Archive for May, 2015

Screen Rot

Spotted this at the local credit union branch:

Credit Union signature pad - LCD screen rot

Credit Union signature pad – LCD screen rot

There’s no obvious mechanical damage at the center of the orange blotch, so it must be something internal to the LCD panel going bad. The fading along the left edge might be part of the same QC glitch.

Confidence-inspiring, this is not, even though it has nothing to do with the credit union itself…

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Barred Owl on the Dutchess Rail Trail

Just south of Lake Walton on the Dutchess Rail Trail, I encountered a barred owl with wings spread around something yummy in its talons (clicky for more dots):

MAH00389-0548 - Barred Owl on DCRT - 1

MAH00389-0548 – Barred Owl on DCRT – 1

The owl acquired weapons lock on me, just in case I might try to steal its fresh-killed meal:

MAH00389-0548 - Barred Owl on DCRT - 2

MAH00389-0548 – Barred Owl on DCRT – 2

My neck doesn’t turn nearly that far, so I lost the staring contest:

MAH00389-0548 - Barred Owl on DCRT - 3

MAH00389-0548 – Barred Owl on DCRT – 3

Owls being good folks to have around, we wish ’em well: may they raise many owlets!

The pictures were extracted from the Sony HDR-AS30V helmet camera with this incantation:

avconv -ss 00:05:30 -i /mnt/video/2015-05-15/MAH00389.MP4 -t 20 -f image2 -q 1 Image-%04d.jpg

The -q 1 parameter should produce an image with the same dots as the original, but that really doesn’t mean much in the face of the camera’s relentless video compression.

Here’s a dot-for-dot crop (at 100% JPEG quality = uncompressed) showing the tradeoff between wide field-of-view, detail, and compression:

MAH00389-0548 - Barred Owl on DCRT - 2 - detail

MAH00389-0548 – Barred Owl on DCRT – 2 – detail

Makes me appreciate my eyesight: I spotted that owl when it covered just a few image pixels. Of course, at first I thought somebody dropped a hoodie on the trail, then maybe it was a chunk of debris, so I eased off the asphalt onto the gravel Just In Case.

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Michelin Pilot City Tire Bead-Carcass Joint Failure

A year or so ago, I picked up a Michelin Pilot City tire (700x32C) to see how they compare with the twice-as-expensive Schwalbe Marathons we’ve been using on the Tour Easy recumbents.

Having replaced a worn-out Marathon last summer, this was unexpected:

Michelin Pilot City Protek tire - blown bead

Michelin Pilot City Protek tire – blown bead

I’d blame that failure on overpressure, but I’ve been running the back tires around 70 psi, well inside their 87 psi (that’s a nice, round 6 bar) sidewall rating.

Being able to swap a back tire in the Basement Laboratory Repair Facility made up for a lot…

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Road Conditions: Rt 376 at Walker

Some years back, NYSDOT resurfaced Rt 376 by laying an inch of asphalt atop the crumbling surface, but the underlayer continues to deteriorate and the top coat delaminates.

The situation at Westview Terrace, just south of Red Oaks Mill (clicky for more dots):

Delaminated Asphalt - Rt 376 at Westview Terrace

Delaminated Asphalt – Rt 376 at Westview Terrace

The patch just to my right is a hand-tamped cold patch job, which obviously isn’t sufficient to repair the damage.

Locator:

Delaminated Asphalt - Rt 376 at Westview Terrace - map

Delaminated Asphalt – Rt 376 at Westview Terrace – map

We’ve been told that NYSDOT no longer does proactive maintenance: until somebody calls in a problem, it’s not their problem. I’m starting to document problems here as part of the record.

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Squirrel Pup Rescue

We recently watched a gray squirrel drag a completely limp and unresponsive companion across the driveway, stopping every few yards to rest. We often see pairs of squirrels frisking / chasing / tussling in the yard, but this was something new.

After 100 feet of dragging, with pauses every few yards, the squirrel had hauled her companion to the fence at the far side of the yard. I leaped to the conclusion that the limp squirrel was dead:

Mother squirrel and pup - 1

Mother squirrel and pup – 1

But, after perhaps a minute, the “dead” squirrel gradually awoke and both critters slowly clambered up the fence. The squirrel on the right had been doing the dragging and is unquestionably female, the one on the left is much smaller and likely a new pup:

Mother squirrel and pup - 2

Mother squirrel and pup – 2

So apparently the mother squirrel had hauled one of her pups away from something. Perhaps it was stunned after falling out of a tree or the sole survivor of a hawk attack? We’ll never know The Rest of The Story.

Forgive the anthropomorphism, but if this isn’t motherly love & comfort, then give me another word for it:

Mother squirrel and pup - 3

Mother squirrel and pup – 3

Taken through two layers of wavy 1955 window glass with the Sony DSC-H5.

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Action Camera Video Compression vs. License Plates

Having recently mounted a Cycliq Fly6 rear-facing camera (more about this later) on my Tour Easy’s seat, I had high hopes it might produce more legible images than the Sony HDR-AS30V helmet camera. Although these still images have been compressed a bit, that doesn’t affect the conclusions; the video files aren’t any more readable.

The Fly6 shows where the driver laid on the horn:

Rt 376 at Cedar Valley - 2015-05-22 13:34 - Seat - 1

Rt 376 at Cedar Valley – 2015-05-22 13:34 – Seat – 1

The next two come from the Sony HDR-AS30V helmet camera:

We couldn’t hear what the passenger said above the horn, but it didn’t sound friendly:

Rt 376 at Cedar Valley - 2015-05-22 13:34 - Helmet - 1

Rt 376 at Cedar Valley – 2015-05-22 13:34 – Helmet – 1

However, the driver gave us about as much clearance as can reasonably be expected with oncoming traffic:

Rt 376 at Cedar Valley - 2015-05-22 13:34 - Helmet - 2

Rt 376 at Cedar Valley – 2015-05-22 13:34 – Helmet – 2

Traffic generally hits the 40 mph = 60 ft/s speed limit on that curve and we’re rolling at 10 mph =  15 ft/s, so the relative motion might be upwards of 45 ft/s. The Fly6 runs at 30 frame/s = 1.5 ft and the AS30V at 60 frame/s = 0.75 ft. Although the exposure time is much shorter than the frame time, you can see plenty of motion blur in all the images.

The Fly 6 captures 1280×720 video @ 30 frame/s with variable bit rate compression, saving a separate file every 10 minutes on the dot. The files range from 300 MB to 600 MB, more or less.

The AS30V captures 1920×1080 @ 60 frame/s with constant bit rate compression, plopping a 4 GB file every 22 minutes and 43 seconds.

The Fly6 seems to preserve more image detail than the AS30V, but it’s probably a factor of the native resolution and compression method. The cameras provide absolutely no control over any image functions or settings; they do what they do and you get what you get.

The video compression algorithms seem overwhelmed by the number of pixels that change from frame to frame: asphalt and leaves generally have blocky compression artifacts, particularly in low light, and license plate text generally gets compressed into a blur.

When the camera remains stationary and the image doesn’t change, the compression artifacts largely disappear and the images become crisp and beautiful. Unfortunately, that’s not generally the situation while we’re riding.

I want to apply “low resolution OK here” masks to parts of the frame, leaving more bits for the critical parts. Perhaps applying thin tape to the top third of the frame would help?

Meanwhile, back on the road, nearly all drivers understand the rules and act accordingly; this was a rare occurrence.

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Tour Easy: Cracked Fork Autopsy

A look inside the cracked fork lug from my Tour Easy shows that it really did fracture at the top of the fork blade:

Tour Easy - cracked fork - interior flash

Tour Easy – cracked fork – interior flash

Minus the flash, plus contrast enhancement:

Tour Easy - cracked fork - interior

Tour Easy – cracked fork – interior

Looks rather grotendous in there, doesn’t it? Yeah, show me the interior of your fork…

The front is at the top, blade on the left and crown on the right. The little shiny rectangle at 1 o’clock on the crown was probably the last fragment holding the blade in place.

Finished!

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