Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Olympus E-620 Underwater test

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

DPreview has released a test, well a story more than a test, of the Olympus E-620 in the PT-E06 Olympus housing. One of their reporters went on a dive holiday to the Philippines and brought this setup along, together with two sea and sea YS 100 strobes.

The general opinion is that the setup is working well, the housing is of reasonable quality and she also seemed happy with the new 9-18 mm wide angle lens. My friend Taso has the E-520 in the PT-E05 housing (almost identical setup) with the 50 mm macro lens and dedicated INON magnetic manual focus ring port and he took it diving for the first time last weekend. It was clear, looking at the first photos that the macro lens can yield some very good results, especially with the two INON strobes he uses, even spread light etc.

I am getting more and more interested in this combination as the upgrade path from my current Canon G7 in Ikelite housing. First, the Olympus body seems to be very reasonable with many features that are nice for underwater use such as fast focussing and inbuilt image stabilisation in the body. Second, the housing is cheap compared with most other housings on the market. Third, with the catering for popup flash one can use any strobe, in my case I have an INON z240.

I have been toying with the thought of buying a housing for my Canon 40D. The only reasonable housing seems to be the Ikelite but since it does not allow the flash to pop up and the TTL circuitry only supports Ikelite strobes, I would have to buy two new Ikelite strobes of many $100 a pop. The Olympus alternative sounds more reasonable.

Without having searched for the the cheapest prices, BHphoto lists the 620 housing for USD570 and the 9-18mm wide zoom is USD510. The PT-E06 housing is AUD 1200 or so locally and the PPO-E04 dome port plus the PER-E01 spacer ring is about USD1100 at BHPhoto. I bet you need some gears etc. on top of that.

Not cheap, but still cheaper than going Canon.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Getting the iPhone to work with Exchange and Google

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

Thanks to some new features in OS 3.0 I finally managed to get my iPhone to synchronise both with my work email and Google calendars.

The problem with the iPhone is that it can only have one exchange account active at the time. Since my employer (the University of Sydney) mandates the use of Microsoft Exchange, I am forced to synchronise my emails using this server and that has left me without any means of synchronising with Google calendar. Google mail has been easy for a while using an IMAP account.

The new trick that works well is to use CalDAV to Google, and even though there are some rumours that this only allows one way synchronisation, I can create new events on the iPhone and they show up on the Google web interface so all is good.

Here is what I had to do.

I created an exchange account to the University and set up mail and contacts but I deactivated the calendar option for this account since I don't use the corporate calendar. If you leave it turned on, the entries will be merged in iPhone. You will also have to set the default calendar in settings>mail, contacts, calendar down the bottom, settings for calendars.

I created an IMAP account on the iPhone:

settings> mail,contacts,calendars> add account

select Gmail account type
enter username@gmail.com as address and fill in password
set outgoing server to smtp.gmail.com

Create a new account for the calendar
settings> mail,contacts,calendars> add account
account type other
select CalDAV

Server name www.google.com
user name your.name@google.com (your gmail account name)
password (your password)

Now, the email client should have two accounts, one for the exchange mail and one for the Google mail. The calendar application should have your Google calendar contents and you should be able to create and read events on the iPhone as well as the web.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Pshycho babel fish

Loose thoughts by Bjorn Landfeldt

My wife bought a little craft set for my oldest daughter to do now at the start of the school holidays and here starts the story of the Chinese cutting corners on translation and using babel fish instead.

The craft set is something called "colorized scalewing of flutter" from a company called Karry. The description on the package (and I suspect this is why my wife purchased this specific product) states:

Colorized Scalewing of Flutter is a new product congregated with toy and DIY together, using your both hands to portray and assembled beautiful colorized scalewing. set free your polychrome dream in the play.

Then the packaging goes on to describing HOW to set free the polychrome dream as follows:

Playing method:

1) Unscrew the outer lid (OK I follow so far)
2) Smear different colors glittery glue on wing of Scalewing, beautiful and likable (Hmm, alright I get the gist)
3) Hang the small colorized scalewing after was finish. That will have a distinctive gout. (No, lost me there)
4) We can make it as pendant or hang it on the bag,and you will feel very complacent.I (Surely someone is taking the piss)

The packaging warns:
Not suitable for children under 3 years due to small parts.

I think what they meant was:
It is not suitable for children under 3 years to run export companies, play with lego instead.

Isn't it great to see what Australian shops import and sell to us, such quality products. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy just thinking about just how much the shops care about the products they sell.

Lesson learned, don't use babel fish to translate instructions and manuals. Hire someone who speaks the language in question.