Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions about 5G implementation start to be seen in the UK media

Brought to you courtesy of Google, who thought I'd be interested in this...

How nice of the Somersetlive newspaper to blame this on a mum - because what would a housewife know? Seriously this is 2019, and we're blaming mothers for having a baseless fear?

So EE basically said that the complainant shouldn't be worried because the frequencies they are about to use for their initial installations are in the 3.4Ghz range. Okay, but why is the rest of the world seeking licences and testing 5G that extends into microwave frequencies of upto 100Ghz? Why are we hearing about how trees and buildings block 5G, which means we need more installs or take out unnecessary trees?

Lets break down their responses:

"We will roll 5G out using existing sites - there will be no significant increase in sites. 
“All wireless technologies are rolled out under strict guidelines, which are based on medical studies and reviewed on an ongoing basis.
"That includes all wireless technologies used globally and in the UK – 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G.
"There are strict rules on the amount of power that can be broadcast from a mobile site – governed by an organisation called, which acts as the health watchdog for the mobile industry
So no SIGNIFICANT increase in sites, and the implementation is based on strict guidelines and "medical studies". Remember the SAR rating that is based on a test for temperature rises in water contained in a plastic head when the phone is stuck to said plastic head - because humans are just vessels for water... sometimes I start to think, maybe some people are.

Sad to see the numerous comments in that article that brush off this mothers concerns, as if they have any idea about the health risks. Trying to hide the truth behind ridicule?

Yet we have articles like this that were written based entirely on a Senate hearing in the US (forgive me for the popup spam):

Ultimately, read this:

TL:DR (and this applies only to 2G and 3G radiation):

In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioned the National Toxicology Program (NTP), a branch of the National Institute of Health (NIH), to conduct a study to settle this debate once and for all. The NTP designed an elaborate, $30 million dollar study on “cell phone radiation”, which was the largest and most extensive study ever conducted by the NTP.
In November, 2018, the NTP released their Final Report which concluded there was “clear evidence of cancer” from cell phone radiation and that this radiation causes heart and DNA damage as well. The recent Ramazzini study, out of Italy, corroborated the findings of cancer but at radiation levels lower than those of the NTP Study. 

Perhaps we don't need to worry about global warming, because all this radiation exposure will likely impact the upcoming generation from being able to survive and God-forbid reproduce? How about the impact of non-human life?

Monday, 6 May 2019

Apple News and Stocks apps are running in the background. Just try to delete them...

I live in Scotland, and was surprised to know that apparently the British royal family had a baby. You can imagine my joy... I couldn't care less about the royal baby to be fair. But I do care that Apple seems to think I do and thought it appropriate to interrupt me to let me know, using an application I'd never really used before.

I've recently had Mojave installed on my Mac (when I really needed to upgrade) and until now saw no issues with it. But I don't want unnecessary applications running in the background while I'm trying to deal with 50 megapixel images in Capture One or 4K video rendering in DaVinci Resolve. Sometimes I need my Mac to do only what I want it to do.

Trying to delete News doesn't work like any other Mac OS application that I've come across before, because trying to delete it does this (there's no workaround with the Option key pressed either):

Bit harsh for an app that's only supposed to report news, don't you think? This is in my opinion a bit Orwellian, and the message is likely a lie (another major annoyance) so I got to work.

Remember, this is for OSX Mojave. I'd suggest making a compressed copy of the News app (and Stocks app) before you do anything (right click the app and select compress "News"), and a system backup (Time Machine) would be good if you really aren't familiar with Terminal.

Thanks to Reddit for providing part of the solution:

1. Hold down Command+R as you restart the Mac (start pressing both and hold after hearing the bong noise) and let go when you see the slow loading bar. If you don't get to your normal login screen (try again) you're now in recovery mode.

2. Ignore the utilities window that shows up and click Utilities on the menu bar, selecting Terminal.

3. In Terminal, type "csrutil disable" ignoring the quotes around that command and press enter/return.

4. In the Apple menu, select restart and login as usual.

5. Find the Terminal application that's located in your Applications/Utilities folder and start it.

6. Become Super user - type "sudo -i" and enter your administrator password. If this doesn't work, try looking at this:
Still confused, ask the youngest member of the family or the local IT expert.

7. Now to find the offending app(s) in question and delete - the following commands should work in the right order (ignore the Stocks app section - the second set of 4 lines - if you want to keep it):

cd /
cd Applications
rm -fr Contents
cd ..

rm -fr Contents
cd ..


8. Reboot the machine into recovery mode again as shown in steps 1, 2 and then similar to step 3
in Terminal type "csrutil enable" ignoring the quotes again.

9. reboot as normal. Your apps should be history. Big Brother has been disconnected.

Side note: yes I could make the commands above much shorter. But typed this way makes it impossible for someone who doesn't know Terminal to delete the wrong application by accident! :)

The most interesting thing about looking into removing the News application was discovering that there are only language files for English_UK and English_Australia (Stocks is translated in lots of languages/locales). Seems a tad suspicious as to who Apple might have partnered with?

Makes me wonder too if this isn't going to result in a class action suit akin to the old "Microsoft Internet Explorer vs EU" days. Scary.


Usual disclaimer - if you don't know how to use Terminal, ask someone who does to do this for you. This information is furnished as-is. I'm not responsible for your losses, but reinstalling OSX isn't difficult. Upgrades will likely restore this application...


Since writing and publishing this, I discovered that Apple News is currently only installed in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia. So why has Apple lied and said this application is required by macOS?

Yes I understand that Apple has implemented a "System Integrity Protection" framework to protect a novice from accidentally ruining the installation and making it unstable. But Apple have implemented this in Mojave for Chess, iTunes, Facetime, Mail, Notes, Photo Booth, Photos, Quicktime, Stocks, News, Home and Safari too. This is ridiculous, and stinks of the same market dominance constraints that Microsoft were guilty of with Internet Explorer.

There is every reason for Apple to protect a user from deleting a required application, but Chess! Seriously Chess! Chess is a required application in macOS? Idiotic. None of these applications are required. But if you remember to the days when Internet Explorer was an "integral" part of Windows 95, you'll recall the same excuse.

If you have no smart devices in your home and you don't use Siri (one of the three major "Telescreen" implementations available at the expense of your personal privacy) then you have no reason to use Home. If you don't want to be interrupted by the news selection chosen by Apple (does Siri listen in to know what to pick?), then you have no reason to be required to use News either. What if you looked for a product in Safari - does it presume you must want to know how that same company who made it is doing on the stock market?

To put bluntly, Apple have extended the need for System Integrity Protection into controlling your environment by forcing their choice of applications on you. Think about who ultimately benefits from this, especially after discovering the overreaching use of demographical data on us. Is this all to make Apple have the same power with our information that Facebook has?

I do like iTunes for storing the thousands of CD's and LP's I've bought and ripped, purely for convenience. Much like iTunes, the rest of these apps such as Safari, Mail and Photo fall into the category of "most folk would probably use them unless they intentionally installed an alternative". To be honest, I've never really used Safari or Photos and it has only been quite recently that I started to use Mail (for reference, I ditched Windows for OSX in 2003!).

To conclude, all of these protected applications SHOULD be optional, not enforced. They also should not be able to send notifications or run in the background by default either.

Capture One Styles - the new preset con?

It's been a while, but a few years ago I wrote another article on here called "Lightroom Presets - Are they worthwhile?" Here is pretty much the same thing, but now implemented in Capture One (version 10 and later), and unsurprisingly being sold now as an upgrade to PhaseOne's primary product CaptureOne 12.

Again, let's break down the basics. Styles are a quick and dirty way to instantly change the look of an image by automatically changing the parameters that you'd typically use to get the general look you want. It is nothing more.

In the background, all this means is that the program has a reference setting to use to update the image. When you buy these, you are in effect getting a setting that another photographer used to fix an image, and they saved it to use again later. Problem is that the likelihood of these settings working well for an altogether different image without additional work is usually nil.

Like the Lightroom article before, you can look at an unmodified example of the file format that defines a style. To find default Styles shipped with the application (Mac instructions as I don't own a Windows machine): Open the "application contents" (right click on the Application in File manager to find that option) -then traverse to Resources->Styles folder.

For other user added or example Styles, you'll find them in the users Library folder, then Application Support -> Capture One -> Styles folder.

