Saturday, April 16, 2011

Migrating from Yahoo to Gmail

SLOOOWLY uploading mbox files
I won't lie.  I'm a Google cheerleader.  I've loved their search engine since the first time I tried it, I coveted a gmail address as soon as I knew they existed.  I was a fan-boy for Google Wave even though it turned out to be a highly polished turd.
What I'm really impressed with though is Google's user-data policy.  Keith Coleman, the project manager for GMail summed it up really well here:
One of Google’s core philosophies is that user data should never be held hostage. We want people to be able to take their data and do whatever it is they want with it. This isn’t something that’s really standard for e-mail services.
What he means is Google aims to make all your contacts, calendar entries, blog posts, emails and whatever other data you store in the big GCloud down into some sort of manageable format.  Without too much trouble, you can configure Outlook, Thunderbird, fetchmail or whatever email client you use to download all of your mail from Google.  If you're an email hoarder like me, it might take several days and several gigs to do this, but it's pretty simple.
Services such as Hotmail and Yahoo! aren't so friendly.  You can pay Yahoo! $20 per year for a "Pro" account that gives you the privilege of downloading your mail.  At least they allow you to export your contacts without too much trouble.
I'm on this rant mostly because Anne recently made the big switch to GMail so she can use her new Desire Z.  (Actually, my new Desire Z now that I have my Nexus One back.)  In order to take full advantage of an Android based phone, you really need a Google account for calendars,  email and to download junk from the Android Market.  She's also adopted "Ciuffo" formally in her email world.  She says it's like getting married all over again.  Aint she romantic?
Now I'm in the process of trying to migrate all of her Yahoo! information over to the big G.  The contacts went over without a hitch, but Google and Yahoo! aren't cooperating on the email export.  It's a long, slow slog to make it all work, but it's going to happen.
I was forced to download all the mail from Yahoo into mbox files and then used the fantastic IMAP Uploader utility from OZAWA Masayuki.  The contacts went a bit easier as they can be exported to a CSV that GMail can easily read.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lovely Things for Your Phone

If you have an Android or iPhone, you may have noticed that you can change the desktop image and lock screen image. I've uploaded a bunch of photos that are scaled properly for android and iphone/pod devices.  Make sure you grab the full-size version of the photo you would like.
Android Gallery 
iPhone Gallery
If you enjoy my images, leave a comment here or over on my Flickr page.
Check after the jump for instructions for downloading the image and setting a background image for your device.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Epic Phone Battle

My Nexus One died a few weeks ago and the fantastic folks at HTC UK offered to fix it for me under warranty!  I was a little nervous that they would reject the phone as I had unlocked the boot loader.  This may constitute a breech of warranty on my part.  Fortunately, the nice folks determined that what I had done to the software didn't cause the problem with the phone, but rather there was a defect in the main board.  They replaced the faulty parts and mailed it back to me.  HUZZAH!  
Or perhaps not quite HUZZAH yet.  The shipping department at HTC usually sends phones around the UK and isn't so well versed in sending phones to other countries.  Especially tax-happy countries like Norway. 
The phone wasn't properly declared as a warranty repair and the ever-vigilant folks at the post office intercepted the package and sent me a nice letter telling me that the phone was being held pending NOK 327 payment (about $60) along with NOK 730 ($137) VAT added in for good measure.  I should mention that it didn't help that HTC somehow managed to mangle my name into "Dan Crufo".  That's an entirely unique mangling especially considering I used the phonetic alphabet to spell my first and last name.
I've phoned several times and forwarded all kinds of documentation to the post office and, in theory, the phone is making its way through the postal service to me.  I'll believe it when I see it.  
Fortunately, I have a phone to use in the mean time.  So far the Desire Z that replaced the Nexus has been a pretty great phone. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Time Lapse, Intervalometers and 555 Timers

I've been experimenting my way through Charles Platt's Make: Electronics and had surprising and fantastic success building all sorts of doo-dads and gizmos.  Mostly I've made a mess of things that blink lights and sound buzzers, but I'm learning all sorts of fascinating things about discreet semiconductors and integrated circuits.  Specifically, I have very much enjoyed learning all about 555 timers.
The 555 is probably the single most produced integrated circuit ever.  As of 2003, it is estimated that around one billion of these little things are made every year.  They're super easy to use, really cheap and stand up to all kinds of abuse that I can throw at them.  They can be configured to emit a single pulse of a "programable" length (monostable mode), or can be configured to emit regular pulses at a particular frequency (astable mode).  In this case, the 555 is set up to emit trigger the shutter between 1/2 a second and every 70 seconds.

After reading about 555s and mucking about with them, I've become intrigued with making an intervalometer (a device that triggers a camera at a particular interval) for making time-lapse movies.  Unfortunately, the Olympus E-510 engineers didn't see fit to build in this function, so I had to hack out my own solution.  I found a huge variety of plans and eventually landed on a version by Azega.  It had a relatively small part count and looked pretty easy to lay out.  I made a few modifications to the circuit and my very own intervalometer was born.
I toted the setup to work and zip-tied the camera and intervalometer to the can elevator and managed to make the video below.  It's a whole day of beer production in 2:39 with some can carnage around 1:20 seconds in that's rather entertaining to watch.  Overall, my first real attempt at making a time-lapse movie isn't super exciting, but that I managed to make one at all is pretty awesome.

For some hints at making your own intervalometer and time-lapse movies, keep reading after the jump.