Archive for February, 2007

Inkscape Screencast 6 – Polaroid Pin-up

February 28, 2007


I’ve created yet another screencast (with yet another cobbled together sucky intro). This time I’ve shown how to use Inkscape to create a ‘polaroid pin-up’ effect with a photo. Hopefully somebody will find it useful and enjoy it.

Now that I’ve got a little more of the Inkscapy-ness out of my system, I might actually get back to writing some actual blog posts. 😉

P.S. As sucky as the intro is, I still had fun making it. And that’s what really counts isn’t it? 🙂

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Inkscape Screencast 5 – Photo Popping Fun

February 23, 2007


I finally managed to find some time and figured out some (very) rudimentary video and audio editing skills so I put together my 5th Inkscape screencast. A few weeks back I read a post at instructables.com which described how to create a 3D effect with your photos using the GIMP or Photoshop. Naturally I thought I’d give it a try in Inkscape and lo and behold it was pretty darn easy. The toughest part is finding a suitable photograph that works well for this effect.

You’ll also have to indulge me for about the first minute or so of the screencast where I’ve created a *really really* hacked together intro using only 3 ingredients:

Inkscape + Beryl + Music

This past week, I found some really cool music by Arthur Yoria over at Magnatune. I purchased the album and used track 10 for the intro music **. Then I decided I’d simply use Inkscape to create a screencast video intro. I spiced it up a bit using the Beryl zoom feature as well ;). It’s a little over a minute of hacked together badness.

Don’t laugh too hard! And let me know how much you liked it or hated it. 😉

I also figured out how to use Avidemux to extract the audio tracks, Audacity to mix in the music and adjust levels and then Avidemux once again to create the final video. Hopefully you’ll find it somewhat interesting and helpful.

** If you watch the screencast and like the music, Magnatune allows me to legally provide full quality copies to 3 people. If you’re interested in getting the album (for free), send me an email (rfquerinATgmailDOTcom)and I will provide you with the link so you can download the album which is available in a wide variety of formats too. I’ve listened to it quite a bit this week and I really like it. Magnatune rocks!

Also, huge thanks to Alan Pope for his great post on creating screencasts which let me know exactly how to use Avidemux for my purposes – great stuff.

Here’s the screencast…

Vista Speech Recognition .. er.. Demolition

February 20, 2007

You may or may not find this video funny. Personally, my ribs were absolutely aching after about 4 minutes.

Perl Scripting With Vista Speech Recognition

I’ve always considered myself to be a patient person. But for me, the test would have been over within about 20 seconds… 🙂

“Delete lower case open the helpful…”

Increasing the Linux user base by 1

February 19, 2007

About two weeks ago, right around the launch of Vista, I had a few conversations with various colleagues here at work about Microsoft’s new product. This gave me the opportunity to let them know that I was running “something called Linux” at home. And while they might have heard the term “Linux” before, they sure looked puzzled when I mentioned that the specific system I ran at home was called Ubuntu.

Anyway, nothing much came of it, except that a couple of days later, a colleague of mine asked me about Ubuntu. He said that he’d checked it out online and wondered if it would run on a machine he had at home. It was a PC he had put together himself about 5 years ago.

While no computer expert, he is a very intelligent guy (a structural engineer like myself) and quite enthusiastic in terms of technology for someone probably 35 years my senior.

I asked him about the specs of the machine, and while he couldn’t recall much detail he did tell me a few things: he thought it was a P4, it was something like 1.5 GHz, it had a 40GB hard drive and was currently running Windows 98 – poorly.
He also said it wasn’t connected to the internet. He wanted to be able to do some basic office and digital photo work on it.

I told him I thought Ubuntu would *probably* work ok for him, and then explained what a live CD was and asked if he wanted me to burn one for him. He agreed and would give it a go.

I gave him the Ubuntu Edgy live CD. I got him to reboot his work machine just to show him the menu system and how to install it at home if he wanted to. I showed him that the CD would give him basic photo management, image manipulation, office productivity apps and other basic things.

Based on my experiences with creating a dual boot setup (and my assumption that he knew nothing about partitioning), I advised him to back up his existing windows 98 data and wipe out the old drive completely if he decided to install it.

He didn’t take my advice…

Arriving back at work on the Monday, he told me that he installed Edgy no problem and that it ran great on his system – miles better than Windows 98. To be honest, I was relieved. I asked him if he’d backed up the data or just scrapped it. He told me he’d done neither. I looked puzzled. He told me that when it asked him if he wanted to create a dual boot system, he agreed, confirmed the partition sizes, and it worked like a charm.

He was a bit puzzled by my visible relief. I have been bitten several times before getting dual booting to work on my system (a dual drive configuration with a Sata and IDE drive)

He came to me a day or two later and said it was running great, but asked if he needed to install something special to work with his digital camera (a Nikon D70). I told him to just plug it in and find out. The next day he said he couldn’t believe it just worked so simply and correctly.

He really didn’t think there was an alternative to Microsoft. A real happy camper.

I know that not all stories of this nature are so positive. And I’m no Linux zealot here at work (I can’t afford to be a tech support guy either). But it really isn’t that difficult to spread the word about Linux.

And when I say spreading the word, I don’t mean touting that it’s so much better, not shouting that it’s all about the freedom, I just mean making people aware of what Linux is. Making people aware that there are completely viable alternative systems to run on their computers.

Burn a linux ISO of a live CD. Keep it in your desk. You’ll never know when it might come in handy. 🙂

Now that’s a keynote!

February 19, 2007

I listened to an inspiring keynote yesterday by the FSF’s General Counsel Eben Moglen. The recording is from the O’Reilly Open Source Conference. This is one of the best talks I’ve heard regarding the state of open source and licensing (or any other subject for that matter).

Besides being about a subject that fascinates me, I have to say: Damn! – is that guy ever well-spoken. Knowledgeable, passionate and inspiring, all in one go. If you’re into free and open source software, or just want to hear a great keynote, you owe yourself a listen.

Coming here from inkscape.org ?

February 18, 2007

I’ve noticed a nice large bump in traffic to the site over the last day and a half. A quick check of the site stats indicates that it’s all down to a quick mention on the inkscape.org page in the news section. Thanks guys!

If you’re coming here from there, take a look around and you might find something interesting. Since I tend to jump around a little bit (sometimes a lot!) from topic to topic and if Inkscape is your thing, here’s a shortcut to my inkscape related postings to save you some time.

Inkscape Screencast 4 – Shiny Black Button

February 17, 2007

I received a comment from Scott earlier today on a post I did about a month ago that dealt with creating shiny black buttons with Inkscape. I thought about answering in the comments and quickly realized that maybe it should be done in a separate blog post so I could include some screenshots to describe the process he was inquiring about. But as I started to create the post, I realized that it would be much quicker for me to record a short screencast showing how I created one of the buttons. I figured it would be much easier to understand (and much easier to create) than a blog post with screenshots and description.

Five or ten minutes later I had recorded the screencast and was uploading it to YouTube. It was definitely quicker to record the screencast than to prepare screenshots and write up a quick tutorial. I guess that illustrates the power of video.

I’ve also got another more interesting inkscape screencast in mind, but I’m trying first to figure out how to add a second track to the avi to have some intro-outro music. I think avidemux is what I need to use, but I’m still in the process of figuring out how to do it. Maybe you’ll see it posted up here in the next few days if I’m lucky.

Anyway, here’s the screencast Scott, hope it helps. 🙂

[Note 1: I just re-watched it and realized that I incorrectly used the term ‘layer’ several times during the screencast. I was referring to how objects can be brought above or below other objects, not that anything was placed on a separate Inkscape layer.]

[Note 2: Sharp listeners will undoubtedly hear Jacob, one of our cats, crying out just after the 3 minute mark. So much for noise cancelling headsets! 😉 ]

[Note 3: While creating the screencast took all of 5 or 10 minutes, as always it took about 7 or 8 hours for YouTube to process and serve the screencast 😦 ]

Antibiotics and Another Source of Inkscape/Gimp Goodness

February 16, 2007

It’s amazing how many people are getting sick around here these days. Both at work and at home I’ve watched people suffering with the flu, colds, pinkeye, and now I end up with a top-notch, Grade A ear infection. It’s so easy to forget how much a throbbing earache can stand in the way of getting things accomplished.

Anyways, I’m poppin’ the antibiotics as of this morning and I feel another Inkscape screencast in me waiting to get out. Look for something this weekend (maybe).

On the subject of Inkscape, check out Ryan Lerch’s blog which gives a good dose of GIMP and Inkscape goodness to those interested.

Gimparoo!

February 14, 2007

From the “Why hasn’t this been done before?” file…

If you’re a fan of the GIMP image editing program, you might want to check out Gimparoo! which, besides having an ultra-cool name, is a new blog dedicated to “Adapting Photoshop tutorials for The GIMP”. I found it via the Ubuntu Blog. He’s currently basking in his new found popularity so give him a visit and continue to make his day 🙂

It looks to be a very useful feed for those looking to expand their GIMP repertoire.

Do you have "The Knack" ?

February 9, 2007

People who know me say I have the knack. Do you?