Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Thursday 31 March 2005

Gimp hack Photoshop look alike

So GimpShop has been released, it is a hack of Gimp to make it look alike Photoshop.

Too bad, it still require X11 on MacOS X.

I wish they spent more time doing really useful things like porting Gtk+ on MacOS X.

Wednesday 30 March 2005

More info on Gtk MacOS X

So I started looking at porting Gtk to MacOS X without requiring X11. Since I don't like reinventing the wheel, I'm looking at what has already been done.

Now a bunch of Q&A:

Q: Why did you start with Gtk 1.2 ?

A: I didn't I just built gtk-osx which is Gtk+ 1.2. My goal is to port Gtk+ 2.6.

Q: Will you use Cocoa ?

A: I don't think. Several reasons:

  • it is too high level
  • I plan to reuse gtk-osx which is Carbon code, as it is a port of the old MacOS 8 mac-gtk

And Carbon is faster and much lower-level. Cocoa itself use Carbon.

Q: Will it run on MacOS 9 ?

A: No plan at all. This will be pure MacOS X.

Q: What about Quartz ?

A: I'll use as much as I can instead of QuickDraw, but Quartz lack lot of functionnalities to be exposed.

Q: When will it done ?

A: Don't know. I haven't started to code. And I have AbiWord to work on.

Q: Why do you do that ?

A: I want people to use Gimp on MacOS X, as well as Gnumeric, Evolution and Dia. In fact any of the fantastic Gtk apps we have.

Reflexions - Picture of the day, March 30th, 2005

Posted a new gallery tonight of pictures from Montreal, and since I'm a reflexions freak, a few pictures:

Shoot on March 3rd 2005 with my EOS 20D and the usual EF 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 USM lens.

First step

I pulled a tarball of gtk-osx and did rebuild using Project Builder.

Here is the screenshot:

It is only gtk+ 1.2. It is a long way to the end.

Tuesday 29 March 2005

MacMini RAM upgrade

Opening a MacMini is a real pain, even after reading instructions and with the right tool.

But now MacOS X can breathe with 1GB of RAM and I can really dig into development without too much pain. With 256MB MacOS X is barely usable

Monday 28 March 2005

Trackbacks disabled

I disabled trackbacks. You can thank trackback spammers.

I'll reactivate them as soon as I can:

  1. moderate them.
  2. add keywords for spam detection.

These involving hacking Dotclear .

Panorama creation

I have been playing with hugin to create panorama.

Here is a sketch of what I can do:

A view of Montreal from the City Hall, Monday March 21st 2005. It took 10 minutes to render.

Wednesday 23 March 2005

Patent on XML file format

AbiWord use XML as its native file format since its inception in 1998, and it was one of the first application to make this use. According to Groklaw, Microsoft filed in 2002 a patent that cover the use of XML as a word processor file format, and that XML would transcribe without loss all the formatting that the word processor apply to the text.

I thought that in patent law there was the notion of prior art and that prior art would forbid patenting things that are not new.... Apparently this does not apply to Microsoft, as even 4 years they can patent stuff they did not even invent.

At the same time, still according to Groklaw, the common wealth of Massachusetts define clearly the term of Open Format, as they require for their own use. XML Office file format does not fall under that rule.

This needs to be watched seriously.

Tuesday 22 March 2005

Wide angle lens

The thing I'm seriously lacking with my EOS 20D is a real wide angle lens as the 24mm ends up being rougly 38mm. Then several options comes:

  • the EF-S 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 USM. Pro: only CDN$1000 or USD$750, and really wide. Cons: cannot use it on my film camera because it is an EF-S, not that fast.
  • the EF 20mm f/2.8 USM. Pro: only USD$390, and work with my film camera. Cons: not that wide: almost 32mm on digital.
  • the EF 14mm f/2.8 USM. Pro: prime, wide and rectilinear, even wider on film camera. Cons: too expensive: USD$1725
  • the EF 16-35mm f/2.8L USM (see about the 17-85mm which the previous generation). Pro: L zoom, film compatible. Cons: too expensive: USD$1330, not that wide on digital.
  • the EF 17-40mm f/4L USM. Pro: L zoom, film compatible, USD$670. Cons: Not that wide on digital: 27mm
  • the EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 USM IS. Pro: IS, only CDN$820 or USD$600, quite a replacement for the 24-85 I use often. Cons: Digital only, not that fast, not that wide.

Sample image how I like wide angle, with my EF 24-85mm f3.5/4.5 USM:

In Jerez, Spain, April 2nd 2002. Slide film, probably Provia 100F, taken with my EOS Elan 7 / EOS 33.

Migrating Wikis

I want to move away from TWiki to MediaWiki. My problem is migrating the data, as TWiki is RCS files while MediaWiki uses MySQL database. Has anyone an idea beside writing it myself in Perl ?

Jardins de Marqueyssac - Picture of the day, March 21st, 2005

Back to my tour of Perigord in 2001 with this Allee des Romarins in Marqueyssac gardens.

Provia 100F slide film with my Canon Elan 7 using my 28-85 zoom lens. September 24th 2001.

Monday 21 March 2005

Charles de Gaulle Airport - Picture of the day, March 20th, 2005

(This post is late)

Waiting for my flight back to Montreal in Terminal 2F in November 2004, I took these with my 20D and the 24-85 lens.

The complete gallery.

Are bank stupid with IT security ?

I'm really scared, but bank are stupid with IT security.

Example 1: they build paper walls to tighten security, for the customer inconveniance. Let's explain. My French bank has an online banking system. Pretty much convenient as I can do everything from there: wiring money, buy stocks, etc. But recently, in order to improve security, to record a bank account number to wire money, you have to call a phone number. The gets annoying because that phone number does not work from outside france and it cost money off course, because this is the french mentality. I finally went thru to get a regular phone number I can call from Canada. I called them, and all the information they ask is public, or easy to obtain; the hardest part is just the login for the banking system, but as an attacker, it is likely you already have it. So the security improvement is just pure decoy. Thank you for hiring competent people.

Example 2: still with the same bank. Last time I went to my branch in France, the teller had a brand new client software to access account information and perform all the operations. It is based on the biggest security treat, the software with which most spyware, virii and trojan horses gets installed on Windows: Internet Explorer. Yes, you read. They replaced all the terminal emulation software with a highly dangerous treat to security. And they manage your money with that. At least their web server seems to be Apache.

Example 3: there are still lot of online banking service that require Internet Explorer. How do you want to protect yourself if your bank ask you to use that security hole ? At least all the banks I use the banking service works with Mozilla / FireFox.

Saturday 19 March 2005

Orchid Macro - Picture of the day, March 19th, 2005

Back in November 2004, I visited my mom. She happened to have a nice couple of orchid flowers. Since I hadn't had a good occasion to test my EOS 20D with the 50mm f/2.5 Compact Macro lens I had, I spend some time with it and the flowers.

That was not a bad idea to travel just light. Light means taking a few lenses with in my LowePro MiniTrekker backpack.

Complete gallery.

Wednesday 16 March 2005

Tiling picture

jwz has hacked a script to tile images in Perl using PerlMagick. Looks nice.

But as he said, he has hardtime generating a multi-layered image to be able to reposition pictures individual as the union of the set of file format the support this and the set if file formats that ImageMagick and the GIMP both work with seems to ne empty. ImageMagick does not write GIMP .xcf files, and GIMP poorly support .psd, Photoshop native file format. And GIMP Perl scripting seems to be... unusable (last I tried it, I didn't find proper documentation to understand how it works).

Maybe SVG compositing would help ?

I'll look at this, I like the idea.

Camera repair

I need to have my Canon 20D repaired, after a bad fall. The window of the top LCD is broken badly. Last time, for a repair covered by the Canon warranty, it took 7 week to fix a battery door. I want to avoid the 7 weeks without camera, because it is just unacceptable (I forgot to complain to Canon about that). If anyone knows a repair shop in Montreal that can do that quickly for a decent price, I'd be much obliged.

Sunday 13 March 2005

IM and privacy

This has been already the case for MSN Messenger, which I never used for some reasons, including this one. But now AOL is raising privacy issues on AIM as the new term of service: they reserve the right to eavesdrop your conversation, hence use any information that goes thru their IM network for the purpose they want. This come at the same time as they start offering commercial service to other companies.

That remind me when I had that discussion with some people. They were saying how awesome product XYZ interface to MSN Messenger. Then another came and said that company ACME (not the real name), specilizing in games, did disallow all IM but MSN Messenger, for internal use beetween the employees (sic). I then raised the point of privacy for the MSN Messenger term of service that basically allow Microsoft to pretend they own all the information the goes thru their service, and said that ACME's lawyers should have a look at that. Then another person said that Microsoft would never use it... Does people really believe that and trust them ? I personnally don't. Even more when that company is know to not respect competition rules.

Looks like I'll stop using AIM then (that include Apple .Mac since it is just that Apple is a early customer of AOL commercial service). That probably include ICQ that use the same network (at least when using GAIM. I wonder if Yahoo! has the same term of service.... If they do, then I'll only have Jabber left, no regrets.

PDF reading

pcolijn: xpdf had search and select too. That is why I always did use it. But yes, Evince is good stuff, and I'm happy to see a good PDF reader on GNOME. And for once, I'm not afraid to not use xpdf on Linux.

Saturday 12 March 2005

Too much noise about nothing

There have been a lot of noise about nothing, concerning some annoying person (she is well known) that pretend to know everything, to want people to listen to her but to always be deaf when other people talk to her. I don't know why people still listen to her. I myself redirect everything she said to my friend Dave Null. The reason is that someone bitching out developer, but denying to even file the report in the project bug system, but instead spam the comments of a blog is someone we shouldn't even care about. Shall I respect someone that bashes other people work ?

On the other side I mostly agree what concerned people wrote about.

Enhanced planet AbiWord

With the combined work of uwog and I, Planet AbiWord looks nicer.

Learning CSS the hard way :-)

Friday 11 March 2005


Thanks to Alan for link, Detroit News has an article about MacMini that praise AbiWord.

Thursday 10 March 2005

AbiWord UI

There have also been some debate about AbiWord UI and its customizability. Martin suggest modifying the code which is a starting point, but I'm convinced that we should provide the infrastructure in AbiWord to customize the UI on the use side. Luis Villa provide some insight about Pages from Apple (that I haven't yet had the time to play with), notably comparing toolbar clutter, and how to handle text formatting, points on which dom seems to agree.

Havoc also talks about Pages and how it handles styles; interesting too.

Looks like for 2.4 there is work to do, or to start.

AbiWord Equation Editor

There have been a debate about equation editing. Martin implemented LaTeX editing while Ben Maurer suggest looking at TeXmacs for a WYSIWYG editor. On the other side James Henstridge suggest to look at the OpenOffice equation editor that Martin is not familiar with.

Looks like there are two approaches to equation editing, and I think we should implement both:

  1. The first is the formula approach like LaTeX and OpenOffice, that has a steep learning curve, but it probably much more efficient in the long term. I think that if carefully chosen, mathematicians and physicist can easily get into it. And I'm sure that supporting both syntax (OOo and LaTeX) should be supported in AbiWord to user of both package no problem switching over. AbiWord already implements the LaTeX syntax (screenshot)
  2. The other approach is the WYSIWG approach as offered by MS-Word, and that TeXmacs implements, that we should offer, as a frontend of the native equation format we use: MathML. It has a low learning curve, but is not really for productivity as in that case keyboard input is way faster.

Bonus point by implementing direct MathML edition which should be quite easy.

Chateau de Beynac - Picture of the day, March 10th 2005

Still in Perigord, en route to visit Beynac castle, a view of the castle from the road.

Provia 100F slide film, around September 22nd, 2001, still using my Canon Elan 7 film camera.

This castle has been a shooting location for a few movies, including Jeanne d'Arc and Les Visiteurs.

