Card Wiper

When I looked around for a program to test Compact Flash memory cards I found a good free one. The program is from a company I wrote about before, DataRescue makers of PhotoRescue. You can get a copy at the bottom of the PhotoRescue Expert download page. This is a very dangerous program, not only can it permanently delete CF card data, it sure looks like you could wipe your hard drive if you set it wrong. Please be very careful with CardWiper and heed their warning on the page.

Card Wiper is a dangerous program: remember, the data you wipe is gone forever. Use it at your own risk! If you have ANY question about CardWiper, you probably should not be using it!

Now that you’ve been warned, I can say I highly recommend this program for its test function. I had to set the “Media access mode” to “Physical drive” in the options dialog before I could select my card reader. Once that was done it was easy to run a good write/read test of my suspect CF card.

Expelled reactions

Randy Olson, creator of the excellent documentary film Flock of Dodos, has weighed in with a post and a lively debate in the comments, Meet Ben Stein, the New Spokesman for the Field of Evolution. I was particularly impressed with JuliaL’s comment in that thread.

Extremely effective as propaganda.

I went to see the movie this weekend because I can’t expect to have any credibility in discussing it with my church friends if I haven’t seen it.

I’m comfortable with the context of witty debate, and, viewed as part of that context, Myers and Dawkins were clever and surprisingly mild-mannered.

I’m also familiar with the context of conservative Christian conversations about religion, and in that context, Myers and Dawkins look cold, callous, arrogant, and hateful.

Myers takes something that the audience treasures as the most valuable element of their lives, the source of comfort in pain and tragedy, the source of the ethical and social systems they live by, and compares it to a trivial hobby (accompanied by ad by an old clip of an ugly, foolish-looking woman knitting). The very off-handedness of his comment reads as a powerful insult. The method by which one is dealing with the death of a child, the way in which one makes life-altering decisions, all a trivial hobby? That doesn’t come across so much as a put-down of religion as a dismissing of the pain, hopes, and lives of the people themselves.

As a Christian who is entirely comfortable with the scientific Theory of Evolution, I hope that very few of my fellow church members see this movie because I think its effect may be hard to counteract. I’m sorry to see today so much scienceblog discussion focused on money – for the fundamentalists, this is an investment in missions, not a source of income – and so much less focused on what a powerful tool this movie is for turning a religious person who has known and cared little about the evolution/ID struggle in public schools into a determined advocate for ID.

Sadly I think she’s correct about the reactions to the film by conservative/fundamentalist Christians, I recommend you read the whole comment

Michael Shermer received a letter demonstrating some of the harm Expelled is doing by spreading lies. Richard Dawkins wrote a wonderful reply, ‘Open Letter to a victim of Ben Stein’s lying propaganda’

A young Christian wrote an interesting post, Expelled, or Why I Won’t Be Seeing It.

Blake Stacey has put together a list of people actually harmed in the evolution/creationism wars in his post, Creation, Power and Violence.

Scientific American has many articles about Expelled, here are two to get you started. Ben Stein Launches a Science-free Attack on Darwin and Six Things in Expelled That Ben Stein Doesn’t Want You to Know.

Peter Manseau wrote a review for Science & Spirit magazine, Is I.D. Ready for Its Close-up?

Blue Collar Scientist has quotes and links for Some Expelled Reviews.

Skeptico comments on Ben Stein’s appearance on the Craig Ferguson show, What’s Ben Stein Smoking? Seriously, has Ben lost all his brain, expecting evolution to explain things in other unrelated fields of science, WTF!

An odd definition of what is pure science

Someone posted a few good links pertaining to the time_t year 2038 problem and an engineer posted the following statement. (PIC refers to Microchip’s PIC family of micros)

THIS is a perfect example of how pure science affects the PIC world.

WTF, he thinks the creation of a computer programming data structure is pure science! This engineer has absolutely no idea what science is, sigh. What he should have said is, this is a perfect example of how large computer programming affects the PIC world. Conflating large computer programming with pure science is ridiculous.

Processing my digital photos part 2

In part one I started describing my work flow for handling digital photos and gave my reasons for developing and using it. This part starts off by inserting a new step in my previously described standard work flow. Before making the image files read-only I now add information to the EXIF data contained in the files. Adding information at this point in the work flow ensures that title, location, etc., info will stay with the photo through all edited versions and copies.

