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Wednesday, 19 September 2018 Dereel Images for 19 September 2018
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How to destroy a free software project
Topic: technology, photography, opinion Link here

So it seems that Linus Torvalds is taking time off from Linux. You can understand that, considering that it has been his life since he was 21 years old, well over half his life. But it seems that his main issue is anger management.

Elsewhere I've seen another example, not so much anger as offensiveness: Thomas Modes, (now) the lead and maybe only developer of Hugin. Somebody on the mailing list asked for information on scripting Hugin, something that I had looked at in some detail a few months ago. So I answered:

> I see that in regular Hugin Stitcher tab I can add command line options for
> enabled, but I don't see a way to do that for nona.  So that means using
> terminal I suppose.  Is there a tutorial on command line?

There is one at
https://wiki.panotools.org/Panorama_scripting_in_a_nutshell, but it's
horribly out of date.  I've been meaning to update it, but I've always
found something more rewarding to do.  In particular, it makes
reference to obsolete programs.

Rather to my surprise, I got an answer from Thomas Modes, with whom I have had issues before:

Sorry, but is wrong. The main part with the description is up to date. The
only one obsolete program in the main part is autopano-sift-c - but this is
only shown as alternative; the mentioned main program cpfind is still part
of Hugin. All other program are still there. Maybe in the list at the end
there are some obsolete programs, but not in the main part.

The next time be more precises what you are referring instead of make such
general and diffuse statements.

OK, Thomas is German, but “is wrong” is not even correct German. Most of it is OK, or so he claims. OK, do away with diffuse statements: I checked about half-way through the page and found that there are references to autopano-sift, match-n-shift, ptoinfo, ptscluster, ptoclean, ptovariable and panostart, as well as to the file pano.mk that no longer exists. In the “Full list of command-line [sic] tools”, only 5 of the first 10 tools still exist. The page also currently contains the line:

    autopano - Keypoint matcher, part of autopano-sift-c and not to be confused with autopano

Well, I'm confused. Beginners certainly will be. Maybe Thomas has a different definition, but for me this is very out of date.

The real issues, though, are Thomas' attitude: he's trying, come what may, to defend the status quo, in the process being rude about it. He comes across as offensive and inaccurate. This attitude also greatly reduces people's willingness to cooperate in the project. A few years back a whole lot of people were involved in the project. Now he seems to be the only one. It would be easy to get the impression that his attitude has something to do with this.

This isn't the first time I've had issues with Thomas. Looking back, I find it's been going on for years: in February 2013 he changed a document that I had written to refer to a different, not-yet-released version of Hugin, meaning that it was useless to any end user. Later he introduced a kludge that broke building under FreeBSD: the object hierarchy must be distinct from the source tree. Why? To fix an issue with building one part of the documentation. It could have been solved correctly, but for Thomas, this was good enough. And in general, every time I mention an issue, he finds a reason why the current situation is preferable—to him.

That's enough for me. I don't need this kind of treatment. I'll let somebody else fix the document (which probably means it will never be fixed). My issues with relatively normal panoramas will need extremely good documentation to be accepted as real problems. After all, these two photos are equivalent, aren't they?


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Recently I've seen interesting comparisons between PTGui (success) and Hugin (fail). Doubtless the willingness to accept bugs tilts this in PTGui's favour. I should investigate further.


eBay: slowly, slowly DTRT
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

After the government introduced taxes on online sales, I discovered shortly later that eBay doesn't indicate the correct pricing for such items, and to my surprise many people agreed with them.

But now eBay (though possibly not their sympathizers) has discovered the errors of their ways. Today I bought some batteries from Hong Kong, and was warned up front:


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Finally! Of course, we're not done yet. Where's the final price? And where's the information once you go to look at the item?

 
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You'd really think that once they had identified a problem and a fix, they'd apply it in all appropriate places.


VBox errors
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Fired up Virtualbox for the first time in months (hint: you need the kernel modules /boot/modules/vboxdrv.ko and /boot/modules/vboxnetflt.ko), and was greeted with this error message:

 
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Now isn't that informative? Yes, you can show the details:

 
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But why should you have to?


Thursday, 20 September 2018 Dereel → Learmonth → Ballarat → Dereel Images for 20 September 2018
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More free junk
Topic: general, opinion Link here

The amplifier in my office is flaky: from time to time one or the other sound channel drops out. And somehow I regret having paid the princely sum of $30 for it. So when today I saw an offer for a “Sanyo Stereo (with 2 large speaker, it has a turntable, tape deck and FM radio)” on Freecycle, I jumped at it. Left my phone number, got a call back. Yes, it's mine, in Learmonth.

Where's that? Over 50 km away, onn the other side of Ballarat. The last time I went there was 7 years ago, where coincidentally we went to pick up a piece of furniture that proved inappropriate. Looking at the map, it seemed that it might even be the same house as last time.

Off there anyway, and was left being led through a particularly untidy garden to the house next door. The system is definitely not what I expected:


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Still, the loudspeakers look good, and it might come in handy, though it's clearly not suited to propping up a monitor.

But while I was there, I found various other things outside the house, with a sign “Free” next to them. A couple of corner stands and a wicker stool similar to one that Yvonne already has, and something like a miniature grandfather clock, only 50 cm high. Here first the old stool, then the new:


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So I took the lot, with the exception of a vase of which I didn't like the look. On reflection, I should have taken that too and left the choice to Yvonne. Clearly my choice was good: Yvonne didn't notice that the new stool was different, and asked why I had moved it. And the clock proved to be battery-driven and functional. We don't know where to put it yet.


Wasted shopping excursion
Topic: general, opinion, gardening Link here

My main purpose for the excursion today wasn't the stereo system: I had lots of things to pick up in Ballarat. But by the time I got to Bunnings, I had forgotten nearly all of them. All I found on my shopping list was herbs, gas and duct tape.

Duct tape was no problem, but gas was an insurmountable one: I had left the old cylinder at home. Herbs were also an issue, not helped by Bunnings' signage:


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A good thing that I wasn't looking for roses.

Finally left with some tomato seedlings and a far-too-large pot of Vietnamese mint (daun laksa), the only one they had. Somehow it seemed like a wasted day.


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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