Monthly Archives: October, 2008

Quote of the day

“Be who you are, and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as ‘Dr Seuss’

From Concepts to Companies

A couple of weeks ago I gave a talk entitled ‘From Concepts to Companies’ at a conference in Katowice, Poland, organised by the Polish Information Processing Society (PIPS) and sponsored by DisplayLink. The talks are now online here – mine is below, in case you’re interested.

You can right-click here to download a smallish MPEG4 (H.264) version.

One-way ticket

If you visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, the thing that strikes you is the scale. You start at Auschwitz I, just down the road, where you hear about the various horrors. And then you visit Birkenau, and you realise that most of what you’ve just seen and heard about was really experimentation – they were just getting the small-scale process right so it could be expanded to an industrial scale.

It’s almost impossible to capture this in a photograph. Most of the original buildings were wooden and only their chimneys remain as evidence. Have a look at this close-up of the right hand side to get a feel for the size of just a portion of the site. I’d visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem before, but this is something completely different.

Here’s the full-size version of the above panorama.

A tour of Auschwitz is not an easy experience. But it’s something everybody should do if they get a chance.

The landscape keyboard is mightier than… the portrait one

TouchType is a handy little iPhone/iTouch utility if you compose many email messages on your phone. That’s all it does – lets you compose or reply to emails – but it does it with a landscape-format keyboard.

By default, the standard keyboard will only switch into landscape mode in the web browser. (It’s well worth rotating your phone before typing into a web form field.) This utility can’t quite add that facility to other apps, but it creates a separate app into which you can enter larger quantities of text and then tap a button to fire them into the main mail program. If you rotate your phone and then put it down on the desk, you can just about type with two fingers.

Worthwhile, I think, considering it’s only 59p.


An asteroid hit earth yesterday. Actually, it mostly broke up as it entered the atmosphere so there was nothing very Hollywoodish about it, but it was notable because it was a decent size – around 2-5m – but more significantly, it was the first earth-impacting rock to have been tracked before it hit us. It was discovered about a day in advance of the impact.

This story, in comparison, was discovered by me about a day after it happened. But no doubt, with a comparable rate of progress, I’ll soon be able to bring you news stories before they actually occur.

More info here



I liked the lack of anything very rectilinear in this one! Rose is in the tower of the church in Krakow market square. This is what is looks like from the outside:


Open Source as a strategy for the future

One of the most interesting discussions I’ve heard on the subject of Open Source for some time is the interview with Simon Phipps, the chief open source officer at Sun, on the FLOSS Weekly podcast.

Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in Open Source – this goes beyond the level of the usual debates.

Krakow Castle

One of my first HDR experiments.

Autopano Pro

I was most honoured to make the acquaintance of Piotr Fuglewicz on my recent trip to Poland. Piotr is a very smart chap, with a long history in IT and particularly in the computational linguistics world. He’s also a good dinner companion.

Anyway, today, out of the blue, he sent me a photo:

(click for a larger version)

What’s intriguing about this is that I took it, but I had never seen it before. Piotr assembled this panorama from three of my Krakow photos, which I hadn’t even taken with the idea they might be stitched together! He used an amazing bit of software called Autopano Pro – you don’t even have to give it a hint as to what goes where. Quite superb.

The user interface is complex – the basics are reasonably straightforward but there’s then an infinite amount of tweaking you can do – but I can see I’m going to have to find time to play with this. Photoshop CS3 has some good panorama stuff built in, but it looks as if Autopano is to panoramas what Photomatix is to HDR… a dedicated tool which goes just that bit further.

Windows Users

Spotted in Krakow last weekend.

Krakow dawn

Rose in Krakow

Rose at Krakow castle. I’ll post another picture or two over the next couple of days, but you can see more of Krakow here if you’re feeling keen.

Ubuntu Netboot installation

If you have an existing Linux machine (already running GRUB) and you want to install a fresh version of Ubuntu on it, this page may be handy. All you need to do is download a kernel and an initrd file, reboot and issue a couple of GRUB command lines, and you can install everything else over the network from the Ubuntu repositories.

I’ve just got a new hosted server which came with 6.06 installed, and I wanted to wipe it and start with a clean 8.04. This was a very quick and easy way to do it, especially since I didn’t have easy access to the machine’s CD/DVD drive.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser