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Autopano Pro/Giga

Autopano lets you easily automatically and trivially stitch together very wide panoramic images from a set of multiple photos.  You don’t even need to take them in a proper sequence!  Just make sure you have sufficient overlap.

Their product is not cheap though, at the time of this writing €99 or €199 depending if you buy the Pro or the Giga version.  Honestly it’s not so clear to me what the precise difference is between these two versions if you’re just stitching photos together.  The Giga version has a few extra nice features like being able to deal with high dynamic range images, but this may not be necessary for all people.

The one thing I think this software lacks is the ability to stack images to increase the resolution.

I only played around with a demo of the 2.0 version, perhaps it’s better now.  But I can tell you it did work quite easily, it just didn’t work so much better than Hugin which is free, so I decided to stick with Hugin.

Sweet Home 3D

Sweet Home 3D lets you draw sort of 3D drawings of your home or office.  I used it to do a virtual mockup of my house.

It’s a little finicky to use.  It works best if everything is flat on one level which my house is not.  There are small steps up and down into several of the rooms and the house itself is built into a slope with a walk out basement and I didn’t figure out a way to create the sloping land around it (yet!).  But it’s a fairly easy program to draw things if you are doing things which are not too complex.



Scratch is an excellent teaching tool for teaching kids to program.  It’s essentially like programming with Lego blocks but on the screen.  It’s well suited to let kids build little games.  This is important because it peeks their interests and gets them involved at an early age.   My daughter was successfully using this when she was 8 years old!


DVD43 is a DVD de-crypter that removes the region and restriction garbage on DVDs upon reading the DVD.  It presents a clean DVD to whatever video program you are using to watch the DVD.  This means that your laptop doesn’t complain when you stick a DVD in it from the wrong region!

I totally do not understand why region codes exist at all.  The whole notion seems insane to me.  I buy a DVD and then I can only play it where I bought it?  And to get around this, all one needs to do is buy a second player?  How is this supposed to protect the companies licensing rights?  It’s as if some lawyers set out and wrote some license for some material and then ordered some technical person to create something but with no regard for how things get used in real life.  Region codes are totally pointless, easy to get around, and only hurt consumers and producers alike.


Duplicate File Finder

I have used Duplicate File Finder to find duplicate photos on my hard drive.  It’s pretty slow but it does work.  If you have a lot of duplicate files, it’s output isn’t perhaps all that helpful.  It’s biggest help is perhaps showing you which folders contain some of the same files and then you can go from there.

What I find is better and much faster is just to try and combine everything where it belongs.  What I do is use SuperCopier.  SuperCopier will ask you if you want to overwrite a file (and if you should do it once or for all).  In this way, you can merge non-destructively two or more folders.  Then when I know all the contents of the other folder has been merged into the other, I delete it.

This doesn’t help you much if lots of names have been changed and that’s where Duplicate File Finder comes in handy.  But I have to say in most cases, I’ve found the copy method to be far more efficient than waiting hours or days for Duplicate File Finder to run only to find out that yes, a zillion files here are also there.


I use several things for my phone system.  I use a combination of SIP phones and services.

I have phone service from 3 different places:

For a US phone number, BinFone is $7.50/month plus 2¢ per minute.  That’s about as cheap as I’ve seen anywhere.   It’s pay per minute but if you are a reasonable phone talker, as in  you’re not on the phone for more than about 800 minutes a month, it really works out in the long run.

However, I have something even better…  OVH offers partially unlimited dialing to 40 countries (including the US/Canada, all of Europe, Australia and New Zealand) for €1.20/month!  The limit is a little strange.  They let you dial 99 different numbers in a month, up to 1hr per call, after that, it’s €0.02/min.  That means, if you call the same number (within these 40 countries) 200 times, but each time < 1hr, there’s no extra charge.

Lastly, because it was totally free, I have an 0845 number through  It is supposedly a local call from anywhere in the UK but realistically some telephone companies in the UK, and cell phones, charge more than a local call to call an 0845 number.   But there’s no charge for me to receive such calls.

I have a Siemens GigaSet A580 IP which I can program in up to 6 SIP accounts and connect an analog phone to it (which I don’t have anymore).

Though I don’t specifically need it, it’s nice to be able to have a little bit more control over things like being able to assign extensions to my phones.  For this, I would need an IP PBX like an Asterisk box running somewhere.  However, this would render my little A580 less portable.  Fortunately there are several free or inexpensive hosted IP PBX providers out there.  Currently I am using  They have a free option which suites me perfectly.  Astonishingly, with their free offer, they limit calls to 1hr.  Well, with OVH and their partially limited plan of charging for calls longer than 1hr, that suits me just fine.  I rarely talk on the phone more than an hour anyway.

For my Android phone, I recently installed SipDroid.  This lets me place and receive calls on my mobile phone over SIP.  I currently use it only over the wifi.  My mobile phone provider ( does not like people using SIP over their internet service because it eats up too much bandwidth.  When I said I didn’t specifically need, this isn’t quite true.  In order to configure more than one SIP device, one needs a PBX.  So with my Gigaset and SipDroid, or an IP PBX is in fact needed.

I have to say this whole thing is pretty cool and has reduced my land line telephone communication costs to nearly nothing on top with making the whole thing portable.