A small tour

Today Mitchie wanted to draw some money from the bank, and I wanted to get a little checkup on our car. Afterwards we had to shop for food. So I suggested a small tour via my workplace (opposite of which we could draw money), and then to the car dealer which is also near to my employers’ place. And while the car was being checked upon and had some minor repair, we looked at all the new models which usually stand around at car dealers. Always fun, especially if you do it with the whole family. Here’s Zuleikha, checking the co-driver’s seat in a Toyota Verso:

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Zuleikha, testing new cars

We went to a nearby big shopping center afterwards, where I also got this for myself:

Sennheiser CX 300-II Precision black – Image © Sennheiser

We paid some 28€ for these very nice in-ears, which are much more comfortable on hot days like these than my big headphones. And of course, we’ve got some things for Zuleikha & Mitchie as well.

After that it was shopping for food, and back home. By now Zuleikha, Mitchie and Tuna the cat are sleeping. A nice day.

Thanks for reading.

P.S.: No, we weren’t shopping for a new car. But having said that, our choices would have been:

  • Avensis (Zuleikha, and she’s right – that one is really comfortable)
  • Yaris Hybrid (as a small car which would be more than enough for my daily commute), and in the end, we agreed on:
  • Auris Hybrid (as the family car which would make most sense for us all together)

So while ours still runs like a charm, we know what to save some money for.

Done with rebuilding the computer

I finished rebuilding my machine on Saturday, and completed the software setup yesterday. What took me so long was to actually read and understand how UEFI works, and how to make a bootable USB stick with a GPT (UEFI partition table) instead of the old style MBR (master boot record). You need this since otherwise the OS would be installed in “legacy” mode, with not using the newer and much better UEFI firmware. If you want to read about the basics on how to set this up with Debian – like I did – you can do so here and here. Once I had made that UEFI USB stick and put the Debian netinstall image onto it, booting from it greets you with this:

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Note the second line where it says “UEFI Installer menu”. And once the installation is finished (you’ll need internet for a Debian netinstall), you’ll have a dual boot Grub menu like this:

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I got a Crucial BX100 250GB SSD as the system drive, like recommended by the German c’t magazine. Which means that from the boot menu which you see above to the login screen takes about 4-5 seconds, and lots of things like picture viewing are also sped up quite a bit. Easy to recommend one of these drives, which by now are also more reliable than spinning platter drives (I still have the 2TB rotating one for my data, these are still somewhat expensive when done in chips).

And running the Olympus Viewer 3 natively on Windows 10 is much faster than doing so within a virtualized Windows 7, which I did before, even when rebooting the machine to switch between operating systems. I reserved a small FAT32 partition on the SSD to share images between Windows and Linux, which also works perfectly.

Thanks for reading.

Upcoming projects, new arrivals

Last week I wrote about Windows 10, and about hardware. Well, concerning a full Windows 10 upgrade / installation, Mitchie beat me – she got hers today, for free as promised. And, just like Microsoft’s Andre da Costa promised in his article, the upgrade even left Mitchie’s Ubuntu boot loader unaffected. Perfect.

I decided to upgrade my PC first, and as much as I’d have loved to build the mentioned Quad Core recommendation from the German c’t magazine, their whole rig just wouldn’t have fitted into my somewhat cramped space. That’s why I finally thought about replacing their mainboard suggestion, an Asus Z97-A (ATX size) to a smaller but almost similiar one, the Asus Z97-M Plus (µATX size), and to keep my current Antec 2480 HTPC case which fits perfectly. So I started ordering what was needed, and the first stuff arrived today. Like the CPU:

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Intel Core i5 Processor (i5-4460 boxed)

This is a middle of the road current generation quad core processor from Intel. Not the fastest or newest or most expensive one, but the one with the best price/performance ratio on the market today. It is rated with 84W power consumption at full power, with the integrated graphics core also on full power, which is about correct – the guys from c’t measured 85W for the full machine on full steam.

To compare: my current 45nm ‘Yorkfield’ Core 2 Duo Q8400 is rated with 95W, about 10W more than this newer 22nm ‘Haswell’ chip.

But what is much more important is that ca. 98% of the time we use our PCs, they are waiting for us, not vice versa. So the real interesting value is the power they draw when idle (when they have nothing to do than just to wait for us). And that, for the whole machine running a Windows desktop was measured with 16W, on Linux it was even 2-3 Watts lower than that. And this is laptop territory, folks. Which is also the reason you won’t hear much of these machines.

I won’t reach these numbers exactly because I didn’t order the recommended power supply – my Antec case has a 380W PSU built into it. But still I’ll make a jump up performance-wise, with using less power than before.

My current hardware which runs just fine will go to my brother’s, because it’s still better than what he has now. And I’ll take some more pictures of the current and new build once I’m starting, even if it’s only for the wiring to the connectors and such. If it’s interesting enough to post these here, just let me know. Building your own PCs is fun…

Thanks for reading.

Some portraits from yesterday

Yesterday my colleague Cengiz invited to an “available light shooting”. And because this is what I do anyway, I attended. So here are some of the photos I took during that shooting in Frankfurt:

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Fynntastic

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Laurie, our make-up artist

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Marie

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Sabrina

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Fynntastic

For some in the group of photographers, this was a first-time, and with (half-) professional models like Fynn, it was quite an eye-opener for them. I’m always looking for people to photograph, and if they’re beautiful, then all the better. Didn’t have too much time with most of them, but at least I could talk a bit to Fynn, and follow her preference to use the landscape (wide) instead of the portrait (high) frame view. Hope to see her again soon in Darmstadt, where we meet sometimes. And I also hope to get some more time with the others – have to get their email addresses anyway to contact them and to send them their pictures.

Thanks for viewing.

Win10, and hardware

Let me tell you this first: I’m a Linux user. Since years. And happy with it.

So yesterday the latest and greatest (and probably last ever) Windows was released. A colleague of mine immediately tried the “Enterprise 2015 LTS” branch in a virtual machine at work, and I tried the “Pro” version yesterday evening at home, also in a virtual machine:

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Screenshot from 2015-07-29 22:45:46

Windows 10 in an Oracle VirtualBox on 64 Bit Debian GNU/Linux 8 “Jessie”

Looks pretty cool, especially the new “Edge” browser. But at the moment it cannot replace my also virtualized and small Win7 since VirtualBox on Debian is probably a bit too old to run the Guest Additions, which you’d need to share drives, or to use the full screen (1920×1200 pixel in my case) with a proper driver. For dual booting, sure, I’d probably give it a try, but since I don’t use the typical Adobe heavyweights, I don’t need it to access all 8GB of RAM, and to spread itself all over my boot disk.

Which brings me to hardware. Nasim Mansurov has a very nice and interesting article about building the optimal PC for photographers’ needs, and his recommendations even top the ones I read in a c’t special issue about the optimal machine for using Photoshop (a guy from Adobe themselves said that 16GB of RAM is just fine at the moment).

What makes Nasim’s article interesting is that it mentions stuff I didn’t know about, like his point 4 about M.2 SSDs. But both his recommendations are a bit overkill in my opinion, or to use his own car analogy, that feels like driving a Ferrari through the rush hour, when a Toyota Corolla would do fine as well.

If I were to build a PC these days (and yes, I have also done this since at least 15 years or so), I’d probably go with something like the Quad Core PC mentioned by c’t in January this year, updating it with the newer components from issue 16 sans the series 5 processor which would produce BIOS/UEFI problems with most boards.

So my choice would look like: 16GB of RAM, Core i5 or i7 processor, SSD as boot and OS drive plus that 4TB spinning disk data drive they mention. All in all, without OS, that would still be under 1k€ (or $) – cheaper than even the “small” machine recommendation from Nasim. And more than capable for the rest of us who don’t even have 36MP cameras.

Yes, I’d probably dual boot a machine like that, and have a look at Lightroom or Capture One Pro on Windows. Of course, the best part of it would and will always be Debian, or any other free (as in beer and as in speech) operating system. I’d rather trust my open source buddies than any corporation (whose best friends will always be the shareholders instead of the customers).

About cameras? Even my old 10MP E-520 DSLR can still take a nice enough picture, even if it has only about a quarter of the sensor of a D810 (both area and pixel count, so pixel density is about equal or even higher than with that top Nikon camera):

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Orchid

Update: Please note, I’m not anti-Microsoft, or anti-anything. Tools are tools, you have to search the ones which are right for you and your needs. In fact, some of the guys working at that corporation are pretty cool, like this nice tip shows. Maybe my wife can use that to upgrade her new Dell notebook from Win8.1 to Win10, without affecting her Ubuntu bootloader. It also makes me think about upgrading my hardware, see above. Found via this and this page, during a quick scan of interesting daily news.

Thanks for reading.

Another week went by

This week was the last week of school in our county, so by now the kids started their 6 week summer holidays. I didn’t do much photographically, but let me still show some.

On Tuesday, I still had the 40-150mm tele zoom lens on my camera, and on a short walk after dinner, I took a photo of clouds with it:

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Ghost riders in the sky

On Wednesday we were informed on very short notice that in the evening there was a summer concert in Zuleikha’s school, and that she had to attend and to play with her brass class. I took some photos but remained seated in the second row like Mitchie, who tried to make some videos. So I didn’t want to compete with other parents who were proud of their kids, and who moved around just to get a good shot of them:

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Today’s average camera

Meanwhile, at my employers’ place it was decided to give up just another two stories of a building to save some costs (won’t comment on this). So in the building I work in, what was once the reception now looks like this:

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Emptiness

So forgive me if I took just another “selfie” in the mirror of one of the company’s lifts, with my favourite camera and lens combination. Who knows how long I’ll be able to take one of these?

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Me

Another week, then I’ll have some time off myself. We can’t leave for a longer vacation tho, since we don’t have anyone to care for the cat. Too bad for Mitchie, who would love to see England and Scotland…

Well, maybe we can at least visit the upcoming DebConf in Heidelberg (I offered to take some portraits of Debian developers).

Thanks for viewing.

P.S.: Special thanks go to “Brass & Co.”, and also to Dr. Eckhardt and the PDS Big Band – you were as fantastic as always. They played:

  1. Birdland (Weather Report),
  2. Fly me to the moon (B. Howard),
  3. Children of Sanchez (C. Mangione), and – as a da capo,
  4. Sweet Lucy (R. de Souza)

Always worth visiting, and listening to. For readers who can’t come to hear them play around here, there are some songs which you can download from the band’s home page.

The best value in (Micro) Four Thirds?

Kirk Tuck, well-known Austin-based professional photographer lately wrote on his Visual Science Lab blog about the Olympus 40-150mm/4-5.6 zoom lens. He has the Micro Four Thirds version, and as I commented on his blog, both Mitchie and me have the older Four Thirds version, which we still can use with an Olympus or third party adapter, even with autofocus.

These small and inexpensive tele zoom lenses are marvels. Total gems within the system. Consider this:

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Sunrise in a garden

You can click on the picture to get it on Flickr, even in the original resolution. This was taken at 76mm with the aperture fully open – and the picture was not sharpened. It’s pretty much like it came out of the camera.

If you shop around, you can get these (or the Micro Four Thirds version which should focus a little faster) for around 150 Euro or Dollars. And if you plan to get into the Micro Four Thirds system, definitely consider getting a double zoom kit which has this lens as well. It’s really good as you see, so for the price it’s a steal.

Highly recommended. And no, I’ll get nothing for doing so.

Thanks for reading.