ImageMagick: Mogrify

ImageMagick® is a software suite to create, edit, compose, or convert bitmap images. It can read and write images in a variety of formats (over 100) including DPX, EXR, GIF, JPEG, JPEG-2000, PDF, PhotoCD, PNG, Postscript, SVG, and TIFF. Use ImageMagick to resize, flip, mirror, rotate, distort, shear and transform images, adjust image colors, apply various special effects, or draw text, lines, polygons, ellipses and Bézier curves.

ImageMagick has a command-line tool called Mogrify that’s quite powerful. Mogrify will resize an image, blur, crop, despeckle, dither, draw on, flip, join, re-sample, and much more. This tool is similiar to convert except that the original image file is overwritten (unless you change the file suffix with the -format option) with any changes you request. I recommend to create backups of your images.

Resize Images

If you want to resize a hundred large images into smaller images with a width of 800px, you can use Mogrify to resize all images using this single command:

mogrify -resize 800 *.JPG

Convert Formats

Mogrify will also convert all .jpg files to the .png format found in the current directory in this example.

mogrify -format jpg *.png

And Much More

These are just two examples of what Mogrify can do. There are dozens of effects that you can do with Mogrify. Just view Mogrify’s list of commands. ImageMagick is available for the PC, Mac and Linux desktops.

Twitter Will Be More Secure With HTTPS

Twitter announced today that it is adding HTTPS to their service to make it more secure. Twitter users should be able to go their user’s setting and choose a box to always use HTTPS. Twitter says HTTPS is recommended for users who use public Wi-Fi where network connections are less secure.

HTTPS is a combination of HTML and SSL/TLS protocols. HTTPS are often used for payment and banking transactions on the web. HTTPS usually displays a locked key on some browsers, or a modified or certified address bar in some browsers.

Twitter hopes to have HTTPS as the standard setting in the future.

AT&T To Cap DSL and Uverse Services

AT&T plans to impose limits on its DSL and Uverse services. It will cap 150GB on its DSL service and 250GB for Uverse. This is based on this morning’s article by Ars Technica. This affects me and family. We are big Netflix users.

AT&T says the move will affect “less than 2 percent” of customers and that it is necessary to address congestion in the network.

The cap structure is not currently set up to squeeze extra fees out of most users. Subscribers who exceed their monthly allowance will pay an additional $10 for each 50GB over the cap, but AT&T tells Ars that “customers will hear from us directly numerous times before they exceed usage and before they incur any additional fees.”

The company will notify users when they hit 65 percent, 90 percent, and 100 percent of their monthly caps, and will also provide historical usage reports and a monthly usage tracking tool. (AT&T says that an average DSL user on its network currently transfers 18GB each month.)

It gets better.

Claims of congestion are notoriously hard to validate from outside the network, but industry analyst Dave Burstein does extensive writing about and consulting for various ISPs; he fired off a tweet this morning saying that AT&T “lied” to the Wall Street Journal. “Congestion is minimal,” Burstein said.

Capping is now a reality.

It comes at no surprise that AT&T wants more money. It posted $20 billion of net income last year, although more than half came from its wireless service. AT&T will cap use of its DSL, Uverse and wireless services. Comcast already caps its customers at 250GB per month.

Competition squeezed.

What’s even more interesting is, AT&T’s Uverse IPTV and VOIP usage is exempted from the cap. That doesn’t look fair to me. Companies and services like Vonage, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, considered as over-the-top providers are getting squeezed by AT&T and Comcast.

Read the rest of the article.

BookArch For Macbook Air

I saw the BookArc stand at MacWorld. I thought it was a cool product. The BookArc is from a company called TwelveSouth. The MacBook Air will rest on the BookArc in a vertical position. It’s perfect if you want a really tidy workspace.

You can get the BookArc for about $40.00. It fits both 11-inch and the 13 inch models of the MacBook Air. The stand is made of heavy gauge steel with a cushion insert. The stand fits snugly and has a firm grip.

TwelveSouth has another cool product. It’s called a BookBook. It’s a case that hides your MacBook Pro inside a classic looking book. With the BookBook closed, it looks just like an old book. Unfortunately, it’s not available for the MacBook Air.

The Bookbook comes in two colors: classic and red. No one would ever suspect you’re carrying a MacBook Pro. It comes in three sizes: 13, 15, and 17-inch. The BookBook retails from $80 – $100.

 

Simple Invoices

I’ve been looking around for a simple invoice program. I even thought of creating one. Then, I found an open source program called Simple Invoices. I downloaded it and gave it a try. The installation was very straightforward. The process starts with downloading the program, editing the config.ini file, uploading to a server, and running the installation.

The installation gives the user the option to populate it with sample data or with no data. I chose no data. I entered myself as a biller and created several customers. I also created several product types like Labor, Hardware, Software and Miscellaneous. I would love to see more details in this area, perhaps a description field for each product type.

Once an invoice is created, it can be viewed, printed, exported in many formats like PDF, DOC or XLS. The invoice can also be sent via Email with a PDF attachment. Simple Invoices uses your host’s mail servers. The email feature doesn’t work on a localhost installation with no mail support. It worked on mine hosted at Hostgator. I imagine it will work on most host servers with mail support.

I wanted to modify the invoice number so that it will start at a certain number. This is for the continuity with my existing invoice numbering sequence. The default invoice number starts at 1. Unfortunately, there is no facility to change the invoice number except to manually edit it the database via PHPMyAdmin. The documentation about this sketchy, but I figured it out after a couple of tries. You will need to edit the cs_invoices and si_index tables and change the ids and the index_id.

Another great feature is the integration with Paypal. I’m using PayPal as a payment method and it works pretty good. The invoice can be sent via email to each customer. Simple Invoices places a Paypal button with a link to each invoice. The link redirects customers to Paypal to initiate payment. The customer can then use their Paypal account or use a credit card to send payment.

I have been unable to see any of the reporting features because I dont have the XSLT processor installed on my localhost. I’m using MAMP on the MacBook Air. I figured most hosting companies have this feature as standard, but after scouring the internet for a few minutes, I’m not so sure if Hostgator supports it. Will I ever see the reporting feature on this program? I’m not sure. I won’t know until I install it online. Update: this feature works at Hostgator!

Overall, the Simple Invoices program is great. It’s simple enough to be picked up by anyone. It has some excellent features such as exports to PDF, Word or Excel. The Paypal payment method is great. Simple Invoices needs more work in some areas, but it’s not bad start for an open-source program.

Finally, all software need some good documentation, and this one especially needs it. I’m sure the author can use a few volunteers here and there.

CodeIgniter: Two Ways of Writing Arrays

There are two ways of writing arrays in PHP. We will use CodeIgniter in this example. Since CodeIgniter is a MVC framework, we will look at code in models. Assuming that a form is being submitted, and data is saved to the database. In this example, we will use a function called ‘add_entry.’

The add entry function is empty at the moment.

function add_entry() {
}

We will now add post data to our function. In this example, we will use the ‘url’ and ‘anchor’ fields. To sanitize, we set both values to TRUE. We assign it to a variable called $data in an array.

function add_entry() {
$data->url = $this->input->post(‘url’,true);
$data->anchor = $this->input->post(‘anchor’,true);
}

We will now insert data to a database table called ‘bookmarks.’

function add_entry() {
$data->url = $this->input->post(‘url’,true);
$data->anchor = $this->input->post(‘anchor’,true);
$this->db->insert(‘bookmarks’, $data);
}

The other way of writing an array is this:

function add_entry() {
$data = array(
‘url’ => $this->input->post(‘url’,true),
‘anchor’ => $this->input->post(‘anchor’,true));
$this->db->insert(‘bookmarks’, $data);
}

Essentially, both are the same. Somehow, I prefer the second. It seems cleaner somehow. It seems like, I only have to deal with a single variable called $data. What’s your preferred method?

Nikon 50mm 1.4D

The Nikon 50mm 1.4D autofocus prime lens is a widely used autofocus lens in photography. It delivers distortion-free, high-contrast images with superb resolution and color rendition. With a maximum aperture of f/1.4 it is fast enough for shooting in just about any type of light.

Weighing only 9.0 oz, it is easy to carry with you. It’s an ideal first lens; perfect for full-length portraits, travel photography or any type of available-light shooting. It accepts 52mm filters. B&H Photo sells two versions of this popular lens: 1. Made in USA for $320, and an Imported one for $289.

 

Funny Ubuntu Codenames

Canonical has released 14 Ubuntu distributions over the years. It started with Warty Warthog , followed by Hoary Hedgehog and Breezy Badger. Canonical switched to alphabetical order starting with Dapper Drake, then Edgy Eft, Feisty Fawn, Gutsy Gibbon, Hardy Heron, Gutsy Gibbon, Intrepid Ibex, Jaunty Jackalope, Karmic Koala, Lucid Lynx, and currently Maverick Meerkat. Canonical has already announced the next two releases, Natty Narwhal  and Oneiric Ocelot.

Although Canonical has done well in choosing its codenames over the years, it sure did miss out on some really funny ones. As most of you are aware, Ubuntu codenames are comprised of animals preceded by adjectives that start with the same letter. So, here’s my list of what could have been Ubuntu codenames.

What Could Have Been Codenames

  • A – Arrogant Ass
  • B – Babbling Baboon
  • C – Cocky Cobra
  • D – Dreadful Donkey
  • E – Earthly Earthworm
  • F – Flustered Flounder
  • G – Grumpy Gecko
  • H – Hideous Hyena
  • I – Icy Iguana
  • J – Jittery Jackrabbit
  • K – Killer Komodo
  • L – Loyal Leech
  • M – Magnetic Mosquito
  • N – Nerdy Nautilus
  • O – Orgasmic Orca

Future Codenames

  • P – Plumpy Penguin
  • Q – Quirky Quail
  • R – Raunchy Rabbit
  • S – Sexy Skunk
  • T – Tacky Tadpole
  • U – Ugly Urchin
  • V – Venomous Viper
  • W – Wretched Weasel
  • Y – Yackety Yak
  • Z – Zany Zebra

What’s yours? Any suggestions?

Lenovo Thinkpad X220

Intel’s second generation of core processors, like the Sandy Bridge series of processors, offer users energy efficiency, improved graphics, and high performance. This spring, several manufacturers will release laptops based on Sandy Bridge processors, the Intel Core i3, i5, and i7.

Lenovo just announced the Thinkpad X220. It comes in 5 different models based on the Intel Core i3, i5 and i7. CPU speed range start from the Intel Core i3 at 2.1 Ghz to the Intel Core i7 at 2.7Ghz. The screen is 12.5 with resolution at 1366 x 768. The X220 comes standard with 4GB RAM with upgrades up to 8GB.

What’s interesting about the X220 is, it comes with both hard drive and solid state storage. Hard drives range from 160GB to 320GB, and up to 160GB of solid state drive. It comes 3 USB 3.0 slots, a SD port, and 54mm express card slot.

The X220 weighs just under than 3 lbs, and boasts 15 hours of battery life. It’s 24 hours with a purchase of an external battery. The X220 will range from $900 to $1200 starting this spring.

What Apple Didn’t Mention About the iPad 2

Mashable’s Chris Taylor piece at CNN this morning about “What Apple hopes you didn’t notice about iPad 2” caught my attention. I wholeheartedly agree with Chris Taylor. The original article at Mashable is here. If a new feature of the iPad 2  was worth mentioning, then it would have been brought up by Steve Jobs. But, the omission of certain features was very telling. It meant those features that Jobs did not elaborate on are essentially the same as the previous iPad. I broken down those the iPad 2 features with fanfare, no fanfare and similar specs.

New Features with Fanfare

  • Thinner.
  • Lighter.
  • Faster. New dual-core A5 CPU.
  • Faster Graphics.
  • Front and back cameras. See details below.
  • Two colors: black and white.
  • Two carriers: AT&T and Verizon.
  • HDMI 1080p output.
  • Smart cover.
  • iOS 4.3.

New Features with little fanfare

  • VGA res for front camera.
  • 720p res for rear camera.
  • Gyroscope.

Similar Specs

  • Same memory at 256MB.
  • Same screen resolution. No retina display.
  • Same mono sound.
  • Same battery life.
  • Same prices.

Engadget has a nice article comparing the iPad vs. iPad 2. Here is another comparison from ZDNet. If you are looking for bargain, Apple will be selling the original iPads for $399 while supplies last. That’s $100 off the original price. If you want the new one, it will be available March 11. It’s March 25 outside of the US.