Miracles of digital


Paris, Pont Royal  © P J Croft 2008, 2014

In the photo above, there is significant chromatic aberration (CA) around the chimneys at upper left and the cupolas. It’s not so visible at this small size, but it’s not nice in the full size image.  Red and green fringing on high contrast edges.  It’s a defect of the lens.  In film days there was nothing you could do about it. Low CA was one of the hallmarks of a good lens, but it cost big dollars to make lenses free of CA.  This camera is a mid priced electronic marvel, but not free of defects.

Now it can be fixed digitally, automatically!

Before:  Image



This was one click automatic, although it can be tweaked manually too.  An entire folder of images can be processed automatically.

This means digital cameras can be sold with less than perfect lenses now, and many have this defect plus very visible barrel and pincushion distortion.  But you don’t see it because it’s corrected in the camera for you.  That’s why we can have such extreme zoom ranges.  To have a range of 20mm – 1200mm was near impossible in the past, except at very high prices – see below. Now it can be done as routine, almost.

Interestingly,  TV camera zoom lenses had zoom ranges of up to 48x or even 60x in the 1970s to 1990s, way beyond still camera lenses.  But it was because the TV sensor was only about 25mm diagonally, the same as some of the small cameras today.  And the resolution of TV is actually very poor, so defects are not very noticeable.  The resolution of standard definition (640 x 480 – we don’t see it in Australia) is only 307,200 pixels.  So called HD (720 x 576) is only 414,720 pixels.  And even Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) is only 2,073,600 pixels. Yes, that’s right, Full HD is only 2Mp!  A reasonable pocket digital still camera now is 12Mp.

That’s why those old big camera lenses could be made – because they didn’t need to be very good.  They still cost around $60,000 though, on top of the $50,000 for the TV camera (lens extra).


Fujinon 55x


Fujinon 17x – a tiddler.

Note that the Sony camera in the upper picture cost around $65,000, lens extra, but these cameras had to be scrapped in the late 1990s.  Why? Because they used Plumbicon tubes, i.e. vacuum tubes as sensors, three per camera for R, G & B.

But all vacuum tubes wore out and needed replacement periodically.  At a cost of around $10,000 per Plumbicon, it became uneconomic to replace them. So the cameras were replaced by CCD sensor types at another cost of nearly $50,000 plus lens!  That’s what you’re seeing today. See the Skyworks on Monday night?  Modern CCD cameras with fantastic low light (night) performance and beautiful pictures.  No alignment, no warmup, and much more robust.

Btw, when cameras still used vacuum tube sensors (Vidicons, Plumbicons) one of our tests was to take one to the trots at Gloucester Park.  If the camera could perform OK in that night-time-under-lights situation, it was a contender.  Many failed because they left trails behind the horses, or even worse, coloured trails.  This was a defect of the tube quality of the 80s and needed years of development before it was overcome (anti-comet-tail tubes). No such problem with CCDs and CMOS sensors.  But we put out some pretty poor pictures in the 1980s!


I’ve just sent Photobook number five off for printing – I should have the results in a week.  They’re printed in KL.




Sample pages.  It takes around three weeks of pretty solid sessions to produce each book – choosing images, making sure I’m using the best quality, reducing noise and grain, improving contrast and colour, arranging on the pages, and writing the captions etc etc.  And checking!  Proof reading over and over and over again. It’s amazing how small errors go unnoticed.

Two copies this time.  I got caught last week — my parcel arrived with only one copy when I thought I’d bought two.  Then I noticed the price I paid – $153 for one copy!

I realised I’d bought vouchers for two books, but they were image wrap cover types at $48 each, not the hard cover one I produced.  My mistake, and an expensive one. Check the fine print!

This time I got my revenge by rejoining their customer database and getting a two-for-the-price-of-one offer.  This one cost $133 so I saved $133 on an order for two. Free postage too.

This is immensely satisfying stuff.  After all those years of not being able to show my work, now I have books of it on the shelf.  People will look at a book where they won’t look at any other form of display. A book looks impressive even if it isn’t opened. The reproduction is pretty damn good too, if a bit darker than I see on this screen.  Must work on that.  I have a screen calibrator and I’m using it.


