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76  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Wanted: App to separate multiple photos on page on: December 01, 2012, 07:10:00 PM
I've recently been handed a large quantity of family photos that need to be digitized, so they can be shared with the whole family. Scanning each photo individually will take from now until my retirement.

So I'm looking for a tool that will let me take a single sheet covered with many photos (laid out arbitrarily rather than according to any strict grid, and only approximately straight), and automatically separate them into individual image files, straightening each photo's edges as it goes.

Optimally this would be done as part of the scanning process. But what's really important is the separation and straightening, so if I had to perform an initial process of scanning each page into a big image for it to run on, that would be acceptable.

Does anybody out there in DC land know of such a tool?
77  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Accessing the world from China? on: November 10, 2012, 10:08:46 PM
I think I've worked out part of my problem. I believe that my dd-wrt build does not include OpenVPN. And I'm not sure that I *can* install a different build, either, it being somewhat wimpy router hardware.

So it looks like I'll need something running on my desktop.
78  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Accessing the world from China? on: November 10, 2012, 09:40:54 PM
It's easier than you think and I can help you with this.

Can you get me started in the right direction? The best I can find in the docs is this article in their wiki. Unfortunately, I can't see how the list of options relates in the slightest to what I actually see in the router's configuration GUI.

If I could figure out how to configure the router itself, I assume that the process of setting up OpenVPN on my notebook is straightforward. But I don't see any mention of it for Android. The best I can find is this app in the Play store. Is that the right way to address it for Android?
79  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Accessing the world from China? on: November 10, 2012, 09:16:40 AM
I just read that China has cut off access to Gmail, Google.com, etc. And I'm leaving in 10 days for a two-week vacation there. I'm looking for a good way to stay in touch with that damned firewall in the way. I need a way to VPN, or at least proxy, my way through that.

Of course there are loads of public services, like Hamachi or more general VPNs. But I'm assuming that as the Chinese government learns of these "leaks", they get blocked as well. So my expectation is that to ensure that I'll have a way out, I've got to implement it myself.

Aside from accessing mail and anything else I need through my notebook, another requirement adding complexity is that I be able to use the tunnel to access Google Voice using my Android phone (through the GrooveIP app, which allows it to be used as pure VoIP).

Can any of you suggest a good strategy for doing this?

My first guess was to set up a VPN using my dd-wrt router. I'm pretty sure this is possible, but the documentation is far from clear (to the degree that it exists at all), both in the creation of the VPN itself, and in its usage. Also, I'm not sure that I'd be able to use it with my Android phone.

Maybe it would be easier to set up an application of some sort (whether a VPN or just a proxy server) on my desktop computer, and set up my router to pass the traffic through to that computer.
80  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Humble eBook Bundle on: October 10, 2012, 02:36:04 PM
I've only read one of these, Scalzi's "Old Man's War". But that book is highly recommended (even if I rather disagree with his personal politics Sad ).
81  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Why is it so hard to find a decent image organizer? on: October 08, 2012, 12:26:39 PM
Just catching the conversation up...

ACDSee just released a new version, for Pro it's now at v6. It doesn't seem like a very major upgrade, but then the upgrade price is pretty reasonable. The one big feature I've been looking for, Face Recognition, is still not even whispered about there.
82  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: Firefox 15 less of a memory hog on: August 30, 2012, 01:48:14 PM
I upgraded to 15 the minute I heard it was out.

Previously I'd needed to restart the browser about 2x per day. It's been two days since the upgrade, and I only just restarted it for the first time. So it's definitely better at memory leaks for the stuff I'm using. And no stability problems for me so far.
83  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google Stabs You in the Back... on: August 21, 2012, 12:35:16 PM
Google to start charging companies for listings

Google is to start charging companies for listing their products in a core part of its search service,
The move also raises the prospect that Google will eventually replace other parts of its free listings with adverts, ...

What a horrible article. This isn't designed to provide us with information, it's designed only to inflame -- and it sure looks like it's achieved its goal!

The first quoted line is crap. Froogle is not a core part of its search service. The second quoted line is nothing but FUD -- Google said nothing of the kind, somebody's just floating this suggestion to be sensational and instill fear.

Google's whole raison d'etre is for people to find them to be the simplest and most authoritative place to find information on everything. Do you really think they're going to destroy their core web search business by eliminating content from it that people are using?

There are plenty of examples of Google shutting down services that proved unpopular/unprofitable. What's wrong with them identifying one of these as being popular despite being unprofitable, and trying to find a way to continue providing the service without losing money? Is it wrong to expect the merchants that are benefiting from the service to <gasp> carry some of their own weight?
84  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google Fiber on: July 31, 2012, 06:31:39 PM
Bug Brother is watching you! As was alluded to earlier, don't even think of doing anything that may be illegal

Not that what you say is wrong... But it's my opinion that Google has done more to protect privacy than any of the telecom companies. The phone companies in particular seem to have completely rolled over, giving the keys to the network to the gov't without a whimper -- even though it was illegal to do so.

It looks to me like Google (a) doesn't just provide a network port for bulk tapping; and (b) vets each request for info. That's not as good as taking a stand for what's right, but it's a heck of a lot better than we get from ATT, Verizon, etc.
85  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Google Fiber on: July 30, 2012, 12:56:22 PM
1GB Per Second?!

Well, to be pedantic, it's actually 1Gbps -- that is, it's bits rather than bytes, or 1/8 as fast as you were ranting about.
86  DonationCoder.com Software / ProcessTamer / Re: Does the "Process Tamer" work on a "Placebo effect"!? on: July 19, 2012, 12:38:32 PM
To be clear, Process Tamer does not make your computer run faster, nor does it claim to. Given a certain amount of work (say, encode a video), when using software like Process Tamer, your computer will not complete the task any quicker.

What it does do is help the processes running in the system cooperate by (a) assuming that you, while sitting in front of the computer, want to have better responsiveness; and (b) using input you may give it telling it that certain programs don't deserve instantaneous responsiveness. The result is that greedy stuff that would monopolize the system will be prevented from doing so.

In fact, because the system is allowing you to interrupt more readily, the final result may actually be that our hypothetical process takes somewhat longer to complete -- but you'll feel less frustrated during that time.

There's nothing magic, just juggling priorities a bit differently than the system does by default.
87  Main Area and Open Discussion / General Software Discussion / Re: It's official: Microsoft discontinuing Windows Home Server on: July 10, 2012, 12:25:38 PM
Huh. I was just considering switching my home server to WHS.

For years I've been running my home network as a Windows Domain, currently using Windows Server 2008. But my domain controller died, and I've been entirely unsuccessful in getting the replacement server to become a new DC in the domain[1], so my security is all failing.

So my plan was to trash all the needless complexity, and use WHS for what I expected to be a more straightforward configuration.

Anybody have better suggestions for running a house-wide network with decent security?

[1]  Although they don't use the PDC/BDC terminology any more, it's still actually the way the domain operates internally. At any given time, one DC is still designated the Primary, and because that server isn't working right, I can't get it to surrender control to the new one. And the new one, since it can't sync changes to the old one, refuses to accept more domain members, etc.
88  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: 9 Signs Self-Publishing Is out of Control on: May 15, 2012, 04:15:47 PM
I think you guys are on the verge of throwing out one of the greatest things about ebooks. Since ebooks take up no physical space (unlike dead trees in a b&m store), it's possible to have essentially unlimited inventory. There's no reason for a book to go out of "print" ever again.

I do most of my reading -- pleasure reading, anyway -- digitally. And the thing that has more than once forced me to seek "alternative" sources for books is that the rights holder hasn't released the book digitally. Keeping customers from buying books causes piracy.

Surely there's a way to de-emphasize unpopular books from discovery while browsing that isn't so heavy-handed that it puts things out of reach.
89  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: 9 Signs Self-Publishing Is out of Control on: May 15, 2012, 11:08:02 AM
I'm actually working (slowly) on a publication myself. I've got one book so far, about 15 years ago, through a "real" publisher, but I don't see that they offer very much to the writer now.

We'll see if the OP's article changes my mind...
90  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Searching Amazon for Kindle "Best Sellers" that are currently FREE on: May 09, 2012, 11:59:21 AM
Nice find. Another good place to look is http://ereadernewstoday.c...tegory/free-kindle-books/

This blog usually has about 5 updates a day, each linking to ~5-10 free Amazon books -- all with ratings of 4.0 or better.
91  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Thoughts in remembrance of the 6 million (est.) murdered in the Holocaust on: April 19, 2012, 11:34:38 AM
While the scale doesn't compare, I'd like to remind you all that today is also the 19th anniversary of the massacre at Waco. 74 men, women, and children were murdered by US government agents, and not a thing was ever done about it. The scale might be wholly different, but in this case the blood is on our hands.

92  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: More YouTube Censorship on: April 11, 2012, 12:21:48 PM
Google can NOT engage in censorship. They're a private entity choosing how they want to use their resources.

I'm willing to be that each of you would willingly engage in this same kind of "censorship". If someone came into your home -- even with an invitation -- and started saying insulting things to your family, wouldn't you ask them to leave? It's your home, and you're well within your rights to control the kinds of things that others do there.

Indeed, our system needs to work this way. We recognize that the government must not interfere with people's ability to speak, but that doesn't mean that we want to have profanity and porn displayed on every street corner. Instead, we rely on the values of the people to exert social pressures on each other, so that the overall cultural values are preserved.
93  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Which decade was the most fun for you personally? on: March 19, 2012, 12:36:47 PM
Having been born in '67, the first whole decade I'm really qualified to have an opinion on is the 80s. But I don't think it's possible -- at least for me -- to say that one is definitively best.

The '80s held the times of me discovering the world, and discovering myself. The music was great. There was so much to learn -- not just as a young person learning the standard stuff, but it's when the world of computers and automation took off, and I was at the front of that.

The '90s had its own special aspects as well, notably the memories of falling in love with my future wife, getting married, and creating a life together. And there was that whole Internet thing growing at that time, and I hooked my cart to that and made something meaningful with it (wrote a programming book; got a career that continues to be very successful). The music wasn't quite as good, but there were still high points that made it worthwhile.

From my perspective in 2012, the '00s have little to sell them, and of course this decade is just getting started. But the thing is, if you'd asked my opinion of the '80s or '90s as I was living them, you were as likely as not to get an answer like "this sucks".

Only from afar do we appreciate what our lives were at those points. I'm not sure whether it's because we didn't understand the good parts yet, or because over time the sting of the bad parts has faded.
94  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Britannica - would you buy it on (say) Kindle or Nook? on: March 15, 2012, 08:03:39 PM
While I can agree in spirit with that argument (academics having much to answer for) I still worry about the current trend towards confusing consensus with fact and proof. I've seen too much scientifically determined fact dismissed with comments like: "Well, that's just your opinion." or "I'm sorry, but we don't see it that way." to be too anxious to toss out our entire qualified peer review system in favor of mob rule when it comes to creating reference materials.

And while crowd sourcing may be all the rage, I can't help but wonder why the opinions of experts or scientific research is now often considered less reliable and acceptable than the off-the-cuff collective opinion of 400 laymen, a talk show host, or a badly designed and conducted poll.

Understand that for encyclopedias as a class -- Britannica, Wikipedia, and any others -- their charter is explicitly not to provide 1st tier (researcher published) or even 2nd (literature aggregating the original research). Their job is to convey the consensus, and that's it. Both Britannica and Wikipedia do a pretty good job at this (although I know a number of subject matter experts who are frustrated that WP reverts their edits for facts they know, but cannot demonstrate through 2nd tier sources, and thus deride WP). So I think that this is as it should be when we're discussing encyclopedias.

That said, I agree with you about the problems people have grappling with concrete facts, the scientific method, and policy. Observed, measured facts (the sun rose this morning at X o'clock) aren't subject to debate at all, other than calibration of the measurement devices. But few people have the sophistication to understand how those measurements work (e.g., recent scientific controversy over measurements of the speed of light at CERN), and so I think that many folks believe that the facts themselves are being debated (and a retarded press doesn't help the matter).

But let me take this a step farther in two different ways.

