Archive for April, 2007

Mini-minivacation

April 28, 2007

We’re heading out for a super-mini vacation down to Niagara Falls this weekend. As cheesy as it might sound to some, the Falls are only an hour and a half away from me and they’re spectacular despite the tourist-y cheese. My daughter hasn’t been to see them since she was a few months old so it’ll be fun for her too.

Besides, with a nice hotel room and pool facilities, it’ll be a much needed recharge before the work week begins again on Monday.

Who knows, I might actually get to do a little photography while I’m at it. I haven’t had the chance to even pick up the camera lately. 😦

Things are warming up nicely so I likely won’t get a photo similar to what you see up at the top of this post. 😉 – I believe it was taken in 1911 when it was so cold it actually froze over .

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Html email stationary, How I hate thee – let me count the ways…

April 26, 2007

Okay. Html email programs such as Outlook have been in heavy use for what must be more than a decade already. At what point do people realize that using html stationary backgrounds for their emails achieves the exact opposite of the intended effect?

Do you really think it looks more professional when you send me email on some cheesy stationary? Every background I’ve ever seen immediately reminds me of the horrible wallpapers that came with Windows95/98 — the most markedly horrible of which had to be the ‘bubbles’ wallpaper in all its 2 colour, continuously tiled glory.

And what bothers me is that I’m seeing it more and more lately. Is it just me or do we have to stomp this out before it proliferates?

I scroll down past a well-written, perfectly valid business-related email and almost expect to see flashing unicorns or animated gifs of dancing babies (don’t get me started!) at the bottom.

I betcha Jean Teasdale (one of my absolute favourite reads at theonion.com) just loves email stationary. Just look at her site!

Phew I feel better now.

🙂

3D Desktop for Win? Not quite hotness…

April 26, 2007

During a quick lunchtime scan of my feeds, this post about a 3D virtual desktop app for MS-Windows caught my eye. I have to use XP-Pro at work and one of the things I miss most as compared to my Ubuntu box at home, is the lack of virtual desktop support and the sweetness that is Beryl/Compiz.

I tried out the Yod'm app they mention and looked at Dexpot as well. And after giving those a go, I have a much bigger appreciation for what the guys doing Beryl/Compiz have achieved. It is so much more natural, intuitive, stable and smooth than what I see in the above offerings.

That being said, I take nothing away from these guys. There is a huge potential market of Windows users that could benefit from good virtual desktop functionality – I'm surprised that there aren't more well-known attempts at achieving it.

But as it stands, I'm not satisfied enough with these apps to put them into use here at work. It's less kludgy for me to just use Alt-Tab and be at the ready with WinKey+D to get to my desktop when things get completely overcrowded.

Yes, yes I know that the Mac has Expose (and more recently Spaces) but they've made enough profit lately that I don't have to even mention them here do I? 😉

Spam blog? Are you kidding me Blogger(tm)?

April 25, 2007

Creating my post for my 9th Inkscape screencast, I found out that for some reason Blogger has identified my blog as a spam blog and locked it. I can write posts (like I’m doing right now), save them as drafts, but can’t publish them.

I have no idea how they identified this site as a spam blog. I don’t think I’ve posted anything about erectile dysfunction or women getting bigger boobies in quite some time (try never!). Maybe it has something to do with that ‘Flag Blog’ button at the top of the page. That thing has always scared me.

Maybe it’s some maniac Adobe Illustrator user that’s pissed about all the Inkscape-love coming from this site. 😉

Anyways, it might be a couple of days before you see this post – but maybe I can actually get some other stuff done in the meantime… haven’t posted any photos to Flickr in well over a month(!).

Inkscape Screencast 9 – Glass Button Redux

April 25, 2007

My 9th Inkscape screencast is up. This one shows a simple way to achieve a pretty convincing high-gloss candy look to various shapes.

This one was created in record time for me too. From the moment I fired up ffmpeg to start recording, through the intro recording, sound and music mixing, until starting the upload to YouTube took about 90 minutes. I didn’t take a lot of time creating the intro for this one (and it shows), but overall it’s still decent I think. Hopefully you like it.

I haven’t had a lot of time to spend using Inkscape lately, simply because I’m currently buried at work (which has absolutely nothing to do with Inkscape or graphics at all ;-< ). But I did read on the mailing list somewhere that the most recent builds incorporate gradient editing right on the object (not in a separate dialog). That feature would have been useful for this screencast, but no sense in demonstrating a feature that few people can use right now. Here’s the link to my other screencasts up on YouTube. You should also check out my friend heathenx’s screencasts. I’ve learned quite a few good tips from him too.

Become a ‘new media titan’ for only 7 bucks a month

April 24, 2007

Maybe I’m just tired. But after thumbing through 48 odd online pages of Blogger & Podcaster magazine, I feel intensely bored.

The web – in the raw, all by itself – is chock full of content (entertaining or otherwise), opinion, knowledge, and opportunities. But hearing from the same dozen people about what they do, and reading about how to profit from it all just doesn’t hit any of my buttons – no matter how slickly presented (my heartfelt wishes to anyone venturing to that magazine with dialup connectivity).

If you had any lingering thoughts about ‘A-List’ bloggers, podcasting pioneers, web 2.0 empire builders or the whole circle-jerkyness of it all, look no further than B&P.

Oops, I just noticed the magazine’s tagline: ‘For Aspiring New Media Titans’. I’m clearly in the wrong room… Carry on.

😉

Upgraded to Feisty – no problemo! .. yet

April 21, 2007

About to apply some recent updates this morning, I spotted the 'new release' note at the top of my package updater dialog. Hmm. I know Feisty was released yesterday and knowing full well the Ubuntu servers would be getting pounded today,  I still decided to take the plunge and start the upgrade before I left for work.

Getting home tonight, I had to answer about 5 dialogs which asked whether I wanted to replace specific configuration files or not. I answered yes to all of them (I ran into problems in the last upgrade when I decided to retain my old config files). After about 2 hours of chugging away, the system was ready to reboot. I crossed my fingers…

After noticing the prettier boot splash screen, and the nice ubuntu splash bar after logging in, I was suddenly running Feisty. No problems so far (although I've only been running it for an hour or two).

This may be temporary since I've been contemplating a re-install of my whole machine, wiping out the windows partition completely and running XP in virtualization only when I absolutely need to (CAD and video slideshow apps are still problems for me in Linux). I know almost nothing about VMWare or other virtualization methods, so if you've got any good sources for newbie info on this stuff, post it up in the comments.

I've never been completely happy with my dual boot setup. The running speed of linux on this machine has been consistently inconsistent from bootup to bootup. I think it has something to do with the fact that I've got ubuntu booting from a SATA drive. I've never been able to pin it down to any specific source. In any case, I'm in the market for an external HD to back up all my data and then boom, I'm going to wipe it out and start with a fresh full install of Feisty on this machine.

But until then, I'll be kicking the tires on Feisty and will report any problems I have.

Green Alligators and Long-Necked Geese…

April 20, 2007

Great. My mother has turned my 5 year old daughter into an Irish Rovers fan. Now I find myself humming the bloody tune here at work. And no, I don't think the unicorn is the 'loveliest of all'.

What's next? Lawrence Welk? Nana Mouskouri?

Sheesh.

Doc spells out the next challenge for Linux

April 20, 2007

Leave it to the inimitable Doc Searls to frame the bigger picture when it comes to Vista, OS-X and Linux. His recent Linux Journal article is definitely a worthy read, offering up the possibility that we’re reaching for the wrong prize entirely. Here’s a couple of snippets:

A few weeks ago I was talking with folks who worked inside one of the large hardware OEMs. Somewhere in there they told me about their “Linux strategy”. I told them they needed a “Linux strategy” about as much as a construction company needs a “lumber strategy”.

If you’re going to have a Linux strategy, make that strategy about getting past an OS-bound view of the world. Because the big difference between Linux and Windows is that you can build anything you want with Linux. With Windows you can only build what Microsoft lets you build.

And it doesn’t end there:

The Linux community also has to get past the belief that Linux is mostly an alternative to other OSes. The Windows vs. Mac choice is between two silos that both do their best to lock customers in and maximize the dependencies of developers on proprietary platform SDKs and the like. Linux is not an alternative to any platform. It is an alterative to platforms themselves. It is the path to an open marketplace, not just another silo.

An article full of smart, thought-provoking ideas, and not aimed at the typical Linux zealot either. Give it a read right here.

Why do you use Linux? (aka Wufoo testing)

April 19, 2007

I was listening to one of Leo Laporte’s recent TechGuy podcasts and they were discussing a site called Wufoo, which let’s you build forms online and put them on your blog (or in other places). They give you 3 forms with the free registration (there are pay versions), so I thought up a quick poll to test it out.

There’s a wide variety of controls and fields you can choose from and the layout is very much point and click in it’s simplicity. In about 3 minutes I threw together this straw poll about the biggest reason you use Linux (if you use Linux). If you don’t, pretend you do, and give it a shot anyway. 😉

I can monitor the results and generate reports over at the wufoo site. So if visitors to the blog start filling it out, I’ll report back how the results are shaping up.

Fill out my Wufoo form!
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