Friday, December 04, 2009

You really wanna see my current blog, not this one...

It's dark, dusty and very quiet over here... What you really want is to be over here at my current blog:

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Finally - This Blog is Moving...

Well the time has finally arrived to shove this thing out the door. I'm done fiddling with my new site and blog for the time being.

You can now check out my shiny new site at

This weblog is now going to move to:

So other than a few sporadic reminder-to-update posts that may appear here, all my posting will now be done over there. If you subscribe via RSS, then skidaddle over to the new blog and update your feed reader.

So check out the new site and blog and let me know what you think. There may be stuff broken or not well implemented. Your constructive criticism (or blind praise) is always appreciated. It's a work in progress of course and I intend to use the static site as a sort of sandbox for trying new things.

I was going to come up with a completely original Wordpress theme for the blog, but the whole thing was becoming just a time sinkhole. So I figured I'd pick a theme I like, slightly tweak it and play around later on. I just wanted to finally kick this thing out on the street. I'm not 100% happy with it, so expect it to change (I haven't even looked at Wordpress plugins yet). But it will do fine for the time being.

I hope you like it and a special thanks to heathenx for helping me sort out quite a few things along the way.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The New Look Screencasters

Through absolutely no effort of my own, the screencasters site is now rolling all blog-style. Major kudos to heathenx for man-handling wordpress into service for both the main episode site and our screencasters blog. Check out his launch post about it. And also check out the new sites and report back any problems or suggestions. We've also got a nifty new contact page on the site (again through no effort of my own) so you can leave your valuable input over there. Make sure you update your feeds.

Trying to put some last minute scotch tape and binder twine on my site and blog lately, I'm wondering if I should hire on this heathenx guy to help me out. He almost seems to know what he's doing! :)

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My New Year Brain Dump

I hope everyone out there had a safe and happy holiday. Happy New Year to all.

I just got back from a 4 day mini-trek down to Lockport NY to celebrate my daughter's 6th birthday and New Years as well. And while we had a laptop and high-speed connectivity at the hotel, it just never got plugged in. And you know what? It was kind of nice.

Of course it's back to the proverbial grindstone/rat race tomorrow but I feel somewhat refreshed and I'm ready to start chipping away at everything once again.

I'm not big on New Years resolutions. I'm one of those people that figures if you want to make a change, then you just go ahead and make it no matter what time of year. But I guess it's an excuse to at least pony up some ideas. One of mine is to scale back and simplify. No, I'm not selling my house and living in a mud-hut off the grid - although that actually sounds cathartic at times. But I've got several goals which I intend to chip away at. Even if the chipping is just a little more aggressive than last year, I'll be a happy camper. If you set the bar low enough, you can succeed at anything. :)

Some of the goals floating around inside my graying noggin at the moment:

  1. Eat less. Not salads and tofu. Just a little less of everything. I tend to eat well past the point of comfort sometimes. And many times when I'm not even hungry. And not a wholesale change of menu either. I'll take my fancy for pizza, cereal and apple pie to my grave. I'm talking about quantity reduction. Not masochism.
  2. Exercise a little more. No Tai-Bo. Not looking for ripped abs in 10 weeks. I just want my pants and shirts to fit better. Nothing revolutionary - just less sedentary.
  3. Finish the blog and website. The website and blog theming are about 60% of the way there. It's just going to take a little diligence and effort to get the job done - at least to the point where it's presentable and not embarassing. ;)
  4. Simplify simplify simplify. Both online and in the 'real world', I plan on slowly removing things that are useless or counter productive. One by one, bit by bit. I have too much useless crap cluttering up my mind, my house, my desk at work and on my pc. I'm going to fight the pack-rat in me and try to give more crappy stuff the heave-ho.
  5. Move the focus points. Family, happiness, enjoyment and achievement. Less wasted time doing things that don't further those things. And this does not preclude work either. I'm doing fine in that realm, but there is plenty of room to 'sharpen the saw' in all of those areas.

This post isn't really meant as a goalpost or some highbrow social contract with myself. It's just like most other blog posts, a brain dump just to get the process rolling.

Over the past week I also purchased a few interesting books and magazines. Whether they belong here in this post I don't know. I may review a couple of them if I get the chance in the near term:

The Plenitude - Creativity, Innovation and Making Stuff by Rich Gold. This is a rather short, but interesting book. Rich Gold was a designer, inventor, writer, artist, and composer among other things. He worked at Xerox PARC and for Sega and Mattel. I'm halfway through this one and it's very interesting reading. To me anyway.

Bulletproof Web Design by Dan Cederholm. This book is about improving the flexibility of web sites with XHTML and CSS. And while I'm very much an XHTML and CSS newbie, it seems to give some very valuable advice. Also, just going over the various sections, it seems like it will bolster my understanding of the basics as well.

Issue 100 of Linux Format magazine. I've read this mag in the past and quite like it, but the price is steep for me (around 20 bucks(!!) when purchased here). So I don't buy a lot of these, but this one was special since it had an article on Linux related podcasts. I haven't thoroughly read the article, but after skimming it I'm pretty sure I'm not entirely in agreement with their reviews on several fronts. Podcasts are highly subjective things. The review seems to read quite the opposite. We'll see.

Design It Yourself edited by Ellen Lupton. This one is quite a nice inspiring book to browse through. It encourages creativity of the graphic design sort. There are lots of wonderful examples of practical projects and ideas. It's far from a design reference and doesn't pretend to be. It's fun to read, and like I said, very inspiring for someone like me.

So there you have it, the first brain dump post for 2008. I hope everyone tries to make the most of the year ahead. Thanks to all for reading.

Blogged with Flock

Friday, December 21, 2007

Great graphic design stuff and thieving bastards...

A while ago I purchased some hosting, bought a couple of domain names and committed myself to designing a new website for myself and moving this blog to a proper Wordpress install. All that stuff is going ahead.. albeit a little more slowly than I originally anticipated. However, just as I'm feeling all cocky and proud about venturing out onto the web 'for real', along comes this to jolt me back to reality:

David Airey, a talented graphic designer who writes a very useful blog by the way, posts about how his site was hacked the day after he went away on vacation. He's now in the process of trying to wrestle back control of his domain name davidaireyDOTcom which he's lost to the attackers. So in the meantime he's using If you're a fan of his, or want to check out lots of good graphic design related stuff, make sure you update your aggregators and/or bookmarks to the address.

And to David, kudos for exercising such careful restraint in your posting about the incident and best of luck in getting back what is rightfully yours - I'll be following the story.

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Everday Normal Guy...

Finally... a rap song aimed straight at me.. motherf!#@er...

[warning: if you didn't get the gist.. you might find the language (or at least one word repeated many times)  in this video somewhat offensive - or just funny]

Blogged with Flock

The Fantabulous Inkscape 0.46 About Screen Contest

Ryan Lerch spreads the news that the About Screen contest for the upcoming 0.46 release of Inkscape has been announced. The deadline is January 6th and I may try and make some time to field an entry or two once again. No luck last year, but it sure was fun coming up with ideas.

I seem to be mired in end of term exam marking, full time engineering work along with the website/blog stuff I'm trying to get finished. Oh yeah, and then there's Christmas to contend with...better start shopping. ;)

I may just have to extend an arm and "sweep the desk clean" for a little while over the next week or two and come up with some new ideas for the Inkscape 0.46 About screen. It would be kind of nice to see your name up in lights inside one of my absolute favourite apps.

Here are my not-so-great entries from last time out.

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I have had a Facebook account for at least a few months now. It has proved useful for one thing: reacquainting with school chums from long ago. I log in about  twice a month - usually only to read and reply to a private message someone has sent me.

One email notification thingy I've seen popping up repeatedly is that one contact or another has written something on my "FunWall". Oh Joy. And up until tonight, I've resisted signing up to see what they've written there.

Turns out that the times they are a-changin'. Instead of sending out forwarded chain letters and un-funny photos via email, they're posting them on my ironically-named FunWall. Better yet, each one is accompanied by the typical 'Forward to three friends or get bad luck' or the more succinct "Forward!!" message  tacked on the end.

Send over the paperwork. I'm ready to sign. I'm officially a Facebook-hatah.

Blogged with Flock

Friday, December 14, 2007

What's Your Favourite Application/Project Name?

I just responded to a comment on one of my blog posts about various aspects of the free and open-source OS world versus Windows. One part of that discussion was about application naming, with the commenter suggesting that more descriptive naming would be an important thing to have. While I'm in agreement theoretically, my heart just isn't there. I love a creatively named application or project.

One of my favourite application names is Inkscape (and not just because I love the program too - which I do - that name is just uber-cool to me). But there are other good ones like: BlueFish, XSane, Opera, DamnSmallLinux, SeaMonkey and F-Spot.

There are of course other names I don't like, with Gimp, Avidemux and Pidgin immediately springing to mind.

Of course none of this has anything to do with how well the applications work.

What's your favourite application, distro, or project name (open or closed, free or non-free)? Which ones do you hate?

Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Couple of Quick Command Line and IRC timesaving tips

I'm one of those people who figures out things bit by bit. I learn enough to get what I want accomplished and then move on. A consequence of this is that I find out some time-saving trick literally years later, when it could have served me well from the beginning. But I'm too lazy (and too eager for immediate gratification) to take the time to thoroughly learn every nuance of some new exciting new toy.

So here are two things I've learned recently which you may or may not know:

1. In most IRC chat clients (Gaim/Pidgin anyway), you can use tab-completion to fill in nicknames of those in the chat. So if you wanted to type: "heathenx: You're a sorry excuse for a human being." , you could type "he" and then 'tab' and it would fill in the 'athenx' for you. If there are multiple matches, it lists them out and you type additional letters the next time to get a single match. **

2. In the bash terminal (works in rxvt under Cygwin, and likely on Mac terminals too), if you're searching for a past command you entered - and it's still in your command history - hit Ctrl-r. This will bring up a prompt so that as you type the first few letters it will find the most recent command matching those letters. It refines it's search result as you type more letters. If you find the command you wanted,  hit enter to execute the command or hit the right cursor key (or ctrl-j) to bring it onto the command line for you to edit.

So there are a couple of tips that might save you some time and frustration (things I'm intimately familiar with).

