29 October 2012

Halloween wallpapers

By tradition, the autumn Fedora release was targeted for the Tuesday after Halloween (this is for logistic purposes but also in the honor of the first RHL release ever, what happened in a Halloween day). But also a Fedora tradition is to delay releases, very few releases happened exactly on the planned day. Anyway, F18 is so far a kind of a champion in this area, the release was delayed 5 times already and, with some luck on the Tuesday after Halloween we hay have the Beta and a final release before the Christmas. So if you have no Halloween toy, here are a few free wallpapers to play with.

halloween wallpaper
halloween wallpaper
halloween wallpaper
halloween wallpaper
halloween wallpaper

24 October 2012

That's my transnational ID ma'am

At the 2011 FOSDEM (in February) the Fedora booth had an interesting attraction, there Jan had a mobile office (a laptop, a camera, a printer and a lamination device) and was busy producing Transnational Republic IDs, which many of us wanted, for the kicks (a funny anecdote: my ID was "good" only after the third try, small errors continued to appear, so he called me an "expensive customer"). I don't think I used the ID for anything so far.

Fast forward half a year, in August when going to FLOSSCamp we switched from the train to a bus in the city of Brașov and in the bus station I "lost" my walled (actually, it was a pickpocket who stole it) with national ID card, money, banking card and the transnational ID was there too. I was at the mercy of friends from the FLOSS community for the rest of the trip. But we managed it and the camp was fun.

Fast forward a year and a couple of months: I am called urgently at the local police station, the office for national IDs. I receive my lost transnational ID, it was found and, even if not recognizing its utility, they called me to return the lost item.

Now I am not sure what to do, applaud the police for returning my lost item or make fun of them for taking so long (~14 months). But surely I should applaud Jan, his product made some public administration workers do something and this is a success.

23 October 2012

...and the winners are:

The results of the Romanian Wiki loves Monuments 2012 photo contest are in, 10 pictures were selected by the national jury and they will go forward in the international contest, together with pictures from the other 35 participating countries. The winners are:
Brasov - Casa Sfatului Flickr - fusion-of-horizons - Ateneul Român (4) Biserica "Sf. Nicolae". Biserica de lamn tisa halmagiu arad romania Biserica "Adormirea Maicii Domnului" Strei
Carta- intrare Casa Muzeul Astra Castelul Bran, cruce Schitul Crasna-panorama stitch12 Turn clopotniță
For now the winners are urged, if they didn't do it already, to make sure they entered provided an email address in the Wikipedia preferences, so they can be contacted for prizes.

19 October 2012

Custom grids with GIMP

A few days ago on #fedora-art a photographer friend of mine showed a picture on some site and asked " how to make fine grid like this using various layers". The image was similar with:

watermark removal

My quick reply was:
  • one idea would be to use some guides and then align your selection to guides
  • other idea: you know the image size, so you can adjust the selection at pixel-level by coordinates
  • another idea would be to generate masks automatically with some program, as images, and then import them
  • yet another idea, use the slice plugin to cut the image in distinct parts
Then I added: "using guides is the easiest, i believe". Since my reply was brief and expecting some pre-existing editing knowledge and since such custom grids can be used for various purposes, like interface and layout design, I will expand here in a full tutorial the use of GIMP guides.

So, fire-up GIMP and open the image to want to edit:

watermark removal

You can add guides from the menu: Image > Guides > New Guide. I know the majority of my readers are geeks and they won't settle for anything less than perfection, so they will use "by percent" only when they know the percents will align perfectly to pixels and they are perfectly capable to do the math, divide to whatever is needed (3 here) and use pixel alignment.

watermark removal

read more

18 October 2012

A kind of Stockholm syndrome

tooth paste

I have at home a tube of tooth paste with a horrible taste, I totally dislike it. However, on its back is an inscription, it is supposed to take some familiarization time, in the first week of use you don't like it "Salty/Acquired taste", then in the second week you are expected to get used to it "Positive Familiarization Effect" and after that "Very Refreshing/Good Taste". This made me wonder is is a kind of Stockholm syndrome, you stay with the bad taste, hopping to finally like it and continue using it, despite hating it. I'm in the first week, so each time while washing my teeth, I eagerly await the final part, to rinse my mouth with clean water and escape the tooth paste taste.

This made me think about some desktop software which I hate and some people tell me to use it anyway, until it will grow on me and I will start to like it. That's probably another, but similar, type of Stockholm syndrome. You force yourself in a suboptimal situation, until your brain fives up and lies to itself into "liking" it. I actually did myself a few times too, forced myself into using the "spatial" Nautilus mode because it was the default and people saying it is supposed to be good, got used to it and then missed it when the fad moved to "browser" mode again.

The two cases above may be similar, but only up to a point: the tooth paste will be emptied soon (I wonder if before or after the date I am supposed to "love" it) and guaranteed the next one will be a different brand, while desktop software is something you use years and years. Also, a bad taste in the tooth paste is lasting a few minutes a day and then disappear, leaving you with the benefit of healthier gum, while a horrible software will make your life worse all day long while using it and will also make you unproductive, no benefit in sight.

Update: the tube lasted until day 34, much beyond the time I was supposed to start loving it, I hated it until the last day. Now, back to a "regular" toothpaste, it feels kind of sweet, too sweet, but I don't have the impulse to cut out my tongue and throw it to the trash can.

12 October 2012

Wikipedia images: remove watermarks with GIMP

During the Wiki Loves Monuments 2012 photgraphy contest we received quite a few of photos containing watermarks or signatures, which is pretty dumb considering the images are licensed freely (Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike) and they are intended for Wikipedia use, such a watermark will make them less usefull and the free license will allow editors do clean them. Let me quote from Wikimedia Commons why is a bad idea to watermark your uploads:

  • Watermarks can be unfree, if they feature a logo or any copyrighted image.
  • They may contain copyright statements, which affect the reuseability of the image.
  • They detract from the quality of images
  • They can negatively influence the neutrality of images, or be considered advertising, and cannot be used on certain projects
  • Images with watermarks are far less likely to be used
  • Watermarks will be, in most cases, removed anyway by image editors - uploading a watermarked version only creates a lot of extra work for other volunteers

But Wikipedia is an inclusive project, your contributions are accepted, even if defective, with watermarks making them less useful. Of course, you do it on your own risk, they won't be nominated as quality images and won't receive any prize. You may get contacted by an editor, asking for a clean verion, you can help or not.

If you are an editor wanting to clean such pictures, Wikipedia also has some help for you, but this help is geared more to Photoshop users, with the GIMP part focusing more on loseless JPEG editing than watermark cleaning. If the cleaning is bad, the loseless part is less important, methinks, so this is why I will show here a few GIMP techniques. I am using for demonstration real files, submitted by a participant, Antonius Plaian in the Romanian Wiki Loves Monuments 2012 contest.


The easiest way to remove an unwanted part of the image is by cropping it, of course, this will work only if the watermark/signature does not cover an important part of the image, like this Raibow over Timișoara:

watermark removal

There are downsizes to cropping, some (hopefully unimportant) data is lost and the composition is afected, the image won't look as intended any more. Is simple and sometime may work.

watermark removal

However, if cropping does not work, we can use more advanced techniques.

read more

11 October 2012

From G+ with love

The Fedora community is very active on Google Plus, with many community members being active there and sharing interesting things (generally on g+ you will find quality stuff about technology, photography, politics and such). I thought about sharing a recent one.

It starts with a humorous picture about the repeated F18 release delay:

by D.J. Walker-Morgan on g+

Then it get shared by various people, leading to interesting conversation where high Fedora contributors talk about the feature process, Anaconda new UI, testing plans, development cycles, FESCo and such. Worth a read, is public.

Appreciating the humour, I share it myself only to get another humorous reply "next fedora should be called Fedora Nukem Forever"... yeah, I know the naming process for the next Fedora started, but the anal geek in me shouts: that's the next Fedora, the delayed one is the current F18, Spherical Cow, too late to change that without adding another delay... oh wait! that would be priceless!

10 October 2012

LIF by numbers

A couple of days ago I wrote my impressions after the Linux Install Fest, but didn't have exact numbers to back my impressions. Now the organizers published the stats, I can see the numbers and play with them.

How successful it was? 118 people participated, 117 solved their problems, one failed (AFAIK the had the hard drive filled with 4 Windows primary partitions, not enough free space to resize any of them, no external storage to move the data out). From the 117 successful installs, 116 were on real hardware, one in a virtual machine. There is no data on how many went with a Windows/Linux dual boot, but empirically I can say a large majority.

What people wanted? From the 118 participants, 48 asked for Debian, 65 for Ubuntu, 3 for Mint and 2 for openSUSE. Other distros were available (including Fedora), but people didn't request them. Here's a graph for easy view:

install fest requests

What people got? A number of Debian installs failed, due to lack of drivers or other unmentioned causes, so 8 people moved to Ubuntu instead. Other user was persuaded to go from Debian to Trisquel. Final installs by distro are as this: 72 Ubuntu installs, 39 Debian installs, 3 Mint installs, 2 openSUSE installs, 1 Trisquel install, 1 failure. Graphed below:

install fest results

As mentioned in the previous post, the university is very Debian centric, so is expected for the students to prefer Debian or derivatives, but this is not very unlike the general usage stats in Romania.

09 October 2012

How to beat yourself

It took a while, but finally the last year edition of the Wiki Loves Monuments free photography contest was officially recognized as a Guinness World Record for the world’s largest photography competition, with 168,208 from over 5,400 participants.

world record
All nice and fine, but this record is not poised to last long, it will be broken by this year's edition of the same Wiki Loves Monuments, with more than double number of photos and almost triple number of participants. That's is, beating our own record by a large margin. Hopefully, this time it will be officially recognized faster, since the procedures started much eariler. And remember, it is a free culture project, run entirely by volunteers, yay for community!

08 October 2012

Linux Install Fest 2012: checked!

My week-end was full, but between shooting at a 3 nights long metal festival, a marathon and a traditional food festival, I managed to find the time and attend this year edition of the Linux Install Fest in Bucharest. organized by ROSEdu.

install fest
I didn't stay until the end, but it was, as expected, quite big: attendants, helpers and staff at something around 100 people, not bad at all. An opportunity to see a lot of first year students from the Politehnica University but also old friends from various local communities.
install fest
The most installed distro there was Debian (with a classic GNOME 2 interface), that's what is installed in the university labs and that's what the most students want on their machines. The second choice was Ubuntu, because is popular and close to Debian. Other distros like openSUSE or Fedora are seen like something students can play with later, when they have more experience.
install fest
Old Linux people have the tendency to say "install fests are not needed any more, you can install a distro now with a series of mouse clicks", however this is not entirely true, many of them had problems, the top two ones i saw was lack of available partitions and space (all the hard drive filled with 4 primary Windows partitions) and a broken post-install GRUB, which does not list the old Windows install any more (everyone is dual-booting).
install fest
On a side of the hall there was a series of "demo" machines, I noticed there a Debian, a MINT, a Fedora, an openSUSE and, for the laughs, a Hanna Montana Linux (a couple of guys moved to replace that with Trisquel). I saw nobody playing with the MINT, HM or Fedora machines.
install fest
On the Fedora side, Răzvan Sandu offered himself to man the demo station, but with the lack of activity there, he roamed the place and used his charm with Debian users, giving talks on general FOSS issues. The machine itself was total boring: a bland Desktop install with only GNOME Shell and no application to show, it was sitting there and displaying the desktop wallpaper.
install fest
Actually I saw one of the helpers showing a student the demo station and when getting to the Fedora one he said "this is Fedora, it has an unusual interface, unlike you know from the lab" and then, probably after noticing me, he added "but is still a Linux, with the same working".
install fest
Myself, I took pictures, trolled a little and helped a bit with a couple of Ubuntu installs and an openSUSE, but didn't stay until the final parts with beer and such. Also, I used the opportunity to play a bit with MINT and Cinnamon, still looking forward for MATE.
install fest
Overall, the event was useful and well organized, waiting for the next year edition.

03 October 2012

Hipsterize your photos with a IPhone 5-like purple haze

The web is stormed by a wave of purple hazed photos, poised to quickly become the hip trend. Not having any defectiveiPhone 5 camera nearby, I will try to make somehow my photos cooler, having only some pictures and an installation of GIMP on my old Fedora desktop.

What I need is a picture with a bit of back light, the light may come from the sun, from a window or even from a lamp, the important part it seems it have to be opposed to my camera. Open that picture with The GIMP.


Then some additional lens flare has to be put into place (my picture had a bit of lens flare, the lens hood on my ultra-wide lens is... not perfect), I use for that the Supernova filter: Filters > Light and Shadow > Supernova


A few parameters have to be adjusted


Change the color to a light pink/purple, move the center of nova in the desired place, increase the radius (64 for me) and decrease the number of spokes (12 for me)


Apply the filter and feel superior.


On a second thought, I could have applied the filter on a new empty layer and have the optional advantage of adjusting the effect strength with the layer opacity, but I am too lazy to re-take the screenshots, it was close enough and my photo is already tremendously better. Yours can be to.