Monthly Archives: April 2013

April 2013 Round-up

Incredibly, that’s a whole third of 2013 gone. And only last month it was just a quarter that had gone, by the odd processes of arithmetic.

Anyway, on with the monthly report thingy.

Weight

April 1: 221.8 pounds (15 stone 11.8 pounds, 100.6 kg)
April 30: 218.5 pounds (15 stone 8.5 pounds, 99.1 kg)

In sharp contrast to last month’s three pound rise, that’s an actual drop of 3.3 pounds (1.5kg), which may have something to do with the walking.

Eating

I have actually managed to avoid having any sausage rolls or similar items at lunchtime this month.   I’m quite impressed with myself, really.

Exercise

While I only managed to walk to work twice and to walk home once, I did manage no less than seven lunchtime walks worth being mentioned, and five weekend walks, some of which were quite long.

Posting

A much busier month, with a total of 62, thanks to Doctor Who, the Terry Pratchett Project and…

Stuff

Well, if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll be aware that I sold my lovely Fujifilm X100 camera, just as I was beginning to really appreciate it, which may seem like an odd thing to do if you missed the bit about me replacing it with the even lovelier Fujifilm X100S, which has really rekindled my enthusiasm for getting out and taking photographs. Seriously, I love this camera.

Weight and Stuff Report – 30 April 2013

Down again today, woo, hoo.

I walked to work this morning, shock, horror, sensation, etc. And I went out for a walk at lunchtime. Today’s route took me in a long loop which took in part of Leazes Park, which I hadn’t visited for a while. Here’s the Garmin thingy, once again created with a mildly modified GPX file from Geotag Photos Pro.

Leazes Park Walk

Leazes Park Walk

I did, of course, have the Fujifilm X100S[1] with me for the walk, and I’ve got a nice selection of images which will be appearing here as tuits permit. But I can let you have a small sample. This is a close view of an eagle statue on the terrace in Leazes Park:

Eagle

Eagle

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/4
Shutter speed: 1/1500s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 30 April, 2013

After leaving the park, I walked back via Gallowgate, passing through St Andrew’s churchyard. I’d never really looked at this tower before, but now I have, I’ve got a much better feeling for the age of at least part of the building:

St Andrew's Church

St Andrew’s Church

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/300s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 30 April, 2013

And finally for today, here’s a bit of macro work – a rather nice daffodil in the churchyard. I’ve cropped this one down and darkened it a little to bring out more detail in the petals.

Daffodil

Daffodil

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/4
Shutter speed: 1/850s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 30 April, 2013

Lots more photographs to come.

[1] Have I mentioned how much I like this camera?

Doctor Who – Journey to the Centre of the Tardis

Moffat-era Doctor Who is occasionally accused of setting up what should be massively game-changing situations then hitting the reset button to put things back where they were. Now sometimes, that criticism might be justified, but only if you’re the sort of person who takes the whole thing desperately seriously, and misses the bit about it being fun. Part of the fun is being teased with hints of something that might, or might not happen, and a load more of the fun is trying to guess how the photon they’re going to get out of the latest impossible situation.

The latest episode involved the Doctor putting the TARDIS into basic mode (shields off[1], that kind of thing) so that Clara could have a go at driving. Naturally, at this point, as it’s in normal space and nicely visible, it gets picked up by a bunch of ever-so-slightly dodgy salvage merchants.

This causes all manner of technical issues of the “oh bugger, it’s going to explode” variety, and involves seeing a lot more of the interior of the TARDIS than we usually get. It seems to have had some major interior work done since the last tour, when the Fourth Doctor and Leela wandered around it in The Invasion of Time. We get to see the pool, albeit from a distance, and the rather interesting library, where Clara finds a book entitled “The History of the Time War”. Naturally, she has a quick look, and learns something that we’re not due to find out about for a few weeks.

Meanwhile, there’s a slight problem with fire zombies running around in the TARDIS, which seem to be the result of some more wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey effects caused by the engine exploding in a time-frozen manner.

Once again, we’re forced to ask what the Eye of Harmony is doing on the TARDIS[2], and we’re faced with complete disaster.

And the resolution does indeed involve pressing the reset button, which might be a bit of a cheat, but since it’s done by pressing an actual big friendly button, I had to let it go and accept the wink with which it was presented.

Clara, in a timeline that probably didn’t happen, briefly knew the Doctor’s real name, and it seemed to mean something to her. Hmmmm.

More fun and games to come – next Saturday sees the return of Madame Vastra and her entourage, which should be nicely silly. Then we have some Cybermen to enjoy, and then comes what Steven Moffat is suggesting is going to be a very big finale indeed, with promises of actual game-changing, no reset button revelations. Hmmmm, again.

[1] Always a good idea…
[2] Maybe it’s just an Eye of Harmony, and they come in six-packs

Terry Pratchett – Pyramids

And on we go with the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon. The seventh in the series was first published in 1989, and is the first to be a “one-off”. So far, the books have featured either Rincewind, with or without the rest of Unseen University, Granny Weatherwax, with or without other witches, or Death. Well, Death’s only starred in one book so far, but trust me, he’s a recurring character we’ll be seeing a lot more of. This one is based around the ancient and pyramid-obsessed Kingdom of Djelibeybi[1], which in the finest Pratchett style is ancient Egypt with knobs on, and with all the knobs turned up to a very high number.

Teppic, the heir to the throne, has been sent to Ankh-Morpork to get a proper modern education in the Assassins Guild, which seems like a nicely respectable institution. The fun begins when he arrives, as this is played as a traditional public school story, complete with one new student being mocked for saying his prayers in the dormitory. Of course, this being the Discworld, the prayers involve sacrificing a goat. And of course, Teppic’s final[3] practical exam is ever so slightly reminiscent of a driving test, albeit one with lethal traps.

But the real fun starts when Teppic’s slightly confused father, having mistaken himself for a seagull, makes an unsuccessful flight from the palace. He finds that he’s stuck haunting the place until he’s interred in his pyramid. Teppic arrives home to become King, only to find that the real power is with the High Priest, Dios, who is suspiciously old.

Actually, the real fun begins when, having been pressured by Dios, Teppic authorises the building of the biggest pyramid ever, which leads to a slight problem. You see, pyramids do funny things with time, and a pyramid this big does even funnier things, which lead to Djelibeybi disappearing.

Then there’s a lot of fun with some Ephebians[4], where a bunch of philosophers have a nice friendly chat, which is made slightly annoying by Ibid, who thinks he’s the greatest authority on everything.[5]

Then there’s the Disc’s greatest mathematician, who might not be quite what you’d expect. And loads of fun when the gods of Djelibeybi manifest themselves, including several competing sun gods.

Then there’s the slight problem of all of Teppic’s ancestors getting out of their pyramids in rather a bad mood[6], which involves one of my favourite Discworld routines:

King Teppicymon XXVII[7], having done the proper lurching around as a mummy, has started things moving by opening the tomb of his grandmother. They’ve moved on to open the much older tomb of King Ashk-ur-men-tep. He isn’t all that happy about being awake, and is even less happy about the Great Pyramid that’s causing all the trouble.

‘It is a dretful thing,’ said the ancient king. ‘I felt its building. Even in the sleep of deathe I felt it. It is big enough to interr the worlde.'[8]

‘I wanted to be buried at sea,’ said Teppicymon. ‘I hate pyramids.’

‘You do not,’ said Ashk-ur-men-tep.

‘Excuse me, but I do,’ said the king, politely.

‘But you do not. What you feel nowe is myld dislike. When you have laid in one for a thousand yeares,’ said the ancient one, ‘then you will begin to know the meaning of hate.’

Nice. I use a variation on that when people who merely use computers claim to hate the things.

There’s loads more to enjoy that I’ve deliberately not mentioned. Huge fun, some wonderful silliness, and even more interesting ideas.

[1] A name familiar to Doctor Who fans[2]
[2] Though possibly with a different spelling
[3] Look at it this way, there are no resits
[4] Ancient Greeks with the knobs turned up, etc
[5] He must be! He’s cited as the source for so many things…
[6] Well, they’d been woken up a bit early
[7] Teppic’s late father
[8] They obviously talked differently in his day

Weight and Stuff Report – 29 April 2013

Down again today. Had a busy day at work, and didn’t get up to any more photography today.

This is another photograph from Saturday’s walk. This is one of the more impressive features of the sculpture trail that runs from the marina and along the river. It’s called Shadows in Another Light, and this is just part of it:

Shadows in Another Light

Shadows in Another Light

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/40s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 27 April, 2013
Location: 54° 54.6732′ 0″ N 1° 22.6336′ 0″ W

Around the base of the tree-like structure are a number of plaques showing various features of local interest. I quite like this take on the Lambton Worm, which includes Penshaw Monument.

Lambton Worm

Lambton Worm

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/4
Shutter speed: 1/480s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 27 April, 2013
Location: 54° 54.6732′ 0″ N 1° 22.6336′ 0″ W

 

Weight and Stuff Report – 28 April 2013

Back up today, possibly because I had a large Subway thingy for lunch and drank a gallon or two of water while working. Yes, working on a Sunday, shock, horror, etc. Stuff had to be moved and sorted out…

But enough of that, here’s a photo. I’d passed this memorial cross once or twice, but I don’t think I’ve ever really looked at it before. It turns out to be a memorial to the Venomous[1] Venerable Bede, erected in the early 20th century.

Bede Cross

Bede Cross

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/550s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 27 April, 2013
Location: 54° 55.6126′ 0″ N 1° 22.021′ 0″ W

It’s covered in engravings, images, Celtic-y patterns and the like, and this inscription, which I guess is a translation from the man himself. This is a close crop of the above image, and shows how much detail the Fujifilm X100S manages to capture.

Bede Cross

Bede Cross

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/550s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 27 April, 2013
Location: 54° 55.6126′ 0″ N 1° 22.021′ 0″ W

 

[1] Sorry, can’t help it. All I know about history I learned from 1066 And All That[2].
[2] 

Weight and Stuff Report – 27 April 2013

Hmmm, no change again today.

After the usual shopping thingy, I took the Metro to Seaburn. I walked down to the seafront[1], then headed south to Roker pier. Then I had a walk around the marina and along the riverside path to the Wearmouth bridge, where I ended my walk and got the Metro back to Gateshead. Here’s the Garmin evidence:

Walk

Walk

I took a load of photographs, some of which will appear in due course, subject to tuit supply[2]. But one thing I saw and kept on seeing has to get a mention. Almost as soon as I got to the seafront, I could see some enormous metal legs and a crane sticking up in the air. As I got closer, I found they were part of what, being a non-seagoing person, I would describe as a bloody big boat. Seriously, this thing is big.

MPI Resolution

MPI Resolution

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/600s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 27 April, 2013

The MPI Resolution, which is so big it has its own webpage, is used for installing offshore wind turbines. The legs drop down to anchor it when it’s working with really big bits of metal…

Oh, and just for Sherry[3], who likes this kind of thing, this is the lighthouse which forms a useful landmark at the annual airshow. It used to be on the south pier at Sunderland, but was relocated as a preserved historical thingy.

Old Sunderland Lighthouse

Old Sunderland Lighthouse

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/800s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 27 April, 2013

[1] This took a lot less time than it usually does when I go there, due to the lack of thousands of other people going to the airshow that isn’t on this week
[2] Which will be a bit short, as I have to go to work tomorrow
[3] Hi Sherry  :wave: [4]
[4] Extra footnote just for you

Weight and Stuff Report – 26 April 2013

No change today, which is moderately acceptable.

It’s been a day of changeable weather. Nice and sunny when I had to go to work, but a bit grey when I went out at lunchtime. I decided to take the Fujifilm X100S down to the Quayside again, where I got a closer look at this chap:

Take a seat

Take a seat

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/35s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 26 April, 2013
Location: 54° 58.168′ 0″ N 1° 36.5625′ 0″ W

I looked up a bit this time, and got a slightly different view than I normally do of the Swirle Pavilion:

Swirle Pavilion

Swirle Pavilion

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/400s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 26 April, 2013
Location: 54° 58.168′ 0″ N 1° 36.5625′ 0″ W

Carrying on with the looking up theme, I got this angle on the Blacksmiths Needle:

Blacksmiths Needle

Blacksmiths Needle

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/750s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 26 April, 2013
Location: 54° 58.168′ 0″ N 1° 36.5625′ 0″ W

I carried on walking as far as the Ouseburn, where I realised I was running out of lunchtime, so turned around and walked back. On the way, I had another look at the Needle, and got a shot of it with the cloud-shrouded sun directly behind it. What I got was almost a silhouette, which led me to do some mucking about with it. First, I removed a lump of Baltic that was sticking into the corner, then I had a fiddle in Silver Efex Pro.

