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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet

29 Jan

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec a diam lectus. Sed sit amet ipsum mauris. Maecenas congue ligula ac quam viverra nec consectetur ante hendrerit. Donec et mollis dolor. Praesent et diam eget libero egestas mattis sit amet vitae augue. Nam tincidunt congue enim, ut porta lorem lacinia consectetur. Donec ut libero sed arcu vehicula ultricies a non tortor. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aenean ut gravida lorem. Ut turpis felis, pulvinar a semper sed, adipiscing id dolor. Pellentesque auctor nisi id magna consequat sagittis. Curabitur dapibus enim sit amet elit pharetra tincidunt feugiat nisl imperdiet. Ut convallis libero in urna ultrices accumsan. Donec sed odio eros. Donec viverra mi quis quam pulvinar at malesuada arcu rhoncus. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. In rutrum accumsan ultricies. Mauris vitae nisi at sem facilisis semper ac in est.

Vivamus fermentum semper porta. Nunc diam velit, adipiscing ut tristique vitae, sagittis vel odio. Maecenas convallis ullamcorper ultricies. Curabitur ornare, ligula semper consectetur sagittis, nisi diam iaculis velit, id fringilla sem nunc vel mi. Nam dictum, odio nec pretium volutpat, arcu ante placerat erat, non tristique elit urna et turpis. Quisque mi metus, ornare sit amet fermentum et, tincidunt et orci. Fusce eget orci a orci congue vestibulum. Ut dolor diam, elementum et vestibulum eu, porttitor vel elit. Curabitur venenatis pulvinar tellus gravida ornare. Sed et erat faucibus nunc euismod ultricies ut id justo. Nullam cursus suscipit nisi, et ultrices justo sodales nec. Fusce venenatis facilisis lectus ac semper. Aliquam at massa ipsum. Quisque bibendum purus convallis nulla ultrices ultricies. Nullam aliquam, mi eu aliquam tincidunt, purus velit laoreet tortor, viverra pretium nisi quam vitae mi. Fusce vel volutpat elit. Nam sagittis nisi dui.

Suspendisse lectus leo, consectetur in tempor sit amet, placerat quis neque. Etiam luctus porttitor lorem, sed suscipit est rutrum non. Curabitur lobortis nisl a enim congue semper. Aenean commodo ultrices imperdiet. Vestibulum ut justo vel sapien venenatis tincidunt. Phasellus eget dolor sit amet ipsum dapibus condimentum vitae quis lectus. Aliquam ut massa in turpis dapibus convallis. Praesent elit lacus, vestibulum at malesuada et, ornare et est. Ut augue nunc, sodales ut euismod non, adipiscing vitae orci. Mauris ut placerat justo. Mauris in ultricies enim. Quisque nec est eleifend nulla ultrices egestas quis ut quam. Donec sollicitudin lectus a mauris pulvinar id aliquam urna cursus. Cras quis ligula sem, vel elementum mi. Phasellus non ullamcorper urna.

Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. In euismod ultrices facilisis. Vestibulum porta sapien adipiscing augue congue id pretium lectus molestie. Proin quis dictum nisl. Morbi id quam sapien, sed vestibulum sem. Duis elementum rutrum mauris sed convallis. Proin vestibulum magna mi. Aenean tristique hendrerit magna, ac facilisis nulla hendrerit ut. Sed non tortor sodales quam auctor elementum. Donec hendrerit nunc eget elit pharetra pulvinar. Suspendisse id tempus tortor. Aenean luctus, elit commodo laoreet commodo, justo nisi consequat massa, sed vulputate quam urna quis eros. Donec vel.


Re: Improving the Linux Ecosystem From Within

19 Jun

Writing this blog post as a reply to this one – it’s worth a read. I’m going to comment specifically on this paragraph:

I think what these reveals is that, When we make the applications on the Linux ecosystem rock. (The Amarok, the Gimp, The Libreoffice etc) More people would find reason to use and stick to Linux on the desktop, when they see a reason to use Linux, The ecosystem would increase to a point where even the big application vendors might take notice and decide that the Linux ecosystem is perhaps worth giving a try. Even if it doesn’t turn out like this. Then at least we would have applications which are comparable (if not better) than the alternatives in other platforms.