These ".costyle" files are all text files that you can view in any text editor like TextEdit. I don't advocate changing them.

They don't look much different to the file preset format used in Lightroom, although Capture One appears to have efficiently ignored storing any settings that haven't changed from a default value.

As mentioned before, this isn't rocket science. The sale of these styles as an add-on for huge profit should be seen as a questionable practice in my opinion, especially since it is highly unlikely that any of them will ever become part of your workflow, at least not without further modifications (that you would have done on your own anyway). If you need inspiration, you would probably do yourself a better service to spend time playing with the interface instead.

The annoying thing about adding Styles in Capture One is when you discover that you don't particularly like them, and now you want to remove them. The only way to do this in the application is selecting the one to be removed, clicking that you're sure, and then selecting another. Tedious. I've discovered that you can delete/move multiple styles in the user Library folder and you have to restart C1 to reflect the change. Don't do anything to the ones in the application contents folder!

Half-baked and over sold?

Canon's DSLR video capabilities will never be more than an afterthought

The Canon 5D mk2 was a ground breaking camera when it was introduced in 2008. Video capabilities seem to have been added as an afterthought, or at the last minute anyway. But that opened up a floodgate of DSLR’s afterwards that continued to have some video capabilities.
In all the years since, not once has any DSLR had video capabilities even close to Canon’s video products that were sold primarily for shooting video. This makes total sense, and yet every single photography magazine and online blog reviewing DSLR’s has said something along the lines of “why doesn’t this camera have this video capability”…
The fact that every camera I own has some form of HD video capability is nice. Pity that they’re not that great an implementation and not particularly suited use for any professional use anyway. I thought it was great that my 5Dmk2 was a perfect fit for recording my kids orchestra concerts during high school, but the camera had a 12 minute limit per clip which made it awkward to use.
I’ve come to the point where I need a video camera, and I’ve spent a bunch of time looking at reviews for various gear and come across an interesting point. For years we’ve become accustomed to the idea that to do “good” video with a DSLR, then we need to build a “franken-cage”. I shouldn’t need to explain what this means! The simple fact is that the form factor of every DSLR (and this includes Canon’s M10 and M15) is suited for taking still images and was never suited for movement. The way around was always to build a cage to put the camera in, add bars, a top handle, side handles, bolt on cold-shoe’s, and then you have something that looks… let’s admit it…. like absolute crap.
The camcorder with a handle on top is a format that isn’t going to change, because it’s designed to do the job of taking video. I find it ironic that most of these will also take photos, which is honestly nothing more than a stupid gimmick.
What’s also interesting is that the megapixel race in photo cameras has always run counter to the actual needs of video. A 4K image needs approximately a 8 megapixel sensor (and 1080p needs half that). Anything larger than this would require interpolation to happen in real time (merging pixels together), which then often makes the image softer or adds more video quality issues.
The simple fact is, we’ve been sold a feature that’s never been more than a marketing solution to sell a feature that’s meant to do little more than sell the idea that consumers of one kind of camera should also buy the other. Yes, a relatively recent photo-camera would usually make a decent b-camera for video, but makes for crappy outcomes as anything more.
I’m writing this, waiting for my first 4K video camera – realising that so many of us have been hoping for Canon to add 4K capabilities to a DSLR. What has been added is, and always will be, half baked. Waiting for good 4K DSLR without the issues of logs, bit depth and the rest is pointless.
We need to ignore the marketing noise and realise that one format is good for video and another is good for photo and never both. A jack-of-all-trades camera will never be built.

Friday, 3 May 2019

Will Canon ever be successful at Mirrorless? Does mirrorless even matter?

I’m so tired of hearing about the whole mirrorless “feature”. Yes there’s some benefit to not having a shutter, but I’ve yet to see any real reason why we should throw out DSLR's for Canon's mirrorless cameras … I’ll take a step back and explain.

What can the Canon R (and RP) do that’s so special? Well there’s "Dual Pixel" focusing. That’s awesome - no doubt about it, and honestly I'm surprised it's taken so long to do this. My second Canon SLR was the 7E series - it would focus wherever your eye pointed in the viewfinder (I believe the Canon EOS 3 had the same functionality). It was flawless and Canon somehow scrapped it! But surely dual pixel focusing is not why most people would want one?