I bought a small frozen yoghurt yesterday and asked for a chocolate one.

“What kind of chocolate?”

“Huh?  Chocolate. What other kind is there?”

“Well, there’s one with a Flake in it, and one with Smarties on it.”

Stunned, I hesitated.  “I just want the chocolate sauce!”  Oh.  $2 please.


On the way home at 5pm the freeway was walking pace or less for the last 2Km, whereas being the end of the freeway, it’s usually clear even at 5pm.  Cause?  The right lane was closed off for the last 200m before the lights!  Was any work being done? Not that I could see.  This is unnecessary and infuriating – the work knocks off at 5pm but the cones stay. Grrr.  It might not be so bad if people would just let you merge easily, but drivers always want to force their way in front and prevent me from merging.  Double grrr!  I even had one guy come up the emergency lane from behind to get in front of me a few weeks ago. Amazing.


I said I was going to have the drastic-gastric surgery done, but I can’t escape the feeling that there’ll be a breakthrough in weight reduction without surgery about a week after I’ve lost 90% of my stomach.

I think I’ll go for this 5:2 diet for a while.  Eat normally but sensibly, very carefully for 5 days of the week, but for two days, allow only 600 cals.  I reckon I can do that.  The Optifast was 400 cals per day every day.  I reckon I could buy the Optifast packs and use them for the two day “fasts”, adding fruit etc to add up to 600 cals and ease the pangs.  I’ve stopped the beer, so …  I’ll talk to the doc.  I have an appointment with the gastric guy on 12 Feb so I’ll check with him too.


That appointment is at 9am at The Mount on a Wednesday.  I’m working out how to do it.  It’s 45 mins drive as long as there are no traffic problems, but on a workday I might have to set off at 7am (which is quite OK, actually).  I’m tempted to do bus/train/Cat bus, but it will take a long time.  I might have to test this.


My Pioneer BluRay player seems to have failed!  It’s only about six weeks old.  Can’t get vision out of it, although audio comes through.  It should be a clear cut swap over replacement, a test for JB HiFi.  I have another BluRay player though. Heh heh.  I’ve got everything.


Ha!  I’ve just heard the AFP Asst Commissioner talking about a Lebanese “desporia”.  He meant diaspora, dee-ass-porah, emphasis on ass, meaning an overseas ethnic population group. Must be Police Talk.

Wasting time


I’m antsy.  I’ve just spent over 90 mins selecting books and small photography items on Amazon.  I chose five books, all paperbacks, and five photo items etc, the most expensive of which was US$39 (Olympus’s full rrp $99 here!).

The total came to AU$112 but when I went to checkout, the shipping added $137! The total became AU$249.  I chose the cheapest shipping in every case.

So I went back and deleted all the hardware items, leaving only the books. Result: on a AU$58 order, the shipping was going to be AU$62.

I wasted my time. I’ve deleted it all. So much for Amazon.  I bought some items from HK last week and the shipping was included.  I’ll go back to that shop, and look for the books locally.


Coincidences again.  I read a book in the last few weeks which talked about a guy called Bob Purefoy, a real guy in the US involved in missiles and nuclear matters.  I’ve never heard that surname before.

Then last night in Music of the Monarchs with David Starkey on SBS, there in the credits was William Purefoy in some role.  OK, maybe it’s a reasonably common name, but to never see it in 67 years, then have it crop up twice in two weeks is weird.


Blood sugar is still too high and it is sapping my already limited strength and energy.  Lack of insulin means the sugar in the blood can’t get across into the muscles for energy.  The excess blood sugar goes through the kidneys and is excreted in urine, hence the funny smell.

I’m probably going to have to go onto insulin temporarily before I have the drastic gastric.  I feel terrible.  But insulin makes it very hard to lose weight (I’m told by a doctor) and the gastric guy is going to tell me I have to lose 5-10Kg before the operation, I reckon.  Hard.

