photo booth: printers, bill readers

I've got offers of donation of a G4 tower and an iSight camera, so the photo booth seems to be coming together rather painlessly. The one remaining question is whether to have it make prints in addition to posting them online. Prints would be cool, of course, but it's more stuff that will break, not to mention, ink isn't cheap.

So my questions for you, dear Lazyweb:

  • What's a cheap, fast printer that I could use for this? Assume I want to print a strip of 4 small photos, say 2"×1.5", on either 2"×6" (preferable) or 4"x3" paper. Cost-per-print and printing speed are more important than quality.
  • Assuming I can't keep the cost of the ink low enough for it to be practical to do this for free, I guess I could try to make a bill reader work... There seem to be a few USB bill readers out there. Do any of you have experience with them?

I wrote the software for it the other night; give it a try if you are so moved. (MacOS 10.4 or newer.) It shows a live video preview, and when you click the mouse, it takes four pictures, with a 3 second countdown before each; then it briefly shows all four pictures, and goes back to idle.

Though I'm not sure whether that's obvious enough behavior; it'll probably need signage or on-screen text.

Suggestions for a better countdown animation? I like the look of the classic "Universal Film Leader" countdown, but those never have a "1" (they only count down to "2", then go black).

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The Insect Lab

The Insect Lab

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Current Music: Wormfood -- B4 ♬

Snow Crash. Like, for reals.

This is the best Tivo crash I've ever seen:

Every channel, and every recorded program, looked exactly like this: the same static bits. Audio (live and recorded) was fine, however, as were the menus. It went away after reboot.

See also: "bsod -only nvidia".

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Pre-Pixelated Clothes for Reality TV

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My Little Cthulhu

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photo booth, again

Ok, this time for sure. A year ago I posted about how I want to build a photo booth, and I think it's time to actually build it.

(Well actually, first I mailed the Photoboof guy saying "hey I want to give you money" but he ignored me. Oh well.)

Anyway, I see three possible approaches:

  1. Use a Mac Mini.
    Pro: Hardware and software are trivially easy.
    Con: Costs at least $600.
    Con: Will last four months, due to heat and dust... and then cost another $600.
  2. Linux netboot, with a video webcam of some kind, grabbing stills.
    Pro: Costs around $200.
    Pro: Can show live video before taking picture.
    Con: Software will be a monumental pain in the ass.
    Con: Firing a flash is a bit more work.

  3. Linux netboot, with a real digital photo camera plugged into USB, with "take a picture" under computer control.
    Pro: Costs around $200.
    Pro: Higher quality images.
    Con: Software will be a monumental pain in the ass.
    Con: No live video.

So my question for you, dear Lazyweb, is this: do any of these conditions apply to you?

  1. You are running a recent-ish Fedora; and
  2. You have a USB webcam on it that takes reasonable pictures.


  1. You are running a recent-ish Fedora; and
  2. You have a cheap-ish digital photo camera; and
  3. You are able to tell that camera to take and return a picture via USB (perhaps with an incantation like:
    gphoto --capture-image; gphoto --get-all-files)

If so, tell me all about it: what model camera, what software, what resolution, how crappy is it in low light. No rumors or third-hand anecdotes, please.

Update, 2 days later: Wow, none of you have webcams on Fedora?

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I suspect "viral marketing" at work here.

A cargo container that apparently fell from a ship washed up on the Outer Banks of North Carolina on Thursday and spilled thousands of bags of Doritos brand tortilla chips on the beach. People collected the chips, which were apparently still fresh due to their airtight packaging. It was unknown which ship had lost the cargo or to what port it was bound.



I, for one, approve this message.

The Godzilla Building - Artist's Rendition

A building shaped like Godzilla.

The people of Tokyo should construct a giant building shaped like Godzilla. Imagine what it would do to the city's skyline, and to the tourism industry. People would come from all over to take pictures. His eyes could flash red so airplanes don't hit him. There could be an observatory in his mouth so people could look out over Tokyo. One of his arms could house a bar, and the other arm a restaurant. They could serve drinks called Mothra Martinis and dishes like Grilled Gamera Steaks, with a side of Mashed Potatoes.


Amputee Pedophile Mannequin Guitar.

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great news for schizophrenics!

FBI taps cell phone mic as eavesdropping tool

The FBI appears to have begun using a novel form of electronic surveillance in criminal investigations: remotely activating a mobile phone's microphone and using it to eavesdrop on nearby conversations. [...]

The U.S. Commerce Department's security office warns that "a cellular telephone can be turned into a microphone and transmitter for the purpose of listening to conversations in the vicinity of the phone." An article in the Financial Times last year said mobile providers can "remotely install a piece of software on to any handset, without the owner's knowledge, which will activate the microphone even when its owner is not making a call."

Nextel and Samsung handsets and the Motorola Razr are especially vulnerable to software downloads that activate their microphones, said James Atkinson, a counter-surveillance consultant who has worked closely with government agencies. "They can be remotely accessed and made to transmit room audio all the time," he said. "You can do that without having physical access to the phone." [...]

Other mobile providers were reluctant to talk about this kind of surveillance. Verizon Wireless said only that it "works closely with law enforcement and public safety officials. When presented with legally authorized orders, we assist law enforcement in every way possible."

This is a good hack; I wonder what the mechanism is. Do these phones do automatic software updates? Or would it be necessary to trick the user into downloading a trojan?

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