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Back from CeBIT marathon

  • March 22, 2007
  • Jean-François

I just came back from my CeBIT marathon (i mean my one day trip to CeBIT). The first word that comes into my mind after visiting CeBIT is “_HUGE_”. This event takes place into around 23 showrooms, each of them big enough to host an entire commercial aircraft. I have been walking all day long (including a 6km long walk just for the trip to the nearest Burger King) and i’m exhausted now.

I dropped by the GNOME and KDE booth and was a bit deceived. In comparison with the other booths, these ones were pretty small and without any attractive posters, sport car :p or whatever. But I took some pictures of the suggestion board that had some interesting notes :D.

GNOME suggestions board

GNOME suggestions board

GNOME suggestions board

Unfortunately, I couldn’t meet with Jens because he was working today. May be next time.

Airconfig Screenshots

  • March 19, 2007
  • Brian Tarricone

By popular demand, here are a few Airconfig screenshots. Note how the signal strengths are all 100% in my menu; part of the blame lies with the bcm43xx driver's inability to report proper quality values. (But hey, I'm just thrilled I can use wireless on my PowerBook under Linux with a nice set of free [as in speech] drivers. Yes, consider that a middle finger tossed in the direction of Broadcom.)

Airconfig

  • March 17, 2007
  • Brian Tarricone

Sometime last November or December I posted about GUI wireless networking config options for Linux, and I mentioned I was planning on writing one if I couldn't find one that met my needs (and actually worked).

Well, I went ahead and did it. It's not finished. There are things that don't work yet, buttons in the settings window that aren't connected to anything, and probably a bunch of error conditions I haven't handled yet. But it's starting to actually work for me, and I'm going to start actually using it for day-to-day stuff.

I haven't made any releases yet, but you can grab it from my Subversion repository (warning: sometimes the server decides to go off into the weeds and becomes unreachable). See the website here for download/install information, and do pay careful attention to the requirements list: older versions of the stuff in that list will almost certainly not work. I'm sorry about the high required versions of glib/gtk+, but I'm not going to try to reduce those until the app actually is "finished" and I have some spare time.

Please look at the README as well. There are a few dependencies that are required that probably aren't already set up properly on your system. (For example, there are only two distros I know of offhand that package wpa_supplicant with the D-Bus control interface compiled in.)

Note that Airconfig is more or less cross-desktop. It doesn't require any Xfce or GNOME libraries to function. It might not be particularly friendly (in the blending-in sense) for KDE users, as it does use gtk+. (A small exception: xfce4-dev-tools is required, but only for building from SVN. When I make release tarballs, you won't even need xfce4-dev-tools.) However, currently the GUI stuff is confined to two files, so it wouldn't be too difficult to write a Qt/KDE frontend (or even a wildly different gtk+ frontend) for it if you don't mind that it depends on gobject. That's probably a project for somewhat far in the future, though (I might do it myself; I haven't touched Qt since 2.x, and it would be fun to re-learn it).

Anyway, give it a look if you're interested. I've added Airconfig to Xfce Bugzilla, so feel free to report problems there (I greatly prefer that instead of email). I may not get to your bug for a while since there's still a lot to do.

Xfce and Choice

  • March 11, 2007
  • Josh Saddler - Category: Xfce

Since my last entry, a several important things happened. A number of users and developers chose to engage in a flamewar on the mailing lists. A few developers chose to leave. Many chose to just ignore the problems and focus on their work. Meanwhile, the council has chosen to start doing something about it. Since that last entry ("It's not about choice"), many things have happened. Well, we're Gentoo. We're flexible. We choose when to do things and when to do nothing. We'll adapt, and hopefully we'll weather the storm.

This weekend I chose (there's that word again) to update my Xfce Guide for 4.4, which is now being stabilized. Kudos to the arch teams and the xfce team; you guys rock!

You'll find new package suggestions, new descriptions, tips, links, and even a chapter on migrating from 4.2 to 4.4.

Now, you can choose (that was the last one, I promise) to do many things, but I hope you'll choose (okay, maybe not; I'm such a tease) to read the updated guide and try out Xfce 4.4 yourself.

And now, I choose to go to bed, since the PST to PDT change means the clock just struck 3AM.

Edit: Who's this joker over here? Who chose to write up that kind of wackiness?!?

Xfce and Choice

  • March 11, 2007
  • Josh Saddler

Since my last entry, a several important things happened. A number of users and developers chose to engage in a flamewar on the mailing lists. A few developers chose to leave. Many chose to just ignore the problems and focus on their work. Meanwhile, the council has chosen to start doing something about it. Since that last entry ("It's not about choice"), many things have happened. Well, we're Gentoo. We're flexible. We choose when to do things and when to do nothing. We'll adapt, and hopefully we'll weather the storm.

This weekend I chose (there's that word again) to update my Xfce Guide for 4.4, which is now being stabilized. Kudos to the arch teams and the xfce team; you guys rock!

You'll find new package suggestions, new descriptions, tips, links, and even a chapter on migrating from 4.2 to 4.4.

Now, you can choose (that was the last one, I promise) to do many things, but I hope you'll choose (okay, maybe not; I'm such a tease) to read the updated guide and try out Xfce 4.4 yourself.

And now, I choose to go to bed, since the PST to PDT change means the clock just struck 3AM.

Edit: Who's this joker over here? Who chose to write up that kind of wackiness?!?

Hell

  • March 7, 2007
  • Brian Tarricone

From Penny Arcade:

Tycho: We're gonna die, right? You're here to take us to heaven? Jesus: I'm just here for him. You're gonna burn in hell forever. Tycho: God dammit. Jesus: See? It's shit like that.

On Blogging In General

  • March 5, 2007
  • Brian Tarricone

As my two faithful readers have no doubt noticed, I haven't been posting about my life since mid-December or so. I think this is pretty normal for me; every now and then I get too busy to post, and then I just let it go for a while, not really having the motivation to catch up.

I do feel a little bad about this, because there are several people who I don't talk to all that much who have told me they enjoy reading my blog every now and then to see what I'm up to.

I think my "privacy pendulum" might be swinging back a bit the other way as well. Clearly, I'm very open about myself on the Internet. I'm easily contactable, and Google knows a lot about me. While I don't post every little detail of my life (I often make good use of WordPress' "private post" feature), it's usually easy to get a pretty good impression of what I do during the week, on the weekend, etc. While I'm not uncomfortable with this, I really do just write that stuff for myself. There's little to no exhibitionism component to it. It's more like a private journal that I don't mind other people reading (well, except for the actual private/personal things). I do frequently go back into my archives just to see what I was up to at a particular time. I'm often very interested in how my life changes, and how the things that constitute a "normal week" for me change over time.

On a side note, I've also started thinking a bit about the other people in my life. While I don't reveal any intimate personal details about my friends, they do figure prominently in my life, and I write about the things I do with them, usually giving names and places and whatnot. Again, this makes perfect sense if you think of this as my personal journal that just happens to be readable by anyone: why would I censor myself? But still, some of my friends in particular might feel a bit uncomfortable about being mentioned so publicly by name. It's a bit late at this point to invent pseudonyms or just use first initials; anyone who has read my blog for a while would easily know who I'm talking about. And besides, I don't want to do that for my own sake: I'd have to decipher the names or initials later when I go back and read them, and I don't want to do that.

There's also another annoyance from my perspective: sometimes when I'm writing about public stuff, there are sections of private material that I want to add in there. Invariably, I end up making a separate private entry, but that's a pain and doesn't really fit the flow of my writing very well.

So, I probably won't be posting about day-to-day stuff all that much anymore, unless it's unusual or interesting. I'll reserve that for private posts when I feel like doing them. If you want to know what's going on with me, ask! Email, IM, or -- god forbid -- call me. Those of you who are likely to want to do so already have my various forms of contact info.

Computer Retirement

  • March 5, 2007
  • Brian Tarricone

I've been thinking a lot lately about my computer situation. At home, right now I have: - little router box; on 24/7 (Cyrix MediaGX 233MHz)

  • Aging desktop machine; on 24/7 (mid-tower case, Athlon 1.33GHz)

  • HTPC/PVR; on only when I'm watching or recording something (mid-sized desktop case, Sempron somethingorother)

  • PowerBook G4 laptop; usually on 24/7, though occasionally it gets turned off (ppc 1GHz)

I've noticed recently that I haven't been using my desktop all that much. In general, it just sits there eating power and making noise. In a way, I want to retire it and just turn it off permanently, and just use my laptop for everything.

However, it has four main advantages over my laptop: 1. slightly faster processor (the laptop can't handle some video using more computationally-intensive codecs)

  1. Flash plugin (laptop is running Linux on ppc, and Adobe doesn't support that; all the open source Flash players I've tried are useless for my purposes)

  2. better-supported video (albeit through an nvidia binary driver; the laptop has an nvidia chipset as well, but Linux on ppc is not supported)

  3. storage: I have a 1TB array in there

1 isn't all that big a deal, since I have the HTPC for watching video, and it's been able to handle pretty much anything I've thrown at it (720p H.264 with 5.1 audio is fine).

2 isn't that bad either. The only real downside is that I lose out on YouTube; people do send me links to funny videos, and I feel bad when I say "I'm on the laptop and I don't have Flash here." Eventually, I figure the open source Flash players will achieve some measure of parity with Adobe's and the problem will disappear (or maybe Adobe will start supporting Linux on ppc, which is unlikely). If there's something I just have to see, I can always reboot to MacOS and watch it there.

3 is a bit annoying: I like real window transparency. I find it very useful because I work with a lot of terminals open. Making them semi-transparent helps me find the one I want when I have many piled up. It's also just fun and nifty. But I can (and do) live without.

4 is the problem at this point. Due to some annoying recent financial occurrences, I won't be building my low-power file server any time soon. My HTPC case isn't large enough to accommodate the drives, and I don't really want to spend the money on external USB/Firewire enclosures for a temporary solution. I'm a bit stuck here.

I guess, in the near-term, I'll leave things as-is. Maybe I'll turn off the desktop machine at night sometimes to save power (and thus money) and reduce noise. Sure, people won't be able to download stuff off my computer overnight, but... well, too bad.

Recently I've been experimenting with not logging into AIM/Jabber/etc. from the desktop. I've just been chatting on the laptop, and that seems to be working pretty well. For the past several days I haven't even touched my desktop. I think this clearly points toward the idea that I'd rather sit on the couch with my laptop while doing computer stuff than at my desk. And for occasions where I'd rather use the desk, I can always hook up the laptop to my monitor, keyboard, and mouse (though I guess I'd need to buy a USB keyboard).

So we'll see. I'll continue my experiment until the weekend, and maybe start turning the desktop off after that.