Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Wednesday 31 August 2005

libgphoto2 bindings

I committed as is 2 sets of bindings for libgphoto2. One for Java, done with SWIG, the other is for Python done with Pyrex.

I haven't tested them, but they are here, provided by some external contributor.

Now I have C# waiting. I extracted the code from f-spot 0.1.1.

Tuesday 30 August 2005

libgphoto2 news for 2.2

Marcus did patch the "directory" camlib to work with the new disk: driver that I wrote, in order to be able to use libgphoto2 to download pictures off a mounted filesystem. I was procrastinating and never tested my chances completely. He did his own, and in fact I like them better. He also made the disk: driver work without libhal.

He also fixed the long standing bug (I'd say design issue) where pictures got cached into memory. Now, only two gets and that cover 99% of the cases. Other you would have had the content of your memory card in RAM which is bad.

Thursday 25 August 2005

Palm woes

I was hunting for charger for a Palm Tungsten E, because:

  1. this device comes with a charger that only works in the region it is sold in, i.e. North America in my case, unlike my $50 Nokia cell-phone
  2. and I don't have that charger for various reasons

The Tungsten E does not have a craddle, it syncs with a mini-USB cable, and the one I have for the digital camera fits the bill. So I went to the stores that sell that kind of devices.

The first one didn't have the Travel Charger, a $45 + taxes kit that works worldwide with a variety of plugs, because it seems to be back ordered.

The other one did have the mobility kit, which is a USB cable that you plug to an adapter that you can use in your car. It advertises "charge it from any USB plug". So I got that for $40 + taxes. I go back to the office, plug it in to the MacMini USB port, nothing happens. *sigh* So I return it to the store, checking with the sales guy, and get a refund.

In fact it appears that in that case, nothing should happen, it is documented in the KB as Trickle Charge. It is just that it is charging slowly and the device will not tell about it. But the article is not really clear whether this apply to any USB cable or just that specific one sold for $40. So I mail the tech support and they tell within the next hour that it works with the USB cable that comes with the device (not the one I use, because I don't have it) for syncing. So it should work and I'll give it a shot. At least I know that it will not tell me anything when charging.

Bottom line: Palm, you would have written on your package how this work, that we are not expected to have feedback from the Palm when plugging this thing, you would have sold it to me, even if I don't need it.

And the fun part: In the second store, there was a LifeDrive with its web browser and wifi. I tried the browser and in a few minutes, when trying to load this blog, it ended up with an error like: "Sorry can't load, page is too big". I never got that with the Nokia 770.

Wednesday 24 August 2005

Google talk

The missing brick for Jabber is there. Its name is Google Talk and it is the bulldozer that will push to a wider adoption of Jabber and XMPP. I'm not the only one to think so. And it is a big step towards making IM an open thing.

I already mentionned that Apple added Jabber support to iChat, and it works with google. Gaim, the most popular client in the open source world works fine too. Look at the list of clients.

And the privacy issues that I mentionned about several proprietary IM services seems to not apply to Google Talk, given their Term Of Service.

But what did Google do wrong ? The client is not Open Source, but since it is not a requirement and since it runs only on Windows, I don't consider that as an issue. It currently does not work with other Jabber service. But I think that Google might fix that in the future. It currently does not interact with other IM service, but Google said the intention to do so, if they are let do. They already plan to do that for the VoIP thing.

More info (fr)

Tuesday 23 August 2005

Hardware vendor reply

Here is verbatim the reply from a sales representative of a major computer vendor (name hidden to protect the innocent):

All our operating systems have to have an operating system installed at time of purchase. If you like you can re-boot the system with linux.

Does the sentence even make sense ?

Monday 22 August 2005

New gear

Earlier I talked about a rumored "full frame" 13MPix DSLR for less than USD$4,000. It is announced for less than USD$3,300. More info. The notable thing is that it does not have a flash built-in.

There is also an interesting EF 24-105 f/4L USM IS that would make a nice replacement for my EF 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 USM.

