Resizing Picture Script for Linux

The following bash script is for resizing directories of .JPG images. Its got its basics from this months Linux Format (UK) and has been written on SuSE 9.1 though there is no reason why it wont work on any Linux system with bash installed.

Copy and paste the following code into a text editor and save it as something like pictureresize.sh

#!/bin/sh
counter=1
root=pic
resolution=1152x864
for i in `ls *.JPG`;
do
echo "Now working on $i - Resizing to $resolution"
convert -resize $resolution $i ${root}_${counter}.jpg
echo "Image Done - ${root}_${counter} "
counter=`expr $counter + 1`
done

You can changed the variable root to whatever you want your pictures to start with and similarly with the resolution.

Once this is done open up the console and type:

chmod u+x pictureresize.sh

then,

./pictureresize.sh /home/user/photos (or whatever directory of images you want to resize.

You should see an output something like:

pwhite@linux:~/photos> ./pictureresize.sh /home/pwhite/photos/
Now working on 000_0058.JPG - Resizing to 1152x864
Image Done - pic_1

SuSE Linux 9.1 Review

I've had SuSE Linux 9.1 Professional (here) running for about a month now, it's a good step forward from version 9. As usual it's fixed lots of annoyances but created more.

SuSE Linux 9.1 comes in two flavours, the Personal edition (RRP ?24:95) and the Professional edition (RRP ?64:99). The Professional edition also comes as an update (RRP ?42:95) and a student version (RRP ?42:95).

The Personal edition comes on one CD and is aimed at the first time user for Linux. It has a limited number of packages compared to the Professional and normally contains one program for a certain task, for instance Konqueror (here) is the only web browser included. The Professional edition on the other hand comes with a much wider range of packages including server and development tools.



As of last week the Personal edition can be downloaded for free as an ISO image directly from SuSE (here) this is an unexpected first for SuSE but a welcomed one. SuSE 9.1 Professional can be downloaded for free as usual through an FTP install. There is also a live CD version of the Personal edition which can be downloaded for free from FTP.

Installation

As soon as the SuSE 9.1 DVD boots you get the nice graphical installer of YaST (Yet Another Set-up Tool). The first screen you get once it has loaded is to select you're language, after that SuSE automatically detects settings for you but allows you to change them if you wish. It's a good idea to keep an eye on what YaST is doing especially for partitioning and package selection.

YaST handily allows you to resize Fat32 and NTFS partitions, while it's been reported that there has been a bug with this and the 2.6 Kernel I risked it anyway, luckily there were no problems. Once you have confirmed all you're settings the installer goes on to copy all the packages to your hard drive, this for me took about 30 minutes.

Once done the installer reboots and leads you on to a number of steps including user accounts, network configuration, on-line updating and device configuration. Most were pretty self explanatory or could be left and changed at a later date.

Once finished you automatically login to your account and the KDE (here) desktop is loaded. I prefer not having to login to a machine especially when it's a home machine and you're the only person using it.


here

In my view the installation process it about as easy as you can make it compared with any other OS including Windows. It's not the quickest or shortest installer compared to some Linux distributions but it does cover the most options in the simplest way.

I have read in quite a few reviews of SuSE 9.1 that they think the post-installation is too complex especially with the network and devices but SuSE does attempt to configure everything itself and only if the user knows what they are doing do they need to edit these settings.

Look and feel

As usual SuSE have done well in making the desktop as nice as possible especially in KDE. It doesn't look as slick or smart as Fedora (here) but is friendly and makes the desktop feel welcoming which I prefer. A nice mountain picture is put as default on the desktop with some interesting squares giving the picture more of a design.


here

The menu has been categorised into different sections just as most distributions do, the menu looked better on higher resolutions as it tended to spread itself across the screen too much on the lower ones.