Wednesday 9 March 2005

New Planet AbiWord

Planet AbiWord is up with PlanetPlanet. Thanks to uwog for the setup.

I still need to enhance the look, for that I need to learn CSS the hard way.

Tuesday 8 March 2005

KVM and Linux

KVM switch, at least some, and Linux seems to not work together. I use a PS/2 KVM to have both the Linux and the MacOS X desktop using the same screen/keyboard combo. When I switch out then switch back the Linux box, the mouse goes mad.... The only solution is to reboot.

Apparently the bug has been around for over a year as it is reported in 2.6.1 and also in 2.6.9. I use 2.6.10 kernel from Ubuntu. In fact it is a known Linux kernel bug 779 and Linux kernel bug 2082.

It works fine with the MacMini (using the PS/2 to USB adapter).

Looks like I'll have to try hacking that driver.

Update: In fact there is patch. Filed Ubuntu bug 7335 to have it integrated.

Banana Republic

No the Banana Republic is not an obscure south-american country as it would be depicted in an Hollywood movie. It is a union of really modern and democratic countries, a big economic power in the world, called Europe. But it is no longer a democracy. Their corruption led to have "laws" passed without democratic vote. But basically they shoot themself a bullet in the head: they allow software patents.

Until now, I was proud of the construction of the EU. Now, I'm just ashamed.

One thing I'm sure: I'll vote NO to the European Constitution, and I'll let my political leader know about that. They want the European Constituion, I want them to know that their inaction will make me vote NO.

I'm not the only one.

Daniel Veillard has a list of companies that did welcome this decision.

Monday 7 March 2005

MacOS X dev in 256MB

I'm working at fixing bug in AbiWord, but I spend more time waiting for the machine that actual fixing. 30sec to start AbiWord in the debugger is simply too much. MacOS X development using XCode and the debugger in 256MB of RAM is just too painful. I wonder how I could do it on my PowerBook. I really need to get a 1GB DIMM for my MacMini.

Thursday 3 March 2005

AbiWord 2.2.5

AbiWord 2.2.5 has been released. Here is the annoucement:

AbiWord v2.2.5 Released

While AbiWord v2.2.4 had a nice list of bugfixes, our users were kind
enough to report that there were still nasty bugs running around.

So here we are releasing AbiWord v2.2.5, shorty after the previous

This release is a bugfix release only. The changes from 2.2.4 to 2.2.5
include, amongst others:

# Fixed several import failures in the MS Word importer, some of which
were introduced in v2.2.4
# Finally fixed the partial underlining of misspelled words
# The always present improvements to the MacOSX port
# Fixed the WordPerfect importer, which was unable to open some

The full Changelog can be found at
All users are advised to upgrade to this new version.
Additionally, an experimental autopackage of AbiWord 2.2.5 has been
created. Autopackage is a new package format that allows
user-friendly installation of software on a wide range of Linux
distributions. Please file any problems you encounter using this package
Main site: http://www.abisource.com/download/
More information
Main site: http://www.abisource.com/
  The AbiWord Development Team

Famous computer scientist

So Robert Love is a famous computer scientist. :-)

Source: Dom.

Adobe goes Open Source

So Adobe decided to release some open source libraries. Adam & Eve is only a set of libraries, and does not lead immediately to a fully fledged application, but it is really interesting to see what their research labs came up with for building cross-platform applications. I wonder if this is what they use for their major applications.

This is a premiere for them and I hope not the last thing they release. Adobe has often be really publishing file formats specifications: PDF, DNG, PostScript, OpenType, PPD, etc.

Wednesday 2 March 2005

Fedora Core drops AbiWord and Gnumeric to "Extras"

So Fedora decided to drop AbiWord and Gnumeric to put them in the "Extras". Thank you Fedora for sabotaging both the best spreadsheet and the only free cross-platform wordprocessor (yes, OOo still do not run on MacOS X without X11, and is not about to do so).

At least, that remove one thing on my list of distributions to try out.

Yes, I'm grumpy.