Monday, 27 February 2006

The excellent BBC TV time-travelling cop series 'Life on Mars' finished this evening - but a new series is planned for next year.

Sunday, 26 February 2006

Here's a review of Canon's answer to the Nikon P1/2/3 digital compact camera with wireless. Not sure if its available in the UK yet.

"Canon Powershot SD430 - IXUS Wireless
Canon today
[25 Oct 2005] announced their first wireless digicam, the Powershot SD430 ( IXUS wireless in Europe). It's a wireless version of the 5MP SD450. It's similar in it's wireless capabilities to the recently announced Nikon P1 and P2. Wireless transfer of images within a home or office to a suitably equiped printer of PC is possible."

Canon SD430 Wireless

Its also listed on
Canon PowerShot SD430 Wireless digital camera specifications

Reading vs Preston

Beautiful sunny day, but biting cold wind for this Championship game of Reading vs Preston North End. All the action in the first half with one goal a-piece in the first 10 minutes then a game-winner from substitute Leroy Lita, brought on to replace Dave Kitson after his collision with the Preston keeper left him motionless on the ground. Hope you're ok now, Dave.

Thursday, 23 February 2006

I couldn't get these Greasemonkey scripts to allow me to geotag my images in Flickr (I think they've been broken by the 1.5 release of Firefox), so I wrote my own script to take the text MultiMap spits out and convert it to text I could immediately paste into the 'tags' box on the Flickr page.

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"Councils lose plants to drought
The continuing drought in the South East has led Southern Water to ask 11 Kent and Sussex councils to reconsider planting schemes for 2006. Brighton council has cancelled 500 City in Bloom baskets and troughs. Two will remain at the town hall for weddings. Crawley council has said it is taking the same action. Reservoirs which would normally be more than 90% full in February are less than 40% full after more than a year of drought conditions in the region. Rainfall for January in the South East was about 25% of the average level. Southern Water has said the region is facing the worst drought in 100 years. The Environment Agency has said the South East is facing "a major drought".

And yet the likes of Prescott still want thousands more homes built in the South East. Ludicrious.

BBC NEWS | England | Councils lose plants to drought

Tuesday, 21 February 2006

Having found over the last couple of days that the Nikon P2 we bought turns out to be pretty naff in low light (its ISO setting only goes up to 400 and as soon as you zoom the lens any, its maximum aperture drops to a not-very-helpful f5.2), I was interested to read the following on Digital Photography Review:

"Perhaps the most exciting element of the COOLPIX P3 and P4, however, is the inclusion of Nikon’s innovative VR (Vibration Reduction) capability. Originally developed for Nikon SLRs, lens shift VR capability is available in two modes that compensate for camera movement to realize a shooting experience akin to shooting at shutter speeds three stops faster."

Note, though, that only the P3 offers the wireless networking that attracted me to the P1/2 in the first place - quite why the P4 doesn't have it as well, I don't know.

Nikon Coolpix P3 and P4: Digital Photography Review

Monday, 20 February 2006

A bike number"Your source for information regarding US Patent 6,985,875

A patent was awarded to a photographer on Jan 10, 2006 that could limit the way photographers capture, display and sell their photographs.

Note this Patent is registered in the USA and therefore won't affect photographers working outside that country. The patent could affect any events photographer (or even events organisers, according to the letter he has started sending out to photographers) who list photos on their site marked up with names or vehicle/bib numbers, combined with a search facility. If you're wondering why you hadn't heard of it before now, he submitted the Patent application in 1999 and its only just been granted.

Its basically yet another example of just how stupid Patents can be when applied to bloody obvious ideas.

Your source for information regarding US Patent 6,985,875

"Smoke ban 'threatens environment'
As campaigners cheer a total smoking ban, there are fears sending smokers outside will lead to a huge increase in greenhouse gas-emitting patio heaters. Labour MP Stephen Pound said when he visited Ireland recently - where a smoking ban is already in force - pub gardens were 'covered' in the heaters. Britain's greenhouse gas emissions are already up by 380,000 tonnes a year due to such devices, it is claimed.

These things are a disgrace and should be banned. What a disgusting waste of energy.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Smoke ban 'threatens environment'

Windfarm"Blackouts 'threaten UK Olympics'
The London Olympics in 2012 are likely to be hit by electricity blackouts, according to a poll of energy experts. Three-quarters of the respondents to a survey organised by the energy company Mitsui Babcock identified blackouts as a 'serious concern'.

