Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Expedient image processing

When I use Windows, I make it a point to have IrfanView handle most of my image-related processing, such as conversion and viewing.

Now that I've made the switch, I naturally looked for the same functionality with gThumb and GQView. Sadly, all they offered was image-viewing. GIMP, on the other hand, only allowed processing one image at a time. I needed a way to resize about 200+ pictures as a batch.

The UbuntuForums led me to ImageMagick.

ImagMagick is a suite of image-processing tools that make use of the command-line interface (CLI). Yes, it *is* possible to handle images with that blinking cursor on a black background. Apparently, Ubuntu already has the ImageMagick tools installed, so all I had to do was figure out how to make things work.

I then found two simple tutorials on the subject:
  1. Graphics from the command line
  2. More graphics from the command line
A few minutes of study, and I was already resizing JPGs in the background. What I did notice was that the CPU took a hit when ImageMagick was running. Fully 100% of the CPU was used (maybe also because I also had thunar to show thumbnails, firefox with 4 tabs, gaim, etc.)

ImageMagick allowed me to experience some of the intricacies of the Linux OS, specifically with scripting. Check out the simple script I copied then modified:
for $img in 'ls *.JPG'
convert -resize 1024x $img new-$img.JPG
Its limitations:
  1. The filename extension is case-sensitive and only jpeg files will be processed.
  2. Resizing is limited to images with a landscape orientation.
  3. It also assumes that the size of the output is 1024 pixels on the horizontal side.
This script will be undergoing more modifications as I learn more about ImageMagick. In the meantime, my needs have been fulfilled.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Mr. DJ, can I make a request?

To Apple:

I, just like a couple of hundred thousand individuals, am an avid fan of your ipod line of products. Bringing around my music has never been so easy: just pop in the CD to be ripped, and in a click or two, the AAC files are ready to be brought to work, the car, out of town, etc.

However, recently I decided to switch to an opensource lifestyle. I threw out Windows (the only version I have being the bug-infested Millenium Edition), and to my horror realized that iTunes was not available under Linux!

My first suggestion: please port iTunes to Linux. You don't have to open the source code to the public (because I understand some people just want it that way), but if you do, people will gladly help you out. After all, didn't the Mac OS start as a port of Unix?

Second: please give OGG support to the ipod firmware. I re-ripped my entire CD collection into OGG, since mp3 (or AAC) are proprietary formats (and they're rather large compared to OGG files of the same quality).

Did I throw out my ipod because there wasn't iTunes for Linux, or that it can't play a free file format? Heavens, no! But I did hack into it.

Enter Rockbox.

Rockbox is an opensource jukebox software that allows the playing of OGG and mp3. Being opensource, it needed its own firmware to run, hence the need to tinker around with normally-invisible files, such as the bootloader and the Apple firmware.

I am thankful that the ipod has an override Disk Mode that stops any erroneous programming in its tracks. Without it, my ipod would be junk metal and plastic by now.

What does Rockbox make the ipod do that the ipod normally can't? It can customize the "while playing" screen (WPS), use fonts for the WPS, play games (like ports of Nokia's Snake, Doom (yes, there is!), Tetris, Bejeweled, etc), display funk visuals like fire, a mandelbrot, etc.

The installation is no walk in the park, but the results are amazing. I'm keeping it.

This determined OSS monkey will not be stopped.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

iPod vs. OGG

In the continuing crusade to be an ethical computer user, I've decided to try, as much as I can, to only load music I own, rather than music I download. This led me to a splurge of music CDs two nights ago, eventually ripped via sound-juicer, in the OGG Vorbis format.

Problem is, my iPod mini doesn't handle OGG files at all. Scouring the internet yielded two promising results (read: hacks).
  1. ipodlinux

  2. rockbox

I had difficulty installing ipodlinux, primarily since it needs a library I can't, for the life of me, find at all, whether in the repos or not.

With rockbox as my only choice, I set out to hack the 'pod to boot into a Linux OS (yes, those things have OSes!). After about an hour of reading, tinkering and all, what do I have to show for it? An ipod that continually reboots. No OS at all.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

Hi, WiFi!

gtkwifi was a bad idea. It screwed up my wireless connection so bad that I couldn't connect again, even after removing it from my system.

wifi-radar, on the other hand, was a godsend. Using a GUI, it searches for wifi networks within reach, and even attempts to connect to them. Coupling this with xfce's Networking, this little utility allows a mobile user switch between "wired" and wifi networks with no hitch.

wifi-radar: (5/5 stars)