29 December 2011

Getting contributors

A slow day near the New Year break, calm and silent. Then I get a private message on IRC from a total stranger: he wants to know if is possible to join the Fedora design team. I start by making clear I am not part of the team currently (he supposedly saw may name on the contributors list) and then say is an open community, anyone can join, and point to the instructions on the wiki.

The guy insists in learning the name of the "maintainer", I direct him to the mailing list and #fedora-design, insist on my turn about using normal, open, channels, not people who can be busy or away for the holidays but still tell him the name of the team leader, is public information after all. He want a "chance to join", I repeat joining is open for everyone and point to the mailing list again.

Passing briefly the part about which software is used, my alarm signal is triggered by the next one "in this field coding is not need ?". I answer calmly and now, half an hour into the talk, is my time to ask "what are your skills? what do you know to do? why do you want to be part of the project?" and learn he is a college student with the hobby of doing graphic design.

Then comes the icing of the cake, his following question "after contribution , money will be got or not?" Now is crystal clear my interlocutor knows nothing about Free Software, open source, community, Fedora, Linux and such. Is the time for me to point to our homepage and tell directly we are a volunteer project (duh! we have poor wording on the front page, a poor English speaker is confused).

As a last item, he is stunned to learn I do not work for Fedora and Fedora is not a corporation hiring people. I have the feeling I won't hear from him any more and he won't post to the list. Should I call this over a half an hour wasted time or should I call it a learning experience? Anyway, my current confidence in new contributors is quite low at this minute.

Thunderbird adventures

I use Thunderbird as my mail client, keeping it up to date to the latest version, Tb 9, thanks to Remi's repo, all on a Fedora 14 desktop. It may use a bit more resources than I like (my desktop is an old computer, with limited RAM amount), but overall I get by.

Not so much the other day, when I was sent a scanned image to crop and adjust it and I just tried to do that. Naive me! An email with an 7.2 MB attached JPEG rendered the mail client unusable and the entire desktop almost unusable: a memory consumption increase from 89.0 MB (Thunderbird "normal" usage) to 373.5 MB (trying to open that particular message) it may not look like such a killer but somehow that was the effect:

thunderbird memory

In the end I managed to download the attachment and learned the problem: it was a 7.2 MB big image, but the resolution was 9924 x 14039 (don't ask, whoever scanned the image, scanned a full A4 for a small, university diploma sized image, and made it at a huge DPI, so the result can be printed big size. I said "don't ask"). No wonder it was a killer to try and decompress it in RAM.

thunderbird memory

Now the next challenge, edit the image: crop, rotate, remove cracks and scratches, delete a stamp, improve colors and so. I bet you guessed already: GIMP can't open it, at least my GIMP 2.7.1 (the newest available for Fedora 14) tried with no result until I killed it after over 10 minutes of waiting (yeah, I know, don't preach me the benefits, working with large size images is one of the real benefits of Photoshop).

Fortunately, it was possible to open the image for viewing and Shotwell has a crop function included. Once the important part of the image was cropped all was well, GIMP did the job, another success was checked.

09 December 2011

European winner for Wiki Loves Monuments

After every country, including us, nominated their national winners, it was the time for the big European final, with 17 participating countries. And now we also have the European winners. Here's the first place:

Mănăstirea Chiajna - Giulești

Is a picture from Romania, illustrating the ruins of the Chiajna monastery near Bucharest and the funny part is, in my opinion, it barely made our top, it was 10th place from 10 finalists... there is truth in "last but no least". Why? Where it is a good, beautiful and powerful picture, those ruins are well known among the photographers from Bucharest... at least my personal reaction was "yet another picture of Chiajna? at least this one is good" (for over I year I plan a photo session on my own there, still looking for the "right" model, as I want something more glamour/goth).

Personally I am even more happy since the winner, Mihai Petre is kind of my friend (if you wonder, this didn't affect my notes in the national contest and I was not involved in any way with the European notes) and he is a very cool person. Here's a bonus: I have a picture of him I made this summer at a metal festival, can you identify him?

We rock. Literally.

