Archive for June, 2006

Pyrats

If you liked Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll probably enjoy this animated short.

Apparently, it was made in seven months by five French students as some sort of final project. I suppose it’s too much to hope for a full length movie…

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A problem with the Thunderbird feed reader

…Is that it does not support organizing feeds in different folders. Not directly, anyway. An even larger problem is that it breaks feeds when you do so.

There is a workaround though, which is the only reason I'm posting this to a blog rather then just filing a bug report. (Blogs tend to be higher on Google searches then bug trackers, and I've found I'm often not alone in breaking things like this.)

If you make a directory and drag some feeds into it they will die. They just won't be updated. If you drag them out again, they still won't be updated. It's as if Thunderbird has lost track of them or something. If you try to re-add the atom/rss/xml address you'll get a notice that they are already in the system. It's really a mess.

Here's a work around I've discovered:

  1. Make a list of all the "dead" feeds.
  2. Export your feed list. It will only include the good feeds.
  3. Goto where ever your Thunderbird email directory is and back up the contents of "Mail/News & Blogs". Then, delete it.
  4. Open Thunderbird and import that list of feeds you exported at the beginning. It will be missing any dead feeds, but you'll have rebuilt the evil database, so it won't think you still have them.
  5. In that backup you made, there will be a file named feeditems.rdf. It's human readable, so you can look though it with a text editor and and manually pick out the addresses of your missing blogs.
  6. Manually put them back into Thunderbird using the "Manage subscriptions" dialog. Never touch any feed related stuff without using this.
  7. Note the usability issues and politely ask Mozilla to do something about it. 😉

Actually, there is no need for me to post a bug report. This bug has been known about for a year and a half. *cough*

SuSE Gnome Mockups

Someone involved with SuSE Linux has posted a bunch of new mock-ups based off usability research done by the Better Desktop project.

Some highlights:

Notification boxes – I've been waiting for something like this ever since I tried Opera. In addition to the examples pictured, it could also use a download monitor thing, a la every web browser but IE.

New menu – Looks a bit like the new Vista menu, though mock-ups of concepts like this have been floating around for years. More info here.

From the looks of things, I'm gonna have to try SuSE again sometime soon…

allSnap

Right now I'm using Windows because an Ubuntu driver update has left my Wifi card useless. It'll probably be fixed within a few days, but till then I'm stuck using Windows XP. As I was hunting around for apps to make XP just a little more bearable, I happened across allSnap. It's a neat little app that sits in your system tray and makes all the window edges "snap", like in Gnome, XFCE or KDE.

This means, you can tile your desktop with windows and slide them around on each other without worrying about aligning them precisely. It's a bit hard to explain, but it makes window management a ton easier. Check it out if you're interested in usability and efficiency.

Happy Birthday, Matthew!

Recently, my brother Matthew turned 12. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I gave him my old 100MHz Acer Aspire tower. In the interest of introducing him to Linux, Mandrake 7.0 was installed during the festivities.

But low and behold, the default desktop is KDE 1.0! As I am devout user of Gnome, tensions have broken out between us. Already, our manner has been colder then usual as I dump him out of the room so I can get work done. He carelessly, maliciously, has begun to dump even more of his dirty clothes on my side of the floor.

Clearly, something must be done.

A desperate bid for power

This is a monologue I did at a Troop meeting on the 5th of June 2006. I was doing a (very bad) Napoleon Dynamite impersonation at the time. It didn't go over half bad, though I'm sure my impression was atrocious.

At one time, I had it all. Then, I lost it in a desperate bid for power.

I mean, there is was on eBay: “Power! Only five thousand dollars”. Then the guy didn’t even ship. So, I finally complained. And sent a couple hundred dollars to seal the deal.

Then he sent me a box of junk. I mean, there was like, a battery and a book on being president by Bill Clinton and some other stuff. But there, at the bottom of the box, there it was: The One Ring of Power. It called to me.

So, I tired to put it on, so I could become an evil overlord and invisible and junk, but it didn’t work. The thing was plastic. I think it came from McDonalds or something. Yeah. Only five million one rings now.

So, um, I wanted to see if it had any hidden words on it, but I didn’t have a fire. So I put it in the microwave. And it melted into a little blob that smelled funny. All of it except a little sticker that said “Made in Taiwan”. Yeah.

But, the blob wouldn’t solidify. I took it as a sign of great energy keeping the molecules in a liquid state. So I put it into a little baggie, and carried it around with me. I thought I might, you know, absorb some of it’s power though osmosis.

Anyway, I went on this cooking camping trip with my Troop. They were making this “stew” for dinner. It was just nasty. And I, um, though that if I dumped the ring blob into the soup, the toxins might release the latent power contained within the ring or something. I was going to eat it. No, I was, but that stuff was nasty.

But what do you know? The ring’s power was reforged, and everyone who ate that stew became invisible. I mean, I haven’t seen any of them since.

Google Spreadsheets

As you may or may not know, Google recently unveiled it's newest beta: Google Spreadsheets. It's more or less a stripped down version of Excel, and it dosen't seem half bad.

What's really neat though, is I can now do everything though Google that I'd do though Microsoft Office. Note that "Google Office" does not and never will have as many features as the Microsoft stuff, but it has almost everything your Average Joe would need.

I mean, seriously. We've got email, feeds, calendering, word processing, spreadsheets, and website design. (Did I miss anything?)

All we need now is an online database app and a presentation tool. Then we can watch Google roll it all up into one coherent service. Remember back when your Yahoo ID could do like half a million things and it was the wave of the future? The concept has returned, on a whole new level.


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