Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

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New Theme Update

I’ve removed a lot of the noise from the theme. This includes all of the gradients and many of those nasty, sharp lines. Put Categories and Time at the top of each post, with Tags and Comments at the bottom. Made both smaller. Put everything on search results page. Added links to Technorati and del.icio.us from Tags and Categories pages. Changed the gradient images for header and footer (reminds me of rust).

Screenshots of some of the changes:

Original and loud:
Original and loud

Removed gradients:
Removed gradients

Added solids:
Added solids

Changed colours:
Changed colours

Some more touch-ups:
some more touchups

What you should be seeing now:
what you should be seeing now

Comments / suggestions?

New Theme

I finally updated the theme on my blog. Please take a look and try various things (in different browsers, if possible) and report any bugs in the comments section. Suggestions welcome, as well. Demands can go elsewhere… (you know who you are!) 🙂

This theme isn’t 100% done, but it’s functional and I wanted to get it up. The only thing I really miss is the turtle. But he could come back. Or something else….

If I was just writing a theme for Gecko-based browsers (Firefox, Mozilla, Epiphany, etc) I would have been done ages ago. And if I do more wordpress theme stuff in the future, I vow to follow the KISS principle at all times. Would have saved me much time! Rather than try and figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it, just do something simpler! Maybe my next theme will be plain text. 😛 Probably not, though… I’m a sucker for tinkering.

Update: I forgot to mention, my goal with the theme on IE was simply getting it to display reasonably well (no giant bugs, and can be viewed). It will, in fact, look and feel better on Firefox. (I have been using ies4linux to test it for IE 6 on on my computer.) 🙂

Pidgin 2.1 UI Ideas

Quite a lot of UI modifications have been made to Pidgin since 2.0, in a relatively short time. I’m happy to say, it’s gradually getting better. The window has a minimum size which prevents UI elements from being cut off, the text formatting has been collected into a drop-down menu, and it generally looks much cleaner.

I’ve been lurking on the pidgin-devel list keen on UI discussion, as I think it’s an area where pidgin can improve greatly. I spent an admittedly long time in The Gimp illustrating a couple UI ideas in the form of mockups.

First, this is the target conversation window mockup, done by Hylke Bons.

Now, this is what the conversation window currently looks like (minus the comments, of course).

I’ve basically modified the target UI slightly.

Full-size user avatar

default

It’s nice to see the avatar how it’s meant to be seen. It makes the conversation more unique for each individual. I think the vertical space will eventually be needed as pidgin implements more protocol features, anyway. Some people complain that too much space is occupied by such an infopane, but a button which toggles full-display and no-display (or small-display) could easily be implemented. I was thinking you could just double-click a tab, but when I tried it to see if that did anything, it let me give my contact an alias within the tab! Feature discovery! heh.

Selectable text

Something that has always irritated me with nearly every modal window: why not make text selectable? I can’t think of any reason why not to do it. It doesn’t change the UI at all, and will make it more useful to those copy-paste users – there’s a lot of them. (Get user info – which is terribly delayed, and fails often – should only be needed when the user wants to select information that is not displayed right in front of them.)

selectable text

Clickable links

Any email links should behave like a mailto: link, displaying a menu with the options of writing an email to that address or simply copying the email address. The same should be done for links inside the chat window, “open in browser” and “copy link location.”

clickable email links!

Protocols

Pidgin handles many different protocols: MSN, Yahoo!, ICQ, IRC, etc. The idea is that you can use a single IM client to communicate to all of your friends. Many people use multiple protocols for whatever reason (some of my friends are on MSN, the rest on gChat, a couple on ICQ). But really, having a bunch of accounts for the same person cluttering your contact list does more harm than good. A good way to overcome this is to use the “Expand” item in the contact list context menu: right click on a contact, and select Expand in the context menu, then drag all this person’s different accounts into this expanded contact. When in a conversation window, you can change the active protocol used to chat with your friend by using the Send to menu item. But the problem is, you have to go up and check the menu to see what the active protocol is.

super-useful protocol button!

The entire Send to menu can be replaced by a protocol button in the infopane that acts as both the protocol indicator and selector. The space to the right of the protocol button can be used for protocol specific functionality, as they become available (video, voice, whiteboard, etc). Using the button to change the active protocol could change the available actions to the right of it.

Tab size

A lot of discussion/debate/flame is going on with the purpose of reducing tab-size (removing the status, and close icons). Personally, I think the status icon in the tab is very useful for seeing the status of the people you have open conversations with and should not be removed. If you have 10+ conversations open, you can always right-click on a tab and get a nice list. Sean Egan (the lead developer) jokingly put forward the idea of having the conversation tabs on the side, which actually doesn’t look bad. Maybe the format-bar and info pane would have to go on the right of the chat window… not sure how that would work.

Update Aug 5th

  • First of all, if you want the developers to hear your thoughts on this issue, you should discuss it on the pidgin-devel mailing list. If you just want to follow any discussion from the list, you can browse the archives.
  • I noticed this post has been dugg.
  • After a little feedback on the mailing-list, I’ve got another mockup. I’ve added a dropdown indicator to the button when the active conversation-buddy has more than one contact, and put example contact lists for clarity.

    Further illustrating the protocol button next to the contact list.

Update Aug 14th

It’s true. Pidgin doesn’t have a Send button. I had no idea this bothered some people, but I guess it could be made more obvious.

Greyed out text telling the user how to send a message.

2D Game Art and the Virtual Console

HD Pixel Art

I’m a bit of a game art aficionado. Actually, I’m an admirer of many things related to games (shock), but right now I’m going to talk a little about art specifically. Concept art: awesome. 2D art: awesome. Animated pixel art: awesome. And now HD pixel art? Well, Capcom is redoing their infamous game, (Super) Street Fighter 2 (Turbo), for the XBox 360 and PS3 in glorious 1080p HD. What they’ve released so far, looks pretty cool.

More images and information at the Capcom Digital Blog.

But with the resolution so high, I don’t think it’s fair to call it pixel art. The artist no longer has to be concerned with having enough pixels available in the character’s head to portray a complete face, or how they’re going to fake multiple digits on the character’s hand that is only 4 pixels wide. It is simply… digital art now. 🙂 It’s fun watching in-game art approach polished concept art!

However, I must watch this HD generation from afar, for now, as I have neither an HD system nor an HD TV. I have only a Wii and a small CRT (not even wide screen). But I’m among the majority, so I’ll remain confident I will receive some high quality games that I can enjoy for a long while yet – they just won’t look as pretty.

Some cool articles on video game sprite evolution: Mario, Castle Vania, and Sonic.

Interesting quote:

Shigeru Miyamoto made him look the way he does because of hardware limitations of the time. He was given a mustache to seperate his nose from his face, overalls so arm movements were visible, and a hat because hair was hard to draw.

And the book they’re from.

Virtual Console Rant

Speaking of Wii, Super Mario Bros. 2, often referred to as the black sheep of the series just came out on Virtual Console, yesterday. That game is great, but why can’t Nintendo just release Super Mario All-Stars on VC and get it over with?! I have All-Stars on SNES, so I can’t justify getting anything less on VC. Same with Capcom and Street Fighter! They are guilty of starting with the oldest game of the series some six months back, just to release the next in the series (an improvement in the existing game, nothing uniquely different, making the previous version obsolete) a week or two ago, making all the people that bought the original feel ripped off. Awesome way to treat your fans, guys. Really impressive.

Both of these Street Fighters are the same price on the VC: 800pts. One can’t help but feel that Wii owners are getting the short end of the stick. PS3 and 360 owners get a revamped HD version of the latest (best) version with added net play and other goodies. While Wii owners get to progressively download all of the classics from the nineties in their original form, starting with the first. At least Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Hyper Fighting is the last version released on SNES, so we shouldn’t expect to be shafted any more in the SNES VC. Of course, Street Fighter Alpha 2 may be on its way, but at least it’s a reasonably different game. I wonder if we’ll get to witness this same fan-milking by SNK when the Neo Geo becomes available on the VC this summer. Samurai Showdown 1, 2, 3, …. I hope not. Go straight to the good stuff. Quality over quantity, please.

