Thursday, July 28, 2005

Interesting ImageGear problem

Not that I know anything about OCR, but you wouldn't really think that machine-printed characters in a TIFF file would be all that difficult to recognize. And for the most part, the Accusoft toolkit does a good job, but it has some problems with characters in a box...if the left size of the box is close to the first number, and the number happens to be -9, it will invariably drop the minus sign. After some experimentation, I found it becomes more accurate if you tell it that the box is in a zone that only numbers are in.

But that led to a fascinating issue when I attempted to run a release build, where the minus sign was still being dropped. My application is written in C++, and there is a ZONE structure exposed to set up the area where numbers are. Eventually, after I created the ZONE on the stack, I added code to initialize the struct in the same way that Visual Studio will initialize it in debug mode:

memset(&zone, 0xcc, sizeof(zone));

And now it works like a charm in release.

I suspected that a problem like this was going to come up. One of the first things I did as I was trying to get the app to work was to set the ZONE to all zeroes before I passed it to the toolkit, and this caused it to fail. I opened a ticket with Accusoft, partly since this is a bug that they should know about, but mostly just out of curiosity to find out what is working when its byte is initialized to 0xCC :)

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Friday, July 22, 2005

OnTime v6 and Source Code Control - Part 1

Looks like my new company is also very close to buying OnTime for bug tracking. I wasn't sold on it after the quick demo - it certainly seems to do everything a bug tracker should do, of course. But when I checked out the web site and found that they have their own employee blog site...that's a deal maker as far as I'm concerned!

Quality Programming - Bug Analysis

Quality Programming - Bug Analysis

Good discussion of how to prevent new bugs, based on the reporting of old ones.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Learning to use ImageGear

My first task at my new job is learning to use the ImageGear imaging toolkit from Accusoft. I skimmed through the documentation and it looks like pretty standard stuff - I've used both DirectX and LeadTools in the past so I'm fairly familiar with imaging libraries.

But I have to say the initial user experience with ImageGear is *awful*! They have a "web install" that you're supposed to use to download an evaluation copy, but the server transfers data at around 35K/Sec, and if you don't change any of the defaults you get 450M worth of stuff. It's not suspendable or anything, and every so often it stops dead to tell you that the last file failed.

As an alternative they have a downloadable "CD" install, which is the same 450M but you download it all to the desktop first. At 35K/Sec. So be prepared to wait about 5 hours from the start of the download to the end. That's where I am now. If nothing messes up I should be just about ready to try running the install.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Opening tar files in Windows XP SP2

I wonder what happened here? If you download a tar file using Windows XP SP2 and Internet Explorer, it will change the doc type to tar.tar. If you try to open it, you get a message saying "Error reading header after processing 0 entries." But the zip itself isn't corrupt, apparently. If you change the file extension to gz it will open just fine.

Friday, July 15, 2005

10 Easy Ways to Keep Me from Visiting Your Church Because I Visited Your Website

Tony Morgan has given us a great set of instructions on how not to. I have an eerie feeling he was visiting our church site when he wrote them. Our church site really needs to be reworked anyway; I wrote it using Microsoft Frontpage, which is fine, but I tried to make the site using Microsoft Themes, and that seems to have made it extremely complicated to update. My plan is to rework it, a page at a time, using only CSS and XHTML. Maybe I can get it finished before anyone tries to review it.

Soccer camp II

Soccer camp is over. I thought Jesse had terrific ball-handling skills, but his insistence on doing his own thing really stopped him from accomplishing much. Everyone always says, "Oh, don't worry, he's too young to worry about his skills, he just needs to have fun." The unfortunate bit is, he refuses to have fun! There's nothing that makes him happier than kicking a ball around with mom or dad, but get him into a group setting and he freezes up. Note that this isn't specific to soccer groups, either, so that worries me a bit. If I'd thought about goals for the camp before it started, I would have listed them like this:

  1. Have fun
  2. Interact with the other kids
  3. Do what the teacher/coach says
  4. Learn soccer rules
  5. Learn kicking skills

#4 and #5 he did pretty well. The first three were a bust. The coach would tell everyone to dribble the ball very slowly in the circle, for example. The other 20 kids would do it. Jesse would sit on his ball and watch them. Then he would run over to us for a drink.

So I don't think we got what we wanted out of it. Oh well, he'll start in a preschool in the fall, maybe that will get him to interact more.

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Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Goblet Of Fire

Yeah, well, I have a firm policy of only reviewing books that have been out for years. Plus, I was just curious to fiddle around with the Technorati tagging system. Maybe I'm finally starting to Get Technorati.

So anyway, Goblet of Fire. In preparation for the Half-Blood Prince, I've gone back and re-read the whole Potter series, which is not getting any worse with age, I'm happy to say. I'm partway through Order of the Phoenix now, and I have to say it doesn't seem even a little bit familiar, so I wonder if I've even read it. The same thing happened when the fourth one came out, and I only realized I hadn't read the third one when I went back to reread all three of them. I suppose by the time the seventh, and theoretically, final book comes out I'll have read the first one six times.

So anyway, Goblet of Fire. This isn't a real review, just a thought that I had as I was reading it about the villainous newspaper reporter, Rita Skeeter, which has to be representative of J.K. Rowlings real experiences with reporters, and like any good author she's put her own experiences into the book. Still, I think Harry's anger at the reporter putting her own spin on the stories is a little overdone - it happens constantly and for the most part, any publicity is good publicity. The exceptions, of course, are the publicity that I'm sure she's gotten tons of - Harry Potter is anti-Christian. (Note the nofollow tag I've added to that last link. I am a Christian, although a bad one, and I'm obviously a big Potter fan.) I'm sure each time a story or video like this comes out, there's a decent chance of a mailbomb or some other circumstance that will actually cause harm - not like the howlers Hermione received, but something actually harmful. But for the most part, you just have to have a thick skin about any publicity at all - and of course, any real issues you have with the reporting can be discussed on your blog!

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Monday, July 11, 2005

Soccer camp

Took the little one to soccer camp today. He'll be doing an hour a day for the whole week. They've apparently signed some British players? coaches? college students with nothing better to do? to run the camps. Today, they played Cowboys and Indians, Ghost, and a drill where they kicked the ball until the leader shouted the name of a body part, then they put the body part on the ball. The kids enjoyed it for the most part - one kid was scared of the Ghost, and a few kids here and there weren't really participating. Jesse would be in this category. He started out trying some things, but he will insist on picking up the ball, and he's generally more interested in doing his own thing than going along with the group. He's a chip off the old block in that respect to be sure - he's probably more like me than is good for him. He wasn't too excited about going back tomorrow, but we paid cash and he's going...we did bribe him with an ice cream, and took him to a soccer field afterwards to try to digest everything. I hope he participates more tomorrow.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Since I'm changing jobs, I'm taking last week and next off. We went to Chicago for four days last week; very disappointed in Amtrak. We thought it would be fun to take a train from Indianapolis to Chicago, so we went to the Amtrak website and bought tickets online. When we got to the station we presented our tickets and the lady said, "oh, that's the bus. You board over there." But really taking the bus wasn't bad; it wasn't terribly crowded on the way up so we got to walk around and stuff. Not nearly as nice as a train car would have been though. We stayed at the Essex Inn, which has some pretty cheap rooms. I can't believe hotels in this day and age don't all have wireless Internet though, so I lugged my laptop there and back for not much reason. So what did we do?

  • Field Museum - pretty good, but their regular exhibits are starting to fall apart - they must be putting all their money into special exhibits.
  • Museum of Science and Industry - turning into a trip highlight and the new submarine exhibit is really nice. Cathy the Nurse Practitioner really enjoyed the new "Bodies" exhibit, which consists of actual cadavers on display with some kind of plastic gelled into them to make them pretty. Pretty grotesque, I thought. One of the displays had on a white cowboy hat and a notation - "Wearing a hat to show the very slight difference between life and death". I think I would have rewritten it as, "Wearing a hat because, well, we could."
  • Shedd Aquarium - Cathy would probably call it a highlight but it's never a total thrill for me. Some of the big fish and the huge anaconda were pretty cool. The dolphins did some nice jumps in their show.
  • Children's museum - it's on the Navy Pier, which we discovered you can't walk to from the south side of the Chicago river. We had to walk nearly a mile out of our way to find it. The exhibits are fairly nice, but we wanted the little one to have lots of large-muscle activities in order to tire him out for some grownup museums. The exhibits were more of the sit-down-and-play-quietly type.
  • Architectural walking tour - very well done and we will take many more. At one point the guide commented on the evil minorities who sued the city over Millenium Park, and the wonderful industrial leaders who stepped up with replacement money. I refrained from asking if she was an actual schill.
  • Adler Planetarium - not bad. I always think it's not a real planetarium unless they have a live guide and a little globe that makes glowing dots on the ceiling, which apparently shows my age. We went to the "Stars of the Pharoahs" Omnimax show, which was pretty good I guess, although I never go to Omnimax shows.

So our feet were hurting by the end of it. We came back on the bus, and this time it was absolutely full and not much fun, but we got the requisite T-shirts and some other souveneirs. Chicago is great fun. I can't wait for the little one to be old enough to do some nightlife.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Change is good

After 4 1/2 years, it's time for me to leave Interactive Intelligence. It's still a great company to work for, but I'm ready to move on and try some new things. In a couple of weeks, I'll start work at Pro-Solv, a medical imaging and reporting software company. I'll be looking forward to it!