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Friday, 20 October 2017 Dereel Images for 20 October 2017
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The future of cars
Topic: general, technology, opinion Link here

Margaret Swan has a new car—well, a different, newer one, a Subaru Forester with all bells and whistles. She's having difficulty with some of the bells (or was that whistles?), so I came over today and took a look.

There are two main issues of confusion: first, how do you start the car? For every car I have ever driven, there's an ignition key, usually coupled with a starter. Not on this car. Yes, there's a key, if you can reinterpret the information in the 300 page manual, which tells you to press in the wrong place, but you don't need it, and it doesn't help start the car. The key module communicates wirelessly with the car electronics and permits starting the car. And that's done by pressing a button.

Problem: what if you just want to turn the radio on? With conventional ignition keys there's an intermediate position that turns on most of the electrics, but not the ignition. You'd expect to find how to do the equivalent in the manual—after all, it's thick enough—but it's a generic manual with a description of all models, including information about left-hand drive models, models with old-fashioned ignition keys, and what kind of petrol the car needs in Beijing and the rest of China (but no information about what to do if you move between one and the other). We didn't find the information we were looking for.

Finally we found it by trial and error:

Living with Subaru Forester electronic start system

  1. For any kind of interaction, the electronic key module must be within about 1 m of the car.
  2. To start the engine, ensure that the gear lever is in the P position, put foot on brake (important), and press the “Start” button. The LED in the button lights green. To stop, press again.
  3. To turn the dash electrics on, ensure foot is not on brake (important), and press the “Start” button. The LED in the button lights amber.
  4. To turn more dash electrics on, ensure foot is not on brake (important), and press the “Start” button. The LED in the button remains amber.

I haven't been able to establish the exact difference is between states 3 and 4, but some trip computer comes on when you press the button again.

How to steal a Subaru Forester with electronic start system

This works best with two people. One engages the owner in conversation near the car, preferably close to the front passenger door. The other approaches the driver door, waves at it (it will obligingly unlock), gets in, starts the car, and drives off. The car will not stop when the key module disappears.

In general, I'm left wondering what the advantage of this whole system is, and why it is so badly documented.

Subaru Forrester GPS

The other thing that Margaret couldn't fathom was the GPS system (for which there is another manual with a title something like “Onboard SD Card System”). The documentation is voluminous and verbose, but I managed to find enough (marginally correct) information to start the thing. And surprise, surprise, it was the same iGo software that my el-cheapo GPS navigator uses. Well, almost. It seems to have been castrated: lots of functionality is missing, like the all-important “use unpaved roads”. This is iGo version 9, while mine is version 8. Has it been deliberately restricted, or is this a sign of the times? In any case, Margaret doesn't like it, and would prefer her old Garmin GPS, which at least has the advantage that she knows how to use it.

On the positive side, it displays a compass. I need to check if there's a way to enable that on my navigator.

Apart from that, it's nice to have the unit mounted in the dashboard, where it doesn't bounce or fall off on poorly paved roads. But, like the speedometer of the Mini 50 years ago, it points straight over your shoulder, and there's no way to tilt it. In a car with so many unnecessary “comforts”, you'd think they would have done something about that.


More mystery flowers
Topic: gardening Link here

Petra Gietz in today after a drive down Misery Creek Road, bearing a present:


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What's that? The leaf shape is certainly interesting. I put it in a glass with some water, and when I came back I had a surprise:


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That looks like so many of the flowers I've seen in Enfield State Park. But did any of them have these pointed leaves? To be investigated.


DBDRV responds
Topic: Stones Road house, opinion Link here

Call from Maggie Keenan of the Domestic Buildings Dispute Resolution Victoria regarding the complaint that I entered in June. It has finally come to the top of the queue, and it looks like we will have a session together on 11 December. In the meantime, she needs more information. It seems that it needs to be in particular places: the additional information that I supplied in my complaint should have been put in the (Microsoft Word!) document, because otherwise it can't be processed. But she asked for my permission (granted) to move it there. I wonder what will happen to the layout. She also needs addition documentation: all mail exchange with JG King, and also the contract, building plans, and building permit. Why? No idea, but then I'm a mere mortal.


Focus stacking revisited
Topic: photography Link here

Dale Brabham started a thread on the M43 Tech Talk Facebook Group today: how do you use the focus stacking in practice? I've done a reasonable amount of focus stacking work, but I still have a lot of questions and an incomplete (read: barely started) page on the subject.

Out to do some more experiments today, this time with the M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm f/4.0 IS PRO, which doesn't support in-camera stacking, and the M.Zuiko Digital ED 30 mm f/3.5 Macro lens, which does. Took photos along a wall of the house and saw what it did. I forgot to check the focus differential setting, but it was set to 2. Here's the result of the in-camera focus stacking:


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Reading the Exif data was interesting. Here's the 12-100 with “focus bracketing”:

Focus:          MF 2.25 m (1.76 - 3.11 m)
Focus:          MF 3.55 m (2.47 - 6.33 m)
Focus:          MF 8.435 m (4.12 m - infinity)
Focus:          MF infinity (8.01 m - infinity)
(etc)

And here's the 30 mm with “focus stacking”.

Focus:          MF 2.825 m (2.06 - 4.50 m)
Focus:          MF 1.455 m (1.22 - 1.80 m)
Focus:          MF 1.92 m (1.53 - 2.57 m)
Focus:          MF 5.34 m (3.13 - 18.29 m)
Focus:          MF 48.07 m (6.49 m - infinity)
Focus:          MF infinity (7.50 m - infinity)
(etc)

As advertised, “focus stacking” jumps backward and forward. Why? The most difficult thing I have found with focus stacking of either kind is to set the start focus. With “focus bracketing” it's relatively easy: just in front of the closest point you want sharp. You still (currently) have to guess where it will finish. But with in-camera “focus stacking” you don't know either point!

The other thing is the question of overlap. These images were taken with the lenses at 30 mm and f/8. My depth of field program comes up with different depths of field from exiftool. Mine are based on a circle of confusion of 8 μm, and give:

Subject        Focal plane     Magnification  Exposure       Near        Far         Depth of
distance (m)   distance (mm)                    comp  (EV)   limit (m)   limit (m)  field (m)
   2.25           30.405        0.01             0.0         1.940      2.679     0.739
   3.55           30.256        0.01             0.0         2.834      4.749     1.914
   8.44           30.107        0.00             0.0         5.272     21.078    15.806

Based on those figures, there are gaps in the depth of field, though they're not significant. If you can accept a 10 μm circle of confusion, they overlap. So maybe the way to look at focus stacking is to hypothesize that the focus differential is related to the size of the circle of confusion. For that to be the case, the steps would have to change with focal length and aperture. Time for some more test photos.

The other thing that occurs to me is that it's really not that interesting to actually process the images, so I can make them as small as I like (since I hate throwing away any image that I have taken). But I can see a lot of playing around ahead of me: try focus stacks with different focal lengths and apertures, and with both of the cameras that can do it.


Saturday, 21 October 2017 Dereel Images for 21 October 2017
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More Hugin problems
Topic: photography Link here

House photos again today, with nothing much to distinguish them from other days—until I tried to process them. And then, for reasons I don't understand, the control point detectors didn't work. It's not the first time, and in the past I have blamed it on low contrast. But today the contrast wasn't that bad. I finally got things done, but not without a considerable amount of messing around.


Misery Creek again
Topic: gardening Link here

Off down to Misery Creek Road again, this time prepared for a bit more work. And I was successful: there were still more plants that I hadn't seen before.

I think that this plant must be a species of Dillwynia. It's mainly interesting because it is orange instead of the more common yellow:


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When I took this photo, I thought that the plant was a Goodenia, but clearly it's not:


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And I've seen this one before, but I still don't know the name:


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And this one looks similar, but is much smaller:


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This one is so common that I had thought it was a weed, but apparently it's a native. But I can't find the name of it: my old plant books have gone into hiding, and the books I bought in Halls Gap two weeks ago don't mention it:


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And after more comparison, it's fairly clear that this is indeed a Caladenia gracilis. Somehow I still haven't got the right angle:


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Last week's Caladenia major are still not there. I think they may prefer more sunshine.

Then there are these flowers, only gradually opening. Here photos from last Saturday, Tuesday and today:


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And then there are these ones:


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I also got a couple of shots of the Pimelea species with the drooping flowers that I had noticed last week:


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Taking the photos wasn't easy:


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I really need some better remote viewfinder. Maybe I should really try the mobile phone “solution”.


Dinner: photo failure
Topic: food and drink, photography, opinion Link here

Saturday evening, dinner with Chris Bahlo. Today Margaret Swan was there too. I've been meaning to take photos of us every time, but things haven't worked out well. They showed up late, and I didn't have much time, and after a couple of these I gave up:


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What's wrong? Presumably the studio flash went off too early again. I really need to make this more reliable.

Dinner was sushi and sashimi from a new Japanese restaurant in town. Not my taste. There was stuff with things like mayonnaise, and others with thoroughly cooked fish, which tasted like it came out of a can. Chris tells me that they saw Japanese people easing there, so they clearly knew what to avoid.


Stealing cars: reexamined
Topic: general, opinion Link here

After my mention of “How to steal a Subaru Forrester” yesterday, Peter Jeremy came up with interesting aids:

<peter> groggyhimself: Regarding keyless ignition (it's getting common and not limited to
        Subaru):  You can build/buy range extender units so that you can steal the car
        whilst the keys are in the owner's house.

We discussed it at dinner, and Margaret came up with the additional information that the engine stops when the car stops, and automatically restarts when you want to drive off. Would this still happen if the key module is missing? Otherwise people might need some modification to their driving style.

And who needs to steal a car for only one drive? It sounds ideal for a getaway car.


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