Sunday, January 19, 2020

Chobi - Face Detection Based Static Image Gallery Generator

Over the holidays I created a simple static photo gallery generator that I named chobi. The sources are in https://github.com/abhinababasu/chobi.

Given a source folder of photos, chobi will generate a destination folder containing the original photos, generated thumbnails, css stylesheets, scripts and html files which constitute a website displaying those photos as follows


The Problem

While building chobi and also when I was looking into similar online tools, I kept hitting a major issue and that prompted further work and this post.

You see thumbnail generation from image has a major problem. I needed the gallery generator to create square thumbnails for the image strip shown at the bottom of the page. However, the generated thumbnails would simply be either from the center or some other arbitrary location. This meant that the thumbnails would cut off at weird places.

Consider the following image.

If I create a thumbnail from a tool without knowing where the face is in the image, it will generate something like
Obviously that doesn't work. So using my vanilla generator I got a website with all sorts of similar head chopped off thumbnails (marked in Red)


The Solution

Chobi uses face-detection to ensure that does not happen and the face is always fully present in the generated thumbnail. Consider the same thumbnail as above but now with face-detection

Another example of an original image and then generated thumbnail first without and then with face-detection.


With this face-detection plugged in chobi generates a much better web-site, with almost no photo cropped where it shouldn't be.

Sources

  1. Chobi sources are at https://github.com/abhinababasu/chobi
  2. It uses the face-detected thumbnail generator which I wrote at https://github.com/abhinababasu/facethumbnail
  3. That is in turn is based out of a face detection library pigo written fully in go

Sample

Checkout a gallery build using chobi at 

Monday, January 13, 2020

How to run Windows 7 after end of support





Windows 7 end of support is upon us in 1 more day (1/14/2020). This post tries to answer the question on whether you can safely continue to run it. The short answer is that you can't, atleast if it is connected to the outside in some form.

However, I have a friend back in India who has some software that he relies on and he can't run it on modern Windows. So when I was answering his question on how he can run it, I thought I'd write it up in the blog as well.

This post outlines how you can run Windows 7 in virtual machine running on Microsoft Hyper-visor on a windows 10 machine. The process also uses checkpoints to reset the VM back to the old state each time. This ensures that even if something malicious gets hold of the system, you can simple go back to the pristine state you started with.

Pre-requisite

Obviously you need a computer capable of running Hyper-V. For my purpose I am using a Windows 10 Professional machine. You should also have more than enough CPU cores and memory to run Windows 7 in that machine. I recommend atleast 4 cores and 8GB memory so that you can give half of that to the Windows 7 VM and keep the rest for a functional host PC.

Get hold of Windows 7 ISO or download it from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows7.

Then visit the system requirement https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/10737/windows-7-system-requirements. I decided to give roughly twice the resources as the requirements to create my VM.

Setup VM

Hit windows-key and type hyper-v to launch. Then start creating a VM by clicking New and then Virtual machine.



Choose the following Generation 1



I decided to then give it 4GB memory and 2 CPU cores

Chose to create a 40GB OS disk




Then install from bootable CD and pointed the location of the image file to the downloaded ISO image

Click through next to end and finish the creation wizard. Then right click on the newly created VM and choose "Connect".



Install Windows 7


At this point if everything went well the VM has booted off the installation ISO and we are on the following screen. Choose "Clean install" and proceed through the installation wizard.




Finally installation starts.


A reboot later we have Windows 7 starting up!

Created a username, password


Finally booted into Windows 7 and here's my website displayed in Internet Explorer


Secure by Checkpoint

Even though we have booted into Windows 7 soon this will be a totally unsupported OS, that means no security updates. This is a dangerous system to keep open to the internet. I recommend never doing that!! Also to be doubly sure, we will create a checkpoint. What that does is it creates a snapshot of the memory and the disk. So in case something malicious lands in this VM, we can go back to the pristine state when the snapshot was created and hence rollback any changes made by the virus or malware.

To create a  checkpoint right click on the VM in hyper-v manager and choose Checkpoint


You can see the checkpoints created in the Hyper-V Manager.



Lets make a change to the Windows 7 VM by creating a file named "Howdy I am created.txt" on the desktop.


Since the checkpoint was created before creating the file, I can revert back to the checkpoint by right-click on the checkpoint and choosing Apply.

After applying the checkpoint when I go back into the VM, the created file is all gone!!!

Finally

This is a hack at best and not recommended. However, if for some applications or other need where you "have" to run Windows 7, this can be an option.

Monday, January 06, 2020

Chobi - A static photo gallery generator



I love using Microsoft Todo and before taking time off in December I create a holiday todo list. I tend to be at home with the family and do bunch of projects around. I try to ensure that I am not doing only work related projects during that time, so put in a ceiling of half a week for coding related stuff. Other Todos generally involves carpentry, DIY home projects, yardwork, cleaning etc.

One of the projects was to update my online photo gallery. Now being a programmer I made it way more complicated than I should've. I decided to code up a minimalistic program to generate static photogallery out of folders of images I export out of Adobe Lightroom. As I mentioned above one of the requirement was to finish it in around 3 days.

I am happy to share that I have the project done and the sources are available at https://github.com/abhinababasu/chobi. It took me about 3 days and most of the time was spent figuring out UI stuff which I rarely do and pondering about which photos to put in the gallery.

The code is in go and it does the following

  1. It iterates through a folder of images (sub-dir not supported yet) and copies the images to a destination
  2. Also places thumbnails (configurable size) into the destination
  3. There is a template html that it modifies to display those images
  4. It also uses some client side script to 
    1. Randomize the image order
    2. Show a carousel of the images
    3. A thumbnail gallery at the bottom
    4. Automated photo rotation
Here's a screenshot of the sample landscape gallery.


Since this was very time-bound project there are tons to stuff left to do, some basic bugs abound as well. But I decided to timeout on the effort for now and revisit again hopefully in the spring.