05 December 2011

Chrome vs. Firefox

Compared with other services, I usually found the stats given by StatCounter having bigger values for Firefox (have no idea about their, or others, methodologies), this is why I don't take the exact numbers as absolute but was looking at the trends. The latest report, which made the rounds in the tech press is showing how worldwide Chrome slightly overtook Firefox (with half a percent) and both of them added are way above Internet Explorer (10 percents). This pretty much mirrors my anecdotal evidence of seeing IE mostly on the computers of the most clueless users, Firefox on those installed by a knowledgeable friend or admin and Chrome used more and more by simple-to-average users and even techies.

chrome vs firefox
Is funny how the stats change when looking at my country, Romania, here the places of Internet Explored are switched: Firefox is the top-dog on a slow but sure decline and Chrome just overtaking Internet Explorer for the second place. Of course, the sum of Firefox and Chrome is crushing IE. Not bad.
chrome vs firefox
As for myself, I still use Firefox as my main browser for the simple reason I can't stand the UI of Chrome. I am worried about Mozilla's idiotic policy to blindly copy the Chrome UI (is a different browser, it should look and feel different, otherwise why use it? I use it for some reasons, and Gecko is not the only), but continue to use Firefox, deploy only Firefox and support (as in user support) only Firefox.

25 November 2011

Open letter to the Romanian Ministry for Culture and Patrimony

A group of organisations and interested persons from Romania are addressing an open letter to the Romanian Ministry for Culture and Patrimony about the Romanian cultural patrimony on the Internet, which can be published at Europeana.eu, where our country was to submit 789,000 works until 2015 and currently has managed to publish less than 36,000. We ask about the status of this project and propose the use of the images contributed in the recent Romanian Wikipedia photography contest. The full text can be read on the ProLinux website or in printable format (along with the signatures list) from the APTI blog.

08 November 2011

Upgrade strategy

Later today Fedora 16 will be officially released, I am using F14 which is becoming quite long in the tooth, so now is probably a good time to evaluate my upgrade path.

Back in May after some testing I deemed F15 unsuitable for desktop/workstation usage and made the decision to skip a release. It was a first for me, the single one Fedora release I ever skipped, since RHL 9, when I moved to use Linux as my primary desktop. What's the status now, one release later? I acknowledge not doing any testing, had to fight with F14 day by day to get some work done, but I read enough so from what I can see: GNOME Shell is still the same, Xfce is still the same, KDE is still the same. Nothing new, nothing better. So I see ahead another skippable release, which is not that bad considering F14 still has a workable paradigm and is not self-expiring shareware, the applications are the problem and they are what matters most.

So after judging I came with the following strategy: skip F16 also, keep using F14 one more month until its EOL in December and then continue to use it unsupported a couple of months more until F17 Beta. Postpone any decision until then and with the bits released download and evaluate. What can happen by then:

  • Xfce has a release in January, it may become good enough. Considering the current status and the TODO, the expectations aren't high;
  • GNOME may become sane and usable again. Highly unlikely;
  • I may lose faith and accept defeat, give up on the Linux desktop, go to W7. It would be sad after so many year;
  • I may get into BDSM and start using something like Openbox, saying goodbye to any possible productivity;
  • get some kind of strange revelation and give KDE a try.

07 November 2011


I do release a lot of content, from drawings and clipart to photography and to videos and learned about many people using them, this always brings a smile on my face. But it can be otherwise :) Today I got a question about some of my clipart being used on some website, but with a twist: I am asked if credit is needed, as in such case the site owner has to adjust the layout to fit it, needing to think about that. My answer was dry "Since those clipart images are released into Public Domain, crediting is not compulsory, that's the license. Is up to you." opposed to an usual "the images are released into the Public Domain, you can use them in any way you want. credit is not required but is appreciated". Indeed, I released the stuff freely, no restriction can be imposed afterwards. But I can contemplate the laziness and freeloading. And smile.

01 November 2011

More autumn wallpapers

I already did a post with some Free autumn wallpapers which I unexpectedly caught back in Milano, but as the last week-end I stumbled upon some more beautiful autumn leaves here in Bucharest, so I couldn't stop myself from taking pics and prepare them as wide-screen wallpapers. Enjoy, they are Free.

autumn wallpaper
autumn wallpaper
autumn wallpaper
autumn wallpaper
autumn wallpaper
autumn wallpaper
autumn wallpaper
autumn wallpaper
autumn wallpaper

31 October 2011

...and the winners are...

The Wikipedia photography contest has ended, the jury made its duty and now we are ready to announce the results (this blog is the first to break the news). So who won?

The first place: Union Square of Timișoara

Timisoara - Union Square at sunrise

The second place: "Sfânta Treime" church in Sibiu

Interior al Bisericii parohiale romano-catolice "Sf. Treime"

Third place: the ruins in Bociulesti

La Ruine - Bociulesti - Vedere laterala>

Old city panorama:

Panorama Centrul Vechi 2

Mavros-Cantacuzino manor:
Conacul Mavros-Cantacuzino

Alba Iulia citadel gate:
Poartă - Cetatea Alba Carolina

Caraiman cross:
Crucea comemorativă a Eroilor români din primul război mondial

Densuș church:
XIII century church from Densuş

Alba Iulia citadel:
De paza

Chiajna monastery:
Mănăstirea Chiajna - Giulești

All the 10 images above go to the European final contest, good luck friends!

28 October 2011

Welcome to the Revolution, baby!

The article is in French, so not that easy to understand by everyone, but some group, called "Union des Photographers Professionnels" are opposing the Wiki Loves Monuments photography contest. Why such a stupid thing? Below is a translation of the relevant paragraphs by strainu:

"Presented as a philanthropic operation, this initiative looks more like a commercial action. Indeed, the participation is conditioned by the acceptance of a CC license allowing the commercial reuse of the pictures.

Private or public entities can therefore use this pictures legally as postcards, posters, books or as illustrations in the press.

The professional photographers living from the copyrights are worried by this initiative [...]"

Newsflash! That is the point, Freedom is about empowering people and changing the system, it obsoletes some structures and creates some others instead. We are not any more in the old world, when a photographer, of an artist in general, was like a god, now people have tools and access to distribution channels and participate directly in the creation of the culture, without money barriers and monopolies. I am glad to pe part of this.

25 October 2011

The dice, the manga and the anime

I am not sure: the world is small after all or the little things we do really change it, even if a tiny bit. Either of those should be true.

Last week-end I was (with my camera, of course) at Nijikon, the anime convention taking place every October in Bucharest: there was cosplay, manga, anime, plush toys, really many things. And while wandering around searching for some photographer's prey, I noticed a wheel of fortune improvised at a manga booth:


Something there looked familiar, but I wasn't sure about it and had no way to verify it on the spot. In the evening, I was really tired arriving home, and forgot to check, so the next day couldn't ask the guys about it the second day, I checked only after the event ended:


Yup, the dice image is part of my Free clipart collection - one of my first drawings with Inkscape, made many years ago, so it looks quite weak, but still they found it useful.

Thise clipart images somehow managed to leave home, make a trip to California and return home by the way of the manga. Yes, the world is small.

For cosplay pics, I am sure my readers know where to look :p

20 October 2011

Judging for WMLRO

wikiI believe in transparency and think an open community has to be transparent, so I am going for full-disclosure on the inner workings of the judging process for the Romanian Wiki Loves Monuments contest.

So after September, when the contest ended, the first thing we did was to merge the submissions made to Flickr into the ones already at Wikimedia Commons and count them.

The team is small, 2 organizers, 3 jury members, one person shared by both teams, so 4 people in total, the number of submissions had to be made manageable. For this we had each member of the jury go trough all submissions and make an initial selection, as his proposal. Each of us proposed around 100 images.

Then the image lists were merged, sorted, and the duplicates removed, resulting in a final selection of 284 images, those were marked in a special Wikimedia Commons category, have a look at it, is supposed to contain the best images.

The harder part is the next one: all 284 pictures will be reviewed by each member of the jury and each will receive a rating on 3 categories: technical, originality and usefulness, the final note will be the average of all 3 notes, and this will be the winning order.

For this we needed an application, preferably web-based and since I am way to lazy to code a web app for a single use, I went to the darkside and used a proprietary solution: Google Docs. It has 2 godsends: one is the ability to be collaboratively edited at the same time by multiple users, and the other is a formula, "=IMAGE(URL, view)".

So how does my app look? Is a spreadsheet, first column is the image thumbnail, made with "=IMAGE(URL, view)", the second is the URL of the image page, to be easily consulted at full size, then a series of columns for noting follow, the last one is a general purpose comments column. Each jury member has 3 columns for notes (technical, originality, usefulness) and an automatic total, a pondered sum of his notes (technical * 30% + originality * 50% + usefulness * 20%), then the sums are averaged. Quite simple. And you can see a read-only copy of this spreadsheet, reuse the model if you have any use for it.

Now there is a little over a week, until the end of the next week, while the jurors have the time to give their notes and then they will meet face to face for any eventual arbitration and final review.

14 October 2011

October RLUG meeting

Yesterday happened the October RLUG meet in Bucharest, this time I withhold from delivering a presentation, since lately I was focused mostly on the Wikipedia contest, with very little time for anything else, I presented about it last month, will do it again next month, don't want to bore too many people. But I still did my "media" job.


So we have a small photo gallery from the event and video recordings for the presentations: OpenPGP key signing party (such a party may follow) and Linux install fest review (past week-end ROSEdu kept a successful Ubuntu install party).

11 October 2011

Autumn wallpapers

Not sure how much opportunity for photography I'll get this autumn, so when in Milano I stumbled upon a couple of parks with nice light and autumn colors, I took a few pictures which are now wallpaper sized and released freely for use:


Meaty matters

I am slightly disappointed for Never not making the code name for F17, this way I cannot put in practice a traditionally bad joking cartoon with a story along the lines of "hey dude, you are still using F14 on your desktop? that's ancient, is almost the age of... W7", "well, i want an usable desktop", "are you a caveman? mobile phone interface are now all the rage, you must upgrade! when will you upgrade?", "never", "hahaha, you stupid! 'never' is the code name for F17","i knew that, and F17 may have at least an Xfce *i* can use".

But is not that bad, the Beefy Miracle sets a precedent, we will surely try again and maybe, just maybe, legal will be OK with it and won't block Bacon again and it will make for F18. And for those keeping release parties for F16 (we will most likely skip it again in Bucharest), having a hot dog for everyone is basically a must.

10 October 2011

Late to the voting but still in time

After FUDCon I got caught by a lot of work, realizing very little about the world around, so somehow I missed the announcement for the F17 codename vote. And, with disappointment, I should acknowledge beefy miracle it was not my first option, as I expected (and I waited for... years), I felt into temptation by never (with "beefy miracle" as a close and single second), it enables for so many bad jokes... "when **** will ****? in F17, never!!!"

04 October 2011

From Milano: the big photo dump

I was asked repeatedly about my photos from the Milano FUDCon, when and where will be posted and I always replied a big photo dump is coming in the next days, after I get home. And that time is now, I am posting, as I did with the other previous FUDCons, a big dump with many photos, barely sorted and unedited: I don't have that much free time and I was not making art there. Bigger versions may be available upon request, but you can use them freely, as in CC-BY-SA, anyway.

When time will be available, hopefully this week, I am going to dump a bunch of my "travel" photos, with what I saw from the city. Probably it will be linked only from the photography blog.

The problem of too many

After the submission period for Wiki Loves Monuments ended with around 5800 pictures from Romanian contributors, it was decided to leave the uploader working, so the people wanting to continue posting pictures with monuments have this shortcut handy. But something happened, the form was not edited enough (don't look at me, I am not an admin) and it continued to leave some categories on the pictures' metadata and even after the contest formally ended, we continued to see the uploads increasing, the following couple of days and they climbed to over 6000.
While this is cool and dandy for Wikipedia, for the Romanian culture and for the project gathering continued contributors, is not that good for the contest itself, we had a number of pictures to deal with somehow.... not manually, since the tools are not that great. Being away for FUDCon, I missed the opportunity to signal the problem in due time, my colleague was away too, so quite a few pictures piled-up.
But never is too late, yesterday a bot started working, cleaning the categories for some 270+ pics (yes, that awesome are our contributors), we are back to 5767 pictures for the contest, to which there may be some uploads from Flickr to be sync-ed and about 152 pics from the organizers to be removed. So we are looking at well over 6000 pictures as a result of this campaign, with around 5700 of them eligible for the contest.

