May 10, 2009

Micro-Zooids: A story

Posted in Ideas, Misc, Software, Strategy at 23:23 by graham

When I was 16, I wrote a computer game, called Micro Zooides. It was called that partly because on Windows .EXE files all start with the two characters MZ, and partly because it was about small creatures. Micro-Zooides was going to be about humanity’s progress, it was going to be Civilization, which didn’t exist yet.

The game had a splash screen of a Far Side comic, then a short video of me tromping through the woods like a Neanderthal, which my Dad filmed and which I digitized with a very early video capture card.

In Borland’s Turbo C++ 3.0 I wrote a basic graphics engine to display the tiles of the world, and an event loop so I could move the main character around the world. I drew sprites for a proto-human (the micro zooid), dirt, rocks and sticks. He could walk around the world, and pick up and put down rocks or sticks.

Then I took a break to plan. I have a proto-human, rocks, and sticks. How do I get to civilization?

May 6, 2009

Migrating from Picasa to GIMP

Posted in Misc at 06:07 by graham

Update April 2012 Google has discontinued Picasa for Linux, so I’m going to try to do all my photo editing in GIMP. Here’s what I use most often:


  • Colors / Auto / White-balance
  • Colors / Auto / Color enhance
  • Colors / Brightness-Contrast / Contrast up by 5 or 10


  • Tools / GEGL Operation / Color temperature / Raise desired by 0.5k or 1k.


  • Filters / Enhance / Unsharp mask

Original post follows

I’ve been using Picasa to edit my pictures for a long time, and it’s an excellent program. Recently however I’ve started shooting RAW, and I’d like control, so I’ve started using GIMP. It’s more powerful and more complicated than Picasa, so to start myself off I went through all the features of Picasa and made notes on how to duplicate that operation in GIMP. Here are those notes.

Most of what Picasa does can be replicated with the Colors / Levels or Colors / Curves tool. It’s well worth spending a little time experimenting with both of those (the documentation is very good too).


In the Toolbox, click the Rectangle select tool In its options (beneath the tools), tick ‘Fixed: Aspect Ratio’ Enter 6:4 ratio (for 1.6 sensor, most DSLRs) Tick Highlight. Draw a rectangle on the image that you want to crop to. Image menu / Crop to Selection

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March 15, 2009

Math Dodger: A Flash game

Posted in Misc, Software at 02:26 by graham

Los Angeles is under attack, by trigonometric functions! OMG! Trigo-what? If I wanted to do maths, I’d go to San Francisco!! You, like, totally gotta save L.A man. Enter your name, then move your tank.

Use the left and right arrow keys to rotate, the forward and back arrow keys to move.
The barrel of the tank is the little black line. That’s the front.

No, your tank can’t fire. Avoid the mathematical blobs. YEAH!
The longer you live, the more points you get. A score above 100 is, like, totally AWESOME! Good luck Bro.
Let me know in the comments how much you score.

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January 19, 2009

This is me

Posted in Behaviour, Misc at 06:03 by graham

Have I told you that I have never owned a TV, and never watch it?

December 9, 2008

On the American automobile industry

Posted in Finance, Misc at 06:02 by graham

Joshua-Michéle Ross at O’Reilly Radar writes about the money the American taxpayer (government) is giving Genera Motors, Chrysler and Ford to save them from bankruptcy:

This is the privatization of profit and the socialization of loss. The very concept of “Too Big To Fail” points to a deeper truth: the U.S.’s auto industry does not operate within the “free market” at all. Far from it. As their moniker suggests, the “Big Three” are an oligopoly with a long record of eschewing innovation ( electric cars, hybrids etc.), killing off alternatives like mass transit and bullying public policy (lobbying against CAFÉ standards, environmental and tax policies [Hummer owners get a $34K tax credit!], the threat of relocating factories etc.) all in an effort to conform the not so “free market” to its lumbering non-strategies of pursuing short-term profit.

Full article: Catch 22: Too Big To Fail, Too Big To Suceed

The consensus in the comments to that article is that if the government is saving a company that is too big too fail, it should be split up into several smaller companies, so that we only ever have to save it once.

July 17, 2008

Using Ekiga softphone on Ubuntu Linux on a Thinkpad

Posted in Misc, Software at 00:19 by graham

For many months now I have been making and receiving telephone calls from my computer. There are two advantages:

  • It is very cheap. Calls within the United States are about $1/hour!
  • It makes your phone number virtual, and configurable, which means for example that my phone number will forward to my cell phone if my computer is offline. It also means you don’t have to be in the same country as your phone number.

I am running Ubuntu Linux on a Thinkpad, but most of this should apply to Ekiga on all platforms, and the principles apply to all Softphones.

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February 12, 2008

Wine grapes from least to most tannins

Posted in Misc at 01:40 by graham

Gamay, pinot noir, sangiovese, tempranillo, zinfandel, syrah, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, nebbiolo.

Please note that this is a general indication – the origin of the wine and process used (such as aging) may change the order of this list. See Somm’s comment below.

December 27, 2007

Migrate from Gallery 2 to Flickr

Posted in Misc at 02:04 by graham

I have recently moved all my photos from a Gallery 2 instance I ran myself, to Flickr. This means I don’t need to keep my Gallery2 install up to date, it frees up lots of disk space on my server, and allows me to more easily share pictures with friends and family. Here’s how I did it:

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August 16, 2007

On the road

Posted in Misc at 13:37 by graham

The silence around here is because I have been traveling for two months. I should be back in December. In the meantime you can keep up with our adventures on our other site.

January 7, 2007

A week in the woods

Posted in Misc, Society at 14:42 by graham

From the 9th to the 15th May 2004, I went on the Fundamental Bushcraft course with the Ray Mears School of Bushcraft, in the Kent countryside. Here’s what happened:

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