Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Another reason to eat less meat

OK, so many of you will know that I have been lacto-vegetarian for 29 years.
For me, the reason is metabolic, however there are very many reasons to at least eat less meat and dairy products :

George Monbiot writes in "The Pleasures of the Flesh" :

While 100m tonnes of food will be diverted this year to feed cars, 760m tonnes will be snatched from the mouths of humans to feed animals. This could cover the global food deficit 14 times. If you care about hunger, eat less meat.

Monbiot is an interesting writer.

As a designer, I worked in sustainable design for many years, however I still had some cherished assumptions broken, reading his book "Heat" recently. I highly recommend it.

Monday, April 14, 2008


ApacheCon Euro 2008 is over and I am home, no delays this time.

This was my first ApacheCon, I really enjoyed myself. Many thanks to the sponsors and organisers for a great event.

I went to very few talks, there are a few I regret missing now, but the opportunity to hack was so great. I am in the middle of upgrading Cocoon CForms to use Dojo 1.1, so having access to several other Cocoon comitters proved very useful. Many thanks to those of you who gave me your time, especially Grzegorz Kossakowski who spent several hours helping me with Cocoon 2.2.

I had some useful business discussions that I hope will lead somewhere.

My talk seemed to go OK. No one obviously walked out during it, no heckling, there were some questions at the end, with easy answers (Yes, No, I don't know) and several people approached me over the next couple of days to discuss it further.

Many thanks to Lars Eilebrecht for introducing my talk and getting it together when the wireless mike ran out of batteries : )

I suppose my main regret was not meeting more of the Apache people whose names I have known for a long time.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

All Change

Yesterday I was out in a tee-shirt and light jacket, and overheating, taking photos of a fire in Brixton.

Today there is 50mm of snow on the roof.

Wacky weather !

Tomorrow I am off to Amsterdam for ApacheCon. Taking the EuroStar to Brussels and the Thalys to Amsterdam. I just hope it is not the "wrong type of snow".

I have recently been investing in improving my flat's energy use.
A new hyper-efficient central heating boiler, an extra 300mm of loft insulation and replaced all filament light-bulbs with high-efficiency LEDs (and a few compact fluorescents).

My energy bills are already noticeably down, my flat is light, snug, warm and nice to see ....... unlike my neighbour, the snow on my roof is not melting yet :-)

Next project: replace the 20 year old heath-robinson MagnaTherm magnetic stick on plastic secondary glazing with built-in units.

Suppliers :
The boiler is off the shelf from Vaillant. What amazed me about these new condensing boilers is that the flue gas is barely warm, the flue is POLYTHENE!!!!
Some of the LEDs are from UltraLEDs.co.uk, they have some great products, but they have real supply problems and they really messed me about recently .....

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Destructive Editing

One of the really great things about Aperture, is it's non-destructive editing.

When you are working on a photograph, you can roll back any edits you perform, at any time.
When you perform say, a crop, the crop is not applied to the actual photo (until you export) the crop is saved as an instruction. Let's say I then do some colour adjustment, then realise I do not like the crop, I can go back and re-do it, without effecting any subsequent changes.

The good thing is, you do not end up with lots of versions of the full binary, you end up with the binary with a bunch of instructions on how to render it into different versions, it saves a lot of space and hassle.

The down side is that you need a reasonably fast computer.

It turns out the other downside is that you cannot do any pixel-level editing ...... you can only apply effects to the whole image.

Apple just introduced a plugin API to Aperture 2.1. As the library of available plugins builds up, there will be less need to export to PhotoShop to do edits on regions of images.

Unfortunately, this breaks your non-destructive workflow. As soon as you invoke a plugin, Aperture exports your image with all of your edits applied, before passing it to the plugin, much like editing in PhotoShop does.

The first time I tried it, on a 7Meg RAW image, I ended up with a new 70Meg master, which was passed to the plugin, meaning any effects I applied before the plugin are locked-in.

Maybe it was naïve of me to think that Apple could pull the trick of non-destructive editing in a plugin API. But as they have not, unfortunately, using plugins really throws a spanner in your workflow.

PS. The reason the new Master was so big was that I had the export settings at 16bit, which was probably pretty pointless.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

ApacheCon 2008

I'll be heading off on the train to my first ApacheCon in a few days. I am honoured to be giving a talk on the Wednesday, please come along.

I am looking forward to several things .....

Being in Amsterdam : )
Seeing old friends.
Putting faces to the many Apache peeps whose names I know, but have never met.
Asking lots of dumb questions to whoever Cocoon devs I meet, who know CForms.

Talking of CForms (it's the cool forms framework in Apache Cocoon) I am currently working on upgrading it to use Dojo 1.1.
I just got Repeaters working with Dojo's new Drag & Drop API. It is very pretty, you now get an avatar of your dragged rows, optional drag handles etc.
Next I am looking into changing the way the CForms backend processes repeater events, so that it can handle stuff like : dragging more than one row at a time, row cloning, clone or copy between Repeaters etc. etc..

I am really enjoying the work.
It's like doing a year's worth of 20% time in one go (no, I am not employed by Google, but that does not stop me making time for non-commercial research).

Look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam.