Archive for the ‘meta’ Category

It all started fine. The may day, had some great time and met new people and finished it off with old friends and sauna. 3 am and time to ride home. The smooth spring night is filled still with some late Turdus Pilaris searching for food and a lot of Lepus Europaeus just standing there and lazily jumping away as I approach. Giant shadows cast by a moth in a streetlight. And I join the Mätäjoki river from the west, it glittering behind the trees. The chain grease was washed out by a rain a couple of days ago so it’s a bit noisy when pedaling but the trip is short. No people around, only a few taxis on the roads in Mäkkylä. The rest of the way, silence.

And then I separate eastwards from the river and start to approach the neighbourhood where I’ve lived since fall, Kannelmäki. I see a yellowish light in the ground – a small fire. I get closer and I see some kind of burning thing on top of a wooden trestle that fences a car park. Drops of flaming goo fall down to the gravel. It’s clearly some kind of plastic, and it looks like a fabric. The fire doesn’t seem very intense but anyway I pick some stick and drop it to the ground and put it out. The wood is intact. Fire follows the laws of physics like almost everything else*. I’ve had my share of playing with it as a kid and know how to handle it.

Now, maybe someone just was polishing their car with a wrong kind of rag, and it autoignited when they left it there. I see nobody around, and I move on. Across a junction and under the railway bridge. There I see a jug of Lasol denatured alcohol used for windscreen washer and a rag. Perhaps not connected in any way. Perhaps nobody was trying to make Molotov cocktails. And I take a few corners, through the park and arrive home. See the night bus pulling out of the stop. Sometimes this part of the city does seem quite stupid, whether it’s trying or not, it seems somewhat irrelevant.

*:the human thought being an easy example…

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Part 2, Timing

[Soundtrack by Mark Snyder
This was originally written in July or August 2009]

After the longest
hundreds of years
and one night
dawn finally came

and all the beautiful sounds
and scents of the world
woke up in the
radiative stillness of mist

Life vision
The waters mirroring the hills
the fowls drawing their arrows
in the picture

We could live here,
we could prosper
this could be home
for the children

No, something’s wrong,
a restless young sun.
The heavens sizzle
and things start over

Yes we know we cannot stay
this beauty overwhelms,
it almost stabs you
but it can’t carry us yet

Another three hundred years
of cold blackness,
some other world somewhere
will be our place

This world needs time,
a recovery,
before we,
our children return

We do not hate thee
the most beautiful, kind
strong and noble
worldly heavenly sphere

Since we have the gift
of understanding,
the possibility
of moving on

Your mountains will erode
new ones will rise,
jungless will dry and
deserts turn lush

And some day ever
worthy beings
walk your gardens
we know

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I just updated the blog title and again just watched the page and the blurb.

It’s when we start working together that the real healing takes place, … It’s when we start spilling our sweat, and not our blood.

It’s a quote of David Hume, my favorite philosopher. I haven’t read his books though. I was reading a Finnish translation of one but it seemed so tedious with the language that I couldn’t bother. So me favouring him is based on the works of others about him.

The quote reminded me of the conflicts that I’m witnessing. The subject line matter needs to be done. At the moment many parts of climate software seem to be science software – written by people in a hurry with little planning, and code that has seen different people adding bits and pieces here and there, making it a big mess. Fortran and supercomputers and all that. Well, most software is a mess. Twenty man years, said MT. That’s a small amount of money considering how much is at stake and even compared to the amount of huffing and puffing efforts around the subject. I am available.

What else needs healing and sweat spilling? Well, quite many things. Including stuff in my personal life.

There are lots of old (sometimes Fortran) code packages hanging around. Nuclear stuff, rocket trajectory calculations, rocket engine chemical/thermodynamics performance… You name it, anything a young man is interested in seems to depend on these archaic pieces of software. So there’s a lot of potential work here but it seems so big for just a lone person to do much on their own free time.

The blog title picture is just some hinge flapped NACA foils simulated with the vortex lattice method in QFLR5. That actually IS a free software project, mostly by Andre Deperrois and uses Mark Drela’s XFOIL for 2D calcs. In the picture, the front wing has NACA 4415 with 6 m span, 1 m chord, 25% chord 15 degree full span flap, and the tail is a NACA 0012 with 2 m span 0.5 m chord, 40% flap or elevator at -15 degrees. Flying at 5 degrees AoA (plus 4 deg to the front wing) and 18.9 m/s, lifting about 2000 N. Absolutely no guarantees about the results.

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I have a Canon Canonet 28 sitting here in front of me. It’s a seventies brushed aluminium and black grip film camera with exposure automation, you just have to focus it yourself and push the button. It uses regular 35 mm film and has a fixed 40 mm F 2.8 lens. It was easy enough to use that most of my childhood is documented with it, and the picture quality was good (provided the person shooting had focused properly, also shooting against the light made the simple light sensor underexpose the picture). Towards the camera’s thirty year anniversary, around 2000, the shutter started failing, requiring taking it into a repair shop a few times. (By the way, although the linked page claims otherwise, it does not have a self timer.)

Having learned to shoot with this camera, I’ve always despised autofocus and other people’s blurry photographs. Here the operator had absolute control of where the focus is. This is both good and bad, but at least there’s no-one else to blame. I found the yellow ghost image focus system to be quite easy (if not always fast) to use and it guaranteed very precise focusing.

Canon Canonet 28

Canon Canonet 28, from Wikipedia, see the viewfinder and the focus ghost image viewport at the top of the front side. The light sensor is just above the lens. The thumb winder is the lever attached to the shutter. The focus ring is at the front of the barrel.

Much later a Nikon F60 SLR film camera was acquired. After some time, when searching for a cheap second hand fixed lens for the SLR, I ran into a cheap Canonet QL 19 and bought it (it’s somewhere among my stuff right now). The whole camera was cheaper than a prime lens for the Nikon! It has better power at F 1.9, being basically a more expensive version of the Canonet 28. You need to do semi-manual exposure control though, by setting the shutter yourself and let the camera handle the aperture, so in that sense it’s more complicated. You also can use really long exposure times and also use the mechanical auto shutter (that gets sometimes stuck!). If you load sensitive film into it, all kinds of exciting photography becomes possible: color photos in the night, without a tripod. This was the cheapest way to low light photography, handsome on a night bird listening trip.

These Canons are both rangefinder cameras, meaning focusing is done by aligning a yellow “ghost image” onto an ordinary image. They have fast optics, meaning they gather a lot of light. This was important because the earlier films were much less sensitive. Later, when disposable cameras with lousy optics were developed, they needed a much more sensitive film to compensate (it was cheaper to manufacture them that way with bad optics and good film). Now, couple the modern sensitive film with an old fast lens and you get great pictures even in low light. Because they are rangefinders, they also don’t have a big mirror giving shutter delay, a shake and clacking sound with every shot. Instead a quiet, whispering click can be heard – and also, the viewfinder view does not go black during the exposure. The compact size enables you to carry them more easily than an SLR. They still weigh quite a lot because of the metal construction, though that helps with steadying in hand. You do need good eyesight for focusing. A flash can also be attached. Film winding is with the thumb. This must be remembered after each shot, otherwise when you press the shutter next time when you have just aligned for a perfect opportunity, nothing happens! This also means the camera only needs a tiny watch battery for the light meter and can operate reliably for long times (years) without battery change or in very cold weather.

I’ve done most of my film photography with the Nikon SLR which is very versatile with the wide and long zoom lenses, but the Canonets have had some appeal. They might be excellent for street photography and possibly some journalism, when you don’t need long zoom distances or very wide angles. I also love natural light and don’t like flashes. They are much less menacing than a big SLR and don’t have the mirror clack and film wind whirr sound when taking a picture. It’s still much harder to do a composition with a prime lens, and I’m not a good at composition to start with. You could probably learn to work with it much better, immediately seeing what kinds of pictures you can get without having to look through the viewfinder, if you made a constious effort. Enthusiasts actually hold both eyes open when using rangefinders, I only heard of that technique quite late.

What are the Canonet series’ spiritual digital successors today? Probably Canon’s G series high quality fixed lens cameras. They still sport a purely optical viewfinder and I’ve seen some good quality photos made with them. Bracketing and a flash socket are a nice feature uncommon in pocket cameras as well. There are other manufacturer cameras in the same class. Back in the film days, there theoretically was not much image quality difference between a reasonable 35 mm fixed lens camera and an expensive 35 mm SLR. In the digital world however the fixed lens cameras usually have very small sensors, which leads to many things and is a subject for another post.

Most digital cameras have much less light power nowadays. Digital sensors are more sensitive than film, which is one reason. Also, the high power wide angle lenses in rangefinder film cameras (fixed lens and Leica) were possible because the light can strike the film at quite a shallow angle and still be captured, but CCD and CMOS sensors can’t do that. The light has to go through a Bayer filter first before it strikes the sensor and that means a relatively steep angle is needed. SLR:s have that since the lens is far from the sensor anyway (because the mirror has to be in between), and thus they were made into digital cameras relatively easily. But there are few digital rangefinders. Subjects for the next post.

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Perhaps the biggest phenomenon from a western view has been the rise of China as a superpower.

Internet services and applications, terrorism and wars in the middle east, oil, global warming politics, are some of the big things as well.

What will 2010 see? Well, my bet is that energy will be a big part of it. Oil is limited and is getting more expensive, coal is not. But coal is bad in the global warming sense. The big coal powers USA, China, Germany, UK, Canada, Australia at least are probably just going to keep burning it and not care what it does to the rest of the world.

During the noughties, CO2 rose from about 365 to 385 ppm. If the decadal rate is constant at 20 ppm per decade, then 600 ppm, a doubling from 1950s levels will require 215 ppm more, or about 110 years. Of course, the decadal emissions rate is probably going to accelerate. Local climate change phenomena will come earlier than things like significant sea level rise but it’s harder to point out that greenhouse gases are responsible for them. A fascinating experiment, this atmosphere alteration.

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They suck. For example the latter picture in the post below is malformed. The original before uploading is fine and well readable. I posted with Firefox as I can’t post images to blog posts at all with Opera. The editor looks horrible in Firefox with a barely readable font as I’m typing this.

I don’t know what went wrong and where but blogging has always been tediously slow with each operation always lasting a loong time (start a new post, insert a picture…), on any operating system. This of course wouldn’t need to be so for technical reasons (a 2 MB connection is enough to stream fine video so sending some text and control inputs plus some small pictures is nothing) but is probably for other reasons – inefficient libraries are used because of compatibility and lack of manpower etc etc.

This is actually the case for a huge number of things nowadays. Many things would be possible but for some little reason are not done. Lack of knowledge, motivation, small money…

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Updated About

There’s now  some more info, a picture and an email address on the about page.

Feel free to mail me at valtteri maja at gmail com.

I’m not always as angry as I look in the picture. 🙂

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