Flash Flushed

This past weekend I finally removed Flash. Adobe has declared that Flash will die this year or next, so I decided to get it done now. It's somewhat sad, as I liked the Flash panoramas, and I had some hope of playing with a Flash to do what could be done with QuickTime in LiveStage Pro. However, it died a long time ago, too,

Studying (Brazilian) Portuguese: Some Software and Sites

For a few years now, I have been studying Brazilian Portuguese since befriending a Brazilian visiting professor while I was completing my engineering degree. He is an electrical engineering professor in João Pessoa, Paraíba, Brazil, which I have visited once. The regional accent of Brazil's Northeast is sometimes called Nordestinês, spoken by Nordestinos, people who live in the northeast.

When reading Portuguese online, I usually am on my iPad and using the very nice iOS browser iCab. It has a Google Translate module that works very well.

Reading Portuguese online with Google Translate:

  • Jornal da Paraíba is a local newspaper that is well laid out with longish articles covering a range of topics.
  • FaceNewsJP has a more cluttered interface but many more articles on happening events, especially crimes and accidents, in João Pessoa.
  • BBC News | Brasil (in Portuguese) has lengthy articles on which I tend to give up then read in English.
  • O Globo is a major Brazilian media firm whose reporting tends to be conservative, according a Brazilian professor I had. Many of their articles are only for subscribers, but I find their RSS feed a good way to pick short articles of interest.

Listening to Portuguese online:

  • ReallyLearnPortuguese is a podcast that has fairly frequent interviews and conversations. If you become a paid member of the site, you gain access to their transcripts. They also have a good flash card collection through Quizlet and its iOS app. My membership has lapsed, because I'm not yet fluent enough and lack the time to benefit from it. Sadly, on 17 January, the owner of RLP passed away, so the site's future is now uncertain.
  • Rádios Brasil is an ad-supported app that lists streaming Brazilian radio stations, including a bunch from Paraíba.
  • Rádios do Brasil is a site with plenty of streaming Brazilian radio stations.

Online Study Tools for Portuguese:

  • Google Translate can help immensely. Its corpus is larger than that of any dictionary I have used.
  • Duolingo warrants special mention, since it is so comprehensive. The Duolingo app offers various drills arranged by theme or grammatical function. An optional flash card app, Tinycards, helps reinforce the drills. If you login to the site, you get the same drills as well as conversations in Brazilian Portuguese.
  • ReversoTranslation is a good bilingual dictionary, but I cannot recall the last time I used their translation tool.
  • Conjuguemos drills you on conjugating Portuguese (and other languages).
  • Conjuga-me is another tool for conjugating in Portuguese.

Software for Portuguese:

  • Duolingo offers various drills with a point system. Too many missed points, and you must either wait for points to return or do practice drills to recover points.
  • Tinycards is a flash card app that is especially bound to Duolingo's drills and conversations.
  • Quizlet is the app for the flash card website.

Updating My Site and Its Panoramas

Having recently bought a used Canon 50D with the intention of shooting panoramas again, I have begun updating my old panorama work, trying to relearn various things, and seeking alternatives to applications no longer supported. This includes the looming obsolescence of Adobe Flash by the end of 2020, which was the format I used after Apple killed QuickTime VR support. I never cared for the Java-based options.

Last night I purchased a costly upgrade to Garden Gnome Software's Pano2VR, which I used years ago before engineering studies ate all my free time and energy. Thankfully converting an old *.p2vr project to HTML 5 turns out to be quite simple. However, expecting to be able to add a few more pages to my website built with the long-defunct ShutterBug by XtraLean Software, I was only mildly surprised to find that the program's built-in FTP functionality apparently no longer works. My guess is an OS X update has crippled or blocked it, but I have not yet been able to confirm anything.

Initially I thought a forgotten password was the problem, but Yummy FTP works just fine for connecting to my site. I ended up doing some simple quick edits through it with my text editor BBEdit then a few more edits from my iPad with FTP Client Pro.

My plan is to replace all of my Flash panoramas with HTML 5 ones over the next couple of weeks while doing as little website HTML tweaking as possible, since I need to spend more time messing with C programming. I did pick up a cheap copy of Flux 6, but I haven't even opened it, and they're on at least 7 anyway. There is little benefit to learning HTML for me, so I am happy to keep with a WYSIWYG option.

BBEdit Citation

Yesterday I updated my copy of BBEdit, a Mac-only text editor from Bare Bones Software that I have been using for over a decade. I never got far with the program during my English-teaching career, but this semester the program was particularly useful to me in writing Python code for the final project in ECE 463.

After installing the update, I opened the About… window and scrolled down to find a familiar name. I cannot recall what I might have done to get on the list, or whether that is coincidentally someone with the same name, but there I am:

ENGR 297 Concluded Successfully

On Friday the 6th I concluded my last engineering course at Ivy Tech. ENGR 297 transfers to IUPUI's Purdue School of Engineering and Technology. Once the course wends its way through the registrar's office to my transcript, I will take an official transcript to IUPUI to complete the transfer.