This feels like quite the contradiction to me. I’ve always been firmly of the belief that Adobe hasn’t ported Photoshop to Linux because we have our own ecosystem already.

If you’re creating graphics, you likely already have the Gimp and Inkscape installed. If you do a lot of painting, you may also have Krita installed. If Adobe were to move into the Linux market, they would already have to compete against these three and more, other applications to get any real market share or profit, and the applications we have created already have two strong unique selling points that Adobe would have a hard time beating: they’re free, and they integrate very well with the system (meaning not just the toolkit but also the use of the repository system for updates, for example).

A similar story can be told of video editors. Sure, none of the one’s we’ve created are quite finished yet (I personally have my eye on KDenLive), but we have ~3-5 different video editors we can install straight from the Software Centre (or other repository systems/package managers), and any attempt to enter this market would have to compete with these existing video editors.

The reason Adobe is still around to make Photoshop at all is because Photoshop has become the de-facto image editor of the industry, and of the Windows world. The Adobe suite on Windows is their cash cow, and it is the go-to solution for many companies and individuals for image editing, website design and video editing. However, on Linux, Adobe would face pretty fierce competition for a relatively small number of sales. What we have done to attract them to the Linux platform is very little, and what we have done to deter them is a whole lot.

The same can be said of twitter clients, office suites and the like – Ubuntu comes with a Twitter/Facebook client built-in, with pretty notifications and good integration with the system. It also comes with a free Office suite. In terms of software, we have a very, very wide ecosystem, from electronics to Lego, making it difficult for many companies to sell software in a traditional brick-‘n’-mortar style to Linux users. I believe it’s for this reason, most of what you can buy for Linux has been reduced to online services (Dropbox, Ubuntu One) and games (Humble Indie Bundle, mostly Inidie games to be fair). And, to be perfectly honest, I don’t consider that to be an entirely bad thing.

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What Is Gnome 3?

2 Jun

I’ve been trying out Fedora 15 to give Gnome 3 a good run-through, and let me tell you guys, it’s a vast improvement over the last time I reviewed it. However, one question keeps running through my mind: why?

I don’t really understand what was, “wrong” or, “broken” about Gnome 2 that warrants the existence of Gnome 3, or the design of Gnome Shell. Do the Gnome developers think the work-flow was somehow flawed in the default Gnome 2 experience, and if so, what made them think that? What caused them to consider Gnome Shell as a good replacement in the first place?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very impressed with Gnome 3 – almost all the problems I have with it are the looks (seriously, the default GTK theme looks like ass and the icons are in serious need of replacing). You can quickly get used to the workflow, the menu has been fixed (it now uses the sensible catagory view that has existed in desktop Linux since forever) and the overlay is quite sensible in terms of work-flow.

The problem – the over-arching problem, the elephant in the room, not a problem in terms of the software or its design or missing features – is that it’s different. It’s very impressive, but after a while of using it, it doesn’t feel particularly better or worse than the default Gnome 2 experience. Gnome 2 had a very simple and very fast work-flow, and Gnome 3 now has a very simple and, arguably, fast work-flow, but it doesn’t feel like an improvement. It’s different, but that’s all it really is.

After a lot of thought, I think I have an answer: the difference is touch. It’s no secret the industry is moving towards portable devices, and touch-screen devices have become wildly popular. Which is ironic, because Microsoft have been trying to push Windows tablet devices since the turn of the century. Gnome 3 seems to want to be a touch-device-ready environment: everything’s big and chunky for fingers, and making everything click-accessible from the dashboard (open windows, the menu, virtual desktops etc.) seems specifically catered to our finger-prodding buddies of the future.

The thing is: pretty much everyone knows that a mouse-pointer-keyboard-driven interface is unappealing on a touch-screen device – the question Gnome 3 represents is, is putting a touch-screen interface on a desktop computer more sensible, or sensible in general?

I’m not convinced.

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Blogging from Windows Live Writer

18 Apr

So because I’ve been using Windows Vista more often because of my gaming rampage (you can blame Steam for that), and because I can’t find a way to install Blogilo as a stand-alone application, I’m now using the comparatively… well, OK, so Windows Live Writer is not awful, but it does use the silly ribbon interface I can’t dislike enough and seems to be missing a few features as well.

Since I’ve been going on a gaming rampage, and have both enjoyed and been disappointed by various games (sometimes at the same time), I might start writing up some game reviews too.

Finally, I feel like I should explain why my blog’s been so vacant all this time. The internet is a big place, and I usually think of a blog post in terms of, “If I’ve thought about [some clever thing], someone else has probably already thought about it and blogged it”, so I tend to start up conversations on other people’s blogs rather than writing an entirely new blog post. I usually comment under the names, “Madman” or, “the_madman”. Keep the internet tidy, people!

3 Things That Ubuntu One Should Sync, That It Doesn’t

28 Dec

Ubuntu One a syncing service that Canonical bundles with Ubuntu. I think it’s great that it’s bundled with the OS, but it doesn’t feel like it’s being extended to its full potential (or even most of it). Recognize that I’m talking about the syncing service alone, as opposed to syncing+music store+[insert new feature here]. As of right now, it seems just to be Dropbox++. Since it’s bundled with the system, there are a few life-saving ways that it could be integrated into the system as well:

1. Desktop Wallpaper, Icons & Panels

This one’s as basic as it sounds: just sync the Desktop folder, the Desktop background image and the panel set-up. The user starts up their brand-spanking-new Ubuntu system and finds their familiar set-up ready to go. No looking for a pretty desktop background image, no re-creating application icons on the desktop, no fiddling with the panels to get them just right: they’ve done it all once, now sync it so it doesn’t have to be done ever again.

2. Installed Applications

Put this in the Software Centre, please. Automatically record and sync installed applications to Ubuntu One, then install them all on your laptop and/or that new computer you just bought. Obviously, the actual installation shouldn’t be automatic: I don’t want all my desktop apps on my netbook or work computer, for example, but make it easy please.

3. Online Accounts & Wallets

Ubuntu’s recent push towards social networking and the like is great, as is their indicator applet, and Gnome’s built-in password storage implementation is fantastic for when I only want to remember one password, but it’s for naught if I have to set it up on every computer I need them on. Sync E-mail accounts, Broadcast accounts, Instant Messaging accounts and the login wallet for passwords so I don’t have to go through these set-up steps several times.

There you go: 3 things (well, technically 6 (or 8 depending on how you’re counting)) that Ubuntu One could (and maybe should) sync to make it a totally kick-ass service, compiled in a teeny-tiny blog-post.

Ubuntu, Rolling Releases and Support

24 Nov

There’s been a lot of chatter about Canonical moving Ubuntu from the current 6-month release cycle to a rolling-release style of distribution. First, I’ll just explain what the two distribution methods are, their strengths and weaknesses, and finally how Canonical fits into the picture.

Fixed Release Cycles

Fixed release cycles date waay back to the 1980s some time. Maybe. I’m not sure. All I know is, this distribution method is really really old. It’s tried and true. I’m going to demonstrate what goes on in this release cycle.

Start ——————————–> Code
This line represents time. As time passes, code gets added, shifted and taken away from the central project (in this case Ubuntu): it could come from new application versions (as with Firefox) or from Canonical (as with Ubuntu One or the Me Menu). All that’s important right now is to realise that code is constantly being changed in the project.

Start ———————————> Code
                              ` Stable release marked!

Now, the line has a branch coming out of it. Canonical have said, "These are the applications that we want to include in [10.10]". Now, the amount of code allowed into the project is being limited to fixing stuff.

Start ———————————> Code
                              `————–> Stable Release Released!

So Canonical have been working on that branch since it was marked, fixing stuff that people reported as broken. In the meantime, people are also adding whatever code they like to the project (whether directly to Ubuntu or indirectly through a 3rd part project like Firefox). The stable release is out and people are downloading it. Yay! Now, no new versions of applications make their way into the stable release and the amount of code going in is severly restricted to fixing important bugs.

Start ————————————————————–> Code
                              `————–> [10.10] — — — — — –>

So in actuality, when Canonical works on Ubuntu, they’re actually working on two (well, three, as explained later) projects – the current stable release of Ubuntu (dashed here), fixing things that are broken or vulnerable, and the next release of Ubuntu, which gets new features, new artwork and more sexy. The top line will eventually branch again into the next release [11.04] and when it does, support will drop for the current version. The exception is in LTS releases, that also get their own branch – this would go below the dashed line and carry on until every 4th release, when a new one comes out. So, Canonical actually keeps 3 code paths for Ubuntu: one is for lots of features; one is for bug-fixes for the next release; and one is a 2-year-long support code path.