First, I see a disconcerting overuse of the phrase "common sense", particularly when discussing governmental policy. It seems to be used to excuse a lack of rational argument, saying that no justification is necessary. But reading between the lines, it suggests that either the speaker has no justification, or that the speaker feels that the listener isn't worth giving a justification to. And this is very dangerous because history shows in controversies beyond number (heliocentric universe; biogenesis; etc.) that the obvious answer is frequently very wrong.

Second, even when one has the facts correct, it does not always directly lead to policy decisions. One cannot decide policy without mixing facts with values, and everybody has their own set of these. Just because the earth's climate is changing, it doesn't automatically follow that something must be done to stop it (I don't mean to debate this argument, simply to recognize that it is debatable. Just because there are large numbers of undocumented aliens in America, it doesn't automatically follow that they are a detriment to our society.

We may be able to arrive at consensus about the facts of a given issue -- or at least most of us should be able to, since most of us are unable to support an argument against a real expert, and thus have little choice but to accept the consensus of the scientific community. But the only way we can translate those facts into a policy is by taking a single set of values to act upon. Sometimes we can all agree on a value, as when the country was threatened in WWII -- we all found ourselves on the same page. More often, we value different things to different degrees, and so are unable to agree on policy. And so a policy is dictated that interferes with someone's values. This breaks the enlightenment liberal philosophy on which the USA was founded, and is what Hayek wrote about in the classic The Road to Serfdom.
95  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Britannica - would you buy it on (say) Kindle or Nook? on: March 15, 2012, 04:47:23 PM
But studies have shown that the quality (i.e., error rate) of Britannica is only somewhat better than Wikipedia -- they're both of similar magnitude.

I fear that the stigma really stems from academia (right down to elementary school) believing in a top-down model, a priesthood of experts who dictate to the masses, whereas WP stands for power from the ground up.
96  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Britannica - would you buy it on (say) Kindle or Nook? on: March 15, 2012, 03:52:26 PM
I gave the WikiReader to two of my nieces. My sister was slightly miffed, though, because of an article she read on it about rhinoceroses (iirc). Apparently the article discussed the mating habits of the rhino. (I'm not a big fan of limiting access to objective information)
97  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Britannica - would you buy it on (say) Kindle or Nook? on: March 15, 2012, 02:56:46 PM
I've got a handheld "WikiReader" device that holds a complete (text-only) copy of WikiPedia. I take it with me whenever we go on trips, so we can research the background story behind anything we might run across.

For example, a couple of weeks ago on vacation we met an astronomer who brought with him a 12" reflector telescope (wow!), and showed us a bunch of things in the sky. We were able to go back to our rooms and read more about "earthshine" and things like that. And the kicker is that, because we were in Jamaica, cellular data rates were astronomical, so our little offline reader was by far the most practical solution.

And, of course, being offline solves 40hz's concerns as well.
98  DonationCoder.com Software / Coding Snacks / Re: Controlling Windows w/ gamepad like a PS3 or XBOX on: January 26, 2012, 10:32:20 AM
A million years or so ago, I worked with a company that developed applications for music composition and performance; one of them was a fairly simple thing called "Midi Mouse" where the act of drawing would serve as input to generate music.

For a tradeshow, we had a demonstration where an actual chair was wired up as a controller, so moving the chair around would cause the mouse to move, and iirc, you could click the button (back in the days of one button) by pushing down on the armrest. I named it the "Midi Moose".
99  Other Software / Found Deals and Discounts / Re: WaggleImage on Bits du Jour (Nov 18 2008) on: January 23, 2012, 06:19:17 PM
I finally got around to setting up WaggleImage, as the wife finally wants to switch our accounts over to electronic billing. So WaggleImage should wind up replacing our filing cabinet.

Anyway, after installing, I immediately ran into a problem where I wasn't able to start up the program. But upon contacting their support, WaggleSoft's Dean spent a good deal of time with me, right through the weekend, eventually finding a way around my problems. So the app is running properly now, and I'm off and running.

I just wanted to return the favor for their dedicated customer service, by publicly giving them kudos for it.
100  Special User Sections / N.A.N.Y. 2012 / Re: FINAL: The Official WriteUp for the NANY 2012 Event! on: January 06, 2012, 12:23:48 PM
Good work to all. Not only is this a long list, but the collective effort grows increasingly professional every year, so once again, this year's collection is a high-water mark.
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