Nikon Capture NX on Linux

I am feeling a little bit slow today, because my notebook is slow. LOL. I think this relates directly to the fact that everyday at work I am using a new Lenovo T60 notebook which is much faster than my 2 years old personal notebook. I used to dual-boot the notebook with Debian where the speed is acceptable but since I acquired a DSLR it is a hassle to switch OS. And I am not supposed to install non-approved software on the company computers.

My main issue not to run 100% Linux is that most of the graphics editor will not run properly, and most of the time fail to run on Wine. One of the software I use a lot is Adobe Photoshop. A couple of month ago I tried running CS2 on Wine and it didn’t work. I gave up on that. Recently, CS3 was released but I didn’t bother to try at all to avoid any disappointment.

Nikon Capture NX

Since I take all of my photos as RAW, or to be more precise in NEF (Nikon Electronic Format) I need either Photoshop or Nikon software to process the pictures I took. I’ve tried using dcraw and other open sourced RAW programs but the results just ain’t the same. Too bad. Or perhaps I am the one being not an expert in using those tools because some people do get better output. Quote from dcraw: “when used skillfully, produces better quality output than the tools provided by the camera vendor“.

Anyone have ever tried running CS3 or Nikon Capture on Linux (and succeeded)?

I Want WordPress Red T-Shirt!

WordPress Red T-Shirt

How cool is this! WordPress Shop is now selling WordPress red t-shirt worldwide. It’s gonna cost about RM100.00 including shipping for Malaysians. For the rest of the world, the t-shirt costs £9.50 and delivery is £4.50 but if you share with friends the delivery cost would be (£4.00 x Quantity) + X where X is between £0.50 – £0.10 according to my calculations 😉

The t-shirt is of high-quality made by American Apparel. I have to order it soon before the stock is finished!

Have you ordered yours?

Pangkor Island Beach Resort

So as I mentioned in my previous post, last weekend I went to Pangkor Island for the company’s team building. Here’s the picture taken once we arrived at the hotel private jetty:

Pangkor Island Beach Resort Signboard

This is not exactly a vacation and we didn’t have much chances to go to other tourist spots.

However it was a great event, and even though short we I had the chance to visit the Pangkor town and get some T-shirts and sea products to bring home. Not that they are much different, but just for our own memories. The trip from the resort to town from costs RM18.00 per van with minimum 4 passengers, and each additional passenger costs RM3.00. Quite a bargain for a tourist spot like this. Too bad we didn’t have the chance to visit some of the other spots like Sungai Kecil to see the villagers traditionally process the sea products!

Our trip to the town was fast and a bit scary – the driver was speeding and it was like a roller coaster ride. Luckily we didn’t rent motorbikes as the road was winding and hilly. It would have been scary and dangerous. If we ever come again we’ll still utilize the van / taxi rides. On the way to town we passed by Teluk Nipah, the public beach and it is amazing how many people are enjoying themselves.

Pangkor Sea Products

The funny thing is I saw a pre-packaged product with the label saying that it is from Beserah, Kuantan. I didn’t know they also import products from other places into Pangkor, which is rich in sea products.

The event lasted for two days – we left on Saturday and came back on Sunday. Since during the two days the weather was most of the time cloudy it was quite great except when it rains.

The boat trip back to main land was quite scary as it started to rain heavily when we reached the jetty.

The hotel was overall good, but when we first arrived the room smells a bit funny perhaps from the sea water that previous guests brought in with them.

Would I come again to Pangkor? Maybe – just to explore the whole island to take more photos. 🙂

Do you have any experience in Pangkor Island?

Surf The Internet Faster with OpenDNS

OpenDNS logo

So you want to surf the Internet faster? Ever heard of OpenDNS? I have been using OpenDNS for a week now to test its performance. So far it has not let me down, and the name resolving rate is satisfactory.

What is DNS?

DNS stands for Domain Name System. As you might already seen before, the Internet is made up of numbers called IP numbers that looks like XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX. The responsibility of DNS is to resolve the domain names you insert into the address bar into these numbers so that your computer can connect to the server hosting the contents you are looking for.

Every ISP has their own DNS to serve their customers. For example TMNET in Malaysia has two most common DNS servers: 202.188.0.133 and 202.188.1.5. These IP numbers are sent to your PC or your modem-router when you connect to the Internet. It works the same for any other ISP on the face of the world.

DNS eliminates the need for you to remember IP numbers which can be very long, especially when IPv6 is just around the corner.

DNS by Example

To arrive at this page, your address bar will contain https://romantika.name/…. At this moment your PC will query the default DNS server and looks for the IP. The DNS server, looks at it cache and sees whether it already knows the IP and if found it will send the IP to your PC immediately. If not, the DNS server will ask the authoritative DNS server for the domain where in this case it will be NS5.SECURESERVER.NET and NS6.SECURESERVER.NET, then returns the number 68.178.254.5 to you. This is where this site is hosted.

What is OpenDNS?

OpenDNS is a free service, where millions of users around the globe requests names to be resolved. Be aware, however that your ISP might block DNS queries from individual PCs to any other DNS servers than their own. It is dumb but some of the ISP do it.

Can OpenDNS Speed Up My Internet Connection?

It can’t. The only thing that OpenDNS will speed up is the initial connection when your PC is trying to resolve numbers from any given domain names. What happen is that since OpenDNS is used by many and it have a huge cache, queries made are returned immediately so your PC does not have to wait. Also it helps if your ISP DNS is slow. Using OpenDNS speeds up the initial query so you’ll notice a difference in loading time.

How to Set Up OpenDNS on a PC?

You can see what DNS servers your machine is using by going to Control Panel > Network Connections > Select your default connection > Select the support tab > Click on button Details…. You should see the DNS Server.

To change it to use OpenDNS, Control Panel > Network Connections > Select your default connection > Click the Properties button > In the list select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) > Click the Properties button > Select Use the following DNS server addresses > Enter the DNS server addresses 208.67.222.222 and 208.67.220.220

Please be aware however that you need administrative privilege to make these changes, and the firewall at your location allows queries to external DNS servers. If in doubt you may ask your system administrator, or better still if they have a local DNS server set up ask them to use OpenDNS as the master DNS servers.

Other Interesting Facts

OpenDNS has a database of bad sites consisting of phishing sites (by default) and adult sites (free registration required). If your PC is set up to use OpenDNS all of these can be blocked without any effort at your end. All that is needed is for you to be sure no one but you can bypass the settings and use other DNS servers. For example I set up my router to use OpenDNS in its local DNS server, and blocks any other DNS queries to the Internet. This way I am sure that my local network is safe from any malicious contents. This is an advanced (and technical) topic so I am not going to write it in here unless there’s any request.

OpenDNS does have instructions on how to use OpenDNS for many devices here. However you need to be smarter than your users to totally block other DNS queries except to OpenDNS servers.

Conclusion

OpenDNS is a good effort to provide quality DNS services to the masses. In the beginning of this article I mentioned that it has provided me good speed, not great mainly because the servers are located in the US and one in UK. International speed from TMNET is generally unpredictable so until OpenDNS setup a server in Asia, we get good speed, not great 😉

Here are the current servers:

  • New York, New York, USA
  • Palo Alto, California, USA
  • Seattle, Washington, USA
  • Washington, DC, USA
  • London, England, UK

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

PHP 4 End Of Life

PHP Logo

PHP 4 will finally reached its end of life on December 31, 2007. However critical security fixes will be made available until August 8, 2008.

This is a good time to revise your codes, to see whether they will run without any glitches in PHP 5. That first, then when doing any code upgrades or improvements do consider PHP 5 features and functions for your code. This page lists all changes that are not backward compatible in PHP 5.

As you can see, your code styling and implementation greatly effects the outcome of your code. For example the function array_merge in PHP 4 is loose and accepts any variable to be merged into an array, but in PHP 5 if the supplied variable is not an array PHP will throw you a warning (E_WARNING). It is strict. If you have always made sure that your code is strict, that is to always provide an array to be merged, then you can sit back and relax.

That is one example of a changed function, and there are some additions to the available functions as well. Be very careful to observe the changes to object handling in PHP 5.

If you are managing a server, do consider installing PHP 5 as a side, and test your existing systems thoroughly. If you use managed hosting, consider pushing your server provider to install PHP 5 for the same reason. Also make sure that if your provider wants to totally migrate to PHP 5 you are well informed. However, from my tests most of the systems that were developed in the PHP 4 era can still function well in PHP 5… but it is better to be safe than sorry.

