VectorMagic – online vector tracing of bitmap pictures

Why do I need VectorMagic?
I am an editor of a small free student driven physics magazine called, Gamma. When our illustrator hands in the front page picture is as a huge bitmap file which has artifacts from the scanning and illustrating process. Usually we vectorized this picture by using either the opensource program called http://www.inkscape.org/ or Adobe Illustrator if we can find anybody who got the money for a license. 🙁

VectorMagic
That’s why I am so extremely happy that I found vectormagic.stanford.edu which is a Standford University Artificial Intelligence Laboratory research project by James Diebel and Jacob Norda (I found it through digg.com). The interface is really clean and all that is needed is a flash enabled browser and bitmap picture. This process of vectorizing the picture was much easier and faster than I my normal workflow on inkscape.
Link: vectormagic.stanford.edu



My input picture was the front page for the next issue of Gamma and I uploaded a 1280×1810 pixels 440Kb JPEG picture. About 5 minutes later I had the a vectorized version of the picture in eps format now only 66Kb big and so much more useful for printing.
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Enhancing productivity in Linux with 5 tools

There are a few programs that I couldn’t live without. Even though these programs are essential to me I do not think that they receive the publicity they deserve, so in this small article I will present these programs that makes my life so much easier in the hope that other will be inspired. 😀

All the programs runs on Ubuntu Gutsy and easy to install with programs like aptitude or synatic but they will work on any other flavor of Linux as well.

yakuake
It is easy to clutter a desktop with lots of terminal windows when working with Linux on different machines. To solve this problem I use yakuake which is a dropdown console like the one found in the game Quake. When ever I need a shell I press F12 and yakuake drops down from the top of the screen. Just as the normal konsole yakuakle supports tabs (Shift-Ctrl-n creates a new tab) so only one instance of yakuake is needed. For Gnome users Tilda is available which offers the same idea but is backed by Gnomes Terminal and not KDE’s konsole.
Link: http://yakuake.uv.ro/




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