Daily Archives: Thursday, 7th Feb 2008

Vampire Bunny Revisited

The Vampire Bunny is one of those things I have to keep going back to. I keep going for different exposures, different angles, different lenses, different… well, anything to try and capture the Bunny properly. Using the 100mm macro lens[1], and a bit of selective saturation boosting in Lightroom, I think I’ve caught him quite nicely in this one.

Vampire Bunny Revisited

Vampire Bunny Revisited

One of Newcastle's odder sculptures. He's perched over the rear door of Cathedral Buildings.

[1] It’s not just for close ups, you know :smile:

Unwrapped at last!

Almost three years ago, I mentioned that the High Level Bridge was being restored, and I referred to the fact that the job turned out to be a bigger one than first expected. Well, for a long time, quite apart from being closed, the whole bridge was covered in white sheets, so it was impossible to tell what was going on[1]. But the sheeting has been removed and now we can see the bridge in its lovely new paint job. For the last few decades at least, the metalwork was painted in dingy grey. It did nothing at all to highlight the elegance of Stephenson’s design and combined with the general lack of repairs, made the bridge look quite dreadful.

Old paintings suggest that when it was new, the bridge was painted in a much lighter colour – something like the one that English Heritage insisted on for the restoration, and now it’s revealed, it’s quite clear that this should have been done a long time ago. In fact, I vaguely recall reading of an earlier plan to restore the bridge, which would have included a colour described at the time as “stone”. I don’t recall what happened to that plan.

High Level

High Level

After years of restoration, the High Level Bridge is looking good...

As I only had the one lens with me, I could only take detail shots like this one, but I’ll go back soon with the wide-angle lens and try to capture more of this great old bridge, which has finally been revealed as worthy of its place not just as an engineering marvel of its time[2], but as a thing of beauty.

[1] I did see one or two people claiming that no work was really going on, conspiracy, etc.. :unreal:
[2] For those not familiar with it, the High Level Bridge is a double-decker job – rail lines run on top, with the road contained in a “tunnel in the sky”, as it was called by some at the time it was proposed. It was the first crossing of the Tyne at Newcastle that didn’t require a steep climb in and out of the Tyne Gorge, and before it was built, the railway stopped at Gateshead, what with trains not being all that good at really steep hills…

Abstract One

This is a bit different from my usual pictures. In most of them you can tell what you’re looking at without too much trouble, but this one looks more like some, err, interesting bit of modern art than anything else.

Abstract One

Abstract One

Scattered reflections of the Swing Bridge on the Tyne.

It’s a pattern of reflections on the Tyne, of course – the red colours come from the Swing Bridge. The rest of the colours are just how the camera saw it. I didn’t quite capture the reality of the reflections, but I think I managed to get an interesting result, which is pretty cool in itself.

Like the other pictures from yesterday, this was taken with the 100mm macro lens.

Iomega MiniMax 750GB Hard Drive

After the fun I had with the last external hard drive I bought for the Mac Mini, I decided to get a different model rather than a replacement. While I could be persuaded that I’d just been unlucky and got a one-off dodgy drive with a tendency to sleep and never wake, I couldn’t really be bothered getting another one, trying it, and quite possibly having the same issue. So I did a bit more looking around, and decided to get this beast instead. Like the late unlamented WD drive, this one has both Firewire and USB2 interfaces, but lacks the eSATA connection. But as I don’t actually need an eSATA interface, that wasn’t really an issue. Unlike the WD model, this one also acts as either a USB hub or a Firewire hub, depending on which interface you decide to use. Most publicity material doesn’t make it clear that you can’t have both hubs at once, but the documentation does make it clear that you’re not supposed to connect the USB and Firewire ports at the same time. It would presumably either confuse the drive or create a rift in the space-time continuum, or something. But I digress[1].

