Switch to Sony and other updates

Submitted by luxian on Fri, 09/11/2020 - 10:54

I started this blog 4 years ago trying to force myself to write more in English. I hoped that it will help me improve my English skills (both vocabulary and grammar) and my writing skills by writing more often and consistent. If you scroll through previous posts, you can probably see that I failed at both.

I'm not sure what was the issue behind my inability to maintain the writing cadence. I assume is has something to do with my ambitions and expectations. I wanted to write more elaborate article. Not necessary long (like Wait But Why), but something that brings a bit more value than a regular news article. More like an opinion piece in a newspaper than a regular article. Something that either puts news and events into a bigger context and "connects the dots" or is about something I've been thinking for a long time.

As an attempt to bring me back to writing, I will try to lower those expectations. I will try to write more about mundane stuff and personal stuff, that might not be so relevant for others. Will see how it goes...

And to continue where I left in the last article when I said that I'm tempted to ditch Canon: I did it. I'm a proud owner of a Sony A7R IV + a bunch of GM lenses and I'm happy with my decision. Is not perfect by any means, but it has provided more than I could have got from Canon. No regrets so far. Idea for a future article: what are my impressions over the A7R IV after almost a year of owning it.



I'm very tempted to ditch Canon

Submitted by luxian on Wed, 10/23/2019 - 21:33

In the last year and a half, I was looking for an upgrade to my old camera without any success. I own a Canon 6D (first generation) since 2015 or so. Despite the beating it took so far, it still works great. Unfortunately, it lacks in certain areas. The focus system is pretty poor (I miss a lot of shots due to it), and it's video is not that great (only 1080p and contrast based autofocus with not focus peaking option).

Based on what I feel it's missing and what I like about my camera, my criteria for the new camera are:

  • full frame sensor
  • phase detect auto focus
  • 4K recording without cropping

Canon has all these technologies, but they never put it all together in a camera. Mainly because they have so many products lines and they want to protect them (read cinema cameras).

In the current DSLR line-up, the closest I get to meet my criteria is the 1DX Mark II. I say closest because it has 1.3x crop in 4k. Initially was released with a 1.7x crop, but Canon pulled it down to 1.3x with a firmware upgrade.

The new EOS R is also pretty close, with the same caveat. A 1.7x crop in 4k that's a defying common sense. I don't expect them to improve it via software upgrade. In my opinion EOS R it's the state of Canon (in)competency in the mirrorless word. Its ergonomics leave a lot to be desired, and the rest (image quality, eye detect auto-focus, 4k video) is years behind competition (mainly Sony).

The rumours are not giving me any hope either. 1DX Mark III is supposed to launch next year. At this point you need to have a tons of old EF lenses to buy something like this. If you don't own a lot of cool EF lenses you should stay away from this soon-to-be-outdated system. Everything is gonna be mirrorless in 5 years and you will basically throw money out of the window buying lenses that will be worth nothing in a few years.

Internationalization and localization mistakes

Submitted by luxian on Wed, 06/05/2019 - 06:35

Since I'm an expat living in a country that has four official languages (all of them are still foreign to me) I feel entitled to rant about the internationalization and localization of software. Let's start:

1. Making it hard for users to change the language

Most of the websites and applications make educated guesses for which language they should display. This guesses are not always right. For example I'm using a company laptop where I cannot change language and Chrome reports my default language wrong, or I'm travelling and my IP address has nothing to do with the languages I know. Some software developers don't take this cases in considerations and once the language was guessed it's very hard for the user to change it. Usually because the configuration is hidden or missing completely.

My suggestion is to try to guess the language, but let the user change it easily and wrong guesses will be less annoying.

This can be done by putting language selectors in places that are visible and easy to reach. You should not have to scroll to find them and god forbid to require navigation through a menu structure in a language you're not familiar with. Some prefer to show a message when the "guess" happen to inform you about the automatic choice and also provide a short-cut to change it in case the guess was wrong. A message like "You were redirects to Language Name. You can change you language here in case you prefer something else". This will let you get away with hidden language controls, but will still presents a problem if the user has no idea about the language used for the message. I will never understand this message in Chinese for example, but if it will be one of the other languages accepted in my country/region I can probably guess pretty easy.

Performance laptop drama 2018: Intel Core i9-8950HK

Submitted by luxian on Mon, 07/23/2018 - 23:15

Top of the line laptops released this year are all relying on Intel's Core i9-8950HK CPU which is know to run very hot.

The first laptop released with this CPU that got my attention and I eventually bought, was the Dell XPS 9570. This laptop is known to have thermal issues since the last generation - 9560. This year generation didn't change much, it also throttles, but almost everything else about it is great (almost = webcam position still sucks).

The second laptop, the Macbook Pro 2018 with i9 is not only late to the party, but also severely throttling under heavy use. It's throttling so much that it under-performs when compared to last generation i7.

You will probably be right to blame Intel and their failure to innovate. Their last 3-4 generation of CPU are just iterations of the old design with almost non-existing performance improvements but better efficiency. The desktop version of the i9 was running so hot that I gave up buying an new a PC. I didn't want to buy a CPU that required the best cooling you can buy just to run it without any overclocking. I continued to do all my work for almost a year on a mid 2014 Macbook Pro with a 4th generation i7-4980HQ CPU. This CPU is so good that any upgrade to the new Macbook seemed a complete waste of money when you consider the performance gains.


Software 2.0 or how to train AI in 2018

Submitted by luxian on Tue, 06/12/2018 - 09:23

Yesterday I stumbled upon this talk from Andrej Karpathy which explains his vision regarding the current status of software engineering in his talk: TRAIN AI 2018 - Building the Software 2.0 Stack.

The talk is half an hour long and it's not technical at all. It explains how AI is now facing a tooling scarcity rather than a lack of algorithms. He says that at Tesla they try to automate the algorithm tweaking and because of that they are now spending more time developing tools and training data sets. This sounds similar to Google's approach to AI and ML.

Hopefully this approach will allow Tesla to provide a autonomous Autopilot faster.

How to replace multi controller button on Canon EOS 6D

Submitted by luxian on Mon, 04/09/2018 - 22:03
My multi controller stopped working after some humidity got into it (snow). The right arrow stopped working, but the rest was working fine. After a few weeks of researching I decided to take the risk and try to fix it myself. Here's how I did it and a few tips for those who want to try the same.


How to fix terminal prompt not wrapping correctly

Submitted by luxian on Tue, 04/03/2018 - 13:23

On all the servers I manage I tend to change PS1 (Prompt String One) to add a memo of the environment you are on. For example I will display a red [ PROD ] in front of command prompt on production servers to remind ssh users they are on a production server. Development servers get the same treatment, with a [ DEV ] prefix and a blue background. Example with the value used on Ubuntu dev server:

PS1="\e[104m\e[30m[DEV]\e[0m "'${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;32m\]\u@\h\[\033[00m\]:\[\033[01;34m\]\w\[\033[00m\]\$ '

Unfortunately, after doing this, the command prompt didn't wrap correctly at the end of the line. This wasn't noticed in the beginning and then I was too lazy to fix it until today, when I found the fix quite fast on Unix Stackexchange: Terminal prompt not wrapping correctly. The problem is caused by the color sequenced I used:

Non-printable sequences should be enclosed in \[ and \].

And the explanation why this happens:

The reason for the behavior is because bash believes the prompt is longer then it actually is.

Basically, the line will wrap later than expected because bash thinks the line is longer.

The correct version of command prompt above is:

PS1="\[\e[104m\e[30m\][DEV]\[\e[0m\] "'${debian_chroot:+($debian_chroot)}\[\033[01;32m\]\u@\h\[\033[00m\]:\[\033[01;34m\]\w\[\033[00m\]\$ '



Upgrading to Canon 5D Mark IV from Canon 6D

Submitted by luxian on Tue, 04/03/2018 - 10:15

I'm a first generation Canon 6D owner and user for about 4 years now. I did a fair bunch of photos with it, but I started looking for upgrades.

Few weeks ago the opportunity arose when my multi-control button stopped working after being exposed to light snow. Before jumping to buy a  $3000+ camera body I decided to rent one for the weekend and weight the pros and cons between upgrading and repairing my camera.  So these are my thoughts on the 5D Mark IV coming from a 6D user perspective:

I don't like Asus anymore

Submitted by luxian on Wed, 02/28/2018 - 12:04

Some time ago I bought a tablet for my mom. Since she regularly needs support, TeamViewer QuickSupport it's a must. It works very well with all Android devices I own so far, except that Asus tablet. Because they are greedy and they only offer it for business customers! So I returned the tablet the next day.

After this bitter experience I remembered that I have another Asus product: AC-RT66U router. Which looks great if you look at the specs sheet and even in benchmarks, but in real-life usage it sucks. Has compatibility issues with most Apple products and any other products that copy them (like LG smartphones). Signal is weak and throttles a lot because it gets hot. It is set up to restart weekly in order to make it work.

It's pretty clear that for me, Asus is a brand I will avoid.

Update 2019-03-25 Asus servers were hacked and hackers were able to push malware signed with Asus certificates as updates to Asus software.



I really considered an LG phone, but...

Submitted by luxian on Mon, 02/26/2018 - 22:56

As a owner of an LG G4 (retired phone), it was disappointing to see company evolution in the recent years.

First, they didn't want to release Android 7 update for G4 and V10. That means the phones got only one year of software updates. Half of what you usually expect from every other big player. To make matters worse, they change their mind and said they will bring Android 7 (Nougat) update, but phone performance will probably degrade. It's almost a year since they promised the upgrade and they haven't release anything. So probably it's never gonna happen.

Then, they failed with the G5, which had a very bad display and a modular design that made the whole phone to look cheap. G6 was better, but still didn't manage to make a difference and now the LG V30 almost got phone of the year award, if it wasn't for the display issue which affected even Google Pixel phones.

I don't know what's happening - but they are definitely doing something wrong. Until they fix this I will not buy any phone from them, nor do I recommend them to friends.