About

Michael Zucchi

 B.E. (Comp. Sys. Eng.)

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Wednesday, 06 May 2015, 21:48

post google code post

Well nobody bothered to comment about the stuff i removed from google code apart from the one lad or lass who lamented the loss of some javafx demos.

I had comments open+moderated for a few weeks but got hit by spammers a couple of days ago so had to go back to id+moderated. Maybe something got lost in those 500 bits of snot but i don't think so. The spam was quite strange; most mentioned web sites but didn't provide links or weren't very readable so i'm not sure what the point was. Perhaps they're just fishing for open sites or naive moderators they can then exploit. Like the "windows computer department" that keeps calling and calling hoping i'll not tell them to fuck off every time (sigh, no i don't normally say that although i would tonight).

I've still got the subversion clones but i'm not inclined to do much with any of it for the forseeable future and i'm not even sure if i'm going to continue publishing other bits of code i play with going forward.

Desktop Java, OpenCL, ARM assembly language; these things are just not very common in the Free Software world. Server Java is pretty common but that's just, well, `open sauce' companies sharing costs and not hobbyists. So i think all i'm really doing is providing hints or solutions for some student's homework or help for graduate programmers to keep their jobs. And even then it's so niche it wouldn't be many, if any.

As an example of niche, I was looking up some way to communicate with adobe photoshop that doesn't involve psd format and one thing i came across was someone linking to one of my projects for some unfinished experiments with openraster format - on the first page of results. This happens rarely but still too often. Of course it could just be the search engine trying to be smart and tuning results to the user, which is a somewhat terrifying possibility (implications beyond these types searches of course). FWIW I came to the conclusion photoshop is just one of those proprietary relics from the past which intentionally refuses to support other formats so it's idiot users can continue to be arse-reamed by its inflated price.

It's just a hobby

As a hobby i have no desire to work on larger projects of my own or other established projects in my spare time. Occasionally i'll send in a patch to a project but if they want a bunch of fucking around then yeah, ... naah. In hindsight i somewhat regret how we did it on evolution but i think i've mentioned that before. Neither do i need to solicit work or build a portfolio or just gain experience.

I'm not sure how many hobbyists are around; anyone with remotely close to enough skill seems to be jumping into the wild casinos of app-stores or services and expecting to make billion$ and not just doing it for the fun of it. Some of those left over just seem to be arrogant egotistical fuckwits (and some would probably think the same of me). Same as it ever was I guess.

I suppose I will continue to code-drop even if it's just out of habit.

For another hobby I made kumquat marmalade on the weekend. Spent a couple of hours in the sun slicing the tiny fruit and extracting seeds (2-3 cups worth of seeds) and cooked it the next day. Unfortunately after all that effort it looks like it wasn't cooked quite enough and it probably wont set - it's a bit runny but at least it tastes good. Not sure what i'll do with 2-odd litres of the stuff though.

Tagged beagle, code, imagez, jjmpeg, mediaz, parallella, pdfz, puppybits, readerz, socles, videoz.
Friday, 13 March 2015, 13:25

ahh shit, google code is being scrapped

Joy. I guess it's not making google enough money.

I'll make a copy of all my projects and then delete them. Probably sooner rather than later (probably immediately because i'd rather get it out of the way, i have a script going now). I'm keeping all the commit history for now although i never find it particularly useful. Links in old posts may break.

Some of them may or may not appear later somewhere else, or they may just sit on my hdd until i forget about them and delete them by accident or otherwise.

Wherever they end end up though it wont be in one of the other commercial services because i'm not interested in doing this again.

I need to do the same to this blog, ... but that can wait.

Update: So ... it seems someone did notice. Don't worry i've got a full backup of everything. In part I was pissed off with google and in part I wanted to make it immediately obvious it was going away to see if anyone actually noticed. Who could know from the years of feedback i've never received.

If you are interested in particular projects then add a comment about them anywhere on this blog. All comments are moderated so they wont appear till i let them through but there is no need to post more than once (i'll delete any nonsense or spam unless it makes you look like a bit of a wanker). I will see about enabling anonymous comments for the moment if they are not already on. I can then decide what to do depending on the interest.

I will not be using github or sourceforge nor the like.

In a follow-up post i'll see where i'm going with them as well as pondering the future location and shape of the blog itself. I've already written some stuff to take the blogger atom stuff, strip out the posts, download images, and fix the urls.

