Month: September 2012

The Meta Romuli and the Mystery of St. Peter’s Crucifixion

Romulus and Remus suckled by LupercaAs some of you know, I started writing the successor to In the Mission, my first published novel. This time around, part of the action will take place in my home town, Rome (Eternal, not New York). Research has been going strong, with the week I spent in Italy dedicated for the most part to research the setting and the details of the plot. 

One of the things that stands out about Rome and its institution is the obsession with twins. Once the last (Etruscan) king was abolished, Rome created itself as a Republic with two consuls at its head. The basic idea was that since there were two, one could keep the other in check. This is centuries later reprised in the notion of two co-equal emperors (augusti) which segued into the separation of the one Roman Empire into two.

This obsession with twins stems with the very birth of the city, founded as it was by twin brothers, Romulus and Remus. In a foreshadowing of how this twin thing was going to work out, one twin (Romulus) killed the other (Remus) at the founding. When Romulus drew the city limits of Rome, Remus hopped over them. Romulus, incensed, killed his brother. Apparently, 18-year-olds of the time were no more likely to restrain themselves than today.


Clocky – a Tiny Title Bar Clock in Linux

clickyI am a compulsive screen maximizer. Start menu bars are set to auto-vanish on my screen, and the app rules the day. If you think I ever see my desktop, I have to disappoint you. Plasma widgets are useless on my computer, and frankly I don’t understand how anyone ends up having enough screen real estate to see the background picture they chose, unless there is a sudden crash of an application.

That leaves no room for a clock to be visible on my screen. A clock is one of those things you really need, once in a while, but unless it’s “once in a while,” it’s perfectly pointless.

Like the title bar on windows. You got the app icon, the title, and the close/maximize area, but otherwise it’s a waste of space. 


Fillable PDF Forms For Free

You know when you get a form to fill out, but you need to print it and fill out by hand (or worse, try to fill it with your printer). Wouldn’t you rather be able to generate a PDF form out of it and then fill it out on your computer? Even better, have the form filled out automatically (as far as possible) with your usual data?

Well, I decided that’s something I wanted to do. In this particular case, I gave cash to two friends and wanted them to sign an IOU note. I found a PDF form online, but it required me to fill out their and my names twice and I balked at the duplication. (You can find the form by searching for “free iou form template”.)

The tools you will need to use (at this point) are commonly available for free. They are all open source tools, so there is a good chance they will be available years from now. In particular, we’ll need Scribus, a desktop publishing tool, pdftk, a PDF manipulation utility, and a few extra scripts and utilities.