BAG! Strange tedium and joy. Crazy things.

New thing du jour: My new bag!
Deuter Giga Office
It has too many zips, compartments and features to mention (without becoming unspeakably boring). Suffice to say that it’s a laptop-carrying-backpack and it’s nifty. Expensive but not on the Crumpler or Booqpack scales of things.
This last week has brought whole new vistas of emotional ups and downs: E went away to her dad’s timeshare in NSW for a week, and I was genuinely alone in my own place without housemates for the first time in years. It wasn’t what I’d hoped it would be… in fact it was profoundly depressing. Time to reflect can be very bad when you can’t stand your own reflection…
E came back full of renewed life and joy on Friday last though, and we had a fairly good weekend, even though E is siiick. The magnificent E went quite mad buying me presents! biggrin including this very fine rock tumbler, which is currently making 8oz of rocks into slightly less than 8oz of very shiny rocks in my spare room.
National Geographic Rock Tumbler
Thank you O wonderful E!

Finally, just a note to those who read my blog directly through the Wiki, or through RSS (apologies for the very broken RSS!), or who read the blog and ignore all the frilly bits. My home page has bars down either side of it. These are no longer contentless links to nothing. They now really link to interesting and functional stuff. In particular, the links down the right side of the page (except the Resume page) are to stuff I have found so nifty, amusing, or cute that I want to share them with everyone else. Unless these links vanish at their source, I will try to archive all of them in the old crazy area, so that you won’t miss anything if you don’t check in very often. I mention this here, now, because I’ve been updating Crazy much more often than my blog lately. Blogging requires a brain. Surfing does not.

WARNING: Radical changes in your computer user inferface are imminent

My brother’s housemate sent me this, via my brother. At first I thought it was cute but only semi-relevant, but then I was swayed by the power of video. Check it out for yourself: Multi-Touch Interaction Researchexternal link

The premise is that they can now make a touch-screen with a much greater degree of sensitivity and sophistication in how it registers the different possible kinds of touch, and which can handle an arbitrary number of simultaneous points of contact. They would also appear to have spent some time examining applications for the technology… Wow.

I’m convinced. This outdoes the mouse and the keyboard in so many ways… if you could make an FTIR surface which could give slightly with some kind of reactive ‘click’, or even just a suitably soft surface, why would you need a keyboard?

I’m visualising a workstation which throws away the existing desk paradigm and opts for something like the lovely ergonomics of the architects drafting desk: a raised slanted desktop which you sit at on a high stool, rather than on a chair. This makes a lot of sense if the surface you’re applying your hands to is the same one that you look at, and I speak from experience when I say it’s damn comfortable.

More Panoramas

At request from Korny, the details of what I used to stitch the panoramas:

  1. I used autopano-siftexternal link to build the initial pto file. It seems to want the pictures to be rotated correctly, but apart from that it hasn’t failed me yet. This requires C#, which means installing monoexternal link. This is somewhat large and heavy, even if you happen to have a nice clean installer for it. Command line: -o hugin.pto DSCF00*

    (Where DSCF00 is the common prefix of all my images)

  2. I used huginexternal link to fine-tune and preview the Panorama. It is a very cool tool if used patiently: It offers sensible tips which lead to me getting the result I wanted in the end. Unfortunately, at the time, there wasn’t an Ubuntu package for it, so I had to satisfy its myriad dependencies and build it myself. This was painful.
  3. Rather than using the built-in hugin stitching engine nona for the stitching, I used the panotoolsexternal link PTStitcher to do the final join-up, because it supports colour and exposure correction. I’m sure the clean way to do things would have been to fix the exposure while taking the shots, but this is fiendishly difficult to do with my digicam.

The resuts so far have been about 75% satisfactory:
New Zealand 1:
New Zealand 2:
Buckland Valley:

I have had mixed success with the colour-correction aspect of PTStitcher. It keeps giving me images with a greenish tinge at the edges, or lush rainforests which look like they could burst into flame at any moment.I need to do a bit more work with this… there may be a fix to be achieved by using the right kind of anchor points.

There is a huge amount of potential in this stuff. Witness, for example, The Giga-Pixel Imageexternal link. And for the benefit of Dave, yes, this can all be done under Windows with the same tools, although as Damien points out, there are plenty of alternativesexternal link.


I just wrote something terribly enlightened and cathartic about anxiety attacks and depression, but the reality is that I’m just bored here. The illusion of tension wells up from the fact that I am constrained to look busy, and the companion fact that I feel horribly guilty for doing so little.
No… that’s actually not an illusion. I am really stressed by all of that. What a waste! I could be labouring stressfully at some task which was actually useful to someone. Or I could be doing nothing much more efficiently asleep in my bed. I could even be doing something constructive and pleasant, like exercising, or doing some task that I actually enjoy, like tinkering with images or building a Linux box…
No, I think I’ll just sit here and freak out some more, to no purpose. Yep, uh-huh.

Uselessly sick

Very very not well today., much as yesterday. It is the standard irony: On Tuesday I take a day off sick, because I feel somewhat unwell, then on Wednesday and Thursday (and probably Friday, given how I’m feeling) I get to be so sick I can barely even pretend to function. frown
Still, much has been achieved.

  • Trouble is now moved, with minimal grievous outage, and only one night of pain and misery.
  • My house is one room closer to functional: it now has a bathroom which is entirely satisfactory, featuring a non-broken showerhead which you can adjust, a funtional extractor fan, a toilet-paper holder, a towel-rail which doesn’t dip your towel in the toilet, and no dead spiders (That I know of).
  • (Through very little effort on my part) Elmwood is now On The Market!external link Wheee!

None of this makes up for the fact that I feel awful… like I’ve been practising amateur sword-swallowing, getting trampled by mobs, and sanding my eyeballs. Like I weigh a million tons, especially my hands and eyelids, and have never, ever slept.


Just a quick off-topicitude: I was just browsing back over the comments that people have left on my blog, and wanted to say: THANK YOU!!! I really appreciate that people bother to read my blog, let alone comment on the inanities I post here.

Thank you all very very much!

I slew da Panorama Monster!

Oh. My. God… That . Was. HARD!

There are a great many tools out there for making panoramas (big, long photos, covering a large number of degrees of field of view). So many, in fact, that I won’t even bother trying to link to them, not even the (very large number) of ones that I used in the end.

Suffice to say that getting a complete set of free tools with which to make panoramas is anything but simple. Getting such tools for Linux and making them work is so hard that it beggars belief.

But it works! Quite niftily, actually: