Archive for the 'L2C2' Category

Sony’s hi-def camcorder - Handycam HDR-XR500E plays nicely with Fedora 10

Monday, December 28th, 2009

I had borrowed my friend John Bose’s expensive new toy, the Sony Handycam HDR-XR500E to record Devdas “f3ew” Bhagat’s lecture at WBSU (Barasat) on the 26th of December, 2009.

HDR-XR500E. Image Copyright Sony
The specs of the device was *nice* - 1080i, 120GB HDD, 5.1 Dolby recording etc. It was a last minute arrangement. I didn’t like this! There was no time to tinker and see if the device was compatible with Linux and Kino for post-recording stuff.

It was set for 1080HD AVCHD or Advanced Video Codec High Definition. The camcorder was easy enough to handle. Most of the controls being easily accessible via the touchscreen. After coming back home that night, I was eager to see the results. So, with some trepidation I decided to plug in the mini-USB cable (that had came with my trusty old Canon PowerShot A610) into the mini-USB slot on the side of the HDR XR-500E.

Immediately the standard tail -f /var/log/messages routine threw up the following details:

Dec 27 00:24:49 localhost kernel: usb 2-2: new high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 5
Dec 27 00:24:49 localhost kernel: usb 2-2: configuration #1 chosen from 1 choice
Dec 27 00:24:49 localhost kernel: usb 2-2: New USB device found, idVendor=054c, idProduct=0346
Dec 27 00:24:49 localhost kernel: usb 2-2: New USB device strings: Mfr=1, Product=2, SerialNumber=3
Dec 27 00:24:49 localhost kernel: usb 2-2: Product: HDR-XR500E
Dec 27 00:24:49 localhost kernel: usb 2-2: Manufacturer: Sony
Dec 27 00:24:49 localhost kernel: usb 2-2: SerialNumber: 0C59300C6CC1
Dec 27 00:24:49 localhost kernel: Initializing USB Mass Storage driver…
Dec 27 00:24:49 localhost kernel: scsi6 : SCSI emulation for USB Mass Storage devices
Dec 27 00:24:49 localhost kernel: usbcore: registered new interface driver usb-storage
Dec 27 00:24:49 localhost kernel: USB Mass Storage support registered.
Dec 27 00:24:54 localhost kernel: scsi 6:0:0:0: Direct-Access Sony Camcorder 1.00 PQ: 0 ANSI: 0 CCS
Dec 27 00:24:54 localhost kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] 234413857 512-byte hardware sectors (120020 MB)
Dec 27 00:24:54 localhost kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Write Protect is off
Dec 27 00:24:54 localhost kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Assuming drive cache: write through
Dec 27 00:24:54 localhost kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] 234413857 512-byte hardware sectors (120020 MB)
Dec 27 00:24:54 localhost kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Write Protect is off
Dec 27 00:24:54 localhost kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Assuming drive cache: write through
Dec 27 00:24:55 localhost kernel: sdb: sdb1
Dec 27 00:24:55 localhost kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: [sdb] Attached SCSI removable disk
Dec 27 00:24:55 localhost kernel: sd 6:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg2 type 0
Dec 27 00:25:24 localhost hald: mounted /dev/sdb1 on behalf of uid 500
Dec 27 00:25:24 localhost gnome-keyring-daemon[3043]: adding removable location: volume_part1_size_120019828736 at /media/disk

Sweet!!! Camcorder’s being correctly auto-detected with it’s 120GB HDD storage being propering mounted and being made accessible. Going by the AVCHD file / directory structure, using Dolphin, I browsed to the STREAM folder and found the video recordings from the day, present in MTS format. The files opened nicely using the VideoLAN client (vlc) on Linux, except for the some spots of interlace combing (for an example, see this link). Oh well! we *are* working with 1080i here.

AVCHD file/directory structure. Courtesy Wikipedia

Right now, I’m using Kino 1.3.3 to import the .MTS file by converting them to raw DV files needed by Kino for its own workflow. So far, FFMpeg seems to be working nicely.

