Not dead, only sleeping!

It’s not quite “Goodbye!”

I’ve been very quiet for the last 6 months.  I had hoped that by now things
would have got back to normal, but it isn’t so, and there is little sign that
it will do for the foreseeable future.


Storm waves batter Blackpool Promenade

Storm waves batter Blackpool Promenade – the image that feels like my life at the moment

Early in May it became apparent that my family responsibilities were
increasing, and in fact they have increased massively so that I have little
time for any of my own interests.  As a result I’ve had to make some hard
decisions.  I’ve cut down considerably on the number of mailing lists that I
follow – that alone has made quite a difference.  Reluctantly, because I feel
guilty about it, I’ve left most of the UserBase work to Claus_chr and Yurchor.

What I have managed, and what I hope to continue to do until things change, is
regular checks for spammers on all three wikis (though Yurchor often gets there
before me!).  I’ve signed up more translators – which is great to see.  What’s
really missing is new stuff – new pages, and improvements that we planned to do over this year’.  Claus_chr is left pretty well working on his own on that level, so if you have any time to spare and are willing to work in Mediawiki,
please contact him on #kde-www or use the UserBase email facility to speak to him.

I’m still hoping that gradually things will calm down.  Who knows?  I might
even manage to keep Digikam fans up to date with Dmitri Popov’s blogs.
Whatever happens, I’m not dead, only sleeping, as the saying goes.

Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: , , ,

Machine Embroidery Management is coming to Linux!

I haven’t updated this topic since September, but I’m very excited about the progress so far.  You may remember that one develope, David Boddie, had done some work, with the result that I could build .png files to visualise my patterns within Dolphin, and that we were hoping that the other developer who had shown interest, Purple-Bobby, would join us.  That’s exactly what happened.  David and Robert Forsyth, a.k.a.Purple-Bobby, attacked the problem from different angles, which proved to be very informative, as they could feed on each other’s ideas.

I originally bemoaned the fact that my patterns, in the format .jef, could not be visualised without running Windows.  Some of you may have seen Linus Torvalds’ blog http://torvalds-family.blogspot.com/2010/01/embroidery-gaah.html on much the same subject.  David gave me .png, and Robert gave me .eps files to be used in the same way.  Neither developer can spare huge amounts of time for this project, but although much progress is incremental, sudden leaps forward happen.  It’s this latest leap forward that excites me.

First – an apology to the KTurtle team.  We have borrowed your icon.  This is, of course, temporary, but it reminded us of a X-Stitch pattern, so was the best available until we make our own.

Previewing in Dolphin

So this is a representation of the pattern held in the .jef file.  It’s not so easy to see in a small image, but the pattern is contained on a white background, which denotes the actual extent of stitching, while the yellow border surrounding it denotes the size of the hoop to be used.  The application already can gather a great deal of information about the pattern.  One of the considerations to follow this is whether some of that information could be included alongside the actual preview.  We have to wait to see the practicalities of that.  Meanwhile, take a look at how much information we can already gather:

[anne@anne-laptop JEFPreview]$
./JEFPreview LydgateDesign/ArtNouveau/ArtNouveauPeonies348868.jef
JEF file: LydgateDesign/ArtNouveau/ArtNouveauPeonies348868.jef
Thread count: 31                                                               
Stitch count: 56297 between 86 and 141 minutes                                 
Hoop: B 140.0mm x 200.0mm                                                      
Pattern: 123.2mm x 164.4mm                                                     
Threads Used:                                                                  
 1: 219 Olive Green 14.997m                                                   
 2: 213 Beige 14.748m                                                         
 3: 257 Cocoa Brown 21.986m                                                   
 4: 219 Olive Green 1.572m                                                    
 5: 214 Brown 9.322m                                                          
 6: 219 Olive Green 1.304m                                                    
 7: 215 Wine Red 3.264m                                                       
 8: 244 Cardinal Red 5.764m                                                   
 25: 215 Wine Red 0.594m
 26: 234 Coral 3.267m
 27: 244 Cardinal Red 0.254m
 28: 239 Sunflower 0.203m
 29: 270 Mustard 0.713m
 30: 234 Coral 1.319m
 31: 244 Cardinal Red 0.503m

So we know the number of thread changes, the number of stitches, and approximate time to stitch out.  This is always an under-estimation, because it can’t allow for how much time it takes to thread your needle another 30 times!  You’ll see that already there is a big spread in the estimation – the machine can work at different speeds, depending on the type of materials in use.  Then we have the hoop size and the actual pattern size – corresponding to the yellow and white rectangles in the preview.  Finally you have the thread identification number, name, and amount required for each colour change.

This is an impressive amount of information.  Most of it, if not all, can be obtained from the supplied Windows software, but not all in one place.  You have to access different modules of the software to find some of the information – most inconvenient.  As JEPreview stands it provides 98% of what I need.  I can then simply copy the .jef onto the CF card (the latest version of the machine has USB),  insert the card into the machine and stitch.  Of course, if I want to edit the file, change colours or move elements around, I am, for the moment still dependent on the Windows software.  Maybe one day that will be possible too.

Written by annew in: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Scratching that itch

Image created from .jef file

Image created from .jef file

When I wrote my last blog, “When you have an itch to scratch….” (http://lydgate.org/blogs/?p=17) it was with a forlorn hope.  It seemed to me that my need was not a common one, so it was unlikely that anyone would be interested, particularly since I could give little or no information to help a project get started.  I should have had more faith in the world of FOSS.

Two people initially showed particular interest.  Purple-bobby did some interesting work to start off (http://purple-bobby.co.uk/JEFView/), but has not developed it further.  Maybe he didn’t have time or lost interest, or maybe I was just too slow in responding to him.  The other person was David Boddie, who started a python project that seems to have good potential.

Identifying the part of a .jef file that contains the stitch-out was the quick bit.  Once that was done, scaled display followed, using jef2png.py.  For that to be really useful, it was necessary to identify the colours used.  Between us, we have examined hundreds of patterns, and have identified almost every shade used in patterns. Hopefully the last handful will be found in the next week or so.  You can see the changelog at http://bitbucket.org/dboddie/python-showjef/overview/ .  David uses Mercurial, so it’s easy to keep up with his changes, and by downloading free JEF patterns from the web you can see his progress.  One caveat – we have found a few patterns that don’t use the colour-definitions that seem to be otherwise standard.  Until we find a common denominator it’s hard to do much about that.  The good news is that of my hundreds of stored patterns only three or four have this problem.

After all David’s work, it would be really nice if we could find a collaborator to turn this into a KDE-Other project.  Maybe now purple-bobby knows that we haven’t lost interest he might join us?  Maybe it’s just pricked your interest enough to talk about how this can be done.

We don’t have much in the way of hobby applications.  I’d like to see that addressed.  Wendy van Craen says she’d like to see someone working on a crochet pattern creator.  I know we have knitters among KDE contributors, and while the language of knitting varies enormously between countries, it’s not that hard to represent stitches in a kind of ascii art.  Something that could create and store modules for stitch patterns and combine them would be great.  KrossWordPuzzle 0.7.4 has just been announced, and how about creating some KrossNumberPuzzles?  What about koffice templates for gardeners?  Keeping track of plant collections, or tracking sowing, planting out, harvesting?  I can see possibilities for databases and for spreadsheet templates.  What other hobbies could we benefit?

So – hobbyist KDE section?  I think it is more than possible.

Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: ,

When you have an itch to scratch….

What do you do when you have an itch to scratch, and you can’t reach it? You get someone else to help. Yes, I have an itch that I’d dearly love to scratch, but I simply don’t have the skills. Here’s the problem.

Sewing Machine

Sewing Machine

I have an embroidery machine. When you buy such a machine it comes with some patterns installed in its memory. You then buy software that gives you more designs and allows you to modify designs. You won’t be surprised to hear that the software runs under Windows. In fact I have two software disks. The first installs and runs under wine, so is no real problem. The second uses a hardware dongle, and so far I’ve completely failed to get that to work with Linux. Most of the software on that second disk I can live without, but one facility it provides makes working so much easier – and this is where the itch starts.

You can buy additional patterns on the Internet – and I often do. Each pattern contains the instructions to the machine to embroider the design, but it also contains a thumbnail image. What I’d really like is to have a native Linux application that reads the image part from each file in a directory and displays them as a catalogue, rather like a Dolphin icon-view with previews enabled. In fact if it could be added into Dolphin I’d love it.

While what I can afford to pay would not pay the whole cost of development, there are possibilities for further income. There are about 10 different machine formats, but I suspect that the part of the pattern that describes the thumbnail will be the same in each one, so variations on the software could easily be made. If a developer also could write a Windows version I suspect that there would be a sale for that too – the disk I talked about earlier has some advanced machine programs and is thus very expensive. There are free examples of the machine formats on the Internet and I could help get it publicised on the web sites that sell patterns and in a machine-embroidery magazine.

If you fancy a break from your normal work, why not look at the design of the month at http://www.advanced-embroidery-designs.com/freedesign.html, particularly the JEF format, and see just how feasible this is?

Written by annew in: KDE | Tags: ,

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