The Deliverator – Wannabee

So open minded, my thoughts fell out…

Archive for April, 2009

D80 Sensor Cleaning

Posted by Deliverator on 29th April 2009

One of the few real downsides to digital SLR cameras versus their film brethren is getting dust on the sensor. With a film camera, each new exposure yields a fresh “sensor,” but over time with a digital SLR, dust which gets into the camera frame during lens swaps can coat the sensor (technically the IR filter over the actual sensor). At larger lens apertures, dust on the sensor generally can’t be seen, but at small apertures against a fairly consistent bright background, you can really see it. I shoot a fair number of panoramas with my Nikon D80 and often see repeated spot patterns on the source images. One can clean these sorts of problems up in Photoshop, but it greatly increases the amount of time spent in post-processing.

For most cases of dust on the sensor, I have simply used the mirror lockup mode on my camera to reveal the sensor and then used an oversize rubber air bulb to blow the dust off the sensor. Mine is this one made by Giottos, but these are a dime a dozen. It does the job most of the time with a minimum expenditure of effort.

For more stubborn dust, I eventually added a sensor brush from Visible Dust and a SpeckGRABBER.

Recently, I encountered some dust that had “welded” itself to the sensor and wouldn’t come off with any of the above methods. Welded dust is probably usually the result of some sort of particle that is wet when it makes contact and dries hard to the sensor. To get it off, you need to use a “wet” cleaning method. The favored method seems to be a few drops of Methanol on a very fine cloth attached to the end of what amounts to a miniature squeegee the width of your particular cameras sensor. A number of companies sell wet cleaning kits. I got one from Photographic Solutions for $20 for 4 pre-wetted swabs. I was hoping that just one swab would be enough and I could keep the others in my camera bag for emergency in-the-field use. I ended up needing to use all four swabs in the kit to get the majority of welded dust off my sensor. Is this a good value? I would probably buy my swabs and Methanol separate in the future. On the other hand, the cheapest wet cleaning I found in the Seattle area was at Cameras West for ~$60

Here are some before and after pics to show the difference. The pictures were taken at f/16 and are of a relatively undifferentiated target (my projector’s screen).

Before cleaning:

After cleaning:

Posted in Photography | No Comments »

TRC in Atlanta @ First International Championship Event 2009

Posted by Deliverator on 26th April 2009

The TRC and I went to Atlanta for the FIRST Robotics International Championship Event. We didn’t win anything, but had fun. Here are the pictures. If you have TRC pictures from the event, let me know so I can add them to my TRC Media Archive.

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Posted in General, Photography, Titan Robotics Club | No Comments »

Going to hell anyways

Posted by Deliverator on 26th April 2009

Lemmings like company

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Alphagrip AG-5

Posted by Deliverator on 23rd April 2009

I recently went searching for a handheld, touch-typeable input device for a wearable computer project, but came up pretty dry. Long standing favorites of the wearable community like the Twiddler 2 chording keyboard from Handkey are no longer being manufactured and are next to impossible to find through after-market channels like eBay. I found no single-handed device which combined both keying and pointing, but I did find a two handed one called the Alphagrip AG-5.

The AG-5 is shaped like a game controller and has discrete keys for all letters and a few of the most common punctuation marks, with less often used symbols as second functions. It also has a variable speed trackball. Sadly, there is no scroll-wheel and middle click is somewhat awkward to activate.

I’ve been practicing touch-typing using this typing tutor, which has a module for the alphagrip. I am not typing very fast yet, but I am touch typing with pretty high accuracy. I am slowly developing muscle memory and will hopefully be able to type much faster in the future. I’ve seen video of people typing at 40-60 wpm.

I really like the Alphagrip. It is pretty ergonomic for my size hands and comfortable to use for an extended time. I could see it benefiting those who have trouble typing on a conventional keyboard due to stress injuries. A lot of thought has obviously gone into key placement and overall design of the AG-5, and it is easy to believe that it went through 5 major revisions before being released to the public. It is not without its faults. The biggest is the lack of wireless support via either Bluetooth or a USB dongle. I can understand the need to bring a version 1 product to market to support future development, but at the same time it seems like an obvious feature which would greatly increase the appeal of the Alphagrip.

As you might have guessed, this entry was composed on my Alphagrip.

Posted in General, Rants and Raves, Windows CE | 1 Comment »

Further Evidence that Men and Apes are Little Different

Posted by Deliverator on 8th April 2009

The difference engine in my head never stops spinning:

Australian Pimp Paid Teen Prostitute With Chicken Nuggets

and

Chimpanzees exchange meat for sex

Posted in Rants and Raves | No Comments »

Trickle Down Computernomics

Posted by Deliverator on 3rd April 2009

One of the things I hate about living on the bleeding edge of computerdom is that when you do hardware upgrades you are almost always left with perfectly good, serviceable parts for which you have little personal use. Dealing with Craigslist or eBay is often more hastle than the resale value of the parts are worth and I have enough trouble keeping the frenzy in my life to a tollerable level without dealing with flaky people from Craigsliste or the US postal service.

This week I found myself with quite a bit of spare time, so I decided to put those parts to use and used them to do some upgrades:

-I took the Opteron 185 (dual 2.6 ghz cores) from the system I recently upgraded to a Core i7 and swapped it into my media PC in place of an AMD X2 3800+. I also took 2GB of low latency OCZ ram left fallow by the Core i7 upgrade and swapped it for the memory in the media PC. The media PC is now considerably snappier and because the processor is of the same general family as the one it replaces, I didn’t have to reinstall the OS or anything. The only issue appears to be that the faster processor is maybe a bit of a stretch for the power supply and it takes a little effort to get the system to post without it going into emergency shutdown due to out of tolerance voltages. Once the system is started though, it runs like a charm, can warm reboot just fine and voltages are all within acceptable levels. Inrush currents generally suck. I am kinda surprised that the Shuttle motherboard bios doesn’t have a delayed hard drive start option as can be found on many motherboards to limit this effect. I might swap the media PC’s graphics card (Nvidia 6800 series) out for something that uses less power to see if I can eliminate this minor annoyance.

Ryan is getting a free upgrade to one of his desktops in the form of the X2 3800+ processor, 3 GB of DDR 400 and a nice Asus Socket 939 motherboard with dual PCI-E 16x slots.

-I had a 2GB DDR2-667 so-dimm left over from a recent project for a client, so I decided to upgrade my Samsung Q1 UP UMPC to 2 GB. At the same time, I decided to investigate some issues I’ve been having with the touchscreen digitizer. Like many other resistive touch panels I’ve owned, this one was going horribly out of calibration all the time and had developed dead-zones near the screen borders. Recently, the touch panel went dead entirely. It turns out the integral “plastic screen protector” on the unit, which I had noted as bulging out in places actually was the touch layer and it had become separated enough that the electrical contact pads on the touch layer were no longer in contact with the matching pads below. This touch layer was attached to the LCD with just a small amount of gum rubber adhesive, which was obviously inadequate to the task and poorly aligned to boot. Despite several attempts (requiring near total disassembly and reassembly to test), I wasn’t able to get the touch screen working again. I suspect that there might have been some minute amount of conductive adhesive used to keep the contact pads in place. It isn’t a big loss for me, as I didn’t use the touchscreen much, but further illustrates the poor construction of these overpriced Samsung UMPCs. I would certainly not buy another unit from them in the future.

-I used the 1 GB ram module from the Samsung Q1 UP to upgrade my Acer Aspire One 8.9″ Netbook to 1.5 GB, the max it can accommodate. The Aspire One isn’t the easiest Netbook to upgrade. Many other Netbooks have a simple hatch requiring the removal of one screw. I had to remove a couple dozen screws, remove the keyboard, detach several thin film cable assemblies, remove the plastic bezel frame and flip over the motherboard to gain access to the ram slot, but it was a breeze to upgrade compared to the Samsung UMPC.

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Hastings Minnesota Historical Newspaper Project – Final Data Release (for now)

Posted by Deliverator on 2nd April 2009

After several months of putzing with the data in my spare time, I have finally finished processing the initial batch of digital images for web release. You can learn more about the project from my prior postings here and here. I will likely order and have digitized more microfilm from Hastings and Glencoe area papers at some point when time and my budget allows, but I wanted to get something out and available for other genealogists and researchers to use.

These files have been resized to 1/4 width and height and converted to jpeg format to make the download size reasonable. The have also been cropped and rotated for easier viewing. If you would like access to the higher resolution original tiff files, please contact me to make arrangements. The individual jpeg images have been archived together in large zip files. Click on the links below to download.

Hastings Conserver – Jan 8, 1863 – Apr 30, 1863.zip – 146 MB
Hastings Conserver – May 7, 1863 – Aug 30, 1864 – 699 MB
Hastings Conserver – Apr 11, 1865 – Nov 13, 1866.zip – 824 MB

Hastings Independent – July 25 1857 – Dec 27 1860 – 1.7 GB
Hastings Independent – Jan 3, 1861 – Dec 25, 1862.zip – 1 GB
Hastings Independent – Jan 1, 1863 – Dec 29, 1864.zip – 954 MB
Hastings Independent – Jan 5, 1865 – Nov 8, 1866 – 923 MB

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