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Topics - suleika [ switch to compact view ]

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I'm having trouble finding a tool for some basic data analysis.  I want to input discrete lists of items, which will have some overlap between the lists, and then, for any given item, browse its associations (the frequency of list-fellows).  My data won't be very extensive - roughly in the order of 30-50 lists of 20-40 items each. 

An example of the kind of analysis I need (not what I will be using it for) would be lists of cities visited by my friends.  Each friend has a list containing the names of the cities they have visited.  The minimum analysis I would require is that when browsing "Paris" I would be able to see associated cities in order of frequency, and also the names of which friends have visited. 

Further useful information would be about similarity between lists, and an indication of which lists are the more unusual/original and which most "average".  Also, bearing in mind list similarities, which cities tend to be indicators of averageness or originality.

I don't mind if it's not visually represented, though that would be a bonus.

All I've managed to find is expensive software like TouchGraph Navigator and bewildering toolkits like Prefuse.  I keep thinking I must be missing something.  Perhaps language analysis software?  Some clever Excel trick?

There are lots of countdown timer programs around but when I saw a post on Mark Forster's site about the Time Timer clocks and watches I realised how useful a quick glance visualisation would be when working at my computer. 


And then I thought of how it might work.  On my pocket PC I use a little program called batti to display battery status in a colourful bar at the very top of the screen - as small as 1 pixel (I have it set to 2).


So how about a countdown timer for windows which would display the countdown in a thin docked bar/strip at the edge of the screen or by the taskbar?

At its most simple, the total length of the bar would be the total time set and block colouring would give a rough idea of time elapsed. But ideally there would be a way to mark the bar like a tape measure, so you could read 23 minutes passed out of 60 minutes, for example, or 3 min 10 seconds out of 5 minutes.  If the bar were not too thin, it could even have numbers on it.  And it would be very cool to be able to have more than one timer going at once, with some way of distinguishing them.

Does that all make sense?   Does anyone think it could be done?

I'm running Firefox3.0b5 in safe mode, thinking that it might be my webdeveloper bar or something like that, but the forum still has this weird red background and no-one's said anything!  I'm a little bit paranoid because I also have something weird going on on Flickr (three of my thumbnails - the square ones - are showing up as a different picture) which also started last night.

I've checked my processes (using procexp) but can't see anything unusual going on - but perhaps this forum is now supposed to be red?

Screenshot - 06_05_2008 , 02_16_06_cr.jpg

Ah - the penny dropped as soon as I posted this - I cleared my cache (which does not happen automatically in Firefox safe mode) and everything is back to normal on both sites. 

That was strange though!

I have not one but two digicams now and I'm really getting into it as a hobby, and I'm doing quite well at organising the photos I work on, but the ones I don't work on are a bit of a mess and are taking up a lot of space.  Some of them I want to keep intact for working on in the future, and the rest I want to save as smaller jpg files (for reference, memento etc) and delete the originals.  A few of them I'm going to process by hand, but most of them could be batch processed.

Most of the originals are jpgs of (approx) either 3000x2000 and 1.5-3.5 MB, or 4200x3400 and 1.5 -5 MB.  (I'm not doing anything with my RAW files yet.)  I've tested quite a few and I've worked out that I'd like to make the files 1 MB but have them no smaller than 1000 pixels on the shorter side.  This won't be a one-off job; I'll be doing this every time I shoot.

I'm trying very hard to satisfice here rather than optimise - these photos are rejects, after all (I mainly want to be able to see why I rejected them, refer to the EXIF data, and also to keep a chronology alongside the photos I am keeping).  But the files vary in size quite a lot - and so if I use FastStone Image Viewer, for example, and set the shorter side at 1000 pixels, and set the jpg quality to give me an average file size of 1MB, I end up with quite a lot of files considerably smaller and larger than 1MB (and the setting would be different from batch to batch anyway).

Is there a smart way of doing this?  Does anyone know of a program that will deliver a file 1000 pixels short-side at 100% quality, unless result is more than 1MB, in which case try 99%, unless result is more than 1MB, in which case try 98%, etc etc?

Alternatively, is there a program that will simply reduce the quality of the jpg to a given file size (1MB) without resizing?  And can anyone tell me how different the result will be from a re-sized file (new dimensions) in terms of quality?  I would have thought it would be much the same when viewed at the same size on the screen.

I'm aware, by the way, that if I were to use a percentage as the quality setting then the resultant files would have a neatly consistent relationship to their originals, but I don't want to go that route, even though it would be easier to manage.  Firstly, the originals with smaller file sizes are the ones to benefit from not being over-compressed and the byte-rich files can afford it.  Secondly, if I can get the files near to 1MB each it will make accounting for future file storage extremely easy.

I'm giving Firefox 3 Beta 5 a try, and yet again I find myself frustrated with the layout and interface of the Firefox Add-on site.  There seems no way to search for extension by compatibility except by guessing at search strings, and there is not much consistency in how the Firefox versions are mentioned in the descriptions.  This used to frustrate me already with Firefox2 every time there was a major update.

When browsing the site with Firefox 3.0b5 any compatible extensions show up with a green download button rather than grey, which enabled me to scan the pages 100 extensions at at time and find the compatible ones reasonably fast.  But having done that once, I'd love to be notified when any extensions are updated.  I can't find any rss feeds though.  Would this be something a website watcher could help me with?

But surely the actual interface to the database could be improved in the first place.  It's maddening.  Firefox itself can obviously distinguish between compatible and non-compatible just through the browser window (as oppose to via a tool) which makes me wonder if the relevant info can be found in the metadata of the rendered html somewhere.  I wonder if that's the kind of thing a greasemonkey script could ferret out, like the scripts people have written for Flickr.  (Mind you, greasemonkey is not yet 3.0b5 compatible.)

The normal backup mode for SyncbackSE is to scan files on both source and destination, but its Fast Backup mode assumes you have made no changes on the destination and backs up according to changes only on the source.  I thought this might be useful for my annoyingly large Scrapbook folders, but sometimes the destination files will have changed (because of the way I use my USB thumb drives) and so I will need to disable Fast Backup from time to time.  I'm not very good at remembering to do that kind of thing but I thought of using the SyncbackSE "Programs Before" settings to run a little script as a (hopefully) fail-safe reminder.

The "Programs before" can be set to abort the profile if the program fails to execute or if the program returns something other than a specific value.  So, when I click to run the Fast Backup profile, it runs my compiled AHK script.  The script asks me to confirm that the destination files have not been changed.  If I choose "Yes" the profile runs.  If I choose "No" the profile fails. 

My tiny script:

Code: AutoIt [Select]
  1. MsgBox, 4, , Is it OK to run this Fast Backup?  Choose "Yes" to confirm that the destination files have not been changed since the last Fast Backup on this computer.
  2. IfMsgBox, No
  3.     Exit, 1
  4. ; Otherwise, the user picked yes.
  5. MsgBox You pressed YES.

I forgot I hadn't installed locate32 on this laptop, but I called it with FARR ("loc...").  I was then stuck between the advanced configuration box and the error message -  cancelling or exiting one lead to the other - ad infinitum.   Not earth-shatteringly bad but rather annoying.

No updates needed on my FARR (I assume that means latest version).

Going to find Locate32 now...

Edit:  My bad  - in case this is not reproducable, it could be because I do have locate "installed", but it's in a special folder on my second partition.  Perhaps if it had not been installed at all this would not have happened.  Anyway, I shall point it to the right place now and hopefully the ad infinitum will stop.

I run quite a lot of portable apps, although mostly from a folder on my hard drive.  I like to back them up onto usb drives and also copy them directly between my two laptops. 

I'd like a program that would create a folder full of nothing but shortcuts pointing to the various apps in my portable folder.  This way, if I move the apps around, create directories, rename things etc, I could easily auto-generate the shortcuts again.  The shortcut folder could then be added onto my desktop or as a taskbar toolbar in an instant.

Here's how I imagine it working (slightly inspired by the recent IconAnyFolder coding snack):  The shortcut creator would allow me to designate the top level directory, and then it would create shortcuts to any .exe file in that folder, and then search recursively one level down and add shortcuts to any .exe files it found there.  Any folders not including an .exe file would be searched further, and so on.

Well, that's what would work for me, since occasionally I have older versions and messy stuff like that stored within the folders of newer versions, and so I wouldn't want the shortcut creator to find them.  Also, many of the portable apps have executable plugins within their directories, which I wouldn't want shortcuts to.  But I imagine it could be configurable to either find all .exe's or to stop searching recursively at each found .exe as I suggest above.

Does anything like this exist already?  If not, any takers?

Today I searched for and installed drivers for everything from sound to webcam on my new laptop, as part of my "upgrade" from the supplied Windows Vista to good old XP. 

I'd installed plenty of drivers in my time but I'd never had to deal with things like finding out which chipset was in my laptop.  I used Belarc advisor, Aida32, and lots of googling, and it was all successful.   

It's not major, but I learned a lot and feel rather chuffed.

Living Room / Best forums for....
« on: February 02, 2008, 08:02 PM »
I've never seen anything quite as helpful and friendly as DC, but there are some great forums for other fields of interest.  Where do you like to spend your time?  Is it all about community?   Or is it pithy, ruthlessly filtered material?  Does it supply links, downloads, news, laughs, tips, bargains, or brain-fodder?  Or is it simply the ultimate resource for some specific need?

I've found forums useful time and time again for finding answers to technical and specialised questions.  Once I discover a forum, I sometimes use the google advanced search option ( to get answers faster.

I've just spend some time on FlyerTalk - a Frequent Flyer Community -  a very useful resource. I've visited it many times but only just joined it.   

And I mentioned recently in a post of mine a good forum about website hosting - webhostingtalk

More obscurely, I've seen some interesting German-English-German postings on the Leo website forum.

Please post about your non-DC forum experiences here - especially the good ones!

Certain links, including links "behind" images, are jumping to one side when I hover over them, which can cause some very annoying jumping of adjacent items and occasional mass vibration if I hover on particular pixels.  It's caused by an expansion of some space on the right hand side of the link. I've tried to troubleshoot this disabling all my extensions and checking my user config etc, but I can't work out why it's happening.  Why some links and not others?  I've examined the css using the WebDeveloper extension but I haven't managed to see a pattern.

This started a month or so ago and I can't remember changing anything in particular at that time.

Here's an example from the current BitsDuJour page. The thin red lines are link outlines generated by the Web Developer extension.

First, without hovering:


Then the dramatic jump when I hover over "buy now"

The "comments" link also jumps.  You can see this when comparing with the screenshot where there is no hover. 

You can also see the "Focus MP3 Recorder" has extra space (by observing the red outline line)

Can anyone reproduce this?  Or help me fix it?  Or tell me where to post instead of here?  Or give me some clues as to the cause so I can google more succesfully for fixes?  Or point me to a test page where I can report which links hover and which don't?  It's driving me a little bit mad...

I'm using Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20071127 Firefox/ - Build ID: 2007112718

On preview; on this DCF page some of the links that are expanding on hover are:

  • All links at the bottom of the page between and not including Donation coder: about us and Translate - except the rss icon
  • My links in my text above
  • My donation yellow icon below my avatar - the other icons on the left of the donation icon are not expanding on hover.  This icon is not jumping; like the Focus MP3 Recorder link above, I can only see the extra space on the right when I show the outline with the Web Developer extension.

I don't think there are any other expanding links on this page but I'm not 100% sure of that.

General Software Discussion / Firefox Scrapbook extension
« on: December 24, 2007, 03:37 PM »
I thought it might be worth starting a new thread, since my reply elsewhere was getting a bit wordy....

I've been using Scrapbook (a Firefox extension) for about a year now.  It saves whole webpages (with their images and stylesheets etc), each in its own (non- proprietery, and so easily searchable with other tools) directory.  The directories have id names (based on date created), but Scrapbook indexes the URL and date created, as well as other meta information you add (a title, comments) and displays the pages within a Firefox sidebar, in a searchable simple outliner/hierarchical list, which is quite easy to arrange and modify.

You can edit the page before saving it (using a Dom Inspector style interface), and add embedded sticky notes, highlighters and tooltips. You can also save only that part of the page you've previously selected, or choose not to save images/sound files etc.

You can choose to capture linked pages (to the depth of 4), although I don't think it compares well in functionality with specialised offline browsers like HTTrack.   

It supports single notes too, which appear in the outline as single entries.  Also bookmarks, although I don't find it a useful interface for bookmarks (that have no saved content).

One very cool feature is that it's easy to combine a selected group of saved pages and notes into a single (long) webpage.  I use this from time to time to pass on "findings" to someone else, since there is very little extra time needing to be spent on organisation of the information.  It can also export a group of webpages organised into its own folder with an index html page pointing to the other saved pages, which again is useful for passing on information to other people.

Caveat: with all this saving each page into its own folder, you can too easily create unwieldy "scrapbooks" of thousands of small files and directories, which are a pain to backup or use on a portable drive. For this reason I've changed my habits with it; I save less than I used to, and I purge pages from completed projects.  However, when I really need it it's wondefully simple, functional and accesible, right there within my browser, always at hand.

I've seen this app around here a couple of times, I think, but my extensive searching has come to naught. 

I think it has a GUI in the form of a table, with rows being time and columns being projects (or the other way round).  There are buttons which represent small chunks of time (10 mins) and you click on them under the project column to show what you are doing during that time-chunk.

Off to search LifeHacker now, in case that was where I saw it...

So you've realised that your folder and file naming system for your photos is just not working any more, and you start investigating programs to batch-rename and sort according to EXIF information...

Tip: use your current (flawed) folder structure to help you generate IPTC/XMP keywords before you start moving the photos around!  That way, you can always try out different renaming schema's without being forced to include that information in the new file or folder names.  You can always change/remove the keywords later if necessary.

Anyone more tips for how to begin organising and renaming photos?

