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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.

Viva la Open Web

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Today was probably the biggest day for the open web in a long time.

WebM is a new project, lead by Google, Mozilla, opera and many other web leaders, http://www.webmproject.org is their new home. WebM is a open web video project, using the newly open sourced codec VP8 by On2 technologies, owned by Google and released under a royalty free, open source licences today at Google I/O.

Currently Chrome, Firefox and Opera all Support WebM, in the latest nightly builds. Links below. Using the Matroska container (.mkv files) for holding the VP8 and Ogg/Vorbis.

Opera

Chrome

Firefox

EDIT: opera

WebM/VP8 is supposed to be the highest quality, highest compressions, best bandwidth usage and just overall the best codec out there.  Now that it’s open source, the codec debate should die. OGG is nice, but nothing compared to VP8. H.264 is pricey and not free/open anything.  Opera and Firefox previously supported OGG.  IE9 and Safari supported H.264. Chrome Supported both, but Chromium only supported Ogg.

On the first day, Opera, Firefox and Chrome (presumably Chromium as well) have put their full weight behind Webm. Chrome is the builder of webkit,  so presumable safari will join on board the VP8 bandwagon. The only Problem with this being the universal web video codec, is IE9 who has only said they will support H.264, but I suspect that will change in the coming days.

This just in: IE9 to support WebM/VP8


Screenshot of Firefox 3.7A running WebM on youtube.

Among the other goodies released today, are the Google Web font directory. Fonts hosted at google that you can click to embed into your own website. http://code.google.com/webfonts

Happy Surfing on the open web, No beach tags required.

Notes on apache

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Some notes I made for myself for setting up my server again, which runs php 5.2, and has pretty directories and a few other goodies. Hope this helps someone.

All instructions are good for opensuse 11.2 with apache 2.2.

Enabled directories:

Add this to httpd.conf

srv/www/htdocs/alpha1beta/files”>

Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews

</Directory>

repeat as desired

Add CSS styling directories:

edit /etc/apache2/mod_autoindex-defaults.conf

Add IndexStyleSheet “http://alpha1beta.com/css/indexstyle.css

to the end of it, and add the CSS sheet to the directory.

Change icons:

Add this repo

http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/home:/javierllorente/openSUSE_11.2/

zypper install apache2-icons-oxygen

zypper install apache2-icons-oxygen

HttpD.conf

Comment out:

#Include /etc/apache2/mod_autoindex-defaults.conf

Add:

Include /etc/apache2/mod_autoindex-defaults-oxygen.conf

Follow instructions at Add CSS styling directories: to add the css back to it.

Adding Google analytics to a 404 or other error page

Get your google analytics code

CD usr/share/apache2/error/include/

Edit bottom.html

Add the GA code right above </body>

Add Search to a 404 or other error page

CD usr/share/apache2/error/include/

edit top.html

Add this in the CSS area

#search{

padding: 4px;

width: 400px;

position: relative;

margin-left: auto;

margin-right: auto;

margin-top: -60px;

}

Below the <h1>…</h1>

Add this, customize as needed

<form name=”gs” id=”gs” method=”get” action=”http://www.google.com/search”&gt;

<div id=”search”>

<table><tr><td>

<input type=”text” name=”q” size=”25″ maxlength=”255″ value=””>

<input type=”submit”value=”Google!”>

</td></tr>

<tr><td>

<input type=”checkbox” name=”sitesearch” value=”alpha1beta.com”>Only search Alpha1beta.com<br>

<input type=”checkbox” name=”sitesearch” value=”alpha1beta.wordpress.com”>Include Alpha1beta.wordpress.com<br>

</td></tr></table>

</div>

</form>

The 2nd checkbox can be removed, but it uses if you want to have a 2nd site search option, IE. A blog posted at wordpress/tumblr.

Php.ini timezone

edit /etc/php5/apache2/php.ini

find “[Date]

; Defines the default timezone used by the date functions

; http://php.net/date.timezone

;date.timezone =

Remove the ; to uncomment date.timezone, and add your timezone as found

http://www.php.net/manual/en/timezones.php

End result looks like this

[Date]

; Defines the default timezone used by the date functions

; http://php.net/date.timezone

date.timezone =America/New_York

php.ini file size upload

Search ‘upload_max_filesize’

Set to something like

upload_max_filesize = 25M

Search ‘post_max_size’

Edit to something matching or higher than max_filesize, like this

post_max_size = 25M

How to fix America

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I don’t feel like giving away all the reasons behind these, so Instead of a blog, I’m just going to list some ideas and let you think on them and how it would effect the United States.

  • Kill off all attempts at lobbying. To many cases where that turns into bribery and buying politicians.
  • Kill campaign contributions.  Give candidates set budgets.
  • Tax cigarettes outrageously, I think $14 a pack would do. While we’re at it, make the age to smoke 21 too.
  • Tax Alcohol very highly too. Make it too expensive for teenagers to buy.
  • Make the dropout age from school earlier. If they’re gonna drop out the second they become 16, why not make it 14 and save money and teachers for students that care.
  • Make the age to drive older, maybe get your permit at 17.
  • Jam cell phones inside all cars with their ignition on.
  • Create a universal millionaire tax. The more you make the more your taxed, growing exponentially.
  • Elections every 2 years. This makes sure politician are always on their way on or out, cuts campaigning time, and cuts the time they’re a lame duck and can do whatever they want.
  • Nationwide broadband and FCC monitored rates.
  • Provide a visible way of identifying drunk drivers in all states.
  • Providing funding for catholic and other private schools. If this allows people to get a better education, why not help them out.