Rolling Release

Rolling Release distributions are much more hectic to keep track of and aren’t as simple as the Fixed Release Cycle above. Rolling Release distributions let you install a, "base" system, then receive updates for applications progressively. Some distributions (such as Gentoo) let you install the very latest and greatest releases of applications when the applications get updated, though others can potentially hold back appplications until they’ve been proved to work with the system to maintain stability. Unlike the fixed release cycle above, applications will receive updates that include new features and new application versions. They receive much less QA testing from the distributors, but if the independent projects do their own extensive QA testing this may not be an issue.

Canonical: Rolling Release Vs. Tried and True

The question of whether Canonical should move to Rolling Releases is a question of cost-benefit analysis. I’m a tinkerer and a geek, most of my family are and I’m sure, if you’re reading this, you probably are too. There are also people that can quickly figure out what’s changed, how it’s changed and how they adapt to the change when new versions of applications come out (these people tend to be our younger generations, as they have grown up around and lived with computers all their lives). For these people, Rolling Release is very advantageous: we get newer software with newer features faster. When a new release of Firefox comes out, I want it – there and then, not with the next release of Ubuntu. When a new version of Rhythmbox, or Empathy, or Evolution comes out, or a new release of Amarok, KDE SC or KDEPIM comes out, I want to be able to install and use it without worrying about PPAs and without worrying about stability (except, maybe, in KDE SC – depending on who you ask). This is how third-party applications on Windows work, badly designed as updating software is on Windows, and rolling release seems to work well for consumers there.

However, in corporations especially, this isn’t OK for various reasons. First, keeping the software at a specific version for a long period of time (2 years for LTSes) means that, when there’s a problem, the guys in I.T know what to do to solve it. If application versions keep bumping every few weeks, with new features, changing layouts and the like, I.T could bump against a problem they’ve never experienced before, or experience an old problem only to find that the method of solving it has changed (menus, configuration options have changed etc.). This is a massive inconvenience. Then consider that many corporations may have specialised or in-house-developed software, built against only one version of a set of libraries underneath: if these keep updating and changing, or even if something as simple as the default theme keeps changing, it could break something in that application. Since we know that application is made in-house, or a software house has been sponsored to develop it specifically for them, we can assume that it’s pretty damn important and that having it break every few weeks could mean plenty of hours lost constantly trying to fix it. Not cool.

These aren’t the worst of it, though. Gather ’round this campfire, ’cause I’m going to tell you a horror story my father told me: he’s every bit a geek that I am and loves his technology, so he knows how to look after himself in the digital world. But at his workplace, in a hospitle, he goes towards the locker room every morning and evening which is locked with a key-code – except this night, when he approached that locker room door, he found on the wall beside it – not blood, but something much, much worse… the code to the locker room, written in permanent black ink. Terrified, he fled at the site, retreating to his familiar and comfortable computer desk, with the shared computer – only to find that there, too, was written someone’s user-name and password, on a sticky note on the side of the computer screen.

Horrific, I know – but the sad reality is that these people are a majority. These are the kind of people I.T has to cope with, and they seem to panic as soon as anybody suggests they move out of the groves they’ve worn in their minds. So, you can imagine, having the software they use change every week or so is a nightmarish hellride – no, not for the stupid plebs, but for the poor, poor guys in I.T. Think of the I.T department: offer a fixed release cycle.

All that being said, I don’t see any reason why Canonical can’t use both methods – simply take a, "snapshot" of the package versions every two years and slap on an, "LTS" sticker, then have everybody else use the rolling-release cycle. I certainly think it would be better for Ubuntu’s current user-base. I’m holding out hope, anyway. Well, there go all my hopes and dreams. :/

Question: Why Use a Blogging Client?

23 Nov

So someone very honestly asked, "Why bother using a blogging client at all?". Well, what better way to answer than in a blog post? Since I’ve just finished moving house and don’t get broadband installed until Friday (using my mobile phone), I figure this is as good an excuse as any to get back on the ball with my blog. Lets get to it, then!

First: Itty-Bitty Advantages

To start, I’ll just group up a bunch of 1-sentence, less-than-140-character advantages. Saving blog-posts locally is a life-saver for me on my netbook, for when I’m on-the-go and need to punch out a blog post. With Blogilo, you can also download your blog’s theme locally to preview your blog posts without an internet connect (again, an awesome feature for when you’re out-and-about). Using a client also means you don’t have to open your web-browser, go to your blog’s home-page or admin-page, then tell it you want to write a new blog-post – open the client and you’re ready to type, straight away. If you run multiple blogs, you can also just set them both up in the client, write out your blog post and pick which blog to upload to (or post to both). If you have different blogs with e.g. different blogging providers (WordPress and Blogger, for example), then it doesn’t matter to the client: it looks and works exactly the same way.

Next: Long-Winded Explanations

Screen-Space Stress Test

A simple experiment can be done to see which application uses screen-space most efficiently. In fact, it’s so simple I can explain the whole process in one screenshot:

Oooh dear. That website doesn’t seem to be coping well.

Yeouch. Hell, I’ve done everything I could to get Firefox to save space, and yet… ouch ouch ouch. Blogilo wins this one, even before you remove the toolbox.

The reasons are obvious. suffers all the weaknesses of trying to make an application out of a document-layouting language, while Blogilo benefits from the full power of modern-day desktop application toolkits: this is evidenced by the fact that, despite not having enough room for the Visual Editor tab’s toolbar, the toolkit knows how to properly manage that situation (hide some buttons at the end). Moreover, because you only ever open Blogilo to actually post something to your blog, that’s all it has to display: web interfaces also need tools and navigation for visiting your blog, managing comments, visiting other people’s blogs, managing your account, managing media etcetera, and that stuff scoffs space. The website looks, feels and works like… you guessed it – a website. On the other side of the fence, the desktop client looks, feels and works more like a document creator, which is good – since the focus is on the document and not the rest of the interface.

Lots of people complain that screen-space isn’t really that important, especially when you’ve got a large monitor. They’re half-right: screen space doesn’t matter if you’re only ever doing one thing at a time. However, the more screen space my blogging client takes up, the less I have for, say, a website I’m referencing, an E-mail I’m reading or what-have-yee. I like being able to see all this stuff at once, and the less screen-space that’s wasted on the application itself the better. If I only ever wanted to see one app at a time, I’d buy an iPad. Nooo, thank-you.

Features, Features, Features

That’s all well and good, but it counts for naught if the client just makes me do more work to make my totally awesome blog-post… totally awesome. Fun times, people! The client wins on this side, too.

Because the rest of the chrome takes up so little space, they can afford to cram in buttons that add extra formatting options (headers, lists, the standard BIU stuff, changing the text colour, alignment and tons more fun stuff). This is all stuff that (at least, in WordPress) I’d have to go into the HTML editor to enter in manually – which is annoying, especially for lists.

Managing multiple blog posts at the same time is easier, too – for two blog posts, you’ll have two tabs in your blogging client and nothing else. In a web-browser, those two tabs could be mixed in with any number of other tabs or grouped with some task in the task-bar somewhere, which can make it a pain to find them (of course, you can do stuff to negate those issues like just having your actual blog posts in a separate window from your main task, but with a blogging client I don’t have to do that kind of stuff). All the more comprehensive stuff is there as well – the current post’s permalink (if it’s already published), post summaries, scheduling posts, submitting posts as drafts, downloading current posts, submitting edits to those posts and deleting posts. I’m sure it’s something to do with a lack of relation to blogs, rather than technical feasibility, but the only thing I’m really missing is a, "make me a cup of tea" button.

But Most Important of All…

The client is prettier. :3

On a more serious note, getting a blogging client written in your preferred toolkit means you get a client that integrates well with your DE (and you can even make KDE apps adopt the GTK+ theme, giving you no excuse to use anything other than Blogilo 😉 ). That means it works and behaves in a way that you’re familiar with and in a way that you have already told the computer you want applications to behave in.

That’s all I’ve really thought of right now, but I hope it’s been enlightening. Thanks for reading, people. 🙂