November 30, 2003
Task Based UI’s
Inductive user interfaces (aka: IUI’s) or more commonly called “task-based” interfaces are a user interface (aka: UI) advancement that promotes “usage” or “tasks” over individual applications.
The article above talks about how Microsoft has promoted and been the most noticeable innovator of IUI’s. The reason I point the article out is because of an apparent “slight” to the Mac OSX community regarding the amount of innovation going into their OS. The author basically states that Mac OSX has done little or nothing (I would strongly support the use of the word nothing!) for UI advancement. This really bothers Mac users because they historically see themselves as the origin of all things innovative. And they were… once.
It’s a popular trend in the “literary computer expert world” to slight Microsoft for now comming out with a UI to the level of OSX. Some authors go so far as to say the Mac OSX is the “ultimage Unix desktop.” While many people believe the OSX is the most beautiful personal computer UI in existance… the reality of the matter is that it is less functional than OS9, less user-friendly than XP, less flexable than KDE,and less innovative than any of the above mentioned.
IUI’s is a wonderful advancement for the majority of end users (as long as power users do not loose their flexability), and one that should be promoted in all desktop UI’s. Denouncing it and rejecting it does nothing to help improve user interfaces. And makes those who ignore it look as ignorant as those who thought the internet was simply a fad.
November 27, 2003
Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I have been blessed with the most wonderful family (and its getting larger all the time…) and the greatest friends one could ever possibly have. Thanks to all of you!
November 26, 2003
Seti and KDE
I have finished a couple new rpms that are now available in the apt repository. In what is surely the most “fun” group of packages I have made; I now have a complete a group of Seti@Home rpms for KDE!
- setiathome-3.08 -Is the setiathome executable.
- ksetiwatch-2.6.1 -Is a taskbar applet/application that allows you monitor your seti client from inside KDE
- ksetisaver-0.3.2 -Is a KDE screensaver with star charts and and LCARS look & feel.
The setiathome client is a command-line application, but here are some pics of ksetiwatch and ksetisaver. Thanks to Charles R. Anderson for his work on the original ksetisaver RPM. Because setiathome is kinda funny (it puts its configuration files in the same directory as where the binary is called from), here is my recommendation for installing them:
Install the setiathome rpm. Then as your main user do:
echo ‘#!/bin/sh’ > ~/.setiathome/setiathome
echo ‘/usr/bin/setiathome’ >> ~/.setiathome/setiathome
chmod 755 ~/.setiathome/setiathome
After that just make sure you point ksetisaver and ksetiwatch to user “~/.setiathome/setiathome” instead of the executable directly. You can also use kcron to set up a cron job (crontab -e does the same thing) every four hours or so. If setiathome is running the cron job will have no effect but if its not running it will restart it.
What a great way to start the holiday weekend.
November 25, 2003
Heather.. Did you do this?
My wife things I am a computer geek. So I like to spend some free time programming, playing video games, watching Lord of the Rings and Babylon 5 (which SHE like to watch also BTW…) and generally know entirely too much about computers. She married me, didn’t she?
Well evidently catching a geek guy is not all bad. Check out this HowTo Girl’s Guide to Geek Guys. To be absolutely honest its pretty much spot on.
November 24, 2003
Spam: The bad kind
I hate spam! Luckily if you are a Linux/KDE user your options for solving the spam dilemma are better than most. SpamAssassin is a heuristic email filter for tagging unsolicited commercial email. It does text and header analysis, checks blacklists, and will even use Vipul’s Razor.
This innovative Open Source product can be put together with a properly configured email client to filter out unsolicited spam. This is the tutorial I used to configure SpamAssassin with Kmail. Some additional spam filter/Kmail information (including more information for using SpamAssassin with Kmail) can be found here.
November 23, 2003
Run with Google
I have had several positive comments about last weeks Run Command article. The REALLY interesting stuff comes when you combine the Run Command with some of Google’s less known capabilities mentioned in this article.
For example I do a lot of conversions. I am constantly having to chance inches to meters. Miles to kilometers etc.. Well using Google Calculator and the Run Command I can simply put into the Run Command this:
and I have an instant answer from Google! Need a pizza? Hit Alt->F2 and type this:
(replace 73111 with your zip code) and you have the phone number of a local pizza place. Make sure to read the Google article… you can do reverse phone number lookups, find a taxi, get a map, and much more… all using the KDE Run Command.
November 20, 2003
kde: Run Command
The Alt->F2 shortcut in KDE is one of the least used (by new users) and most useful functions in the KDE environment. It is the KDE Run Command and not only can you use it to start applications but it can be used to automate searches, get help, and much much more. I am dedicating this post to some of the lesser known functions. Try typing some of these commands:
- <command> Start an application without leaving the keyboard.
- kdesu <command> Run a command as root without leaving keyboard.
- </path/to/directory> Opens a konqueror window in the specified directory.
- gg: <search> Does a google search and displays the results.
- dict: <word> Look up an English word in the dictionary.
- wp: <topic> Lookup topic material in an online encyclopedia.
- help: <appname> Get application specific help.
- man|info: <sys tool> Tool help (in a nice KDE GUI) throught the unix man or info pages.
The enhanced browsing functions are wonderful. Some of the others I use are rf: (rpm find), bug: (find a specific bug report for KDE), ggi: (google image search), ggg: (google groups search), fm: (freshmeat search), cpan: (CPAN perl search) and many many more. You can find the full list of browsing enhancements in the KDE control center “Enhanced Browsing” Section.
November 19, 2003
rsyc me baby
This article talks about using rsync and expect to automate the process on rsyc’ing your home directory to a central server via ssh without needing user input each time. It also keeps the system from being insecure (i.e. setting up a server/client trust without a passphrase) via storing the password in a variable for latter use. The administrator can then enter the password at his/her convience without waiting for the cron job execution time.
