March 23, 2005
KDE Scripting Tools
Windows, How To Work Them is a tutorial chapter of the KDE Users Guide. The parts that are most interesting to me are the kstart application (for starting windows with specific window management facilities. kstart lets you start applications on specific virtual desktops, with/without specific window decorations, present/absent from the taskbar, etc.. Thus providing a dynamic scripting interface for detailed window management.
The second utility is ksystraycmd. Ksystraycmd lets you load ANY application as a system tray mini icon. The application will can be set to load in the background and minimise to the system tray just like the volume control or windows update. Want quick access to a calculator without having it on in your taskbar all the time, try:
The best part is that it works with ANY Linux application available, it doesn’t even have to be a KDE application.
March 22, 2005
Peer Review & The Scientific Method
One of the cornerstones of environmental man-made global warming theories is the “MBH98 Northern Hemisphere Climate index” study. The basic findings of the Mann, Bradley & Hughes (MBH) study conclude the the 20th century is (by far) the hottest century on record; using known global temperature indicators such as tree rings and ice core samples. These number have been the basis for global temperature models and public environmental policy.
The primary rebuttal to this study is the ” M&M Critique of the MBH98 Northern Hemisphere Climate index.” McKitrick & McIntyre’s (M&M) basic findings are that the algorithms used by MBH98 produce a “hockey stick” shaped pattern (a pattern showing the 1900′s as the hottest century ever) in 99% of cases… even when the feed data was random noise! This would point to a statistical failure (or outright bias) on the part of the MBH98 algorithms. Using the same base data (i.e. the tree rings, ice core samples, etc..) against their own statistical analysis package, the M&M team gets a very different result. Their results conclude that the hottest century on record is the 15th century, not the 20th.
The debate has gone on for a number of years with strong opinions and heavy politics on both sides. Well things have taken a fairly significant turn recently. The M&M team has decided to open source their analysis and algorithm data. This provides for the much higher level of peer review. In addition, they use the well know (and well respected) R Statistics Package as the basis for their calculations suite. MBH has described their process but refused to open the entire algorithm suite (some select sources have been made available) to full peer review. While a number of third party studies have duplicated the MBH results, in each case the MBH algorithms (in closed source form) where used to produce the results. This leads to some serious questioning of the MBH methodology and therefore the validity of their results.
March 21, 2005
Where Am I
Ever wanted to know the Latitude and Longitude or your home address? Need to know the coordinates to send artillery fire at that annoying next door neighbor? Geocode has a test site for their geo-location software. It lets you get the Lat & Lon of any US address. Useful stuff for graphical traceroutes.
March 20, 2005
Feminists & Conservatives
Got a couple really good quotes via way of Andrew Sullivan. Check these out:
- Harvey Mansfield, in the Weekly Standard
“If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals — if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is.”
- Ronald Reagan
March 19, 2005
Real Applications without Real Programming
March 18, 2005
I just enabled a KDE Kopete plugin to publish my web presense for each of my IM accounts. You can check out my online status by clicking “Online Status in the right sidebar of this page under the title Vault Stuff.
Because of problems with comment spam and a busted blacklist filter (it is actually so full that I cannot get it to run) I have to disable comments on my blog for a while. We are actively working on switching to another CMS. One that has better blacklist support and is open source. I hope it will be soon enough that I will not need to try and fix the blacklist filter for this old busted-ass version of MT.
March 17, 2005
Flexbeta has a side by side review of K3b and NeroLinux. NeroLinux gets its ass handed to it by K3b. Checking out theDot’s comments on the story, one of the complains concerns K3b’s required integration with KDE.
sure, k3b needs 3rd party tools like cdrecord… but it would be nice to compile with qt-libs only instead with full kde-libs.
but that was not really the post that drives me nuts. This was a comment a little further down in the same thread:
if I look at opera, then I don’t think it can’t be done. for the kde-freaks everything looks the same from the theme side…
i have kde only installed because of k3b on my second machine. these are to many megabytes related for cd burning program with a gui.
So this person was running K3b (instead of one of the other half dozen Linux CD burning applications) and yet had the balls to tell the developers why they should have used a different tool-set than they choose to use. The specific example he sites is a great example of why KDE/Qt make for such a powerful desktop development environment. Opera has a dozen developers who a paid full-time to work on that web browser (and email suite.) KDE has 2/3 full time developers for Konqueror/Kontact. And KDE’s applications are actually BETTER.
Its my experience that the people who complain that xxx application stinks because it a) is linked to kde and not just Qt; or b) its linked to Qt and not gtk; have a problem that has nothing to do with Qt or kde. Did anyone read the comments from the article? The biggest complaint for K3b was that it wasn’t available on Windows. lol, like they don’t have enough CD burning software to choose from… If *nix had a couple dozen applications that were of the quality of K3b we would have lots more people switching… just to use OUR apps. The reality of the matter is that KDE is making that situation a reality faster than an other software “grouping” in the free software world. Why? Because the integration, flexibility, power, and ability to share functionality between applications means that we get great apps like K3b, Amarok, Kopete, and Kontact… faster than would be possible for any of these applications individually.
K3b went from basically not existing to being possibly the best CD burning software on ANY platform in a matter of a couple years. KDE (whither you like it or not) made that possible. And its time we start making sure that the rest of the free software world realizes it.
March 16, 2005
Its really late, but I have just released version 2.1 of Kconfigure. Externally the program has added support for Qmake, bzip packages, “What’s This?” functionality, and custom checkinstall options. Internally the program has changed a great deal. Settings have been moved from the preferences class to a resources class that will allow me to do things like create a setup wizard and distribution (and for that matter program) specific build templates. tar and rpm sources are available on sourceforge. Also added (probably more noticeable to the end users) are a F.A.Q. and an on line copy of (an admittedly old version) The Kconfigure Handbook.
If you don’t know what Kconfigure is, check out the screen shots on the project homepage.
March 10, 2005
Here is a quick test for everyone. Can you tell the difference between a serial killer and the inventor of a programming language? Its actually disturbing how similar they look! I got 8/10 but I knew a couple of them already… the inventors that is.
March 9, 2005
I added a new side-bar link to Vault. Audioscrobbler is a site that collects information on your listening habits. You can use it via a plug-in available for most applications. I use amaroK a KDE music managers that is the first such tool, on any platform, to support Audioscrobbler out of the box (if you enable it.) As an FYI, I actually have a licensed copy of iTunes that I got with my iPod. AmaroK’s iPod support is better than iTunes… just another reason why amaroK is the best music manager on ANY platform. Here is a picture of my current amaroK setup/play-list. Take note of the pop-up album announcement at the top of the screen.
March 8, 2005
The End of an Era
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to subscribe to The National Geographic (TNG.) This desire became a reality when I married by wife Heather. Evidently her parents believe that its an important part of their duty to provide a window into the the architectural and historical origins of civilization. I applaud this effort, but mostly just because it provides me with a free subscription to a publication I have always been interested in. While my interest in TNG has change a great deal from the time I was in the third grade, looking to find uncensored images of young females from some unknown tribe of recently found nudists living on the exact opposite site of planet from my Catholic grade school; my respect for the magazine has not changed. That is, until recently.
Each month my (I say my because I find that I generally have a great deal more interest in the TNG than any other immediate member of my family) brown grocery bag covered periodical arrives at my door and I eagerly open it, peer at the cover, and flip through a the magazine that I will, no doubt, read cover to cover at my next available bathroom break. A couple months ago I ripped open the paper cover to discover a startling headline.. “Was Darwin Wrong?” No, I am not kidding. TNG has placed the question of the origin of species in large bold print on the cover of their magazine. Obviously TNG would not have done so unless some startling new evidence was brought to light by a team of world renounced scientists that questioned the validity of Charles postulate. I skipped right over my usual reading routine and tore open to the page referenced by the aforementioned articled headline; and their in black and white was my answer… NO! The article when on to talk about evolution in animal species around the world.
Now I am being totally serious here. The National Geographic, a mainstay of international intelligence had printed up a “National Enquirer” style headline to inform me that the status quo had NOT change in our understanding of evolution. And they had done so to push a interesting (if not mediocre) article on evolution.
Now I wish I could say this was a single abnormality, but recently I have found that this same type of occurrence (although seldom quite as dramatic) is happening with startling regularity. For example, last months issue had a cover story that appeared on news stands but was not shipped as the default cover story to subscribers. I thought my TNG copy of “The Great Gray Owl” was a wonderful article, but was dumbstruck to find sitting on the new stand at Albertson’s, “Tales from a Nazi Ghost Ship.” I went home to find that, indeed, the “Nazi Ghost Ship” article was in my copy of TNG; but it was not so prominently displayed on the cover (being only in small white type at the bottom.) I read the articles pertaining to the “Nazi Ghost Ship.” The articles were wonderfully interesting, and spectacularly written; but had absolutely nothing to do with Ghosts. In fact the “on location” photographers didn’t even see any skeletons because of their desire to be respectful to the remains of the sunken WWII ship. Evidently being sunk is cause enough for a ship to earn the title “ghost ship.” Funny how I had always assumed that ghost != ship.
I guess this really started back about a year ago. Some of you may remember that TNG came out with a “special” (special meaning that it was not shipped to subscribers and thus could only be bought on news stands.) The “special” was (and I-shit-you-not) a TNG swim suite issue! The inside articles and photography has swim suites from around the world, from dozens of different cultures. It was NOT a bad publication, definitely not worthy of being a “special”, but not a bad magazine. However, the front cover of this no-nonsense, reliable, bastion of cultural integrity; was a VERY attractive, VERY California looking woman with three shells covering the three most important FCC locations. The “bathing suite” btw was not a suite that was particularly common amongst any indigenous peoples subgroup anywhere in the world (nor could it even be purchased at the time), it was custom made for that particular photo shoot.
The point I am making is that I had always hoped that TNG was somehow immune to the sensationalism that seems to have overtaken our culture. A publication that you could always count on to be a beacon of consistency for cultural, architectural, and historical reference. For the last 100 years or so TNG has been exactly that. There was once a time where I was in awe of a magazine that was so accurate in its depictions of world cultures that it was willing to show nudity (during the 50′s and 60′s no less) if that was the standard for that culture. Now it wouldn’t be enough to present the reality of the culture; it would, undoubtedly, be prominently displayed. And we are all the less because of it.
March 4, 2005
KDE, SUSE, and APT
Found a great how to on installing Suse via FTP and APT. Useful information for managing and using Suse. One of the most interesting parts of the article is when they tell you to install kynaptic. Yes, there is evidently a KDE APT front-end much like Synaptic. The version linked to is pretty old (Suse 9.1, about 8 months old) but I have not been able to find the repository for the Kynaptic main… yet!
While I was hunting down Kynaptic, I found another interesting link. Apt Indicator is a system try applet that works like Redhat’s up2date or Suse’s Watcher. It informs you when there are updates available in your current apt repositories.
Finally, I discovered that Kynaptic might not even be necessary. KPackage (KDE package management tool) works just fine with apt4rpm. It even auto-configured itself to work with my current apt sources. Funny, I could never get KPackage to work on Redhat. Heck, most of the time it would not even install.
March 3, 2005
KDE Kiosk Mode
Kiosk Mode is a feature (mentioned previously) that allows administrators to setup groups to manage limiting of user rights within KDE. The functionality is basically required in small business, school, and company environments. The link above is to an outstanding tutorial on using Kiosk. Like all KDE functionality, its a feature that is automatically inherited by any KDE applications.
March 1, 2005
Making Vi even harder to use
One of the necessary evils of the *nix world is vi (or more preferably vim.) Suse 9.2 has been a wonderful distrobution for me to use; but one of the HUGE annoyances of it is the busted-ass-pain-in-the-butt way Suse 9.2′s Vim handles the backspace key. You would think that the backspace key… ya know.. deletes stuff to the left of your cursor. Well in Vim on Suse 9.2 you would be wrong.
For some reason that continues to remain a mystery to me, Suse has decided that the backspace key should beep at me. Its not enough that the key would not work, but it actually has to annoy me with loud beeping noises. A quick check with the vi homepage FAQ shows that the correct behavior of the backspace key is… to delete stuff to the left of the cursor (will wonders never cease.) In fact they are so infuriated by this change of behavior (justifiable, I might add) that they have created a vim command to fix any problems vendors may have introduced into the beloved backspace key.