Landscaping With Inkscape…

Just a quick post here.  This is not a howto or anything.  I have several projects going on around the house, and I have started using inkscape to put down ideas.  So far, I have designed and build a small piece of furniture with it (a Japanese doll table set that stacks for easy storage) and several landscape designs for my front and back yards.  I have not found any program for Linux specifically aimed at landscape design, but I am really pleased with the ease and power of inkscape to handle the job.

Its 3-D block functions are especially useful for these tasks, when you want to show a side or perspective view of a feature or wall.  I also relied on this function heavily for my furniture project.  By the way, I nailed the furniture set first time – no mistakes.  My first piece of furniture, ever.  I pulled out each piece of the completed drawing to make a parts list, went to Home Depot, and matched up part numbers, quantities, and prices.  I also took detailed dimensional measurements while I was there to ensure proper fittings, and adjusted all of my planned dimensions accordingly.

hina-ningyo-phase1 hina-ningyo-phase1-partslist hina-ningyo-phase1-partslist-2

Using inkscape allowed me to methodically and precisely document all aspects of the project, which turned out to be fairly involved for a beginner like me.  No mistakes.  Next is the backyard patio….

Here are some ideas I was playing around with.  We are going for the trees and raised patio, to keep costs down.

house-now house-new-3 house-new-backyard
house-new-front1 house-new-trees backyard-raised-patio

So, in case you were wondering how to get started on a home project, open up inkscape and start playing around.  You might be surprised at what you can get away with.

Logitech Orbit Webcam on Kubuntu Hardy…

I have a Logitech Orbit AF USB webcam, with Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) controls.  I got it to work on an earlier kernel, on a different computer, by compiling in a custom module, and loading some other modules, and doing some things I never bothered to document.  So, I completely forgot how to make it work on my main computer.

Two things have changed:

  1. The newest kernels ( and higher, certainly) definitely have the drivers needed for this camera.
  2. I am writing it down this time.

I went through a couple days (off and on) of pain for this one.  No matter what, I could not get modules to load or drivers to compile.  I do not remember the details – they are irrelevant anyway.  What I did notice is that on Hardy Heron (Ubuntu 8.04), I did not have a “/dev/video” entry of any sort.  Making one did not help.  To test the camera, I installed “cheese”.  Just running “cheese” without configuring it was sufficient to test.

I tried rolling a new 2.6.29 kernel, but kept getting weird compiler seg faults.  I did not dig into this, and have no answers for anyone suffering from the same issues.  Instead, I went back to my current kernel source,, and ran “make menuconfig”.

In the “Device Drivers” section, under “Multimedia Devices”, I enabled “Video for Linux” (V4L), including support for API 1.  Next, under “Video Capture Adapters”, I enabled the “Autoselect..” option and checked all the modules.  I also enabled the last item, “V4L USB Devices”.  Under this menu, I enabled support for “USB Video Class (UVC)” and UVC events and selected all the modules.  Lastly, I enabled support for “GSPCA Webcams” and selected all the GSPCA modules, for good measure.

I compiled and installed the kernel (ignoring the warnings about building over an existing kernel), shut down entirely (cold boot), powered back up with the webcam plugged in, and logged in as usual.

I checked for “/dev/video” and discovered an entry.  This is a good sign.  Next, I fired up “cheese” and after a small delay, my webcam video was displayed.


I also tested with Skype and Kopete.  Works in both cases.

I do not have PTZ control, although I did get that working on the last computer.  I do not really need it here though, so I will not pursue it unless I get really really bored.

Sorry this is not a more involved solution, requiring all kinds of strange software contortions.  As it turns out, all I had to do was use a current kernel and enable the proper modules – Ubuntu did everything else. I suspect the UVC support did the trick, since I had most everything else already checked, but I went ahead and wrote this as if I had started from scratch to capture all the details.

This stuff is getting too easy…