Friday, July 31, 2009

Blackberry Pearl videos

I've been messing about with shooting video on my Blackberry Pearl mobile phone. The quality might not be great but as I always have my phone with me I can capture some footage I would probably miss otherwise.

The file format is a bit weird and wasn't recognised by Windows Movie Maker so these clips are all unedited and without backing music, titles, or talent.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Lens Comparison: - Nikon AF-S Nikkor 12-24mm 1:4 F4 Ed DX Wide Angle Lens VS Tokina 12-24mm f4 DX

I've been using the Tokina 12-24mm f4 DX for some years now, but to follow my passion for Nikon pro/ semi-pro lenses I couldn't resist grabbing this Nikon AF-S Nikkor 12-24mm 1:4 F4 Ed DX when it popped up on ebay. I know everyone likes to brag, but I managed to get this lens for less than half the going rate! It's slightly older than the current DX Nikon 12-24 model, but was made to a higher standard.

Enough of the guff, here's the comparison! These are all taken using my Nikon D300 and have not had any post-process done on them at all.

Click on a photo for a larger version.

ISO 200 - 1/100 sec - F/13

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 12-24mm 1:4 F4 Ed DX

Tokina 12-24mm f4 DX

ISO 200 - 1/100 sec - F/16

Tokina 12-24mm f4 DX

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 12-24mm 1:4 F4 Ed DX

Well it's a bit soon to be making sweeping conclusions, the lens only arrived half an hour ago! Admittedly the Nikon lens meters darker than the Tokina, but then it's always better to meter too dark than too late, all that can be fixed thanks to the marvel that is RAW data processing. Also queering the results is the fact that I've not done any post process on these images, and in my experience photos taken using super wide lenses need the most love of any in Lightroom/ Photoshop. So I'm glad I bagged a bargain, but whether there's a ton of difference, well, only time will tell.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Wine Flu Alert

Received by email:

I went to a dinner party last night, where I and other guests enjoyed copious amounts of alcohol. I awoke this morning not feeling well, with what could be described as flu-like symptoms; headache, nausea, chills, sore eyes etc. From the results of some initial testing, I have unfortunately tested positive for what experts are now calling Wine Flu. This debilitating condition is very serious and it appears this is not an isolated case.

Reports are flooding in from all around the neighbourhood of others diagnosed with Wine Flu.

To anyone that starts to exhibit the aforementioned tell-tale signs, experts are recommending a cup of tea and a bit of a lie down.

However, should your condition worsen, you should immediately hire a DVD and take some Nurofen [Nurofen seems to be the only drug available that has been proven to help combat this unusual type of flu]. Others are reporting a “Good ole fry up” can also help in some cases.

Wine Flu does not need to be life threatening, and if treated early can be eradicated within a 24-48 hour period. If not, then further application of the original liquid in similar quantities to the original dose has been shown to do the trick.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Suffolk Campsites - Southwold Harbour Campsite

Old content taken from, this was written many years ago (originally published June 2004) and doesn't reflect my current style of writing at all. I posted it here for want of finding anywhere else to home it, and through a desire not to lose it.

Southwold Harbour campsite is just up the road from where I grew up in Suffolk.Southwold has been a popular holiday destination for at least 100 years and is still relatively unspoilt despite getting very busy in the summer.

As you can see from the photo above Southwold is still a very rural town, in fact the photo above of Southwold Town Council was taken down a small public footpath and I'm still not sure if it's the joke of a Southwold resident or not! As you drive through the town you'll see signs to the Harbour Campsite. The Harbour campsite in Southwold is run by Wavney District Council which could be one of the reasons that it is run so efficiently. All staff are very friendly and chatty, no problem is too small for them to lend you their ear!

There is no real reason for this photo, I took it along the seafront on Southwold and it made me laugh for totally puerile reasons!

The site does charge extra for gazebos so we make the most of it and set up a wee shanty town!

The photo above shows our tent on the edge of the campsite closest to the beach. The car is our old Fiat which was sadly scrapped after around 10 years of (nearly) loyal service. Another reason we return to camp in this great site again and again is that is is just so close to the beach, in the photo above our tent is no further than about 10 metres from the beach!

Being so close to the coast can cause a few problems though, in the photo above it was so windy that we really struggled to put the tent up without it turning into a huge kite! As you can see in the background caravans are also welcome here. Not many caravans tend to set up in this half of the site, although there are a number of static caravans in the other half of the site.

Southwold Harbour Campsite related links

Harbour Camping & Caravan Park , Southwold Campsite review

Discover Holidays - Camping Holidays In Southwold.

The Independent Caravan and Camping Directory.

A bike ride from Cambridge to Southwold & return - train assisted

UK campsite directory

Interhike- Camping Sites in Suffolk, UK

Suffolk Coast and Heaths Project

Camping and campsites in the Suffolk, East Anglia and Lincs ...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Proper multiple email signatures in Gmail (written in the Style of Jerome K Jerome).

UPDATE - 11th November 2009
There is now a better way of having proper email signatures that allows you to format the content of said signatures. In Gmail go to Settings/ Labs and activate 'canned responses'.

Canned responses allow you to insert lumps of text in an email, so by creating a canned response for each signature you wish to use you are in effect creating multiple signatures!

The advantage to using Canned Responses over Shortkeys is that your signatures can travel with you (as canned responses are a part of Gmail), whereas Shortkeys is a bit of software that has to be installed on the computer you wish to use it on. So using Canned Responses makes you platform and location independent, and that's what we're aiming for!

Original article - July 10th 2009
Since I moved from Microsoft Outlook to Gmail my email life has taken on a sort of enlightened bent. The Gmail labels make sorting mail swift and easy, and the search facility beats the hell out of the lumbering inaccurate beast that is Microsoft’s half baked attempt at a search facility in Outlook. Of course the search in Gmail works well, Google are known to be fairly knowledgeable in the field of searching, and no jury would consider that statement less than previous to the pale.

However, there are a few Outlook features I must confess I do pine for somewhat. I have carefully considered the motivation behind this mourning for functionality loss, to ensure that the need to do things a little differently wasn’t the dark pulse at the heart of the matter, and it’s not. I have substituted folders for labels, and I have come to love the message string approach to email display, it suits so well the hundreds of round robin emails my friends fling around each day in an attempt to distract themselves from the fact they may have found themselves in a horrid job. I have even replaced the incessant desire to hit ‘send and receive’ in Outlook with good willed patience and a trust in Gmail that they will pass emails onto me the very moment they reach their hallowed servers.

The feature I find myself mumbling into my coffee about – mourning the loss of – is the proper email signatures that Outlook offered. Gmail does offer a signature facility, but insists on placing ones signature at the very foot of every message. When I say the foot I really mean it, for some reason the fine and knowing folk at Google decided we all want our signature to live at the bottom of each email, below all messages past and present! So when replying your signature is in effect below the message you are replying to!

The problem is somewhat compounded by the fact that (as I did in Outlook) I collect mail from three different POP3 accounts. To exacerbate matters further I have to use a different signature when dealing with emails from each of those three accounts. Were I the cap wearing type I would doff it to the creators of Outlook in recognition of the way it deals with this issue. Admittedly Bill Gates ET all would be unlikely to feel the full benefit of my headwear based gratitude as I work many miles from their headquarters in Richmond WA. Any doffing done would only serve to bemuse the cats and (if done with sufficient verve) clean swathes of dust away from my computer screen.

Outlook allowed me to set up three signatures, and those clever digitised pixies that control Outlook knew which signature should be used according to which flavour of incoming mail I was currently dealing with. Gmail’s single signature – placed inappropriately – doesn’t really cut the mustard when placed side by side with Outlook, in some sort of bizarre condiment and sword play competition.

Ah, but fear not, I have a solution! Gmail labs will undoubtedly come charging along on their brilliant white steeds before many Sundays pass and declare some clever solution to the issue, but in the meantime I recommend using a natty bit of free software called ShortKeys. I apologise to Mac and Linux devotees, for this solution is only valid for the reluctant disciples of Microsoft Windows. You’ll find your coats and hats at the back of the room, please return your cup and saucer to the lady at the rear of the room in the fetching pink gingham smock, and try not to let the door slam on your way out. You don’t have to head homeward, but your continued presence here would be reviewed by your peers as being somewhat unprofitable.

In a nutshell ShortKeys provides macro functionality, and when used on a computer becomes even more useful. ShortKeys allows you to set up lumps of text which are propelled into any document or program you are working on, triggered by a series of characters you assign. The screen grab below shows what I humbly suggest as the best way to set up each ‘ShortKey’.

As you can see, I have set said text to be triggered when I type ‘S0’. When (in any program) I hit those two keys the text you can see (marked as ‘Replacement Text’) spews forth. Make sure you don’t use a word that is in your common vocabulary; otherwise you’ll have big chucks of text popping up in the most uncomfortable of places. So for each of the three POP3 accounts I use I have created a different signature in ShortKeys. When near the end of the composing phase of a missive calling for the appropriate signature is simply a matter of hitting the appropriate ShortKey trigger; S0, S1, or S3. Of course this solution is only appropriate when one is using ones own computer - and is of no use when travelling or using the computer of an associate – but as my wife once told me as I took liberties while ‘tasting’ her pudding, “You can’t have it all”.

The usefulness of ShortKeys extends far beyond Gmail signatures; as you become more familiar with the software (which takes around 43 seconds) you’ll realise it can perform another marvellous time saving function. In the daily course of my work I repeat myself constantly in email replies, less because the people I respond with are simpletons, more because sometimes a nail must be struck a number of times before it can be nodded at by all present and declared driven home. I also send a lot of emails with the same content, E.G courteous and keen willed replies to initial enquiries for new business. By setting up the text I wish to use in a response as a ShortKey I save myself hours, and each respondent is assured that my heartfelt interest in their well being is proven by the full body of the response I send them.

While you are more than welcome to part with your hard earned guineas for a full version of ShortKeys, I have found the free ‘lite’ version more than sufficient in the many years I have joyfully been a user.

ShortKeys can be downloaded from here - This will only be a revelation to those of you as yet unfamiliar with the modern marvel that is the search engine. If you are in that number you find yourself already in receipt of my respectful gaze for managing to read this far (albeit out loud), and I feel confident that if you spend time with an improving book or two the gift of original thought can be yours.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards: in praise of spectacular failure and an astounding lack of regard for ones safety.

In England we hate success and love failure, one name that proves the point is Eddy Edwards. Eddie was a plasterer who entered the Winter Olympics in 1988 as a ski jumper, he got through because he happened to be the only person that applied to the relevant authorities in this country.

Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards was (and still is) the only man ever to represent Britain in the suicidal discipline that is Ski Jumping. For a couple of weeks in 1988 the entire nation watched this man hurtle down a hill and somehow manage not to die a horrible mangled and bloody death!

Here was a man who had never even tried Ski Jumping until he arrived in Calgary to take part in the Olympics. He was (of course) absolute crap, but represented two things that it would appear the English hold in higher regard than political or financial success, scientific progress or even world peace; a unhealthy disregard for ones personal safety and spectacular failure!

This was the same year Jamaica entered a bobsleigh team. Last I heard Mr Edwards was training for a career in Law.

Thanks to Jim at for finding this amazing video.