And in a store, when the newer game comes out, the older one goes into the bargain bin. Where is the bargain bin on the Virtual Console? There’s no stock to get rid of. The older game, smug with defiance, remains equally priced next to its usurper. Any consumer considering the older game is likely doing so because they found it first, unaware there is a better title for the exact same price, making them a victim. This is made even worse with the lack of sorting options and meta data on the Wii shopping channel. A “Related Games” link for each game could be very useful to the buyer. A virtual bargain bin would be awesome, and could even increase sales (baseless blind guess). The Virtual Console is obviously very successful and still very young, but I hope Nintendo plans for some evolution in its life-cycle to make it more dynamic and mature.

Providing a Service

On my last post, my friend, Jesse, commented on how he had a dilemma while designing a website for a client. His problem was that his client is not technically oriented. What clients are? That’s why they’re clients. 🙂 Anyway, since he liked my recent graphic efforts so much, I decided to illustrate the simplest solution to his problem in another diagram. Enjoy.

I tried to create it so that Jesse could relate to it. It works best if you picture it taking place on some seedy street. And you picture the person on the right being named “Jesse.” Not sure why that helps, but it does. And the burly mustache man on the left (he’s burly, trust me)… well, he breathes heavily. More like grunting, really.

Almost 2, going on 4

Technical diagram of technicalness

I renewed my domain name for another two years. For some reason, I felt inclined to make this:

Some random links

UBC CS Button Results

It’s ironic: I spend days sorting and reducing the number of clothes I’ve accumulated over the years, but then just today I go out and spend $100 dollars – mostly on clothes. It’s not illogical, as I need these clothes for work, but it is ironic… and it makes me a little sad. I hope I don’t have to throw these out any time soon. I have a really hard time discarding things when nothing is really wrong with it… I’m a total pack rat. A cheap pack rat; the worst kind.

Anyways…

Ah, the last day of freedom. Take a deep breath and enjoy it while you still can. Many people will be going back to school tomorrow, and some, myself included, will be going to work. I’ve got a few things to catch up with, blog-wise. Here it goes…

UBC Button Design Results
I didn’t get first place or 2nd. Congratulations to Shirley who tied someone else in 2nd! The winning design is really well done, and it is clever, but it’s not something I would have chosen for a button or a logo. Apparently it was an overwhelming victory for this design. I would expect this design to be chosen by a group of adolescent boys… so I guess it makes sense that the general CS population favoured it. Perhaps I’m a little bitter. Anyways, it’s still better than anything I’ve seen for the CS department, before.

The old site with the 12 designs people had to choose from is gone due to a badly needed (and badly handled, it seems) site upgrade, but here are the 14 I originally submitted:

Hmm.. I’m tired. Looks like all other “updates” will have to wait. Had to write something, tonight, though.

hello blog

To say I’ve been lazy recently may not be entirely correct. I have, however, put off doing lots of things; blogging is one of them. So I’ve got a bit to catch up on. I’m gonna try and make it fairly brief, as I want to go to sleep soon.


back in north van
First off, I’m back in North Vancouver! Had a good time staying with my friend, Jesse, at his place downtown, but I’m sure we’re both glad I’m no longer there! haha. One room is not enough for two single guys. Now that I’m back home, I get (including, but not limited to): my own room, a real bed (I slept on various pieces of shit for 4.5 months), way more space, a stocked fridge, and nice deck to relax on, a blender and other essential kitchen items. But there are lots of things I miss about downtown… like being able to walk anywhere… and that walk, no matter if you’re going to a place you’ve been many times, is always different.


reading
Been doing quite a bit of reading in the sunshine, recently. I got The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time from Shirley, and read that. The story was about a boy who has autism, and was actually written from his point of view. It was interesting to see what things he valued in contrast to what normal people value. For instance, he decides how he will behave depending on how many yellow or red cars he sees on his way to school; yellow’s bad, red’s good. My mom has had quite a bit of experience with autistic children, and she’s read the book before, so I asked her if the behaviour of the character was accurate, and she said yes, quite convinced. If anyone wants to read it, I now have a copy….

Non-fiction-wise, I used my shiny new membership at the VPL to sign out two books. I’ve almost finished Programming Linux Games, and find it very refreshing compared to other game-programming books. It’s got a lot of information other books never even mention, and skips over the stuff they usually do. *ahh* It’s so nice! I’ve already renewed it. Hopefully I can finish it before I have to take it back. And hopefully, I actually do make a game… or something for my “portfolio.” I need something… hrmmm.


windows
I recently wanted to use the family computer (which runs Windows XP) for something, and was assaulted with a pop-up upon login. Frustration Level: rising. I then opened IE (the whole reason I wanted to use the computer in the first place was to try viewing a site in IE). Oh, that’s right. IE can pump out pop-up ads (such as the former) but it doesn’t think I’m connected to the Internet and is therefor useless! I forgot about that problem. Can’t do Windows Updates, either. Frustration Level: Time to Re-install Windows! yay!

(VERY) Long story short(er), “re-installing windows with updated setup files” turned into “invalid CD key” which turned into “formatting C” which turned into “installing ubuntu temporarily” which turned into “try installing windows again” which turned into “Error loading operating system.” which finally turned into “Welcome to Windows.” For some reason, after formatting the MBR with GRUB, the 2nd stage of the Windows XP install would not boot. It’s a really strange problem, as I tried installing Windows 95, and there were no problems. Anyways, the only way that worked was booting with a Windows 98 boot disk and using that fdisk to partition the drive, then formatting it during the install of XP. Go here for more discussion.


linux
I’ve recently tried out some programs that I simply must mention:

Leafpad Until the new Gedit is released, I recommend making this your default basic text file program in Gnome. It’s basically like Notepad – simple and fast; great for viewing.
Graveman I think I may finally uninstall K3B!
Anjuta2 It still needs a lot of work, but it’s looking good.
Inkscape Wow! This program is awesome! And playing with vectors is FUN!

I plan on eventually making a list of useful programs, and some general tips, I think. But not now. 🙂

On a less happier note, I think I may have finally broken Portage on my Gentoo box. A couple programs have just stopped working. :'(


ubc computer science logos
Everybody and their dog is designing logos, these days. This is what I was using Inkscape for. My school asked for logo submissions for a computer science logo. At some point, I would like to acquire a peice of clothing that says my school and faculty… but I’ve had a genuine dislike for most of the designs I’ve seen. Hopefully, this time will be different. I took this opportunity as an excuse to start learning to work with vectors and try out Inkscape. Well, I stayed up most of the night (until 7:30 am?) playing around with vectors and attempting some logo designs. Went to sleep, got up at 12pm, made some finishing touches and created a couple more logos throughout the day, and ended up submitting a whopping 14 designs! Some aren’t very good, and others are just minor alterations, but I figured I’d submit them anyways. The chosen designer get $150 at the UBC Bookstore… not near as good as Alex’s competition, but whatever. I just don’t want another hideous CS logo!


Hmm… So much for brevity.

almost forgot…
Have a great trip, Shirley! 😉

Finally…

Got my tablet sorta-working in Linux.

I also finally got hugin installed on Gentoo! Hello wonderful world of panoramas! (Note: each ~2MB)


try1
try2

To create this panorama, I used 5 photos I had taken when I was at Granville Island, a long time ago, followed this tutorial, and used the following programs:

I’ve discovered I need a lot more memory.

In addition to all that crazy stuff, I finally tried out f-spot, watched 2001: A Space Odyssey, and made this post using BloGTK. f-spot is pretty nice, but it’s definitely still alpha. 2001 was really, really, really, incredibly slow. Plus, I had to watch a 15 minute flash summary that fully explained the movie to me, afterwards. All that work, and I’m spent. Now, go watch some flash videos of doing stuff on Linux. 🙂

Shit. I got school tomorrow. 🙁

iZM_Blue_2

Made another Gaim Guifications theme! 😀

I like this one better my previous one.

Installation

  1. Just extract the archive downloaded above to the Guifications Themes directory:

    Linux:
    ~/.gaim/guifications/themes/

    Windows:
    C:\Program Files\Gaim\pixmaps\gaim\guifications\themes\

  2. Then, in Gaim’s Preferences dialogue, go to Gaim->Plugins->Guifications->Themes and tick the Loaded check box in to enable theme.

Other themes available here.