WordCamp 2007

So the next weekend I will be flying to San Francisco to attend WordCamp 2007 on 21-22 July. This event is a 2-day conference for WordPress users and developers. The first day will focus on how to be a better blogger, the second on the development and future of WordPress.

Yeah right! Did you believe me? I am sorry I was really imagining how cool will it be if I can attend the event. Maybe next year. 😀

The actual event I will be attending during 21-22 July is my company’s team building activity in Pulau Pangkor, Malaysia. It will be fun (trying to console my own self).

Asian Cup: Malaysia 1 China 5

Yes, it’s soccer or as we in Malaysia locally call it, football. The national team lost 5-1 to China on Tuesday night match, and it is not a good news. However I am not a football fan and this blog is not a sports blog. I just need to vent out my frustration and disappointment to Malaysians. Yes you read it right, not to the players but to Malaysians.

Even the TV3 sports caster made fun of the Malaysia team. What the hell was that? Sure, they lost. How do you think they feel about it?

Newspaper headlines such as Tak Makan Nasi Ke? (You didn’t have rice?) are indeed funny at a glance but it is a humiliation to the team. For all that matters, I think FAM and the national team should sue those media morons.

Can’t we be more supportive instead of bringing them down? Who knows if we are being supportive enough they will win the next matches… but now they will all be feeling down and guess what, we’ll lose the Asian Cup that we are hosting ourself!

Just my two cents, ignore me.

Online Backup

Do you have any backups of your data? Are you willing to lose precious data such as your digital photos, accounts, letters, spreadsheets, and the list goes on and on. Today, you hardly keep so many paper documents as everything is kept digitized for easy handling. Who are we kidding, it is convenient to travel with a portable disk or a notebook computer than a business briefcase!

Even better, there is now IBackup – an Online Backup service starting from $9.95 per month for 5GB. It includes scheduled backups, access to drive letters on your machine, and access from browsers. This means that your backed up data can be accessed from anywhere.

This is a great alternative to that off site backup requirements for ISO17799 certification!

Another intriguing feature is the ability to backup open files, for example the Outlook files when you are logged on to an Exchange server. I am currently running scheduled backup using rsync via cygwin but the in use files will fail to be transferred over.

Additionally, if your business use SQL Server, Oracle, or Exchange – IBackup offers hot backups specific to these applications and many more. Go ahead and take the free trial now and let me know what you think.

This post is brought to you by IDrive

Google Referrals 2.0

Have you checked in to your AdSense account lately? Try and see the Referral setup page and see whether you have been upgraded to Referrals 2.0. I was surprised by this notification when I logged on to the AdSense account of one of my clients. This is what I saw:

Google Referrals 2.0

Some of us are lucky enough to be given the chance to test this out, like Auntie Lillian a.k.a. 5xmom. I am not as lucky, though. Maybe because my AdSense performance is not so well. 🙁

With Referrals 2.0 you can select targeted ads to display on your site, and not the boring old banners to refer to Google products and services. This opens a lot more doors and endless possibilities for you to customize the ads that will be displayed. They look just like normal AdSense ads, with the only difference is the tag Referrral Ads by Google.

Die Hard 4.0

Warning: might contain spoilers.

There are so many movies being released and I can’t get to them all. I watched Die Hard 4.0 last Saturday after 5 calls to the GSC Movie Reservation lines.

Die Hard 4.0 Poster

Die Hard 4.0 is one of the best installment from the Die Hard movie series. If you have watched the previous 3 like me, you can actually detect certain changes in style and maturity to the movie. The character of John McClane does seems to be more matured and you can see now he’s an old guy with a teenager daughter. However it is good to know that the bad-ass character and all the things he is willing to do is still preserved in this movie. The only McClane family member in this movie is Lucy, and his wife Holly did not appear. Like her mom, Lucy also refuses to use the last name McClane and used Gennero – until being saved, of course.

The final moment with the villain when he shot himself to let the bullet to go through is the best moment of the movie. That is what I think, anyway. As someone who likes aircraft technologies (and afraid to board them) it is cool to see the F35 which can hover like a Harrier. It is almost ridiculous however for a guy to stay alive after being bombarded and shot by a fighter jet. The multi million dollar jet finally crashed and the pilot ejected.

