Sunday, 17 October 2010

Quote for later

'The data storage model is clean, simple, and easy to learn, as is the programming model. SimpleDB excels at storing semi-structured data where the items (rows) are similar but not necessarily identical to each other."

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Computer rental - £0.20 per day!

Another novel solution to running Windows applications when you are primarily Mac based - simply borrow someone else's computer. Only this computer was located in America, and I was in the UK.

The solution lies in using Amazon's suite of web services, appropriately enough called "Amazon Web Services". By loosely following this guide, I was able to boot a Windows 2008 server, remotely connect to it using CoRD, carry out the work I needed to do and then return the server resources to the cloud, for others to make use of.

A quick calculation suggests that typical running costs could be as low as 20p a day, or one pound a week, and I have no extra hardware to look after. A very cost effective solution for small jobs, or one-off tasks.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

DIY easel

Just found this - no time or space or tools to make one at the moment, but worth a try I think.

ISO standards for Museum Imaging

Still to read this in full, so will comment on it more later.....

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Photographic scales

Quite often, I need to use a scale in an image. I have a few that I have designed myself, but I always like to know what is out there, so here are my "notes to self" on the subject:

I found the best results were to be had on archaeological suppliers websites, and also, which shouldn't really have come as a surprise, forensic scene of crime websites.

I particularly like these engraved plastic scales
And there are also some self-adhesive scales available too
These scales are mostly for archaeological use
Here is a blog post to some simple scales
And here is another post to a nice scale, complete with instructions for perspective correction

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Photographing bugs.....

Strobis carries an article today about Charles Krebs and his microphotography - nice to see incredible results coming from modest equipment. Note the use of focus stacking software in the later part of the clip.
Also, his own website is at:

with loads of information.
And here's my bug photos:

Fimomouldensis goggleyeyedun
Calymene blumenbachii - taken with focus stacking software - not bad for a first attempt!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Really nice website

One of the privileged parts of my work is being allowed to mark accession numbers or inventory numbers onto historic objects. The actual process is not really a part of this post,but the process is carefully designed to cause minimal disruption to the object, and in any sizeable collection is virtually essential to know exactly which axehead, fossil shell or teacup you are looking at.

For all but the tiniest object, I prefer to use a traditional "dip" or "stylus" pen for the ink layer. They're easy to get hold of, inexpensive, and the nibs, being removable are easy to clean (the ink contains a shellac binder which tends to clog if allowed to dry).

I have a bit of a thing for nice pens, pencils and paper, so thought I would share this little website with you. It does everthing that you could ask of a website - tells me about the products, what they are for, how they are used and where I can get hold of them.

A well thought out, simple and informative web site. I've just bought some of their nibs, so I will try to do a sequence of photos demonstrating how I use them the next chance I have.
Update: The DP6H nib is winning for inventory marking at the moment. I'm also finding that Methanol is a good solvent for the ink at the end of the session, and it's not quite so unpleasant to handle as the acetone either....

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Mac to Windows, and back

Anyone who has worked with me for more than a few hours will know that I am very much a dyed-in-the-wool Mac user. Suffice to say that I've been using Macs since before they were trendy, and I still remember when the trademark Apple logo was filled with multicoloured stripes.

Since then a lot has changed, and there are now many more Mac users than there used to be, but it is still a fact of life that much of the world still runs Windows. Until now I have managed to get along fine, either using Mac equivalents of particular pieces of software, or by borrowing a PC here and there. This time however, it was much easier to have access to my own copy of Windows where I could call the shots on what software was running. I needed to go computer shopping....

What PC to buy? Well, there are lots of makes out there, and of course, Macs now run on Intel processors as well - which means that they can run Windows. And for those that don't follow the world of computers as closely as I do, there is no hacking, cracking or patching involved - it's an Apple supported modification, and is really thoroughly documented on their website.

Eventually I had narrowed it down to two options. Either buy a cheap, kronky second hand PC and deal with all the problems that would come with it, or spend more money and get a Mac which I would then install Windows on as well. To cut a long story short, the iMac arrived this morning.

I needed a brand new copy of Windows so I popped out to get this, downloaded the documentation and set to work with the Bootcamp software. All in all a very painless process and a couple of hours later I had a fully functioning dual-boot machine which lets me select which OS I want to use with just the press of a key at startup.

So I now have the best of both worlds - I can run pretty much any software that I need, and I can choose the working platform that is most comfortable and effective. If I'm doing any training work, then the client can choose the one they feel most comfortable with. I'm not going to say anything about the merits of either system, except that I won't be giving up MacOS just yet....

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Stereophotographs - no special goggles needed

Neat little tutorial shows taking stereoimages of small specimens
with simple equipment.

Stereo-postcards, anyone?

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Heads up.... Or down?

A quick heads up to promote this year's fossil festival at Lyme Regis
- have a look at their website at


Wednesday, 3 March 2010