Monday, 22 December 2008

Sony Ericsson W910i and its "special" ways

Yes, special... (as in special needs).

After fiddling around with many (many, many, ...) options of how to make Album Art work in visualization options, I have figured out it supports ID3 v2.3 (and v2.4 but is faulty - read on) tags that can have embedded pictures in them. It supports only image/jpeg type files. After twiddling for quite some time I converted all the tags to version 2.4.0 and UTF-8 encoded them - BIG MISTAKE, the player displays all the artists, albums and song names incorrectly than. The names seem to be split in 2 or more characters - GO SE ;). So I had to convert them all back.

Here is the final coctail of Id3 tags, that does work and display all fields ok:
  • ID3 version 2.3.0
  • Picture field with image/jpeg type
  • ISO-8859-1 (latin-1) encoding
I use Kid3-qt tag editor for most jobs with tagging my audio files.

Another glitch I noticed was that the device did not correctly disconnect when umounting the phone (as a storage device) from the PC. I use Ubuntu as my desktop and what I needed to do was to use eject (or a variation of it) to get proper disconnect - so this is the concoction I brewed to make it work properly:
in ~/.gnome2/nautilus-scripts/ create a file called Eject with the following contents:

gnome-eject --pseudonym "$MNTPNT"

When right clicking on the device icon on your desktop (the storage device that displays either the internal or the storage card of your W910i phone), navigate to Scripts->Eject, now the device should be ejected correctly and the phone will display the message that the storage session is finished.

Well hopefully someone else will stumble upon this post instead of wasting a weekend arranging their music files and discovering the tags have all gone beserk...

PS: The same procedure should work on older/other SE W(alkman) model phones/players.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Ubuntu, VirtualBox and suspend

Hey, I know, long time no write, well, long time no time left...

and allways running around requires me to suspend my laptop a lot, mainly when suspending it with VirtualBox running. Well after resuming the suspend VirtualBox froze most of the times. Killing the program and restarting it did not work, removing the module was impossible, so the only fix was the reboot. Well until smarter thought came ofcourse.

Create an pm script (in Ubuntu go to /etc/pm/sleep.d/) create a newfile named 90virtualbox with the following contents:


USR_RNNG=$(ps aux |grep VirtualBox |grep -v grep |cut -f1 -d' ')
if [ "x$USR_RNNG" != "x" ]; then
if [ $(id -u) -eq 0 ]; then
su $USR_RNNG -c $0
for VMS in $(VBoxManage list runningvms |egrep "^[0-9]"); do
VBoxManage controlvm $VMS savestate
exit 0

Dont forget to make the script executable (chmod +x 90virtualbox).

Well that works for me, now before doing ACPI suspend the virtualbox machines are suspended nicely and afterwards you have to start them again, but they are up in a heartbeat (well 5 seconds in my case).

You can do that either by running VirtualBox gui and starting them or running:
VBoxManage start UUID|name_of_virtual_machine

Happy virtualizing...

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Vacation in Spain

...we enjoyed very much. The people were great, the sights were excellent, the water was perfect. The pictures... well those you can judge for yourself.

I would recommend it to anyone, but maybe not necessarily by car and maybe you could take a bit longer (we had 3 weeks to enjoy it) lingering in each of the locations.

Spain 2008

Monday, 30 June 2008

Geocoding photos

A couple of posts ago I mentioned I was awaiting an GPS bluetooth gizmo. Well (to the dissapointment of my wifie) it arived. I spent a couple of evenings coding or should I better say recoding two peaces of software (python s60) progs to work as I want them to work and now I have a nicelly working GPS data reader and uploader from Symbian S60 phone with Python and a storage card (the data taken can come up to a couple of MB in size) and an external GPS bluetooth receiver.

  • The file is saved with a datetime timestamp, and is internally of NMEA 0183 format.
  • After you transfer the file to your computer (either in NMEA or GPX format - I use my uploader script for the second), you can use a peace of software called gpicsync. You could ofcorse use any other software that does the same job, but I am verry satisfied with gpicsync. It also works on Linux, Win, and OS X.
  • The program asks you to enter the path to the coordinates file (NMEA or GPX formated) and to the directory where the pictures (JPEG format) are kept.
  • You can also do some additional tweaking like the UTC time offset, but other than that you are set to go - so click "Synchronise!" and the coordinates are read from the GPS files and the coordinates are writen to the EXIF info in the JPEG files.
  • All you have to do now is to upload your pics to a web service that can make use of the coordinates embedded in the images, Picasa Web Albums, Flickr, etc. or you can view the locations in Google Earth application or another app that can read KML files.
Here is the web album of some geocoded pics.

And the map of the photo locations.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Depth of Field calculator for your mobile (s60)

I had some time on my hands and tried to spend it usefully (learning Python while actually doing something useful). So I wrote Depth of Field calculator that runs on Python enabled Symbian phones.
Ok so the usefulness part is so so, it is only useful if you are interested in photography and actually try to calculate the DoF instead of just going for it. While most of the time I just go for it, there are times when I can't really tell by the picture on the screen how much of it is actually sharp and where does the blur begin.

Here is what the result looks like on the phone screen:

The files are available here.

And if you want additional information on Depth of Field and formulas used in my prog look here.

If you like it - drop me a note - leave a post on the blog. If you want more/new/different features - please don't hesitate to ask - I'm sure there is more to it than just what I did.

PS: the code is my first try of actually doing some Symbian stuff in Python so please keep the comments objective ;)

Sunday, 8 June 2008

moo/flickr cards

An acquaintance of mine gave me his "business card" that looked kind of funny. It was a bit more narrow, printed on good paper, and had a photo that he took on the back side. Being an amateur photographer I thought well that's kind of cool how could I get my grubby little hands on a couple of those. So he told me you could create them from the pictures you post on and the company called moo prints them for you.

So, here is the result of the cards I got (only displaying the picture side). On the front side you can squeeze in 6 lines of text and an optional logo. The text can be read from the picture specs too (aperture, lenses, etc).

Ownuser E-510 battery grip

A couple of weeks ago I ordered an ownuser battery grip for my Oly E-510 camera. It helps vertical shooting a lot and is a verry firm grip. Built well (not the cheap plastic you would expect really).

The it has two buttons on the grip (for left/right handed) and it can pack two batteries (two BLM-1) or 12AA type batteries with a special battery holder.
The only problem is that it actually powers the camera through the mini USB connector on the back side so it is a bit clumsy, but otherwise works perfectly.

It takes a bit getting used to if you use a lot of manual mode like I do and have to turn the knobs all the time ;)

I'd rate it worth the money for an E-510 user (since olympus does not produce any official grips for E-510/E-520 models).

I have also ordered an GPS bluetooth module from E-bay, when that one comes in we'll dig into geocoding of pictures.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Vacation in Hungary

A couple of weeks ago around May 1st we went (by car) to Hungary specifically to Budapest and later to Siofok by lake Balaton. The trip was great. We really enjoyed the city, great architecture, monumental buildings, friendly people (most of all our CouchSurfing hostess there). I would recomend it to anyone who favors architecture and beautiful sites ;)

Also Balaton lake is very nice, and did I mention before the people were very, very nice? I can't seem to stress that enough ;)

I am attaching a slideshow of the Budapest

and Balaton pictures:

I hope you enjoy them but there is no supplement for the real thing.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The Zoo photo session

Regardless to the fact weather zoo's are OK or not, some days ago a couple of friends and I went to the Ljubljana Zoo, to practice our photography skills. I noticed I need a lot more time to take better pictures and observe the animals in their behavior than I actually managed to do this time. And after the shooting was done I also finally decided that the work flow in post processing needed serious changes and more of a structured approach. With pictures overloading the disks and me not being tidy enough to label them appropriately it's becoming a pain in the (a word that rhymes with bass).

Here are some of the pictures taken in a slide show - click for larger pics.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Iliad - The E-book reader

The "heads" here at my workplace have purchased a couple of E-book readers - iRex Iliad models for possible integration into a big launch of a electronic newspaper release (which did not quite make it onto the drawing board) which leaves me with one of the gadgets in my greedy little hands. The preciousss... Oh and did I mention it runs GNU/Linux? This is where the fun begins...

The page has a list of programs of different sorts available for the Illiad reader and the instructions on installing them. You can install additional or improved reader software, or even ssh package that enables you to work remotely with the full shell on the Linux computer.
You can even play mp3's on it while reading your favourite book.

The Illiad is actually quite good with displaying pages from PDF or (properly formated) HTML pages, and with the help of the additional FBReader you can also read plucker, CHM and a bunch of other e-literature types.

Hey and there is also an option of installing a web browser. You can choose between Dillo (minimalist browser) and Minimo (mozilla for memory/screen challenged devices) allthough they might be usable as a last resort with speed being the biggest problem on Illiad.

The computer supports WiFi, LAN connection and USB, it can load media an programs from CF, MMC or USB slots.

You do have to install an additional peace of software to make all of the above work - the "developer shell" which invaluates your software guarantee, so be carefull about it.

