r4nd0m pa$$w0rd

March 14, 2017

Let’s take it easy this week. What about we generate random passwords? That should be fun, right?


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Cleaning Scans

February 21, 2017

Scanning documents or books without expensive hardware and commercial software can be tricky. This week, I give you the script I use to clean up a scanned image (and eventually assemble many of them into a single PDF document).


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Choosing Random Files

February 14, 2017

This week, something short. To run tests, I needed a selection of WAV files. Fortunately for me, I’ve got literally thousands of FLAC files lying around on my computer—yes, I listen to music when I code. So I wrote a simple script that randomly chooses a number of file from a directory tree (and not a single directory) and transcode them from FLAC to WAV. Also very fortunately for me, Bash and the various GNU/Linux utilities make writing a script for this rather easy.


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Search all your Bibtex files

January 12, 2016

When I write papers or other things, I tend to create separate bib files, so that I don’t end with a giant unsearchable and unmaintainable blob. Moreover, topics tend to be transient, and the bibliography may or mayn’t be interesting in a few year’s time, so, if unused, it can safely sleep in a directory with the paper it’s attached to.


But once in a while, I need one of those old references, and since they’re scatted just about everywhere… it may take a while to find them back. Unless you have a script. Scripts are nice.

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Optimizing JPEG for bandwidth

September 1, 2015

Optimizing web content is always complicated. On one hand, you want your users to have the best possible user experience, but on the other hand, you don’t really want to spend much bandwidth delivering the bits.


This week, let’s have a look at how we can optimize images for perceptual quality while minimizing bandwidth. While we could proceed by guesswork—fiddling the parameters until it kind of looks OK—or we can take 5 minutes to write a script that searches the parameter space for the best solution given a constraint, say, perceptual quality.

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Easy Timestamping with Bash

February 10, 2015

Here’s a quick Bash script to prefix lines read from standard input by a time stamp.

#!/usr/bin/env bash

while read line
    echo $(date "$@") "$line"

This script takes the same arguments as the traditional Unix date program. With no arguments, it prints some default-formatted date, but if you feel like it, you can pass it the same arguments as date. For example:

.../geolocalisation> cat /dev/ttyACM0 | ts.sh +"%H:%I:%M:%S.%N" | grep GPRMC | tee $(date | tr \  - | tr : - ).dat
15:03:42:57.355437828 $GPGGA,204226.000,4821.6737,N,06844.4790,W,1,08,1.2,-0.9,M,,,,00$GPRMC,204247.000,A,4821.6740,N,06844.4799,W,0.00,181.2,060215,,*2B
15:03:42:57.629415235 $GPRMC,204248.000,A,4821.6740,N,06844.4799,W,0.00,181.2,060215,,*24
15:03:42:57.881812555 $GPRMC,204249.000,A,4821.6740,N,06844.4800,W,0.00,181.2,060215,,*2A
15:03:42:58.150091204 $GPRMC,204250.000,A,4821.6740,N,06844.4800,W,0.00,181.2,060215,,*22
15:03:42:58.420285771 $GPRMC,204251.000,A,4821.6740,N,06844.4800,W,0.00,181.2,060215,,*23
15:03:42:58.682492676 $GPRMC,204252.000,A,4821.6740,N,06844.4800,W,0.00,181.2,060215,,*20

So Let’s examine the script more closely. The $@ passed as argument to date is the series of all arguments passed to the script. Why is it enclosed in quotes? Because it preserves the structures of the arguments passed to the script for date. In the specific case of date it might not be necessary because of the nature of its arguments, but should you replace date with some other command, it may cause problems to remove the quotes. The $line is also enclosed in quotes because otherwise the script misbehaves: it would, for example, try to expand *.

Comparing GPSes (yet more GPS data)

February 3, 2015

In a few other entries, I’ve toyed with GPS, either getting or parsing the data with Bash, assessing or using the GPS data. However, when we use GPS, we suppose that the precision varies by brand and model&mdashsome will have greater precision—but our intuition tells us that two GPS devices of the same brand and model should perform identically. That’s what we’re used to with, or at least expect from, computers. But what about USB GPS devices?


So I got two instances of the same model+brand GPS. Let them call them GPS-1 and GPS-2. Do they perform similarly?

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