30 November 2005

This spoon is too big

First off, on a somber note - this is fucked up. Sorry for the strong language, but there are precious few other ways of putting it. Enough debate has been had on the topic, so this once I'll add my voice to the clamour - capital punishment isn't any means to any end >:(

On a lighter note, I did get my phone, only two days after the bloke from Vodafone telemarketing had called me. The V600 case is a little flimsy, but once you chuck it in a phone jacket it feels fairly robust. The camera is quite nice, and the java3D stuff actually runs at a reasonable speed. I haven't really had time to muck about it all that much.. I'll use it to take a couple of photos on the weekend and you can judge for yourself.

If you have a bit of bandwidth to spare, you might want to check out rejected (41Mb!) for amusement value. It's a nifty little short film, and I highly recommend you watch it first before finding out a bit more about it.

As a note to sign off with - I've been trying to use this geotargeting tool for tracking site visitors (see little button at the bottom of the page). So far, the only hits I've gotten tell me that all the visitors are reading my blog from in the middle of the road on Cleveland Street near the centre of Sydney :| Hopefully it'll register something a bit more interesting in the future :)

23 November 2005

dwarf bread

v600 - courtesy of clubsonyericsson.com

So I was having a sub-optimal day yesterday, faffing around with algorithms to try to estimate surface features on arbitrary objects (hooray!). Things are busy as usual, so when I received an unsolicited call on my mobile from vodafone marketing, I was two seconds away from saying 'no thanks, too busy'.

But, for a fraction of a second, I thought, what the heck, this guy on the other end of the line is just doing his job, and probably makes a commission from every sale he makes.. why not give him a go? 'You've got five minutes', I said. I'm glad that I did, because ten seconds later he's thanking me for being a long-term customer of vodafone and giving me a free mobile for it.

It wasn't a crappy one either; Sorny Ericsson v600, which stacks up quite nicely in terms of features, and, for free, I can't complain. Presumably the marketing push is to get customers to use their new 3G service. I can't blame them for trying hard. 3G service uptake has been quite poor up to this point, and aside from the niftiness factor of being able to make a video call, its ambiguous as to whether it is good value for money (yes, I know it's an old link) and, anecdotal evidence seems to point to 3G reception being quite patchy, especially around the hilly parts of Sydney (where I live).

I'm getting the phone couriered out to me in a couple of days, so we'll see how it goes :)

My attempt at making damper

We ran out of bread last night, so in a fit of culinary insanity I made some Australian damper from a simple recipe that I found on the inter-web. Damper is a type of bread that you can make in a hurry, without yeast and little equipment. It's a traditional dish, made by campers and rugged folk.

It certainly looks edible enough (see picture above). I kept the oven heat too high right through the cooking, so it didn't quite bake properly in the middle. Briony, on a scale of 1 to 10, gave it a rating of Guide camp, so I think I have some way to go. Nevertheless, I think that if all else fails, I can use the resulting foodstuff as a weapon.

20 November 2005

Bunty Gosh

Long time since the last post, so here is a pile of stuff to make up for it :)

Nano goodness

iPod Nano

Well folks, I was only actually able to last a couple of months with the iPod mini. Now, I am the proud owner of a shiny black 2Gb iPod Nano :) But I'm not quite as avaricious as one lacking ipoddy goodness may believe; I had the nano awarded to me as a prize for the best paper (on day one) of an internal ICT conference at the lab. Can't complain (though the director seems to have some trouble with my name.. Bunty Gosh??), I never dreamed that I'd end up with a nano before I finished my PhD :)

The only thing it lacks is a sleeve; these are a bit hard to get hold of at the moment, so I'm gingerly carrying around the little bugger so I don't crack the screen. The emphasis here is on little; the nano is absolutely tiny, really not much bigger than the shuffle, very light and absolutely easy to lose.

Mandriva 2006 (warning: explicit geekiness follows)

I got over waiting for the downloads to become freely available and I bought the x86 and x64 versions of Mandriva 2006. It was a big jump from the hacked-up Mandrake 10.1 beta I was running before, especially on my laptop. Whilst I'll always be a command-line freak, KDE 3.4 has proven to be an absolute gem. I'm getting quite used to using folders again, and using the various kioslaves for mounting remote filesystems (notably fish:// for scp) is an absolute joy.

I know it's been around for a while, but USB automounting/unmounting is another thing I'm very pleased with. 4th generation ipods simply mount and unmount without any insane mucking about needed - you just plug it in, and off it goes. Amarok seems to get better with every version; I'm quite happily using it to organise the ton of meta-information that comes with my music collection.

Hardware compatibility has also been quite good; once the system was configured, most hardware worked straight out of the box (though I still have to try out the new laptop-compatible ATI IGP drivers). My only gripe was gcc-4, and a minor one at that - it's so bleeding edge, a lot of our old legacy 3rd-party apps (notably wxgtk-2.4) simply keel over and break under the strain, especially at the linking stage. A quick install of gcc-3.3.6 fixed up that problem for some apps, but it'll be a rocky road upgrading to gcc-4 compatibility in the future.

hugin and panotools

My street: the panorama

One of the many excellent apps that came bundled with mandriva 2006 was hugin, which I knew nothing of until a recent review of mandriva pointed out its existence. Using panotools, it stitches a series of photographs that make up a panorama into a full panoramic image. There is a lot to say about it, so I won't go into detail about it today (maybe I'll even post up a tutorial in the near future), but the results have been superb. There's nothing quite like generating a seamless image 12-thousand pixels across :)

A couple of examples of some panoramas that I made are below, and you'll need java to view them (they open in new windows). I have used the excellent PTViewer java class to display the images; just pan with your mouse, and use the +/- keys to zoom in and out.

my street 181105 pano 0
my street 181105 pano 1
concord park 191105 pano 0
concord park 191105 pano 1
the nano

More to come soon (hopefully with some added extra HDRI goodness) :)