Venus and Jupiter

Venus and Jupiter approaching near-conjunction as viewed from my front porch, low on the horizon above a house across the street.

Venus and Jupiter nearing their closest appearance in the sky. May not see them tonight, when they'll be reversed and Jupiter will be below Venus, because of clouds.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 07:24 Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Almost There

It was a busy week. Mitzi and visited the Cummer Museum and Gardens on Thursday to view a new installation by Anila Quayyum Agha, "Flight Patterns". I brought along the OM System E-P7 with the little Lumix 12-32mm zoom. (Flickr album here.) I liked that little combo enough that i've decided to go ahead and offer my E-PL10, E-PL7 and E-PL6 to KEH.

We expected company, my daughter and her family, on Saturday. So Friday was spent trying to finally get the office cleaned up. Mission mostly accomplished. Of course, cleaning the office somehow led to cleaning the workbench in the garage. That project is unfinished, but it's vastly better than it was.

We had an e-cycling day in the community on Saturday. I brought over a bunch of stuff, the biggest item being my old Power Mac G4 MDD, dual-867MHz G4 processors. Thing weighs a ton. It's a drive-thru operation, we popped the hatch and this teen girl who probably weighed all of ninety pounds grabbed the G4. I told her to be careful, but I needn't have worried, she handled it like a pro. Had a laugh when I heard another kid say, "What's that?"

A gentleman who I presumed was the owner relieved the young lady of the G4 and carefully placed it in a large rolling bin of some sort. I assume it's likely to end on up ebay in whole or parted out. I stuffed the CDs inside the body cavity.

In an effort to make room in the garage for stuff formerly in my office, I pulled a large fishing tackle box from the cabinets above the bench. I'd acquired the thing over a decade ago and have been fishing exactly zero times since. My son-in-law is a surfer and saltwater fisherman, so I planned to offer it to him. Mitzi had a small tackle box and little freshwater rig she'd acquired when she was dating another guy who fished. Likewise hasn't used it since. So that was offered as well.

When they arrived I told Pat, my firefighter son-in-law, that I had something I'd like to give him if he was interested. Figuring if he didn't want it, I'd just run it over to Goodwill today. He looked it all over and decided it was worth taking, especially the freshwater stuff. His youngest has been asking to go fishing, and they have some ponds in their community.

As we were heading back to his car, he said, "Look dear, more stuff for our garage." Apparently they'd just been through a similar effort to bring order out of chaos. I've seen their garage, so I understood the unenthusiastic look Melissa gave Pat.

We had a nice visit, but as the evening was winding down, my youngest granddaughter asked if she could look at my cameras. Not really sure where this was going, I said of course. I have about a dozen compact digital cameras. They've all seen some hard use, so I'm not inclined to offer them to KEH. The money I'd get is worth less than the utility the cameras still represent. Wasn't sure exactly what I was going to do with them, but that was about to be partly resolved.

I don't recall if she asked first, or if I offered, but Alden expressed interest in getting a camera. I'd given cameras to my daughter and my son, so it was easy to decide to give one to Alden. I had two Olympus XZ-10s, tiny advanced compacts with 1/2.3" sensors. One was in rougher shape than the other since I used to carry it in my hand when I was running. Most the anti-reflective coating was removed by the sweat and oil of my hand. I gave her the nicer one, along with a little case and a USB cable, since those Olympus cameras use a proprietary connection.

Pat was with us and I asked if this was going to be a problem with Jenna, not getting something?

Hearing her name, she appeared. I ended up giving her my XZ-2, a 1/1.7" advanced compact of roughly the same vintage. It's a bigger body with at tilt-screen. It was still in good shape, but the rubber thumb grip had long since come off and disappeared. I'd replaced it with one of those stick-on silicone rubber feet or bumpers you can buy anywhere. It'd adhered well and gave some purchase for my thumb. Found a little case for it and another USB cable.

Of course, in the middle of the night I woke up worrying that they wouldn't know how to use those cameras, be unhappy with the results and lose any potential enthusiasm for photography. So I ordered a DK book that I used to own, which is heavily illustrated and explains much of the fundamentals of digital photography and had it delivered to Jenna's house. Should arrive today. Included a note to share it with Alden.

Sunday morning, I made a couple of shared albums in Photos, one from XZ-10 images, the other from the XZ-2. I sent them links and hoped they'd see what the cams were capable of. I also sent along pdfs of the manuals and suggested that they just use iAuto, Scene mode and Art Filters for now. In those modes, the camera does all the thinking, they just have to frame the shot and push the shutter release.

All you can do is all you can do. Hopefully they'll get some enjoyment from them, learn a few things and perhaps develop an interest in photography.

