Archive for August 2007

I got a new notebook computer a couple of days ago. Here are some specs (details):

Processor: AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile TL-52 at 1.60 GHz
Memory: 1 GB DDR2
Video: integrated ATI Mobility Radeon X1200 on PCI-E x16
Display: 1280 X 800
WiFi: Atheros AR5006EG/AR5006X
Software: 32-bit Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium

Now, all this is delicious stuff, except for the Microsoft Windows Vista part. Naturally, I proceeded to wipe Windows off the disk. I popped in my Kubuntu 7.04 Live CD, pressed [Enter] at the graphical menu, and waited for the system to start and load KDE.

It didn’t.

Read on »

Maintaining a trustable Online presence is important. While signing all your messages using RSA is a good way to assure others that these messages come from the same source, it could still be difficult to convince people that you are who you say you are.

Certificate authorities (CA’s) are trusted organizations that link digital signatures to physical entities. After you register with a certificate authority, your identity could be verified. Of course, you’d need to pay the CA so that it could run all sorts of background checks on you. The last time I checked, it costed a couple of hundred dollars a year for a certificate from companies like VeriSign and Thawte. Since I’m developing a free application, this is a cost that I’m not willing to pay.

Thawte has an alternative program, Thawte Freemail, that distributes free certificates with which you can verify your digital signatures. As the name implies, it’s designed to be used for securing emails. Really, though, these certificates can be used for anything else. Richard Dallaway outlines his process for obtaining and using a Thawte Freemail certificate.

Well what do you know? I can start signing Imagine soon, and y’all can rest assured that you’re getting a quality app from a trusted source. (Well, maybe I’ll hold off on that for a bit; I want it to be able to run without special privileges.)

After a day of intense coding, I’ve made my calendar generator better than ever! Alright, I might just be bragging, but really, there’re some features that make this program stand out even more. If you’re a Columbia student and you’ve ever found this program useful, you’d be glad to know that I haven’t abandoned the project. Read more about it at its project page. Or, if you’re impatient to use the program, go here:

Finally, Discover Worlds has been moved onto a different server with more resources. Currently, it’s at, running on a Network Solutions standard UNIX hosting package. The last couple of days had been spent on getting various hosting details right, but everything seems to be in order. From what I can see, Network Solutions offers pretty good hosting with excellent customer service too, but the price tag is a bit hefty. Let’s hope for the best.

(Oh yeah. You can make a donation to Discover Worlds if you want =p)

What operation allows you to translate, scale, shear, and rotate your picture all at once? You guessed it… it’s the affine transformation.

What’s an affine transformation? Also known as an affinity, an affine transformation maps points (x,y) to (x’,y’) such that collinearity and distance ratios are preserved. This means that all points lying on a line before transformation still lie on a line after transformation, and proportion and betweenness are preserved along lines. An affinity does not preserve angles or lengths.

But we know that graphic designers can’t be bothered with all this math stuff, so we’ve put all the juicy affine goodies into a neat little package called… well, the Affine Transformation. At the core of this package is a matrix operator that does all sorts of things to your image, but all you have to know is that your picture comes out looking nice and pretty. Now, how exactly do you use this tool?

Read on »

After another round of coding Imagine, I am finally able to announce some additional features worthy of note. In particular, the history manager is now usable. Not every tool has an associated history interface at the moment, though, and it’s being addressed.

The selection tool has been enhanced — you are now able to resize the selection by dragging its edges or vertices. Resizing only applies to rectangular selections, of course. But that’s not an issue, as an interface for selecting other shapes has not been implemented yet.

Read on »

Dude. This guy has way too much time on his hands. Or maybe some fried brain circuitry? Anyhow, what he did was pretty cool. Not being able to get his hands on an iPhone in Japan, he took it upon himself to build his own mock-up. From scratch. And it looks surprisingly detailed, and very much like the real thing, minus some small things. Even better, he made his iPhone from specifications only, as he started before the iPhone started selling in the States. His Website documents the process.

Discover Worlds is an entirely student run non-profit organization which encourages students and youth across the globe to make high impact changes to help their own community and make global changes. Find out more.

I joined their Executive Board yesterday as Webmaster, with the goal of rewriting their Website to make navigation easier and the information clearer and up-to-date. This is actually the first time I used the Joomla! CMS. I had used Mambo before, but I found it a bit bloated and abandoned it. Well, Joomla! seems to be just as bloated as Mambo, or maybe even more so. But since the other DW executives insist on using Joomla!, and because it is capable of creating a nice interface, I’m going to stick with it. So far, it’s still hosted on this server, but I intend to move it off to DW’s current host soon.

DIYer Kipkay extracts the laser from a DVD burner and mounts it in a small flashlight to create a handheld laser burner that can light matches and burst balloons. Hit the play button to see how he did it. This project isn’t for the faint of heart: it involves pretty specialized components and soldering, but that’ll all be worth it when you’re camping with your pals and you start the fire by pointing your homemade handheld laser at the tinder. For more info, Kip posted the laser mod over at Instructables, too.


Why does a minor shower have to break the mass transit system? I couldn’t get to work this morning, and I was too lazy to get out of the house in the afternoon, so I ended up staying home the whole day. How exciting…

But I did get some things done, like preparing for my exams and wasting time programming. Speaking of which, I added some 20 more filters to Imagine, and improved the plugin system. I really think it stands a much better chance against the more mature image editors out there now, though it’s still seriously lacking and in need of major optimization.