Note: Any reference to heathenx's or sorry excuses for human beings in this post are strictly fictional. No actual heathenx's were harmed in the production of this blog post - even if they claim to be. ;)

** - this tip comes via a Lotta Linux Links IRC chat session a while back. Check out the venerable Dave Yates and his podcast, blog, forum and irc channel at - you'll regret it if you don't.

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Uber-slick and simple paper airplane animation site

One thing I've loved doing since I can remember is making paper airplanes. If you're looking for a few neat paper airplane designs to keep the kids (or yourself) busy?  Check out the ultra-neat site at: Lowe-Tech - portfolio for a few models described in deceptively simple and attractive folding paper animations.

Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Creating a windows installer from your WxPython application.. a love story.

I've just finished wrestling with a small wxpython application I wrote a few years back for our bookkeeper. It needed minor updating with a couple of new features. Now that I've finished the process here are a few remarks:

  1. Python is a lovely language. After about 14 months of not touching this app (or much of python in any case) it only took a few minutes of review to get back up to speed on it. Granted, I made judicious use of comments and verbose variable naming when I wrote it, but dang is it ever nice clean, clear and simple code.
  2. Once I had the thing running I downloaded and installed the latest version of py2exe (this app is to be installed on an XP machine). This little gem is invaluable in making .exe files from your .py files  and not requiring a Python install on the machine which is going to run the application. Our bookkeeper has no interest in what Python is, never mind running it.
  3. I love the Nullsoft Installer System (NSIS). It's an open source system for creating professional looking Windows installers. No funky console windows or command line gobble-de-gook for the person installing it - typical modern looking windows install  - wizard style.
  4. Now the Nullsoft installer system is scripted (you have to create a script file to direct the setup) which allows for a lot of power and customization. But if you're like me and have no interest in building these things by hand, you can use the wonderful HM NIS Edit application which lets you set up the whole thing through a nice friendly wizard.

So in the end, with the combination of my original .py file, py2exe, NSIS, and the HM NIS Edit, I have a very professional looking windows install file after about 5 or 10 minutes work. Brilliant!

Blogged with Flock

Monday, December 03, 2007

Jericho - Feb12 return?

Looks like CBS has *finally* decided to air the 7 episode long second season of Jericho. I'm not a big TV watcher at all, but this was one series I truly enjoyed. Glad to see it finally get aired. The launch date appears to be set for Feb 12, 2008 at 10pm. We'll see. ;)

Blogged with Flock

Pardon the Digression but...

Posting here has slowed for the time being but for good reason (to me anyway). I'm finally shucking my blogspot diapers and have purchased proper hosting and a domain name or two.

So right now I've put a few things on hold while I de-rustify my html and css skills and build a proper site. In a week or so I hope to be moving this weblog to a proper Wordpress install just like my heroes Earl  Moore and OmegaMom. I'd like to have a proper static site to hang it off of as well, hence the html and css remedial work.

Thanks to heathenx as always for guidance in edumacating me on hosting plans and domain whatchamawhoosits.

And to the good friends mentioned above - you should expect a few newbie questions! :)

Let's see if we can step it up a notch around here! :)

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, November 29, 2007

F-Spot - new version aggravation

Typically I've always used F-Spot to transfer the photos from my DSLR to my hard drive. I like the way it arranges my photos: /home/user/photos/yyyy/mm/dd.

However, I don't use F-Spot for managing my photos. There are various reasons for that and I'm pursuing the use of IPTC data for tagging the photos directly (and not using a separate database) — but that's for another post.

So up until this last upgrade (to Gutsy), F-Spot has always imported my photos and had a checkbox that let me import them WITHOUT adding them to it's managed photo library. However since upgrading I think the new version of F-Spot has done away with this checkbox, and so I am unable to stop it from moving any imported files directly into it's library. Thats NO GOOD. I checked the options menu but couldn't spot any way to turn off this feature.

Please someone tell me I'm wrong. How can I copy photos from my camera using F-Spot without importing them into an F-Spot library?

I'm open to suggestions for other apps. I have used gThumb, but I couldn't figure out how to get it to auto-create the subdirectories in the same way and format as F-Spot did.

Let's hear some suggestions!

Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

You Are Dumber Than We

So I'm checking out the We Are Smarter Than Me site (google it - they get no linkage from me). Hmm, nice, an interview with Doc Searls, a current one with Mike Arrington. Neat.

But there's no download link (that I can see) for the mp3 file. Oh, okay. There's the little orange XML button. I'll subscribe to the feed in GReader and the mp3 attachments will show up there likely. Umm.. no they don't.

There's a little note on the Podcasts page about having to subscribe to this stream via ITunes. So it's either that or listen on-line while I'm on the page (there's a little play button link which plays the file - apparently without any controls).

Oh forget it. 'We' are definitely smarter than you. At least the blog title is accurate.

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Woohooo... cough cough

I'm not sure if it's just a Canadian thing, but this recent AutoTrader commercial made me laugh - especially the last part of it. Dunno if it's the coughing or the howl at the very end. This reminds me of more than a couple of my high school friends:

Blogged with Flock

Monday, November 26, 2007

Font Matrix - a font manager for Linux

Via the Open Font Library Mailing list comes news of Font Matrix, a font manager for Linux. The opening line on the front page shows much promise:

"Fontmatrix is a font manager for Linux users. I repeat, for users."

Very nice indeed. There are not pre-built versions at this point - it is an 0.2 release after all - but the source is there to download and compile. Something which I'll be trying out later tonight.

Good Linux-y stuff once again! :)

Blogged with Flock

Interesting Times

I was in Niagara Falls (Ontario) this weekend for a quick mini-vacation. On the first night, after checking in, (to the Doubletree which I highly recommend and is suprisingly affordable this time of year) I drove down to a 7-Eleven on the corner to grab a carton of milk.

When I approached the counter there was a guy roughly my age who was handing the clerk a $20 US bill to pay for his stuff - they take both currencies in the Falls area of course. She politely told him that it was only worth $19.00 Canadian (and what he was purchasing was something like $19.75). He chuckled, took the bill back and handed her his credit card. He turned around to me and said, "Boy, how times have changed.". I chuckled back and agreed.

We then had a short, but interesting discussion. He thought Canada (at least the Niagara Falls part of it) was very expensive. He wondered how we live with these costs along with our relatively high taxes. He asked aloud whether everyone up here must make correspondingly higher salaries just in order to live comfortably. I assured him that this was *not* the case. ;) I told him that Niagara Falls was a tourist area and significantly more expensive than the norm. I also brought up the fact that that we seem to have a very large middle-class in Canada while the US seems to foster a much bigger widening between the rich and the poor - at least that's the way I perceive it whenever I'm visiting the states. There seem to be lots of SUV and Caddy driving rich people and lots of destitute people, and not nearly as many in-betweens as we have up here. He nodded in agreement.

A second interesting thing I noticed was when I made a quick trip into a Rexall drugstore to pick up some Advil. As I was paying, I noticed a stack of pamphlets on the counter which proudly explained the fact that Rexall was now honouring US prices on all of it's magazines, gift cards and stationary. This is I think inevitable since we have the higher dollar and yet I'm still paying a buck or so more for magazines than US customers.

Interesting times.

Blogged with Flock

Desktop Nirvana

I was a little disappointed to hear the lack of love for the Openbox window manager during the most recent LinuxLinkTechShow. I've been happily using Openbox on top of Ubuntu for a few months now. I like it so much that I'm using it in on the Gutsy VM I have running on my XP-pro box at work too. I like it's tweakability, it's speed and the simplicity of it.

There is simply no quicker way to get to an application on some other desktop than middle clicking the desktop which brings up a list of applications across all desktops. Like I said, simple and fast.

But even with this success, I'm far from what you might call an 'experienced' Openbox user. That's why I was so thankful for this amazingly useful post by Urukrama. It covers Openbox on Ubuntu from installation right down to customizing options. So if you're interested in trying out Openbox, make sure you check it out.

I found this post by way of K.Mandla's excellent Linux blog. There's tons of good Ubuntu and Linux related stuff to be found there.

Blogged with Flock

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Splogs are at it again

Several months ago I noticed that my posts were showing up on spam blogs every once in a while. Then it all stopped. But in the past week or so I've seen 4 or 5 a day come in through my highly egotistical technorati and google blog searches that I keep in my Google Reader - hey I need to have something to stroke my ego, no one else does. ;)

Anyway, I'm not sure why it's happening now all of a sudden. Just chance or are these slimy guys just proliferating.

Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ok Apple.. enough...

I don't know about you, but the last two Apple ads I've seen on TV (the Mac vs PC thing) are really starting to annoy me. Don't get me wrong, I don't really like Microsoft. But I've always been an 'underdog' kind of guy - with Linux being my perennial hero of course ;). Even though in reality Microsoft is Goliath to Apple's David, these commercials leave me feeling the opposite lately.

And it's not just the underdog sympathy thing either. It's the smugness of the Mac guy. It almost leaves me wondering whether all Mac users are somewhat smug. Of course the Mac users I know are no different than most Windows and Linux users I know. But if I were a typical mainstream PC user, I'd start to feel a little defensive about my current Windows PC when confronted with this barrage of ads lately. They were funny to start with but I'm wondering whether anyone else thinks they're losing their effectiveness and run the risk of backfiring.

Besides, they've got a UI to be proud of and a system that works. Why not highlight the benefits of actually using a Mac rather than a Windows PC? And do it without feeling bad for the other guy. They do it with their iPod advertising.

Or even better yet, show a Mac user that's not some grungy college grad or turtleneck wearing artsy designer type. I think they've already tapped that market anyway. Shouldn't they now be going after the minivan driving moms and dads that populate the mainstream? If you're trying to capture more of the mainstream market, get a likeable, intelligent celebrity as a spokesperson.  Not Mariah Carey or K-Fed...  but someone like Matt Damon, or Julianne Moore.

There's a million possibilities.. all of which are likely better and friendlier than a smartass grunge grad delighting in the misfortune of an overweight fat guy in a suit. Poor guy.

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A SD card with wi-fi built into it? Now that's cool!

On a recent TechGuy podcast I heard about this Eye-Fi Wireless SD card that comes with built-in wi-fi capability. Yes wi-fi right inside the SD-card!

So the gist of it is that you can transfer pictures to your pc or mac without even taking the card out of the camera. And this would be camera independent.. so you don't need a camera with wi-fi built into the hardware. This is right up there in the good idea hall of fame with the Sandisk Ultra II SD Plus card that folds open to reveal a USB plug right on the card.

It also does auto uploads from the camera to online photo management services like Flickr. And I'm assuming this would work anywhere you can get wi-fi connectivity (not necessarily your own PC). Personally I don't like just mass uploading pics to Flickr. I like to cull my photos and toss out the horrible and mediocre ones whenever possible.

I'm not sure how well it would work with Linux and haven't read about all the other potential issues like security etc. But the one stumbling block I have is not Linux related at all. It is the fact that my Canon Rebel XT uses Compact Flash and not SD.

Oh well, it's still very very neat. :)

ps - With the extra room in the significantly larger CompactFlash card, they should be able to give me a 0.5"x0.5" OLED preview of the photos right on the card too! :)

Blogged with Flock

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Ubuntu Upgrade - surprising!

I've never had complete satisfaction with a distribution upgrade although they seem to get substantially less painful for me with each iteration.

So in the midst of vacuuming the house this morning, I decided what the hell.. I'll do the Gutsy upgrade. I logged out of Openbox and into my old standard Beryl/Metacity setup. I did a few package upgrades that were waiting and then hit the button at the top of the upgrade manager.

Two hours later I was done and rebooting with crossed fingers. It likely would have taken substantially less time but it stopped to ask me to confirm about 4 configuration file changes (I ok'd them all) and seeing as how I was vacuuming and not sitting in front of my computer watching the install, I likely added about 15 or 20 minutes of delay to the process.

The startup into Gutsy with my previous Metacity theming went fine. I turned on some high level desktop effects just to see if it picked up on my ancient Intel 810 video card. Yep. No problem, but more on that in a second. I then checked out internet connectivity and some other bits and bobs - they all worked fine.

For the final test, I logged out of that session and back into my Openbox setup. Everything seems to work A-ok. I'm duly impressed!

A note about compiz: As an engineer I am stupified as to how smoothly Compiz effects work on my bottom rung Intel 810 card. It's got 32MB of *shared* ram and that's it. And yet it all works beautifully. I've played with MS Vista and while some things look nice, the system requirements for Aero seem out of this world.

I'm by no means much of a Compiz fanboy - I love some of the effects and find some of them very useful - but the speed, simplicity and hackability of Openbox has really stolen my attention for the moment. But man, you have to give them credit for being able to do what they do when compared to other OS's.

Free Image Hosting at

Blogged with Flock

Friday, November 16, 2007

Episode 045 - Snapshot Mosaic

I've *finally* completed a new screencast. Sorry for the long delay. This one was a fun one. It demonstrates a fairly easy way to take a single image and break it up into component 'snapshots'. So it looks like you took several pictures of different parts of an object and reassembled them. The example I do is a pretty basic one. You could do things like adjust the lightness, contrast or saturation of each snapshot separately to really give different creative effects.

This is another example where I really think Inkscape is significantly quicker than using Gimp or Photoshop for certain photographic projects. The method is simple, very intuitive and leaves room for lots of creative ideas once you get familiar with it.

Hope you enjoy it. :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Screencasters now accepting donations.

Heathenx and I have decided to add a completely voluntary donation button to our screencasters website. He seemed to articulate the reasoning just perfectly in his post. So don't be too dismayed to see the paypal donation button on the site, we're not going all capitalist and closed-source on ya, at least not until we take the thing public and retire to a beach in Tahiti..  ;)

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Earl's got some skillz!

Turns out Earl Moore has some serious skillz when it comes to woodworking. He built a very nice looking dining room table extension. And the part I like best is that he's got three legs on it which keeps the people using that end of the table from bashing their knees. Now that's a nice solution, elegant and effective.

So tell me Earl, how many links do you want before you come and fix the wavy, gappy monstrosity in my daughter's bedroom that I creatively call crown molding?

Blogged with Flock

Monday, November 12, 2007

Does the world really need another font?

Does the world really need another font?

Yes. Mine.

For some inexplicable reason, I'm hell bent on designing/making my own font. I find the whole thing intensely fascinating (at least for now).

How timely then was this link to these Type Workshop images illustrating some fundamentals of type design. Incredible. Thanks to I Love Typography for so much great information.

So anyway, I've sketched out a basic alphabet as a starting point. The more I look at it, the more I want to change and refine it. Right now it looks a little anemic. I'm interesting in creating something sans serif, stable and consistent. Honestly, I'm aiming at something that someone (even just me) might actually use. The more reading and research I do, the longer the road seems to get, but hey, you gotta start somewhere. It's quite rough and there are lots of things to fix and refine. But there will be plenty of time for apologies... here's my starting point:

Free Image Hosting at

And before the typeface nazis attack, yes, it is a font that I'm initially going to create. If I'm successful and enjoy it, it might serve as a starting place for a typeface of which this one will just be a member. ;)

Blogged with Flock

A Lesson in Humility (or is that Stupidity)

So after my accidental but terribly embarrassing Stumbleupon spam mail earlier today I finally got up the courage to crawl out from under my desk and I have the following interesting facts to report:

1. The vast majority of my work-related contacts paid no mind to it. It seemed to be a kind of 'wuzzat?... I ignored it' reaction. Web-Ignorance I sincerely thank you.

2. Three or four people actually took the opportunity to join the service (they send you an email when one of your invites is acted upon). Glad I could be of service. :)

3. I received two or three re-acquaintance emails from people I hadn't talked to in a while. (eg. Ah nevermind... but say, long time no talk - what's up?) This was actually a nice by-product, and served to ease the pain ever so slightly.

4. I got a few truly comforting emails ('no worries - shite happens', 'no big deal - don't worry about it' etc.). These people now get preferential status. Hehe.

5. Heathenx gave me a right proper ribbing. I would have expected no less. :)

Not too bad. But just when I thought the whole internet had gone soft, John L. saved the day with this little diddy in reply to my spam:

"Go fuck yourself ebay lover.".

Ebay? I didn't even know Ebay had acquired Stumbleupon. So to John, thanks for educating me and restoring my faith in all things Internet. You'll get your free pen1s enlargement patches sometime next week.  :)

The moral of the story? Triple check that page before hurriedly clicking those nice shiny buttons.

Blogged with Flock

Curl up and Die....

Excuse me.. Two phone calls so far... I'm going home right now to curl up and die.


Damn You Stumbleupon!!!

I just inadvertently spammed 270 of my contacts. And I'm PISSED about it.

Sincerest apologies if you received a Stumbleupon invite/reference from me.

I like Stumbleupon. I think it's fun. But when I saw the 'see your friends reviews', atop my Greader page, I thought it might be interesting.

So I get there and sign on, but the layout there is tricky (to me anyway). It lists your Gmail contacts that are already on Stumbleupon (there were 5 of them) and has a nice shiny button to connect them up and thereby see what it is they're recommending. Good stuff....

But wait! There are all your other Gmail contacts (270 of them) lower down on the page and THEY ARE ALL SELECTED BY DEFAULT. It will then email them all a Stumbleupon invite!

FUCK!! (profanity is fully and completely allowed in this specific post btw).

My bad for not reading and comprehending well enough, but crap StumbleUpon.. you should make it more clear before potentially spamming hundreds of people I consider friends or at least acquaintances.

Again - My apologies to all of you.. I'm thinking of sending out a mass apology. I don't know if I'm over-reacting, but damn I feel slimy right now.

Blogged with Flock

Friday, November 09, 2007

Free Fonts for Professional Design

I Love Typography cites a nice post over at Smashing Magazine describing 40+ excellent free fonts for professional design. I already have some of them, but am always on the lookout for new ones.

I'm also unable to shake the itch to design and create my own font. Sketching has started.. but it looks like a long road.

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Catherine Zeta Jones of Online Word Processors

If you've ever tried Google Docs, you'll know it's an online word processor in the traditional Google style - functional but not necessarily the prettiest girl in the room.

But after trying the Adobe-acquired Buzzword today I have to say I've just met the Catherine Zeta-Jones of online word processors.

Very slick indeed! In fact, I was almost tempted to keep adding tables just to play with the interface. There are some really nice ideas going on here. Between the creative ideas and the high polish of the app, it's obvious they've spent a great deal of design time (graphic and otherwise) on this.

It's a free sign up when you get there.

I love seeing the bar get raised. ;)

Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Firefox/Flock - Pretty Large Security Flaw - Passwords in the clear

I picked this up listening to Leo Laporte's KFI podcast a week or two back and just forgot to blog about it:

Did you know that...

In Firefox or Flock, if you go to Tools->Options->Security Tab, you will see a button called "Show Passwords". If you click this button you will see a pop up dialog box with a list of all of the sites for which you let FF (or Flock) manage your logon information. It will list each site along with your login name. BUT on this dialog there is another button labeled "Show Passwords". If you click on this button, it will SHOW YOUR PASSWORDS IN CLEAR TEXT.

Hmm. That ain't very nice is it. Especially if you work in an environment where other people might have access to your browser.

Luckily, in the original options dialog box, there is a checkbox marked 'Use Master Password'. Check this box and you will be prompted to enter a master password. This will require that the user enter this password when the browser launches and will require it again if they attempt to show the passwords in the Options dialog (as described above).

Not sure if you let Firefox or Flock manage your logon info, but if you do, you might want to secure them.

Blogged with Flock

Facebook: Ugly Irrelevance

I visit my Facebook page every few weeks just to see what's up. I find my distaste for FB growing with each visit. All I see is a steady stream of invites for something called the 'Funwall', or 'iLike' or some other 3rd party Facebook app. Even Steve Gillmor is trying to leverage Facebook in his recent call out for people to listen to his most recent 'Gang' podcast by joining a Facebook Group.

I've checked out some of these things and find the whole FB thing useless and a navigational mess. A hot steaming pile if you get my drift. Sure, there are no starry backgrounds (likely copyrighted by Leopard anyway) or animated gifs (yet!) but it sure doesn't feel or look like the social app of the future to me. Every time I visit there just seems to be more and more crap squeezed into every nook and cranny of my home page. It actually looks busier than And that people, is no mean feat!

Maybe I'm just behind the times, but I can't for the life of me find any real value in Facebook.

Just give me a decent browser, Google Search, Google Reader, and GMail and I'm all set.

Do you frequent Facebook? If so, Why?

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Postr - Gnome-based Upload tool for Linux

Lifehacker seems to have it's fair share of Linux related info lately which is nice. Something interesting spotted today was this article about Postr, which is a Gnome based application for uploading photos to Flickr. I've been using jUploadr for a while and it does work fairly well. But it would be nice to have a non-Java based alternative that would be a little better integrated into my Gnome/Openbox environment at home. I think I'll give it a shot this week and see how it works.

Blogged with Flock

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Missing Masterpiece

About five years ago, I was thumbing through my local Chapters bookstore shelves and picked up a copy of Driving Ambition by Doug Nye which documented the design and birth of the Mclaren F1. An amazing book, it contained design sketches, notes and drawings from Gordon Murray - the car's designer, along with beautiful photography. The story of the car's design along with the sketches and handwritten notes elevated this book significantly above any other I have read before or since. It was brand new and priced at an amazingly low $40.00 at the time.

Alas, about a year ago, I had proudly lent this book to a co-worker and then to a nephew... Didn't pay much attention to who had it or in which order. Anyway, it is safe to say that I don't have the book now and can't seem to track down who does.  So I decided to bite the bullet and re-purchase it...

The Chapter's site lists it as "Temporarily Unavailable To Order". So I decided to pull out the big guns and head on over to ...

Turns out that Amazon doesn't have it either. But they do know 3 re-sellers that do. And better yet they want $539 for it. [cue record needle ripping sound]. WHAT ??!!?? Five Hundred and Thirty Nine dineros? Okay, it was a good book, no, actually it was a great book. But Five Hundred? Sorry sirs... er.. thieving Bastards... No takers here.

Instead I'm thinking of spending $300.00 bucks hiring some thug to threaten my co-worker and nephew into finding the missing masterpiece.


Blogged with Flock

Friday, November 02, 2007

What's your favourite terminal/programming font?

As I've posted about before, I run XP at work, but use several Linux-y tools in my workflow. A key tool for me is the rxvt terminal which I run using cygwin. I use this for my todo list management among other things. Since it's such an often used app for me, every once in a while I try to fine-tune the fonts and colours in rxvt to make it nicer and more readable for me.

Right now I've settled on a "Light Steel Blue" foreground on a black background. But I constantly switch between two different font choices, one using the wonderful ProggyClean bitmap font and the other using the Bitstream Vera Sans Mono font which renders quite well on my XP box (nicer I think that it does on my Linux box at home actually).

Here's the shortcut launch command for each one with a screen snippet:

C:\cygwin\bin\run.exe rxvt -sl 1500 -fn "ProggycleanTT-13" -bg black -fg "LightSteelBlue" -sr -e bash --login -i

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

C:\cygwin\bin\run.exe rxvt -sl 1500 -fn "Bitstream Vera Sans Mono-14" -bg black -fg "LightSteelBlue" -sr -e bash --login -i

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Think these are ugly? What's your terminal or programming font of choice? Share it in the comments! I'm always up for some good suggestions.

Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Me again on Linuxreality...

The second part of my guest segment on the linuxreality podcast is up today. More Inkscape chatter from yours truly.

The new found fame I've enjoyed because of this is just wonderful. I did a photo shoot for Podcast&Ammo magazine just last weekend. Unfortunately it included a nude photo spread and the editor deemed it far too graphic to publish. For shame, the prudes.


Blogged with Flock

Mahalo Daily Trailer - Very Sharp

I'm not sure about the idea of people-powered search. But maybe Jason Calacanis should stick to video trailer production instead. This intro video for the new Mahalo Daily video podcast was very good. The part with Alex Albrecht was genius.

Blogged with Flock

Make My Logo Bigger Cream.. and more!

Stuck with a crappy graphic designer? Say goodbye to all your worries with easy to apply "Make My Logo Bigger Cream". Big improvements with only one application. And there are lots of other deals to be had too, like "Whitespace Eliminator Spray" and more.

This company could put many hard working designers out of business. :)

ps. The look on the designer's face when confronted with "Flouresencizer" is priceless.

Check out all of these wonderful products right here.


[via boagworld]

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Top Gear Kicks Butt - Bugatti vs. Eurofighter Typhoon

While not one of my normal topics, I have to say that Top Gear is an absolute kickass show (and magazine). Very high quality production and always a gem to watch. Alas, I don't get the BBC channel at home, so much of my watching comes via YouTube.

Anyway, this race between a Bugatti Veyron and a Eurofighter Typhoon jet is a good indicator of how entertaining this program can be. Very nicely done and I won't tell you who wins the race. You'll have to watch! :)

Blogged with Flock

Liquid Rescaling - Very Cool.

Saw this excellent and interesting demo of something dubbed 'Liquid Rescaling'. In essence it allows you to stretch or compress an image but keeps some semblance of proportion for the objects within the image. It's hard to describe but imagine you had a 4x6 image, but there was an ugly garbage can on the right hand side. With this tool, you could crop off the right 2 inches (leaving you with a 4x4 image) but then stretch it back to 4x6 *without* fattening up the people in the picture.

It uses algorithms to detect areas in the photo where it can stretch while minimizing distortion. It's really quite neat. Even neater is the fact that there is a plugin for the GIMP which uses the tool. If you watch the demo you will be amazed at what you can achieve.

I also believe that there is no equivalent tool in the beloved Photoshop that does this. ;)

Blogged with Flock

Monday, October 29, 2007

I'll take a new Ruby logo and a thick skin please...

I've entered a few logo contests in the past just for fun. It's been a creative outlet for me and always ends up being a learning experience as well. But today I came across the winner of the Ruby logo contest. It's definitely not what I would have picked as the winner, but over and above that, I'm glad I never knew about the contest - especially if I got the 'shoe-ing' that the winner seemed to get in the comments to the winning results post.

I'm simply not sure my skin would be thick enough.

Blogged with Flock

Friday, October 26, 2007

Photographic Inspiration

I haven't done a lot of photography related posts lately. Unsurprisingly, that's because I haven't done a lot of photography lately. ;)

Not that I have lost interest mind you, but anybody who reads this blog regularly will know my interests shift around all the time. Sometimes it takes a little creative inspiration and awe to get me moving again on certain fronts. This gallery by Nick Brandt is just one of those things.

While his photographic subjects might be dramatic to start with (how often do you get to photograph lions, elephants and zebras in the wild?), his use of tone and somewhat dramatic burning and dodging techniques add a huge amount of drama to each and every image.

I've always been a fan of post-processing when it's well done; and in Nick Brandt's case, it sure is. And given the tools you get in the GIMP and Photoshop, applying these techniques to improve your own images is not so hard. I've always found John Arnold's Photowalkthrough tutorials to be incredibly useful in teaching techniques that can really enhance your post processing work.

Expect to see more photography related posts here in the future.

Blogged with Flock

So I want to create a font...

As I've likely mentioned before, I've been very interested in graphic design for the last little while and typography is one of the elements of design that I find most interesting. I've been humming and hawing over trying to create a font just for the heck of it. So I was quite happy to see the start of the So You Want To Create A Font series over at I installed FontForge on my system quite a while back and I'm looking forward to taking the font creation plunge.

Blogged with Flock

Photographic Observation

Over the past few months I have noticed something different in my neck of the woods. I do a lot of driving (commuting etc.) and a great deal of it is on back country roads north of Toronto (the area where I live). It is not uncommon to see the odd car pulled over on the shoulder with a dead battery, flat tire, child peeing in the bushes.. y'know, the usual. But lately, when I spot one of these cars, I look over further and see people with their digital SLR cameras across the ditch photographing some grazing horses, a majestic sunset or just a nice picturesque farmhouse scene. Sometimes they've even got tripods set up!

You can clearly see that almost all of them are not professionals (no big camera bags, or huge elaborate glass), but amateurs satisfying their passion and hobby on the way to and from work. Sometimes I'm almost tempted to pull over from the rat race and just chat them up about photography, but alas, my social skills are not that well developed I guess.

I'm not sure if it's just my own perception, but it seems like digital photography of the more serious kind is really on an upswing. Very nice to see.

Blogged with Flock

Mind your step...

Although as a parent, I'm twice removed from this situation  (I have only one child, and she's a 'she'), I did grow up as the younger of two boys, so  Tony Woodlief's post made me genuinely guffaw this morning. Mind your step. ;)

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, October 25, 2007

One for the Mac guys out there...

While I don't necessarily like Apple's relatively closed system. I do hold their designers (both industrial and graphic) in high regard. So why then does their new Leopard packaging remind me of a GeoCities webpage motif?

The problem with raising the bar is that you have to meet it every time after that.

Btw, I've watched the Leopard tour video just to see how the other half lives. I've got more thoughts on that to come, but one thing sticks out. Is it just me, or does the Aqua blue (or graphite) scroll bar just seem to stick out of their new interface like a very sore (and very shiny) thumb. I think the glass buttons for drop down lists etc. still look decent in the various dialog boxes, but when those scroll bars pop up on a general application window they just look completely out of place with the rest of the interface.

Have the aqua controls finally worn out their stay?

Blogged with Flock

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The True Future of Online Office Productivity

Screw Google Docs or Writely or whatever. Forget about ZohoWriter and MS-Office Online...

If you're looking for a truly awe-inspiring online word processor, look no further than WordPerhect.

You be pleasantly surprised by the advanced interface and a truckload of innovative features such as:

- the ability to write on a variety of media from the back of silver cigarette foil to a torn off strip of cardboard
- the ability to customize your writing instrument size
- the choice of colour (as long as it's black)
- the ability to save your documents, and even print your documents
- in the spirit of less is more, the delete key scratches out the previous character, there is no delete per se.

Make sure that you use your browser full screen since the highly advanced rendering engine will scale accordingly and enhance readability.

ps. The pop up dialog system will undoubtedly be the model for OS's in the future.


Blogged with Flock