Did anyone notice the 4.0 number instead of 4? That is definitely related to the nature of issue in this movie – which is IT where a bunch of hacker headed by an ex-Government specialist attacked the whole country’s infrastructure to make his point that the security level is just not strong enough. One interesting thing is that when all of the western power grids are down, Warlock was able to get online with no problems at all. How does he connect to the Internet? Does his generator (or any alternative power supply he uses) also supplied power for the miles and miles of cabling? Bear in mind that at that moment the satellites were all taken down as well. I have to know how he did that as my home area have power failures almost once a month taking the phone lines down along!

There are many heart-pumping moments in this movie such as the patrol car that rammed to a helicopter, the SUV falling down the elevator shaft killing the bad girl played by Maggie Q, and many others.

For some, however this movie is just a movie with no sentimental values. For those who has been following all of the Die Hard movies, this movie is definitely must watch and very satisfying.

How do you like Die Hard 4.0?

Transformers The Movie 2

Warning: Might contain spoilers.

Transformers The Movie 2

I skipped my weekly swimming exercise yesterday and went out to Summit Parade to watch Transformers. We thought that the cinemas will not be full as it is a week day but we were wrong and ended up taking the first line of seat in the THX hall. Luckily in the THX hall the screen is a couple of meters away and we can still watch it with a bit of neck pain. Oh well.

As a guy who grew up watching Transformers cartoons this is indeed a very well made movie, and everything is exactly as it was except that they have to make it more realistic. The details on the robots are amazing and meticulously crafted, even all the rust and damages are clearly displayed. What I like the most is that the characters of the robots – exactly as I remembered them. The leadership of Optimus Prime, the coolness of Bumblebee, the rage of Megatron and the bad attitude of Starscream.

And the voice of Optimus Prime at the beginning of the movie is hard to miss. Any Transformers fan will know that deep voice:

Before time began, there was… the cube. We know not where it comes from, only that it holds the power to create worlds and fill them… with life. That is how our race was born. For a time we had lived in harmony, but like all great power, some wanted it for good… others, evil. And so, began the war. A war that ravages our planet until it was consumed by death. And the cube was lost to the far reaches of space. We step in across the galaxy hoping to find it and rebuild our home. Searching every star. Every world. And just when all hopes seem lost; message of a new discovery took us to an unknown planet called… Earth. But we were already too late.

Bumblebee Camaro

It’s too bad however that Bumblebee is a 1976 Chevrolet Camaro instead of the original Volkswagen Beetle. Yes, I like him more as a Camaro but I still like to think of him as a Beetle and a tad disappointed by this change. At the starting of the movie however you can see that Bumblebee parked beside a yellow Beetle but trashed it to make sure that Sam will buy him 😉 At first, I was disappointed to see the rusty old Camaro but when he changed inside the tunnel my jaw was open with much awe. Bumblebee used to be cute, but now he looks sturdy but he still have his cool.

Here’s a photo of the old Bumblebee as a Beetle that I found in the Internet:

Bumblebee Beetle

The overall movie quality is very good, but the battles seems to be quite speedy for me to follow. A lot of details are missing because of the high speed battle between the robots. However this is normal for a movie with huge bots like this and I still I love it a lot.

Transformers The Movie (1986)

Do you know that this movie is not the first Transformers movie? In 1986 Transformers The Movie was released but it was an animation. I didn’t remember watching it since I was a little kid at that time and cinemas is not common during those days.

Thanks to Michael Bay for producing a good movie like this. Transformers have surely brought back a lot of memories…

System Administrator Appreciation Day

It’s that time of the year again. The last Friday of July is the System Administrator Appreciation Day. You have plenty of time to plan them a party, or buy them gifts before the day arrives. But please, no mugs!

You can see some suggestions for gifts here.

Go ahead, consider it. You can seriously make them happy and in turn they can make you happy all year round. They can do all sort of nasty things, although they usually don’t do it. They can read your emails and tell the whole world about it. They can also make your life easier if they like you!

I am currently not a System Administrator for an office infrastructure, but for an integration system. So unless the collection of servers and systems can throw me a party or buy me gifts, looks like nothing for me this year 🙂