After the acquisition of Twitter by the South African con-man and billionaire the free and open source social network world is generating a lot of heat. The number of users and nodes of Mastodon in particular and the Fediverse at large has been climbing steadily for months now. However, there is no shortage of people who voice their concerns about the federated nature of such services, which rely on centralized instances governed by small dictators with absolute power.
Just a short note. I have moved this site from Codeberg Pages to nearlyfreespeech.net. By the time you are reading this the move should already be finished. This hosting service is dirt-cheap for low-traffic static sites like mine. Right now, my estimated total sits at $0.31 per month, which is $3.72 per year. Less than the cheapest price per month offered by most other hosting providers. But they also only offer starting packages allocating many more resources than what is needed for simple static websites.
Today I discovered libvips, a command line utility and library to manipulate and process images, and I am impressed. I’ve been using ImageMagick and its fork, GraphicsMagick, for as long as I have had to process images from the CLI, and they work well for moderately-sized images. But lately, I have been preparing virtual texture datasets for Gaia Sky and the sizes of my images have increased exponentially. Right now I’m processing 64K and 128K images on the regular (that is 131072x65536 pixels), and ImageMagick just can’t do it reliably.
Real time rendering of the Earth in Gaia Sky with surface, cloud and height virtual textures.
Implementing proper virtual texture support in Gaia Sky has been on my to-do list for many years. And for many years I have feared that very item, as the virtual texture mechanism is notoriously complex and hard to implement. However, once working, they are very cool and bring a lot of value to software like Gaia Sky. In this post, I describe and discuss my implementation of virtual textures in Gaia Sky in detail, and provide a thorough examination of some of its most interesting points.
The web is currently based around the JPEG, PNG and GIF image formats. These are all very old and suboptimal formats which were never designed in the first place with the modern web in mind. A few newer competing formats have popped up recently, aiming to dethrone the original trio to postulate themselves as the standard web image format of the future. These are, essentially, WebP (
.webp extension), developed by Google and hated by almost everyone else, AVIF (
.avif extension), based on the AV1 container and developed by the ‘Alliance for Open Media’, a conglomerate of big tech companies that are anything but open, and JPEG XL (
.jxl extension), developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group, the same people that developed the original JPEG.
So what’s the fuss all about? Recently, Google decided to kill JPEG XL support in Chrome. A full report follows.
Yesterday I created an account in pixelfed.social, one of the many instances of Pixelfed, the distributed image sharing open source project which federates with Mastodon and others. Anyone can set up its own instance and have it ’talk’ to all the others. So, I created an account and started sharing some of my shots. For the most part, it works very well and I’m eternally grateful that something like this exists, free from the claws of big corporations hungry for your data.