The good part is that I feel bad when I drink beer, so I’ve stopped.  I am NOT an alcoholic!  Anyone who says I am is wrong.


Still a few NSHS Reunion acceptances drifting in like snowflakes, but with a week to our deadline for replies, we’ve only had 37, out of over 160 emails sent out.  I’m discouraged.

The absentees include most of the people I know well, people I would fully expect to be coming!  I’m going to have to try to get them moving one by one.  I’m disappointed.

Auto Beauty

ImageImageThis morning I was driving behind one of these for quite a way.  I only had the rear view, of course, and it was a glossy black one, but phwoar!  The front? Not so much, but I love the overall shape, especially the rear.

The thing is, this is a 2000 model.  They went out of production in 2005 and this design came out in 2000.  I remember thinking at the time – Hmmm, bit outlandish, bit sharp, lost the Celica look, not so good.  Ahead of its time.  Nope.

But here we are 14 years later and in my opinion it still looks fantastic.  It grew on me.  I’d buy one.  About $12-$13K now.

That started me thinking about car designs.  I can’t abide boring, weird or downright ugly cars.  A car’s styling is all important to me. I won’t buy an ugly car. On the same drive this morning about 10mins later I saw what I think is high up in the list of Ugliest Cars of All Time, a Kia Soul:


Kia Soul  Ugh!  Ugh!  I would not be seen in one.

So that set me thinking about what car designs I think are great!  Fantastic.  Timeless.  I’d like to own one just for the styling.  Here goes.  These are not in any rank order, just as they come to mind, so the first ones are obviously my favourites.


BMW  8 series. Amazing!  Beautiful. Hardly any came to Australia. I’ve never seen one on the road.


Ford Probe  1994-97.  Timeless, in my view. About $4K now.


The back of the Ford Probe.  I want one! In bottle green or white only.

1997_mazda_mx-6_2_dr_ls_coupe-pic-4488273377737355218 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA MX6 rearNotice the similarity? This is the Mazda MX6. This and the Probe are the same mechanicals, different body shell. Ford made the Probe for the US market and both models were imported to Australia between 1994-97 when production ceased.

That’s 17 years ago but they look as good as ever to me.  One of each please.

Mazda-MX5_2000_1280x960_wallpaper_0cIt’s Mazda again.  This the MX5 but it’s the 2000 model.  This is the only model of this car that I like. The first models were 1980s angular boxy crap, the first of this shape was bland, although we didn’t think so at the time, but this model hit the target. It’s identified by those “shoulders” on the back and the raised edge with the high mounted stop light on the boot lid.

Mazda-MX5_2000_1280x960_wallpaper_23I’m a rear end man, aren’t I?  This 2000 model had the best rear, imho, with the slight “shoulders” look and the small upkick of the boot.

Mazda-MX5_2000_1280x960_wallpaper_16 I can’t find a pic of the British Racing Green model but there used to be one regularly at Karrinyup shops with a light tan soft top and tan leather seating. Wow!

It not only looks great, it’s great to drive as well. It will never go out of style.

But Mazda’s gone bad.  Obviously they had the styling mojo, but they’ve lost it. I don’t like the next models of the MX 5 with the flared wheel arches and extra go faster stuff. More examples down the page.

1991-1992_Toyota_Corolla_(AE94)_Ultima_Seca_liftbackWha …? A Corolla?  Well, in my opinion this was one of the prettiest car shapes ever. This is a 1991 model and now 23 years later, I still want one. As long as it’s white, like this. That back end shape is sheer genius in my opinion.

Mazda_323f_green_front_20080301 Mazda_323f_green_rear_20080301Mazda 323.  Another fairly mundane car, but very pretty.  This a 2008 model and still looks nice to me. But Mazda lost its way soon after. See below.

Expo_LRV_front1997  Mitsubishi Nimbus.  If you have to have a small people mover, this took 8.  I always liked the side and back end styling and I still do even 17 years later.

Moving up market:

1990_mercedes 500sl_convertibleMercedes 500SL coupe 1990! Good design lasts forever.

Merc 500sl frontMercedes 500SL coupe.  1990 design.  Just about affordable now s/h, but probably high maintenance.

1992-1993_Mercedes-Benz_300_SE_(W140)_sedan_02Mercedes 300SE.  A very conservative design, but elegant.  Saw one here a few weeks ago.  Nice.

1992-1993_Mercedes-Benz_300_SE_(W140)_sedan_011990  –  I’d buy one.

HondaS2000-004Honda S2000  2005.  Almost the pinnacle of sports car design, to my eyes.

HondaS2000-002Honda S2000 rear.  As you can tell, I’m a rear view man.

It had (they went out of production 2009) only a 2 litre 4 cyl engine but produced around 180KW (240 bhp)!  I remember this engine being described as the highest specific power (KW per litre) output in the world, even higher than the Italian legends.

2009_vw_passat_cc_182009 VW Passat.  This will live forever, I feel.

vw-passat-03I want one.

There are many other nice designs, but these are ones that come to my mind as timeless and still desirable even 20 years later.


Now for the ones I don’t like.

As I said, I think Mazda has lost it.

Mazda3_MPS_(BL)_–_Frontansicht,_22._Mai_2011,_Düsseldorf2009 Mazda 323.  Ugh!

Mazda_3_2009 (BL)_SP25_sedan_03Boring!

2013 Mirage2013 Mitsubishi Mirage.  Ugh!  Oww!

Kia Ceed sportswagon2013  Kia Ceed Sportswagon.. No, no, no.  So many gargoyles that will be out of date by next week.

kia_Ceed hatchbackDitto.  Kia hasn’t found its style skill yet.

Kia K9 20132013 Kia K9.  They’re trying, copying, but K9??? Who thought of that name?

This is taking too much of my time, but my theme is that less is more – conservative lines and curves last forever. “Look at me” geegaws don’t.

Now to look up prices for a second hand Honda S2000.

PS: found a nice one!  It’s a 2003 model in Adelaide, one lady owner, 97,000Km, asking $26,000. Hmmmm.


I’ve noticed a fascinating thing: this photo …

1990_mercedes 500sl_convertibleThis photo still has its EXIF digital camera info attached.  It shows that the photo was taken on 11/4/2013 at 3:20pm using an HTC camera phone, at ISO 100.

But more importantly, the EXIF info includes the exact latitude and longitude to 0.001 deg accuracy. Using Google Earth, that allows me to pinpoint the location of the car at the time the photo was taken, probably down to the street and house.  I’ll bet the owner in April 2013 wouldn’t like that information being known to anyone.  I’ve tried, but being in deg, min and seconds, and G.Earth requiring decimal degrees, it may be in Sweden or in Michigan, USA. If I pinpoint it, I won’t reveal it.

Update: as far as I can see, it’s the middle of a field in Jiawang, Xuzhou, Jiangsu, China.  Or in Sweden, or in Estonia, or in Michigan …  L  (that means laugh).

Further update: if I put a minus in front of the first figures, it goes to a small lake just outside Cranbrook and Kendenup in WA! Hah.

So be aware that digital photos posted on line have ALL the info exposed of where you were and at what time, using what camera, unless you remove it.

Here are the facts

As I was saying, PM Tony Abbott, MP, Maurice Newman, banker and Rupert Murdoch, oligarch are climate change deniers.  They say it’s all a media hoax, which in the case of Rupert is pretty sick.

Image(Image Credit: NASA/GSFC/Earth Observatory, NASA/GISS)

This graph was released by NASA in the past few days.  I think NASA carries a bit more weight and credibility than those three clowns, don’t you?  The facts are irrefutable.  But our prime minister and his business advisor still try to deny them. What does that say about (a) their intelligence and (b) their motives?

I’m not sure who’s mad around here, but I’m sure it’s not me.

And this one?


And this?

ImageOf course it’s all made up by those bastards in the credit at bottom right, isn’t it Mr Murdoch, Mr Abbott?  Lowest rainfall on record for SW WA.  But that’s not change, that’s just bad luck.  About 120 years of bad luck, but …

Here are a few names of the Australian conspirators to go on with, gentlemen:


Why don’t you expose the hoax, Mr Murdoch?  How does this hoax work, exactly?



I could show much more, but this is enough. Don’t rubbish what you don’t understand, gentlemen.

Nice Work Mr Newman


It’s getting hotter.  © P J Croft 2014

A couple of days ago I highlighted the wrongheadedness of Maurice Newman, head of the Business Council of Australia and advisor to our esteemed PM, Tony “Climate Change is Crap” Abbott, B.A. Oxon. Boxing.

Have a look at this: http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2014/01/14/climate_change_another_study_shows_they_don_t_publish_actual_papers.html

A recent survey has shown that of 2,258 papers published by 9,136 authors (scientists), only ONE paper refuted global warming.  Deniers don’t publish scientific papers, even though claiming to have science credentials, because they can’t prove their case and don’t like criticism.  They prefer to use channels like Fox News and The Australian newspaper, both owned by Rupert Murdoch, also a denier.

Mr Newman, with no scientific credentials, claims that it’s all a conspiracy and climate change is a hoax.  He takes the word of that one man against the 9,135 others. No wonder Australian businesses are so poorly run.  “His career spans forty years in stockbroking and investment banking, …” [Wikipedia]  Well, that qualifies him to speak about climate science, doesn’t it?

Well, as Phil Plait says, if it’s a giant hoax, where are the articles and investigations trying to prove its hoaxiness?  Surely there must be evidence?  It would make a HUGE story for a journalist:  CLIMATE CHANGE CONSPIRACY – We Show Thousands of Scientists Involved in Secret Pact to Scare the World.  Today Tonight, 60 Minutes, where are you?

The problem is, Mr Newman has big influence.  To me, he is a saboteur, bent on trashing the work of sincere researchers, preying on the gullible in society and advancing his own wealth and that of his business buddies at the expense of the children of the next generation.  Not just in Australia but mainly in places like Bangladesh, Burma, Vanuatu and other low lying countries.  Somewhat akin to tobacco companies boosting their flagging sales by increasing their marketing to children in third world countries with the explicit aim of getting them addicted.

Nice work Mr Newman.  Poisoning the well.

PS: I was worried that I was being too strong here. Take a look at this: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/planet-oz/2014/jan/07/maurice-newman-climate-change-denial-tony-abbott-roy-spencer  He puts it far more strongly than I have.



Oooooh, it feels so good.  Water Dragon, Malaysia  © PJ Croft 1986, 2014

“For the first time in Australia, a team of scientists attempting to create a gene bank have successfully collected sperm from a goanna.”

“Researchers collected the sperm using a technique called electro ejaculation, which until now has only been performed on reptiles in the US.”

Sounds skinky!

The Liberal Conservative saboteur

20050304 US Defense VisualIn Tomahawk cruise missile detonation over target San Clemente Island California 19860401

“[Tony Abbott’s business adviser Maurice] Newman, who is the head of the [Australian] government’s business advisory council, wrote on Wednesday that “what we now see is the unravelling of years of shoddy science and sloppy journalism” over climate change, praising newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch for being the only ones not “captured” by the IPCC.”  The Guardian.

Incredible.  A man with no scientific credentials takes the word of ONE scientist against thousands of others and argues against climate change predictions, saying it’s “sloppy science”.  Really?  You’ve actually read all the research have you Mr Newman?

The problem is, this man has the ear of Tony Abbott, famous for saying, “Climate change is crap.”

“Newman’s article, published in the Australian, quoted contrarian US physicist Richard Lindzen who said he would be willing to take bets that the average global temperature would be lower than today in 20 years’ time. Newman added “Any takers?” ”  The Guardian.

Yes, I’ll take your bet Mr Newman and Mr Lindzen.  Since I doubt I’ll last 20 years, I will bet $5,000 that the temperature rise predictions will be correct within 10 years.  Brian Schmidt is good enough for me.  Where’s your Nobel prize, Mr Newman?  Just what are your credentials, Mr Newman?  And so I can plan ahead, how are you going to pay me? I’ll contact your office.