Thursday, December 24, 2009

Incompetence = Air France?

Last week I was in France from wednesday afternoon until friday as a guest of IBM at their Product & Solutions Support Center in Montpellier. A day and a half to get me up to speed on Aix, Power and storage. Load of interesting information with the juicy bits under a NDA so don't ask me to blog about that.

I only mention this event because it explains what I was doing there and why I was flying back. I don't consider IBM responsible in any way. In fact I was impressed by the hospitality and knowledge of everyone involved. The only fault I could find there was that they expected the group to eat a mountain of delicious pastries with our morning coffee.

No, the interesting bit of this trip started when I entrusted Air France with my save return to Schiphol airport.

Friday morning: We'd all checked in via the Air France website and had our boarding cards printed out.

Friday 12.00: Bus left for the airport. Arrival at 12.15. Our return flight to Amsterdam, AF 7683, was shown as "delayed". The scheduled departure time of 13.30 came and went with no change in status. Now the airport has a PA system which warned us every 10 minutes not to leave our luggage unattended but apparantly was not suiteable for flight information.
At 13.15 I went to the Air France information counter where they assured me that the plane would arrive any minute and that, despite a slight delay, there would be no problem in getting onto the connection flight which would leave at 15.45.
14.00 The lady behind the Air France counter could tell me that the plane would land at around 1500 and would be serviced as soon as possible. I just might not make my flight but they could handle all that at Paris since the local facilities to change flights were a bit strained.
During this time the area behind the security check kept filling up and no flights left.

Friday 15.04: The plane had landed!! Soon it was at the gate (a different gate which we just happened to notice but hey, there was a plane and I wasn't complaining).
15.30 boarding started. Now Air France flies these routes with an Airbus A319 in an all economy configuration which is really a cattle car. Loads of hand luggage, a seat pitch so small that I was litteraly jammed between seats. Boarding one of these takes time so the 3/4 full flight left at 1600.

Friday 17.15: Flight landed at Charles de Gaulle terminal 2D. By now we'd realized we needed to be transfered to another flights. The terminal was a bit busy and we noticed some flights had been cancelled. But hey, there's a transfer desk with only about 15 people queing, they should be able to help us since they were working the counter with 4 people.
What exactly those 4 were doing I don't know but it envolved staring at their screen intently, ocassionaly typing something and very rarely printing something out and tearing up the printout immediately.

Friday 19.50: Hey, it's our turn. By now we'd grown into a loose group of 9 dutchmen stranded by the same problem. So we more or less mobbed the guy behind the counter who quickly admitted that we could forget getting home tonight but that Air France would get us into hotels. Only he couldn't get us all into the same hotel. For 7 of us there was a place in a hotel near Disneyland (33km away!). Air France would arrange for bus transportation and would get us vouchers for the hotel and meals. 2 of us couldn't be fitted there anymore and would get a hotel elsewhere. By then we'd been standing for almost 3 hours, were thirsty and hungry so we quickly accepted.

Friday 20.30: Found the bus at another part of Terminal 2.

Friday 20.53: the bus was full with stranded passangers and would go to the Dream Castle hotel and the Magic Circle, 2 hotels near Disneyland.

All this time I'd seen snow on the ground but nothing coming down, in fact it had been clear from at least 17.00.

Friday 21.20 the bus driver gets on the PA system to announce that he's a bit lost.

Friday 21.40 The bus driver almost manages to get himself stuck on a very snowed under part of the Disneyland parking lot. I suggest to the belgian sitting next to me that he's the right guy to introduce the concept of asking for directions to the bus driver since he speaks french and I don't.

Friday 21.58: Checked in at the hotel. The very nice lady at the front desk informs me that the restaurant closes in 2 minutes. We run down to the restaurant and wolf down some leftovers.

No firm information on coaches to the airport back the next morning in order to make our 0715 flight so with 4 guys together we order a taxi for 0515 next morning and we quickly head to our beds. We did notice yet another coach loaded of stranded Air France victims being unloaded and feel sorry for them.

Saturday 0515: In the lobby there's a hand written sign announcing that there will be several coaches to the airport this morning. Our taxi driver is waiting for us, so are 90 passengers hoping to get onto a half full coach.

Saturday 0540: Turns out we are not in a metered taxi but some shuttle service that charges 20 euros/person. Feels like easy money with 6 people in his fan but he's gotten us to the airport in plenty of time trough the snow and I don't want to miss my flight.

Saturday 0610: We clear security and go hunting for some coffee since breakfast at the hotel didn't start until 0700 we were hungry. There's a shop selling fresh pastry and for a mere 6 euros I get two remarkably good pieces of pastry and some really strong coffee.

Saturday 0646: Boarding starts at the announced time and continues at a glacial pace until 0720. We should have left by now. The plane taxis and taxis.

Saturday 0750: The captain announces that we are number 2 in line for decing.

Saturday 0850: After an uneventful flight we manage to reach Schiphol airport.

Now I know I've said some unkind things about KLM in the past but I take those all back. Air France is were the real evil is. I am seriously considering filing for the 250 euros damages that EU law grants passangers. Yes the weather couldn't be helped but the incredible lack of information could have as could the piss poor treatment at CDG.

christmas deer

christmas deer
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Last sunday. It was snowing quite heavily which had disrupted most normal deer patterns. I found this flock late and incomplete and 50 meters west of where they'd normally be.

This one turned out nice, quite a bit of work on the curves to get anything approaching what I'd seen.

Sharpness isn't great, this was trough 20 meters of snow filled air in very marginal lighting conditions. And the framing could have been way better. Still... I like it, as a pic it's not bad and it reminds me of a magical sunday morning.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

seagull in lowlevel flight

seagull in lowlevel flight
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
This is a shot I would have liked to have made much earlier. With my Sigma 70-300 I tried and tried but it was just too slow to focus. With the Nikon 70-300 VR it's just a matter of getting the framing right.

I like this, especially with the wings down you can see how close they fly to the ground.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

here's something you don't see every day

I noticed this fallow deer buck and a magpie sitting next to it staring intently at the deer's penis. I tried to move into a better position, figuring I'd get a funny shot out of it when I noticed the magpie jumping on the deers back. It moved a few steps forward. Right after this shot I spooked the deer.

Strange behaviour, I've never seen this before. Reminds me of those birds that feed of the insects of african buffalo.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Nokia 3720 classic

Or should I title this post “from one ruggedized phone to the next”? Ruggedized means more or less that it’s designed for use in harsh environments.

I don’t consider myself hard on my phones. My first few cell phones were all Nokia. I started on a 8110 and have used the 5110, 6110, 6150 and all of these spend a lot of time in my pocket or on my belt. They all suffered the occasional drop and handled it well. In the early years of this decade I switched to Siemens for an S55, lovely little phone but after a year or so it distinctly showed signs of wear and tear. The Motorola V3 I bought after that died a little under two years.

So, when I was due for a new phone in early 2008 I decided to buy something that was durable and loud enough to use in the noisy server rooms where I spent some of my time. At that time there wasn’t much to choose from on the European market. Nokia had withdrawn the 5210 years ago and had not released anything else. Siemens had tried a few models such as the M65 but Siemens sold the GSM division and that died soon after.

The only serious player at that time was Sonim. A company almost unknown in Europe if you didn’t work in the building industry. In early 2008 they had just introduced their first cell phone, the XP1 and the Xp1BT (With bluetooth). My review of the XP1BT is still the most popular page on my website.

After a little over a year I got tired of the constant echo of the phone and the fact that it couldn’t be without battery power for a second without losing it’s internal clock settings so I mailed sonim support and after some weeks they send me a replacement. That developed some sort of phone altzheimer’s in september. It would miss calls without letting me know. By then I was thoroughly sick of the 1990s user interface, the short battery life and the call quality which could range from abysmal to ok in 5 minutes. So I started looking for a replacement.  Of course the new sonim xp3 came up but I found it a bit expensive and I didn’t have much faith left in the Sonim designers. Unlike the american market where several companies offer ruggedized and mil-spec phones there is not that much on the European market. Samsung has the B2100 and B2700. And then came nokia with it’s 3720 classic. Now my wife had bought a 2330 a few weeks early and I was impressed with the Series 40 user interface and the call quality. So I ordered a 3720.


It’s a basic candy bar with a charger port at the bottom. Nice, big 2.2” TFT with 320x240 resolution which makes for a nice crispy image. Comes complete with charger, 1gb memory card, earbuds and a 25 euros coupon for the german nokia music store. All that for 136 euros including shipping.

First impressions: nice screen, fits the hand well, easy buttons. It does not come across as a very sturdy phone unlike the Sonim which felt like you could use it to drive nails with. Well, that’s not all you could do with it, there’s a load of clips on youtube of people trying to kill a sonim, This one is my favorite:

Now breaking stuff is fun to the people doing gadget

tests for a living and so the guys from phonearena tried to break a 3720:

and it can also swim.

So, despite it’s elegance I should be ok. For the moment I’m enjoying that wonderful screen, nice call quality and the fact that I can have it talk to my pc quick and easy with the standard Nokia tools.

I’ll let you know first time it needs charging.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

I think I'm in love!

And no, not with this lady but with the lens I used for this shot. The Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 AT-X 535 PRO DX. Very, very nice piece of glass. Handles fine, built quality is on par with what you'd expect from a Tokina AT-X pro lens. Focussing is very fast and very quiet. The colors are very neutral with a tiny amount of cool.

My compliments to the model as well, don't know her name but there she was on the tokina stand continuously striking nice poses!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Beware of photography competitions!

I was just reading on dpreview about the lumix awards ( Nice website, nice theme, I'd expected to have some chance with this picture.


But then I read the terms and conditions.

16. Entrants agree that, in relation to any photographs selected as winning photographs, they grant Panasonic Marketing Europe GmbH and Panasonic Corporation companies and other members of the Panasonic Group an exclusive licence to use images for 5 years at no charge for their marketing and promotional activities. Winners will be given an authorship credit in respect of any published reproductions of their photographs made by Panasonic or its agents.

Come on! 5 years exclusive license? Get real!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

buzzard in flight

buzzard in flight
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Quite proud of this one actually. A slight crop from the original. With the 70-300VR this is relatively easy to do. Of course you still have to be close enough to the flight path. Nonentheless, I am quite pleased with this shot.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor ED 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF

I bought this gem friday. It's replacing the weakest lens in my bag, a Sigma 70-300 APO. Haven't had the chance to test it properly yet but the first impressions are good. It looks bigger but is almost the same size as the sigma. It feels heavier and sturdier. AF is very quiet, quick and spot on. VR seems to do what it should do and quite discretely.

First test results:

Trying out my new 70-300 VR

Trying out my new 70-300 VR

And a crop:

Trying out my new 70-300 VR

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Best airline safety briefing ever

Found this via an article in "El Reg" about IBM failing quite miserably as an outsourcing partner. It gets the message across in the right tempo with attention to details. The fact that the whole "crew" only wears body paint is to me secondary.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

There I was, approaching a small herd of fallow deer which included, by the sound of it, 2 males disagreeing. Almost found a good spot and noone had noticed me. Then, suddenly, a big truck loaded with empty containers thunders by. The herd was spooked and all I got was this shot.

spooked deer

Monday, October 12, 2009

Esther in the woods

Esther in the woods
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Just a portrait. Shot in the dark under the trees so I used a sb-600 on camera for a bit of extra light.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

how did a deer cross the stream?

Or why do I always carry my camera setup for a snapshot?

It's mating season now, all the fallow deer act weird. Normally this guy would have discretely disappeard. Now he heard another male burling and decided to go and take a look.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

I was at Technet Live last thursday. Microsoft introduced Windows 7, Server 2008 R2 and, a day later, Exchange 2010.

Steve Balmer's keynote was impressive, shame there were a bunch of journalists asking really stupid questions.

After a good lunch I spend the afternoon with:

Brandon Hoff telling us about all the new features in Exchange 2010. I found the 90% reduction in IOPS very impressive. I failed to be baffled about the option to move user mailboxes during the day, something I already had in Lotus Notes 4 in the mid-1990s.

Next up was Don Schmid and Martin Vliem about security, identity and things like that. Very technical, I was dozing off due to the big lunch and lack of coffee.
I did remember an excellent quote from Don, "cloud is the new outsourcing"

Last up, Martin Sih on system center. A rather weak speaker compared ot the rest and extra handicapped by a lack of the internet connection he needed to do his demo. Apparantly System Center allows the Schiphol group to manage a varied server collection.

All in all a nice day, shame about the distinct lack of goodies, all we got was a t-shirt (xl the largest, how many sysadmins do you know that wear an XL?!) and a Windows 7 ultimate DVD.

After events like this the hangover always sets in. You realize that the change that you actually get your hands on a 2008 server running exchange 2010 is very slim. It's a reason I don't attend events all that much anymore, you see all sorts of nice goodies that you'll never work with. Same goes for booth babes, nice to look at but that's all.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Something to look forward to on TV

Recently I’ve caught some of the reruns of Victorian Farm on BBC2. Interesting show that follows a historian and two archeologists spending a year on a farm trying to imitate the late Victorian way of farming.


After the last episode it was announced that they have commisioned a special christmas episode. Since a lot of current British christmas traditions originate in this period it will be something to look forward to.

Now I’ve found out, via wikipedia, that there’s another series scheduled as well, Edwardian Farm.

According to the press release:

Following the huge success of the Victorian Farm series, BBC Two is presenting the same intrepid team with a brand new set of challenges as they are forced to get to grips with the trials and tribulations of life on an Edwardian Farm.

Archaeologists Alex Langlands and Peter Ginn and domestic historian Ruth Goodman will return to front Edwardian Farm, spending a full year delving into Britain's rural heritage.

They will make their home in a stunning new location, exploring the challenges posed by the British countryside at a time of great change and tumult; a time when farming was becoming increasingly mechanised at home, and abroad the world was moving gradually towards war.

As in the first series, the action will be based primarily on the farm, but the new setting will also allow the team to explore wider aspects of the working countryside, including rivers and coasts, boat-building, mining, fishing and market gardening.

Now, for us foreigners, the previous series was set around 1870, the new one will be around 1900-1910.

I’m now wishing I could lay my hands on “Tales from the green valley” which is made by some of the same people and deals with farming in the 1620s in Wales.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

traffic accident
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
On the crossing near the office. The guard tipped me of. It was also listed on the emergency services paging system. ( as

29-09-09 16:23:41

0120988 Life Line 1
29-09-09 16:23:26

0126804 brandweer / OvD-G 804 - GHOR VZA Hoofddorp / Kennemerland
29-09-09 16:18:16

0126999 ambulance / Monitorcode / Kennemerland
29-09-09 16:18:16

0126183 regio 12 Kennemerland AMBULANCE 83
29-09-09 16:17:18

0126999 ambulance / Monitorcode / Kennemerland
29-09-09 16:17:18

0126186 regio 12 Kennemerland AMBULANCE 86
29-09-09 16:17:16

The guy driving the bike didn't make it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Facepaint: Finished lion

Facepaint: Finished lion
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Our local shopping center had organised a theater theme sunday. Facepainting was part of it. I really like this one, expressions, lines, colors it works for me.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

fighting horses in the mist

fighting horses in the mist
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Was up early this morning. Mist was still on the fields and when I drove up I noticed the horses being restless. I missed 20 horses breaking into a gallop. I did manage to capture these two having a discussion.

Tricky shot, way at the edge of my Sigma's 70-300 range, low light so high iso and fog is tricky to meter, the line between losing the mood and getting horrible noise is rather fine.

Despite all that and despite the obvious shortcommings I really like this shot.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Here's me trying to be clever

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
I noticed this nice scene on my way to work this morning. I love moody cloudy skies especially at sunrise.

Anyway, as we all know metering this requires care, the contrast between the ground and the lighter parts of the clouds is big so you'll either underexpose or blow highlights.

I figured I'd be clever and HDR it. What I forgot for a moment is that even with shutter speeds above 1/200 and my camera set to continuous high the tractor would still travel some distance. I discovered this when I plunked my 3 bracketed frames into photomatix. Load of ghosting on the wheels. So I tried another apporach, took a frame I liked, hit it with 20% d-lighting and a neutral grad.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Not a massive crowd pleaser

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Shot this this morning. Very grey and blue light. First time in ages I encountered mouflon.

One of these shots that won't draw massive crowds, mainly because the small version isn't that interesting.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

RFC 1149 alive and well after 19 years!

As a recent experiment in South Africa proved the old RFC 1149, transmission of IP over avian carriers. I think the ISP involved, Telkom, should be very, very ashamed of itself! My sympathies go out to the sysadmins who need to work which such slow lines.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Windows 7 and Diana Krall

Now I can hear you wonder, what on earth is the relation between those two? Has the best jazz singer of the last two decades signed a deal with Microsoft?
Not that I know of.

Early last week I got a chance to trade in my aging Lenovo T60 laptop for a slightly newer T61. And I also got invited to participate in my employer's Windows 7 beta program.

So I've been running Windows 7 for about a week now and I love it! It's robust, quick to start and I like the interface. I also, and I never thought I'd write this, the Mediaplayer that came bundled with it. It plays xvid without an extra codec (although you do need a codec for the common AC3 sound, I use Shark's Windows 7 codec pack) and it also seems like the audio playback is way better than my old T60 with Windows XP. So I'm listening to a high-bitrate version of Diana Krall's Departure bay. Excellent song, love the lyrics!

The fading scent of summertime
Arbutus trees and firs
The glistening of rain-soaked moss
Going to the dairy queen at dusk
Down narrow roads
In autumn light

The salt air and the sawmills
And the bars are full of songs and tears
To the passing of the tugboats
And people with their big ideas

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Last portrait for a while

Last portrait for a while
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Soon after I shot this I bumped into my lightstand and discovered the flash wasn't properly secured. So it took a fall to the ground and now it will not turn on.

I am quite upset by this.

Friday, August 28, 2009


It’s been quite a while since I wrote anything about Windows. The reason for that is quite simple, I haven’t had any real technical challenges up until now.

Situation: A medium sized windows domain with a time synchronization issue. It had gotten so bad that clients were experiencing Kerberos issues and some applications were displaying irrational behavior.

A quick investigation revealed that due to a change a few weeks earlier the domain had no reliable time source. In addition to that the PDC emulator had been moved to VMware ESX, something my VMware expert tells me is not a good idea.

Further investigation told me that the problems started much earlier than this and that ESX was most likely not the culprit here.

Now, how does time synchronization work? Quite simple really, a client or a member server asks the domain controller serving the logon request. The domain controllers get their time from the PDC Emulator.The PDC emulator gets time either from it’s internal clock, a source on the internet or an external device such as a GPS clock. There’s a very good description of the whole process in KB 884776.

The problems start if your PDC emulator isn’t keeping good time or, and this happened to me, if it’s not advertising on the network as being a reliable time source.


Usually you’ll see things like these in the eventlog:

Date: 27-5-2009
Time: 20:46:32
User: N/A
Computer: DC02
The time provider NtpClient cannot reach or is currently receiving invalid time data from <ip address> (ntp.m|0x0|<ip address>:123-><ip address>:123).

For more information, see Help and Support Center at

Event Type: Warning
Event Source: W32Time
Event Category: None
Event ID: 47
Date: 27-5-2009
Time: 20:48:08
User: N/A
Computer: DC02
Time Provider NtpClient: No valid response has been received from manually configured peer <ip address> after 8 attempts to contact it. This peer will be discarded as a time source and NtpClient will attempt to discover a new peer with this DNS name.

For more information, see Help and Support Center at

Event Type: Error
Event Source: W32Time
Event Category: None
Event ID: 29
Date: 27-5-2009
Time: 20:48:08
User: N/A
Computer: DC02
The time provider NtpClient is configured to acquire time from one or more time sources, however none of the sources are currently accessible. No attempt to contact a source will be made for 15 minutes. NtpClient has no source of accurate time.

For more information, see Help and Support Center at

Event Type: Warning
Event Source: W32Time
Event Category: None
Event ID: 14
Date: 28-5-2009
Time: 1:46:47
User: N/A
Computer: DC02
The time provider NtpClient was unable to find a domain controller to use as a time source. NtpClient will try again in 15 minutes.

For more information, see Help and Support Center at

Quick fixes

Google for any of these event ids and you’ll find thousands of discussions. Common causes of this problem:

Windows time service (w32time) isn’t running.
Your system isn’t allowed to make a connection on port 123 UDP to your time source. So, check your service and firewall settings and restart the service (on the command prompt: net stop w32time && net start w32time).

If that doesn’t help…

Check if your domain controllers know and agree which server the PDC emulator is. On a command prompt:

Type ntdsutil, and then press ENTER.
1. Type domain management, and then press ENTER.
2. Type connections, and then press ENTER.
3. Type "connect to server ServerName", where ServerName is the Name of the Domain Controller you would like to view, and then press ENTER.
4. Type quit, and then press ENTER.
5. Type "select operation target", and then press ENTER.
6. Type "list roles for connected server", and then press ENTER.

Check this on at least two domain controllers. If they don’t agree you’ve got a real problem. If any of the roles are on a server that is offline you will need to seize the roles to a working server.

In my case the roles were properly distributed but on the PDC Emulator I still had the problems I mentioned earlier. In an hour I would have several Event ID 37 (currently receiving valid time) and Event ID 38 (ntp client cannot reach or is receiving invalid time data) messages. On the other DCs I had pretty much the same pattern.

So, next step was to make sure the other DCs and member servers were actually set to take their time from the domain. This is set in HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\W32Time\Parameters in the string Type. This string can have these values:

# NoSync. The time service does not synchronize with other sources.
# NTP. The time service synchronizes from the servers specified in the NtpServer registry entry.
# NT5DS. The time service synchronizes from the domain hierarchy.
# AllSync. The time service uses all the available synchronization mechanisms.

Now, all systems except my PDC Emulator were in fact set to NT5DS. And yet none were properly synchronizing time.


Was my PDC emulator doing the proper advertising on the network? Let’s investigate.


Doing primary tests

Testing server: Default-First-Site-Name\DC01
Starting test: Replications
......................... DC01 passed test Replications
Starting test: NCSecDesc
......................... DC01 passed test NCSecDesc
Starting test: NetLogons
......................... DC01 passed test NetLogons
Starting test: Advertising
Warning: DC01 is not advertising as a time server.
......................... DC01 failed test Advertising


Starting test: FsmoCheck
Warning: DcGetDcName(TIME_SERVER) call failed, error 1355
A Time Server could not be located.
The server holding the PDC role is down.
Warning: DcGetDcName(GOOD_TIME_SERVER_PREFERRED) call failed, error 1355
A Good Time Server could not be located.
......................... failed test FsmoCheck

Now, that last sentence about the PDC role holder being down had me puzzled and send me chasing ghosts. Google it and you’ll find numerous discussions where this was true. But in my case it simply wasn’t. I double checked with NTDSutil and it simply was not down!

So… what was going wrong here? At this point I realized that the messages in the event log weren’t very helpful. They are too generic. I wanted to know what was really happening so I turned on debug logging on the Windows Time service. And that gives you information!

149258 09:35:51.3586829s - DomainHierarchy: we are now the domain root. Should be advertised as reliable
149258 09:35:51.3586829s - ClockDispln: we're a reliable time service with no time source: LS: 0, TN: 864000000000, WAIT: 86400000

Quickly followed by two successful synchronizations and a lot of failed ones after that.

At this point I was formulating the hypothesis that there’s some sort of successful/failed ratio that might influence whether or not windows considers itself a reliable source. I was also highly suspicious of my NTP source by now. I asked around and found I had a network connection to another domain that didn’t have this problem. So I decided to set the domain controller of that domain as my time source to see what would happen. I also decided to check my time settings agains the values outlined in KB 816042.

I changed:

with the proper IP address (don’t forget to put in a ,0x1 if you enter a name instead of IP address.

I set to 5

I changed from 3600 to 900.

And I restarted the time service again. Went to grab a cup of coffee and typed in dcdiag /v /test:advertising

C:\WINDOWS\system32>dcdiag /v /test:advertising

Domain Controller Diagnosis

Performing initial setup:
* Verifying that the local machine DC01, is a DC.
* Connecting to directory service on server DC01.
* Collecting site info.
* Identifying all servers.
* Identifying all NC cross-refs.
* Found 4 DC(s). Testing 1 of them.
Done gathering initial info.

Doing initial required tests

Testing server: Default-First-Site-Name\DC01
Starting test: Connectivity
* Active Directory LDAP Services Check
* Active Directory RPC Services Check
......................... DC01 passed test Connectivity

Doing primary tests

Testing server: Default-First-Site-Name\DC01
Test omitted by user request: Replications
Test omitted by user request: Topology
Test omitted by user request: CutoffServers
Test omitted by user request: NCSecDesc
Test omitted by user request: NetLogons
Starting test: Advertising
The DC DC01 is advertising itself as a DC and having a DS.
The DC DC01 is advertising as an LDAP server
The DC DC01 is advertising as having a writeable directory
The DC DC01 is advertising as a Key Distribution Center
The DC DC01 is advertising as a time server
The DS DC01 is advertising as a GC.
......................... DC01 passed test Advertising


I restarted the time service on the secondary domain. It immediately confirmed it was synchronising by logging and event id 35.

Event Type: Information
Event Source: W32Time
Event Category: None
Event ID: 35
Date: 28-8-2009
Time: 12:33:06
User: N/A
Computer: DC02
The time service is now synchronizing the system time with the time source (ntp.d|<ip address>:123-><ip address>:123).

For more information, see Help and Support Center at

Lessons learned

  • A lot of people experience time problems that are related to either the service not running or a firewall blocking UDP traffic on port 123.
  • Don’t use net time anymore, use w32tm instead.
  • Check if your servers are getting time from the domain (that NT5DS key)
  • Troubleshooting starts at your PDC Emulator.
  • If your PDC Emulator isn’t advertising properly your domain will not synchronize.
  • Turn on debug logging on the Windows Time service if you’re into serious issues.
  • You need a reliable time source that’s well connected to your network.
  • You should monitor your event logs on warnings and errors generated by the w32time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Well... I've put in a bit of practice. The set is portable, it straps to the outside of my lowepro flipside 300. I used it at my wife's brothers birthday for a few family snaps.

This one turned out nice but for the distraction in the background.


Nothing a crop couldn't fix.

DSC_7089_DXO copy2

Someone commented on one of my earlier shots at flickr. I tried to use my secondary flash, aSB-26, to provide light in the background to make it brighter and whiter. That failed rather spectacular.

And sometimes I get it wrong

Way too much light in the background. This is still a bit of a puzzler to me. There's loads of information out there that mentions how great two flashes in full manual are but very little on how exactly you set a manual flash.

I think I'll hit the SB-26 manual, see what that says.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Something that’s been on my list for a while now is to shoot portraits with an improvised “Strobist” style setup.

Tuesday I was in the Rotterdam area so I paid a visit to kamera-express. They did have umbrellas for a good price but to mount that on a tripod all they had was an expensive piece of manfrotto kit (the 026 lite tilt umbrealla adapter). So, I asked around and Camex in Amsterdam had a much cheaper Hama adapter (part nummer 6079).

Picked it up this morning. An SB-600 I already had and an old tripod which will do untill I can get a lightstand.

Mounted together it looks like this:

So I decided to give it a try. SInce I’m shooting a nikon D300 with a SB-600 I don’t need to use cactus triggers but can rely on Nikon’s CLS

With the first dozen of shots I found these two:

Now, I’m quite pleased with these. Not because they’re exceptional quality but because these were shot with no experience with a setup like this, with no special preparation except for getting my lighting equipment out. This was shot in my living room with nothing special, not even a backdrop.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Getting your whitebalance just right...

That's something often overlooked by the beginner and too many intermediate photographers. Get it just right and your pics will look that much better. Get it wrong and you'll get pics that just look "Wrong". Get it really wrong and you get nasty red or blue casts.
Many current DSLR cameras feature autowhitebalance which is mostly ok between 3500 and 6000 degrees kelvin. And they have presets which almost never match what you're doing. Get a bit of practice and you can guesstimate light color.
There's ways around this of course, the easiest is to shoot a custom whitebalance from a piece of plain white paper. Or buy a special test card. Or spend a lot of money on a special lenscap.

You can also really dive into the matter which is what Leon Goodman has done. I've not read the entire article with care yet but at a

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Birthday present 2009

new toy
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
A redged MT-523 monopod with, for the next few months, a simple Calumet head. Combination feels very sturdy and I think it's a good compromise between stability and easy of use.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Went for a drive in my lunchbreak. The south part of the Haarlemmermeer is a place that I seldom visit. I did today and found this windmill.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

How far can you go as a nature photographer?

tiny toad
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Yesterday,I read something about a photographer who used a plant mister on a fly to get it to sit still long enough (Always a challenge with flies).

That reminded me of the, to me, despicable practice of some nature photographers. They catch an animal, freeze it to within an inch of it's live (or beyond) and then start photographing it.

This morning I found this little toad on a busy path playing death. Not a safe place to do that when a hord of joggers was about to stampede over that patch. So I picked him up and put him somewhere safe.

To me that's pretty much the limit of what I'll do to an animal to take a picture of it.

Friday, August 07, 2009

100mm tokina doubts resolved

Vanessa atalanta
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Recently I've had a very low keeper ratio with the tokina 100mm 2.8 macro. So low that I was wondering if I had to go trough the trouble of using the AF fine tune on the body.

Yesterday I noticed this butterfly, Vanessa Atalanta to be specific, on a bush in my garden. I shot about a dozen frames of it. 2 where not shapr because I focussed on the wrong spot. The rest turned out as this one did. Sharp where it counts.

Looking back I think the low keeper ratio was a combination of me getting used to my new camera, poor technique and wind moving the branches on which the insects sat.

Anyway, this shot proves again that the tokina with the D300 is as good a combination as the person using it.

Now all I have to learn is how to do shots like this from a tripod.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Exeter Cathedral 1

Exeter Cathedral 1
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Or how you can make AWB to your advantage. No, this isn't shopped, just converted from NEF to JPG. The color difference is purely from the camera's whitebalance.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Every vacation I shoot one of these. This year it's Hobgoblin. A nice, dark red beer with loads of flavor and depth. Of course not for sale here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

God I miss Dartmoor

Dartmoor 8
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
One of the most impressive places I've ever been. What I wouldn't give to be able to walk here and keep on walking... Walk in perfect solitude and at the end of the day a dry place to sleep, a bowl of stew, some crusty bread, a pint of dark ale and a good nights sleep.. And repeat the next day untill all my worries have leaked out of my mind.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another panorama
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Or Image Composite Editor as they prefer to call it. It's free and can be found here:

I downloaded when I, once again, got an error message from Photoshop's photo stitcher function.

This is way better than photoshops. Handles a lot of formats, autodetects what's the best solution is and stitches. Two drawbacks
1. It's extremely slow in VMWare
2. It tends to default to saving a very small version of your pano.

Besides that I really like it.I just use it to stich horizontal panoramas and export to plain old jpg but this tool can handle loads of things such as HD view and Silverlight deep zoom

Sunday, July 19, 2009

God, it's hard to be back

Looe bay
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
I've come to the conclusion that I really like the UK and adore Cornwall.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Railroad perspective in black and white

Funny this, 5 views, 2 favorites and 1 comment. So the few people who see it like it.

I've just upgraded my Dxo filmpack. Lovely piece of software, highly recommended.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Esther being herself

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Despite the obvious mistakes here I really do like her expression

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Panorama time

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Sometimes you just got to.
Does this justify a panorama head for a tripod? Not yet.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Blackberries and chocolate as far as the eye can see

Bakesale at the kids' school. Liked the looks of this cake. Jpg and even set to vivid, get an eyeful people, this is something you wont' often see...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Graduated Neutral Density filters part 1

Let me start with a disclaimer. This post describes my experiences. I am by no means an expert, I’m just writing this to order my own thoughts, for the fun of it and for the slight chance that people with even less knowledge than I have may find it useful.

All example pics are clickable and will lead to flickr where you’ll find different sizes and full exif.

A recent article in Amateur Photographer got me interested in using neutral density filters in my landscape photography. Landscape shots can be demanding because you’re often dealing with a lot of dynamic range. A typical landscape shot can end up like this.

Shot in matrix metering. 3/4 of the picture is sky so the camera tries to expose the whole scene properly but ends up with a sky that’s more or less acceptable and a ground that’s just too dark.

I must add here that my Nikon D300 outperforms the s*** out of my old D50. With the D50 the ground would have been much darker and lost detail.

Anyway, enter the gradual neutral density filter.

What is it?

It’s a filter where one part is colored and the other part isn’t. They exist in two main types, screw-in and rectangular in a holder. I’ve looked at the screw-in type and consider it less than ideal. It’s not flexible, you’re depended on what the manufacturer has decided for you.

Instead I went for a system with rectangular filters. Because I’m on a limited budget and because of availability I went for Cokin. Cokin is a well known French filter maker that many of us remember from the film days. They’re not dead yet even though I don’t really see a use for many of their products any more.

Cokin makes filters in 4 sizes. For us hobby photographers on a limited budget only the smallest two are of interest. A-system which will fit lenses up to 62mm. I went for the P-system which will fit lenses up to 82mm. P-system is a bit more expensive but because the filters are bigger (84mm wide instead of 67mm) there’s more room to move them and some of the lenses that are on my someday list have a 67mm thread.

Cokin sells single filters but also kits. I selected the H-250 kit  which includes:

  • Gradual Grey G2 (ND2)
  • Gradual Grey G2 (ND4)
  • Gradual Grey G2 Soft (ND8)
  • P-system holder

Now for the holder to mount on the filter thread on the front of your lens you need an adapter ring. They are relatively cheap and available in loads of sizes. I selected 52mm for my 50mm and 18-55 zoom and 62mm for my 28-105mm zoom. I bought all this mail order from Foto Konijnenberg. Ordered and paid on Monday, received it yesterday.


I also ordered the P255 stackable hood, more on that in a future post.

Using it

Open all the packages, slide the appropriate ring in the holder, screw it on your lens and you’re ready to go.

It’s not quite that simple of course. I started by digging up the old Velbon tripod I have on long-term loan from my dad. Went to a nice spot just outside town and set up. I metered in spot metering off the ground of the image and then set the camera on the tripod. To establish a baseline I first took the shot in matrix metering:

Like I said, results like you would expect. I then slid in the first filter, the 121L which should help cover a two stop difference between the sky and the ground.

It took me some fiddling to get it properly positioned. Fortunately I remember something I read here where they advise you to use the DoF preview button to check the placement of the filter. That does help.

I then tried the 121S which is a whopping 8 stops but with a softer transition between the colored and the blank part.

So… it does work. What I have learned already is that your metering requires real attention when you’re doing this. You do need to know rather exactly the difference in stops between the ground and the sky. That’s a matter of shooting discipline.

What I need to learn and to gain some experience in is positioning the filter properly and quickly and shooting without tripod. Yes, I know  I shouldn’t but the main reason I bought this kit now is our family vacation to Cornwall and Devon this summer and I can’t have the rest of the family waiting around for minutes while I set up for a single shot.

There you have it, my first small steps in filter usage and yet another step in learning proper landscape photography.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

One of my worst shots in a long time

tiny frog
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Well, that's what I thought when I noticed how badly this was focussed. Then I looked again and noticed it has a certain something. The incredible Dof..

Just don't view it bigger.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Forest view

Forest view
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
This is one of those pics that's just very me. Shot in Leiduin, an old estate with english style landscape gardens. I very deliberately exposed for the light green near the vanishing point. The trees are darker but it all very much reminds of how it actually is there.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Simple birdshot? Or not?

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
The wren, also known as winter wren or, in dutch, winterkoninkje. At 10cm length it's a LOT smaller than the common house sparrow which we all know as a tiny bird. It's so small and light that I suspect it's the smallest bird of north-west europe.

It's quite easily startled, usually it's a challenge to get closer than 5 meters to wild birds like this.

In this case I was very lucky. This bird followed me for a few meters hopping from branch to branch, chattering at me. It came so close that I could get this shot with my humble Sigma 70-300.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

young planespotter

young planespotter
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
I love pics like this. Spent an hour or so with Bas and Akos shooting some planes. Bas is now using my D50.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Going Walkabout

Or, as close as you can get in my densely populated world.

My friend Akos has just bought a D90 and was interested in going outside and putting it trough it’s paces. I figured it might be nice to have some company on one of my walks and I find it rewarding to help a new photographer with those faltering few first steps. So on a bright sunday morning we set out for my 8km walk near Zandvoort.

Yes, that’s me on my size 16 Meindls with my new White Rock hat. For some reason I can’t take pictures well while wearing sunglasses and I find that now I’m older bright sun on my head gives me sunstroke way faster than it used to so this is my solution. On my right hip a 1 liter canteen US Army model I picked up in a local army surplus store for a few euros. On hot days like this protection from the sun is important but drinking enough is even more important. A doctor once told me that if you don’t need to piss you don’t drink enough. Still good advice I think.

The photography kit is safe in a lowepro flipside 300.

This walk leads you along a lot of rather bare dune landscape. Just one good shot there of a caterpillar crossing the road.


A bit further on I did manage a good landscape snap.

And here’s a shot Akos did of me doing this:

The color difference is significant. I think mine is close to the truth, the other shot seems a bit overexposed and more saturated than mine.  I like this a lot, it shows clearly what photography means for me. Just me alone with nature capturing it’s beauty.

Near the end of our walk we saw a lot of young rabbits.

A few years ago myxomatosis took a terrible toll on the rabbit population. I’m glad to see it’s recovering now. Not only because adolescent rabbits such as this one are a nice sight but also because they are an important part of the food chain.

I had hoped to get a better shot of a sand lizard but it was just too warm and sunny and these lizards are very quick when they are properly warmed.

This one I shot the day before.

That’s it. A nice walk, healthy exercise, some good shots from a small bit of nature that manages to survive in the overcrowded west of my country. The walk itself is mapped here.

Some day I hope to visit one of the bigger nature reserves in North America for some serious hiking and shooting.