02 October 2011

My FUDCon finale

After FUDCon ended, I wandered a bit in the Milano city center and one of the things I did was to meet this happy group offering free hugs (surely i received some). Told them I have friends at home doing such things (didn't tell I am kind of their "official" photographer)... maybe we, FOSS communities, should do it too? It would put a more human light.

free hugs
free hugs
free hugs

Thoughts on WLMRO

Still at FUDCon and still not having digested completely the Wiki Loves Monuments campaign numbers, here are are some fresh feelings about it:

Should I be sad due to my friends who promised to participate and didn't or the friends who didn't even considerate participating? No, this was not the point, you can't force someone to volunteer and community work is not for everyone.

Should I be sad due to local companies not interested is sponsoring the contest? No, this was not the point to buy contributions, but to make people understand how fun can be to participate. Surely, I wish we could have better rewards, but we are not marketeers and the economy is slow.

Should I be sad my country placed on the 10th position from 18 participant European countries, behind some smaller ones? No, it was not such type of contest, in fact it was well expected, knowing how little spread is the community work around here. And we also placed in front of many other countries.

Should I be sad about the guy who tried to put a personal vendetta against the campaign and me personally, throwing mud at every possible step? No, there are loons everywhere and there is the saying "let the dogs bark, the caravan is moving forward", the noise was ignored.

Should I be happy we gathered 5800 free pictures with monuments from my country in an one single month? Yes, definitely, this in one degree of magnitude over my (pessimistic, I admit) expectations, we showed is possible.

Should I be proud about the accomplishment? I am not sure, on one hand, I have to acknowledge we could have been done a much better job, on the other we basically were only two people doing the organizational work and it was our first project of such magnitude.

Should I think about doing it, or something similar, again? Why not?

The baby and the beer

People never learn not to dare me, because I don't need much pushing intro doing nasty things or simply trolling, so is this funny picture. And my model didn't even needed directions, like the "baby, make love with the beer" cliché:

robyn and beer
Problem? :D I'm just doing my hackfest!

Beefy stuff that matters

Also on the beginning of the last FUDCon day there was a "Fedora trivia" were a few Beefy Miracle T-shirts were awarded. Lucky winners...

beefy miracle

Milano: FUDCon/Hackfest

The last day of the FUDCon is for hackfests, so we started with hackfest planning for the day:


I, for one, started with hacking a muffin:


Someone gave me the idea, I could do it but most likely won't: do a photoshooting hackfest on the building roof... any victim volunteering?

FUDPub Milano

A tradition for every FUDCon is the FUDPub, and for the Milano FUDCon it just happened this night at an Italian pizzeria. Unfortunately is late and I am very tired, so for now one picture should suffice, good night, see you tomorrow :)


01 October 2011

FUDCon group photos

You know I am evil (and nasty, and a perv and much more), no naturally I want to steal the thunder from the official Milano FUDCon photographers and come first with a group photo. In fact with two, since I am twice as evil (I am evil and my evil twin is evil too). But I will give them a favor, my pics are quite non-standard, from some more extreme angles, so is a place for each of us under the sun.

Thank You for WLMRO

At FUDCon, I am taking my breath after delivering an Inkscape session/workshop/demo/presentation (the picture below is taken by Adrian, my friend) and using this time to say something to a bunch of awesome people.


What I have to say is a big and warm thank you! to the awesome contributors to the Romanian Wiki Loves Monuments campaign, which closed last night (we are now going to the next stage, centralizing pictures, passing them to the jury and awarding a few prizes). My highest dreams were not even close to it, but the total we reached is around 5800 pictures (more precise numbers after we clean and add the last items from the Flcikr queue). I am barely find my words, so I will shut-up for the moment and return to the conference:


FUDCon started

So, finally, the Milano FUDCon started:


The first thing was, as expected, Jarred's foreword and opening:


And then the BarCamp talks pitch, still on-going:


Now I have to run and pitch my own session, see you later!

...few minutes later (couldn't post, the Wi-Fi was down for a while), now the talks are pitched, waiting for people to vote on them: