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