Archive for July, 2011
Wild wind this morning and we were off to the windsurfing club with hopes of some good shots and a chance it might be OK for an old fart to sail. Turns out that the waves were messy and the wind was dropping and there was little of interest to shoot.
To relieve the boredom, we watched a hermit crab which gave an indication it was about to stop being a hermit.
Eventually it came out of its shell, wearing a jaunty bonnet of sand.
And, with one eye sticking out through the mess, it headed off down the beach.
Poet, photographer, and total Scotsman; Ian has been mentioned before in this organ.
Now a full-time resident in Pattaya, he continues to write terrible poems and take interesting photos, and he wanted a way to share them with the world. Being somewhat behind the times (he was still using Netscape Navigator as a web browser), his method of communication with his many admirers was to fire off a series of emails with massive attachments. What he really needed was a blog (and to get rid of Netscape).
So with much wringing of hands, we went down to Tuk Com where I failed miserably in pointing him towards a Macbook Air and instead he came away with a Samsung something boring laptop. Then it was home to set up a WordPress account. We needed a name for the site and he had no shortage of ideas:
“Stuff You Need to Know”
“Life as I Know It”
“It Doesn’t Get Better Than This”
“Wha’s Like Us”
“Shit poetry central”
(The last one was my suggestion).
But he kept returning to his first choice, “Pattaya Daze”, and I must admit it has a certain ring to it. And so it came to be, and you can visit it here.
There are no poems yet, but as a taster you can enjoy one of his finer creations, set to music by his groupies:
Bob Dylan, eat you heart out.
In addition, frequenter commenter and inspiration for this site, Billy, has a new creation. He admits it’s a shameless rip-off of Thailand’s Not The Nation, and if you don’t live in Jakarta and play golf and pool, then you probably won’t understand it. But give it a go here.
Nik has been in the UK for a while and reports he could live in Thailand for six months for what it costs to live in London for one month. Fortunately he had some cash remaining to buy us a little gift:
There appears to one less chocolate egg and several fewer marshmallows than five minutes ago. I blame the cat.
Once you get up close and personal with subjects, the depth of field you have to play with is very small. Consequently, to make sure you have focused exactly where you intended, it is best to use manual focusing. And manual focusing is something the X100 does not do well.
So it was with little hope of success that I spent some time this morning shooting exclusively in macro mode, and indeed the camera was nowhere near as easy to use close-up as the Panasonic GF1. No problem with grabbing focus, but I was never sure what had been grabbed. I could zoom in and confirm that indeed it had not focused exactly where I wanted, but then trying to spin the useless manual focusing ring was a waste of time.
Still, when it did work, the shots looked OK (to my eyes). But if I was going out to shoot macro again I would leave the Fuji at home and take the GF1 (if I can stop she who must be obeyed from “borrowing” it).
Some Fuji macro shots, mainly at F4:
Please take the children out of the room and cover the ears of your granny.
Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! Bastard bloody Windows!
Thank you, I feel better now.
I take back any passingly pleasant comments I made about Windows 7 this morning. It’s a cloak of charm covering the usual Microsoft wank.
Started up Win7 this afternoon and after coughing into life it announced that it was not happy about my copy of Windows; maybe it wasn’t genuine. Oh yes it is pal, and I have the original box to prove it. Shouting at it made no difference, so I looked at what it wanted me to do. Download a shitty little exe file was what it wanted me to do; all very 1990s. So I did, and I ran it and it shouted VALIDATION CHECK, before confirming that my copy of Windows was not genuine and would I like to buy a new copy online provided I was in the USA; otherwise tough luck.
There was help of sorts which said maybe you have changed your computer hardware (which I have), but offered no advice on what to do in such circumstances. It then asked me to restart the computer which would no doubt invoke the slow painful death routine.
To be honest, I had rather feared this moment. When I went to buy my original Windows disk, they only had the OEM version; which means it can only be installed on a single computer. By moving the disk to a new computer a few days ago I had sinned and was therefore being shut down for my transgressions. Which means I would have to go out and buy another bloody disk for an eye-watering amount of money. Of course, had I been running a pirated copy then I would have been fine…
Really Microsoft, do you have to make it this bloody difficult? Please compare with Apple.
Apple Lion was downloadable for less than the third of the price of Windows. Having downloaded it I could legally install it on up to five of my Macs. No DRM, no registration, no hassles, no restrictions. And they sold a million copies on the first day. Make it cheap and easy and people will happily pay for it. Make it expensive, complicated and restrictive; and people will give up and install pirated versions. Like I am about to do. Bastards.
My computer hosts two operating systems, one from Apple and one from Microsoft; and they are both more than adequate at what they designed to do. I also have many useful applications, all of which work without crashing and serve my purposes.
