Monthly Archives: March 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:

ksystraycmd –title ‘kcalc’ kcalc

The best part is that it works with ANY Linux application available, it doesn’t even have to be a KDE application.

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.

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.

Feminists & Conservatives

Got a couple really good quotes via way of Andrew Sullivan. Check these out:

“It takes one’s breath away to watch feminist women at work. At the same time that they denounce traditional stereotypes they conform to them. If at the back of your sexist mind you think that women are emotional, you listen agape as professor Nancy Hopkins of MIT comes out with the threat that she will be sick if she has to hear too much of what she doesn’t agree with. If you think women are suggestible, you hear it said that the mere suggestion of an innate inequality in women will keep them from stirring themselves to excel. While denouncing the feminine mystique, feminists behave as if they were devoted to it. They are women who assert their independence but still depend on men to keep women secure and comfortable while admiring their independence. Even in the gender-neutral society, men are expected by feminists to open doors for women. If men do not, they are intimidating women.”
– 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

Real Applications without Real Programming

I have mentioned Kommander in previous posts. It occurs to me that it may be hard to conceptualize exactly how “functional” an application written entirely in Javascript, bash, or DCOP could be. So, anyone who is interested in some of the application capabilities of Kommander should check out Dik’s Kommander Applications. All of Dik’s applications, on that page, are written in Kommander without any real programming required. Another quick tutorial on using Kommander can be found at kde.me.uk.

No Comment

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.

Why KDE

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.

Kconfigure 2.1

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.

Killer Programming

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.