Monday, July 25, 2016

Hurricane Darby

I just discovered that, as of yesterday, I've now experienced two-fifths of all the tropical cyclones of tropical storm strength or higher that have ever made landfall on one of the major islands in the state of Hawaii since records began in 1949, as Hurricane Darby made landfall down in Kaʻū on Saturday as a tropical storm. (The other four landfalls were an unnamed storm in 1958, Hurricane Dot in 1959, Hurricane Iniki in 1992, and Tropical Storm Iselle in 2014, the other landfall I experienced.)

While Darby got as strong as Category 3 on its trip through the Pacific prior to arrival, by the time it made landfall it had been downgraded to a tropical storm. While I don't know what kind of havoc it wreaked down in Kaʻū, its effects in Hilo were mostly limited to some heavy rain Friday night and Saturday morning and some intermittant gusts of wind and light rain the rest of the day, plus some cloud cover for most of today.

Anyway, I just figured I'd let everyone know I made it through all right. A hui hou!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Speed-Vectorizing Saruhan's Flag

I've got another flag vectorization video today, this one for the tiny nation of Saruhan.

Saruhan doesn't exist in 1444 when Europa Universalis IV starts, having been long incorporated into the nascent Ottoman Empire. It was one of the Anatolian beyliks, small principalities or petty-kingdoms established in Asia Minor by various Turkish beys (roughly equivalent to the feudal European term “lord”). The beyliks formed in Asia Minor in the vacuum of power left after the decline of Seljuq centralized power following the Mongol invasions; among them was the beylik of Saruhan, on the western coast of Asia Minor adjourning the Aegean Sea.

Saruhan's flag. Saruhan. Not a similarly-named wizard…
The Ottoman Empire itself started as just one among many beyliks, in the north-western part of Asia Minor, before conquering or otherwise assimilating the other beyliks one by one until it began to expand out of Asia Minor. Saruhan was conquered in 1410. In Europa Universalis IV Saruhan doesn't normally exist, but can be released from the Ottoman Empire.

As a possible nation, it needs a flag, and here I suspect Paradox Development Studios (hereafter just “Paradox” for simplicity) of putting in a shout-out to The Lord of the Rings where Saruman's emblem is a white hand on a black background.

You see, the nation of Aragon (eastern third of the Iberian peninsula, historically joined with Castille to form modern Spain) has an amusing mission that can pop up, named “Defeat Saruhan.” The mission involves conquering a province Saruhan historically held, and is described with the following text:
Saruhan sounds a lot like a threat to the Lords of the West. If Aragon is ever to fulfill their destiny Saruhan must be defeated.
Thus Paradox is certainly well-aware of the similarities, and quite willing to add an in-joke to their game. I suspect that Saruhan's flag is another such joke, as it's highly unlikely such an old, minor state would have an actual flag available to use.

Anyway, have a video of me vectorizing the flag:

Since doing the last of these videos I've changed both my screen-recording software and video-editing software, which I figured I'd note here for any other Linux users aspiring to do similar things.

For screen recording I'm now using Simple Screen Recoder by Maarten Baert instead of Kazam which I was using before. SSR is actually much more powerful than Kazam (which is truly simple), but for the majority of cases you can just leave all its default values alone and it'll be fine. It's simple to use, and the additional power and complexity is there if you want or need it. It unfortunately doesn't come as a Debian package so I had to build it from source, which put me off of trying it for a few months, but it wasn't too difficult to build and is well, well worth it in my opinion. (It does come pre-packaged for a handful of other Linux distros, so be sure to check.)

After running into a whole bunch of crashes with OpenShot Video editor which I was using, I scoured the Internet for any available non-linear video editors for Linux, and tried several. None of them fit my needs and I was about to give up until I tried the very last one I'd been able to find, Kdenlive.  This is by far the best video editor I've found, combining simplicity of use (bar a few minor confusing but easily-learned quirks) and powerful editing features, such as the ability to see the background when writing a title to be overlaid on it. (An ability not to be underestimated, and one which every other editor seemed to lack.) Also it makes speeding up clips much, much easier than OpenShot did (and which one otherwise-decent editor I looked at couldn't do at all!).

Anyway, I hope that helps any aspiring video-makers on Linux out there. A hui hou!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Speed-Vectorizing Urbino's Flag

I've got another flag speed-vectorization video today (I really need a pithier name for these things). This one focuses on the flag for Urbino, a city in Italy a bit to the north and east of Rome.

Urbino was part of the lands given by Pepin the Short to Pope Stephen II in 754–56, marking the beginning of the Papal State as a political entity. The city and surrounding area were ruled as vassals of the Papal State until it was finally annexed in 1626.

Urbino is the small blue country circled in the middle. The Papal State is the cream-colored land around it.
I'm not sure why Urbino's flag in Europa Universalis IV is different from the actual Urbino coat of arms shown on the Wikipedia page, though given how small the flags are in-game the real thing might not look very good. It at least looks to be partly inspired by the branches in the real thing.

This map took me the longest of any one shown thus far, about an hour and a quarter. Mostly because I took far too long to realize just how symmetric the branches, leaves, and the… yellow things are. What are those supposed to be, anyway? Berries?

Anyway, hope you enjoyed it. A hui hou!