Auto-cropping images with javascript and PHP

Entropy heatmap of an image

A couple of weeks ago, I was working on a WordPress multisite website for a client. A widget on one of the sites in this multisite install would get an RSS feed from another, and show the first post. So far so good. But the feed supplied square images for each article, while the receiving site’s design used landscape images.

Long story short: one of the first images was a portrait of the clients, and they were beheaded. Not good. So I decided to see if I could come up with a clever way to automatically crop images based on where the “action is” in the image.
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Roy | October 20, 2016 | Programming | Comments (0)
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Toshiba Chromebook 2 first impressions

Toshiba Chromebook 2

It’s been a very long time since a new Operating System got any kind of traction on the desktop market. Traditionally, it’s always been Windows, MacOS and Linux. But now there’s Chrome OS. Sure, it’s based on Linux, but it’s very different from distributions like Ubuntu. It’s easy, very very easy. Chrome OS boots in seconds, and allows you to use online services without worrying about things like drivers, updates and viruses.
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Backup bingo


A couple of days ago, I upgraded the server that runs this site. It was running an older version of PHP, and some other components could use some update love too. I’m using a SecureDragon Virtual Private Server (VPS), which allows me to create a snapshot of the server before doing stuff like this. In case anything went wrong, this would allow me to go back to the way things were that morning.
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A quick note about Keynotes

Recently, I learned about the origin of the word “keynote”, often used to describe talks at a conference or other event. Wikipedia says the following.

The term key note comes from the practice of a cappella, often barbershop singers, playing a note before singing. The note played determines the key in which the song will be performed.

I thought this made a lot of sense. A keynote address is a talk at the beginning of the event that (figuratively) sets the tone. This however also means that:
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Roy | March 31, 2016 | English,Personal | Comments (1)
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My new €70 music system may be the best I’ve ever owned

Ever since Bluetooth and streaming became popular, people have been replacing their old stereo equipment with soundbars, AirPlay-speakers and all sorts of other convenient new devices. But while many of those are very nice, this creates an opportunity for music lovers to get great sound on the cheap. Here’s what I did.

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Roy | March 21, 2016 | Gadgets | Comments (0)
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Windows 10 stuck at the lock screen? Try this.

windows10-logoLast saturday, I spent nearly four hours trying to revive a Windows 10 computer that seemed to crash at the lock screen. I tried everything, from BIOS settings to booting from an install disk and attempting repairs.

Nothing worked. The conversation turned to things like installing Linux or buying a new copy of Windows. There seemed to be no way to get this computer operational again. Just as I was about to give up I tried something really simple, and it worked.
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Roy | January 11, 2016 | English,Gadgets | Comments (21)
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Math problem: Why does this work?

gifloopcoder animation

A couple of days ago, I was playing around with Gif Loop Coder, and I set out to create an animation where a number of line segments would form a flower-like shape. You can see the effect above.

To create the flower shape, I placed a number of circles on the canvas, spaced evenly around – and touching – the center point (the dark circles above). I figured it would be hard to determine which parts of the circle to actually draw to get just the outer shape (drawn in white). But instead, I got it right on the first try, and this has been bugging me since. It works, but I don’t know why it works.
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Roy | January 4, 2016 | Design,Programming | Comments (9)
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Gifloopcoder: create wonderful GIFs with math

gifloopcoder swarm animation

A couple of weeks ago, Keith Peters (a.k.a. bit101) released Gifloopcoder. In short, “GLC” is a javascript-based coding environment for creating looping animations, and saving them as GIF files. A long, long time ago, Keith and I contributed to a book about creating Flash animations using math, and this project has a very similar feel. Gifloopcoder is tons of fun to play with.
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Roy | November 30, 2015 | Programming,Software | Comments (0)
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Lenovo, three strikes – you’re out!


I really wanted to like Lenovo. They had so much going for them. The iconic ThinkPad brand, their (often) top notch hardware and competitive pricing. All reasons why I bough a Lenovo laptop. But today, Lenovo was caught pre-installing malware on their computers. And it wasn’t the first time.
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Roy | September 25, 2015 | English,Gadgets | Comments (5)

Traveling to Hungary? This is how I got online on the cheap

The last couple of weeks, my family and I have been vacationing in Hungary. We’d booked accomodations with wifi, and we hadn’t brought any travel info with us, confident that we’d be able to use Tripadvisor, Foursquare, etc to find nice places to visit. Unfortunately, the wifi at our first vacation home turned out to be broken. This meant we had to improvise, and after a bit of shopping, I got a killer deal on a mobile 4G hotspot. So I thought I’s post it here.

Meet the Alcatel W800

Alcatel W800

I’de never seen a mobile 4G router disguised as a USB stick before, but the Alcatel W800 isn’t simply a 4G modem dongle. It’s a complete router, and the USB connector is there mostly to supply power. There’s no need to plug it into a computer. Once powered up, it’ll connect to the 4G network, and broadcast a wifi network for up to ten devices. You can log into the W800 to modify the network name, password, etc, just like any other router.
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Roy | August 3, 2015 | Gadgets | Comments Off on Traveling to Hungary? This is how I got online on the cheap
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