Random Notes

Look At The Birdie

Okay, so I've had the DSC-T1 for a few weeks now, and so far it's been great. Outdoor shots with automatic exposure and multi-point auto focus give excellent results (I'm shooting at 3MPixels, since I only have a 32MB card), macro and "magnifier" mode ditto. I still haven't used the camera at night (despite having gone out to dinner frequently during the past few weeks), so I can't really comment on the flash and/or red-eye reduction.

I also still haven't got the hang of the exposure and white balance controls (which is a matter of time, as usual), and have had quite an issue with finding a decent, small camera cover (I've been using a Palm belt clip case to carry it around) - the Sony ones are too big to fit any sort of pocket, which is dumb since all it needs is a slip-on cover with a hard plate to cover the LCD.

All in all, it's pretty good - not really on a par with my DSC-F707, but more than good enough for the sort of casual/experimental photography I do.

Scraping With Python

Moving on, I've spent a couple of hours putting together a simple web site scraper in Python - the long-winded, exploratory way, to get a feel for neat base classes like HTMLParser and the like.

Regex handling feels a bit kludgy, though, and dealing with hash tables (dictionaries) in a PHP-like "permissive" fashion is a pain - I'm fiddling around with custom exceptions to see if I can negotiate a compromise with Python - I do what I want, and it doesn't bug me.

So far, it's 50 lines of Python against 90 or so of PHP - but the PHP version does a lot more than the Python code, including outputting an RSS feed and sending a digest via SMTP. And I'm taking my time and exploring the class library, not working towards a deadline...

Expediting Tagging with iTunes

I've also been streamlining the process of re-tagging my MP3 archive (fixing old track info and adding album art), which has been going on like forever. Since I use a DAAP server (and a SliMP3) running off a cheap Linux box to store all my music, I spent something like a year looking for a decent Gnome app to convert ancient ID3v1 tags. I'd probably have re-ripped all my crates of CDs in a couple of weeks, but I kept hoping there was something better than EasyTag.

Well, no more waiting for the Linux guys to get their ID3 act together. Now I'm dragging everything into iTunes via SMB, checking if things need to be re-ripped (making a note of the CDs I need to fish out of my crates), fixing the tags, visiting Slothdog's Cover Finder to get the album art (of course, it isn't much use for looking up old Portuguese albums), and dragging everything right out again to the server via SMB.

The only gripe I have is that I'm getting UTF-8 filenames with ISO-8895-1 tags inside, but hey, it works, and my SliMP3 doesn't complain much.

Blackberry Coding on Mac OS X

Meanwhile, I've given up trying to run the Blackberry SDK under Mac OS X - I can get the Java IDE to run, but the build process seems to rely on Windows-specific binaries, and I just can't be bothered. Which is a shame, really, because the executable in question seems to be just a small stub. So I'm putting the entire concept on ice until I can spare the time to figure out how to do stuff with ant and the other paraphernalia that is the mainstay of terminal-oriented Java programming (if I'm going to invest time on learning new skills, they'd better be fully cross-platform).