and if it looks unlike what you'd expect (just an IP address or a long and somewhat bizarre suddomain+domain address) then don't click. Most reputable businesses don't send out "click here if you think this is in error" messages anyway, so that's a clue worth noting. More than likely if it sounds like a fake transaction then it probably is. But if you do click through you'll simply expose yourself to nasty tricks and people that you really don't want to mess with. 

Here's an example of one such phishing expedition (it's all fake):
You sent a payment of $79.3 AUD to eBay International AG (

It may take a few moments for this transaction to appear in the Recent Activity list in your Account Overview.

eBay International AG
+61 61282880000
Instructions to merchant
You haven't entered any instructions.

Issues with this transaction?
If you belive this is an error please follow the link below to login to your paypal account.
On the next page, please complete the required details, then press the 'Cancel Payment' button to confirm. Your payment will be cancelled and the funds returned to your PayPal account.

(That's then followed with a fake address that masks a real but presumably nasty IP address. Just don't click.)

Some links to discussion on this topic:

Fake PayPal phishing emails.: Trading on eBay: Community
Fake PayPal phishing emails
Another PayPal/ebay scam email .......... - quicksales Forum
Another PayPal/ebay scam email ..........
I have been receiving these e mails since I started using PayPal again to pay for items. They say it's a receipt for your payment but the amount & seller are not who you think. Then they give a link saying to click to cancel payment. DO NOT click the link, send the e mail to your spam folder & delete. The latest one I just got said I had paid $79.30 to If you think any e mail is suspicious just delete.

Monday, May 21, 2012

PCs aren't just workhorses for the office, they can be a useful and fun tool for home or work image and video production, too. Here's one such tool that runs in the Windows OS, Dynamic Auto-Painter. I've taken a screenshot video as the application does its magical work...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

IBM's new 'Holey' optical transceiver may be full of holes but is rather quick

I used to sell this sort of stuff in the mid-80s... suffice to say we are getting faster and better all the time at transferring data quickly and in quantity within a chipset. The road blocks may come about when the data tries to leave the boundaries of the chipset, of course... 

IBM unveils one trillion bit-per-second optical chip
Last Thursday at the Optical Fiber Communication Conference in Los Angeles, a team from IBM presented research on their wonderfully-named "Holey Optochip." The prototype chipset is the first parallel optical transceiver that is able to transfer one trillion bits (or one terabit) of information per second. To put that in perspective, IBM states that 500 high-def movies could be downloaded in one second at that speed, while the entire U.S. Library of Congress web archive could be downloaded in an hour.