Older blog entries for mikal (starting at number 52)

Video4Linux 2 webcam applications?

Hi, I've spent some time poking around for a video4linux 2 webcam application which doesn't suck. All I want is something very simple -- grab a frame from the specified camera and dump it to a file on disk in a format I can use. I don't want a config file. I don't want a web server. I don't want it to scp the file somewhere. Just grab a frame.

I can't find such a thing. I have some code myself which nearly does the job, but it's video4linux 1 and needs a rewrite. Should I just give in a write the code myself?

Tags for this post: blog(STI) toys(STI) video4linux(TI) v4l2(TI) webcam(TI) application(TI) linux(TI)

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Syndicated 2007-01-01 03:49:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley

They all use MySQL...

I was walking down Mountain View's Castro Street this afternoon, and noticed that meebo is advertising for developers and system admins. Interestingly, they seem to match the design pattern used by pretty much every web 2.0 company I have seen around here (except MySpace): linux, MySQL, and Ajax. So, there you go.

Tags for this post: mysql(STI) web(TI) 2.0(TI)

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Syndicated 2006-12-31 16:09:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley

Renaming mbot to gtalkbot

I'm renaming my mbot to gtalkbot to stop if clashing with mbot.

Source for 1.0 is now here.

Tags for this post: gtalkbot(STI) mbot(TI) google(TI) talk(TI) bot(TI)

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Syndicated 2006-12-30 13:39:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley

Want HDTV but only for US free to air?

The HDHomeRun seems to be a pretty useful device. There are a bunch of people on the MythTV mailing lists trying these things out at the moment. It's a networked dual tuner HD set top box. Kinda cool.

Now, if only someone would come up with a digital cable card which works with MythTV...

Tags for this post: mythtv(STI) hd(TI) freetoair(TI) hdhomerun(TI)

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Syndicated 2006-12-29 16:14:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley

Tick of death

It's times like this that I don't mind that people make fun of me for using RAID 1+0 on my home server. One of my Seagate 400gb PATA drivers emits a ticking noise and is no longer detected by any of my Linux boxes. I don't think that's a good sign for the data on that machine. Luckily, the RAID array can run in degraded mode for a bit until a new disk arrives.

Now to find out how much Seagate warranty support sucks.

Tags for this post: blog(STI) toys(STI) seagate(TI) disk(TI) ticking(TI) noise(TI)

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Syndicated 2006-12-29 15:59:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley

In Phoenix yet again

You might have noticed that last week we were in Phoenix again. That meant yet another trip to to firing range, although this was also James' first trip to the range. The new addition to the collection of weapons fired was a Romanian AK-47:

It was surprisingly accurate, but has a definite recoil. Most of us ended up bruised, except for James. It turns out that James is some sort of automatic weapon idiot savant, as he also ended up with a really nice grouping at the end. The history of the AK-47 is also interesting if you're unaware but into such things.

We also fired the Remington Model 870 pump action 12 gauge shot gun (slug gun variant) again:

As well as the seemingly traditional Magnum 50 calibre model 500:

And then the Springfield 1911 45 calibre:

Tags for this post: guns(STI)

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Syndicated 2006-12-29 06:48:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley

As pointed out by a friend at work

Trends for "return gift":


Who would have thought that people only return gifts at Christmas?

Tags for this post: link(STI) christmas(TI) return(TI) gift(TI) google(TI) trends(TI)

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Syndicated 2006-12-29 04:55:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley

Microsoft taints bloggers with free laptops... or, whiney bitches win again!

A guy I know from Canberra (he was a consultant and we were a consultee last time we met, please note that the consultation was at a Microsoft centric ISV, and paid for by Microsoft. Then again, we never took any of the advice because our management at the time still feel that the Internet is a passing fad and wouldn't know a current trend if it jumped out and bit them) scored a free laptop from Microsoft.

The premise is that it's a 64 bit laptop running Vista, and he's meant to be so astounded by it's coolness that he blogs all about it. There no risk of that occurring, he's pretty much in Microsoft's pocket anyways.

Then again, he's so much in Microsoft's pocket that he's a MVP. There is no perception of bias there -- everyone knows he works for a Microsoft backed consultancy, is an MVP, and gets back rubs from Frank Arrigo, Microsoft Australia's head developer back rubber (full disclosure again, Frank used to be my assigned Microsoft ISV buddy -- apparently that meant that we both took it in turns to ignore email from each other).

Back to the story. So, some other bloggers noticed that they hadn't got laptops for free, perhaps because they are whiney bitches, and raised a stink. Unfortunately Microsoft doesn't have the courage of their convictions, and have now asked those bloggers to get rid of the machines after writing some reviews.

Get a grip people. Microsoft, you should be ashamed of backing down. Blogosphere, you should investigate the perception of bias a bit more before making random accusations. Frank, where's my back rub?!?

Anyways, here's what I said in a comment on Mitch's blog:


(long time no see).

I'd kinda assumed that the machine was a standard "kick back" to Microsoft MVPs -- you are still one, right?

While I wont say I'm a big Microsoft supporter (I work for a competitor, have been using Linux for the last 10 years, and am finally Windows free), it seems to me that it's fair enough for Microsoft to provide training resources to MVPs. Don't you also get flights to Redmond, copies of MSDN, a back rub from Frank?

It seems to me that most of the complaining comes down to jealousy. Especially if you disclosed the machine as a gift.

Oh, and Microsoft taking it back again (or dictating how to dispose of the machine) just leaves me with the impression that Microsoft lacks the courage of their convictions. Surely if individual bloggers thought there was a tainting issue they are big enough to resolve that for themselves without a mandate from above?


And unlike Microsoft, I stand by my opinion.

Tags for this post: blog(STI) microsoft(TI) vista(TI) payperpost(TI) whiney(TI) bitches(TI)

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Syndicated 2006-12-29 03:01:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley

Reactive economies?

The other day while in Costco (for the foreigners, think Bunnings or some other hardware warehouse, but for food), I was graced with this conversation at the checkout, between two Costco employees:

e1: Where the hell is e3?
e2: Oh, we didn't meet our sales target yesterday, so they cut hours today.
e1: So he's not coming in at all?
e2: Nup

Apparently Costco works out their staffing based on a "budget for the day" which takes into account todays sales target, expected customer load, and whatever they have to "make up" from previous missed targets.

While there is nothing wrong with that, it must suck to be an employee in that environment. I can't imagine not knowing how much work I would have day to day. I used to be a casual, but our rosters were fairly static and worked out weeks in advance. I guess that Australia is headed down this path with the new industrial relations laws as well.

That's not why I finally got around to writing this though. It occurred to me this morning that being able to lay off people instantly based on a micro assessment of the economy must also lead to very reactive economies, which are more vulnerable to downturn. If Costco couldn't lay people off instantly, then the billion dollar company would act as a cushion between small variations in economic state and the rest of the economy. Without that cushion, the laid off employee goes home and spends less (being unemployed for a day and all), which has a big knock on effect for the rest of the economy.

I wonder if there are any studies on the probability of this being a problem compared with countries with more employee protection like Ireland? France probably goes too far for such a study, because the barrier to firing there is so high that it acts as a barrier to hiring as well.

Tags for this post: travel(STI) usa(STI) economics(TI) costco(TI)

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Syndicated 2006-12-28 02:48:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley

Jon's Nokia E61 WEP problems

Jon is having problems getting WEP to work on his new Nokia but he doesn't have comments turned on so I can't reply to him on his blog. There are a couple of people at work who have claimed to get this working. It's not a work day today, but I will ping them tomorrow and see if I can get their instructions for you...

Tags for this post: blog(STI) toys(STI) nokia(TI) e61(TI) wep(TI)

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Syndicated 2006-12-27 03:26:00 from stillhq.com : Mikal, a geek from Canberra living in Silicon Valley

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