31 October 2007


I promised yesterday a Fedora Games related cartoon, not is the time to keep my word:

[fedora games werewolf]

Did you know we have a strong Games SIG and one of the awesome things coming in Fedora 8 will be an official games spin in the format of a live DVD (and maybe a live CD also)?

30 October 2007

Werewolf notebook stickers

Initially I planed to post today a game themed Werewolf cartoon, but considering the succes of the recent Fedora Certificate of Authenticity and the older Fedora notebook stickers I decided to make a few Werewolf themed notebook stickers and re-schedule the games cartoon for tomorrow (which help me a lot, I still have to work a bit on it).

fedora fedora fedora

As usual, SVG sources are included.

29 October 2007

Fedora Certificate of Authenticity

Based upon an Ubuntu design (thangs guys for making it GPL) here is the Fedora Certificate of Authenticity your computer case is waiting for:

[fedora certificate of authenticity]
SVG source included

note: I changed the fonts to better match our branding and converted text to path.

26 October 2007

Werewolf CD/DVD labels

Silliness of the day: CD/DVD labels with the lycanthrope, both in Black&White and full color, complete with transparent areas and SVG sources (the PNG thumbnails simulate the silver surface with a gradient):

fedora cdart fedora cdart

Scary Haloween with Werewolves

I planned to show this cartoon out only next, in time for Halloween, but as it was unveiled already in another place, here is it:

(source available as SVG, made with Inkscape)

25 October 2007

Fedora, bananas, what's in my mind?

Exercise to the reader: what I wanted to say with this image?

(note: source available as SVG for your enjoyment and remixes)

And the winner is:
Marland V. Pittman said...
"I believe you are saying that Ubuntu consumes all the innovation that Fedora puts out."

GIMP 2.4 released!

[gimp 2.4]The other day I blogged about my GIMP 2.4 new features review and in a wonderful (and not planned) turn of events, just a day after the review was published, Gimp 2.4 got released!

24 October 2007

Red Hat Magazine: GIMP 2.4 preview

[gimp]Red Hat Magazine published a preview of the GIMP 2.4 new features I think are the most important, among them: improved selector and crop tools, healing, red eye removal, perspective clone, SIOX extractor.

The truth is, I had in my mind a different schedule and the article was intended to be published earlier and be followed by various tutorials and screencasts, but in the end all went for the good: my article got delayed but also the final GIMP 2.4 release got delayed.
However considering the freeze, most likely Fedora 8 will ship with RC3 and the final release (which for the most part should be identical) will be pushed as an update.
Enjoy Fedora 8 and Enjoy GIMP 2.4!

23 October 2007

Distro deathmatch: Werewolf versus Gibbon (poll and cartoon)

[werewolf]Here is an imagination exercise: picture in your mind an arena and inside it, facing each other, a werewolf and a gibbon.

Who would win? The mighty and fierce lycanthrope or the weak and lame monkey?
Add your vote below and, if you feel like, explain your vote in the comments section.

PollPub.com VoteWho would win in a deathmatch: Werewolf versus Gibbon

View Results

Poll powered by PollPub.com Free Polls

Spins, multimedia, Knoppix

We had recently a very long thread on the marketing list and, inevitably, at some point someone claimed the most important feature of Fedora and the reasoun use it is livna with its multimedia codecs (this is somewhat like Goodwin's law, if a thread is long enough, it have to get to the multimedia problem).
Personally, I am content with livna and consider it easy enough but here is some anecdotal evidence showing how some people leave Fedora due to its lack of multimedia abilities right out of the box and backing the argument about livna to some degree:

I recently meet an old buddy of me, cdriga, from OpenOffice.org, with whom I have not talked in a long while. He was a long time RHL and Fedora user, I even used to supply him with install CDs back when he had a flaky internet connection (around RHL 9, IIRC).
From topic to topic he told me "I am a Debian user now, by the way of Knoppix". My reaction: "WTF, is Knoppix still alive? Wasn't it killed already by Ubuntu/Kubuntu?" and his reply: "is very cool, you can install the live CD on your hard drive and you have alll the multimedia codecs right from the start, I installed it even for some relatives and they like it".

At this point I told him a few things about Fedora's latest developments with live media and spins, but this can't beat multimedia working out of the box! Maybe a couple of years ago, when, before a career change, he used to do a lot more programming, I could have lured him with the developer spin featuring the latest Eclipse on top of Iced Tea (and close the circle, as he talked me into using Eclipse).

However, do not listen to my anecdotal experience, better read cdriga's own words about his Linux history (I read it and my first reaction was like "Yuck! XMMS... I remember anow all the reasons I erased Knoppix from my mind.")

22 October 2007

Counting werewolves

I like werewolves as a release name, it kick ass. Totally. I voted for this name. It has a lot of potential. The only bad thing is that such an awesome name will last only for a release cycle (6 months).

So, obviously, when I saw Máirín's cool Werewolf countdown I couldn't stop myself and did one on my own taste and style (only the graphic, it has no working countdown so far):

werewolf werewolf

And there are a lot more ideas to come, watch this space...

19 October 2007

What if Linux users would cease their love affair with Mozilla?

Reading a piece like this, even if after the strong reaction from the community the author tries to minimize the damage, apologize and call it a mistake, you just can't stop wondering about how the Mozilla Corporation treats the Linux users like second class citizens.

This make me think at the following hypothetical scenario: what if Linux users would cease their love affair with Mozilla? They would remove the Firefox buttons and banners from the websites they control, stop setting/recommending Firefox as corporate policy in their work places and stop pushing Firefox to end users, friends and family, at home? Or even worse from a Mozilla point of view, start promoting an alternative instead?
The good news is that we have this alternative, WebKit is almost there, cross-platform, free, fast, under active development and with decent web standards support, it is the best toll to keep Mozilla under control.

Yes, we Linux users are a small minority of the Mozilla users base, or a small minority of the general desktop users base (this may change soon, but I'll talk about that another time) but we control or influence a larger part of their Windows users so I don't think this minority, or its possible revolt, are negligible.

17 October 2007

GPL for Heretic and Hexen? That would be a good thing

[heretic]About 10 years ago I had a group of friends (or should I cal them gaming-buddies? anything, but not acknowledge they were my coworkers) who preferred Heretic for network play (in the detriment of Doom or Quake), so I had a lot of fun with it. As a consequence, I will always have a bit of nostalgia about it and enjoy a run of the game.

As we can see from the Doom example, GPL is a real chance for such a game to get new life injected into it, so I pretty much agree with the open letter to Raven Software and Activision for a license change to GPL and signed the petition. Not last, that would be awesome also for the Linux gamers.

16 October 2007

A home for my GIMP screencasts: Romanian video sharing sites

Lately, I was in a GIMP screencasts creation frenzy (with ups and downs, struggles and achievements), the next step is to publish them somewhere.
It may be OK to put a few movies on your website, but when you have multiple 20MB files to host, you think twice (maybe three time if the site peaked at around 10.000 visitors a day recently with the help of a social bookmarking service) so the obvious solution is to use a video sharing site, with a compromise on video quality and file formats (Flash).

Of course, you have to use YouTube, that is the place where the most users will look for videos, but I think I identified a very good niche: Romanian video sharing sites, my co-nationals, with the most used ones being Trilulilu and Neogen (Trilulilu seems more popular but Neogen worked better for me - more about that later). Those sites are extremely poor in tutorials, FOSS stuff, GIMP or Inkscape stuff, they look like a virgin land for such type of content so I can get the first mover advantage.

[flash upload forms]But now to the ugly part: those sites are defective by design, they have the upload forms made with Flash (the upload pages, like other parts of the site are identical to the last word with each other, from what I understand Neogen shamelessly copied Trilulilu) but even worse, the Flash uploader from Trilulilu does not work under Linux, it report upload done but nothing happens (the one from Neogen is bad, but not that bad).

I did an effort, uploaded content to both, and indeed, on Trilulilu you get more eyeballs but the site is the worse from a Linux user point of view.

A conclusion? Recently Google started localized versions of YouTube for some language, when they will get a Romanian version those bad sites will get a much needed kick in the pants (still, they will survive, as the sites are a haven for stolen content copyright infringement porn questionable content - being outside of the RIAA/MPAA/whatever radar).

15 October 2007


I don't get the Animax policy, they suck so many ways (schedule, website, program, translation, reruns, technical problems, etc.) like they are trying as much as possible to drive viewers to p2p downloads. The latest straw was to remove the original (Japanese) sound and Romanian subtitles with Romanian dubbing. People are up in arms to the forum protesting.

This is a text book example of corporate (Animax is owned by Sony) idiocy, applying the "one size fits all" principle. They don't get it: the Romanian public prefer the original soundtrack with subtitles, not dubbing. We (with no effect) petitioned Cartoon Network years ago when they did the same.

And it is not like Animax is for kindergarden kids, watching cartoons Saturday morning, its daily shows starts in the evening, at 20:00 (8:00 pm).

So I'll say it again, clear, loudly and in Romanian: Nu vrem programe dublate in limba romana, dati-ne subtitrarile inapoi!

Red Hat Magazine: How to touch-up portraits with GIMP

Red Hat Magazine published this week-end my How to touch-up portraits with GIMP, it is a tutorial about photo enhancement I wrote as promotion for both GIMP 2.4 and Fedora 8, which will include the new GIMP.

You can learn how to improve a poor and boring photo to something more exciting:

photo enhancement photo enhancement

Update: now the tutorial is also available in English on [en] my own site and with a [ro] romanian translation.

12 October 2007

More struggles in Theora land, agravated by my own stupidity

I had this itch about GIMP screencasts in Ogg Theora, like the last week frustration was not enough. This time I got a "clever" idea for the credits screen: make a PNG with the license info and just show it inside GIMP and stop the recording only after that.

So far, so good. But, as usual, my own stupidity in my worst enemy: I made a typo on the text, "Creative Commons Attribution Sahre Alike" and noticed it only after I recorded all the screencasts. At such stage, of course I will not record them again, so I needed a solution to split the video and take out the last few seconds.

Back in Divx/AVI/mencoder land, the solution would be like this:

mencoder -oac copy -ovc copy long_video.avi -endpos HH:MM:SS -o short_video.avi
Where HH:MM:SS is the time where I want it to be cut (is possible to define also -startpos, to cut from the start).

But I didn't want to transcode twice, so I searched for an Ogg Theora only solution, the best I found so far was (it still need re-encoding):
ffmpeg2theora -e SS -v 9 -S 0 -o short_video.ogg long_video.ogg
Where SS is the time in seconds (i could use also -s for start time), -v 9 a high video quality and -S 0 a sharp image.

With all my efforts, the quality of the image is visibly poorer (and as a plus, the file size smaller), is a bad idea to re-encode, but my stupidity is so big...

For now, the videos are uploaded only on YouTube (some of them are quite big and I don't want that much traffic on my own server), so the conversion to Flash lowered the quality a lot more compared with my own stupidity.

10 October 2007

OpenOffice.org in limba romana (translations)

I usually don't do this, but here is an bilingual post:

[ro]Localizarea in limba romana a OpenOffice.org a pornit acum vreo doi ani cu mare entuziasm si chiar un maraton in cursul caruia intr-o singura zi s-au tradus circa 15% din stringuri. Din pacate interesul a scazut foarte repede, contributiile pe masura, activitatea s-a impotmolit.

Sarind peste acest istoric mohorit, iata o geana de lumina: un nou coordonator al echipei de localizare, Alexandru Szasz (cunoscut si pentru localizarea Fedora in limba romana), o noua interfata, entuziasm innoit, energii in crestere, se pare ca lucrurile se urnesc din nou (planurile lui Alexandru sint ambitioase, isi propune traducerea interfetei grafice pina in februarie).