Meanwhile, my collection of compact cameras is slightly less insane. I sold my Fujifilm X20 to a young petty officer, Mitzi has the XQ1, I'm offering the Lumix LX-7 to KEH. (Love that little camera, but I never cared for Panasonic's jpegs.) It's still a popular little device, so I'm guessing they'll offer me more than $20 for it. I could probably sell it for 10x that amount to an individual buyer, but I don't need the hassle.

Anyway, the beat goes on. Hope to make some additional progress this week, as we have company again next week!

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 06:30 Monday, 27 February 2023

The Asterism Across the Street

Crescent moon, near Jupiter and above Venus in the sky above a suburban Florida house.

I don't think this evening's is as dramatic as yesterday's. Shot this with the E-M1X in handheld high resolution mode, just for grins. Really didn't need to. Larger version at Flickr.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 19:14 Wednesday, 22 February 2023


A crescent moon, Venus and Jupiter in near vertical alignment ascending above the horizon in a suburban Florida street scene.

Stepped outside yesterday evening to go collect the mail and was greeted by this. Having some appreciation for how quickly the scene changes, I stepped right back inside and grabbed the new E-P7, which had the Lumix 12-32mm/f3.5-5.6 mounted. Not the brightest lens in the box, but it was mounted.

Walked around and struggled to frame it a bit with the street lights. Finally found a spot where I could use a tree to block it. I could have also zoomed in a bit more, as this is a crop of a 17mm (35mm effective focal length) shot. Of course, zooming in means a smaller aperture too.

The E-P7 seems to share the same 5-axis image stabilization as the E-M10 Mk.4. The E-PL series (7 and later) have an improved 3-axis stabilizer, which is good for about 3 stops. Shutter speed on this image, at f4.5 and ISO 3200 is .3s, is about three and a third stops slower than what might be conventionally considered wise for a 35mm focal length. Right about at the edge of what my E-PL10 might have achieved, but easily handled in this case.

Cropped it a bit, did some noise reduction, and I'm pleased with it. Took about 30 frames, imported 2 to Photos.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 13:31 Wednesday, 22 February 2023

Of Toadies and Lickspittles and Sycophants

It's funny, the things I think of in the shower.

While we may recoil at the spiritual hollowness of the kinds of people who are attracted to tyrants and bullies, we shouldn't forget that it doesn't mean they're incompetent.

Some are, but most who survive in an autocrat's inner circle have some level of talent or ability.

Albert Speer could probably have taught Tim Cook a thing or two about supply chain management. And Speer also should have been hanged at Nuremberg. He knew better than most, and kept the war going longer than it otherwise would have.

Likewise Goebbels, an educated man with what can only be described as a gift for understanding mass communications and propaganda.

Himmler? He was a chicken farmer, but he had an eye for talent and he was ruthless. Heydrich was his man.

Borman? Murderously efficient gangster. Not an especially bright man, but possessed of a keen sort of low animal cunning.

Leni Riefenstahl definitely knew how to use a camera. Like Speer, got off too easy. Should at least have done time. Like, 30 years or more.

Ernst Röhm was kind of a wild card or loose cannon. Useful, until he wasn't anymore. Not especially smart, but ambitious and he had something of an army at his command. Perhaps didn't understand how to "stay in his lane."

Goering was mostly a prop. A drug addict and a man of limitless appetites. He was pretty good at the internal politics, and unencumbered by a moral conscience. Just someone to add an air of legitimacy in the early years. He wasn't a brilliant strategist either, over-promising and under-delivering as head of the Luftwaffe.

No, what people like this all have in common is some enormous spiritual defect that attracts them to "strong men." Some emptiness that they try to fill by endearing themselves to bullies. Someone who enables them to pursue their own twisted agendas. Gives them license to be their own bad selves. Get rich through fraud and theft. Murder people. Manipulate and intimidate people. Elevate their professional or artistic reputations. Receive social status and rank they otherwise never would have had. (Looking at you, Dr. Ladapo.)

All they have to do is tell the boss what he wants to hear.

Eventually, the boss fails, because there was no one to prevent his worst excesses, rein in his worst instincts, and the whole enterprise collapses with him.

Then, like roaches, they all scurry for the dark corners. The rationalizations begin. The excuses. The denials.

The whining.

Will DeSantis go too far soon? Feels like it. Some murmur that he already has. If so, I guess it'll be up to Casey to right the ship.

Whether it's now, after he's a candidate, or after he's in the Oval, DeSantis will be another Trump in more ways than a few. He'll step on his dick and fall on his face.

And all his toadies with their heads up his ass will have to see a chiropractor for an "adjustment."

The only question is, how much damage does he do to the rest of us?

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 09:47 Tuesday, 21 February 2023

On Not Taking Money for NetNewsWire. I love this.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 06:40 Tuesday, 21 February 2023


I played with the Suggested Links feature of Tinderbox this morning, looking at what it surfaced as related to this post, which I've linked to before.

Intrigued by the title, because I don't recall what any particular post is about from the title, opened one that was posted to the Marmot over eight years ago. It delighted me to note that it was a recapitulation of some very rewarding email correspondence from February 2002, 21 years ago almost to the day. I should see if I can reach Dave Golding and see how he's getting on.

It has some relevance today, as we find ourselves in Florida governed by (mostly) men who are lost.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 06:13 Tuesday, 21 February 2023

The weakness of "strong men."

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 09:02 Sunday, 19 February 2023


Just because I'm excited, not that you should be, a short post before I take my walk.

I picked a post from 2018. Should have done it in another tab, because it's not open anymore. This facility is going to alter the way I use Tinderbox.

Suggested notes populated instantly. Number: 10. But it went back to 2013, the earliest days of the Marmot. It also went forward in time to 2021. So there's no chronological limit, it appears to be the ten most relevant, "relevant" as determined by whatever the algorithm is.

I'm loving this.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 07:26 Sunday, 19 February 2023

Serendipity, Part Deux

Recently I mentioned that Spotlight wasn't behaving as advertised in my install of MacOS Ventura. (I'm waiting to see when Suggested surfaces that post.) And I wrote about using LaunchBar as my choice of keyboard launcher.

I've been doing some searching and installing various LaunchBar actions, and trying to wrap my brain around many of the more sophisticated features that I haven't been taking the most advantage. There's little progress to report on that front. As it goes with many of these sorts of endeavors, at least for me, there have been numerous digressions, to include installing Homebrew and consulting ChatGPT for assistance in that effort. (It's helpful.) But my interest continues, nevertheless.

So yesterday, during the Tinderbox Zoom meetup, someone mentioned that Dominique Renauld had created an Alfred workflow to take notes in Tinderbox. Someone also posted a link to a video and a forum post (I didn't save the chat, but the tabs are still open.) With LaunchBar not many registers deep in the stack, I clicked through to see what the deal was, thinking I'd try to replicate it with LaunchBar. (Gazing at the Action Editor being another of the aforementioned digressions, though perhaps not too far off the trail.)

The link to the forum post included a link to his blog regarding the Alfred workflow, which turned out to be dead with regard to that particular post, but did get me to his blog. So I poked around to see what Dominique had been sharing of late. I confess, I don't, or rather, haven't read Dominique's blog in the past. He speaks and writes English far better than I read French. Je parle un petite peu. Je suis tres désolé. I happen to believe he reads the Marmot from time to time.

I found this recent post, from November of last year, where I spotted a screenshot of Tinderbox.

(As an aside, sometime in the past few minutes, Tinderbox has posted 10 Suggested posts. The earliest is from November 2021. This suggests there's a limit to the number of related posts Tinderbox displays, as it has been 10 in each of the three (small sample size, I know) notes I've investigated so far.)

I'm not fluent in French, but I do recall making some translation settings in MacOS or Safari, so I suspected there had to be an easily discoverable way to translate the page. Sure enough, in the address bar was an icon that looked like a pair of cartoon speech bubbles that seemed to suggest language. I figured it was either going to read the page aloud, or translate it for me, and fortunately it was the latter!

The topic was Tinderbox in the context of all the relatively recent buzz about PKM. I'm in agreement with his views, but what was also a "surprise and delight" was the link he posted in the context of Tinderbox as a blogging tool. It was the session I did with Michael Becker a couple of years ago!

The Marmot doesn't look or work exactly like that anymore. In fact, as I've been slowly absorbing more knowledge about Tinderbox, chiefly through osmosis, I've been thinking about refactoring it once again. I likely won't undertake a complete redesign, but there are some additional changes I think I can make without breaking too many things.

I don't know if the Suggested notes are ranked by relevance, but the second note is this post from just over a year ago. (First is the preceding post, Serendipity, naturally.) Reading it, and looking over the others, I get the strong impression I do tend to repeat myself! Or at least, struggle with the same issues. When I was writing the Ephemera post, I was trying to recall when I last wrote about deleting photos from the library. I had the impression it was only a few months ago, but it was just over a year. I think this speaks to the subjective experience of the passage of time accelerating as one gets old. An insight that often intrudes on my thoughts these days.

Anyway, all of this perhaps amounts to nothing, but it did make me smile; and that's a noteworthy event in these times.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 06:19 Sunday, 19 February 2023


The marmot is made with Tinderbox, the tool for notes. It's a remarkable application, very powerful. I've been using it for about 20 years now, and I've only ever really mastered maybe five percent of it's capabilities.

Partly to learn more about Tinderbox, partly to add some social interaction during the time of COVID, (I know, it's still "the time of COVID.") I started attending the virtual Zoom meetups held on alternating Saturdays and Sundays at noon Eastern US time. It's an eclectic group of really smart people, and it's usually hosted by the developer Mark Bernstein and coordinated or stage-managed by a Tinderbox virtuoso, Michael Becker. Always in attendance is Mark Anderson, perhaps the only other person who rivals Mark Bernstein or Michael Becker in his intimate knowledge of the application.

The user community is very helpful, and I always come away having learned something new about Tinderbox. It's not always something I can use, given my application is mainly the marmot, but I can appreciate the power and flexibility the tool affords.

One of the "big fucking deals" about PKM (personal knowledge management) is linking. I get it, mostly. "It's all about the graph, baby." (Insert Always Sunny in Philadelphia meme here.) But I don't do much linking within the marmot. I'll occasionally link to something I posted on the web, if it's still at the top of my mental stack, or not too many registers deep; but mostly if I link, it's to something someplace else on the web and never an interior link within the file.

There's a sophisticated facility for internal linking within Tinderbox, and it gets a fair amount of attention at the meet-ups. I've appreciated watching the demos, but never felt very excited about anything until today.

In the screenshot below is the view one is afforded of a note when you invoke CMD-7, which is listed only as Links in the Window menu. (I think this should go in the Note menu, but what do I know?) I've seen it demo'ed before, but I've never used it until today.

As the meet-up is going on, I'll often be "multi-tasking," doing something else while Becker is demo'ing a feature at Mach 5. He'd asked attendees to make notes in the chat about things they found interesting or useful, to help him when he wrote up the summary that will accompany the video when it's posted. Someone typed CMD-7 in the chat. I didn't know why that was interesting, so I popped over to the Marmot and hit CMD-7. This is the result:

Screenshot of a Tinderbox note showing the Links panel.

Holy guacamole! I had never seen that before! Or never made the connection, because I never think about internal links. To be clear, I had seen this note view before, but I'd never seen "Suggested" populated with anything that "suggested" it would be relevant to me. Hah! "Little did he know..."

The Marmot, and it's antecedent, Groundhog Day, are basically a stream of consciousness, a "river of views." I seldom revisit a note or a post, with some exceptions. Not because I don't want to, just because what I do here is quick and dirty. Except when it's not, which isn't often. I have an itch to blog something, I scratch it and move on.

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,

Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,

Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”

This "Suggested" column is interesting! Amazing! Wonderful! I was actually compelled to click on those posts. They open up in a little window of the notes text. If you click away from them, they disappear. If you move them, they open up in their entirety in their own little window! You can have as many of them open as there are in the list if you have the screen real estate.

This facility was something of a revelation to me, and it's possible I'm making too much of it. But I think it's tremendously useful in suggesting to me that some of the things I've blogged about before may be relevant to this post. And by clicking on those notes, I get a chance to "see what I thought."

The Marmot is just a blog, it's not a journal, not an intimate conversation with myself. Though, if it were, I could see where this feature might be even more useful as one develops a corpus of some size. The Marmot, as of a few paragraphs ago, was this size:

Screenshot of the Marmot as a Tinderbox document showing its size.

(The "links" are all web links. Nearly all of them outbound.)

377,000 words or thereabouts, it's possible I may have mentioned one or two topics more than once!

Anyway, just surprised and delighted this afternoon. Something that is rather unusual of late, so a happy occasion.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 14:18 Saturday, 18 February 2023

Erasing Black History

Florida faces genuine existential threats from climate change and sea level rise, which require long-term planning and investment. What is Governor DeSantis focused on?

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 10:29 Saturday, 18 February 2023


Certain eastern spiritual traditions adhere to the notion of "the transient nature of all phenomena." Things arise, and they pass, like feelings. Like us.

They also counsel against "attachment," some emotional connection to something that you value perhaps out of proportion to its actual worth.

I've been reminded of these things the past few days as I've struggled with what to do with my image library. I spent a couple of days and deleted over five thousand images. And I still have over 105K images.

One approach I'm considering is printing books of events or subjects, some to give away, others to hang onto. The question I'm trying to resolve is whether to then delete those images from the library, because they're reified into a physical artifact; or should I delete all the images not in the books because they weren't valuable enough to print? Hang onto the digital originals of the printed ones in case someone wants a copy?

The point is, I think I'm spending a little too much time thinking about what to do with this library. This is the snare we get trapped in.

