NY Times considering a higher priced ad-free subscription?

AdAge has a brief article about how the NY Times is considering ways to deal with ad-blockers, and quotes the Times CEO’s remarks as saying:

“We do want to offer all of our users as much choice as we can, and we recognize that there are some users — both subscribers and non-subscribers — who would prefer to have an ad-free experience.”

We can stop right there; we don’t need to read any further to understand the problems facing the NY Times. Unless their definition of “some” is “99%”, it’s hard to imagine who are these not-some people who prefer an ad-full experience of the NY Times.

Whatever they come up with, I will make a bold prediction: it won’t work, because they don’t want to address their real problem.

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Getting OpenCV 3 with contributions (e.g., SIFT) to work with Python 3.5 on a Mac OS X

This has got to be the most mis-documented thing on the web.  To save you the hours I spent spinning around on this, assuming you have homebrew:

brew install opencv3 --with-python3 --with-contrib

So many websites want you to check out a bunch of GIT repositories and build stuff by hand.  I have no idea why.  You may need other pre-requisites to make this work (probably Xcode command line tools), but they’re each not hard to find and install.  And of course you need python, numpy, and probably scipy to make it all work.

I don’t have a “virgin” system to try it on, so I can’t give a complete set of steps, but homebrew is very good at telling you what’s missing and getting it for you.

Hope this helps.

Postnote:

Afterwards, I needed to make sure I could process video files, and so I did:

brew reinstall opencv3 --with-python3 --with-contrib --with-ffmpeg

The Perils of Expedia and the Consolidation of the Online Travel Agency Business

Once upon a time, there were a variety of companies competing for the online travel agency (OTA) business. Microsoft created Expedia. Orbitz was started by a variety of major airlines. Travelocity was started by American Airlines.  They all competed for our business.

But over the years, these OTAs have all gradually been merged into Expedia. Now, if you go to any of these websites, you’re using  Expedia: Expedia, HomeAway, Hotels.com, Hotwire, Travelocity, Trivago, Orbitz, and others.  The perception of variety and competition is illusionary.

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Using Python and Gphoto2 to control the focus of a Canon T3i (EOS 600D)

Turns out it’s really not well documented how to control the focus of a Canon T3i using Gphoto2.  Here’s what I found did the trick:

  1. You have to change the focus from the shutter release to the * button. See this for a description of how.  Otherwise, the camera refocuses every time you take a picture.
  2. You have to be in preview mode (mirror up)
  3. Then you can make the calls to change the focus.
  4. The camera does seem to appreciate being fed commands too quickly, so I threw a bunch of delays in.  I’m not sure what the right timing is…

Here’s my code that did the trick:

def doFocusStep(camera, context, change):
    time.sleep(0.5)
    config = camera.get_config(context)
    focus = config.get_child_by_name('manualfocusdrive')
    focus.set_value(change)
    camera.set_config(config, context)
    time.sleep(0.5)
    return

To flip the mirror up, you just have to capture a preview:

# Set into preview mode
camera_file = camera.capture_preview(context)

You can then make calls like:

doFocusStep(camera, context, "Far 3")

The rest of the program (creating a context and a camera) are fairly well documented.

 

How High Tech loves to Blame the victim

If you’re like me, you get lots of spam, and a lot of it harbors a malicious intent.  People are constantly trying to get me to cough up user ids and passwords, bank accounts, or unwittingly install malware on my computer.  I’m pretty skeptical about email and so far (knock on wood) I’ve managed to avoid falling for them.

Don't click!!!

Don’t click!!!

For the most part, that’s not hard to do.  Most people sending phishing email do an incredibly bad job of mimicking the real thing, so it usually doesn’t look good.  Every once in a while one looks really good, but that just gets me more excited to find its tell. And they all have tells … which means that, if you’re really good at looking for them, and extremely diligent, you should never fall victim to one of these scams.

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