Raw DNG Samples from the Nexus 5

Android L, the next major release of Android will allow apps to get raw data from the camera. This lets photographers extract more information and develop photos a lot more than they could with simple Jpeg files. They’ll be able to “push” the image further to recover blown out highlights and recover detail from shadows.

At least that’s the theory. You’re still working with the relatively small lenses and sensors in camera phones so they’re not going to compare to a DSLR or dedicated camera but images will get closer in quality.

This thread on r/Android has some samples of DNG files you can work on in Lightroom or whatever your RAW processor of choice is. The photos were taken with lcamera as the official Google camera app only records to Jpeg images. I took a stab at the “auto exposure” image here and came up with this:

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That’s pretty good for a photo taken by a Nexus 5 at ISO 1635. Lightroom settings were as follows:

Settings:

  • Temp: -1.65
  • Tint: +59
  • Exposure: -1.65
  • Highlights: -100
  • Shadows: 100
  • Whites: +2
  • Blacks: -29
  • Clarity: +22

Detail

  • Sharpening
    • Amount: 67
    • Radius: 1.0
    • Detail: 10
    • Masking: 70
  • Noise Reduction
    • Luminance: 20
    • Detail: 50
    • Contrast: 0

I’m really excited to see what Android L will bring to camera apps once it’s officially out in the wild and more phones have it installed!

Go on back to Linux will ya!

I’m back in the world of Linux on my desktop machine again. Well, mostly.

desktop

Desktop Linux has been a “thing” for so long now it’s a cliche but I used it as such for well over a decade and it wasn’t until I was lured away by the shiny games offered by Steam that I installed Windows on a machine. Well, time passes and Linux support for games improves. Many fabulous indie games now have Linux versions. I’m glad I can play Kerbal Space Program, Prison Architect, Papers Please, Luftrausers and more without booting into Windows!

I’m mostly back in the Linux fold. There are still apps I use regularly that don’t work in Linux. Lightroom and Ynab are the main offenders. Both run to a certain degree in Wine, and the latter runs quite well, but I’m afraid I’ll be cheating on Linux. I have a Macbook laptop here too that runs Lightroom just fine. My 1TB of photos (and some videos) resides on an external drive in my Linux box but with the catalog copied over to the laptop, Lightroom runs reasonably well.

It hasn’t been plain sailing either. I corrupted one external drive when I let Ubuntu try to resize and partition it. It was probably my own fault for not defragging it first. I thought I had lost everything as Windows couldn’t see anything on it. Luckily, after booting into Linux on a USB flash drive I could see everything I wanted copied off.

I have an Nvidia graphics card and I noticed ugly tearing in web pages in Chrome. I found a page that suggested enabling “Override software rendering list” in chrome://flags/ but while that worked it also stopped my cursor changing when hovering over links and hover actions on menus didn’t register. Luckily I found this thread that suggested disabling the “Composite” module in the X server. (That’s the program that displays things in Unix)
I couldn’t find the file, /etc/X11/xorg.conf in my Ubuntu 14.04 install but I found Composite was mentioned in /etc/compizconfig/unity.ini and when I removed it, restarted X and logged in again Chrome scrolled like melted butter on hot scones. (yum)

Unity is a lot nicer than I remember it, or maybe it’s because I have a better machine now. I have no doubt I’ll get bored of it and start installing Gnome, KDE, Xfce and everything else to play with, before coming back to it again. I fondly remember the days of Windowmaker.

So, Linux is back.

The prisoners are escaping!

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Prison Architect is a game where you design and run an ever expanding prison. It’s still in early access but the developers bring out a new update every month.

The latest update introduced random characteristics for new prisoners. For example, some will be volatile and cause a riot for no reason at all. Others will be stoic and pay no heed to any sort of punishment given. Imagine a prisoner who was volatile and stoic? They also apparently increased the chance of a prisoner trying to escape using a tunnel. That’s why my guards perform a shakedown of the prisoners every second night to catch these subterranean trouble makers.

In the screenshot above, a dog handler suspected a tunnel was being dug so I ordered my workmen to dismantle local toilets, and look what they found! Upon further investigation I found another two toilets compromised. Quite a stink.

You don’t see that in Orange is the New Black now, do you? (No spoilers please for those who haven’t seen season 2!)

Snake oil salesman pitches to Dragons Den

His magic water cures cancer and many other ailments. Sounds legit!

Update! Steven Novella writes about The Miracle Cure for Everything in an excellent SBM piece.

The reality check of science may be disappointing to our emotional desires, but at the same time it has given us the actual ability to prolong life and improve quality of life significantly. I personally would never trade the hard-won knowledge of science for the comforting fictions of the cure-all.

Is there a PHB at Reddit?

When I read about what what happened to the remote workers at Reddit my blood runs cold. Did management take a lesson from the Pointy Haired Boss in Dilbert’s office?

227839.strip.sunday

I can’t imagine how poisoned the workplace at Reddit must be now that everyone has had an ultimatum to move to San Francisco or be fired. I’m a big fan of the site but it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. There’s a boss there somewhere who wants to make life as difficult as possible for the people who helped make that site what it is today.