When I was in BAINBRIDGE (CGN-25), we made a port visit to Alexandria, Egypt and I took a tour to Cairo and the pyramids. Took a bunch of 35mm pictures. When I got home, my daughter took them to school to show her friends and lost them.

It's harder to lose things today, which may not be a good thing. Nevertheless, we still lose some. I spent much of yesterday nursing a limping 1TB 7500rpm 2.5 in. disk drive, trying to recover the masters from an old Aperture library. Once upon a time, I had the brilliant idea of uploading only reduced images to iCloud, thinking I could always access the full resolution images locally. Somehow, I seem to have managed to lose most of 2012. But sometime in 2018, I just started letting iCloud have the "originals." I had been maintaining my system library on an external drive, so I wasn't worried about storage and I still had the "original-originals."

In 2019, when I got the iMac with a 1TB SSD, I started using the internal drive, allowing Mac OS to "optimize" storage, keeping only thumbnails locally, while the originals upload to iCloud.

Well, the first book I printed was a 2018 wedding, and I can't find any full resolution originals. Fortunately, it's a book, I'm not printing large. There was only one image I wanted in the book that the software objected to, but I included it anyway. We'll see how it turns out when the book arrives. It's supposedly on its way.

Part of yesterday's effort was to see if I could recover those 2018 images. Alas, no. But I think I've found most of 2012! I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not.

I've been printing some at home as well. I just received a large order from Red River Paper. I hope to be printing a lot of cards. I made a couple of large prints of panos I stitched together from drone shots. I think they turned out pretty nice. The question now is, what do I do with them?

My plan, itself a transient phenomenon, for now is to print books of significant events with people I care about. Perhaps one or two of images that pleased me in some way that aren't necessarily associated with an event or people.

If I can accomplish this in a year (and afford it), I think my intention is to simply archive the Photos library on an SSD, stick it in a drawer and forget about it. Get rid of my 2TB tier of cloud storage with Apple. Process every day's images, share them with whomever or however I would share them. And then delete them.

We'll see. I'm not optimistic, but it feels right.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 09:28 Saturday, 18 February 2023

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Tiny warbler in the grass looking right.

An otherwise unremarkable shot, but I'm refining my process. (Fumbling around with it is a more apt description.) OM-1 bird subject detection, ensured focus didn't grab the grass in the foreground or background.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 09:52 Monday, 13 February 2023


An opening in the clouds admits sunlight, which is reflected on the pond.

It was cloudy and breezy on the walk this morning. Brought along the E-P7 because I didn't think I'd see many birds and I wanted to get familiar with the camera. This is with the Dramatic Tone II filter, which makes the otherwise mundane scenery a bit more visually interesting.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 13:22 Sunday, 12 February 2023

Nice Sunday read for creatives.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 13:20 Sunday, 12 February 2023

The Weakness of “Strong Men”

It's so commonly known, it's nearly a universal trope in narratives about bullies and bad bosses.

I can understand someone having a fragile ego, an insecurity, combined with generous doses of luck, that drives them to some level of achievement, some position of power or control. Likewise, I understand their need for constant praise and validation and hostility to criticism.

What is somewhat more puzzling to me is the nature or character of the people who are attracted to this type. The toadies and sycophants, the enablers and lickspittles who compete for proximity to someone in power, someone in control.

Some, I'm sure, do it for their own selfish ambitions, seeking favor or advantage over others. But some are just attracted to it, who seem to derive their own sense of self-worth from receiving the attention of someone they view as powerful. They have no desire for power or control of their own, they just want to bask in the glow of their chosen hero. They derive their sense of self-worth from somehow being of service to a "great man" (or woman).

There is never any shortage of these needy people, and so bullies and bosses find a ready source of adulation, validation and approval.

And it's never a surprise what happens to those who speak the truth.

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 07:57 Saturday, 11 February 2023

Florida Leads the Way

Heather Cox Richardson puts her finger on what's happening in Florida without mentioning it once. A state that has been governed solely by one party for more than a generation has now largely empowered one man to rule over it.

There's a powerful appetite for this sort of thing among a large minority of any population. Democracy is messy and difficult. Faithless actors, chiefly motivated by greed, work tirelessly to corrupt the system. People lose faith.

Institutions must be strong to guard against this; but to be strong requires accountability to the electorate.

When parties themselves, whether Republican or Democrat, work to corrupt the system, by gerrymandering, making voting more difficult, undermining faith in the electoral process, accountability to the electorate is eliminated. Institutions weaken or fail.

The faithless, those hungry for power, the greedy achieve control.

For the privileged, it's often irrelevant. The new bosses make sure the privileged are content, at least insofar as their status is concerned.

