Archive for November, 2007

iWarp and Festival

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Has anyone checked out episode 021 of Meet The GIMP? In it Rolf explains how to use the iWarp filter in the GIMP. I can honestly say that I had never noticed that filter before. I thought perhaps it was new in GIMP 2.4. A quick check on my son’s ubuntu 6.10 rig with GIMP 2.2 verified that iWarp was there in that release as well.

Anyway, my point to this is that iWarp is a lot of fun to play with. I think my kids and I played with it for about an hour last night. We transformed quite a few pictures of ourselves into something that looked out of this world. I recommend that you watch Rolf’s video. You’ll likely learn a new skill if you hadn’t already tried iWarp.

Additionally, I came across a post last night regarding festival for Linux. Festival is a text-to-speech synthesizer. So basically it takes text and converts it to sound…think, “Do you want to play a game?” from the movie War Games.

If you are on ubuntu then you can “sudo apt-get install festival” to install it. openSUSE with Smart takes a “sudo smart install festival”. After it is installed you can simply open a terminal and type “echo “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die” | festival –tts” to get it to say something. Make sure your speakers are turned up. Also, you can create a text file called “festival.txt” for instance. Write some text inside of it and save it to your /home/user/ directory. Now fire up a terminal and “festival –tts festival.txt”. It will read whatever you have written in your test file.

Obviously, festival gets old after the first 10 minutes of use but it’s another one for the kids. I even let then write some swear words just so that my computer would play them back. That never gets old.

Now go waste some time playing with these things. 🙂

Episode 046 – Dogtags with Logo

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

Episode 046 is ready. I illustrate in this screencast how to draw a dogtag with a logo on it instead of the traditional stamped text. Many times when I illustrate things I have have absolutely nothing to apply it too. This is one of those projects. Fun to draw but not really useful for me. On the other hand maybe someone out there will find it useful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

gOS: Is it any good?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

I downloaded gOS today because I was very curious about all of the hype. I read some positive reviews and felt like I should give it a try. I fired it up in VirtualBox and just played around with the live cd without installing anything. Of course one doesn’t need VirtualBox for this. Just burn the iso to cd and boot with it. It won’t harm your system if you don’t install it. This distro is based on ubuntu 7.10 and uses the Enlightenment desktop manager. Since it’s ubuntu based that means you’ll have access to the ubuntu repositories. If you feel at home with apt and synaptic then you’ll be able to install all the packages that you wish.

I must say that I thought the distro was really neat. It didn’t feel gimicky or tacky. It’s seemed like a very polished operating system. I was very impressed with the Enlightenment desktop too. That was the first time that I had used it. It seemed very responsive. In a way, it kind of reminded me of XFCE. I think  that I would feel comfortable using Enlightenment on a daily basis.

Also, I really liked the iBar. That’s the group of icons sitting at the bottom where one’s taskbar would most likely be. This works similarly to a Mac. Drag your pointer to slide the icons with a zooming effect. I could get pretty used to this feature. I would prefer it to be a little smaller. Perhaps that can be changed.

I really think that my kids would love this OS. They already use and love ubuntu and xubuntu. I may have to install it for them. Or…I could just wait and buy the $200 Wal-Mart gOS PC for them. Hmm…Christmas is just around the corner.

Check it out.

We have been added to the Miro Guide

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

We have been added to the Miro Guide. That means if you open Miro and search for “Inkscape”, “Screencasters”, “Querin”, or “heathenx” (the tags that I used) you’ll find the channel and you can subscribe to it. Additionally, we have added Miro subscription buttons to both our web site and our blog if you wish to use them.

Only two episodes, our last two, show up in Miro. Sorry for that but there is very little that can be done as I understand it. I blame Richard (<- that never gets old). Miro mirrors what is posted on our blog. That means if only two episodes are listed on our blog then only two episodes will be listed in Miro. At the time that our channel was set up only episodes 045 and 044 where listed. We have since changed our WordPress blog to display 30 posts rather than the default 10 to help with this in the future. As time goes by more episodes will be listed and probably a few will drop off.


PayPal Issue Resolved

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Talk about an emotional roller coaster. I no more than blogged about removing the PayPal donation button last night when this morning I found that PayPal finally contacted us. Our problems have now been resolved and we’re back in business, so to speak.

For those of you with PayPal accounts you already know that their service is very weak. They are not quick to respond, no matter the size of the issue. It would be nice if they had some kind of online chat so that one could get to the bottom of an issue quickly. Maybe someday. Until then it’s wait a week until you’re contacted.

Anyway, we are back up again. The bottom line…I blame Richard. 🙂

PayPal. The Bane of My Existence.

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Well, it looks like our donations are on hold for a little while. PayPal is not being friendly to us. We are having some problems with our new account and since PayPal does NOT have any service to speak of we’re left with figuring stuff out on our own. Once we get the issues straightened out then we’ll add our donation button back to our website. We’re truly sorry. We are trying to be as professional as we can (yet maintain a sense of humor over the silly thing).

This whole thing reminds me of the movie Mr. Mom where toward the end Mr. Schooner from Schooner Tuna is shooting a commercial. He rambles on about lowering the cost of tuna temporarily. I remember hearing, “These are trying times…”, “We’re all in this together…”, and “Schooner Tuna, a tuna with a heart.” See? See how all of that correlates to PayPal?

Episode 045 – Photo Mosaic

Friday, November 16th, 2007

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. 🙂


Friday, November 16th, 2007

Our purchasing agent (where I work) just won a radio contest. The morning DJ is going to deliver 6 pizzas to us for lunch today. I declare today Purchasing Agent Appreciation Day.

Miro on openSUSE 10.3…OMG!

Friday, November 16th, 2007

A few days ago the Screencasters got several emails where the senders wished us to be fed into Miro (the old Democracy Player). I had fiddled with the Democracy Player quite a while ago, maybe when I was on ubuntu Hoary. I thought it was kind of neat but it wasn’t for me in the end.

Last night I decided to give Miro a proper install on my openSUSE 10.3 box. I fired up VirtualBox a couple of days ago and installed Miro on ubuntu Gutsy. Worked like a charm on that distro and installed in like a minute. openSUSE wasn’t so easy. There is no current RPM for it so I downloaded the source so that I could compile it. This is what sent me into a treasure hunt for an entire hour looking for all of the dependent packages so the thing would compile.

Before I got too deep into it I ran over to the Suse forums and asked for some advice. No one was really interested except for one, so he and I tried it together until we both got it installed. I’m not sure the average person would want to go through what we did last night. It was literally a compile until it errored out and then we had to solve the error puzzle before we could continue onto the next step. Cripes! It felt like a game after awhile but we were both determined to get it installed.

In the end I installed so many packages just to get Miro running that I lost track of what needed to be done so that I could help someone else. Which…is why I do not recommend installing this until an RPM is released (hopefully by Guru or Packman, our main community packagers for Suse). I think I did read somewhere where someone made an RPM for openSUSE 10.2 but it was for a much older release. I wanted the spankin’ new Miro 1.0. Miro might be better off if it made an Autopackage rather than supply RPM’s and DEB’s. Of course, maybe it’s not that easy. What the Hell do I know?

So to the original emailers…see what you put me through? :p The next thing Richard and I need to figure out is how to add a video feed into Miro so that our viewers can get to our videos. I am still unsure how to do this so any tips would be appreciated. Not sure if we have everything that we need already with our present RSS feed or if I have to make another just for videos. Nevertheless, I hope that part is easier than compiling Miro. In the meantime you can watch our limited selection on YouTube and the one that I have on

Speed up the Package Manager in openSUSE 10.3

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

I noticed last night that my package management system in openSUSE 10.3 was slowing down. It was probably due the growing list of repositories that I have added to Yast. It definitely wasn’t as fast as it was when I first got openSUSE up and running. I really do not use the Software Manager in Yast all that often. I use Smart because it closely resembles Apt.

So I did a quick Google search and found an article on the openSUSE explaining what needed to be done to speed zypper up again. Apparently the database gets fragmented and so does the rpm database from time to time. Since I update packages often and install new ones I thought that perhaps my package database wasn’t as lean as it should be. So this is what needed to be done.

Step 1. Regenerate the zypper database (as root)

rm /var/cache/zypp/zypp.db ; zypper refresh

That may take a couple of minutes

Step 2. Defragment the RPM database (as root)

rpm –-rebuilddb

Run the above command just once. Also, if your RPM database ever gets corrupted (only happened to me once in 5 years) then this command will work for that too.

Now, to test it, go into Yast>Software>Software Management. It should take less time to update before getting into the actual software manager.

Further reading