Showing posts from September, 2012

CorelDraw Basics: Drawing speed lines and blast lines

Category: Techwriter
Blast lines, motion lines, and perspective lines are used to emphasize movement in a comic book or provide emphasis to a particular object, face, or person. The classic effect is still used in product packaging and is still used in comic books (though today more frequently in manga than Western comic books).

Blast lines are used to emphasis this team-up between Spider-Man and Molten Man. Panel taken from Web of Spider-Man #66 and art by Alex Saviuk.

To quickly create blast lines in CorelDraw, users can draw two simple shapes using one of the many drawing tools available and "fill out" the space between the two using the Blend Docker options.
To create a simple blast lines effect in CorelDraw:

Click the Bezier tool and draw a line at an angle. Adjust the line width and Outline Pen properties to adjust the appearance of the line segment. Select the line segment and click CTR…

Thoughts on Web Design

Category: Techwriter

Smashing Magazine and a host of other web sites have web design down into a science, expanding into the smallish realm of smart screens and tablets and dealing with topics such as line-spacing, effects, and CSS3 . As fascinating and as incredibly complex as the science of design is, I'm afraid it's not something that comes naturally to me even after going through books such as Design Elements and  browsing through well-written articles and tutorials online. When I write code, I don't even bother with hex color numbers. Green is green and if it comes out as teal on an iPad, so be it. My design IQ is easily satisfied with a Summer Glau wallpaper on my LXDE desktop with a single color theme.

I'm probably in the minority but I can do without fancy Javascripts or Flash animation on my favorite websites. When I browse highly-complex sites with all the bells and whistles, I feel so…

The Reading Experience: EPUB and PDF

The Reading Experience: PDF and EPUBCategory: Techwriter
Unlike other readers who boast of reading a hundred ebooks a month, I like to take my time reading. Reading is both an educational and entertaining activity and reading ebooks should be hassle-free. Navigating, viewing, reading, and even annotating an ebook should be easy and straightforward. Thankfully, two file formats have emerged to be become the ebook file format standard: the venerable PDF and the spunky but plain EPUB.There are great articles online about how to produce an EPUB file and it's easy to get into the arguments regarding the nuances of publishing an EPUB file. EPUBs are certainly getting easier to produce and are becoming more dynamic and interactive, but it's only getting started. PDF's maturity, stability, and usability, on the other hand, is undeniable. No effort is practically needed to produce a PDF wit…

Review: Sylpheed E-mail Client for Linux

Category: Linux
With Mozilla effectively discontinuing updates to the venerable but popular Mozilla Thunderbird, there's a vacuum for a default e-mail client application for Linux users. Thunderbird is still the most popular e-mail client today in Linux boxes but the news about Mozilla's plans is disconcerting at least. Evolution is a popular alternative, particularly in Ubuntu-based distributions while KDE users are left with KMail, a somewhat ungainly e-mail application. 
If you're running Lubuntu or possibly even an LXDE-based distribution, chances are you have Sylpheed installed and probably even using it. In anecdotal use, Sylpheed is fast and efficient in delivering, receiving, displaying, and storing e-mail. It doesn't have the occasional anomalies Thunderbird suffers, such as Thunderbird being unable to save a Sent message. Thankfully, it makes exporting and importing e-mail data very simple in comparison to Windows Live Mail and even Thunderbird. Sylpheed even s…

Digital Preservation: James Bond, Spider-Man, Indiana Jones and the 80s

2012, the year of the Dragon, is a great year for guys who were around during the 80s. The magic that is technology, taken for granted by billions of people around the world, has taken great leaps to preserve media that triggers memories and recaptures the sights and sounds of the good old days.

The Indiana Jones movies is finally on Blu-Ray and fans around the world who still don't own the series can purchase their first copy and on HD no less. I own VHS copies (2 sets), special DVD releases (2 sets), AND bootleg 720p files of the trilogy . . . and the new release only gives me another reason to finally buy a Blu-Ray player. Thankfully, aside from superficial improvements to the reel, the movies are untouched. As a huge fan, I can't wait until George Lucas finally gives in and creates a special Blu-Ray set of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles - one of the best TV shows of all time. The movies an…

openSUSE 12.2 KDE Review - Now is the right time Part 3

Category: Linux
Multimedia Codecs and VirtualBoxIntroduce me to a guy complaining about multimedia support in Linux and I'll show you the nice folks at the openSUSE Community web site who have tirelessly produced One-click installation files for Gnome and KDE users of openSUSE. In the old days, the venerable VLC player was a godsend for Linux users, but today you can pretty much do without it on a Linux box assuming you know how to search for "ugly" in a software manager (which produces the restricted "Ugly" set of Gstreamer codecs). I've personally never had any problems with multimedia in Windows or Linux for years, though I don't really recommend streaming Quicktime in openSUSE via a browser.VirtualBox, everyone's favorite user-friendly mainstream virtual manager, handles openSUSE just fine. Although setting up Shared folders between a Windows OS host and …

Writing Linux instructions for a Product Manual

Category: Linux
When I was given the task to write Linux instructions for a product being released by a major manufacturer, I was ecstatic. Having contributed to the online openSUSE wiki and Mandriva wiki a few times and a devoted Linux evangelist via this blog, I was raring to write about Yast2, Synaptic Package Manager, or even Yum.

Let's be honest: Windows users don't use product manuals and Mac users don't even know they exist. Linux users, on the other hand, either don't need any sort of printed instructions or consult community pages instead. If you've been using Linux for at least a year, chances are you're not too worried about making a basic consumer product like a Bluetooth dongle, external optical drive, or wireless card work.Getting the chance to write Linux instructions for an official mainstream product manual felt like an enormous privilege. Most man…

openSUSE 12.2 KDE - Now is the right time Part 2

Grub2 and PlymouthIt's actually the small things that make a Linux users heart beat fast. Adding Plymouth and migrating to Grub2 was a timely choice although casual users wouldn't really notice any difference other than the spanking new splash screen. A Plymouth boot screen in openSUSE was a change of pace and seemed to complement whatever speed modifications were added to openSUSE. Personally, I couldn't wait to run informal benchmarks with the new setup.I was surprised, however, that openSUSE's installation wizard failed to detect Lubuntu on my ASUS EEEPC 1000H. Instead, setup prompted to use the whole hard disk instead. Unconvinced, I tested the LiveUSB on my Lenovo Ideapad Z360 with an Ubuntu Unity and Windows 7 setup. The installation wizard was able to detect Windows 7 and the Ubuntu partitions though I'm not quite sure it would list Ubuntu once openSUSE 12.2 has…

Adobe Reader app for iOS and Android: Unnecessary?

Category: Techtoday
PDF and AdobeI distinctly remember a time when my Computerworld editor muttered oaths at the idea of using PDF in publishing. It was confusing, redundant, and irrelevant when PageMaker and Word files took care of most of his needs. Fast-forward to twelve years later and we find technical documents in PDF being exchanged daily in huge companies and organizations. Consumers with tablets and smartphones, on the other hand, use PDF for reading scintillating ebooks like Fifty Shades of Grey.There's little doubt that PDF has successfully become a standard in both the professional and consumer environment. It's easy to forget to give Adobe credit for PDF especially when Linux users can print out PDFs without installing anything else and even Microsoft Word has now adopted the format over Microsoft's own XPS format. Freeware and open source applications can easily convert al…

openSUSE 12.2 KDE - Now is the right time Part 1

Like most incremental releases, openSUSE 12.2 doesn't bring  anything new to the table, but the  maturity of the Linux distribution makes it a compelling choice compared to  fledgling distributions or even  long-running releases such as  Debian or PCLinuxOS. KDE 4.x retains all its usability and power that makes it a dependable choice over new desktop environments such as Unity and Gnome 3. openSUSE KDE 4.x, in particular, is an exceptional desktop environment but the included applications may not be everyone's cup of tea.

openSUSE Live! Using a LiveUSB or LiveCD to test  the performance of a new release  should never be the basis of  migrating or adopting a Linux  distribution. However, running on  LiveUSB does provide superficial  reasons to install an OS on a crash machine or hardware. A Linux  distribution, as a bare minimum,  should perform adequately when  running on a LiveUSB or LiveCD.  That said, the…

Matching the Avengers with Linux Distributions Part 2

Bruce Banner - Mark Ruffalo - Linux MintI've never been a huge fan of the Hulk and always preferred the character as a guest star in Amazing Spider-Man or Marvel Team-Up in the 70s and 80s. His storyline in the comic books have all been garbage since Peter David left the books, but Edward Norton's Incredible Hulk was . . .well . . . incredible. And then Mark Ruffalo and Whedon made Hulk lovable and charmed audiences worldwide (though I would like Hulk to show off his invulnerability and healing factor more just to educate audiences just how powerful he really is).
Why Linux Mint? Linux Mint came out from the left-field recently to become one of the most popular Linux distributions today. Linux Mint hardly requires any configuration and you don't have to be as brilliant as Bruce Banner to use it. In fact, you can be Hulk and still use Mint. And its theme is …

Matching the Avengers with Linux Distributions Part 1

Category: Linux

After watching The Avengers a second time and marveling on how bad-ass it still was, I thought it would be a good idea to make a delayed review of the characters and actors by matching them with popular Linux distributions.
Tony Stark - Robert Downey Jr. - UbuntuThere's little doubt that RDJ and his armored alter-ego is currently the most popular Avenger despite historically being a second-stringer in the comic books for several decades (and embarrassingly replaced by Rhodey during an unsuccessful and poorly written run in the 80s). RDJ attempted to steal the show during the flick but was generally overshadowed by performances and even brief moments in the limelight by other characters such as Maria Hill and Steve Rogers. He's still likable though especially during scenes involving Tony, Pepper, and shawarma.
Why Ubuntu? Today, the Avengers is associated with Iron…

openSUSE 12.2 Gnome: A Quick Peek and Short Review

I tested openSUSE 12.2 Gnome first because I was eager to see what improvements the Gnome and openSUSE devs have made since the numerous criticisms against the desktop environment. I had recently been underwhelmed by Mageia Gnome 3's release but openSUSE rarely disappoints me so off I went with the ISO, a USB flash drive, and the dd command.

Bottomline, openSUSE 12.2 Gnome is fast - really fast even on LiveUSB. That's nothing new considering Linux systems are generally fast anyway and most releases are faster than ever, but in this case you would notice the difference. If you're using a USB with a blinking LED like my VerbatimGO, the LED would blink furiously as the distribution loads itself into the RAM. When I tested openSUSE 12.2 Gnome, I expected the typical churning of the HDD and the incessant blinking of the USB stick. None of that happened. It flashed a few times and I was on openSUSE 12.2's …