Sunday, December 25, 2011

SwiFTP makes copying files from your phone painless.

I could absolutely kick myself for not thinking of this sooner.  I started using SwiFTP on my Android phone.  This is by far the fastest and easiest way to get pictures and video off my phone.  While this application is no longer maintained it is a kick butt FTP server that allows you to turn your phone into an FTP server to download files.  It screams at downloading files and turns a long brutal USB connection into a rapid file transfer.  Bluetooth is a complete joke and this FTP server goes at full wifi speed so it's faster than the slow USB connection.  The project is up for adoption and if I had more time on my hands I'd gladly take the application over.  In any case it is the only way to get files on and off your phone in a hurry.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Unity & Gnome - How to alienate a user.

Linus Torvalds said it best when called Gnome 3 an "unholy mess".  I could not agree more.  This week I finally threw in the towel on both Gnome 3 and Unity.  As a long term Ubuntu user I used the distro because it threw in a lot of features from the standard Debian distro.  I have used Debian now for well over a decade.

I switched to KDE 4.7 and I'm kicking myself for not doing that sooner.  I used KDE many years ago and found it to be less robust than Gnome was.  That does not seem to be the case anymore.  It by far puts Gnome 3 and Unity to shame.  I recently read What's the best Linux desktop environment? right after I switched to KDE.  I couldn't agree more with the article.

Why am I so against Gnome and Unity?  Like many Microsoft products it now presumes that I am a complete idiot. Here is a brief list of the major issues I have with both of these products.

  1. No real "shortcut"/"Launcher" bar.  Sure you can "pin" something to the bar but install something like Aptana into a directory and try to "easily" create a shortcut. 
  2. Lack of widgets/applets.  I liked having my CPU usage easy to see. There are any number of other widgets that were useful.
  3. Unity's "Shared" menu bar.  This has to be the most annoying feature.  IF (and I do mean if) it works it's confusing at best.  Generally speaking it's just annoying.  On top of it everything is left justified.  Bring up a small fixed window and you'll see just how annoying it is.  It also makes resizing impossible.  Keyboard shortcuts like CTRL-NUMPAD5 are useful but I shouldnt have to do that all the time. 
  4. I have to "search" or click like crazy to get an app.  A well organized menu structure is obviously too difficult for people. 
  5. Apps "Group" and make task switching difficult. Try using Google talk as a web browser popup.
  6. It's a graphics hog.  Even with a decent video card it stutters and uses up ram. 
  7. Serious memory pig.  1GB is about the footprint of the desktop.  
This list could go on and on.  In any case these new desktops are just a mess.  I really don't understand who these are driven for.  It's sad when I look at Windows 7 and think it's actually better than Gnome 3 and Unity.  I'm just thankful KDE has improved the interface and not degraded it down to a puddle of goo.  

What I further don't understand is who is advocating their use?  I know my fellow developers dislike it. I see users that don't like it.  Who does and why?  Eye candy only goes so far.  Users unfamiliar with Linux (perhaps Win7 users) wouldn't even find this interface productive.  I am at a loss to understand who likes this interface.  

I may never switch away from KDE now that it has a robust interface and community.  It performs better than Gnome or Unity and it actually improved my productivity over Gnome 2 by adding the activity manager.  It works well with Virtualbox and all my other apps.  

KDE you've won me over.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Keep laughing at Microsoft

This article sums it up.  The Condescending UI is again Microsoft and Apple assuming you're an idiot and can't use a computer. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Pandora you just got pwnd!

I like to listen to Pandora like many others.  The new interface is "better" but not what I call great.  Anyhow I noticed that you could not select lyrics and cut and past them.  Was not a huge issue given the number of lyric sites out there but geez the spam on them.  Since I'm a web engineer I popped open the chrome debugger and noticed that they do indeed just place text there but disable all the controls with JavaScript.  So I thought to myself why not just write a chrome background script to remove those elements from the block.  Simple code.  So before I did I went to the chrome store to see if it had been done before.  Sure enough!

Pandora Enhancer allows you to not only grab the lyrics but you can remove the ads as well as get notifications on song changes.  Bravo!