Author Archives: Les

Stuff Report – 25 September 2016

Steps taken: Hardly any

Well, apart from that bit of web server fun, it’s been a quiet relaxed day, with nothing else to report.

Here’s the Pontsticill Reservoir, seen from the station on the Brecon Mountain Railway

Pontsticill Reservoir

Pontsticill Reservoir

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/6.4
Shutter speed 1/300s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 11:49, 24 September, 2016

Mutter, borkage, mutter

Well, that was fun. I just tried to log in to this site and found that I couldn’t get into the admin area. No useful error messages, of course, just web browsers claiming that the server didn’t want to send any data. Webserver error logs? No help at all.

So, back to the kind of WordPress troubleshooting that used to be needed all the time, but hasn’t been needed for so long that I had to think about it.

This kind of error is usually caused by a misbehaving plugin, and the traditional fix is to rename the plugins folder on the server so WordPress can’t see them any more, and so disables the lot. Renaming it back again let me start enabling them one at a time to see what was breaking things.

And it seems that the breakage was being caused by Akismet (spam blockage) and Jetpack (adds numerous features), both from WordPress rather than random developers. Now this normally happens if a plugin is updated, but neither has been updated for a few weeks.

But what has had an update or two is the web server. Looks like one of the recent updates is conflicting with these two plugins, which is a wee bit annoying…

So, for the time being, both are disabled until I can work out what’s going on.

Update

OK, digging into the kind of Linuxy stuff I rarely need to investigate pointed out that any attempt to activate Akismet or Jetpack was causing segmentation faults, which are caused (or so my limited research tells me) by a process using more memory than it’s supposed to.

Digging further suggested that changing a value in php.ini would be the answer. So, I increased from 128M to 256M, restarted Apache and….

It worked!

Now as to why it suddenly started doing that, I’d have to say errr, dunno. Not sure if something had reset php.ini to a default value (I have a vague recollection of setting this value higher some time in the past), or if both plugins had suddenly started to use more memory (which seems unlikely), or if it was just random oddness.

But anyway, normal service has resumed.

Stuff Report – 24 September 2016

Steps taken: 1,605

Today’s fun was a ride on the Brecon Mountain Railway, through the lovely scenery of the Brecon Beacons. More photos later, but for now here’s another bit of HDR fun[1] showing the quite wonderful American-built narrow-gauge engine:

Brecon Mountain Railway

Brecon Mountain Railway

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/8
Shutter speed 1/125s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 11:04, 24 September, 2016

Oh, and today is day 16

[1] Odd. I’ve had Aurora HDR Pro for ages, and hadn’t really done much with it until this week. Just beginning to appreciate it before the shiny new version arrives in about a week’s time

 

Stuff Report – 23 September 2016

Steps taken: 535

As you might guess from the step count, it wasn’t a particularly active day. Though we[1] did go out in the evening to pick up Geoff’s daughters[3] and take them out for pizza. And then we dropped them off and came home.

I did some work on Wednesdays photos this afternoon, including this funky bit of HDR:

And the big wheel keep on turning...

And the big wheel keep on turning…

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/10
Shutter speed 1/550s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 14:21, 21 September, 2016

And a rare self-portrait:

Self-portrait

Self-portrait

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/10
Shutter speed 1/60s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 320
Taken 13:11, 21 September, 2016

The above picture was created with the aid of this:

Torchwood!

Torchwood!

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/10
Shutter speed 1/340s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 13:12, 21 September, 2016

And there you have it….

Oh and it’s day 15.

[1] That’s my brother[2] and I
[2] Hi Geoff  :wave:
[3] aka my nieces

Stuff Report – 22 September 2016

Steps taken: 1,341

Today’s fun was a visit to the Royal Mint Experience. When I was a young coin-collecting person in Cardiff, I would have loved to be able to visit the Royal Mint, located in Llantrisant, but in those days it was not something you could generally do. In fact it’s only quite recently that a visitor centre has opened.

