Sunday, July 29, 2007

And Now The News

Strangely enough, this all seems normal. Two weeks ago, on the 15th at around 4PM, a thunderstorm made it's way down the valley, finally hitting us with rain and wind. We noticed the water running up the hill instead of down, and watched as two trees slowly fell over in our yard. One hung up on the telephone lines, the other hung up on other trees over the truck. I moved the truck, and it promptly fell to the ground. Our neighbor had a beautiful lakefront with shade trees. They all came down. Quite a mess.

Friday I was on a roof in town, and could see a large plume of smoke over the mountain above our house. There is a large fire a few miles away. The prevailing winds are blowing it away from the valley, at least for now. The fire suppression crews are settling in for a long one. Once a fire gets this big, it can only be contained. We have 5-6 weeks of good burning weather ahead. This picture is from across the road in front of our house.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

$150 laptop a scam?

I don't know. I was going to wait for someone else to find out :)

Here are some links for discussion: (in french), slashdot, And probably many others.

There is a 6 week delivery, so we won't find out for a couple of months whether this is real or not.

If the price point is a difficulty, I can get a very well appointed brand name laptop at the local Walmart for under $600 canadian. Put in a cheap underperforming 3 generations back CPU, get rid of Windows, small amount of ram and do direct sales (Walmart is probably getting $100, Microsoft around $70, service and warranty charges another $30, etc.) and you could see a price around $150-200.

I suspect we will see a large number of these offers in the next while.

Buyer beware. The again, I bought a $300 Zen from Creative that lasted 4 months, and they want money to tell me if they will fix it or not.

$150 Linux Laptop

Check this out. Medison Celebrity laptop, for $163 canadian. Linux based.

I'm running (as a manner of speaking) KDE on an older Toshiba, 400mhz, 96mb ram. This would be an improvement. And cheap enough just to try out.

I'm going to watch a bit to see if any horror stories arise.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Fun stuff

I've finally figured out how to get tesseract to give me the coordinate data that I need. It was quite simple once I found my way around the codebase. And figured out how to use CMake. And KDE4. Google code has it all in svn. Look at the plugins/scan directory.

It's all very basic right now. I've got to figure out how parse the data and draw boxes around the text. Then some analysis of the data can start. Interface stuff can wait.

There seems to be quite a few people interested in KDE applications for windows. Hopefully they realize that if they want them, they'll have to write them or port them.

Any moderately complex application needs support from libraries. In my case, off the top of my head, scanning, ocr, database, and probably more as time goes on. I'm finding that in most cases there is work that needs to be done to bring the secondary libraries up to speed. They lack either the interfaces or the features needed by other developers. For example, Sane works very well, but doesn't (as far as I know) support the buttons on scanners. In other words, a batch type scanning operation would be a pain in the neck. Someone has written a small application that watches the usb bus for button action, but lacks support for many sane supported scanners, and it would be a prime candidate for d-bus notification. I, and others working away on things, improve the platform. When I need something, I may need to write and submit a patch, and I depend on others doing the same thing.

When the focus moves away from the platform, the platform stops improving. If I was interested in just getting it done quickly, I probably would do best with some Microsoft development platform, probably finding most everything available to do what I want. But why would I do that? I dislike closed environments. As frustrating it is to figure out the code in Tesseract, it is far more satisfying compared to bumping into and working around bugs in some closed libary. Been there done that, and never again.

People can do what they like, work on whatever they want. If someone wants to port something to windows, fine. I long ago gave up believing that things have no cost. The cost here will be born by the free platform.

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