Archive for June, 2006

Citizenship Challenge… eh…

June 29, 2006

OmegaMom has linked to a sample American Citizenship quiz. I got 80%, but considering the fact that I’m Canadian, that’s not half bad. Here’s a scary proposition. How about taking a Canadian citizenship practice quiz? Here’s where you can take one. Set it to 20 questions and have at it… eh.

I got one question wrong (I should’ve known that Manitoba was considered a “prairie province”, to me it was always kinda in-between. )

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A Simple GUI For UFRaw-batch processing

June 29, 2006

About 3 months ago I started a separate blog called Design-Notes to document some of my programming work. Since that time I’ve done very little programming (big surprise). Anyway, I’ve decided to warm up my coding chops (what piddly few I have) by tackling something a little more enjoyable. I’m writing a very simple GUI for the UFRaw-batch command line utility I wrote about a couple of days back. Here’s a screenshot (this one from XP although the screenshot on my design-notes blog was from within Linux). If you’re interested in python, wxpython or a fellow newbie programmer, you might find it interesting.

Linux Reality Podcast

June 28, 2006

Linux Reality is a podcast for the new linux user. Currently host Chess Griffin is going over Ubuntu Dapper (I found his podcast during a blog search for Ubuntu) but it’s not really a linux distro review show. His past shows covered things like the linux file system heirarchy, command line basics and file permissions among other newbie topics. This is just what I’ve been searching for. If you’re new to linux or wanting to try it out, you might enjoy this one. He gets a lot of email and voice mail from more experienced linux users so it’s quite possible to benefit from it even if you’re past the newbie stage.

Some new ideas for those of Jill’s ilk….

June 28, 2006

Dottie has a few new ideas regarding social activist art projects in her post regarding the Jill Greenspun/Thomas Hawk matter I posted about earlier:

– punch old people – to highlight the helplessness and lonliness of old people in our society

– burn homeless peoples cardboard box shelters – to highlight the division between the rich and the poor

– loot, pillage and rape an entire rural village – to highlight the co-opting of rural communities by commuting urbanites

Sarcasm – now that is a thing of beauty.

Let’s Diagram a Digital Photography Workflow!

June 28, 2006

As noted in my previous post “My Latest Endeavour: Developing a Digital Photography Workflow in Linux”, I’m trying to nail down a good digital photography workflow. As it happens, I came across a neat web app called Gliffy which lets you do diagramming (like Visio) inside of your browser. And naturally as web apps often do, it has publish and collaborate features.

Now keep in mind I’ve used the service for all of 10 minutes (literally!) but I’ve started to create a simple diagram to describe my digital photography workflow. I’ll publish it here largely as an experiment to see what it appears like on my blog, but also I am willing to add collaborators for anyone interested in helping to diagram a digital photography workflow. It represents 10 minutes of work so feel free to improve and expand it.

I work in a largely visual medium (a sea of CAD dwgs to be exact) but I’m a complete newbie to this type of diagramming. So if you want to help develop what could be a nice visual description of a good photographic workflow, I think you might need to email me so I can add you to the collaborators list. Although there might be some easier way for me to hook you up to it. If you’re interested, let me know via email or in the comments below. Remember, I’ve used the service for 10 minutes so to call me a Gliffy newbie would be a severe understatement.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

Update:

My thanks go to Chris Brogan for the shout-out at lifehack.org. Interestingly, he’s sent me over 400 visitors to the post over the past 2 days, but not one has sent me an email in order to collaborate on the above diagram. I started it really to get a group of people to work on it and shape it. So if you’re interested please send me an email (visit my blog profile at the upper right for my email address) and I’ll add you to the group so that you can expand on what I’ve done. I’m sure people have a lot of great ideas that could improve it iUpdate #2:mmensely.

Update #2:

I’ve just reset my commenting engine back to Blogger (07-07-06). There were a few comments to this post prior to the switch which are valuable to me and to others. You can still read them here. If you want to leave any other comments, please feel free to do so here on this blog.

Would You Do It?

