August 2011

I started my blog back in December 2010 and it's still going strong. I've posted at least once post a month since then, so feel free to browse through the archives.

Better Lighting for your Computer with F.lux

F.lux is an application for Windows and OSX* that changes the colour of your computer’s display to match the colour of the environment around you, based on the time of the day.

I’ve been using it for the best part of a week now, and I’ve found it to be very useful. I use computer throughout the evening to listen to music and surf the web, but the last thing I need is a direct hit of ‘sunshine’ just before I go to bed. With F.lux my screen is already matching the lights of my flat – giving a much more mellow orange glow, rather than an intense blue one.

As well as the time related features, I’ve also found it quite helpful to set it to the 3400K mode in the day when I’m coding.

I have yet to find a keyboard shortcut for the ‘disable for one hour’ option, but I looks like the application is under (fairly) active development, so new features will hopefully be added over time.

I can totally recommend this software.

* It’s also available on ‘Linux’ but I don’t know anyone that is currently using Linux as a desktop operating system (apart from Doc John…)

The Moon with Saturn in August 2011

After my previous attempt was clouded over, I thought I’d try again to photograph the Moon (shown above) and Saturn together. Unfortunately this wasn’t meant to be – however I did manage to snap a photo of each separately, as well as a couple of rather nice sunsets.

Here’s Saturn (you might have to take my word for it) just before it set behind the tree line. I took this photo on the night of Thursday the 4th of August 2011, but I didn’t get any close-up pictures of the moon that night (even though it was clear!)

On Friday night I returned to photograph a better picture of the Moon itself. As you can see above, the clouds were back. But I didn’t mind too much, as having the clouds sticking around did result in a rather pretty sunset.

Here’s the Moon I was after, just peaking out from behind the clouds. I ended up with this rather pretty glow effect which you can see on the full resolution picture below…

As usual, I’ve uploaded the full resolution versions to Flickr.

Why the HP G62 is Horrible

My work laptop is powerful enough for what I’d like to do, but there are a couple of things that really annoy me about the design when compared to my less powerful personal laptop – a MacBook*.

The Pad

First of all, the track pad is pretty terrible. There’s no way to know when you’re at the edge and I sometimes just end up with my finger moving off the pad, and I’m confused as to why the cursor is not moving. It also has a pretty horrible button at the bottom. For some reason my thumb gravitates towards the middle – and clicking there means very little happens.

Apple laptops have these very large and very smooth pads which tend to work really well. But why can’t other PC makers come up with something that’s even close to it? (I know Samsung may have with their Series 9 – I’d like to try it)

The Keys

The second issue – and my biggest issue by far – is additon of the “Quick Launch” keys on the left hand side of the keyboard. Why the heck would anyone want these keys to be on the keyboard in the first place – never mind being right next to important keys like tab shift and control. Every single time I type on the laptop keyboard I hit that print key when I’m trying to press shift. And – as far as I know – there is no way to turn all of them off.

HP aren’t the only PC manufacturers doing this though, even Apple has a strip of specialized function keys at the top – but with Apple the whole experience is much nicer, and I have never pressed any of those keys when my muscle memory tells me I’m doing something else.

* My MacBook runs Windows.

Bluetooth Improvements in Windows Phone Mango

It was a pleasant surprise to see that Windows Phone Mango includes some improvements to the Bluetooth stack, which means I now see the name of the currently playing track in my car.

This gets added to the already existing ability to pause, fast-forward and rewind directly from the steering wheel, so now I can do just about everything from the Zune software on my phone while driving.

Very handy – as the built in USB player in my car doesn’t support content downloaded from Zune Pass…

WMPowerUser.com has a more information on what has been the Windows Phone Bluetooth stack, if you fancy being nerdy about it.

Weekend Sky Photos

I took a few interesting photos over the weekend and I thought I’d share them with you here, as well as upload them to my Flickr account.

This photo of the sunset on Friday night was taken with my Canon 7D – as you can see it’s rather pretty looking! I used my ND filter here to get a long exposure, and then slightly modified the contrast using the ever-helpful Windows Live Photo Gallery.

The two photos above were both taken during the lovely sunshine of Saturday, with my Samsung Omnia 7 – and the HDR mode turned on. Nice effect to have really!

These final photographs were taken on Saturday night. My plan was to take some photographs of the constellations, but unfortunately the high up cloud didn’t clear while I was out there. I thought I’d share these attempts anyway.

I especially like this photo of a couple of contrails with Ursa Major in the distance.

Feel free to check out my other Sky Photos!