Not that the Olympics have got anything to do with our energy polices, but I guess they have to pick something that might just make our Government get off their collective backsides and actually do something.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Blackouts 'threaten UK Olympics'

Friday, 17 February 2006

"Malicious worm aims to bite Apple
Mac users are being warned to be on the lookout for what is being called one of the first viruses for Apple computers. The malicious program, known as Leap-A, tries to spread via Apple's iChat instant messaging program. The worm disguises itself as images of Apple's forthcoming version of its operating system, called Leopard, and plunders buddy lists if installed.

'The important piece of advice for any iChat users running OS X 10.4 is not to accept file transfers, even if they come from someone on a buddy list,' said Kevin Hogan, Symantec security response manager. Symantec said Leap-A was a level 1 threat on its ranking system - the lowest level. Computer security firms McAfee and F-Secure also said it posed little threat.

Wonder if Apple's switch to Intel will make any difference to their susceptability to hackers...?

BBC NEWS | Technology | Malicious worm aims to bite Apple

Thursday, 16 February 2006

"Legal case against US on climate
US conservation groups have begun a new legal case aimed at forcing government action on climate change. They have filed a petition with the UN arguing that Waterton-Glacier Peace Park, a protected area, is being damaged by rising temperatures. Similar actions have been lodged over sites in the Himalayas and Andes.

Further embarrasement for the Bush administration? Or perhaps the guy simply doesn't care? New Orleans disappeared under water and he didn't seem to be bothered about that. Is he going to react the same way when the whole of Florida does the same?

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Legal case against US on climate

US attacks UN Guantanamo report
The White House has savaged a UN report demanding the immediate closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp calling it "a discredit to the UN".

Well, isn't that a surprise?

"The US has dismissed most of the allegations as 'largely without merit', saying the five investigators never actually visited Guantanamo Bay and that detainees are treated humanely."

Then why did you refuse access to the detainees?

"The United Nations should be making serious investigations across the world, and there are many instances in which they do when it comes to human rights. This was not one of them," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

There was a time that there was no need to investigate human rights abuses in the USA.

"And I think it's a discredit to the UN when a team like this goes about rushing to report something when they haven't even looked into the facts, all they've done is look at the allegations."

Do you deny that you have imprisoned people for years without charge or trial? I think the allegations are pretty damning on their own.

The report ends by demanding that the UN be granted full and unrestricted access to the camp's facilities, including private interviews with detainees.

Can we expect the US administration to ever grant such access to anyone?

Guitmo is a disgrace to the Constitution and to the people. The US will never again be able to point the finger at any other country in the world on the issue of human rights while it exists, and while Bush and co are in power.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US attacks UN Guantanamo report

I've used Analog for webserver log file analysis since the year dot, but how come it is still such pain to configure? The help files are just as naff now as they were 10 years ago. Trying to get Analog to properly recognise your log files, or spit out reports the way you want them, is very much like automated telephone help lines.

Tuesday, 14 February 2006

Have found that Windows XP SP2's firewall can throw a spanner into the works when transferring images over wireless from the Nikon P2. You need to create a couple of 'exceptions' on ports TCP 15740 and UDP 5353.

Monday, 13 February 2006

"Nuisance call system 'is working'
The watchdog who polices the system designed to prevent nuisance calls has dismissed claims Information Commissioner Richard Thomas is not doing enough to stop firms flouting the rules.

In an interview with the BBC News website, Mr Thomas brushed off the press criticism, saying: 'Telephone Preference Service is working incredibly well. Not enough people know they can register their details with the Telephone Preference Service but the numbers have gone up quite dramatically in recent years. If your name is on there then there is a dramatic reduction - almost elimination - of marketing calls.'

What they don't tell you about TPS is that it can't stop calls from outside the UK and companies that just want you to answer a survey.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Nuisance call system 'is working'

Sunday, 12 February 2006

Given Home Secretary Charles Clarke's failure to persuade the British Public that he needs to increase the time people can be kept in custardy without charge, and that we all really do need ID cards, it looks like the government has decided they should get someone else to try to pull the wool over our eyes. Step up one Prime-Minister-to-be (allegedy), Chancellor Gordon Brown.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Wake up to terror threat - Brown

Covered my first motocross event of the year today at Woodend near Towcester, run by the Northampton Motor Cycle Club.

NMCC, Woodend - 12 February 2006

Saturday, 11 February 2006

Watford's Vicarage Road

Watford hammered Coventry 4-0 in today's Championship game at Vicarage Road. Its a slightly unusual venue to photograph at since with the front terraces slightly below pitch level, photographers are only allowed around a very small part of the field. I did manage to get some pretty decent shots, however, including the first goal going in - sadly none were published (again).

Friday, 10 February 2006

Very useful website if you're looking at IP cameras - that is webcams that have built-in webserver or image server:

IP Camera Reviews, Articles, News, Forums, Discussion and more


Photo from flickrCrocuses
Photo uploaded to flickr 10 Feb '06, 4.35pm PST by hockeyshooter

I took some more test images today with the new Nikon Coolpix P2 digital camera. These were using the 2M pixel setting with the compression level set to 'standard': this noticeably takes the edge off the sharpness when you view the original image, but if you're only going to use them on the web (and are therefore likely to sharpen them) that won't matter.

Thursday, 9 February 2006

"Sweden aims for oil-free economy
Sweden says it aims to completely wean itself off oil within 15 years - without building new nuclear plants. The attempt is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics, car manufacturers, farmers and others. The country aims to replace all fossil fuels with renewables before climate change damages economies and growing oil scarcity leads to price rises.

That's a fantastic ambition. I do wish Blair was as forward-thinking as this.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Sweden aims for oil-free economy

Wednesday, 8 February 2006

Testing wireless network with laptops

Photo from flickrTesting wireless network with laptops
Photo uploaded to flickr 8 Feb '06, 5.20pm PST by hockeyshooter

This is the test setup for our stand-alone wireless network, albeit without the aerials. Consists of: HP nx6110 running XP Home and Wirecast streaming server software on right, Linksys WRT54G wireless router in centre, sealed lead-acid battery that it will run off in the background, Apple G3 Powerbook on left running QuickTime player tuned into webcast. Photo taken with the new Nikon P2 and transferred over the same wireless network - didn't appear to impact on video streaming at all.

It didn't take much effort getting the P2 to transfer the images immediately after taking them, but I did find that I had to disable XP's built-in firewall. Turning the resolution on the camera down to 2M pixels reduced the transmission time to about a second. With no aerials connected to the WRT it was impossible to tell how much range the camera will have.

Note that wireless image transfer will only work with Windows XP or OS X 10.3 or later. With earlier Windows, you have to use USB or a card reader. Under 2000, you don't need to install any drivers - just set the USB setting to 'Mass Storage'.

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Nikon Coopix P2

Photo from flickrNikon Coopix P2
Photo uploaded to flickr 8 Feb '06, 10.47am PST by hockeyshooter

This (rather naff) shot illustrates just how small this camera is. The P1 and P2 (the P1 offers higher resolution) are currently the only cameras that offer built-in 802.11 wireless image transfer. Hopefully I can get it working with our stand-alone experimental network.

Nikon Coolpix P2 digital camera, photo © NikonExtremely impressed by the performance of A J Purdy and Royal Mail Special Delivery. A Nikon Coolpix P2 (which is almost unique in having built-in 802.11 wireless support) and Sandisk Extreme II 1Gb SD card that I only ordered at 16:20 yesterday afternoon by FAX arrived at 10:30 this morning. And their price was pretty much the cheapest I could find in the UK.

Tuesday, 7 February 2006

35mm film

Photo from flickrexpo
Photo uploaded to flickr 28 Jan '06, 11.10am PST by Luca R

This is a photo from the Liguria group on flickr. I love the design.

Sorry to hear that Reading were knocked out of the FA Cup in their fourth round replay at Birmingham this evening. Crystal Palace lost too.

Monday, 6 February 2006

Northampton played host to Rushden and Diamonds on Saturday and chalked up another win. Rushden had a goal controversially disallowed for offside. Following Wycombe's recent loss, the top three teams in League 2 are now all on 54 points with the Cobblers on 53.

Wednesday, 1 February 2006

Didn't realise just how dim it is on a football pitch for evening games until last night. Was covering Northampton vs Wycombe - both current contenders for promotion to League 1 - at Sixfields stadium and I had the 1D up to its highest speed of 3200 ISO and even with the lens wide open on f2.8 I was only getting 1/200 over some areas of the pitch.