ProofSheet Version 1.72

A tweak to the geometry for the {expand} macro. The width was unnecessarily wide, causing the left and right margins to be ignored.  This is for the Mac only; there is no Windows version of ProofSheet.

New Ingestamatic beta version 2.30

No new features, and works only with Windows 10 during the beta period. It’s been rebuilt with the newest version of Visual Studio from Microsoft, and looks much better on Windows 10, although it operates the same. ExifTool has been updated to 10.0.9, and GPSBabel to 1.5.3.

Use with caution, as it’s a total rebuild!

You can download the new beta from here.

My new NUC has arrived

I installed the RAM, the SSD, and the hard drive in the NUC without a hitch. Unfortunately, the Dell U2515H monitor I bought won’t allow the NUC to be mounted to the VESA mount on the monitor’s back, because the monitor’s stand covers the VESA mount, which it doesn’t actually use (it has its own clips). So, I can’t use a nifty VESA extension bracket I found, one end of which would go between the monitor and VESA-mounted stand, and the other end of which would hold the NUC.

Instead, I mounted the NUC’s VESA mounting plate to the lower part of the stand with plastic straps, as shown in the first photo. That made a suitable mount for the NUC, as shown in the second photo.

MJR_2016-01-06_File_000 (2)MJR_2016-01-06_File_000 (3)

I ran the crude NovaBench benchmarks, and came up with an overall score of 862 for the NUC, compared to 505 for my late-2009 iMac. The CPU Tests were 478 compared to 234, the Graphics Tests were 100 compared to 94, and the Hardwware Tests (disk/SSD speeds) were 44 compared to 26. (This was with the SSD in the NUC; the hard drive wasn’t yet installed.)

More realistically, going from Lightroom to one of the Topaz plugins and back to Lightroom was so slow as to be painful on the Mac. On the new computer, it takes just seconds. Some of this is no doubt due to the 16GB (vs. 8GB) of RAM, which didn’t enter into the NovaBench scores.

I was also pleased that I was able to download the utility for my very old Spyder 2PRO monitor calibrator, and it works!

I’m now transferring my 450GB or so of photos. Then I’ll have to open the catalog in the Windows version of Lightroom, tell it the location of the originals, and I should be off and running.

Still supporting Mac apps

After reading my posts about ways in which I’m moving away from Apple, a few people asked about continuing support for my Mac apps.

I’ll still be supporting them. What I’m not supporting is:

  • Some of my iOS apps, which can be only distributed via the App Store.
  • The Mac App Store versions of my OS X apps.

For the latter, anyone who buys the Mac App Store version and asks gets a free unlock code for the direct-download version, which is much newer. I’d send the unlock code automatically, but Apple won’t tell me who my customers are, which is just one of the problems with the App Stores.

Those Mac App Store apps that I’m talking about are mostly Ingestamatic, ExifChanger, and ProofSheet. The others account for a tiny fraction of my sales.

A high-performance NUC for photography and video

I’ve decided to go forward with my plan to set up a Windows computer for photography and video, as I mentioned in my last post. Since the only reason for doing this is that my iMac is too slow, this new one has to be fast. I went with another Intel NUC, only this time starting with the top of the line:

  • NUC5i7RYH with 5th Generation Core i7-5557U (WiFi included)
  • 16GB RAM (Crucial DDR3-1600 MT/s)
  • 1TB hard drive (HGST Travelstar 7K1000 2.5-Inch 1TB 7200 RPM SATA III 32MB Cache)
  • 500GB SSD (Samsung 850 EVO)
  • Dell UltraSharp U2515H 25-Inch LED-Lit Monitor (2560 x 1440)
  • Windows 10 Home
  • No keyboard and mouse–already have them.

The total cost for all of this from Amazon was $1200, incredibly cheap for such a high-end system. By comparison, a Mac Mini with an i7, 16GB, and a 1TB drive is $1400; the corresponding part of my NUC is $657 (including price of Windows), which is less than half as much. And, unlike the Mac Mini, the NUC has room for the SSD internally. (Both the NUC and the Mac Mini have dual-core i7 processors, not quad-core.)

An alternative, but much larger, system from Dell is an XPS 8700 desktop with a 1TB disk for $900 (without monitor or SSD). That’s a good price, too, since its i7 is a quad-core, and it comes with a DVD drive, a keyboard, and a mouse. Since it’s a large desktop, it also has expandability, whereas the NUC I ordered has none.

My NUC system will arrive next week. I’ll need to put it together, install Windows, and move my 52,000 or so photos over from the Mac. My Adobe Creative Cloud license allows me to run Lightroom and Photoshop on Windows, so I’ll need to install them, too.

Of course, I’ll post a progress report here at the end of the week.

Time for a serious Ubuntu experiment

I’ve had a Chromebook for over three years now, bought with the idea that when I’m not actually in my office, I spend nearly all of my time in Chrome anyway, so maybe a $250 laptop is all I need. That idea turned out to be correct. I started looking into Chrome Apps, and even wrote a book for O’Reilly about how to develop them. My committee work for the Conference on World Affairs (CWA) uses Google Docs mostly, so that made the Chromebook even more useful.

Still, there are two kinds of things the Chromebook can’t do: Handle my photography post-processing, and develop and maintain my mostly-PHP websites, such as the one I built for the CWA.

So, I thought, maybe a Linux computer could do more of what needs doing than a Chromebook? I had an unused monitor, a bunch of unused keyboards and mice, so all I’d need would be the computer itself. I had several of those, too, huge monsters that are heavy, too large for the space on my desk, noisy, and power hungry. Not at all the sort of thing I’d want anywhere on the main floor of the house. And, if I have to go downstairs to use the Linux machine, I might as well just use my iMac. I wanted something cheap, quiet, small, and low-power.

What a great excuse to get a little Intel NUC! They’re available from just over $100 to $400+ depending on how powerful a CPU you want. I decided that a Core i3 NUC would do fine. The NUC plus some essential parts (WiFi card, memory, and SSD) cost me about $355 at Amazon. For that I got 4GB of RAM and 250GB of “disk.”


MJR_20151214_0068

The best thing about the NUC is that it screws to monitor’s VESA mount. I strapped the NUC’s transformer to the monitor as well, as you can see in the photo. It’s an all-in-one!

Ubuntu has come a very long way since I last played with it a few years ago. I found a utility for the Mac that copied the live-disk ISO to a USB stick, booted the NUC off that, and Ubuntu installed without a hitch. It even found the WiFi card. (I used an Intel card, to increase the likelihood that its driver would be installed automatically.)

Ubuntu is really well done. All sorts of things worked without the hassle that I used to expect with Linux. A USB3 external drive, a Bluetooth mouse, and my Epson scanner worked perfectly with no need to install any drivers. (I couldn’t get my ancient Apple wireless keyboard to pair, but maybe a solution to that was just beyond my grasp.)

Installing Apache, MySQL, and PHP on Ubuntu were very easy, as you’d expect (they’re the last three letters in LAMP), and my favorite MySQL admin tool, MySQLWorkbench installed easily, too. There was a hassle getting it to connect to the instance hosted by Siteground, but that was their fault (quickly and courteously corrected by them), certainly not Ubuntu’s.

I’ll miss Coda for editing and updating the website, but a utility called weex works very well to copy just changed files to the server, so I don’t really need Coda for that. I haven’t bothered to chase down all the various Linux text editors to see which one I like; the included gedit seems to be OK, at least for now.

Installing Chrome required a few dependencies to be chased down (Chromium is in the standard Ubuntu repository, not Chrome, but I wanted Chrome), but it, too, got installed in just a few minutes. Of course, it’s identical to the version on the Chromebook and the Mac, so everything worked as it should have, and my apps worked, too. (An advantage of Chrome over Chromium is that it gets updated by Google and doesn’t rely on the Ubuntu update system.)

Anyway, based on the first few days, this Ubuntu/NUC computer is going to be just fine. My photography has to stay on the Mac (but see last paragraph), because while Linux photography apps, such as Darktable, show promise, they’ll probably never catch up to Lightroom and the Topaz plugins I like, and I have no plans to produce inferior photography just to further the cause of open source.

Still, treat this as a glowing review of Ubuntu, and of the NUC, too.

My long-term plan is to see if I can use the Mac for photography only, which means using just my own Ingestamatic, Lightroom (with the Topaz plugins), and Photoshop. If I can get that far, I can move my photography work to a Windows system, since those apps all run on Windows, and then use the Mac only for truly Mac-only jobs, such as maintaining my Mac apps. Why do this? Two reasons: I hate Apple, and my iMac isn’t fast enough any more to be pleasant to use. I don’t want to spend more money with Apple, so a fast Windows box may be the answer. But, I’m not there yet. I need to see how far I can get with Ubuntu on the NUC first. Stay tuned.

Just finished a bench

A bench for the front entry, made entirely of white oak.

Made from plans that appeared in Wood Magazine. The exploded view:

Bench Exploded Plan

I kept the dimensions. The only real change I made was to substitute dowels for the mortise-and-tenon joints. And, I used screws only for the seat slats; everything else was glued only.