quickie tech links

Law links these days invite the writing of essays, not sentences, so there are fewer of them :)

  • Sr. O’Grady (who it was a pleasure to finally meet last week) has a long post on why the Solaris default shell is silly. It is a good post, and worth reading if for nothing other than his anecdote about who is having problems with the shell. I would summarize it in two sentences: Mom told me that first impressions are important. Did the Solaris people not listen to their moms? (This of course holds true for legal writing too…)
  • Librarything has an awesome post on when tags work and don’t work.
  • Someone has proposed and bountied a free replacement for .mac. Interesting to keep an eye on- given the requirement that it be free beer, I hope it will also be gpl-free and that it can be integrated with Linux clients as well.
  • RecordMyDesktop looks pretty sweet. First person to replace the 2.18 release notes with a good screencast gets a cookie. :) (Thanks for the pointer, Ted.)
  • The new WordPress seems to have finally fixed my whitespace problems, and when I did that upgrade, I did lots of other little plugin upgrades, and as a result lots of little things seem to work better now. $DEITY be praised. Now if only gallery (or something similar) were so easy to set up, upgrade, and use- I’d kill for a self-hosted image tool as easy and yet as extensible as WordPress.

13 thoughts on “quickie tech links”

  1. The LibraryThing article that Luis linked to really stuck with me over the weekend. And luckily I was in the WUNC radio area to hear this story about the book BookMarks: Reading in Black and White. In it Duke University professor Karla Holloway suggests that your reading list is a

  2. Gallery2 really isn’t that hard to use, I set it up in about fifteen minutes and I’m a complete doofus at web stuff. I don’t recall finding it any harder than WordPress.

    However, I also couldn’t come up with any reason at all why it was better than Flickr. So when I changed my web server setup a few months back, I just dumped the gallery and moved to Flickr instead. It works, it’s faster, I don’t have to worry about upgrading it. *shrug*

  3. Yoiks. I should not have to explain to a mandriva employee why controlling your own data and using Free Software is better than using proprietary software which you don’t host.

    My main complaint with gallery is probably less installation (which isn’t bad, though not quite as one-step-and-you’re-done as wordpress) and more immediate post-installation- they haven’t learned ‘less is more’ on the configuration front yet.

    Just some settings gallery makes me set that there is no equivalent of in wordpress:
    * embedded markups
    * cookies
    * locking system
    * helper processes
    * filesystem permissions
    * modules have to be ‘installed’, then ‘activated’- given that I’ve already installed it by putting it in the modules dir, why do I have to click twice to actually activate it?
    * compare wp’s url rewrite screen and gallery’s
    * rss configuration: again, compare/contrast
    * EXIF data: huge screen. Should be default be a three-entry checkbox: don’t use it, use all of it, use some very basic subset.

    I could go on, but I have class to go to ;)

    (I agree, UI-wise, that Flickr is light-years ahead of Gallery. But if that were my criteria, I’d be using OS/X to upload to flickr too.)

  4. Any suggestions on how to enhance usability, configuration etc. would be greatly appreciated by the Gallery team.

    That being said, Gallery 2 is pretty much as complicated as you make it, don’t install plugins you don’t need. The next version, v2.2, will include a Downloadable Plugin system that lets you install plugins directly from the Gallery 2 interface, without having to install them manually. I’m sure that will make it easier for most of our users, and it also lets us minimize the core package to only include the bare minimum of features.

  5. Christian: I’ve already given a lot of feedback through the recent usability survey you did; I’ll wait for the results of that to be publicly summarized before I contribute much more.

    Here is a quick observation, though, that I think encapsulates why merely splitting some things out into plugins isn’t the whole solution. Take a look at the ‘general options’ page for wordpress 2.1 and the ‘general settings’ page for gallery 2.1. Cutting and pasting the config text into my text editor, I see that gallery’s general settings page has 59 lines and 826 words; wordpress’s general settings page has 24 lines and 131 words. Gallery should aspire to that kind of brevity in its core functionality.

    Maybe a good gallery rule of thumb might be to look at Flickr and WordPress, and for every core gallery feature or config option, say ‘is this in flickr or wordpress?’ and if the answer is ‘no’, then there had better be a really, really, really good reason why it should go in the core. (This might get rid of the redundant ‘Title’ and ‘Summary’, for example.)

    [Tangentially, after staring some more at both config options, I think part of my reaction may also be attributable to the layout- WP’s bigger default fonts in the admin section and cleaner layout might make the various options easier to grok by default, even when they are basically the same options. Making things beautiful and legible helps usability.]

  6. I think a lot of it boils down to trying to be everything for everyone by default. WordPress is very simple at its core. Through themes and plugins is where you add complexity and those are added at the user’s discretion. Gallery bundles it all together in its default package, and the theme and plugins add very little on top of the main package.

    If you breakdown Flickr, you don’t have to worry albums or hierarchical relationships. You just upload the image, set the title and tags and you’re off and running. Granted Gallery gives you more options and more flexibility, but if you don’t need those features, you can’t use a basic version of it (whose functionality is similar to the core of Flickr). Gallery is powerful but its core needs to be stronger and more central, IMO.

    Gotta run… Duke vs. Clemson in 3 minutes =)

  7. Mark: sure; the gui problem is just a symptom of feature creep. But it usually is.

    And so far so good on the basketball game… though I’m much more excited about the women’s game this weekend than tonight’s game.

  8. […] economics of design Friday, Feb 23 2007 Gardening Your Library The LibraryThing article that Luis linked to really stuck with me over the weekend. And luckily I was in the WUNC radio area to hear […]

Comments are closed.