Transplanting the crucial part

After over four years of dutiful work, my trusty Asus V6800 (or V6V) laptop suddenly threw errors at me during startup.
With a SMART status of BAD, it instructed me to go buy a new HDD, as the likelihood of failures would increase dramatically in the near future.

So I did.
I grabbed myself a Samsung 160GB 2.5″ HDD, and the cheapest 2.5″ enclosure I could possibly find, and found out that both the HDD and the enclosure are unimaginably cheap. At €8,- the enclosure is like stealing from the poor!

Luckily, there are some nice people on the internet, and some of those give away their software for off-line bit-for-bit HDD copying for free! It even supports USB-connected HDD’s and runs on a minute Linux Live CD; it even has a wizard on it for easy copying. Nais. 🙂

New camera, new settings

Lightroomâ€s Default Develop Settings:

If you are anything like me, then you have spent all too long wondering a couple of things about lightroom (I use version 2.6) regarding importing RAW files and the default settings that Lightroom applies to them before you begin working on editing them.

Firstly, I wondered how to change those default settings that Lightroom applies – for example, it always applies certain values to the Basic settings as follows:

Note that the white balance is always defaulted to “As Shot” meaning it takes the setting from the RAW file each time.

Due to previous encounters with Lightroom’s messing with the white balance, I’ve found that the “As Shot” usually gives me the best result, as the camera itself does a better job (or even me) at figuring out the white balance than Lightroom does.

Camera Calibration:

Now the second thing that I have been wondering is about camera calibration. Since I’ve seen my pictures having much more vivid colors after applying a camera-setting instead of the Adobe default, the regular setting is a camera standard for me. This setting gives you the opportunity to start off your editing with a particular colour/camera profile that is designed to look somewhat like what your camera would produce if you were using a picture style, such as Landscape or Portrait.

Lightroom automatically knows which camera your RAW file was generated in (and even the serial number!) and will give you the available options based on that. I believe you can download profiles from the Adobe web site, but for now I have stuck with the ones Lightroom already has.

The menu looks a little like this:

By selecting a camera profile for your image you are assigning it a new starting point from which you can perform any post production you wish. Note that this is not changing any of the Develop settings like Brightness, Contrast, Exposure etc. In fact I donâ€t really understand exactly what it is doing, but I do know that it produces a much more attractive image straight from the get-go.

Now the problem is that if you want to apply a camera profile to your images as you import them, you may have to think about creating a preset that can be applied on import… Something which is not exactly seamless…

So…

How to change your default develop settings and apply a camera profile automatically

Starting with a freshly imported RAW file, choose a camera calibration profile of your liking. I went with a standard one as I’ve found out it gives me the best starting-point, and it only needs changing after careful examination of the picture itself. Next, make any adjustments to the develop module settings which you want to become the new default settings to be applied to all newly imported RAW files (and the settings to which the “Reset” option will revert back to).

Once you are happy with your settings, (here comes the lightbulb “aaaaahhhh” moment!!), press the ALT key and the reset button will turn into a “Set Default” button. Wow! Hidden feature!

On clicking “Set Default” you will be presented with a popup like this:

Next you should click “Update to Current Settings”, then confirm your selection – and Voila!! Every RAW file you import from that camera from now on will have these new defaults. Magic!
Lightroom even understands the fact that you have two separate bodies, or even two bodies of the same type! My D40 and D90 both have associated default settings, which differ and are applied to the appripriate imports. More magic!

The thing is, I have seen this last popup before but never really understood what it was doing. You can find it in the menus but just by opening it in the way I have described itâ€s context somehow just makes more sense.

As this specific information is only traceable if you know about the fact that a standard setting can be applied upon import, I thought I’d share the info with you guys. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Original post can be found here.

All new and shiny

On the interwebs, there’s a fierce war going on to win our loyalty.
It’s something you probably use every day, and on several computers. At home, at work and on your mobile phone.

I’m obviously talking about a browser.
On your work it probably still is IE6 (at teast at my place!) while you’ve been upgraded to IE8 on your home-machines. Your mobile browser could be anything, from Opera to Safari to anything that’s out there.

I’ve been a happy Fx-user (Firefox) ever since the 0.9-series and am happy to see there’s been great improvements since.
To day, 3.5.7 is the main version of Fx, and it has some issues.
It starts slowly, is very resources-hungry and can be quite cumbersome around JS.
There’s hope on the horizon!

Just upgrade to the 3.6RC1 3.6RC2-version, and the problems described above should be gone. The only thing is that not all of your favorite plugins still work, but it’s a minor price to pay for a fa better browsing experience.
Try out all new stuff, and see the world slightly faster and slightly better. 🙂

UPDATE: Oh well, there’s even an RC2 out. HOT!
UPDATE2: The final is there!

Deadlocked?

Yesterday, our central heating system broke.
I’m guessing it did, as I’m no heater-expert…

The little flame isn’t burning anymore, and it’s not coming back on. No matter how hard I try.

We kind of figured it would happen some day, as the system was built in back in 1992, and wih an average lifespan of about 15 years, ours has survived for about 2 more years. So no worries there, we saw it coming and now we have to to two things.
Firstly, the apparatus has to be mended on a very short term as I’m particularly fond of a hot shower instead of a *very* cold shower.
Secondly, we want to get ourselves a new one as our old one is old. (You must’ve seen that one coming!)

So I pick up the phone and called the telephone-number of the company with whom the previous owner has had a maintenance contract for the apparatus with. The nice lady on the other side looked up our address after I explained what was wrong and we made an appointment for the mechanic to pay us a visit and mend our heater. After a little while, she figured out the contract hasn’t been paid for (nor by the original owner, nor by me) and we had to cancel the appointment, as there wasn’t anyone to credit for the mending.

She gave me the following choice:
Either I signed a two year maintenance contract for the current heater, or I would buy a new one.

Well, that’s fine by me, but I want both! I want both my heater fixed, and after that I want a new one. The lady told me that was certainly *not* an option, as the contract could not be broken before the end of the two-year period. So, if I wanted a new heater, I should wait for two years and then come back. Funny thing is: buying a new one straight away was also not an option, as it would take at least until late november for the sales-guy to show up and give us advice on what to buy, after which it would take at least 2 weeks for the heater to be installed in our house. If you’ve been counting, that would indeed add up to mid december!

I asked the nice lady whether I heard it correctly, and spelled it out for her.
It boiled down to this: If I want my heater fixed right away, I would have to get a full two-year contract, but if I want a new heater I would not get any warm water until at least mid-december!
The lady said yes, and I thanked her for her time while wasting mine and hung up. Worst thing: the lady didn’t think of it as being unacceptable for me, and just was trying to sell me their products without thinking properly.

After this I called another company, who offered to mend the heater right away (today!) and an appointment to get a new one next wednesday!
Now that’s better. 🙂

EDIT:
The heater-repair-man has fixed out heater! After a quick peek, and an evenly fast fix he was in and out of our house within the hour. 😀
Best thing of all: he knew the above problem from other clients, and has been trying to keep the fix as cheap as possible. (Meaning the heater is now error-prone and will have to be replaced soon; which we will!)
Maarten: now hot-water powered!