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Kraft is for sissies!

Some remember my last attempt at perfecting my cookery skills. Obviously, poaching eggs aren’t my thing. (those Emacs folks quipping up with C-x-poach shut up). This event actually happened a couple months ago, but that’s irrelevant. The fact is, a friend and I decided to team up and tackle the hardest of all culinary skills: cooking Macaroni and Cheese. As you can see, it is such a complex process that it is hard to find detailed documentation on it online. Unfortunately, we ourselves were not able to get snapshots of the early stages of creation for fear of the camera getting wet.

We started off by purchasing the necessary materials, this being in order of importance:

  • Baking gloves (I swear the pot has a mind of its own)
  • Cheese
  • Decoration (this included various leaves we could get from downstairs)
  • Macaroni (Remember kids! Use real macaroni from the packets. Kraft is for sissies!)

Well, after several hours of image editing cooking, this is what we turned up with! Click on the image to check out the full size!

This was taken with my phone camera. Yes, I actually cooked that without messing up!

Edit: some people asked me whether I really cooked this. Yes, I cooked that, and no image editing was used except for adding the “italiano” text. Also, I cooked it using proper macaroni, not the instant stuff Kraft gives you.

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GIMPup A Webdesign

Seem as though The GIMP has finally gotten on my list of “Awesome Applications”. That list is basically all the stuff on the computer which I know I cannot live without. They already include Vim, Blender, Apache, MySQL, PHP …. etc – but I’ll save that for another post. All of the applications I use are open-source and completely free. Except for Adobe Photoshop.

But Photoshop rules! Why switch to The GIMP?

You’re right. No way saying The GIMP is more powerful than Photoshop. Not saying the switch over to learning The GIMP wasn’t filled with “argh! Where did my other kabillion windows disappear to“. Also not saying that all the industry professionals should switch over to The GIMP right now.

However, I like to place my faith in open-source software (Blender being an excellent example) – the main reason being that open-source development is crazy fast, and the community in general is great. So I wouldn’t be too surprised if 5-10 years later The GIMP is the ultimate graphics tool.

So, how to learn The GIMP? Simply by using it to do what I would otherwise do in Photoshop. Some methods of working I have developed is that my two panels are always set to “Always On Top”, and my window manager set that a double click on the windows title bar will shade the window. One of the external window contains the toolbox, and nothing else, and the other contains everything else that I use frequently in tabs. This way I get quite a lot of screen space for what I’m working on. I’d also like to mention that learning the hotkeys for the tools in The GIMP is definitely something really useful to do for a beginner.

Here’s a design I churned out after 4 hours of working out how stuff is done in The GIMP. I hope you like it. Click the image to get a full size picture.

Of course, comments welcome.

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Python steals XKCD Comics – snippet

Useful information stuff:
After 70-640, the students who are enrolled for 640-822 start preparing for their 70-236 as well as 640-863 so that they can be exempted from 642-436 and 1Y0-259 and can appear directly in 70-536, saving time and resources.

When somebody asks a programmer:XKCD Comics

Dude, why do you program? There’s nothing useful that you can make that hasn’t been made already. It’s like making your own hand-phone when you could just buy it at a shop. Go get a life and do something productive.

Then of course, the programmer smiles and replies:

Why, for:

  • The money
  • The girls (“ooh that looks terribly complex…”, oh yes, it is…“)
  • Nobody can check whether or not you’re really doing your work.

However, I personally think that programmers do it because they like to communicate with their computer. Since I’m learning Python, I like to learn it through making small things to speed up my day. I’ve made a blackjack game (OK, that slows down my day), a program that executes series of shell commands to speed up boring tasks, a to-do list program, and my latest creation:

“Something-that-finds-the-latest-comic-on-xkcd.com-and-downloads-it-to-a-file”

Of course, all you need to do is setup a cron-job to execute the snippet every time XKCD updates (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays) and bingo, you’ve just got yourself a personal archive of missed XKCD comics!

Here there be snippet:

#!/usr/bin/env python
import urllib
source = urllib.urlopen('http://xkcd.com/').read()
linebyline = source.splitlines()
found = 0
for value in linebyline:
    if found == 0:
        check = value.find('http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/')

        if check != -1:
            found = 1
            # find the next occurance of the " to find end of URL.
            next = value.find('"', 10)
            image = value[check:next]
            length = len('http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/')
            print 'Comic found: ' + image
            length = length + check
            filename = value[length:next]
            print 'Saved under: ' + filename
            path = '/home/dion/documents/Projects/Python/' # change this!
            image_file = urllib.urlretrieve(image, path + filename)

    else:
        break

Amazing, isn’t it? Here’s the latest one I grabbed:

…and oh yes, it was terribly complicated.

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What’s up?

Internet Explorer Sucks.

Useful information stuff:
Successful candidates of 350-001 and VCP-310 who have prepared from testking suggest the same for all the exams, including 640-802 as well as 70-290 and 70-270.

Today I learned two things:

1) Don’t write blog posts in Internet Explorer. It will crash and you will lose your whole post.

2) People don’t like me for promising I have big updates but never show anything.

Sorry. However the turmoil on the site should give you and idea that something is happening. Something you guys should love.

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A Smart Registration

E2-Productions has had the registration system down for a while to stop people registering whilst the portfolio system testing was going on. The portfolio system is about 99% finished so the registration system is up again. The project system will be undergoing testing at the end of this week (Saturday) so stay tuned for an update on that. Hopefully by next week the site can be released.

Meanwhile, E2 has upgraded its registration page in the process. No longer does it ask you for only your desired username, password and your email, it now guides you through an IQ test to make sure we don’t get stuck with a low-quality community. Also, it’s to keep our “personal” side whilst keeping the site professional.

To register, once on E2-Productions.com just click on My Account and click the Register link. You will see the test includes a grammar checker, so we don get pos leik funny u no. We also check your mathematical skills and your ability to follow instructions, as well as a simple test of common sense.

The original test was devised by The Kingdom Of Loathing, and found on their Altar of Literacy once joining. So credits go to them for their Literacy test and Common Sense test. Should you have any trouble, please post your comments here.

Upcoming schedule is as such: This Saturday – project system for testing. This Monday – BMR updated and maintained. This Wednesday – POSE2 latest version released.

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How to Poach an Egg (in 10 steps)

Taken from personal experience. This works. The resultant poached egg is actually edible too. I don’t care what you say.

Step one. Take a tablespoon and stir a small pot full of boiling water very vigorously. This is essential as environmental air is a very important factor in this creation. You shall attempt to create a vortex or a whirlpool of water.

Step 2: crack an egg and beat it. Once done, pour it into the very center of the vortex. This will allow the yolk of the egg to stay in the center whilst a wonderful egg white crust is being formed around it. If you don’t do this correctly, you will not end up with a poached egg. You will end up with something that looks like white crap floating in water.

Step 3: practice step 2. As you can see. I have not practiced it enough. I ended up with white diarrhoea. If you did end up with this, do not worry. All is not lost. In fact, this might as well work just the same way. We will see how to tackle with this problem in the next step.

Step 4: move everything into a frying pan. This allows you to boil the water off a lot quicker. This will also add heat to the egg, giving it a warm temperature when served. As we all know, most customers like things fresh.

Step 5: After about 20 minutes of boiling, you will find some large chunks of egg white have grouped together. You must use a spoon to remove these chunks, they can be used later for “decoration”.

Now, poached eggs are not only egg white. They also contain the yolk. If you are lucky use a or chopsticks to delicately push away the smaller bits of egg white to search for the yolk. unless you punctured it before, it should still be in one piece. After finding it, take a ladle and carefully take the yolk out and put it somewhere safe.

Step 7: Since we don’t want to waste food, take a strainer (like for flour) and strain the white mixture. You will be able to gather up a lot of the egg white. Store this in your neighbours trash a safe place.

Step 8: Put the egg white on the center of a plate. Remember, presentation is everything. Now carefully adjust the egg white around the yolk so it looks as though it is all in one piece. Careful not to puncture the yolk.

Step 9: I accidentally punctured the yolk. Damn. It takes practice. By now you will have something worth serving.

Step 10: Enjoy! After maybe 10 tries or so you will be able to come up with something like this:

Note: you might want to try add some weeds from your garden or chili flakes (you know, the one’s you can steal at your pizza place). You also might want to use Photoshop and the crop tool if you are planning on serving this to customers.

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Almost!

Well, 8 more exams. Two more weeks. Then bam on the 16th of June comes Mr. Update and his big bagWorking on stuff! of goodies! I cannot wait! I just started gathering items for my portfolio, and right now I have 10 webdesigns, and 2 artwork. This is not including the 100+ archived pictures I have for the progress of ThoughtScore, my NGT archives, my animations, traditional art, photos….and the list goes on! At this rate we’ll have a new update for every day of the year!

And Yes, I am actually working on stuff! Here’s a small screenie of my Vim window that I leave on Desktop 3.

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Blender 2.46 Released!

It’s out of the trunk, Blender has locked down the SVN, and we’re greeted with a stunning new version from the guys who brought you the most awesome 3D application in the world.

BLENDER

So, what are you waiting for? Get it now and check out the new features.

The two most stunning features I’ll be looking out for in The ThoughtScore project will be the new AAO (Ambient Approximate Occlusion) which will speed up render times when doing horrendously-difficult-to-be-lit scenes such as forests…and remove the trademark grainy-ness of normal AO. Another feature will be the strand shader and rewrite of the particles system. This allows me to do stunning grassworks without killing my computer…what could be better than that?

5 minutes into the program I made this just to test out the newGrass features…check it out: 10 second render time, 20000 particles, along with other effects. Click it to enlarge it. As with other news, I now have done 10 exam papers and I still have another 15 or so to do. I shall give you some previews of what’s new with my portfolio and little graphics work the next post. Also, completely unrelated to previous news, is that the 16th of June is coming up, so buckle your seat belts, and await the notifications.

For all those badgering around on the IRC channel just leave your messages and an email and I’ll get back to you if I’m not online.

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Microsoft and Blender – an open-source initiative?

Useful information stuff:
70-642 is one of the most complicated test in 642-642 series, after 642-825 and 642-845 and hence a 70-646 professional cannot attempt it without having a EX0-101 or at least a 642-552 to his credit.

Sometime on May 13th, 2008, Blendernation published an article on Microsoft emails Blender About File Format Support.

It’s time to give my oh-so-awesome comments on this subject. For those that don’t know, Blender is an open-source application used for 3D graphic work (modeling, animation, games, etc). Time to clear up some biased comments here: I use Blender for all my 3D work. I love Blender and therefore I want the best for it. However, a big part of the argument is that Microsoft is a huge commercial monopoly and Blender is a rapidly growing open-source (yes, that means free, and free beer too) application. I use Linux. I like Linux. However, this doesn’t mean that I do not like Microsoft. In fact, it doesn’t even mean I don’t like Windows. Heck, if it wasn’t for Windows, I’d not use a computer like I do today. I feel that Windows doesn’t allow me to have as much freedom on the computer (therefore I prefer Linux), but at the same time it has allowed so many people to easily get introduced to computing without having to learn bash first.

Ok, Let’s get back on topic here. Let’s take a look at Blender’s objectives and how whatever sort of deal with Microsoft might affect it. Number one: Blender wants users. It’s growing. Are you saying that weakening Blender’s power on the most popular operating system out there is going to help Blender? I quote ArtIsLight‘s comment on the Blendernation article:

Getting rid of the Windows port would be a crippling stroke to Blender, as there are so many users that use Windows, in the business world and for personal entertainment. Is giving support (for MS) causing bloated code or excessive work-arounds to get it to work properly on that OS?

