Sunday, October 31, 2010

Free web hosting and "new" website

I had a small website up for a while, but Geocities and my ISP have both discontinued their web hosting services. As an experiment I was looking for a new host that was a completely free replacement. The best thing I found so far is:

The basic features in a nutshell are:

Total file space: 250 MB
Maximum file size: 2 MB
Monthly Bandwidth: 5 GB
FTP/PHP/MySql included
No Ads.

I had actually registered an account with them several years ago when it was all still in beta, and the test page I made was still working as I left it. So, I was pleasantly surprised to see they have their act together (so far) and have improved the service since I last saw it.

Here's a couple limitations I ran into and work-around's:

1. Some files types are restricted. Though I can see the point of restricting high bandwidth file types like .mov, as well as files with security issues like .exe. They don't want to become the next Napster and get shut down.
  • mp3 file types are not allowed. I used the open source alternative "ogg." In Linux, I found a free program called "soundconverter" that made it easy to do a batch conversion from mp3 to ogg. (The program did pop up an error when first lauching, but worked perfectly otherwise).
  • zip files are not allowed. I used the .bz2 compression format instead. Or you can drop the .zip extension from the file.
2. The marketing about domains is a bit misleading I think. It says it the free package has "1 domain" included and I initially thought "wow, they throw in a free domain name?!" The answer: no. You either have to pay for a domain name, or piggy back off a handful of generic domains like

3. If using FTP, probably using a FTP client like "filezilla" would probably work better. On a large batch of file transfers I hit a couple times where the FTP stream was cut off. This is not a big deal though if you have an FTP client that will automatically reconnect and retry the file transfers.

Still this host is a big improvement from what I had been using. On both my previous free hosts, I used to be bound by a 10 MB limit, which is hard to do much with. :)

My website is now at:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wacom: using pressure

Tonight I was experimenting with the pressure sensor on the Wacom tablet. I didn't realize it had pressure until I was reading more about it.

For Gimp, I saw a note that it can be turned on by changing all the settings under:

Edit -> Preferences -> Input Devices -> Configure Extended input devices

And set all the Wacom properties listed to "screen." Then save. I'm not sure why that's not turned on by default. Otherwise the stylus will act just like a mouse -- on or off.

So. I tried taking a more "painterly" approach, playing with the pressure. I still don't have the hang of it, but I'm already liking it better than paints. This picture is based off of an older painting I never finished, and eventually lost. It's a person staring at a rock. :)

It's man versus rock, in the ultimate staring contest! ;)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Wacom Tablet

I'm testing out a Wacom tablet that my brother loaned me. It's pretty cool! If I can get the hang of it, I'd like this a lot better than using paints. I've never gotten the hang of acrylics (they dry too fast on me). That, and I have an undo button, and no cleanup. :)

Here's the first sketch:

I couldn't figure out how to do outlines, and I had more luck turning the opacity down to between 20% to 30%, so I could make a couple quick passes at each line. I rarely draw the line I want on the first try. I use a "chicken scratch" approach, and add layers of different colors. I started with large brush and gradually turned the brush size smaller, working mostly light to dark. For software I used GIMP (a free Photoshop alternative), using the airbrush.

Though it's a bit washed out. I bumped the contrast to make it look more like what I had in mind. With digital pictures, it's nice how easy it is to manipulate the image:

Friday, October 8, 2010

Growing Peppers, and a spicy treat

Well, I grew a few different kind of peppers this year, and will miss them during the winter. The plants are winding down now that fall is here.

The jalapeƱo is a great pepper. It's moderately spicy with a great flavor for pizzas, and mexican food. It's about 2,500 - 8,000 on the scoville heat scale.

The habanero, extremely spicy with a sweet "fruity" flavor. You don't want to eat these things straight, or you will be in pain. They are 100,000-350,000 on the scoville scale. But they are great mixed with other foods:

And the hottest chili in the world, the naga jolokia. I will probably dry these, and use crushed, since they are about 1,000,000 on the scoville scale. That's approaching pepper-spray strength.

I have found a great use for the habaneros. If you like Indian food or spicy food, you might like this recipe. It's a bit like a crunchy popcorn snack but would also be a great side dish.

Roasted Chick Peas

Drain 1 can of chick peas (garbonzo beans) and rinse in a large bowl. You can roll the beans against each other, and all the skins will come off. These float to the top and can be poured off through a strainer. You don't have to remove the skins, but I think they cook up a bit crunchier without them.

Put the chickpeas in a small dish. Mix with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, then sprinkle with:

Black Pepper
1-2 chopped Habanero peppers

Cook at 450 F, for 25 minutes.