Saturday 20 August 2005

Bundled software, or monopoly abuse

Back in 1999, there was a Windows Refund Day organized in the bay area to protest against the fact that you couldn't buy a "branded" computer without Microsoft Windows operating system. In 6 years, thing haven't changed. You still can't buy just any "branded" PC without it. Even worse, today you have to buy a photo editing software with your digital camera. And I'm talking about third party software, not about software by the same company. For example, MacOS X with Apple hardware is not really a bundle sale; because they are both Apple products, arguments may fall flat as it sounds unfair to require a competing product.

I went a couple of month back, into requesting to that manufacturer a refund on a software I don't use that they forced me to buy with the camera. They gave me the following arguments about why they should:

  • the software is not made by them, they can't provide a support That explicitly means it is another product, and yes, I can find it for CDN$150 at the electronic store around the corner
  • the software is here to allow the user to familiarize with photo-editing. So I don't need it to use their product. That means again it is not required, so they have NO reason to force you to get it.
  • the software can not open the prorpietary RAW files the camera generate. You can contact the publisher to purchase an upgrade. That means it gives no a single added value for using the camera.

How many of you don't use or need that software, and how many in that case did request a refund? I don't think there is a big number for the second case, while the first one is probably higher than one might think. If you read that and don't use the third party software that comes with you camera, contact the manufacturer and request a refund. I still haven't gotten mine, but as usual, the more one ask, the more we can achieve getting what we want.

Now back to the bundled OS. In February 2002, Be Inc filed a complain for monopoly abuse against Microsoft, because Microsoft bundling agreement forbid to bundle any competiting operating system. So how to do want manufacturer give the choice if they can't? That is the whole purpose. The lawsuit ended with a settlement of over USD$23M. Since the company was already out of business (they sold their assets for a tenth of that settlement), it is obvious that this was the only thing to be expected. This $23M is just pocket money for Microsoft, so it had no effect whatsoever.

Beside a few random refunds in various countries (France and US), nobody get backs its money for the unused software. Even vendors of laptop with Linux preinstalled can't get supplies for laptop without Windows as stated Lincoln Durey in his LJ Editorial. And vendors requires you to accept the software EULA in order to use their hardware, said EULA allowing to refund of the software in case of disagreement. Some like IBM just say: "IBM does not provide refunds or credits for portions of a packaged offering provided at a single price." And IBM claim to support Linux? (I know they sold to Lenovo, but they still say IBM)

They take away the exit for software refund... unless this agreement is void in your jurisdiction. And Microsoft then sue people trying to resell said license and media, because they say it is illegal, even those acquired outside of a bundle sale.

So what can we do ? Fight. Request refund everytime you have to do it. Inaction leads to the worse.

Thursday 18 August 2005

No sir, you can not charge your iPod shuffle

Apple, after providing DRM on the MacOS X did provide ERM (Electron Rights Management -- credit to desrt for the idea on #gnome-hackers) on its iPod. It is in principle that you can't charge your iPod Shuffle just anywhere you have USB.

If you plug it into a MacOS X or a Windows machine, with iTunes installed, iTunes will gently ask you if you want to replace the music on the iPod with the one on the computer. Of course you don't want. This is not your computer, you are just borrowing a few electrons to charge the battery, that's it. So far no problem, at least for what you want to do: charge it. But no. Clicking NO just "disconnects" the iPod (basically make it off-line), and it no longer charges. Is it that difficult to let it charge?

The final solution was just to plug it into a Linux machine, because Linux does not care about that.

Thank you Apple for being so smart.

Wednesday 17 August 2005

Movie previews

Went to see The 40 Year-Old Virgin tonight as an avant-première. Really funny comedy. Entertaining.

Last week we went to see Broken Flowers, the latest Jim Jarmusch movie featuring Bill Murray, Sharon Stone, Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under). A comedy drama, emphasizing on the characters and with really funny moments. I'm not really familiar with Jim Jarmusch, but it is a good movie.

We missed Wes Craven latest movie, Red-Eye, due to conflicting schedule (free tickets as well).

Monday 15 August 2005

13MPix full frame DSLR for under USD$4,000

Rumors talk about a 13MPix full frame (ie close to 24x36mm) DSLR camera for under USD$4,000.

True or false ?

Well at least it give a reason not even think about investing in an expensive EF-S lens.

I have been having the spec sheet pined on the wall behind my desk since last week :-)

Saturday 13 August 2005


Lately I have been packaging hugin, enblend and autopano-sift for Ubuntu. I originally did them for my own use, but I felt like trying to become a MOTU. Packages have been uploaded to REVU for review.