Getting into the Canon R ecosystem comes with a HUGE caveat - a new lens mount. The lenses released to date and planned are typically bigger and heavier than their EF counterparts. And that’s the deal breaker. Had Canon said, hey here a mirrorless camera and you can use EF glass on it, Canon would be in the money (for camera body sales). But they didn’t. And what nobody else in the photography media have admitted to yet is that Canon has already done this - with the Canon M camera range. Did they abandon the M format lenses already? It sure seems so.

I’m writing this, after reading how Canon had a press release earlier this week that said initial sales with Canon R and RP were brisk - but within a month, this interest has (in Japan of all places) already tailed off. Sales of Canon R have flatlined already.

“You can still use a converter to use EF lenses” - it’s like deja-vu all over again. Canon did the exact same thing with Canon M cameras, and wanted a huge amount of money (proportionally to the cost of the camera) for a converter to continue to use EF lenses. The barrier to entry - that’s great when they only make less than a dozen lenses.

The other issue I see with Canon's camera division is the inability to price gear to match the market. The Canon 5Dmk2 price point was so good that they sold millions of them - it was the biggest selling prosumer camera Canon ever made. Then they got greedy and did a minuscule upgrade that added a huge markup. The 5Dmk4 is a bigger step up, but still isn't nearly as ground breaking as the mk2 was and is already out of date compared to the market. Their research and development teams are obviously not talking to the marketing department. But I digress.

Let's take stock of the mirrorless problem here.

Canon has traditionally tried to maximise profits by limiting camera features to prevent diluting their broad product range (which is why there’s still no DSLR or Mirrorless camera with a decent 4K implementation - because they want you to buy a video camera - another topic I’m going to talk about shortly) and fractionally better glass makes much greater profit margins (ironically, there’s more air in a lens than glass!). It makes much more sense to Canon to make you buy another expensive lens, that will likely replace one with the same specifications as one you’ve already bought.

Canon’s M range focused on being mobile - the lenses were light, because the point was to replace a point and shoot without the weight. The quality was intentionally dialled down to prevent eating into their EF line. But ironically they also came out with their “worlds smallest SLR” range which was a similar size and weight, and was a much better fit for many users (which can be seen by its popularity and now in its third revision). Canon’s R range has completely missed the boat here, as the camera got smaller (which you’d expect after removing the glass pentaprism and the shutter), but now they’re extremely front heavy because the lenses are no lighter than their EF brothers.

A few years ago, Panasonic, Olympus and others introduced the Four Thirds system, which had a huge adoption. I don’t believe this was because it was mirrorless, but because of it’s convenient and easy to use hardware that was not locked into one brand. And primarily because in addition to taking really high quality images, it was lightweight. But the obsession with mirrorless was born and has been nothing more than a huge sales pitch ever since.

So what is the Canon R series good for? It’s not lighter, it’s not more convenient, it’s not without its flaws (try looking at YouTube for bloggers reporting quirks with the EOS R camera not working as expected and ultimately not trusting it as a professional camera!). Canon has created yet another ecosystem for mirrorless and I don’t expect it to last any longer than the Canon M series.

I recently watched a video trying to justify using a Canon EOS R as a B-camera for video production, and the comments speak for themselves. We’ve now got to the point where I presume that Canon is trying to find reasons to justify this rushed out and thoroughly botched concept.

Canon now has EF series lenses (and their EF-S line tailored for smaller sensors), Cinema series lenses, M series lenses and now R series lenses (yes they also had FD series pre 1987 but that’s pretty much dead now). The first two have obvious benefits, where Cinema series lenses use video industry T-Stops instead of the photo industry f-stops for determining how much light will pass through the lens. The different gearing for cinema lenses also makes total sense and makes up for the bodge of trying to gear the focus and zoom on an EF lens. Canon M and R series can’t claim any real benefit - yes the R lenses have an extra ring that’s configurable, but that is there purely to add a difference to justify its existence. It is otherwise a feature that nobody asked for.

Someone, anyone, please - tell me what I’m missing! Is it any surprise that Canon's camera division isn't doing so well right now?