elb's hovel of thoughts

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Speedlite 580EX: E-TTL II/ AF assist problem? Need Canon users help!

If there are any Canon users out there who use a 580EX, I have a problem which needs serious attention. My problem is illustrated in the picture taken below:

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TTL mode? I should be seeing E-TTL, not TTL dammit!!

So yes, that's the problem. E-TTL is somehow missing from my copy of the 580EX. Pressing the mode button (as the instruction manual says) cycles between TTL, M and Multi modes. No E-TTL was seen, and my 430EX failed to trigger when I tried to slave the 580EX and 430EX together. I also checked the custom functions to ensure that the E-TTL capability was switched on. Incidentally my 430EX has no problems with E-TTL.

Also, the auto assist AF beam does not appear to be working! Gahhh!

Is there something I have done wrong? Or have I somehow gotten a bad copy? Please advice if anyone can help me! :(

Gordon Ramsay @ Claridge's: Preview

If you haven't heard of Gordon Ramsey, the celebrity UK chef with a foul mouth that more than matches his Michelin stars, well then now you have. He's one of only two chefs in the UK to have earned three prestigious Michelin stars for a restaurant, in addition to establishing and setting up several other Michelin starred restaurants in the process.

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Gordon Ramsay (taken from http://www.i10.org.uk/)

I'll be checking out, in a few days time, his single Michelin starred restaurant at Claridges (or if I can somehow manage to change my reservation extremely last minute to his three Michelin star restaurant at Royal Hospital Road, even better! [but I doubt I will be able to]) for a special occassion. In a pleasant surprise, I was able to secure the booking with less than triple digit hours to go (my schedule before that was too unpredictable); reservations can be up to as long as 3 months!

I will not be bringing my dSLR, as it will be awkward to dress up for the occassion while being surrounded by so many other more affluent members of society and lugging a huge camera around, so I will probably be taking along a compact with me.

But alas, I am also due to fly off for a little break very soon after that, so maybe no updates until a couple of weeks from now (concerning GR @ C, I mean).

Monday, May 22, 2006

And the research continues.. to a bad start

Day one of my lab research proper has finally started. My supervisor gave me a simple enough task: prepare a solution as the starting point for further molecular biology probing.

The protocol (aka experimental technique) was just several lines long. One part of it read 'add 1ml of 1M NaOH'. We had no fresh NaOH solution in the lab however; the last batch (ancient, I was told) was firmly sealed in its own volumetric flask.

No problem. Just make some. I did some simple arithmetic: one mole of NaOH requires 23 + 16 + 1 = 40g per litre. I thought of making a small 100ml batch since I only needed 1ml. So I measured out 4 grams of the stuff, chucked it into the beaker of appropriate water, and I got the magnetic stirrer and heating plate going.

Sure enough, the NaOH tablets soon dissolved. But I noticed a problem: they were not actually dissolved fully but were in a separate phase, forming an emulsion in the water. I frowned and pointed it out to one of the PhDs, who commented that it 'was just air bubbles'. At any rate, I took the beaker off the plate, and sure enough whenever the opportunity presented itself, the NaOH formed into solids again. Bah.

So I repeated it again with a volumetric flask and plugged in the stopper to prevent water from evaporating. After the NaOH had dissolved again, I moved the flask to a cooler area. I tried to open it after twenty minutes, thinking that the stuff would have cooled down sufficiently. Oh dear; a whole lot of it just flew out of the flask with a loud hiss, hitting the ceiling, the equipment all around it, getting onto my lab coat, onto my gloves, and onto my exposed face. Thank God for glasses though. Happily for me it was a relatively dilute solution (at least a couple times more concentrated and I'd have scars), but it was still ferociously hot. Of course, I spent several minutes washing my face, as per safety protocol.

The worst was yet to come though. I still had to make the bloody solution and was not in the mood to give up. So I took another volumetric flask, measured the NaOH, put it in, got it stirring etc. So I was watching the mixing from about a metre away, when the whole thing literally exploded as I tried to jump out of the way. Fortunately for me, it was more of an implosion than an explosion.

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The volumetric flask, with the bottom cut off cleanly.

