Picking a Sane Password Policy

Paul Rubens writes in enterprisenetworkingplanet.com.

If you choose a password made up of 60 random characters, it would take a hacker billions of years to crack it by brute-force. Pretty good security, all in all. But since a password like that would be impossible to remember, it’s not really practical for most end user applications. So how long should your corporate password policy specify that a password should be?

Read the article.

ImageMagick Convert

ImageMagick is a suite of programs for creating, editing and composing bitmap images. Convert is a program capable of converting image formats as well as having the ability to resize an image, blur, crop, despeckle, dither, draw on, flip, join, re-sample, and many more. Convert is accessible from the command-line, ideal for programmers and batch processing. Here are some examples:

Converting a JPEG to a GIF file format.

convert image.jpg image.gif

Reduce image size by 50% and convert to PNG.

convert image.jpg -resize 50% image.png

A more complex conversion.

convert label.gif +matte \
\( +clone -shade 110x90 -normalize -negate +clone -compose Plus -composite \) \
\( -clone 0 -shade 110x50 -normalize -channel BG -fx 0 +channel -matte \) \
-delete 0 +swap -compose Multiply -composite button.gif

The Convert program is powerful. Over 100 options.

Convert Options

-adaptive-blur geometry adaptively blur pixels; decrease effect near edges
-adaptive-resize geometry adaptively resize image with data dependent triangulation.
-adaptive-sharpen geometry adaptively sharpen pixels; increase effect near edges
-adjoin join images into a single multi-image file
-affine matrix affine transform matrix
-alpha on, activate, off, deactivate, set, opaque, copy”, transparent, extract, background, or shape the alpha channel
-annotate geometry text annotate the image with text
-antialias remove pixel-aliasing
-append append an image sequence
-authenticate value decipher image with this password
-auto-gamma automagically adjust gamma level of image
-auto-level automagically adjust color levels of image
-auto-orient automagically orient image
-average average an image sequence
-background color background color
-bench iterations measure performance
-bias value add bias when convolving an image
-black-threshold value force all pixels below the threshold into black
-blue-primary point chromaticity blue primary point
-blue-shift factor simulate a scene at nighttime in the moonlight
-blur geometry reduce image noise and reduce detail levels
-border geometry surround image with a border of color
-bordercolor color border color
-caption string assign a caption to an image
-cdl filename color correct with a color decision list
-channel type apply option to select image channels
-charcoal radius simulate a charcoal drawing
-chop geometry remove pixels from the image interior
-clip clip along the first path from the 8BIM profile
-clip-mask filename associate clip mask with the image
-clip-path id clip along a named path from the 8BIM profile
-clone index clone an image
-clut apply a color lookup table to the image
-contrast-stretch geometry improve the contrast in an image by `stretching’ the range of intensity value
-coalesce merge a sequence of images
-colorize value colorize the image with the fill color
-colors value preferred number of colors in the image
-colorspace type set image colorspace
-combine combine a sequence of images
-comment string annotate image with comment
-compose operator set image composite operator
-composite composite image
-compress type image compression type
-contrast enhance or reduce the image contrast
-convolve coefficients apply a convolution kernel to the image
-crop geometry crop the image
-cycle amount cycle the image colormap
-decipher filename convert cipher pixels to plain
-debug events display copious debugging information
-define format:option define one or more image format options
-deconstruct break down an image sequence into constituent parts
-delay value display the next image after pausing
-delete index delete the image from the image sequence
-density geometry horizontal and vertical density of the image
-depth value image depth
-despeckle reduce the speckles within an image
-display server get image or font from this X server
-dispose method layer disposal method
-distort type coefficients distort image
-dither method apply error diffusion to image
-draw string annotate the image with a graphic primitive
-edge radius apply a filter to detect edges in the image
-emboss radius emboss an image
-encipher filename convert plain pixels to cipher pixels
-encoding type text encoding type
-endian type endianness (MSB or LSB) of the image
-enhance apply a digital filter to enhance a noisy image
-equalize perform histogram equalization to an image
-evaluate operator value evaluate an arithmetic, relational, or logical expression
-extent geometry set the image size
-extract geometry extract area from image
-family name render text with this font family
-fft implments the discrete Fourier transform (DFT)
-fill color color to use when filling a graphic primitive
-filter type use this filter when resizing an image
-flatten flatten a sequence of images
-flip flip image in the vertical direction
-floodfill geometry color floodfill the image with color
-flop flop image in the horizontal direction
-font name render text with this font
-format string output formatted image characteristics
-frame geometry surround image with an ornamental border
-function name apply a function to the image
-fuzz distance colors within this distance are considered equal
-fx expression apply mathematical expression to an image channel(s)
-gamma value level of gamma correction
-gaussian geometry reduce image noise and reduce detail levels
-geometry geometry preferred size or location of the image
-gravity type horizontal and vertical text placement
-green-primary point chromaticity green primary point
-help print program options
-identify identify the format and characteristics of the image
-ift implements the inverse discrete Fourier transform (DFT)
