31 March 2010

Manifest pentru un proiect deschis eRomania / Manifesto for an open eRomanaia project

[RO] Manifest pentru un proiect deschis eRomania

Un grup de iniţiativă pentru susţinerea a şapte principii în realizarea unei eRomânii deschise:
1. Accesul deschis la întreg conţinutul creat în cadrul proiectului, disponibil pe Internet
2. Publicarea într-un format deschis a tuturor datelor publice obţinute în cadrul unei activităţi finanţate cu bani publici
3. Reutilizarea conţinutului deja disponibil pe Internet. (inclusiv cel pus de instituţii publice)
4. Utilizarea formatelor şi standardelelor deschise în cadrul proiectului eRomania
5. Publicarea tuturor programelor de calculator dezvoltate din bani publici pe un site specializat şi sub licenţe deschise
6. Respectarea standardelor de accesibilitate
7. Realizarea unor proiecte necesare pentru domeniul public, nu concurarea cu sectorul privat

Cititi mai multe si semnati

[EN] Manifesto for an open eRomanaia project

An initiative group for supporting seven principles for an open eRomania:
1. Open access to the entire content created inside the project, available on the Internet
2. Publising in an open format all the public data obtained in activities financed with public money
3. Reuse of the content already existing on the Internet (including the content created by the public institutions)
4. Use of open formats and open standards inside the eRomania project
5. Publising all the computer programs created with public money on a specialised website and under free licenses
6. Compliance with the accessibility standards
7. Implementing orjects needed for the public domain, not competing with the private sector

Red more and sign

Making of: Document Freedom Day photos

The tools are far from perfect, so my struggle to put out a "making of" video and encourage people to spread the friendly photos for Document Freedom Day encountered a lot of setbacks, so in the end I had to put out two versions, one in Flash for the larger audience and another one in Ogg Theora (keeping my money in the same place with my mouth) for those who care about Freedom and have the bandwidth:

dfd video dfd video

Since I was busy with the photo camera, most of the video was recorded by Adrian, for whom it was the first time doing something like this. Thanks Adrian!

PS: YouTube FAIL, Blip.tv FAIL, ffpmeg2theora FAIL, OggConvert FAIL.

Document Freedom Day / Ziua Eliberarii Documentelor

For the 2010 edition of the Document Freedom Day, a group of 10 enthusiasts, a flag, a camera and a photographer got lose on the streets of Bucharest in a nice, sunny, spring day taking a bunch of photos in front of a number of buildings of the Public Administration with a simple message: Nu va putem citi documentele! / We can't read your documents!".

ziua eliberarii documentelor/document freedom day

Today, on the Document Freedom Day / Ziua Eliberarii Documentelor, if you like our idea, be invited to goo to the page, choose one or more photos that you like and spread them in any way and any media you see fit (the photos are freely licensed as CC-BY-SA).
ziua eliberarii documentelor/document freedom day

30 March 2010

Breath, think, wait, DFD

This morning when going to work I meet this neighbour (we meet once in a few months, today he was on foot, probably his wife seized the car) who works as a programmer in the police. He politely asked, for conversation sake, about my doings, which was all I needed and got fired and telling about a cool action for Document Freedom Day that will happen tomorrow.

Much to my surprise (the police, as the rest of the public administration in Romania is totally owned by Microsoft from a software use point of view), he easily understood the problem but, this time not much to my surprise, for him open document specs is RTF and OOXML is "that XML thing in the new Microsoft Office" (that's speaking of MS Office 2007 in 2010).

Speaking of documents formats, we go to PDFs (about he was not aware the specs are public) and his current intention to write a library for creating PDF files. Used with the FLOSS way of thinking my reaction was: why write a library when there are tons of them available under a Free license? and gave a few examples (OK, I don't know and don't want to know about libraries for .NET, that he is using - remember, total Microserfs). The reaction was a classic one from the Windows world: the free apps have limited functionality, you have to pay for more features. Duh!

OK, I am in the right mood for celebrating the DFD!

I worship Satan (NOT) and the community must do so (again, NOT)

OK, I don't worship Satan, as I don't worship anything (I like to call me a knowledgeable atheist, someone who has a bit of knowledge before choosing his religious beliefs - or the lack of them), but as one of my photos was referenced in relation with Satanism in a recent flamewar on the ambassadors list, which nearly ended with one resignation (it was not my fault, I swear it!), I felt the need to put out my views on it.

This is the photo that started it all:


And the comment I left on Nelson's blog (at this very moment awaiting in the moderation queue until he is asleep):

I was busy in the last days, so when I saw the discussion on the mailing list didn't follow it (lacking the time) but since I am the photographer who did it, let me give some input.

First, let me say I am fully aware that *no matter what* body gesture you use in a photo, there will be at least one region of the world where it will be considered offensive, the world cultures are so diverse. As a consequence, in many cases the advertisers restrain themselves to "safe" but (IMO) boring pictures, where they don't show any gesture. I think this spoil a lot of the fun, but I am not a marketer, I don't sell anything, I am just an amateur photographer doing it for fun.

Now let me tell the story behind this photo: it was made at the Berlin FUDCon in 2009, when my Italian colleagues and friends wanted a group photo, so I took a series of shots where they behaved freely while having fun, it was not posed at all. From this series I choose one that came focused and framed best and put it online together with many other pictures from the event. Later, when Mairin formatted the one page release notes, she probably considered the photo illustrative for the fun we have doing Fedora and used a crop from it.

No one intended the picture as the horns sign and, honestly, it is not: it uses different fingers, as I can see it was already pointed on the list. I would hate a Fedora community where we watch over our every little gesture, afraid of offending someone (but at the same time, I am know for my habit of challenging the "political correctness" with my former webcomic and such).

PS: not that the comment on Nelson's blog I fired, I regret only letting out a small detail: I am an amateur photographer with a heavy (East) European bias.

19 March 2010

March videos up at last

Follow-up to a follow-up: my video editing problem was solved quickly, but then I got distracted by some photography stuff, so only a couple of days ago got to focus again on editing the videos from the March RLUG meet, but finally I managed to get the work done:

Gherila de Document Freedom Day

Miine, simbata 20 martie, este nevoie de citiva voluntari, baieti si
fete, pentru o actiune de fotografie stradala pregatitoare a unei
campanii virale pentru Document Freedom Day.

Daca vi se pare interesant si vreti sa ne distram citeva ore pe strazile
Bucurestiului, contactati-ma pentru mai multe detalii si pentru adresa
paginii wiki unde se coordoneaza evenimentul.

15 March 2010

Using the cards

For a couple of days I am pondering about publishing this follow-up: on one hand I know some friends from the community would like it, on the other I think some other would think this is useless bragging. But in the end I did a sanity check with an external opinion. Remember those business cards I made for myself last week? I already started using them like this and they are requested like hot cakes:


However, the cards are asked before seeing the design, so probably having a drawing with a sad bearded guy with a sword is not the recipe for success, the size is.

12 March 2010

Less pissed, back to work


No, I wasn't that pissed and I am after nobody, just used the opportunity with the photo above to show my new toys tatica style. Thanks to a lot of wonderful people in the community and especially Rex who pointed the solution, my video editing problem is solved, I had to update the kdenlive package from rmpfusion updates testing (long story short, the problem was known, the patch was coming, just a bit delayed). Is late today so the videos will have to wait for the next week, but in the meantime people can get themselves busy with photos from the RLUG presentations.

Now that I am not pissed anymore, let me tell a story with Microsoft, which I found cute:

So far our LUG meetings were hosted by a company who was king enough to offer us a nice room in very affordable conditions (however, starting next month we will probably move in a more central and easily reachable location) and in the middle of our meeting we had a surprise visit from 3 people: the company manager and a couple of guests, a former manager in a major phone company and, the icing on the cake, the former general manager of Microsoft Romania and Microsoft South East Europe (also I believe the founder of Microsoft Romania) - they had a business meeting and then came to see the geeks, probably like at the Zoo :D

I found funny how the ex-Microsoftie found hard to understand how we are not managers in a boring business talk, but enthusiast people having great time together. I also found funny the question about our opinion on Windows 7 (rpetre's answer was spot on "for a Windows is OK") and the sales pitch for the Google Apps clone from Microsoft. In the end, all was good, we even got a round of beers "on the house" (from CG&GC, not from MS).

No video for you (at least not today)

I am pissed. So pissed that my language will probably stronger than usual. I have work to do but I can't.

Yesterday was the March RLUG meet where I recorded videos of all presentations and I was supposed to start today editing, uploading and sharing them. Unfortunately, Kdenlive, the tool I settled on after extensive research refuse to cooperate: is broken when placing clips on the tracks. It must be the massive yum update I performed a couple of days ago after a long time of laziness: I see in the logs updates for mlt, kdelibs-common and qt, it should be one of them. I can do a yum downgrade for mlt and kdelibs-common, but that's even worse: "kdenlive: error while loading shared libraries: libmlt.so.2: cannot open shared object file".

I don't know what conclusion to draw from here:

  • stop doing any updates
  • stop using KDE apps
  • stop hoping Linux can ever be used for video editing
I don't have the time (nor the patience) for drawing insightful conclusion or for debugging the problem, I have plenty of work to do today, including selecting, editing and publishing some photos from the same event (and forget about the funny story about when the Microsoft guys crashed our meeting).

For the short term, there are a couple of possible solutions for me:
  • put the videos on keep and forget about them for a while (I hope my next week will be even busier with some photography stuff), maybe another update will fix the things and I can continue with the work
  • turn back to the only trused and reliable video editor available for Fedora, mencoder (PiTiVi is useless, Kino can't do HD, Avidemux is a tool for a different job, Kdenlive just let me down and I don't think we have something else in an usable repository) and do only some rough work before uploading - just splitting and merging, no titles, no effects, no nothing.
I was close from not publishing this angry rant, as in the context of the large discussion about updates in Fedora it can be misread as an endorsement of the Board's vision, which is not, I like a lot feature upgrades and staying on the bleeding edge, I just want those updates to be less broken. If the Board's vision becomes reality, I will probably see myself forced to use Rawhide more and more, endure even bigger pains and in the long term become even more frustrated.

10 March 2010

Drawing a rocket with Inkscape is not rocket science

Many places I go I meet people telling how much they liked graphic tutorials and how much they learned about using GIMP and Inkscape following theb, and this makes me feel bad, as I am quite busy lately with a lot of things (video and photography ate a lot of my time) and rarely manage to write something new. But here is a perfect opportunity, Fedora 13 entered Alpha and had a code name (Goddard) and so far a visual theme based on rocketry, so it seems a tutorial titled "Drawing a rocket with Inkscape is not rocket science" would be just fit.

The target here is to produce something like this, not extremely realistic but easily recognizable as a rocket and the most important, fun (hopefully) and easy to create by someone who is using Inkscape for the first time.

inkscape rocket howto

So start Inkscape and draw a rectangle, which must be more tall than wide (we are drawing a rocket!) and have straight, not rounded corners.
inkscape rocket howto

Then select it and convert to path, we will do node editing.
inkscape rocket howto

Now go in node editor and select the two top nodes. The following operation can be done (as far as I know) only from keyboard: press Ctrl + Alt + > to enlarge the segment, the result should be a trapezium with the big side up.
inkscape rocket howto

With the same two top nodes selected, add a new node in the middle of their segment.
inkscape rocket howto

Select the new node (only it) and move it up (keep the Ctrl key pressed to limit the movement to vertical only).
inkscape rocket howto

Select back the two nodes that were the top corners of the rectangle and make them symmetric, for a shape starting to look like a bullet/rocket.
inkscape rocket howto

To finish the bullet shape of the rocket body we need to make the bottom edge rounded: select the two bottom corners, add a new node in the middle, select it, move a bit up and made it symmetric, now we have a bullet, an aerodynamic shape.
inkscape rocket howto

A rocket needs some "wings", so we will create another rectangle, this time much smaller.
inkscape rocket howto

Select the rectangle and click on it once, this will put in in rotate/skew mode so we need to skew it a bit my dragging on the arrow on one of its edges.
inkscape rocket howto

Move it in position, next to the rocket body.
inkscape rocket howto

Again, in rotate/skew mode, rotate it a bit by dragging one of the arrows at the corners, until we like the alignment. Note: no worry if the alignment is not perfect, lower it under the body and when filled with color this won't be noticeable.
inkscape rocket howto

Select the wing and duplicate it.
inkscape rocket howto

Flip the new (duplicate) wing horizontally and move it to the other side of the rocket body (keep Ctrl pressed to limit the movement to horizontal).
inkscape rocket howto

The wing facing us is another thin rectangle, with the same height as the other wings (technically, we should have two rectangles, one for each edge, but for now use one for simplicity). To center the new wing to the rocket body, select it and the body, then use the Align and Distribute dialog to align them horizontally relative to the biggest item (the body).
inkscape rocket howto

Now you know what is needed for a funny rocket? A window, so the astronauts inside can look at the space. Start by drawing a circle, which will be the windows frame (I think I am boring repeating this, but keep Ctrl pressed, so what you draw is a round circle not an ellipse).
inkscape rocket howto

Select the circle and the rocket body and align vertically to the center of the body.
inkscape rocket howto

Another smaller circle will be the real window.
inkscape rocket howto

Select the two circles and align them horizontally and vertically.
inkscape rocket howto

Now color the items, using either the color palette at the bottom, the Fill and Stroke button in the toolbar or any of the other possible ways (there are quite a few). A rocket is usually silverish, so use shades of gray.
inkscape rocket howto

If you want the rocket less realistic but screaming "Fedora", make those grays a bit bluish or go the extra mile and straightly use the Fedora colors (light and dark blue).
inkscape rocket howto

Back to our rocket, let's make it fly. Take the Bezier tool (pen) and draw freely a few spikes, they will be the flame.
inkscape rocket howto

Color the flame red or a redish orange and lower it under the rocket body.
inkscape rocket howto

The core of the flame is supposed to be warmer, so let's draw a new set of smaller spikes in yellow.
inkscape rocket howto

Optionally, if we want the rocket cruising, not just taking-off, select everything and rotate a bit.
inkscape rocket howto

A bit of beautification never hurt, so let's make the rocket a bit more realistic (if you can call that "realistic") and less cartoon. Remove the strokes (for example using the Fill and Stroke dialog) and use silver gradients for all metallic surfaces, do this by using the Gradient tool, dragging and editing colors.
inkscape rocket howto

Fill everything with gradients, including the flames and the window.
inkscape rocket howto

Select the inner (yellow) flame and using the Fill and Stroke dialog Blur it a bit for a more realistic (and prettier) look.
inkscape rocket howto

Blur also the outer (red/orange) flame. And that's about all.
inkscape rocket howto

Now our rocket can take-of and fly proudly. Go to the stars and beyond them!
inkscape rocket howto

09 March 2010

Fedora Webcomic, F13 Alpha Special: Goddard

Very few followed my riddle and to my knowledge nobody guessed the answer, but the time has come for the first part of the trilogy, today the day for the Fedora 13 Alpha release.

fedora webcomic: goddard

It was not hard at all, the riddle was "the first one is titled just like a name" and its answer "Goddard", as in the rocket scientist and the F13 codename. The next one, "is about trekish cannon-fodder" is slightly harder, but still trivial for any respectable geek.

Now gotta run, I have a localised announcement to write...

Introducing myself

When I was hit by the need of some business cards and considered the Fedora contributor ones are not fit for the tasks and the ones from my day job are even worse, I decided I need to make some. Fired Inkscape up and got playing with it.
The inspiration came easy: after I saw rejon using his avatar/head icon/hackergotchi on business cards and people recognizing him from that, I knew I have to use one of my avatars too. Not sure what to choose, I conducted a small survey on #fedora-art, but ended not following the advice, most people considered my choice looking too sad, but I feel it is representative. Sorry guys, it was a close call though.


If the narrow depth of field allows (it doesn't :D), one could notice there is nothing "design" related in the area of competency, but I started with "graphics. The words have been carefully selected, as I don't feel comfortable calling me a designer: observing what is happening in FLOSS it make me think more and more about a designer touch being some king of opposite Midas touch, the things turn to crap instead of gold.

It may be that I am an engineer at heart (I worked as an engineer for almost the entire time I remember), but I find myself preferring software applications designed by engineers[*], not by professional designers: I liked Pidgin better before it started become "designed", Thunderbird 3 makes me uncomfortable, I am glad we Linux users were spared by the "keyhole" abomination in Firefox (however, the mockups for FF4 are really scary) and don't get me started on GNOME Shell...

[*] sure, I can provide plenty of examples of horrible design made by engineers, but that's beside the point.

OCAL 2.0: Finally, an usable Open Clip Art Library

This is new and awesome: the new interface for the Open Clip Art Library is at least what we waited for all those 6 years since the project was founded. Not the images can be browsed visually (can you imagine an image gallery lacking such feature? OCAL was it...)


The site is powered now by Aiki Framework, a "a new and flexible PHP+MYSQL platform that allows designers and programmers to easily create and work with content management systems from the web" (quote from the press release).

Actually, I think is not very accurate to call it "OCAL 2.0", I think it should more like "3.0", the 1.0 version was the mess put together by us at first that compromised freedesktop.org a few years ago (that happens if you force artist types code :D), then 2.0 was ccHost, that was not really intended for images but for music and now we have a third version which is something usable... hmmmm, I can think about a big software company in Redmond which is famous for having its products usable only starting with the third version, it must be just a coincidence :D

Now I think I should upload some more clipart...

03 March 2010

Rock it

It looks like everybody is rocking the planet except me, wonderer with pink ponies and disco balls and mchua with happy people, ponies and disco balls again. Is time for me to join the fray, rocking as hard as I can (with a bit of help from my little cartoonish friends):

f13 rock it

Warm and fuzzy

As Fedora lacks a warm an fuzzy mascot (and every time something like that was tried it was received with a very strong and vocal opposition), I had to use for this photo session the same old Tux penguin. So there is no way I can turn this photo series into some distro-related wallpapers or posters.

It is worth noting the model is a CS student who understand and likes the principles of Free software and Free culture but still uses Windows on her laptop, so the message is almost true :D


Speaking about distro-specific fanmade artwork, I found very amusing an Ubuntu call for artists with a note like "Important: If you use Adobe Creative Suite be sure to save your art in a CS3-compatible format." ...I think I should download Ubuntu and give it a try to see what is about this CS3-thingy, it seems like some cool stuff available only for Ubuntu users (yum search CS3 returns nothing).