25 June 2007

Yahoo! Mail Storage

Saw this today on Yahoo! Mail. \0/\0/\0/ No storage limits \0/\0/\0/. Take that Gmail :p

8 June 2007

Camera RAW editors for Linux

Consider this: You have a camera that can shoot in RAW format and you are a Linux user. How do you manage/edit your RAW images on your Linux machine? Below is a quick rundown of RAW editors for Linux(I have tried only a few of them yet) which I have found over the last few days (add comment if I missed any).

Rawstudio is an open source software based on the GTK+ interface and reads all RAW format images supported by dcraw. It can export you RAW images to TIF, PNG and JPEG formats. It also supports colour management using Little CMS. Currently available version is 0.5.1 along with nightly subversion checkouts. From the releases the project looks around year old.

blueMarine is also an open source project available under an Apache License. Requires Java 5 JDK. It supports Nikon .NEF, Canon .CRW and .CR2, Adobe .DNG, Pentax .PEF, Minolta .MRW, Olympus .ORF, Sony .SRF and support for other RAW camera formats is in the plans. The latest release is 0.9.EA9.1768 and they also warn that blueMarine is in beta status. It is not intended yet for production. Please check out the project status before proceeding. Supports OpenRaw.

Qtpfsgui is basically an HDR imaging workflow GUI software. It also supports various camera RAW formats, JPEG, PNG, TIFF and PPM formats. Qtpfsgui is an open source project made available under the GPL v2 license. Uses dcraw(?).

Raw Therapee is a freeware but is uses dcraw(OSS) in the background to read camera RAW formats. Being based on dcraw it supports all formats supported by dcraw. Although loading RAW images isn't too intuitive the first time, practice to use the software brings out its features. The best thing I like about it is that changes to the raw images are listed on the left sidebar. You can always "go" to an earlier stage of the RAW image by double clicking on one of the changes in the sidebar change list.

Bibble, the much acclaimed camera RAW editor runs on Linux too. It isn't free but you can download a demo version which is supposed to work for 30 days. Full versions costs $129 (Pro) and $69 (Lite). It supports most major camera RAW formats and features fast RAW conversion, noise removal by Noise Ninja technology, multithreaded processing support, work queues, and a whole gamut of other features. Supports OpenRAW.

Just like blueMarine, Lightzone is Java based but isn't open source. Version 2.4 is available for free (latest release is v3.0) although the company does not offer any support for Linux whatsoever. I don't know if it is the Java or my machine (PIV 2.0GHz) that Lightzone had a bit sluggish response to my actions. Loading the application takes its time and so does loading a RAW image (.crw - Canon RAW). Feature wise it offers all the basic ones available in a decent RAW editor application. It also supports various colour profiles but I wasn't able to point it to my hidden color profile folder from the preferences. Its file picker doesn't seem to have a way to see hidden folders. Seems to use dcraw to read various camera RAW formats.

There are other applications which do support reading camera RAW but are either not full featured or do not focus on the single goal - camera RAW editing.

digikam, the main KDE photo library software, supports camera RAW and also supports colour profiles using Little CMS. It is able to give fast previews of RAW images (uses dcraw) but its RAW image editor is quite basic in that one has to click on the preview button to see what the effect of the changes just made was!

f-spot also supports camera RAW images and its versioning feature makes it easy to make edits without changing the original (ala a real RAW editor application).

Google's Picasa is also known to support camera RAW formats. However, as it uses Wine and Mozilla technologies to run on Linux, I wasn't even bothered to give it a try.

krita, gimp support camera RAW formats (gimp needs dcraw plugin) but they are both more photo editing applications than RAW editors. I would place krita and gimp inbetween full featured RAW editors like RAWstudio, RawTherapee, blueMarine, Bibble, etc. and photo management applications like digikam and f-spot.

I have tried RawTherapee, Bibble Pro and Lightzone2.4. Bibble looks good and I don't know if Lightzone is offering version 3.0 for Linux users. RAWstudio seems to be developing into a decent application too. dcraw looks like the library of choice with RawTherapee, Lightzone, and RAWstudio using it for camera RAW support.

2 June 2007

state.gov oblivious of Firefox?

What happens if you are a Linux user with Firefox and have scheduled a non-immigrant visa for the U.S.A? Well, you end up unable to fill up the DS-156 visa application with your computer running Linux!

After you get your appointment date fixed (online) you are informed that you need to fill up the DS-156 form (no handwritten versions allowed). But if you go to evisaforms.state.gov and you are using anything other than IE or Netscape as your browser, you are out of luck. I used Firefox (both Debian's Iceweasel and mozilla.org's Firefox) to access the page and was warned that my browser does not meet the minimum requirements. Below you can see a screenshot of the warning window.

As a matter of fact Firefox does support 128bit encryption (actually much more than that) and I also have the Acrobat Reader plugin installed (version 7.0). The problem here is the sniffing code on their website. The code just checks for IE5.0SP2 or later and for Netscape 6 or later. There is absolutely no sniffing going on for Firefox (neither Windows nor Linux) which is used by more than 10% of web surfing users (> 15% in the USA). The Acrobat plugin code is written in such a way that it will never say that your Firefox has the plugin installed.

If you carry on and fill up the DS-156 form, you will be taken back to main page without any of your form data being processed for the final pdf file. I tried to fill the form twice thinking that the first time there might be some session time limit which I over ran. Finally, I had to borrow someone's laptop with Windows OS on it and used Internet Explorer to get the form in pdf!

The result of the low quality code used for the site results in Firefox users not being able to get the .pdf for DS-156 after filling up the form. Windows users can still use Internet Explorer but Linux users are left completely helpless. How is it that US Department of State is oblivious of the existence of Firefox and that there are other operating systems than Windows too?

I wonder if Matt Frei used Firefox to setup his visa renewal appointment.