I cannot lie that I used Blender on Windows before I made the switch to Linux. I believe that a lot of Blender users out there do use Windows, and Microsoft knocking at the Blender Institutes door asking to see how they can help support their project is going to help Blender. Let’s take a little step back and look at the original post sent to Ton (Blender big boss).

A good user experience of Blender on Windows is good for your project/community and good for Microsoft.

OK. I don’t care how much you hate Microsoft, that statement is true. Let’s take a look at the next lines:

What we are trying to understand is what file formats, which are not open or not fully open, are impeding the optimal experience with your community. If this is an important issue to your users then it also accrues to the experience in Windows.

I’m not a lawyer and nor am I psychic to know exactly what Microsoft is up to. However, the way I interpret that sentence and the rest of that rather short email is that Microsoft wants to help get that .blend format out there with the boys like .3ds. I do not think that all of a sudden Microsoft is going to turn the .blend into a .msblend and call it a not-open format.

Let’s take a look at Ton’s reaction:

I recently was contacted by Microsoft Development, they’ve assigned one of their people with the job to support open source projects better. Yep, I’ve immediately asked for free MSVC Pro licenses! :)

If a single person knows best whats going on with Blender, it’s Ton. The bit that speaks to me most in that quote above is that smiley face at the end. Especially the straightforward quote of “they’ve assigned one of their people with the job to support open source projects better” leaps out at me. I think Microsoft knows that open-source applications are definitely rising to take their place, and they also know that sticking themselves in a tiny circle labeled “this is commercial land” is not going to help. A comment made on the Blendernation article also mentioned that this isn’t Microsoft’s next evil plan to take over some awesome project but simply some good, well thought-out public relations heist. I agree with that.

I personally think anything that will help Blender receive more (good) publicity that doesn’t ruin its strong bases in open-source attitudes, and multi-OS support is good news.

As a final note, Microsoft managed to spur up 238 (no longer counting because comments are closed) comments filled with some seriously nasty flames and bloodthirsty comments about what is meant to represent a truly open community. Let’s set a better example at looking at this issue from Blender’s point of view, and not from which OS is crappier.

The cake is a lie.

Comments? (If you want to flame, send me an email! It’s private and I train GMail’s spam filter! dionmoult[at]gmail[dot]com)

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Should I use Linux?

A bit of an introduction.

If you just want the summaries, just read the bold text, and scroll down to “IS LINUX FOR YOU”

One day my 10 year old desktop crawling on Windows had broken down and so I was stuck with my 3 year old 256 megabyte RAM 30gb hard drive space laptop, and an afternoon full of nothing to do. So, why not try Linux out? The following is a written evaluation of how I found it.

Step 1: start easy. I borrowed a friends laptop and created a Ubuntu live CD to play with. I chose Ubuntu because it’s reputed to be the most user friendly, which meant it would be easy to work my way up to what Linux is capable of. Ubuntu is a Linux distro, or distribution, which you might call a version or flavour of Linux. It was pretty easy to start: plug and play. I inserted the CD into my friend’s computer (whose hardware was more recent) and booted up. The default wallpaper was trendy, and the icons definitely more visually appealing than windows.

Summary: Ubuntu provides me with a full working system just with a plug and play! It’s awesome!

My first objective was to find out how to start and use the Linux equivalent of Microsoft’s Notepad. There were three clear menus labeled Applications, Places and System. Clicking on Applications gave me a wonderfully categorized menu – categorised by application type, which is a lot more useful than Windows “group by brand”. This division also made it easier to quickly navigate to folders, apps or settings. This made it easy to find the app I needed – GEdit. It was not the notepad I remember. It started up pretty fast, and also featured tabs, and as I soon found out, code syntax highlighting, which is very useful for a programmer like me. File browsing was easy, though the filesystem took a bit of getting used to (what stuff shouldn’t i touch, and where my files are.) and the icons were definitely more attractive. I could easily connect online, as all I had to do was connect my LAN cable and open up Firefox.

Applications are categorised by type on Gnome and KDE, not brand name. This is very useful.

I then decided that it was too much like Windows, so I wanted to try something new. I also wanted to comment more on the system itself more than the GUI, because in Linux it is pretty easy to change between different GUIs. I therefore searched for another Linux distro and found Gentoo, which boasted fast speed and freedom. This is something I value in an operating system. I decided to try out the Gentoo live CD, but it failed to run. The blokes in the Gentoo IRC channel recommended me to use the minimal install live CD and follow the Gentoo handbook. Having not much prior Linux experience and command line usage, my first time configuring and compiling a kernel was filled with errors and humiliating moments in the IRC channel. However, without those helpful people in that channel, I would’ve failed horribly. Therefore, this is a rather negative image on Linux. However I cannot blame Linux as it all depends on the distro. Gentoo’s aims were not user friendliness, and hence targeted more experienced users. Ubuntu was meant for user friendliness, and was pretty much plug and play. However, I recently reinstalled Gentoo on another computer and it was a breeze, hardly any problems at all.

Gentoo took a long (quite difficult too for a newbie) time to install.

The install took a long time for my first time. Mainly because I was inexperienced, but also because I had to download all the files from the internet. In a way this was bad because you are helpless without your internet when installing, but it was good that you always get the latest files. Gentoo’s style and prmise of complete configuation was proved by the fact that I had to compile everything from source. This was bad because it took a long time to install things, but it allowed you to edit everything you wanted in the code. After the install, it seemed pretty dissapointing as all I was left with was something that looked like MS-DOS. If you are used to Windows,you’d probably wonder what can you do now. There are no windows, toolbars, no visible way to multitask, and no applications to work with. However, I soon learnt how to browse through files effectively, install my favourite programming editor (Vim) to edit text files with, and even start browsing the web.

Managing installed applications is easier with Linux.

One thing I noticed during the install of Vim was that all applications (well, most that I was going to be using) was part of a packaging system. This meant no broken downloads or unreliable links, and only one place to go to whe updating, installing, uninstalling or reinstalling any apps. However, yet again, everything had to be compiled so it took a long time to install programs. A very clever and useful feature of this packaging system was that before installing, it checked whether or not all dependencies for the program were installed. Whereas on windows you just have to have you have all the dlls and libraries.

I don’t know what “rm -rf /” means, but luckily I have the manual to work it out!

Another useful feature i noticed was that almost every coomand and application had a manual page describing its uses and functions in a uniform way. This made it exceptionally informative and efficient at teaching what is going on with those funny commands.

The people in the linux IRC channels are newbie friendly.

The online Gentoo handbook and tutorials were surprisingly newbie friendly for such a “thou shalt not hide anything from the user” system. The IRC fellows were also very kind and understanding, definitely not like the people in th #windows channel, who banned me for asking how to uninstall windows. Whenever I had errors whilst compiling they knew exactly how to fix it, and now I can say that i am decent at Gentoo and can overcome most of the problems i encounter.

It’s pretty difficult to run some Windows programs.

Some of the programs I used in Windows didn’t work, such as Macromedia Flash MX 2004, but that is probably because it’s a pretty old version.

How does one evaluate an OS for themselves? Simple, list out their needs and see how well it matches it. This is what i have done below, and ive also given a rating out of ten.

It’s easy to access and setup all the power tools i need for programming.

On Linux I could easily use vim, apache, ftp, php, mysql, perl, python, gtk and qt tools, ftp, ssh, svn, all following the same style of usage. Perfect. Windows has notepad but it is pretty useless for what I like to do.

Wow. The internets is fast. I get to choose whatever browser I want. I’m not forced upon one.

The internet was faster when running linux. I don’t know why, but it was. firefox was well supported, it had a console browser, and also allowed a list of other browsers that came with the guis gnome and kde such as epiphany and konqueror. I’ve never really found a use for them though. Luckily WINE didn’t come with IE. I hate IE so much. It’s slow, unsecure, no tabs, horrible at rendering pages…and is forced upon users.

File browsing for Linux and Windows are equal. The autocomplete for CLI is awesome, but I sometimes get lost between all my /opt /proc /bin, etc.

KDE came with konqueror. I didn’t like the fact that i needed to open such a huge program just to browse files. However, KDE 4 improved this by introducing dolphin. With gnome, the file browser was excellent, however the eog (eye of gnome) image viewer had problems viewing most of my images, and was a pain to fix. however, i found the name completion when in cli and the open with settings so much easier than windows. Another really useful feature i noticed in gnome was that when hovering over media files, it gave a preview without me even havo open the file. The thumbnail previews worked for videos too!

I can choose exactly how I want to use my computer. I have total customisation. I don’t have to learn something else

No complaints here. Super fast. My computer isn’t a total powerbox, but if I want to have a lot of eyecandy, Compiz-Fusion can make my computer look sexier than ever. Since I’m not the eyecandy type of person, I don’t need to use Gnome or KDE, I can try some of the minimalist GUIs like Fluxbox. It’s still a bit ugly, but I see why some people like it. It’s _fast_. Right now I’m using Ratpoison. It’s amazingly minimalist, but I love it.

I sometimes get errors and I’m totally stuck.

Yes, it happens. It’s happening less since I’m learning more, but I would recommend you get somebody who already knows Linux before you try Linux, (especially if you are using something like Gentoo). Ubuntu users should be fine.

For a newbie, I realise that what comes with linux is not what comes with Windows. On Gentoo, I don’t get sound, printer support, internet, etc just like that.

I’ve definitely had a bit of a problem when starting to use Gentoo to mount and unmount external devices. I had to setup sound, printing support, and configure my internet. This is something I’m not exactly used to, so I had to learn a bit to understand exactly what was going on.

Ok. I feel as though I’ve typed enough.

I’m not the person you should trust the most in the world, but I’ll give my honest opinion on whether or not you should use Linux.

IS LINUX FOR YOU?

I suck at computers: Don’t use it.

I suck at computers, but I have a friend who is awesome with them: Use Linux.

If you use the computer (on average) for about 15-30 minutes a day, and it’s because you have to, not because you want to, and you already use Windows or Mac: Do not use Linux. It’s probably not worth the learning curve.

If you are on a tight budget: Use Linux. It’s free.

You are a super hardcore gamer: Don’t use Linux. Unless you want to stop playing games as much as you do now.

You are a computer programmer: Definitely USE LINUX.

You like open source and are technologically-able and interested in stuff like IT Development: Yes, use Linux.

Your office wants you to use Windows: Don’t use it unless you use another computer pretty often at home for personal use.

All the programs I use are only for Windows: Then stick with Windows.

You already use Windows or Mac and only use your computer for web browsing and document editing: Probably not worth it to use Linux, but you should use Firefox as a web browser and you should try out OpenOffice.

I’m ready to use Linux, but I don’t know which distro to use:

You just want to use your computer. Try Ubuntu or Debian.

You are awesome at computers. You want to personalise it completely. Use Gentoo.

I don’t know. What’s a distro again? Join the linux IRC channel and ask all you want!

Which GUI should I choose? Try them all! You’ll find one that gives you a warm fuzzy feeling and you’ll choose that one.

Wow! There are so many choices! You’ll thank me afterwards. Give it a go.

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Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Yes, that’s right! We’ve migrated (To change location periodically, especially by moving seasonally from one region to another) to WordPress! The installation was smooth, and we’ve got a sexy theme up doing some jazz for the the thinkMoult page!