I have a KDE project idea that I am starting to form in my head and this is a useful article towards that project. As such.. you see it here.
The great question of our generation has finally been answered. Yes, we now know the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow! I don’t know about you but the better part of my philosophical study has been in the pursuit of the answer to this question.
Now notice the bigger paradox. The answer to the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow is simply the Answer for Life, The Universe and Everything, reversed! 24 <-> 42 I’m not sure that even Nietzsche could have seen this great nexus coming. Can the “Question to the Answer for Life, The Universe and Everything” be far behind?
November 17, 2003
I got forwarded an email (incorrectly attributed to Robin Williams) listing a plan to solve the U.S.’s foreign affairs problems. Although it is NOT an actual quote from Robin WIlliams, that does not invalidate the overall quality of the the plan:
2) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with Germany, South Korea and the Philippines. They don’t want us there. We would station troops at our borders. No more sneaking through holes in the fence.
3) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and leave. We’ll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or where they are. France would welcome them.
4) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 days unless given a special permit. No one from a terrorist nation would be allowed in. If you don’t like it there, change it yourself, don’t hide here. Asylum would not ever be available to anyone. We don’t need any more cab drivers.
5) No “students” over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If they don’t attend classes, they get a “D” and it’s back home baby.
6) The US will make a strong effort to become self sufficient energy wise. This will include developing non-polluting sources of energy but will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The caribou will have to cope for a while.
7) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a barrel for their oil. If they don’t like it, we go someplace else.
8) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we will not “interfere”. They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds, rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides most of what we give them is stolen or given to the army. The people who need it most get very little, if any anyway.
9) Ship the UN Headquarters to an island some place. We don’t need the spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, it would make a good homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.
10) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one can call us “Ugly Americans” any longer.
Nice… very nice.
To start the morning off my buddy Mike pointed by over to this link. Its a Windows-to-Linux road-map for migration. It looks like it will give offices not familiar with Linux a basic idea on how to implement a migration. Links to other articles and such.
November 15, 2003
We are the games we play
As if I didn’t already have enough things to waist my time on. May I present to you DHTML Arkanoid.
In addition to the above little gem, here is 10 things you didn’t know about google. Some really great stuff in there. Order a pizza, reverse phone number lookup. etc.. etc..
November 14, 2003
All in a days work
Most people I know think they don’t make what they are worth. But this article lists the top 10 most overpaid jobs in the U.S. Hey, maybe I need to find a new line of work.
November 12, 2003
So that is why my wife married me
Ever wonder how much you would be worth if sold on the open market? Humans for Sale has a quick survey that lets you find out. For anyone who wonders I am worth $2,271,612.00 “exactly”. I never would have guessed an overweight, balding, ugly, computer programmer would do that well!
Oh, on a quick side note I have added a reading list function. I will try to do reviews on books that (for whatever reason) I want to reviewed. Also added is a “Reading List” link under the Vault Stuff grouping. Just in case you want to see the complete list of books I’ve read since its inception.
Building the better mouse
James Pattern is an MIT student working on physical object interfaces to computers. There is a small QuickTime video on the site that shows some of his current work.
Overall his studies look interesting, but they seem specifically aimed at CAD, CAM, design, and modeling. Why? Because the data entry technique most commonly employed by computer users (aka: the keyboard) is almost perfectly suited for human beings. Humans have 10 fingers, but only 2 hands. Thats why you will find that programmers almost universally prefer a good keyboard (with shortcuts for everything) to a mouse.
How many of you remember the UI from Minority Report. Sure it was cool, but it was almost worthless from a user interface standpoint. To access and search data you had to do full body movements that were a cross between a traffic officer and an aerobics instructor. You even had to put on gloves to use the system… real user friendly.
November 6, 2003
A hot issue
I have always had a problem with the theory of human catalyst global warming. Not that the Earth is or is not getting hotter but that humans play a significant role in that effect. The main problem I have is that the reason that the theory is dependent on is not available for public scrutiny. Personally I never trust the comments of someone who says, “I have proved XXX, but I am only going to allow professionals to view my work; the public has no need.”
Well a couple of articles are starting to bring to light some of these kind of questions. This USAToday article points to a couple of researchers who reviewed the Global Warming data and came up with the opposite conclusion. The main difference is that they are opening their research to public review. The other article points out that the sun is actually giving off more heat in the last 20+ years or so.
Whatever the outcome of Global Warming research (or any research for that matter), its fundamentally important the public review be made available before we make public policy decisions on it. I have little problem with emission control laws; but only if its based on sound (i.e. publicly review-able) data.
November 4, 2003
End of an era
In what could possibly be one of the most ignorant statements ever made by a software vendor CEO, Mr. Matthew Szulik is quoted in this ZDNet article as saying “Windows will remain the right platform for home users.” This is really a frustrating blow to those of us who have put our bets behind Redhat for Linux. My company is now reconsidering which Linux vendor we will be using now that Redhat has shown that it will a) stop supporting its entry level customers, and b) stabs them in the back when it decides it does not need them. I am not sure if I will continue to work toward my RHCE.
Many of us already use Linux successfully at home, but that is really not the point. The point is that this CEO has made a statement that makes my management question the validity of the remainder of their product line. What is even worse is that after years of ignoring and screwing the best home user desktop UI (in spite of their best efforts KDE was still the most preferred GUI for Linux on Redhat,) they are now choosing to toss in the towel and claim failure.
The truth is that Linux IS ready for most home users. If you use the right GUI and the right distro. Unfortunately I can no longer recommend Redhat as that distro; ES, AS, WS, or any other.