June 14th, 2012 § § permalink
Probably everyone uses tools and software which will add a menu bar icon. And soon it’ll start to be very cluttered over there in the top bar.
I was looking for weeks if not months for a simple tool which will make a folder where I can put those icons I seldom use. A week ago I found one: http://www.macbartender.com/ (free while the beta, costs about 7.50CHF when you buy a license while the beta, will be about 15.00CHF after the beta)
You then easily can put the icons into a folder:
Then your menu will look a lot less cluttered and even when you have a lot of text menu entries you’ll still be able to access all those menu bar icons.
To be honest: 15.00CHF would be a bit too much for this handy tool, but while it’s beta you can get a license for 50% off, so I grabbed one. All in all I found myself to use it quite often and I’m happy with it. Try the beta and make your own opinion!
May 9th, 2012 § § permalink
If you happen to want a backup of your SMS you can easily do this to your GMail account. So your SMS will be connected to your contact book, emails and even other things. But mainly you can easily search through all your old SMS using GMail.
April 18th, 2012 § § permalink
Depth of field is a very versatile way to create photos. You can guide the eye of the viewer to certain parts of the image or you can mask unwanted or disrupting parts.
First of a little theory. Let’s consider a pretty standard lens like the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8. We are able to calculate the depth of field e.g. f/2.8 a distance to the subject of 5m (5000mm) and a circle of confusion of 0.019mm for my Nikon D300. Refer to your manual or the technical specification of your camera to find out what value your camera has.
hyperfocal distance = (50^2)/(0.019*2.8)+50
(all units in mm, aperture is unitless)
47042mm ~= (50^2)/(0.019*2.8)+50
depth of field = 2*(5000*4950*47042)/(47042^2-4950^2) ~= 1064mm
For further details have a look at the wikipedia article about depth of field.
What does this mean?
This means that when I’m using a 50mm lens with an aperture of f/2.8 and shooting an object in 5m distance I’ll have a depth of field of around 1m. The following graph shows the depth of field (left scale) for focal lengths between 50-300mm (lower scale) and a subject distance between 1-10m (upper scale) for the aperture f/2.8.
The only difference here is the value range of the depth of field: 0-800mm and 0-3400mm. We can conclude that the aperture influences proportionally the depth of field and the focal length influences inverse proportionally the depth of field.
Generally I use the manual mode, or you can try the aperture priority mode here.
Let’s consider an outdoor situation. I want to take a portrait by some slight covering by cirrus clouds and choose to “crop” or emphasize the subject by using a wide open aperture in aperture priority mode. The light meter is set up in center-weighted, I meter right the center of the face to get the correct exposure, press the AE-L button (keeps the exposure settings locked to what was measured), frame my sujet and take the shot. I would leave the focussing setting to continuous mode since the subject would unintentionally slightly move forward or backward and with the very shallow depth of field the subject would easily get out of focus.
I suggest you to use the continuous shots mode since people will just put on their best face for a mere split second. The continuous focus is required because people tend to act naturally when they move most. When they freeze and put on their pre studied facial expression they will probably look pretty much silly or don’t like their photos.
When doing some landscape photography you are tempted to use the smallest possible aperture which makes sense but you should also consider that with a small aperture another effect comes into play: Diffraction Blur. This means that from a certain aperture on you will encounter diffraction which will generally spoken refract the light (remember the prisma thingie?). So you will have to find tradeoff between depth of field and diffraction. My experience shows me that for my APS-C sensor in my Nikon D300 and the 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 lens a more or less ideal aperture can be found at f/11.
Details and macro shots
When doing details shot you should remember that the distance to the motif may be very small and thus the depth of field is very shallow. Let’s consider the 50mm f/1.8 lens with a distance to the subject of 50cm and with an aperture of f/2.8 we will have a depth of field of only 9.5mm. So holding your camera steady by hand will be nearly impossible – just think about that you still have to breath. Use a tripod.
Bokeh is a japanese word meaning “blur” or “haze” and defines the look of the blur in photography or its beauty. By this word usually we mean the blurry bubbles which originate from a point like light source like a christmas light chain. You can actually influence the bokeh by using some paper cut shapes which you stick in front of your lense and is explained over at DIY photography
Nikon D300, Nikkor 50mm @ f/2.2, 1/640s, ISO 200, subject distance 1.78m
Nikon D300, Nikkor 50mm @ f/2.2, 1/500s, ISO 200, subject distance 1m
Nikon D300, Nikkor 50mm @ f/2.8, 1/640s, ISO 640, subject distance 1.19m
Nikon D300, Nikkor 50mm @ f/1.8, 1/8000s, ISO 200, subject distance 0.71m
Nikon D300, Nikkor 50mm with reverse mount, 1/400s, ISO 1600
Nikon D300, Nikkor 50mm with reverse mount, 1/500s, ISO 400
I already published this post in german a long time ago and was asked to translate it into english.
- Fixed an untranslated section
- Fixed a unit conversion mistake
February 27th, 2012 § § permalink
Remember when I posted about graphical tools for git? Sourcetree then was shareware. This is not true anymore, sourcetree has become free and is also available in the App Store. It features git and hg support, collaborates with github and bitbucket. Even if you are addicted to the command line you should take a look at this!
October 31st, 2011 § § permalink
So I was browsing in the Finder.app of Mac OS X and noticed I need a shell right in this folder. That for, take a look at go2shell (freeware). Just drag&drop the app from the app drawer to the finder, then if you want a shell in the open directory, click on the funny looking face and happy hacking!
October 31st, 2011 § § permalink
So, I was working on my computer and forgot that I had something in the laundry (or similar), and then the sun set and the laundry was still in the machine and didn’t sun dry. Does this remind you of something? Well, I searched for a little tool that does remind my to get my tea, to empty the laundry etc. and found Menubar Countdown (GPL, OpenSource). It just puts you a little clock in the menubar (hours:minutes) and that’s it. No fancy animations, no disturbance … just what I need.
October 28th, 2011 § § permalink
Sometimes it’s really hard to focus. We all know it, we all have it and we all regret it later when the work was not done.
That’s where Isolator (freeware) comes into play. It blurs and darkens the other windows on your Mac which I think is useful when you’re working on a big screen (like my 23″ I have at home). It somehow forces you to not constantly switch around and enforces a tunnel sight onto your work.
September 6th, 2011 § § permalink
SCM means Source Code Management and is not much of a magic when I tell you that basically it’s not much more than using CVS, SVN, git or mercurial for instance. These are very powerful tools indeed and sometimes a CLI just doesn’t feel intuitive in world where we judge the tools by their look&feel and sincerly a visual diff is easier to understand. Also I wanted to make a translation of my post over at G+.
Mac OS X
It is FOSS (GPLv3) and runs 10.6 and 10.7. Frankly I didn’t run into any limitations but probably because I’m not using all git’s power and complexity. I think this is a good tool for daily use.
Also FOSS (GPLv2) but with a very simple interface, in my opinion a bit too simple so I can only recommend it for the very very beginner, though a very good app.
Gitti is free of charge, but I’m not sure how the development is going on. It is noted as ‘Beta’ which could mean that the final version may be shareware. However I found the interface a bit disturbing: I don’t see the changes in the commit area which makes it hard to know what to write in the commit message. On the other hand I found the Configuration area quite interesting.
SmartGit is also free and provides also clients for Windows and Linux. You may use it free for non-commercial use, but the interface looks more like a tool from a few years ago. Oh, and the log buttons opens a new window. Probably not the worst client for code review but … no, I’m not convinced.
Well, it’s not exactly shareware though $39.00 (50% discount for students), it just restricts you to three projects in the sidebar, but if you remove a project from the sidebar and add a other one, it works. Unfortunately it lacks of an integrated diff view.
Unfortunately it is shareware and costs €49.00 but on the other side you can test it for 30 days. You get 50% discount as a student. The earlier beta versions were free of charge, but you were forced to update every 30 days or so.
SourceTree (€45.00, 21 days trial) brings the most complicated interface I think but also feels like it uses the whole power git provides. It also supports mercurial, so if you ever happen to use both, you should consider this GUI. Oh, but I don’t like the icons, the look too candy to me.
Sprout is only sold via the Apple App Store for $35.00 but doesn’t make a good figure. The log doesn’t show any changes in the code which disappoints. In my opinion it’s not worth testing, but the low version number indicates there might be some changes in the future.
Since I no longer use Windows I just googled a bit.
When you know tortoisesvn, you’ll know your way around tortoisegit. It’s FOSS and brings a redmine bugtracker plugin.
Well, I never used any GUI for git under Linux, but I’d like to point out to two good looking: qgit and gitg. You should find them in your distros repo.
Yes, there is a git client for android! But it costs you something like CHF 2.20. I didn’t try it out, I followed the instruction to build your own agit and I didn’t managed to get it work. Maybe you are more lucky than I am.
Well, finally we got some tools to work with but the code also should find its way to a centralized place. I suggest to have a look at setting up your own server and then setting tortoisegit if you use windows and github.
There’s also my tutorial for setting up redmine (a bugtracker with git support) on debian or you can take a look at gitorious which provides hosting for code for free. And if you’re still thinking that this is soooo complicated, have a look here.
Finally I’d like to point you to the most valuable document for entry level git user: Everyday GIT With 20 Commands Or So
If you happen to use a GUI I didn’t mention or found other good or interesting stuff, let me know. I acknowledge that this post is a bit long on Mac OS X apps due I use this daily, I’d be really happy if you write a post about linux GUIs and I’ll link to your post, I promise!
Personally I use Gity and maybe I’ll buy Tower one day, depending how much I’ll use git. I also like to thank my friends over at NGAS for their support!
September 1st, 2011 § § permalink
So I wanted a bugtracker with a little of everything and git integration. First of all I must admit that this wasn’t easy and I wasted some time figuring out how to get this stuff working. Since I love to see tutorials and manuals myself, I’ll share my experience.
Be aware though that Ruby on Rails consumes a lot of RAM and will not run on 128MB RAM. I had to upgrade my VPS which now runs fine with 512MB RAM. I installed Redmine 1.0.1-stable on my Debian Squeeze 6 with the MySQL backend, but not without getting serious trouble when enabling the gitosis plugin: Whenever a username in git contained a umlaut, it just threw a server error. Finally I was able to tackle down the problem with a lot of help from friends over at #bsdprojects.
WARNING: This post is not intended to provide a foolproof guide or a newbie tutorial. This is meant for someone being able to handle a full root server.
Install the needed debian packages:
apt-get install acl apache2 apache2-mpm-prefork apache2-prefork-dev build-essential cron git-core gitosis git-daemon-run libapache-dbi-perl libapache2-mod-passenger libapache2-mod-perl2 libcurl4-openssl-dev libdigest-sha1-perl libgemplugin-ruby libgemplugin-ruby1.8 libmysqlclient15-dev libnet-ssh-ruby1.8 librmagick-ruby1.8 libruby-extras libruby1.8-extras mysql-server python-setuptools rake redmine redmine-mysql ruby ruby1.8-dev rubygems sudo wget
CONFIGURING & SETUP
This is where I failed in the first attempt, MySQL obviously has severe problems with the encoding and a configuration change was the solution eventually. Be sure to add the following to /etc/mysql/my.cnf before you do anything else:
default-character-set = utf8
character-set-server = utf8
collation-server = utf8_general_ci
init-connect = SET NAMES utf8
Now create the DB:
mysql -u root -p
CREATE DATABASE redmine CHARACTER SET utf8;
CREATE USER 'redmine'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'my_password';
GRANT ALL privileges ON redmine.* TO 'redmine'@'localhost';
Installing the gems
Now comes the funny part, you need to exactly these versions or you’ll encounter strange errors:
gem install rails -v=2.3.11
gem install rack -v=1.1.0
gem install mysql
gem install -v=0.4.2 i18n
gem install inifile lockfile net-ssh
Get Redmine in place
ln -s /usr/share/redmine /var/www/redmine
chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/redmine
chmod -R 755 /var/www/redmine
RAILS_ENV=production rake db:migrate
RAILS_ENV=production rake redmine:load_default_data
Now your Apache should be able to handle the redmine bugtracker.
/dev/foo / ext3 acl,errors=remount-ro 0 1
sudo -H -u gitosis ssh-keygen -t dsa
Set no password, use standard path/file
sudo -u gitosis cat ~gitosis/.ssh/id_dsa.pub | sudo -H -u gitosis gitosis-init
sed -i.orig 's:/var/cache:/srv/gitosis:g' /etc/sv/git-daemon/run
sv restart git-daemon
setfacl -m user:www-data:r-x,mask:r-x ~gitosis/.ssh
setfacl -m user:www-data:r--,mask:r-- ~gitosis/.ssh/id_dsa
script/plugin install git://github.com/xdissent/redmine_gitosis.git
sudo -u www-data X_DEBIAN_SITEID=default RAILS_ENV=production rake db:migrate:plugins
Point your browser to your installation, log in, go to Administration -> Plugins -> Configure Redmine Gitosis, change ‘localhost’ to your domain, change xdissent.com to your domain.
- create a normal user
- give him administrator access
- logout as admin, login as user
- create new project
- give yourself at least ‘Developer’ role (Settings -> Members)
- go to Settings -> Repository, choose git as SCM (this step was actually nowhere mentioned …)
- now you’ll see a new menu (on the blue background) called ‘Repository’, click on it and follow the instruction written there.
You should be able to push your git repo to the redmine server finally.
MySQL + UTF-8 = Not So Obvious
TUTORIAL: REDMINE WITH GIT AND GITOSIS ON UBUNTU 11.04
GitHub Clone with Redmine
August 30th, 2011 § § permalink
So I own this Motorola Xoom (the WiFi only vesion) for a little over six weeks and would like to share my review of this tablet. It’s not like there wouldn’t be enough reviews, but most of them don’t point the finger where it hurts and don’t look like they come from real usage.
- 10-finger multitouch
- nice UI, needs some accomodation time though, I was always trying to hit a physical button where there wasn’t.
- good battery lifetime. Doesn’t apply when you leave your device on stand-by for a few days, the battery will be empty.
- only three physical buttons
- speaker quite good for their size
- fits in most iPad sleeves (well at least in a softshell one)
- encryption with boot-lock, if your device gets stolen the thief will have a very expensive salver.
- gmail, maps and talk do rock with the honeycomb UI
- ConnectBot does fine
But as always there are some serious downsides:
- hard to type fast
- only a few honeycomb UI adapted apps are available in the market.
- preinstalled keyboard fails when you had a trackball before, there are no arrow keys to move around in connectbot. I had to install hackers keyboard, now I miss often the shift key.
- video codec support is ok, but does not play MKV natively, needs MoboPlayer which does perform badly with 720p MKV (those I got from the usual torrent pages like vodo). It simply doesn’t support the High Profile, as far as I can tell it does only support the Main Profile, but this is subject to further investigation.
- does not support files bigger than 4GB.
- connectors for earphone are at the top; very weird.
- does NOT charge when connected to USB, only with separate charger (sucks when leaving for holiday, need too take separate charger)
- reader, google+ and many other often used apps by me do not have a honeycomb/tablet UI yet even though created by Google. When you point the browser to Google+ it will only load the mobile version. Sorry Google, but here I expected more. You actually have to type “about:debug” (without the “) in the address bar, then go to settings, debug and select ‘desktop’ in the UAString entry. Then you’ll be able to switch over to the desktop version of Google+ and many other websites which force you to use their mobile view.
- the browser does not cache the website for later offline read nor does it allow to change UAgent by default, stuck in mobile mode (see above how to fix this).
- no stand, it is very annoying to read with the xoom when it lays flat on the table. I bought a little stand which does perfectly fine, even on my knees.
Yes, it is harder to find good apps which do take in account the bigger screen. That’s why I share my list of apps I found:
- Aldiko, a very good eBook reader, does epub and PDF. No surprises here.
- Angry Birds Rio, one of the most addictive games out there. Superbe graphics!
- Evernote, a very good note management, syncing and writing app. It has a very clean and clear interface and allows to put shortcuts of often used notes to the “desktop”.
- ezPDF, one of the rare application I bought, it is a quite powerfull PDF annotating application, the best I found so far.
- FBReader, also a good eBook reader, personally I prefer Aldiko.
- File Manager HD, a file manager with an adapted interface for tablets.
- Google Docs, the app for Google Docs. No surprises here neither, it feels like a mobile web app. Editing doesn’t work really well. For correcting a few typos and add two or three sentences it’s ok. But not much more.
- Google Earth, makes me feel like a CIA agent running around with his tablet and have all sensitive mission data and maps at his fingertips. This application is fast!
- GMail, with its new honeycomb interface writing emails is now fun.
- KeePassDroid, it is not adapted to the bigger screen but since I store all my passwords in the encrypted file it is handy to have it installed.
- Moodwriter, when you need a simple and easy to use writter app, try this. It’s actually just a texteditor but sometimes you just don’t want more.
- Reader HD, since the Google Reader is not really cool on honeycomb I bought this one. It has the classy two-column view, syncs very fast and works for offline reading.
- ReadItLater, this app is not really adapted for honeycomb. It still looks very good and I couldn’t find any issues, I installed it to be able to read websites offline. And it does work as expected.
- SketchBook Express, when you want to doodle, draw, sketch etc. go with this. I recommend to buy a pen, it’s easier to draw than with your fingers.
- Youtube, makes fun again to watch youtube videos on your mobile device.
Of course these are not all honeycomb-able apps avaible, I just don’t use all of those avaible. But if you happen to come accross some good code editor with syntax highlighting or a good git tool, let me know!