Easily create panorama images

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Want to impress your friends with minimal effort? Check out Hugin Panorama photo stitcher

After taking a bunch of overlapping pictures of anything, you can easily stitch them together to create a panorama or hi-res poster surface. Very cool!

Once you've created the tiff image, use an image editor (like Gimp) to resize width to 9000 pixels and save in jpeg format so that filesize is less than 6 mb. Then, upload the jpeg file to Panagio.

Enlightenment in 20 minutes

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Enlightenment...awakening...awareness...realization

You could visit the Potala Palace, zen on your yoga mat, or stargaze at midnight. My suggestion: enjoy 20 minutes of education and empowerment.



Story of Stuff

SVG 1.1F2 (Second Edition) milestone

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Update: SVG 1.1 Second Edition is now an official W3C Recommendation.

FYI, the W3C team recently promoted SVG 1.1 Second Edition to 'Last Call Working Draft':

"This Last Call ends on 2 June 2011. The document has been republished as a Last Call Working Draft primarily for the community to validate changes we have made in response to previous Last Call comments. The Working Group expects to progress this document to Proposed Recommandation [sic] after the Last Call comment period, and is not expecting to make substantive corrections. New issues raised against the document will be handled as errata and subsequently incorporated into future editions of SVG 1.1 or into SVG 2.0."

Although a number of cleanup housekeeping issues were resolved or updated, the biggest disappointment in the proposed list of changes was the rejection of word wrap (issue #2332). SVG fans will have to wait 1.5 - 3 years for SVG 2.0 to deliver that. Booooo!

Update: SVG 1.1F2 was upgraded to 'Proposed Recommendation' on June 9.

Sony Acid / Sound Forge alternatives for Linux

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After switching from Windows to Linux, I struggled leaving behind my Sony Acid and Sound Forge applications. I researched every Linux replacement and in the end I begrudgingly settled on Audacity (which handles both audio editing and mixing).

I say 'begrudgingly' because personally I think the theme looks terrible. Once I improved that slightly with an Oxygen-style theme, it still took me awhile to figure out how to load, envelope, and mix multiple tracks. Hint: YouTube is your friend (or ebook if you have the time).

P.S. If you're a serious mixing engineer, Ardour is a better fit but I found it overkill for my needs. Also, Jokosher showed promise but the envelope tools were too difficult to work with.

Not all that impressed with Ubuntu 11.04 (review)

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So I, like most Ubuntu fans, have been counting down to the Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) release.

When it finally arrived I eagerly clicked the install button and essentially stared at the screen for an hour and a half as it downloaded over 1.6 gigabytes (!) of files and began what eventually became an overnight series of endless installs and updates.

When it finally completed by morning, I clicked on the Main Menu dropdown only to find myself staring at Wine, the Windows emulator for Linux. Now, I'm sure Ubuntu probably made the by-default-install-wine move to lure more Windows defectors, but to be honest, it totally ruined the experience for me. When I left Windows, I never looked back and seeing Wine in my default dropdown menu was like Christopher Reeve finding a penny in Somewhere in Time. Not only does Wine make your OS less secure, but it adds unnecessary overhead and clutter to an otherwise clean and streamlined system. Before squashing it like a bug, though, I decided to give it one chance to solve an annoying problem: run Internet Explorer and Safari browsers natively in Linux for web debugging and testing. Right now, I have to load a full-blown Windows XP image in VirtualBox to test my code in those browsers. So, when I came across PlayOnLinux (which runs on top of Wine), I decided to give it a try. Big disappointment. IE6 failed to install and their version of IE7 didn't support VML. I didn't even bother proceeding to Safari. Goodbye PlayOnLinux and Wine!

I also noticed the "Ubuntu Software Center" in the default dropdown. At first it looked promising, with a list of currently installed software and an easy search engine for finding and installing new software. But the excitement soon wore off when I discovered the installed software list isn't alphabetized - a major oversight. Also, the installer doesn't allow you to queue up a bunch of installs and then begin the overall installation process. Bottom line: I'll stick with my Synaptic Package Manager for now.

The upgrade also automatically included something called Byobu Terminal, which IMHO clutters the elegant simplicity of the standard Ubuntu Terminal (if I need to know my memory usage, System Monitor is a click away).

The latest Flash version was totally messed up in Firefox. The screen would flicker and jump around, buttons would disappear, etc.
Update: after doing some research I found a solution: Flash-Aid. Install it, restart Firefox, click the Flash-Aid button in the top-right corner, click the "Execute" button and follow the instructions. Worked like a charm!

One hoped for change that didn't occur was Nautilus still defaulting to the lame "Search documents and folders by name" when pressing Ctrl+F instead of the more powerful "Search for files..." option in the Accessories menu.

Ubuntu also now assumes everyone and their neighbor's dog is on Twitter and Facebook and so automatically installs Gwibber, which (if you hadn't guessed) also irked me. I'm probably the last person on earth that hasn't transformed into a lemming.

Overall, the only positive addition I noticed was the decision to include Libre Office. Although still in its infancy, at the end of the day it's the best option so far for free office functionality.

Conclusion: Bring back 10.10