November 24th, 2007

Mac OS X

Scripting, iSight, madness, ruby

So, I banged around in irb and Google working on this whole automate my Mac's built-in camera thing. I'm not averse to buying one of the neat-o cam applications I found, like EvoCam, which could almost certainly do whatever still or video capture I want, but I want to know what I can do for free and/or with the shipping software image. And although this is a Mac specific project for the most part, the less shareware involved the more likely I am to learn something portable to another platform. From a MacDevCenter thread I was reminded of QuickTime Broadcaster, and fetched new binaries of it from Apple. Checking the FAQ for it about Applescript and then Googling led me straight into the PDF of the Leopard Server manual which says this:

For detailed information on the AppleScript features QuickTime Broadcaster supports, drag the QuickTime Broadcaster icon to the Script Editor icon in /Applications/ AppleScript/.

This seemed a rather odd thing to suggest, but I gave it a go, and it actually worked! Apparently for applications with Applescript (OSA) hooks, this odd gesture opens their dictionaries (API) in Script Editor. I could already get this in html with a tool that the rubyosa gem installs called rbdoc-osa, but I was still amused. It helped confirm my earlier finding that Photo Booth is completely without scripting hooks (fail!). I was able to create a simple little script that starts recording video with the existing setting, and another to stop it. I also ended up futzing more with my rbosa scripts and got them all working and updated.


Choices: Kindle, eBook Reader, OLPC XO ?

An excerpt of a newly drafted run through some of the technology choices available today, inspired by the almost simultaneous launches of Amazon Kindle and OLPC XO. Please read and comment on this excerpt or the whole draft, thanks!

If you could choose...

If you could pick, what kind of gadget would you want? If you actually have to pay money (probably a great deal of it) for a device, why would you choose one that puts so many restrictions on what you can do with it? Is there a huge market for books that you can't share, music that you can't play at a party, movies you can't watch where e'er you happen to be, and content that can't be donated to a public library even if you pay full price for it? Who actually wants a programable computer that you can't add software to, or at least fix the bugs in the software you already have? Who wants to be on a national or global network but have access to only a tiny selection of approved material? If you do decide to pay for access to something, should your price be different than the one charged somewhere else? If you move to another country would you mind paying for all of your licensed content again to gain access? You can pick, and maybe you already have. Don't worry if you already did because you'll get another chance to choose soon. Right?

As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.

* Commissioner Pravin Lal, "U.N. Declaration of Rights"

Full text is here under CC copyleft. The Alpha Centauri quote is Copyright 1999 Sid Meier and Firaxis Games. Go buy one of their games, you might learn something.
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Stupid brain, can't sleep

Just as I was almost drifting off to sleep at 1030 i woke up. I thought could hear the Super Mecha Cat Box getting stuck and grinding through its track over and over again, and suddenly I needed to pee. I threw the cat and covers off gently and padded to the bathroom, and I thought I heard my phone buzz, although the cat box had stopped instantly as I rose (maybe I dreamed it).

The phone buzzed more on my way back and I checked it. A completely different (from yesterday's) friend who I hadn't seen or talked to in years had called twice, so I called him back to see what was up, figuring he and his wife were in town. And they were, sort of, although there's no chance of catching them before they make it back out tomorrow. Still we chatted for several minutes, and then I tucked back in to try and sleep.

Yeah, so after that I started the sleepy music cd again, it having cycled. It's on track six now of it's third run through and it is noon, ffs.

I don't quite know what I did wrong. I did have coffee, but not that much. I accounted for half a pot of weak Folgers crap and finished the last of it before 400, was home and trying to sleep just after 9. I probably snacked a little too much in that last tired hour of my shift but ... argh.

I didn't just hop out of bed first thing either. By then time I gave up and came over to post, even the cat had given up and left the bed. In four minutes I'll start the cd again and get back in bed.

Update argh: I made it out of the house, barely on time. This after an hour and a half long struggle to get out of bed, complete with waking up, setting the alarm back, going back to sleep, waking up, setting the alarm back, roommates I don't live with and the their children harassing and threatening me to get out of bed *discontinuity* ... wait that didn't happen, and neither did some of the alarm setting back (a damn good thing) ... I was so slagged that I had not the slightest idea what time it actually was the last two times I punted the cat and the covers off me. And of course, I feel just wonderful now, having breakfast at work.
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    Gary Stadler & Singh Kaur - Midnight Myst
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