For the usual fee, you get a guided tour of part of the actual factory where coins are minted – all carefully set up to keep visitors and the coins apart. You can even (for a further fee) get to press the button and create your own £1 coin as a souvenir. This is one of the past round pounds before the fancy new ones appear next year, and it’s an exclusive design that’s only available in collector’s sets – it won’t be released into circulation, so it’s a nice thing to have.

After the factory bit, there’s a very well presented exhibition which goes into the history of the Mint, the move from Tower Hill to South Wales, and much more. Some superb old coins are on display – the kind of extremely rare items you might have seen in books, but so much better in the metal. And of course, there’s the inevitable shop, where you can buy commemorative coin sets (including some of the more exotically priced items) and other souvenirs.

I loved it – probably not worth it if you’re not interested in coins, but if you are, you’ll have a great time.

And you can always say hello to Shaun the Sheep at the entrance to the centre:

Shaun

Shaun

Camera iPhone 6s
Aperture ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed 1/3800s
Focal length 4.15mm
ISO 25
Taken 11:29, 22 September, 2016
Location 51° 33.2305′ 0″ N 3° 23.2485′ 0″ W

Possibly best not to mention mint sauce[1], though.

[1] Sorry[2], had to be done
[2] Not

 

The things you see when you don’t have a long lens

When I got to Cardiff Bay today, I noticed some people on the roof of the Millennium Centre. This is the sort of thing that can lead to interesting photos, but being restricted to the X70’s wide lens made this a bit of a challenge. Here’s about the best view I could get:

Millennium Centre

Millennium Centre

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/10
Shutter speed 1/340s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 13:39, 21 September, 2016

Well, there is one thing to be said for even little Fuji cameras. They capture a lot of detail, as we can see in this close crop of the same image:

Wash and brush up

Wash and brush up

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/10
Shutter speed 1/340s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 13:39, 21 September, 2016

And now we can see that the roof is getting a bit of a clean.

Would have been nice to have a longer lens, though.

Stuff Report – 21 September 2016

Steps taken: 13,852

I took myself to Cardiff today. After a walk through the St David’s shopping centre (needed to buy something I’d forgotten to pack yesterday) I went to Queen Street station and got a train (oddly enough) to Cardiff Bay, where I had a wander and a quick lunch the Millennium Centre cafe. A bit more wandering led me back to the station and on arrival in Cardiff, I went to the National Museum for a look around, including the Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology exhibition, which was good, if moderately expensive at £7.

I then joined my brother[1] in a Wetherspoon’s for a drink or two with some of his former work colleagues. Food may have been eaten. Well, I had a rather nice chicken curry and Geoff had some buffalo wings. And yes, we did express surprise that buffalo can fly, as is traditional.

We then got a train back to Pencoed, where I got a quick view of the war memorial, as it looked interesting, being nicely illuminated.

Pencoed

Pencoed

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed 1/40s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 6400
Taken 19:37, 21 September, 2016

A street lamp has been edited out of this one.

[1] Hi Geoff  :wave:

Stuff Report – 20 September 2016

Steps taken: 3,034

Yes, it’s back to weightless reports again.

I took the now traditional 11:44 train from Newcastle (left about 10 minutes late), changed at Cheltenham (arrived more or less on time) and waited the equally traditional 40 minutes for the direct train to Pencoed where I was met by my brother (arrival also more or less on time).

And here I am. Food has been consumed, a glass of wine may have been drunk. Random acts of photography may be committed over the next few days, but for now here’s another Newcastle Snowdog:

Snowy snowdog

Snowy snowdog

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/5
Shutter speed 1/350s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 14:20, 19 September, 2016

This one’s been painted with snow scene, which seems quite appropriate for a Snowdog. But hold on – let’s take a closer look at that…

Snowception

Snowception

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/5
Shutter speed 1/340s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 14:21, 19 September, 2016

It’s the Snowman with his Snowdog. This Snowdog contains a Snowdog. This is the kind of thing that causes disturbances in the space-time thingumy, and really shouldn’t be encouraged…

 

Weight and Stuff Report – 19 September 2016

Weight: 215.2 pounds (15 stone 5.2 pounds, 97.6 kg)
Steps taken: 10,627

Back down again today. Will this randomness never end?

I was up early today, and headed into Newcastle to collect some train tickets from the magic machine in the station. I then decided on today’s activity, which had been entirely dependent on how soon the next train to somewhere I fancied going would be. Durham won, so that’s where I went.

I had a nice walk (all of it uphill, in all conceivable directions, I might add) and saw lots of things, some of which will be appearing here sooner or later, but for now here’s a slightly disturbing thing. This pig looks oddly happy about cooking other pigs.

Disturbing...

Disturbing…

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/4.5
Shutter speed 1/420s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 12:23, 19 September, 2016

I visited the cathedral and paid to enter the recently opened Open Treasure exhibition. This is an impressive thing, which opens up some previously hidden parts of the cathedral, most notably the dormitory with its spectacular wooden beam roof – all the original parts have survived, and I was told just needed a bit of a clean. There’s a lot to see, and there will be frequently changing displays in some areas. Not everything is on show yet, but it’s coming along nicely. It’s even got cool airlock style doors between sections to control the air flow. No danger of being ejected into space, though…

After a bit more wandering, I came back to Newcastle and decided that I needed some lunch. After the usual bit of dithering, I decided it was long past time to give Byron a go. Located in the premises that used to be Mawson Swan and Morgan of fond memory before becoming Waterstones[1], then some kind of clothes shop[2], Byron is one of the seemingly endless supply of what I guess you’d call posh burger places. Unlike the fast-food style of say, Five Guys, or the baffling semi-service approach adopted by Handmade Burger Co[4], this is proper table service, which is much more to my liking. When I arrived, the place was pretty quiet (well, it wass Monday, and past normal lunchtime hours) and I was shown to a nice window table. Being located at the top of Grey Street, it’s a nice place to sit and watch the world. Well, I was paying more attention to my Kindle, but you get the idea.

There’s a good range of burgers with various toppings, with chicken and veggie varieties on offer. And there’s a drinks menu. You can have a glass of wine with your burger should you be so inclined. Oddly enough, I wasn’t, so I had a pint of their own brand Pale Ale, which turned out to be a very good choice. Would drink again.

Getting on to the food, I opted for their signature Bryon Burger, which comes with cheese and bacon. I added an order of what they insist on calling French Fries.

The beer arrived quickly, the food more slowly, which is what you’d expect when it’s being cooked to order – I opted for medium well for my burger (you always get the choice).

When it arrived, it all looked great – the burger was oozing with toppings, the fries were nicely crisp and not even remotely soggy. The bacon was also crispy, which is just how I like it, and the brioche bun was remarkably un-stodgy. It was, in fact, a very good burger indeed, and I enjoyed it all.

There’s still the nagging thought that these places charge quite a lot for something pretty simple, and it’s not something I’d go for on a regular basis (meal for one with one drinks came to just over £17, which isn’t cheap). But yeah, it was good. Comfortable seating in pleasant surroundings, and good service.

[1] Their current premises in the glorious Emerson Chambers used to be Dillons before that chain was eaten by Waterstones. They actually had the two branches open remarkably close together for quite a long time before reducing to one
[2] Dunno, I don’t take much notice of that kind of thing[3]
[3] Yes, yes, I’m sure it does show
[4] You’re shown to a table and given a menu, but then have to go to the counter to order. Food and drinks are then delivered to your table. And you pay before you get fed.

Weight and Stuff Report – 18 September 2016

Weight: 217.4 pounds (15 stone 7.4 pounds, 98.6 kg)
Steps taken: Very few

Up again today, mutter.

Errr, quiet day in, getting the washing done, not a lot to report, etc.

Here’s a busy traffic scene from Beamish:

Transport

Transport

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/8
Shutter speed 1/500s
Focal length 16.5mm
ISO 640
Taken 14:16, 6 August, 2016