Monthly Archives: November 2009

Perhaps the F stands for “Fail”?

Recent news that Ubuntu will likely be giving up the GIMP as part of the default install are interesting, but not a huge concern to me – I already have to install Inkscape, so adding the GIMP to the huge sudo aptitude install command I run on a shiny new Ubuntu install isn’t a big deal. I’d love having both Inkscape and the GIMP by default, but there’s only so much space on a CD-ROM-sized ISO. Fair enough.

What still concerns me is F-Spot by default. Not because of Mono fearmongering – I really don’t care what language the thing is written in – but just because it’s got some very irritating behaviours compared to the older lightweight editor/viewer/photo manager I still use, gthumb.

Allow me some simple demonstrations of why gthumb is still, in many ways, superior to f-spot.

I take a fair number of photos, and as anyone knows, they add up in filesize very quickly. I shoot fair-sized JPG, not the very largest my camera could, and not RAW, and I still have 10.2GB of images in Photo – 4133 images, apparently. I´ve only owned a digital camera for about two and a half years. Someone with a longer digital history, or who shoots RAW, or who simply takes even more photos than I do, is going to easily dwarf my photo collection. My photo collection is still old enough to have pre-dated F-Spot in Ubuntu, however.

So, I want to view, manage and do light editing of this existing photo collection. Fire up F-Spot (Applications->Graphics->F-Spot Photo Manager). There is no File->Open command, and by default the “Browse” button on the toolbar does absolutely nothing… so File->Import it is. Aim this at my existing ~/Photos directory… and by default it will duplicate the entire thing, rearranging the files to it’s liking as it duplicates them!

F-Spot will also take an insanely long time trying this – I aborted the whole mess ten minutes in, with only 1434 of 4133 files “loaded” (what does that mean? they don’t need to be loaded, they already exist in ~/Photos!) and the “Import” button still greyed out…

Are you serious? All I want to do is crop one of them! Abort, abort! Fine, we’ll find an existing image through Nautilus, and choose to open that in F-Spot individually.

Nope, sorry. That gets you your image, without the insanely long Import process, but it’s in a little window called “F-Spot View” with none of the editing tools available, and no way to switch to an actual editing window

Now let’s try the same simple procedure(s) in gthumb. Same existing photo collection, in the Ubuntu-supplied default ~/Photos, but first we’ll install gthumb with your favourite package manager. (gthumb languishes in Universe these days, so have that enabled) Now go Applications->Graphics->gThumb Image Viewer. No Import button, any images that happen to be in your ~ will show up on one pane, and a Nautilus-style folder navigation pane to the left. Rummage through your files with that pane, no need to wait for some sort of unexplained “importing”of existing files here.

Or go the other way – find an individual image through Nautilus or on your desktop, right-click, choose Open With->gThumb, and open your image. You get exactly the same window you would if you’d opened gthumb via the menu, with all the lightweight editing options you require right there.

No “importing”, no attempt to duplicate your entire photo collection, no crippled “viewer” window with no useful tools in it, and  gthumb will traverse your entire directory, not just the one folder it insists on importing/duplicating everything in. Oh, and no distracting “Mono is of teh devil!!!11111” nonsense either, just for a bonus. Somebody does need to code an upload-to-Flickr plugin for gthumb, granted.

While the GIMP is being removed from Ubuntu 10.04, let’s ditch F-Spot and return to gthumb too!

Launchpad bugs for most of the above Fail-spot issues: 488566, 488574. Closely related, and older: 182862.
Related silly “Import” bugs: 412091.
There’s probably many others over on Gnome’s bugtracker, but I only searched LP’s Fail-spot bugs for now.

First Winter Storm

Victoria Airport weather as of about forty minutes ago:

METAR CYYJ 190200Z 15028G36KT 3SM -RA BR FEW008 FEW016 OVC030 07/05
A2969 RMK SF1SC2SC6 SLP055

See that “15028G36KT”? That’s wind, lots of it. 28 knots is 50km/h, sustained wind speed, with gusts up to 38 knots, 70km/h!

Victoria Harbour – right down in the city proper, about 25km south of the airport – isn’t quite as bad, but still lots of wind:

METAR CYWH 190200Z 15018G28KT 12SM -SHRA FEW010 SCT025 OVC050 08/01
A2969 RMK CF1CU2SC5 SLP055=

18G28 – the harbour’s gust speed only just matchs the sustained wind speed for the airport!

We’ve had a constant stream of weather warnings for the last 24hrs, but it took until this afternoon for the wind to really start hammering us.

Nobody makes a proper METAR-widget for WordPress. Lots of weather plugins, but there don’t seem to be any to show proper raw METARs. Perhaps when I get my PHP skillz back up to speed I’ll attempt one, using the US NOAA/FAA API.

And the otherwise-awesome Gnome panel weather applet has had its location listings gutted recently, so I can’t get both the local airport and local harbour on my panels like I used to… hopefully this regression gets fixed for Ubuntu 10.04!

Now, though, I think I’m going to make something warm and alcoholic to drink, check my flashlights, and hope the power stays on…

Over to WordPress MU

In the interests of running most of my webspace with one system, I installed WordPress Multiuser a while ago and started experimenting with it.

This evening I exported all my posts from my old Pivot-based blog into a new WPMU blog, cleaned the imports up, adjusted my Planet Ubuntu feed, and should be up and running on the new WPMU version of Turned Skyward.

Comments didn’t survive the export/import process, so if you said something especially erudite, you’ll have to go over to the old blog and have a look at it there. Note that the old blog is read-only from now on; comments are closed. A couple of older posts of mine had interesting comment threads; I might edit those posts here to link to their counterparts over on the old blog.

Onward and upward (or something like that) with WPMU; I’m liking it a lot and looking forward to moving more of my web content to a centralized CMS.