Calendars for Christmas

Earlier this week I ordered 25 calendars, and that, minus gifts for my wife, constitutes my Christmas shopping for the year. The calendars come from Shuttterfly, and are a series of pretty spectacular (if I do say so myself) nature shots I’ve taken with my canon digital cameras over the past 4 years. The idea came from my friend Mike, who upon looking at our honeymoon pictures, said “man, a bunch of these are really good, you should make a calendar”. A month later I realized he had a really good idea.

I haven’t yet broken down and gotten a really nice digital camera, instead deciding that pocket size is a good thing, as I almost always have my camera with me. With the exception of low light, and distance wildlife shots, opportunity often means more than equipment. If I had a nice big camera, I’d only take it with me when I knew I was going to take pictures. With my Canon SD500, I just stick the thing in my front pocket just about every time I got out for a walk or hike. Granted, opportunity gets easier with the fact that Susan and I take a vacation every year to somewhere new. πŸ™‚

It’s also good that Susan and I have now convinced both of our families to pretty much give up presents at Christmas. Instead everyone picks a charity or cause they want to support, and donate to that. Beyond shedding the materialism of the season, it also saves a lot of stress of fighting with Mall traffic / shoppers, and panicking when you can’t figure out what to get for people. The holidays become more about the memories, and less about the stuff, and that’s a wonderful thing.

The Daily Show with David Javerbaum at Bard

Last night Susan, Chris, and I headed up to Bard for a lecture / interview / show and tell with David Javerbaum, the head writer and supervising producer for The Daily Show. We did cast the net wider, trying to get other people to join us. No one else was responding to IM during the day, so to all you lamers (you know who you are), it was pretty cool.

The evening was done Inside the Actors Studio style, with one of the Bard faculty that knew David asking the questions. It started off with a lot of questions about how he came to work at The Daily Show, and the process of writing and producing the show in general, and the specifics of what goes into making an episode. They then started playing clips from various parts of the show, and talking about both that act in general, and the specific instances shown. Just about all the clips were from the last 2 weeks.

The moments when David couldn’t keep from busting out laughing were great. πŸ™‚ As was his discussion of the various cast members, and what it’s like writing for them. The Daily Show has seen a lot of turnover in cast as all the reporters are seen for their comic ability, and end up in bigger gigs in Hollywood. David personally writes the toss between John and Steven at the end of the Daily Show, which he did say was the best part of his day, as it’s something small, focused, and he can do anything he wants with it as long as it keeps everyone in character.

Some of the comparisons between The Daily Show, and the Colbert Report at the end were quite interesting. David put it best as:

John comments on the irony; Steven is the irony.

Brutalizing python scripts

After reading much of distutils code, I’ve finally figured out how to hack a to have extra rules, and extra required flags, and not break any of the build in support. It was far hackier than I had hoped, and it annoys me slightly that I had to abuse it so bad to get what I needed. Eventually I’ll post what I learned on my wiki as google turned up nothing useful when I was looking for this, and knowledge this painfully acquired should be shared.

Also on the build front, Jeff, who has been sending me ExifTagger patches, found my MakeMaker article, and started asking me how to abuse MakeMaker (perl’s equiv of to do what he needed, as the rpm packager for one of his other projects is having difficulties with his base Makefile. Small world there. πŸ™‚

I think I’ll need a dedicated section of my wiki on Build Systems, and how to make them do what “you” want. πŸ™‚ There is a bag of tricks I’ve aquired over the years, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to brain dump it so it is findable via “The Google”.

B5 at Scifi Night

Our weekly Scifi Night continued last night with episode 3 of Torchwood, plus episodes 5 & 6 of Babylon 5.

Torchwood… is not doing so well. There didn’t seem to be really a point to the episode last night, it just went around in circles, with an eventual “whadda twist!” at the end. It definitely seemed forced, and there was little that was really keeping any of us interested. Please just start digging into Jack’s background (from the episode guides online now, I know they get there eventually), the rest is pretty uninteresting at this point.

Babylon 5 is starting to pick up steam, which is good, as Mike and I did sell B5 as really awesome, and I had forgotten how uneven the first couple episodes are. I guess it helped that I first started seeing B5 consistently somewhere in Season 2. Favorite quotes of the the night by the room were clearly:

“Do you know what the last Xon said just before he died? [Clutches heart]
— Londo in Babylon 5:”The Parliament of Dreams”


“With luck, they may never find you, but if they do, you will know pain..”
“..and you will know fear..”
“..and then you will die. Have a pleasant flight.”
— G’Kar & Na’Toth to Tu’Pari in Babylon 5:”The Parliament of Dreams”

I also hadn’t realized that Na’toth and Lenir were both introduced in Parliament of Dreams (it’s been a long time). Bestor, of course, is introduced in Mind War.

I had also forgotten that Mind War threw in the idea of truly old creatures wandering the galaxy that have no awareness of us. Sakai’s acting through all of that could be better, but B5’s strength in acting was never the reason to watch it, it was always about the story and the writing. As of Parliament of dreams, both Londo and G’Kar’s characters really fleshed out, the actors are definitely comfortable in those roles, and are currently carrying some of the weaker actors through the force of their personalities.

All in all, I think B5 is going over quite well, which makes me quite happy.

ExifTagger 0.40 Released

ExifTagger has been released. This brings the following enhancements:

  • Preferences panel for options like image scaling algo, jump size
  • Store state like last directory opened, and last image viewed
  • Realtime validation for Date field, so that doesn’t get screwed up
  • Install to arbitrary prefix
  • UTF8 support for fields
  • Fix bug for loading blank exif data introduced in 0.30
  • Rotate images based on exif tags
  • Disable carry forward of Date tag

Next up is going to be looking into i18n for the application, which I’ve never done before, so it will be a good learning experience.

MHVLUG November Meeting Synopsis

I’ve decided that I’m going to start giving a synopsis of the MHVLUG meeting just happened, so people that don’t make it, may get an idea of what they missed, and hopefully start coming around.

Main Talk – Build Your Own Digital Picture Frame
Chris gave a pretty cool talk on the process of turning a thinkpad 560 to a digital picture frame that does a rotating slide show on your wall. He prepared a slide show about the process, and things to consider, which will end up on the website soon. The talk also had a lot of show and tell. Chris both disassembled a 560 to show what you needed to be careful about (i.e. what you can break, and what you can’t), and had another 560 running with the slide show software on Linux.

At least 2 people in the audience said they were going to follow this guide to build one of their own.

Other Business

  • December Meeting is on the 2nd Monday due to library scheduling. It will be on how to get hardware to work on Linux, and where to start debugging an issue.
  • Linux Help Day this Saturday at SUNY New Paltz
  • In 2007 MHVLUG meetings are moving to Wed Nights

Vital Stats
Meeting Kickoff: 6:10
Main Lecture Done: 7:00
Headed to Palace: 7:50

Talk Attendance: 25
Dinner Attendance: 7 (pretty low for us)

Babylon 5… from the beginning

We begun watching Babylon 5 from the beginning on Sci-Fi night at my place, which I’m quite excited about. It’s been 8 years since B5 went off the air, and I really can’t wait to get through the entire story arc again. After watching the pilot, and episode 1, I went out looking for B5 quote lists again, and figured I’d share a few from season 1. As some of the folks watching B5 for the first time read this, I’ve kept everything pretty spoiler free.

“Now, landing thrusters.. landing thrusters, hmm. Now if I were a landing thruster, which one of these would I be?”

— Londo in Babylon 5:”A Voice in the Wilderness #2″


“And Vir!”
“Yes, sir?”
“Don’t give away the homeworld.”

— Londo and Vir in Babylon 5:”Born to the Purple”

If we end up watching 2 eps a week (skipping thanksgiving for obvious reasons), we’ll get to “Signs and Portents” on Dec 20th. I can’t wait.

Really getting my head around perl gtk2 and glade

While visiting friends of Susan’s over the weekend, I had some downtime to spend with ExifTagger and work in a few features that I’d been contemplating. More importantly it meant a critical break through in mentally grasping how to do certain things in perl gtk2 with glade. While not rocket science, it was nice to finally figure out how I could change the background color on an input field, and really understand TreeView this time around.

The more I work with libglade, and high level language bindings, I am convinced that it is one of the best ideas out there for gui design right now. While there are times when you need to do things that wonder off the main path (like actually creating columns in a TreeView), and become manual again, the fact that so much boiler plate is handled for you, is brilliant. It reminds me of Ruby on Rails in that regard, hard things are easy, easy things are done for you (and thus don’t bore you), and really hard things just become hard now.

I’ve been writing down personal things that I’ve figured out on my wiki. I couldn’t find good examples on google for these things, thus doing a short writeup on the issue, with an piece of example code, should mean the next guy has better luck.