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Just back from holidays, two computerless weeks (apart from 1 hour) of sun, sea and sand (and driving – all in all, I drove 3600 km). Still catching up with all that’s happened while I was away.

It’s a pity time doesn’t stand still while you’re on vacation, since a large part of the good feeling you build up while not working ends up getting sucked into the hole of built-up work the day you get back.

Anyway, the Irish almost had no influence on the olympics, until the last two days, when we won a gold, and a madman may have lost another one.

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Just don’t think about where it comes from…

For the coffee lovers among you, I present Kopi Luwak, $1000 per kilo. (French article).

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What’s new in the GIMP 2.1

I saw Edd’s blog entry about the fashion show, and was wondering why he’d left off the GIMP. So I asked him. And he asked me what was new in the GIMP.

So here it is – a list of the 5 biggest changes in the GIMP since we branched the 2.0 maintenance branch back at the end of April.

  1. Shortcut editor

    You can now edit your shortcuts in a dedicated dialog, as well as continue to use the little-known dynamic shortcuts feature (which has been there since 1.2).

  2. Interoperability and standards support

    You can drag & drop and copy & paste image data from the GIMP to any application which support image/png drops (currently Abiword is the only one we know of) and image/xml+svg drops (Inkscape support this one). So you can copy & paste curves into the GIMP from Inkscape, and then drag a selection into Abiword to include it inline in your document.

    Patterns can now be any GtkPixbuf supported format, including png, jpeg, xbm and others.

    We can load gradients from SVG files.

    Drag & drop support has been extended. You can now drop file and URIs onto an image window, where they will be openes in the existing image as new layers.

  3. Plug-in previews

    We have provided a standard preview widget for plug-in authors which greatly reduces the amount of code required to support previews. David Odin is currently working on improving functionality of this widget (or rather, providing another widget which wraps the existing one) to allow arbitrary zooms and pans on a preview image. Very cool.

  4. HIG conformance

    A lot of work has been done on HIGifying the GIMP’s interface. Most dialogs now follows the HIG to the best of our knowledge. We’d love to have a GUI review for HIG compilance done, actually…

  5. GTK+ 2.4 migration

    – Menus use the GtkUIManager to generate menu structure dynamically from XML data files
    – GtkFileChooser is used everywhere in the GIMP
    – Support ARGB cursors when they are available on the system

There are a few others which are either too small to list, or are not yet finished and might not get into 2.2.

It is now possible to run the GIMP in batch mode without an X server. We have a GIMP binary which is not linked to GTK+ at all. That’s pretty cool.

The big possible feature is color management support (including soft proofing and display filters). There is quite a lot of infrastructure in place already, and since someone is now working on this, I am hopeful that this will be one of the headline features in 2.2.

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Politics talk

I’m going to see Fahrenheit 9/11 tomorrow, and over the weekend I had a big chat with some people about politics (particularly French politics, which I know far too little about).

But as usual when talking about politics in France, we got around to talking about Bush, and November’s elections. And I have started to form a pretty unpopular opinion…

I think Bush will win the election.

Note that I don’t *want* Bush to win the election. But I fear that the Democrats are going about things the whole wrong way. This election campaign brings back memories of the 1972 presidential campaign (2 years before I was born – I have a good memory).

I read “Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail” a few years back, and re-read it again about 6 months ago, and the parallels between the Nixon cabal and Bush’s cronies are pretty scary.

One of the similarities between 2004 and 1972 that comes across is that in 1972 the Democrats selected McGovern because he was the man who could beat Nixon (at least, after Muskie bombed out). And now, Kerry has been nominated and is being hailed for the same reason – he can beat Bush.

This is not the stuff of passion, and it is not the kind of campaign slogan that will win over the hearts of an electorate. “Kerry – he’s better than Bush” just will not cut it.

OK – so Kerry’s running partner has’t (to our knowledge) had electro-shock treatment in a psychiatric hospital, but he really isn’t presenting a new vision of things.

I want to see a political candidate not just say what’s wrong with the other guy, I want to see him get passionate about his way of seeing things. The republicans kind of have a lower standard expected of them. We expect them to be duplicitous, but we know what we get with them. And the reassurance of the devil you know may be too much for Kerry to overcome, unless he starts pushing a comprehensive list of reasons why people should vote *for* him, and not *against* Bush.