These tools are a set of tool to perform picture stitching to do panorama from several pictures.

Mental note: post one or two.

Wednesday 10 August 2005

Pictures out of a Motorola cell-phone

I found in a blog a hint on how to download pictures from a Motoral cell-phone with a camera. Basically it involve issuing an AT command to switch the device to a different mode and then use a proprietary protocol called P2K.

moto4lin comes to the rescue by providing the implementation.

Looks like a good candidate for a libgphoto2 addition.

The Motorola V220 has the good taste to come with a mini-USB connector.

Tuesday 9 August 2005

Digital still camera for animation movie

Tim Burton's latest animation movie, Corpse Bride, has been shot with a digital still camera off the shelf. The interesting part about that news is that the film makers did use the open source dcraw software for their workflow, after having used it to evaluate the cameras quality.

The irony is that this software, that none of the manufacturer support by giving the necessary documentation, made the manufacturers have their gear used for a film, with all the marketing hype they might wish (one brand won over the other).

Source: Editors Guild

Sunday 7 August 2005

Trip to Ottawa, day 3

Wednesday July 20th 2005, Day 3 of my trip to Ottawa.

Dekstop Developer Conference is finished, and I have a few more hours to kill before going home. Time to go downtown shutterbugging. Wait, I'm already downtown as the conference center in inside Centre Rideau, a big downtown shopping mall, a few blocks for the Parliament of Canada.

I went down to the lock on Canal Rideau. These are the last before entering the Outaouais (Ottawa) river the separate Ottawa, Ontario, from Gatineau, Québec. While the Tuesday they were being emptied, this time there were actually a couple of boats going slowly thru to locks:

I went to chit-chat with a couple of boaters, asking them in french where they were coming from or going to. It appears that one of them went thru their 49th lock on their way back to Montréal, while the others came back from 1,000 Islands, Ontario to Laval, Québec, a 10 days trip. I should do that one day, slowly boating to go on vacation.

While walking uphill to the parliament, there was that person who lost is cell phone on the grass somewhere. I offered him to call his number to see if it rings too help locate it, but without chance.

The parliament is a real tourist attraction, probably the main in Ottawa. One of the reason is that the building is gorgeous, the other one is that it is the heart of the federal government. But there was some attractions too. First, the RCMP officer securing the area. Apparently the chinese tourists like to be photographed with a "mountie", even if he does not wear the red uniform (cliché), and actually happy to no because of the heat. I don't rememeber to have seen police officers that friendly in France.

Second, there was a "silent" demonstration against persecutions and tortures in China, exhibiting pictures and giving away flyers. It was not silent because someone with reading in a microphone, but they were still and pacific.

The rest of the walk didn't bring any interesting stories but still some pictures:

The grand finale being the World War memorial:

Saturday 6 August 2005

Ejecting removable media in Nautilus

In reply to the never ending bug 115763, I provided a mockup of UI that could be used to provide facilities to eject removable medias. Since a UI mockup is better than a long talk, here it is:

As mentionned in the bug, the idea comes directly from what MacOS X does since version 10.3. Of course I'm still convinced that the drag to the trash method should be supported. But that is just me.

Friday 5 August 2005

My Date with Drew

My Date with Drew is a really funny movie. I went to see it yesterday with free tickets, it was hilarious, much more than Last Days that I saw Wednesday and didn't like (in fact we would have left if there haven't been the other people).

I won't spoil the movie, but the subject is as is: 30 days and USD$1100 to get a date with Drew Barrymore. Filmed with a video camera, report/documentary style, etc.

Tuesday 2 August 2005

Freeing the Atheros driver

Apparently there is an ongoing effort to reverse engineer the Atheros wireless driver for Linux. I shall remind that this driver require you to currently have a proprietary binary code running in your kernel.

Monday 1 August 2005


No, it is not about software, but about buildings.

An interesting gallery of architecture photography from Hong-Kong, which is one of the most populated area in the world. Graphically interesting.

Petition fun

According to GNOME bug 115763 comment 50, there is an ongoing petition to have some fix in Nautilus accepted.

Thanks Manny !