Post usage USB C cable recommendations and accessories

OK with a few months now of Nexus 5X, MacBook Pro (late 2016) and the new Logitech Brio, here’s a recommendations based on the longer article on long term cords to get in this conversion to USB C connectors for your every day carry (EDC), with the goal being to have two of everything with the smallest redundancy:

  1. JUC–01. Yes it is expensive at $40, but it has it all with full 100 watts, USB 3.1 Gen 2 10Gbps speeds. It is solid and all made, but the main issue is that it is only a meter long.
  2. Apple charging cable. At $20, this is long enough for all needs and supports the full 100 watts, most “phone charges” only support 15 watt maximums, so beware. With this one, you don’t need that cheap cable, you got with your phone. I normally bring the 1 and 2 the meter in my bag.
  3. Apple USB C to Lightening cable. I carry just one and can get a second set from the adapters below

The next set of cables to carry are the USB A cables. these are for compatibility mode charging:

  1. Apple USB A to lightening. Everyone makes these, but the Apple ones do work the best long term.
  2. USB A to USB C adapter. There are lots flavors of this, but the third party Anker cables are nice in 1-meter, so you can always charge your phone at least with it or the laptop at a very low rate.

Adapters to carry

  1. USB C from USB-A. /this let’s any old USB cable like the two above convert to USB C. I use this for back from my old cables.

Lens Rentals and great telephoto setups

It’s been a few years since I’ve really had to shoot a big event, but next month, I do need some neat gear. Lensrentals.com (they are having a 10% discount if you order for the summer)  has been a great site for getting things like sport telephotos

TL;DR

Shooting Canon (and Sony too) is something of a trick, but you can actually get a complete Canon setup for long range outdoor shooting which looks like:

  • Canon 5DS R. 50MP and super fine detail. Many sports need speed, but the nice thing about outdoor sports like sailing is the light is good but the dinghies are far, far, far away.
  • Canon 400MM F2.8L IS II. This is a monster $10K Lense that you can rent for $400 a week, which is a great way to try things and get some wonderful shots.
  • Canon 600MM F4L IS II. This is another monster that is even longer and gives you in effect 20x zoom. Moreover, with 50MP and an effective 38MP resolution, you can zoom in and still get a great shot with effective 40x.
  • Canon Teleconverter. Assuming that it is really bright, a 1.4x teleconverter will make your 600MM, an 800MM although you need lots of light. It’s not a bad choice.
  • Wemberly Sidekick. Assuming you already have a sturdy tripod (Gitzo!) and a great ballhead (Q20), then you need the Sidekick to convert it to a smooth gimbal. The 400MM also needs a 6 inch Arca-Swiss plate to mount it.

One of the nice things about this setup is that if you already have some Canon lenses you can shoot short as well.  Also, if you want to see how well Sony A7R II does, then you can just get a Metabones converter. These things sometimes work well and sometimes don’t, but then this let’s you have a short range. body:

  • Sony A7R II. The model III is about to be announced but this is still an incredible 40MP camera.
  • Sony 85MM GM. This is the grand master 85MM for portraits. Can’t wait to try this one.
  • Sony 55MM F/1.8. This is a general purpose lense and super sharp.
  • Metabones Canon EF to Sony E. This converts the big lenses above.

Finally, for really the best quality, the Nikon setup is in many ways even cooler because the 200M Lense is incredible:

  • Nikon D810. 40MP that is at the state of the art still after quite a few years.
  • Nikon 200MM F/2 Nikkor. I still dream about how good the shots are from this Lense. The 1.4 teleconverter is a great thing to add. You can even shoot this handheld on a dinghy.
  • Nikon 400MM F/2.8. This is still an amazing Lense and goes to 600MM with the teleconverter.

The Details

So here are what I remember from previous reviews, then an update as lots has happened since 2015 for DxOMark:

  1. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm F/2G. (Image Resources, DxOMark 44) With a Nikon D810, this thing was kind of a miracle. It was crystal clear with 33p-Mp effective resolution (against a 36Mp sensor according to DxOMark you get in effect 33 megapixel of resolution) and that made a real difference. Even with a 1.4x teleconverter. The main thing is that it isn’t quite a long so was great for near shots. The main thing was the light transmission was just awesome.
  2. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm F/2.8G (DxOMark 39) with an even better 33p-MP on the D800E. I haven’t tried this, but it could be a very good choice particularly with a 1.4x teleconverter.
  3. Canon 400mm f2.8L IS II . (Image Resources, DxOMark 38, The Digital Picture) This was a monster of a lense and with a 2x teleconverter, it was a great tool to try to shoot at the Columbia River Gorge where you need to make things 2 miles away look up close and personal. DxOmark says that on a 5D2, it has a 14MP effective (compared with a 20MP sensor). I actually found the sample I had much less sharp than that. You can see the difference in quality by noting that a Canon 5DS (50MP sensor) gets only an effective 29MP with this Lense. Still it has an amazing DxOMark. And with a 1.4x teleconverter you have a 600mm Lense set.
  4. Canon 300mm F/2.8L IS II. (DxOMark 32) Even paired with a Canon 5DS R, I was surprised how much sharper the 200mm F/2G Nikkor seemed. DxOMark says this is 45MP sharp combination, but with 1.4x teleconverter it felt much softer.
  5. Canon 600mm F/4L IS. (Image Resources, DxOMark 32, The Digital Picture,). This sounds like a much lower score than the 400mm, but in fact this is all due to the transmission. It is a F/4 Lense, in fact, it is just as sharp as the 400mm, so perfect for shooting really, really long.

