Object and Camera Path Tracking in Blender - "Monkey See Monkey Do"

Blender has a useful set of constraint-based animation tools which make it fairly simple to animate motion of objects or of the camera along controlled paths. I expect to use this a lot, so I want to make sure I understand how it works. Here I'm going to work out a simple example using the "Suzanne" monkey meshes in Blender 2.49 to demonstrate simple path and tracking constraints with a mesh and with the camera. Because everything is better with monkeys.

The MegaUpload Seizure Could Be An Opportunity

The US Department of Justice, chose the day after the massive Internet blackout protest against SOPA / PIPA to demonstrate their power by acting as if these laws were already in effect. At first, I was simply dismayed and angered by this reprehensible act, but I began to wonder if there isn't also an opportunity here to challenge a major part of of the legacy entertainment industry's rhetoric in a court of law, where their mendacity on the subject would constitute perjury.

Why Android might just kill GNU/Linux. Quickly.

I write this article exactly 24 hours after receiving my Galaxy Tab 10.1. It's something I've been wanting for a long time. I had to wait for the dispute between Apple and Samsung to settle (Samsung actually lost on millions of dollars worth of sales thanks to software patents, but that's another story). After all that, I came to the realisation that we are in front of a forking path. On one side there is the death of GNU/Linux as we know it. On the other side, there is a new exciting world where free software is still relevant. I am not writing this just to be "sensational": here is why.

Video editing with Kdenlive: Might be the sweet spot

So far, my favorite video editing app is Kdenlive. I found that it provided a relatively shallow learning curve and a familiar multi-track interface, but it also didn't make it hard to get to the kinds of controls I need for the precise control I want to have on vocational editing jobs.

Backup your data in Linux with Deja Dup

Hard disks break. Really, they do. When it happens, most people are sadly unprepared: even the most experienced computer person only recovers a (big?) portion of their data after a crash. Even today, with cloud computing. The reason? Backing up is tricky. If you use GNU/Linux or Ubuntu, it's easy enough to make an incremental backup using rsync and gpg. If you have no idea what this means, don't worry: yu will be able to use them without even knowing it.

Welcome to Déjà Dup, the best backup gem I have ever seen.

Staying happy with Gnumeric: finding the leading apostrophe

In my previous article about GNUMeric , entering data with a leading apostrophe, as in '12/3, ensures that the 12/3 will be interpreted by Gnumeric as text, even when the cell is formatted 'General'.

But Gnumeric displays the 12/3 without the apostrophe. It's hidden. This can lead to unpleasant little surprises when sorting groups of cells, some of which contain hidden apostrophes and some of which don't.

Video editing with OpenShot: Capable, but lacks some polish

The OpenShot video editor was the easiest to get in Ubuntu Studio's "Oneric Ocelot" release, so we had a chance to try it out recently. It's pretty good -- much more capable than Kino. It provides similar capabilities to Blender's VSE, but without the burden of learning Blender. In fact, the learning curve is very gentle, because the interface is clean and simple.

FOSDEM 2012, Hardware Security and Cryptography, Call for Papers

FOSDEM 2012 will take place in Brussels, the heart of EU.

This is a call for talks and presentations that will take place in the Security devroom at FOSDEM 2012. Do you develop software that can do HTTPS queries? Can it use keys and certificates on a smart card? Does your service use RSA keys for signing? Can it work with hardware keys? Are you interested in protecting your private keys like Three Letter Organizations or do you want to roll your own proper PKI with a smaller than five or six digit budget? How can we make cryptographic hardware Just Work with any application that uses crypto? The devroom is the place to share experiences and learn.

Video editing with Blender VSE: "It's complicated"

Coming from Kino, Blender's "Video Sequence Editor" is a huge step up. Most people don't think of Blender when considering video editing tools, but in fact, Blender contains a very good one. This is not a separate application but an editing mode within the Blender application. It can work directly with animated scenes created within Blender or with video footage from other sources. Evaluating it is a little tricky because of this unique niche.

Free Culture Pitfall: Bait-and-Switch Free Licensing

Last year, as I was checking the licensing and attribution on the tracks in my soundtrack library for Lunatics, I came across a bizarre and rather disturbing practice: bait and switch licensing as a ploy to sell music. This is a truly weird idea, if you understand what a free-license means, and it's deeply unethical, but here's what I think is going on: the artist (or more likely, some intermediary, such as a small record label) gets the idea of using a "free" loss-leader to try to draw people into buying a commercial/proprietary album.

Staying happy with Gnumeric: text as "text" (instead of "dates")

Gnumeric is an excellent spreadsheet application and gets a lot of use in our house. Every now and then, though, you can hear a "!Q#z$%* Gnumeric!" from me or my wife, because we didn't pay attention to cell formatting.

By default, every cell is formatted 'General', which means Gnumeric guesses what type of data you enter in that cell. Gnumeric seems to be particularly fond of dates, and strings that are definitely not dates get interpreted as dates anyway. If I enter 12/3, Gnumeric uses my Australian date format preferences and displays 12/3/2012.

Let us Pray: Yea Verily, Filesharing is a Religion. Official.

You've just got to love those crazy Swedes. Liberal, progressive, cool and politically correct. What's not to like? They've excelled themselves this time though. As dedicated filesharers they applied, and succeeded at the third attempt, to register filesharing as a religion.

Bach's Goldberg Variations commissioned for Public Domain Release

One of the responses to my earlier post about the MusOpen symphony recording project mentioned a project I had overlooked: the Open Goldberg project has created new public domain scores for the Bach's "Goldberg Variations" using the MuseScore free software musical notation software and is commissioning a studio recording of piano soloist Kimiko Ishizaka performing the pieces, also for public domain release (with

Allwinner A10: A GPL-compliant computer for $15

This is getting seriously ridiculous. Relative to the power and feature sets computers are getting cheaper and cheaper. But they don't come much cheaper than the Raspberry Pi, a $25 computer designed specifically to encourage children to program. My colleague, Ryan Cartwright wrote about it right here on FSM.

5daysprofitable: A corporate web site, start to finish, in 4 hours

In my previous article, I explained that I would embark in the Herculean task of starting a company, and make it successful and profitable, in just 5 days. And by using free software.

The first piece of this complex puzzle is a corporate web site. I had mine ready in less than 4 hours, start to finish. Here is what I did.

A company, zero to operational and profitable, in 5 days with free software

Everything started with a simple question my wife asked me: you are so good at teaching, why don't you do it? Given that I will only ever work in my own term, I would have to organize everything on my own: incorporation, web site, stationery, advertising, the lot. Chiara's question was natural: well, you can do all that basically for free with Free Software, right?

Right. So, the adventure begins: the bet is that I will have a company, zero to profitable (that means with customers, bookings, etc.) in 5 days.

UK Government u-turns on open standards policy - and look who's behind it?

When the coalition UK government was formed following the last general election there was some guarded optimism among those who support open standards (many of whom also support the ideals of free software). This was based on pre-election rhetoric from the two parties that formed the coalition in 2010. Less than a year later stories hit the headlines of a new open standards procurement policy.


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