Archive - Mar 20, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Yesterday was a day of spring cleaning, of getting done several tasks that have been waiting too long to get done.

Tasks around the house

Besides the typical laundry and dishes, which had been compounded by my being gone for much of the week and Kim and Fiona being sick, I spent time out side repairing the ravishes of winter on our yard with a rake.

Winter also took its toll on the black car. It was shimmying pretty badly and pulling to the right. I took the car in to get the wheels aligned, and saw that one of the front tires had worn way to thin and needed to be replaced. I should take a moment to note that Danny at Town Fair Tire in Orange was a paragon of customer service. If you are looking to get tires replaced, go to Town Fair Tire in Orange and ask for Danny.

Kim picked me up at Town Fair Tire and the two of us went over to Village Bagel for a cup of coffee. I had a great bagel to go with it. By the time we were finished with our coffee, the car was ready and Kim headed off to get her hair cut, and I headed home to get some projects done that have been waiting too long to happen.

The first project that I tackled was to create a stop motion video of the construction site at work.

First, I found a website with a webcam of the construction site. Then, I wrote a small script on one of my Linux machines that would run a wget command every minute to pull save a copy of the image. I then loaded the stopmotion program for linux, imported the images and saved the file. It came out much better than expected and leaves me with a few different projects.

One is to gather the images over a longer time and show the building as it takes shape. Another is to create other stop motion videos. For example the Cape Cod Coast Guard Beach Cam might make a great video. I could also check other webcams around the world. If you have suggestions, let me know.

I might even take my shell script and generalize it to make it easier to create these movies. I’m also interested in exploring Gimp Batch Mode so I could do some preprocessing of images between capture and being added to a movie.

Public Mapping

Another project I’ve been wanting to kick off is setting up a Connecticut instance of the Public Mapping Project. This is a project to use open source software to make it possible for anyone to create new legislative districts online. They have a sample that people can use with Virginia data. They also have an image set up on Amazon Web Services.

I hadn’t worked with Amazon Web Services before, so I spent a little time exploring it. Finally, I got it working properly. Maybe I’ll write a quick description of how to get it to work nicely later. During my testing, I set up a Drupal 7 instance on AWS. It was fairly quick and easy to set up, and I may write more about that later. As I worked on it, I discovered that my Smartcampaigns domain had expired so I renewed that.

Unfortunately, the Public Mapping Project instance ran incredibly slowly. Also, I couldn’t find documentation on how to prepare Connecticut data, so I fired off an email to the project head and am waiting for a reply.

Upgrading this server to Ubuntu 10.04

However, the Public Mapping Project also works on straight Ubuntu. This site has been running Ubuntu 8.04 for a long time. I had tested earlier versions of the Public Mapping Project on various versions of Ubuntu, and couldn’t get it to run. I had particular difficulties on Ubuntu 8.04 and eventually upgraded my workstation to run Ubuntu 10.10, but still haven’t gotten the Public Mapping Project to run smoothly there.

I’ve hesitated to upgrade this server out of concern that it might be down for an extended period, especially if I screwed up something, or simply that the process might take a long time. However, last night, I bit the bullet and tried the upgrade.

The upgrade was fairly uneventful. A few minor problems cropped up. Apparently, the old tspc package that I’ve used for tunneling IPv6 is no longer supported, but there is a new package gw6c which does essentially the same thing. So, my IPv6 is back up, different address, slightly different configuration, but up and running.

I also had problems with locale and installing Postgres. I set them aside and went to bed. This morning I tried again, and Postgres appears to have installed properly and I’m not seeing locale errors right now.

So, I’ll return to the Public Mapping Project later.

Other Stuff

This morning, I saw a message from Miranda that she has posted her Senior Thesis, Full Artist Statement. It is great and I wanted to highlight it. You can see photographs from her senior exhibition Composing Through Color: A Senior Thesis Exhibition

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