Tuesday, November 30, 2010

GIMP brushes can spin

I was over at www.linuxgraphicsusers.com, the link is on the sidebar, someone there mentioned a way to turn a GIMP brush. Man that was work. I guess it's simple after you do it a hundred times. To my surprise, someone wrote a script to do the job. Too bad both the old way and the new way are on the net. I hear the future GIMP will have this built-in, how cool!

First go to the GIMP Plugin Registry at http://registry.gimp.org/node/16231, download a file called "rotatebrush.scm".
Then use the terminal to sudo into your file manager. Type sudo and the file manager name. Mine was "sudo thunar" Yeah, it's password protected. Type in your password, hit enter. Congrats, you have just used the command line. Not scary huh!
In the home folder goto the GIMP 2.6 folder. It's a hidden folder, goto View and check hidden folders if you can't see it.
 Then in the GIMP 2.6 folder find the script folder. Paste the script file "rotatebrush.scm" into there.
Close the windows and open the GIMP.
 I selected a brush I made circled in blue (5 dots angled to the right), from the brush menu.
 Click on Script-fu in the menu bar (in red), select the resize/rotate brush flag. In the dialog box that appears, set the new angle in degrees.   Sorry there is no preview. When you hit OK, the change is made.
My brush is now horizontal (in blue). This saves from making many single brushes at different angles and sizes. You can spin your brush while you are using it. Yeah, it's not quite that interactive but close enough to be useful. That'll learn ya! lol! And I hope I have fortified your Gimptitude a little more.

the hand that rocks the mouse

The fascination I have with drawing instead of photo manipulation is something that has grabbed me from the very start. To tell you the truth when I take a camera picture I don't have a habit of messing with it. But I guess you can get quite artful with that. In all my paper wasting days I have always wondered what I might fit on a blank page. Sometimes I know what I see in my head will not materialize because I haven't got the specific skills to put it on paper the way I see it.

This all is awkward because if people ask me to share my GIMP skills with a group I would have to tell them how little interest I have in photo manipulation. The other thing they ask for is how to draw stuff like a person or an object. I don't do people though I would like to draw objects the same as in my sketchbooks. Drawing with a mouse is like tying a pencil to your elbow. I can see why computer clubs don't venture beyond fixing photos and scrap-booking.

Many, many computer artist are doing web graphics, desktop publishing, CD covers and what not. My interest are more design graphics, fine art, drawing, painting and my aim is the home. There is a certain thing with around the house art, while the cutting edge of art is complex, art for the home tends to be............what you thought I'd tell you? Depends on the persons living there. 

I'm also looking for the illusive African Modern Style. The African art influence has been legendary for decades and yet there is no African Modern Style. There is Italian Modern, Scandinavian, even a Contemporary American Country. It's not directly about race, but Africa is the mother of us all. I think because there are so many geographic areas, climates, cultures, peoples, etc. in Africa that there is no one influence or school of thought to use as a framework for an African Style. More than not styles tend not to change as rapidly as trends and fashions. They are reworked in the latest appeal yet keep their essential classic elements. That is what makes them so endearing and when you talk to a designer they know what you are talking about. So, classic styles are a kind of a familiar language.

A lot of African style is wrapped up in textiles. You say Africa here and most see Kente cloth or Kuba raffias or Mali mudcloths, masks and drums. I had hoped the internet would cause an explosion of African influence in design down to the product level, that is, on the store shelves. This has not happened. What we have is so watered down it doesn't even pass for souvenirs. Folks here are still thinking safari and savannas and natives. There are progressive modern cities all over Africa filled with intelligent and creative people. If our American gov makes the connection, we children of slaves get shafted along with Africans getting bilked. If we children of slaves make the connection there is a transference of ideas and commerce. That is my opinion, but I haven't seen different yet.

Anyway, it is kind of cool to view but limit all the American influences. Again it is not so much a race thing as it is a cultural thing. This African culture is often not so apparent among American blacks as we are pushed to embrace diversity so very strongly these days. If we are left alone, the African comes out. Still seems if we are Afro-centric in any visible way we are suspect, labeled un-American and are in rebellion of the American Euro-centric way. OK, I admit I didn't come from Europe, so sue me. There is still a fight to be seen and heard in America, even today. And just because Hispanic peoples are taking the hits today doesn't mean Black peoples have arrived. The arts are often what is sustainable about any culture. We are all hip (hop) to what is the entertainment of the day. There are folks we've forgotten. They have devised the next cool thing already. The age is turning again keep your eyes open, you ain't seen nothing yet! Keep playing with the GIMP.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Anybody seen my brush!

 I'm going through the GIMP brushes and the one I want is not in there. The Mr. Impatient way of GIMP brushes is to draw and save as and put it in the hidden GIMP brush folder by hand, what a pain and good luck with that. The results is a brush with no good attributes. Here's what I discovered:

Make a new drawing, the size 72 x 72 (could be bigger, must be square).
Under Advanced options, set color to Grayscale (if you want brush to use whatever foreground color). Set the "Fill with" color to transparency. You should get this:

Draw on the transparent square, use shift + to make the image bigger.

Hang on it's not a brush yet. Select "ALL" from the select menu and from the Edit menu "COPY" instead of save (in the file menu). Now here is the magic: "Paste AS" from the Edit menu and "New Brush". The dialogue box should appear. Give it a brush name and a file name with extension (.gbr).

When you hit "OK" you have created a brush, the brush menu refreshes and your new brush appears and is ready to go.

 And if you wants to delete a brush, just right click and delete. If you delete it there is no getting it back.

Perhaps I am a little crude here but in time I will have all the finesse of a Hollywood movie. Hey did you hear the one about the painter who plucked his own beard to make his own brush. This is way easier than pulling hair. I read a GIMP Bible, watched a video tutorial, fiddled and condensed it into an experience. See, the Linuxville guide is into GIMPtitude and giving it to you.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

reinventing the bookshelf

Oh man, I got all the cool apps but I don't know how to use them. The way it goes is that you install it then you dabble with it. That is you use all the easy stuff. Soon you want to tackle a challenge and duh! Ok, then you scour the net to find every ebook and manual in PDF format or HTML you can find. Soon you have files and folders all over the place. Linux has this app called Calibre, a master at organizing ebooks. You can suck in ebooks in different formats, convert them to one standard format (of your choice), then view them with a few clicks. Here is a pic:
I guess I could demand it be more automated sort of like Picasa but I am happy to have it as it is. Picassa scans your hard drive for every picture, makes a thumbnail and puts it in a menu tree. Calibre does give you control over what gets selected but once selected it is awkward to remove other than delete. Mostly I go into the Ubuntu system file manager and move the file to another directory, then refresh Calibre. Calibre is so handy and as usual I do all the easy stuff first, there are deep and hidden secret powers lurking beneath the interface.

I am migrating toward using the PC as a complete system to handle most home media. It is a trend any electronic handy person can envision. PCs can do TV with a card and cable service is a plus, internet, play audio and video files, be a reader of various documents, do email, internet browse/search, calculate and control. Books in print just might become rare, what was that? Gutenberg turning in his grave? I can see more and more book shelves being knick-knack displays. There on the shelf is your favorite picture, it's a digital picture frame. At rest, it's a photo display, when you pick it up, it's a wifi-pad to the house computer.

You think I am nuts, my brother had a VHS video collection that could be used as a sofa. If that many videos could be stored and played off a 1 terabyte hard drive, a huge chunk of living room real estate has been recovered. Add to this a collection of books, magazines and newspapers. Actually the local library should have an online service where you can for a small fee read anything online on demand, no need to download. But what about human contact. Walk into the library with your wifi-pad or trade your card for one of the library's.

Having the work on one workspace and the manual or tutorial on another is a big deal. I find I have to practice some skills over and over till I got them down, you know the repeatable results thing. Then I can tweak them and discover new stuff. No joke, I can sit at my PC all day and not waste a minute. And I am just an average Joe. OK, I'm a geeky Joe.

Somehow I think there needs to be a difference in the personal computer (single user) and the home computer (shared users). If we can mash together the business server with multiple home users (family members PCs) we can manage personal data and shared data. We just have to make it practical. This can be done with present day off the shelf parts and we haven't even talked about controlling the home life support and security systems.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

talking penguins, dude snap out of it!

I walk away from the penguin a bit anxious, I turned, threatened to sand board him (they like the water), he squawked, muttering about Mutter and the end of the 'X' windowing systems as we know it. Then before I could ask more he quickly donned his shades, trench coat, fedora, slipped into the crowd and..... where'd he go?

There is all kinds of mysteries in the Linuxville streets, the talk that Linux has no curb appeal has been slung in the gutters and in the burgs (icebergs) for years. Somebody finally has the nerve to do something different and change the present situation. All of a sudden he is sick of mind, an evil genius who will force us all to comply. Users, fickle as a pickerel, crying "fix it but don't change it!" Legacy, is such a lovely word, all new stuff is so untrue. But that is not how the song goes, progress, innovation, improvements are all at the expense of trimming off the past. Some genetic scientist is injecting color into the penguin population and the gnu is still a wildebeest only a bit wilder. The nature of Linux is in it's parts and how they are put together. I am sure there will be for a time things as they are now, but for the future not to come, that is not the Linux way.

What if penguins are really distant cousins to humming birds? There was a fork in the species, a wrong turn in migration and a liking for formal wear!

Oh man, good nap! The dream seemed so real. Better get back to work.

speak bird speak

The late great Johnny Carson had the Great Karnak thing going on. In Linuxville you corner a penguin who sees all and tells nothing (unless the price is right!). It's not a bribe, it's a donation, he says.

Notice the push the drive for seamless media and access on all your devices. Your handheld device is really a personal digital assistant. You can call, web browse, take pictures, do email, text and open and close your garage door, arm your security system and never leave you TV set. That is the part that gets me. You never leave your TV. Yes, you can take it with you. You know I couldn't buy those commercials where there was a TV in every room including the bathroom. But the new and improved media net can be viewed on the cell, the PC and the TV. Of course you have to have the right equipment and the right software. You can already get internet, TV, and phone from your cable company. But no need for a TV in every room when you got your cell or iPad type tablet, netbook, laptop and desktop, in every room or on your person anyway. Oh wait something is missing. The cable company gives you access to the outer world, what about your private world?

The VPN, virtual private network is the answer. Many of the PDA devices are mostly on the go access devices, no real fire power for heavy computing. Then folks on the go may not want to carry around a huge honking storage device or an expensive and powerful laptop with all their work and personal data. VPN allows a PC or a server device to sit at home protected by a firewalls and backup power supply. Then you can access it from anywhere if you are secure in that arrangement. Between the cable company and your VPN, you can raise the power of your PDA in quantum leaps and..........."Please deposit another fish in the bird beak". Oooh boy!

Gimptitude is moving along fine. I am comparing GIMP to Inkscape while learning them together. I am finding I can do some things more optimally in GIMP or Inkscape, then import it to the other and apply it. Working mostly in Open Source is like the Darkside of the Force, "once you go down that path, forever will it control your destiny." But that is the warning of folks who don't go and we here are not talking about evil. The caveat is that you have to learn it to use it and once you do, you are changed forever. GIMP users complain about the Photoshop interface and the way it works also. Photoshop looks strange and weird when sitting in the GIMP cockpit. The thing is that most Linux users are used to having to use different interfaces on different apps. MS users are mostly wanting the same interface on every program. Which is better, you decide.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gimptitude - overcoming others to get the art out

One of the big things in my life is getting support for my artwork. I am sure you've heard the saying, "that's a good hobby, what you gonna do for money?" Yes, they've gotten so good at saying it that I've heard it in deadpan monologues and set to rap music. Unless you are pressed to be a commercial artist and produce a paycheck, you are doomed to be lambasted, underrated and marginalized. At least it seems that way. In my case I listened to all the voices and did "other" money making things. Now that I am unemployed, with time on my hands and I can smell retirement age looming, the prospect of doing what I had intended originally and naively, seems very possible today. Of course the voices are still there, it takes an act of God to change the record sometimes. Wake up people, it's about fulfilling my aspirations not meeting your expectations. But I guess they depend on me to the point that my taking risks might endanger their comfort and security. In other words where is the paycheck?

There are other pressures. Loved ones who are so one with you that they feel it's their right to influence your work even though art is not their strong suit. And other loved ones who are well trained in the arts but were pre-occupied with life issues and never kept up with their own work. They offer so much advice it is worse than critics. I remind them I did not travel through the same path nor been taught the way they were, I can't relate. I use a computer mouse not a pencil, pen or paint brush and Glade does not come in turpentine scent. When my art is in progress I can stop, save it and pickup where I left off months later. I can make copies and save them, alter them, print them and on and on. My artist world is different than the one my love ones are familiar with. I remind them being an artist is not my job description, it is who I am. I will do art wither I am paid for it or not. I can't meet the standard set by other artist especially when some of the highly trained scribble and get paid on their name. How the heck am I supposed to judge the amount of experienced creative effort when my scribbles are just like theirs. I do what I do and that's the art. It is the art of the artist. I did not need an accreditation or to be approved by the accredited to do art. There is no gauntlet of paintbrush bearing hazers to run through.  

I like contemporary and modern art and African flavors in art. I live in an area overburdened with commercial products, conservative tastes and trendy fashions. Not many appreciate design you can't get on the store shelf. Most feather their nests with what I call watered down canned design. It is a very casual acquisition of interior decoration stuff. In my artist's world, design is very concentrated, almost extreme. You might select one item of mine to fit into your world. It changes the context of your world but not enough to make my work a theme in your place. That is OK.

I am standing in the gap by not focusing on web art nor on traditional art media. It is both awkward and a challenge for everyone to think of a print as art. Painters will have their work photographed and together with photographers have their works scanned and printed on canvas or high tech paper. If digital artist directly print their digital work, all of a sudden the argument is on, what and where is the original and which determines the value the artist work, the quality of the print or the kind of print. If you print on a home office printer or a high end print shop printer or the kind of print medium and inks. It is so academic. Yet a guy can do oil paint on newsprint and is an unquestioned creative genius in techniques and material use. Is there no worry about archival quality of the original? Seeing how digital artist work, there is just as much effort put into the works. The direct printout of a digital file can be appreciated for the artist's work. I guess the scary thing is that digital prints can be postage stamp to billboard sized and applied to almost anything. Ok, the same beautiful picture on typing paper is of less value than if printed on glossy photo-paper or on canvas. You have to set the value by the materials used and the composition of the picture.

And you thought it was easy being an artist! Try being well known for your work but not bothered so you can get some work done. LOL

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Linuxaticity - some pride, a fall, a restore to gimptitude

Man, you missed a bunch of stuff. I was playing around with my laptop sound system. Then wanted to check out the Gnome Office suite. I already had AbiWord (word processor) and Gnumeric (spreadsheet), I wanted to know what other packages were included in that suite. A word to the wise, ask the question, then Google search it. I just installed the Gnome Office Suite and it was added but it also removed some stuff and my sound went with it. As of yet I don't know what comprises the sound system (usually ALSA or PulseAudio libraries) and I was using Xubuntu 9.10 which doesn't have a sound configuration app.

Rather than hanging my head and bashing it with my laptop, I reinstalled Ubuntu rather than Xubuntu. Yeah it is a little rich for my laptop, but I also installed XFCE desktop as an alternate desktop. I can now run fat or skinny when I feel to. The cool thing is that the full Ubuntu has lots of configuration tools built-in. I found the Sound icon in the Preferences menu and I had sound. You can also use System Testing in the Administration menu. And if you need to deep oogle your system to get info, there are a few apps otherwise investigate Terminal or Command-line methods. Command-line? Please don't panic, think recipes that work every time if you follow it. Once you know what to expect, it's done. I consider the command-line as the axe in the glass box, there if you need it. And if you hose your system Linux is so easy to install. I do have some recommendations.

1. Put your HOME directory in a separate partition. If you tryout OSs as much as I do, you won't have to reformat the partition with your personal data, that's less backing up.

2. Save your files to a remote drive, flash drive, or second drive. Not having your data on the same drive as your operating system is called security, and less backing up. This is very cool for sharing in a family (a drive for each family member). You can get a lot of personal stuff on a flash drive and the bookshelf hard drive is very handy.

3. If your PC can boot from a flash drive, put Ubuntu on the flash drive. You can turn your Win machine into a Penguinator at the drop of the mouse. Who knew!?

4. I am tired of syncing my PCs and keeping up with duplicate data. Put your stuff on the remote drive OR on that huge, powerful, dust bunny collecting doorstop to be PC in your closet. Then use an app like TightVNC or UltraVNC to remote the desktop from your laptop.

My laptop is three times more than what it appears as I tap the desktop machine remotely. It is way better than dual-booting or virtual machines. I can run two operating systems at the same time and not share resources. And if I want to improve I can share data, though I am not sure about sound across a remote connection (gosh, another adventure!).

Well how does this help my GIMPtitude?  My desktop becomes the workhorse and the barn for my stuff. If you come to my house I have few books on a shelf, mostly PDF files and tutorials and videos and what not all on a hard drive and CDs. My laptop is the smart user access. You don't need new computers for storage but however you work it out, at least for me it's fun. There is one caveat, the older computers sounds like a vacuum cleaner, my wife thinks I'm doing the rugs (hint, hint!).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Get some GIMPTITUDE - don't be a GIMP wimp!

