gimp art #0

intrigued by an image in an intermediate guide to digital photography by john clements demonstrating how to turn a photo into an “ink drawing” using various photoshop filters, i set out to accomplish the same with gimp…i took one of the althagen harbour pictures and started out:

  • first, created a layer copy
  • applied some liberal gaussian blurring on the layer copy
  • then, pumped it through edge detection (using gaussian blurring)
  • followed this with a threshold operation to reduce the result of the previous operation to a black & white line art layer
  • next, i created another layer copy
  • cut out all the white areas by using the selection by color operation
  • applied another blurring to that layer
  • finally, changed the opacity of the first line art layer to about 60-70%

see for yourself, i quite like the effect 🙂

fighting with apache’s RedirectMatch

having done a bit of de-cluttering on my website, i wanted to redirect queries to a whole set of pages to a single page…no, problem it seemed: use something like apache’s Redirect directives, put it into an .htaccess file and be done with it…well, nooot quite…the first attempt:

 RedirectMatch permanent ^/3g-cannes.* /photos/2004-02%20cannes/pixs.html 

did not work: the %20 got translated into a a %2520 somehow…apache 1.3 getting muddled?

after a bit of fiddling around, the following solution finally did the job:

 RedirectMatch permanent ^/3g-cannes.* "/photos/2004-02 cannes/pixs.html" 

and gets redirected as intended. 🙂

citynightline online ticket hell resolved

it’s quite cold outside (-10.8C when i left home) and i’m glad that the train to stuttgart is well heated. i pick up with the my trouble with the citynightline online ticket series where i had to leave it yesterday and make another call to the zurich offices of citynightline (+41 1 247 7577) — the agent answering the line is very friendly (thanks) and manages to cancel my online ticket within a couple of minutes — i get a 90% refund which is fine with me. before we ring of i (politely) suggest that they might want to include their number on the online ticket itself (which anyhow requires a full DIN A4 sheet of paper, most of which is taken up by advertisement) and also list it on their website — she promises to pass the suggestion on.

pheeew. 🙂

glad to have that issue sorted, i enjoy the very sunny train ride from nürnberg to stuttgart, sipping my latte macchiato (bought at nürnberg main station in the 20min between the train from erlangen arriving and the IC to stuttgart departing), reading the süddeutsche zeitung, and take picture after picture of the fantastic winter wonderland passing by. i’m a big fan of the landscape between nürnberg and crailsheim (or “grailsheim” as some of the locals call it 🙂 with its wide corridors of landscape just stretching to the distance, bounded on either side by rather small, undulating hills…and it’s spectacular and at the same time peaceful all year round: in the winter when it’s snowed over, the passing trains creating little snowy whirlwinds, fog hanging low in the shallow valleys, the sun slowly, almost gently, pushing his way through; but also in the spring, when everything become green again: the little patches of forest here and there, the meadows and fields; then summer, when all is green and warm (and sometimes hot) and one could just get lost day dreaming about where one could go, wander, sliding sneakingly through the train windows in to the distance…finally, the colours of autumn spreading across the trees, the rain pouring down, the fog eating into the fields…it is one of my most favourites parts of the zürich–nürnberg train ride.

citynightline online ticket hell

the weekend trip to north germany to visit my family there had to be cancelled due to illness (not me). as i had booked online tickets for the train trips to bremen and back, i first log in to my account at die bahn where it’s a simple matter of selecting the tickets and then cancelling them — in about two minutes i’m done with that part.

the ticket from bremen back to zurich was a citynightline ticket for a single sleeper compartment which i had also booked via the citynightline website…so, on to the citynightline site…hmmm…no form or anything like that to cancel a booked ticket…i search around and try the german citynightline hotline number (01805 141515) — only to be told that they don’t deal with tickets booked online and that i should call the german rail’s online ticket hotline (01805 10 1111) — i do that and after a bit of listening to strange music reach a helpful agent who tells me — yep, that he’s not able to deal with citynightline tickets! he can only handle german rail’s online tickets! but, being rather helpful he gives me a number to call: 01805 213421 — becoming a bit annoyed, i politely say “thank you” (really), hang up and dial that number now…only to reach the same call center that i had on the line the first time, this time i’ve got a different operator who is very sympathetic and tries hard to help, after a bit he finds out that, yes, he cannot handle citynightline online tickets as those are issued by the citynightline office in zurich — he tells me to call a swiss number, +41 900 300 300 — again, i do that…and end up at the swiss railways booking center: the line has a rather bad quality (sounds like they are using voice-over-ip and their network is overloaded) and the operator (i’m still very polite) is rather stroppy, doesn’t seem to speak german too well(i did press “1” when asked whether i wanted a german speaking operator), bounces me to a different operator who — after i’ve explained everything again all over — tells me that they can only book citynightline tickets but cannot cancel citynightline online tickets! she also tells me — and her tone implies that i really should have known this! — that i need to call the zurich citynightline offices…”hmm, yes, what number would that be?”, she looks it up and tells me to dial +41 1 247 75 75 — which i do:

“grüezi, guten tag! our offices are open from 8:30 to 12:00 and from 13:00 to 17:00 [click]”

…needless to say that it’s now way past 17:00…i take another look at the citynightline web site: it still says to call the german rail’s hotline, so i give it another try — again, the operator i get is very friendly and helpful, listens to my ever extending saga and digs into her computer system: the upshot of which is that i am to call the zurich citynightline office at +41 1 247 75 77 (which is yet another number) — which, you guessed it, yes, i dial and get

“grüezi, guten tag! our offices are open from 8:30 to 12:00 and from 13:00 to 17:00 [click]”

…stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment of our my trouble with the citynightline online ticket series!

p.s.: i’m really, honestly, impressed by the helpfulness of the german railway hotlines, am really surprised by the rudeness of the swiss railway hotline, and am utterly annoyed with citynightline…

fishy business…

while fetching some mineral water from the marylebone waitrose on marylebone high street yesterday evening i noticed that a new fish monger-cum-restaurant, fishworks had opened two shops away from daunt books…so, after a browse through daunt books — which must be the best “little” book shop in london not only for travel books but also for “normal” reading matter 🙂 — i attempted my luck at fishworks marylebone

it started off with a bit of luck indeed as i was apparently very lucky to get a table for one to start with: during the time i enjoyed the services of fishworks a stream of would-be-patrons came in, enquired after a table, were told that none was to be had until 21:00, and popped out. fishworks actually is a fish monger shop (not overly large display area) facing the street and separated by a glass partition (luckily with a door fitted) from the restaurant area in the back. the interior design is rather modern with some exposed red brick work. the staff are friendly but seemed to be a bit overloaded and left a rather hectic impression of the place. the menu is interesting but is a bit on the avant-garde side (minimalistic?). very basic dishes such as the very british fish and chips (or a fancy variant of it at least) are missing. i have a bit of a tough time deciding (but then i usually dawdle when faced with a menu) — but it’s not just me, a table of four seated next to mine have the same experience; i settle for the appetizer and two starters/light lunches: anchovies on a rocket salad and then the salmon (smoked by fishworks) with “traditional accompaniments”, and have a bottle of mineral water along with a glass of the albarino – mar de frades …the appetizer is quite nice: brown bread with pesto, a rather good mayonnaise. one thing can be said for the anchovies on rocket salad: you certainly don’t get lost in an abundance of anchovies or rocket salad. the “traditional accompaniments” of fishworks’s “own smoked salmon” turn out to be a finely chopped tablespoon of onion and capers each — while the anchovies taste well but are a tad too salty, the salmon is very fine and tastes well together with the “traditional accompaniments.” oh, and the albarino tastes nice, and is quite close to a xarel lo.

at shortly after 20:00 i’m finished, settle the bill, and retreat to a small local pub around the corner, where i settle down for a quiet pint of guinness and read today’s paper edition of the guardian.

the electric apple sales girl…

first half of this week is a “london week”…i’m in london for a medical technology conference in west london…on my way from durrants hotel in george street to hammersmith this morning i wanted to buy an apple at the fruit-cum-coffee-cum-pastries stall at the bond street underground entrance…the apple was 50 pence, when i tried to pay the sales girl refused to sell the apple: they had a power failure — i assume she meant her stall and not the apples — i was a bit puzzled: i didn’t want a coffee (for which the requirement for electricity would be understandable to some extent) just that apple. funny. so: no apple transaction at bond street this time.

installing blosxom…

for my first blog i used the (x)emacs based blogmax — being an avid xemacs user that was a good tool to get started really (and my current layout is inspired by the default blogmax layout, really)…there were some issues with it not working quite as expected with xemacs though, and eventually i wanted to have a system that would be a bit more flexible and easier to modify (i’ve to admit that even though i’m a great fan of xemacs, i’ve yet to master elisp, emacs’s lisp variant, fully) — my primary programming language of choice is (still) perl, so i was looking for a blog system written in perl…all in all i wanted a system that:

  • was extendible
  • written in perl
  • command line driven
  • had a nice set of HTML shortcuts
  • would allow me to easily experiment with page layout (if i wanted to)
  • would generate a static web site, using plain text files as input (as opposed to a dynamic website that required CGI scripts, mysql, and other “expensive sugar”)

my first attempt at this was a homegrown system using the perl Template package and set of perl routines that would parse all blog entries for markup code. that worked quite nicely for a while…until i wanted to extent it, and was too lazy to rewrite my code. while looking for a suitable blog for use in one of our projects we stumbled over blosxom which seemed to fit my requirements as well. the all-in-one package blosxomsk by barijaona ramaholimihaso served as a very good starting point.

things i changed:

  • adding number prefixes to all plugins

     -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 6308 Sep 19 18:50 00static_file  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 3434 Sep 18 07:17 05blok  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 2748 Aug 24 06:41 10meta  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 4868 Aug 19 03:08 15prefs  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 5939 Sep 19 04:39 20exclude  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 3673 Aug 19 02:52 25flavourdir  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 1593 Jan 29 22:36 30bangpix  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 1954 Sep 13 05:47 30fix_static_url  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 13459 Aug 28 04:26 30interpolate_fancy  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 37007 Sep 15 05:32 35Markdown  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 37550 Oct 31 17:35 40SmartyPants  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 2425 Dec 27 22:21 55foreshortened  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 4027 Dec 13 21:58 60calendar  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 6229 Jan 22 17:49 60categorytree_fancy  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 2800 Dec 22 21:54 60date_fullname  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 16914 Dec 22 22:11 60entriescache  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 1833 Dec 27 22:05 60pagetype  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 3707 Aug 28 04:27 60storytitle  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 6228 Dec 11 00:33 65timestamp  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 3164 Dec 11 20:14 70flatarchives  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 6239 Dec 10 23:03 70prevnextstory  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 3488 Aug 28 04:27 80rss10  -rw-r--r-- 1 dirk dirk 13221 Dec 11 10:57 90wikieditish 
  • adding plugins:

  • “fixing” plugins:

    • adding the ISO date format to the entriescache plugin
  • writing a small splitter script page2blosxom to split a page.html file into head.html, story.html, and foot.html

good turnout at vietnam elections: “officials cite 83% turnout despite vietcong terror”

today’s guardian has an interesting comment piece by sami ramadani on the baffling similarity of last weekends statements by the GW bush administration on the elections in iraq and of the 1967 statements by the johnson administration on the southern vietnam election…how ironic that a neo-con government should confirm old charly marx’s “history repeats itself…” — and, yet, perhaps it’s only that people without history or denying themselves a history end up repeating history?