Stories from a homeopathic manufacturing plant

Take this with a grain (or essence) of salt because it’s the Internet but some of these stories were too good to disappear..

I have worked at a homeopathic manufacturing plant. Yes, there is always a starting material, however sometimes it can get really shady. Homeopathics are regulated by the FDA under CFR 211, so if you make stuff up (like lie about having a starting material), and they find out about it, you’re in big trouble.
For most herbals, the actual herb is purchased, then tested to make sure it’s the right variety. This can mean TLC (thin layer chromatography), which is what I was responsible for doing when I worked there. A lot of times we got in a different species of the herb, but used it anyway.
Sometimes a pathogenic starting material is used – in that case, we contacted out to a third party micro lab that keep strains in a controlled environment. We paid the micro guy a contract fee to do the dilutions himself which ended up being about $3500 because only he was licensed to deal with pathogens. We made 200 30 mL units out of that which sold for less than $1200 total. Such a waste.
Sometimes a material of animal origin is used. If it’s something weird, like bovine trachea, there really isn’t a good method to test it, so we kind of took the supplier’s word for it. Pretty shady.
One time we needed to do an extraction of “morning dew”, so we went outside in the morning, shook some water off of some weeds, weighed it, then did the dilution.
My favorite story is this one: We needed to do a dilution of uranium 200X. Problem, is you can’t get uranium (unless you’re Doc Brown), so we went to Hanford (this was a looong time ago) carrying a vial of water. When we got there and did a tour (the plant manager knew what we were going to do), we took the vial and held it up against a glass wall that was a close as we could get to the cooling chamber. That became our “1X” dilution. We went back to our lab and diluted it to 200X, in ethanol. We had a lot left over, and because it’s illegal in WA to dump large quantities of ethanol down the drain, we needed a disposal service. Unfortunately, when we tried to explain that it was a 200X dilution (and that there wasn’t even a single atom of uranium in there to begin with), they still wouldn’t take it, because it said “uranium” on the label. So we took a shovel and buried in the back of the plant, and never told anyone.

One time we needed to do a dilution of goldenseal. My lab partner dropped his pen in the mix. We didn’t want anyone to find out, so he reached in to grab it, covering his arm in goldenseal, a potent laxative. He spent the next several days with severe nausea.
One time a guy wanted us to make this product called singtu. It was a pretty standard herbal homeopathic, except at the end we were supposed to “sing to” the final product, using these chants that the customer prepared for us. At first we were like “no”, but money is money, so when he visited we sang the chants. After he left it became a joke to say the most vulgar things we could around it.
One time we needed to make a belladonna 1000X dilution. I had to sit there and make sure the compounder did it right. That was the most goddamn boring thing I have ever done. It took two solid days

Meanwhile, Heel, a company that made homeopathic “medicine” has left the US and Canadian markets after settling a class action lawsuit. They would have had to modify their packaging and advertising to be more truthful. Unfortunately they still operate in South America and Europe.

2014-10-01-095628-l

And finally, I saw in the money section of “USA TODAY” a few weeks ago while on the way home from Automattic’s Grand Meetup that another company, Hyland, that makes homeopathic “medicine” is facing a class action lawsuit over their children’s cold and flu products. The first product, Hyland’s 4 Kids Cold ’n Cough has heavily diluted ingredients. While there might be some particles of the X6 ingredients left, there won’t be any of the X12 ingredients.

How to remove the shine on faces with Lightroom

I had to develop a bunch of photos I took at an event recently and some of the faces in the photos had distracting highlights. The shine wasn’t too bad, but it mocked me and my initial attempts to fix it!

Lightroom is limited in it’s editing tools but it does have a powerful brush tool. The instructions I found here worked a treat. You can use the brush tool, healing tool or a combination of both.

  • Select the brush tool and change the colour to a shade close to the skin colour. Do this by clicking on the colour tool and when the colour picker popups up drag the cursor to where you want to grab the colour in the picture.
  • Set the brush to a low opacity and colour in the shine. Go slowly, it’ll take a number of passes.

You can also use the heal tool, but again make sure the opacity is set low.

Unhide passwords on your Android Device

One of my pet peeves about logging into sites on my phone is the password field. On a large screen it makes sense that the field is obscured by * characters but what about on a small device only you can see?

I can’t be the only one bothered by this because the wifi login form on Android devices has a handy “Show password” setting. Maybe it’s because people use the default wifi password set by their ISPs so much it’s their only “strong” password. Anyway, I wished there was a similar setting for other login forms.

Well, now there is, sort of. A handy Xposed Framework module called HideNoPasswords that reveals the letters behind the dots. I found I could even swype my password which makes logging in with phrases so much easier.

logging into twitter

There are downsides. Security is the most obvious one. An application could take screenshots in the background when it detects the keyboard is in use and send that data somewhere. Someone could look over your shoulder and see the password.
Also, your phone has to be rooted, and you need the Xposed Framework installed but if you’ve conquered those hurdles installing this module is simple.

Here’s the XDA Thread on the module, and the XDA blog post where I found out about this handy extension.