29 December 2010

eog versus Shotwell

eog versus shotwell

I do a lot of photography, having a huge collection of pictures and such, but I see no use for photo managers, like F-Spot or Shotwell (I admit of liking Darktable a lot, but its editing capabilities, not for management and still preferring GIMP for said editing). My "photo management" needs are covered by the following:
  • Nautilus file manager with thumbnail view for images (still trying to adapt myself with the browser view after the departure from spatial view)
  • a few self-made ImageMagick scripts for quick batch processing of large amounts of photos (simple operations like resize or watermarking)
  • a fast and powerful image viewer, which until recently used to be Eye of GNOME (eog) (that's the meat of this post)
  • GIMP for all editing needs, even if they are as small as cropping, sharpening or color adjustment
  • when the photos are taken in raw format (not often) the GIMP UFRaw plugin for import
So... one of the many desktop regressions introduced in the Fedora 14 desktop is affecting the basic image viewer, eog, which became almost unusable: the colors are wrong (see the photo above) and the image loading times are unbearable slow. So I decided to try Shotwell, the new default image viewer in Fedora, which I use only as an image viewer, not as a photo manager, it has correct color reproduction, is fast but lacks many essential features and has horrendous user interface.
Let me sum up the main points (ups and downs) for each of those apps:

Eye of GNOME/eog
  • small, simple, GNOMEy, used to be fast
  • many formats supported
  • wrong color reproduction (compared with GIMP, Firefox, Shotwell on the same system)
  • slow loading times
  • good user interface
  • provides easy access to vital features, like file size, resolution, EXIF data
  • no editing functionality is a non-issue, there are better tools for the job
  • good keyboard shortcuts
  • for GNOME 3 redesigned by a clueless wannabe designer that will break all the good UI things
  • apendage of a photo manager, but still small and relatively simple
  • supports only JPEG and PNG, needing another viewer for image formats as SVG or GIF
  • good colors
  • fast
  • horrendous user interface, no toolbar, no drag&drop, no file open in the menu
  • lacking important features: no EXIF display, no image info (file size, resolution)
  • limited editing, that may satisfy a very beginner
  • lacking important keyboard shortcuts
  • the new default in Fedora but not ready yet IMO
With this said, I am looking forward, with very moderate optimism, to the situation in Fedora 15, where so far everything in nebulous and the upcoming GNOME 3 may make me a temporary refugee in the Xfce camp.

24 December 2010

A book for Xmas

In the middle of the preparations for a sad Christmas a courier rang at the door: "I have a package for Mr. Buculei"... me, in my mind: "WTF? I didn't ordered anything... Oh, it must be the book!"

A few weeks ago a couple of my friends who are writing a FOSS book together (don't ask, they will talk about it when they will feel ready for that) asked me for a review of their proposal, I did it and the publisher offered as compensation a book of my choosing from the InformIT offer. As many of their books, about Microsoft and Adobe products, are uninteresting, my choice was for the single photography book not mentioning Photoshop.


The book is beginner-oriented but at the time I had a friend making the first steps into photography who I am sure would have loved it, so the plan was to give it to her. Now I will start by reading it myself, any book must have something useful to learn.

So... thank you my friends, thank you publisher.

22 December 2010

Ask me about Ubuntu. Not. Or how I disappointed yet another user.

I will acknowledge from the start I know very little about Ubuntu specifics and have a lot many other more important things to do before learning, so when someone I remotely know came and asked a problem by answer was "not sure I can help, shoot".

I was able to diagnose the issue: Pidgin unable to login to Yahoo Messenger because Ubuntu 9.04 is older than Yahoo's latest authentication change, tried to come with a solution, package update, which the user wasn't able to implement (neither sudo apt-get update from terminal, nor from the GUI), I have no idea why... probably because it was a Live USB created from a CD? (it is a temporary solution, while the damaged hard drive of that Windows PC is replaced... not gonna happen very soon, students don't have much money) I don't know... I am familiar with live persistence only on Fedora live media (and recommend only Fedora to those asking me).

The massive download needed for an Ubuntu from this year was not a solution either, so in the end she concluded a pirated Windows XP with no updates or security patches is the better choice. When she will have a hard drive.

How do I feel about this? These days I don't feel anything. How should I feel?

15 December 2010

Second class citizens

Yesterday Fedora Design Team weekly IRC meeting had on its agenda a sketching session about what will become the default wallpaper in Fedora 15, it was supposed to be a new experiment for the team.

Then the bomb dropped: Mo forwarded a "special request" (from the sound of it looks non-negotiable) from the Red Hat Desktop Team: in Fedora 15 the wallpaper in the default spin, the Desktop Live CD, which is under discretionary control of the RHDT, to be the default upstream GNOME 3 wallpaper. The reason: F15 is supposed to be the first distro featuring GNOME 3 and wanting to increase visibility of that feature, it looks to me as a desperate move to pimp GNOME 3 (in the light of Ubuntu ignoring it and going for the competing Unity) and a much awaited dismissal of our team. Also, an insult to the other Fedora spin and a break of the consistency of the user experience. Some people inside Fedora think GNOME branding is more important than the Fedora branding, and they have control of our default image.

To be fair, the proposed wallpaper is made by jimmac, for who's work I have great admiration, and look professionally done, even if a bit bland: a set of vertical blue stripes.

The reactions inside the team ranged (see the log) from outright opposition, to doubts and to surrender to the greater powers. Some brainstorming happened towards a graphic concept that may be an alternative on the default spin and the default on the the [second-class] others.

In the end "we" avoided to draw a conclusion, letting it in suspension, for people to get used to the idea, which later may be showed easily down their throats.

Happy holidays. And bend over.

10 December 2010

RLUG meet, December 2010

Yesterday we had the last LUG meet for this year, and the last in this current location (from next month we need another place, still looking for it). One above another, it was a good one.


I presented, as planned, a lightning talk about creating presentations with Sozi, an Inkscape extension. Then, as the schedule seemed light enough, I continued with some Inkscape demo drawing. Then Petre shared his experience with signatures and cryptography on Linux, Doru continued with a talk about databases and Matei closed with a presentation about a Fully Automated Install (FAI) on Debian.

I should mention there are photos from the event, many of them brought with the contribution of an unexpected helper, thanks a lot!

03 December 2010

Clipart spotting: HotForWords

I do watch constantly a single one YouTube channel, HotForWords where the "teacher" Marina Orlova has weekly lessons about the origins and meanings of various English words, made in a funny style, with a very cute Russian accent and sometime with a sexy blond wig. The show has millions of viewers, is really popular.

Today I was effectively floored seeing in the latest video one of my clipart images, a pencil (used there to illustrate the term "-graphy", "write") appearing suddenly on the screen (around minute 1:19). I have no idea it was taken directly from my clipart collection or from OCAL, but this does not matter, my day is already a lot better see how my Inkscape made, Public Domain released, clipart is used in my favorite show and going to be seen by millions. In an episode about the origins of the word "porn", no less. I feel like I made a difference.


Update: minutes after I published this, here is a folow-up on Marina'a blog. Thanks a lot.