28 October 2013

Romanian winners for Wiki Loves Monuments 2013

After the jury did its work, we announced the winners for the national Wiki Loves Monuments contest in Romania. The top 10 images will go in the international contest, along with winning images from the other 52 participating countries. Best of luck there!

Cetatea Rupea, judetul Brasov Castelul Corvinestilor - vedere median-frontala de pe podul de acces Alba Iulia - Catedrala Incoronarii si Catedrala Sfantul Mihail Sarmizegetusa Regia - Sanctuarul mare circular. (Zona sacra) Arhiepiscopiei Romanului și Bacăului. Cetatea Enisala Panorama Sarmizegetusa Regia panorama Incina sacra Biserica evanghelică fortificată sat IACOBENI; comuna IACOBENI Castelul Corvinestilor - vedere lateral stanga frontala de langa podul de acces Casa Artelor (fosta Hala a Macelarilor), Sibiu

24 October 2013

Autumn wallpapers

It's the season for autumn themed wallpaper backgrounds to bring their warm colors to a desktop nearby, so here are a few of my recent pictures which may fit the bill (freely licensed as CC-BY-SA, of course):

autumn wallpaper
autumn wallpaper
autumn wallpaper
autumn wallpaper

And a bonus one for the braves to laugh in the face of a vertigo-inducting image:

autumn wallpaper

21 October 2013


I may not be thrilled advertising Facebook, but they do were the sponsor of a big hackathon organized by ROSEdu last week-end at Politehnica University in Bucharest. For about 24 hours 15 teams of 2 to 4 hackers coded on various projects for fun, glory, learning and prizes. They were assisted by a bunch of ROSEdu volunteers and some Facebook engineers from London and Dublin. The goal was for each team to have at the end of the coding day a piece of software ready to ship.

Unfortunately, not everything was perfect: after many successful events, this time the weakest link was the University, which kind of screwed a big multinational sponsor, an enthusiastic NGO and a lot of volunteers when the power went off for several hours. Of course, the internet connection was down too, so the organizers had to sent the teams to work from home for this interval. And this was not all: the University rented some rooms on Saturday for some exams at the Fiscal Administration, so due to that the hackathon had to be cut 2 hours.
The teams were diverse: most of them were university students, but there was a team with all its members being high schoolers and there was an all-girls team. Hackers were running an assortment of systems: Linux, Windows, OS X. In my empirical observation (I didn't count), Linux was a plurality and as distros I noticed Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, Gentoo. Projects targeted Android, iOS, the web or a combinations of those and were developed with a lot of mixed technologies, I saw Java, PHP, Node.js, ObjectiveC, Ruby and more.
The power was still down at the finale, so instead of presentations on the big screen for everyone to see, the jury had to move to each table and watch presentation made on laptop batteries and mobile data connections. Less than ideal, but in the end they managed to get the job done. I followed the jury and learned more about every project: some were warm-fuzzy feel-good about recycling, some may seem useful for students newly arrived in the big city and trying to figure its transportation system and other really creepy from a privacy point of view, but all of them had or "planned" to have some "notify your friends" or "see shit your friends do" features to palate the sponsor.

PS: incidentally, the winning team was the one who asked at some point the roaming photographer for some ideas on their interface design :)

