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Fun with flags - and gimp

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During one of the many protests this spring I took a picture of our union flag. The following was the result of rainy afternoons.

Background removed

To remove the background you add an alpha layer under "layers". You can use the fuzzy select or colour to alpha / select by colour. Colour to alpha can go wrong (things with the same colour which are not in the background being removed) but here it means that the semi transparent quality of the flag fabric got preserved, which comes in handy in the last picture.


I followed this tutorial, but instead of rendering plasma clouds and map -> displace I used a simple horizontal motion blur. I set a black background and added some flare ray gradients.

Threshholds and comics

I followed this tutorial, but used for the last layer I inverted the colours and then set white to alpha, ending up with the black areas seen in the flag. I played around with available patterns until I had the stripes I liked.

Add a sun and blue sky

Here the semi-transparency of the flag comes into play. I used a supernova effect below the flag layer, added a blue background and a radial flare gradient in the corners.


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My workplace is Vifilstaðir, a house built beginning 1900s to be a tuberculosis sanatorium. Part of the structure is in disrepair, such as the old terrace, where patients used to lie for hours under thick blankets in the cold, fresh air, which was faultily believed to be beneficial. It is all very "Magic Mountain" a book I incidentally never finished to read.

Now the house is used as a temporary home for elderly who are waiting for a place in a nursing home. The house is spacy, with high ceilings and from all the rooms as well as the physiotherapy there is a great view of the surrounding landscape, which now in summer is in bloom.

From the house we can see "Gunnhildur", a hill which patients in the sanatorium climbed as a final test if they were ready to go home. There is also a trail called "Tuberculosis trail". It is connected to other trails in the area. There are many recreational areas. There are picnic areas, lava caves and Vífilstaðirlake, a lake where couples from Reykjavík meet in secret during lunch brakes, as me and my colleague found out when we decided to go for a short walk there.

In the pictures I tried to create the feeling of old photographs using Gimp. There are lots of ways to get there, but the one prefer is playing around with contrast and colour balance of the picture and then adding a layer in the hard-light mode and add a gradient in a pastel colour (yellow for daylight, violet for evening light). I feel I start getting the hang of Gimp.

xkcd must have found my blog project....

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On Christmas I decided to spend most of my holidays fixing some bugs for my blog and to include some more markup options. I ended up looking a lot at others peoples code and noticed how "unusual" my coding style was.
I came to the same conclusion as the self-taught person in the comic, but had already written hundreds of lines of code .

Comic by xkcd
Posted on - Categories: Geekery

I hate power point

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Just spent 15 min trying to transport our 10 slogans for the IWW Ísland "Know your rights" campaign to power point. Should have been a simple copy - paste job. Weird newlines everywhere. Not possible to reformat text. Gave up after 15 min for 2 slides and still not in right format. I refuse to use this piece of shit ever again.

So when I came home from work I decided to see if Libre Office would do this better. And behold! I copied the text into the slide and no unwanted newlines in sight. Time used: 15 min. Impulses to throw my computer against the wall: 0

Icelandic Catan

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Apparently "Settlers of Catan" was inspired by the settlement of Iceland. I guess this is why sheep is one of the resources. I decided to take the theme further and make a Viking Age inspired scenario for Catan. Playtime is ca 90 minutes.

Set up

The two settlements at the beginning are placed in Iceland (main island). I used the most common numbers for Iceland, to make the game a bit quicker, the other islands do not have any numbers yet. At the beginning of the game one gets the resource of both settlements and a knight. If a number is rolled which is not on the board, the dice are rolled again. The numbers for the smaller islands are in a bag, leaving out the 2s and 12s.

The normal seafarer extension rules apply to building and moving ships and the Longest Road card. To win one needs 12 points.

Gold coins are a resource, which can be acquired on gold fields hexes or by rolling a 7. They can be exchanged like any other resource.

One can only hold 10 resource cards (not including knights/gold) and resources are not dealt to players on the hand limit.
One cannot have more than 2 development cards.

The knights are a resource now, costing one sheep, one grain and one ore (like a development card) the other development cards cost 3 gold.

Trading, raiding and settling
These are the main changes. Vikings always considered the circumtances. Sometimes they would find it more worthwhile to trade with the locals, sometimes thy would raid them and sometimes they would settle the countries they travelled to.
If one reaches a hex of one of the smaller islands with a shipping lane or a road one can start trading. One trades two (of the same) resource with one of the resource of the hex on the shipping lane (like a reversed 2 for one port).
Example: White can now trade two sheep (ore, mud, wood) for one corn
To raid one uses a knight, takes one of the resources of the hex and blindly picks a number out of the bag. One knight raids one hex. The knights are kept and the Largest Army card used as before. As long as one has the end of ones shipping lane on the hex, one gets the resource of the hex when the number is rolled. If another players shipping lane also ends on the raided hex, this player will also get a resource when the number of the hex is rolled.
Example: Orange will always get wood when a 11 is rolled as long as it is positioned on this hex. It can still trade for ore on the hex above.
New settlements on the small islands can only be built on hexes which have numbers. Which means on intersections of two or more hexes, settlements can only be built when all the hexes on that intersection have numbers. Once a hex is settled it cannot be raided anymore.
Example: White just placed a settlement on the wheat and mud hexes. Too bad for orange, it cannot raid mud anymore
Once the bag with the extra numbers is empty the 2s and 12s are placed on the remaining hexes and raiding is not possible anymore in this game, only settling.

Rolling a 7
What happens when one rolls a 7 depends on the dice combination:

1 and 6: Volcanic eruption
everyone loses a sheep. The person who rolled a 7 gets one gold and determines a hex in Iceland where the volcanic eruption occurs and turns the number around. The hex will not produce any resources until another volcanic eruption occurs (like the robber) or one of the players uses 2 mud to stem the lava flow.

2 and 5: Bad weather
The person who rolled a 7 gets one gold and takes a road or a ship of another player away. The road or ship can only be taken away in and around Iceland (the ship needs to touch Iceland to be eligible to be taken away). It is not possible to build on roads or shipping lanes which are not connected to settlements or cities.
Example: Here orange had a ship taken away, which means it can neither trade for ore nor raid for wood, nor settle.
If a ship is taken away from a closed shipping lane (between two settlements) it is open again and the ships can be moved.

3 and 4: Feud among Vikings
The person who rolled a 7 gets one gold and "kills" one of the other players knights. (return a played knight to the deck). Check if this effects who has the Largest Army card

Gold free variation
The gold fields give a resource of ones choice
When a 7 is rolled one gets a resource of ones choice
Knights are mixed together with developments cards which cost one ore, one sheep and one corn

The rules can be downloaded as pdf here

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