(in resp to Peter below) I knew the writing was on the wall when google code removed binary hosting: it's kinda useless for it's purpose without it. This is why all my new projects subsequent to that date are hosted differently.

Tagged android, beagle, code, dusk, games, gloat, hacking, imagez, jjmpeg, mediaz, pdfz, puppybits, readerz, socles.
Friday, 24 May 2013, 11:50

on google

So google have decided to disable downloads on google code.

So I have decided to stop using it.

... although as yet I have no concrete plans or timeline for when this decision will take effect.

Whilst they claim it's about abuse, one can only assume that is just a "likely-sounding excuse" for what in reality is just another straight-up lie from the PR department of a supra-national conglomerate, and it's really just a way to cut costs and promote their 'drive' service (a useless microsoft/apple only service as far as i'm concerned).

Nobody seems to have reported that they have also gimped their POP interface to gmail a couple of days ago. No more UID support. This makes POP a lot less reliable/useful as a mail store (although in honesty it was never designed for that purpose). I proceeded to delete all the mail in gmail to help them free up some disk space.

I guess over-all the writing is on the wall. We all know that at some point 'google account' will mean 'google+', and blogger may be retired at any time.

So it seems my on-going-but-totally-lax search for alternatives to 'everything google for convenience' just got another big kick up the rump-side.

As my projects are all pretty small and low-volume I might look at a local solution because every network based solution faces the same problem. I have a couple of beagleboards doing nothing although getting a running and secure-enough system might be more pain than it's worth.

It's a bit of a pain to have to deal with.

Tagged beagle, dusk, hacking, imagez, java, javafx, jjmpeg, mediaz, pdfz, puppybits, rants, readerz, socles, videoz.
Thursday, 11 October 2012, 18:02

JavaFX USB Camera App for Linux

Well I thought of something relatively simple I can do with JavaFX to get familiar with it, and maybe even end up with a useful tool. And that is a Linux web-camera application - i.e. something like Cheese.

I've been playing with the idea for a week or so but haven't felt like hacking much for various reasons. Last night was a wild storm, and the wind, rain and hail, together with the neighbours broken gutter and hayfever, it kept me up much of the night. I thought rather than struggle painfully with work i'd struggle painfully with some of my own hacking instead ...

A few hours poking around later ...

The red button takes a picture, although it just stays in memory at the moment. Then including the dynamically generated camera controls ...

Along the way I found a bug in v4l4j which was fixed very promptly - thanks Gilles.

It will let me tie in the jjmpeg code as well, if I get that far. And maybe even socles for some OpenCL processing (might get me off my arse to fix the socles filter graph stuff). Right now it doesn't do much, but on the other hand it's an almost embarassingly small amount of code too.

Layouts

So as usual - the layouts are the bane of any GUI developer. I'm using a GridPane as the base element for the on-screen controls, but it just isn't cooperating completely. e.g. the cells aren't aligning the way i tell them to - not unless I create a single-cell GridPane and align that. I guess i'm missing something, but that's all part of the learning curve no doubt.

JavaFX vs Swing

Performance is a good bit better than swing - a simple 60Hz webcam view is chugging along at about 35% cpu in Swing (the v4l4j bundled demo), whereas JavaFX is sitting around 10%. Although it goes up fairly quickly once you add blended widget overlays.

The overlays are a lot easier to code too, as are any animations and 'flashy shit', of course.

e.g. Half an hour later and I added some animation, taking a photo has it jump down to the list below, and it then fades in.

Effects

Although JavaFX has some "FX" which can be applied to scene graph nodes, i'm not sure it will be useful here. Apart from being a bit limited, the 'pulse' and asynchronous nature of the way the result can be grabbed to the host probably means it can't be used for video processing. One can have 'off-screen' scenes I believe, although i'm not sure exactly how the timing stuff is then handled.

Actually it's a task well suited to OpenCL, so if and when I get there, i'll probably just use that. It's a pity that JavaFX wont talk to OpenCL directly and the data will have to do a round-the-world trip across the PCI bus, but at webcam resolutions it shouldn't be a big issue.

As far as a 'camera app' goes, i'm personally more interested in other types of features anyway - e.g. automatic candid shooting (such as avoiding closed eyes or turned heads) for a party, or various types of image enhancement or degradation that can't be expressed using the current JavaFX effects tree.

Video ...

Another hour of hacking ... I added video recording to it via jjmpeg. I'm using mjpeg at the moment which seems to be about the only decent 'working format' I can find (fast to encode, easy to seek, commonly readable, etc). I threw everything on another thread so it easily starts recording without a glitch (at least on the workstation). It's using about 60% cpu (of 1 core) in total on this machine to capture VGA @ 60fps (although i really need to try it on a slower machine).

If only sound was that easy ...

My thinking would be that videos are recorded using a format suitable for recording (a fixed known format, high quality, low overhead, easy to manipulate), and can then be exported to another later (e.g. using ffmpeg command line).

Actually on jjmpeg, I guess I should revisit it now FFmpeg has released 1.0, maybe the api will be stable for a while. It's on the TODO list ...

I haven't checked anything in yet but it'll probably end up in mediaz/fxperiments/CamZ eventually.

Update: So I added a separate record button and flashing text and just checked it in as is, warts and all. I put it in MediaZ as a "top level" sub-project rather than inside fxperiments. Last weekend I updated jjmpeg to FFmpeg 1.0, so I changed it to use that (and found a lot of bugs along the way).

Tagged javafx, mediaz.
Tuesday, 18 September 2012, 20:54

JavaFX Slideshow 2

I had another poke at the slideshow idea, I wanted to play with tiled transitions, how to do them and to see how well they performed.

Works pretty well with the GPU driver, but a little chunky as an applet or with the cpu driver - but here's the Applet & Web Start launcher of a canned demo. I just included 4 shots of mine in the jar to simplify loading them for a demo. It looks much better if it can keep up with the frame-rate requirements.

It's only doing random effects so sometimes they're a bit bland (and i'm not sure if the webstart version implements all effects), but some quite nice transitions come up sometimes. The only 'trick' is breaking the image up into multiple image views - i.e. just texture mapping squares of image separately. Each ImageView is just then animated separately after that. I had to create my own Interpolator as the default ease-in one is a bit flaccid for my liking - although creating a spline in your head is a bit hit and miss ...

Source is in MediaZ under fxperiments/FXSlideZ.

Update: For various reasons I had a lot of time and the inclination to poke today, so i hacked in a few more things into the code (this stuff isn't in the applet).

First I added a 'start from centre' translation transition for the block animator which leads to some particularly pleasant transitions. Then I played with smaller rectangles - it changes the feel of the animations more than you would think, quite pretty, but it quickly starts to bog down the transition setup code as the tiles get smaller. About 20x20 is a reasonable compromise although I left it at 40x40. At 10x10 it takes a couple of seconds to build the transition tables.

Finally I worked out 'mask' based transitions and hacked them in as a random option. I tried a couple of variations, rendering to a canvas, just animating a shape (text), and changing geometry (a filled arc). That should cover about every possibility one might want. It's mostly just down to getting the blend modes and layout right and making sure the end of the animation covers the whole window.

Tagged hacking, javafx, mediaz.
Saturday, 15 September 2012, 15:25

Smooth video list

Another morning hack: seeing if i can use JavaFX to display a smoothly operating user interface whilst crap is going on in the background.

I was thinking of something like the PlayTV library interface and so on, where one should be able to smoothly scroll even if the video is loading or something is busy. It sort of works on the PS3 but I/O really gets in the way there.

So here's a very rough prototype of the same idea - except here every video visible is also playing at the proper speed (sans audio again) as well.

Again: without seeing it in motion it doesn't really do it justice. The shot above is after scrolling a bit, and it shows the 'busy spinner' until the video starts playing, and then the video slowly fades in to cover it.

And this is a bit later. Everything is smooth and responsive and keeps up fine (on a beastly workstation of a couple years vintage). It runs ok even with the CPU driver, but the GPU one is much better.

I used a FlowPane for the layout, so it dynamically readjusts should one resize the window. I then manually calculate which parts of the FlowPane are currently visible, and use that to initiate the transition to loading the video. The video just restarts if one moves away and comes back, although if you knew the seek was going to work that would be possible too (libavformat cannot seek on some files, and the fallback is unpleasant).

