September 11, 2007

The Wonders of CHDK and My Canon Powershot A630

I've had my Canon Powershot A630 for almost a year now, and while mostly satisfied, there were a couple of minor annoyances: 1. the interface was sub-par in comparison to my previous camera, a Fuji Finepix 2. I could grab the raw graphics and had to trust the camera's conversion to 8-bit JPEG. The resulting JPEG's were mostly good, but there were definitely times where I wished I could do better constructing shots in less than optimal lighting. The ability to take raw graphics and tweak it was pretty enticing, but as a Linux user, I figured I'd just have to deal... until yesterday when I discovered CHDK in this article at!

Naturally, I had to try it out as soon as I got home, and it was pretty darn simple. The best news is that it won't wreak havoc with your camera if you get something wrong, because it leaves the manufacturer's firmware intact. The downside from that is that you have to load the CHDK firmware every time you turn on the camera - but it's not that hard. Basically, you follow the steps in the article and the CHDK wiki to load the firmware build onto your camera's SD card. Load the card in your camera, hit "menu" and select "update firmware" at the bottom of the menu list.

My biggest challenge was not having a card reader, but I improvised with my Epson printer. I just loaded the card in the printer, attached it via USB to my Ubuntu-enabled Thinkpad, and voila, I had a card reader. After loading the firmware, it didn't take long to figure out its usefulness. Not only can I capture images in Canon's raw format, but there are all sorts of things that can be scripted via CHDK's BASIC-like script interpreter. For example, there are scripts so that you can change the depth-of-field to put background objects in focus (requires some scripting and mashing up graphics). Another nice feature is the live histogram and the battery statistics. Also, push the shutter button down halfway and get a live reading of current depth-of-field/hyperfocal distance calculations.

After taking the raw photos, I had one slight problem: my version of dcraw, a "raw" image format processing application, was not compatible with my camera's format. But, a few minutes searching led me to the culprit: an older version of dcraw. I had 2 options: either get a newer version or use another piece of software. I chose rawstudio and it worked like a peach.

A note: I couldn't grab the raw files via my camera's standard USB interface. I had to load the card into my "reader" again and transfer files that way. A minor hassle.

Edit: this one's making it ALL OVER the interweb: engadget and wired's gadget lab, among many others.

August 02, 2007

Hair be Gone!

I did it -

May 22, 2007

InfoWorld Features Hyperic - part of Month of Enterprise Startups

InfoWorld Senior Editor Paul Roberts gets the skinny on Hyperic, from purchasing the technology for a buck, to landing 250 paying customers and securing OEM deals with MySQL and JBoss. A great read.

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April 10, 2007

Web Site Dedicated to California AB 1668 - Open XML-based Formats

Here's a new web site that just started up to promote AB 1668 - This bill will mandate that the State of California use open, royalty-free, XML-based document formats. Support open government!

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Nagios network monitoring felled by SNMP false alarms

With more companies finding that they don't have to pay astronomical fees for systems management software, they're turning to Open Source alternatives. In this case, chose Hyperic HQ over Openview when Nagios failed them.

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March 29, 2007

live from sf beta

Blogging from sf beta! It's like a frat party for web 2.0 types. Complete with groupies! @ 111 minna

March 20, 2007

Hyperic Giving Away $5,000 Scholarship

Hyperic is giving away $5,000 in scholarship money to the winner of an essay contest on the subject of "Managing the Next Generation Data Center". Open to all university students and employees (including faculty). If you're an employee, the money goes to your departmental budget. Details at

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February 27, 2007

Hey Donatella: Please Shut Up

I realize I'm late to this party, but I couldn't help myself. Hey Donatella, when you get to be a senator or hell can hold any kind of office, perhaps then you can tell Hillary Clinton what to wear. Until then, just STFU. Having just watched "The Devil Wears Prada" it brought this recent episode to mind. Remind me, why do we need people to tell us what's acceptable to wear? Can someone explain that one to me?

February 15, 2007

gpl3 panel

One panel i'm attending right now is on gpl3. One guy from dla piper, one from sun, and another from - Eben's group. main idea - will have a limited impact... nothing earth-shattering but many attendees aren't very knowledgeable. sun guy mentions solaris - nervous about gpl2 but more comfortable with v3. doesn't say it, but looks like cddl is history in the future.

live from new york...

Blogging with my nokia 800... Ok, it's not really mine, but i'm using it while at linuxworld new york. but now i'm hooked, so i'll probably end up buying one. more on lw ny in a bit. the show has been toned down into a conference. frankly it's better now thaqn when it was an expo. lots of interesting people. more later.

February 05, 2007

Open Source is Now Boring

As seen on TINOSC: Regardless of what transpires, we don't get any more silly stories about whether Open Source will survive. Well, sometimes we do, but I don't think anyone actually takes them seriously. The market has matured to the point where many finally understand that any one company's failing is not representative of the entire Open Source community

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