Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Published in the Ottawa Citizen on Thursday, 1 October


Again I thank Robbi Hay, the editor of the Ourtown section for putting my work out there.

Grab yourself a copy of the Citizen each Thursday to get the scoop on a lot of events throughout the region for this week and the near future.

BLOOD MOON at Perigee – 27 September 2015

A very rare event. A Super Moon coincident with the a total eclipse. The last time a total eclipse occurred in conjunction with a super moon was 1982. The next time will be 2033. And to sweeten the rarity, this was the 4th in a tetrad of total eclipses, itself a rare event.

I had minutes to capture it because we had cloud cover. I was out walking Sophie when I spotted a patch of clarity in the sky. And it seemed to be tracking towards the moon, so we truncated the walk (sorry Sophie) and wandered back to the house.

I ran around finding the GM1 and strapping it onto the back of the Tamron 500mm mirror lens (manual focus, adapted to m4/3 through an inexpensive adapter from eBay) and got it on the tripod about 3 minutes before the patch hit. I was frantically trying to get focus while the cloud thinned and in the end I think only 2 shots were at all sharp.

Even the patch I shot here only lasted about 5 seconds before more cloud intruded. But that was all that was needed. I shot at 1600 ISO because the blood moon has only the glow of the sun seen around the earth on it, i.e. it is pretty dark. The color is normally in shades of brown to red, so I processed it from raw in Lightroom CC with some help from DFINE for noise reduction based on color. I think this is decent when you consider that I shot at high ISO under time pressure on a camera that fits in a jacket pocket (although the lens most definitely does not.)

Panasonic GM1 with Tamron 500mm BBAR – f/8  4/10s  1600 ISO

I experimented in real time with really high ISO, but hedged my bets with a lower ISO at 1600 … that is what you see above. It is still extremely noisy as it was a dark image and I underexposed a bit. But with the help of Nik (Google) Define, I was able to bring it into a reasonable compromise between details and grain. Of course, Lightroom CC played a huge role too …

Now we wait for the next one …

The Last Diet Video You Will Ever Need To Watch

Trust me on this. This is the real deal, because it talks about behaviors and deals with all of the issues surrounding our incessant need to be doing something to lose weight.

Focus on health.

Thanks go to Dr. Yoni Freedhoff again for his blog Weighty Matters.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Make Windows 10 a bit more productive and allow it to feel more like Windows 7 in one easy step! **Updated**

I am not a shill, but I am going to mention for you a very nice little product that gives you back that Windows 7 style start menu and makes the transition from Windows 7 to Windows 10 utterly painless.

The product is called Start10 and comes from a company called Stardock.

I used the previous version of this product – Start8 – for years as I was an extremely early adopter of Windows 8. I always considered all the whinging over Windows 8’s Metro interface to be trivial and a waste of time. A quick Google search led you straight to Stardock and two key products – Start8, and ModernMix. Modernmix allowed Metro applications (now called Universal applications) to run inside a window in desktop mode, bridging the gap between the two GUIs. It was amazing, but Windows 10 does that for you now, so Modernmix will die off slowly (still useful for Windows 8 and 8.1 users though.)

Start10 takes the Windows 10 tiled start menu and adds back all the features you may have loved about the very mature Windows 7 menu. It is customizable so that you can choose to have it look more or less like Windows 10. I use the following style, which works perfectly for me:


You can customize the actual start button too. Many choices, although few appeal to me.

I like to pin certain apps to the start menu as shown above and others to the task bar. All in all, I find this extremely functional.

The app is 5 bucks. Anyone who thinks they would like to try it should just do it. Note: Start 8 was working fine for me as well after the upgrade. I decided, though, that the cheap upgrade made more sense. I spent a few minutes with the native Windows 10 start menu in between and I am not likely to go back.

YMMV of course.


I should have waxed a bit more eloquently about other features in Start10, as some might look and say “no big deal.”

First, when you right click you get the familiar shortcuts to key maintenance items:


Second, the configuration interface is very slick and powerful, though simple.


As I mentioned in the first part of the article, I like the modern interface. Looks terrific and provides a Windows 7-like experience. The Windows 10 look is too much like the native look to appeal to me, but some may like it and use the extra configurability. Remember, this is a very inexpensive application, so trying it is worth your while if you find the native start menu in 10 to be limiting (and I sure did.) Note that you can choose to have the icon or leave it off in the modern style:


Your options for the actual start button are rather diverse, to say the least Smile… the buttons are live in that they change color when you roll over them. The Triangle Two button is invisible, only appearing when you roll over it for example. Here is the full range of options:


It even allows you to choose your own image, as you can see at the bottom right …

Regarding the color of the menu etc., you can choose a solid or translucent menu and you can choose any background color. For example (and I am going to leave it like this for now):


You can also select many options on the Appearance sub menu, including a texture or image background for the start menu. You can pick your own image, too. Here is one of the stock ones:


And, as will be obvious, the Configure submenu will give you many options to customize what appears on the menu and how it is shown …


The Control panel allows you to configure the meaning of all possible gestures to launch Start10 and the Windows 10 native menu. If you like some aspects of the native menu, you can get at it easily using whatever gesture you choose:


I have the Windows key set to open the Windows 10 menu, which looks like:


And finally, the Desktop panel allows you to configure some of the more subtle aspects of the start menus.


I hope this was useful and I will reiterate one more time … I am not a shill and I have paid for every Stardock application I use. I just happen to think that they do very good work and these apps are useful to me.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Published again in the Ottawa Citizen …

Thanks again to Robbi Hay, editor of the Ottawa Citizen Ourtown section, for using one of my images as the header … this time it is the butterfly shot that was on the same plant as last week’s Hummingbird.

Here is a sample of the page, and please grab one to see the latest happenings in Ottawa for this weekend and beyond.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Published in the Ottawa Citizen this week ….

Robbi Hay, editor of the Ottawa Citizen Ourtown section, sent me a note that my hummingbird image will again head up the section this Thursday the 20th of August. I always enjoy being published in the Citizen so again my thanks to Robbi.

A sample of the page … grab the paper this Thursday to see all that there is to do in this great city this weekend and beyond …