13 October 2013

On Linux Install Fest 2013

linux install fest
Today was that time of the year again when ROSEdu organized the traditional Linux Install Fest. I managed to be there only a couple of hours, enough to get a grasp of the event and do a few things.
Being a Sunday, there were no electrician available at the university, so the light was less than perfect. Not a problem for the hackers but a challenge for the photographer.
linux install fest
The event surpassed in size the previous year, with an increase from 118 to to 139 participants (preliminary data).
linux install fest
Also, compared with the previous year, the Fedora presence increased: thanks to Iosif who sent me a package just in time, I had enough Fedora 19 DVDs to cover the event and some handy stickers. Gabriel also joined, armed with a bunch of Fedora 18 DVDs and more swag he saved from a past event this winter. And actually there were some people installing Fedora!
linux install fest
Looking at the numbers some changes are noticeable: after the last years most of the installs were Ubuntu, closely followed by Debian, this year the situation is dramatically different: no Debian install registered, the most installs are MINT with Ubuntu in a distant second place.
There are some possible explanations:
  • the Ubuntu install discs arrived 1 hour late, so early in the morning the girl at the registration desk had to reply to Unbuntu inquiries: "don't you want Mint instead? it comes in both 32 and 64 bit versions";
  • the computers in the university lab moved from Ubuntu to Mint to get away from Unity;
  • Mint was available on USB sticks, which AFAIK were for the students to keep, while the other distros were available on optical media (also for the students to keep).
From my point of view, there is also noticeable the Fedora increase: from zero to 8 students this year. Worth mentioning, almost all of them happened early in the morning (in the first hour).

Enjoy below a few more pictures from the install fest:
linux install fest
linux install fest
linux install fest

10 October 2013

Ready for carving?

Today I felt like drawing some clipart images, now is the time to share

PS: this post may not display correctly on bad browsers

09 October 2013


Yesterday evening I was at the university for a meeting when I noticed in a window a HC 85 computer, which was in the 80'ies a Romanian clone of the popular Sinclair ZX Spectrum (at the time, it was state of the art for the local IT industry along with the PDP-11 clones). For me, it was nostalgia: one of its brothers was the first computer I ever put my hands on (as a high school student), it was the first computer I programmed on, it was the first computer I dreamed making games for (in assembly language, no less).

hc 85

Linux Install Fest in Politehnica

This Sunday, October 13, ROSEdu will organize in Universitatea Politehnica Bucharest its yearly Linux Install Fest, the biggest event of such type I am aware of in the country (last year there were 118 participants). Its main purpose is to help first year CS university students putting a Linux install on their systems, but LIF is open to everyone. So if you have troubles with your Linux install, no matter if your machine is a laptop or a desktop, Politehnica is the place to be this Sunday.

linux install fest
Myself, I will try to get there for at least a couple of hours, even if I know from the experience the interest on Fedora and Fedora-based systems is low around there.

On stock images

As a business, when you are in need for some pictures, the cost effective solution is to use stock image services, that's definitely less expensive than custom work, you won't get something exclusive but chances are it will be good enough and cheap beats all (of course, I didn't consider the too often encountered case of scumbags simply picking images from the internet and when questioned answering "it was on Google, is free").

Having some recent photos that may fit the bill, I uploaded one of them on a stock images website as an experiment. For the experiment purpose, I also uploaded an illustration (nothing spectacular, just a collage from my already free clipart images). A first finding was a confirmation of what I already knew: while saturated with photos, they are more actively looking for illustrations. Uploaded at the same time, the illustration is already live on the site, while the photo still have an estimated 120 hours until review by an editor.

But my point here is not about photos versus illustrations, is about what they do with your images. The procedure for an illustration is to upload a JPEG preview and after approval you can add another format, AI, PNG, CDR or EPS (yes, you read it correctly, PNG is in there). Since I use Inkscape, my sources are in SVG and some features can't be exported in their supported formats, so I had to go with PNG. Still no major problem. But look at the image below, is a capture from their website:

stock images

Allow me a moment to explain: I uploaded at first a 2480x3508px JPEG and later a 2480x3508px PNG. While I am not sure all those resolutions are generated from the JPEG or PNG, I am sure about the image size. So the "premium" TIFF version, costing 50% more than the next one is just an upscale version (from 2480x3508px to 3507x4961px) of a raster image! Wasted money! There is also a "maximum" option, with a slightly higher price over my original size, which is an odd upscale (from 2480x3508px to 2912x4119px) of the raster original.
I think this is an useful hint for the potential buyers: on stock image services, maximum price or maximum resolution may not mean maximum quality.