Sunday, February 22, 2009

Another Round Of Bird Photos

This yellow-vented bulbul is sitting on a lamp post, but from this angle it looks like it's thwarting the invasion of tiny aliens in tiny flying saucers by sitting on their mothership.

A brahminy kite launches itself from a treetop in the distance to look for breakfast.

Here's another shot of a coppersmith barbet.

Here's a black-naped oriole.

The last two birds were sitting in a tree at VC Rock in USM. This is the last time we'll see pictures of that tree, for it was cut down over the weekend. It's a pity, since that was a favourite perch for many birds, and the leaves were sparse enough for me to see the birds in the branches. Sigh. Another tree falls victim to human axes. One of these days I'd like to see the trees get their revenge (like the ents in The Two Towers).

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Debian Lenny Released!

Oh, hey! New Debian stable! :)

From: Alexander Reichle-Schmehl [email blocked]
Subject: Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 released
Date: Sat, 14 Feb 2009 22:58:48 -1100

The Debian Project
Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 released
February 14th, 2009

Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 released

The Debian Project is pleased to announce the official release of Debian
GNU/Linux version 5.0 (codenamed "Lenny") after 22 months of constant
development. Debian GNU/Linux is a free operating system which supports
a total of twelve processor architectures and includes the KDE, GNOME,
Xfce, and LXDE desktop environments. It also features compatibility with
the FHS v2.3 and software developed for version 3.2 of the LSB.

Debian GNU/Linux runs on computers ranging from palmtops and handheld
systems to supercomputers, and on nearly everything in between. A total
of twelve architectures are supported: Sun SPARC (sparc), HP Alpha
(alpha), Motorola/IBM PowerPC (powerpc), Intel IA-32 (i386), IA-64
(ia64), HP PA-RISC (hppa), MIPS (mips, mipsel), ARM (arm, armel), IBM
S/390 (s390), and AMD64 and Intel EM64T (amd64).

Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 "Lenny" adds support for Marvell's Orion platform
which is used in many storage devices. Supported storage devices include
the QNAP Turbo Station series, HP Media Vault mv2120, and Buffalo Kurobox
Pro. Additionally, "Lenny" now supports several Netbooks, in particular
the Eee PC by Asus. "Lenny" also contains the build tools for Emdebian
which allow Debian source packages to be cross-built and shrunk to suit
embedded ARM systems.

Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 "Lenny" includes the new ARM EABI port, "armel".
This new port provides a more efficient use of both modern and future ARM
processors. As a result, the old ARM port (arm) has now been deprecated.

This release includes numerous updated software packages, such as the K
Desktop Environment 3.5.10 (KDE), an updated version of the GNOME desktop
environment 2.22.2, the Xfce 4.4.2 desktop environment, LXDE, the
GNUstep desktop 7.3, X.Org 7.3, 2.4.1, GIMP 2.4.7,
Iceweasel 3.0.6 (an unbranded version of Mozilla Firefox), Icedove (an unbranded version of Mozilla Thunderbird), PostgreSQL 8.3.6,
MySQL 5.0.51a, GNU Compiler Collection 4.3.2, Linux kernel
version 2.6.26, Apache 2.2.9, Samba 3.2.5, Python 2.5.2 and 2.4.6, Perl
5.10.0, PHP 5.2.6, Asterisk, Emacs 22, Inkscape 0.46, Nagios
3.06, Xen Hypervisor 3.2.1 (dom0 as well as domU support), OpenJDK 6b11,
and more than 23,000 other ready-to-use software packages (built from
over 12,000 source packages).

With the integration of X.Org 7.3 the X server autoconfigures itself with
most hardware. Newly introduced packages allow the full support of NTFS
filesystems and the use of most multimedia keys out of the box. Support
for Adobe(R) Flash(R) format files is available via the swfdec or Gnash
plugins. Overall improvements for notebooks have been introduced, such
as out of the box support of CPU frequency scaling. For leisure time
several new games have been added, including puzzle games as well as
first-person shooters. Also notable is the introduction of "goplay", a
graphical games browser offering filters, search, screenshots and
descriptions for games in Debian.

The availability and updates of OpenJDK, GNU Java compiler, GNU Java
bytecode interpreter, Classpath and other free versions of Sun's Java
technology, into Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 allow us to ship Java-based
applications in Debian's "main" repository.

Further improvements in system security include the installation of
available security updates before the first reboot by the Debian
Installer, the reduction of setuid root binaries and open ports in the
standard installation, and the use of GCC hardening features in the
builds of several security-critical packages. Various applications have
specific improvements, too. PHP for example is now built with the Suhosin
hardening patch.

For non-native English speaking users the package management systems now
support translated package descriptions and will automatically show the
description of a package in the native language of the user, if

Debian GNU/Linux can be installed from various installation media such as
DVDs, CDs, USB sticks and floppies, or from the network. GNOME is the
default desktop environment and is contained on the first CD. Other
desktop environments - KDE, Xfce, or LXDE - can be installed through two
new alternative CD images. Again available with Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 are
multi-arch CDs and DVDs supporting installation of multiple architectures
from a single disc; and this release adds Blu-ray Discs, allowing the
archive for an entire architecture to be shipped on a single BD.

In addition to the regular installation media, Debian GNU/Linux can now
also be directly used without prior installation. The special images
used, known as live images, are available for CDs, USB sticks, and
netboot setups. Initially, these are provided for the amd64 and i386
architectures only.

The installation process for Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 has been improved in
many ways: among many other improvements, support for installation from
more than one CD or DVD has been restored, firmware required by some
devices can be loaded by using removable media, and installations via
Braille display are supported. The installer boot process has also
received much attention: a graphical menu can be used to choose
front-ends and desktop environments, and to select expert or rescue mode.
The installation system for Debian GNU/Linux has now been translated to
63 languages.

Debian GNU/Linux can be downloaded right now via bittorrent (the
recommended way), jigdo or HTTP; see Debian GNU/Linux on CDs [1] for
further information. It will soon be available on DVD, CD-ROM and
Blu-ray Disc from numerous vendors [2], too.

Upgrades to Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 from the previous release, Debian
GNU/Linux 4.0 (codenamed "Etch") are automatically handled by the
aptitude package management tool for most configurations, and to a
certain degree also by the apt-get package management tool. As always,
Debian GNU/Linux systems can be upgraded painlessly, in place, without
any forced downtime, but it is strongly recommended to read the release
notes [3] for possible issues, and for detailed instructions on
installing and upgrading. The release notes will be further improved and
translated to additional languages in the weeks after the release.



Debian GNU/Linux 5.0 "Lenny" is dedicated to Thiemo Seufer, a Debian
Developer who died on December 26th, 2008 in a tragic car accident.
Thiemo was involved in Debian in many ways. He has maintained several
packages and was the main supporter of the Debian port to the MIPS
architectures. He was also a member of our kernel team, as well as a
member of the Debian Installer team. His contributions reached far
beyond the Debian project. He also worked on the MIPS port of the Linux
kernel, the MIPS emulation of qemu, and far too many smaller projects to
be named here.

Thiemo's work, commitment, broad technical knowledge and ability to share
this with others will be missed. Thiemo's contributions will not be
forgotten. The high standards of his work make it hard to pick up.

About Debian

Debian GNU/Linux is a free operating system, developed by more than a
thousand volunteers from all over the world who collaborate via the
Internet. Debian's dedication to Free Software, its non-profit nature,
and its open development model make it unique among GNU/Linux

The Debian project's key strengths are its volunteer base, its dedication
to the Debian Social Contract, and its commitment to provide the best
operating system possible. Debian 5.0 is another important step in that

Contact Information

For further information, please visit the Debian web pages at or send mail to <>.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Painting Your Cat In Photoshop


There's a nice little gimmick you can try with Photoshop to colour your photos using the palettes of famous paintings. It's a simple three step process:

  1. Open both your photo and a picture of the painting you wish to use. Make sure focus is on your target photo.

  2. Go to Image->Adjustments->Match colour and select the painting in the "Source" pull-down menu near the bottom.

  3. Fiddle with the sliders (luminance and colour intenisity) until you get the effect you want, and then hit OK.

I used the photo of Schröder above to try it out.

This picture uses the palette of René Magritte's The Treachery of Images. I was tempted to add a caption to it that says "Ceci n'est pas un chat".

This one uses J.M.W. Turner's The Fighting Temeraire. It brings out the colours of the flowers decorating the couch cushion covers, although Schröder looks like he's been sprinkled with mustard powder.

Andrew Wyeth's Winter 1946 provided the palette for this picture. Andrew Wyeth passed away recently. He was a popular realist painter who loved to paint pictures of the countryside.

One caveat to this is that you can't really get a good colour match if you don't have a good scan of the paintings you want to use as your palette source. Since I got all of my source images off the internet, I don't really know if I got the images right in terms of colour. Regardless, it's still a fun thing to try if you have a copy of Photoshop CS (or better), or other software which has similar functionality.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Pied Triller

I took these pictures last month, but I had no idea what this bird was until now. It's a pied triller (Lalage nigra), according to David Gardener (thanks for the identification help).




Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Tribute To Robots On TV


There should be more robots in television. I remember a whole bunch of them on TV when I was growing up, and how they captured my imagination back then.

Therefore, here is a list of all my ten favourites in no particular order. Some of them are rather obscure now. Click on their names to see a picture.

  1. Lt. Cmdr. Data
    Data was a robot Starfleet officer on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He was an android, which means he had a human-like appearance. He is supposed to have a "positronic" brain, which is a homage to Asimov's robot stories. Data didn't have much in common with literary positronic robots, but the shout-out to Asimov was enough to impress me and thus I found the whole show that much more endearing.

  2. Optimus Prime
    Optimus Prime was more than just a giant animated toy. He was an inspiring leader to a generation of kids who watched The Transformers with rapt attention each week, and wept when he died in the animated movie. There are a whole bunch of memorable characters from The Transformers show, but Optimus is one everyone loves.

  3. Vicki
    Vicki was a robot girl on Small Wonder, a very bad 80's sitcom about a family with a robot daughter. Despite the fact that it was awful, I watched it anyway because I'll watching anything with either robots or dragons in it. I can still remember the theme song to this show, and it's one of those songs that get stuck in your head and make you want to scream.

  4. Cameron
    Terminators are probably the most badass robots ever invented. If you ask me, a Terminator TV series is long overdue. I was thrilled to know there would be a series about Sarah and John Connor and their war against Skynet. It's too bad Arnold is too old and too busy being a governor to do any more terminating, but Summer Glau makes up for it. Cameron is a small-framed terminator who is surprisingly tough. She is sent back in time to protect a whiny, emo, John Connor and unlike uncle Derek, she doesn't mind his whining. Sometimes I hear the Small Wonder theme play in my head whenever I see Cameron. It's an evil, infectious theme.

  5. R2D2
    Despite being a movie character, R2 makes the list because he had his own animated TV show together with his buddy C3P0 in Star Wars: Droids. It was an entertaining little cartoon, and I watched every week as the droids go from misadventure to misadventure. In the cartoon, R2 would pull out a variety of gadgets we never saw in the movies (rocket thrusters were not included though).

  6. W1K1
    Jason of Star Command was a short-lived live action TV show which felt a lot like a rip-off of Star Wars. The protagonist looked a lot like Han Solo, and he had a little pocket robot named W1K1. I watched the show just to see W1K1. I remember nothing else about it, although the internet tells me James Doohan was in it too. Come to think of it, W1K1 is a pretty cool name for a robot. Nowadays we can pretend that it's an allusion to Wikipedia.

  7. Roboz
    There was a show with a boat called Riptide back in the 80's, and on that boat was an orange robot named Roboz. Again, this is another TV programme I watched just because a robot was in it, and I also remember nothing else about it. Roboz didn't do much though. I wonder why I found him so fascinating as a kid.

  8. KITT
    KITT was an AI installed in a black Trans-Am in Knight Rider. KITT was both a robot and a cool 80's car, which made him doubly awesome. He was sarcastic, loaded with weaponry, and just looked badass. There were several attempts to reboot the series, the latest of which has a new KITT which is an ugly Mustang that manages to look less futuristic than the one from the 80's. Nice going, TV producers.

  9. Bender
    I haven't seen too many episodes of Futurama, but from the few I have seen, Bender has always been incredibly funny. There is just something so wrong yet so right about a dysfunctional, sarcastic robot. When I get the chance, I should catch up on my Futurama, if only to watch this guy.

  10. K-9
    There have been numerous robots on Doctor Who, most of them villains. However, K-9 is a lovable robot dog companion for the Doctor which predates the Aibo by a few decades. I'm pretty sure I've seen him in the hazy memories I have of the old Doctor Who show, since I was thrilled to see him again when he made an appearance in the new series with David Tennant.

There are other popular TV show robots out there like the Cylons and the robot from Lost In Space, but sadly I have never seen those shows.

This has probably been the dorkiest post I've ever made.