29 July 2013

Thistle wallpapers

Thistles pictures as your desktop wallpaper? This does not sound very sexy! Add a rising sun in the background an there may be something into it. Have fun!

thistle wallpaper
thistle wallpaper
thistle wallpaper
thistle wallpaper

26 July 2013

Clipart spotting: lemonade

clipart spotting: lemonade
I started developing an eye for such sightings: today while eating a shawarma in the touristic city zone, something drew my attention: an add at the next-door shawarma place, they were offering a free lemonade for some orders. No, not the lemonade was of interest, but a drawing on the banner. A quick check on my clipart collection confirmed: yet another use of my freely licensed clipart images. Is not a spectacular image, made in the early days when I was learning vector graphics and Inkscape (still called Sodipodi), but it was of use for someone.
PS: that's not that unexpected, is at the top of the first page in the Google image search for "lemonade"

25 July 2013

FLOSSCamp 2013

Unfortunately is not possible to take a 4.5 months old hacker from her basement to the mountains so I have to skip this year the FLOSSCamp meeting which will happen over this week-end, but based from the past experience is going to be fun and a chance to meet people from the Romanian FLOSS community. Hopefully, next year we may be able to attend it together.

23 July 2013

On traditional media in the internet age

We all know traditional media is struggling in the internet age, some of them are trying various (usually bad, like paywalls) solutions, some are blaming the public, some are trying to cut costs, some are struggling, some are giving up. Here is one anecdote I witnessed recently, which shows the problem may sometime be content-related.
Last week I took a picture and posted it on social networks (facebook and g+). Unexpectedly, it exploded over the week-end and became viral on facebook. Sooner or later, traditional media reacted and some of the biggest TV stations and newspaper in the country picked my picture. Here is how:
I don't read newspapers (on paper) and I don't watch TV news, there is way too much bullshit, so what I saw was exclusively on their websites, I can't tell if/what happened on air or on paper. Is also to be noted the image was at the time available only on facebook and g+, in both places with public access and no watermark (I didn't expect it to become popular and I don't like watermarks anyway).

The first I noticed, was the website of Realitatea TV, which is a big news TV channel. And it was the worst: not only no credits for the image author, but is quite disingenious: the site claims the source is "Realitatea TV" and it is a "video capture", like it was their original content. This had upset me a bit and was the motivation to collect the usage and see if the others are doing it better or worse. realitatea
evz.ro is a "news portal" and the website for the Evenimentul zilei newspaper and they did a little better: at the bottom of the article they put the photographer name plain text. evz
Another newspaper, Gândul did it a little better: crediting the author they linked to his facebook account. gandul
ProTV is a top TV channel in the country (and on of the richest), they reacted late, only Monday (one day later is huge in news), but they credited the photographer along with a link to his facebook account. They also list themselves as the source, so it may have aired. protv
Last in my list is the website of another news TV channel, Romania TV. Also late in the game (Monday), they are straight: the news is picked from the above-mentioned Gândul, which is also watermarked in the picture. The way the image was edited and cropped suggest it was aired, not only published online. rtv

As a conclusion, I should add the content of all articles seems to be inspired from each other and their base is my short paragraph accompanying the picture, from where they expanded. At no point the photographer was contacted to verify the story, to ask for more info, for a larger version of the image, for more images (of course I have more). Of course, nobody asked for permission to use (content from my blogs is CC-BY-SA, content from social networks is not) or to offer payment. When they put so much work in their content, why they expect any respect?

12 July 2013


A couple of weeks ago, when I first learned about LighZone, a photo editor, was opensourced, my reaction was "heck, even if it is Java, I should try it and compare with darktable", but the first impression was a failure: my access to the website is blocked! How dumb is for a FOSS project to blindly block all customers of the largest ISP from a country? What else they block? Angry, I made a screenshot and then forgot about it for a while.

Today I saw it again and decided to give another try, even if the main website is inaccessible, the real meat is open on GitHub, complete with installation instructions: there are even packages for Fedora, via the SUSE build system.
Too good to be true? Indeed! The package fails due a dependency on liblzma.so. So the screenshots below are made under Windows:
After a few minutes with it, here's my quick comparison:
  • the browser mode in LightZone has the features, but is slightly harder to use compared with darktable;
  • in editing mode, LightZone is based on predefined styles: you pick one and then adjust parameters. With enough adjusting, you can probably get anywhere. Is beginner friendly, but I feel it limiting;
  • for those who need that, darktable has the tethering mode;
  • LightZone is truly multiplaform (is Java), while darktable pretty much Linux-only;
  • in 5 minutes it crashed once.
My conclusion: LightZone is a cute app, geared for beginners which allows to get the job (RAW editing) done. Still, for a Linux user, I recommend darktable instead. For myself, I will stick with GIMP-UFRaw-File Manager and for my gf, who is using a proprietary app on Windows, I won't try to push LightZone either, she uses some tools (like the clone stamp) which I didn't find there.