The special selling point of this drive is that it’s specifically designed to sit under a Mac Mini. This is great if you’re short on desk space, or if you just like things to be tidy. It comes with the usual bits and bobs – power brick (with separate leads for UK and Furriner sockets), USB cable and two, yes two Firewire cables – one short one which is perfect if you’re stacking it under a Mac Mini and one more normal length one for other installations. It’s got a proper on/off rocker switch rather than the button found on the WD drive, which never gave any indication of whether it was taking any notice of being pressed. And as with lots of kit these days, it’s got a pretty blue light on the front, which shines through a slit, and onto the desk below. It comes formatted in Apple’s HFS+ format, so if you’re thinking of using it with a Windows PC, you will need to reformat.

I opted for the larger 750GB size this time – I don’t expect to need that much space, but I’d rather have room to grow. Smaller sizes are available, so it doesn’t have to be too expensive. Setting it up was the usual doddle – plug in, switch on, and see it appear on the Mac desktop. Once I’d done that, I moved my iTunes library from the spare USB hard drive I’d moved it to when the WD drive decided that working wasn’t what it wanted to do. The reason I didn’t just keep using that drive is that it’s loud. Really loud. I think it’s an over-enthusiastic fan that spins up and keeps going – when I was using it to back up the Windows box, I had to disconnect it when I wasn’t actually doing a backup to stop the humming making me go :dizzy: . And being USB, it was slower in operation than the Firewire drive, which meant that if I tried playing music while doing anything else, it tended to stutter a bit, which wasn’t nice. It might have been better if I’d got round to moving it from the USB hub to a direct port, but as it was only ever going to be a temporary measure, it wasn’t worth the effort. anyway, the music transferred easily enough.

Then it was time to move my photos. Again. I did this from Lightroom, where I created a new Catalog, set it as the default, then told it to import everything from the catalog on the other drive. As that was over 60GB of data, I went away and let it get on with it, which it did quite happily.

Once I’d confirmed that iTunes and Lightroom were happy, I ejected the USB drive and unplugged it. It’s now sitting away from the computer desk as a handy point in time backup, and an emergency disk should I ever need one. The final step was to reconnect the disk I use for Time Machine backups – it’s now happily connected to the Iomega’s Firewire hub, and everything is working as it should.

I left it a couple of days to make sure there were no major issues with this drive – the WD had created its first system hang sooner than this, though at the time I didn’t realise that was the cause[2]. This one does spin down when it’s not in use, but it comes back to life promptly when needed, which is pretty much what I want from an external disk.

The Amazon link above is pretty much just to give an illustration – as it’s being sold through Marketplace sellers, the postage charge makes it rather more expensive than going to the Apple Store, who gave me free delivery – ordered on Saturday, received on Tuesday, which is about as good as you can generally expect.

Overall, I’m happy with my new external drive, and I’d suggest you consider it if you’re looking for a Mac-friendly external drive.

[1] Constantly. It could almost be a new subtitle for the site…
[2] I’d been using a screen saver that displays album artwork from the iTunes library. When it kicked in, it got stuck trying to find images to load from the unresponsive drive and nothing would persuade the Mac to stop trying to run it…

Weight Report – 7 February 2008

Mutter. Up again today, but still only by a little bit, so I won’t get annoyed yet. I’m having a lot of trouble persuading myself to get up and go in enough time to walk to work, which isn’t helping.

However, I’ve been pretty good at lunchtimes this week. No sausage rolls or similar items have passed my lips, and if I’ve wanted more than a sandwich, I’ve had a banananana, which is probably a bit healthier. Today’s lunch might have been a Spicy Italian from Subway, but that wasn’t too unhealthy…

We have new smilies!

A few weeks back, my old[1] fiend[2] Twisty sent me some animated gifs of the emoticon kind. At the time, I was a bit busy with my Macification to add them anywhere, but now I’ve pretty much caught up with that project, I’ve been able to make the changes needed to add them to Losing it[1].

You can look forward to:

  • :clap: if something impresses me
  • :bow: if something really impresses me
  • :unreal: if I find something hard to believe
  • :drool: if I really like something
  • :rofl: if I find something a bit funny
  • :dizzy: if something makes me really confused
  • :music: if I’m listening to something
  • :evil2: if I want to insinuate something
  • :sick: if err, well, I might not use that one

[1] :rofl:

[2] :dizzy: