So what happened?

July 27, 2012

Every once in a while a comment comes through asking what happened… here’s the quick story.

I quit Microsoft. I followed my interests and now have a day job that excites me and on the side I am getting paid to teach about computer science.  I get to work from home most days and I know I’m making an impact.

I started playing guitar and remembered how to sing. I do this pretty frequently around the city with friends and once in a while sit in with a local band.

I still use Linux. Not exclusively (much of my training content has to be Windows based). I have also picked up Erlang and Python.

I started brewing beer.

I lost 70 pounds (and still going).

I start trail running and joined up with a Hash House Harrier kennel.

I’m much happier now. I’m living my life. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, and certainly not my employer, that I wasn’t before. One of the nicest things anyone ever said to me was “It’s great to have you back”

It’s great to be back.

Now turn off your computer and go find a trail to run. I’ll see you there.

To burn the VOB file from dvd-slideshow to DVD (to be playable in a stand-alone DVD player) I used DeVeDe to create the iso file (it’s easy to use that I won’t explain it) and wrote the iso to the DVD as a regular data DVD.

Popped it into our CyberHome $30 DVD player from Wal*Mart and it worked right off the bat.

Just mentioning this because it took me a while to sort through the options for going from dvd-slideshow (png images) to a VOB file to an ISO image (via DeVeDe).

So far so good.  I’ve been going through the Ruby Quiz archives trying – directed tasks are helpful and the ability to see how others, who really grok Ruby, solved the problem is great.

With the basics down I’ve started with Rails.  My son has a website idea that I’m helping him implement.  He gives the requirements and I knock out the code.

Some sites I’ve found helpful so far include:

These are the ones I bookmarked, anyway.

After spending a few days looking at the pros and cons I have decided that Ruby will be my choice for now.  There were a lot of factors in the choice but ultimately it came down to a few less-than-scientific factors.

  1.  I am more familiar with Ruby.  I read Code Generation in Action a few years ago but never really gave it much thought.  The seed has been planted though.
  2. The local B&N and Borders had more Ruby and Rails books in stock.  Perhaps this says that all the Python titles have sold out and the Ruby titles aren’t moving.
  3. I followed some RailsConf blogs and they gave me a good vibe.

No arguments about syntax or framework advantages (Python won out here since fewer hosts provide support for Rails apps).

Both are fine languages and provided everything I’ll need to do anything I want.

After last time I ended up using dir2slideshow to create the basic script.  It worked well except that the documented “-k” command line parameter was missing so I had to put off trying the Ken Burns effects for another day.

To fit the slideshow into a specific time window I adjusted the display rate to 8 seconds per shot (from the default of 5) and left the default 1 second transition time alone.

Compiling the script into a vob file took about 40 minutes for roughly 160 photos.  I’m impressed that the tool was able to scale each photo reasonably well – they were a real mix of sizes to start with.

Once the vob was created testing it with mplayer was a breeze.  All I need to do now is add some audio, put in a few captions and burn it to DVD.

Now that I’ve knocked some of the early learning and the practical tasks off the list it is time to start taking on a more sizable project.

I already have something in mind that would be immediately beneficial for me but which will take a decent amount of time to implement (if I were 20 again it would probably only take 2-3 weeks since I wouldn’t need to sleep).

This will be a web application (what isn’t these days?) and the goal, other than the application, is to learn more about a new language (ruby or python), an existing platform (e.g. rails) and AJAX (which I already understand but haven’t personally worked with beyond some exercises from books and magazines).

What I’m trying to figure out now is should I start with Ruby or Python? I’ve been reading quite a bit on the benefits of each language and so far they are basicaly a wash (except that I’m reading a lot about scale problems with Ruby on Rails – but it’s not like I’m trying to become the next Twitter).

Also I’m not clear what the platform would be if I went with Python. With Ruby it would be Rails – but with Python … ????

I already have a small start with Ruby and Rails (I’ve read a few books) – but I’ve not yet written a single meaningful line of either.

Any suggestions or pointers to articles/blogs/books worth reading?

btw – Before I’m accused of being too lazy to research this on my own … I know there are hundreds of sites and posts on this exact topic. I’ve been reading them for several days. I’m close to making a decision but want to toss it out there in case I’ve missed something that only experience would reveal.

For an upcoming family event my wife scanned several hundred photos with the intent of creating a DVD slideshow to show at a gathering.  Since I haven’t figured out the scanner problem yet she scanned everything on Windows.  Since that is done I’m now taking over on Ubuntu.

I’m tracking the process as I do it.  Perhaps some folks will have suggestions.

I did a little research and discovered dvd-slideshow. Unless I hear a better suggestion I intend to use this to create the slideshow.   Apt-get had no trouble installing dvd-slideshow which is one reason I’m confident this will work.  The first snag is that all of the pictures are in bmp format which is not on the list of supported formats.

I’ve made a copy of all the images (since I don’t want to mess with the originals – this took her many hours) and now need to convert them from bmp to png.  I looked around for a while on Google searching for variants of “mass image file conversion”.  Eventually I started honing in on The GIMP (already installed) but it’s manual did not include any info on mass conversion.

Finally I opened upgThumb Image Viewer and low-and-behold it already handles mass conversion and it supports bmp to png.

I’m going to spend a little time researching the dvd-slideshow script format to figure out if I want to write a shell or ruby script to create the input script or if I want to use one of the existing solutions.  My inner-geek already knows the answer. 🙂