Older blog entries for elanthis (starting at number 373)

First Vector Graphic

So I decided it was finally time to pop my Inkscape cherry and give vector graphics a try.

I needed a logo for Source MUD. I used one of those Flash-based logo designers to come up with some ideas, but naturally I couldn’t use anything I created due to licensing issues. I took one of the designs and decided to go with that, albeit created from scratch and using a font I had legal access to.

The result is this:

Source MUD Logo

Yeah, it’s not exactly the world’s most complicated design. It’s made up of three paths and some text. It took some time to get that done, though, since I needed to learn exactly how one does graphics with Inkscape.

First was the creation of the blue squiggle shape thingy. I created the center line, then the left and right lines. Then I tried to figure out how the hell to get the color fill. After a lot of playing around, I eventually discovered that I’d have to merge the paths into a single object. I cloned the center line, and created an object of the center line and the left, and a second of the cloned center line and the right. Filling these produced some… weird results. I needed to merge the end control points of the two paths that each object was made of, but I was having trouble getting this to actually work consistently. I found that I needed to get the points very close together (_very_ close) before merging. Then on the right-hand side I kept getting a weird line segment pointing out into the middle of nowhere every time I merged. I played around a bit more and finally got that to work.

Then it was just a matter of lining things up, adjusting line widths, sizing things, etc.

Exporting to the PNG was the most difficult part. I’m really not happy with Inkscape’s export facilities. First, the default was to export the “drawing,” not the whole image, so the output was cropped down from the image size I had originally requested (web banner). That seemed a goofy default given that I had asked to make a web banner image. Second, the background was always transparent, which I really didn’t want - IE6 is still way too common to rely on transparent backgrounds in PNGs. The only options in image export though were basically canvas size options. I ended up making a large white rectangle, moving it to the bottom of the object stack, and then exporting the page to get the final PNG.

And there we have it.

Syndicated 2008-02-07 23:54:17 from Sean Middleditch

Exercise

The last year and a half at the old apartment has watched me get really out of shape. One of the niceties of the new apartment is that I am on a concrete slab, so I can actually get my workout equipment here. Unfortunately, I’m not sure my 500 lbs. treadmill can be moved down the stairs and through the doorways realistically. However, the main office does have a gym.

I just tried doing my first set of situps (my new couch gives me something to prop my feet under), and I managed to barely do 44 before my knees and back gave out. 44. Pathetic. I tried to do pushups, and managed to get through 3 before my arms gave out. That’s really pathetic. I only hope that my performance is degraded a bit due to my current severe cold, and that once it’s shaken off I’ll be at least relatively close to what I used to be able to do.

The current plan is to get the Bowflex in my bedroom after I figure out what to do with the piles of books, and then give thought to getting the treadmill in here. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll start using the one at the gym, although I’ll need to figure out what to do about music in that case. I’m also not particularly fond of walking to the office in gym clothes in this weather, so I’d really prefer to get my treadmill in here.

I seriously need to get back in shape. For the first time in 4 years I’ve actually gained weight, and my waist size increased. Most of my super sexy muscles are all but gone, too, so I need to work those back into shape.

I’m in turn going to have to increase my protein intake. The whole “going organic” thing makes that slightly more difficult, as getting my hands on affordable all organic beef is not particularly easy, and I’m not a huge fan of most other sources of protein. (Peanut butter is an exception, but as I said in my last post, I need to seriously cut back my peanut butter consumption, not increase it.)

I’d like to be in “not embarrassed to go to the beach” shape by July. Hopefully between my more reserved diet and working out again, I can get there by then. I don’t have a ton of time, but I’ve once already lost more than twice this amount of weight in less than half the time I have until July, so I’m confident I can do it again.

Syndicated 2008-02-01 19:57:16 from Sean Middleditch

Going Organic

I’ve never been much of a health nut, but there are a few things I’ve tried to pay attention to. I avoid drinking soda as much as possible, especially anything with corn syrup in it. I buy organic meat (no steroids), and preferably buy the stuff raised the old-fashioned way and not on a large industrialized farm. I drink soymilk instead of regular milk, especially since the doctor recommended that one to me. I eat organic oatmeal. Other than the occasional splurging on fresh organic fruit or a trip to Zingerman’s, that’s about the extend of my organic buying.

