Monthly Archives: January 2010

Logitech Harmony One – Long Term Report

Well, it’s over a year since I first mentioned this toy, and a long time since my interim report, so this is probably as good a time as any for an update.

In short, I’m still using it every day, and the original remotes are lying unused. It does everything I need it to, and generally behaves itself very well. I have found that the rechargeable battery seems to be going the way of all such things, and is running down much more than it used to, but that’s remedied for now by remembering to park the remote on its base when I’m not using it, and it can be replaced if necessary. I’m still happy with it, though I see it’s more expensive than it was when I got it – it’s now well over £100 from Amazon, and I’m not sure I’d have gone for it at that price…

January 2010 Round-up

I thought I’d do this month’s round-up in good time for a change. I can’t guarantee I’ll keep that up for the rest of the year, but I’ll try…


Well, I have managed to keep weighing myself this month…

January 1: 228 pounds (16 stone 4 pounds, 103.4 kg)
January 31: 230.2 pounds (16 stone 6.2 pounds, 104.4 kg)
Difference: A rise of 2.2 pounds (1 kg), though it has been fluctuating fairly wildly


I’ve generally been having a bagel for lunch, as I mentioned recently, but I have been a naughty boy and added the odd pasty-type thing from Greggs. If I can just keep to the bagels, I’d probably start losing some weight…


While the exercise bike is still giving me disapproving looks because I’m still neglecting it, I did manage to walk to work on nine out of a possible twenty days, which is the most I’ve done in a long time. If there had been less snow in the early part of the month, I might have done even better.


Well. I’m not sure what happened there. It’s not as if I did any of that new year’s resolution stuff, or even forced myself to start typing more nonsense, but the total for January (including this post, but not any that I might do later today) will be 65. Not huge by Losing it[1] standards, but more than the combined total for September to December inclusive, and more than the last normal posting month, August. Not only that, but I’ve tried to make the daily weight posts a little more interesting by adding more pictures.


I’ve been out and about with the cameras a wee bit more this month, both despite[1] and because of[2] the weather. I took 461 pictures this month (excluding any that I might have deleted on-camera as they were completely useless) and took at least one picture on 21 out of 31 days, which is a lot more than I’ve managed since the summer. I’ve posted more pictures on Flickr than I have in a very long time, and I’ve even started participating in some groups there, for the first time in even longer. On the other hand, I haven’t quite got around to adding more pictures to my new photo site, but I’m sure I’ll get there….

[1] It’s hard to get motivated to go out and take pictures on unremittingly grey days
[2] But snow can be pretty, and mist makes for some interesting pictures

Red, White and Green

Those are, of course, the colours of the Welsh flag[1], but that’s not what I was thinking off when I saw this little group of leaves yesterday. My thoughts, such as they are, were more along the lines of “ooo!! pretty”, and led me to get in nice and close with the 24-105mm lens at its maximum length on the Canon 5D MkII. I had the aperture not far off its maximum at f/4.5, allowing the camera to set the exposure to 1/160 sec and a lovely low-noise ISO 100 setting.

Post-processing was limited to cropping it to a square, which seemed to work better, and a quick tweak of the Clarity and Vibrance sliders in Lightroom. I like this one a lot, and it’s another candidate for a large print job.

Green, Red and White

Green, Red and White

[1] And quite possibly of other flags, too

Weight and Stuff Report – 31 January 2010

OK, down a teeny weeny bit[1] today, but that’s probably just more randomness.

For today’s little extra, here’s another of yesterday’s snow pictures. This is Saltwell Park’s rose garden[2], which isn’t looking too rosy:

I beg your pardon...

I beg your pardon...

[1] Technical expression
[2] Unless it’s something else. I think it’s the rose garden, anyway.

Two Hearts Beat As One

Which is, of course, a quite wonderful U2 song. But it also struck me as a suitable title for this picture I took in Saltwell Park this morning:

Two Hearts Beat As One

Two Hearts Beat As One

More later.

Weight and Stuff Report – 30 January 2010

Ho hum, back up a bit today. Must be because of not walking to work, or something.

I was a wee bit surprised when I got up this morning – there was a quite heavy fall of snow overnight which I hadn’t been expecting at all. But unlike the last snowfall, this one doesn’t look like it’ll be hanging around, as the sun is shining from a bright blue sky, and it seems to be melting.

Anyway, whether it stays or goes, a bright sunny morning with lots of snow on the ground was just the thing to persuade me to go for a walk in Saltwell Park. And so I did, taking the Canon 5D MkII with me. The snow was thick underfoot – easily four inches or so in most places, but it was that nice, soft powdery stuff that’s actually quite pleasant to walk through, rather than the nasty icy stuff we had earlier in the month. I had a good wander round the park – the time stamps on the 130 or so pictures I took tell me I was there just over an hour – and I do believe I’ve got some good pictures. I’ll post more of them later, but here’s a quick taster:

Welcome to the Park

Welcome to the Park

I sometimes forget what a wonderful park I have so close to home. This picture should remind me, and I think I’ll be printing it…

Saltwell Park - The Dene

Saltwell Park - The Dene

And here’s the Dene, looking quite lovely.

More of these pictures will follow later…


Five years ago, two rovers landed on Mars. Spirit and Opportunity were designed to work for just 90 days, but have done rather better than that. While Opportunity is still roving and returning data, Spirit got stuck, and NASA’s engineers have been trying to wiggle it free for a long time now. But this week, the decision was made to stop trying that, and instead to position the rover so it can survive the Martian winter and take on a new role as a stationary laboratory. Phil “Bad Astronomy” Plait has the details, and as he points out, these two vehicles have been incredibly successful.

But xkcd has another way of looking at it:

xkcd: Spirit

xkcd: Spirit

Rather a sweet tribute, I thought.

Weight and Stuff Report – 29 January 2010

Down a wee bit today, but I think it’s still random wossnameness. For the second time this week, I got the bus in[1], as I needed to get in a wee bit earlier. But I did walk in three times, so I’m not doing too badly.

For today’s picture, it’s another bit of fisheye fun and games:

Tyne Bridges - Fisheye

Tyne Bridges - Fisheye

I liked the way the vapour trail (or con trail if you prefer) seems to be trying to form an arch, to match the bridge I was standing on. This is another revisited image – the previous time, it looked like this:



I’ll use a different lens for next week’s pictures. I just haven’t decided which one yet.

One more iPad thing…

I have to blame William[1] for bringing this to my attention. Possibly the silliest use of this video yet. Don’t click the play button if you’re offended by strong language in subtitles, or by the seemingly endless reuse of one little bit of Hitler video.

Embedding has now been disabled. See it on YouTube.

[1] Hi William!

iPad – UK details (sort of)

Following yesterday’s official announcements from Steve Jobs, Apple UK sent me a helpful email pointing me towards the actual iPad information on their site. All very useful apart from one teeny weeny detail:



Yes, slightly vague release dates are available, but pricing isn’t. Are they still working out how many percentage points above the current rate of VAT to add? Waiting for the exchange rate to reach a specific number?

Interesting questions have been raised about the pricing of the no less than six iPad models, which is a lot by Apple’s usually minimal standards. The big question is why there is such a big difference in price between the WiFi only models and the equivalents with 3G. It’s been pointed out that the electronics needed to support 3G are now readily available for not very much at all, which leads to the suspicion that the prices of the WiFi only models are artificially low, and that anyone who buys a 3G iPad will be effectively subsidising the price of the more basic models. The other question is why the base model has just 16GB of storage – that’s seriously low by modern standards, and does make me suspect that it’s been kept low so Apple can advertise it at $499.

Lots of other comments have been made about the perceived shortcomings of the device, some of them sensible, some of them seemingly based on the idea that it’s meant to be a replacement for an actual computer, and some of them just silly.

For instance, it doesn’t support Flash. Oh dear. Given that Flash is such a CPU-hogging, power-eating, diabolical waste of electrons, and even more so in the version that Adobe have inflicted on Mac users, its omission from a portable device that needs to run all day on a single charge seems quite sensible. Websites that rely on Flash to deliver content really should stop it, in my not even slightly humble opinion. Use it sparingly for animations if you must, but not for actual content. That’s what HTML is for.

It doesn’t multi-task. Neither does my iPhone, or my Sony book reader, and that doesn’t actually trouble me. As it’s running a version of iPhone OS, I’m sure iTunes will happily continue to play music while users browse web sites, read books or send email. Some limited multi-tasking may follow in a later OS version. Possibly.

It has no cameras. Good point this one, and I think it is a failing. Stick a moderately useful camera in it, and the iPad would be more attractive. I’m not interested in video conferencing, so I’d have no need for the dual camera thingy some people have mentioned.

Screen resolution – if it’s being marketed as a movie playing device, a widescreen ratio would make more sense. 4:3 is definitely old school, and does seem like an odd choice.

If you want to download images from a camera, you’ll need an optional adaptor. Apple will sell you a camera kit that includes one dongle thingy that can connect a USB cable, and another dongle thingy that can read SD (and presumably SDHC) memory cards. Would adding an actual USB port or two have been too difficult or expensive?

Those are some of the sensible complaints. There are sillier ones, some of which seem to stem from the quite unreasonable expectation that Apple were going to launch a tablet that would be a replacement for an actual computer, and others which simply show the commentators to be very silly. It seems that for some people, the first thing the word “pad” suggests is not a stuck together pile of paper, but a feminine hygiene product.

Leaving that aside, my current thought is that version 1 of the iPad is not something I really need. Maybe the next version will be the one – it wasn’t until the third version that the iPhone became what I wanted.