Wednesday, January 28, 2009

1000px: Basel main station

Main station in Basel at evening time, taken with my new Panasonic DMC-TZ5

From 1000px

Downloadable Manual for the Panasonic DMC TZ5

The manual for the Panasonic DMC TZ5 can be downloaded here (it's a joint manual for the TZ4 and TZ5, the name of the PDF only has the TZ4 in the name though).

Jasper's DRIMaker

If you like HDR (high dynamic range) photos, you might want to take a closer look at Jasper's DRI maker. It's donationware, so you can do try before "buy". Since my new compact cam (Panasonic DMC TZ5) also support exposure bracketing, this might be a nice tool to tryout.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tags for Mac OS X

People nowadays are very fond of tags. These tags are e.g. used for Flickr, social bookmarking sites such as and many more. Now there is an application that brings tagging to your desktop in Mac OS X, it is simply called Tags. It seems that tags work with all the major applications for Mac OS X, such as Office, iPhoto, iWork, and many more (see full list of supported apps here). You can then search for the previously applied tags using Mac OS X integrated Spotlight search. Even Apple's Mail application is supported (where I would use it most), but unfortunately the tags for Mail are only stored locally at the moment without the support for IMAP. So, syncing the tags for Mail between different machines does not work yet. They promise though that they work on adding the IMAP support for Tags via Mail. When this would be added as well, I might consider giving it a try, but for now this missing feature is a show stopper for me (at least for the moment).

iPhoto to JAlbum Exporter

In case you want to extract automatically and easily all photo albums from iPhoto, you can do this using the iPhoto to JAlbum export tool, which allows exporting each album to a seperate folder. Not tested yet.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hashtags in Twitter

I just noticed, that lots of people use hashtags (e.g. #photography) in their twitter posts.

A good introduction to hashtags can be found at Twitter Fan WiKi. More background info on hashtags can also be found at FactoryCity .

Basically you need to follow the twitter user "hashtags" (they will then follow you back to get your hashtags in your tweets indexed). Then your tweets with hashtags should appear at

Skimming trough the above mentioned web pages, I found some basic rules that one should follow when using hashtags:
  • focus on your update first and add hashtags only if they add value to the tweet
  • find out if the subject you're tweeting already has an established hashtag 
  • append no more than one to three hashtags
  • rather append or prepend the hashtags to a tweet than using the hashtagged words in sentences

Geforce 9600GT on OSX86

A few weeks ago, I installed Geforce 9600GT (ASUS silent version) in a friend's OSX86 machine.

For this issue, the following three forum posts at InsanelyMac were very helpful:
I downloaded the driver (NVIDIA 9 Series Driver Installer v2) from the first mentioned forum post. Then I modified the info.plist of in the NVDANV50Hal.kext (after I installed the driver from the first forum post!) as described in the second mentioned forum post, but I'm not sure this would be really necessary. I also had to use the OSX86Studio to modify the GFX string as shown in the third mentioned forum post (see also the picture with the settings here). 

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Reimport and reuse AVCHD video clips for existing iMovie projects

When you delete the source video files (of a previously imported AVCHD video) in "iMovie Events", existing iMovie projects referring to those source files become unusable for further re-encoding / processing. But don't worry, keep the project files (even delete the media browser shared files for it). You can reactivate the project later again if you still have the original AVCHD source files (with the full folder structure as on the memory card). You can later import again the original AVCHD files (that get converted again newly to AIC). Make sure that the event name is the same as before. then it should work out of the box. If you do not remember the name of the event folder used in the project, you can see all the clips used in the project by opening the package contents of the project and opening the file called "Project" with the "Property List Editor" (need to install the Developer Tools to have that), it is a binary plist, which contains all the full path names to the clips (including the name of the event sub-folder).

To make it easier in the future, use the same name for your archive (e.g. on DVD or as DMG) as for the event name in iMovie.

This whole thing is especially handy because the AVCH source files are taking around ten times less space than after they are imported and converted to AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec). No need to buy all the time new hard drives when you want to keep all the projects in iMovie editable, but the events keep up using up the hard drive space so quickly for imported AVCHD footage.

Also remember that in order to be able to import the video again to iMovie, you need to have the full folder structure as on the memory card or hard drive, therefore back the hard drive or memory card to a DMG or DVD / Blue Ray drive with the complete folder structure.

This tip might even work with DV files, imported from DV Camcorders, but I haven't tested it yet.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fedora 10 on a Lenovo T400

My work Laptop had a problem with Fedora 10, I was not able to start the X graphical environment. After a quick Google search I found the solution at Adobro Online.

Basically, the X-server gets confused because of the two graphic cards in the Laptop. Just disable the "Switchable Graphics" option in the BIOS ("Display" section) and select e.g. the "discrete" graphics as default and you are good to go. It though seems that the ATI graphics driver does not yet support graphic acceleration features, so you might want to switch to the "integrated" graphics card if you need the extra acceleration.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Re-encoding unplayable (in Quicktime) ASF files

I recently got some ASF files that were not able to be played (only audio, no video) in Quicktime using the Flip4Mac WMV plugin. The files though played fine in VLC, but I prefer to watch them using Frontrow.