It can also download and upload files to/from a network SMB share either via WiFi or LAN, and you can also make it connect and sync at predefined intervals if you want your daily newspapers/comics etc. on it every morning.

Overall it is an interesting toy, but it lacks in certain areas:
  • speed (horrible, horrible, slow..., reading is ok if you dont mind waiting between the pages to switch and resizing of fonts also takes a while)
  • no back light (not by default not by option), which means you have to read it like a book (under some kind of light source)
  • the memory is a bit on the small size, but if you don't actually keep all the books on it, but exchange them via keys, CF, mmc you actually get some good mileage
  • sometimes the pen is off (yes I know there is calibration in the settings page, but none the less on some pdf pages it is _allways_ 5-7 mm to the right of the point where you touch the screen)
Other than that I am quite impressed with the thingy (especially after discovering the possibility to install additional reading software - after writing an half witted CHM automated parsing and HTML conversion service).

So all in all a toy for geeks, but not really useful for general public I'd say.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

The tripod monopod or something completely different

I keep reading and investigating what one needs to get better photos, and considering the limited lighting when you are on the go (not shooting in conditions that you set up yourself), some kind of stabilization is obligatory.


Since there is quite an array of tripods available I guess you could get your hands on one of those, but, since I just mentioned taking pictures on the go I would like to find one that can suit all the following needs:
  • compact (eg. less than 50cm when fully folded)
  • can be extended from smallest about 20cm up to max of 140-170 cm)
  • is rigid enough not to shake when lenses are fully extended and longer exposures are necessary and so that it does not tilt by itself
  • as lightweight as possible (below 2kg)
  • the head should be able to rotate and tilt
  • price (the cheaper the better)
By now I have found exactly 0 of those ;) They might be light, but they were not sturdy or could not handle the 1+ kg of weight that dSLR's+lenses weigh.

Hey if someone has a sudgestion for a tripod that matches approximately the above specification, leave a comment please.


Another topic are monopods. However, they don't seem to be as popular here in Slovenia, at least the couple of stores I walked into did not have a single one.
Again monopods would probably be even better alternatives for shooting on the go, since they tend to be even lighter, a bit less appropriate for really long exposure since they are not as stable as tripods are, but much easier to set up when you are walking around.
So if you know of a model that folds up nicely and can support a weight of a dSLR (cca 2kg) please leave a comment.

Bean bags (and other animals of the kind):

Small tripods, minimal portable gear seems to be fine in certain conditions, when you have somewhere to put them, but in general tripod or monopod is a must. I have read a book by a wildlife photograph Andy Rouse, where he mentiones that a Bean bag is the ultimate support to have when traveling or being driven around, since it offers support in places where you would not usually be able to even set up a tripod, monopod or similar. A bean bag is generaly a small sack of beans,rice or similar that gives you support on uneven ground and you don't have to fill them at home, you can just buy the beans on any market/store at your destination.

So what to go for in the end... whatever suits your needs... I still need a new support option, since my last tripod is too wabbly to use for serious work (except if I would intentionally want blurry photos).

Have a blast!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

ATI Radeon X1270 and Fedora 8

The continuation of the saga that is one of my previous blog entries. I have been using "the other" OS for a while now, and have not noticed that my Linux did not use the correct resolution until I tried to view some pictures on it and they were odd shaped to say the least ;)
So I checked and surely the screen resolution was set to 1280x1024 and would not budge to anything higher (even if manually inserted as Modes line into the xorg.conf). After googling for a while I stumbled upon this and this site.

Sadly the radeonhd driver can not offer 2D and 3D acceleration yet, but I am not that much into games so I don't mind right now... If I need 3D I can still switch to fglrx driver (on 1280x1024 max).
Vieos work quite ok on xshm driver for xine and work ok in Kaffeine (mplayer does not perform ok - neither video nor alsa seems to be ok with it).

glxgears runs on about 600 in windowed mode and drops to about 90 in full screen mode.

If you had better results with the specified card please don't hesitate to leave me a note...

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Happy 2k8! The Fireworks...

We had a nice dinner, good company and enjoyed ourselves for new years eve. The city of Ljubljana even organized a fireworks which we would have been able to see if there was not for the fog (in which the 5.7k € worth of fireworks disappeared). But never fear the heat packing neighbors are here. They seem to have spent (a couple of) their pay checks on the fireworks and were more than happy to blast them off of the rooftops (see the picture). I of course was ready to shoot the "big" Ljubljana fireworks, but had to satisfy my big bang with the neighbors one (it probably cost more altogether than the cities anyway).

The Ljubljana New Year fireworks.
See the rest of the pictures here.

An I wish you all a happy new year!