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.


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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.

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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]

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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! :)

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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. ;)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. ;)

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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?

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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.


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The Dirty Car Art Gallery

Wow. Have you ever seen the Dirty Car Art Gallery. Absolutely amazing. I'm used to seeing what we call the old 'Charlie Weiber'.. which amounts to a simplified version of a portion of the male anatomy usually seen on the back windows of dirty white construction vans. This is a few million notches above that! :)

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Okay - now I'm officially famous... ;)

Several weeks back, Chess Griffin put the call out for contributors to a series of guest segments over at the fabulous LinuxReality podcast. A couple of weeks ago I pulled up my knickers and gave it a shot. If you're interested in some talk aimed at people who are new to Inkscape, you should check it out. My full recording was an hour with the intent that it be split into a two parter. Part 1 is now up as part of Episode 82. Thanks for the opportunity Chess!

After doing that recording, I have to say that I have a ton of respect for Chess and others. It was very tough. It took me a couple of awkward moments before I got into any sort of groove (if it even merits the term 'groove'). Chess, Dave Yates, and others do such a great job just to do it so naturally week in and week out. Props to all of you podcasters who make my commute so enjoyable!

Since I've now achieved fame (fortune not so much), I'll be signing autographs in my car outside the Burger King in the north end of Mississauga over the lunch hour. I think I'll spend the rest of the day bossing around heathenx to celebrate. ;)

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Back on the StumbleUpon Wagon

About two and a half years ago I posted about StumbleUpon. After being a little bored with my feeds this weekend, I decided to get back on the SU wagon and give it another shot.

On the face of it, it doesn't appear to have changed much. I am however, finding it quite addictive. It seems to bring me to a ton of interesting and new sites. You might have noticed a short flurry of brief posts about some interesting stuff over the past couple of days. Those came from my Stumble'ing. In fact, I had to restrain myself from overposting. There were a ton of interesting sites, but I didn't want this blog to become a steady stream of regurgitated links. Still, I find many of the sites fascinating and I'll definitely share the odd one or five in between what will hopefully be more substantial and more consistent posts.

If you're keen on finding new and interesting sites in your own fields of interest, then StumbleUpon might be a great tool for you.

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My Graphic Love Affair with Design

For quite a while now I've been harbouring a lusty affair with design. Mostly of the graphic type. ;) My notebooks and Inkscape are an outlet for that (I'm due up for a new screencast big-time btw). 

A few months back I picked up Thinking With Type by Ellen Lupton. A great book if you're interested in typography and text related design. Another great find was the September/October issue of Good magazine which focused on design (a very interesting magazine on the whole by the way). And just to round out the package, I recently subscribed to the I Love Typography blog which seems to have lots of interesting posts as well. They've got a presentation posted there with Ellen Lupton which I'll definitely watch when I get the chance.

So while there's not a lot of meat to this post, I just thought I'd share a few things in case any of you harbour the same illicit affair with design that I do. ;)

Do you harbour a love affair with something unrelated to what it is you do everyday for money?

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Useful tool for downloading/converting online videos

Another quick link, (this time somewhat useful) ;)

If you want to download online streaming videos to your pc, you could try A very simple (and pretty) dialog box awaits you there. You enter the URL to the video (like a youtube link) and then check off which conversion you want to download. One nice thing that I found useful is that they will provide an audio (mp3) version of a streaming video. Many times there are presentations and things that I find interesting, but I end up wanting to listen to them in the car during my commute instead of watching them. I could always do the conversion to extract the audio myself, but this might prove simpler. It appears to be free but I believe they offer up a 3x speed increase with a paid version.

The conversions available are .wmv, .mov, .mp4, .3gp, .mp3 and .flv. I tried it with a couple of our Inkscape YouTube vids and it seemed to work flawlessly - I've only tried the mp3 and flv conversions. But of course, as with just about everything online, you spins the wheel and takes your chances. ;)

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The Eight Irresistable Principles of Fun

If you're anything like me, there are times when you get in a rut, creatively or personally. If you need a quick kick in the pants or just something to pick you up and get you on your way again, check out The Eight Irresistable Principles of Fun.

It's not anything too nutty or pie in the sky. Just a very well done and attractive presentation with eight very common sense principles. I probably violate every one of them at one time or another - but also hold each and everyone of them in high regard.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Beautiful Flash Toy

From the land of completely pointless, but simply beautiful flash animation demo's, check out:

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Lady Loves me...

Have I ever mentioned the fact that my almost-6 year old daughter has a thing for Elvis?

Turns out she's fascinated by Elvis.. well more accurately, Elvis, Priscilla and Lisa-Marie.

I find myself answering a flurry of questions... Why was he called 'The King'? Was Priscilla the Queen? How did get so fat? Why are all those ladies screaming?

Turns out she also loves the YouTube. The YouTube has the Elvis. Actually, it has an untold number of Elvis and Priscilla slideshows set to music and snippets of concert footage. Turns out Elvis Fans have figured out The YouTube too!

So I've steered her away from Bratz, only been to Build-A-Bear-Empty-A-Wallet once. Kept her on the straight and narrow so far. And the fact that she prefers the young handsome Elvis to the old fat sweaty one makes it that much easier to live with.

Elvis movies are the next wave. While in Vegas a few weeks back, we picked up a VHS copy of Viva Las Vegas for her. It's wearing thin after about 40 plays (seriously). We know the words to "The Lady Loves Me" almost completely. Which in itself leads to more questions like: What is Russian Roulette?, What is a moonlight tete a tete? What is playing hard to get?

We signed out Blue Hawaii from the library only last week in a bid for some sanity.

However, if I have learned one thing during this stage of fatherhood, it is this....

Ann Margret was indeed the hotness... ;)


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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

FSF, GNU sites updated -> butt-ugly 2.0

I just read an article about the improved navigation and appearance of the, and the Free Software Directory sites. Good news since I've always found them to be antiquated looking and a general mess. I decided to go and check them out.

While they may be an improvement in a navigational sense, I'd say the appearance improvement is very very marginal. They're still ugly. And it's frustrating to me.

I'm sorry, but I don't care if you are a non-commercial entity, there are thousands of free software users out there who are talented web designers (I'm not one of them) and who would be happy as a clams to provide some guidance and help on site design. As it stands, I still think they're a mess. I'd love to point somebody to these sites and be proud. I can't. I'm not sure if it's the font choices, the colour schemes, layout or all three. But definitely something is missing.

And I'm not talking about rounded corners and earthy tones. The Free Software directory has that. But it also has mixed up font styles and a very primitive looking blog template. The search box looks like something I'd design (and that's likely not very good).

C'mon FSF and GNU. I realize the content is the important thing, but so is image. We're talking about software, technology and freedom. You want to inspire people into understanding the message. It's hard to do that with an uninspiring series of websites.

And one other thing. Call me a freedom hater if you want, but I can't stand that GNU logo. I don't like it and never have. I'm no big fan of the whole penguin thing, but it's tolerable. But the GNU? No way. Sorry. I don't care who designed it. It's simply unappealing. They should change it.

Am I just a raving freedom-hater? What do you think?

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Facebook Funk

Looks now as if Scoble is done evangelizing Facebook. Hehe. I'm still scratching my head over why everyone's making such a big deal of it. I still find it only to be a marginally interesting nuisance. A place for old friends to pop out of the woodwork and that's pretty much it. Putting apps on it has done nothing but force my interest elsewhere.

But at least Robert seems to have no qualms about expressing his regret,

"Damn I wish I hadn’t locked my rolodex in this trunk."

 Most know-it-all web mavens would likely just start ignoring it and never admit they might have been wrong about something to start with.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Microsoft Death Spasms - or is Steve Ballmer just in panic mode?

Is it just me, or does Microsoft seem to flailing about quite a bit lately?

They are sure kicking up a lot of fuss over an open operating system and open-source ethos that not long ago they would have liked you to think didn't even exist on their radar.

And Linux / FOSS marches inexorably onward.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Excuse for a big arse pumpkin photo

Big Arse Pumpkin

As you might be able to tell from the sporadic posting here (not that I've ever been prolific) and the lack of screencasts coming from me lately (thankfully heathenx has stepped up to the plate numerous times), I'm just swamped lately - hopefully I'll be able to get things a little more under control soon.

But on a more positive note, on my way into Newmarket yesterday I managed to capture this pic with my otherwise seldom-used cameraphone. That, my friends is one big arse pumpkin. You think I'm busy... imagine the poor guy who's gotta carve that sucker. :)

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Friday, October 05, 2007

It's Uncanny

This post about surviving a task explosion is exactly what I need at the moment...

... now if only I could find the time to read it. :)

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

You guys must be deef...

Popular blogger complains about attention-seeking bloggers gaming a system that is developed to funnel even more attention to yet other attention-seeking bloggers. Another allegedly attention-seeking blogger complains that by complaining, the popular blogger is himself seeking attention and gaming the system.

Phew!! Where the hell is a kickass Kent Newsome rant when you need it???

I already said it was missing the point. I say we send them all to the back of the class for not paying attention.


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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Personal Aspects of Space Travel and Shooting Stars

Here's a good explanation of one of the more mundane aspects of space travel... and you'll learn something surprising about shooting stars along the way too:

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Notecase - A Clean and Simple Outliner

Whenever I've looked for a nice clean and simple outliner for Windows or Linux, I've never come up with something that has satisfied me. They either end up being too complex or too.. I dunno.. wacky for my tastes.  I know that a lot of Mac-heads swear by OmniOutliner, but I don't have a Mac.

Alas, my search seems to be over. I came across NoteCase a while ago and have used it for the last couple of weeks. It's a clean and simple 2-pane outliner written in C and Gtk. It's free and open-source software released under BSD license. It does exactly what I want it to do, build a clean and simple outline with no-fuss and no-muss. It also does things like export outlines to html and text file formats. NoteCase will even export to an .exe file which I believe just creates a standalone instance of NoteCase itself, preloaded with the outline you've exported. Nice.

It has all the node editing features you'd likely expect, along with standard text formatting, search and replace, and date/time insertion features. The current version is 1.6.9.

All in all it's a simple, fast and clean outlining program - exactly what I've been looking for. Check your distro's repositories for it, or go here for the different downloads that are available.

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Missing the Point

As a non-professional blogger (ha! couldn't ya tell..) and sometimes screencaster, maybe I'm completely unqualified to judge, but I think a new Top 100 (or an old Top 100 for that matter) completely misses the point of blogs, podcasts and the web...

The power of the internet is niche information. Build me a better search and recommendation engine and I am invincible!

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