Camera tales

Anyone that has ever been on HennessyBlog will know that I enjoy walking in the countryside and that I always have a camera with me when I do. Like many digital SLR owners, I am beginning to see the tell tale spots in my photos that are caused by a dirty sensor. And it isn’t that I am always changing lenses either: I rarely remove the Sigma 18-50 mm DC zoom lens that I use with the camera. Rather than trusting myself with the cleaning (I have had a go already without much success), I am giving serious consideration to letting the professionals take care of my Canon EOS 10D, my only digital camera. I have already been quoted something of the order of £35 by a Canon service centre not far from me and am seriously considering taking them up on the offer.

Of course, sending it away to them means that I will have to forego the ability to include photos with posts on HennessyBlog describing my walks in the kind of timescale to which I have become accustomed; of course, this is where digital really scores. I will still have a camera with me as film remains my mainstay, even in this digital age. The camera in question is another Canon, an EOS 30 that I acquired used from Ffordes Photographic. While taking a recent peek at their website, I have just spied a used EOS 1V going for £399, a song for what remains Canon’s top of the range film SLR. Yes, I am tempted but I must stay real. In fact, I did not pay full price for my EOS 10D. That was part of the run-out stock that 7dayshop.com were selling off at next to half of the EOS 10D’s original asking price in the wake of its being superseded by the EOS 20D (itself since replaced by the EOS 30D: digital is a fast moving world).

Sending a camera away for attention is not new to me as I also acquired a used Minolta X-700 manual focus SLR, again obtained from Ffordes, and that needed a spot of maintenance after a year in my possession. There was a problem with the shutter that cost me £75 to get Minolta to fix. Now that Minolta as a camera maker is no more, I was wondering who would attend to it in the future. That question was answered by a recent look on the web: in the UK it is JP Service Solutions, a division of John’s Phototopia. Konica Minolta retain this information on their website. Konica Minolta’s failure to capitalise effectively on the digital revolution in its early days, particularly in the SLR area where they gifted their competitors a massive head start, cost them their future in the photographic business and now Sony continues the mantle, a sad end to one of camera manufacturing’s great innovators.

Returning to my digital-less dilemma, I suppose that I could get another digital for backup duty; I have to admit that a DSLR is a bulky contraption to be carrying in airline luggage. The camera that has made it onto my wish list is Ricoh’s GR Digital, a highly regarded offering that follows in the great tradition of its film forbears, the GR 1 and GR 21. Given that my first 35 mm camera was a Ricoh, and I have it still, this would be a case of returning to roots. Of course, having it on a wish list is very different from having it in the to do list and finances will certainly dictate whether or not the purchase is made, though a finance deal offered by Warehouse Express does make it more accessible. Maybe some day…

Ricoh GR Digital

PSU shorting: one adventure too far…

This morning, I got up to find my main computer powered off after I left it on overnight for a spyware scan by Webroot Spy Sweeper. After satisfying myself that it was dead, I tried popping a new fuse in the plug. What I saw next was far from being a pretty sight: shorting in the PSU. The fact that it took out a new 5 A fuse was neither here nor there (they are 20p a piece at where I replenished my supply: they may be cheaper elsewhere but what’s 20p these days?); thoughts of fried PC hardware are far from pleasant, especially the vision of losing data and expensive software purchases because a hard drive got fried by a shorting PSU. A whole new bare bones system from the likes of Novatech were appearing very ominously in my horizon.

There was only one thing for it: try another PSU and see if everything works. So, it was off to a nearby branch of PC World for a replacement. I know that there were other options but I preferred to get this problem sorted out pronto to put my mind at ease, if at all possible. The old PSU got taken out and the new one plugged in as part of pre-installation testing. Thankfully, I saw the Windows start up screen and the omens were good; it later turned out that my data were safe too. Initial problems with keyboard and mouse recognition were resolved by a reboot, as was an IP address conflict that had resulted because my back up machine was on throughout all of this. All in all, things turned out well after a solid lesson in backing up data outside of the PC on which it resides. Maybe an online service such as Diino could be very useful.

I do seem to have an issue with PSU’s giving up the ghost; maybe its the fact that I run them overnight a lot. This incident caused to upgrade from 450 W Jeantech unit to a 500 W one. The PSU that I had before the 450 W unit was higher rated but it couldn’t cope with the power demands of the machine it was powering up. The result was that it cut out a lot on start up, an annoying habit that I tolerated for longer than I really should. I’ll keeping an eye on things as I go…

Technet Plus subscription

I have a free subscription to Microsoft‘s Technet but with the onset of Vista and the latest issue dangles a carrot in front of me: the idea of a Technet Plus subscription. Trouble is that it is £283 per annum in the UK, not cheap. Nevertheless, that does rather neatly compare to the price of Windows Vista and that comes as part of the package. I think that I’ll revisit the idea when upgrading time comes and that will be a while after the Vista launch date of 30/1/2007. Given the security changes in the latest Windows incarnation, I’ll wait to ensure that I will not be put out too much before making the jump.

Mouse trouble

For my home computing purposes, I use a Logitech MX700 cordless mouse. I have used a variety of Logitech devices over the years and never had any real trouble with them. Today, though, the MX700 failed to move the pointer around the screen. The first thing that comes to mind is connectivity, particularly as I use a Belkin OmniCube two port KVM switch. A quick test with my now retired MouseMan+ (it’s great when old kit backs you up: you wonder why you replaced it in the first place) confirmed that everything was OK on that front. Then, the thought struck me that the rechargeable NiMH batteries might have given up the ghost and were no longer recharging. I tried an old pair of NiCd‘s and everything seemed to work in spite of their not being fully charged. I will continue to use the MouseMan+ until they are fully charged and I will acquire some new NiMH rechargeables and monitor how everything goes.

ForecastFox issue

ForecastFox should be a useful utility, adding a weather toolbar to Mozilla Firefox as it does. However, it developed a penchant for hogging the CPU when I upgraded from Firefox 2.0 to Firefox 2.0.0.1. I’ll hold out for a new version to see if the problem has been sorted. You can find out more here.