The very best resolution according to DxO is still the 200mm and 400mm lenses with the Nikon D810. These are still the best choices for resolution. Canon is just one step behind One interesting thing to try is the Sony A7R II which has a nice Metabones adapter, so you can use it with the Canon. Nikon is harder of course because of its autofocus design.

As a comparison, the older zoom lenses are much less sharp, for instance:

  • Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM ($1600 list in 1998) is a 10 year old lense but with a Canon 5DS R (a 50MP sensor), it manages just 14MP effective, so you are losing ? of the bits. This is fundamental optics, as a Canon 5D Mark II with it’s 21MP sensor resolves 11MP, so zoom’s aren’t great, but the older ones get way worse with today’s high resolution sensors. The later mark II version is much better resolving 24MP on a 50MP sensor
  • Canon 70-200 F/2.8L IS USM. ($2200 list in 2002, DxOMark 29) is another good example, it resolves 18MP from a 50MP Canon 5DS R, but with the Canon 5D Mark II, it resolves 14MP. The newer Mark II version of this lense is DxOMark 32, but resolves 33MP, so nearly 1.5x the resolution.

Then for ordinary shooting we have again quite a spread of lenses against different bodies. It’s interesting to see 3 of the top 5 are with the Sony A7R II, so quite different compared with the super telephotos:

  1. Sigma 85mm mm (DxOMark 48) for Nikon. This art Lense is really the best in the world.
  2. Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA Sonnar (DxOMark 48). On the Sony A7R II this gets you to 41MP.
  3. Carl Zeiss APO Sonnar T* 2/135 (DxOMark 48). This is another portrait Lense that is incredibly sharp on the Canon 5DS R.
  4. Sony FE 90mm. (DxOMark 47)
  5. Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 on Nikon D810 (DxOMark 46).
  6. Carl Zeiss Batis 25mm on Sony A7R II (DxOMark 46).

iCloud Photo Library out of sync and Mac Photos stuck on updating

Well, I don’t know how well Apple has really debugged their iCloud Photo Library but here is what I see:

  1. Even though I have several phones, iPads and MacBooks set to iCloud Photo Library, they all show different versions of files store on top.
  2. When you get to a particular system, for instance my main Mac, it will hang on the “updating” screen as it tries to figure out what is going on in the cloud.

This is normally after I do some heavy editing and removing of files, so I think the synchronization is really busted. There is a post that suggests deleted the com.apple.cloudphotos.d directory but this doesn’t seem to work. The best fix seems to be to just delete the entire library in your Pictures/Photo Library. Note that at least with Mac Sierra, this is three steps:

  • Go to your home directory and delete Pictures/Photo Library
  • Start Mac Photos and it will say it can’t find it and ask if you want to Create Other
  • Close Mac Photos and restart it, so it sees this new library and the “System Library’

As an aside, this is yet another reminder that you shouldn’t trust tools like iCloud or even Adobe Lightroom, backup to the regular files system early and often because you definitely do not want your photos trapped in someones database. Make sure to set Mac Photos to not copy photos into its library otherwise this will happen and it is really hard to recover.

Argh Photos confused about iCloud Photo Library size

We’ve had this bug on several Macs so far, but the symptoms are, the Mac refuses to synchronize up to iCloud, it says you need gobs and gobs of space, but when you look at the photos, there are not nearly that many .

Even if you completely deleted everything out of Photos and get rid of all the Recently deleted, you still have a problem.

This seems to be a bug in Photos, if you look at Pictures/Photo Library you will see a massive file, I’ve seen one that takes up 40GB, but there is literally nothing in Photos.

The fix is:

  1. Backup all your photos somewhere by exporting them.
  2. Close Photos
  3. Go to Finder and manually delete Pictures/Photo Library
  4. Restart Photos and it will say it can’t find the Photo Library and click on Create New
  5. Exit Photos (because it is now confused about this new library being the special System Library)
  6. Restart Photos and then go to Preferences/iCloud Photo Library and you can now restart and the sync begins again.

 

Using a Windows 10 and SurfaceBook with Performance Base…The first week

Well, for a variety of reasons, I’m using the Windows 10 and SurfaceBook with Performance Base (what a name?!). Anyway, here are the key learnings:

  1. The gooseneck thing is a little weird to use in actual practice. It doesn’t fold down flat and you want move the screen all the way back.
  2. I’m an idiot and finding the power button was really confusing. I kept pressing keys on the keyboard before finally realizing the power is a nearly invisible button at the top.
  3. The brightness is the same way, I’m sure there is a button for it, but it isn’t anything on the keyboard. I suspect it is those two buttons I never touch at the top of the screen.
  4. The power supply is a strange connector. Sigh, I’ve actually gotten used to USB C charging everything (how quickly things change and love the way my Nexus 5 and and MacBook Pro 2016 can share a charger).
  5. Extra chargers by the way are hard to figure out. But it looks like there are several 65 watt power supplies out there. Microsoft makes one for $99 but $30 for a clone sounds way better.
  6. The Pen I haven’t used yet, but there is no place to store it, It is nice it hooks to the tablet magnetically, but otherwise I’m not sure how to do it.
  7. Detaching the tablet isn’t obvious at all. There is a button as it turns out on the keyboard, but it is hard to figure out where it.
  8. The fit and finish…well, let’s say I’ve gotten use to the tight tolerances of MacBook Pros. The keyboard seems to rattle a bit.
  9. The coolest feature (for developers) is buried though, turn on the Developer Mode and then type in bash and you get a Ubuntu subsytem. You can apt-get to your hearts content. Wow, this is sort of like having a Unix development environment in Windows.
  10. The search thing actually is useful which is great because I remain really confused about where settings live.
  11. The Hello face recognition is cool, but does take setup.

Quick guide to making your Mac safe

Well now that we don’t have privacy, here’s a quick review of what to do to harden your Mac:

  1. Install 1Password using Dropbox because it’s a pain to remember all the passwords.
  2. Turn on System Preferences/Security & Privacy/FileVault. This encrypts your hard disk, so in evil hands, they at least need your password.
  3. Turn on System Preferences/Security & Privacy/Firewall. This keeps some of the bad things out
  4. Download and install Sophos for Home a free antivirus package
  5. Download and install Adguard to keep ads out. You can uninstall individual browser pieces, but if you do not want a system level thing, then use uBlock Origins.
  6. Download and install DNSCrypt to make your DNS queries private
  7. Download and install Private Internet Access
  8. Make Startpage your search engine on your browser to mask your queries

From Vi to Atom Vim-Mode

OK, I admit it I mainly use Vi for editing mainly because it is just so fast to edit things from the keyboard. You don’t ever need to leave the keyboard when moving around. It is arcane and terrible yet, I actually got running (thanks syntactic) an coding environment that let’s you lint and then run through javascript and python code.

But there has to be something newer, I’ve tried sublime and I’ve tried slickedit, but I was looking for something more new age. What the heck, I saw Dean ask on Facebook and atom came up quite a lot, so now I’m trying to figure out how to use it. First some great things:

  1. Type atom foo.txt actually works from the command line. Seems like a small thing, but nice to CMD-W and then get back to the terminal window. Turns out that like Emacs and other modeless editors, Atom does have some big keys like CTRL-SHIFT-W to select a word, so eventually I’ll memorize those instead of yW 🙂
  2. There is a vim mode so I can still use my favorite keys, although you still can’t those fancy g/test/s//foo/g commands at least I haven’t found out how. I normally do this way more than graphical edits.
  3. They have a zillion packages and a nice apm modeled after npm to manage it.

Unifi Tips and Tricks

I’ve got now five homes where I’m helping folks run their networks. Unifi is pretty awesome because you can configure the AP at home and then take it to someone and it is completely configured for them. It is so unlikely that a regular human can figure out the access point systems, so it is better to preconfigure and then wrap it up.

The UniFi software is pretty weird and hard to figure out. Here are the tips:

  1. You download a UniFi console and it becomes the center. All Access points connect to a single computer. They will operate on their own, but they are linked to that computer. Even if this is just a laptop, the good news is that you can configure and if they can’t find that console they just keep running.
  2. The UniFi console is actually an application that runs on socket 8443, so you use a web browser (Chrome seems to work best) to use it. So when you start, you get a small little box that says, launch browser
  3. The application itself is pretty confusing. The upper right has the “Site” id. The idea is that each site has a different layout.
  4. You need to click on the upper right click the + sign and then you create one. Deleting one is really confusing because there is no delete button instead when you go to a Site, you click on the setting icon on the lower left as a gear icon and then you will see delete at the bottom.
  5. Finally within each site, you can setup a network group. You can attach any number of Wifi networks against any site. So for instance, if you have a work network set and a home network set then you can have multiple sites with just work, just home or both.
  6. Finally the APs themselves are linux boxes, they have an ssh port and have a single password set against them. You need to store this in 1Password or somewhere because that is how you get in to reprovision the APs.
  7. And when you want to use another laptop, you need to make sure that you have done a backup which creates a INF file and you can use that to restore the whole setup.

Ad Blockers for Safari

Well with privacy always under assault, besides a VPN, you need an Adblocker and tracking masker. Here are some choices:

  1. Ublock Origins. This isn’t regular Ublock (which isn’t developed anymore), but a new fork that has a Safari build.
  2. Adguard is another one which gets good user reviews

Then the ones that are questionable as they leak information:

  1. Ghostery. They sell your information apparently
  2. Adblock Plus. The one that is the most popular but they let ads through as it’s their business model.

Another question is what about tracking blockers. Well things like Ghostery seem superfluous if you have an Adblock.

Then if you are a power geek, installed JS Blocker, then you get to block specific chunks of Javascript.