Monthly Archives: October 2011

Inkscape “Render” Extension – Lots of Drawing Tools for Engineers!

While looking around on some Inkscape Documentation, I found this page on the Inkscape Render Extension.  Although called an extension, this tool comes pre-installed with a new download of Inkscape.

Among this collection of tools, the thing that really interested me at first was the gears generator.  As I’d been experimenting with generating gears using this template generator imported into Inkscape, this seemed very interesting to generate them directly in Inkscape.

The gears come out very nicely, but unfortunately everything is specified in pixels.  I’ve read that the SVG spec has a default setting of 90 dots per inch or 3.54 dots/millimeter, so a conversion should be theoretically possible (I’ve yet to get good results though).  If I had nothing else to go by, I would definitely investigate this further, but the aforementioned gear generator is working well (the paid version is what I’ve been using), so I’ll keep importing from that for now.

If your intention is to simply draw gears, this function should work extremely well.  The gears pictured above were drawn using this tool and with a good understanding of Inkscape (which I don’t have), very impressive results can be achieved.

Besides the gear tool, there is a barcode generator.  It will print out both 1D and 2D barcodes (or data matrix codes) like the one on the right that supposedly prints out “”.  I haven’t tested it, so if you verify this to be the case, let me know in the comments.  No QR code function as far as I can tell.  You’ll have to go here to generate that.

Other functions that seemed interesting Read more »

The Ipod Nano – Part 2 – What I’d Like to See Improved

Bad Ipod!

Just in case any of you thought that I’d become an Apple Fanboy after basically saying how amazing this device is in the last post, here’s a few things that I would like to see improved.

#1 – Being able to make apps for the Nano.  Sure, it may seem like a limited platform and there’s not nearly as many people that use it compared to the Ipod Touch or Iphone.  However, there are many things that could be done with it, such as:

  • Better accelerometer use – say, measure your car’s acceleration with it or, if possible, give some estimation of altitude change during a walk or run.*
  • More ways to track your workouts
  • More clock faces
  • Simple games

Ok, you're still a pretty good device...

#2 – Bluetooth.  Sure, you’re asking one more piece of hardware, but syncing everything wirelessly would be awesome.  Also, using it as a sort of smart-watch device to interface with your phone etc would be interesting.

#3 – Software.  Apple, seriously – anyone who owns a Mac just brags continuously about how they never freeze, is easy to use, etc.  I don’t have a great computer by any means, but the Itunes software has frozen on me and registering everything was actually pretty hard.  Yes, I realize that Macs are good pieces of equipment (if way more expensive), but if you were to judge them by their PC software, not many would buy one.  Also, it couldn’t figure out on it’s own that a couple of CDs were compilations and split the songs up.  Eventually I figured out how to fix it, but for a company that seems to pride themselves on user interface, I’m not too impressed.

#4 – This is a stretch, but the ability Read more »

A New Ipod Nano – Portable Music Has Come a Long Way

As a longtime PC user, and someone who generally tries to avoid overpriced items, I’ve never personally owned an Apple product.  I have given them as gifts, but for myself either the price was always too high, there was a feature missing that I wanted, or simply my prejudice against Apple kept me away.  As much as I hated their philosophy of locking down products so they couldn’t freely be modified, somehow the fact that Steve Jobs was no longer with us made me think of all the good that Apple has done for the technology world, especially in portable music players.  In some part, maybe this helped convince me that it was OK to own one of their products.

About a week ago, I purchased an Ipod Nano for my personal use.  Although I really considered the Ipod touch with it’s other nice features, it seems that as a music player only the Nano was the right choice.  If they had put a GPS in one that would have probably pushed me over the edge, but you can’t ask for everything, and Apple probably wants to distinguish it from the Iphone. It came via Fed-Ex nicely engraved in a box that was around 2″ per side.  This made me think of how far we’ve come since I’ve started using a computer around 20 years ago.  According to Apple, the dimensions of the device itself are: 1.48″ x 1.61″ x .35″ or .834 cubic inches (not accounting for rounded edges).

Flashback 15 years ago or so and Read more »