June 28, 2006

Although it is not the first time I’ve seen and read about Jill Greenberg’s purported “art” where she induces states of emotional distress upon toddlers and then photographs them, the controversy seems to be growing. Kent Newsome weighs in on Thomas Hawk’s current battle with legal threats from the artist due to his original post on the subject.

I’ve read Thomas’s original post and I have to say I agree with his opinion. Perhaps more importantly I agree with his freedom to have that opinion. Is it libel? I’m not sure. But if you read his post he is constantly asserting that this is his opinion. From what I understand of libel and slander, you must make a false statement of fact that damages the person’s reputation. It is NOT false that Thomas *thinks* Jill is abusing the children and should be charged. One cannot be making false statements of fact when they’re describing their opinion can they?

While I’m not sure about Ms.Greenberg’s moral or ethical standards (I don’t know her), I can surely say that I don’t like what she’s doing. It is one thing to capture a moment of pain or anguish (I’ve done so myself) but entirely another to induce it. Would you do it to your own child? Would you do it to your own child to make money?

I knew a guy back in grade school who supposedly delighted in tormenting various dogs and cats around the neighbourhood. At 12 years old I distinctly remember myself thinking “How can he possibly do that?”. I realized back then that some people are just wired differently than others. While taking lollipops away from toddlers to evoke short term stress and anguish may seem so trivial, you have to ask yourself what kind of person would enjoy doing that for money, fame or notoriety.

I’m not going to bash “artists”. There are hundreds of examples of art I find distasteful, ugly and pointless (just subscribe to BoingBoing for a week), but the simple act of inducing pain in someone (toddler, adult or animal) for the purposes of fame, money or notoriety just doesn’t sit right with my ethics no matter how noble your artistic cause.

And to Ms Greenberg’s husband for pointing out in his initial comment to Thomas Hawk:

this is the EXACT technique used in ads and movies and TV. i’m a producer in two of those mediums and have been through this before, so i know whereof i speak.

That doesn’t make it right. I will look differently upon those things from this point onward. Thanks (honestly) for exposing this fact too.

My Latest Endeavour: Developing a Digital Photography Workflow in Linux

June 27, 2006

I’ve been working quite happily in Ubuntu Linux lately. Of all the typical tasks I perform on my pc, there have only been two real deal-breakers for me in using Linux on a daily basis at home: Digital Photography and AutoCAD. The latter is something I am willing to forego for the time being – doing CAD work at home is not as high on the list as it used to be ;). Digital photography in Linux is something I’m tackling head-on as of late and I think I’m coming to grips with it piece by piece.

I’ve found that the barriers to using Linux for my digital photography are being knocked down bit by bit. Such is the relentless progression of the open-source community. If there is an itch, it will eventually be scratched. On the Windows side, I’ve traditionally used the following tools:

1. Canon’s propietary software for downloading the photos onto my pc.
2. Canon’s Digital Photo Professional for RAW image tweaking and conversion to jpeg (I shoot RAW most of the time).
3. Adobe Photoshop Elements 4 for image editing and for maintaining a catalog of my images.
4. Flickr for publishing photos for online display (with the side-effect of having a duplicate online backup of at least some of my photos.)
5. Blogger’s photo upload for posting specific photos to my blog where I want to have more control than just linking to a Flickr version.
6. Sonic RecordNow for backing up images to DVD for offsite storage.

With Linux I’m finding that I have to really nail down a better-defined workflow but that is not a bad thing. Sometimes being forced to work more thoroughly on a problem can yield new and better results. Here’s how things are shaping up at the present time:

1. F-Spot for importing RAW images from the camera to my hard drive.
2. UFRaw (and more importantly its batch mode) for conversion of RAW images to jpeg format.
3. The GIMP for image editing and tweaking.
4. F-Spot for cataloging and tagging of images into a library.
5. Flickr for publishing photos (see #4. for Windows above)
6. Blogger photo upload (see #5. for Windows above)
7. Gnomebaker for backing up images to removeable media.

Loose Ends and Comments:

  • I would like to find a better method of importing images from my camera in Linux. I’m sure there is one, but I currently can’t find an application that will let me see thumbnails of the RAW files prior to importing the images from the camera. While F-Spot imports my .CR2 files, it doesn’t show me thumbnails of these images *prior* to importing them.

  • While utilizing UFRaw in batch mode on the command line works flawlessly, it makes converting 15 out of 25 RAW images a bit of a hassle (it’s much easier to convert one or convert all of them). A simple GUI with RAW thumbnail selection would be ideal here. Perhaps my interest in Python programming will come in handy here [cue big guffaw].

  • Currently UFRaw doesn’t carry over the EXIF metafile information when it converts my .CR2 images to jpeg. I have to use a program called ExifTool to do this. I just realized this so the latest photos I’ve posted to Flickr are missing any EXIF information. (Everyone should realize that not all image editing software will keep all the EXIF info intact when editing an image, so sometimes when you edit a photo before uploading it to Flickr it might be missing some or all of the EXIF info. – something that might piss off Kent Newsome 😉 )

  • Printing photos in Linux is still a big unknown for me. I’m a bit unsure about colour management and printer control within Linux. Then again, I haven’t spent a lot of time on it.

Conclusions:

I’m quite pleased with using Ubuntu Linux at home with regards to digital image workflow. There are still challenges to overcome. Call me a masochist, but I do enjoy the challenges. As a card-carrying linux newbie, please point out any corrections or helpful information that you might have or know about in a email to me or even better, post it in the comments.

Did you know about Teleflip?

June 21, 2006

I didn’t realize this service existed. If you want to send an SMS message to someone’s cell phone, you can just put the number followed by ‘@teleflip.com’ and send them a short email. In a matter of a couple of minutes they will receive your email as an SMS message on their phone. (eg. say your cell number is (444)555-6809, then you would send an email from your pc to ‘4445556809@teleflip.com’).

You don’t have to register anything with the site (you don’t even have to visit it). The service is free although your provider may charge you for receiving SMS messages depending on your plan.

Caveats?
It currently only works in North America (Canada, US, Caribbean, Hawaii, Guam).
There is the chance that spammers might use the service. However they have a ‘One Strike You’re Out’ policy whereby if you receive spam that has been forwarded by Teleflip, you can contact them with the details and they will put a stop to the spammer.

Is it useful? Dunno for sure. I could see myself sending a quick email to my own cell for reminders (pick up milk tonight!) or to send a quick note to a friend or someone. I much prefer talking or a proper email, but it does sound kinda nifty.

Ta-Da List Hacks Anyone?

June 21, 2006

I tend to try out a lot of demo applications and freeware. And if I stick with one for more than a week I consider it successful. I’ve stuck with Ta-Da List (from 37Signals) for several months now, so I guess I’d consider it a wild success. I love the simplicity of it – that’s what makes it so appealing and so useful to me – but there are a couple of things I wish it did:

1. I can’t import or export a simple text file list from my Ta-Da list. This would be a godsend to me because I want to transfer items (or entire lists) to other formats for printing, formatting or other uses. I can copy and paste single items to a text editor but this is tedious when you’re looking at 20 or 30 tasks.

2. There doesn’t seem to be a way to move or copy items from one Ta-Da list to another Ta-Da list. Currently I use a master list to manage my ongoing tasks. I would love to be able to grab 5 of those 30 tasks and put them in a separate Ta-Da list just for today. I could prioritize them and focus on completing those tasks without being overwhelmed by the other 25 things I haven’t done.

Does anybody have any hacks or tips for accomplishing any of the above things? Or can anyone point me to better places to pose these questions?

It only gets better… or is that worse….fear not!

June 21, 2006

Via Digg.com I found this interesting article about the deepest hole ever drilled. In that article there was a mention of Abe Vigoda (believe it or not) that pointed to an Abe Vigoda status page (currently he’s still alive). A quick check on Wikipedia informed me that in fact there was (once) a Firefox extension that would keep an up to date account of Mr. Vigoda’s condition. However, pointers to that extension led to this page containing a single strange photo that has seemingly nothing to do with Mr. Vigoda. The weird thing is that I’ve seen this photo before but I just can’t remember where. (Maybe Fark.com?)

Just in case any of you thought the Internet was becoming a useful place to spend your time. Fear not. 🙂