I’ve been messing a bit with the photos I’ve accumulated carrying arround my digital camera for the last 6 months and two tools have impressed me lately.
Neat Image removes noise from images while minimizing loss of detail. This comes in really handy because most consumer digital cameras produce very noisy images in low-light situations whether you use long exposures or high-gain (ISO 400). Using photoshop’s built in filters results in a loss of detail. Neat Image on the other hand, uses some sort of clever juju to preserve detail. The interface is a little daunting. Even in basic mode there are a lot of fine tuning parameters, but using the default parameters will still produce decent results.
Neat image is available in a number of versions ranging from a free for non-commercial use demo to a $79 version with support for 16 bits per channel, batch jobs of unlimited size and a Photoshop plug-in.
I’ve been really happy with the demo version in my so far limited use, and its hard to imagine i’ll ever run into its limitations, but I’ll probably buy the home version if I end up using it much to help support the author.
The other tool I’ve been trying out is J Album It’s a tool for automating creation of web albums. It comes with a selection of templates, and allows what looks to be relatively straightforward creation of custom templates. Select a template style and give JAlbum a folder full of images and it will do the rest, including creating high-quality resized thumbnail and intermediate sized images, extracting EXIF and JPEG comments for display and building the HTML pages. It will even upload the whole thing to an FTP server. In order to simplify preparation of your images, it includes a simple UI that will let you step through the images to rotate or flip them and add comments.
I was first drawn to JAlbum because of the FTP feature, though I haven’t really tried it out yet. It also seems to have some logic for doing incremental updates of albums, so if you add pictures to a folder and then reprocess it, JAlbum will only make the changes needed for the new images. If you use its FTP feature, it looks like it only uploades the changed files. JAlbum also includes a set of filter actions that can be run against images to do things like watermarking or adding a logo image while building the batch.
Jalbum is freeware, though the developer accepts donations. It’s a Java app and claims to run on Windows, MacOS X, Linux and various other operating systems with JRE 1.3 or later available.
This thread on ask metafilter about the ethics and legalities of using a neighbors wireless internet connection without express permission was disheartening. Metafilter tends to attract some smart & thoughful people, so somehow, the opinions expressed were somehow more troubling than they might have been.
There were two ugly little assumptions running through a lot of the responses:
The first was that anyone who had an open wireless network must have intended it to be open.
The second was an ugly corralary to the first: That anyone stupid enough to have an unintended open access point deserves to have it exploited.
Most of the people adhering to the first assumption tended to be somewhat idealistic, though perhaps self-servingly so. They figured that people are smart and aware, and so must have intended to share their connections with others — why else would they leave them open? Some of the people taking this position share their own connections willingly, and assume similar generosity on the part of others. I have to wonder if some though, have just constructed a convenient rationale for exploiting those who don’t know as much as they do.
As for those adhering to the second assumption, that the stupid get what they deserve, well, yuck.
There are others taking what to me were more defensible positions, but far too many people were just appauling.
This morning I’m looking at feeds in my RSS reader and I come across this terse entry from scripting.com:
Don’t you laugh when a literary nobody and venture capitalist uses a word like “stupid” to describe a science fiction giant like Ray Bradury.
The choice phrase “literary nobody” is a link, and I click on it and find myself in the midst of a bunch of comments on some weblog. Scrolling down, I find a comment by Dave Weiner, the author of scripting.com, which starts by dismissing the author of the blog entry he is commenting on as a “literary nobody” and then creates some twisted analogy intended to defend Ray Bradbury.
For those who don’t know, Ray Bradbury has been making quite a stink recently about the title of Michael Moore’s latest movie, “Farenheit 9-11,” an obvious play on Bradbury’s “Farenheit 451,” a book which many of us read as a defense of freedom of speech and the press. We’ll all have to wonder about that interpretation now though, because Bradbury seems to think that, contrary to centuries of literary tradition, no one should be able to borrow or play on the title of someone elses work the way he himself has, with, for example, Walt Whitman’s “i sing the body electric.”
So, Bradbury’s deeply hypocritical snit is reason #1.
Reason #2 is Dave Winer’s defense of Bradbury, which is both lame ( why can’t we call a spade a spade? Literary giant or not, stupid is about the nicest thing one can say about Bradbury’s behavior on this subject ) and insulting. I’ve often seen Weiner complain that people who disagree with him resort to personal attacks. Hard to imagine why.
It seems that Winer may have regretted his comment as he has since removed the link. Still, regrets are one thing, not being a jerk in the first place is quite another.
From time to time I try to condense my anger at the present administration down into a short phrase that hopefully conveys my outrage, and starts to stir it in others. None of them seem quite right, but I thought I’d post a few as practice:
Bush lied to us. I care, why don’t you?
Bush made America into a liar in they eyes of the world. Why aren’t you outraged too?
Bush and his men are liars, and they don’t care who knows it.
Bush and his men lied and betrayed America. I care, why don’t you?
Why don’t you care that Bush and his men are liars?