Input #0, mpegts, from ‘/home/stephanie/Desktop/wbsub-vid-raw/00017.MTS’:
Duration: 01:09:09.0, start: 1.040000, bitrate: 4096 kb/s
Program 1
Stream #0.0[0×1011]: Video: h264, yuv420p, 1440×1080 [PAR 4:3 DAR 16:9], 25.00 tb(r)
Stream #0.1[0×1100]: Audio: ac3, 48000 Hz, 5:1, 448 kb/s
Output #0, dv, to ‘/home/stephanie/Desktop/wbsub-vid-raw/00017.MTS.dv’:
Stream #0.0: Video: dvvideo, yuv420p, 720×576 [PAR 16:15 DAR 4:3], q=2-31, 200 kb/s, 25.00 tb(c)
Stream #0.1: Audio: pcm_s16le, 48000 Hz, stereo, 1536 kb/s
Stream mapping:
Stream #0.0 -> #0.0
Stream #0.1 -> #0.1

Right now FFMpeg is about half way through conversion process. I’m already looking at a ~7 GB file. Let’s hope I do not run out of space! :)

Update on FOSS activities at NIT Agartala

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

I had met Aveek Sen, 1st Year student from NIT Agartala during my keynote at Mukti ‘09 at NIT Durgapur. Since then he came down to visit me at my office. We spoke for some time, where I tried to share some ideas on what they could do at their college. Lack of bandwidth is the bane of their existence. He went back to Agartala and here is what he mailed to me on the progress so far.

I received a very good response in my college. I along with a batch mate Swapnil Paratey, seniors-Sushil Deshmukh, Nagendra, Sarfaraj & Rivu , are organising a seminar on Linux & FOSS on 24th February,2009.

We are also supposed to work on the database management system, website & online ticketing system of an auditorium in Agartala-Sukanta Academy.

As I mentioned earlier, I am planning to work on a nanotechnology experiments simulation software & require your help. Please get me in touch with some people as I would like guidance & certain experimental raw data from them.

Also, please let me know about the repositories in a disc. Sorry, I could not get in touch with Mr.Susmit Sanighrahi. He was unavailable on phone that day & after coming back to Agartala, I was a little occupied. I plan to contact him within the weekend.

I am on twitter now & have my blog on wordpress by the name Aveek Sen’s blog.

Let a thousand flowers bloom aka seeding FOSS User Groups

Monday, October 20th, 2008

A handful earlier interns from L2C2’s 21-day Fast Track FOSS internship program - Susmit Shannigrahi, Subhodip Biswas, Arindam Ghosh are busy with the $SUBJECT above these days. They are being led by Susmit who is also a Fedora Ambassador and an active member of the global Fedora Infrastructure group.

Their approach is very much in line with the overall ILUG-Cal’s core vision of helping set up a multitude of student FOSS groups and *mentoring* them so that there is faster and across-the-board uptake of FOSS in general and more active contributions and more Google SoC candidates.

Between 26th and 28th September 2008, they were invited by the organisers of VNIT-Nagpur’s annual Technical Fest - AXIS ‘08 to conduct a 3-day workshop on introduction to FOSS and followed by hands-on installfest and sessions on software development using FOSS tools and infrastruture.

That was 3 weeks back and the results are already coming in! They have formed the VNIT GNU/Linux User Group, so far it has 59 members and counting. They have also set up a local Fedora mirror (so that they do not need to depend on the college’s Internet connectivity at all times to stay updated).

We are expecting more exciting news from VNIT-Nagpur. Good job guys! :)

Clustering LTSP … high performance delivered!

Monday, October 20th, 2008

This is still in the planning, but the looks of it, we are soon going to get a chance to build our second clustered LTSP solution. Yesterday, I had some very interesting and involved discussions with Shwetav Agarwal who volunteers at The Future Foundation School for their ICT in education initiatives.

It looks as if we are going to design and deploy at 6-node (standard COTS hardware as opposed to our other clustered LTSP solution that we are deploying using HP’s c3000 Bladesystem) clustered LTSP that designed to scale up as well as scale out. The 6-node cluster would presently comprise of standard Pentium IV boxes with 2GB RAM each. The OS is likely to be Intrepid Ibex or Fedora 10. The idea is to run the a consolidated, full-fledged thin-client infrastructure that takes care of 100+ nodes.

I also had a nice round of discussion with Stephane Graber, the ltsp-cluster project is all set for v1.5 release in December 2008, and the PPA packages are all Ubuntu 8.10 ready.

An “interesting” Friday

Monday, September 1st, 2008

The friday dawned cloudy with promises of rain and the TMC brigands…. er brigades, promising to bring the city traffic to a stand-still between 4 - 5 PM. Around 10:35 AM, Susmit and Sayamindu landed up near my house and together we headed down to RCCIIT - a local govt. run engineering college with a whole bundle of equipment - 3 laptops, 1 OLPC XO, 1 AMD UMPC, 1 Intel ClassmatePC, other assorted hardware and freebie goodies like stickers and badges from Gnome and Firefox. The occasion was TechTrix ‘08 - the college’s annual Tech Fest which Susmit wrote about here.

Reached the college, the final 120 meters had to be trudged on foot as the road was all dug up, courtesy a sewage project under implementation. Dipanjan and a few others from the local RCCIIT LUG (which is called a SLUG or Students’ Linux User Group for some reason). There was a power-cut and we were late in starting off the “show”. There were about 85 - 100 students, mainly from the 1st year and a few from the 2nd and the 3rd years, as well as a few teachers. I went up first, it was more of a general introduction to Free & Open Source Software and how it pervades all aspects of computing - from super computers to embedded applications like mobile phones and everything in between. Susmit was up next and he spoke about the Fedora project and how to start using and contributing to it. Finally with time running short, Sayamindu went up with a short but lively talk about the OLPC project.

In about 2 hours time, we tried to give these young students an overall idea about FOSS - using and contributing, trying to share with them the excitement from multi-dimensional perspectives. By the time it was over, the heavens had opened up. So we sat down and finished off the packets of snacks that the organisers had arranged. We ended up discussing with our young hosts what they could do next. Around 1:45 PM, already getting late for a proposed meeting with Tamal-da, we decided to call up a taxi and leave. Dipanjan our principal host volunteered to venture out in the torrential rains and get a cab as we were anxious not to get our equipment wet.

Dipanjan disappeared for 15 minutes and then suddenly came back thoroughly drenched. He informed us that the cab was there, but then very apologetically added that we would have to cross the sewage-cum-storm water canal over a foot bridge as the taxi can’t come to this side (college side) of the canal as the roads were all dug up.

The rains had by then dropped down to a drizzle but the roads were flooded. So, we jumped across large pools of water using slippery bricks as toe-holds and hoping not to skid and to get our gear across as dry as possible. The footbridge turned out to be standard issue rickety construction made of bamboo, over a hyacinth covered water body that looked poisonous in color. We crossed it in a single file and they even charged 50p (about 1 cent) per head as “toll”, finally clambering up the slippery slopes covered with slush from what-nots and finally we got into the cab waiting there for us.

By then it was already late and the spectre of the TMC road blocks looming large and ominous we decided to cut out proposed trip to Tamal-da’s office short and headed into the China Town for some much needed food and a place to hangout for next 3 hours so that we could “ride out” the crazy road blockade enforced traffic snarls.

We decided to go to our regular joint - Kafulok. But on reaching there we found the place’s to remain closed between 4 - 6 PM (we had never come at this time of the day before)… baah!!!!! Having left our taxi, it was now left for us to trudge back through the slushy lanes overflowing with the effluents from the tanneries…. nice touch… even nicer with Sayamindu detailing an even more worse Lake Market during the monsoons… YUCK!!!! suddenly our present situations looked a lot better.