A friend who is very big into the organic food and local farming lifestyle has kind of given me a bit more motivation to try harder. After my last shopping spree, I’ve managed to convert about 1/3 of my diet to all organic products without really raising my grocery bill much. I still have a ways to go.

The biggest problem I’m noticing is a lack of pre-made or semi-made foods that are all organic. For example, I can get the ingredients to make some kick-ass pasta sauce (along with all organic wheat pasta) easily enough, but finding a bottle of already made sauce is another thing altogether. I’m lazy. I don’t really know how to cook, and even if I did, I don’t think it would be something I’d do more than once or twice a week. Especially not in this stupid apartment with the neglectful landlord who won’t get rid of the ant problem that makes my kitchen close to unusable.

So, most of the organic food I’ve bought is stuff I can eat with little to no cooking or preparation. That mostly comes down to snacks and light meals, but not the kind of stuff I can really live off. I’d love to see a bigger variety in organic cheeses (the only ones I can find are generally whole wheels that cost a fortune), pre-made sauces and side-dishes, and so on. I’d also like to see a bigger variety in organic and whole-wheat pasta; I can’t find farfelle organic pasta for the life of me, for example.

Assuming I could find such products, I could get my diet up to at least 3/4 organic foods, with the rest of my diet being from restaurants (and several of my favorite restaurants are all organic).

My last major sin in terms of food consumption would then be that I drink bottled water. A lot of bottled water. About 150% to 200% of what the average person goes through. I don’t know why, but my body needs more water than most people. I sweat heavily even in cold weather. My father is the same way. Also, I just can’t freaking stand tap water. I mean, to the point that drinking it actually makes me gag a little. It might be that I was raised on nasty well water and I’ve been conditioned to hate tap water, but I swear even the filtered city water I have now is pretty gross. Now, I don’t believe that bottled water is bad for me (it isn’t), or even that drinking that water is bad for the environment (it isn’t), but the huge number of plastic bottles I go through is enormous. We don’t have recycling collection around here, and even if we did, it’s generally shown that recycling creates more waste due to the energy recycling and collection requires than just throwing the stuff out. I’ve tried a few alternatives to drinking bottled water, including the reusable water jugs that stores like Meijer has, but that water tastes almost as bad as tap water (that’s probably all it is). I wonder what other alternatives are available given that I just will not drink tap water?

My cupboards currently contain a few foods I bought earlier this month that, once consumed, I’ll replace with organics. I’ve got a jar of peanut butter (which, honestly, I need to cut out of my diet - that stuff is going to be the death of me), some farfelle, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, and some jars of Kroger brand strawberry preserves. Everything else is organic, a lot of stuff is whole-wheat (I haven’t eaten white bread in more years than I can count, except for the occasional baguette), and a few things are possibly even locally grown (most of it isn’t, though).

I’ve also started taking some “all natural” vitamin supplements, as it’s been pointed out to me that my general diet sucks and I’m probably missing all sorts of crap my body needs, which combined with my lack of working out for the last year and half has led to some severely deteriorated health. I’m sick for the second time in less than a month, for example.

Laura also gave me some recipes for some very easy to prepare dishes I might try out once the fucking ant problem is solved. (This might have to result in me threatening legal action for landlord negligence due to failure to correct unsanitary living conditions. Fun.)

Syndicated 2008-01-31 05:17:37 from Sean Middleditch

Back to Fedora

I’ve been using Ubuntu pretty much since it first came out, after Jeff Waugh sent me an invite. (I forget why he did so - possibly I was bitching about whichever distro I was on at the time.)

Ubuntu was pretty great until the last few releases. Starting around the time of Feisty, the number of bugs seemed to be creeping up and up, and more effort was being put into adding horrifically fucking stupid features like “Compiz by default” (whoo, an ugly and eye-straining WM that only works on less than half the hardware out there with OSS drivers, just what we needed).

Some of the bugs were really starting to impact the usability of the desktop for me. They weren’t getting fixed, but new stupid-ass features were being added all the time. I gave up.

Having heard good things about the last few Fedora releases, I decided to reinstall my desktop with Fedora Core 8. The install went very smoothly (unlike Ubuntu, with its idiotic Live CD installer that takes longer to boot than it does to install, and usually crashes or locks during said install), and I’ve got the system up and running.

The first problem I ran into was not being able to log in as my user. I had left the /home partition unformatted. I had also left the default SELinux settings in Fedora enabled. The problem was that the /home partition was not labeled, and so my user could not access his own home partition. After a few minutes of learning the SELinux commands, I fixed that up.

Next, the display in the desktop was practically unusable. The max resolution supported was 800×600, and I had no mouse cursor. I had to reconfigure the monitor to a generic LCD 1680×1050 to fix the resolution, but I still had no mouse cursor, and everything was looking stretched even though the right resolution was being used.

The nv driver had been selected by default, so I switched to the nouveau driver, which I’ve been wanting to try for a while now. Switching the driver gave me a mouse cursor, but things were not peachy. The color of my desktop kept randomly changing, and the screen was somehow taller than the monitor, so even after auto-adjusting the top of my screen was not visible. Plus, just like with the nv driver, all my fonts looked like shit, and were stretched out too wide. It’s like neither of the drivers support wide-screen monitors correctly, even though they were running in the right resolution (well, maybe nouveau wasn’t, even though it was told to).

So, I installed the nvidia binary driver from the livna respository, and blam, everything looks great now. This a real shame that just getting basic 2D functionality working still requires the binary driver. ::sigh::

I’ve since tweaked a few other things, and am still doing getting everything up and running just right. The only other actual problem I’ve had so far is that all the channels on my soundcard were set to 0 and muted. Weirdness.

All of the bugs I had in Ubuntu are gone, though. Including bugs which I would have guessed were GTK+ or X bugs. So either Fedora is actually bothering to fix stuff, Ubuntu’s new feature squad is breaking stuff, or the bugs only manifest with a certain combination of software versions that is different on Fedora. All the base package versions are the same, though.

Oh well, I can use my computer now without constantly getting frustrated by stupid bugs. Yay me!

Syndicated 2008-01-26 21:32:35 from Sean Middleditch

Bike Show Photos

More photos of the 20th Annual Custom Bike Show in Birch Run, MI.

Facebook album

Dad’s public Picasa gallery

The show was sponsored by Bubba’s Tri-City Cycles, and the four beautiful models we took way too many pictures of are employees of M/C Leather Works.

Syndicated 2008-01-23 23:52:12 from Sean Middleditch

Bike Show - First Place in Class

We won first place in our class (Manufactured Custom) at the 20th Annual Custom Bike Show in Birch Run, MI. Pretty cool.

Some of the models there agreed to pose on our bike for us, so here’s a picture of the gorgeous Jackie from Leather Works posing on our green Big Bear Choppers Sled Pro custom bike:

Jackie on our Bike

Syndicated 2008-01-21 19:07:55 from Sean Middleditch

Hair Cut

So I just got my first real hair cut in 11 years.

Me with short hair

Yeah, it’s all short now. The picture’s lighting sucks, as my apartment’s lighting sucks. What my apartment lacks in lighting it more than makes up for with pharaoh ants (I think, hard to identify a bug that size with eyes like mine and no magnifying glass).

The short hair is kinda throwing me for a loop. I don’t have a ponytail to play with while I think anymore. :(

Syndicated 2008-01-05 22:01:30 from Sean Middleditch

Moving Monday

I’m moving to my new apartment tomorrow, on New Year’s Eve. Fun fun.

Helped my very-soon-to-be ex-roommate buy the various necesseties he’ll need, like dishware and such, since I own pretty much everything in the apartment now. Also picked up some more objects d’art for the new apartment, since I’m going to have an awful lot of wall space to make interesting.

Syndicated 2007-12-31 01:15:29 from Sean Middleditch

Metacity Compositor

The new Metacity compositor in 2.21.5 is pretty sweet. It has only very simple effects (no eye-straining wobbly bullshit or workspace transition effects that just waste time), so it isn’t nearly as annoying as Compiz demos make compositing seem to be. It also made the desktop feel a little faster. The new desktop switcher is also a good deal nicer than the old one. Once an exposé-like feature is added, I think I’ll be all set with Metacity. All in all, I like it quite a bit.

Hopefully Ubuntu replaces the “low-bling desktop effects” option in the desktop effects setup with the new metacity. Compiz is a beast and it can’t even work on common setups like any machine that doesn’t support accelerated GL.

The only “bug” I’ve noticed with the new compositor is that windows sometimes get drawn to the screen before they have any content, so you see a very short flash of garbled pixel data. I’m not entirely sure if that’s a problem with Metacity, with X, or with GTK+. It’s not really critical, and I imagine it’ll be fixed in whichever layer needs it soon.

Syndicated 2007-12-22 22:40:00 from Sean Middleditch

Apartment Scare, All Good

The apartments I’m moving into, Aspen Chase in Ypsilanti, once International Place, have a very bad reputation. A very well earned, very bad reputation. The place used to be crawling with drug addicts, rapists, thieves, and other criminals, and that’s an alarmist exageration. The sex offender density for International was almost four times that of the average for tor Ypsilanti Township.

I found at all of this after making the decision to move in. Having not yet signed the lease, I was about to back out entirely. I have friends who used to live there telling me how awful it was, apartment review sites claiming it to be the most disgusting hole to live in, and neighbors who moved to my current hooker-infested (no, really, I almost ran one over last night because she jumped out in front of my truck hooking - it’s a real fucking shame that it’s illegal to run them over) told me how bad Aspen Chase was.

Having visited a few times, the place did not at all seem bad. The staff are great, the apartments are clean and recently remodeled, and I didn’t see any nasty people hanging around or here loud noise or other problems during the few hours I’ve spent looking around with friends and family.

I decided to just call the Sheriff’s Department and ask. The officer I spoke told me that the crime rate has dropped tremendously in the last year, and that while they do still get calls there, it’s no worse than anywhere else in the Township. To quote, “I wouldn’t discourage you from living there.”

Turns out that McKinley, the current owners, just bought the place a year ago, and have been fixing it up really nice like they tend to do. They like to buy crappy places and sink a bunch of money into them to make them nice, and I’m told by my mom that their reputation is impeccable.

That was a pretty big scare there for a few days, though. I was about to back out, and then I’d have been screwed on finding a place to live by the time my current lease is up.

On a worse note (unrelated to apartments), the small wart I’ve had on my right thumb under the nail is - two years, 14 cryo-surgeries, and one radio-surgey later - still there. The dermatologist told me that she gives up and won’t touch it anymore, and that I should look into getting laser surgery on it. I’ve had warts on my hands when I was a young kid, and a freeze or two later and they’d always be gone. I hadn’t had one in years until this one showed up, but it just will not go away. So now I get to look into laser surgery, which is usually for cosmetic purposes, which means it will be difficult to get health insurance to pay for it. It doesn’t help that my insurance expires this month, so if I don’t at least get the surgey billed in the next week or two, I’ll have to pay for a very expensive laser surgery out of pocket just to get rid of this stupid wart. I’m tempted to just leave it alone, since they’re supposed to go away in a couple years on their own, but given that it’s already been a couple years and it’s actually a little bigger than it was when I first noticed it, I’m going to do whatever I can to just get rid of it. I’m beyond sick of having it there, if for no other reason than it just makes me feel dirty for having it, even if it is where nobody ever notices it and it can’t spread easily.

Syndicated 2007-12-13 06:34:18 from Sean Middleditch

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