#140 LXVII HP67 emulator, phishing avoidance, photo management, VisualHub

Still Alive from jonathancoulton.com, LXVII HP67 calculator emulator from tamburri.net (or versiontracker.com), Lost Marauders at lostmarauders.com/itunes. Phishing scam avoidance, and Honda Bob tries to take QA Director Steve’s job! In Chit Chat Across the Pond Bart and I discuss his photo management process using iPhoto, how he uses ImageMagic and Perl scripts to resize and watermark, and the GIMP to do fancy editing. Example of his colorizing an image so it’s part black & white and part colour at bartbusschots.ie/gallery and his LAB colour boost work to give a “post card” look at bartbusschots.ie/gallery, and Bart’s blog post linking to the tutorial for both the black & white fun and the colour boost. DiskInventoryX from derlien.com to find out where your disk space has run off to, and VisualHub from techspansion.com to convert your huge AVI files to mp4s.

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[tags]Macintosh, iPhoto, Jonathan Coulton, HP Calculators, HP67, LXVII, phishing, Lost Marauders, video compression[/tags]

Today is Sunday, March 16th, 2008 and this is show #140.

Jonathan Coulton
thanks to Mike for writing in on the blog that the name of the Jonathan Coulton song from 2 weeks ago during Hannes’ review was not called Aperture Science, but rather Still Alive. I put a link in the shownotes to jonathancoulton.com that will take you right to the song. Thanks Mike – hate to a) forget to give him credit, and then botch the credit!

I got an email this week from Nick Tamburri, from tamburri.net that really made my day. Here’s his letter:

I remember hearing on a Mac Review Cast episode that you like RPN calculators on Mac OS X. I don’t know if you’d be interested in another one, but I released a freeware HP-67 emulator (called “67” but spelled LXVII,) a while back. I wrote it as a way to learn Mac OS X programming, and it has some features most other calculators don’t, like programmability, the ability to have multiple calculators running at once, and (my personal favorite,) mouse-less operation by mapping all buttons to the keyboard.

If nothing else, I’ll bet Tim has never heard of it. Thanks for your reviews on MRC, I always enjoy them.

I’m really excited about this calculator! I know, it’s about as geeky as you can imagine, but the Reverse Polish Notation, or RPN calculators are the only ones I know how to use! I never had an HP67 myself, only our friend Drew could afford one of those. the very first calculator I ever used was my dad’s HP35 in 1976, the year I graduated high school. I actually used a slide rule in high school before that! My dad paid $400 for that calculator, by the way. Later in college I had an HP45, and today I use an HP11C that I got during graduate school. Steve still uses his 15C and I also still have my dad’s 11C. All three are still working flawlessly 25 years after we got them. You can see why I love HP calculators, right?

Nick sent in three links to your favorite sites to download LXVII – apple.com, versiontracker.com, or macupdate.com.

I downloaded and installed LXVII and I really like it! My requirements these days aren’t that tough, but I like how fast it comes up, how easy it is to use, and how I can slide out the registers so I can see what’s in the storage registers, the programs, and the stack. If you’ve ever used an HP calculator you’ll know what I’m talking about. There’s a manual you’ll want to read in order to really get the most use out of LXVII too.

Nick actually played right into the new homework assignment starting this week. As Nick mentioned, I have a little contest going with Tim Verpoorten of the macreviewcast.com. Tim challenged me to “stump the podcaster” saying that i wouldn’t be able to find freeware that he didn’t already review or know about. I’ve gotten him once or twice, but mostly he’s winning. I even reviewed Launchy, which is freeware for WINDOWS and he had already installed it on his work machine! one time I was jogging listening to his show and thought, hey, I’ll review FreeMind, and in the next STEP he talked about FreeMind!

So here’s how you can help me stump Tim. If you know of some freeware you haven’t heard me review before, search for it on Tim’s site at macreviewcast.com and on podfeet.com. If it’s not on either site, bring it on and we’ll really make him crazy!

Lost Marauders
So you all know about crazy listener james. He’s really not stable, and he frightens me. Imagine how nervous I was when he asked if Steve and I would go see him performing in his band the Lost Marauders on Tuesday night? I mean seriously, let’s look at the facts. I don’t listen to any music. none, nada, zip. He was playing at 9pm on a school night – I’m fully in my jammies by then. Plus I don’t even go out for people I LIKE! He was so hurt and sad (he actually begged, it was pathetic actually). So i promised I’d pimp his band for him. I put a link in the shownotes to lostmarauders.com/itunes so you can go check out Lost Marauders and their new album called The Road Unknown. I suppose there’s a remote chance this music is worth listening to, so go check it out. Please. Get him off my back!

Phishing Lesson
It’s time for a public service announcement – time for our annual reminder to watch out for phishing scams. Phishing is the nasty practice of sending emails that trick you into giving up personal information, or downloading viruses and spyware. How do they do it? They send you an email that LOOKS like something legitimate from your bank, or some other institution you might actually want to do business with. Don’t worry though, I’m going to remind you how to recognize these scams and protect yourself.

I just got a REALLY good one – they’re getting very very clever these days. It was supposedly from Hallmark. It said someone had sent me an ecard and showed a link that said hallmark.com/getecard. What you need to know is how links are created in a web page. When I create a link on my blog, I type in two things – one is the real link that you’ll get sent to when you click, but I also type in anything I want as what you’ll see. For example, I could create a link to google.com but I could make it say yahoo.com in text. Does that make sense? So what these evil pests do is put a nasty link in the email but the text something innocuous like hallmark.com.

showing the bad linkThe particular hairballs that sent me the Hallmark card were clever. the text said, “If this name is not familiar to you and you’re concerned about online security, please use the following steps: Visit http://www.hallmark.com/getecard, Enter your e-mail address in the Original Recipient.s E-Mail Address box. Enter EG0694262772475 in the Confirmation Number box. Click Display Greeting.

They make you think, “gee, this must be real because they gave me a way to prove it’s right! and then you’ll click the link. Luckily for me, in Apple Mail I can simply hover over links to see where they’ll REALLY send me – it pops up on screen. I took a screenshot of my Hallmark example so you could see that the link is actually a Windows executable file that I would have downloaded! Just for grins and giggles I also tried following their steps, typing in the url and entering the code, and of course Hallmark did not recognize it.

So what’s the lesson here? never click a link in an email! Even if it’s from someone you know, it can be a scam sent through their email to people in their address book. the best thing you can do is just copy the link text (which I’m assuming looks like a real link) and then paste it into your browser. You’ll be safe as pie if you do that!

Honda Bob has been searching all over for a solution to his database problem. As you may recall, he had a really old program that only ran under XP, but now he’s got his new Vista laptop. A ton of you guys have written in with great ideas for new database programs for Bob and I really appreciate all the help! Michael was a late entrant because his mom fell and broke her wrist the day he heard the request for help on the show. I sure hope your mom’s wrist is mending well Michael! I broke my wrist once and shockingly didn’t enjoy it one little bit! So anyway, after all the help you guys gave Bob, I had an epiphany. I told him he should just put XP on his new machine! It’s WAY easier than learning a new database program and moving all that data! i don’t know what he’ll do but I thought it was a fun solution.

Then he turned on me – he started doing his impression of QA director Steve! he went back and listened to some of the old commercials I’ve done, and he’s picking out MISTAKES! Can you believe that??? In July of 2007 I told the story of how long Steve’s 1986 Prelude lasted because of Bob’s tender loving care. I said we sold it in 1988 so it lasted fourteen years. Well, it was supposed to be 1998, but then again that’s still only 12 years, isn’t it??? Well i think I got it doubly wrong because we actually sold his car in 2000, so it WAS 14 years old! Sigh.

As if that weren’t enough, he found another mistake back in the show on February 11th, 2007. In that episode i was talking about the exciting subject of Fuel Injectors, and I mentioned that Honda Bob had replaced the ones on my 1984 Accord. The mistake was that fuel injection didn’t enter the Honda product line until 1985! It must have been my 1988 Honda Accord I was thinking of. I think there should be some sort of statute of limitations on calling out errors in my podcast, don’t you?

Anyway, if you’d like your fuel injectors replaced on your Honda or Acura, or just some good solid maintenance to keep those cars running in perfect condition, give Honda Bob a call at (562)531-2321, or send him an email at [email protected]. HDA Bob’s Mobile Service is not affiliated with Honda, Acura or Honda Worldwide.

Chit Chat Across the Pond
In this week’s episode of Chit Chat Across the Pond with Bart Buscshots we discuss photo editing applications he uses along with a healthy debate about the merits of iPhoto.

Bart uses three tools:
– iPhoto – all my pics are stored in iPhoto
— Use it to do basic editing like cropping
— Use it to fix exposures by tweaking the white balance, bringing up shadows, bringing up exposure
– Allison’s issues with iPhoto
— 5 years of digital photos, all organized into hierarchical folders already (Bart says to just “let go…”
— Don’t like that there’s 2 copies of every file you edit – running out of disk space as it is
— Maybe Aperture is the answer?

