Monday, 30 March 2009

Ba-a-a Ha-a-a Ha-a-a

LED's on sheep? Now this would have taken a long time to prepare...

This appeals to my nerdy nature! Thanks Bort for the link!

Friday, 27 March 2009

Linux is about choice (pt 2)

So you've seen my hasty "Linux is about choice" post already. In all fairness to Zimbra, it's a great product, and I'm sure many people rightly swear by it.

Part two of my rant deals with another situation that is slightly different -
"Why then, do applications (or their developers) decide to take away [or keep] that choice?"

While the Zimbra example is easy to argue (and has been suggested already) as a "bug", my second example could be purely opinion.

Think about the great program gnome-power-manager. For those of you who don't know Gnome / Linux, gnome-power-manager is an all-in-one laptop battery monitoring tool. It has the standard battery icon showing charge level; a power history graph showing power history, voltage history, charge profiles and more; as well as LCD backlight, sleep and hibernate controls. And in my opinion, it does a a great job!

(Should any of the developers involved read this, my intention is not to pick on or make fun of you, I hope to purely use the issue as an example, not the people involved!)

Ok, so I was configuring gnome-power-manager to handle everything it is designed to handle, with the exception of power off / hibernate. I use ACPI to hibernate my machine when the power button is pressed, and when the battery power drops to below 5%. (Why ACPI? Because it works regardless of weather I'm logged into Gnome or not; or even if X is not running at all).

Here are the related power button options:
"When the power button is pressed", the options are (Ask me, Hibernate, or Shutdown)
"When the suspend button is pressed", the options are (Do Nothing or Hibernate).

There is no option to "Do nothing" when the power button is pressed. In fact, why are the four options not available for either button? (Ask, Hibernate, Shutdown, Nothing).

In my opinion, this would be the ultimate options offering the most flexibility, without overloading the user with a bulk of detail in the control panel. And yet it looks like my opinion is not understood. It appears the primary reason is because including the "Do Nothing" option would mean gnome-power-manager is doing "half a job".

Could you not forsee that parts of your application may be highly desired, and other parts not so? Given the large "roll your own" background of so many Linux users, why would that mantra not continue as far as possible? Why does Evolution (and Claws and Thunderbird), Firefox, and so on have a plugin framework? Or an external editor option?

Precisely because different people use Linux in different ways. And this is why Linux is about choice!

OK, I promise I'll get back to a technical blog post next :) And if you're interested, the bug is here.

22 degrees C, and light snow!

A few weeks ago on a trip to New Zealand, I had some restrictive internet access, so my usual RSS feeds and news reports weren't working.

I set up iGoogle (which lets you customise your google home page) to keep me up to date.

One day I noticed the weather report: 22 degrees Celcius, and light snow! I would have liked to see the snow, especially given it was summer!

Here's the screenshot:

Linux is about choice (pt 1)

I argue that Linux is about choice. You may argue that is about something else. I think that's fine, so long as we don't argue against each other, but for each other. Why? Because Linux is about different things to different people, and that's great! That's why it is so attractive and diverse.

Why then, do applications (or their developers) decide to take away that choice? Is it because they really don't see how other people may like to use their programs? Fair enough. Is it because they want to impose their ideas on how and why their program should be used? Not fair. What if you provide polite detailed examples of different use cases, and yet the response is "no thanks, we don't / won't do it that way".

You've guessed by now this is a rant. What sparked it off? Two recent applications are giving me grief. This post will look at the first, and why:

Zimbra webmail client

Zimbra makes a great webmail, calendaring (and others) suite. However, I noticed that since I set up my Zimbra calendar (and so did 20+ other people here) that any appointments people send me are being automatically accepted. So what? Well, from time to time I get a (usually pointless) meeting request that I don't want to accept, and yet I find Zimbra has accepted it, even when I'm not logged on.

No problemo, just find the preference and turn off "automatically accept meeting requests".

The only options that look close are in "preferences > calendar":

Free / Busy:
[ ] Allow all users to see my free/busy information
[ ] Allow these users to see my free/busy information:
[text box]

[ ] Allow all users to invite me to meetings
[ ] Allow these users to invite me to meetings:
[text box]

So first of all, I chose "Allow these users to invite me to meetings:" and left it blank. This didn't work, in fact the behaviour was exactly the same as before.

So secondly I kept "Allow these users to invite me to meetings:" but entered my email address in the text box. Surely this would work?

Well it kind of worked. Now when people send me appointments, they only show as attachments which I can do nothing with (in Zimbra webmail). I can't even add them to my calendar. I suppose I should be happy that at least they don't get automatically accepted...

So my next solution was to try Evolution. I shared my Zimbra calendar and loaded it into Evolution. Great! There's all my appointments! However, when people send me meeting requests, I can't add them to my Zimbra calendar from Evolution. Even though Evolution asked me for the user name and password.

Then I gave up. I've deleted my Zimbra calendar and gone back to plain old Evolution.

Your thoughts, gentle reader? Am I expecting too much? Is this such an edge case that no Zimbra developer could possibly have forseen it? I think not.
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