Wikipedia:Reference desk/Archives/Computing/2013 February 13

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February 13[edit]

Laptop is not working[edit]

My laptop is a Dell Inspiron 5250 running Windows 7. This morning, I booted it up and I got "A disk read error occurred. Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete to enter recovery.". Unfortunately, my laptop did nothing when I pressed Ctrl+Alt+Delete, as in nothing happened. This happened once before, maybe a month and a half ago, and after I let it sit powered off for a while and booted it back, it worked. How do I fix this? — Melab±1 01:17, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

1) Do you mean the hard disk ? Did you try just a reboot ? (If holding down the on/off button doesn't do it, try pulling the battery and unplugging it.) However, assuming you mean the hard disk, this is a bad sign. I suggest immediately backing up everything of importance to flash drives, etc., in case that hard disk fails. You might also want to have a USB hard disk with an operating system on it, ready to go, in case the hard drive fails. StuRat (talk) 16:19, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes, the error message means the hard disk and I've tried a few reboots. How do I ack it up if I cannot boot into it? This has happened before, and it worked after like a day or two, strangely enough. — Melab±1 18:40, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
You can pull the hard drive out of the laptop, connect it to a desktop computer, and see if it can be accessed. If it is accessible, you can do a backup and run all sorts of tests on it to check whether it's nearing its expiration or if it's in perfect health (in which case something other than the hard drive is causing you problems).—Ëzhiki (Igels Hérissonovich Ïzhakoff-Amursky) • (yo?); February 13, 2013; 18:50 (UTC)
Or you can back it up when it is working. StuRat (talk) 01:47, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
It's a dell, what do you expect? Ok... Try draining the BIOS battery. To do this remove the battery and power cord so the system has no power. Then press and hold to power button for 45 to 60 seconds. Now put the power cord back in and try and power up... does it work now? Andrew Wiggin (talk) 15:45, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
If you've removed the BIOS battery, you can't be draining that. Is this to drain a capacitor ? Note that this procedure will reset the clock. StuRat (talk) 15:26, 17 February 2013 (UTC)

Software delays[edit]

I've noticed that Wikidata seems to be continually running behind schedule. (They've pushed off deployment on en.wp three times already.) VisualEditor was supposed to be developed by last year. Are most software like this, always taking much longer than expected? -- Ypnypn (talk) 04:12, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

Yup. ¦ Reisio (talk) 04:32, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
As a programmer myself, it amazed me that they expected me to come up with accurate estimates before they figured out the specs. They then continued to change the specs all through the development process, and didn't seem to understand that me rewriting all that code would delay the schedule. StuRat (talk) 04:43, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
And why not? When was the last time a manager was punished for demanding too short a deadline from his people, vs the last time a programmer was punished for not hitting a deadline set with no regard whatsoever to the realities of what a human being can do? Gzuckier (talk) 05:01, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
Estimate = guess - most people guess too low ---- nonsense ferret 20:44, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
New software needs: * a feature list * a schedule * a budget. Management can specify only two out of three. (talk) 01:35, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
P.S. That joke is at least 40 years old.

3d cropping[edit]

Cropping (image) refers to a special type of cutting of (2d) images. Is there an English term for the same action in 3D, i.e., for voxel-based data? Or is that just called cropping, too? -- (talk) 14:37, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

Clipping (computer graphics), although that applies to data in any dimension. -- Finlay McWalterTalk 15:04, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
And clipping in the direction in and out of the screen is sometimes called Z-clipping, although this refers to just the display of the object, rather than actually removing part of the object permanently (cropping). StuRat (talk) 15:44, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
StuRat is right. Clipping actually refers to the depiction rather than to the data itself. So clipping is not the term I'm looking for. However, a google search indicates that many people use the term cropping in three-dimensional cases. I guess, I'll just do the same. -- (talk) 15:58, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
Culling - as in backface culling or z-culling - is used to refer to algorithms that selectively do not render some data because it is not in the final view. Nimur (talk) 16:21, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

PI IP camera[edit]

My housemate has challenged me to make something called an IP camera out of my raspberry pi computer, but I'm not entirely sure how to actually set one up or what extra parts I will need to buy. Can anyone help point me in the direction of instructions? (talk) 18:03, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

The hardware side is simple, you need a network cable (ethernet or probably even USB), and a camera with a network cable port (an “IP camera”. The software side will possibly take a little more effort. Almost certainly there are many tutorials for doing just this with a Raspberry Pi all over the internet. ¦ Reisio (talk) 18:48, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
If I use Motion (surveillance software) can I create a live feed to a particular web address rather than just save files on the hard drive to access later, and if so, how do I determine what address they would be visible on? something on our internal network, possibly? (talk) 21:27, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
My guess would be that part is out of the scope of Motion, but would know better. You can definitely do that, whether it be via Motion directly or not, however. ¦ Reisio (talk) 04:14, 14 February 2013 (UTC)
Have you tried researching in their forums? This forum specifically should have some info. Dismas|(talk) 13:48, 15 February 2013 (UTC)

Basic podcast launching questions:[edit]

I'd like to narrate interesting articles to the wide web via podcasts now. I used to storytell to strangers via Chatroulette, Omegle, ChatRandom and various other similar sites but restrictions, skippings et al. made storytelling to strangers too tedious to continue. (But I still gained plenty of ground with some of them!)

However, if I do it by podcast, I wouldn't have to put up with such restrictions and hardships.


1. Where's a great podcasting service that beginners ought to trust?

2. Are podcasts going to be seen by the wide web as easily as Twitter Tweets and blogs?

3. How easiy can I "embed" a podcast story of mine on any of my blog postings so that it can play immediately when a blog reader presses a play button directly on my blog, and not have to open links first to get to them?

4. Will using different accents for different articles gain more interest than keeping to the same, ordinary Midwestern accent for all of them?

5. How much more effective will podcasting be than attempting to storytell articles to strangers on 1-on-1 video chatting sites? (Some will skip in a few seconds, others stay for a few minutes, and I've had a precious few stay for 30 minutes plus.)

6. Is there a learning curve to podcasting?

7. What are the very best examples of very effective, engaging podcasts?

Thanks you! -- (talk) 18:27, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

Podcasts are just glorified news feeds with audio instead of text (and some of them are just bare web pages with plain links to audio files :p). It’s all very easy to setup with the exception of things like getting them onto iTunes, which is kind of a pain, but has its pluses. 2¢ ¦ Reisio (talk) 18:54, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
Yes, which podcast service sites would you recommend? And would anyone please answer the questions line-by-line? Thanks. -- (talk) 19:30, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
A podcast is simply an RSS feed which serves audio files (e.g. mp3 files) rather than text. While there are various setups which make the process simpler, all you need is a webhost which will allow you to publicly post mp3 files and the XML file which serves as the feed/index. (Note that the RSS feed is nothing more than a text file. If you download your favorite podcast as a text file, rather than with a podcast program, you can see what it's like.) To add episodes to your podcast, all you need to do is upload the corresponding mp3 to the publicly-availible server and update the XML file with the new entry. If you want the podcast listed on iTunes, things are a little more involved, but not by much: [1] As to your points: 1) As mentioned, all you need is a webhost that can serve both mp3 and XML files. Beyond that, I don't have any recommendations. Doing a websearch for something like "podcast hosting service" may give you other options. 2) Depends on your podcast. If you do it right, you can have comparable visibility to a blog. Getting listed on iTunes probably will help, but don't expect to be anything but niche. (Most podcasts/blogs/twitter feeds tend to stay obscure.) 3) As mentioned, a podcast episode is simply an mp3. All you would need is a way to play a web-accessible mp3 from within the blog post. Check your blogging software to see if that's an easy option. 4) Storytellers typically use different voices (within reason) for different characters, to better create a mood. If you do it right it might help, but if you do it wrong it'll detract. 5) They're completely different things. Podcasts are pre-recorded, so you lose the interactivity, but they can be served multiple times, so a single recording could be viewed multiple times for multiple people, as well as allowing pausing playback for any given person. 6) There's a learning curve to everything. My guess is after you figure out how to add the first episode to the podcast, most of your learning will be regarding how best to record and edit your mp3s. 7) Most of the podcasts I listen to are actually radio stories that are made computer-accessible. Practically, being a good podcast isn't any different from being a good radio show - though what makes a good podcast/radio show depends on what you're trying to accomplish. I like This American Life, but that's a completely different style than a current events show, which is a completely different style than a music show. - The big recommendation I'd make is to learn how to edit. Too many amateurs think they can do a single take and then post the raw recording. You need to learn how to cut out the pauses and digressions, how to re-record things you messed up and splice together multiple takes. Learning how best to layer in sound effects and music wouldn't hurt, either. -- (talk) 22:10, 13 February 2013 (UTC)

Record podcast directly to site?[edit]

I'd like to record a podcast directly to a podcast hosting site. What such sites are there?

If no such sites, what are some great free audio recording software to download? Thanks. -- (talk) 09:08, 14 February 2013 (UTC)

Custom built android app[edit]

I have three questions, but feel free to give partial answers.

1) Where would I go to hire a freelance programmer to build me an android app/widget for personal use?

2) Given the requirements below would someone be able to give me a very rough idea of how much this would cost (can be broad ranges e.g. "less than $400" or "more than $1000")?

3) How likely would a simple timer/tally app with a widget and one or two settings be to break on an android update. If it is likely to break, and the original author isn't around/isn't interested, would another programmer probably be able to fix it?


I use a "time management system" (overly grand title for what it is) loosely inspired by the pomodoro technique but tweaked to my particular work (I'm a lab based biology grad student). It currently takes a bit too much of my attention to manage this with ordinary timers/tally counters on my android phone, hence the desire for a custom app.

My requirements[edit]

1) A countdown timer (the "work" timer) that counts down from 25 minutes (this time ideally adjustable in settings) and automatically restarts when it reaches zero.

2) When the work timer reaches zero the phone vibrates briefly, a tally counter increments and 5 minutes is added to the inital time of a second timer (the "break" timer). Every fourth time the work counter reaches zero, 15 minutes, rather than 5 is added to the break timer.

3) When the work timer is stopped it resets to 25 minutes, doesn't add any break time and doesn't increment the tally. This action should have a confirm dialog

4) The break timer is a normal countdown timer which can be started independently as long as the work timer isn't running. It doesn't restart, but does vibrate (ideally with a different pattern) when it reaches zero.

5) A reset button that resets the work timer to 25, the tally to 0 and the break counter to 0. This should also have a confirm dialog.

6) A home-screen widget that shows and allows control of all of the above. In fact, if it works fine, the whole thing can be a widget.

I would be happy to provide UI mockups, and probably even pseudo-code (couldn't guarantee that I could come up with good pseudo-code though, my programming skills are very basic indeed). Also, if anyone is interested, just ask and I'll explain the technique that this app would keep track of. Many thanks, and apologies for the rather long question.

Equisetum (talk | contributions) 20:12, 13 February 2013 (UTC)