Open Source panorama software

Tony’s Cottage

I am asked every now and again what I use to make the panoarmas I occasionally post to Flickr.
Well, until recently I used some OEM software – Canon PhotoStitch.
Then my brother-in-law Tony told me that Photoshop could do it.
I was flabbergasted because he was right!
So I used Photoshop to do this picture, which is Tony’s new cottage, appropriately enough.

Tonight I discovered some open source software that may also do the job.
I haven’t used them yet, but thought I would post about them in case anyone else was interested.
They are

I (or maybe Iain if he beats me to it) will post more when I’ve tried them out.
Or maybe Jeff will give it a shot.
Who knows?

Intel Mac owners – are you running PPC VLC?


VLC is used by many people to play avi’s, especially movies and TV shows.
However, on the Mac there is no “universal binary” version of VLC yet.

We discovered tonight that Iain has been watching movies on his Intel Core Duo-based MacBook using the PPC version of VLC.
Needless to say, this adds a whole layer of performance degredation!

So we copied the Intel version of the most recent
nightly build
and CPU usage dropped dramatically.
Actually, it may have been the other way around (see low CPU usage on Intel, and then try PPC version and see much higher values).

Well, in any case, be sure to use an Intel version of VLC to watch those videos!
Even though it is just a “nightly build”, I’ve found the quality of
the one I got
to be quite high.
No crash or any other problems yet.

(knocks wood)

Blu-ray seems beta, but it will win


The following is my current impression of the status of HD formats at this moment.

There have been some comparisons of picture quality (PQ) made between HD-DVD and Blu-ray, and the latter often comes up short.
One factor is the codec used.

For some reason, the Blu-ray movies being released are mostly encoded with MPEG-2, rather than the two-generations-better VC-1.
Apparently there is encoding software coming out that runs on a PC in near realtime.
I wonder – since HD-DVD uses CV-1 as well, why can’t they encode it once for both formats?
Are there internal “HD-DVD” teams and “Blu-ray” teams at the various studios?
I really hope not.

The other factor is hardware bugs.
There have been some issues, although they may be fixed by a firmware update.
Unfortunately, I haven’t heard of one being released.

Now, despite all these issues with Blu-ray, it is still my pick as the eventual victor, for the exact same reason VHS beat beta: quantity.

Beta could only hold 60 minutes of video, while VHS offered 2 hours, or 6 hours if you didn’t mind crappy quality.
It’s not quite the same for Blu-ray: even at HD-DVD’s minimal 15 Gig size for a one-sided, single-layer disc, there is plenty of room for a good-quality HD movie.

However, these discs will also be used to store data on computers, and with Blu-ray being demonstrated at 200 GB (using 6 layers of 33 GB each), HD-DVD doesn’t even come close.
With our 750 GB hard disks in our computers, we need this for long-term shelf storage.

I really think it’s that simple.
Because Blu-ray and HD-DVD certainly don’t differ in any meaningful way when it comes to HD playback quality.

Fountain (Trailers)

Craig reviewed “Fountain” negatively on the filmfest site here on tnir, and being the busy guy he is, has not “moderated” my comment on it yet. I have examined the trailers for the movie at FOUNTAIN @ apple in HD carefully, and with all the movies he is seeing, he can be excused for a misplaced negative review.

The moral of the movie is not just that living forever can take, well a long time, but if you are aware of Descarte’s view of God and perhaps have read, um, the first few pages of that book, what’s it’s name again? Starts with a “B”… The poetic implications on the tree of life and Aronofsky’s earlier movies becomes more clear, at least to the extent I felt I needed to mention them in a review, unlike our exhausted TIFF movie reviewer Craig. Eden & Eve were also mentioned in the movie.

I encourage you to seek out additional reviews of this movie, unless you’re philosophically challenged and feel like signing me up for “” again,. Btw, to whoever did it, prickwear is for liberal pricks, there’s a better one for right-wing pricks. Not too sure if there’s much of a market for T-shirts for centrist philosophers, however. Maybe “Church of the sub-genius” T’s?

New Blu-ray movies!


Oct 18 through Nov 3 is going to see a lot of releases on Blu Ray & HD-DVD.
In fact, a movie that interests me (Naqoyqatsi) is only coming out on HD-DVD.
Ouch! First wound in the format war!
Oh well, Gone in 60 seconds & “Rent” are only on Blu-ray, wahoo!
And besides, even Amazon doesn’t yet list Naqoyqatsi on HD-DVD (but I know where to get it).

There is a SONY style shop at Madison & 55th St. in Manhattan and I got a Blu-Ray discount card there. Something like buy 10, get one free.
I’m almost ready for a free one.
I need to check and see if its valid somewhere close, like Buffalo.

Curiously, Amazon does not yet list RENT on Blu-ray, although I know it is coming out in November.
Another point of note, is that Roger’s Video Direct although listing Blu-ray titles, has not yet shipped me any of my selections.
Anyway, I still have 4 more Blu-ray movie purchases to watch,
and I’m waiting until Saturday until I get a chance to watch one on someone’s SONY Bravia XBR2 LCD television (1080p) anyway.

Hard disk prices at the moment

With a Mac Pro coming, I’m looking at hard disk prices.
Here are the prices of Seagate Barraccuda disks at Canada Computers:

model GB $$ $/GB notes % more than
7200.9 80 $58 $0.73 3 Gbps, 16MB cache 89%
7200.7 80 $63 $0.79 1.5 Gbps, 8MB cache 105%
7200.7 160 $90 $0.56 1.5 Gbps, 8MB cache 46%
7200.10 250 $100 $0.40 3 Gbps, 16MB cache 4%
7200.10 320 $123 $0.38 3 Gbps, 16MB cache 0%
7200.8 400 $190 $0.48 1.5 Gbps, 8MB cache 24%
7200.9 400 $190 $0.48 3 Gbps, 16MB cache 24%
7200.10 400 $200 $0.50 3 Gbps, 16MB cache 30%
7200.9 500 $267 $0.53 3 Gbps, 16MB cache 39%
7200.10 500 $280 $0.56 3 Gbps, 16MB cache 46%
7200.10 750 $420 $0.56 3 Gbps, 16MB cache 46%