crash

All posts tagged crash

My X100S crapped out! What a disappointment. I bought it in May of last year from B&H. Of course it’s out of warranty. Every few frames the camera crashes with a white screen of death. The only way to get it to work or turn off is to remove the battery. I spent $1300 for about 5000 shots taken; that’s $0.26 per shot. I really can’t afford it. To make things worse, B&H is closed until the 7th. I was really stupid not to buy an extended warranty on something that expensive.

X100S
I hope it can be fixed because the image quality is exceptional. The only thing I can do is call Fuji in New Jersey and hope they can help me. I heard on the Range Finder Forum that they are nice people. Let’s hope. I will need this camera very soon on my sailing adventure for documentary photography. I wish it was a bit more rugged. I know, they don’t all do this, though reliability problems are known.. It is a camera you want to take everywhere, and it just doesn’t seem to be strong enough.

I am now selling my Nikon D2X. It is an excellent camera, but too big and heavy to carry around for candid shots. If I still worked for a newspaper I’d keep it. My style of photography requires small, discreet and quiet cameras. So I am now looking at the Olympus OM-D E-M5. It isn’t the latest and that’s fine with me, I like the discounted price. I hope the X100S remains my main camera. You just can’t beat the quality of the images. The E-M5 however is weather-sealed, which can really be an asset on a sailboat! Its sensor is a micro-4/3 format, smaller than the Fuji’s APS-C. I have browsed Flickr looking for images taken with the OM-D… They are really good. Not quite as good as what I get with my X100S, but it is sometimes hard to tell the difference. For my type of photography, it doesn’t matter much. I focus on composition and emotions, not pixel-peeping.

Olympus OM-D EM-5

Olympus OM-D EM-5

The kit lens sold with the Olympus is the M.ZUIKO 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 II R, way too dark for me, but beggers can’t be choosers. It is also not weather-sealed, but if I lost it, oh well.. I would like to get the 17mm/f1.8 or even the Panasonic made Leica 15mm/f1.7. Remember, you have to double the focal length to get the equivalent in 35mm; so, the Leica 15mm has the field of view of a 30mm. The Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO lens is supposedly excellent, but at $1K, it might have to wait. Bottom line is, I need a camera that can survive salt water spray, with interchangeable lenses. For twice the money I could buy an OM-D E-M1 or a Fuji X-T1. I just can’t justify spending more than what I get for my D2X and Tokina 28-70/f2.8 though. The lens just sold tonight.

The X100S and the OM-D E-M5 are the only two cameras I would need. Well, aside from my cheap GoPro. Let’s hope I get the former back in good shape, otherwise I’ll just have to do with one. This time I will get an extended warranty for the Olympus. The other contender by the way is the Panasonic LX-100, which does 4K video and has a bright 24-75 equivalent fixed lens. It isn’t weather sealed and more expensive.

I shouldn’t have sold my Leica M2!

Update, Oct. 6: My X100S is on its way to Fuji NJ. I ordered the E-M5 tonight from B&H. They have the camera with the 14-42 kit lens for $499. I suspect not many are left.. The kit lens, well, I don’t expect much from it, but it will get me started with M4/3. They sell for $299 new but only got for $55 on Ebay. I will post my inpressions after I get to play with it a bit. My next lens might be the Mitakon 35mm f0.95, the Panasonic Leica 15mm f1.7 or the 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO zoom, depending on if i get my X100S back or not, and of course my finances…

Update, Oct. 19: Fuji wants $385.20!!! I will never buy a Fuji camera ever again in my life.

Memory leaks caused by PHP are hard to pinpoint. My server started crashing regularly, out of memory from running WordPress on Apache22 and FreeBSD. It happens especially when posting, but also at random times. I tried disabling plugins, changing the theme, to no avail. There might be more than one faulty script, and there is little hope to find these leaks. Hopefully they will be plugged in future releases. In the mean time, I wrote a Python script that checks memory status and restarts Apache if needed. Placed on a cron job, it runs every ten minutes on my server.:

It is a temporary fix, but it works. Her is my /etc/crontab line:
*/0 * * * * root /usr/local/bin/python /home/gil/scripts/mleaks.py

Good luck!

