Installing Photoshop on Ubuntu Linux

Now, what do I do? That was the first thought that formed in my mind when I first opened Gimp about 5 or 6 six years ago in an Internet cafe on F. Ramos St. in Cebu City.

I was given the grand tour on Linux and open source software by Mike Schmeisser, a chain-smoking German geek, in his Internet cafe. His Internet cafe ran, save for one unit, solely on Linux. I interviewed Mike for a story on open source software and Linux and he invited me to his cafe to check his units.

Photoshop in Ubuntu Linux PHOTOSHOP ON UBUNTU LINUX. Adobe Photoshop 7.0 running in my Linux laptop using Wine. Click on photo to view larger image.

Having been reared on image editing with Photoshop, I couldn’t find my way in Gimp. I’m not really a graphics person but I use Photoshop often for editing photos, editing images of screen activity for tutorials, and creating blog and website headers.

I tried various open source software after Mike’s introduction and even stuck with using many of them. But not Gimp. I once tried Gimpshop, a modification of the program to replicate the look and feel of Adobe Photoshop but then I found myself using Photoshop after a few days of playing with it.

More than a month after I switched to Ubuntu Linux in my laptop, I found that I missed having Photoshop in it for certain tasks. I did manage to create a blog header using Gimp but it took me at least ten times longer than it would have taken me in Photoshop. I had a hard time even resizing images in layers or removing backgrounds of photos.

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Blogging break

It’s been an exceedingly hectic week in the newsroom since the May 14 elections. This is my 4th election coverage and it was as it has always been: frenzied, tiring, and stressful but ultimately exciting and fulfilling.

News events such as elections make you want to leave the newsroom for the field. Out there, the adrenaline rush is stronger. In the newsroom, you somehow feel cooped up.

Blogging had to take the backstage. For days, I didn’t visit my blog, let alone posted an entry. I left my RSS feeds unread. I set aside all my experiments and suspended work on a site that I will be launching soon.

Philippine Blog Awards trophy BLOG AWARD. I finally got my Philippine Blog Awards trophy. The fragile package was mailed to me by Gail de la Cruz-Villanueva, one of the organizers. Click on photo to enlarge.

But a package I received last Sunday got me back into blogging mode. It was my trophy for winning the best technology blog awards in the Philippine Blog Awards last March. Gail de la Cruz-Villanueva kindly took the effort of mailing the fragile trophy to me.

The first thing I did after going back to blogging mode was update my WordPress installation and those of sites that I help run or manage.

Blogging break is over, I’m currently working on a few posts.

Ghost in the machine

I found the Sun.Star Cebu newsroom abuzz yesterday over a website that seemed to know a lot of details, even intimate ones, about people and things. When I entered the newsroom, I found reporters, editors, librarians, and newsroom assistants gathered around TV host Jude Bacalso, the paper’s lifestyle editor, who was entering questions and getting correct answers on the Peter Answers website.

peteranswers.com ANSWER TO LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING. It’s in PeterAnswers.com. Have fun fooling your friends with the website. Click on photo to view larger image.

At first glance, it was freaky. How could the website know the names of a co-worker’s children, the pet peeve of an editor, what I was doing at the precise time the question was asked (holding out my cellphone), what was on a reporter’s head (a polka-dot headband), and what one reporter told another reporter about his mother-in-law?

I initially thought that Jude had a conspirator on hearing distance providing the answers but no one within the vicinity was typing when Jude entered the questions. It was also impossible for Jude to have pre-programmed the answers because the questions were thrown at him at random.

Jude, it turned out, was providing the answers himself right before our very eyes and none of us noticed it. In defense, though, Jude is a great actor and he did put up such a convincing show.

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Reinvigorate: the best hosted website metrics service I’ve tried

Hot on the heels of the release of the Automattic Stats came the sending of invitations to the beta version of Reinvigorate, a hosted free website metrics service that appears to trump most of the free website metrics services available today.

A day after installing and using the service, I think Reinvigorate is the most impressive website metrics package I tried. (Blogger’s note: the images in this post were taken a few hours after I installed the tracking code for the service). I found it so impressive that I immediately used it for my other blogs. Normally, I’d try out a stats package in this blog and then after a few weeks, I’d use it for the other sites I manage.

reinvigorate website metrics VISITOR PATHS. Reinvigorate tracks the pages readers visit in your site. This feature is very instructive and will tell you whether you did enough to provide links to related pages or articles. Click on photo to view larger image.

What distinguishes Reinvigorate from other hosted website metrics services I tried is that it tracks “paths,” the trail of web pages a reader visited in your site. The data it provides is really enlightening. I haven’t found a comparable feature in the several blog and website metrics services I’ve used.

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Organizing photos into albums in Zooomr using SmartSets

Blogger Jhay Rocas sent me an e-mail a few weeks back to inquire on how to organize photos into albums in Zooomr, akin to the sets in Flickr.

