Saturday, October 20, 2007

Having Seth both Godin ways

Seth Godin: I know you are enamored with those little contradictions in life and advertising... but I really think you missed the "ice-cream-for-the-freezer" on this one... give it another look.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Ubuntu and the Wall Street Journal

Ubuntu is still a little "rough"... according to the WSJ.

This column is written for mainstream, nontechie users of digital technology. These folks aren't necessarily novices, and they aren't afraid of computers. They also aren't stupid. They simply want their digital products to operate as promised, with as little maintenance and hassle as possible.

So, I have steered away from recommending Linux, the free computer operating system that is the darling of many techies and IT managers, and a challenger to Microsoft's dominant Windows and Apple's resurgent Macintosh operating system, OS X. Linux, which runs on the same hardware as Windows, has always required much more technical expertise and a yen for tinkering than average users possess.

I've been testing one of those Dell Ubuntu computers, a laptop called the Inspiron 1420N. I evaluated it strictly from the point of view of an average user, someone who wouldn't want to enter text commands, hunt the Web for drivers and enabling software, or learn a whole new user interface. I focused on Ubuntu and the software programs that come bundled with it, not on the hardware, which is a pretty typical Dell laptop.

My verdict: Even in the relatively slick Ubuntu variation, Linux is still too rough around the edges for the vast majority of computer users.
Emphasis mine...

If an individual had grown up with something other than Windows would they still be able to consider themselves "average"? I suggest that if an individual had made an equivalent investment in Linux their expectations would be considerably different than if he/she started with Windows today. (If a person grew up speaking English all of their life how would the feel about being thrust into Chinese?)

We have all 'grown up' dealing with the vagaries of Windows. We survived the years and years of BSODs. We still have to accept 'crashes' as a fact of life. AND we still have to accept BigBrother Bill&Steve telling us what is right/good for us. Excuse me but exactly what is the Windows promise? To me this smacks of 'better the devil you know'. I have news: The Devil is still the Devil.

I am an "average" Linux user. I started with Linux in 1997-98. My work with Ubuntu, though it is not my favorite distro, clearly indicates that it is very smooth. So a much superior Operating System (OS) coupled with an excellent Graphical User Interface (GUI) makes Linux the hands-down winner in my book.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The AWM paradigm

I have previously posted about AWM (which is not to be confused with Ardent Window Manager). Alpt-wm is the ultra simple, ultra small and BLAZINGLY FAST window manager...
svn co

alpt-wm - dynamic window manager
This is my custom, window manager. It's small, functional and fast.
It is based on dwm ( ) and it is just ~1800 lines of code.

...with absolutely NO bells and whistles. So what could be so good about something sooooo small?

Anyone remember screen ? It is the gift to console multitaskers ,particularly when ssh-ed into another system. AWM is to xwindows as screen is to the console. I am tempted to show a couple of screen captures but they would just take up bandwidth.

The Matrix revisited...

AWM allows the user to create a matrix of virtual desktops. X1, Y1 is the first. X1, Y2 is to the right of X1, Y1. X2, Y1 is above X1, Y1 and so on. Ctrl-Alt-RightArrow moves from 1,1 to 1,2 or Alt-Shift-UpArrow moves from 1,1 to 2,1. Each virtual desktop is created as you move to it. I just tried and I made 1,20. Certainly there are memory limitations but the point is that you can make the number of virtual desktops that you need at any given time.

So, I generally start out with two. The first runs a full screen xterm console. No frames, no menu bar, no clashing keymapping. Just a plain and simple CLI. Just like the good old days. But then comes the really great part. On my "second" virtual desktop I start an instance of FireFox, FULL SCREEN (yeah, yeah, I am yelling...'cause I am excited. Whatyawant?)

This is important, why? Why, because running on a IBM R51 laptop means that I only have 1024x768 to begin with. I am excited because I can run my X apps without taking the automatic GUI real estate hit.

So let me recap. I get a nearly unlimited number of virtual desktops. I get full screen console CLI and I get X apps all at the same time. All in about 19 megabytes of memory! (Emphasis mine! :) )

Those are the PROS... are some CONS:
  1. AWM doesn't do anything for you. It is all up to you.
  2. You must start programs from the command line (if you didn't "hard" code them into config.h before you recompiled.)
  3. You have to "remember" what program is running on which virtual desktop.
  4. It has no sex appeal
  5. It has not eye candy

. . .