Sunday, August 02, 2015

Exploring Windows 10,

I was patient, I had accepted the initiation to reserve a free copy on some of my computers (I’m still holding off on a couple of others). I have also fully backed up, created disk images and updated the recovery media on everything (a big task in itself). Ready to go?   …well not just yet!

I have a small older netbook running Windows 7 (its about 5 years old) and whilst it was never fast it had become virtually unusably slow to start and do anything remotely photographic. I had stripped it down to some very basic software and got it ready to be my guinea pig for the upgrade. I figured if windows 10 could breathe life into this, it might help improvement performance of the more powerful machines. Whilst I could see the reserve windows logo there didn’t seem to be any other activity. The … what’s next? email from Microsoft seemed to suggest more waiting, which is ok, but I also saw the note that I could start now using the media creation tool (with the warning it was only suitable for tech savvy users). Everything was prepared and it was friday night so I thought what the heck.

1:00AM still downloading & time for bedI linked to the site from my little netbook at around 9:00 PM and started the process of downloading. It was slow and thus I left it unattended a lot, and eventually went to bed. Basically you need to choose how to prepare the install media (I really only had the choice of using a USB drive on the netbook) and the version of windows Home or Pro and whether it is 32bit (which the netbook is) or 64 bit (which my other computers are) and create the distribution media (it can then be used to upgrade more than one computer if they have the same version). In other words this is basically a two step process. First you make your own installation media, then you can install it. The first step of downloading the install media will be performed for you in background if you choose to wait.

10 hours laterSo the first step was running overnight and I woke to find a message that it was finished but two small dialogue windows to say Modern Setup has stopped working and the download dialogue still open. Not a good look. I spent a couple of hours checking the Microsoft forums and found this was a common error during the insider program and related to not having enough space on the hard drive. I checked I had about 10 times the required minimum (16GB). I also spent time checking the USD key contents and it seemed to have all the desired components so I bravely moved onto the next step. The actual install. No going back now. It too was super slow (I have no idea why, it had to spend so long checking for updates) but eventually it finished, restarting itself several times along the way, I was doing an update, rather than a clean system install so I was expecting a wait.

Well it did breathe limited new life into the netbook (it starts noticeably faster) and program load a little quicker. I can’t see that running programs actually run any faster and I have a distinct impression that the chrome browser is struggling.Those used to Windows 7 will not see so much difference (there is a live tile wall that protrudes from the side the start menu, as in Windows 8), looks much the same when you run your existing software. Basically you can get up and running without having to master anything new. For now thats the end of the good news.

I had a very brief look at Edge (the internet explorer alternative browser) and I'm a bit skeptical that Microsoft is going to find it easy to convince people to use it when they are familiar with almost any of the other current browsers. Why is Cortana missing? Well Cortana is apparently not supported in my region or language. What I was more interested in was what was being offered for photographers (that reservation screen promises great built-in apps such as Photos, Maps & Music), Yes I can see the photos tile, and they are my photos BUT when I try to access anything I either get nothing, sometimes an error message that the group or resource is not in the correct state to perform the requested operation or I was presented with a one drive log in screen. I do have two Microsoft accounts (one from back in Hotmail times) but neither let me log in so I set up a third a new one, again no deal. The lack of one drive access also means no one note. I also get a lot of nothing, no response no error messages when trying to access other tile apps. Right about here I lost interest in exploring further. I will continue at some future time but I’m not in a hurry to upgrade any other computers right now.
Eventually Windows 10 is running
Ok its not bad, and may take a little while to become familiar with new features but where is the rainbow, the majestic view of the future, or even that whiz bang fountain of youth (ok that’s not what the TV ad is about , but what is that ad about?)
Postscript: This post has been delayed by a day while I tried to figure out this error. Username & password were fine. Seems I just needed to wait a day.The error message that dissapeared

Saturday, August 01, 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

ArtInspired :: More Inspiration from Fred Williams

amongst the mangroveOne of my Fred William’s inspired experiments escaped into the wilds of Flickr a bit sooner than I was ready for (image on the right). It is based on a series of bracketed photos I took in the Deadman’s Gully park/wetlands behind Clifton Beach, just north of Cairns. I really liked the abstract patterns of the light and shade, particular as captured in a series of autoawesome HDR* images google had produced BUT whilst the shapes where amazing the colours where not realistic and somewhat hideous. I felt they did not convey “a true sense of the place”.