I think thats a good start.

Open Letter to Governor Christie on the funding for REBEL

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Dear Governor Christie and whomever else it may concern,

I know you are in a tough position with the budget, but there are somethings that just should not be cut, because the good they do much outweighs the price to keep them running.

REBEL, is just such an organization. Mainly funded from the fruits of many tobacco lawsuits, REBEL takes money from the tobaccos companies and and uses it to help enlighten people to the evils they cause. REBEL is a great help to the people of New Jersey.  Through REBEL, teenagers get to have fun on the trips and retreat, be involved in a program they can directly contribute to, and get to see the differences they make, in the lives of smokers, and young people who tobaccos companies illegally target.  They also get to talk directly to their peers about it, see their reactions, and are trusted as friends, instead of corny overpaid TV and Radio ads, or sad attempts like the WE card to cut back on tobacco use.

That’s the bonus. The kids involved enjoy this, as well as being able to have a direct impact, without paying for Ads and won’t work anyway.  I personally have done 10 mini-MTLS (Mini tobacco learning symposiums) Teaching freshmen in high school the dangers of smoking, not sounding like a corny advertisement, but talking to them, as they would ask an older friend for advise on college. They listen, and they respect our voices, because we are people their age talking to them are their friends and peers. We Talk, they listen. I believe we have a better effect on them than parents, ads and counselor do, because we know our stuff, provide relevant, interesting and up to date information, and deliver in in such a way that we grab and hold their attention, but are still respected as their friends and peers.

The teachers also listen when we talk. After my school added its zero tolerance tobacco policy, teachers were no longer permitted to sneak smoke breaks. A Teacher who had a lot of influence on me, switched to gum and has quit, because of the rules several of us have gotten enacted. Several other teachers have, last I saw, but back on how often they smoke, and are trying to ease into quiting. This was also done, because of REBEL and two students who helped enact a comprehensive tobacco policy at our school with the help of our moderator and Burlington county REBEL adviser.

I am a strong believer in the anti-tobacco movement. I picked it up from my dad, who smoked on and off for several years, never became addicted, but eventually realized it effected his breathing, his running, and overall mentality. He told me from an early age what it did to him, even for the very little time he smoked. He quit as soon as he made the connection between his health problems and smoking, and was one of the lucky ones that was able to quit. Its a good thing he did, because my mothers always told him, if he had smoked when they met, she would not have acknowledged his existence.

I’ve been a rebel member for 3 years (From the time my school started rebel until I graduated), and even thought my college does not have a REBEL chapter, I still help out and support rebel at every chance. I have 3 brothers who are active in rebel as well, two of which spent some time in REBEL 2 in grade school. I was proud to, as a new member be included on signing a petition that helped pass the New Jersey Clean air act, and have gone to several REBEL conventions, county meeting, and help out for out school meetings.  Most of those mini MTLS’ I did, were coming back as a alumni, to help teach these kids about the dangers of tobacco.

REBEL plays several roles. One, teaching the members about anti-tobaccos so they know better for use later in life. Two, teaching fellow students and being active in the youth community promoting tobacco free lifestyles and showing the harm it does in order to keep young people from ever trying it to begin with.  Members are also included on helping to reform rules in schools to create a comprehensive tobacco policy. And lastly, We take the knowledge and skills outside of the youth and school community to our older friends, family members are others that we care about, and try to get them to quit by teaching them, what they were never taught growing up.

In my school REBEL worked with another club, that promoted generally healthy lifestyles, free of drinking and drugs. When we formed rebel,  most of us in the other club, joined REBEL because it promoted the same ideals were were already living, and allowed us to help others as well as have fun.  Some of my best memories of high school came from trips and events that involved REBEL, from rocking climbing, to hiking and camping, to teaching a class of 30 freshmen about smoking and seeing their faces as the come to the realization of how back it actually is for them.  It has also given me a chance to meet a lot of new people from other schools, who I never would’ve meet otherwise, as well as grow closer to some old friends through the time we spent together and common interests.

From a monetary standpoint just think of what little REBEL costs to run. Compare that to the money saved from health bills further down the line. You’ve got the statistics, take a look at what it costs a person to smoke for a lifetime, both in cost of tobacco, and health care, its more than it costs to have a few preventative measures in place. Then again, health care costs may not actually be too high, the tobacco will probably kill them before it gets to that point.

So Governor Christie, I’m asking you, leave some funding in there for REBEL, You get your money’s worth. Free spokesmen and women, who believe int he message and work better than any paid advertisement ever does, who take their time and effort to help smokers, the young people who are targeted by tobacco companies, and people in general, who no longer have to sit in a diner and smell cigarette smoke polluting the air. This is one investment you can’t afford to turn down.

If I didn’t believe in the cause, do you think I would’ve taken my time to write you this letter?  Help us make New Jersey a better place by funding REBEL, and promoting a tobacco free, not just smoke free, lifestyle starting at an early age.