Saturday, February 21, 2015

Photo Tweaks for Sony Cameras

Sony A6000, A5100 and A5000 cameras are technically as perfect as cameras can be, except the colors out of the camera - yellowish, cold and soft.



It is very easy to do it in Lightroom. First, get the correct color profiles from here. For Windows 8, unzip the files into this folder: C:\Users\Mary\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\CameraRaw\CameraProfiles. Replace "Mary" with your user name. Restart Lightroom. Apply the new profiles like this:

To sharpen up the photos, apply "Detail" and "Lens Corrections" like this:

That's it.

I included four color profiles in the package for all the aforementioned three Sony cameras:
  1. 70D Standard: colors look like Canon 70D's.
  2. 7D Dark: most close to Sony and Capture One.
  3. EM5: my favorite warm and reddish Olympus colors, above photos used this profile.
  4. 5D2: quite close to 70D but less red overcast.
I tried MANY other profiles, but these are the only ones I could accept.

Samples using these profiles in above order:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

USB Tether BSOD and Fix

The Symptom:
  • Connect my Verizon LG G2 to my Miix 2 8 and enable USB tether;
  • Sleep Miix 2 8;
  • Wake up Miix 2 8, then unplug LG G2 - BSOD.
The Fix: downgrade the LGE AndroidNet for VZW NDIS Ethernet Adapter Driver from to

My 32-bit Windows computers have been suffering from BSOD or black screen caused by phones' USB drivers since Windows XP. While other phone USB drivers (such as USB serial port and ADB) crashes randomly, this NDIS driver crash is totally predictable and repeatable. In hope of fixing those random freezes,  I also went ahead and downgraded the following USB drivers as well:
I did not try the, because has been working perfectly. I'll keep an eye on other phones such as Samsung, now I know where to look for a fix.

BTW, the Tehtering Widget by ACM64 is very handy. Touch it to turn it on first, afterwards whenever you plug the phone to your computer, USB tether is activated automatically.

For Bluetooth tether, the Bluetooth Tethering On Off by nicumaru works well on LG G2.

In a connected world, it is good to have a dependable phone for all my devices, offering all methods - WiFi, USB or Bluetooth, wired or wirelessly.

[update] After few days, my Miix still crashed randomly by the LGE drivers. I disabled all the LGE NDIS, MODEM and Serial drivers and I have been using PDAnet (FoxFi) instead. So far so good.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Snoring? I have an easy and simple solution

And it cost only $5 dollars, found in many stores.

Many men and women start snoring at 35 or so. Many of them found their mouths dry in the morning; a good jaw strap can keep the mouth closed and hence reduce or even stop snoring and apnea. Just do a search on "snore jaw strap":

There are many jaw straps sold on Amazon, but, according to many real reviewers, they cannot hold well and they fall off during sleep. They look like girls headbands, so I see no point to waste money and time on these "premium" headbands that I can find in any local stores for about $5. I might find one that actually works, I said to myself.

After some experiments with different types of headbands, this Scunci 39535-A turned out to be the perfect for this purpose, at least for my average head! It is comfortable and it stays on its position through out the entire sleep. Watch this video for details:

Give it a try, you have nothing to lose.

BTW, Amazon is full of fake reviews, just click on a reviewer and see all his/er reviews.

PS: Jaw strap is not clinically proven for curing snoring. The point of this article: don't be fooled by Amazon fake 5 stars, try it for few dollars first. Read the review by Honest Review.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Live with just 2GB RAM

I've been using my Miix 2 8 for a year now, daily, and it is my only computer. It is tiny but a power horse always with me. There was a single limit that had been annoying me though: the 2GB RAM. Some applications, mainly Lightroom and PowerDirector for photo and video, can not get enough memory from Windows 8.1 and they often interrupt their work in shortage of memory.

To work around this limit, I usually exit these programs after I edited all the photos and videos. This allows them to release all the memory they occupied for the editing work. Then I start them again to do the final conversion and rendering. Most of the time this trick works and they finish their jobs without interruption.

Finally, I found out how to let applications get whatever the amount of memory they need:
  • Go to Start, Apps, Windows System. Right click on "Command Prompt" and "Run as Administrator".
  • Type in "bcdedit /set IncreaseUserVa 3072". Return and reboot.

That's it! No more any memory problem and now everything runs smoother. If any trouble, you can revert this mod by typing "bcdedit /deletevalue IncreaseUserVa".

To verify these changes, type "bcdedit" and you will see:

So, 2GB is not the limit but 32-bit Windows by default will not allow enough memory to be allocated to some memory-eater applications such as AutoCad and FireFox etc. Now feel free to buy those $99 Windows 8.1 tablets and don't be scared away by their 2GB or 1GB RAM!

In a nutshell: by default, 32-bit Windows reserves 2GB of the precious 4GB address space for kernel (mainly drivers), leaving only 2GB for applications. Now applications such as Lightroom and Firefox are happy with 3GB.

[update] Now I use 2560 instead of 3072, because I encountered "Not enough space" error when I compile NDK apps in Cygwin.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Zoom without a zoom lens?

Yes you can with a Sony A5100 or A5000 camera.

Fast zoom lenses are expensive and bulky, killing the whole point of a compact digital camera. A nifty-fifty lens like the Sony 35mm f1.8 is great for still photos, because you can easily crop to do post zoom. For video, however, post zooming means quality loss.

Fortunately, almost all mirror-less cameras now can do loss-less zoom for video and Sony is the best on this regard. With an Sony A5100 (or A5000), you may use its zoom rocker to zoom losslessly and continuously up to 2x. For example, with the 35mm lens, you may zoom from 35mm to 70mm as you see in this video:

A6000 does not have a zoom rocker, therefore you cannot zoom a prime (non-zoom) lens. You still can zoom any zoom lenses though, for example, you can make the 16-50mm kit lens become a true 16-100mm.

The 35mm lens features OSS (optical steady shoot), ideal for video. Panasonic's 25mm f1.4 does not have OIS (optical image stabilizer), hence not suitable for video and why I jumped the wagon.

Although such zooming seems like digital zoom, it is not. Video does not use all the pixels of the sensor, so this 2x cropping does not lose any resolution. Noise might be higher though, due to less condensation of pixels.

ThinOptics reading glasses - a gift idea

Chinese new year is coming and this is a gift idea for your parents - the ThinOptics reading glasses.

If a nearby RadioShack is closing the store, you may get 25-50% off from $24. It is well worth of owning except two problems:

1) It is not so secure on your nose - it may fall off at anytime before any symptoms.

2) It is not suitable for laptops. To put it on your nose, the glasses must face down. The angle is good for phones, tablets and books but not comfortable for laptop screens - you must raise your head and then look down.

Watch this video for details: