30 March 2013

Starry night

A few weeks ago I gave myself the task to decorate one of the walls inside the home and the first thought was to buy some stickers and put those on the wall. The internet research was disappointing: few options, ugly and very expensive.
Of course my natural reaction was: I do graphics, I can do it myself! But I can't paint the walls myself, I have no experience with painting at such large size for the wall (and my experience with painting is very little, watercolors on paper, back from elementary school), so maybe a better option would be to design the stickers with Inkscape, find a place to print them and use that.
But the time was short and I had no idea where to print large-size wall stickers (plastic), so ultimately I gave-up, bought something offline (in the Chinese market they have some decent ones, low price, pretty enough and from a quality point of view, they will last enough for the price).
Of course my creative self was not happy with the defeat, now I found some free time and designed one of the many ideas I had back then: a set of stars with the moon, all of them with funny faces. I won't use them as stickers, all I can do is to make them available as clipart, if anyone has some need for them.
About the other ideas... we'll see if I get the time and mood to put them down too (less likely, this set was the easiest).

starry night svg

21 March 2013

Call for help: WLMRO

I am relaying the call for help I wrote (in Romanian) to our local Wiki Loves Monuments contest website: it seems like 2013 is the last year when the historical monuments free photography contest is held at international level (to avoid contributors burnout) and perhaps the last we will organize in Romania either (individual countries may continue on their own in the following years).

So 2011 and 2012 were big successes, now for 2013 the organizing team for Romania is smaller, for the contest to happen we need contributors, otherwise is going to be very low profile. Step forward, we need a few contributors, they need a little experience with Wikipedia (really basic things, easy to learn), some communication skills and a lot of enthusiasm. The activity won't take much time and won't be hard (the infrastructure is up and running, ProLinux is helping again). But it will make you feel good, I promise! You will help Wikipedia and promote national history and culture.

Of course, we could use some help from sponsors, so we are able to offer prizes, but participating volunteers are way more important!

15 March 2013


When I learned last summer about the #FREEBASSEL initiative, the move to support the liberation of FOSS developer Bassel Khartabil (Safadi), illegally detained in Syria, I was revolted. Even if I didn't knew him in person, we worked together on projects like the Open Clip Art Library. I signed the petition and helped spreading the word. Still, I wouldn't imagine it will take so long.

There are two news about him, one good and another bad. The good news, apparently he is alive, the bad news he is still illegally detained, with no formal charges against him and no trial is sight. So much that his supporters organize the 1st Annual #FREEBASSELDAY today, on 15 March 2013, one year after his arresting in Damascus. Honestly, to see this planned as a yearly action is very discouraging, I know one can argue with non-democratic governments, but I still hope he won't be jailed for one more year.

04 March 2013

Wikipedia and the internet-savy monument burglars

These days when we should start this year's edition of Wiki Loves Monuments (I had on my TODO to write a call for contributions, since the team is smaller) a scandal appeared: a local cable news channel aired a report about historical monuments plundered by internet-savy burglars (video and story in Romanian).
In August 2011 a historical monument, the wooden church in Urisiu de Jos was plundered. Stolen were icons and other works dating from the XVI century, valuated at over 100.000€ on the black market. In two months the band plundered a total of 8 wooden churches, historical monuments, stealing around 120 icons, valuated at over 1.000.000€.

Romania Mures Urisiu de Jos cross 135
wooden church in Urișiu de Jos, Mureș, photo by Țetcu Mircea Rareș, CC-BY-SA
The priests in charge of those churches found the scapegoat: they blame the internet. Those monuments were pretty much unknown and undocumented, except on Wikipedia, where the volunteers gathered data and images for public use. The burglars used Wikipedia to learn about the places (check the above-mentioned page, it has a bit of information and a bunch of pictures, normal, if not even low, for a historical monument). It does not matter the churches lacked locks, fences, alarms, surveillance systems (as required by law for a monument), the internet is to blame for making the information public).
Is also worth mentioning the police also used the same Wikipedia articles as the burglars, since there was no other info available for them to use, the churches didn't have even lists with the valuable objects, so police used the photos to identify the stolen icons. Still, they recovered 85 of the 120 stolen icons.
Romania Mures Urisiu de Jos iconostasis 39
wooden church in Urișiu de Jos, Mureș, photo by Țetcu Mircea Rareș, CC-BY-SA
I fear now a chilling effect, which may go two ways: on one hand, priests may be uncooperative with photographers working for Wiki Loves Monuments 2013, or for Wikipedia in general, or with any photographers interested in historical monuments (the large part of historical monuments in Romania are churches). On the other hand, photographers may be scared for getting into trouble (the Wikipedia contributor worked with the police as a witness.)