"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects." (Robert A. Heinlein)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Photo slide-shows on Linux: Imagination

As soon as Summer comes I find myself juggling with hundreds of digital photos, taken during trips, holidays, picnics and other “Summer activities”. This amount of pictures needs a handy way to be shown and distributed to relatives and friends without becoming too boring. Since the first time I bought a DVD writer I started producing short slide-shows videos showing my photos with some transitions and some background music. I used doing it using an old Windows program but, since I upgraded my desktop computer I decided not to re-install that old program and producing my videos entirely using Linux.


Imagination is a simple program dedicated to producing video slide-shows. It can easily installed from Ubuntu's software centre. Once started the program shows a very intuitive user interface with a film strip on the bottom, a preview area on the left and current slide details on the right.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Arduino: playing with LCD displays

My experimenting with the Arduino board is continuing even if I'm not gone so far from trying provided example sketches. That's why I'm writing so little about it. I recently got a couple of LCD display modules based on the Hitachi HD44780 chip, that is the most widely used character LCD standard.

Setting up the circuit

Connection the Arduino to a LCD display module is quite easy, four wires carry the data while two more (Enable and R/S) handle the control signals. Of course you can use the Arduino digital pins you prefer to carry the task but using pins 5,4,3 and 2 for data signals and pins 12 and 11 fro R/S and Enable pin respectively will let you test the provided examples without modification. Apart from connecting wires the only extra components needed are a couple of trimmers (small variable resistors) for LCD contrast and back-light intensity adjustment. Here how the whole circuit looks like (not different from what you can find on Arduino site examples.)