Archive for July, 2008

…and it’s a small world after all.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

So after work today I visited my local Wal-Mart for an eye exam. It was time for some new glasses and a pair of contacts. After arriving and filling out some paper work an older fella came out and introduced himself. Apparently this was my eye doctor. He wasn’t my regular eye doctor that I had come to know for the last three or four years. Apparently, he was on vacation so this fine gentlemen was filling in.

Immediately, I noticed that he had an OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) sitting in the examination room. I was interested in it because I had only ever seen them in pictures on the Internet. So I said, β€œHey, an OLPC.” I think he was surprised that I even knew what they were. I asked him how he liked it and he filled me in on all the good and the bad and why he was using one.

Anyway, as the conversation continued, the new doctor asked me some personal questions regarding what I did for a living. I told him that I was a Design Engineer mainly and the IT administrator for a very small company. He asked if I ever did any programming in my line of work and I told him that I did but it was mostly just scripting since I wasn’t much of a β€œreal” programmer. He found interest in that and asked what programming languages that I used. A little embarrassed about the first one I told him that I scripted in visual basic (VBS) and also used a little python (thanks to Mr. Richard Querin). I mentioned that python scripting is what I was really interested in learning more of because it seemed like the way of the future and allowed for me to use the code on Windows and Linux with very little changing. I also explained that I wrote bash scripts to automate some routines on my server as well.

Well, it turned out that this doctor is a software developer on the side who uses python for a majority of what he does. In addition, he uses Ubuntu wherever he can, especially at home. And the kicker is that he was well aware of many open source programs like Blender, Inkscape, and OpenOffice. If that wasn’t enough, I found out that his kids (who are probably around my age of 36, I’m guessing) are software developers too. They own a company in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, which is about an hour from me. His son is a big Blender user of all things.

We chatted for about 45 minutes about programming, Linux, software patents, open-source software, and education. Probably could have kept on talking but there were other patients that he had to attend to. He was very interested in the subject of teaching young children programming, namely python. This is why he had an OLPC. Apparently, him and his children were writing software for it. I thought that was absolutely brilliant.

So that’s my story. Here I am in Small Town, Indiana at my local Wal-Mart and I run into a person like this. He was very interesting to talk to and listen to. Yes indeed, it’s a small world after all. πŸ™‚

Episode 067 – Intro to Spiro

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Episode 067 is live. In it I take a look at an SVN release of Inkscape and show off the new Spiro path functionality. I hemmed and hawed over the idea of this screencast. I didn’t want to screencast features that are still be cooked but I had a change of heart during the last 3 days. Just too excited about Spiro to keep it under wraps I guess. Plus there aren’t many places that one can find Spiro tutorials on the net at this time…so…here’s mine until some one can make a nicer one.

Enjoy. πŸ™‚

Episode 066 – Intro to Live Path Effects (LPE)

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Episode 066 is there for the taking. Do your thing. πŸ™‚

Possible Grid Masking Photo Project?

Monday, July 14th, 2008

I stumbled upon (literally) this site over lunch today: It got me thinking about a possible photo project.

The aforementioned site provides a way of recreating large format posters using small printable sections. But what about this…
I was thinking about using a similar grid mask to that used in Screencaster’s Episode 064. Essentially a grid of say, 9 rounded rectangles. I would take a nice image that I like and and do the grid masking and then print each individual section onto its own piece of photo paper. I would then somehow mount each piece to a backing and mount them on the wall (maintaining the spacing between rectangles of course).

I think this would be a neat effect. However I’m a bit unsure about what do about the photo mounting. Is it possible (and not overly expensive) to get these things done onto something like foamcore by a printing shop? I think it would work best with each individual piece mounted framelessly to the wall.

But of course there might be other, equally good (and maybe easier) ways to do it. I’d be interested in anybody’s suggestions.

Addicted to Love…I mean Spiro

Monday, July 14th, 2008

I cannot say enough about Spiro in the Inkscape development releases. If you are a die hard Inkscaper then this is a must try. You’ll never want to use standard bezier paths and tweak them ever again. Drawing paths with this new functionality is so much fun, especially now that we can use a shape copied to the clipboard as a brush. Thinking what I’m thinking? Many many possibilities indeed. πŸ˜€

10-15 minute doodle:

Episode – 065 LCD Digits

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Episode 065 is up. In this one I create some LCD digits from scratch and demonstrate the use of grids and grid snapping along the way.

I really thought this one would be short. But somehow it managed to get to the 17 or 18 minute mark. These things always end up being longer than they feel when you record them. How did I ever do one in under 10 minutes?? πŸ˜‰

Making a debian package of Inkscape on Ubuntu Hardy

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

Alright…this is going to be a little rough and not quite as thorough as I would like but I wanted to document it now while it was fresh in my mind. After visiting this site and this site I was able to cobble some steps together to build a debian package of a recent Inkscape development release for Ubuntu Hardy. This may not work for everyone but it worked for me and I was able to use the deb package on a newly installed version of Ubuntu Hardy to make sure it worked.

Here are the steps that I took:

1.)Β  Install the necessary packages to build Inkscape (some tools may not be needed)

sudo apt-get install autotools-dev fakeroot dh-make build-essential autoconf automake intltool libglib2.0-dev libpng12-dev libgc-dev libfreetype6-dev liblcms1-dev libgtkmm-2.4-dev libxslt1-dev libboost-dev libpopt-dev libgsl0ldbl libgsl0-dev libgsl0-dbg libgnome-vfsmm-2.6-dev libssl-dev libmagick++9-dev libwpg-dev

2.)Β  Download a recent devel tarball from Inkscape Subversion Snapshots

save inkscape-XXXXX.tar.bz2 to /home/user dir.

3.)Β  Untar inkscape-XXXXX.tar.bz2 to /home/user. This will make a new dir called inkscape-XXXX

4.)Β  Make the debian control files:

dh_make --createorig

Pick Single for single binary
Fill in any extra information like maintainer and version

5.)Β  Run the following:

dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot

If everything goes as planned and after a long wait you should get:
inkscape_XXXXXX-1_i386.deb in your /home/user dir.

I haven’t yet figured out how to install this package or prepare it to run along side the stable 0.46 release. If anyone knows how then please give me a jingle.

Here’s my deb package of Inkscape 0.46+devel revision 19107, July 2, 2008:


Use it at your own risk and don’t bitch at me if it doesn’t work. You can always uninstall it and go back to the stable release. I am really looking forward to Inkscape 0.47. They are woring on some really neat features like Spiro, Live Path Effects and Filter Effects. Check it out. πŸ˜‰

By the way, this was my first deb package. I didn’t adhere to the Debian package standards.

Compiling Inkscape: Update

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Some time ago I blogged about compiling Inkscape on Windows. Guess what? I couldn’t do it.Β  πŸ™Β  I tried over and over again on several occasions and I just couldn’t get it to compile. I gave up on it and just resorted to the compiled version that was already compiled for us and ready to download.

I was still interesting in the black art of compiling Inkscape though. This time I turned to my trusty Ubuntu Hardy desktop at home. I got all of the dependencies installed (I think…can never be too sure) and away I went. Unfortunately it errored out during the make command. I tried only a couple of times after that and still nothing. I failed again.

This morning when I got into work I felt that itch to try and compile Inkscape again. Until I can compile it successfully it’s going to keep bothering me. So I VNC’ed into my Ubuntu Hardy file server (it’s justΒ  light duty server…nothing I couldn’t fix if I broke it) and installed all of the dependencies. I pretty much followed the Inkscape/Ubuntu Hardy compiling instructions from the Inkscape wiki ,only changing a few things. This time I was successful. Hooray! πŸ™‚ The only problem that I had was that I could not build a deb package with checkinstall command. I did a standard make install instead and sent it to a different directory so that I could use both the stable build and the SVN build (19107).

My only question is if it’s possible to copy or transfer my the install (compiled package) to another Ubuntu Hardy PC…like to my home desktop. Had I been able to make the deb package then this would have been awesome but I wasn’t able to. I would love to give this to other Ubuntu Hardy users who are interested in taking a look at the new features. Unfortunately, I’m a packaging noob.

And it was all going a little *too* smoothly…

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

I finally got around to downloading the avi file for Episode 064 and took a look (wanted compare the intro smoothness with ep063) and immediately noticed that I encoded it to the incorrect resolution.

Clearly I am an idiot. But don’t tell anyone.

It is encoded to 912×864 instead of 912×684 which it was recorded at. Consequently, it is vertically stretched. ie. circles look like vertical ellipses.

Properly encoded avi file will replace the retarded one later tonight.

I should have known things went a little too smoothly. πŸ˜‰

I blame Richard.. er.. wait a second…