– ImageMagic + Perl Scripts
— Do the manotanous stuff. Workflow goes like this:
— export from iPhoto and re-size in the process
— run script to insert CC logo
— run script to insert URL
— run script to insert captions or attributions if needed
— SFTP to web server
— import into web gallery
– GIMP – only use it for very fancy editing
— selectively colorising an image so it’s part black & white and part colour e.g. bartbusschots.ie/gallery
LAB colour boost – gives a “post card” look e.g. bartbusschots.ie/gallery
Thinking about Aperture, still not sure.

Bart’s blog post linking to the tutorial for both the black & white fun and the colour boost

After Bart and I got off the phone, I went into iPhoto and started poking around in the preferences, and on the advanced tab it turns out you can tell it to NOT copy the files into your iPhoto library after all! now I know most normal people would never choose this, but it might be just the thing to let me use iPhoto more productively! I decided to give it yet another try on Bart’s enthusiastic recommendation! I noticed one problem right off the bat though, I tried to use iPhoto to cull out the less than desirable photos, so I deleted a bunch in iPhoto, but it did not delete them out on my hard drive. Argh. I’m not sure what it did delete, evidently just the pointer to the file. So, I still don’t have an ideal solution for my photo management work flow.

Visual Hub to save disk space
My daughter Lindsay has a relatively new MacBook with a 120GB hard drive. the other day she mentioned to me that she only had about 6GB left on her drive! I asked her what the heck she’s been filling her disk with! She promptly pointed out that she inherited the excessive photo taking gene from me, so she has 10,000 or so digital photos. She manages them in iPhoto, and edits virtually every one of them, so as I just mentioned in talking to Bart, she has 2 copies of every photo! We started talking about options like having her pull some of her high school photos off her main drive, but that seemed really sad and no fun.

Then we ran DiskInventoryX from derlien.com, my favorite program for graphically showing you where all your disk space has run off to. We had to point it at the iPhoto library directly in order to see inside it, since it’s represented as one big blob from the outside. When we looked in there, we realized that over 60% of her iPhoto library was AVI video files! She has a Canon digital camera that takes beautiful videos, and she loves to film her friends making fools of themselves at parties. She would be REALLY sad to take THOSE off her disk. At this point we were figuring Mom was about to shell out for a bigger hard drive, when I thought of something. I opened VisualHub, the fantastic $23 shareware from˚techspansion.com, and asked it nicely to convert one of these AVI files to an MP4 instead.

We took a 1:37 AVI which was 172MB and after VisualHub converted it to an mp4, it was only 12.4MB when we were done! Can you believe that? now you’d think this was going to be an awfully compressed video, but we chose h.264 as the codec and it looks beautiful. So instead of shelling out a hundred dollars for a big hard drive, I shelled out $23 and bought VisualHub. Now whenever she’s bored she’s going to spend time converting her AVIs and regain all that disk space. I thought of another advantage of this plan. I have the same camera she does, and from my Sedona trip I had two videos I wanted to put on Facebook. I started the first one, which was one of the AVIs, and it was taking forever because it was about 150MB. i took the second one, converted it in VisualHub, dropped the size by more than 10:1, and uploaded it to Facebook…all before the first one had even finished! So she’ll have way more fun uploading videos, use way less disk space, and still get to keep her digital life on her MacBook.

After all of this I was telling my friend Mike about it, and he explained why these AVIs are so huge coming from the digital camera. he explained that the processor in these little cameras is very limited and so simply can’t do the compression on the fly to make the videos smaller, so the AVIs you get are actually uncompressed. That explains a lot! i should talk to Mike more often, he’s pretty smart!

Looks like that’s going to wind things up for this show. Please keep all your great emails coming to [email protected], and don’t forget your homework assignment to find freeware tools that neither Tim nor I have reviewed before! Thanks for listening, and stay subscribed.

2 thoughts on “#140 LXVII HP67 emulator, phishing avoidance, photo management, VisualHub

  1. Phil - March 18, 2008

    As an administrator of a corporate email system, I’m familiar with these ecard messages (way too familiar). Looks like that message you got is part of the infamous “storm worm”. I’m sure you are safe using a Mac but if you click on that link from a pc, you could install an executable and start spreading the storm worm (unless your antivirus program catches it).

  2. Video Watermark - July 25, 2008

    I\’m really please i found this site today. I learned a lot reading topic in here. Thank you to making available to world this great site. I will make sure yi visit it everyday.

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