What, you think I am going to show you how to do stuff in GIMP? Hey, like I said I'm a guide not a trainer. My job is to tweak you! Come on, it's net search time!

So I found some basic intro videos that went over some of the basic tools. I like vector drawing and am an Inkscape fan. I heard you can do vector drawing in GIMP also, it is called Paths. The icon in the toolbox looks like a fountain pen. In the drawing area the tool draws points to outline a shape. You can move the points and alter the lines between the points. There are keyboard controls and the 'Paths' dialogue box to deal with. When the path is made you can have a line 'stroke' the path or apply any brush to paint the path.

This all made questions pop into my head. What's the diff between vectors in GIMP and vectors in Inkscape? If I can do vectors in GIMP what do I need Inkscape for? They handle vectors in different ways, so I must discover what the diffs are and how that is useful to me. OK, in GIMP vectors are used to construct shapes but the resulting shapes are bit-mapped. In Inkscape everything is vectors and the resulting shapes are vectors, but you can export a copy as a bit-map.

Now, don't forget when you make bit-mapped pictures larger the pixels get further apart, the image gets fuzzier. With vectors the same drawing can be stretched from postage stamp size to bill-board size and have the same sharpness.

Take each tool you want to use and see how it works. The videos are a great help as I am often not a patient book reader or a step by step instruction follower. I get the gist and run with it. Now wait a minute! Slow down! While in the act of playing around, focus your attention on one tool (say the Path tool), learn enough about it to enhance your play and exploration (serious play). Then you need a project to confirm your training (constructive serious play). Make a desktop background or a logo banner. You can build on your knowledge and progress over time, before you know it you are doing complex work-flows quickly, with good results and having fun too.

Now I very much like Inkscape because it is like the CAD software I have lots of experience with. GIMP though is mostly a free-hand drawing, painting and photo editing application. I have sketched with a pen, but I've yet to perfect doing it with a mouse and as I complained in the past, my Wacom Graphire Tablet has the jittery cursor really bad on my laptop. This is the caveat when doing computer art, hardware and software are interdependent tools, you got to spend time to get good at it, but they have to work right too. So, take your time, sharpen your skills via serious play. Before you know it your GIMP wimptituity is over.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Digital dreams through penguin eyes

Hey you think swimming with the sharks is hard, try swimming with the salmon!
How about wallowing with the minnows! Eeeuoo boy, penguin dreams!?

This is the G.I.M.P., ooooooh! Gimpness!

Yes, I am into GIMP, the Gnu Image Manipulation Program and the other day I spotted and installed one called Pinta. Pinta is billed as Gimp Light. Actually there are several Linux paint apps along the lines of MS Paint. Meaning something quick and easy for viewing and doodles and whatnot. Pinta is more polished than most of these doodle machines and is a desk full of tools rather than a studio full. It has the typical needed drawing tools and layers. Most of the doodle machines don't have layers, Pinta does. But I just noticed that Pinta's paint bucket and a couple of other tools are greyed out. Did they put it out while still under development? Bummer!
This is Pinta! Simple and fast.
Yeah, Pinta is handy, quick and needs to get those tools finished, yet I still like it.

Back to GIMP, I've concluded that if you are into Photoshop, GIMP is a little hard to swallow. But the purpose of the any interface is access to the tools. When you work in someone else's studio you have to find where they put the scissors, the tape. Once you found them they work the same or close enough to get by. You learn to make it work for you, so quit complaining. Artist are known to make do. What? Oh, it's commercial artist who are complaining because you expect a certain standard (called like Photoshop).  That's OK, if you don't find GIMP useful for "YOUR" work, then don't use it. Now for the rest of us who don't need that professional standard, GIMP is a Photoshop replacement, period. If GIMP did everything that Photoshop does and was still free, Photoshop would go belly up. This rant was brought to you by the Linuxville Office of Flight Training for Penguins, The Foundation of Birds Below the Waves, and The Roaming Berg Resorts because ice is nice in your drink, in the sea and on the polar-cap.

Learning the GIMP is easy.
1. get basic over view tutorial videos off the net.
2. get project videos off the net to see how different stuff is done.
3. view videos and practice like crazy.
4. brag to Photoshop entrenched friends (optional, lol).

For me it's about doing the similar stuff and style that I have using a pen in my notebooks. That kind of sketching ideas and putting down thoughts is so cool. Then I also have the opportunity to progress to finished works on the same platform. Drawing with a mouse is awkward and so is with a digital pen and tablet. My interest is more about drawing than photo correction and alteration. Practice gets you used to using these input methods and used to handling how the applications feel and work. With digital work it is about the workflow to achieve what you want to do. It is handy that folks have documented some of these workflows for you to follow and learn. Repeatable results is the thing computers do best. And you can change the recipes to suit your own ends.

Training on this site? No, I'm not a trainer, still learning myself, your humble Linuxville Guide, guiding you into all the wonderment of penguinessence.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Linuxville artist's standard tools

When I was in college I took a few traditional art classes, in traditional media via traditional teaching methods and conventional teachers. We didn't even consider computers for art in the 70's. We have greatly progressed, there are artist tools on every PC platform and photo quality printers on the cheap. In fact the design profession has become quite entrenched with Adobe products taking the lead. It has gotten so deep that the full blown software is coveted by beginners, learners and want to be's globally. Go ahead aspire to that! It's OK! But wait!

In the backrooms of the Linuxville chateau, behind the bookcases, down the stairs in the cave of wonders, I've have discovered it is about the tools. As a kid I stressed about Red Ball Jets tennis shoes or Keds with the magic wedge. If I couldn't run optimally, they both were the same. It is obvious that Photoshop and other Adobe creative products are the grail of today's artist. But if you strip away the well explained interface, there are tools common to all graphic programs. The tools themselves are standard equipment. Think about it, the programming required to draw a line or a bezier curve or do layering, is pretty much the same in every program. Most good graphics programs have a standard set of drawing and editing tools , a way of adding custom scripted functions and extra tools.

What's the real diff? I think it is in the output of the digital file to printers. If you are doing RGB, you can get away with a lot because inkjet printers are RGB already. If you are talking offset or printing that requires you to separate color layers as with CMYK printing, that is more involved. Photoshop has built-in tools for CMYK output, GIMP does not. CMYK only makes Photoshop better if you need CMYK. With RGB printing becoming quite the bomb, GIMP is RGB cool.

We are told GIMP has a bit of a learning curve. That's a big curve if you are already into the Photoshop interface and work flows, way smaller if you have no experience. What's the secret? Stop comparing and criticizing and watch some video tutorials. Watch them, you'll say, dag man, I can do that! Believe me, once you learn to use say, a bezier curve, you can use that tool in any program that has it. So, what's holding you back, a $brand-name$?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the penguin is out of the bag

TightVNC is proving to be very cool for me, except if I play a movie on my remote desktop I can't hear it on my laptop. I learned how the scroll bars on the sides work, they move left or right, up or down via the mouse buttons.

Doing the remote control of another computer is fun but don't expect snappy performance unless you have a fast system and lots of memory for things to flow smoothly. Ubuntu has some built-in VNC tools, they perform with choppiness while working with graphics applications. TightVNC on the other hand is a lot smoother on my meager equipment.

Still looking at digital pens. Can't afford a new Wacom Tablet and the jittery cursor of my present tablet bothers me. I narrowed the problem to the radio communication between the pen and the tablet. If I wrap the pen in foil, I can block the signal, stop the pen from working. If I place the tablet on the laptop keyboard the jitters lessen. I like to have pen pressure control but it is not a supreme necessity. I have used CAD programs for over 20 years, none of them have pen pressure control to vary the line weight while drawing. Also many have used paint applications with a mouse for years. If I can get a pen device that functions as a mouse, writes on plain paper, that is useful. Having handwriting recognition and converting to text is extra. A couple of the pens I like have a small sonic radar that clips on your paper. It tracks the position of the pen and records the pen strokes. This is also used with some Whiteboards. The pen strokes can be turned into a graphics file and tweaked by your computer. An artist like me can have fun with this. The caveat is can I get this in Linux. Oh well!

My madness says I am used to drawing with ballpoints and felt-pens. While it is nice to have line weight control, I don't usually use it. I can get by without it. I have seen pen style mouse replacements for $30.00, you can't cry about that. On the high end is the smart pens that records your pen strokes, converts writing to text and records sound. Some smart pens that use a special digital paper are down right remarkable. Why do I use simple tools instead of top of the line geeked out, I gotta get me one of these, kinds of stuff? Because an artist can use a pencil, a pen, a brush to create his magic. If I had to learn a new contraption it could be a long time before I could bridle it and get my own art out through it.

A good picture is rock musicians. Everybody likes the air guitar, playing the real guitar though takes focused time to learn it and then practice till you can play it as if it is an air guitar. The air guitar has a mental interface with theatrical gestures and vocalizations. The real guitar requires you to strum or pluck the physical strings and work the physical fretboard. There is no air in the beginning.

So the artist in me's first consideration is to go with what I know. Then if a new thing seems worth getting into go after that in a way it doesn't smother or stifle what I am already doing. I try to do everything in Linux. The professional world of digital art and printing is hooked on XP and now Win7. I have to be open to that, but I don't have to like it. The object is to get the work done and out.

Monday, November 08, 2010

penguin in trenchcoat and dark glasses

Welcome back and excuse me, I know I am more than I appear to be. If I take off my paper bag disguise there is..........another paper bag, lol!

Yes, I am still using Tightvnc and exploring what it is about. I noticed the screen resolution on my desktop is higher than my laptop. This is a viewing problem. I could change the resolution on my desktop or fiddle with a config file and change the display parameters my remote desktops can be viewed in. Using a virtual network computer is akin to having a dumb terminal and a smart server computer. My dumb terminal is not so dumb and my smart server computer can be a hub for lots of other things.

My situation is like this: My ancient laptop is limited, needs upgrading and is tethered to the power brick, good thing I still have wireless. I need to be seen about the house not held up in my upstairs geekster's lair. My powerful desktop is now shoved in a corner of the bedroom, not a good working environment. With VNC, I can load all my power applications on my desktop and operate them at the dining room table from my laptop. So my laptop is now more powerful. Imagine if you had several PCs, a printer/scanner, and other networked devices all accessible via your laptop. I heard some techies' are doing remote hardware monitoring and software testing/repair this way also. Lots of possibilities and lots of fun.

I am looking into input devices also. You know, my desktop hasn't changed in 20 years. Still a keyboard and a mouse. I've added a graphics tablet but it is not satisfactory, sorry Wacom. The digital pen came into my view. They've been around for a couple of years. There are simple mouse replacements and smart-pens, with and without tablets, with and without special paper, with scribe tips and with ballpoint tips. The software is overwhelmingly MS Windows, some Mac and covertly Linux. This software is all about capturing writing and converting it to text or just capturing a page of pen strokes (writing or drawing). Lots of possibilities here, I am investigating. That's why the trench coat and glasses, oh the penguin suits' a give away? Didn't think you'd notice.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I tell the PC truth

The truth is that not all computers are personal, some are control devices.

You don't need the internet to use a computer. Some may disagree, but it is the truth. The internet is a great convenience, if you can get all your data resources on flash drives, DVDs, CDs, or your hard drive,  your PC will work fine by itself, you just won't have internet. Yes that limits your resources and communication, but it's to show that a computer without the connection is still useful, just less. Back in the day we called it sneaker net, only required shoe rubber and a stack of floppies. Today both Nikes and flash drives are an upgrade.

Many folks only have painfully slow phone modems, they know what I am talking about. So wither it is the economics situation or the communications infrastructure limitation, computers can still be used. I wouldn't want to run a business on that but the computer will still compute. Many operations and activities we do on PCs do not require the internet. Some kind of access is needed though, many go to public libraries.

Here in the Linuxvlle chateau there are ah ha moments and hu mu mu mu aaah haaa ha ha ha! moments. Here is the situation. My powerful desktop PC is in the bedroom. But for the sake of the ladies in need I must be somewhat visible and accessible during the day. So I use a somewhat meager laptop on the dining room table. My graphics applications require a bit more firepower than my laptop can deliver. What to do?

VNC to the rescue. Virtual Network Computing is when one PC remotely accesses another PC to use all the abilities of that other computer. So at my meager laptop I can control my desktop PC as if I was sitting at the desktop. That laughter just came out of nowhere, I couldn't help myself.

I used an app called TightVNC, there is one for the server (my desktop) and one called xTightVNCviewer for the client (my laptop). I had to read several sources to get just how to set it up because folks have different equipment arrangments. They're description of things vary and to leave out details is human. I am told there are better VNC prgrams but that is a deeper investigation for the future.
So I am running around the house yelling "it's alive!"