Instead of giving all your data to other companies like Google or Apple, you can keep it to yourself and create your own email, address and calendar server from which you can control all your data and export it whichever way you want.
If you want an integrated solution for emails, addresses and calendar, you have two choices give up all your data to some big mega corp or setup a home server with Windows and install Exchange on it. Fortunately there are some less well-known open source alternatives to that. You can install them on an old computer that runs Linux and have a much cheaper solution than with Windows. In fact there are even solutions that work on a measly file server or NAS (Network Attached Storage). Such a device has very limited processing power and ram, but it may be enough for an open source group ware solution (that’s what email+addresses+calendar actually is).
Since a few days Zarafa is available for Synology NAS boxes with more than 256 MB RAM. Setting the machine up is relatively easy. There’s a guide on their community site.
I just had a few problems that held me up along the way:
check the permissions of each directory level up to the file and make sure it’s at least 755.
Unfortunately I realized that my machine is a bit too light for this workload. It does not have 256 MB of ram and Zarafa is not very usable, because it’s much too slow.
Free open-source software always fascinates me. You have a product that was designed and produced by an industrial manufacturer and then you have a bunch of free-minded people that just decide to take this peace of plastic — or metal — and turn it into something different; supercharging/pimping it. In an earlier post I’ve written about Rockbox, which managed to free some limited devices from their simplistic firmware and added lots of features and the ability to play all kinds of other audio formats that were not playable before because of weird music industry politics.
CHDK is a bit different in that it only adds some features to your camera and runs beside the original firmware. Like Rockbox it adds another format, in this case RAW, and it makes a whole lot of other ways to use the device. CHDK gives you more control over all details of the picture generation too and allows you a closer look at the inner workings of a camera. You can control the details of exposure and bracketing. I’m curios about how you can use another feature; scripts. You can write scripts that tell the camera when and how to make pictures. If you combine this with the motion detection, you get a pretty sophisticated camera. Maybe, I’ll use it for some timelapse experiments. It seems like that should be easy. It’s also possible to make HDR pictures (blog post in German) like this.
Installing the firmware is not soo easy, but doable. Find your camera’s installation page, download the modified firmware, extract it on a SD-card, change to playback mode, press the firmware-update entry in the menu and be happy. Upon restart the firmware is gone; it’s only temporarily loaded to memory.
I’ve made a panorama view of my sci-fi book collection. See if you can spot why is not just a simple photo of my bookcase:
Achieving this was rather more difficult than expected. I used my Canon EOS 450D on a tripod and moved it parallel to the bookcase. This is one of the differences to panorama where the photographer stays at the same spot. The effect was that the panorama software “hugin”, which worked beautifully, assumes that the pictures should be arranged in approximately an arch, e.g. like a rainbow. The other problem with my approach was that when moving the books in the bookcase their angle changed, i.e. before they leaned to the left and then to the right. Considering this I am very happy with the results :-).