VuPoint toy camera and MacOSX?

I was at the mall with Evan today, and we popped through the Toys ‘R Us store. They had a cool looking little toy digital camera for $19, so I just had to pick it up for Evan to mess around with. The box said the software was only for Windows, but I just assumed that MacOSX would be able to see it magically, as it does for everything else that claims to be Windows-only.

No luck. I’ve been googling for drivers or apps or hacks, without any success. Does anyone know how to get pictures from a VuPoint Solutions DC-M1082-VP onto MacOSX? I don’t care if I have to delve into obscure command line utilities, or compile some open source project. I just have to find a way to get Evan’s masterpieces off the camera. And, no, I am not going to buy a Windows machine to do it. It’d be cheaper/easier to just buy a new Canon XTi and hand him my XT :-)

Evans first camera

He’s been shooting pictures almost non-stop since I handed him the camera. That’s pretty cool.

Update: A command line utility called gphoto seems to talk to the camera. I haven’t tried it, but there’s a howto by David Clark posted online. (thanks to Daan for the tip!)

Geek Humour

I've been following Pharyngula for awhile – it's a really interesting biology blog, where PZ Meyers prolifically links to a wide range of (often cephalopod-related) topics. Cool stuff. Today, he links to this, which would make an awesome geek T-Shirt:

sudo sandwich

If you spend (too) much time in, this one is a keeper…

Flickr Geotagging UCalgary

I spent some time playing with Flickr's cool new geotagging tool – which lets you add location metadata to any image you upload to Flickr. It works very nicely, letting you easily cluster locations, and quickly add multiple images. Here's what I've done with a handful of images I've taken of the UCalgary campus:

Flickr Geotagging UCalgaryFlickr Geotagging UCalgary

They also provide an easy link feature, so I can add a link directly to this map view .

I've played with the Greasemonkey/Google Maps hack for Flickr, which is really cool (especially considering it's user-added functionality), but this is much slickr. It's good to see Flickr getting past its self-imposed development embargo now that they've tackled some of the scalability issues.

Also, I realize that my photos are heavily skewed to the northeast corner of campus. I'll have to rectify that…

University of Calgary’s Website Now Powered by Drupal

UCalgary Drupal HomepageThe U of C threw the switch over the weekend, and the new Drupal -powered website is now live. It's got some (temporary) gaps, as content is migrated over from the old site, but it's much nicer than the previous whack-a-mole navigation we had previously. And, since it's managed by Drupal, content updates are likely to happen more often.

IT is testing the waters with the homepage migration – the site is authored/published by Drupal, but is exported as static HTML and that's what is living on our main webserver. As they get more comfortable with hosting Drupal and with performance/scalability, they'll start rolling out dynamically-driven sites rather than HTML snapshots.

Here's what the site used to look like. The arrows lined up near the bottom are the whack-a-mole faculty navigation links.

UCalgary Whack-a-Mole Navigation

Myth of the rich Albertan?

I’ve gotten absolutely sick of hearing about how wealthy Albertans are. On the news tonight, every other story was about how we’re so stinking rich. We’re buying everything in BC. We’re buying new cars. We’re buying so many new mansions that there aren’t enough tradespeople to build them.

Janice and I walked through the showhomes in our neighbourhood on the weekend to see what’s up. These are the same builders we used when we built our house in 2000. Except, now the price of the lots are higher than what we paid for our whole house package. The “starter” homes in our community now begin at $450,000 – almost 3x what ours cost just 6 years ago. That’s absolutely insane. We fell in love with one of the homes – but at $650,000 it’s not bloody likely. But someone’s buying this stuff.

But, here’s the thing. I don’t know anyone that’s gotten rich off of oil. An old family friend spent decades in the oilpatch, and did OK, but he retired before things got insane. My closest connection to the oilpatch is through my brother, but he’s living in Asia, not Alberta. He did help start an oil company, and sold it a few years ago. He had a nice Porsche and house, but he left the province for greener pastures. Most of his small personal fortune was made in the insurance industry, not the oilpatch.

So, now there’s a majority of the population being affected by the few who struck Texas Tea, driving up the prices of everything. And making the rest of the country envious of the “wealthy Albertan” – but I’d like to meet one of those.

I obviously move in the wrong circles. Someone’s obviously able to afford all of the irrationally extravagant stuff. Escalades and Hummers are rolling off city lots. These McMansions are being sold faster than they can be built.

Our provincial government was able to pay off the debt due to unbudgeted and unpredicted revenue surpluses of billions of dollars every fiscal quarter. Something like $20B per year that just falls into their lap. A trained chimp could balance a budget with these surpluses. And yet we don’t have enough schools, or hospitals, or public transportation. They’re building new super-ring-roads like they’re going out of style, though. Gotta have someplace to drive those Escalades…

Canon XT Update

So, 2 months after I finally get my Canon Digital Rebel XT (350D), they announce the upgrade. The 400D/XTi sounds pretty nice, but I’m not regretting getting the XT when I did.

Things I like about the 400D/XTi:

  • 10 megapixels – more is better, right?
  • dust removing shake-off of sensor
  • new sensor – lower noise, apparently
  • bigger LCD
  • large continuous shoot buffer – twice as many rapidfire shots
  • eyepiece sensor shuts off LCD automatically when you hold the camera to your eye
  • RGB histogram, in addition to luminance
  • slightly less costly than the XT

Things I don’t like about the upgrade:

  • lack of second LCD. it was dropped, I assume, to make room for the bigger main LCD, but it’s really nice having the separate (dimmer) LCD for main settings without having to power up the main LCD. This is especially nice when shooting at night, when the bigger brighter LCD blows your night vision away, while the smaller, dimmer, orange-glowing secondary LCD on the 350D/XT is nice and handy
  • my XT is technically obsolete. stupid progress…

So, while more pixels, and a cleaner (physically and image-wise) sensor are nice, the lack of the secondary LCD kinda sucks. But, the 350D/XT is still more camera than I know what to do with (yet) so I have absolutely no regrets. I didn’t think I’d be able to say that after my XT became obsolete, but I’m still loving my camera. However, if Canon wants to send me a 400D/XTi upgrade for my 60-day-old 350D/XT, I won’t complain… I’m curious to see how this new model stacks up against Nikon’s new D80, as well.

Penn State Podcasts with Drupal

Cole just posted a note about PSU’s podcasting training session, including a screenshot and link to the Podcasts @ PSU website. Looks very well done – I’m sure we’ll be borrowing liberally from it when we get our butts moving here.

What’s interesting to me is that the site is done in Drupal. Taxonomies to organize content. Drupal’s RSS feeds spitting out the podcasts. Very nice. It looks like a pretty stock implementation without much hackery to get things going – but knowing Cole, he’s probably added some cool stuff to streamline the publihsing process.

Cole – I hope you have time to put together a colophon to share with the rest of the class :-)

Comment Notification by eMail now available again!

Thanks to some great work by Christoph C. Cemper, there is now a module available to enable email notifications for comments by anonymous users (which, on my blog, is everyone but myself) on a Drupal blog. There should now be a “follow comments by email” checkbox underneath the comment submission form, which adds the much-missed feature.

It needs a (minor?) change to the stock comment.module, but Christoph provides a modified version of that. Hopefully the changes aren’t drastic enough to make upgrading Drupal less straightforward.

Thanks to Christoph for his quick work on this (he started on it last night, and has a usable module available before noon today!) I owe you a beer or two for this!

Wahoo! I’m a Newton owner again!

I placed a couple of bids on Newton Messagepad auctions on eBay this weekend, thinking I might be able to pick one up relatively inexpensively, since they are discontinued and a decade old. Man, is there an active community of folks still lusting after these bad boys.

The auctions for the MP2100 quickly grew too rich for my blood, but I was able to win both an eMate 300 and a Messagepad 120 with a bunch of accessories.

Now, to negotiate shipping and handling, then eagerly await the boxes in the mail… Can't wait to get my hands back on a Newton. I had a MP120 for a couple of years in the late '90s, and really miss it. The eMate should be cool too. Oh, and to figure out how to connect these beasts to a modern Mac (although I still have my 8600 running at home…)

eMate 300Newton Messagepad 120 + Accessories