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Here in Europe, thanks to the surge in homeworking, there is no way to get your hands on a new webcam – they’re sold out everywhere. So I tried another solution for my older desktop machine running Xubuntu.

While installing Droidcam on Xubuntu, I encountered the following message:

gcc: error: make: No such file or directory

Strange, since I had just installed the complete GCC.

But while the GCC may have been complete, ‘make’ is a separate tool. The simplest way to install it is:

sudo apt-get install build-essential

It’s easy, once you know – but I can imagine that it’s not that easy if you’re not a developer (or a seasoned Linux user). But neither is getting Droidcam to work on Ubuntu, by the way – it takes a lot of tinkering to get it to work over USB, including the right developer mode settings on the phone as well as installing the ADB tools on Xubuntu with:

apt-get install android-tools-adb android-tools-fastboot

Now I just need a longer USB-C cable to position the phone above my desk rather than below it!

Can’t use this camera position in Skype – where’s that long cable?

As an aside: the lsusb on Xubuntu recognizes my Samsung Note 10+ as a “Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd GT-I9300 Phone [Galaxy S III] (PTP mode)“. I never connected my S3 to this copy of Xubuntu, so there must be another explanation for that weirdness…

I have written about my tribulations with the Xerox Phaser 3260 laser printer earlier this year. All in all, I’m happy with the machine: it’s probably not the cheapest option but it worked without fail for many years now, mainly helping my children with their homework and their university courses.

The trouble I wrote about earlier was in fact solely due to the appearance of Mac OS “Catalina”: this version of Mac OS requires 64-bit drivers, which were unavailable from Xerox for a very long time. During the whole process of trying out how best to work with different versions of Mac OS and the corresponding drivers I also turned on AirPrint in the printer settings. I did not hope to solve our problems that way, but in house full of iPhones and iPads AirPrint comes in handy. And turning it on for the Xerox is just a matter of clicking once:

As it turns out, this is actually the easiest way to get any Mac to print to the Phaser – even without any printer driver software. So here’s my tip of the day: if you are the owner of one or more Mac’s or iOS devices, make sure your printer understands AirPrint and turn it on! As long as you don’t need any fancy features of your printer, say for printing photos, this is the easiest and quickest way to get your printer working for you.

If I ever need to buy another printer, I’ll make sure it understands AirPrint ;-)

Last year, my brother moved to a house in what we would (almost) call the countryside. The lockdown provided him with lots of time to clean up his garden, which includes a chicken coop and a greenhouse – we all hope to be invited for a celebratory BBQ, by the way ;-)

Guess what he found in the chicken coop: a mouldy camera bag with a camera and a few lenses. Photography being one of my interests, he dropped the bag at my door last weekend. I investigated the contents: the bag went straight into the rubbish bin.

The camera turns out to be a Mamiya/Sekor 500 TL, a single-lens reflex camera for M42 lenses. It came with an uninspiring Auto Mamiya/Sekor 1:2.8 50mm lens.

The Mamiya/Sekor 500 TL

I found a few references to this model on the Internet, and having handled one myself I can understand why one (recent) review calls this camera “big, chunky and disappointing“. It is indeed well-built and probably very strong camera, but it’s also quite heavy.

The Sekor 500 TL was introduced to the market in 1966, but I guess the one I have here is younger than that. Contrary to the 1966 model, it does have a self-timer. As a nice addition, it also includes a detachable (cold) flash shoe accessory from Asahi-Pentax; I guess those two brands had similar prisms on their cameras, or it would not have fitted so well.

The Asahi Pentax flash shoe

I already have a few camera’s in my collection, and this could be a new addition… but this particular item is damaged: it has a serious dent. I’m not even sure the back closes correctly, which is essential for any camera.

The dent is quite serious, given the heavy construction of this camera

Even if there is no internal damage such a dent makes the camera probably worthless. My shelve space is rather limited, and that makes me wonder: should I really keep this one, dent and all?

PS. These are my first “product stills”, and I know that I have a lot of work to do on the white balance of those pictures!

Meteorologically speaking April was a warm and sunny month in Belgium, and that was clear from what we saw in our garden: the grass grew very fast, and our trees bloomed two to three weeks earlier than normal. Local tradition demands that we wear Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) on the International Worker’s Day events. It has been quite a while since the lily of the valley plants in our garden bore flowers on May 1st; this year, they were almost all gone before that day!

The first open flowers on our lily-of-the-valley already appeared on April 10th.

Those warm and sunny conditions are of course reflected in our solar energy production numbers. April numbers ended at almost 115% of the average for the month, and only two Aprils did better – almost a decade ago, when the reflective coating on the roof was still really reflective ;-)

I may not have much faith in Samsung’s will to do what I think they should do: keep the software of their devices up to date for more than 2 years. But I must report that the Galaxy S7 received another update to its OS: at least the Android security patch level has been upgraded to the version of March 1, 2020. Keep it up, Samsung!

Minor updates only – but that’s better than nothing!