• September 28, 2005
  • Erik

When I was a child my gradfather – my dad’s dad – subscribed to National Geographic. He would read the whole thing in a day, and then he would pass them on to me. I loved them. There is something of a formula that can render the magazine dull over long periods of time, but it is not without it’s charm, especially to a curious kid like I was.

And then the bastards sent submarines after the Titanic.

I have never been so afraid in my life. The terrible pressures of the deep on those tiny vessels, the accumulated silt of ages, the monsters that lurked below. Every image became a nightmare. God help me, I was scared of the shrimp.

I switched to novels. Dad gave me 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

And now my irrational fear of those which goes *SLORP* in the eternal night of the deep had a concrete form in the Giant Squid. Lord of all that is Evil and Slimy, I can’t eat teriyaki sauce to this day, the association of slimy food to the slick, oily skin of Nemo’s Bane is so strong. Worse, this childhood fear had been stirred up with the discovery, several months past, of the (I shit you the fuck not) a goddamn collosal squid. They just keep getting bigger and bigger. My only comfort has been that every giant and (*shiver*) collosal squid discovered has been dead or dying, bodies swollen with shrimp and evil in the bellies of sperm whales – sperm whales, in whom I have no fear, due to the comraderie of mammalhood.

My one salvation: I have been spared the horror of seeing the things live, seeing how they move, as they must, swimming in an abyss cold as space, yet filled with a dark Cthuloid life.

Well fuck a duck

Xfce News Late

  • September 26, 2005
  • Erik

So, I’m already up to 8 day weeks, but this next edition of the news will have to wait till next week.

I’ll cover both weeks – sorry about the delay.


  • September 16, 2005
  • Erik

I disagree fundamentally with the assumption that icons exist to highlight the “important” bits of the UI.

First off, nine times out of ten, if you have unimportant UI bits you’ve screwed up. Second, if an important bit of UI needs “highlighting” you’ve almost certainly screwed up.

Icons are not workarounds, they are the key to the whole visual metaphor. Several papers have discussed the power of pairing a visual and a lexical stimuli for increasing accuracy and response time in a number of tasks.

Give someone a set of words, and ask them to select the one of them according to a criteria (Like picking the menu item which will save the file from the list of menu options), and it will take them several milliseconds to find it.

Give them a set of images with the same criteria (“Find the toolbar button that saves the document”) and they will take several milliseconds.

Pair the two together (image plus text) and it will take less time to select the menu item.

This makes it pretty clear that eliminating icons throughout the system is a net loss. What is still ambiguous, from a scientific perspective, is what happens in the mixed case – in other words, what is the performance change for the case where “important” bits of the UI have icons and “unimportant” bits do not.

I strongly suspect that performance of selecting a specific “important” item will go up marginally at best (and I could make a strong argument that would theorize performance would plummet, in most cases) and that performance will be so much worse for selecting “unimportant” elements of the UI, that the effect would be a net loss.

I’d be happy to test this out, however, using Gtk+ specifically, if one of you happens to have a grant?

Icons Overload

  • September 15, 2005
  • Jasper Huijsmans

Lots of people already commenting:

Original by Tigert
Tigert’s blog

Garrett LeSage

I think I agree.

Xfce News, September 2nd through September 9th

  • September 10, 2005
  • Erik

Last week’s update seems to have generated a little attention. I’m flattered. The devs aren’t flattered, but that’s because they’re too busy writing 4.4.

I also generated some anonymous criticism of my writing on OSNews. Which was probably warranted. Ah, well. I’ll never get that Linux Weekly News job now.
Read the rest of this article »

Themes are human too, you know

  • September 9, 2005
  • Jasper Huijsmans

Someone linked to this on planet GNOME. I thought it was pretty funny: thoughts about Apple’s new theme for iTunes .

So, Olivier, if you’re reading this, don’t be so quick to ditch the Xfce engine in favour of Clearlooks. You might hurt its feelings ;-)


  • September 8, 2005
  • Erik

So, KHTML is a HTML rendering engine, built on Qt.

WebCore is an HTML engine based on KHTML for Mac OS X.

This was all accomplished via something called Kwiq. Kwiq, created by Apple, is basically a reimplementation of portions of Qt needed to port KHTML. Qt widgets become Cocoa widgets, and all is happy.

GtkWebCore is a rendering engine based on WebCore for Gtk+.

What interests me about the whole thing is that GtkWebCore is accomplished essentially just by porting the Kwiq layer to Gtk+. So…..now we have large portions of Qt implemented on top of Gtk+?

What could be accomplished with a simple recompile, and a few header files diddled?


  • September 7, 2005
  • Erik

Slashdot has a little story on how much money developers make, relative to the national (US) average.

Having read through this little discussion, with people saying that if they made a dinky 50k for programming, they’d start checking gas meters for $20/hour, I felt the need to vent.

I have three years of software development experience, including one year of R and D management experience, and I make half of the lowest wage mentioned. I’m paid hourly, I get no vacation time, no benefits, and I make 12k a year (that’s about 15000 euros). I have a food budget of 20 dollars a week, for both me and my wife. I’m the lowest paid person at my company (all my “employees” make more, marginally, or some make the same). Currently, the CEO is investing in a product built entirely under my supervision as the manager of the dev team.

Before I started, there was some vague talk of putting the code in CVS, but all of the devs were convinced that it would simply create overhead on projects that were all perpetually behind schedule. CVS was mentioned because it was the only form of version control these guys had heard of.

I put everything in subversion, setup a ticket tracking system, pushed as many of the complete lummoxes out the door as I could, began setting up daily builds and automated testing, and established rules about the CEO never speaking to my team directly, all via me. The team has never been more productive, and I saw the first project to ever ship on time.

I hired testers, wrote documentation, and I still program when I get home. I’m the only one to dedicate myself to a regular schedule (though it’s suffered since school started) so that I can be available whenever people need me, and I’ve taken the blame for everything that’s broken, and given the credit to my team when ever something worked (they deserved it, dammit!).

I have never recieved a raise.


Anyway, thanks for putting up with that. I now return you to your irregularly scheduled programming

xffm package separation

  • September 5, 2005
  • Edscott

Starting with xffm-4.3.4, individual packages which are currently part of xffm will split into individual packages (fgr, xfdiff, xfsamba, xffm-libs, etc.). SVN for these packages will still be nexted in the xffm tree. Today the first of these packages, called libtubo, is released. Libtubo is a small library that only depends on glib>=2.0. Libtubo is the engineblock behind xffm. With the library xffm communicates with other applications to do stuff like samba browsing, finding files, mounting volumes, copying and scp, and just about everything. As from today, this library can be used by any other package and does not require xffm to be installed. Source tarball is available at http://xffm.sf.net/libtubo.html where you will find complete API Reference Manual. The source is also available from svn tree under xffm/libtubo.