It's when things go wrong, or reckless decisions are taken with widespread consequences, that the hollowness, incompetence and cruelty of an authoritarian government is exposed, even to the privileged.

There's ultimately a price to be paid for surrendering your responsibility for self-government to a "strong man."

Sooner or later, the bill comes due.

I would write, "and all must pay," but that's not true. There is a class of people that are seldom, perhaps never, truly held accountable, who never pay for their faithlessness, their greed. That would be the rich. Many of their sycophantic toadies, their apparatchiks and fixers, their "lobbyists" and "consultants" are often held accountable.

But the people who wrote the checks seldom are.

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 06:28 Saturday, 11 February 2023

Poor Man Wanna Be Rich

Rich man wanna be king.

And a king ain't satisfied 'til he rules everything.

For more than a generation, Florida has been governed by one party.

Today it is ruled by one man.

Who wants to rule America.

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 12:33 Friday, 10 February 2023

Get Cash Now

Heard back from KEH.COM today. It seems I was a bit more conservative than I thought. They quoted me $1000 for the batch of cameras I offered. Upon review, they're paying me $1049! Cool!

I'd sold a Fujifilm X20 last month for $250, and shipped off those 14 bodies to KEH; but then I bought the OM Systems E-P7 on eBay. That came in at $685, which wasn't horrible. It turns out that it's one of those resellers that splits out lenses and bodies, probably moves a little more quickly with the overseas crowd and brings in a better margin in the process.

PEN-wise, I've now got the PEN-F, the E-PL10, an E-PL7 and a very red, so very red, E-PL6 along with the E-P7. The PEN-F is somewhat iconic, and has held its value. As a shooter, I'm ambivalent. I've carried it on travel quite a bit. It went with me to Ireland, most recently to Boston. I love the jpegs and the evf comes in very handy in bright sun. It's not the most comfortable body in-hand, but I don't think I want to part with it.

The three E-PLs are my most irrational cameras. I have the black E-PL10, and I just love the way it looks with the 2nd generation 14mm/f2.5 Lumix tiny pancake on it. It's quick, light, takes great images, what's not to love? 16MP sensor, okay. Not very customizable. No option for an evf, where I can put a VF4 on either the E-PL7 or the E-PL6.

I have a bunch of accessories I'm going to try to sell to KEH, I may offer the E-PL10 as well. That would bring in a decent price, though the combination of the E-PL7, E-PL6 and the VF4 would likely bring in the same or more. Those external evfs have held their value pretty well and I have one of each. Because of course I do.

I'm fond of the E-PL7 just because I shot with it a lot. Bought it as a refurb and was impressed with the build quality as an entry-level camera. It's got a better sensor stabilization system than the E-PL6.

What I'm trying to do here, and mostly failing, is convince myself to part with all the "light" PENs. Just have the PEN-F and the E-P7 for rangefinder style bodies.

I'll sleep on it.

In the meantime, the E-P7 is nice. It's kind of a mid-grade body between the E-P and E-PL series. Build quality is at the E-PL level, which is very good but not at the same level as the E-P5. Like the higher end PENs, it has two control dials, where the Light series only had one.

The image processor interface is dumbed-down like the E-PL10 or E-M10 Mk4; but it offers a jpeg color/b&W profile customization capability like the PEN-F. It has a 20MP sensor, with a less capable image stabilizer, probably like the E-M10 Mk4, so no high-res capability, sensor-shift or handheld.

It's attractive without being sexy in any way. Serviceable grip. Buttons are tiny. Someone said it's kind of an ideal jpeg shooter's camera, and I think that's about right. Which means me.

I like it and certainly don't regret buying it, but it does seem to lack a certain je ne c'est quoi that has often been present in other Olympus bodies, especially the diminutive ones.

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 10:39 Friday, 10 February 2023

Last Macs?

Colin Devroe writes about something I've been thinking about recently.

I bought the machine I'm writing this on back in July 2019. It replaced a 2012(!) 13" MBP Retina that I bought on release and I think max'ed out at the time, i7 processor, 1TB SSD and 8GB of RAM. It served me well for about seven years. It was connected to a 27" Thunderbolt display for most of that time.

This iMac isn't max'ed out in specs, but nearly. I got the i9 processor and the Radeon Pro Vega 48 with 8GB of RAM. It came with 32GB of RAM, but I've since added 32GB more, and it's got a 1TB SSD.

At the time I bought it, I figured I'd keep this one for at least 8 years.

Now I'm not so sure. I think it'll work just fine for another five years, probably longer. But I don't know how long Apple's going to keep developing software updates, specifically security updates, for it. I think that's my biggest legitimate concern.

Emotionally, irrationally, there's the whole Apple Silicon issue. Being something of a techie, albeit less so now than in my younger days, I follow the industry. The rhapsodic reception of the M1 chip and its derivatives definitely took a lot of the luster off my 8-core i9.

In June 2020 I bought a 13" MPB to have a current laptop, a refurbished quad-core i5 with 8GB of RAM. I bought that one because it came with 4 Thunderbolt ports. A few months later, the M1 13" MBP came out and the Mac world lost its mind.

Mitzi was still running a non-Retina 13" MBP and using it as her daily driver. She offered to buy my refurb, so I could buy a new M1 machine and keep up with all the cool kids.

And so, life was good again.

Then the M2 machines came out and Mitzi went to San Diego for two weeks. I live in a place in Florida that's basically 30 minutes from anywhere you'd actually want to go (Nocatee), so I listen to podcasts when I'm in the car by myself. Which meant I was listening to the Accidental Tech Podcast and The Talk Show right when they were discussing the new M2 macs, specifically the M2Pro Mac mini.

Well, to make a long story short, I then spent some time on Apple's web site, pricing out an M2 Pro mini and a Studio display. Ouch! And the Apple trade-in on the 2019 iMac is now almost pennies on the dollar. Dimes anyway. Double-ouch!

So then I tried to find some performance tests to see where my 2019 i9 iMac might be, just to see if an M2 Pro mini would be life-altering. Turns out, the iMac is fine. It's way over-spec'ed for anything I do, and the screen is still about the best you can get without spending thousands more. I'd be paying a lot of money for performance improvements that I'd not really experience in my daily use.

The one app that bugs me is OM System's OM Workspace. It's pokey to the point of being unusable. I don't know why. They've made an Apple Silicon version and I haven't tried it yet on my MBP, maybe that'll be a better experience. For now, I've abandoned using OM Workspace as my main editor. I'm playing with RAW Power now from Gentlemen Coders, one of the guys responsible for Aperture. I'll also play with Acorn and Pixelmator Pro eventually, but for now I'm trying spend enough time in RAW Power to get comfortable with it. But I'm getting out of Photos other than as kind of a library tool. But that's another story.

Colin also writes about another thing that resonated with me, and that's the pace of system change. For a long time, Apple was struggling just to survive and differentiate itself from the Wintel market. We welcomed the new features that offered more capabilities or greater ease of use than Windows. But now it seems like we're chasing "new" features just for the sake of buzz, while many of the formerly new features underperform or get flakey.

One of the podcasts I listened to was The Automators and they were discussing keyboard launchers, like Alfred or Spotlight and some new app called Ray Cast. I use LaunchBar. Well, I didn't recognize what they were describing with Spotlight, because I'd never seen it do the things they were describing. About the same time, Gary with MacMost dot com posted a video on rebuilding the Spotlight index, and my Spotlight didn't look like his at all either!

So I checked Spotlight on my M1 MBP, and it looked like the one on my iMac. Since they're configured nearly identically, it may be some conflict with something I have installed. But what that is, I don't know. Looking into it some more, others have been complaining about similar issues.

Maybe I'm just getting old, but I would rather see Apple fix, refine and improve the performance of the existing features in the OS and Apple apps, than keep rolling out new features like Stage Manager that demo well, but don't really seem to improve the user experience.

I recall how George R. R. Martin still uses WordStar on some antiquated piece of computing hardware because, well, that's how he writes!

Again, maybe it's because I'm getting old, but I'm beginning to think it might be cool one day to be in my 70s, still blogging on an ancient intel iMac. That's less than six years away!

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 08:57 Friday, 10 February 2023


Eastern bluebird perched on top of a street lamp.

Just needed to post a pic to make sure I remembered how to do it!

It seems giving my E-M10 Mk4 to my son has prompted a broader examination of how I wish to "take pictures" on my morning walk.

For a long time, I was content with the M10 Mk4 and the 14-150mm/f3.5-5.6 because it was a lightweight setup, and I could do pretty much anything with it. It's a close-focusing lens at 150mm, so I could get nice closeups of flowers, lizards or insects. 14mm is equivalent to 28mm full-frame, so I could get some landscapes if I wanted. And 150mm (300mm equivalent) isn't bad for birds, and with 20MP I could crop quite a bit for the little pics I shared.

But then I wanted to get closer to the birds, and the landscapes were pretty monotonous on the walk anyway, so I started carrying the 75-300mm zoom. It's often maligned among micro four-thirds users, but there's sample variation and mine happens to be sharp enough to please me. With the M10 Mk 4, it remained a very lightweight setup, about 1.7 lbs, and I shot with it a lot without experiencing any knots between my shoulders, or spine issues.