SuSE also has a nice theme for OpenOffice (here) which makes it fit in nicely with KDE. It doesn't look so good in Gnome (here) however SuSE isn't normally the first choice for Gnome users. I will point out that significant changes have been made with Gnomes look and feel but some things still look misplaced such as the YaST icons.

I also noticed that when you double click on the title bar of a window it maximises or minimises it rather than hiding or showing the window below similar to what you get in Windows. I personally prefer this as I quite often change between OS's depending on what I'm doing.

The desktop has an icon called my computer, inside are shortcuts to CD drives, floppy drives and Windows partitions, yet there are no links to the home directory or root directory. Unfortunately you can not write to this folder so any configuring cant be made. SuSE could go as far to put links to YaST and KDE control panel in here.


here

Configuration

YaST does the majority of the day to day configuration that you're going to be needing. Settings from RPM installations to tweaking devices are covered here. It does a fairly good job of most things but it's not as fast as Mandrakes (here) control centre.

Most of my hardware worked straight away but not all. I was hoping that my Netgear USB wireless adapter would have been set-up for me, unfortunately not. It was however nice how when you plugged in a USB hard drive or memory stick it would automatically mount it and add it to My Computer.

My BT848 TV card was detected as usual but YaST fails to configure it properly, for one it doesn't include support for Pal-I, used in the UK and second I couldn't get any sound from the card. It's not surprising how old the card is but it's not much good watching a black and white picture with no sound.

SuSE's on-line update provides the latest patches and certain other downloads which aren't available for licensing issues on the CD however they tend to be security related rather then program updates.

Applications

The Professional edition comes with a full range of programs and a few nice new ones. Two must have programs ? Firefox (here) and Thunderbird (here) have now been included which I personally found good.

The audio manager Juk has also been included with this release of SuSE, it's quite nice but it would be good if it supported video and mp3 streams.


here

SuSE 9.1 also includes the database application Rekall and the text processor and spreadsheet applications Textmaker and Planmaker.

The media players Xine (here) and Kaffeine are also included but don't come with any codecs so are practically useless. Not to include DVD support is fair enough because of licensing issues but the majority of other codecs (Xvid etc) are available often for free distribution. Even if they could not be distributed for legal reasons they could be offered though YaST's on-line update similar to the way the Nvidia drivers or Microsoft's fonts are distributed.



I had considerable problems installing Xine for reasons I couldn't work out, in the end I settled for Mplayer thanks to some RPMs found on here. This is by far the best site for SuSE RPMs on a range of programs.

There are a couple of programs I would want to see added to future releases of SuSE Linux, one would be AMSN (here) simply because it is the best MSN messenger clone available and the other would be Mplayer as a Xine alternative.

XMMS is included as the default audio player but it seems to have issues when minimising as the components do not minimise with it. Whether this is a XMMS or SuSE bug I couldn't be sure.

Conclusion

SuSE 9.1 is an improvement but as I said in my opening line it's a step forward on one front yet a step back on another.

The biggest improvements are definitely in the GUI and the surrounding images that support the overall look of SuSE 9.1. It's package selection is also becoming better and more refined, new packages are being added and the range of commercial programs available is much better then the majority of distributions.

Overall I liked SuSE 9.1, I personally prefer it over Mandrake and Fedora for ease of use and features however hardware support is still lacking in some areas and stability isn't perfect.

Reviewers System

Pentium 4 ? 2gig
768mb DDR
120gig Hard drive
ATI Radeon 9600

Last Edited 27/06/04

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Legal UK Music Downloads

Last week Roxio's Napster(here) launched in the UK for the first time as a legal music distribution service. Napster is one of many legitimate music site entering into the increasingly crowded market.

The most popular legal on-line music company currently is called On Demand Distribution (OD2) (here). This service is behind some of the big on-line music brands including My Coke Music, Ministry of Sound digital downloads, Virgin downloads, MSN music and HMV downloads.

