28 May 2018

If you have a MacBook or similar the easiest backup solution is Time Machine and having a small server that is always ready to backup is my recommended option, as using an external disk depends on you remembering to plug it in.

The best option was the AirPort Time Capsule but Apple discontinued it last month. Nowadays there are quite a few networked hard drives that advertise support for Time Machine but if you have a Raspberry Pi or a computer that is mostly on all the time you can just build your own. Plus, you get to launch other things on that server, including other systems for non-time machine compatible devices.

In this post I'll just talk about how to setup a Time Machine server using a docker container.


27 May 2018

I have now a couple of sites using jekyll, one is this one and another one is this little news site that simply posts links to happy dog news. So far I've always created new posts using a small shell script or simply copying the previous entry and changing date/title.

Since that is a bit annoying, I decided to try using a plugin in Sublime Text, and this article explores how to do just that (spoiler: it's all python).


31 Jan 2016

It seems that the impossible is happening and free SSL certificates are becoming commonplace. About time! If you've hosted sites before you will know how expensive an SSL certificate is, particularly for small sites like this one where there is no revenue.

Thankfully some big companies have joined in an initiative called Let's Encrypt, which does just that: provide you with a free, automatically generated security certificate that is acccepted by all major browsers.


31 Aug 2014

I'm making a little game using Unity, a very simple word game that hopefully I'll soon publish for Android, iPhone and iPad.

Here's the thing, I'm not that good a designer but I don't have enough going on to justify hiring a proper one. Good news is, if you're in a similar situation there's hope for you.


05 Aug 2012

Well, well, well... I finally used the multilanguage support I added long ago. In essence it detects the language you are using and displays images or text based on that. Today I translated the latest Paul the innovator comic to test this feature.

The trick is doing this all in one site without changing URLs so that the facebooks and googles of the world can see just one site. Hope it didn't break anything, let me know if it did.

Bueno, bueno, bueno... Por fin he empezado a usar el soporte multilenguage que añadí al sitio hace un tiempo. Básicamente detecta el lenguage que utilizas y cambio el texto y las imágenes. Hoy he traducido el último Paul the innovator para probarlo (por cierto, no tengo pensado traducir el título del cómic, creo que queda más cool en inglés, pero se aceptan quejas).

La gracia es hacerlo todo de manera que feisbuk, google y compañía vean sólo una página para no tener que liarla demasiado. Espero no haber roto nada, si no, decidmelo.

Comic: Paul the innovator 38


24 Jun 2012

A short post for the benefit of those struggling with this as I was: the little parser that Facebook uses when you share a link is insane, don't trust it.

That parser is what creates thumbnails for links shared in Facebook. It reads the contents of a page and allows you to choose an image. The problem is that more often than not, it can't find the images. It's got a lot of limitations: image size, image position in the document and it also has a tendency to just randomly stop working.

It's particularly bad when you start adding images as CSS backgrounds since those are completely ignored, even if you have fallbacks for crawlers like google etc. So today I once again found myself with this problem, Facebook refusing to use my images anymore. So any link to a comic would not show the actual thumbnail of the comic, which I find extremely annoying.

That meant I finally needed to cave in and use their extensions: I created a thumbnail for each post and added a few tags at the top of the page so that Facebook can find the right image.

To fix it, Create a thumbnail for your images and add the following to your HTML document (head section):

<meta property="og:image" content="http://address.of/your.image_thumb.png">
<meta property="og:title" content="Optional text">

That's it. Want to check if it works? Use the Facebook URL debug page. It will tell you whether the tags were interpreted or not.

Note: for creating a thumbnail you can use Imagemagick, for instance using "convert -crop 300x300+0+0 image.png image_thumb.png".


17 Jun 2012

Some changes to the site: links to the archives (yes up there near that little monkey) and horrid Facebook and Twitter Like buttons. Upgraded the comment system and now every post shows as '0 comments' even if there are comments, but too tired to worry about that now... Fixed now.

But the most interesting bit is that I added hi-res comics in the Paul series and the header logos. This means that if you have a retina display (iPad or iPhone 4), you will see much crisper and detailed comics. All of that thanks to me using Inkscape from the start, which uses vector graphics.

Being a bit geeky as I am I created a small script to do this for all comics at once, using Inkscape and Gimp. If you are interested the code is in this github gist.

So you are asking, what's the difference, well here's an example. I captured screenshots before and after enabling this, on an iPhone 4. The pixelation that the iPhone had done on the first one is obvious.

So what's next... well I have a huge pending thing in the form of translation. To Spanish, mostly. I've promised to translate these comics a few times, and have some actually translated already so I guess at some point I'll have to put them online. Another biggie is making the website react to the device you are using, so to make it easier to navigate from a mobile.

Oh, and you know, maybe write some comics :).

Yes, I could do that.

Final note: I discovered there's a limitation in the actual size an image can have on an iPad's browser. That doesn't bode well for the super long images I used in LIFE/interior. For the time being I sliced the large pages into smaller ones but haven't yet added hi-res versions as they are still too big. More info in the official documentation, found here.


29 Jan 2012

Well I finally decided to get rid of wordpress and regain control of the site. Expect a few more changes in the future.

Please let me know anything that is odd or any links that are not working. Hate mail is welcome too.

There are a few known issues:

  1. The feed in Google Reader will reset and display all posts and comics as new entries... sorry about that, you'll have to 'mark all as read'. To be honest, I'm not sure it works at all...
  2. Comment counts on index page always display 0. Working on it!
  3. I need to add links to
    1. LIFE/interior archive
    2. Paul the innovator archive
    3. Other stuff archive

The design is an evolution of a design that my friend Sergi made about two years ago as a draft thing I could start with. I'd say that taking two years to implement a design doesn't qualify me as the greatest web developer in the world... but I get there, don't I?

The site uses a nice thing called Jekyll and the code is in github for you all to peruse. I'll probably post some other entries with small details about that, to help people that might be trying to do the same thing. The comments have been migrated to Disqus, but you shouldn't see much difference.


25 Sep 2011

In the eternal search for the Best Way To Do Things, I'm trying to do the unthinkable: write a whole, complete script before actually starting to draw the comic.

I'm not so sure this is actually a good idea, given that the process of creation for a comic seems to be intrinsically linked to drawing. It would seem more appropriate to do sketches and scripting at the same time, which is more or less what I've been doing so far. I do have an idea and some draft scripting, but it's usually not that much and when I'm actually drawing things change a lot.

So this is what's happening... I'm writing a script, a short one. I've explored a couple of ideas so far but none seem to what I'd like to do next.

On the journey to scripting aside from, well, a notepad, what seems to be working very nicely for me is Celtx. It's very fast and simple. It's supposed to be able to work with sketches and things like that, but I'm using it as a task-oriented word processor. Typing is fast, you just press tab to iterate between the typical structures in the script of a comic, and that's about it. It does generate nice looking PDFs too, which makes you look more professional.


PS: I try character drawing from time to time, but they all look more or less the same --I'm going to take that as meaning I've found 'my style'.

and another PS: Oh, I started also translating LIFE/interior to Spanish, just because.


09 Aug 2011

Well it's been a few weeks without updates. I actually have a few pages almost finished, this time I just wanted to try to make sure they are a bit more coherent. Not sure if it will work, of course...

I'm having a bit of a conundrum here, well I would if I knew what the word conundrum actually means. Thing is, I've tried color with some very nice results but most of the time it doesn't feel right. I feel I really need to set on a small palette, maybe grays or shades of blue or something. For the time being I decided I'm going a bit back and using shades applied in Inkscape and pencil shading.

I'll continue practicing with watercolors to see where I can apply them safely.

Take a look at this:

Above pencil, below after applying ink (manually) and converting to gray, click to zoom

Here, I had a lot of fun drawing it with the graphite pencil. Then I applied some ink as usual. After that I would normally just remove all pencil, either erasing or on the computer, but I figured I could try to take advantage of it and keep some shades of gray which give it a very nice look. Considering it's supposed to be part of a kind-of-gloomy scene, it feels right.

Processing an image. Click to zoom.

Above you can see the original pencil&ink work, quite draft. I scanned it and then removed pencil via Levels (2nd image), then added a kind of sepia background and some shading for the final image. It still needs a bit more work, a bit more shading but you get the idea.

Ink and pencil plus some basic coloring. Click to zoom.

Finally, above you can see yet another twist on the style. It's a pencil image, which as I've mentioned I enjoy drawing, to which I added a bit of ink (just a bit), and then scanned. On top of it I layered the basic sepia/brown colors you can see. It's simple and very fast, which is a bonus to lazy people like me.

Anyway, I'm going to update the last comic page I posted in LIFE/interior because I didn't like the color. I'll just remove some color. It might show up in your Feed reader, sorry about that. The next page is coming shortly after that.

Oh, the meaningful conclusion is this: I want to do what I enjoy the most, and that seems to be more about pencil and real paper than computers and watercolor, so far. Both using the computer and watercolor have a big drawback: they need a 'setup', kind of a chair space, sitting in a specific place, etc., while drawing panels with a pencil can be done almost anywhere.