what a tease (X and OOo)

I was told Friday that my laptop, with recent-ish (Fedora 7) X could finally do sexy things like ‘plug in an external monitor and have it do more than clone the laptop’s monitor.’ The first thing that popped to mind when I heard that was ‘ooh, I could do slides on the VGA out while putting slide notes on the laptop monitor.’ If you’re trying to do low-word count slides, this is a really useful feature, since you always have the right set of comments at hand and on screen just in case you get lost/forget something without drowning your audience in the words. So that was exciting. (Those who saw the GUADEC keynote last year will know that I’m trying hard to do my talks in this style.)

Of course… it turns out OOo doesn’t actually support this yet. What a tease to find that out after 15-20 minutes of mucking with X (which would have been 2 minutes if I hadn’t typo’d xorg.conf.) Blah.

[Ed. later: as Jimmac points out in comments, the latest version of S5 supports this quite well. HFSNW. Now if only theming S5 slides was something mere mortals could do.] 

discuss amongst yourselves

Can truly great things be created without arrogance?

(You can spit on me or suggest a missing link in the comments.)

[Ed.: I realized later this might have been taken as a commentary on my new job; I actually wrote this post some months ago without posting it and isn’t RH-related at all. My summer resolution is to either post or delete all my old drafts, and this is one of the lower-hanging fruit.] 

choice usually sucks; documenting choice sucks more, though.

This is the most depressing thing I’ve read all morning. (Granted I’ve only been up for 15 minutes.) Remember, kids, choice is usually just another way of saying “the engineers and PMs don’t have the balls to make the hard decisions, so instead we’re going to give the users a ‘choice’ they can’t possibly make with any more reliability than a coin flip.” But hey! After that post is successful, Fedora users will be able to waste time reading documentation which can’t possibly explain anything useful before they make the coin flip! Yay progress!

(It of course could explain something in a way that would be useful to users, but then it would offend one camp or the other, and that would require the aforementioned balls, so it won’t actually be useful.)

(Not that Fedora will be unique in this problem; this may be the most maddeningly stupid screen in all of YaST, and I seem to recall that older Fedora installers had something similar. But at least SuSE has basically admitted there is no way to provide useful information on this choice without pissing someone off and didn’t bother to waste time documenting it.)

(Wow, took me all of one week to have to say ‘this post is purely my personal opinion and does not represent the opinions or policies of Red Hat, Inc., particularly the legal department, who would surely think I’m off my rocker for even knowing what this particularly controversy means.’ :)

(ed. after a shower and some head-clearing: it is of course possible that KDE apps may be best of breed (though I can’t think of any and the first person who says k3b gets their posting privileges revoked), and those should be documented. But if your example is konqueror, you have already lost the game for many reasons.)

(ed. even later: that first link was broken for a while; now fixed, sorry for any confusion.)

(ed. last: the comments are even stupider than I thought they would be (except for joe’s) so I’ve turned them off. If you don’t get it by now, you never will.)

book rec, sort of

Amazon emailed me to recommend “Beyond the Desktop Metaphor: Designing Integrated Digital Work Environments.” It looks like a deep, serious study of options for moving beyond a desktop metaphor. Obviously I haven’t read it, nor do I plan to (Property Law calls) but it looks like it should be interesting to anyone who wants to seriously rethink the desktop.

(I shared Kathy’s palpable disappointment at GUADEC when so few people had read the books she cited in her talk; I think it behooves lots of GNOMErs to read something on usability and design other than websites and blogs before GNOME launches into the Next Great Rethink. Research like this that is actually targeted at The Desktop and not just individual applications is icing on the cake.)

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.