RIP Oscar

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Oscar, a rescue dog who came into our lives just two weeks after we married, who was an ever present fixture in our son’s life, was put to sleep after suffering a serious injury to his eye tonight.

We had fun, we had scrapes, we played fetch until we learned his heart was dodgy, but he still survived for years! He was a fighter.

“Where’s the ball Oscar?”

He was our beloved dog. He’ll be missed.

Beware! The Java Updater installs the Ask Toolbar

I had to update Java this morning and I was in a hurry. I clicked through the first page of the install wizard without really looking and then remembered I should have paid attention and noticed it said it would install the Ask.com app. Grrr.

Java Updater
(Here’s a screenshot I captured a few months ago)

I could have cancelled it but I ploughed on. However there was no sign of the extension after the install. When I restarted it, Chrome reported that the extension “Search App By Ask v2″ was added!

Search App By Ask v2

I did not enable it of course, and checked my search engine settings. The site ask.com had been added, but was not set as the default engine. Gone with that then!

I hate that Oracle put a browser toolbar in the install of the Java runtime. I wonder how many kids who installed Java to run Minecraft have this toolbar installed now?

Delete the junk that games and apps leave behind in Windows

Use CCleaner and winapp2 to clean out the junk left behind by Steam installers, temporary files, cache files and more.

Before you run this make sure you play all your Steam games at least once or you’ll have to “verify integrity of game cache” of each which will force a download of the install files again. The UI is basic, you can click a box to select all games plus Desura and Steam install files so I went for the big one. I saved 17GB of space by deleting Desura game cache files I didn’t know I could delete. I found out afterwards that there’s an option in Desura to “Clean up MCF’s after use” too which is probably worth doing if you’re running short on space.

There’s also the Tikione Steam Cleaner but it’s written in Java and it’s 195MB when installed! Check out this thread on Reddit for more. I found out about winapp2 there.

While we’re on the subject of saving space, download Space Sniffer to see where all your space is used.

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.