my current sketching paletteThe problem of getting the colour right might not worry many but Fred Williams definitely did honestly represent the colour and texture of the Australian landscape. He also likely to being the process out in the landscape as a way to anchor his works with a true sense of the place. I actually don’t have a sketch to go with these images but I do have a couple of pages in my sketchbook that document all the water based media for sketch I had taken on my trip to north Queensland,. It wasn’t hard to scan this and use it on Corel Painter Essentials 4 (yes I haven’t updated yet!) to modify the palette of colours used in my strips. I then autopainted with a standard round watercolour brush to resample these images using my colour palette to give a more watercolour/gouache look. Much closer to what I remember of the place but still about the shapes and textures.


The final step was to place the strips over another HDR image from the set and now the images is working much better as a classic William’s painting that changes your sense of the place as space as you interact with the image. To do this display the Flickr image below full screen. Being by looking in detail close up and slowly step back still focussed on the image. You should soon reach the point where you feel you are there. Enjoying the shade and respite from the burning glare of the sun. Perhaps you are looking for your next meal, a large eel lurking in the pools, perhaps a fat mud crab hiding in the gnarled roots or perhaps you have an eye peeled for that crocodile looking for his dinner.

Amongst the mangroves II

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Those bloody biscuits again


Another day another hidden message from google. in the fine print

Could this scare away European viewers of my blog possibly and I respect they have every right not to share their viewing habits with google, So I think the message can stay, because google obviously wants me to take responsibility not them.  Does this endear google to me nope!

Friday, July 24, 2015

PhotoFriday :: The Essence of Summer

The Escene of Summer
It is actually technically winter here in Australian, but no one has told Far North Queensland


For PhotoFriday‘s topic Summer

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Backup Your Photos NOW! BUT NOT to Google+

If you are a windows user now is an important time to back up your digital photos, only don’t back them up using google+ …!  The 29th. July & 1st. August are possibly two significant dates for digital photographers using Windows PC, Tablets and Phones.

The 29th is the date microsoft is planning to roll out free version of windows 10 to anyone with a valid windows7 or 8 licence. If you are one of those you will probably have already seen the little get windows 10 icon on your task bar. (if you think you should have received this invite but haven’t, then log on from the computer concerned to the microsoft window 10 site and find the reserve windows 10 button).  I doubt this is going to be a Y2K style non-event.

However I really do expect to see some heart ache and sad stories. Upgrading an operating system generally comes with some such hickups. So what should you do to avoid any grief?
  1. Backup up all your photos now. It doesn’t really matter what software you are managing the photos with at least backup up all the original photos (be it .jpeg, DNG or other RAW formats) just make sure you have a viable copy on a separate media (ie not on your computers hard disk) I would strongly recommend a media that is easy to selectively restore from (ie avoid large compressed archives or cloud solutions) just use removable media (like CDs or DVD, probably lots of them) or better still USB style backpack drives (a 1TB drive should be less than $100, and will be a useful backup well after any upgrade). Why not make two copies and store one off site (ie a proper backup strategy)
  2. Look at the key software you have and search out the original install disk and/or the registration codes for downloads and updates. Check the suppliers web sites because they are likely to have important driver updates or other advice. If the worst case scenarios eventuates and you have to reinstall, you are ready.
  3. If you are still worried, wait a while. Even when to get the message windows 10 is ready you actually don’t have to update straight away (you have one year to do it) and might prefer to wait and watch complaints from other users. I have several PC and I am planning to just update one at a time, starting with the least used.
The 1st August is apparently the day google is planning to kill google+ photos. Ok there is a fair bit of hype around but I have already read Goodbye Google+ Photos, hello +Google Photos! What I can make of this is it really about the google+ android and IOS phone/tablet apps. They will be removed and soon stop working, yep stop working on the photo side. It doesn’t really go into what happens to the photos already in google+ photos (or picasa web albums). Still the mention of having to get them via google takeout (and thus shift through zip versions) doesn’t fill me with confidence. Right at the moment I know you can still access your photos  in the old picases web album interfaces (see te link in yellow below), I really want that ability to stay, However be aware that google+ Autobackup may not create that viable backup I’ve suggested in point 1 above. Again best to wait a while before you need to panic, but there is a google photos version, so updating now is a good idea if you want to use the backup feature .  I’ll be amazed if photos you have already uploaded can’t remain being access from the new google photos.