The Matlab course was quite enjoyable, like most courses involving programming. The instructor, Dr. Hall provided practical instruction and demonstrations of problem-solving, both hallmarks of junior college courses. I was glad to complete the course with a score of 100%,

Though there is nothing left for me to transfer to IUPUI's engineering program, Ivy Tech has some courses that do interest me, especially the PLC programming courses. I will likely take some of those in the future.

Nadir Fix

For years I have shot my panoramas as 6 horizontal shots around, spaced 60 degrees apart, and one zenith shot straight up. However, I rarely bothered with the nadir shot where the tripod stands. The result was a hexagon of nothing, where the horizontals panes met but didn't come together at the nadir.

The easiest way to deal with nadir hole is to cover it with a layer bearing a logo then flatten the image. No need to align anything or tweak colors and such to make things blend naturally, as if no tripod ever existed. The few times I had set the tripod aside to shoot the ground beneath it to fill the nadir hole, I met with failure.

Tonight I took my freehand nadir shots, ran them through LensFix CI to defish them, cut out the section that would cover the hole, and used it in a layer. That layer was resized, rotated, and tweaked with the Warp tool under Edit:Transform. Then the layer's Levels are worked to get as seamless a match with the surrounding background as possible. Flatten a last time.

Surely greater competence with Photoshop would help, but I like what I've done: capped the nadir with a natural look.

Courses & iCircuit

Last week I had two tests: multivariate calculus (A) and physics (ungraded). I also registered for the summer term: CHEM111, a precursor to the required CHEM105 monster; ENGR297, which is more MATLAB; and DESN103, intro to AutoCAD, which isn't required but I want to learn to use.

This term's physics course mainly addresses electricity. While I have worked with MultiSIM and PSPICE, I have been making more use of iCircuit, which does similar things on the Mac. In particular, I appreciate its constant animation of current and voltage flow, which are indicated with animation and color indicating direction and magnitude. Very nice!

I now have the iOS version of iCircuit as well. My iPod's tiny screen is rather limiting, but the program still does many things.

LabVIEW Seminar

Some while back I received an email notification of a hands-on seminar, generously hosted at Ball Systems in Westfield, to introduce LabVIEW, software I had never used. National Instruments was sending people to provide basic instruction and seats were limited, so I signed up quickly.

The seminar opened at 9 this morning with perhaps 30 people in attendance. Two Purdue EETs sat next to me; they were both good guys who had some working knowledge of the software. The instructor repeatedly switched between talking about National Instruments' offerings and the software in question. Each table had a PC that was attached by USB to a box of data acquisition devices, including a light sensor, thermometer, and strain gauge. We used the software to collect data (DAQ, in their lingo), the collection and display of which was quite customizable. Some DAQ was tied to boolean operations to do things like cause an LED to light if the temperature went above a certain value. Very neat!

Three hours is not much time to learn how to do anything, but I now see why LabVIEW has been around since 1986. It's quite an impressive program, able to handle a huge selection of measurement devices, tweak input, output code to manage input, and more.

Conclusion: three hours well spent.

HanDBase: DB Popup to Tie Fields

After I bought my iPod, I hoped to find an iOS version of a Palm OS database I used. However, no iOS version existed at the time, so I bought two database programs: iData, which I had used for years on my Macs and with my Palm handhelds, and HanDBase, which has been around for a long time. HanDBase offers many different field types, so I tend to use it more, as in the case below.

Currently a student, I work irregularly as a tutor. I use HanDBase to keep track of who, for whom, where, and whatnot. When tax time comes around, I need to know my mileage in traveling to and from tutoring sessions. My dilemma was how to tie an easily recalled text field, like "Home<->Ivy Tech NMC" to the less-easily-recalled mileage. Thanks to the HanDBase forum, I was directed to a quite useful DB Popup tutorial.

What I did was create a second database, "Tutor_Distance," with four fields and enough records to contain all the locations where I might tutor. I filled the database with destinations and distances confirmed with Google Maps. Here are the second database's fields:

  1. Depart: text field with, for me, mnemonically friendly items
  2. From-To: float field of distances, which I've set to just one decimal
  3. Return: text field for where I leave from
  4. To-From: float field, just like the one above

In my main database file, I set the "Departure" and "Miles To" fields to DB Popups; I did the same with the "Return" and "Miles From" fields. For each DB Popup field, I chose the second database then the corresponding field, for which various settings exist; for example, how many characters from the linked field can be brought in. Then I specified two groups, which are identified in the DB Popup field: 1, for the two fields for going to; 2, the two for coming back.

I have some displays ("Views" in HanDBase parlance) to tweak, but now things are working quite well. If I need a new location, I just add it to the second database, "Tutor_Distance," and it instantly becomes an option for the main database.

The following screenshots might help illustrate what I did and how.

When I choose my "Departure" or "Return" fields in the main database, this is the window I get showing options from the database linked in the DB Popup field property. I set the linked database's text fields to display at 50% each, since I no longer need to see the actual distances.


This is what a DB Popup field property looks like: