Thoughts about linux (ubuntu 8.1) from a new user

After my macbook fried and my xp box got infected beyond repair, I decided to start all over with linux. I’ve never used it before, so here are some initial reactions from a long time computer user, both in windows and mac environments, starting fresh:

  1. It’s the most user-friendly environment I’ve tried. It combines the best of windows and mac in one interface. Open folders and files along the bottom (the tray?) is such a natural thing that I always liked about windows. The intrusive dock is something I’ve always disliked about mac. Everything is crisp, the system fonts are legible, and working in it from a gui standpoint is very satisfying.
  2. I love discovering how it works. At first, it’s annoying to deal with package installations and terminal commands, but after a while you get a feel for how and why they work.  There are strange icons nestled into the various static bars on the top and bottom of the screen (menu bar? task bar? Again, I need to learn the lingo), that do cool stuff when you click them.  For instance, in the lower left is an interesting one, that nicle hides everything on your desktop when clicked. I know os x does this and much more with the f9 f10 f11 keys, can’t think of what they call it at the moment. But all I ever really need regarding windows is a quick way to see my desktop. Each time I find something new in it, I feel a sense of accomplishment (wow I am a geek).
  3. It seems no faster or slower than osx or windows at the moment (maybe a little bit faster, I’m using a dell 4600 with 1.5 gb Ram).
  4. I wish the windows were anti-aliased. Probably a memory saver, but I’d turn it on if I knew how.
  5. It came with some interesting apps. So far, I’ve used gimp (graphics), rythmbox (music management), firefox (web browser), picasa (photo manager), and Kino (video editor). Some thoughts:
    • Gimp sucks. Gimp is such a horrible name for software anyway; it connotes a crippled, inferior entity, which Gimp unfortunately seems to be. I need shape layers, I need precision zooming, and I can’t imagine Gimp has Photoshop’s anti-aliasing prowess (see my previous post), so I’ll do my icon work on my old mac for now. If you don’t have an old mac with photoshop 7 on it to use, then I guess gimp is for you.
    • Rythmbox with built in lastfm is cool, and I’d love to get better at it. Unfortunately, my ipod/iphone centric life would need some hardware adjustments.
    • Firefox is fine, although one of my sites looked weird, maybe due to font issues, which I’ll address in a future post.
    • Picasa is really critical. I have every photo I’ve taken in the last 10 years on the second drive of this machine, and it was all managed via picasa running on xp before I wiped the first drive and installed ubuntu. It seems that picasa won’t recognize the 2nd drive. I briefly checked for answers via google and hit the wall (future post). You would think it would be easy for picasa to pick up where it left off, but no luck yet.
    • Kino imported the .mps files from my camcorder, but made them look weird. Need to investigate.
  6. I miss Georgia, more than anything. Nothing reads like that font. Please, Matthew Carter, if you ever read this, get me some Georgia on Linux.
  7. Using Linux makes you feel free, in general. But Inkscape and Gimp just ain’t Illustrator and Photoshop.
  8. FTP is perfect. I don’t know why OS X doesn’t build it in like linux. FTP programs are pointless when you can just mount a remote server like any disk.

Dilemna (I mean DILEMMA!)

We have ivy all over the front of the house, and lots of little birds live in it. They also crap all over our front entranceway. Eli and Nancy like to watch them out the window in my closet; it’s almost totally covered in ivy and you get an up-close view of the birds.

So we are having the house resided, partly because all the ivy has worked its way inside the siding, but it’s also pretty dingy and old. The siding will all be ripped out, including the ivy. The kids are crying and upset about the birds, but I don’t know what we can do about it. They are cute, and make pretty bird noises and flutter/fight around, but there are also bees and wasps living in there too (it’s a jungle). Sometimes the birds fight with the bees! I bet there are fairies living in there who will make all sorts of bad things happen to us.

Anyways, I wonder if there’s anyway to save the birds; E and N were crying so hard Jeanne told them the birds would move to the tree, but that ain’t happening. Oh well.

Comparing the anti-aliasing properties of Illustrator and Photoshop (cs4)

I’ve read (can’t think of where at the moment: UPDATE: Jonathan Hicks pimps fireworks here: ) articles applauding the pixel preview functionality of AI, especially when it comes to designing low resolution icons. I investigated this a bit and here’s what I found:

16x16 circle in Illustrator, snapped to 1x1 pixel grid
16x16 circle in Photoshop, made with a shape, snapped to grid

Compare the above. Both are 16×16 pixel circles, but the Photoshop one is superior. Note how Illustrator adds grey pixels to the left and top of the icon. I’m not sure why it does this, maybe someone can explain, but for now I’m sticking with Photoshop for my icon design. Here they are at actual size:


Can you guess which one is which (hover over each for the answer). IMHO, the one on the right is better.


Worked on some c4d stuff today. I think it will be a major part of what I do for the project. Sketches first, then move into c4d, then photoshop.

I also have to keep this blog updated.


3 Dreams last night:

1. I was at a church, saying something about having to keep church stuff in mind at your home. I was like preaching this, even though I wasn’t the priest. Everyone was like “yeah”. The we drove up Brookside Ave (back in LI) to a baseball diamond. There was one of Grif’s friends dads up in a tree there, in a white bear costume. But then I saw a real white bear on another tree branch. IT wasn’t a polar bear, it was smaller–weird. So it started creeping toward the dad. I yelled, he dropped out of the tree, and the real bear ddid too, and started chasing him. Then it was chasing me, into the baseball diamond (). It turned out it was another guy in a suit, but he was old and had been living in the woods around the baseball diamond. He was trying to bite me/eat me because he was some kind of rabid zombie. I think he got a bite in on my foot before I woke up.

2. I was in the backyard, and it was swampy. But under the water were like smooth stones, kind of like in the iphone app Koi Pond. The water was shallow, and I was walking around back there. It was very peaceful-winter, grey, but stragely warm. In parts of the yard, the water got deeper. Soon I was up to my knees. A goldfish swam up to me, and it wasn’t scared. Next thing I know, I’m swimming in it. It’s warm, but I wonder if it’s dirty. I go to get out, but there’s these kelp/weeds in the way of the concrete ledge. I heave myself out though, and I’m standing on the ledge. So I jump back in on the other side, and see a hand floating in the kelp. I go “Wow, a dead person!” and I grab the hand. It’s a little hand, my son Eli’s. I push him up out of the water; I’m in too and it’s hard to hold him up. His eyes are open, but his mouth is closed and I wonder how I can get him on the ledge to give him CPR; I’m panicking and grief-stricken, wake up.

3. I drive up to my house in Snyder. It’s a beautiful day, and the sun is out and warm, even though it’s winter. Maybe it’s spring. My dad comes running up to me. He’s much younger; his hair is dark and he has glasses on like me. I hug him and I’m super happy to see him. He’s come for a trip in his pickup truck. In the truck it’s really messy, with a unch of Bud cans lying around, and a sixpack of unopened bud. He wants to drink some with me and my brother Bri who has just shown up. I look around, and the garbage we put out hasn’t been picked up. Lying on the blue bin is an enormous party pizza that has not been touched. My dad wants to eat it, but my brother goes” it’s nasty, there’s little black bits all over it” and he pretends to take a huge bite by sticking his head right on it. There is scaffolding on the front of the house as the workers are residing. I wake up.


So, for my sabbatical rundown of things to do:

  1. Design the icons for the project.
  2. Keep learning wordpress.
  3. Organize the attic, especially all the artwork
  4. ??


Last night I was on wordcast, the podcast for wordpress users. David and Kym and I talked about the whole icon project. You can listen to the podcast at


I’ve given up asking clients for logos before just checking for them at from I can’t fathom why every company’s logo ends up as a jpeg.

Trip to CT

Just got back, it was fun and another landmark in my long string of trips down there. The drive bakc was great. The sunset coming down the 90 was very intense, augmented by a nice Annie Lennox channel on Pandora. I broke down and gave Nancy my pristine new Moleskin which she proceeded to fill half of up with her flowers and letters and clouds. Oh well, it kept her happy. Maybe she’ll be an artist, but lately she’s been saying veterinarian and singer so we’ll see.

Busy day coming tomorrow.