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arrow image Integrating the tracer
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github a valuable opensource tool

Friday, February 18th, 2011

github is becoming the most valuable open source tool. There are tons of open source over there. I believe that it might have surpassed sourceforge and may be google code.

Last week I tested a project called hiphop from facebook that compiles php into C, and then to binary executables. The project claims to achieve about 2-3 times speed improvement. Although that is a good improvement, yet it does not beat psyco, that can achieve 10 fold when compiling python.

It took me around an hour to compile hiphop. The main reason it requires to patch most of its dependencies before compiling them so it is not just the matter of installing the dependencies using synaptic or apt.

After I compiled it, I tried several simple examples and it was able to generate a standalone webserver application executable. Once the program is executed it can be ran once as a regular executable or you can run it as a web server that listens on a given port.

Refresh when drawing

Friday, December 3rd, 2010

We just rolled an update to the svg edit part of the website. Next time when you open the online svg editor make sure to click CTRL+R to force your browser to reload the code instead of using the old one from the cache. Although the server responds with the correct modification date, yet chrome insists on pulling the content from the cache and not fetching the full code.

That’s impressive

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010


Linux kernel has just got a patch schedules the tasks better for desktops. The video linked from the above article ( http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=linux_2637_video&num=2 ) shows an impressive CPU distribution before and after, which clearly benefits the desktop apps. My understanding of the patch is that it is just better scheduling, not really improve the CPU utilization. That means it is not more tasks per second, but more of better perception of the human user that the computer is faster. That won’t affect server applications in my opinion, but will strongly influence desktop and mobile apps especially with large rich media and interactive online content.

Another quick feature added

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Now you can easily manually trace any raster image on clker. Click on the raster image or click the edit icon, and the image will be opened inside the online editor. Remember that any raster image larger than 1024×768 will be automatically vectorized and placed in your profile. So you might sometimes consider editing the automatic vectorization as well.

Manually tracing cliparts out of old public domain images

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Making a new clip art out of old public domain images is not a hard process. Although on clker.com we are trying to apply more research into automating this process, yet the quality of manually traced images cannot yet be matched.

The example described here is based on this image from the Library of congress and which is shared on flickr:


1. The first step is visit clker.com’s home page and click on Draw.

2. Select the “Image tool” and insert the URL of the image from flickr.com : http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2266/2178246585_14139d6905_o_d.jpg

3. Using thick black lines (size 5), trace all the outside of the balloon using the path tool.

4. Use the node tool (two clicks on the path) while the “link control points” option is set to curve the segments where necessary as you see below:

5. In order to help see the rest of the details, we set the transparency to 50% until we finish the rest of the drawing.

6. Change the color of the balloon to purple/bluish color.

7. Using thin lines (size 2) trace the details inside the balloon using the path tool.

8. Before saving, make sure to return the transparency back to 100% and delete the background image. Make sure to set the bounding box correctly by using the Document Properties -> Canvas Size -> Fit to contents.

The result is shown here which is a nice balloon clip art.

Injuries from working on computers – can that be real?

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Some people think that injuries only happen if you’re doing physically demanding work. However, lots of people who work in the computer / IT field suffer injuries, it’s just that they don’t know it!

Have you ever felt back pain or muscle spasm – may be one that lasted like 6 weeks without being able to turn your head, lift heavy things? Some people think that Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is yet another injury cause by compressing a nerve as a result of using keyboards.

The most common is the back / shoulder / neck pains and it happens frequently to people who spend a lot of time in front of computers & screens. I had a back pain recently, that reduced my activity a lot for the past eight weeks. It was horrible, once I come back from work, I’m almost grounded. That was the fourth time I get this pain, and the second time being so bad to make me go to the doctor & last around 6-8 weeks.

My doctor referred me to a physical therapist, who gave me a good reason for this happening after some tests. As he explained, I suffer from neck muscle atrophy – more on the left side, which is simply weakening in the muscles of the neck due to not using those muscles. As a result, my other muscles had to exert more effort to carry the neck, and the result is pain in the other muscles. I noticed that when I sit and read, I actually lean my head on my hand, so the head is being carried a significant amount of time.

I was advised to do some exercises that should help build the neck muscles and stretch the back muscles that have pain. I also noticed lots of other people doing exercieses while sitting – so I wasn’t alone in this computer related back pain world. Best way to avoid it, stop sitting funny & exercise a couple of time a week & I hope no one else gets it.

Hardware problems – the mystery solved

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

I previously wrote about hardware problems that were puzzling me, and I finally found the answer. I installed sensors on ubuntu and ran ksensors and just watched what’s going on. The old server that was shutting down suddenly had an opteron dual core processor, which ran at 50 degrees Celsius at no load. I had three websites running there, the most recent addition is clker.com . Due to the large number of people that were trying to access the website, the CPU was loaded and overheated, which inturn lead to it shutting down.

Of course the solution is to put the server in a very cold room, which I don’t have. I resorted to buying a new board and CPU, which does not heat as much as the old ones and transfered the database and pictures to it. Currently the no load temperature is 11 degrees, which I think is great. This new board is a special sale from microcenter, both the board and CPU were for $94 with $15 rebate Sempron 64! I added 1GB of RAM. It really worked much better than my expectations, as I had very very low performance expectations from that CPU

Currently this server is running clker.com only, and will run mibrahim.net today. The CPU load as shown in top does not pass 2% except in spikes. People are still digging as well as search engine robots. So that’s a good value if someone wants to run his/her own starter website.

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