Michal Čihař - Blog Archives for English

Funny advertisements

It's sometimes funny what automatically added advertisements can produce. This morning when I complained about lack of Windows developers for Gammu and shared my unwillingness to work on Windows, Microsoft sponsored this email ;-).

On Wed, 12 Sep 2007 09:55:56 +0900
Michal Čihař <michal@cihar.com> wrote:

> I have totally no interest in investing into Windows license and
> finding out how to use totally free MSVC.
[...]
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> This SF.net email is sponsored by: Microsoft
> Defy all challenges. Microsoft(R) Visual Studio 2005.

Wammu 0.22

I just released version 0.22 of Wammu. This is again mostly bug fix release, which fixes various bugs reported by users.

  • Fixed errors in locales and applied stricter checking.
  • Fixed various crashes.

There is still no binary for Windows. I don't have time for debugging crashes that happen there. Volunteers are welcome!

Nikon D80 or Pentax K10D?

That's the question I'm trying to solve right now. From wide range of cameras, I reduced to this choice, but the decision is now quite hard. Both have their advantages and disadvantages and there is not easy to choose as it was to cut down previous list.

I used Google a lot in last weeks to find some experiences with both cameras, but none of them really helped me.

Pentax pros:

  • Shake reduction in body (saves money on lens).
  • Dust removal from sensor.
  • Modes like TAv.
  • Manual tuning of white balance looks much easier to use and provides many options.
  • Dust-proof weather resistant body (although I won't have matching lenses at beginning).
  • Manual flash control - it won't pop up when I don't want.
  • Dedicated RAW button (I probably will take most photos in JPEG, but I want to be able to switch without going deep into menu).
  • In camera RAW development (I'm not sure I will use this).
  • Won lot of awards this year, so it should not be a bad camera, right?

Pentax cons:

  • Underexposure in some conditions (maybe I just set something wrong on camera in shop).
  • Lower lenses availability in Czechia (but I'm in Japan for next few months, where it is not that big problem).
  • No option in kit lenses.

Nikon pros:

  • Faster AF.
  • More lenses and accessories available (but I'm not sure if I really need them).
  • Scene modes (but I might anyway stick with manual settings).
  • A bit cheaper here.

Nikon cons:

  • Feels slightly less comfortable in my hand.

From the list it is visible that I was able to find more pros and cons on Pentax. Nikon seems to do its job pretty well, but does not provide any extra gimmicks. This is also reason why Pentax is winner for now. I'll buy the camera sometimes during next week, so things can still change.

First usage of lazygal

After searching for new gallery and investigating lazygal, I finally decided it's time to give it some real world usage. My current album from Japan is being processed by this damn fast tool.

It needed a bit of hacking, but as the core was already there and Alexandre Rossi is quite cooperative upstream. I managed to implement almost everything I requested in original post. The only thing I'm still not completely happy with is the theme, but I hope I will improve it over time.

From original requirements, I completely dropped links to full size images. There is simply no reason to put here crappy pictures which my only camera I currently have here (built in camera in Nokia 6234) produces. Also once I'll buy new camera (what will be most likely Pentax K10D), I probably won't upload huge 10Mpix images on web server as I don't think it would be good for anything else than wasting my bandwidth.

I like when things just work

Recently, after switching to open source drivers for my Nvidia card in notebook, I get possibility to have working suspend to disk (well suspend was always working, but the resume of screen was the problem). In same time, I enabled suspend to disk, when battery is getting really low in Gnome power management preferences. This night it saved me file system troubles - I let the notebook to do some calculations and forgot to connect it to power. So it ran few hours till the battery was down and then it just hibernated. When I noticed this on morning, I could just plug the power and the calculation can continue. Thanks to everybody who made this work.

Gammu test version 1.13.90

I just released new version of Gammu. Besides experimental support for Bluetooth on FreeBSD, this release is mostly about fixing found bugs. Full list of changes:

  • Fixed parsing of date/time reply from some broken AT phones.
  • Added support for Option GlobeTrotter.
  • Handle correctly when phone automatically saves message to different memory than we ask.
  • Fixed buffer overflows, thanks to Gentoo folks for noticing.
  • Detect when phone is waiting for phone code.
  • Added experimental support for Bluetooth on FreeBSD.
  • SMSD can execute programs on message receiving (thanks to zaf).
  • Allow to define Bluetooth channel in configuration.

I do not plan to introduce any new major features to upcoming stable 1.14.0, this should be only about stabilization - there are some regressions from past in SMS decoder on Windows, which should be really fixed, there are also some other bugs reported on SMS decoder, so I should probably finally get to this part of code, understand it and do what is needed to make it more mature.

Looking for digital SLR

Being impressed by prices of these toys here in Japan, I decided to finally buy one. This decision was quite easy, but it implies much harder one - which one to choose. Looking at my money availability and what do shops here offer, I have five possibilities: Canon EOS Kiss Digital X (EOS 400D in Europe), Nikon D40x, Nikon D80, Pentax K10D or Sony α 100.

Well it's hard choice. However for now I prefer something with shake reduction, what limits selection to either Pentax or Sony (or some of the others with lenses which do the same). And from these two, Pentax looks like much better choice. As this will be my first SLR, I don't have to stick with same vendor to be able use my equipment, but I'm much more interested in availability of add-on lenses and other stuff. And in this are seem to win Nikon and Canon. So that are points for the other side of the match.

I played with all these cameras in shop, but I really didn't find any of them much better than others. I just take few shots and nothing surprised me there. And I was able to switch them all from Japanese to English quite quickly ;-). So this step did not decide anything. Reading various reviews also didn't help much, as each camera has advantages and disadvantages...

For now my temporarily winner is Pentax, but I think I should find some more convincing arguments before buying it :-).

PS: I know there exists a bit cheaper variant of Pentax branded as Samsung GX-10, but I haven't seen it anywhere here in shops.

World clock applet

Being far away from your home adds you need to know what time is there and whether you can safely call people not waking them up in the middle of night. So I looked for some Gnome applet that would show me time in another time zone. I expected this to be easy, but unfortunately I didn't find anything in Debian. Few minutes of Googling revealed something, but both applets I found look quite unmaintained.

After a bit of testing I decided to give World Clock Applet 0.0.0 a try. It seems to work so far and installation only needed few tweaks. As I hate to use something not in Debian packages, I packaged this beast. For now it is available only in my repository, as I'm pretty sure it would not pass any license checks :-).

Phone database cleanup

Gammu Phone Database grew into quite big size and there were quite a lot of duplicate or poor quality records. So I today decided to do some cleanup of data inside it. First step was figuring out duplicates. There were quite a lot of them and I could remove about 50 records without loosing information about any phone.

The quality issue is always harder. Some empty records really did not make a sense, so they're gone now. However some users really don't understand what some features mean, so there were quite a lot of phones being reported to support MMS and I'm pretty sure there is no code in Gammu for it :-). I went through their list and dropped almost half of phones there. Some records might have been useful in other way, but I can not verify what all was wrong with them.

Maybe I should add some basic checks when adding new entry to check such errors as MMS support for AT connection.

Photo album candidate - lazygal

I received number of reactions on my photoalbum post. Several were saying "I'm using some great Perl tool which is not actively maintained anymore.". Well I know such tools. I also used BINS some time ago, but it did break something (I don't recall what exactly right now, it's quite far far away in past) and I was unable to fix it. That was reason I switched to Matew.

The other replies were much better. One of them recommended trying lazygal (well it was recommended by it's author). I gave it a try and it seemed to fit my basic needs quite well and extending it's EXIF support was a piece of cake. I will continue to tune it to my needs, but I'm pretty close right now. The hardest thing for me will be to come up with some good looking themes, but I will most likely steal my ones for Matew :-).