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Showing posts from 2015

Is It Broken? Try Leaving It On

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Recently, I’ve acquired a bunch of vintage computer hardware from various sources, whether donated to me personally or stumbled upon during scavenger hunts through crazy places that used to be companies whose owners have pretty much turned into hoarders.  It’s been quite a tedious process getting some of these things working, but surprisingly, there have been very few instances lately where my skills with a soldering iron or my cache of loose parts has actually come in handy to fix something.  In fact, most things have come back to life surprisingly by simply plugging them in and giving them some time.
Cases 1 & 2: Some Commodore 64 Computers
Last week, a kind fellow who was moving granted me three Commodore 64 computers belonging to him and his brothers.  They grew up with these machines, and had a large collection of games and utilities on floppy disk.  There were also accessories such as floppy disk drives, joysticks, plenty of power supplies & A/V cables, printers, and some …

Enough to be Dangerous: Open a different browser during a Protractor test

Those of you looking to test AngularJS apps may have particular use cases where multiple instances of the page need to be opened to simulate multiple instances of an application running.  Say you have a chat client, and you wish to simulate multiple users on different instances of the application.  Or, perhaps you want to run two separate windows so that one represents a user interacting with a service and the other represents an admin panel watching over the user.  No matter what your use case is, Protractor makes this easy.  Protractor is an end-to-end testing framework for Angular applications that integrates with the Selenium WebDriver for powerful browser automation and ties in tightly with Angular internals for very powerful testing possibilities.


A Simple Case: More of the Same
Current versions of Protractor as of this writing easily support the ability to add more browser instances of the type you defined in your configuration file's capabilities section.  Recall that your c…

Hacking TrueType Fonts For Character Information

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Those of you who have ever been curious about making your own font should know that doing so on the computer isn't easy.  Sure there are several good programs out there that can help you take your design and digitize it, but a well-made font has been crafted with much care and attention to detail by a computer scientist just as much as a designer.  Some considerations that need to be made on the technical side include, for instance, how to "hint" rendering at very large or small sizes, accounting for grayscale devices in such hinting, making characters by compositing glyphs to save on file size (e.g. fi = f + i), and dealing with different platforms and character encodings across different computer systems so the font can be portable across Windows, Mac, and others.
Now, think back to one of my long-time projects that relates to displaying text and images.  Yes, BriteBlox can certainly be capable of displaying messages set with TrueType fonts, and this has been supported i…

Observing OCR Technologies for PDF Parsing

I’ve gotten the opportunity to investigate some Java-based OCR technologies recently for the purpose of analyzing PDFs, and wanted to write about some aspects of them that aren’t very well-documented.  I hope to incorporate this into these tools' documentation at some point, but for now, here it is... in loooong prose.
TightOCR
Couldn’t get this one working at all.  Was hoping to run it on Python, but it tends to claim certain functions for parsing JPGs, TIFFs, and PNGs do not exist when obviously Tesseract on the command line knows how to handle these types of files adroitly.  It also has a dependency on CTesseract which seems not to be updated for the revised Tesseract APIs (function headers with more arguments) as updated in Tesseract version 3.03, so you have to install Tesseract 3.02 to work with CTesseract.
Tess4J
This was a real hassle to install on my Mac.  I first started by trying to compile everything from scratch and use GCC, but faced a number of weird compilation problem…

Simple Example of Mapmaking with GIS

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For a while, I have had it in mind to produce a physical map of stores and resources one might wish to go to before or during working on a project at Dallas Makerspace.  The map would consist of places one would go to procure raw materials, consumable supplies, or tools to finish a project in electronics, arts, woodworking, scientific endeavors, or you name it.  After spending a while scouring message board threads for local stores and resources previously mentioned by members, I called out for suggestions for any additional ones beyond those I scouted out.  After this, I sought out each place's address, geocoded it, and then visited each point using Web tools in order to test the accuracy of the geocoded list.

Here is a diary of my trials and tribulations throughout this journey.  Not having used GIS software before, you should know that many people have spent years building in all sorts of intricacies for dealing with many situations, from different datums one can select to orien…