I subscribed to the HMV (here) download site just over a month ago to check out the content and quality of service available. I choose HMV over the others at the time mainly because the site layout was the best, for instance the Ministry of sound site uses an awkward frame and the My Coke Music site seemed to cluttered. Other than they they all follow a similar design and serve the same content.

There are two different ways to purchase music through HMV, the first is through buying individual tracks similar to the way Apples iTunes (here) works, tracks start at about 99p and increase in price depending on the song. The second way to purchase tunes is through a subscription which is what I chose. The subscription offered is ?4.99 a month which entitles you to 500 credits per month.

The credits then let you do various things for instance to ? stream ? a song (listen to it once) normally costs 1 credit (roughly equivalent to 1p), to download a song costs 10 credits and to be able to permanently download a song so that you can burn it to a CD costs about 100 credits. Songs that are downloaded for 10 credits can only be listened to while you are subscribed to the service.

In my view the payment model is not very flexible, its certainly not over priced but say I wanted to purchase some extra credits one month I would have to order a second ?4.99 monthly package. There is no way to purchase an extra number of credits or choose my own monthly number of credits.

Some people may be more than happy just to pay for extra credits when needed (in blocks of say 500) when they ran out instead of the monthly charge. Currently only credit cards are accepted (Visa and Mastercard etc), no debit cards (Switch Solo etc) are accepted which does limit the audience to only people with access to credit cards.

For a music site to be successful clearly what is important is the content rather then the pricing model. I have looked quite carefully into various different on-line download sites including E-music (here) and Napster for the music I'm interested - dance/trance.

E-music does the annoying thing of classing dance under the more American title of ?Electronic? music while Napster classes Usher and Beyonce as their most important dance artists which probably also shows the lack of research for the European market.

The HMV site does a bit better here by having a ?Dance? section but doesn't go as far as splitting this category down more into its sub sections. Napster does split the categories down into more detail but still seems confused as to what should go where. It almost seems as more of an attempt to fill an empty category then to insert good content.

To test the content on the HMV site and Napster I took this weeks top 10 (from the BBC's website here) and searched for these tunes on both sites. From the HMV site (OD2) I found 6 out of the top 10 songs of the week while on Napster I found 8 out of 10.

Napster certainly seemed better for HipHop and other more American music while the content provided by OD2 did have a lot more dance but had a certain amount of the content Napster had. In a way deciding which service to use goes hand in hand with the type of music you enjoy. When searching for music I found that the HMV site came with better results for what I was searching for than Napster, though both services have to go a long way to get better library's of music.

Napster had a better way of cataloguing their content then OD2 and searching was significantly faster, both services I didn't think were good at helping you discover new artists. Something simple that showed you what new content had been added in the various sections that week would be more than enough to help you discover new music.

iTunes is the only service to offer a client for an alternative operating system to Windows, Napster installs its own client and the HMV site will only work in Microsoft's Internet Explorer which is restricting for people who use alternative browsers.

Personally I found the HMV site to be better overall for what I wanted, its not as polished and sleek as Napster and isn't a big a brand as iTunes for on-line music but for content it was the best in my opinion. The service is far from perfect and until you can find any chart song, whether it be from the pop chart or dance chart then people will still use the illegal downloading sites.

Linux User and Developer Expo 2004

The yearly show at Olympia in London on the 20th and 21st April allows all the big Linux backers to show off all their latest Linux products and services. The show had over 100 participants including companies such as IBM, Sun, Red Hat and SuSe. I visited on the Tuesday afternoon after travelling from the Midlands on the trains.

The following are some of the photos I took from the day of the various exhibitors:

(here)

One of the main features of the day was a helicopter which demonstrated Linux running a flight simulator. It was a nice touch even if it was just running from a desktop pc with a standard joy stick.

(here)

Here's maybe a slightly better angle of the chopper where you can see the screen and the queue. While I didn't personally have a go at the flight simulator is certainly was one of the most interesting features to watch.

(here)

The next stand I visited was for SuSE/Novell (here) who where showing off SuSE 9.1 and had been giving talks throughout the day. While you couldn't actually get a copy of SuSE Linux 9.1 you could get SuSE's year old Desktop Linux fortunately the the well manned stand said that 9.1 would be available within the next month.

(here)

Further round the show was the Red Hat (here) stand, in this case with a packed audience all eager to see the advantages of the latest enterprise products available.

(here)

Next to the Red Hat stand was the Sun (here) exhibit, while they were very clear to promote Java and the Java Desktop environment I didn't see anything about OpenOffice (here) or StarOffice.

(here)

Here's another view of the Sun stand looking over the Red Hat exhibit. There is even a queue to get into the Sun Stand at this point.

(here)

Next to the entrance was the rather big IBM (here) stand.

(here)

Another view of the IBM area with plenty on demonstration.

(here)

Down stairs was the well named .org village ? well named cause it was small. A number of exhibitors including KDE (here), Gnome (here), Scribus (here) and Gentoo (here) were packed into this area showing off what they had to offer. Most included just a laptop running the advertised application however some such as KDE had leaflets on a range of information to do with KDE.

(here)

Most of the stands wern't selling anything directly apart from the UKLinux (here) stand which had plenty on offer. It should be noted that UKLinux were also responsible for sponsoring the .org village making it possible for many of the smaller organisations to have a stand.

(here)

The Debian (here) stand was also selling and giving information about some of their releases.

Over all it was a good day out, it only took a couple of hours to look round the show and I will say I was expecting a bit more. It was worth the travel (even if the trains were delayed both ways) and I hope to go again next year.

A message from our affiliates

The future is going have more people that work at home . Already there are number of online home business options that are flourishing. One can easily find increasing number of people making money from internet advertising . If you are planning to or already into online business then make sure you have done search engine optimization for your website and search optimization as well. Because both these will make your webpage visible in the first few results. Ultimately you will have the traffic that generates revenue.

On-line Spam ? How To Stop It?

Junk e-mail costs UK business millions of pounds a week in wasted time yet the government seems to be making little or no progress towards making it illegal. Both the EU and US have drafted up laws but experts say none go far enough to prosecuting the sources of spam.

Spam e-mails can be anything from saying you have a free university diploma, an approved loan or cheap viagra. E-mails like this are very cheap to send and normally cost the receiver more in time then the sender.

Similar annoyances through mail and telemarketing have strict guidelines as to what can or cannot be marketed and in what quantities but there are no laws or guidelines for e-mails. This is why your 12 year old child can be getting emails about extending body parts. There is currently no law against this which for many organisations and people is outrageous.

One organisation against fighting spam is CAUCE - The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (here). They are primarily based in the US but have ties around the world to help stop spam. While they recognise that a large proportion of spam comes from the US but not all, is why legislation around the world needs to be put into place to stop spam.

Some corporations have taken an active role in trying to stop junk e-mail, one being Microsoft who have pledged to fight spammers. Microsoft have come up with various ideas, one being reported by ImAFish's Jonnie Ashley which suggests emails use a similar system to normal mail.

Until governments take an active role in fighting spam by making it illegal the option left to users involve filtering out junk mail. There are various programs about some are dedicated mail filters and some are built into mail clients.

One program is Mozilla Thunderbird (here) which has a built in junk mail filter which normally gets about 90% of spam. For the emails the Junk mail filter does not get you can set-up separate filters for words such as vi@gra and phrases such as ?approved credit card?.

Microsoft Outlook users can also configure their program to filter out junk email. Microsoft also provide a list of commonly used words in spam messages, these can be seen at here.

Programs such as Mail Washer (here) are also good at stopping junk email from reaching your in-box. However they are not always free and you often have to pay for the best features. .

Virus's are also a big program for e-mails, one of the fastest ways that virus's spread are through e-mail which is why a good e-mail client is useful for filtering out virus's.