Sunday, 10 July 2005

Week wrap-up

Busy, busy week. Busiest period of my life for quite some time.

Graphics grokking with the GIMP

Earlier in the week I was asked to design a logo for a sports club of a department in a government agency. Okay, I replied, give me a few days and I'll see what I can do.

Later, I got in front of PC and started playing around with my graphics software. I tried to couple of this and that and 10 minutes later, voilĂ !: I finally realized that I'm a complete graphics noob. My knowledge of graphics manipulation and editing is actually next to nothing.


I'm using GIMP 2.2, which is an excellent piece of software, by the way.

A noob like me needs all the help he can get. And as Carey Bunks would say, I need to grok graphics and the GIMP.

Grokking the GIMP is a book and website by Mr. Bunks himself. The book covers the basics on how to use GIMP as well as concepts related to graphics and photo editing. The book's entire content is available online and it's even downloadable in .tar.gz archive format. .gz is an archiving format similar to .zip that Window users often use, except .gz is more oftenly used in Unix and Linux.

But what is grok or grokking, anyway? In the introduction to the book, the author wrote,
The title of this book, Grokking the GIMP, is drawn from Robert A. Heinlein's classic science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land. His story is about Valentine Michael Smith, the only survivor of the first human expedition to Mars and raised from infancy by Martians. The rescue mission arrives twenty years later to bring a young man knowing nothing of his own kind back to earth. The story recounts his repatriation and his adventures as he comes to grok the human race and his place in it. Grok, a word he often uses, is the Martian word meaning ``to drink,'' but which also serves as a quasi-religious metaphor in the Martian culture for having a profound appreciation and understanding for something.

Heinlein's book, published in 1961, drew immediate acclaim in the science-fiction world, and the story became a part of the iconoclastic cultural sentiment of the 60s in the United States. Today, the word grok is a part of the U.S. computer hacker vocabulary, and its definition can be found in The New Hacker's Dictionary.
After some 'grokking around', I managed to do the below: a drop-shadow effect for the patterned square. Nothing nifty, but it's a start.


Classes commenced

Last week was also the first week of class, and there were surprises in store for me.

First of all, everyone was given a name-stand-thingy to be placed in front of them so that the lecturers can recognize them. Not only for the first class or the first week or the first month, but for the whole semester. Other surprises were pleasanter: post-grad students do not have to collect their ID matric card from the designated office, they GIVE you your ID matric card in class. Even the library bar sticker used for borrowing books was pasted on by them.

Did I mentioned that there is coffee/tea/Milo-making machine in the classroom? Sweet.

The people in my class are nice and helpful and come from all walks of life. Engineer, lecturer, insurance people, manager, government servant, Omanese, Thai, Eritrean, Bangladeshi, fresh graduates, not-so-fresh graduate, etc. A lovely bunch.

Looking forward to the rest of the semester.

'Death' at Kinokuniya

Over the weekend, my friend Nasir from JB was in town. While waiting for him to arrive later in the afternoon, I stopped by Kinokuniya to kill some time. And this book caught my attention. Maybe its the "decides to die" part, or maybe because it's penned by Paulo Coelho, author The Alchemist and the recently released, The Zahir.

I read the whole first chapter and about 0.5% of the second. I can see why Coelho is one of the most celebrated writers at the moment and this is my first time reading any of his works. One of the smoothest wordsmith I've met so far.

In the book, Veronika takes a trip from living to a brief death (a failed suicide attempt actually) and back to life again. In the process of killing herself with pills, Veronika encounters questions about things around her that are stilll unanswered making her think hesitatingly about dying. Slowly life unravels herself before her and she realizes that everything happens for a reason. Including why she didn't die, although I haven't got to the part yet.

I haven't saved enough money to buy it and donations are welcomed. :)


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