Hidden Gem in Totem

This morning Nicu sent me a video to show his usage of the GNOME Shell as he promised in response to my GNOME Shell Usability Test Plan. As I was viewing the video in totem I wanted to pause on particular parts of the animation on Nicu’s desktop to try to get a better feel for how it was behaving. I really needed to step slowly through, frame-by-frame, to find the exact frame I was looking for. I looked in the totem menus to see if such a control existed, but I did not find it, so I mentioned in IRC, ‘ i wish there was a way to get totem to go frame-by-frame.’ Turns out there is! It’s a hidden gem – keep hitting the ‘.’ key with a video open in totem to progress through the video frame-by-frame. To move frame-by-frame backwards, in future versions of totem you’ll be able to hit the ‘,’ key. When I was talking to totem hacker extraordinaire Bastien about how to use the feature and how useful it was, he added some suggestions for improving the feature that will make it even easier for me to review usability videos in detail: Bug …

GNOME Shell Usability Test Plan

The need to test GNOME Shell For the past couple of weeks I’ve been working with Jon McCann, Jeremy Perry, and Owen Taylor on developing a usability testing plan for GNOME Shell. It’s a work-in-progress, and I wanted to make a quick posting about the effort and where it’s going. Now as you may have learned from earlier posts on various blog planets, or in Marina Zhurakhinskaya’s GNOME Journal article last November, GNOME Shell defines the user experience for GNOME 3, to address the more fully-networked computing environment of today as well as to reach a wider audience. A great change has occurred in the way technology affects people’s lives since the original GNOME 2 was designed, including the introduction of new and disruptive technologies such as micro-blogging, large-scale social networking, and the increasingly predominant availability and usage of web-based mobile phones. With so many streams of content and information we need to manage, and it’s hard to keep focused and on task on the desktop. GNOME Shell is designed to account for these changes, to make desktop computing delightful and comfortable in spite of the amount of information we need to process in the course of our work on …

Inkscape Class Day 7

Friday morning, I taught the seventh session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.) Friday’s Class Well, this Inkscape course is quickly wrapping up. One more class after this past one on Friday. The students’ work was due at the end of this class and they all did great work in prepping their designs for the printer. I handed out a sheet with the export instructions (available for download below.) We weren’t exactly sure the best approach to gather up the files at first; Ken had set up a shared drive on the network for the students to save their work to, but on some of the Macs, Inkscape’s export bitmap dialog could not see the shared drive (and some could!) What we ended up doing: Have the students export their work out to the desktop – 300 dpi, PNG format. I asked them to use either their band name or their own name in the file so I could tell them apart. Then, ask them open up the appropriate network drive folder and drag both the …

Unpackaged Font of the Week: Gillius ADF

Gillius ADF is a sans-serif typeface, heavily inspired by the famous Gill Sans MT typeface by Eric Gill – who designed Gill Sans inspired by the Johnston typeface designed for the London Underground which Gill had worked on as an apprentice. The Arkandis Digital Foundry created the Gillius ADF font under the GPL with font exception. There is an alternative version available too (that also needs packaging 🙂 ) called Gillus ADF No. 2. Each font has regular and condensed variants, each with bold, italic, and bold italic versions. The coverage is not bad for extended Latin characters: Gillius ADF is a nice, clean font that should serve you well both in regular body text in documents as well as for headings and logo treatments. It’s a versatile and very readable font, just like the Gill Sans typeface that inspired it. One thing you might want to be aware of when working with Gillius ADF – just as cultural context anyway – in the same way that Helvetica is used heavily in the United States, especially on municipal and transit system signage, Gill Sans is used heavily in the UK and recalls ‘mid-century’ type usage in the UK. Gillius ADF, …

See you at RPI!

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, or more affectionately known as RPI, is my alma mater. It was pretty clear to me early on that it was the right school for me. Behold, the RPI campus computing center (Voorhees Computing Center): That’s right, it’s inside of a church – they take computing seriously at RPI – obviously a great place to recruit current and future free & open source hackers! 🙂 I’ll be at the RPI Spring 2010 Career Fair in Troy, NY with my colleague John (who also started the Inkscape class project) – we’ll be representing Red Hat as two past RPI students. If you are an RPI student and are interested in a career at Red Hat, please stop by our booth at the Armory between 12 – 5 pm tomorrow – say hi and see what opportunities we might have for you! By the way, I’ll be back on campus this Friday, February 5th to give a talk about Fedora, from 4-5 PM in JEC 3117. More details are at the Rensselaer Center for Open Source website. I’ll have plenty of Fedora swag, so if you’re in the capital region and are interested please stop by and say hi …

Inkscape Class Day 6

Yesterday morning, I taught the sixth session of an 8-session (40 minutes per session) course on Inkscape at a Boston-area middle school. (For more general details about the class check out my blog post on day 1.) Yesterday’s Class Yesterday’s class, like last Thursday’s class, was primarily a working class. After this class we have only two sessions left, and the students’ artwork is due at the end of next session, so we’ve been giving them as much time as possible during class to work on their designs. When I passed out the shirt size signup sheet last week, one of the students was absent, so I got his size and sent Walter at EmbroidMe Chelmsford a quick email listing of all the T-shirt sizes we’d need so he would be ready to have the shirts printed when we send the designs on Friday. I gave some quick instructions on working with the align & distribute tool in Inkscape – since we are getting close to the end of class, I thought going over alignments would be helpful for the students in making final preparations for their artwork to be handed off. One of the scenarios I used to explain …