Category Archives: Technology

Hacked too

A few days ago, my fellow blogger Kirsch posted about his blog being hacked. Well, I was victim of the same attack. Both of our blogs run on DreamHost and use WordPress.

I found a detailed description of the attack here, however this description refers to a 2 year old attack. I highly doubt WordPress would go this long without a patch to fix the vulnerability.

Everything has been restored to normal thanks to my backups and tools provided by DreamHost.

Why can’t Skype have a slick user interface like Adium?

I read that Skype had released a beta of their latest version for OS X and decided to give it a try, hoping to see some improvements on the user interface, but I was really dissapointed. Why does it have such bulkier and wasteful user interface? Skype could learn a thing or two from Adium. Granted, I had to tweak Adium preferences a bit to get such slick and compact layout, but at least they give me the option to do so.

El centro de entretenimiento perfecto

El título de este artículo suena mucho mejor en inglés, pero ese es el precio que tengo que pagar, desde que decidí escribir en español.

Les presento mi nuevo centro de entretenimiento, que lejos de ser perfecto si está increible:

  • Televisión LCD de 42 pulgadas Westinghouse (VK-42F240S)
  • Mac Mini (MB138LL/A)
  • Amplificador Onkyo (TX-LR552)
  • Bocinas Wharfedale (Diamond 9.2)
  • Subwoofer JBL (PowerBass PB10)

Video digital: Mac Mini (salida: DVI) – TV (entrada: HDMI)
Audio digital: Mac Mini (salida: óptica) – Amplificador (entrada: óptica)

Lo mejor es poder tener toda mi colección de música centralizada en la Mac Mini y poder editar las fotografías que tomo en una pantalla enorme. Los videos de Hulu y los episodios de Lost en alta definición (HD) se ven fantásticos.

Soy feliz. (y soy del verde)

High dynamic range (HDR) imaging

High Dynamic Range (HDR) imaging is the process of taking several pictures of the same subject with different exposures and then combining all of them to produce an image with a wide range of intensity levels. In other words, HDR uses the pictures with longer exposure to obtain more detail and color on the darker parts of the picture and does the opposite with the pictures with short exposure. The end result is a picture that is closer to what your eyes actually see.

To produce an HDR image you take several pictures of the same subject using different exposures. You must use a tripod because you want all the pictures to align perfectly. At minimum you will take 3 pictures: one underexposed, one overexposed and one that is just normal (with the ‘right’ amount of exposure), but you can take more using different levels of under and over exposure.

Once you have the pictures, you need an imaging software to merge them. I first tried to follow these instructions using Gimp on my Ubuntu virtual image, but the process was really slow and the result wasn’t very good. Notice how the merged pictures don’t align perfectly:

Then I downloaded a trial version of Adobe Photoshop CS4 and the best thing is that it does all the merging and aligning for you and here is the result of that:

The result looks good, but I’m not impressed. I’ve seen really amazing HDR pictures on the web, so I’m going to keep experimenting with it and post any further progress I make with this technique.

Taking doodling one step up

I have to admit it: I am a doodler. I’ve done it since I was in elementary school, I did it in high school, college and I still do it at work. Wikipedia argues that doodling happens to students during boring classes. I don’t think that is my case: when I’m doodling at work I still pay attention to whatever is being discussed at the meeting. But I can understand how some people might see that as a sign of distraction.

Today I borrowed Marcospen tablet and gave it a try. I saw a tablet for sale at woot a few months ago and got curious about it. I must tell you it is more difficult to doodle on the tablet, but it is really fun. Here is the result:
Lincoln the turtle

Let’s get virtual

Almost a year ago I was posting about my new MacBook and how I installed Bootcamp in it to try it out. It was a fun test although I have only launched my Windows XP partition a couple of times in the past year. There is nothing I cannot run in OS X so having Windows XP on my MacBook has been pretty useless.

A few months ago I also successfully tried an Ubuntu Live CD. Ubuntu is a Linux distribution and a Live CD allows you to run the operative system without installing it in your computer.

Today I was reading the unofficial apple weblog and found out about VirtualBox: a virtualization open source software from Sun Microsystems. Up until now I knew that you could use VMWare (which I use at work) or Parallels on your Mac, but those were all commercial packages and I didn’t wanted to spend any money since all I wanted was to learn and experiment. I was really excited to find out that I could install Ubuntu on my Mac using VirtualBox for free.

Creating a new Virtual Machine (VM) was really simple and currently Ubuntu 8.04 is being installed as I write this post.

Ubuntu installation on VitualBox

It actually is taking me longer to write this post, than for Ubuntu to get installed on the VM. The installation is done, and now it is downloading 46 software updates which means that at least the network is working like a charm!

Ubuntu running on VitualBox on a MacBook

Now this is the bragging part of the post:
I can now run 3 freaking operative systems on my MacBook and if I create a Windows VM image I can run them simultaneously!

The world is no longer flat my friends.

Yes I did notice that the Ubuntu clock is one hour behind…

The DJ has a new toy

M-AUDIO x-session-Pro

Today I went to the Apple Store at the Domain and bought myself an xSessionPro: a USB mixing device that you can use to mix tracks on your computer and pretend that you are a DJ. It comes with a software called Torq Mixlab which is pretty simple but powerful and after a few minutes I was mixing good stuff. I’m going to play more with this and get better at it and maybe you will find me soon on iTunes just like dj jon carpenter.

Take that DJ Fucho!

Posting your pictures online

Sharing your pictures on the web seems like a very trivial matter, right? well I can tell you it is not that trivial. Here is my story.

Back in 2004 when I first created Chichipanguanorrea I chose Fotopic as the solution for sharing my pictures. The interface was ugly but uploading the pictures was very easy with a Java-based plugin. Unfortunately the free version of Fotopic has a limit of 250 MB which I reached a couple of years ago. Today if you ask me to rate Fotopic, I would give them a 4 out of 10.

Later in 2005 I created a flickr account and started uploading pictures. Since the free version of flickr has a limit on the amount of data you can upload each month and it only shows the last 200 pictures (the rest of the pictures can still be accessed through perma-links), I decided to use flickr as the place to upload ONLY my best pictures. I really like many of the features flickr offers: tags, a huge community, nice interface, geo-tagging, but the limitations prevents it from being the best option for uploading tons of pictures.

In 2006 I decided to try some options I could easily integrate with my WordPress blog: I tried FAlbum and Gallery but it was zenphoto who won my heart. I installed zenphoto in my blog and have been using it since then. It is really easy to upload the pictures and the galleries are created automatically. My only complain would be that including a picture inside a post is not so straight forward.

Today I decided to revamp my picture gallery after updating my blog with the latest WordPress distribution available last night. I’m between upgrading my zenphoto installation to the latest version which has some new features or trying NextGen gallery, a WordPress plugin that seems to be very popular among WordPress users. The good news is that I can try NextGen without removing my current zenphoto installation nor I have to duplicate my picture galleries.

Here are some examples of how NextGen works:

Test 1: adding a picture with the reflection effect

Test 2: adding a picture with a watermark

Test 3: adding a gallery

At this point I’m liking NextGen a lot, but I’m having trouble getting the pictures to show up. I think this is because I’m pointing to the pictures from zenphoto and the permissions might not be properly set up. I noticed that even in zenphoto I cannot open a picture file directly