While a quick look might make you think EXIF is a nice consistent standard, my research quickly made me realize this is not the case. EXIF is so flexible that it is more appropriately thought of as an un-standard like PCB Gerber files (RS-274). As with RS-274, EXIF is so flexible that it is not practical for any one program to be able to handle all the possible variations.

The best solution I found for handling the majority of variations in this image metadata is ExifTool by Phil Harvey. This tool set is a Perl library and command line program that can manipulate nearly any piece of EXIF data. While a command line tool is very handy a GUI shell is often desirable and one is available for ExifTool at the HBx Hobbypage. The program, ExifTool GUI, gives you a file manager type interface that makes it even easier to edit EXIF image metadata.

I start off updating the EXIF data by batch adding information like artist and copyright using the command line ExifTool. The GUI tool gives me a shortcut for using the command line tool, when you right click the image’s directory you can select the “Open Command Window Here” item (AFAIK, this capability comes from Windows it isn’t a custom bit exclusive to the ExifTool GUI app). Selecting this menu item gives you a command prompt already located in the image directory ready to accept the command with parameters.

As a time saving shortcut I keep a little text file that has examples and previously used parameter sets. I construct a new command line or copy a previously used one from the text file and paste it into the command window. Here’s an example of a command line I’ve used to mass update image metadata.

"C:Program FilesEXIFtoolexiftool.exe" -Artist="Paul Hutchinson" -Copyright="Paul Hutchinson" -City="Disney World" -Province-State="FL" -Country-PrimaryLocationName="USA" *.jpg

Pressing enter updates all the images in the directory with this new/changed metadata in one quick command. The next step is to update the unique information like the image description using the ExifTool GUI program itself. If some images use the same data (e.g. exposure/composition variations deserving of the same title) then I use standard multiple selection techniques before activating the data editing function.

Once I have all the EXIF data updated, it’s now time to set the read-only attribute of the original image files so that they don’t get accidentally overwritten. The fast way I use is to press Control-A to select all the files in the ExifTool GUI and then press Alt-Enter to open the the standard Windows multiple file properties dialog box. When the multiple file properties dialog opens the “Read-only” checkbox is already in focus so, all I need do is hit Spacebar to mark the checkbox and then hit Enter to change all the selected files to read-only. This is easier to do than to describe in writing, after you’ve done it a few times it will become a fast four keystroke/combination keystroke operation (Ctrl-A, Alt-Enter, Spacebar, Enter). If you don’t or can’t get into the groove of using this quick keyboard operation, then give up on ever being efficient with computers and go ahead and click your way through the process using that killer of UI efficiency the mouse ;-). As an aside why can’t every computer user just stop clicking for Copy/Cut/Paste operations and just use the so much more efficient Ctrl-C/Ctrl-X/Ctrl-V keyboard combinations instead :-).

The next step is to convert the image files to a loss less format in preparation for editing (Note, ExifTool does not alter the image data so, even though technically it’s re-saving a compressed format, there is no data loss). For this conversion step I use PaintShop Pro’s batch conversion feature and its loss-less PSPimage file format. First I select all the originals in the PaintShop file browser (organizer in new versions) then select the “File-Batch Process…” menu item. This opens the batch process dialog with all the files listed in the “Files to process” list box. I set the “Save Mode:” to “NewType” and in the “Save Options” I select PSPimage in the “Type” drop down list and set the “Folder” to the root of particular images sub-directory structure (e.g. D:My Pictures2008-04-19). Finally click the “Start” button in the dialog and watch as the files are converted and copied to the new location.

With the files now in a safe format I can edit away to my hearts content knowing that if I screw things up royally I still have my originals to start over with. That’s all for part two in the series, part three will cover how I take the edited pictures the rest of the way to web/CD albums for others to enjoy.

911 troofers pop up on an engineering list again

Here’s an exchange from an engineering mail list.

Yes and what about WTC7? There was no airplane attack on that 47 story
building and it went down in the classic controlled demolition style!
You should not need more than one of these wakeup “Aha’s” to doubt the whole
official story!
Its a question of honor for engineers to be above the unwitting when it
comes to the manipulation dosed out to the masses!

Another engineer posted this nicely done response.

I was once very concerned with the facts about WTC7

Now, I have seen a large body of evidence that convinces me the building WAS
hit very hard by one of the towers on the side opposite the standard
pictures you are shown and was about to come down with or with out any
fires. The fires were also NOT minor, but from the outside, may have
appeared to be so.

http://www.debunking911.com/pull.htm is a very good site with most of the
facts.

I responded with this comment.