I can’t tell you how many times an acquaintance or friend has come to me with a broken hard drive asking “Can you get my data back?” as if their lives depended on it. The experience can be quite dramatic. I feel like a doctor telling family members that their loved-one has passed away. Losing all your data can be very stressful. Think about photos you can never get back, hours, weeks, months of work erased, just like that. You get the picture. Hard drives have moving parts, they spin at around 5000rpm. Soon or later, they will break, you can’t avoid it. Is your data backed-up? If you say yes, go do something else. Otherwise, keep on reading, you will thank me profusely some day.

It used to be that a couple CDs, or more recently, DVDs was enough to back-up all of one’s data. Today, with videos, movies, high resolution cameras, data fills-up hard drives like shoppers at Walmart on black Friday. Not to mention that if your drive bites the dust, you will have to reinstall your operating system. If you’re using Ubuntu like I am, not big deal, it’s free. If however you can’t find your Windows registration, guess what, $200 for Micro$oft. Hopefully you also have all your software somewhere safe, ready to be reinstalled.. Think about the amount of work though.. Who has the time to sit in front of a computer looking at a progress bar all day, or pay some geek a fortune to do it for them? I don’t.

These days, you are looking at two options. 1, a full drive backup on separate hard drives. 2, an online backup service. Let’s look at both solutions..

A full drive backup is great because you can make a mirror image of your drive, which can then be restored to a similar drive. You don’t have to reinstall anything, your entire drive is copied bit by bit independently of your operating system. It takes a few hours, but the recovery is painless and very easy. You will need two USB external hard drives of the same capacity as your main hard drive. Why two? Because your hard drive can fail during a backup operation, rendering your backup useless! So, you alternate the drives and backup every other week. At the most, you’ll lose one month of data updates. The downside of this scheme is that you can’t use your computer while it is backed-up. I do it at night, usually it is finished when I get up. You can also lose quite a bit of data if you are not diligent enough. You will need a drive cloning tool. Get G4L, it’s free and works great. You burn it onto a CD and use it to boot your computer. Be careful when you choose your source and target drive, you don’t want to backup an empty or old image to your current drive! An remember, it only works if you actually do it regularly!

The online backup solution is very convenient. You pay a small monthly fee, usually $10, to have your data automatically uploaded to a storage facility via the Internet. You can choose what folders to save, or exclude certain types of files by extension or size. What I like most about it is that it is transparent. You can still use your computer as usual while the program works in the background. I don’t notice any performance difference with the service I use. You need to make sure that the transmission of your data is encrypted, and that it also be encrypted wherever it is saved. Nobody should be able to read your files. The best service I have found is SpiderOak. They give you 2Gb for free, and charge only $10 per 100Gb. Their client program is great, and all data is encrypted. You can even synchronize your laptop with your desktop, or other computers. The process is pretty slow the first time you use it. I just uploaded about 84Gb in the span of a week. After your initial upload however, it is much faster. The good part was that I didn’t have to care about it at all. It works on Windows, Linux and Mac.

Which solution is best? Well, I highly suggest doing both! Make a mirror copy of your hard drive (you can use only one drive then), and have your data backed-up online with SpiderOak. This way, after a crash, you load the drive image with G4L, then update your data from your online backup. Everything is up-to-date, and you don’t have to reinstall anything.

Can you afford to spend $80 on an external hard drive, or/and pay $10 per month? Can you afford not to? Can you lose all your data? Remember, it’s not “if,” it’s “when.” Back-it-up!

My instructor, Gerard Landri always said that it wasn’t a matter of “if” your engine would quit one day, but “when.” So, you had to be prepared and have a landing field in mind at all times when flying. Ultralights, because of weight restrictions often use two-cylinder, two-stroke engines for propulsion. Rotax is the main manufacturer of these light, high-performance motors. They are quite reliable when well taken care of, but leave them without TLC (tender loving cash), and they will pay you back at the most unexpected moment, according to murphy’s law. I love ultralights though, they are so much fun to fly. I’ll always remember my first solo flight from a beach in the South of France..

My Europa2 ultralight (21yo)

My Europa2 ultralight (21yo)


I used to ride my motorcycle around my home town of Comines, close to the Belgian border. It seemed like I would often end-up close to the local airport of Bondues, a small grass field for general aviation. One afternoon, I stopped by and looked around the hangars. There was the slickest aircraft I ever saw. Slim fuselage, with a long canopy, curves I had only seen on a woman. It’s wings were thin, long and flexible. The cockpit looked as comfortable as the best lounging chair. It had no motor, no propeller. I approached it, walked around, worried about being kicked out for trespassing when I heard a voice behind me: “Interested?” There was a young guy, a few years older than me (I was 19), smiling. “Sure,” I replied, and he administered the coup de grâce that would be the start of a lifelong passion: “Want to sit in it?” That was it for me! He then explained the fine points of flying gliders, offered me to take a short introductory flight and then a ten-hour block of lessons. I just said: “I’ll take the ten-hour plan.” “But, how do you know you’ll like it?” He asked; to which I replied “I will.”

Months later, I was waiting for a train home at the Lille station one September evening. The news stand had all kind of magazines (lots of porn), but I favored the aviation section. There was an ultralight magazine.. I don’t remember if it was “Vol Moteur,” or “Ailes Magazine,” the two French ultralight publications of the time, but I bought one. Now, you have to understand French mentality a little, the bad side of it, to know that general aviation pilots do not like ultralights.. They pay fortunes to fly “real” airplanes, when someone flies by in a tube-and-fabric contraption that costs as much per hours as it takes for them to taxi from the hangar to the runway, imagine that! So, I had been warned about ultralights being widow-makers, unreliable and dangerous. Well, going through the pages, articles and photos, they seemed much more serious than I was made to believe. The fact that they could land so slowly was in itself a great safety feature. Unreliable? Somewhat true, when it came to engines. But then, you have no business flying over forests or cities anyway, and the rest is pretty much pastures and agricultural fields. You’d have to be a very bad pilot to kill yourself there..

Flipping through the magazine, a small photo caught my attention, that of a small plane towing what seemed to be a gigantic advertising banner, or rather a flag, with an ad for a supermarket. That got me thinking.. I called the company and ask the man on the phone (Gerard), a flurry of questions about his business. Let’s just say that for someone crazy enough to get into it, there was money to be made. That December, I was learning to fly on the French Riviera, near Beziers. I came back without my license, not enough time, but started to look for customers. I had no plane either, mind you. However, I did find one attraction park owner willing to go for it, and received a 20% deposit on a 200-hour contract for July and August on the North Sea shores, from Berk-Sur-Mer to Abevilles to the South, and to Bray-Dunes (Belgium) to the North via Le Touquet, Dunkerque, Boulogne and Calais.

My next trip was to the bank, where I explained to a couple gentlemen that I needed a fat loan to buy a plane made of tubes and tarp-like covering to tow giant banners along the coast.. Well, either I was very convincing or the economy was really good back then, because they said yes! I was lucky they didn’t ask me if I indeed had a pilot’s license! I used part of the money to finish my training, and bought a two-seater ultralight from Monsieur Mathot’s Weedhoper factory in Valenciennes. I was towing banners and giving rides to tourists for the Park of Bagatelle at the end of June.

That fateful day, I felt like flying but my Europa2 was down for repairs. I called the factory to see if they had anything I could borrow. I was in good terms with them, having bought two aircrafts from them and a couple spare engines. I was also selling their products.. A customer had left a deposit for a plane, but never paid the balance. The ultralight was sort of in limbo, and they were willing to let me borrow it. Being a two-seater, I wondered who might want to fly, and thought of one of my best friends, Arnaud, who was stuck at home with metal rods sticking out of his leg after a broken femur, open fracture he got in a motorcycle accident. He enthusiastically accepted the invitation.

After a customary thorough preflight, we taxied onto the runway at Valenciennes and I applied full power. The Rotax 532 went up to the 6500rpm limit, but it didn’t feel like we were getting the whole 64hp it was supposed to deliver.. More like 50, which for two was a bit weak. We slowly climbed to one thousand feet where I decided to stay, not to over-strain the engine. It wasn’t but a few minutes before the motor started banging loudly on one cylinder! I hit the emergency stop button. No need to fry the second cylinder. We weren’t going to stay aloft on one anyway. Arnaud turned to me with a concerned look:
– “What’s going on?”
– “Engine failure..”
Nothing had changed though it was now quiet, but for the noise of the wind.
– “Are we going to be all right?”
– “Yeah, we just have to land right now..”
I knew we weren’t going to hurt ourselves bad, but with that hardware sticking out of his bone, any shock to his leg would have been a catastrophe. I spotted some power lines to the right, started turning left where I had seen a long brown field aligned with the wind. We were still at a thousand feet but i didn’t want to do a full turn to lose altitude. I put the plane into a side slip, with the nose way down. That increases drag quite a bit, so we were coming down quite fast. The Europa2 having a high-wing, I could no longer see my field. I checked the prop, which was stopped horizontally, otherwise I would have given it a little starter hit to move it so that it would less likely break upon hitting the ground, if we did. I told Arnaud: “lift your legs up!” and pulled on the stick to flare. “Shit!,” “what?” “Potatoes!”
Anyone with a bit of agricultural knowledge knows by now this isn’t good news.. The brown field was a potato field, with rows of elevated dirt.. Fortunately we were landing in line with them, otherwise, it would have been painful! The back wheels touched down a little fast, but without an engine, I didn’t have much choice. A cloud of dust exploded around us in a sickening crashing noise. We stopped maybe forty feet later, tail in the air, and the whole thing fell back down, right-side-up. We looked at each other in relief, not a scratch! The front of the ultralight though was a bit crushed, save the prop that made it unscathed. Not bad.
We jumped out, and looked around. It was amazing how little ground we covered after touching down. Knowing how much a hassle it would be to deal with the authorities, I said “let’s get out of here!” Then came the farmer.. He was all smile! “Hey guys, how are you? I heard you lose your engine, glad you guys made it ok, is that an ultralight? You know, you guys can come and land here anytime.” Waoh, and I was expecting him to up upset about his potatoes being harvested before their time.. We started dismantling the wings, just a few pins to remove, not tools needed. There was a house about half a kilometer down, so I headed for it, hoping to find a phone. A woman greeted me suspiciously, I can’t blame her, but gave me her cordless phone. The factory didn’t like the news, to say the least. They sent me a driver with a trailer in a hurry, knowing as well as myself that filing tons of forms in triplicate wouldn’t be much fun. We made it out before any cops showed-up. I paid for half the damage, which wasn’t much. It turned out that a spark-plug had burned a hole in a piston.

Losing an engine in an ultralight, or small plane like a Cessna for example isn’t that big a deal, if you pay attention at what’s under you when you fly. I knew a pilot, Mr Mesureur, who was operating a banner towing plane, a French Rally, from the same field. I used to see him fly indiscriminately over towns at 500ft. Good for business maybe, but being from the ultralight school of piloting, seeing him always raised a few hair on my neck, as I was going the long way, around towns and villages, never over. Well, one day, I arrived at the airfield to find a smoldering pile of junk in the middle of the runway being hosed down by firefighters. Out of whitch, sticking up, was the tail of his plane. I ran down the strip to be stopped by a fireman. Smoke was still pouring out of the wreckage. “Is he all right?” I asked, panting. “Yes.” He said, to my relief. The pilot explained to me later that his plane caught on fire in the air and that he barely made it, jumped out seconds before the whole thing burst into flames. I asked him if the incident was going to change the way he flew. “You bet.” He said…