Archive for August, 2008

Why I hate online stores which are not Amazon

So, I’m trying to buy access to MyTechCommKit, an online service required for one of my classes this semester. The typical process for this sort of thing usually involves going to a secure web page (yay HTTPS), entering some payment and billing info, and checking email every ten seconds for a an automated confirmation.

Unfortunately, online stores hate me. The feeling is mural (although I make special exceptions for NewEgg and Amazon, for reasons which will become clear presently). When the time came for me to enter my credit card verification number, authentication failed. Which was OK; because my card was on the verge of expiring and I just got an updated card yesterday with a different security code. The system must not have updated for the new card. Merely trying the old code should work. Except that it doesn’t.

The priority of the issue suddenly jumped several levels on my internal bug tracker. This is An Issue.

I tried to contact support. For some reason, they decided that it was way too hard to maintain an 800 number, so they have live chat instead. Cheapskates. I spent several minutes figuring out how to classify my issue in their arbitrary category system, entered my name and contact info, double checked the hours of operation, and hit “Chat.” A window appeared, the chat interface popped up… and then it all closed again. A message informed me that my chat had been disconnected. Well, that’s just wonderful. I love you too, impersonal buggy javascript application.

Look, if you’re going to have a system which will randomly fail, either by your fault, your customer’s, or some random middle man, it’s good to have a backup. Like, a real person for your customer to sort things out with. Perhaps a phone number someplace? It really feels like you don’t want to talk to me and/or don’t care that I want to give you money. Work that out, ok?

Kubuntu w/ KDE 4.1 stream of consciousness

I took a brief break from coding to try out KDE 4.1 in Ubuntu 8.04. I used the procedure to install outlined on the Kubuntu page. This release was billed long ago as the one which would be ready for users. Observe my amazing stream of cosciousness, typed in real time as I explored the basic KDE 4.1 desktop.

All the hotkeys on my laptop’s keyboard have been disabled. I can’t adjust the screen brightness, which defaults to “solar flare.”

Ripping off the Vista search-as-you-type style menu is only a good thing.

No Tango in the icon switcher? I thought one of the big deals about Tango was that it was one of the first complete icon themes to use the new-two-years-ago FreeDesktop.org icon naming system?

The plasmoid whatever it is method of resizing the taskbar confused me for a while. Also, am I missing something? I messed around with these wierd tabstops and justification buttons that pop up when you want to resize the toolbar, but nothing happened. Don’t know what they’re supposed to control, but the UI metaphor isn’t working for me.

No obvious way to turn off text labels on toolbars

The menu that pops up when a flash drive is inserted is extremely nicely done. There is a my-computer style device icon persistent on the taskbar, and the popup dialog is attached to this icon. I don’t know. It takes up valuable space on the taskbar, but I like it. It would be nice if my home folder was in there, maybe with a separator to distinguish it from the devices or something.

Window compositing!
Alt-tab highly meh.
Can be replaced with Aero win-tab rip off or what looks like an itunes coverflow clone.
No compelling reason to use KWM with composite over compiz. Or even over KWM with no composite. Aside from shadows and the window becoming a little transparent when you move it, I’m not seeing a big difference.

The mouse pointer theme is under Keyboard & Mouse, not appearance. Which makes sense I guess, except that that icon is under the Computer Administration category. Even though every option in the mouse section easily falls under Look & Feel.

I don’t like single clicking to open folders. I don’t care if it’s more efficient, I want my double click back. Where is the option? It was around in previous iterations of KDE, but I can’t find it now.

If there are enough items for the scrollbar to kick in on the k-menu, the last one will be halfway off the screen.

Does this have integrated desktop search? Deskbar in Gnome hooks into tracker. The k-menu search should do something similar.

What is the deal with Lost & Found? Why did it just dump everything from my neatly organized Wine folder on the Gnome menu in there?

Why does the “Desktop theme” affect the taskbar, not the desktop? I went looking for the taskbar theme by right clicking on the taskbar first.

I installed some desktop theme using the “New Theme…” button and nothing happened. I thought I’d misclicked because the progress bar went by, but nothing happened.

Oh, you have to install it, then back out and select it on the list. I’d like to at least preview it though. The screenshots are too small, and going back and forth is annoying.

I *think* I installed the Haron theme using the interface, but it’s not in the list for some reason. Hey, it didn’t work twice in a row.

How can I get rid of that annoying button on the end of the taskbar? Oh, I can hide it by locking stuff.

Why is there an annoying button in the top right corner? Can I get rid of it? What the heck? Why would anyone want to zoom out their desktop like this? Is this for if you’ve got like 20 virtual desktops and they all need different widgets or something? Weird.

Gah. I’m going back to Gnome. My eyes can’t stand the glare anymore.

Ok, why are there choices for log out/standby/shutdown/restart on the menu, if they’re just going to pop up again as a seprate dialog when I click one of them?

Verdict: Kubuntu 8.04 with KDE 4.1 feels funky and unpolished. This isn’t nearly as usable as I expected. I’ll check back around 4.2.

Please don’t flame me. Gnome is good, Windows Vista is good UI-wise (until you need to configure something), but KDE feels pretty meh.


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