Shallow Thoughts : : Aug

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Thu, 26 Aug 2010

Painless Panorama Stitching with Hugin

[Hugin panorama] A couple of weeks ago in my Fotoxx article I discussed using Fotoxx to create panoramas.

But for panoramas bigger than a couple of images, you're much better off using the Linux panorama app: Hugin.

Hugin is very impressive, and much too capable to be summarized in a single short article, so I'm planning three. This week's article is a basic introduction: Painless Panorama Stitching with Hugin.

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[ 15:11 Aug 26, 2010    More writing | permalink to this entry | ]

Tue, 17 Aug 2010

Fontasia: View and categorize your fonts

[Fontasia: font viewer/categorizer We were talking about fonts again on IRC, and how there really isn't any decent font viewer on Linux that lets you group fonts into categories.

Any time you need to choose a font -- perhaps you know you need one that's fixed-width, script, cartoony, western-themed -- you have to go through your entire font list, clicking one by one on hundreds of fonts and saving the relevant ones somehow so you can compare them later. If you have a lot of fonts installed, it can take an hour or more to choose the right font for a project.

There's a program called fontypython that does some font categorization, but it's hard to use: it doesn't operate on your installed fonts, only on fonts you copy into a special directory. I never quite understood that; I want to categorize the fonts I can actually use on my system.

I've been wanting to write a font categorizer for a long time, but I always trip up on finding documentation on getting Python to render fonts. But this time, when I googled, I found jan bodnar's ZetCode Pango tutorial, which gave me all I needed and I was off and running.

Fontasia is initially a font viewer. It shows all your fonts in a list on the left, with a preview on the right. But it also lets you add categories: just type the category name in the box and click Add category and a button for that category will appear, with the current font added to it. A font can be in multiple categories.

Once you've categorized your fonts, a menu at the top of the window lets you show just the fonts in a particular category. So if you're working on a project that needs a Western-style font, show that category and you'll see only relevant fonts.

You can also show only the fonts you've categorized -- that way you can exclude fonts you never use -- I don't speak Tamil or Urdu so I don't really need to see those fonts when I'm choosing a font. Or you can show only the uncategorized fonts: this is useful when you add some new fonts to your system and need to go through them and categorize them.

I'm excited about fontasia. It's only a few days old and already used it several times for real-world font selection problems.

If you want to try it, it's here: Fontasia: View and categorize fonts.

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[ 12:20 Aug 17, 2010    More programming | permalink to this entry | ]

Thu, 12 Aug 2010

Fotoxx: the Greatest Little Linux Photo Editor You've Never Heard Of

Dave stumbled on a neat little photo editor while tricking out his old Vaio (P3/650 MHz, 192M RAM) and looking for lightweight apps. It's called Fotoxx and it's quite impressive: easy to use and packed with useful features.

So I wrote about it in this week's Linux Planet article: Fotoxx, the Greatest Little Linux Photo Editor You've Never Heard Of.

At first, I was most impressed by the Warp tool -- much easier to use than GIMP's IWarp, though it's rather slow and not quite as flexible as IWarp. But once I got to writing the article, I was blown away by two additional features: it has an automatic panorama stitcher and an HDR tool. GIMP doesn't have either of these features, at all.

Now, panorama stitching used to be a big deal, but it isn't so much any more now that Hugin has gotten much easier to use. (My article in two weeks will be about Hugin.) Fotoxx isn't quite that flexible: it can only stitch two images at a time, and can't handle images with a lot of overlap. (But Hugin has some limitations too.)

But HDR -- wow! I've been meaning to learn more about making HDR images in GIMP -- although it has no HDR tool, there are plug-ins to make it a bit easier to assemble one, just like my Pandora plug-in makes it a little easier to assemble panoramas. But now I don't need to -- fotoxx handles it automatically.

I won't be switching from GIMP any time soon for regular photo editing, of course -- GIMP is still much more flexible. But fotoxx is definitely worth a look, and I'll be keeping it installed to make HDR images, if nothing else.

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[ 15:44 Aug 12, 2010    More writing | permalink to this entry | ]

Sun, 08 Aug 2010

Can you read this?

[Can you read this?]

Got this in the mail. Awfully thoughtful of them, don't you think? I'm sure all the people who can't read it will call right away.

[ 21:00 Aug 08, 2010    More humor | permalink to this entry | ]