Cei care doresc sa contribuie sint asteptati la www.alexxed.com/traduceri/main.php, unde intr-o interfata web se poate lucra in stil wiki, fara login sau alte bariere: intrati in "Open Office 2.x", alegeti termeni netradusi si completati cu propria versiune. Mai multe amanunte in anuntul initial sau direct pe lista de mail a proiectului (dev AT ro.openoffice.org).

[en]The Romanian localization of OpenOffice.org started with greath enthusiasm a couple of years ago, even with a translation marathon when in a single day about 15% of the strings got translated. Unfortunately, the interest slowed down shortly along with contributions, the activity stalled.

Fast forwarding over thsi gloomy history, here is a hope of light: a new localization team coordinator, Alexandru Szasz (known also for the Romanian Fedora localization), a new interfata, renewed enthusiasm, growing energies, it look like the things start again (Alexandru's plans are ambitious, he propose the GUI translation until February).

Those wanting to contribute are welcomed at www.alexxed.com/traduceri/main.php, where in a web interface they can work wiki-style, with no login or other barriers: enter in "Open Office 2.x", find some untranslated words and add your own version. More details are avaialble on the initial announcement or directly on the project mailing list (dev AT ro.openoffice.org).

05 October 2007

Frustrated with Ogg Theora

I have this basic task: a screencast in Ogg Theora and a still PNG image, which I want to add at the end, for 5-10 seconds, like a credits screen (displaying the CC license, author name).

I create a PNG with the same resolution with the screencast and using ffmpeg and ffmpeg2theora from that PNG I do a short (6 seconds) clip in Ogg Theora.

Now the ugly part: join the two clips... I use the old tried and true method from avi (divx), some results after a Google search say it should work also with Ogg:

cat part1.ogg part2.ogg > full_video.ogg

It doesn't work: in both Totem and Mplayer the playback is aborted (with an error) right after the end of the first part (it does work OK with VLC).

Then I remember what I do after joining avi files:
mencoder -forceidx -oac copy -ovc copy full_video.ogg -o full_video_good.ogg

The result is a broken 5KB empty file.

I look for help and get a receipe:
mencoder -oac copy -ovc copy part1.ogg part2.ogg -o full_video_good.ogg

It doesn't work either, a result similar with what I get with "-forceidx".

The sad thing is, if I use divx encoded AVIs, all is good: the join work perfectly (either with cat and forceidx or with one step mencoder) but it is suboptimal: transcode from theora to divx > join the avis > transcode back to theora, two transcoding options and a huge quality loss.

I see two losing options: drop Ogg Theora and do everything as DivX AVI or drop the screencast at all. Frustrating. And don't get me started about the lack of a nice GUI for all this process... (PiTiVi)

02 October 2007

GIMP is user firendly

You know how everybody loves to hate GIMP and its user interface, this is why I am surprised to see such a reaction: I posted on YouTube a short screencast about the new Healing Tool in GIMP 2.4 and got an enhusiastic comment from someone

I've just converted to GIMP and love it more than Photoshop. I feel like I have more control.

Is not the usual reply you get from Photoshop users!

01 October 2007

A big FY to the Post Office

A couple of days ago I received at home the PIN from Google AdSense, by snail mail, to enable the payments. Not sure if I should or should be not surprised, the envelope arrived already opened, even if it was marked "Important Account Information Enclosed". What angered me is not that I received it open, but hot brutally it was opened: in one place someone tried to scratch the adhesive tape and it another just broke the paper.

adsense envelope

I don't know who to blame, the Romanian or the US Post, but frankly I don't care: the FY is for everyone involved.

If I was security conscious enough, I know I should contact Google and report the incident, but the money are not enough to worth the effort (of course, they are enough so I received the PIN) and I do not really understand understand the consequences (is not like someone got my credit card PIN) and I'm still protected by my password.

However, I am somewhat amused thinking at the dumbfuck at the Post Office who saw the envelope from Google with "Important Account Information Enclosed" on it, broke it expecting something big and found some information he does not know to use (probably not able even to link my name and Gmail account with a simple Google query).