Author Archives: Les

Weight and Stuff Report – 16 January 2017

Weight: 238.2 pounds (17 stone 0.2 pounds, 108 kg)
Steps taken: 3,447

Shock horror, down again today.

Having had myself certified at the weekend, I took my data in my hands and did some fun SQL editing to update internal links to read https: instead of http:, an exercise that shouldn’t really be necessary, as the server is happily translating requests from one to the other anyway, and serving things up in the proper way. Indeed, my two usual browsers confirm that they’re quite happy with my pages. But guess which one doesn’t really look at what’s happening, but instead looks at the source code and squeals about insecure resources? Yeah. Internet Exploder, which is still around, believe it or not.

Well, content now has explicit https: URLs, so that should stop it whining.

And to make things even more fun, I’ve started going through old posts with Amazon links in to replace the old images with modern Amazon embedded thingies. This may take a long time, as I’ll probably get fed up of doing it before long.

This is, I believe, a thingy known as a car.

Austin-Healey

Austin-Healey

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/8
Shutter speed 1/500s
Focal length 17mm
ISO 2500
Taken 11:27, 9 July, 2016

Weight and Stuff Report – 15 January 2017

Weight: 239.8 pounds (17 stone 1.8 pounds, 108.8 kg)
Steps taken: Not a lot

Up a bit today, which ended up being a quiet day in, what with the weather being a bit cold and damp this morning. But hey, I got the ironing done, so it wasn’t all bad.

This is a Tynemouth landmark, which I don’t seem to have pointed a camera at previously:

Watch House

Watch House

Camera X-T2
Aperture ƒ/2.8
Shutter speed 1/2000s
Focal length 56.3mm
ISO 200
Taken 12:33, 14 January, 2017

Apple AirPods

OK, the Amazon link on the left[1] is included for comedy reasons only. At the moment, these are in short supply, leading to naughty people on the Amazon Marketplace trying to charge nearly twice the actual price of the product.

But hey, I managed to buy mine in the Newcastle Apple Store a couple of weeks ago (they had three in stock at the time), so I’d suggest you try your nearest Apple Store, or just wait a while if you’re interested.

And I can already hear you asking why I got these. Surely those nice Bose wireless headphones are more than up to the job? Well, yes they are, and they’re still working nicely, thanks for asking, but sometimes it would be nice to have something a wee bit, you know, smaller, something easier to take off and put away, something that isn’t going to mess up your hair or get caught up if I raise my coat’s hood.

And so, when Apple announced these, I was intrigued. I waited until I’d seen some reports from people who’d actually used them before buying, as I’ve had poor experiences with in-ear phones before.

Anyway, to summarise what you probably already know:

These are wireless earbuds with an added twist of Apple cleverness. Rather than the usual pair of buds connected by a cable[2], these are two genuinely separate items. They come with a case that has a Lightning port for charging, and the case in turn charges the AirPods. There’s a single LED inside the case that does two things: with the AirPods in their sockets, it indicates their charge level – green for fully charged. Remove the buds and it’ll show the charge level of the case. A Lightning cable is included in the box, but no plug charger, presumably on the grounds that anyone who buys these probably doesn’t need another one.

Now getting Bluetooth devices to work with phones and computers is often a frustrating experience, he said politely. Well, it’s often an exercise in staring at your devices and pointing while shouting

It’s right next to you, what do you mean you can’t find it?

Devices arbitrarily lose all recollection of things they’ve been paired with and sometimes need to be removed, reconnected, wrapped in clingfilm, fed to a goat, extracted from its poop and recharged before they’ll work. I may be exaggerating a bit there, but not by much. So what have Apple done about that?

To pair with your iPhone, you hold the case next to it and open the lid. So long as you’ve updated to a suitably modern version of iOS, that’s it. AirPods are now able to play sound from your iPhone. And that would be quite clever enough, but there’s more. If your Mac is using the same iCloud account as your iPhone, it’s auto-bloody-matically able to use the AirPods as well. Just have them close enough and you’ll be able to select them as a device from the volume control in the menu bar.

There are no physical controls on the AirPods – no volume control, no play/pause/answer calls, but a tap will activate Siri, who will do things if you ask nicely. Personally, this isn’t an issue for me – the only control I ever used on the Bose headphones was the on/off switch, which isn’t needed here, as in a bout of extreme joined up thinking, the music stops as soon as you take one of the buds out of an ear, and it restarts when you replace it, making them ideal for any interaction with humans that you might find yourself obliged to engage in. If you have an Apple Watch, you’ll probably be used to controlling your music from your wrist, anyway, so you won’t miss the inline controller of Apple’s wired earbuds.

A common problem with earbuds (certainly for me) is that they’re often uncomfortable to wear (even the ones with numerous alternative rubber of foam tips), or have an annoying tendency to drop out. How do the AirPods cope?

Surprisingly well, as it happens. I’ve been wearing them on my journeys to and from work for the last couple of weeks, and I’m happy to say that they haven’t annoyed my ears at all. And, apart from on the first day I wore them, when I suspect I just hadn’t put them in quite right, they’ve stayed firmly in place, even when it’s been a bit windy and I’ve been walking around. I’ve heard reports from people who indulge in a strange activity called “running”[3] that even this doesn’t dislodge them, though as always, your ears may differ, insert disclaimer, etc.

But the main requirement is, of course, the sound. Well, overall, they’re not as loud as my Bose phones, but they’re as loud as I need my music to be consistent with still being able to hear traffic. The sound quality is clear and good enough for moving around – a test at home suggests that it’s actually very good when there’s no background noise to distract.

So, overall, I rather like them. There is the concern that these little things might be a bit easy to lose, of course. Apple will replace a single AirPod for less than half the price of a new set, or so I understand – though I’d suggest not losing any until the stock situation settles down.

Hmm, that’s my longest post for ages. Who’d have thought I’d manage over 900 words on a pair of earbuds?

[1] Assuming your ad blocker isn’t hiding it
[2] I had a pair like that, they just wouldn’t stay in my ears
[3] I wouldn’t know…

Weight and Stuff Report – 14 January 2017

Weight: 239.1 pounds (17 stone 1.1 pounds, 108.5 kg)
Steps taken: 5,945 or possibly 6,696

Down again today, woo, hoo. Only a load more to go…

If you’re reading this on the actual site rather than looking at the preview on Facebook, you’ll see I’m quoting two different step counts. One comes from the Withings app (the larger one) and the other from Apple’s own Health app, which likes to chat to my Apple Watch. I’ve no idea which is more accurate…

I persuaded myself that I really should go out for a bit today, even though it was a wee bit chilly. After the usual bout of dithering, I went to Tynemouth for a quick look around, where I spotted this arriving:

Arrival

Arrival

Camera X-T2
Aperture ƒ/7.1
Shutter speed 1/1400s
Focal length 55mm
ISO 200
Taken 12:23, 14 January, 2017

Shame I hadn’t arrived a bit earlier, to get a better view, really. But I did get another shot after it had moved up the Tyne a bit:

Boat

Boat

Camera X-T2
Aperture ƒ/5
Shutter speed 1/1400s
Focal length 140mm
ISO 200
Taken 12:34, 14 January, 2017

 

Are you feeling secure?

Well, you should be as this site is now being served up with an added certificate and will only talk to you over HTTPS. Depending on how your choice of browser shows these things, you might notice a little padlock on the address bar.

While this isn’t really all that important for a site like this, it does mean all communications between site and browser are secure, so only the NSA, CIA, GCHQ, FSB, B&Q and M&S can intercept them. Well, maybe not the last two.

I’m using a free certificate from Let’s Encrypt, which does the same job as one you’d pay lots of money for. If you want to secure a website, and you don’t mind a bit of command line jiggery-pokery, this is a good way to go.

Note: it’s possible that older pages with embedded thingies from other sites will break the padlock and show as unsecured. If I ever find a tuit, I’ll fix those as I find them. But all current content (even Amazon link things, which used to be a problem), will now be nicely secure.

And if none of that meant a thing to you, hang on. A normal[1] post will be along soon.

[1] Yeah, yeah. Normal for here, that is

Weight and Stuff Report – 13 January 2017

Weight: 240.3 pounds (17 stone 2.3 pounds, 109 kg)
Steps taken: 2,135

Up by another small amount today.

The day started with a covering of snow which had appeared overnight. It was pretty much gone by lunchtime, though it’s got colder since then. That’s quite enough snow for this year, though.

This is sort of vintage take on Alnwick Castle:

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/8
Shutter speed 1/500s
Focal length 20mm
ISO 200
Taken 12:40, 30 July, 2016
Location 55° 24.92′ 0″ N 1° 42.4063′ 0″ W

 

Lightroom to WordPress in one easy step

Those nice WordPress people have just told me about a nifty new toy – a Lightroom plugin that will export images directly to a WordPress blog’s media library. It needs a wordpress.com login, which if you’re using Jetpack, you’ll already have.

Download the plugin, copy it to your Lightroom plugins folder (on my Macs that’s in the user Library folder under Application Support/Adobe/Lightroom/Modules) and you’ll find you now have WordPress.com as an alternative export location. The first time you use the plugin, you’ll need to log in with your wordpress.com credentials, and you’ll then see a list of all the sites you have associated with that login. From there on, it’s much the same as normal – set your size, sharpening and watermark options and click the export button. The plugin connects and drops the images into your media library, ready for inserting into a post.

Here’s one I just exported as a test:

I think it's art...

I think it’s art…

Camera X70
Aperture ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed 1/250s
Focal length 18.5mm
ISO 200
Taken 12:03, 1 January, 2017
Location 54° 57.7563′ 0″ N 1° 36.1133′ 0″ W

This is slightly more convenient than exporting images to a folder then importing them to WordPress, so I think I’ll be making use of this. Get it here:

WordPress.com Lightroom plug-in

Weight and Stuff Report – 12 January 2017

Weight: 240.1 pounds (17 stone 2.1 pounds, 108.9 kg)
Steps taken: 2,425

Up by a tiny amount today, which I’ll ignore, so there.

Back to the archives today. Here’s a squirrel:

Squiggle

Squiggle

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/8
Shutter speed 1/500s
Focal length 132.3mm
ISO 6400
Taken 12:15, 16 January, 2016

Weight and Stuff Report – 11 January 2017

Weight: 240 pounds (17 stone 2 pounds, 108.9 kg)
Steps taken: 3,336

Up again today…

Had a short walk at lunchtime, mostly for the essential monthly purchase of a kilo of coffee beans from those nice Pumphreys people in the Grainger Market[1], but also to have a look at some local minor drama. In high winds overnight, part of the roof of Eldon Square shopping centre decided it would like to take up a new career at ground level, resulting in the closure of Newgate Street. I took this photo with my iPhone showing the scene at lunchtime – you can see the overhanging bit of roof that might just do some more falling, a fire brigade inspection platform that was on its way down when I arrived, and some of the chunks of roof – looks like some kind of insulation material

Errrr, oops?

Errrr, oops?

Camera iPhone 6s
Aperture ƒ/2.2
Shutter speed 1/1600s
Focal length 4.15mm
ISO 25
Taken 13:13, 11 January, 2017
Location 54° 58.3532′ 0″ N 1° 37.0453′ 0″ W

Weight and Stuff Report – 10 January 2017

Weight: 238.7 pounds (17 stone 0.7 pounds, 108.3 kg)
Steps taken: 2,067

Down again today, strangely enough…

I’ve been having a delve into some of last year’s photos, and picked out a few for the next few days, starting with this rather elderly plane:

Sopwith Baby

Sopwith Baby

Camera X-T1
Aperture ƒ/9
Shutter speed 1/12s
Focal length 16mm
ISO 6400
Taken 10:47, 17 June, 2016