Monday, 27 July 2009

Ubuntu, Vista and partitions

In the weekend someone decided that they should have my computer instead of me. This reminded me of GK Chesterton's famous quote
Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it.

Or possibly make a quick buck. I'm keeping an eye on Trademe...

However, every cloud has a silver lining, and this one is that I'm able to justify buying a new computer. It also allows me to fulfill my desire to try out Linux, and so I've done it in the form of dual-booting my new laptop with the pre-loaded Vista, with the latest and greatest Ubuntu 9.04. Lots of teething issues of course, but it's been pretty good over the past 12 hours or so...

The key one though is partitioning. I want to have a main, large, data partition that would be accessible by both Vista and Linux. I am currently using Gparted to accomplish this, and have found this tutorial rather helpful.

I've found that defragging the hard drive might be the way to go to get Vista's portion of the hard drive down. Alternatively, I might use get rid of Ubuntu for a little while and make the partitions initially using Gparted.

A couple of hours later:
After talking to colleagues, it seems that the best thing to do might be to mount the Windows hard drive to Ubuntu, as described here and here. And though I thought that Ubuntu came with ntsf read/write ability as a default, this suggests otherwise.

And a few more, possibly useful, links:
Partitioning using Gparter
The ntfs-config package

That's the journey thus far! For the record, I'm installing Ubuntu 9.04, and I'm using a Toshiba satellite L300 preloaded with Vista....

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Biological graphics and illustration

Illustration is a key part of biological communication, and is particularly important in taxonomic descriptions where subtle differences in shape can be the best definition of a species. Body elongate, gradually and almost uninterruptedly narrowed towards the front anyone?

For this reason, I've recently been playing around with graphics a bit and have been learning about the different formats and their strengths and weaknesses. In particular, I'm starting to get rather excited about using vector graphics for the line illustrations that are so useful for species descriptions. The biggest obstacle that I can see is drawing from the specimen in question into the computer program. I'm not sure how the best way of going about this is. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be widespread awareness of the benefits of vector graphics, and there are no tutorials that I've found on biological illustration using vector graphics.

There is however this very good introduction to modifying photographs for publication in the brilliant Zootaxa.

If you're wondering, I use GIMP for modifying bitmaps, and Inkscape for vector graphics.