Tag Archives: os x

Videonotetaker

Videonotetaker is a small java/quicktime-based application for writing text-based annotations of a video file. It is very simple, and I can’t get the keyboard controls to work in OSX, but it works well and provides the most basic features. For more advanced annotation it is better to use a tool like Anvil, but I think Videonotetaker can be very useful for students.

Multiple USB webcams working at the same time

After working happily with FW-products for many years, the recent trend of disappearing FW-ports have made me look for USB-based solutions. For hard drives the switch has been easy, and I also recently got my first USB-based sound card. The hardest part has been to figure out how to handle video cameras.

I have been using various Unibrain cameras for years, and have gotten used to the simplicity of being able to hook up multiple cameras to one computer. Last year when I tried hooking up multiple USB-based webcams to a computer (Windows, since they didn’t work on OSX at all), only one could work at a time. I was therefore pleasantly surprised when I found that Logitech’s QuickCam Vision Pro for Mac actually works well on OSX, and you can even have several of them running at the same time (see screenshot)! Now the only problem is the auto-focus and auto-contrast which tend to cause problems in video analysis (particularly when doing background subtraction).

Updated software

I was at the Musical Body conference at University of London last week and presented my work on visualisation of music-related movements. For my PhD I developed the Musical Gestures Toolbox as a collection of components and modules for Max/MSP/Jitter, and most of this has been merged into Jamoma. However, lots of potential users are not familiar with Max, so over the last couple of years I have decided to develop standalone applications for some of the main tasks. This has been a slow endeavour, and something I have been working on in between.

There were lots of people interested in the software at the conference, so while in London I spent some time cleaning up code, fixing bugs and rebuilding standalone applications for OSX. I will make Windows builds as well in the coming days. I have made a new fourMs software page where everything can be found.

There are probably lots of things missing, but at least this is a start of making these things accessible outside our group. Please report bugs. You could also suggest improvements, but I am not sure if I will have time to implement them anytime soon.

Skype gives access to wireless networks

The latest beta version of Skype (for OSX only, apparently) offers something called “Skype Access”, which makes it possible to pay for access to commercial WiFi networks through a per minute basis using your SkypeOut account.

I recall reading this when I downloaded the latest beta a couple of weeks ago, but didn’t think much about it before I opened my MacBook at the Brussels airport last week and saw a “do you want to pay using SkypeOut” message on screen. I often check to see if there are any available networks around airports, but most of the time you have to pay some ridiculous amount of money for connecting in a few hours (in Europe that is, in the US I have come across many airports that provide WiFi for free). However, most of the time I only need to access the internet for a few minutes to send and receive e-mails and check a few things online. Well, now I was connected to the WiFi in Brussels airport for 1 minute and 50 seconds, and paid only NOK 1,25 per minute. Great!

Triple boot on MacBook

I am back at work after a long vacation, and one of the first things I started doing this year was to reinstall several of my computers. There is nothing like a fresh start once in a while, with the added benefits of some extra hard disk space (not reinstalling all those programs I never use anyway) and performance benefits (incredible how fast a newly installed computer boots up!).

I have been testing Ubuntu on an Asus eee for a while, and have been impressed by how easy it was to install and use. I have been a Unix/linux users for years at the university, but have given up every time I tried to install it on any of my personal computers. Ubuntu is the first distro that actually managed to install without any problems, and which also managed to detect most of the hardware by itself, at least enough to actually work on the system.

Before I started the process on installing Ubuntu on my MacBook aluminum, I had heard rumors about it being a non-straightforward process, but it turned out to be very simple. I used bootcamp to install Windows XP (remember to format the drive using the windows installer, otherwise it won’t boot up…). To my surprise the new Ubuntu 8.10 installer made it possible to install Ubuntu from within Windows, and without needing to repartition anything. Quite a lot of things are autodetected, and there is a community page that suggests how to fix the rest. The built in audio support is not impressive, but an external sound card will hopefully work fine.

I didn’t find any good recommendations for how much hard drive space I should allocate for XP and Ubuntu, and what type of partitions to use. Previously I have had a 20GB NTSF XP partition, and that seemed sufficient, although I couldn’t read and write to the drive from OSX (apparently there are some software solutions for this). To be more flexible in my tri-OS-life, I decided to go for a 32GB FAT32 partition, of which I set aside 15GB for Ubuntu. After all necessary software is installed, mainly Max/MSP on XP and various Linux audio applications on Ubuntu, there are a 3-4 GB available on each system. This should be sufficient as long as I am mainly going to use the two OSes for occasional software testing.