DC Website Help and Extras / Request: where to put "Tiny Tips"?
« on: November 29, 2007, 10:21 AM »
Sometimes, when I grok something, I want to pass the information/idea on, just in case it's useful for anyone else.


So you've realised that your folder and file naming system for your photos is just not working any more, and you start investigating programs that batch-rename and sort according to EXIF information. 
Tip: use your current (flawed) folder structure to help you generate IPTC/XMP keywords before you start moving the photos around!  That way, you can always try out different renaming schema's without being forced to include that information in the new file or folder names.  You can always change/remove the keywords later if necessary.

So I'd like to post this somewhere, and since it would start showing up in the forum search it could be useful to others, but I am not sure where best to post it.  I'm not sure about posting it in "General Software Discussions" since it seems kind of lame as an actual discussion as such.  So where seems a good place for this kind of "nugget" or "tip of the day"-style post? 

If not in a special section of the forum then how about encouraging posts like this with "Tip:" as prefix in the title?

I currently use SyncbackSE, but when I am travelling with my laptop I only need to backup a few files/folders a day, to USB-stick or via FTP.  But how to keep track of which files?

I need a program which monitors changes and which will then let me review the list of changes before going ahead with the backup.  I wouldn't be able to make use of a mirroring program which syncs automatically, since I don't have a large enough external drive permanently attached.  But with my current set-up, the one-off reading and comparing of lots of very large folders takes a lot of time. 

So is there a program out there that will do the monitoring, and will prepare the backup, but which will then give me a choice of which files/folders to backup only when I am ready?

I love this mod (thank you, mouser!) and on the smf forum I co-host it would be extremely useful.  I've looked on the smf mod site and I can't see it - so I am thinking it's not been put out there.  Would you be willing to post it/share it here?  Please?

Living Room / Software download sites - scrapers and non-scrapers
« on: August 07, 2007, 01:12 PM »
Inspired by some comments in the thread  Article: Please don't steal this Web content:

It can be a pretty discouraging situation to be in when someone steals your content like this. It really doesn't do much for encouraging the victim to keep working hard and producing new content.

And I have some mixed feelings about software download sites that do this. On the one hand, they are promoting my software.

On the other, they are copying partial content from my web pages, leaving out important information or presenting it in a way that makes no sense. This is unfair and can make me and my applications look bad.

Most of the time it is for applications I don't have PAD files for. If I had wanted these applications to be included on software sites, I would have created PAD files for them and submitted it, myself.

Is there a thread somewhere on this site on the good, average and less good software sites, based on how they treat the authors, link back (or not), nick copy without asking (or not)? I'd be curious.

Whenever I googled for software I got very fed up of pages of results from these scraping sites.  They all include the same short descriptions of the software, with no reviews or discussion or comparison, and sometimes no links to the software home pages.  I got so fed up that a couple of weeks ago I created a custom google search which exclude these sites.  I can modify it any time by "including" sites (which are then emphasized in the search results) or by adding more excluded sites.  It works very well for me.

Here are my excluded sites so far:

JGPaiva's GridMove and Ahk Tools / GridMove: Grids Here
« on: July 28, 2007, 12:04 PM »
There seems to be no particular place to post grids, so I decided to start a thread.  We can always post links here to older posts with grids attached.

Anyway, here's a grid I wrote for myself (my screen resolution is 1680 x 1050).  It supplies a main full-height area, to the left or right, with choices for the remainder of the space - either one tall space, two shorter stacked spaces or three very short stacked spaces. 

I use it when when I am working in one window but keeping an eye on one or more others.

I labeled the numbers to creae a "guided tour"; if you follow them in sequence you can see how the triggers relate to the grid shapes (from larger windows to smallest).

So you're watching a film on your laptop and you set your monitor/power/screen saver options so nothing kicks in to disturb it.  But then you forget to change the settings back again before you go to bed.  The next day you go to work and your monitor stays on and your screen saver doesn't start...

Or you mute your system sound because your partner is sleeping, and the next day you don't hear anyone paging you on IM ...

What would really help me is a script which detects when I fiddle with power/sound/screen saver options and then automates changing back to my default options (perhaps overkill) or simply automates pop-up reminders for me to do it (perhaps better - more flexible).

Either way, if when it detected any change it popped up and gave me a choice to "ignore pop-up and keep new settings", "ask me again/revert settings in x hours", or "ask me/revert settings on next startup", then I'd feel safe changing my settings but not too nagged.

I looked at the scheduling hibernation thread and at a couple of other power management scripts but what I'm not finding is a script being triggered by changing these kind of settings (including individual system sounds etc).  Makes me wonder if I'm missing something obvious. You know, when x runs, run y.  ...?

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