Flash!

I love updating the BIOS on hardware devices. I just put the latest version 1.0.5 on my new Canon EOS 5D. It’s actually a fairly easy process – much easier than flashing the BIOS on, say, a computer. I simply take the card out, put the new BIOS image in the root, put it back in the camera, select the “update” option, and BAM. Less dangerous than doing that to a PC… and not all my machines have floppy drives anymore to do that with! Flashing the camera also retained all of my customizations, whereas flashing a computer would wipe out any system level configurations which would then need to be reset. Fun!

Comment Fix

In my quest to “de-spam” my email server and sites, I had inadvertently broken my comment notification system. So, if you were one of a large handful of people who commented and waited hours or days for your comment to show up, that should not happen again. At least, not while I’m anywhere near a computer. So, for those of you who like to comment and were frustrated by a lackluster posting response, COME BACK!!!

All better now.

Long Exposure Success

Once again I have attempted the long exposure and this time, I waited even longer and the camera came back with this picture. Patience is rewarded and I can now see a circular rotation pattern which illustrates the rotation of the earth in the night sky.

What I now have to learn is to take this technical technique and bring some art into it. I definitely have to make it more interesting than sitting on my back porch. I will have to do some more experimentation – and try some even longer exposure times.

I’d better bring a good book…

Blossom Update

Today was supposed to have been the “peak” blossom day for the DC area. As you can see from this picture, that is not exactly true. I think we’re more like two days out, but this is really my first season watching this so I don’t really know how all of this unfolds.

Most trees look like this, but a very few are covered in white blossoms. I suspect they are of a different variety than the majority of the trees. I may drive by here on Wednesday, but most definately Thursday and take some more pictures.

It seems, also, that the trees here in Reston are several days behind. Looks like I might get a double blossom season!

EOS 5D Quirk

For the most part, I am overwhelmingly happy with my 5D. There is one issue, though, that is causing me confusion. I have been playing with long exposures and hoping to do more with star trails and such. Those exposures require sometimes hours of open shutters to really look good. I have tried one for 10 minutes and it looks pretty good, but the star trails aren’t long enough. So, a while back I tried one at 30 minutes and the camera locked up. I thought maybe that since I messed up some settings that I had done something wrong, so just now, I tried it again.

It didn’t work. In fact, it locked up my camera. When I close the shutter after 30 minutes, the red light [which stays on during exposures and data writes to the CF card] stays on for at least another half hour – basically until I pull the battery. I can’t even turn it off with the switch. The LCD flashes how many pictures are left on the CF card, but no other information other than the word “busy” on the screen.

This concerns me and I have no idea how to fix it. I’ve tried searching the ‘net for it, but nothing pops up. Then again, this camera is so new that I may just be the first person to experience this difficulty. I sent Canon an email and maybe they’ll send me a fix.

Has anyone else seen a similar problem to this on this or any other model of camera?

[UPDATE:] Silly me: I enabled a nifty feature. For long exposures, there’s an “auto noise reduction” setting… so, for my 30+ minute exposure, the camera said to itself: “hmmm… there might be too much noise in this shot. I’ll fix it.” and then proceded to expose an equal length “black frame” shot to be used a a “hot pixel” frame of reference for de-noising the original image – thereby causing a 30+ minute lock up in which I could not use my camera. And, of course, that means I lost my picture when I pulled the battery. Oops.

Nevermind…

I ran some hardware diagnostics for many hours without finding anything, but something told me to look at BIOS and drivers for my SATA RAID conroller. This is the device that controlls the 1.2TB of hard drives. I flashed the BIOS to an updated version, installed a new driver and cleared out another application that didn’t work and rebooted.

Then, I initiated a copy of 200GB or so of data [this would have caused the system to restart] and it’s all good so far. No unforseen reboots. So, it wasn’t hardware at all, but BIOS and drivers. This is good. We all love computers that don’t crash, don’t we?

Hardware Issues

This new server I have is great – until I actually started copying data to it. I think there’s something wrong with either the motherboard or the CPU. It’s hard to tell. It simply reboots with a stop error every once in a while – usually under some kind of load. The stop error is generic and nondescriptive. Does anyone know of some good diagnostic tools other than replacing hardware one component at a time?

Finally Settling In?

It looks like we’ll actually be getting local cell phone numbers now. I’ve resisted the change, but there have been too many confusions with locals changing the “1” to a “0” [the area code where I have my number is presently 713, whereas I live now in the 703 area code]. There are also some annoying things that happen when I’m “away” from my “home” area code too long – like the strange dissaperance of my voicemail capabilites, or the massive signal loss from the Katrina era [“No, I wasn’t hit by the hurricane, but my number is in an affected area…”]

They tell me I’ll get better service once I switch, but I’m not sure I believe them. One thing I do know, though, is that I will most likely pay less in mobile taxes than I did with a Houston number. This would be most heartening.

Laura or I will be sending out a note to those who should have our new numbers when we get them switched over.