24 December 2009

Fun with weather


Holidays starting in 3, 2, 1... you don't want me blowing kisses, so a helpful Santa helper will help:
enjoy your holidays


22 December 2009

Oh, the irony! Take better care of your avatar...

I had the laugh of the day (of the week?) when bmbogdan showed me this:

photo managers lucid

I found it very funny and ironic when you take your current avatar/hackergotchi, delete the Fedora logo from his T-shirt, submit the SVG as Public Domain to the Open Clip Art Library for everyone to use it freely and it ends as an illustration to an article about photo managers in Ubuntu. That's sharing! Lets all hold hands and sing "Kumbaya".

Note: the guy has NOT a happy face, maybe because of the GIMP removal? (he definitely looks like a pro)

14 December 2009

Those shoes are quite big: Blug*OS*Con 2009

This week-end happened a very ambitious project: the first edition of Blug*OS*Con, București Linux users group Open Source Conference, which proved to be some very large to fill by such a new project.


Obviously, I participated on behalf of the local Fedora community with a short presentation about Fedora in general and Fedora 12 in particular, which was somewhat rushed, as I find very hard to covert this topic in only 15 minutes (I have a raw video of my presentation, trying to upload it somewhere). With the people from SbLUG missing I was invited to also cover a track about graphics, but ultimately the schedule slipped with delays and it was skipped, so I got home earlier.

It was probably not the best idea to keep the conference is such a large room, if you don't gather many people, better keep it in a smaller space. And I am not sure the booths in the hall were a good idea either, they had very little content and traffic. Of course, the bad weather didn't help, cold and snow keeping people in their house in such a unwelcoming Sunday.

Of course I used the opportunity to take as many photos as I could (some are nice) but I also played with video recording, making a very amateurish videocast covering the first half of the event.

11 December 2009

December RLUG meet

As this is the plan to create a monthly tradition with Întălnirile RLUG (RLUG meets) we had yesterday the December edition and it was, in my opinion, de best so far (well, being the second edition, that wasn't hard...)

We had a long track with Lucian talking about openSUSE, then after a break, a session of lightning talks (5 minutes long): Ovidiu sharing his experience about deploying Linux (Ubuntu) to non-technical users in his company, Adrian talking about improving Apache security with various modules, dserban presenting about Reverse VNC, cmatei speaking about kexec and me demoing some nifty graphic tablet uses in Fedora. At the end, rpetre informed us about a better way to buy O'Reilly books.

Of course I took a lot of photos:


Taking advantage of my new toy I also recorded the presentation as video, but for the moment we are sitting on the raw footage and debating what to do (I argue about putting it online as-is/roughly edited, everybody else is opting for heavily edited, cut and polished versions), which tools to use (that's hard) and who to do the job. Well, I have no shame and don't care about damaging my public image, so a video with my talk is already up.

09 December 2009


Playing with my new video camera toy, I try to transcode all the clips from h.264/AAC .MOV to Theora using ffmpeg2theora with its default settings, however I find the size of the resulting file unpredictable: my first clip was filmed inside and was very short, so after the transcode the file size shrinked from ~24MB to 3MB. Excited by this, I tried the same transcoding with a large clip, filmed outside but much to my disappointment, the result was an expansion from ~421MB to ~570MB. Finally, a video of the fish tank shrinked from ~118MB to ~62MB. I can't see any pattern here, what I am supposed to to when uploading the next clip to something like YouTube? (I want the shortest upload time)

07 December 2009

Christmas lights 2009

I was disappointed by the city lights for the holidays this year: is the first time when they reuse the lights for the previous years and they are fewer (naturally, since they are fragile and some broke), but after Sin posted a set of noisy photos (huge ISO, handheld camera), here are a few of my last weekend:

city lights city lights city lights city lights
city lights city lights city lights city lights
city lights city lights city lights city lights

04 December 2009

Camera firmware upgrade

I found compelling the image quality/camera price when I saw Mo recent awesome 5 Fun things in Fedora 12 video and considering some opportunities to record useful stuff in the near future, is spite of the lackluster editing FLOSS tools, I bought one too. Yay! me haz a new toy! (a Kodak Zi8 Pocket Video Camera)

Well, the firmware in the camera was quite old (1.03, versus the current 1.06), so I proceeded to a firmware upgrade. Here is the story:

First, go to the manufacturer's website. It will identify the operating system (sort of, Unix, instead of Linux) and lie about not having any update for you:

firmware update

If the site lies to me, then I can lie to it too, so I pretend I am using Windows XP. Suddenly, a download is available, grab it:
firmware update

The download is an .exe, but you don't need to use Wine, Nautilus is clever about that, detects a ZIP self-extractor and open it with File Roller. Copy the files on the memory card:
firmware update

Then read the steps intended for Windows:
firmware update

Put the card containing the firmware update files back in the camera and fire it up. When asked, confirm the update:
firmware update

Now all is well, the device is up to date with the internal software:
firmware update

Delete the files form the card, they are not needed any more and go on with your life, it was another happy day far from Windows. Find something interesting to film... more than you just goofing around with your new tow.

03 December 2009

Alegeri 2009

Note: for those reading this post about internal Romanian politics in a FLOSS aggregator, please forgive me and skip it. I write such type of stuff less then once in a year (hopefully) and is not worth a special feed.

Am refuzat sa ma duc la vot in primul tur al alegerilor prezidentiale de anul asta, convins fiind ca orice candidat as vota, voi regreta mai tirziu. De asemenea, am incercat sa ignor pe cit am putut fenomenul mediatic generat de alegeri (ei bine, mergind pe strada sau asteptind RATB-ul nu m-am putut abtine sa nu studiez din punct de vedere tehnic, al fotografului, imaginile de pe afise, dar cam asta a fost tot).

[fara comunism]
Si cu toate astea am ajuns sa fiu agasat (mai comuti din cind in cind televizorul pe un canal se stiri pentru ca acolo e afisata ora exacta si e mai rapid decit un Alt+Tab dintr-un joc care se incarca cam greu) de campania furibunda impotriva unuia dintre candidati, campanie care ii are de multe ori campioni pe niste indivizi pe care nu numai ca nu dau doi bani, dar ii consider nocivi. Si vazind atita disperare din partea mafiotilor si comunistilor pentru a il schimba, mi-am zis ca omul ala s-ar putea sa faca ceva bine daca ii deranjeaza atit de mult. Cred ca in turul doi ma duc la vot, pentru a alege raul cel mai mic.

Am mai auzit din partea unor oameni obisnuiti argumentul pentru care voteaza intr-un anume fel: vor mai putine scandaluri si mai multa liniste. Eu cred ca e de preferam prea mult scandal fata de prea multa liniste: arata ca exista libertate, iar libertatea mi se pare esentiala. Imi amintesc foarte cauza pentru care am trecut prin ce am trecut in anii '90 si pentru care sintem acum la coada lumii civilizate, in 1990 am ales (nu eu, ca nu aveam drept de vot) pe cineva al carui slogan era "un presedinte pentru linistea noastra".

Update: citat dintr-un spam primit de la candidatul comunist (prin intermediul unei firme americane):
Dupa cum afirma si Presedintele nostru de Onoare, domnul Ion Iliescu, imi doresc ca acest mandat sa fie unul al linistii, al impacarii tuturor oamenilor din tara noastra, a adevaratului consens care sa-i uneasca pe Romani in normalitate.
1990 este all over again! Scary.

30 November 2009

F13: I voted

Much to my disappointment, among for the naming criteria for Fedora 13, we did NOT have "it must not be a ruler or religious figure" so a lot of obscure kings or emperors were advanced, but a queen is much better than that, more so when we are talking about a queen of the fairies. So my vote for the F13 codename was Gloriana.

vote gloriana

Have you voted yet? If not, then go now and obey your queen!
f13 name

25 November 2009

Cooking with Nicu: Boiled (mulled) wine

A lot of people in the community are blogging about food making, Mo has a dedicated blog for that, but she's a slacker and don't keep it updated, tatica is a wimp, she tag the tasty stuff out of Planet, Charlie do awesome stuff but only on special occasions and so on. I guess is the time for me to join and since the winter is less than one week away, this is a season recipe: boiled wine (this is how we call it in Romania, you may call it mulled wine), something what will make a cold winter day pass easier. But I don't guarantee your programming skills will remain the same...

