A response to linux.com’s review of Darktable

I tried adding this response as a comment on linux.com’s review of Darktable, but it seems to be lost in a moderation queue.

The Darktable RAW photo editor and workflow manager for Linux (and experimental support for Mac OS X and Windows) is for non-destructive editing of RAW photo images.

The support for MS Windows isn’t there. As houz points out in his post on the topic:

The hard part is the question “Shall I commit it to git?”. Code wise it’s only a really small change, but the implications might be huge..... Maintaining a code base which none of the developers can run, test or debug is a nightmare.

From what I’ve seen in the bug tracker and threads on the mailing lists, I’d suggest that the Mac OSX support is better than experimental even though it does need work. Support for FreeBSD is coming along fast. The other OS which darktable runs on is Solaris. As the maintainer of that part of the codebase (which, frankly, is mostly just the packaging metadata), I was really chuffed to see Pascal’s comments about it in the #darktable irc channel.

The review then makes comments on the default styling of the application, which, frankly I agree with. For me, the defaults are too dark and too small. I created a darktable.gtkrc which everybody is welcome to try out. You’ll notice a difference between this screenshot with my gtkrc


and this one, with the default:


Lastly (on this topic), the review talks about editing the system-wide darktable.gtkrc. DON’T DO THIS! Sure, most linux systems are effectively single-user systems, but if you hack on files which are delivered by your packaging system to system locations, you’ll screw things up when you come to upgrade. And if you are on a multiuser system, your choices might not be liked by your fellow users. Please create a **$HOME/.config/darktable/darktable.gtkc** if you want to hack on the gtkrc.

My penultimate comment relates to this paragraph:

Saving images is a bit awkward because you have to switch to the light table and use the export module. But you’ll never accidentally overwrite your original because Darktable won’t let you; nothing is changed until you export your image.

Firstly, a niggle – what we’re talking about here is exporting images, not saving changes to RAW files. As that second sentence notes, as the first quote at the top mentions, and as darktable notes in bullet 2 at the features list, darktable is a non-destructive editing tool. If you make changes to how an image looks on your screen, those changes are saved to the history table in the application library, and saved in your associated sidecar (.xmp) file.

Finally, in the comment I submitted to the article, I included some detail on why I like darktable enough to make sure that it runs on my favourite operating system:

  • It’s Open Source, so I can contribute ideas, bugfixes and other changes easily

  • It’s written in portable C (90%, the rest is imported libs in C++)

  • It took very little effort to make it build and run on Solaris 11

  • If it runs on Solaris, I don’t have to run Adobe Lightroom (which means one less VBox running Windows)

  • The plugin system – very extensible, and there are some pretty neat plugins to use (velvia and colour zones for starters)

  • Did I mention the community?

Friday a.m. family update

Janet’s neurologist popped in yesterday evening, he disagrees slightly with her neurosurgeon in that he doesn’t think she’s got BPV (Benign Positional Vertigo). Too many acronyms and “it could be this, it could be that” for my liking. She’s a sufficiently unusual case that she’ll be the topic of a combined neurology/radiology case conference today. We’re hopeful that between them they’ll be able to figure out something which helps us move forward and accelerates her recovery. Speaking of recovery, she’s started dropping down her dose of the dexamethasone (the anti-migraine drug), and she’ll be dropping off the epilem as soon as possible too.

This morning she was able to get out of bed after breakfast and shower unassisted – and didn’t require an anti-nausea tablet first. Her eyesight is getting better focus-wise and the nystagmus is easing off too. All of this is combining to lift her general mood and make her realise just how terrible a state she was in last week. The neurologist is expecting to see her in her room on Monday, but he’s amenable to having “home by Wednesday” as a goal.

Overall, I think we can class this as a morning so good that it might keep going to the afternoon.

On the family front, C really enjoyed being back at daycare yesterday. Not only does she have the same carer as she did for her last stint, but a lot of her friends were there too. She slotted right back in and enjoyed being a big sister too. A, on the other hand, after having a great walk around the playground and jumping in the sandpit, refused to be taken inside without screaming the house down. His carer told me that he didn’t have a nap either (eeeek!) and that she was planning “a more outdoor-focused program for him”.

Of course, with today being rainy, that probably won’t work. This morning both the kids slept until 0630, but that meant I was able to get them to daycare by 0730. C was right into everything, but A screamed. For the whole 10 minutes while I was there dropping them off. After handing him to C’s carer (the staff combine before 8am so that they have sufficient numbers per legislation; they’re on overlapping shifts to cover the opening hours), you just have to walk away. I hope he’ll have a nap today, I really really do.

Family update: rushing, and a probably-good day

As foreshadowed yesterday, today is indeed a big day for A. He started it by stirring around 5am though quickly went back to sleep after I re-wrapped him. Then wonder of wonders, both C and A slept in until 0730! Eeeek!

So yes, it was a mad rush this morning, but not because I was disorganised.