I used jjmpeg for the decoding again, although this time I hit a problem with the way i was sending frames to the display - writePixels has to be on the GUI thread too. Got around it with a frame copy ... they're only small frames. It also has some pretty major memory leak somewhere which shows up when scrolling about ... might need to poke around jjmpeg some to track that or it could be errors in the listener code - i'm not really familiar with JavaFX callback rules yet.

With these particular videos (transcoded tv stuff in mp4), it still runs pretty smooth even if I maximise the window ... that's 8x7 ... 56 concurrent decodes and display (actually 64 when it's between rows). Less than 500% cpu on a 6-core HT machine (ok, so it's basically maxed out, but it still copes). (ho hum: if only the hardware video decoding wasn't locked away from being accessed by the customers who bought it, as it is, who gives a shit about that).

MediaPlayer

I also tried MediaPlayer but it wasn't so hot. I'm not sure if you can get it to scale the image data host-side, but without it it's pretty bad. Whilst it plays (oh and with sound, which isn't so good! I muted that) it's a lot slower (only some frames shown) and the whole GUI chunks around all over the place when you scroll: i.e. exactly not what I was trying to achieve in the first place. The scaling quality is poor too.

I'm assuming 'MediaPlayer' must be created from the GUI thread here, it seems to be doing a good bit of synchronous stuff when it is.

I also seem to have some memory leaks here too, but whatever the reason they add up much much faster than with the jjmpeg stuff.

Source

I checked it into MediaZ/fxperiments/VideoLibrary, and it needs a checkout of jjmpeg to work (Netbeans).

Update: I wasn't going to post it but I also created a really shitty video of it in action: didn't realise my camera only does 720P@24, and the aliasing of the LCD pixels is very poor. I also downed the bitrate to make it smaller. But you can get an idea of how it runs anyway.

Tagged hacking, javafx, mediaz.
Saturday, 08 September 2012, 13:32

Simple infinite canvas

Just for a laff I coded up an 'infinite canvas' thing in JavaFX.

In the back of my mind I have the idea of making a JavaFX version of ImageZ ... but I'm also not sure I could be bothered going the whole hog. Although i could dump much of the code (although no more float support), there's still a lot of crap to deal with implementing basic features like undo.

This runs faster with the CPU renderer than with the GPU one. Drawing is about the same, but if you end up with a scene with many tiles created, the CPU pans faster ... which isn't what you'd expect. It can easily gobble up the whole heap if you create some gigantic image by zooming out a long way.

I didn't originally intend to, but since it was there I also copied the applet + webstarter to the site as well. The main reason is i've not yet had any such JavaFX applets work - but since this one did, there it is. One might need the very latest JRE for it to work (1.7.0-7). Update: I couldn't get it to work on my laptop, but that might be an old firefox - it ran fine from the jar.

I also started a new sub-project `fxperimentz' in MediaZ to chuck these experiments.

Update: Oh, i forgot to check the source in, it's there now.

Tagged javafx, mediaz.
Monday, 13 February 2012, 14:40

PDFZ searching

So after finding and fixing the bug in my outline binding - a very stupid paste-o - I added a table of content navigator to PDFReader, and then I had a look at search.

Which ... I managed to get working, at least as a start:

As can be seen, it's a little flaky - mupdf is adding spaces here and there in the recovered text, and i'm not sure i'm processing the EOL marker properly (and possibly I have a bug in the search trie code too). But as I said - it's a start.

I decided to use a Trie for the search (Aho-Corasick algorithm) - because I know it's an efficient algorithm, and because I know there was a good implementation in evolution. So I grabbed an old copy from the GPL sources and modified it to work on the mupdf fz_text_span code. Thanks Jeff ;-) Basically it's a state machine that can match multiple (possibly overlapping) words whilst only ever advancing the search stream one character at a time.

I tried to copy the emacs mode of searching to some extent:

I put some code in there to abort the search if the page is changed while it's still searching (because I hooked the search into the page loader/renderer), but on the documents i've tried it on it's been so fast I haven't been able to test it ...

This is one of the first times I used JNI to create complex Java objects from C - the array of results for a given page. It turns out it's fairly clean and simple to do.

I guess the next thing is to see if i can integrate the search functionality into ReaderZ. Time to write one of those horrible on-screen keyboards I guess ...

But for now ... the weather's way too nice to be inside, so I think it's off to the garden, beer in hand ...

Tagged hacking, java, mediaz, pdfz.
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