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February 2015

 

Friday, 27 February 2015

20 years ago, I was in the process of backing LP's up to cassette tape. To do that, I had to know how long the side on an LP played, to determine whether it would fit on a cassette side.. So I wrote a nice little calculator called HMSCalc that used hours, minutes and seconds instead of integers or floating point numbers in its calculations. Since that time, I rewrote the program for each computer language I learned. Needless to say, I have a lot of different versions of HMSCalc. If you are still running Windows, there is an old version of the program in the Rimrock Software section of this web site. Here is what it looks like.

That original program was written in the then-new language Delphi. It has been done in C++ and Java since then. I can't find the version where I added a couple of new functions, though. Here is the Java version:

That brings us to the present day. Here is the latest version, which is written in object-oriented Pascal for Linux.

Why did I rehash all this old history? Well, I have found a new use for this old program. When I use the gdvdslides slideshow program, once I have all the slides and transitions in place, I click on the Slideshow Duration menu item to find out how long the slideshow will run. I then use HMSCalc to add up the duration of the songs I want to use as backgound music in the slideshow, so I will be fairly close to covering the entire slideshow. For example, take a look at the 2014 Hayden Days Car Show. HMSCalc comes in very handy for this.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

While I have been compiling video slideshows for YouTube, I have also been testing my gdvdslides program. I have found several bugs and have fixed them. The last thing I found was not written down anywhere in the documentation for the underlying dvd-slideshow program, so I hadn't taken care of the problem in gdvdslides.

dvd-slideshow runs on scripts, which is what gdvdslides produces. Some of the script entries allow text and those entries are displayed as slides. I have discovered that if you put a '#', ';' or ':' in your text, dvd-slideshow will not produce a proper slide.

I discovered this when I attempted to create a musictitle slide with a song of 'Mozart Sonata #13 in B Flat Major'. The Song name came out as 'Mozart Sonata'. To work around this, I entered Mozart as the artist and the song name is now 'Sonata No. 13 in B Flat Major'.

To prevent these wayward characters from being added to text slides, I installed a keypress event in the Transitions dialog that throws those characters away if you attempt to enter them. I also noted this quirk in the program documentation.

I am now updating all the documentation for gdvdslides, so any person can use the program. I will then have to figure out how to create a DEB package for the program, as I haven't done that in 3 years and I've forgotten how to do it. Once that's done, I will release the program for general consumption.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Friday, 20 February 2015

I was still not satisfied with the videos that were being turned out with Imagination, so I continued to look at my gdvdslides program. I discovered something very interesting. The underlying dvd-slideshow apparently makes heavy use of a program called ffmpeg. If it can't find that program, it uses avconv. Apparently, Imagination also uses avconv and the videos that avconv produces are not that good.

Since ffmpeg is no longer part of the Linux Mint repositories, I went looking for a PPA (Personal Package Archive). I found one, and installed ffmpeg from the PPA on Linux Mint 17 (my workstation). I then used gdvdslides to create a slideshow, and it came out exactly how I wanted it to.

Here is the final Imagination slideshow I created: Dalton Gardens Picnic and Car Show 2014. Note that the slides are kind of blurry and pixelated.

Here are three slideshows I created with gdvdslides using ffmpeg: 1st Summer Daze Teardrop Trailer Gathering 2011, 2nd Summer Daze Teardrop Trailer Gathering 2012 and 4th of July Teardrop Fun at Carnation, WA 2011. Note that the slides are not pixelated and I can include video clips within the slideshow.

I have also done YouTube videos of the 2013 North Idaho Mineral Club Gem, Mineral, Rock and Jewelry Show and the 2014 North Idaho Mineral Club Gem, Mineral, Rock and Jewelry Show. They both came out really well, as I used the themeing capability of gdvdslides to produce them.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Monday, 16 February 2015

On Saturday and Sunday, members of the North Idaho Mineral Club went through a lot of the material we bought from one of our members. We are going to sell as much of the made-up jewelry as we can at the Gold and Treasure Show next month. We ran across a stone set in a cheap gold-filled pendant. Upon closer examination, we found the following:

It is a 6-ray star garnet that is 20mm in diameter and that weighs in at 36.5 carats. It is one of the most perfect star garnets I have seen. Whoever cut and polished it did a great job. We set a price of $1,800 on it, which is almost 3 times what we paid for the entire collection.


I came to the conclusion that the version of dvd-slideshow I had on my workstation was completely broken. I discovered this by creating a virtual machine running Linux Mint 13, then installing dvd-slideshow on it. The version running on that older O/S is 0.8.2 and the one running on my Linux Mint 17 workstation is 0.8.4-1. The one on the virtual machine easily generated slideshow videos from the scripts created by my gdvdslides program, and the newer version does not.

I uninstalled the new version of dvd-slideshow from my workstation and installed the older version on it. I then tried to generate a slideshow. Everything went fine until it got to processing the audio, then it hung up forever. Apparently, the old version of the program doesn't work well with updated audio utilities.

So I am now using the virtual machine to generate the slideshows. The funny thing is the VM executes the dvd-slideshow program much, much faster than my workstation. Go figure.

All this forced me to take a close look at the gdvdslides program and I have added a few things that it needed. So the struggle was not in vain.

Update: I am not satisfied with the output I get from dvd-slideshow. I have discovered that if I use Imagination with 640x480 photos, fast transitions and with resizing disabled, I can get a very reasonable video slideshow. So that is what I will be using in the future.

Here is one of the slideshows, uploaded to YouTube.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Thursday, 12 February 2015

I have tried to get my gdvdslides program working again. gdvdslides is a GUI wrapper for dvd-slideshow, and it's actually the dvd-slideshow command line program that is the problem, but I managed to get gdvdslides working. The results are unacceptable. All the slides are displayed for less than a second, even though the data specified 8 seconds. So I used another slide show program called Imagination, for a couple of teardrop slideshows. I'm not too happy with the results.

The result of all this is that I have added the following videos to YouTube:

I had car problems in 2006, so I ended up spending that Memorial Day at the KOA in Yakima, WA.

Okay, so I got carried away. Too bad - I'm retired.

The last two videos were done with Imagination. The slides are pixelated when expanded to full screen, so I can't recommend that app to anyone. I tried two other slide show programs. Neither one was acceptable to me, for different reasons.

I suspect that the bottom line here is I will have to figure out why the slide show duration for dvd-slideshow doesn't work correctly. One reason could be that its author has changed the input file format and my gdvdslides GUI front-end is generating fields in the old format.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The North Idaho Mineral Club is going to have a booth at the NorthWest Gold Prospector's Association Gold Show at the North Idaho Fairgrounds on March 21 and 22. We have a lot of jewelry we got from a member that we can't unload any other way. I am directing the effort, and there is a lot to do, including classifying the goods, getting members to man the booth and so on. It should keep me busy until the show.


I have been looking at a lot of teardrop trailer slideshows on YouTube the last couple of days. The more I see, the more I think I can do a better job. I haven't looked at my slideshow program gdvdslides for a couple of years, and I now know it no longer works. A couple of the underlying command line programs it uses have changed, so I will be modifying gdvdslides to work with the new versions. I will then put together some slideshows and put them up on YouTube.


Is antique cast iron cookware really better than new? I and my Wagner #6 skillet think so, too.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Friday, 6 February 2015

The weather continues to be unseasonably warm. Normal high for this day is 36° F and it is already (7:45am) 52° F. Record high in Spokane for this day is 55° F and they are already at 54° F. And we are supposed to get a boatload of rain in the next three days. I'll keep my life raft close to me.


I contacted my web host about the Entropy Search engine not being available. They replied that since BLOGical Thoughts is on a shared server, it was not possible for them to install that engine.

I googled "search engine cgi" and got a list of search engines, most of which are written in Perl. When I looked at some examples of one of them, I found that I had actually used that engine at the mineralogy database web site, so I have installed that 3rd party search engine (the Fluid Dynamics Search Engine) and the web site now has a search capability. I am using the default results page right now, and I will tweak that page to look better when I get the time.


This video is incredible. Shows what can be done in minimal and primitive conditions.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

When I removed the CMS version of this web site on Monday, I also removed a WordPress plugin called SuperCache. In doing that, I removed its cache, which is now not being used. That action reduced the size of this web site by 3GB! And with static web pages, it is now much, much faster.

I have made a bunch of changes to the pages since Monday. Fortunately, most of them are non-visual, like removing a menu link and fixing a link. Hopefully, there won't be anymore major changes.

Important Note: The Search box does not currently work. On the mineral club web site, I used the Entropy Search engine that was installed by default, so I included that functionality here. I discovered that Entropy Search was not loaded on this web server as a default CGI program, so I will have to notify my web host that I need it. In the meantime - no search capability. Sorry.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Yesterday morning when I finished up the web site redesign, I decided to do one more thing. I wanted to add a meta keywords line to each of the 395 web pages. I used the Linux command line tools 'find' and 'sed to do this, and I thought I was doing it to only one of the files. When I looked at the one file, I found that I got the result slightly wrong, so I undid the change and tried again until it came out right. It turns out that I had accidently made the same change to all 395 files and I had to undo those changes in all the files.

I used the global replace capability in the Komodo editor to undo the changes. I then displayed the results in Firefox. Every single web page was completely broken. I spent several hours trying to figure out what happened and undoing the damage. Once the index page was displaying correctly, I spent a couple of hours removing the old web site and installing the new one.

The story doesn't end there, though. Once the pages were online, I went to the index page and clicked through to the recipe for Colorado Chile Verde. That page had extra characters in it, and I had to go through all 140 recipes and fix that problem in each of them.

I'm still not done. I am going to go through each page and remove any extra characters my global change added. I hope there aren't that many more pages to change.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"

Monday, 2 February 2015

Welcome to the redesigned BLOGical Thoughts web site.


I went a bit wild over the weekend and cooked some Colorado Chile Verde. I used Serrano peppers instead of Jalapeño peppers, since they are about 3 times hotter then Jalapeños and I like the heat. The chile turned out to be really good, but there is enough of it to feed a small army. This recipe doesn't use oregano, so it has that in it's favor.

I also made some cornbread for the meal. I used the normal Jiffy cornbread mix, but I added some salsa verde to the batter. It isn't any hotter, but it added a very good flavor to the cornbread.


I have finished creating all the web pages for the redesign of this web site. I created 395 new web pages to hold all the information from the web site's database. My final task is to go through all the pages and correct any internal links, since they no longer will point at a database item, but at a static web page.

I hope to have the new design up here some time this week. There will be a period of a couple of hours when the web site will not be accessible.

Update: As you can tell, I have finished and have uploaded the new design.


Silly sign of the day:


Free/Open Source Software


Security Theater/"Intellectual Property"