I host all my photos in Zooomr not just because the service offers unlimited photo uploading but, more importantly, its terms of use is more lenient. Unlike Flickr, Zooomr allows you to link a thumbnail to a larger version of the photo and not just to its photo page. I need this feature for the snazzy image loading effect I use in this blog.

Organizing your photos into sets or albums in Zooomr is simple, it’s just a matter of assigning unique tags to it. Zooomr has a SmartSets feature that allows you to organize photos.

To simplify the use of sets, use the juploadr tool to upload your photos. The tool simplifies not just the uploading process but also the editing of the photos’ data—its titles, captions, and more importantly, tags.

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Is Sony Ericsson trying to buy off Cebu journalists?

What if politicians announce, during their press conferences, that they will be holding a “writing” contest and the journalist who publishes the “best article” about the press conference gets to win P5,000 in cash.

What do you call that? If you were a journalist or a blogger, what would you feel?

That, in effect, is what Sony Ericsson is doing in its media campaign to launch its new phones in Cebu.

It was a good thing I decided not to join the press junket organized to launch the latest Sony Ericsson models in Cebu. It was a curious event–curious in the sense that they decided to hold it in Sumilon Island, a slice of paradise in southern Cebu that’s hours away from the city. The launching was scheduled for the entire day last Saturday.

I asked a colleague why organizers decided to launch the phone models in such a remote area where the telecoms signal might even be spotty. I told him that if I were to launch a phone, I’d gather reporters and bloggers covering the telco and consumer electronics beat in a room, have them play with the units and have trained staff on standby to answer questions they may have about the new phone models.

He said it was just an excuse to take the journalists into a junket.

I rarely join press conferences and the prospect of spending my dayoff attending a press junket scheduled for at least 12 hours didn’t appeal to me. I’d rather be spending time with my wife and kids, blogging, or working on my web experiments.

I declined the invitation and asked a UP Cebu mass communications intern to attend. Now if Karla Bautista, who is scheduled for an internship in Sun.Star Cebu (including in my section), had started her duties with my section, I would have sent her and I would have readily exchanged hours playing with Drupal to join the junket. Just kidding, I’d take Drupal anytime.

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WordPress offers hosted blog metrics system

Automattic, the company behind WordPress, has released Automattic Stats, a hosted blog metrics system. The system, deployed as a WordPress plugin, allows those running WordPress on their own servers to have the metrics system already in use in the hosted WordPress.com services.

I’ve long drooled over the metrics used in WordPress.com, where I keep a personal and largely-neglected blog. The stats package is simple and keeps tracks of the important stats a blogger wants to know: number of visitors, top posts, referrers, search engine terms used to find the site, incoming links and which links in your site readers clicked.

automattic stats WORDPRESS.COM STATS. Bloggers who host WordPress on their own servers can now get stats already in use in the hosted WordPress service. Click on photo to view larger image.

What’s good about Automattic stats is that the service is hosted in WordPress.com servers. Andy Skelton said in the plugin’s homepage that “because all of the processing and collection runs on our servers and not yours, it doesn’t cause any additional load on your hosting account. In fact, it’s one of the fastest stats system, hosted or not hosted, that you can use.?

I use several blog stats packages, many of them remnants of services I tested for a blog post. But the stats package I check most often is Site Meter. This is almost embarrassing considering that I have a MeasureMap account. But the ease by which you can check Site Meter stats, clicking on the Site Meter button and not having to log into another website, makes this the metrics system I check by default. I also use Google Analytics but it’s a service I check maybe once or twice a quarter.

With Automattic Stats integrating the blog stats in your WordPress admin section, I can see this becoming my default blog metrics system.

Screencasting in Ubuntu

I’ve done my first screencast in Ubuntu using gtk-record My Desktop, a tool that records desktop sessions in Linux. I’ve long wanted to do screencasts in Ubuntu ever since I installed Feisty Fawn or the 7.04 release but I haven’t been successful in my initial attempts.

I first tried capturing desktop sessions into movie files using xvidcap but I couldn’t get it to work properly. All the videos I produced using it were jerky, as if the capture rate is just a frame for every two seconds. I spent days playing around with the settings, to no avail.

I was on the verge of accepting the idea that I may have to use Windows XP and Camstudio to produce screencasts to accompany some of my blog articles when I decided to give gtk-recordMyDesktop a try.

I spotted the program during the days I tried looking for ways to do screencasts in Ubuntu but I just filed it away as something to check later because it produces Ogg-encapsulated Theora-Vorbis files and the free video hosts I wanted to use for screencasts, Vimeo and Revver, do not accept .ogg files. I’m lazy and a non-geek and my impression of video conversions in Linux is that the process is rather complicated. (Blogger’s Note: see update below)

After giving up on making xvidcap, which produces mpeg files, work in my laptop, I tried gtk-recordMyDesktop. I gave it a go after finding out that Blip.tv accepts .ogg files.

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