30 December 2008

Competition is good. Good for webcomics too.

I am glad Lubomir found and published at last his webcomic, I searched for it too but didn't find the reference, all I was remembering was that the URL should be in a log from a IRC channel during the Brno FUDCon...

Back then I believed he will get serious about it and planned a proper reply, in a webcomic which was supposed to be something like that:

  • first frame: a bearded, pony tailed guy sits on the toilet doing his daily news reading on a laptop;
  • second frame: in shock, he notices another webcomic using the same graphics and start shouting about theft;
  • third frame: and he is suddenly struck by the common sense, that he intended by using a free license and by making available all the building blocks. Everyone is happy.

Too bad I missed the opportunity to make this, it seems like the competition is tough (anyone remember K3rnel?)

Anyway, the guy reading the news on the toiled haunted me a long time and I was tempted to reuse it in relation with another publication in the Fedora universe but I abstained from that too, since there was a big change to get misunderstood and send a wrong, unintended, message.

29 December 2008

Sorry for the mess - the real Christmas Webcomic

I suck. Sorry for the mess, I have not paid real attention to the preview when scheduling the last issue of the webcomic and posted the Romanian version in the wrong place... (the original is always in English and Romanian translation is made later).

fedora webcomic

25 December 2008

Fedora Weekly Webcomic: Santa's Hat

I teased a couple of months ago about some nasty webcomics and I got inquiries about them, now (and the next week) is time to deliver and disappoint :D Both in the Christmas and anti-Christmas spirit...

As all the comics poking fun at our brown friends, I expect this one to also generate some hate reactions, so fire away and hate me in the comments... just don't expect me to reply quickly, the post was brought to you by scheduled delivery, at the time of the reading I should be offline, "enjoying" the holidays. Ho, ho, ho!

[fedora webcomic: santa's hat

22 December 2008

Christmas Lights in Bucharest

After a public challenge and a miserable failure I had to try again and I think the photos are just a bit better and the place was better organized (being so close tot he Christmas).

Overall I am still unhappy with the photo session and I still think the city officials did a shitty job, but Saturday night on location a big glass (400ml) of boiled wine temporarily changed by view about the world and life.

Christmas 2008: Christmas Fair on Unirii Bulevard Christmas 2008: Christmas Fair on Unirii Bulevard Christmas 2008: Ice skating in Cismigiu Park Christmas 2008: Ice skating in Cismigiu Park Christmas 2008: Kogalniceanu Boulevard
Christmas 2008: View to the tree on Piata Universitatii Christmas 2008: View to the tree on Piata Universitatii Christmas 2008: Ice skating at Piata Unirii Christmas 2008: Christmas show Christmas 2008: Christmas Fair on Unirii Bulevard
Christmas 2008: Christmas Fair on Unirii Bulevard Christmas 2008: Christmas Fair on Unirii Bulevard Christmas 2008: Reindeer Christmas 2008: Christmas show Christmas 2008: Christmas concert - Nuage
Christmas 2008: Christmas concert - Nuage Christmas 2008: Ice skating at Piata Unirii

But let's try some learning from here: taking night photos (or just with not enough light) your camera will use a large ISO value, so it don't need a very large exposure time (you can't afford a long exposure if you shoot moving targets and/or your camera isn't fixed on a tripod).

The downside of a large ISO value is the addition of a lot of unwanted noise and you will surely want to post-process a bit and try some corrections. A good tool for the job is GREYCstoration, a GIMP plug-in (yum install -y GREYCstoration). I should have used it in all the photos, but being computation intensive it take a lot of time on 12 MP photos, so I applied the treatment only to some.

PS: I still feel pity for the poor reindeers, they looked really unhappy.

18 December 2008

Fedora Weekly Webcomic: Future Boot

This is one of those weeks, with too many ideas but only one to implement: over the week-end I was leaning to use at last an old idea for my webcomic, something with a D&D theme but Monday looking and the mail I saw the evolution of the talk about boot speed an I knew it has to be the topic, so during the day I developed it completely into my head. Tuesday another subject hit my ZOMG Stickers!!!!11 was also perfect but a bit to late, I was already committed, so I freed some time and made this issue, with a regret of not using the stickers. Wednesday I got excited of the topic of black T-shirts (it seems like in 2009 our T-shirts will be black at last) but with the comic already drawn, I resisted. Today the megathread is going into new areas, with new possibilities, but I am holding strong to my initial idea.

And don't blame me for incorrect use of quantum mechanics terms, I am not an expert in the field and nobody answered to my (obscure) call for help, but if you don't know what Scroedinger thing is, go and have a quick read at Wikipedia on your route the office where you resign your geek card.

[fedora webcomic: future boot]

16 December 2008

Romanian censored sites (warning: about porn but SFW)

Recently Romania started to block access to some websites, deemed to have pornographic content and, in the Romanian style, the decision to block each site is not made by a judge, but by a government bureaucrat. The first batch contains 40 websites and only websites hosted in Romania (the law does not apply for sites hosted abroad).

And also in the typical Romanian style, the list of blocked sites quickly surfaced on the web.

photo by Bogdan Manolea, published under CC-BY 2.0

At a quick scan on the domain names, almost all the websites seems to be porn but here is a notable exception: 220.ro is a crappy and dubious local YouTube clone with user generated content which contains some amount nudity (not sure about porn, since I use the site very rarely).

I leave open for the debate if the porn sites should be blocked or not (note: this is "adult" not "kiddie") and what is porn.

PS: the blocking is implemented at the DNS level, so affected are those using the DNS server provided by their local ISP.

15 December 2008

Miserable Failure or Rain and the City Lights

After I challenged everyone to shoot the city lights, it was natural to eagerly await the week-end and do my own photos, something I planned to to the last Saturday. But that day, despite an acceptable temperature, a cold wind was blowing and a cold rain was falling down... a weather to not leave your dog out, the photographer even less so.

Seeing the weather forecast about a rainy Sunday too and the rain slowing down a bit around the noon, I decided to go out and try my best. Bad decision, with the night falling the rain intensified, it became colder and colder and after a few failed shots I thought my camera does not deserve the punishment and went home. It is not like that was the last day on Earth.

Sunday the weather was a bit better but not good enough to get me out...

Rain and Christmas Lights

11 December 2008

Fedora Weekly Webcomic: Snakes on a Hat

The first and obvious idea was to talk about the elections, but I have used the vote theme for a couple of times already and I don't want to be very repetitive (except with bashing Ubuntu, that never gets old). So I jumped to the next topic: snaaakeessss! When the comic wad ready, I realised I had the opportunity for another topic: the PackageKit/D-Bus breakage, but it was too late. No worry, I am confident I will have similar opportunities with whatever packages, those things happens...

[fedora webcomic: snakes on a hat]

December lights photo challenge

I know Christmas is twice evil being an over-commercialization of a religious manifestation and I know the New Year is a fake event with a randomly set date, but beyond that December is a time when a large number of cities around the world change their faces, being decorated in various creative ways. So I think we have the opportunity for a community-wide kind of game: grab your cameras, get out, take photos from your city and share them for all of us to enjoy.

It seems like I succeeded in persuading a few people to join the game, both Mo and Michael showed their interest, so don't be shy and join us, the "game" is not limited to the member of the Art Team.

To break the ice, here is a poor photo I made last week-end in the Bucharest city center (Piața Universității) - this week-end I plan to do some more and better, actually using a tripod, a larger area, other places...

Chrismas city lights in Piata Universitatii, Bucharest

10 December 2008

Solving problems, one step at a time (photos)

Storing the photos online is only a part of my problem, storing them offline is the other: in a few months my collection grew enough to fill the hard drive, my current one is not that big (is quite old) and I find very hard to delete photos (I could probably delete about half of them).

this is what I whish to put online

So obviously I had to buy a new hard drive, I went with an external one (USB), WD My Book Essential, 500GB (I figured this should be enough for a couple of years), the price is not bad and the device is nice.

The next step was a somewhat controversial decision: the file system choice. I could have left it fat32 as the factory default, the drive will be used mostly for photos but I may have some files over 4GB, like a DVD iso. Another option was to format it as ext3, it will be used most of the time in Linux, but I surely will need it also on other computers with another OS. So I swallowed my pride and went with NTFS. My Fedora desktop seemps happy with this choice.

That was the first step, the second step, choosing an online storage solution (flickr replacement), is still open. But since people showed interest about it, here is my progress, evaluating a few suggestions:

SmugSmug has a lot of features, but it does not look good for me, here are some of my concerns:
  • I hate the uploader: I have to choose Windows or OS X, select Windows and get a clumsy Java applet;
  • the HTML code to embed the photos in other websites is served as Flash and is not usable for me with Flash 10 + Firefox + Fedora;
  • there is no possibility to license your photos under a Creative Commons license, all you can do is to manually add a text in the description field;
  • I don't like their policy of not having both free and paid accounts, everything is paid. To test you have the option of a 14 days long demo;
  • the structure is the same old and boring, based on albums. There is no gallery other than flickr where you can have one photo as part of more than one album? Like both in "FOSS" and "beer"?

The Atomique layout looks clean, but hoestly, I was scared to read in the installation instructions "Atomique is still in its very early stages. It is advised to be cautious and not use the software in a working environment"l and scared even more to read on the front page "I didn’t really find the time so far to continue my work on Atomique and I probably won’t be able to in the near future": it does not look to me like something where you can invest thousands of photos.

I also received a hint about the possibility to craft something like I want on top of Drupal: I am sure this is possible, I saw wonderful things done on top of Drupal, but such a task is much beyond my skills as a programmer (there are years since I did programming seriously) and much beyond the time I can invest in this project.

There is still Gallery2, I have an instance of it working for some months, but I don't like it and don't feel compelled to switch to it: Gallery seems to follow the "more is more" philosophy, resulting in something hard to navigate or administer. Also in the category "tried and not liked" I can mention Zenphoto, which I tested for a short while back this summer, nice, but lacking important features and the awful and feature-lacking Coppermine which we run at the Romanian Fedora community.

I am still searching, the time for step two has not come yet.

08 December 2008

No longer a Pro or Searching for a Gallery

For a few months I enjoyed a "Pro" flickr account from a donation (thanks Gianluca), it was useful to host some photos from FUDCon, a time when I got accustomed with the website and started to use it more and more. But like any good thing in life, it ended recently. The price is affordable, so I could renew it, but with the recent news I don't even thing about that: there is no way in hell I will give money to a company that wants to sell to Microsoft or to a company which is a target for acquisition by Microsoft. That just won't happen.

So here I am, looking for a gallery software to run on my own domain, on my own website (with supposedly "unlimited" storage and "unlimited" bandwidth), unhappy with everything I tried so far, from Gallery2 which I find to complex to Zenphoto which I find to basic, asking for input and advice.

I won't move my photos to my Picasaweb account, I find its interface terrible and the limitation of an unpaid account are even more restrictive and I won't go to any obscure flickr clone, I have waiting for upload thousands of photos.

Analyzing myself, I think I understand my rejection for any gallery I saw: it looks like everything is "album" based, as opposed to flickr's "photostream" approach, where you have a river of photos with the ability to include it in as many sets as you like them and have the navigation based on sets and tags. And I like on flickr the ability to license the images as you like (for now I have everything as CC-BY-SA, but I see me making some stuff proprietary and some PD, depending on the content and its use).

So this is what I want: a clean interface, RSS feeds for everything, licensing, comments and a photostream approach. Ideas?

04 December 2008

Fedora Weekly Webcomic: Name Brainstorming

This process is running twice a year and it just started for F11, we'' see the measure of our creativity. And Bob isn't our uncle...

[fedora webcomic: name brainstorming]

03 December 2008

No cake for nasty boys

It took a long time to deliberate and decide if I should post those photos here or not, they are somewhat worse than porn: more addictive, instantly triggering a body reaction (mouth watering, hunger), politically incorrect for diabetics and just cruel for those trying to preserve their body shape. But in the end I decided I am a nasty boy and went ahead, sugar coated in a cultural game idea.

When uploading the photos to the gallery I realised I don't know the English name for any of those cakes and I think it would be an interesting experiment to learn their name in English and any other languages, I believe some of them are quite straightforward and available in a lot of countries.

At this point I should acknowledge that I know the Romanian name only for some of them (savarină, amandină, mascotă, ecler) and that the majority of those names seems to have French origins.

Sweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cakes (savarina)Sweets for everybody: cakes (amandina)Sweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cakes (ecler)
Sweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cakes (mini-tarta)Sweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cakes
Sweets for everybody: cakes (mascota)Sweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cakes (mini ecler)
Sweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cake
Sweets for everybody: cake
Sweets for everybody: fruits
Sweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: cakesSweets for everybody: candy bars

PS: I hope I have not ruined the day for that many of you with those photos... Or being nasty I am happy about that?