January 2011

Examining Cutting the Cable TV Cord

Things I’ve learned:

  • There is no signal to be had from a FiOS coax cable without a cable box.
  • I can pick up a few stations in the basement with an old set of Radio Shack rabbit ears, but they pixelate too badly to watch.
  • Kids quickly learn to stay in one spot so the TV signal stays good.
  • There are 34 over-the-air channels I can get with our old attic antenna.
  • I’ve got a lot of wires in my basement ceiling that don’t go anywhere.
  • One of those stations is analog.
  • Analog has apparently not been banished.
  • My youngest daughter acts like a crack addict when a new TV is brought into the house.

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Backing Up Data to DVD

Raw photograph files are too big to keep on my hard drive, so I archive them to DVD every so often. I make three copies of each disc and distribute two of them to family or friends. This provides protection from computer failure and site disaster.
To do this, I copy files to a new directory until it reaches DVD capacity, around 4.7 Gb. Then I use Brasero to create an ISO, copy the ISO to the backup computer (that has a working DVD burner) and make the discs. I also use CD Label Gen and a script to make a cover that has a picture from the archive set and a list of the contents. Here’s the script:
#!/bin/sh
# convert img.jpeg cover.eps
cdlabelgen \
--category "Family Photos" \
--subcategory "25 October - 12 December 2010" \
--cover-image cover.eps \
--cover-image-scaleratio 0 \
--slim-case \
--no-date \
--items-from-file items.txt \
--output-file photos-label.ps
echo ghostscript photos-label.ps

The contents are listed in a text file called items.txt. It looks like this:

{#M}2010 Oct 25 Test video
{#M}     Nov  9 Fall colors
{#M}         13 "
{#M}         15 Japanese Maple in Fog
{#M}         17 Fallen Japanese Maple leaves
{#M}         24 Birthday cupcakes
{#M}         25 First snow; pies; Thanksgiving
{#M}     Dec  3 Camera test shots; fireplace

The funny M’s at the start of each line signal cdlabelgen to use a monospaced font so the dates and descriptions line up.
I put the script and text file and output postscript in the root of the DVD, so if I need to make another copy, the label is already there.

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Canon 60D Raw Files

I’ve been looking for a Raw photo editing app similar to Adobe Lightroom that does non-destructive edits. It seems one’s already out there called Darktable. It’s not part of the Ubuntu standard repositories, but you can add it with
Launchpad. This is all I had to do:
Add PPA: sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pmjdebruijn/darktable-release-plus
Update: sudo apt-get update
Restart Synaptic and install darktable.

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