30 March 2022

A rare bird

original 6000x4000 scaled down to 1000x667 pixels
15 Mar 2022


detail 150x90 pixels from original 6000x4000 image above
 
(enhanced with GIMP)

First I noticed a white bird far away on a small lake. I made some photographs with a telephoto lens. However, from that distance it is impossible to get a good image. Whatever, it was a kind of duck. A white duck is rare. In general, white birds are rare. A swan, a spoonbill and a snowy owl are good examples. Because a white duck is rare and remarkable, I remembered the name from my Lars Jonsson bird guide. But I never have seen it in real life. It is a smew, in Dutch: Nonnetje. The smew (Mergellus albellus) is a species of duck. Suddenly, the bird flew away. In this case, I was lucky. It flew into my direction!

white bird with a black spot around the eye...

English: Smew (male) Dutch: Nonnetje (cropped)
and the wings are black!


A good opportunity for some better pictures. I am happy with the pictures. It was good enough for ObsIdentify (image recognition software) to identify the species with 100% certainty. 

These birds visit our country only in winter. They don't breed in the Netherlands.


Technical details

Camera: Sony A6400. Lens: 70-350mm. Handheld. t=1/4000 sec. 

Location: google maps Polder Nieuw-Loosdrecht.

Wikipedia: Smew; Nonnetje. Waarneming.nl

tags:  English, fotografie, vogels,

21 March 2022

KOBO Forma: a beautiful eReader with a really horrible power button!

small powerbutton of KOBO Forma (close-up)

I bought the Kobo Forma (8 inch) eReader after using the Kobo Aura HD (6.8 inch) for about ten years. For a long time I had been looking for a larger screen and a color screen. A Kobo with a color screen has yet to be invented, but the screen of the Kobo Forma is larger: 8 inch.  After unpacking, I could not get the eReader started. The power button did not do anything. Maybe the battery was low. At the moment I connected it to the powerbank, the eReader started itself. But that should not be necessary to start an eReader! Once fully charged, the problem with the power button did not disappear. I tried to start it many times with the power button, but almost never started with the first try. I configured it to go in sleep mode after 5 minutes and never power off. Here are the number of attempts before it got out of sleep mode:

12x 30x 28x 23x 17x 7x 5x 1x 1x 3x 3x 3x 4 x 3x 1x 6x 3x 1x 7x 1x 1x 1x 1x 1x 2x 19x 3x 1x 1x 1x 1x

This is unacceptable. My wife discovered a method that worked rather reliably: placing the nails of both index fingers on the power button and give a strong short push. It worked most of the time for me too. However, it should not be necessary that starting the e-reader depends critically on the precise way you push the button. At Rakuten Kobo they know how to design physical buttons. The page-up/page-down button is very reliable and big enough. Why not such a robust button to power up the machine? I don't get it. After more than 10 years of designing e-readers they still don't get it. The power button of my old Kobo Aura HD works fine, but is not particularly elegantly designed.

pointless 'Swipe to unlock' !
(page buttons on the right
)

A crazy feature is the fact that after waking up the Kobo Forma from sleep the user is forced to swipe to unlock it (see picture). This is really an unnecessary requirement. I really don't see the point. Pushing the button should be enough. If you do not swipe quickly or in the right direction (see arrow) nothing happens! And the thing goes after some time in sleep mode. A really perfect way to drive users mad!

KOBO added another difficulty: the difference between getting the eReader out of sleep and power down is very small. There is only one button. So it is very easy to unintentionally power down in stead of getting it out of sleep. That is very annoying. It is bad design. A mistake is easily made. Too easy. The possibility to power it down or getting it in to sleep by the menu would be a great help. Why is it absent? Every PC has that possibility!

It is hard to ignore the power button, but if I ignore it for the moment, the Kobo Forma is well designed. The screen is nice, the physical page buttons function as expected. Above that they adapt to the orientation of the device. The function of the page-down button stays the same irrespective of the left-right position of the e-reader. The text also adapts to the four possible orientations: two vertical (portrait) and two horizontal (landscape). This auto-rotating works, but could be faster and more smoothly.

Good features are quick downloads of eBooks and it is fully charged in less than two hours. Finally, after many years of slight improvements, highlighting text works now smoothly. I discovered that special characters (ë,ü) can be included in Notes by the user. And there is a nice feature: smoothly adjusting lightness in the left margin without the need to go in to the menu (brightness % is indicated at the top margin).

Conclusion: 

The KOBO Forma is a nice e-reader with a horrible power button. There is an expensive 50 euro Kobo Forma 'Sleep Cover' available. The only problem that it solves is getting the e-reader quickly out of sleep. It does not solve the power up problem because one still needs the physical power button. Both automatic sleep and power-down can be set in the Energy savings menu. So, you don't need a sleep cover for that. I didn't buy it. The Kobo Forma is not particularly cheap: €279,99. At bol.com €  229.99 (without cover!).


Postscript

16 Jun 2022

Disaster: while writing a note, suddenly the KOBO Forma froze. Nothing helped, how forcefully or long one pressed the powerbutton: nothing! nothing! nothing! Frozen. The thing was as dead as a doornail. Out of sheer desperation I returned to my 10 year old KOBO and downloaded the e-book and continued reading. The good thing is that software updates for my old KOBO Aura are available year after year. Dear reader, NEVER buy the KOBO Forma e-reader! 


4 July 2022

Again: the KOBO reader freezes when typing a Note! Power button does nothing! Now waiting until battery is exhausted... After 1 or 2 days screen says: 'Please charge your e-reader'. When connecting to a power source the e-reader is awakening!!!

 



Nederlandse samenvatting

Ik heb de reader bij bol gekocht en je ziet dat de reviews zeer wisselend zijn. Veel mensen sturen hem terug omdat hij vastloopt. Sommigen hebben ook problemen met de powerbutton. Anderen vinden dat de batterij snel leeg is. Kennelijk is de kwaliteit van dit product nogal wisselend. Ik heb geluk gehad dat ik die andere problemen niet had.

De sleepcover is te koop bij bol.com voor € 49,99 ! Dit werkt alleen voor het in/uit slaap halen, niet power-down/up. Koop je deze erbij dan kost de Kobo Forma  329.98 totaal! Niet echt goedkoop! En dat vanwege een slecht functionerende powerbutton!


07 March 2022

Spring has arrived (2)


tjiftjaf (Dutch) Common chiffchaff (English) ©GK
Sony 70-350 telezoom.

My first tjiftjaf this year yesterday 6 Mar 2022 in Bloeidaal nature reserve. For me as a birdwatcher this is the real start of spring. I am always happy to hear his song. This little migratory bird is one of the first species arriving in my country, The Netherlands. Often it freezes a few nights after his arrival. What a welcome is that! It is such a small bird, but it is a tough bird! It is a survivor. He did not sing its famous song, after which it is named, but made a call typical for the species. Previous year I witnessed his song on 25 February! That was really extreme! I was lucky that the sun was shining. It helps a lot for making a nice picture.

 

knobbelzwaan, Mute swan.

the swan was flying above my head

In 3 seconds I could make two pictures

the first was overexposed

the second is shown above.