29 January 2010

Success to much?

The price of popularity: your blog gives up with 'bandwidth exceeded' (yeah, cheap shared hosting). This just happened to our colleague who apparently became too popular, not sure if because of her slow but continuously growing photography project, the exploding (in the Spanish speaking community) series of GIMP video tutorials or due to a couple of incredibly well received articles about a crappy and cheap smartphone.

Well, the useful content can still be reached: photos on flicker, videos on blip.tv: is this an argument for using proprietary sharing platforms or just for a better hosting? If you know who I am talking about, you must know already hot to get to the content.

Nevermind, popularity is good. Or bad. Or good.

25 January 2010

GIMP on N900

Nokia N900 looks like the most awesome phone you can buy from a FLOSS point of view, but I wasn't impressed so far from what I read about it, the phone is priced way over my price range and is too big for my pockets (I don't need full keyboards and so). However, after reading a blog post about running GIMP on the N900, my views changed a bit, now I would like such a device (it would not be far fetched to say I crave for one), but the price is still to big. Make the price 2/3 and I'll get one (make it half the price, and the money got out of my pocket a couple of hour ago :D)

Speaking of phones, my current one is a Nokia from the S40 line and is almost 4 years old, it barely hold ans is in need for a replacement. Replacement with what? Not sure, but I wish with something running Linux... I thought about something with Android, there are some entry-level devices which can become affordable if you hunt for a good deal/supplier, but except Nexus One all the Android devices are tied with old versions of the operating system, you can't install the latest upstream software, and that's uncool and not geeky. Nexus One is not available and in the same price range with N900. And it can't run GIMP anyway :D

22 January 2010

Video sharing, HTML5, Theora, YouTube, Vimeo, Blip.tv...

I see everyone's talking about YouTube experimenting with serving video with HTML5 and the justified outcry for not using Ogg Theora, which is a shame. Supposedly the video quality is bad, but since they keep away Firefox, Ephiphany (with WebKit) and Seamonkey, I can't look there. Not much missing.

Almost at the same time, Vimeo is doing the same thing: HTML5 but not Ogg Theora, but I don't really care, I think I can count the times I used Vimeo on my fingers. Probably without taking my shoes off.

In the meantime, I still struggle with blip.tv, which I use for sharing videos from the RLUG meet, they are the opposite, some Ogg Theora support but not HTML5. I complained the other day about conversion failures, tried to provide .flv versions manually, but it didn't work. And the reply from support was shameful enough (I noted I used the site specifically for Ogg Theora) that is deserves to be shown in public:

"We're big fans of open source and Ogg, however it can sometimes be difficult for us to transcode to Flash. You may want to try uploading a Quicktime or Windows Media version as your Source/Master with your Ogg Theora version as a secondary format."
...thanks for nothing!

As in Friday evening here, I will end in a funny note: do you know who was the main victim of my work on video editing and transcoding? My dog! Having to stay late at computer to supervise the CPU intensive activity and long timed operation, I had to leave the computer very late, after the pet food store closed so my dog had to eat cat food for a couple of days :D

One day with Xfce

After Cristoph commented on the yesterday's post about my likes and dislikes with LXDE I learned a lot of my complaints are going to be solved in the upcoming version of PCManFM, that's nice to hear and it looks like it will be worth spending a day with it again with Fedora 13.

I imagine some people think my complaints are minor, just cosmetic stuff: well, they may be, but this is the thing making you more or less productive. If you learn the content of a file from its desktop thumbnail, then you can open it right away, not waste time trying to discover its content. The same about placement of files or launchers on the desktop or panel: you are a lot more productive when you know where to click and don't have to hunt. An ideal desktop is supposed to not stand in the way, it should make you easier to work with your applications and get the work done (bad news for the desktop developers: people are using the desktop for the applications, not for its desktop environment), one that for example allows to witch two open windows with one click of the mouse, not 3 clicks and 2 animations (oh, I am still traumatized by the GNOME Shell experience).

But enough with the ranting, after a day with LXDE, it was the time for a day with another alternative desktop, Xfce. My day was quite busy, full of video transcoding and publishing but I still managed to do it with a somewhat unfamiliar desktop.


The install i just as simple:
yum groupinstall xfce-desktop
It weighted about 14MB, small enough (again, I already had a full GTK+ stack from my GNOME install), but after that I found and installed from the repository a number of other useful applications and plugins, for a better experience.

Things to like:
  • ages ago I briefly used CDE, not enough to grow fond of it, but is not to customize Xfce to look like something you are used to
  • mature, having a lot of applications, plugins and settings but still fast enough
  • no-nonsense, a familiar environment
  • built-it "Open In Terminal" for the current directory, I need plugins for this with GNOME
The dislikes:
  • the same lack of integrated gvfs, making hard the work with remote file systems, but a bit of googling reveals a new version of Thunar is out and has the feature, so just like LXDE is a desktop to revisit for Fedora 13
  • it also suffers in customizing the panels, to put a launcher exactly where you want, you have to fiddle a lot with spacers
  • not only not showing the content in the file thumbnails on screen, but also very ugly, opaque, background for icon captions
The review is quite frugal as my day was busy, but as a conclusion: would I use it instead of GNOME 2.x? No. Would I use it instead of GNOME Shell? I am tempted to.

21 January 2010

A ton of Linux/FLOSS videos

After a couple of days with the CPU hot from editing and transcoding, I managed to put online the videos from the RLUG meets in December and January. With advice from tatica I used blip.tv for publishing and everything is nice available as a RSS feed: RLUG videos.

There are good reasons to use blip.tv for publishing FLOSS videos:

  • they accept and serve Ogg Theora files (not using HTML5, but nobody is perfect)
  • they allow everyone to download the original video (Theora or whatever)
  • using the 'Download' button you can view the Theora video directly in your browser
  • the content is published also as an RSS feed (with direct links to the files)
  • they know about Creative Commons licenses and let you use them
  • there is not a 10 minutes limit, like on YouTube
  • being able to watch the Theora original, the video quality is unbeatable

Still, I found a couple of problems:
  • you can upload either with a desktop client (written in Java) or with FTP, but both of them have a file limit of 1GB (YouTube is 2GB currently)
  • every time I uploaded a large Theora file (3 times so far, ~25, ~45 and ~50 minutes) it took too long, timed out and failed (no problem with videos up to 10 minutes long). With an unpaid account, you have only one conversion attempt allowed.

Go and watch the videos (they are all in Romanian language) and if you don't have the bandwidth, maybe skip for the time being the 2 out of 10 with large size, hope my support ticket will get a better reply than "buy a pro account, it will work with that".

One day with LXDE

The LXDE project noticed its Romanian translation is pretty much dead in the water and considered dropping it along with a few other unmaintained translation, in a clean-up effort. rsandu ignited the alarm and in an effort spearheaded by ajoian and alexxed, all the strings got translated in less than 2 days, now there is still needed a validation from alexxed and upstream submission. It was awesome to see so many people lending a hand, including a couple of people at their first translation contribution (trizen, you kick ass!).

All this community effort was impressive and motivated me to an experiment: spend an entire day day with LXDE and evaluate what I like and dislike about it, evaluate how I could deal with it as the primary desktop. Is not my first experience with it, I toyed with LXDE in the past, but usually after 10 minutes I went back to the comfort of a desktop I am used to, but beyond the community enthusiasm, it was a long reaching study, if something goes wrong in the GNOME land, is useful for me to know what the alternatives are.


Installing is fast and easy, just:
yum groupinstall lxde-desktop
For me it was a 5 MB download (all the GTK+ dependencies were already in place) and after that everything was good to go.

What I like about it:
  • the desktop is small and fast. Really fast
  • it includes a few basic applications, which are also small and fast: image viewer, text editor and so on
  • with a bit of customization, it was not hard to bring it to a familiar 2-panels layout
  • it has in place all the known paradigms: panels, buttons, menus. It is not distrupting
Of course, there were a number of things I didn't like:
  • is painful to use a file manager without gvfs, I need to transfer files over ssh/scp on a daily basis
  • customizing the LXDE panels is hard and limited
  • the size of fonts and icons is ugly and hard to adjust
  • no drag & drop adding shotcuts to the panel
  • icons on the desktop are always auto-arranged, they move all the time and you can't place them where you want
  • no integrated screen capture with the PrintScreen, you have to use external applications

I can see me using LXDE as my main desktop? Maybe on one of those underpowered ARM tablets and smartbooks... but if the computer does have the power to run my apps (I would NOT pay money for a computer unable to run GIMP and Inkscape), then it should be pretty much able to run also a normal GNOME desktop.

From an usability and customizability point of view I find it much behind a normal GNOME 2.X setup, but compared with GNOME Shell (as previewed in Fedora 12) it would be less of a productivity drop and a lot less annoying. However, in the case worst nightmares come true, LXDE may not be the best exist choice. Will spend another day sometime with Xfce and report the findings.

15 January 2010

RLUG meet, January 2010

We had yesterday the first edition for this year of the RLUG meet (Întâlnirea RLUG) and I pretty much failed as a photographer: expecting to take only a few shots (they look pretty much the same as one meeting to another) I skipped checking the battery level in my camera, so with the last charge being last year (for the New Year's Eve photoshot)it was obviously depleted, so my only option was to resort to the video camera, which is not suited for the task for a few crappy shots.

For the video part, just like the last time I recorded all the presentations, but as we are still debating (and not agreeing) about who will do the editing (nobody stepped up for a boring task), which app will be used (the options for Linux video editing are not stellar), what will be shown (some are happy with unedited video, others want aggressive editing) or where to post (even here we are not sure), I went forward and published only a video of my own presentation (in Romanian, about color theory, palettes and Agave). The video is not great, exposure is bad, but this happen when you are the performer and cameraman at the same time and editing was made with Kdenlive, the tool I settled on after testing all the options from repositories usable with Fedora.

08 January 2010

Believe me, I hate censorship

I oppose censorship as strong as I can, I consider it to be evil and I enjoy a lot post on various Planets about the personal live of the people behind the code, however seeing something like this is embarrassing... making you think maybe RMS was not entirely wrong.

planet gnome silverlight

note: the button above links to microsoft.com

06 January 2010


I noticed today a cool Free Art project: OpenGameArt.org is a large collection of freely licensed resources (graphics, 3D models and audio) for game development, both original creation and contribution from existing FLOSS games. It looks like fun to me:


I guess I should look if I have some stuff suitable for it...

05 January 2010

Passing the meme: Best photo of 2009 (no photo)

I pretty much like Kushal's new idea for a best photo of the year meme, but even after a long process of deciding which one I like the best, the result is that it (or even the top 5, maybe also the top 10, judging by any objective factor, like number of views, comments, positive feedback) is not suitable for aggregation on Planet (it would bring me again a spike in traffic, comments, pagerank, adsense money). So instead of that, I could probably post some sakura blossom (that is really a special time of the year) or maybe some fruity madness (a photomanip of that is still my desktop background).

Blue Moon

Wasn't aware Blue Moon actually is a rare astronomical phenomenon, learned about it on the evening of 31 December on the news, just before going out to shot the fireworks. But as I didn't care for most of their music, I noticed the moon (fortunately, the rain didn't last long) and tried to "capture" it... still not happy with what I got using my lens (zoomed at 300mm), handheld and manual exposure. And totally missed the partial eclipse which happened the same night. So I wonder if someone else in the community got a better shot.

blue moon

04 January 2010

Hats for the New Year - Red and Blue Fedoras

This time I tried again to spend the New Year's Eve on the street with my cameras, where I took a few photos and recorded a few videos (still not ready to be posted, a big video upload is ongoing, they will probably be published only on my photoblog, to keep the noise down). While my main target was the large party in the Constitution Square, I passed by Revolution Square, where they had a smaller party organised by Pro TV/MTV.

I don't know what Google image search the organisers did, but they ended finding fedoras, in both red and blue, to the event looked like secretly sponsored by a Red Hat and Fedora joint:

hats hats

The square was effectively flooded by people wearing those freely distributed hats:
hats hats

However, apparently the red fedoras were in a somewhat larger number:
hats hats

And some people were wearing both type of hats, just like in the real life:

In the middle of the crowd I couldn't plan the photos, so I had to do snapshots, trying to capture as much as possible and select later, so happened with this couple, where I can't decide which photo I like better: in the second one their hats are clearly visible and the image is framed well, but in the first one you can see the joy, the faces, the relation:
hats hats

There is one photo I like the most from the set, it shows how the aurolacs are those with the blue hats (read it as you like, FEdora is for huffers, huffers use Fedora, Fedora will get you high...)

PS: unfortunately, I didn't get hold of any of those hats...