We ended up going to the Hot Wok (very imaginative name indeed ;-) . Since Susmit is a teetotaler, it was left to Sayam and me to polish off a pint of Vodka and a couple of Bloody Marys while Susmit nursed a plain water and a Virgin Mary. That the excitement was far from over was pointed out by Susmit - the label of our bottle of White Mischief vodka ;-)

label on the bottle of vodka

By 7:45 we decided that we should be able to get transport and get back home. And so we got on the 2nd cab we found and headed home without any further incidents.

Developing a FOSS based school ICT program outline

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Yesterday met with Subha-di (Das Mallick of Bal Vividha) and Malini (Intel) at the meeting at the Indumati Sabhagriha at Jadavpur Vidyapeet . The occassion was to review the Master Trainers Program from Pragati which is supported by Intel and to felicitate outstanding contributors to that effort.

FWIW, Dr. Sthanapati, Director, BITM (Birla Industrial & Technology Museum, Kolkata) has proposed a series of camps with funding from Dept. of Science and Technology, Govt of WB. Comet Media Foundation will be the ICT program partner in that endeavor and as such we are supposed to be developing the program outline. The backward district of Purulia will be the pilot site.

Based on the brief discussions yesterday, there are plans to involve Pragati, Intel and others in the initiative. The deadline to get everything in place is November 2008.

So this is basically a call for help and volunteers… any takers so far?

A meeting with Nick Negroponte

Friday, June 27th, 2008

Amit (Gogna) called me up today to say that Prof. Negroponte will be coming to India in the 1st week of August and that Reliance Communications (ADAG) will be setting up video conferencing around the country on matters of the little green laptop. He has asked me to send him a list of names of the people who can make a difference with the OLPC project in this part of the country.

I’m looking forward to the event to see where OLPC goes from here on.

On a related note, yesterday Kushal had punched in the panic buttons saying the Bijra School’s LTSP system was not working, so I had asked Subhodip and Arindam to do a site visit today and fix the problem. They reported back that it was a dusty and loosely seated RAM problem on the server, which they managed to fix.

Which reminds me that we need to hold a fresh re-orientation workshop at the school soon. - Ready and standing by for F9 bitflip

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

Our mirror is ready and standing by for the Fedora 9 bitflip. Fedora 9 is planned for release at 15:00 UTC today. Out of the 141 global public Fedora mirrors that are supposed to carry the Fedora 9 content, about 41 has till now synced up for the i386 iso.

Thanks to Susmit’s efforts, the WBUT FOSS mirror is among these 41 mirrors globally that are first off-the-starting-block. Cheerio! :D

2nd CASTLE rollout begins

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

After Bijra High School, where we had earlier setup the first pilot of the CASTLE (Computer-Aided Studies, Teaching and Learning Environment) initiative, it’s now the time to start rolling out the second school - Radhakantapur High School in the West Midnapore (পশ্চিম মেদিনীপুর) district of West Bengal. This time, the engineering college at Chandrakona town will act as the local partner to the project just like BCREC has done for the Bijra project.

The boys - Soumen Bar and Anutosh Dutta, who will act as local support for the project at Radhakantapur, arrived in the city on Sunday. However, I still needed some volunteers to work on the deployment readiness phase of the project, and so sent out a call to the WBUT-LUG members. Within, 15 minutes, 13 of them (from 2nd and 3rd Year BTech IT) had enthusiastically responded. The teams are in place.

I’m visiting the school today for a site survey. Soumen will be accompanying me. He will liaison with the school in getting the site ready after we make the necessary recommendations. The project implementation ETA - 15th of May, 2008.

“Time you old gypsy man, will you not stay?” - the first registered NTP server in India

Sunday, May 4th, 2008

We are glad to announce that the first and sole (at this time) time server (NTP) in India has been setup at the West Bengal University of Technology.

You can verify this by synchronizing your computer clock to As root:

#ntpdate -u

This cluster is automatically generated. Due to this, the server may not be included in the cluster for very small time periods. Otherwise all clock sync requests from India should be redirected to this server which hosts the service. :)

At present, this is a Stratum 2 server, we are trying to ensure upgrading its status to a Stratum 1 server. Hopefully, we will soon get a few more servers across India.