Tag: amp

Ubuntu 9.10 (Applications – part 1)

I’ve had several folks send emails asking about what parts that I’d build into a machine, what themes are in use in my screenshots, and what programs I’d recommend for a new Linux user. As one who favors the ‘work smarter’ over the ‘work harder’ method, I thought I’d post this info over the next few posts, rather than sending a 32 page email to them all.

Groovy! You’ve got your new Ubuntu machine up and running, and you’re wondering what apps you’ll want to install. Before you go searching the apps in the repositories, let’s make sure you have some key repositories added to ease your transition to Linux. Before you have much of a chance to look around, you’ll be greeted by the Update Manager. This cat will be a great friend. (If he’s a little late for the party, you can always find him by going to System->Administration->Update Manager)

  • On the Update Manager dialog box, choose the ‘Settings’ button

    Update Manager

    Update Manager

  • You’ll be taken to the ‘Updates’ tab of the Software Settings dialog. On ‘Updates’ tab make sure all items are selected as below.

    Software Sources - Update tab settings

    Software Sources - Update tab settings

  • On the ‘Ubuntu Software’ tab make sure all items are selected as below.

    Software Sources - Ubuntu Software tab settings

    Software Sources - Ubuntu Software tab settings

  • On the ‘Other Software’ tab make sure all sources are selected as below.

    Software Sources - Other Software tab settings

    Software Sources - Other Software tab settings

  • Select the ‘Add…’ button and then paste into APT line:
    deb http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian karmic non-free
  • Click the ‘Add Source’ button

    Add Source

    Add Source

  • A must add for all Linux gamers is the PlayDeb repository. Select the ‘Add…’ button and then paste into APT line:
    deb http://archive.getdeb.net/ubuntu karmic-getdeb games
  • Click the ‘Add Source’ button as in the previous example
  • On the ‘Authentication’ tab select ‘Ubuntu CD Image…’ and click the ‘Remove’ button

    Software Sources - Authentication tab

    Software Sources - Authentication tab

  • On the ‘Statistics’ tab, select the ‘Submit statistical information’ to help the developers know what is being used etc. and close out of the Software Settings dialog and the Update Manager dialog
  • Open ‘Terminal’ (Applications->Accessories->Terminal)
  • Next we’ll add the VirtualBox key (paste into console):
    wget -q http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian/sun_vbox.asc -O- | sudo apt-key add –
  • Next we’ll run a full update before we start adding software.
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
  • It may ask you if you wish to continue with the update, type ‘Y’ and hit the ‘enter’ key
  • Go grab a snack, this may take a bit.
  • You may be prompted to reboot with a ‘Restart Required’ dialog after the upgrade has completed. Go ahead and click on the ‘Restart Now’ button, it won’t take long.
  • Log back in and open ‘Terminal’ (Applications->Accessories->Terminal)
  • Then we’ll add the PlayOnLinux repository and key (paste into console):
    sudo wget http://deb.playonlinux.com/playonlinux_karmic.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/playonlinux.list
    wget -q http://wine.budgetdedicated.com/apt/387EE263.gpg -O- | sudo apt-key add –
  • Add the Medibuntu repository and key (paste into console):
    sudo wget http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/$(lsb_release -cs).list \ –output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list && sudo apt-get -q update && sudo apt-get –yes -q –allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get -q update
  • It may ask you if you wish to install the keyring, type ‘Y’ and hit the ‘enter’ key
  • We’ve added the PlayDeb repository. So let’s add its key as well (paste into console):
    sudo wget -O- http://archive.getdeb.net/getdeb-archive.key | sudo apt-key add –
  • Next we need to complete a bit of clean up and remove install CD from the Repository list (paste into console):
    cd /etc/apt/
    sudo gedit sources.list
  • A text editor named gedit will open the file ‘sources.list’
  • Delete the following line (usually within the first few lines) from the file:
    # deb cdrom:[Ubuntu 9.10 _Karmic Koala_ – Release i386 (20091028.5)]/ karmic main restricted
  • Then save and close this file

{cont to Ubuntu 9.10 (Applications – part 2)}

Whatcha Runnin’ Man? (Linux Applications – part 1)

I’ve had several folks send emails asking about what parts that I’d build into a machine, what themes are in use in my screenshots, and what programs I’d recommend for a new Linux user.  As one who favors the ‘work smarter’ over the ‘work harder’ method, I thought I’d post this info over the next few posts, rather than sending a 32 page email to them all.

Groovy!  You’ve got your new Ubuntu machine up and running, and you’re wondering what apps you’ll want to install.  Before you go searching the apps in the repositories, let’s make sure you have some key repositories added to ease your transition to Linux. Before you have much of a chance to look around, you’ll be greeted by the Update Manager.  This cat will be a great friend.

  • On the Update Manager dialog box, choose the ‘Settings’ button

    Update Manager

    Update Manager

  • You’ll be taken to the ‘Updates’ tab of the Software Settings dialog.  On ‘Updates’ tab make sure all items are selected as below.

    Software Sources - Update tab settings

    Software Sources - Update tab settings

  • On the ‘Ubuntu Software’ tab make sure all items are selected as below.

    Software Sources - Ubuntu Software tab settings

    Software Sources - Ubuntu Software tab settings

  • On the ‘Third Party Software’ tab make sure all sources are selected as below.

    Software Sources - Third Party Software tab settings

    Software Sources - Third Party Software tab settings

  • Select the ‘Add…’ button and then paste into APT line:
    deb http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian jaunty non-free
  • Click the ‘Add Source’ button

    Add Source

    Add Source

  • A must add for all Linux gamers is the PlayDeb repository.  Select the ‘Add…’ button and then paste into APT line:
    deb http://archive.getdeb.net/ubuntu jaunty-getdeb games
  • Click the ‘Add Source’ button as in the previous example
  • On the ‘Authentication’ tab select ‘Ubuntu CD Image…’ and click the ‘Remove’ button

    Software Sources - Authentication tab

    Software Sources - Authentication tab

  • On the ‘Statistics’ tab, select the ‘Submit statistical information’ to help the developers know what is being used etc. and close out of the Software Settings dialog and the Update Manager dialog
  • Open ‘Terminal’ (Applications->Accessories->Terminal)
  • Next we’ll add the VirtualBox key (paste into console):
    sudo wget -q http://download.virtualbox.org/virtualbox/debian/sun_vbox.asc -O- | sudo apt-key add –
  • Next we’ll run a full update before we start adding software.
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade
  • It may ask you if you wish to continue with the update, type ‘Y’ and hit the ‘enter’ key
  • Go grab a snack, this may take a bit.
  • You may be prompted to reboot with a ‘Restart Required’ dialog after the upgrade has completed.  Go ahead and click on the ‘Restart Now’ button, it won’t take long.
  • Log back in and open ‘Terminal’ (Applications->Accessories->Terminal)
  • Then we’ll add the PlayOnLinux repository and key (paste into console):
    sudo wget http://deb.playonlinux.com/playonlinux_jaunty.list -O /etc/apt/sources.list.d/playonlinux.list
    sudo wget -q http://deb.aplu.fr/pol.gpg -O- | sudo apt-key add –
  • Add the Medibuntu repository and key (paste into console):
    sudo wget http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/`lsb_release -cs`.list –output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list; sudo apt-get -q update; sudo apt-get –yes -q –allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring; sudo apt-get -q update
    sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade && sudo apt-get install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get update
  • It may ask you if you wish to install the keyring, type ‘Y’ and hit the ‘enter’ key
  • We’ve added the PlayDeb repository.  So let’s add its key as well (paste into console):
    wget -O- http://archive.getdeb.net/getdeb-archive.key | sudo apt-key add –
  • Next we need to complete a bit of clean up and remove install CD from the Repository list (paste into console):
    cd /etc/apt/
    sudo gedit sources.list
  • A text editor named gedit will open the file ‘sources.list’
  • Delete the following line (usually within the first few lines) from the file:
    # deb cdrom:[Ubuntu 9.04 _Jaunty Jackalope_ – Release i386 (20090420.1)]/ jaunty main restricted
  • Then save and close this file

{cont to Whatcha Runnin’ Man? (Linux Applications – part 2)}

How To Print And Play (PnP) A Classic Strategy Game (Stratego) With Inkscape

I was recently searching the web for some fun games and projects to keep my son and I occupied this summer, and stumbled onto an idea to combine the two. In my quest I found two really great sites that gave me inspiration and a new extension for Inkscape that will keep me busy for a while. After wandering through the forums a bit on Cartographers’ Guild, I was amazed at the artwork and intrigued to learn more about the games that some of these beautiful maps were created for. Thus, my addictive personality style has gotten the best of me, thanks to the wonderful artists on this site, and I blame them all!

That birthed a desire to create maps and game boards. Of course, you can’t adequately design a map or game board for a game style you’ve not played before, hence my discovery of BoardGameGeek (BGG). This little gem of a site has info on just about any board game you can think of, and several amazing ‘new to me’ games that you’ve probably never heard of. Not only is it one of the biggest and best game compendiums on the net, but it boasts a very active and knowledgeable member base. That said, I realized very quickly that I needed help. Either some form of intervention to wean me off of this new found interest, or some form of mentor to teach me everything there is to know about this stuff!

The closest thing to an actual mentor that I could find was Board Games with Scott. A couple members of BGG pointed me to this great site with video demonstrations and reviews of several board games. If you’re a newbie like myself, this site can’t be beat for getting a general feel for the type of games you’ll be into.

The members of both sites have been extremely friendly, helpful, and generally supportive (not one supported my request for intervention). So go check them both out, we all know how misery loves company.

That simple quest for a cure for summer boredom, led me to discover this groovy extension for Inkscape. We’ll be using it to create our Stratego game pieces, but it can be used to make trading cards, playing cards, even business cards and wedding invitations. Remember to thank Pelle Nilsson (ibe@pelle-n.net) for creating this handy Python script, and saving me the time of having to reinvent the wheel myself.

Let’s get to it!

  1. Download and Install Inkscape (Windows .exe, Mac OS X .dmg, and source available on site. Also available through your Linux package manager.)
  2. Download and Install OpenOffice (Windows, Mac OS X, and source versions available on site. Also available through your Linux package manager.)
  3. Download and Install 7-zip if you need a great open source file archive tool. (Windows, Mac OS X, and source versions available on site. Also available through your Linux package manager.)
  4. Download and Install I Boardgames Extensions via the instructions in the Zip archive.
  5. Download and extract my Stratego game template.
  6. Open the ‘stratego.svg’ file from my archive with Inkscape. What you’ll notice is that this is only half of a normal board. This was done on purpose as it was made to print on standard letter size (8.5″ x 11″) page. I have a dash scissor line guide marking the eventual center line of the board. This will help when aligning one half of the mirrored item correctly on the page so that it will blend seamlessly with the other (duplicate) page to complete the full board. You’ll also notice that by default, the ‘map’ Layer is selected. This is to allow you to immediately start creating the background image for your game board, without painting over the ‘grid’ and ‘pieces’ layers. Various versions of this game display various background images, from green fields and ponds to brimstone and lava pools. Take this time to get creative and get a basic background image drawn in Inkscape, imported from Gimp, the net, etc.

    Blank Template

    Blank Template

  7. With background complete, let’s open the ‘Layers’ palate. (Layer->Layers)
    Layer->Layers

    Layer->Layers

    Layers palate

    Layers palate

    If you’re new to the concept of layers in graphics software, think of a multi-paned window. The last/bottom layer in the list (labeled ‘map’ in my template file) is the white floor, and each subsequent item going up the list is a layer of glass that we have to look down through to see the white floor below. This will help you understand the placement of certain layers to get varied effects in both Gimp and Inkscape.You’ll notice two icons to the left of each layer name, an eye and a padlock. The eye displayed as ‘open’ means that the layer is currently visible, while ‘closed’ means that the layer is currently invisible. The padlock displayed as ‘open’ means that the layer is currently unlocked and full access to add/move/change/delete items on this layer is available, while ‘closed’ means that the layer is locked and therefore NO access is available.

  8. Hide the ‘grid’ and ‘map’ layers by clicking on the eye icon to the left of each layer name.  You’ll notice that your beautiful map and my less than beautiful grid have vanished. Relax, they’re just invisible, not deleted.  To the left of the printable page area, are two game pieces, one for each of the two (Red and Blue) armies. These are dummy templates with placeholders for text and images (editable in the ‘pieces.csv’ file) that you’ll use to customize your game pieces.
  9. Now it’s time to use some more of that creativity to select 12 images (65 x 65 px) to be displayed on your game pieces. Draw them in Inkscape, create them in Gimp, download them from your camera or the net, or simply use the demo images that I’ve included. Make sure that their final resolution is perfectly square (65 x 65, 256×256, etc.) or they won’t fit correctly onto the game pieces.
  10. Save your 12 images into the same folder where you extracted the contents of my game template archive. (name them whatever you wish, and use whatever file format you wish)
  11. Open the ‘pieces.csv’ file with OpenOffice. You’ll be prompted to select a method of file interpretation. Select the ‘Comma’ option and click the ‘OK’ button.

    Choose 'Comma' and click 'OK'

    Choose 'Comma' and click 'OK'

  12. In the A column (labeled ‘red’) are numbers representing the amount of pieces you want generated. These numbers are set to the default amounts used in a standard Stratego game, but they can be changed to fit custom game types.
  13. In the B column (labeled ‘name’) is text that will fill the ‘Name’ position on the dummy game piece templates as noted in Step 8. These names are set to the default rank names used in a standard Stratego game, but they can be changed to fit custom game types, or your own board themes, etc.
  14. In the C column (labeled ‘pic’) is the path and file name of the 65 x 65 images you selected in Step 9 and saved in Step 10. These file names are set to match the images included in my template archive file by default, but they can be changed to match the path and file names of your customized images. Make sure to include the correct path and file name here or the image placeholder will be empty on all of your game pieces.
  15. In the D column (labeled ‘rankid’) are alpha and numeric representations of the B column (labeled ‘name’) text, and they will fill the large ‘#’ position on the dummy game piece templates as noted in Step 8.
  16. The E column must remain unchanged for the iboardgames extension to work.
  17. The columns F-I are merely direct copies of the values from columns A-D and need to remain unchanged as well.
  18. Once you’ve modified columns A-D in the ‘pieces.csv’ file to your liking, save it. (File->Save)

    File->Save

    File->Save

  19. Go back to your open Inkscape window and create your customized game pieces using the iboardgames extension. (Effects->Boardgames->Create Countersheet)

    Effects->Boardgames->Create Countersheet

    Effects->Boardgames->Create Countersheet

  20. Make sure the ‘Data File (CSV) field displays the exact path and file name to the ‘pieces.csv’ file that you saved in Step 18.
    Create Countersheet Settings

    Create Countersheet Settings

    You can select the ‘Live Preview’ option at the bottom to view a ‘Live Preview’ of your game pieces as they are generated onto their own layers and displayed within on the page.  If you’re satisfied with the result of the ‘Live Preview’ click on the ‘Apply’ button.  You will need to manually close the ‘Create Countersheet’ window by clicking on the ‘Close’ button.

  21. You’ll now notice that you have two new layers (labeled ‘Countersheet 1’ and ‘Countersheet 1 (back) respectively) in your ‘Layers’ palate. Both layers are visible and unlocked. In order to properly print off your sheets of game pieces and game board you’ll need to view only one layer at a time as you print.

    New 'Countersheet' Layers

    New 'Countersheet' Layers

  22. To print off your first sheet of game pieces, make sure that only the ‘Countersheet 1’ layer is visible.
    Screenshot-Layers (Shift+Ctrl+L)-1 Then print that visible layer. (File->Print)

    File->Print

    File->Print

  23. To print off your second sheet of game pieces, make sure that only the ‘Countersheet 1 (back)’ layer is visible.  Then print that visible layer. (File->Print)
  24. To print off both sheets (halves) of the game board, make sure that only the ‘grid’ and ‘map’ layers are visible.  Then print that visible layer twice. (File->Print)
  25. You’ll notice that part of my map painting (all Inkscape vector art) exceeded the bounds of the page. Relax, everything outside that boundary line will be eliminated from the final printed sheet.

    Over page border

    Over page border

  26. Grab a pair of scissors (or a ruler and box knife) and cut out your pieces and around your game board borders.
  27. Fold each of your pieces along the center dotted line to create a standing ‘sandwich board’ style game piece.
  28. Download a copy of the Stratego game rules from Ed’s Stratego Site, and enjoy!

These steps are for creating the standard number of game pieces and game board for the classic Stratego. Feel free to pick my template files apart and create your own templates for other varieties of Stratego and or other games altogether. Remember to post copies of your creations and comments here with us, and also with the fine folks at Cartographers’ Guild and BoardGameGeek.

How To Make Your Pictures Look Like Comic Book / Graphic Novel Art With GIMP

I have been all over the web trying to find a way in which a no-talent-hack, such as myself, could possibly create any semblance of what one could call ‘art.’  I found this article, which gave me hope.  (I highly recommend you read it as it will show all kinds of different methods of achieving various forms of comic art.)  However, they all reference the popular (and rightly so) Adobe Photoshop tool.  As a firm believer in Open Source Software, I primarily use Ubuntu Linux as my OS.  Not Windows, Not Mac.  This creates a bit of a dilemma in trying to follow a step-by-step Photoshop tutorial, when you can’t natively run Photoshop.  Sure there are great options out there, like using PlayOnLinux to run Photoshop in the Wine environment, or even using GIMPshop.  But being the purist that I am, I wanted to find a way (preferably a good way), to create the comic book/graphic novel look I wanted with my photos.  I wanted to find a fast and easy method of reproducing the same overall end effect.  This is the first simple formula I used.  (see also ver. 2 and ver. 3)

  1. Download GIMP (Windows .exe, and source available on site.  Also available through your Linux package manager.)
  2. Install GIMP (via Windows .exe, per install instructions in the source archive, or via your Linux package manager.)
  3. Choose the photograph you are wanting to use.  It is best to use a high resolution photograph (at least 1024×768, at least 300dpi).  The photograph used in this example (of our two new puppies Sophia & Isabella) was 3648×2736, however it has been scaled down for display purposes.
  4. Auto adjusting the color levels will usually help the overall quality of the end result.  (Colors->Levels->Auto->OK)
    Colors->Levels

    Colors->Levels

    Levels->Auto->OK

    Levels->Auto->OK

  5. Apply the ‘Oilify’ filter to smear the colors of the image a bit.  (Filters->Artistic->Oilify)
    Filters->Artistic->Oilify

    Filters->Artistic->Oilify

    Start with the default settings (Mask size:8, Exponent:8, Use intensity algorithm:Y), and adjust the Mask size to fit your preference.  Typically the more intricate details there are in the photograph (like blades of grass, fur, hair,  etc.), the lower you will want the Mask size.  If you have a close up photograph of a human face, for example, you will want to push the Mask size upward toward 25 at most.

    Oilify Settings

    Oilify Settings

  6. Apply the ‘Cartoon’ filter to enhance the edges of the items in your photo. (Filters->Artistic->Cartoon)
    Filters->Artistic->Cartoon

    Filters->Artistic->Cartoon

    Depending on the detail you wish to highlight in your photograph, you can play with these settings.  For the example, settings of Mask radius:50.00 and Percent black:0.500 were used.

    Cartoon Settings

    Cartoon Settings

  7. That’s it! Done!

    Sophia & Bella Result

    Sophie & Bella Result

Please leave comments and suggestions for future topics!