Batch-converting images for an HDTV

A couple of days ago, my parents bought their first HDTV. Since it has a USB port that can be used to show pictures stored on a flash drive, I found myself in the position of finally using an old 512 MB stick I had lying around.

I scouted my iPhoto Libraries for pictures, and simply dragged them into a folder I had created. I quickly stumbled across two problems:

  1. The Finder almost immediately reported that the drive was full, even when it still had over 350 MB available, or that one or more files couldn’t “be read or written”;
  2. 8-megapixel images are just too big for a Full HD screen, so you end up wasting a lot of space and possibly slowing down the TV.

Did I fix them? You bet I did. Read on to find how.

Continue reading “Batch-converting images for an HDTV”

Installing the MySQLdb Python module on Snow Leopard

Needing to access a MySQL database through Python, I was faced by the inability to easily install the MySQLdb module. I do use MacPorts, but after running the obvious
sudo port install py26-mysql
I realized that I would be downloading, compiling and installing a new instance of Python, a new instance of MySQL (I prefer the simplicity of MAMP), and who knows what else.

Installing the module alone doesn’t work, because MAMP installs no headers; and copying the headers from the vanilla MySQL distribution doesn’t help either, because a few of the required files are generated on the fly during the installation of MySQL itself.

The solution, it turns out, is relatively simple. Follow along. Continue reading “Installing the MySQLdb Python module on Snow Leopard”

iPad, iTunes, iPhone OS; or: how you are not forced to use them

One day after the release of the iPad in the United States, reviews are pouring onto American and foreign websites alike. For every person who is amazed by the device, there is someone who is bothered by the Apple buzz. To these I say: what’s the big deal?

I happen to live in the Province of the Empire, in a country I oftentimes call “the third world of technology.” No way to rent movies online – or through the mail, for that matter –, no or to easily find new music (the latter is available on a paid-membership basis; the former is simply forbidden), no iBooks when the iPad comes out, and so on. I live in Italy.

I am also a happy Mac and iPhone user. Not an evangelist, not anymore at least: I will praise how durable and enjoyable Apple products are, but I won’t urge anybody to buy them. I will, however, talk about them to people who ask me. After close to ten years as a Mac user (I do remember MacOS 9.2 and MacOS X 10.0) and years of previous experience with Linux systems, Apple has become an invaluable provider of my daily computing. OS X allows me tinker with the underlying UNIX system with ease while being extremely user-friendly with the rest of the user interface. As a web developer, it’s the closest thing to perfection I can think of.

When the iPad was announced, I was following Steve Jobs’s keynote through Engadget. I gradually turned from skeptic to disappointed: what, a big iPhone? A few hours later, a friend of mine summarized such feelings as: “I was hoping for a laptop replacement, and he just announced a tray. An iTray.”

A few days later, however, an article on a blog shone light on the matter: most of us computer people probably wouldn’t have much for a device like that. I’d personally much rather use my 13-inch MacBook Pro rather than an iPad, as it’s a full-fledged computer onto which I can install any program I want, with which I can multitask and that has a physical keyboard. I do sometimes use my MBP on the sofa, and while I agree that it’s not the most perfect experience, I’m willing to trade comfort for power.

People who do not have complex computing needs, though, will love the iPad. Take my father: he inherited the last PC I used, a glorious machine based on an AMD Duron 850 MHz CPU and 512 MB of memory. It runs Windows XP, and it’s far exceeded its time. Components keep breaking, and they are becoming hard to find. Every replacement has to be second-hand, and considering the higher price compared to current parts, it’s probably best to just ditch the machine entirely and build a new one. That was the plan, until the iPad was announced. Continue reading “iPad, iTunes, iPhone OS; or: how you are not forced to use them”