The pretty picture must say it all:

boiled (mulled) wine

More in-depth:
  1. First you need wine, preferably red. Obviously, the better the wine is, the final product will be. But don't overspend, we will add a lot of spices as the original purpose of this recipe was to make bad wine drinkable. The half-full empty mug in the picture is for illustrative purposes, use at least a full mug;
  2. It must be sweetened, with either sugar or honey. I think honey is tastier. The quantity depends on your taste and how sweet the wine is;
  3. Add cinnamon, preferably whole but if all you have is powder, that is good too. The cinnamon is the most important spice, you can make the recipe with only wine, sugar and cinnamon and it is still good;
  4. An awesome touch is to add a quince fruit, sliced. It add some flavor to the drink, but most important, the taste of the fruit will be awesome. If you don't have quinces, apples will also work instead, they are related fruits (for exaple if you put quinces instead of apples in a pie, it will be equally good);
  5. More spices, for better flavor: add a few clovers. I didn't have some in the house, but a few pieces of dried orange peel are also good;
  6. Make the drink richer by adding some (more than in the photo above) raisins and walnuts;
  7. Put everything in a kettle and let it over fire until it boils;
  8. Stop the fire, let everything sit for a couple of minutes for the flavors to mix, but not longer so it is still hot and pour the result, wine and fruits, in a mug (ceramic, to keep the drink warm or glass like here to see the awesome colors);
  9. Enjoy it while still hot.

Inkscape 0.47

Even if this is pretty much a non-event for us, Fedora users who can make use of the development builds since before F11 (half a year ago), it is still a milestone and the developers deserve congratulation for releasing at last the new and feature packed Inkscape 0.47 (could you endure the wait?).


I for one can't endure such waiting, so I am glad I use Fedora and be on the bleeding edge.

24 November 2009

fp.ro online again

Yesterday due to some problems with the hosting provider, our local Fedora website went down completely. With a new hosting provided by RLUG/ProLinux and after some good late night hours spent by rpetre and ajoian, the website is up again and working better than ever.

Thanks guys, you absolutely rock!

20 November 2009

Digital painting

When Mo was enthusiastic about tablet improvements in Fedora 12, this made me dust-off my own device, but only a few days later when Kaio pointed to the small and awesome MyPaint I got hooked, liking a lot how it feels like real drawing/painting.

And my first drawing with it, my first digital painting ever, is something I think is not entirely bad:

Speaking about graphic applications, I found somewhat funny (and somewhat sad) to see how Ubuntu is again following Fedora's footsteps, this time by removing GIMP, with a similar line of reasoning ("we" wanted to free space on the Desktop Spin for more apps and ended with a 650MB .iso and 50MB is unused space). At least they got Slashdot headlines with this move and somewhat compensated our own negative PackageKit headlines (wait a bit to see the headlines when they will follow with the PackageKit thing too).

PS: thumbs-up for doing at last (post-release) the right thing with PackageKit in F12.

19 November 2009

Is there such thing as bad publicity?

I know there is a famous quote saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity and one day after the release the news about PackageKit allowing unprivileged users to install packages without root permission made a larger number of [negative] comments than the release announcement itself on such sites as LWN or Slashdot, which I am not convinced is a good thing for publicity.

But surely I am glad I got to keep my public presentations about F12 in advance last week, so I didn't get laughed-out of the presentation for such a "feature", for which I wouldn't know how or care to defend.

Now I promise, my next post will be on a more positive note about the release!

18 November 2009


Among the large number of new features in Fedora 12 there is Thusnelda, the new and improved version of the Theora encoder, which is supposed to bring either better-looking videos or smaller files at the same quality.

As the Theora videos I create are mostly screencasts made with gtk-RecordMyDesktop (image quality from Istanbul is unacceptably low), I have no idea how I can take advantage of any of those optimizations (probably one of them is active by default, without any control from me).

But what I can tell, is a decrease in quality: screencasts recorded now are jumpy, the image freezes for a bit, then jump forward, skipping some important frames. No ideea if this is caused by the aplication, libtheora, X.org, video drivers or something else.


17 November 2009

Beer 12

Fedora 12, Beer, Today, 18:30, La Berbecu, Bucharest, reservation for "Adrian"... 'nuff said

16 November 2009

Enough with the previews, let's get to the real thing

Even if the release counter still says "Fedora 12 Constantine arriving in 2 days" (one day and a couple of hours by now), we already launched F12 in Romania, taking advantage by the invitations to speak at a couple of local events.

Now the photos are up in the gallery: those from the RLUG meet are a few and more serious, I was speaking and ave played more conservatively with my camera:

rlug rlug rlug rlug

Then it was more relaxed to the Firefox anniversary, where the audience was formed mostly by students and we had Mozilla sponsored pizzas, beers and cake:
firefox firefox firefox firefox

The slides are available for download in PDF.