Welcome back, Pentax

I recently purchased my entrance ticket into the world of digital photography, in the form of a Pentax K-x.

It had been nearly five years since I last owned a working camera, that being an Asahi Pentax that my dad was nice enough to let me co-opt in the late 90’s.  He had owned this camera since he bought it new in the mid 60’s, and it finally wore out around five years ago.

In my glory years with the Asahi Pentax, I fell completely in love with photography and with SLRs, and near the end even started doing some wedding photography and dabbling in a darkroom. Then the camera stopped working to the point where the local repair shop told me it wasn’t worth fixing. I’ll probably challenge that diagnosis in the future, but at the time I couldn’t afford a new SLR so I’ve been without a camera for too many years.

Enter the K-x. It’s just under two months old, as I bought it just before going on vacation in October.  Vacation was a great test run for it (and me), getting me back into the swing of things and into the love of capturing beautiful photos with an SLR.

Now that I’m going back into the daily routine of work and life, the abundance of photo opportunities that were a part of vacation aren’t likely to throw themselves at me anymore. To keep myself sharp (and to keep learning my camera), I’ll be taking part in a weekly photo challenge, through the folks at The Daily Post. This means I’ll be receiving a theme for my photo post each week, and I will have a week’s time to post my photographic interpretation of that theme.

This is the first step back toward being a perpetual tourist in my own city. My general goal is to find and record beauty, while this weekly post will be a good way to challenge myself in going beyond just recording, to set specific thematic and technical goals for myself when heading out the door with my camera.

If you want to join me on this weekly challenge, head over to The Daily Post’s photography challenges page to get the weekly theme for yourself.

See you in the viewfinder…

Changing languages on a foreign computer with Windows 7

I just bought a new Asus Eee PC with Windows 7 installed, and while the vendor was nice enough to set the default language to English instead of the local Thai, there were still some programs where Thai was the only language displayed.

One example was a photo program that came pre-installed. Another was the Asus LiveUpdate installer, which I downloaded for checking on firmware updates for the netbook. These programs offered no option for changing the language, so this was obviously a system setting within Windows.

All Thai, no idea.

If you’re using Windows 7, there are six simple steps you can follow to fix this problem.

Note: If you have any documents open, save them now, as you’ll be asked to restart the computer in the final step.

  1. Press the Windows key on your keyboard OR click the Windows logo at the bottom-left of your screen

  2. type “Region and Language” in the search bar and select that menu item. This window should open:

    Region and Language settings in Windows 7

  3. Click on “Administrative” on the top-right

  4. Click on “Change system locale…” (as seen below)

    Change system locale settings in Windows 7

  5. Choose the language of your choice and click “OK”

  6. When asked, click “Restart now” (you can still go and save things at this point before clicking the button)

Presto-chango it’s legible again!

English Menus

Drawing a line at "stupid"

…so the slick parliamentary secretary stood to read aloud from a document which indicated that, on some matter Mr. Poilievre left unspecified, Elections Canada had at some point found the NDP to be somehow in breach. It was unclear if Mr. Poilievre did this to pronounce shame on the opposition or congratulate them on their victory. {full article}

Aaron Wherry manages to be hilarious in his editorializing while painting a profoundly depressing picture of Parliament’s day-to-day “workings”.

Crime is no need to panic…?

The city’s homicide rate, for example, is starting to resemble a sports story, with emphasis on the setting and breaking of records, and statistical comparisons to past years and other cities. It’s also used, wrongly, as a bellwether to measure the public’s relative safety from year to year. {full article}

A strong editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press until the penultimate paragraph, where the weakening tone and endorsement of the obligatory police reaction almost sounds like capitulation to the panic and a rejection of the argument they just made.

Move your Money

But as [the New York Times] reports, the banks are looking to recoup their “losses” by creating new excuses to reach into their customers’ accounts and take those customers’ money… Open a basic checking account in Bank of America with $100 in January and without spending a dime you’ll have a negative balance before Thanksgiving — assuming that BofA doesn’t create other new fees in the intervening months to remove those funds from the account even faster. {full article}

I’m glad to see community banks and credit unions given their due credit in the U.S.

On the other hand, I don’t agree with the portrayal of credit unions as a Mecca of no fees. I’m subject to similar fees as he describes if I don’t maintain a minimum balance at my credit union. The main difference I see between credit unions and banks is the community ownership and investment part of it — those fees and my money are going into projects I see being built and maintained down the street, not into exorbitant paycheques and into investments that have no connection to my community or my life. This is because the credit union is run by members of the community and every member has a say over how it is managed.

A credit union is a bank with a soul.

Pentax memory card problem & solution, part 2

Update: It worked. See here for details.

The previous solution didn’t work, after all.  I started getting “Memory card error”, “Card is not formatted”, and “Image can not be displayed” error messages again.

My new approach:

  • update my firmware (I was still running 1.00, while the new version was 1.02);
  • only connect the memory card to the computer through the camera’s USB option (as in, never plug the SD card directly into the computer)
  • only format the card in-camera;
  • never delete photos in-camera (only delete via in-camera formatting option)

 

My ‘test roll’ of 60 photos since the update has gone off without a hitch.
An interesting note: Before the firmware update, the computer didn’t see any folders or files on the SD card when the camera was connected via USB.  I’m sure it saw them sometime in the past week, so I imagine it was the memory card error that was affecting this.  Again, since the firmware update followed by formatting in-camera, this has been fixed.

 

Fingers crossed…

Pentax memory card problem & solution

While I use a K-x, this problem seems to affect more than just my camera model or brand of memory card (Kingston, class 4).

The problem(s):

  1. When trying to view the preview of my photos in-camera, some photos do not display, instead showing an “Image can not be displayed” error (or something to that effect). There was previously a “Memory Card Error” messaged displayed in the camera.
  2. When imported, these files are corrupted and do not display or import.
  3. Attempting to format the card in-camera produced the same “Memory Card Error” message.

The solution: Use your USB cable to connect the camera to the computer for importing, etc., instead of inserting the SD card into the computer directly. Then eject the camera from the computer and format the SD card through the camera’s menu.

This solved the problems listed above, for me.

Based on what various Pentax forum posters say, the mistakes that led to the problem appear to be any mix of the following: