MaW's Musings

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No graphic due to the content of this week's musing... ed

Hello and welcome to another week's edition of MaW's Musings, which this week should be more interesting than the disastrous article which disgraced the Post last week due to my suffering from Writer's Block. Thankfully, this week I am not suffering from such a condition. Instead, I've been arguing with my graphics software.

The Gimp

Some of you may have heard of The Gimp1, but for those of you who don't know, I shall introduce it as absolutely the best bitmap-based graphics software that one can obtain for free2. Written (at least initially) by Spencer Kimball and Peter Matiss, the Gimp has swiftly established itself as the premier image editing application for anything that runs GNU/Linux and other free operating systems3. It has spawned an enormous legacy by the creation of the Gimp Tool Kit (GTK), which was originally written just for the Gimp's user interface, but which now forms the basis of the GNOME4 desktop environment, which Sun have now adopted as the future standard for Solaris, replacing the ageing and much-disliked CDE.

So while GNOME ploughs merrily on towards version 2 (a complete architecture rewrite), has the Gimp been left behind? Oh no, Gimp 2 is also in the works, with a new imaging system to power it and based on the new and much improved GTK+ 2 interface toolkit (which also forms the basis for the GNOME 2 platform).

But that's not what I wanted to tell you about. The problem with the Gimp is, it doesn't matter that you have a totally free Photoshop-killer running on your computer if you don't have any artistic talent to put into it.

The Problem

My intention is to create a fantastic logo for MaW's Musings. I have the idea all laid out in my mind. The problem? Well, the problem is that I can't draw, and the idea requires the creation of some original artwork. My strongest talents with the Gimp and most other computer imaging software are with the use of built-in rendering tools and the effects that can be achieved by the use of these in combination with alpha transparency, colour modification and layers. Some things are easy to make this way. Others aren't.

No matter how hard I try, I always seem to get something wrong. The Gimp supports vector pathing, a highly useful tool which allows bezier paths to be created interactively on the canvas, and then stroked using a specific brush. It is with this tool that I embarked upon the creation of a dip pen, the finishing touch for the MaW's Musings logo.

The first try was a disaster. If sausages had nibs, that is what they would look like. The second try didn't fair much better and, owing to some confusion with which tool was selected, I managed to destroy the third before I had a chance to see how well it went5. Attempt four was an improvement, and thus I needed only to modify it slightly for attempt five, which is currently half-completed.

After much sweat, agony and tears, I have almost completed the MaW's Musings logo, and it should be ready for next week's column. Hail to the Gimp, for without it I surely could not have expressed my meagre artistic talent in an even remotely presentable manner. Hail to the Gimp, for without layers all my efforts would have been abandoned long ago. Hail to the Gimp, for it is free, and has been ported to Windows and MacOS.

The Moral

And the moral of this story is? Well, put it this way: next time DoctorMO offers to create a logo for your column, take him up on it.

No More Music

At the current time I have no more music and books to report on, so other than to mention that Fauré's Requiem is seriously good and well worth the price of the CD (it's usually quite cheap, as classical music is not exploited by the record industry as much as other kinds), I shall not be dwelling on this section this week. Or next week, for that matter - there are currently no new albums or books in the works that I wish to purchase which will be released before Christmas. Isn't that depressing?

It's very good for the bank balance, though. See you next week, when, if luck holds6, MaW's Musings shall have its own custom-made and highly unprofessional logo.


25.10.01. Front Page

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1The GNU Image Manipulation Program2Legally, that is.3Such as FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD...4GNU Network Object Model Environment - yes, I know it's a cumbersome name. The acronym is apparently pronounced Guh-Nome.5Although I suspect it didn't go well.6I bet it won't, having said that.

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