The Future: Sometimes It’s Fucking Awesome

A female astronaut living aboard ISS and a semi-retired British folk-rockstar (travelling in Russia at the time) perform a flute duet in honour of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s first manned space flight. NASA then posts a video of the event on YouTube.

Link to YouTube link, for after Planet Ubuntu gets done killing the video embed. Seriously, go watch this, it’s only two minutes long. Two minutes of awesome.


Excellent Little Apps: PDF-Shuffler

Rummaging through my blogposts related to Ubuntu, too many of them are grumbling or complaining posts. We forget about the awesome stuff in Ubuntu because it Just Works; it’s the stuff that’s broken or that we dislike that consumes our attention.

So, let us now praise excellent little apps. There’s a Unix/Linux tradition of apps that do one job, and do it well, and that has continued into the desktop/GUI era.

I’ll start with PDF-Shuffler. All it does is merge & break apart PDFs, but it does it very intuitively, with a UI consisting of four buttons and a main screen. You can even drag’n’drop between two different PDF-Shuffler windows.

I use PDF-Shuffler regularly as an adjunct to Inkscape, which can produce PDF very easily but has (so far) no mechanism for multi-page documents (this is an SVG-spec issue, not just an Inkscape issue). PDF-Shuffler makes blending a group of single-page PDFs from Inkscape into one document for publishing painless and brainless.

A recent project involved a mostly-text six page PDF created in OpenOffice and four graphic-heavy single page PDFs from Inkscape. Rather than chance OOo’s SVG import, or hack about with Scribus (a very powerful app, but not one I use enough to be fluent with), PDF-Shuffler allowed me to merge Inkscape’s high quality PDFs with the OOo text PDF.

I can’t promise this will become an entirely regular feature, but I want to do a bit more blogging on the smaller, more elegant, often forgotten apps and features available in Ubuntu. If nothing else, it’s a change from complaining!


Automotive Entitlement Revisited

Back in September of 2009, a cyclist was killed by a motorist in Toronto; I blogged about the beginning of the mess in Automotive Entitlement (Again).

Now the Guardian tells us Top Canadian lawyer told he will not face trial over Toronto cyclist’s death, while the CBC’s headline is Charges against Bryant in fatal crash withdrawn.

Even better, and even more flagrant, road-raging Bryant is considering a return to politics. Anyone running against Mr. Bryant would be well advised not to show up at political events on a bike.

So the moral of the story, folks: killing someone with your car doesn’t even need to be more than an eight-month interuption to your political career. It was only a bicyclist, after all. People who matter drive cars.


If Science Really Was A Religion

Via the excellent, take-no-prisoners Pharyngula, Richard Dawkins on some basic methodology differences between science & religion. Funny, and very, very true.

YouTube Video Link