Look what we made!

For the interest of anyone stalking me from afar – Number 1 – that’s weird, reach out on facebook and say hi! and Number 2 – Elizabeth and I had a daughter named Avery in August. She’s amazing and we love her a lot. A very large amount even.

Festool Domino DF500

So.. I drooled over this for a long time, always thinking it was too much for me and my use. But I finally got one.. and it’s amazing.

In my obsession over them, I found they essentially never show up secondhand – that’s how useful they are. I got the work stop attachment too, which I haven’t seen much on youtube, but it’s also great.

Another thing that showed up, is that there are actually two versions of the joiner – an older one with metal alignment pins, and a newer one with plastic ones – and a few other differences too.

Systainers are great, the documentation is amazing.. I just wish it wasn’t quite so expensive – but buy once, cry once, right?

How can I use a Canopus ADVC-100 in 2020 with my OSX Catalina?


Ok, how about with Mojave?

Again, don’t.

But I already own it! and I have a Mac with firewire. I should be good to go for finally converting all those old tapes right? Hard drives are cheap now! I could copy Michael Lynch!


And here’s why – VCR tapes are made for CRT TVs. This means that they’ve never been too precious about timebase, because it hasn’t mattered. Unterzuber here has a great page about timebase and why it’s important to get a good one for for video conversion.. but I’ll skip all that and say this – devices like the ADVC-100 really needed one for knowing where and when each frame begins and ends, because they use that to create IEEE 1394 digital video frames – if the timebase is bad, the audio stutters, frames drop and all sorts of bad happens.

I got my ADVC-100 probably 15 years ago, work was getting rid of a bunch of them. They were originally USD$199 new, because digital video, firewire and conversion is hard and people should pay for it. I only ever used it for capturing from my now deceased DVD-H40A, one of the first DVD players with a hard drive recorder built in, and which output a perfect timebase signal, so it was never an issue.

But I’m trying to convert some videos from tapes for family, and oo boy is it not liking it. I didn’t want to pay upwards of $100-150 for some of the retail device that might not work – but I came across this video from a channel I trust and enjoy, Technology Connections – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZC5Zr3NC2PY

Again, skipping to the conclusion – I bought a composite to HDMI converter, and then a HDMI capture device for $15 each from eBay, so $30 all up, and with the exception of NTSC443, it’s perfect.

The ADVC-100 was an amazing device for its time, but its time is over. Sorry.

20 years of theducks.org

On this day, 20 years ago, I signed up with Internic for theducks.org. I paid AUD$110 for 2 years of registration. In the interceding 20 years, I’ve had to explain many times why my email address is @theducks.org – including once to the Federal Court as part of an anti-spam prosecution. These days I now mostly give away @alexdawson.net as my email address, but I still think theducks.org is a fun domain to have.

Reduce, reuse, repair, recycle

I’ve had one of those couple of weeks where everything seems to be breaking or there’s lots of projects to do. Some of the projects I’ve been working on..

  1. Receive MacBook Pro from EG for recycling – determined battery had swollen and failed, replace with battery from same model with dead logic board received from EB. Reformat system.. logic board fails (again, I previously reflowed with heat gun in 2017). Recycle maybe? Or try repair again? :D
  2. Upgrade Mac Mini SSD for OC (512GB -> 2TB) – pre-stage previous day, CCC clone to new drive, open and replace. All works.
  3. Open and re-terminate Apple PSU cable (number 9 I think?) for AS
  4. Purchase RTX2060, remove GTX970 from Main PC, put into Media PC
  5. Spend about an hour getting Media PC to work again – needed to put graphics card power cables back into PSU, route them to case, plug in card, troubleshoot no graphics card found, find card wasn’t perfectly seating due to horizontal SATA port fouling, move to second PCIe slot
  6. Go to install RTX2060 in Main PC case. Find it doesn’t fit, disassemble case a bit to drill out rivets holding in unnecessary drive slots, find slots also spot welded in. Decide that while angle grinder would fix that, I should remove motherboard, and if I’m going to do that, I may as well put it in a new case (existing case is circa 2006, owes us nothing). Find new case, install in new case, troubleshoot faulty RAM, remove RAM
  7. Repair digital thermometer – resolder probe wires to PCB and replace battery. All works
  8. Repair Strong DTV PVR for MP – no HDD showing in UI. Remove HDD and test – all working. Run with case open – drive spins up. Inspect PCB, remove swollen capacitors, replace – all working now. Yay!
  9. Repair Dyson handheld vac head – motor not running. Disassemble head, remove dust, re-tension belt – all works
  10. Found dead Apple Bluetooth keyboard in e-waste – repair ongoing – leaked battery has welded button plug in
  11. Replace MacBook Pro Retina battery for MC – battery to be delivered today. Repair soon.

Oh yeah, we moved back to Australia

Since it isn’t specifically stated here – for those following from afar, we moved back to Australia.

In late 2016.

Canada was great, we had some amazing experiences and made some awesome friends, but housing was too expensive and we missed our families and friends here. Any one of those wouldn’t have done it, but the combination meant it wasn’t what was right for us, for now. But we are and remain proud Canadian citizens – we hold a Canada Day party every year as a winter catch up, and you never know what the future holds. We moved to Canada on a two year plan, and since I was always bad at maths, we stayed for 7. We’re back in Perth on a 10 year plan (almost 2 years into it!) so we’ll see what happens next. We bought a nice house, close to friends and family, and we’re enjoying it so far.

How many table saw manufacturers are there in the world?

Not many.

VonHaus 1800W

ParkerBrand PTS-250

Evolution FURY5-S

Lumberjack TS254SL

Scheppach HS100S

Ozito TSF-1121

Einhell TC-TS 2025

LZHZXY M1H-ZP2-255B FL1517 (No, I’m not kidding..)

Atika T 250 ECO-2

Panzer M1H-ZP2-250

These saws all seem to be varients of the Huafeng M1H-ZP2-250

Having owned the Ozito one.. they’re not terrible. My major complaint is the miter slot not being 3/4 inch width – and the shortness of the rip fence ruler – The Evolution and ParkerBrand ones have the longest, so they would probably be my choice.

Dear real estate agents, websites and sellers of Perth..

So, I finally bought a house, after starting to look in 2004 ;)

In fairness – life plans etc meant buying one earlier wasn’t the right move.

But I have some rants about the process so far.

  • Include floorplans, holy hell. If your real estate agent doesn’t include creating a floorplan and having it on your listing – fire them. I’m sure we skipped over many suitable properties because they didn’t have floorplans. It’s a buyers market – make it easy for us to understand what we’re getting.
  • Why the hell does one of Australia’s leading property sites include “under offer” properties in search results? I want to buy houses for sale, not houses that aren’t. Yes, agents might like to think their brand is valuable to buyers and that you will call them and say “oh, have you got another like that?”, and hey presto, the agent gets a lead – and I’m sure that happens, but it’s a big data world. We have sites, not affiliated with you, with specifications and pictures of the houses for sale. Your brand is of limited value.
  • Talking to a friend who sold a house recently, some agents apparently don’t do open homes, they just want it by appointment, because it “feels more exclusive”. The last thing I want to do is become a lead for you, and I want to know how much competition there is for a property. We didn’t look at any properties by appointment.
  • If your block can be subdivided, but isn’t – you don’t get to ask for the same amount as it would be if it had been subdivided. Especially in Perth’s very weak market, we saw a surprising number of properties for sale with inclusion of the standardly disclaimed “subject to council approval” subdivison potential. We did the sums on a couple of them, and we’d make maybe $50K, on a outlay and risk of around $950K. “But I need to make profit too!” .. yes, that’s the capital growth you got from land banking for 15 years.
  • Likewise, if you are subdividing and building units – don’t get greedy. We walked away from one of the first places we looked at because they had subdivided into three properties, then built to maximum dimensions – and there wasn’t even space for a clothes line outside! We had a look at a $569K 4 bedroom+theatre new construction property – all the rooms were TINY. 3 and a theatre may have got our interest.
  • Design is always an individual choice, and when developing you have a budget – but upper cabinets in a kitchen are necessary, as are non-laminex counter tops. If your kitchen design requires putting the fridge outside of the main kitchen area – build a wall around it so it doesn’t look like it.
  • Photos – please have photos of the inside of the house. Good photos, without using wacky perspective to make stuff seem bigger than it is. Well lit, in focus. Furnished or unfurnished doesn’t matter too much.. but NOT 3D rendered furniture! This seems to be an up and coming trend.. I hope it stops.

But we’d just as soon be back in time, for all the chance you’d change your mind..

Nikon AW130 Mini-review

I recently went on a once in a lifetime trip to St Maarten.. it was pretty awesome. I had done some pre-scouting online, and worked out that my primary photographic objective was planes at SXM (you’ll know when you see it..), but that there were also some really cool beaches there, so I figured now was as good time as any to get a water-resistant digital camera, and that since I would be taking photos of planes with good lighting at close range, there would be no need to take my DSLR and piles of L-Series lenses.

Also on my wishlist for a waterproof camera were Geotagging from GPS and wifi connectivity. All of these led me to the new Nikon AW130. My local camera store had one, and I picked it up for C$414 (with taxes included). Not super cheap, but affordable still. I also took along my iPhone 6, but not for underwater use, perhaps obviously.

I took about 500 photos with it, but before I get effusive about its photos, let’s break down what I don’t like about it:

  • No ISO, Aperture or Shutter speed settings
  • Flash Auto, Flash Off – no Flash Mandatory
  • Built in image sharpening
  • Image dynamic range sucks compared to iPhone 6 (which is an astonishingly good camera..)
  • Falls victim to megapixel myth – so much noise reduction in the sensor that it may as well have been half the resolution
  • Only does 4:3 photos – c’mon, it’s 2015
  • UI issues a-plenty with geo-tagging – as soon as it gets wet, every single freaking time, it asks if you want to use the last GPS location for geotagging, or to just leave it blank. I feel that should be a setting you can set and forget. Turning on or off GPS tagging is NOT obvious – I would think a “geotag images – yes or no” option would be good – but no, you need to turn “Record location track” on to enable geotagging, AND to enable the GPS location display – ie, unless you turn this on, the GPS doesn’t run. There’s also no satellite diagnostics or status.
  • It also has a confusing “shake” UI for single handed underwater use.. not sure how I feel about it. It looks like you can turn it on/off.. but shaking it when it is off also has a UI response, so.. I don’t know what it means.
  • WIFI – creates a network, doesn’t join one, so you can’t photograph and upload to facebook or flickr directly. When you connect your mobile device to it, and pull photos off (only photos – can’t download videos from it), it only pulls them off at low resolution, not full resolution.

But on the plus side – it works nicely underwater, and takes pretty good photos, limitations notwithstanding. I don’t regret buying it, and it was great to have it with us for the trip. It’s just.. a pretty shitty UI. But I’m spoilt by iOS.

Check out the photos from our trip – some are from the iPhone, and some from the Nikon.

St Maarten 2015

As another observation, it’s also really weird holding a brand new piece of digital equipment.. and jumping into the ocean with it.