Mini Magick

I just discovered MiniMagick. It is exactly what I was looking for in a ruby-language wrapper for ImageMagick.

I’ve been using ImageMagick forever. Like, more than 20 years foreer. Maybe 30 years;  I don’t know when it was first developed, or how old it was when I discovered it.

Some of the time, I use ImageMagick from the command line: just convert a file or montage a couple of them, or whatever. But sometimes, I do the same three things to an image and expect to do it over and over again for multiple images, I’ll write a shell script.

Writing shell scripts is hard. (Like, do you use trap? Of course you don’t.)

Writing Ruby is easy. But the only Ruby wrapper for ImageMagick I knew about was RMagick, which is big and complex and the first couple of times I tried to use it I had build problems (this was back before gems and github).

So there I was. Use bash and keep it simple, or use ruby with some crazy backtick `convert foo.png foo.jpg` shell escape there instead of doing it right.

But MiniMagick is just a well-designed wrapper around those backticks. Kudos!

Nightmare Climber

We went to the AK Zoo for Father’s Day. Can you guess what this charming fellow is?

Porcupine Climbing

That’s right. It’s a climbing porcupine. Did you know they could climb? And with those teeth, do you think there’s anything in your house they can’t go through? Sleep soundly!

I posted about a dozen of my favorite pictures over on my Flickr page. Don’t miss Yoga Bear. (That’s yogA, not yogI.)

New Camera

So I bought the Canon SX50 HS. I’ve got a lot of pictures on Flickr, so I’ll just embed this one:

Spruce Tree

It’s a spruce tree in my driveway, and I was standing about 50 feet from the bough you see here.

I put up a lot of examples of the amazing zoom on this beast. I also like the low-light capabilities.

I’m thinking of getting a FA-DC67A Ring Adapter. Obviously I don’t need a telephoto lens, but I might get a polarizing filter. It’s been a long time since I had a camera that could accommodate anything like that.

Camera Shopping

I’m shopping for a new camera. My trusty Canon Powershot A620 still works, but it is literally falling apart and can’t be trusted as my primary camera any more.

So I’m shopping. I’ve given some serious consideration to the Fujifilm FinePix HS35EXR and Nikon’s COOLPIX P510 and S9500, but what I keep coming back to is Canon’s PowerShot SX50 HS.

I’ve read a lot of reviews: DP Review, of course, and Wirecutter, but several other reviews as well.

One of the best things about shopping for cameras is that you can see what real people are doing with it. Take a look at Flickr’s Canon SX50 HS group.

Monsoon Panorama

Microsoft has a free iOS app called PhotoSynth that stitches photos together into a panorama. It does a pretty good job. Here’s an example:

Desert Sky

That’s cropped and slightly color-corrected. The original looks like this.

We see clouds like that during the summer monsoons. They rarely turn to rain (or this wouldn’t be a desert) but they bring a fair bit of humidity with them, making it not all that pleasant to be outdoors.

Anyone have a Hi-8 camcorder?

Does anyone has a Hi-8 camcorder I could borrow?

I’ve got some old tapes I’d like to convert to DVD. Our Hi-8 camcorder is busted, so there’s no way to play the tapes back, and that’s step one of any conversion.

I don’t want to pay a service to convert them. I’d rather borrow a camcorder and do it myself. I’d even buy one, if the price weren’t too horrible.

If you can help, comment on this posting. (You’ll have to set up an account, but then you can comment on any posting.)

Colorful Car Update

The other day, I pointed out a beautiful chartreuse Dodge Charger/Daytona at the hospital. It turns out there’s something in the water at the hospital that makes the staff pick wild colors for their cars. Here’s that same car again, in the background, and a gorgeous purple twin of it in the foreground.

Purple & Green Chargers

I’m not a real car aficionado, so I don’t know if this car is a “Charger” or a “Daytona.” Back in the day, they were Chargers, though, and between that and Rush’s song “War Paint” (from their Presto album) I’m going to go with “Charger.”

Why is Scanning So Crappy?

Lileks recounts the fun of getting a new scanner for Christmas. There’s really nothing new or novel about it though (except that he took time to make screen captures of all the dialog boxes, so he could mock them). The fact is, all scanners suck.

I have ready access to scanners (all-in-ones, actually) made by HP, Epson, Brother, and, at work, a monster Konica-Minolta printer-copier that also scans. Every one of them is a disaster. The printing software is good and the scanning software stinks.

The hardware may be awesome, but the software is horrible. And bad as it is on Windows, it’s worse on a Mac. (Objectively worse; subjectively it’s worse by far, because the majority of software on a Mac is beautiful.) My personal theory, which I developed while working for one of the companies I just named, is that scanner software is written by electrical engineers instead of computer scientists. EE’s may be great with resistors and capacitors, but I haven’t met one in years who was a more than passable programmer. (But these are rants for another day.)

Anyway, my advice to Lileks and anyone else is twofold:

  1. Where possible, don’t use a scanner. Just take a picture of the document with your digital camera. It’s a lot quicker. (Consider this DIY book scanner the end-result of this line of thought, but you can start with something more practical.)
  2. If you must use a scanner: use one that will write to a USB drive. Do all your scanning to the USB drive, then use sneaker-net to move the resulting files onto your computer, where you can use photo-editing software to crop, etc.