They seemed fine when I dropped them off, I’ll find out for sure when I pick them up this afternoon.

J had another good night’s sleep – nearly 9 hours this time. She’s a little queasy this morning, but that might actually be due more to not having had enough breakfast than anything else. Only one piece of bacon? Darn those hospital dieticians for limiting caloric intake, it’s Un-A-Strayan! Seriously, I’m ecstatic that she’s not only been able to keep her breakfast down, but that she’s ravenous and wanting more of it.

Another really good data point – she frequently plays a sudoku in the evening before turning out the light and going to sleep. For the last 10 days or so she hasn’t been able to focus or concentrate on them. However, this morning she was able to get through almost all of a game and only stopped because the effort tired her out. She didn’t feel nauseous and her eyesight didn’t play up on her either.

I’m marking today as probably-good. Still not quite at the “I’m having a genuinely good day” point that the neurologist wants her to be at before she’s released, but she is definitely getting closer to it.

+100 on teh AWSMscale .. until you follow the links and realise you’ve been conned

Have a look at the boilerplate text at the bottom of www.theclearpill.com:

... It is not our intention or desire for that matter that you use the information contained herein either on this site or on some site that you think is ours as if it were some kind of medical gospel truth. Don’t go diagnosing yourself based on it. Don’t think you can suddenly treat yourself just because you can tap out the http to some web site. If you have or think you have an actual medical condition then pick up the phone and call your own doctor. Only a qualified healthcare professional can tell you whether or not you should use any medicine or other treatment. Except for NZT that is. In the case of NZT, you know what your situation is and what you want your situation to be. Only a qualified healthcare professional can determine if a product described here (other than NZT that is) or on any of our other websites would be appropriate for you to use. Get real. Grow up. Stop reading the boilerplate. Only your qualified healthcare professional is in the best position to discuss with you the risks and diagnostic of any treatment (excluding NZT unless they’re already onboard).

That’s rather high on teh AWSMscale for a supposedly-pharmaceutical webpage.

At the bottom of the page is the text “This film is not yet rated” – rather strange to have this on a supposedly-pharmaceutical webpage, doncha think?

Now have a look at www.theclearpill.com/ask.html, specifically this bit down the bottom:

Your Medications

Write down any medications you currently take and show your doctor. The list should include prescription and nonprescription products or herbal products. Unless you are already taking a heavy duty NDRI, NaSSA or SSRI, there should not be any medication conflict issues. The simple truth is beginning a regimen of NZT will make any of those other medications unnecessary.

Claims that a pill will make any … other medications unnecessary get my hackles up. No, I’m not a pharmacologist, pharmacist, psychiatrist, physician or any other sort of health professional. HOWEVER! I do know enough to realise that text such as that above can be very dangerous.

There are several other parts of this site which make me very uncomfortable as well but then you get to the truly hilari-bad bit, the testimonials:

Due to claims being investigated by the FDA this page is currently unavailable.

So … scam? Spoof? Let’s turn to El GOOG to tell us. The first page of hits got me to this post which makes things rather more clear – it’s publicity for a new movie. So by writing this post, I’m contributing to their publicity. Booo. That means I’ve been conned.

So explaining the title of this post (“+100 on teh AWSMscale .. until you follow the links and realise you’ve been conned”) – if you’re desperate enough to think that a pill with these supposed benefits exists and that it might remove the need for any other heavy-duty mind-altering drugs, then you’re out of luck. If you’re thinking that you’ve come across an actual genuine pharmacological scam site, you’re also out of luck.

Rules for life: ALWAYS read the fine print. ALWAYS engage your critical thinking.


An evening update on J

This afternoon I took the kids in to see J. As you’ll recall from this morning, things are starting to look up. She was a little tired when we arrived because she hadn’t really been able to get any sleep after lunch. [The post-lunch siesta is a most excellent concept, btw]. We had a walk down the corridor, looking at the fishtanks along the way (A points them out, raises his hand to point at them and utters “issshhh!”).

Two days ago she wasn’t able walk that distance without sitting down on the seat halfway along, and when we got back to her room she had to rest for 5-10 minutes. Today…. not only was she faster and more balanced with her walking, but she didn’t need to stop and rest along the way. It wasn’t a big speed increase, perhaps another half-metre/minute but when we’re looking at 7-8 metres in a minute, that’s noticeable. She plans to ask for a physio to come and assess her walking tomorrow.

One other thing she noticed about her walking is that two days ago she was unable to step over a vacuum cleaner hose unless she stopped, turned to face the wall and held on to the wall while she lifted one leg over and then the other. While there wasn’t a vacuum cleaner around today to test herself with, she reckoned she would be able to walk over its hose normally now. She’s going to ask the physio to help her figure out stairs too – we’ve got a few and you can’t really live in our house without having to go up and down them several times a day.

Food-wise, her appetite is coming back so much that tomorrow’s breakfast order includes bacon, and whatever she had for lunch today (which she vomited up a week ago) she wolfed down and was feeling rather hungry by afternoon-tea time. The appetite change really puts in stark perspective for us just how rotten she was getting since just before Easter when the migraine started to kick in.

The neurologist was very pleased at her progress, and told her that he thought she needed two good days before she could come home. While today was a better day than yesterday, it wasn’t up to “good”. I’m hopeful that if she can get another good night’s sleep (7-8 hours) tonight, then we might have got to the point where we can really see her coming home soon. It probably won’t be Sunday, but I’m optimistic (with good reason now, I believe) that we could have her home on Monday. We’ll have to start tapering off the various drugs that she’s on too … that’s going to be tedious.

Things are starting to look positive

I just got off the phone with J, and she’s feeling chirpy. The u-shaped pillow I took her last night helped give her a comfortable night’s sleep, and she hasn’t vomited at all so far today. She’s alert and while the dizziness is still there, she doesn’t feel as if moving her head will definitely result in a big chuck.

It might not sound like much, but this is a definite improvement – I think she’s turned a corner. Even though she still won’t be able to come home for at least a few days, I do think it will only be a few days more, not a whole darned month as previously feared.

When I took the kids and my Mum in to visit her last night we were delighted to see two “Lollypotz” that one of J’s facebook friends (you know who you are :>) had sent for A and C. Thankyou! They loved the dinosaurs and let’s just say that the chocolates are being rationed carefully to maximise enjoyment!

I could hear that she was smiling while I was talking to her, and that’s put a smile on my face too.

Tomorrow will be a big day for A

…. because it will be his first day of two days/week daycare for at least the next few months. One of the things we have to do in order to help J recover from the whole blobby craziness (ie, its existence, SRS and radiation treatment after-effects, and how blobby responds) is to give her some respite from A and C. We love our children dearly (and we went through a heckuvalot to get them) and while J has really enjoyed being a stay-at-home mum right now we need her to get that break which having them out of the house will provide.

Fortunately for us, the local daycare centre (about 500m away) where C was going until October last year had a place for each of them on Thursdays and Fridays. I’ve got a bunch of forms to complete tonight, and I’ll have to make a call to Centrelink tomorrow to get a CRN for A. J would do it, except she hasn’t been able to focus and doesn’t have the stamina right now to stay on hold for the 35+ minutes that we’ve heard it takes to get connected to a person. I wish I could do this online, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how to get it organised (if it’s possible). Also, it wasn’t until this morning that I managed to find my australia.gov.au online registration details.

It’ll probably be a mad dash in the morning to make sure that I’ve got their bags packed correctly and given how A has been expressing displeasure lately (piercing squeals and general tantrum-y behaviour) I just hope I can get him distracted so I can make my getaway! C will be fine I’m sure – as far as I’m aware several of the kids she got to know there last year are still going on the same days so I’m confident that she’ll slot straight back in.

Tuesday a.m. update on J: a slight improvement

J sounded quite chirpy when I rang this morning. She was moved to a private room down the other end of the ward, so there’s no passing traffic and no noise from the lifts. A different neurologist came past yesterday evening (I assume he’s part of a cooperative group with her actual neurologist, sharing rounds and weekends etc). He suggested that she sleep as upright as possible, because with the tumour towards the back of the cranium, CSF somewhat settles downwards when you sleep. This increases pressure on the tumour and since blobby is being obnoxious, that extra pressure is …. let’s just put it in the “definitely unhelpful” category.

So she did that, and even though she still can’t move her head in the morning (to avoid massive dizziness from the nystagmus) by 9am this morning she’d only vomited once. AWESOME!

Her eyesight continues to make gradual improvements, so by the weekend she might be able to focus enough to do a sudoku puzzle.

My mum is here today (came yesterday morning, stayed overnight); she’s been a great help – thankyou Mum. J’s mum is coming down this weekend on the train, and since Club Wes is right atop Auchenflower railway station she’s going to meet us there.

Monday a.m. update on J

She’s not much better, sadly. She had about 8 hours’ sleep (6, wakefulness, 2) until 5am, then was vomiting for about 3 hours. She still can’t move her head without feeling dizzy and nauseous, but she does think her eyesight has improved slightly. I’m hoping that’s an indicator that the swelling is starting to decrease, and therefore the optic nerve irritation is ever so gradually subsiding.

I’m still hopeful that she can come home on Wednesday (ANZAC Day), but that’s not based on any understanding of what’s really going on – just hoping that the drugs start working better by then.

I was going to be going to an internal conference at Redwood Shores and have a week of working with the rest of my group in Santa Clara in the second and third weeks of May, but that trip isn’t going to happen now. Even assuming that she’s released on Wednesday, she’s still going to need my support, and the kids will need me too.

My mum is here today and tomorrow, ANZAC Day is covered, and then the kids are at daycare for Thursday and Friday. Somehow, we’ll get through. I will be calling on pretty much everybody who’s offered help, too – for which a very very big thankyou in advance.