These are my two first experiences with AutoPano Giga. They have plenty of problems. One of the photos has a lot of inconsistencies, most of which are my fault, for moving while taking the photos (and not just rotating over an axis). Nevertheless, I like these pictures.
You already knew I am a LaTeX fan. I finally got the courage to go and experiment XeTeX. In fact, I was almost forced, as I am the Portuguese official translator for The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX. By the way, you can buy the Original (English) or the Portuguese versions from lulu.com.
OK, enough advertisement. XeTeX is one of two Unicode TeX motors. The other is named luaTeX and I think (didn’t have the time to look into it yet) and is scriptable in the lua programming language. What does it mean to be an Unicode engine? It means it expects your text to be written in Unicode (in fact, UTF-8). This gives you the ability to typeset any symbol or character you like, as far as it is available in the Unicode tables, and you have a font that is able to render that character.
This leads to a small problem. In fact, a problem that the main alternative (Microsoft Word) also have. You need to have the fonts installed in your system (or in the folder where your tex document is, or any other place where tex would search for include files). But this gives the ability to select any font, and any font for any language. I was able to typeset about 30 translations for “Good Morning”, including Arabic, Persian, Korean, Japanese, Traditional Chinese, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Urdu and others. Note that some of these languages are written right to left, other left to right. But as far as you are able to include the characters in your Unicode file, then with the correct fonts and some TeX packages, you will be able to typeset them.
If you want to give a try, look into fontspec and polyglossia packages for a start. Who knows if in the future I do not add another post with further details on how to use XeTeX.
In the last days I’ve been using Unity3D. Unity3D is a electronic games engine. It has been developed by some years, but in the last years a free version, with some limited features, was made available.
Now, why am I, somebody who likes to write real code, playing with this kind of software, where most of the work is done by the mouse?
Sometimes we have to do things that we do not like, or we aren’t ready to. And in this case, I was chosen to teach a course on Applied Game Development, and IPCA, in the second year of the graduation students of a Game Engineering Degree.
Then, your code will run in Mono. Yes, Mono is the OSS .net implementation, that was started by Miguel de Icaza (as far as I can remember). I am sincere, never though it would be being used as it is in so few years.
One of the great things on Unity is the ability to, with some plugins, export (or build) your game for a variety of platforms, ranging from the top console market (Wii, XBox, PS3) to the top mobile market (iOS and Android) passing by the major PC architectures/operating systems, and touching the Web.
At the present moment I am having some fun with Unity. I am just sorry there isn’t any academic program where the students (and teachers) would be able to use the Pro version with a lower price (current Pro license is $3000, too much for a public Portuguese academic institution).
A friend lent me a Kindle DX. I installed Calibre to perform some simple conversion from .epub format to .mobi format. My first experiment was with the Open Dictionary for Portuguese (Dicionário-Aberto). This dictionary takes 5MB on ePub format. Let me remember you that ePub is a zipped format. It, after unzip, takes 25 MB. The dictionary is pure text.
The conversion from ePub to Mobi took about 45 minutes. That’s not a problem. But took more than 1.9 Gigabytes of disk space. Yes, you are reading the unities correctly. I found this value kind of absurd and though that, although not a relevant thing to fix right now, it would be interesting to investigate why it takes so much disk. By the way, the final Mobi file is around 15MB.
I’ve opened a ticket on Calibre, marked it a wishlist: find out why Calibre takes so much disk space performing a simple format conversion. I did not ask for it to be fixed. I did not complain. Just said it took that disk space, and added a pointer to the file that I used.
I was expecting the developer to be intrigued about this. But unfortunately he shown to be stupid. Sorry, I know this is a hard word, but it is the only explanation I have to this answer:
How much space it takes is how much space it takes. I have no interest in optimizing disk space usage.
Note that I wasn’t expecting a fix right away. An answer stating the there is a to-do list with more important things, would be OK. But closing the ticket with a wont fix made me delete the application from the disk. Would prefer to develop my own conversion tool than to know I would be using this guy software.
A few days ago I found (well, somebody found and twitted about it) Ninite. Ninite is a custom installer for open/free software (in fact it includes some demos of commercial applications, too). You access their website, you define what applications you want to install, and download an installer. This installer performs the downloads of the software you requested, and installs them in their default location.
It works very well (at least it worked very well in my test). I am just lacking some good software on the package. Some examples, are IzArc (I do not like 7-zip), Strawberry Perl (if it installs Python, why not Perl?), Avira Antivirus (I like it, works better than AVG in my latest installs). There are other applications that might get added, like MikTeX and TeXnicCenter (this would be great for my students), or Lilypond (or any other music-editing software). But I understand that keeping the list small is also a virtue…
Why am I using it? Because Echofon is now paid ($20) and present ads in the free version. While I agree with the need of revenue, I do not like to have the ad where it is placed, making the application usage quite strange. Also, as I do not think Echofon is exactly what I want to Tweet, and as probably Tweeter will get paid sooner or later, I decided to try another application instead of buying it.
Noticed a friend that was using YoruFukurou as twitter client. Liked the name, and googled. It is very similar in format with Echofon, but the latest has a more polished user interface. In the other hand, YoruFukurou is very customizable and does not present any ad.
I am kind of allergic to relational databases. This is mainly due to the confusion on configuring servers, creating the schema, associating privileges to users and all that administration stuff. That is why I got fond of SQLite as soon as I knew it. No servers! No users! Just a file with a set of tables.
Fortunately, software is evolving and for some time we have GUI applications to interact with database servers. That is great, as I never know how to grant privileges to a user. Then, as I do that occasionally, there is no really relevance on knowing it from my head.
About two years ago I worked with a friend on a database and she used a nice GUI tool to design the database schemata, and syncing it with a MySQL server. I can’t recall its name, but I know it was the base for the actual MySQL Workbench. Unfortunately Workbench development has been quite slow and buggy. Today I updated Workbench version and it now includes, finally, the ability to sync the model with the database.
Probably I will start to use it more often…
I installed Thunderbird 3 a while ago. But before posting about it I thought it would good to test, check its new features usefulness and then, yes, post some comments on it. Today I decided to do the post. For that I visited the Mozilla website, searching for the top features for Thunderbird 3. They are described in the image above, and will be commented bellow:
- Tabs: at the first glance I thought that tabs would change the way I work with Thunderbird. Since when Galeon, an old web browser, added tabs to the browsing experience, that I never wanted anything else. Then, when hearing about tabs on Thunderbird 3 I got excited. But now I can’t see where are the tabs experience. I can’t add a tab with other account (I was trying to put different inboxes in different tabs) or a tab for each account. But or that is not possible, or it is too hidden for finding it. The only place where I saw tabs showing on was during search…
- Better Search: yesterday I finally discovered how to turn off the new search system. It is fancy, it shows graphics, it has a nice user interface, it does not work! Why are some mails found and not shown? Why some folders are not being indexed? Why indexes are not updated when I move a file? Last months I tried not to use the search engine because I was frustrated with it. Now, old search is back. Great.
- Archiving: the archiving feature might be interesting if the search works, something like Google Mail. In fact, they started with that idea: never delete a mail, archive anything, we will find it. Yes, it was they tagline. Now they are using tags (folders with a different name) so you can organize your email. If Google Mail did this, from an archive to a set of archives, why is Thunderbird trying to create an archive for everything? I use for years different folders where I copy mails to, organizing them as I like. If just these folders were indexed…
OK, now I wonder: why did I update? Probably I will ask the same about Firefox 3.6. Please, Mozilla! Look into usability. Look into usefulness. Forget fancy and eye catching features that use resources and have no real use!
Normally I do not post on every perl module I release. And that is good, or you will be feeling spammed.
Why this module is different?
Because I adopted Text::BibTeX a long time ago, and had a lot of complaints about its installation mechanism. This was mainly due to the fact that Text::BibTeX depended on a C library that needed to be installed prior to the perl module. The C library installation was easy on generic Unix platforms but was a pain to compile under Windows.
After lot of work I managed to include the library C code in the Perl module (now Text::BibTeX has no dependencies on the library), and managed to include code to compile the library in Windows, using the Strawberry Perl distribution (that includes a mingw C compiler).
The package is needing heavy tests, but it seems usable for most users. Probably I will post on the details about its build system in a later post.