Blacksmiths Needle Revisited

Blacksmiths Needle Revisited

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/1500s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 26 April, 2013
Location: 54° 58.168′ 0″ N 1° 36.5625′ 0″ W

Just after that, the sun started to come out again, which let me get a nice and bright view of this place, whose name might be asking for trouble:

Great coffee

Great coffee

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/350s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 26 April, 2013
Location: 54° 58.168′ 0″ N 1° 36.5625′ 0″ W

And then I went back to work. I’d walked over two miles, which ended with going uphill on Dean Street, which is moderately hard work. Here’s the map-free Garmin evidence, once again produced by a bit of jiggrey-pokery[1] with the GPX file from Geotag Photos Pro.

Quayside Walk

Quayside Walk

[1] Technical expression

GPX – fun and games with standards

I’ve mentioned a few times the fun and games involved in getting “standard” GPX files created by various applications and devices into Garmin Connect. Back in November 2011, I mentioned using an application to convert GPX files created by Runkeeper into TCX files that Garmin Connect could read. As I’d stopped using Runkeeper (other than using it to automagically grab data from Garmin Connect, which then get automagically linked to my Withings account), I’d more or less forgotten about this.

But when I started using Geotag Photos Pro, it all came back to me. I was hoping that I could use one app to create the data I need for geotagging photographs taken with the Fujifilm X100S and log my activity. Easy enough, just upload the relevant GPX file into Garmin Connect, and off you go. But no. What happens when you do that is that the Garmin site stares at you, shrugs its shoulders and grunts. Well, OK, what it actually does is show an error message of the “err, didn’t work” variety, which isn’t terribly helpful. But this time I did a bit more searching and reading, and on a forum, I found the solution. I neglected to save the link, so I can’t give credit, but it’s a generic enough answer so no doubt multiple people have found it. I’ll post it here so I know where it is.

The thing is, that like all good standards, GPX comes in versions. There’s an old version 1.0, and a moderately recent (only about six or seven or so years old) version 1.1. Garmin like to be moderately up to date, and so Garmin Connect is expecting to see a properly formatted v1.1 file. Geotag Photos Pro, and presumably a lot of other things, produces a v1.0 file, which Garmin Connect doesn’t like. Now you’d think that whatever it uses to read the file might spit out a message about “invalid version”, but presumably that would be too hard…

But hold on, what’s actually in a GPX file? Isn’t it just some XML? Indeed, the records in a typical GPX file look like this:

<trkpt lat="54.9712" lon="-1.610842"><ele>71.44318</ele><time>2013-04-24T12:05:31Z</time></trkpt>
<trkpt lat="54.97103" lon="-1.610862"><ele>64</ele><time>2013-04-24T12:06:47Z</time></trkpt>
<trkpt lat="54.97102" lon="-1.610431"><ele>63</ele><time>2013-04-24T12:07:00Z</time></trkpt>

So what’s the problem, then? Well, it’s the header information at the top of the file that tells whatever’s trying to read it what sort of file it is. In the case of Geotag Photos Pro, the header looks like this:

<gpx creator="Geotag Photos http://www.geotagphotos.net/" version="1.0"
xmlns="http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0"
xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0 http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/0/gpx.xsd">

You’ll notice it says it’s version 1.0 and there are some 1/0 references in the numerous URLs. So all you have to do is change that header to one more like this:

<gpx creator="Geotag Photos http://www.geotagphotos.net/" version="1.1"
xmlns="http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/1"
xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/1 http://www.topografix.com/GPX/1/1/gpx.xsd">

Save the file with the new header, and Garmin Connect will happily read it and add it to your activities.
You can save that as a standard block of text, or use a tool such as TextExpander to drop it in for you. Or just edit it manually – it’s just a matter of changing 1.0 to 1.1 and 1/0 to 1/1.

Weight and Stuff Report – 25 April 2013

Back up a bit today, but still better than last week.

It was a bit of a damp and grey day today, so there was no fresh photography. But here’s a photograph from Tuesday, of a slightly surprised looking building on Westgate Road, Newcastle.

Surprised Building

Surprised Building

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/120s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 23 April, 2013
Location: 54° 58.214′ 0″ N 1° 37.0862′ 0″ W