An Interesting New Camera

There are a couple of main trends in cameras these days, many of which benefit everyone who takes photos, but a few of which try to pigeon hole any photographer into narrow definitions. For example sensor technology improves every year, leading to lower noise sensors for everyone. The other trend at the moment is towards smaller cameras, but almost exclusively through removing the mirrorbox and optical viewfinder. I like optical viewfinders, in fact I love optical viewfinders. Using an optical viewfinder makes using cameras more fun to me. To the degree that I like old film cameras because they have viewfinders that put the best of today’s cameras to shame.

One of the cameras I own (and starting a sentence thus is a sure sign I own too many cameras), is an olympus 4/3 camera. The 400 series, which is their intro model. I considered the 500 series, which might have gotten me a slightly better sensor and in body stabilization. But after thinking about it, the lighter weight and increased portability of the smaller camera won me over. But four thirds seems to be a dying system, no matter what Olympus might say. The last four thirds camera released was a few years ago, and the lenses are getting more difficult to find every day. So while it’s a great system, it’s almost like using my old film cameras. Amazing technology & utility, but sadly no longer made.

So I was excited to hear that Canon is introducing a new camera this year, I believe it’s the Rebel SL1, or 100D. And it’s essentially one of their crop sensor cameras, except miniaturized to the degree possible while retaining an aps-c sensor. So modern sensor (win), great lens selection (win), optical viewfinder & smaller size. If I were looking for a camera this one would certainly be near the top of the list. Probably my biggest worry would be the mirror instead of prism viewfinder. Now if only I had a collection of Canon lenses instead of Nikon.

Anyways, gizmodo did a nice write-up & you can see the specs on Canon’s website.


Installing Sun Java on ubuntu 12.04 x64

It’s a little annoying that ubuntu does not provide a sun java (I don’t think iced-tea works all that well at the moment).  I found that this guide worked pretty well.  Of course you don’t need to install in /opt/java/64.

Go here and grab the linux x64 file (not the rpm).  And save it somewhere on your machine.

Then make the directory where java will end up living, and change into it: sudo mkdir -p /opt/java/64 && cd /opt/java/64

Move the file you’ve just downloaded to this directory (you’ll need sudo-powers again): mv ~/Downloads/jre-6u31-linux-x64.bin /opt/java/64

And make the file executable: sudo chmod +x jre-6u31-linux-x64.bin

And run it (you might have to agree to the license): sudo ./jre-6u31-linux-x64.bin

Set this java to the default:
sudo update-alternatives --install "/usr/bin/java" "java" "/opt/java/64/jre1.6.0_31/bin/java" 1
sudo update-alternatives --set java /opt/java/64/jre1.6.0_31/bin/java

And setup for the browser:
mkdir -pv ~/.mozilla/plugins
sudo apt-get remove icedtea6-plugin
rm -v ~/.mozilla/plugins/
ln -s /opt/java/64/jre1.6.0_31/lib/amd64/ ~/.mozilla/plugins/

Slightly modified from:

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One Wallpaper/Background per desktop/workspace in Ubuntu with Icons

It seems the current best solution with respect to multiple wallpapers involves giving up desktop icons. I’ve written a rather hackish alternative, which instead gives up instantaneous transitions between one wallpaper and the next (they now take about half a second). The code is reproduced below, but I recommend grabbing the original here (which preserves pretty indentation).

# written Joseph Bylund, 2011/10/12
# this script watches for desktop changes, and when it finds one it changes the background. Currently this is a hackjob, but it
# should work if you fix the paths and number the files you'd like to use as 1.jpg, 2.jpg, 3.jpg (for workspaces 1,2,3
# respectively). You can even use xml files as per the cosmos background as your backgrounds, just rename to 1.xml,
# 2.xml ... You'll also have to change the extension to xml from jpg.
# also update the path_to_bg_files to where you're keeping your background files.

use strict;

use Time::HiRes qw( nanosleep );

my $extension = "jpg";

my $user = `whoami`;

my $path_to_bg_files = "/home/$user/Desktop/multi_wallpaper_test";

my $workspace_width = `wmctrl -d|head -n 1`;
$workspace_width =~ s/.*WA: [^ ]* //;
$workspace_width =~ s/x.*//;
$workspace_width = int($workspace_width);
print "width = $workspace_width\n";

my $window_manager = &get_window_manager;
print "using $window_manager\n";
my $last_workspace = &get_workspace($window_manager,$workspace_width);
my $current_workspace = $last_workspace;

my $counter = 0;

$current_workspace = &get_workspace($window_manager,$workspace_width);
if($current_workspace != $last_workspace)
$last_workspace = $current_workspace;
system("gconftool --type string --set /desktop/gnome/background/picture_filename \"$path_to_bg_files/$current_workspace.${extension}\"");
nanosleep(int(0.5*10^9)); # increase sleep timer to reduce cpu usage, decrease to improve response time

sub get_workspace
my $window_manager = shift;
my $workspace_width = shift;
my $current_workspace;
if($window_manager eq "metacity")
$current_workspace = `wmctrl -d|grep \\*`;
$current_workspace =~ s/.*Workspace//g;
$current_workspace =~ s/\s*//g;
my $current_vp = `wmctrl -d`;
$current_vp =~ s/.*VP: //;#cut off leading
$current_vp =~ s/,.*//;#cut off trailing
$current_workspace = $current_vp/$workspace_width + 1;

sub get_window_manager
my $lines = `wmctrl -d|wc -l`;
if($lines > 1)

Filtering Spoofed Emails

Do you get a lot of spoofed messages about your “World of Warcraft” account? Do you not have a “World of Warcraft” account? Annoying isn’t it. Even if you set up your gmail to receive messages at and filter on the recipient field these messages often make it by because they’ll use the proper value in the to field. And the from field will read something like …, but of course they’re not sending it from realplace. So how to tell the posers from the real thing? Take a look at the full message source, in gmail you’d hit the down arrow next to reply when viewing the message and choose “show original”. This will show you some unformatted goodies about the message, including the identity of the real sender. There are a few fields of interest:
From: obviously this is the first place to look, generally it’s composed of two parts, first a claimed name and then an account name. Both are actually spoofable, but we’re relying on the ineptitude of these folk to work in our favor. And on the first is easily spoofed. So if I get an email from
From: “”
it’s easy to tell that it’s not actually originating from PayPal. Here a good filter would be “” in the “has words” field. This will actually save you a large deal of spam.

Other fields of interest (but less usable) are:
The sender field, here is an example pulled from the same email “Sender:”, so you can see that this spammer actually isn’t totally incompetent because the from field is spoofed enough to look like it’s coming from “” instead of “”. It’s possible that they’re even avoiding because that would be flagged as spam by gmail. Unfortunately the sender field is not usable in filters in gmail now, who knows why.

When in doubt always check the message center or whatever it’s called on the site in question. The one instance where closed source saves us, as it’s harder to spoof those messages. Granted if gmail was open source we could just filter on the sender field, or even on the originating ip address and we wouldn’t be in the bind in the first place. Seriously, how cool would that be, to tag emails with geographic locations on the basis of ip address, so emails actually come “from” somewhere instead of just magically appearing. It’s going to be a thing.

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A Few Changes

First saw Avatar earlier this week.  Fantastic.  Taken both as a movie and as a platform to show off fancy graphics and new technology.  They spent more than 1000 cpu hours on each second of CGI footage.  That’s some serious number crunching.  Anyways if you haven’t seen it I recommend it highly.  I only wish it didn’t cost an arm and a leg.  Of course part of that is likely my fault for seeing it in IMAX 3-d (totally worth it nonetheless).  Great story, beautiful visuals.  It was a bit long, but exciting the whole way through.  I wonder if someday there will be 3-d tv shows.  Anyways it prompted a few movies to make the jump to 3-d namely the upcoming Harry Potter 7a and 7b, Clash of the Titans (looks amazingly awful), and Prince of Persia (at least I believe).

Next my router (WRT54G4X or something like that) seemed to have crapped out.  Anyways updating the firmware as well as screwing with some settings seems to have solved the problem.  It appears that the router can do hardware compression (I don’t understand how this setting is disabled by default).  But anyways things seem to be rolling along a bit smoother now.

The router thing got me thinking and I’m now testing dnsmasq.  I wish I could find a way of adding the say top 100 sites I visit to a hosts like file.  Or perhaps just getting a record of all the hostnames I request.  It would be convenient to add all those advertisers to a hosts file pointing to

A New Toy

xplanet, is a wonderful little program that will render various celestial objects including everyone’s favorite, earth.  Thinking of cron, a fun trick might be to make a cronjob which paints a background of the world, and then use that image as the desktop.

A few notes, useful at least for me, the location of NYC is 40.809634,-73.961506 or -latitude 40.809634 -longitude -73.961506.

To fetch the newest cloudmap (checking to see if the server version has been updated)
wget -N

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Or at least a little bit. I’ve got one machine folding what seems pretty consistently now. Unfortunately can’t post a link to a live image from extreme overclockers, who have a great stats site, far better than stanford’s in my opinion. So stop by and check them out. I’m on teamUbuntu, which seems appropriate to me. And in possibly one of the more interesting stats, active folders, we’re in 27th place. In actual rank we’re currently 75th, and doing pretty well it seems, set to move up 4 slots in the next 2 months. Maybe a tiny bit quicker because of my contribution.

folding at home at extreme overclocking

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