Saturday, February 20, 2010

Open Source Routers

These projects are still percolating… Right now the Netgear WNR3500L looks like a good “high-end” open source router.  Anyways don’t forget to search Amazon and Newegg for other Open Source Routers. 

I actually ended up getting a Cisco/Linksys WRT160NL and installing DD-WRT on it.  Plan is to recycle this into one of the other projects once I'm done using it as a network device.

Monday, February 15, 2010

BackTrack 4 released

BackTrack 4 released in January.  Not sure how I missed that until now. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reset Windows XP/Vista passwords – NTpasswd / Hiren's BootCD

Every once and a while I have to revive a Windows box that I haven’t used for a while and I can’t recall the passwords.  Fortunately, NTpasswd can reset the passwords.  If you prefer a bootable USB thumb drive it’s pretty painless to create one with unetbootin.

Another option is to use Hiren's BootCD which includes a plethora of useful recovery tools.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Photo processing tools and toys - Photosynth

 Microsoft Photosynth, based on Photo Tour by University of Washington and Microsoft Research, is an interesting way to composite a large picture collection (20-300 recommended) of a scene or subject.  To create a Synth you need to install a Windows Live Photo Gallery plugin that interacts with Microsoft’s Photosynth backend web service.  While you can view public Synths at Photosynth, you’ll need a Windows Live account to create and share your own Synths. Also, recommend that you check out the “How to Shoot” guide.

My Synths are rather boring so far.  Really need a larger collection of input photos to create a more complete Synth.  Might be fun to get a bunch of people together to create an input photo collection of a scene or subject.  Maybe a good use case for  “Crowdsourcing”?  It’s hard to leverage the power of crowdsourcing with an un-crowd of one.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Photo processing tools and toys – Editing, Batch Processing, Panoramas, and publishing to the web

I’m not much of an artist or photographer but I do enjoy playing around with the photos I’ve taken over the years.  Since I lack talent I have to resort to tools.  Because I’m “frugal” I tend to use free and preferably open source photo editing/processing tools and toys.  Some days I use Linux boxes, some times Windows boxes, and very infrequently Apple boxes (they’re just to expensive to be worth it to me).  I like cross-platform tools and toys but that’s not the main driver here.  These are some of the photo editing/processing tools and toys that I’ve experimented with. 

Editing:  You could go for a full blown application like the gimp which rivals/surpasses PhotoShop in power, features and complexity.   On the simpler side Google Picasa and Microsoft Windows Live Photo Gallery (WLPG) provide automated photo touch up. For stand alone editing on Windows I like Paint.NET. It has just enough power for an amateur like me.  For quick touchups I usually use WLPG.  The Pinta Project looks like a promising implementation of Paint.NET feature set for Linux and Macintosh.

Batch Processing: ImageMagick is a very robust set of command line image manipulation tools. If you’re into scripting it’s pretty straight forward to string together some bash scripts or powershell scripts to do batch processing and manipulation.  Check the Usage page for examples.  I installed from the binary Windows setup (at the moment ImageMagick-6.5.9-2-Q16-windows-dll.exe).

Panoramas:  Hugin is one of several panorama tools  that uses the PanoTools  framework.  The PanoTools framework supports re-projecting and blending multiple source images into a panoramic image (or some other unusual remappings). With Hugin You can assemble a mosaic of photographs into a panorama and stitch a series of overlapping pictures. Check out some examples and the tutorials.   Personally, I didn’t get over the learning curve for Hugin so I went looking for something easier to use.

Microsoft ICE for Windows XP and Windows Vista is dead simple to use.  I just dragged and dropped fifteen source images into the main window of the program and let it do all the work.  It selected five images and generated the panorama below.  Source images were taken standing at the end of a bridge going off of Harbor Island in Tampa Florida.

Harbor Island 2010-01-25 017_stitch

Seems that the technology from Microsoft ICE is also included as part of Microsoft Windows Live Photo Gallery.  See: Creating photo panoramas with Windows Live Photo Gallery.  ICE is more in the sweet spot for my interests.  ICE gives me the illusion that I’m creatively in control without overtaxing my brain like Hugin.  Also, ICE integrates into WLPG under the Extras on the toolbar.  Look for “Extras –> Create Image Composite…” in WLPG after you install ICE.


Publishing to the web:  I don’t normally use a dedicated photo sharing  service but instead share photos with Google Picasa Web, Microsoft Windows Live, or Facebook.  Using a client side program like Google Picasa or Microsoft Windows Live Photo Gallery (WLPG) simplifies publishing photos to a web backend. Both applications are, of course, tied to their respective vendor’s online service but you can get plugins to add support for other server backends.  There is a Picasa Facebook plugin  and WLPG Facebook plugin.  Or if you prefer,  PicasaPublisher eases the pain of publishing photos to Picasa Web from WLPG.  Also, WLPG plugins are available for several server backends.

Trying out some mosaic generators and 2D to 3D programs but everything I’ve found so far is pretty limited.  More on that later.

File and Folder renamer

Needed to rename a batch of photos on a Windows box and found Metamorphose File -n- Folder Renamer.  Only a minor glitch but had to install as Administrator.  Don’t know why Vista didn’t detect it as an install program on it’s own.  Other than that it did the trick.

Journals for failure and negative results

A couple of online journals to document research failures so others don’t tread the dead-end path: Journal of Serendipitous and Unexpected Results (JSUR) and Journal of Interesting Negative Results in Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning (JI-R).  JSUR is new and ironically it appears that JI-R has only one  publication from April 2008.  I guess that could mean JI-R is a failure.  Maybe I should submit an article to JSUR to document that?