And this is to be expected. If you are in the business of providing software, then you better make sure it works well or else you will not be in business for long (although Microsoft managed to get away with it with Vista).
But if your business is other than software, then any old shit will make do to support your product. I have a Canon printer, and the program they provide to allow printing on disks looks like it was designed in the DOS age by an intern with a twisted sense of humour. She who must be obeyed has a back-up drive which refuses to work unless a completely redundant utility program is installed and is allowed to pop up and announce that is alive every time she turns on her machine. My router offers monitoring software that doesn’t. And don’t get me started on the “utility” provided with the UPS which crashes everything if you try to load it.
Pretty much anything you want to plug into your computer arrives with crap supporting software. But that’s not all. This week I have been struggling with software that apparently should be helping me design a photo book.
My client is a reader of this site so I will be careful what I say. But I would not be lying if I said his photos feature finely toned legs, firm buttocks and sometimes surprising genitals. And that’s just the horses he rides. Yes, it’s a book of polo photos.
Photo books seem to be big business, but it is hard to find a supplier that will print large size, hardback books at the level of quality that my photos and my most excellent client deserve. And when you do find one, then the software they provide for the design of the book turns out to be a piece of crap. At least, that has been my experience.
I finally settled on MyPublisher. Their books are well regarded and they offered an A3 size leather-bound monster which is just what we needed (never mind the content, smell the cover). So I downloaded their software and away I went.
The design part of it is quite good. Each page has a wide choice of layouts, allowing to place photos exactly where you want them. The problem comes when you want to choose a photo. You place photos from your hard drive into the software where they appear in a long horizontal line. Except sometimes they don’t. Once you have added them to the book, they disappear from the horizontal line. Except sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they won’t add to a page. Sometimes the whole thing seems to give up and it crashes. Sometimes the whole thing seems to give up and you have to restart it.
It’s pathetic. This company is in the business of selling photobooks and their printing service is apparently excellent. But the software they provide is rubbish.
And then I updated to OSX Lion. Apple has had Lion available to developers for months, so they can test their software and update it to make it Lion compatible. MyPublisher didn’t have time to do this, they have been too busy sending out daily spam telling me I will get a free wheelbarrow if I order four books in the next three hours.
So when I fired up MyPublisher after installing Lion, it was even more crap than usual. Scroll bars wouldn’t scroll and the application disappeared into the ether every time I edited text. I could complain, but I would just get an off-topic reply from some poor uninformed schmuck in India, so what’s the point?
The point is, why can’t companies on the periphery of the software business make an effort to provide useable software? Because they can’t be arsed.
Still, in spite of all the hassle, 91MB of book was uploaded to the printers this morning and many pages of leather bound goodness will soon be rolling off the presses. The bad news is that I still have another book to design. I predict I am going to be grumpy.
If you have an aversion to sails, you can still get yourself wet at the windsurfing club by paddling a stand-up paddle board (SUP). To promote the sport, the club held a relay race yesterday and the only way I could avoid being one of the competitors was to offer to take some photos.
There were boards on the beach….
…and twelve potential paddlers expressing various levels of reluctance. Once everyone was together, Craig started to explain the rules which were clearly being made up as he went along.
With twelve people, Craig announced that there would be four teams of three, then promptly arranged people into three teams of four. Someone suggested there should be six teams of two; which would gave been interesting because there were only five boards. After much mucking about, four teams were formed, just in time for them to see the buoy which was to be paddled around, breaking adrift and heading of towards Pattaya.
Finally, the buoy was retrieved and the first riders from each team were ready:
Each rider then paddled round the buoy and back before handing off to the next member of the team, and then they repeated the sequence. Some of them looked mildly exhausted by the end. I was glad of my camera.
I was able to reinforce my camera excuse with the presence of Calvin, a young man who has expressed an interest in learning how to use a camera and came along to have a go with my GF1. We sat down before the event and I asked him about his current knowledge. Did he have a basic understanding of aperture, shutter speed and ISO? No, he didn’t. With stern instructions to go home and read The Pattaya Days Starter Guide to Photography, I gave him a quick overview and then set him loose with a long lens.
Apart from a period where he shot at F22 and a shutter speed of around 1/10th of second, with predictably blurry results, he caught some good shots.
My wife left me yesterday. Again. Off to her home town to investigate some land with which to further her dream of self-sufficiency.
As we left the condo she told the condo manager I was not allowed to bring any women back to our unit; but if I wanted to bring ladyboys that was OK. I’ll try anything
It is an increasingly worrying aspect of our relationship that, each time she goes away, I seem to miss her more. I used to be extremely comfortable on my own, and looked forward to a chance for a few days with no for company other than the
occasional ladyboy cats. Yesterday I found myself looking forward to her return as soon as I put her on the bus for the airport. Disconcerting.
Never mind, I was determined to make the full use of my bachelor status and wasted no time in heading off to Nanotrax for some hot radio controlled car racing action. A new track has been built and I was eager to try it out. It’s fast and fun, but there are a couple of places where the trackside barriers have yet to be installed. You could really wreck a car if you went off at these points; but you would have to be wildly off-line to do so.
Fresh from manly small car wrecking activities, I returned home and spent the evening tarting up my old Mac Pro which someone is coming to view today. Retired with the cats in tow at 2300.
Living on the edge like this is not good for me, she better come home soon.
My computer of choice for the last two and a half years has been a Mac Pro; eighteen kilos of aluminium and fancy bits, whisper quiet, reliable and fast enough to handle everything I throw at it. Even though it was already a year old when I bought it, it feels like it will go on for ever and I had no immediate need to change it.
But then a very nice chap from Bangkok had the misfortune to move into a smaller condo, have a baby, and decide he had no space for his top of the line, nine month old Mac Pro. He put it up for sale and eventually reduced the price so it was less than half he paid for it. Just too good to pass up….
So, as of yesterday, I am the proud owner of two Mac Pros. Assuming I can sell the old one for a reasonable price, I will have acquired a significant upgrade for a small amount of money, and I can enjoy another couple of years warranty. If I can’t sell the old one, then of course I am completely screwed.
The arrival of the new machine coincided with the release of OSX Lion, the latest operating system from Apple. Wise advice is to wait some time before installing any new version; so I waited a full half hour after it was released before buying it, for the not unreasonable price of $29; and left it overnight to finish downloading.
This morning I clicked the install button and went to make a cup of coffee. Fourteen minutes later, it was finished; something of an update record. But that was on my existing machine. So I did the same on the new computer, and then migrated my data from the old machine to the new. That took twenty eight minutes.
Since then I have spent much of the day fiddling around transfering additional hard drives (the Mac Pro has 5, with space for more) between machines and doing various updates. Surprisingly, my Windows 7 disk (which I use for gaming), was quite happy to move to the new Mac, and a quick check of running Shogun with every option turned to high confirms that the machine is much more of a beast than the old one. Not that I have upgraded my machine just to play games faster…
Finally, everything was installed and backed up, and all versions of the previous OS had been deleted; and then I found I couldn’t connect to my network drives upon which all my photos reside. Bugger. Much fiddling and no success. Bugger, mixed with mild panic. Some googling and I discover I am not the only one. I also discover a workaround which will suffice until Apple come up with a fix. Maybe I should have waited more than half an hour before downloading.
One hundred baht is a reasonable price for a haircut. Normally I pay one hundred baht less than that because she who must be obeyed wields the scissors and, with only the occasional mistake and limited blood loss, does a reasonable job on my scruffy head. But when she decides I am to get a professional cut, one hundred baht might just cover the tip. The problem is that she drags me to a salon in Central plaza, and it doesn’t get any more expensive than that.
Me and the salon have opposing objectives. My objective is to get the hell out of the place as soon as possible, their objective is to spin out the process to try and justify their ridiculous prices.
It starts with a hair wash. I object to this on principle. My hair may be many awful things, but it is always clean. Head and Shoulders every morning should see me through the day, but that’s not good enough for a fancy salon. I am laid out on a slab and a sadist soaks my hair and fills my ears with assorted lotions. Whilst doing this, she massages my scalp. This is mildly pleasant for two minutes, and downright annoying after ten. I am bored, please stop.
Eventually she does and I have to walk to the cutting chair wearing a turban towel. I assume this is not a good look although I can’t bring myself to check. My stylist arrives. If he was called “barber” rather than “stylist” he would be a quarter of the price; but there are no barbers in this place. He is festooned with assorted bangles and his hair mimics a yellow wave crashing on a distant shore. This is not a look I wish to adopt. However, I have no idea what look I am about to receive because she who must be obeyed has given the instructions.
I therefore shut my eyes, think about things nothing to do with hair, and let him get on with it. He takes a while. At times it seems he is attending to a single strand of hair and I wonder if we will be done before Christmas. Eventually he can find no more time to waste on my scalp and diverts his attention to other areas.
When she who must be obeyed prunes my face, the coverage extends beyond my beard to my eyebrows, nasal hair and ear hair. The last is particularly fun; the pleasant feeling of having the hairs clipped, mixed with the naked fear that a small slip could result in a punctured eardrum and partial deafness. But this pleasure is not the same when a man I don’t know with a wave on his head does the same job. I am bored and distressed, please stop.
At last he is done and my hair looks the same as it did, only shorter. Result. I then proceed to the cashier and hand over a substantial proportion of my pension.
Sadly, the pain is not over. She who must be obeyed decides her hair needs attention and it is another two hours before she emerges; and that’s the rest of my pension for the month gone.
Sometimes I wish I was bald.