Good reference …, another one I like for the Larry Silverstein “Pull it”
quote is:
http://wtc7lies.googlepages.com/larrysilverstein%27s%22pullit%22quote

I expect there will be an increase in the conspiracy theories about WTC 7
over the next few months. The draft of the NIST WTC 7 report is due out this
July and the final report should come this fall. Once the report is out, it
will be much harder to get people on board with the conspiracy theories. Of
course the 9/11 conspiracy theorists will never go away, recently I stumbled
across a new conspiracy theory for the President Lincoln assassination,
sigh.

The original nutcase responded with this diatribe [Bold emphasis mine].

Im frightened by the prevalence of people that take any shortcut to thinking
for themselves, people that overcome their doubts because of brown peer
pressure
, and people that buy into the stereotypes projected by the
liberally corporate media that has replaced government that paints humans
brave enough to speak up with scarewords like ‘conspiracy loons’ and then
takes you to lala land with false moonlandings alien ufo coverups, etc. …
The average beer bozo then is distracted enough to take the bait and go on
about Lincoln, Kennedy and you name it whatever far from the issue at hand!
Fascism!
Hey I reviewed it again today who can argue it more bullet prove and
impartial then ‘Architects and Engineers for 911 truth’ with “How The Towers
Fell”
Watch it if you are ready to know the Matrix!
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3118021782753292874

Wow this guy is not just a 911 Troofer but also a bigoted racist. Two bad tastes that combined make me taste vomit. Who can argue with a group of conspiracy minded architects with no experience in skyscraper engineering, demolition and fire fighting? Everyone with a brain in their head.

Good stuff from the blogs I read and an admin note

First the administration note, do to blog spam driving me nuts I’ve decided to close the comments on old posts that attract blog spam. If you encounter an older post with closed comments that you would like to contribute to, send me an email using the address that is at the end of every page at my main site. Assuming your contribution is relevant I’ll manually add it to the comments of the post for you. If it’s irrelevant I’ll reply explaining why I am not posting the comment.

Now for the good reads from the blogs I read:

Blake has posted an excellent round-up of the real discrimination going on in the ridiculous ID/Creationism vs. Science non-debate. Science After Sunclipse » Creation, Power and Violence

I mentioned it in previous post but now the NCSE has fully launched their Expelled Exposed web site. Check it out for the excellent information on the topic.

Bob’s post this week is a must read for anyone involved in hiring IT consultants, The Truth About IT Consultants.

Via Mark from the Denialism blog I wound up at this three part series, Contrary imaginations. – By Daniel Engber – Slate Magazine.

And last but not least, Tim’s post Scientists 2, Teens 0, Journalists -2, points out the two silly reports this week trying to make it seem like kids are smarter than adult scientists. Please people, join the reality based community and keep your rational thought processes in place. Contrary to what TV wants you to believe, it is extremely rare for a child to make a useful contribution to the advancement of knowledge. In fact other than Emily Rosa I can’t think of a single case and her contribution was not a giant breakthrough on a complex topic just a bright child pointing out that some of adults are too easily falling for magic tricks and thinking they are real.

DLL Help Database Search

Microsoft has put a DLL Help Database up on the Help and Support site. This is a really handy way to get information on DLL’s and EXE’s that you aren’t familiar with but may be a normal part of Windows. Previously I would use a Google search to find this kind of information with highly variable results. Having an authoritative database from the vendor will be a huge time saver.

Hat tip to IntelliAdmin.com.

An Engineer's Logical Disconnect

This passed by me on an email list and frankly I’m not shocked to see this particular logical disconnect. (Emphasis mine)

I once had a vacation canceled because all 150 of the high tech switching power supplies that had been 100% qualified at 50C for 24 hours were shipped to the integrator where all 150 failed spectacularly near simultaneously after 72 hours at 40C.

The fault was an opto isolator in the current feedback path. It was a an expensive full mil spec part specified for 5000V RMS AC, but carried no DC rating. At 500VDC …

This was a supply design that had been rigorously reviewed and subjected to extreme testing…

That is NOT a rigorous review when you don’t pay attention to the specifications for a part in your design! Sadly I’ve encountered these kinds of problems far too many times in the past 25 years. It seems to be a common problem that engineers will say they’ve made a careful review of a design and when I review the design I find they either failed to read or ignored a components specification. I’ve seen this exact mistake on switch applications where AC vs. DC operational differences are missed or ignored. IME, a more commonly ignored specification is component operating temperature range, it seems many people think that all electric components have no lower limit on operating temperature, RTFM!