The ASF files can be re-encoded using VLC:

  1. Use the "Streaming/Exporting Wizard..." from the "File" in VLC
  2. Select "Transcode/Save to file" and click "Next"
  3. Select the file you want to re-encode using "Choose..." or an existing playlist item
  4. Enable "Transcode video" with "WMV 2" as "Codec" and e.g. "1024" as "Bitrate (kb/s)", also
  5. enable "Transcode audio" with "MP3" as "Codec" and e.g. "128" as "Bitrate (kb/s)", then click "Next"
  6. Select "ASF" as "Encapsulation format" and click "Next"
  7. Click "Choose", enter you preferred destination file name and directory, then click "Next"
  8. In the "Summary" click "Finish" and wait until the progress bar in the controller window moved to the right side
  9. Enjoy the re-encoded ASF in Quicktime

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

EPS QuickLook Plugin for Mac OS X Leopard 10.5

Since I often use Encapsulated Postcript files, I find the EPSQuickLookPlugIn quite handy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Core Image benchmark comparison (Geforce 7600GT, Geforce 9600GT and Radeon 3850)

I use my Macs and OSX86 machines also for photo editing with Aperture. The Apple Pro-Apps (Aperture, Finalcut, etc.) rely on Core Image and therefore profit heavily from a fast graphics card in the system.

To compare different models of systems and graphics cards, I made some comparison benchmarking tests using iMaginator 4 (trial version).

The test consists of exporting a morphing movie of 1000 frames, which contains all transition effects in the order they are listed in the selection pane (see below) using the two default images (leopard and rose) as source and destination for the morphing.

These were the "Transisions" used (top to down):

And I changed the following preferences (only changed # Frames to 1000):

Then I saved the movie using "Save to Movie" from the "File" menu, started the stop watch when I clicked the "Save" button, moved the mouse, so the cursor went to the "Beachball". Then I waited until the cursor turned back to the normal pointer and stopped the stop watch.

These were the results on Mac OS 10.5.5 (faster = better):

iMac G5 2.0 GHz ATI X800: 6m50s
iMac C2D 2.33 GHz Geforce 7600 GT: 2m14s
OSX86 C2Q 2.66 GHz ATI Radeon 3850: 1m22s
OSX86 C2Q 2.83 GHz Geforce 9600GT: 1m21s

I was surpised to see the Geforce 9600GT perform that fast, although that configuration is slightly faster and has more cache for the CPU than the one with the Radeon 3850. But I guess it is safe to say that the Geforce 9600GT is not such a bad choice for Core Image intensive apps. I think a Radeon 3870 would probably out-perform the Geforce 9600GT. Maybe a Geforce 9800GT could be faster than a Radeon 3870, but unfortunately I can't test that since I do not have these graphics cards at hand.

In a later post I might add more details about the system configurations and maybe will also put some tests done regarding OpenGL performance of the same systems (where the Geforce 9600GT also scored  better than the ATI Radeon 3850).

Make extended print dialog in Mac OS X show by default

In enter the following line:

defaults write -g PMPrintingExpandedStateForPrint -bool TRUE

to undo, replace TRUE with FALSE


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Possible Sigma lenses for my Nikon D80

I have been looking at some possible Sigma lenses, which would nicely fit to my Nikon D80. So far I only use super zooms from Nikon (18-200mm VR and 70-300mm VR), which unfortunately have not very low starting aperture. I also use a fix 50mm f/1.8 lens from Nikon.

The following Sigma lenses caught my eye:

Sigma 24-70mm, f/2.8 EX DG Asp. Makro, Nikon
at Digitec for CHF 550.--

or the newer "updated" Sigma 24-70mm, f/2.8 EX DG HSM, Nikon
at for CHF 659.-- (not yet avail.)

Sigma 70-200mm, f/2.8 APO EX DG HSM II, Nikon
at Digitec for CHF 947.--

What I like about the Sigma lenses is that they are about one-third to half of the price of a corresponding Nikon lens, but according to some reviews still seem pretty valuable alternatives to the original Nikon ones. Personally, I can do fine without the Macro functionality, I rather would want to have a fast auto focus, therefore the HSM on the new updated 24-70mm is a plus. Although it might be slightly more expensive and my favorite so far, it is not yet available. The 70-200mm is kind of a no-brainer. So I guess I will  have to start saving for those lenses or should try to get rid of my old Nikon super zooms. Although my Nikon 18-200mm is a very handy and useful lens, I'm not too happy about the quality of the photos (regarding sharpness and resolution). I now made some shots in Egypt with low ISO values and the VR (vibration reduction) turned off, but I still need to evaluate those regarding improved quality compared to using the lens with VR turned on.

Here are some reviews of the mentioned Sigma lenses:
70-200mm: dpreview, FM Reviews
old 24-70mm with Macro: the-digital-picture, FM Reviews

For the new 24-70mm HSM I found no review yet, but a news post on dpreview and some discussions.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Problems with Speed Download 4 and Safari when downloading RAR files

For a few weeks I now had the problem with Speed Download 4 and Safari when I wanted to download RAR files. I tried everything, uninstalling and reinstalling, disabling all other plugins (SafariStand, Glims, SafariAdBlock) but nothing helped, Safari always used its own download manager instead of handing the download to Speed Download 4.

Then I started to take a closer look at MIME types. Per default, the MIME type(s) setting for RAR archive in Speed Download 4 on my machine was application/x-rar-compressed, application/octet-stream. But I found a list with some more possible MIME types for RAR files. It finally worked again fine after completing the MIME type(s) setting for RAR archive in Speed Download to application/x-rar-compressed, application/octet-stream, application/rar, application/x-compressed, application/x-rar, compressed/rar. Now RAR file downloads are again intercepted by Speed Download 4.