Thursday, December 17, 2009

Inkscape should NOT "support CMYK"!

Recently Felipe "JucaBlues" and I were hashing out some next steps for development, when I realized that Inkscape should NOT "support CMYK." Given that the Brazilian user community has really been pushing progress on the adoption of Open Source, including the use of Inkscape in print work, this might seem a bit surprising. However as we have been moving forward, implementing things, and trying to really support more and more professional use of Inkscape, the problem has become a bit clearer. What it seems to come down to is that we need to be sure to not get caught up in the low-level "how" of implementation of "four color CMYK" and instead change to focus on the higher-level "why" of "supporting prepress work." To get good, reliable, professional results in all forms of image work is a good thing, and people being able to get work done, and well, is key.

People who don't work towards print output are not often as familiar with CMYK and a CMYK workflow. What people are familiar with, at least when it comes to computer imagery, is RGB. GIMP, for example, has worked in RGB for the longest time (though it is now getting updated with new internals that will make working for print output much nicer). RGB images are split into three components: Red, Green, and Blue. Colors might be chosen with different modes (such as HSL), but are generally are stored in RGB. For photographs, web work, etc., RGB image work can be quite sufficient, and sometimes even preferable. There are also subtle variations such as sRGB, wide gamut RGB, Adobe RGB, etc. that can be used for specific needs.

Whereas RGB is creating colors by mixing three light primaries in additive color, CMYK is used with mixing four ink primaries in subtractive color. In general this is done by inverting the three RGB primary colors into inks and then adding a fourth ink that is plain black. This helps with getting true black, avoiding oversaturate paper, and other factors. Print artist often like working directly in CMYK so they can control sharpness of text, overprint of color, etc. However, the first big trap is that there is no such thing as "the CMYK colorspace." CMYK numbers/values are actually dependent on a specific device, and even two printers of the same make and model usually will give different results for the same input numbers. Given that an artist will choose to work in CMYK in order to more precisely control the output of a job, it is critical that color management is involved in the CMYK workflow to target specific jobs. Working on a job to be printed in a glossy magazine can be very different than one to be printed in a local newspaper.

SVG has been able to support CMYK via ICC profiles, and Inkscape has supported that in rough form since 0.46. Felipe and I have improved the interface for this more in 0.47, but there is still more to go. We also have been working with Scribus to help ensure color-managed SVG files become well supported. Some recent work for SVG 1.2 has added device-cmyk, but it turns out that this is for workflows that are not color-managed, and thus not really what end users need.

The other significant complication with a focus on "CMYK work" is that many professional jobs that are to go to print are not really "four color" at all. They might have four-color printing as part of the job, but then spot colors come in and easily expand to five-color, six-color and more. A company, for example, will often have a precise color they use for their logo, and this will be printed on its own plate in a pass of just that specific ink. UV coating, embossing and other effects might require their own color or 'channel'. Anyone who has ever heard "Pantone" mentioned has probably bumped up against this "not-just-four-colors" problem. And in addition to spot colors, modern printers have been expanded to use six or more colors, not just four, in order to get better results.

What that means is that to properly support end users needing to work on art that is going to be printed, Inkscape will need to support far more than only four colors. And more than just CMYK is a given (that spot color issue again). Artist will need to easily pick a target CMKY ICC profile for all jobs, have multi-color support preserved, handle spot colors and custom palettes, etc. So when it comes time to implement features, thinking only of CMYK will most likely lead to solutions that hurt, rather than help. So remember, think "professional prepress work" and not "CMYK work".

(Images Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. Original apple image by Jan Mehlich)

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Libre Graphics Day Call for Papers 2010 is taking place in Wellington, New Zealand this year. It's a wonderful conference, with quite a lot going on. I was lucky enough to have a talk accepted this past conference, and it was a great experience. For next year's conference Donna Benjamin and I proposed putting on a mini version of the Libre Graphics Meeting for people who have not been fortunate to make one. It had been accepted, and we're in the final half of the CFP before it closes on Friday 25th September and we have to decide what to go with. Again, there is just one week left!

So, the mini Libre Graphics Day is on January 18th, and is planning to bring together programmers, artists, designers and just those interested in using graphics programs all together. If you are planning to attend and you might have something to say or show, please consider submitting a talk or such. This does not have to be just about Inkscape, since GIMP, Scribus, Krita and many others have all been involved in LGM.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Libre Graphics Day at LCA 2010

Man, the past few weeks have been quite busy, including some sad family events. However, there is one item I need to get out there.

The news is that the LCA 2010 miniconf proposal of a "Libre Graphics Day" I submitted has been accepted! There still is a lot to do, but since the time is short we do need to be moving quickly.

I'm going to be coordinating this "mini" version of LGM with the help of Donna Benjamin and Tina Cruz. A more formal announcement along with a CFP will be up shortly. In the mean time you can ping us on or Twitter with ideas and suggestions:
Twitter: @joncruz, @kattekrab, @sendchocolate @joncruz, @kattekrab, @sendchocolate
(here's a hint. @sendchocolate is far more organized than I)

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Much to do, but color is on the march

"Real life" has again been conspiring to keep me distracted. Of course that really is the norm rather than the exception; we need to be able to complete despite distrations, not wait until distractions are done. However that is a topic for another time.

The main thing I wanted to address was in relation to color. Especially at and since the last LGM there has been a lot going on in regards to color and open source. As a last-minute fill-in I did a shorted presentation of my talk on why color management is needed. Ginger Coons made a presentation that included an artists'/designer's approach to needing better color standards, and GIMP and Scribus were among the others to touch on color, standards, etc.

Since then the collaboration with software developers and designers has made some significant progress. The most important is in establishing working relationships with various vendors in many countries. Things are not quite ready for formal announcements, but many companies involved in color, printing, inks, paints, etc. have been talking with open source developers and advocates. Now we haven't gotten say the 500 pound gorilla on board (yet), but those leading the charge have been making some very solid contacts and commitments.

Of the companies out there, I do want to make note of New-Zealand-based color vendor Resene. They've been extremely committed and helpful. For a bit more, you can check out the note in this rant by Christoph Schäfer. And, of course, if anyone would like to help in this area, or knows someone or something, feel free to track down Christoph and talk.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On Conficker and Zombie Education

So, T was talking with me just the other day about Conficker worm, and had a bit of a question. She'd finished listening to Steve Gibson's excellent Security Now podcast on the worm (episode 193), and was wondering about the checking of random domains. The question was basically how that could help infect machines.

The answer is that Conficker is not using those domains for infecting new machines, but rather for the zombie machines that are already infected to go and wait for updates. Other standard means are leveraged to infect new boxes and bring them into the botnet, and to do DOS attacks and such. Once I mentioned "zombie" as a term, she said "Yes, I get that. So you basically have the evil horde wandering to random intersections waiting to answer calls as they pass phone booths". Her question had been trying to figure out what the purpose of that would be, if it were not to infect new machines.

"Simple", I answered. "To get updates". That, of course, begs the question as to what exactly one would need to update a zombie in regards to. Well... using the analogy it turns out that the answer was very simple. Aside from the basic cat-and-mouse aspect of trying to hide from the zombie hunters that T. already knew, a big reason to update your zombies would be... to teach them to turn doorknobs!

In classic zombie movies, the heroes always end up huddled together inside a room/house/cabin/pub where the closed doors cause the feeble minded attackers to fumble uselessly against the panels of the door. Teach them to quickly open such obstacles and suddenly the horde is swarming right in to attack your PC and eat its brains. ♪ ♫

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Intuos4 Unboxing

Yes, that is the pretty new toy. After a bit of delay with things such as work, family, supporting friends, etc. I've finally gotten a chance to get up the pictures I took of my Intuos4 unboxing. As you can see, Wacom has stepped things up on their packaging, and seem to have done a nice job on the look of both the tablet and the box it comes in. The front of the package is quite simple, merely showing the product. You know their name, you know what a tablet is. If they need to tell you more, then this product is not really for you. Oh, and they also show down in the bottom left corner which of the sizes this tablet is. I like their subtle nudge that they have four of these, with two larger than the one I got.

The back of the box is pretty and informative (I have a larger pic for this one). They call out all the main features, including all the ooohs and aaahs that they should evoke. One main point of interest for the international (aka non-US) crowd is down at the very center bottom. It states "MOUSE INCLUDED", since I've read that the overseas version has to be purchased separately. Also they note that the tablet is shown actual size, so it is very helpful for a potential customer browsing in the store.

The front and back are part of a cover that slips down over the actual box. Once that is removed we see the box itself. It says "intuos4" in nice friendly letters on the cover. By this point I can see that Wacom was definitely taking lessons from Apple on their packaging. (I should also probably point out that I am not very practiced in photography, so the flash tended to wash things out and reflect a bit. Given that the battery on my camera was busy dying, I decided not to try to set up something more complex).

Lifting up the first flap of the box reveals "Where it all begins" in several languages. Again, friendly and welcoming. Also they have directions printed on the inside of that top flap. The three steps seem to be

  1. put in the disc
  2. install the software
  3. connect the tablet

They realize that nobody really reads the directions, so they need to get things going as simply as possible.

Lifting up the second set of flaps reveals the tablet itself resting comfortably in it's nice protective foam sleeve. Like the rest of the packaging, this is a very pretty black (my flash did not do it justice). Also at this point I was struck by how light and efficient the packaging was. It definitely conveyed at least the feel of being more eco-conscious.

Sliding the tablet itself over a bit reveals more of the plastic it was sitting on, along with the stylus just below. All the rest is still hidden... probably to impress you more with the two parts you really care about.

Finally the view we have been waiting for. The tablet and stylus removed from their protective wrappings to bask in all their glory. The flash picks out the different textures, but in person all the parts are just about the same shade of black. The left edge is a high-gloss translucent finish, whereas the rest of the frame is a matte finish with a nice feel to it. Quite comfortable to rest one's hand or arm on. You can also see that the eraser end of the stylus is quite different.

I set my Intuos3 stylus down for a side-by-side comparison. The front looks just about the same, but the back is shorter and the eraser is definitely more "nubby." The Intuos4 stylus also had a lighter feel to it.

This next shot really shows off the glossy side with all the buttons. Under normal lighting the buttons and touch wheel do appear to be almost the same black as the glossy hard plastic. The way the buttons are all on one side now are quite evident, along with their placement to facilitate easy single-hand operation. Here you can see the "wacom" at the bottom, which hits where the tablet starts to curve down. There is a corresponding logo on the top, upside down, for when the tablet is used in left-handed mode.

Lifting out the black plastic tray reveals the packing of the additional bits. To the left is the nice, long USB cable. In the middle is the very Apple-ish box with the driver CD and such. On the right is the revamped stylus holder. It has secrets. We'll see more on that next.

Here is a shot with the stylus holder opened to reveal its trove of goodies. The top comes off with a quick quarter-turn to reveal a foam bed with ten nibs and a changing tool in the middle. This seems like it will make things much more convenient.

Under the box with the CD is hidden the nice goodie (at least for those in the US)... the new mouse. As with the other pretty parts, it's in a nice protective cover so that you will be the first one to get to scratch it up.

There's the new mouse. One negative is that the two buttons on the side are now gone. However, it has some secrets to make up for that. More later on that. One thing to note is that this shot does give a good idea of the actual colors of the different pieces (the flash didn't wash it out too much).

Here we have it all together. The flash is really washing out the smooth blackness of the normal appearance. And the mouse definitely is not blue nor gray; just two textures of a nice black.

For comparison I set the Intuos3 mouse and pen next to the Intuos4. The new mouse is definitely more rounded, and the styling on the stylus holder is even nicer. It is also clear that the Intuos4 mouse is smaller. I'm not sure how it will work for people with larger hands, but it fits mine quite well.

Another angle on the accessories.

Comparing the Intuos4 medium to my Intuos3 6x8, the evolution of the tablet is easy to see. The newer area has a widescreen aspect ratio, to match modern displays. There is also a bit less tablet above and below the active area.

And switching them to give a better idea of lighting, etc. The matte edges of the Intuos4 really contrast with the glossy finish on all of the Intuos3.

From the left sides of the tablets. (trying to give a fair impression of their shape, etc)

From the right sides of the tablets.

And looking at the new mouse and stylus on top of the old tablet.

Even the bottom of the tablet is pretty and well designed. One thing to note here is that there is a slider on the left edge of the bottom.

That slider is used to expose and cover the USB connectors on the side. When one switches between right and left handed use, the slider will expose the connector away from the user and cover the other connector to protect it and keep it from becoming gunked up.

In my initial comparison to the Intuos3 a few points stood out

  • The feel of the surface and nibs struck me as much more paper-like. This should make the artists out there much happier.
  • The two touch strips were replaced by the single touch wheel. However the use of that is much more natural, and the addition of the mode toggle in the center makes for nice potential.
  • The mouse has a z-axis!!! This is probably the top feature for mouse/puck use. Before this, one would have to move their hand aligned to the tablet itself, regardless of the angle of the mouse, in order to move straight. With the Intuos4 the mouse reports the "twist" of the angle it is on, and the drivers compensate for this to make it move like any normal mouse, regardless of the orientation of the tablet.
  • There are OLED displays next to each of the programmable buttons. The stock software can make them switch per app (which is perfect for making the tablet suddenly say your daughter's name and freak her out)

I will have to revisit with some details on actual use later. However it seems to work well with OS X, Inkscape and decent with Windows. I did have a problem with the drivers triggering a sleep problem on a Windows XP laptop, but that might be due to XP in general. I was not able to test under Linux since the wacom drivers only now are supporting it in the dev versions, and I was not quite ready to try poking those in (need to update to Jaunty among other things).

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Friday, April 10, 2009

What's on My Bookshelf

What's on my bookshelf? That is usually a good question, especially when it comes to software developers and people starting out... but my current answer is "nothing". Of course, before people get the impression that I hate books, or can't read, or such, I should probably clarify things. A little while back we had a bit of a problem with our house. Luckily no people were harmed... but this is what our shelves ended up looking like.

That's right, we had a wee bit of a problem with a house fire. As I mentioned, all people were OK, but the contents were totaled... including the few software books I owned. Oh, and our inkjet printer that was halfway across the house didn't fare too well either. (I never knew they made printers out of spaghetti).

However, in talking with some potential Google Summer of Code students over at Cal State LA the subject came up. It is a good one, and very helpful even to programmers who have been out of school for a while. First off, I should point out that I am not one who buys nor reads many technical books. It started off originally from not having much money, so books were a luxury (well, technical ones... books just for reading are a necessity). By the time I could buy more, I didn't really want to since books on programming tend to be out of date so quickly nowadays. And for the most part, I could get detailed and more specific information from the Internet.

The following books, though, should be read by anyone working on software:

"The Mythical Man-Month" - Frederick P. Brooks Jr. (anniversary edition)
ISBN 0-201-83595-9
The granddaddy of them all. Although first published in 1975 it is still very applicable today. The abstract concepts were found and present well and hold up more than a quarter century later. Be sure to track down the anniversary edition with "No Silver Bullet" in it. It also helps that this is a fairly thin book, so one can actually read it. (Admit it, not many of you pour through gigantic tomes. or at least not to the detail to which they deserve)

"Code Complete" - Steve McConnell
ISBN 978-1556154843 First edition (1993)
ISBN 978-0735619678 Second edition (June 2004)
Big fat textbook on software coding. This one is huge, but well worth the read. Also it has already been distilled down to the essentials, so don't skim through it. Definitely one to be taken a chapter at a time. My personal feeling is that this very savvy person set out to write the definitive textbook on software construction and nailed it. This one also is chock full of studies, statistics and citations.

"Agile Software Development with Scrum" - Ken Schwaber, Mike Beedle
ISBN 978-0-735-61993-7
This, I think, is a number one "must read", second only to The Mythical Man-Month (and in slight contrast to Code Complete, which is a "must slog through"). The key here is that it explains why the software industry has gotten its process almost completely wrong. Waterfall is broken and can't work, etc. It also points out how to make a software development process that actually works. I've been on teams that have brought this into companies both large and small, and it works. Very well. Also it is a very thin book, so all should be able to read it. However, if some of you don't want to actually track down and read a book made of actual paper, the first chapter is available online as "Get Ready for Scrum". (Just be sure to read all 8 pages, since the online article lists it as 7. Don't miss that last page)

"Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change" - Kent Beck
For those who know of extreme programming, there is a tendency to either hate it or love it (if you hate it, then you don't "get" it). However, I am surprised at how many people I meet nowadays who aren't familiar with it. (I guess they don't get the joke of Microsoft renaming Windows 2000++ to be "XP" either). Anyway, this is a very good book and even manages to weave in citations of both anthropological studies of the 60s and Spinal Tap. When understood and put into practice correctly, I believe that XP practices (Beck's, not Microsoft's) lead to very high productivity. However it is easy to get them wrong, and I believe that even the book "Extreme Programming Implemented" in the same series misses the mark on some things, including pair programming. Again, this is a relatively thin, so no excuses for not reading it.

"Rapid Development" - Steve McConnell
Another good tome by Steve McConnell. Whereas Code Complete focuses on actually writing code, this one focuses on managing a software project. Quite handy, but again one to take a single chapter at a time.

"Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams" - Demarco & Lister
ISBN 0-932633-43-9
This is a bit of an older book, but very handy for team leads, managers, etc. Also is a thin book, so no excuse...

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Swatches Moving In

It's been a while since I first started on swatches work for Inkscape. Much of the time has been taken in preparing the code internals, and some with coordinating with others on new standards and formats. I've also had other things going for bugs fixing, needing to fix icon regression, etc. However the first cut of functionality has gone in. The new menu on the popup for swatches now has add and edit if you are on the "Auto" swatch set for the current document.

One of the nice uses that works now is that if you drag a "solid color" (implemented behind the scenes as a SVG 1.1 compliant single-stop gradient) on to multiple objects you can then edit that source gradient to change all objects with that color automatically. After I fix some bugs elsewhere in the code I'll be revisiting this and extending it with linked colors to automatically keep and update tints, tones and shades. (The people who know what those things are will be quite happy, and the others will like it once they see it in action)

While I was cleaning things up, I did manage to get initial support for more than just simple color in also. So custom per-document palettes can contain both solid colors and gradients too. The previews and even the drag-n-drop color patch should show gradients nicely. Behind the scenes I've been moving functionality into some common shared classes, including drag-n-drop and exporting that will support Open SwatchBook. I'm still roughing out the format so that it will be based on using the new color format worked out in CREATE, but with more than just simple solid colors. The code could also be reused in applications like Scribus.

While I was in there, it was easy to implement another feature request to highlight selected color in the palette. For the moment I did just simple square and diamond markers to note selected fill and stroke respectively. I'm pretty sure that visually this is... sub-optimal, and will need reworking. But at least it gets the code functional and the feature usable. Suggestions on how to make it look in the long run are very welcome.

There are a few things that still need implementing, including updating the swatch down in the palette when the color/gradient is edited and also misc problems when working with multiple documents. External saving and loading of these swatch sets also needs to be put it, along with some management for updating and reloading.

I'm tossing it out for some initial feedback and requests. More work is ongoing, but I do need to get those pesky icon issues finalized and fixes put back in. Well... I probably should get some sleep... but drop notes with what to do to improve it (again, once I get some existing bugs elsewhere fixed to keep Inkscape moving to a 0.47 release).

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Color talk at

I just got word today that the videos from 2009 started showing up online, and mine was among the first set. The video is up in ogg, and should be nice and open, so grab it and check it out if you might have an interest. There's no interpretive dance, but there is juggling. The target for the talk was fairly broad, so as to be helpful to as large a group as possible.

Unfortunately, the other Inkscape presentations have not gone up yet, so we have to wait a little longer for the complete experience. Andy did a nice LPE talk, and Donna had a good intro class. I think the main problem with the latter was that there were more interested people than space for hands-on in the talk. Then again, that's usually a good problem to have, since it shows good interest.

You can download the video for "Why Color Management matters to Open Source and to You". I did get them a copy of the slides (which include full notes), but those don't seem to be online quite yet and are now up. The abstract for the talk has been online, so that's a handy summary to check and see if the video might be of interest.

Once more finish getting posted, I'll try to get a summary of some of the more interesting and/or useful up. Then again, they are good resource and are worth checking out overall.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

SCALE and GNOME and Tux and cakes

Just got back from a busy weekend at SCALE 7X. There was quite a lot to take in, and despite the downturn in the economy (or perhaps because of it) there seemed to be even more going on this year. With all the changes in situations, I was the only person representing Inkscape this year, so camped out with the GNOME guys. Ted was there, but literally next door manning the Canonical booth. He came in last-minute to give an Ubuntu talk, and was very busy. I'll do some follow-ups with details, but had to at least get a quick note up, along with some info on that visitor to our booth there...

We whipped up this little cupcake guy to hang out in the booth and perhaps get a little more interest from people walking by. Unfortunately the table was so full of good monitors that he kinda had to hang out back a bit. He did garner a bit of interest, then and the end of day one he met his fate :-) . There was some good GNOME traffic and interest, but Inkscape managed to get quite a bit going on there too. It also probably helped that right next to our setup was the other booth running World of Goo.

OpenSUSE was just behind and around the corner from us. Aside from other things, they were notable for two main points of interest to Inkscapers. The first item was Joe Brockmeier's keynote on Sunday. I think the main takeaway there is that the main problems for FOSS projects are no longer technical (our stuff is solid and works well enough), but rather is in getting the word out about the project. The second reason of note is the openSUSE Build Service. It's part of the infrastructure they are building out, but all are welcome to use it, and it builds for all "major" distros. Additionally the architect who talked with me said that it could build Win32 targets (though no Mac as of yet). That struck me as potentially helpful to take the load off of our current overloaded guy.

Well... that's probably all I can pull together without a bit more rest and tought. So in the meantime I can say.... om nom nom nom!

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Linux conf au one

Well, here it is. Another conference has come to a close, and it is time again to try to make sense of all the amazing things that were seen and discussed. Overall LCA was a great meet-up, although there was one big negative: there were so many good sessions to hit that it was impossible to not run into at least some scheduling conflicts. Of course the good news there is that the volunteers are working to get slides and video up for as many of the sessions that they were cleared to. One things are up, I'm sure I'll find even more to ponder.

Probably the first thing to hit is the topic I came down to speak on: Color Management. My presentation went pretty well, and I had a few people talk to me about it later (and that was despite being scheduled right next door to the Linux powered clarinet playing robot). Additionally Carl Worth introduced me to someone who has started poking around in Cairo, seeing about hooking in color management. We also got a chance to go over what's needed to get things hooked into Cairo and get some nice CMYK PDF output. The next step is to collect up some representative use cases so we can figure out exactly what the API changes will have to be supported. I'm going to be pestering the Scribus guys to see what they know of, but if anyone out there has any experience or needs of going to print, send off an email or comment so that we can be sure to cover things well.

Next up is extended input. I attended a talk by Peter Hutterer (of MPX) that went over a bit of the state of things and then the new changes that have been going in. Over the course of the conference I had ended up chatting with him a few times, and verified that I am on track with where I'm working on taking the new extended input support (good support will need to leverage D-Bus and HAL). He also had poked around for a couple of weeks with Wii remotes, but had since moved on. That actually was a fairly common story, and it seems that it's up to me to address the GUI and application levels.

And to keep things short for now, there's one last point I want to cover: technical drawing. Of people I talked to who were not using Inkscape or not using as much as they could, the most common question seemed to be with technical drawing. We could probably pick up a good usability boost and garner another user segment if we just tune up things to make technical drawing and diagramming better. Most of what we need to do is probably already well known to us. However, we could benefit from a quick review and a little refocusing. I think one person's question really summed up the viewpoint we need to use when looking into this: “So, will Inkscape let me finally move off of Xfig now?” The people we could help with that are probably using Xfig or Dia (or nothing yet) for simple charts, diagramming, home layout and the like. Perhaps focusing down on some casual use-cases like that will help us sight some low-laying fruit and get a jump up in this area.

As usual, I'll send out more info as I digest things and get them settled out in my head. In the mean time, feel free to ask about any specifics you might care about. Perhaps Peter or Andy or some of the other Inkscapers who were there might chime in also.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Bdale Makes the Cut

This year's charity auction was going to help the "Save the Tasmanian devil" organization. Things started to get crazier and crazier, with strange attempts to get Linus to do something resulted in a change of the mascot for one release from Tux to Tuz.

As the crowd grew more frenetic, someone jumped in with a demand for Bdale's beard. Despite starting the whole thing off with a beautiful print of his wife's award winning photograph, he began to reconsider under the pressure. Arjen Lentz (who at the conference promoted stepped up and offered the hair on his head if Bdale went through with it. Bdale did say if over $10,000 was donated then he would (although I'm not sure if he believed it was possible; I was very pessimistic on that myself). Matching challenges were also tossed out and taken up, and the final result was a total somewhere in the ballpark of $40,000 (au) being raised.

So come Friday around lunch, a huge spectacle unfolded as Bdale, Linus and Arjen prepared for their ordeal. Arjen went first, to allow for a little practice before the more difficult (and anticipated) task of Bdale's.

The event went off well, with much amusement, live tweeting, and even local television coverage. Once Linus had completed his arduous task with clippers (having foregone the hedge clippers he was first looking at) there was just a bit left for an actual razor. Being the wise man that he is, Bdale decided that he himself would do that close work. However, in the pause before that I caught a great shot that to me conveyed his great temperament and sense of humor about the whole thing, as he endured the temporary pain and embarrassment in order to be able to do his part in helping preserve one of God's great creatures here on earth.

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