anarag's blog

Another Bird in the Hand



sturnus vulgaris zetlandicus, a bit soot-stained

Another one.  This one, as so often, in the stove.  Not sure how long it was there, probably less than a day.  A bit more cantankerous than the last, and a bit sooty.  (These two things may be related.)  Youʼd think birds would have the sense not to fly down a dark reeky hole, but then itʼs been so warm this year that even in mid-December we havenʼt had the fire on.  I suppose we should light it if only to make it smell a bit more daunting.

Evening Waxwing



Bombycilla garrulus garrulus (I think)

Almost got it.  These are very interesting birds, so I have the ambition to take a good photograph of them one day.  But theyʼre a bit too fast.  You see red waxwings, but not for long.  Usually blur-red waxwings when you get a camera near them.  So long as they keep coming back for the berries and rosehips I think thereʼs a chance.

Bad Stars

So it seems Boris Johnson thinks that devolution and the return of the Scottish Parliament has been a disaster.

Thatʼs somewhat curious, as my experience has been that since 1999 Scotland has been better governed than at any time in my life and probably better than any time in history.  And this does not depend on a particular party or coalition being in government; it is a consequence of the existence and the structure of the modern Parliament.  Scotland has for twenty years had a series of governments which have been more highly representative of the people, and more responsive to our concerns, than ever before.  Which is a great deal more than can be said for the United Kingdom governments over that time.

So who exactly has this been disastrous for?  Not for Scots; so, for English people perhaps?  I rather doubt it.  For the most part it has been irrelevant, but it is true that many English people have expressed a sense of envy, and of disappointment in Westminster.  We make them look bad.  But even so it is scarcely disastrous.  Perhaps for the British establishment?  But how?  Has their ineptitude been shown up so critically?  Well, yes, but even that has been simply by events rather than by the existence of a Scottish political system.  Except perhaps just recently, in the comparative performance of the governments relating to the pandemic.  Is that what heʼs on about?

HP CP1700 Recovery

The CP1700 PS is an A3+ CMYK inkjet printer produced by Hewlett-Packard in the early to mid noughties; which, having had some prior experience of single-cartridge colour inkjets over the previous decade or so, I decided to buy on the grounds (as I recall them) that a) PostScript, b) SRA3-capable, c) separate colour cartridges, d) separate printheads which seemed like a good idea at the time, and e) apparently more fade-resistant inks than Iʼd previously been able to enjoy.  Oh how more than slightly wrong I was.


HP Color Inkjet CP1700 top front

Actually, out of the box, it seemed pretty good, printed very well with the PostScript 3 option, and while I thought I might like the extra tray, network connection/server module, and duplex unit, I could do without for the time being.  Then as it happened I ended up not using it as much as intended since [life], so I didnʼt add any of the extras.  The only big issue with it initially was the big issue.  It was physically rather larger than the previous (Epson iirc?) A3 colour inkjet Iʼd used but I managed to put it on its own trolley which at least allowed it to be moved out of wherever it was currently in the way.  This is not a shelfable printer.

Then a year went by, and having used perhaps a third of the K cartridge and perhaps a quarter of CMY, suddenly it stopped working one day when I needed to print something.  All cartridges supposedly needed replacement.  Yet they were clearly not empty.  So why?  It turned out that the cartridges were time-limited.  I hunted for information online, and gathered that they pack up, not on the basis of anything going wrong, but because itʼs been a year since you installed them.  And there was no information about options other than replacement.  Worse, it seemed the print heads were also time-limited.  So I found myself having to buy eight replacements.  If I remember, it would have been over £200, an appreciable proportion of the cost of a replacement printer.  And it would need the same again in another year?  This was not and is not good.

Family-Friendly Filtering

I will be tremendously glad when the American election is finally over . . . or at least, when Donald Trump is no longer in the news, which may take a while longer.  Thereʼs a great many obvious reasons for this, but the one that matters to me at a visceral level is that Iʼve spent the last five years or so seeing photographs of him on web pages, on my laptop.  I suppose that I have to some extent become inured to the sight, or at least a bit more adept at looking slightly away, but still, every time I scroll up the page, he goes down in the direction of between my thighs, and I have the sense that heʼs about to grab my pussy, or something.

Which makes me think that it would be nice if there were some sort of browser filter available to just block images of him completely.  Iʼm not aware of one, but it would be a good idea . . . or indeed perhaps a more general filter that you could train for any face.  Critically, it should run on the local system; I donʼt especially want a filter which tells some remote site what news pages Iʼm reading . . . 

Or maybe thatʼs too much of an ask, or it might be too power-hungry (like someone else I coulddid mention).  My brain is at least half-way able to block him out, though it took four years of implied sexual assaults to achieve it.  (Or maybe itʼs achieved in spite of it.)  Maybe it would be a waste of all that effort to turn to software now.  Still, itʼs a thought; there are likely to be other faces Iʼd prefer to block at greater speed.

Greylags in May



(Anser Anser.)

The Visitors have returned.  Ten so far (as against twelve last year), but one was staying well uphill from the others, not talking.  Several of the flock seem to be looking at the photographer, but I think they were wary of something on our roof; perhaps crows.

Word has it there was a lapwing in the field a couple of weeks ago, for the first time in several years.  Maybe it’ll be a good year for something.  Not for human visitors, but.

Also, new lens, which is why I managed to take the shot at all.  But it rather exposes the limitations of the old camera...

O The Fro!

PDF can be a very strange format sometimes. :-D

O the Fro – screenshot in Firefox

as viewed in Firefox

O the Fro – screenshot in Adobe Reader

as viewed in Adobe Reader

Screenshots of a Mullard advert in a PDF copy (produced by American Radio History) of Wireless World December 1964 (p74).

Photoshop modal dialogue bug

Ridiculous bug in Photoshop (CS4).  If you try to load a batch script, the default location appears to be Desktop, and if you happen to have an alias to a server volume there which youʼre not currently connected to (e.g. networkingʼs off or youʼre not at the office etc.) it has a completely modal dialogue box with no cancel button or option to change location, which halts everything and just comes up every thirty seconds or so saying this server canʼt be connected to.  The only solution seems to be to force-quit and move your server volume aliases.  This is the kind of thing that makes me want to go back to pre-CS Photoshop and never return.  Lower processor temperatures too...  I have no idea whether it persists in later Photoshops and I donʼt plan to submit to a licensing scheme to find out.  So Iʼm using the GIMP for the purpose.

too much bang for buck

Bang

blown fuse

Some time ago I needed a new soldering iron.  And a heat gun would be handy, but I had little cash spare.  Soldering stations with temperature readouts seem to be the thing now, and I can see the attraction.  My interim solution was a WEP 852D+ 2-in-1 iron / heat gun.  (Which may be a rebranded something else, not sure.)  I prefer a more modular approach to tools, but, well.  Worst case, I thought, it would do as a heat gun with a fallback iron, and Iʼd pick up a primary soldering station at some point.  Initially, all was well, and Iʼve been doing a few essential jobs with it while life beyond electronics gets sorted.

A few weeks ago during my last bout of repairs, the soldering iron handle began to loosen every time it warmed up, eventually falling apart in the hand in the middle of a job.  Lacking time to do anything about this, the only immediate solution was to tighten it manually.

some data recovery

an experience of recovery from Postgresql database files

Ooh weirdness.

I had a significant drive failure a few weeks ago during backup, which managed to take out both the source and destination drives.  OK I should be rotating backups to avoid this problem, check that for the future.  Amongst the files was the most-recent-state postgres, and this is tricky.  I could have restored from the last dump, but thanks to a months-long bout of illness this was a bit behind.

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