January 2010 Archives

Wacom Intuos.4 Pen Tablet

Fireworks is a hybrid graphics editor (supports both bitmap & vector in same document) that Adobe bought from Macromedia in 2005. It's sorta like Photoshop, but designed with web graphics in mind, and it seems to be making a comeback. I used it to prep the image that accompanies today's entry.

Intuos4 by Wacom While familiarizing myself with its toolset, I learned that certain tools (e.g. » the vector-path scrubber) were designed to be used primarily with a TABLET .. such as those made by Wacom.

Really? So I checked the Wacom site. Very cool. Definitely qualifies as techno-lusty. Better grab a towel before visiting, cuz you'll likely drool all over your keyboard.

Their most popular model seems to be the » Medium-sized Intuos pen-tablet (now at version 4), which sells for » $319. Tons of positive reviews from folks who rave about it.

They also have a Small Intuos.4 that sells for » $229. (Reviews listed for the Small tablet seem to be grouped together with those for the Medium.)

Wacom is a Japanese company established in 1983, with US headquarters in Washington state.

They also make two high-end tablets for their Cintiq series (sin-teak) » the 21UX, which sells for » $1,900. And the »12WX, which sells for » $925. Compare these 2 top models » here. Both obviously designed for creative professionals.

With an eye toward marketing their wares to the average joe-consumer (rather than being limited to just the high-end professional), Wacom recently released their » Bamboo series, which sells for only » $85.

Their Bamboo 'Fun' model comes with a slightly bigger screen and additional software bundled, doubling the price to » $170.

Note the version of Photoshop Elements that ships with the Bamboo is NOT the latest .. otherwise (at $85) it would be a killer deal, since PE.8 sells for $80 by itself. [ PE.8 = latest; Bamboo ships with PE.7 ]

My buddy Steve is a fellow technoluster who works as an editor in the Film industry down in South Africa (.. Johannesburg, or Jo'burg, as the local Afrikaans refer to it). You might remember him as the fellow who sent the photos of Mozambique and Cape Town and Drakensberg. He's been using a Small Intuos for 6 or 7 years. Here's some of his comments from our exchange last night:

The Bug Turns 5 | A Reason to Celebrate

Happy MLK day. The Bug is back. Woohoo! He spent the holidays back East, visiting relatives. I missed him something fierce. While away (for 3 weeks), he turned 5. I missed both Christmas & his birthday. (Come to think of it .. I've never seen him on Christmas. Ever.) So we had some catching-up to do.

HelicopterI got him one of those remote control flying helicopters he wanted. Found one on eBay for $15. From Hong Kong. (If you find a better deal, lemme know.)

Hard to believe they could sell it so cheaply .. especially when my buddy just bought one locally for $80. And his wasn't even made of real metal. So I wondered if the Hong Kong copter might be a scam, or bait-n-switch.

But it arrived fine. Just like the model pictured. (Took a week, tho.) Flew great, too. We were pretty stoked when that puppy lifted off the first time.

Are ya ready, dad? Ready for lift-off? Okay .. tell the passengers to climb aboard and fasten their seatbelts. Here we go.

The ad said "for ages 8 & up." But the Bug was able to fly it better than me after only 30 mins of practice. It's more fun than I thought it would be.

They claim it flies for 6-8 minutes with a full charge. But we flew it for 15-20. Maybe 25. Cuz you don't fly it constantly, but land intermittently. Practicing a nice, soft landing (on the bed) was the first order of business. We used a DVD case as a landing pad.

It charges thru either thru a cable attached to the remote control (which is powered by 6 AA batteries), or via a supplied USB cable. (The USB port on your computer supplies ½ an amp, which is decent.)

I chose this particular model cuz of its battery rating (» 180-mAh), which was the best I found for a copter that size. A higher rating means more power & longer flying time.

One little quirk about this model » because it has a GYRO, you need to turn it ON while it's sitting on a level surface .. in the upright position .. to properly 'orientate' the gyro. Not the easiest thing to do (tiny switch).

I had problems installing MODx Revolution (« a cool, new PHP-based Content Management System). I tracked the source of these problems to 'permission' settings applied to certain files & folders within the /modx installation directory.

suPHPEvery file and folder on a Linux server has an assigned permission setting. These settings control WHO can do WHAT (.. to/with a particular file or folder). The 'WHAT' aspect addressees the authorization to:

  • read (4)
  • write (2)
  • execute (1)

.. or some combination thereof. For example » 6=4+2 = read + white, while 5=4+1 = read + execute, and 4 = read-only. The 'WHO' part is divided into the following categories:

  • OWNER .. of the file/directory (me) Represented by the number listed FIRST.
  • GROUP-member .. assigned permission to access the file/directory (set by me)
  • THE WORLD (.. represented by number listed LAST)

The most-permissive of these settings is » 777 (4+2+1) which lets any-BODY do any-THING (.. known as 'world-writable'). In other words, it would let anybody (including a hacker) » read, write & execute my file(s). This is why most admins cringe at the idea of setting a permission to 777.

The first 7 is cool, cuz that lets ME (the file's 'owner') do whatever I want. The second 7 is also cool, cuz it lets the members of a GROUP (that I select) do certain things (such as read, write & execute files). It's that last 7 where the trouble lies. It lets anybody else do whatever they like. Not good for security.

MODx 2.0 RevolutionWhile installing MODx, I discovered (thru trial-n-tribulation) that I needed to set certain directories (deemed 'writable') to 777 .. in order for the program to install. And I wasn't the only one experiencing this problem.

For me, sadly, this was a deal-breaker. I was excited about the new MODx Revolution (currently at beta5). It has some really cool features. But I was unwilling to operate with any files or folders set (permanently) to 777.

Before abandoning my quest however, (to explore MODx Revolution), I decided to see if I could find a solution.

While searching, I noticed some files & folders within the /modx directory that had an 'owner' listed as » 'nobody' .. something I'd never seen before. [ The 'owner' of all other files on my server is normally listed as 'rad.' ]

This mysterious Mr. 'nobody' (I learned) is the default Apache user. (Tho I hear it can sometimes be listed as 'apache'.)

In a practical sense, when your system is configured to run PHP as an Apache user (which is common .. also called the 'web server user') .. any files or folders CREATED by the PHP program/script will be assigned an owner of 'nobody'.

First Post with Movable Type 5.0

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Movable Type 5.0 was released yesterday (on the 5th). I installed it today. See here » Ye Olde Rad Blog 4.

Movable TypeI decided against upgrading MT v4.33, which is currently installed at this subdomain » mt4.radified.com. It contains ~200 entries, such as the one you're reading now.

Rather I installed a clean/fresh version of MT5 .. with a brand-spankin' new database (UTF-8, of course). Didn't want to chance losing those 200 entries.

Beautiful piece of software. I've been using Movable Type since 2003, when I installed v2.63 .. to the subdomain » blog.radified.com (« which contains 343 entries).

I also have v3.35 installed » HERE (103 entries). You can see I have ~7 years of experience with this software. So I've seen how it has progressed. Impressive development.

Notice I was 'blogging' for 3 years before I knew there existed a word for it. This is why I named it » 'Ye Olde Rad Blog.' I liked the play between old(e) & new terms.

People would write and ask, "What blog are you using?" I didn't know what they meant. They used the term 'blog' as a noun, but references I saw used it as a verb. So their questions confused me.

"Blog? I use Dreamweaver." [ They really meant to say 'blogging software.' But I didn't know such a thing existed. ]

Movable Type merely helps automate the process I was using. These days they're calling it a full-blown CMS (Content Management System) .. rather than just a blog. Whatever. "Ye Olde Rad CMS"? I don't think so.

You know what Joel says » "Good software takes 10 years. Get used to it." MT was first released back in 2001. So it's nearly 10 years old. Very polished, feature-rich and rock-solid stable. Even for a whole-number, point-oh release.

But I don't use Movable Type to create content. I find its web-based interface too clunky. Rather I use Dreamweaver to generate everything. It's way faster. The same entry in MT's text editor would take twice as long. (Maybe more.)

When generating content, you want it to flow out of you .. like a river of ideas & insights. There are delays associated with any web-based interface. When generating content, those delays stifle creativity.

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This page is an archive of entries from January 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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