-implode amount implode image pixels about the center
-insert index insert last image into the image sequence
-intent type type of rendering intent when managing the image color
-interlace type type of image interlacing scheme
-interline-spacing value the space between two text lines
-interpolate method pixel color interpolation method
-interword-spacing value the space between two words
-kerning value the space between two characters
-label string assign a label to an image
-lat geometry local adaptive thresholding
-layers method optimize or compare image layers
-level value adjust the level of image contrast
-limit type value pixel cache resource limit
-linear-stretch geometry linear with saturation histogram stretch
-liquid-rescale geometry rescale image with seam-carving
-log format format of debugging information
-loop iterations add Netscape loop extension to your GIF animation
-mask filename associate a mask with the image
-mattecolor color frame color
-median radius apply a median filter to the image
-modulate value vary the brightness, saturation, and hue
-monitor monitor progress
-monochrome transform image to black and white
-morph value morph an image sequence
-motion-blur geometry simulate motion blur
-negate replace every pixel with its complementary color
-noise radius add or reduce noise in an image
-normalize transform image to span the full range of colors
-opaque color change this color to the fill color
-ordered-dither NxN ordered dither the image
-orient type image orientation
-page geometry size and location of an image canvas (setting)
-paint radius simulate an oil painting
-ping efficiently determine image attributes
-pointsize value font point size
-polaroid angle simulate a Polaroid picture
-posterize levels reduce the image to a limited number of color levels
-preview type image preview type
-print string interpret string and print to console
-process image-filter process the image with a custom image filter
-profile filename add, delete, or apply an image profile
-quality value JPEG/MIFF/PNG compression level
-quantize colorspace reduce image colors in this colorspace
-quiet suppress all warning messages
-radial-blur angle radial blur the image
-raise value lighten/darken image edges to create a 3-D effect
-random-threshold low,high random threshold the image
-recolor matrix translate, scale, shear, or rotate image colors.
-red-primary point chromaticity red primary point
-regard-warnings pay attention to warning messages.
-region geometry apply options to a portion of the image
-remap filename transform image colors to match this set of colors
-render render vector graphics
-repage geometry size and location of an image canvas
-resample geometry change the resolution of an image
-resize geometry resize the image
-respect-parentheses settings remain in effect until parenthesis boundary.
-roll geometry roll an image vertically or horizontally
-rotate degrees apply Paeth rotation to the image
-sample geometry scale image with pixel sampling
-sampling-factor geometry horizontal and vertical sampling factor
-scale geometry scale the image
-scene value image scene number
-seed value seed a new sequence of pseudo-random numbers
-segment values segment an image
-selective-blur geometry selectively blur pixels within a contrast threshold
-separate separate an image channel into a grayscale image
-sepia-tone threshold simulate a sepia-toned photo
-set attribute value set an image attribute
-shade degrees shade the image using a distant light source
-shadow geometry simulate an image shadow
-sharpen geometry sharpen the image
-shave geometry shave pixels from the image edges
-shear geometry slide one edge of the image along the X or Y axis
-sigmoidal-contrast geometry increase the contrast without saturating highlights or shadows
-size geometry width and height of image
-sketch geometry simulate a pencil sketch
-solarize threshold negate all pixels above the threshold level
-splice geometry splice the background color into the image
-spread radius displace image pixels by a random amount
-strip strip image of all profiles and comments
-stroke color graphic primitive stroke color
-strokewidth value graphic primitive stroke width
-stretch type render text with this font stretch
-style type render text with this font style
-swap indexes swap two images in the image sequence
-swirl degrees swirl image pixels about the center
-texture filename name of texture to tile onto the image background
-threshold value threshold the image
-thumbnail geometry create a thumbnail of the image
-tile filename tile image when filling a graphic primitive
-tile-offset geometry set the image tile offset
-tint value tint the image with the fill color
-transform affine transform image
-transparent color make this color transparent within the image
-transparent-color color transparent color
-transpose flip image in the vertical direction and rotate 90 degrees
-transverse flop image in the horizontal direction and rotate 270 degrees
-treedepth value color tree depth
-trim trim image edges
-type type image type
-undercolor color annotation bounding box color
-unique-colors discard all but one of any pixel color.
-units type the units of image resolution
-unsharp geometry sharpen the image
-verbose print detailed information about the image
-version print version information
-view FlashPix viewing transforms
-vignette geometry soften the edges of the image in vignette style
-virtual-pixel method access method for pixels outside the boundaries of the image
-wave geometry alter an image along a sine wave
-weight type render text with this font weight
-white-point point chromaticity white point
-white-threshold value force all pixels above the threshold into white
-write filename write images to this file


Google does not provide a Gmail notifier in Linux. Fortunately, there is CheckGmail, an alternative Gmail Notifier for Linux systems. It is fast, secure and uses minimal bandwidth via the use of Atom feeds. CheckGmail is a system tray application that checks a Gmail account for new mail.

When new mail is present the tray icon changes, an optional animated popup is displayed and a tooltip displays the number and details of new messages. Each message can be opened directly in a browser window, and many common Gmail operations (marking as read, archiving, deleting or reporting as spam) can be carried out on messages directly within CheckGmail, without the need to use the Gmail web interface.

If you are using Ubuntu, a simple command-line of “apt-get install checkgmail” will install the application for you. Start the application. Edit the CheckGmail Preferences. Enter your Gmail account and password. You are good to go.

PGP Key With Seahorse

Are you worried about your email being read? Emails are sent electronically in plain text. To secure your messages, you’ll need encryption. Jack Wallen of ghacks.net details on how to encrypt your email using Seahorse, the default key ring manager for the Gnome desktop. The article walks you through the installation, the creation of your PGP key, and the publishing and synching of your key. Read the article.

Mark Shuttleworth Video

This is a video of Mark Shuttleworth’s message to UbuCon Atlanta. Shuttleworth outlines future Ubuntu releases. Ubuntu 10.04 will be called Lucid Lynx based on Gnome 2.0. Ubuntu 10.04 will be LTS or long term support. In addition, Shuttleworth also addresses the upcoming 9.10 Karmic Koala release next month.

Record Audio From Your Computer Speakers

Are you looking for ways on how to record an audio of a streaming site, an online radio, a Youtube video or any music that is coming from an iPod attached to your computer whether it’s actually yours or your friend’s iPod? Well, you’ll need two things to record the audio: Audacity software and a 1/8 stereo jack.

First, the software. Audacity is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Audacity is available from your standard Ubuntu repository. You can download it using the command-line: “sudo apt-get install audacity.”

Second, chances are you already have a 1/8 stereo jack. If not, you can pick up one at Radio Shack for a few measly dollars. Here’s the trick. Create a loopback connector by plugging in the output of your computer speaker to the microphone input of your computer.

Audacity will record anything that is coming from the microphone input. Play your source: whether it’s a Youtube video, online streaming, online radio, etc. Next, just click the record button and off you go. When you are done, you can save the audio in several formats: mp3, wav, ogg vorbis, aiff, au, or aup – the audacity project format. Once you have the recording, you can do anything with it.

Happy recording!

How GNOME and KDE Spend Their Money

From Linux Magazine.

GNOME lists an income of just over $102,000 for the quarter covered by its report. This income includes $65,000 from the Desktop Summit, $20,000 from “advisory board fees” (which I interpret mainly as donations from corporate sponsors), and $12,400 collected by the Friends of GNOME, a promotional and fund-raising project.

By contrast, KDE’s income for the quarter covered by its report totaled just over $111,000 (if you convert the figures from Euros to approximate American dollars). This is actually an increase from the incomes of $93,000 and $102,000 in the fourth and second quarter of 2008. In other words, despite GNOME’s wooing of corporate support, KDE appears to have roughly twice the budget of GNOME in each quarter. And, just as importantly, KDE does not seem to have been affected by the recession.

Read the article.

Nero Linux 4

From DesktopLinux.com.

Nero AG announced a new version of its Linux CD burning software. Nero Linux 4 now offers a wizard-style UI and support for Musepack and AIFF audio formats, and a “Nero Linux 4 Essentials” application is available separately for OEM partners, says the Karlsbad, Germany-based company.

First released for Linux in 2005, Nero offers audio and data file support as well as options, tools, and settings for burning, copying, and ripping of CDs and DVDs, says the company.

Nero Linux 4 is the only commercial Linux application to offer a “complete solution” for blue laser burning, claims Nero. Blu-ray features include Blu-ray Disc defect management for higher burning speeds, as well as ISO 9660 file system support for the compilation of data discs, says the company. An ISOLinux feature is said to enable the creation of lightweight, bootable discs from CD-ROM.

Read the article.

Best Features of Linux 2.6.31

SVN writes about the best 5 features of Linux 2.6.31. The latest kernel has support for USB 3.0. It has improved desktop speed by a whopping 50%. I can’t wait to see this. There are also file system improvements with ext4 file system. I’m already running ext4. It also has graphics support for the Intel i915 and ATI Radeon graphics family. I have an old nVidia 5200. Finally, the last but not least, it supports Wireless-n or 802.11n. I can’t wait to see this on the latest Linux Ubuntu distribution. Karmic, are you close?


Here’s a nice article about gPhoto, a command line program in Linux capable of intereacting with your digital camera. It can read your camera settings or download images to your desktop. Nikon and Canon have their own proprietary programs, but they run on Windows. gPhoto will work with a good number of cameras. The writer on this article tested on his Nikon D80. I have a Nikon D90. Interesting. I might as well check this program and see what it can do. Since the gPhoto runs on the command line, the possibilities are endless from scheduling backups, resizing images to creating thumbnails.