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Off the turnpike: Hiking the Garden State

I am not normal. I am destined for a desk job in an air conditioned office, writing code all day, but on the other hand I love being outside in nature.  Hiking (Or short trekking, as if I had my way, the map and GPS would only be backup), rock climbing, kayaking, rafting, fishing, camping (Which I don’t get to ever do it seems) and now I’ve added geocaching to the list. I’m also damn proud of my state as I state here, the state is not everything people say, there are no toxic waste dumps, and everything is not off the turnpike, and there are hundreds of miles of hiking.

I recently moved into an apartment for college. If you follow me on twitter or know me, then you know more details about that and maybe the area. It’s in the New Jersey Skylands, or the Highlands, depending on your discipline., which is a prime spot for hiking. Just a dozen or so miles from the Appalachian trail (AT), which provides 72 miles of trails coming from New York State into New Jersey slightly North if High Point in Montague, down to Mt. Tammany, a 1526 foot peak. Across from Mt. Minsi, it ends the southern portion of the AT in New Jersey, and its a popular short day hike. Easily done in a day, even coming from points as far as Cape may, it’s one of the better hikes in New Jersey, but as I’ve come to find, not the best. I’m sure you may want maps and more info on these hikes, and I’ll list info for all hikes mentioned here at the very button of the page. Read the rest of this entry

Backup and Syncing apps (AKA I love dropbox)

As a Student, automatic backup and sync software, comes in real handy. I started using dropbox back in 2008 and it has saved my butt many times, and I’ve recently joined Wuala and SugarSync to compare them, and of course get more awesome cloud storage and backups. Read the rest of this entry

Gmail@EDU saves college students money

College kids don’t have money, and most companies know and respect that we’re poor, but still want to learn and grow. Most offer student discounts, sometimes very generous ones, like Adobe. Others offer free stuff, or unbeatable deals, like the Windows 7 Ultimate steal.

Gmail has a trick where many “ghost” email addresses go to the same place. It’s useful in gmail, but when coupled with the power of a @Edu email address, it can save students a fancy penny or two. Read the rest of this entry

How to make mod_rewrite work on openSUSE 11.3

As you may know, this blog is hosted at home, on my 5 year old computer, running openSUSE 11.3, and apache.

Just a quick how to, of what I did to make it work. Read the rest of this entry

The College Scam

My expedience as a New Jersey College student attending a local community college in (high) hopes to transfer seamlessly to a 4 years university.


People always joke about how community college is not a real school, and popular TV shows, such as community enforce that mindset.  In New Jersey, a law was passed where all credits earned in New Jersey must transfer to all colleges within the state, assuming the college your trying to transfer too offers the same course. Thats not exactly true anymore, but thats not BCC’s fault, as much as I’d like to blame them. Because of this law, many students choose to get their first two years of college out of the way at the should-be-cheaper community college, in this case Burlington County College. I choose it for the money and ability to work at a flexible schedule while going to school. I made a mistake. Read the rest of this entry

Darktable is open source darkroom (Adobe lightroom clone) for linux.

After switching my major to graphic design, I was looking for linux software to replace the standard expensive adobe suite that is the standard of design.  While searching around ubuntu repos and my favorite resource, software.opensuse.org I saw a program with a promising description. Darktable, who’s website describes it as

darktable is a virtual lighttable and darkroom for photographers: it manages your digital negatives in a database and lets you view them through a zoomable lighttable. it also enables you to develop raw images and enhance them.

It reminds me of Adobe Lightroom, my favorite piece of the adobe suite I could never convince myself to buy, because it lacked the linux support I so desperately need. Darktable, right off the bat, meets 2 of my most important needs. One of course, is linux support, specially my favorite distro, openSUSE (But I also found it in repos for Ubuntu, which I am giving another try), and it is Free, and open source under the GPLv3 or above.

In ubuntu, it, there’s a PPA and .debs listed on their Launchpad, and sure enough, openSUSE had rpms in a standard repo (multimedia:photo/openSUSE_11.3)

Installer for openSUSE 11.3.

It is not in the 11.1 or 11.2 repos, however, it has made it into the factory repos. I’d be willing to bet the current release would work on older versions of openSUSE, but if they don’t please sound off in the comments, and I shall fix it appropriately. Source and git snapshots are also available, as well as Fedora, Gentoo, arch linux, and even some (outdated) Mac OSX builds. Their sourceforge page says a windows version is in the works.

Now let me just say, darktable is awesome. Just awesome. It is just what it claims to be, a digital darkroom, contrast, temperature controls, lighttable, tonecurves, exporsure. Think of anything Adobe Lightroom can do, and I’d bet a days’ wages that darktable can do it. (Ok, pick a day, any day…that I’m not working 😉 )

I’ve been playing with darktable quite a bit for my many graphic design classes, But as I have to turn all that work in, You can see my test screenshot below, or visit their screenshot gallery.

Among its little bonus feature is the ability to save to Picasa web albums, a good replacement for the wine-cannibalized version of picasa provided by google.

As their Main developer,henrik, pointed out in a comment on the original post, Darktable is non destructive. It saves the changes to text files, not actually editing the original image. This also allows you to take snapshots of changes, and apply the history stack to multiple images, so your perfect changes using darktable’s 20 plus tools, can be reapplied to any image you want to.

To export the changes to an image, you double click the image your editing, which sends it back into the album view, where you can select one or many images, and then use an export tool, to save the changes.

Just one small example of darktable’s abilities, not particularity good, but I can safely say, this has becomes a permanent part of my  linux photo toolkit.

Original Image

Darktable edited Image, color distortion, Vignetting, and a few other minor distorts just to show darktable's power.