Bah. Over 3 hours had passed; a fourth batch failed, and getting incredibly frustrated and annoyed after 3.5 hours of no results (not to mention that I hadn't eaten for over 8 hours), I trudged over to the next lab, asked another of the PhDs for a small sample, and got it.

Morale of the story: Ask.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Four Seasons

It is not altogether uncommon to get confused when your friends ask you, 'Do you want to go to Four Seasons to eat?' for the first time. 'Uhh.. isn't that expensive... the Four Seasons Hotel at Mayfair (that's one posh place)?'

'No lah. Come. Its not THAT expensive'

Next thing you know, you're at Queensway, freshly exited from the Bayswater Tube Station, and you walk for a short while.

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Oh. Potong stim. 文興 (兴)酒家.

Anyway, this place is really popular. There are so many other Chinese restaurants (and bigger ones too) along Queensway, yet many people flock here. Expect long waiting times once the restaurant becomes full, even if you have reservations. And expect to get chased out as quickly as you can eat, unless the restaurant isn't busy (goodness me, the World Cup is on its way, good news indeed!). Not even if you carry LV shopping bags will give you better chances, you need to wait in line *smirks*.

The best times to ensure that you get a table are either if you come early (before 6pm) or late (after 9pm). If you come late though, you might just miss out on the speciality:

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Photograph courtesy of MooPig.

Boneless roast duck with sweet sauce on the left. Absolutely fantastic. Many swear that its the best roast duck in the world. Unfortunately, I know of a certain Teochew-style duck restaurant somewhere in PJ, Malaysia, which is just as good, in my books (although they are of completely different styles). Deep fried octopus on the right, which I found an interesting change from deep fried cuttlefish.

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Sichuan soup. The bloody peas in there spoilt the soup! Arghhhh.

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Lamb brisket with dried beancurd, water chestnuts etc. Pretty decent stuff.

As always, don't go there too often (unlike certain people I know!), otherwise the food will just taste normal after a while.

Note: This post is cumulative of many visits, and is representative of my own gastronomical opinions.

Chelsea FC Victory Parade Part 2 (Pictures)

Apologies for the slow follow up to part 1. I was too busy and had problems with trying to resize my blog (to accommodate larger pictures in the future). Part 1 can be found here.
So anyway, the last picture from the previous post:

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Now we continue on with the show:

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The Premiership Trophy can be spotted, as are Arjen Robben (with camcorder) and Frank Lampard (white shirt, raising fist)

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(L to R): John Terry, Arjen Robben, Frank Lampard

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L to R: Joe Cole (dark blue/ black polo T), unknown, Glen Johnson (Grey shirt), Carlton Cole (colourful sleeves) , Robert Huth (Half-hidden behind Carlton Cole)
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The manager, Jose Mourinho

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Paulo Ferreira

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(L to R): Peter Cech (pink shirt with cap), Arjen Robben holds the trophy aloft.

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Paulo Ferreira and Eidur Gudjohnsen, as Chelsea fans look on

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The massive crowd.

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Being shown Live where it was all happening. Did you see me? (Not that it matters...)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

HTML dummy in need of help

Pooh. I'm HTML clueless, and trying to figure out how to expand the sides of my current template. I might just get a new template - but if I have no idea how to customize the pixel sizes, not having a way to modify the appropriate graphics etc, well I can forget about it.

Why? Simply because I wish to put up bigger pictures - but if I do so, my blog gets messed up.

I guess I'll try to tackle it after I finish my last exam paper. In the meantime, does anyone have any advice?

I tried messing with portions like the following, but to no avail:

/* ---( layout structure )---*/
#wrap { width: 847px; margin: 0 auto; text-align: left; background: url(http://www.blogblog.com/tictac/tile.gif) repeat-y; }
#content { margin-left: 62px; /* to avoid the BMH */ }
#main-content { float: left; width: 460px; margin: 20px 0 0 0; padding: 0; line-height: 1.5em; }
#sidebar { margin: 0 41px 0 547px; padding: 20px 0 0 0; font-size: 85%; line-height: 1.4em; color: #999; background: url(http://www.blogblog.com/tictac/sidebar_bg.gif) no-repeat 0 0; }

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Chelsea FC Victory Parade Part 1(Pictures)

Today Chelsea FC held its victory parade around Fulham. The route can be found here.

I decided to stalk the stretch of road near where number 1 is marked on the map, arriving at 12.45pm.

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Part of the early crowd. Yes, it was to get much worse...

People were finding places to get a good view naturally:

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On the trees

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On the traffic lights

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From the rooftops.

Some of the fans pictures:
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This guy looked out of place!

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Some fans posing for me. Right after that one of the guys nearby (not in picture) whipped off his shirt and they posed for me, one guy bending downwards trying to lick his nipples! Unfortunately, right then my 2GB CF card was full. I forgot to format my previous pictures arrrrrrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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Even more fans

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Another one

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Even more

An uproar soon started with people shouting 'Here they come!' And yes they came...
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To be continued ;)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Chelsea Victory Parade (this Sunday!)

As my photograph suggests, taken at Chelsea:

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Should I go, or should I not. Hmmm....

*Takes out SLR and starts to clean the lenses*

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Where were the equations?

Can you imagine first of all, a brand new Masters- level subject introduced for a course. Now, imagine that you have no previous year papers to fall back on and to get a rough sense of idea of how the exam would be like. Now, imagine your own lecturer admitting that there was too much material being covered and that he would reduce it for the next academic year, but there was nothing he could do about it for now. When asked about equations, he mentioned that we should memorize whatever 'was basic and important'.

Next, imagine that half the paper's marks would come from quantitative questions, and that the material covered in the course was dominated by calculations and formulae, some of which are easy and the rest confusing because they appear to be similar. Next, imagine the chill down the spine when you opened the exam paper, saw the questions, and when you tried to look for equations, there wasn't any given at all.


Next paper tomorrow, so off I go!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

French Food Adventure

Alright, I thought I'd collate my French food entries into one post. So here goes:

First off is some random French cafe somewhere along Rue de Grenelle.

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Stick- skewered salmon with reduced balsamic sauce

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Some steak dish.

We also went to Cafe Dome for dinner at 11pm (!)

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Tuna & shrimp salad with avocado.

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Foie gras salad with smoked duck breast slices and avocado

We also ate at Restaurant Leon, a Belgish restaurant along Champes de Elysees.
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Warm goat's cheese with salad. Would have gone better with cherry tomatoes if you ask me.

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Seafood salad. Two huge prawns, tuna and lots of mussels.

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Moules ala Normande, aka mussels in cream sauce. We also had the moules mariniere - mussels cooked in white wine. Heavenly - with free refills of chips too. Love love love - I haven't had this since Brussels a couple of years ago.

As snacks and food to go, I had mostly crepes.

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One of the crepes I had. For a step by step guide, visit my entry. On another note, I'm completely sick of crepes now...

On my last day I wandered around Madeleine, trying to look for somewhere posh to eat - I wanted to try some of the real French cuisine that gives it its international reputation. As it turned out, nothing came cheap around the area (Madeleine is the equivalent of Knightsbridge) the main meals were at least €30 each - and that's lunch. Unfortunately, not many places serve lunch at 3pm.

I stumbled across Maison de la Truffe (House of Truffles). As you can imagine from the name, it was pretty posh stuff. The menu was entirely in French and the waiter staff could not speak English. Fortunately I could guess my way through the menu, and I ordered:
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Veal with wild rice and truffle sauce. Divine and cooked to perfection. €35. Should have indulged and gotten some champagne for €10 a glass and enjoy the spring sunshine.

And well some dessert. I bought this from Fauchon, possibly the French equivalent of Harrods or Fortnum & Mason (the food in there went for jaw dropping prices).
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In front: Mandarin orange eclair, fig eclair at rear. €4 per eclair. I can buy 10 at Sainsbury for just over £1.

On another note, I also had some coffee eclair somewhere around Liege, and it was superb - you could taste alcohol oozing out of it. And other stuff as well, including escargot (snails) etc etc.

Update: Eileen just reminded me that I didn't have croissants on my trip! The horror! I guess I completely forgot about it - I ate quite a few on my Benelux trip the previous time and got sick of it (just like I am sick of crepes now).