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28 Mar, 2014

GIMP colour palettes have the file extension .gpl. How cute is that?

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Can you see the fnords?

02 Mar, 2014

My new background image is a rip-off of the Boing Boing Fnord t-shirt. Apologies to Rob Beschizza, but your design was too good not to play around with!


I claim no copyright on this image. TV texture courtesy of Chaotic Resources.

If you dislike amateurishly applied GIMP filters I suggest you check out the unadulterated SVG image.

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Personalize your computer

25 Feb, 2014

There are a couple of ways of making your computer really yours. The first is the choosing of a good hostname, preferably something besides “Computer” or your own name. There’s even a helpful RFC for choosing good names!

My systems are all named after characters from the webcomic Sluggy Freelance. So far I have eight systems, fortunately there’s quite a large cast of characters, but I should probably stop collecting computers before I have to resort to using Bert or Doctor Lorna.

The second way to personalize your machine? Stickers obviously!


Bonus shout-outs to Unixstickers for providing nifty Debian keyboard stickers for covering the Windows logo and to camJAMR who sells re-usable webcam covers.


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Stripping unnecessary metadata

18 Feb, 2014

Digital cameras add a lot of metadata to photos such as the camera model, settings, date and time and in some cases even the name of the registered user of the camera.

Smartphones may also add geodata, GPS coordinates of where and when a picture was taken.

This is extremely useful but in some cases you might not want to give all that information away. There’s a very handy utility called jhead which makes it a breeze to sanitise JPEG files before publishing them. Simply run:

jhead -purejpg photo.jpg

jhead should be available in most Linux distributions.

Unfortunately, there’s still ways to de-anonymize JPEG images without the Exif metadata.

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Objectif Lune

12 Feb, 2014

When I was a kid I was never into the superhero comics. When my friends enjoyed Superman, Batman or The Phantom I devoured the great Franco-Belgian comics, Asterix, Spirou, Gaston, The Smurfs, Lucky Luke, and yes, Tintin. Tintin was always the favourite (well, at least the later stories that dropped the racism and colonialist stuff).

Of the albums Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon stand out as being particularly well researched and well-written. It’s pretty cool to consider that it was written in 1950, nineteen years before the moon landing.  I’m not sure how many times I’ve re-read these books but it must be close to a three digit number.

I’ve redrawn the rocket blueprint from page 35 of Destination Moon. Initially I wanted to create a design for a t-shirt, but I also created a version for use as a wallpaper:

Tintin destination moon blueprint

(Ironically, the design of the rocket is actually one of the things that Hergé was pretty much off the mark on.)

The SVG (linked from the background page) contains a hidden bonus in the form of the Swedish translation, Månen tur och retur. This is the version I choose for the t-shirt:

Destination Moon t-shirt
Unfortunately I misjudged the darkness of the t-shirt so the text ended up close to unreadable, but I guess I live and learn.

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Swiss pocket watch

16 Jan, 2014

When my father passed away a while back I inherited a couple of old pocket watches. For the most part they were pretty abused, and a quick skim through Google suggested they were of no particular value or interest to anyone. One of the watches did catch my interest though, it’s slightly smaller than the rest and is beautifully ornamented:

Google didn’t give me much to go on for this watch, I did find out that it was probably not rare or valuable (not in gold, and only six jewels). I was still curious about the watch so I reached out to the members of the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors forum.

I did find out the following:

  • Swiss in origin. Probably made for export to the German market.
  • Probably made between 1890-1910.
  • The German Crown/Moon hallmark for silver is present and has been used since 1886.
  • It has a cylinder escapement and is stem wound (Remontoir).
  • The case is made of “continental coin” silver of .800 purity. This is indicated by the Swiss grouse stamp, used from 1882-1934.
  • The parts are most likely hand made, in cottage industry fashion, but the ornamentation might be stamped.
  • The “Galonne” mark is French for “striped” and refers to the gold plating/gold wash on the silver case.
  • The inside cover is not silver, probably nickel or brass.

The bad news is that the watch does not run, and it’s probably not worth having it restored as it’s neither rare or valuable. I’m going to keep it as a memento and conversation piece, and who knows, someday when I run out of interests I might take up pocket watch repair as a hobby.

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Stay puft!

29 Dec, 2013

Inspired by the awesome glow-in-the-dark Ghostbusters t-shirt I received as a a Christmas gift I decided to trace and redraw the logo as vector graphics.


I ended up with two background images, one vanilla, straight from Inkscape, and another with a “distressed” look courtesy of GIMP. It’s kind of an amateurish effort as I’m still teaching myself GIMP, apologies!

Ghostbusters distressed

As a bonus here’s the SVG for the logo:

Ghostbusters SVG logo

I claim no copyright on these as the logo is partially traced, and it’s obviously already a copyrighted and trademarked work.

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