Well, not really — it’s just another storm. It added about 4.5 inches (12cm) of pelletized and powdered climate change to what was already on the ground. But this is the fifth major winter storm since the middle of February, with only a couple of brief thaws interspersed. And it’s going to get really cold tonight (far colder than in Scandinavia, I’ll bet), so it kind of feels like we’ve been teleported above the Arctic Circle.

First there was rain last night, when it was still fairly warm. It continued into this morning as the weather got colder and colder. Then the sleet started, and after that a few hours of snow. And it’s still getting colder.

Fortunately, there was almost no freezing rain in the mix, so the risk of losing our electric power is minimal. And we’re hardly snowbound; it just feels like it. This is supposed to be very early spring in these latitudes, with daffodils blooming and the forsythia budding. Instead we’ve had three weeks of unrelenting winter. It’s getting old.

The photo at the top of this post was taken just before dusk from the belvedere in the northeast gardens of Schloss Bodissey, next to the orangery and the topiary and just around the corner from the pergola. On the far left you can see one of Dymphna’s two Leyland cypresses (Cupressus × leylandii). Three others were pretty much destroyed by our nemesis, the white-tailed deer. The shrub (ha!) in the middle of the picture is a viburnum, and the evergreen is some sort of decorative holly.

16 thoughts on “Whiteout

  1. It’s the complete reverse down here Baron. Temps have been in the low to mid 90s F for the past two weeks with high humidity and no sign of a let up while the Possums at night in the trees at the back of the house screech their displeasure. So much for Autumn weather!

  2. I hope you stripped the geotag and ideally all of the EXIF info out of that image.

    • There was never any geotag; the camera is far too old; was made before such things came into use. This is like the Instamatic of digital cameras.

      The original image was softened, resized, and cropped. Then the brightess, gamma, contrast, and color balance were adjusted. Then it was sharpened. Then it was copied into a bitmap, where it was edited somewhat pixel-by-pixel. Then it was resized again. Then it was converted to a jpeg.

      Any metadata that got through all that intact is mighty robust metadata indeed.

      • Metadata isn’t affected by image processing because it’s a data block appended to the graphics file. (Stegonography may or may not be eliminated by image processing depending on the stegonography algorithm and the image processing algorithms used.) Whether it’s retained all depends on whether the software decides to append the metadata it read from the original file when the postprocessed version is saved, and pretty much all modern software does this unless it happens to give you the option to strip it out and you use it.

        In this case the camera may not support EXIF at all, but I just wanted to warn you that you might want to use some dedicated metadata stripping software on images before posting just to verify that it’s gone.

        Example you may have heard of already: http://defensetech.org/2012/03/15/insurgents-used-cell-phone-geotags-to-destroy-ah-64s-in-iraq/

        • I’m aware of all that. I don’t use the graphics file at all, except to open it and then copy out the image as a bitmap. I then process the bitmap in a different application, one I wrote myself, which does not use the orginal file and does not include any metadata. It is purely and simply a map of 24-bit color pixels, width x height, and has no other data. Not only that, the RGB color in each pixel is repeatedly altered at every stage of the process as the colors are adjusted and the dimensions changed.

          As I said before, it’s hard to see how any metadata can make it intact through that process. But maybe you know some means by which information can be hidden in those pixels, even after they have been through so many transformations.

          • There are things that could make it through that kind of processing, but they’re digital watermarking technologies (which is essentially a form of stegonography) that are highly unlikely to apply in this situation, especially with old equipment.

            Anyway, I just figured it was worth bringing up since followers of the “religion of peace” have made use of photo metadata in the past.

            (Call me paranoid but, while I wouldn’t expect GPS data to be embedded this way, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find newer cameras embedding their serial numbers in images using highly resilient digital watermarking methods without anyone’s knowledge. It’s basically just a matter of firmware.)

          • I’m paranoid myself. That’s why I’ve thought about things like this (and many others).

            Here’s why I don’t think any metadata (assuming any exists in the files from my camera, which is fairly unlikely, given how old the camera is) could get through the process. Consider this thought experiment:

            I open an image file from the camera, using standard generic software. I select a rectangle from the middle of that image and copy it to my clipboard. That rectangle is, say, a 600×300 24-bit color bitmap. Metadata from the file itself does not copy into this bitmap.

            If any information is coded into the pixels themselves, however, it might be included in that rectangle. The information stored in such a manner in jpegs is, if I understand it correctly, encoded by flipping a single bit in each of a number of 24-bit pixels — not enough to make the image visibly different, but sufficient to encode information.

            I begin my modification by softening the image — that changes the value of every single pixel, including, one presumes, those with any hidden data.

            I then adjust various parameters — brightness, contrast, or gamma — in all 3 colors taken together, or individually for R, G, or B. Each of those adjustments also changes the value of pixels, and some of them may change the value of every pixel.

            I then resize the image, using my own custom software, to some percentage of the original size. In this case, let’s say to 73.3% of the original, so that I get a 440×220 version of the image. Once again, this changes the value of every every single pixel. Furthermore, there are only about 54% as many pixels in the result as there were in the original. Information in adjacent pixels has thus been collapsed into one pixel, throughout the entire image.

            Finally, I sharpen the image, which changes the value of every every single pixel.

            In other words, by my analysis (speaking as a systems analyst), any coded information concealed in the original bitmap has now been garbled to the point where it can’t be recovered. Maybe NSA could extract some of it, or maybe not — almost half (46%) the information that was originally present has been lost, not to mention what was modified by the various color operations. Any algorithm to reverse this process would have to determine every adjustment I had made, and then undo each one in reverse order. And even then the original could not be reconstructed in an exact pixel by pixel copy, due to the loss of 46% of the original information in the resizing process.

            This is roughly what I did to obtain that little graphic at the top of this post (although I think the actual size was different than in this thought experiment).

    • “I hope you stripped the geotag and ideally all of the EXIF info out of that image.”

      Not a bad idea. That will stop the amateurs.

      But I’m guessing by now the Baron is a known entity. Stripping the EXIF info out of his images and all the technical particulars of that is a moot point. He’s out there. God Bless him.

      • You’re quite right. I was already public before Breivik, but the Butcher of Utøya put the spotlight on me, and it has never been completely extinguished.

        However, I do know a little bit about image files — although possibly not as much as our commenters. It seems to me that creating a new image file using a bitmap in RAM and custom software is not the same as grabbing a (tagged) file out of a camera. But maybe I am mistaken.

        In any case, I think this camera even predates the internet. It really is an antique.

        I prefer old hardware if I can get it. It has less of the intrusive government crap on it.

          • Here’s a revolutionary thought: assuming you’re not impatient, use a 35mm film camera, get the negs transferred to CD rather than prints, stick in your PC and download to, say, Picasa. Manipulate away, then share.

  3. “It added about 4.5 inches (12cm) of pelletized and powdered climate change to what was already on the ground.”

    4.5 inches you say? In the upper reaches of the north country us New Englanders consider that a mild winters morning.

    You Virginians are a little bit scaredy of the snow then are ya? Just a little friendly teasing 🙂

  4. Baron, I really feel for you. It was 39 degrees here in Lamphun yesterday and it is likely to get hotter than that today.

    My wife took the washing out of the machine half an hour ago and hung it out. It is now dry.

  5. Well, it’s a good thing I’m so old. To me, that was just a pretty picture of a snowy morning. And now I learn that it is full of “data” that can be dangerous — I didn’t understand a word of the conversation.

    I just hope spring is really right around the corner for Y’all — it is here — daffs are several inches up!

    And, from what I read over at Hot Air, lying by public officials makes absolutely NO DIFFERENCE whatsover. Whether it’s Clinton’s emails or Ferguson’s racism. I pity my children and grandchildren. . .

  6. I saw robins out back yesterday. And in three weeks the Cardinals, Orioles and Blue Jays will be coming north.

  7. It’s been a lovely early spring day here in the north of England 10-12 degrees Celsius and sunny, but the wind when it blew still carried a chill. The snowdrops and crocuses are out in all their glory and the daffodils are beginning to open, whilst the tulips are beginning to push up through the soil – winter is drawing to a close, hopefully without a sting in its tail!

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