Since Monday, I'd been carrying the E-M1 Mk3 with the 75-300mm. That combination weighs about 2.4 lbs. Yesterday I noticed some additional creakiness in my spine, but nothing very alarming. It did seem related to carrying the heavier camera, but I wasn't sure.

So today I decided to try something different. I carried the OM-1 with the 40-150mm/f2.8 Pro, with the MC20 2x teleconverter mounted, which gives me the same reach as the 75-300mm, but a slightly brighter aperture at f5.6 versus f6.7, a half-stop faster. That rig comes in at a whopping 3.5 lbs! (Both the OM-1 and the E-M1 Mk3 have RRS bottom plates mounted.)

The biggest lesson I learned is that that's too heavy for a sling. I could do it in a pinch, but it was uncomfortable by the end of the walk, and my spine has been creaking and popping quite a bit since I got back. Most mornings, I bend over and do a modest inversion, holding my elbows and letting them hang below my head. I can usually feel one or two pops from the lower part of my spine. This morning there were about five, all along my spine! I've got a little muscular discomfort along the left side, just below the shoulder blade. The sling rests on my left shoulder. It's not the same knot that would develop when I carried the camera by my right side with the sling over my left shoulder. The weight vector is more nearly vertical, so there's less of that side-force pushing me out of alignment.

The other thing I learned is that I need to adapt the way I shoot with that combination. Most competent photographers would shoot in shutter priority with a long lens mounted, to minimize the possibility of motion blur in the image.

I've been spoiled by the light weight and excellent image stabilization of Olympus cameras. I normally shoot in aperture priority, with ISO fixed at base and relied on ~4 stops of image stabilization to get a sharp image. My 75-300 is modestly sharper stopped down, but it's pretty sharp in the center wide open. I mentioned I seldom shoot birds in flight, where I would shoot in shutter priority. But for birds just perched on a limb, or standing by the pond in good light, aperture priority usually gets me something IBIS could handle easily, even with a slow lens at long focal lengths.

I found the heavier lens is more challenging, for me, to hold steady. I'd already noticed this with the 100-400mm zoom, but it kind of surprised me with the 40-150. Many people prefer a heavier lens for a steady grip. I suppose there's a sweet-spot for everyone. But it seemed like the image was moving around in the viewfinder a bit more than I'm accustomed to.

A hooded merganser landed in the retention pond just as I was leaving it, so I turned around and tried to get a few shots. It's a dark bird, against a dark water surface and I wasn't paying attention to the shutter speed. I was getting speeds around 1/50s, and those shots weren't sharp at all, a lot of visible motion blur. I suppose the camera was doing okay with the body and lens movement, but the bird was probably bobbing around a bit in the water as well.

They weren't all horrible, though most of them were. I'm going to post one on Flickr that cleaned up fairly well in Topaz Sharpen AI, but it's not something I'd brag about.

In any event, I think I'm going to switch to using shutter priority whenever I have a long lens mounted. If the ISO goes up a couple of stops, no big deal.

The bluebird above seems to persuade me that my 40-150 with the MC20 mounted isn't significantly sharper than my 75-300. I'll have to shoot with it some more, to become more accustomed to how it feels in my hands. I might be able to get something more out of it. But for just taking my morning walk, I think the 75-300 punches above its weight as a "kit" lens, and it's a hell of a lot more comfortable to carry.

Where the 40-150 excels is in on the trail in the woods, where the light is much more challenging. And it's a close-focusing lens as well, so it's great for flowers and fungi and bugs too.

Anyway, I'm glad I'm not carrying full-frame bodies and glass!

Originally posted at Nice Marmot 11:17 Thursday, 9 February 2023

Luckily, We’ll All Be Heavily Armed

Those that are fortunate enough to still have property above the mean high water line will at least have the legal means to defend their "property rights."

The bad news is, everyone who doesn't have property above the mean high water line will have the means to contest those rights.

Everything will be great in the Sunshine State.

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 07:30 Wednesday, 8 February 2023

Meanwhile, The Insanity Continues

What's the notional life-span of a new apartment complex? I figure they'll be lucky to get 25 years out of this one.

The music's louder in Miami.

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 07:24 Wednesday, 8 February 2023

They’ll Be Moving to North Florida

It's doubtful that even the ultra-rich will find a way to adapt in Miami. And without a middle-class tax base to fund services, it's also doubtful the ultra-rich will want to live there, given their aversion to paying taxes.

The people who will be trapped are the poor who can't afford to leave, and the newly-poor who counted on the value of a house in Miami to be the major portion of their net worth who will find their houses worth nothing when the game of musical chairs stops.

The wise will get while the gettin's good, and the music hasn't stopped.

And most of them will want to remain in Florida.

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 07:16 Wednesday, 8 February 2023