Monday, December 28

Really Verizon?

I am nearing last straw territory with these guys. As you may or may not already know, Verizon has entered into a deal with Microsoft to use Bing as the search provider. That's year old news at this point. Well, that deal came to fruition recently for Blackberry owners as the Bing mobile search application was pushed out to BB users in the last week or so. If you don't see it yet, do a reset on your phone and it should pop up.

Back when the deal actually was news, I called Verizon and notified them that if Bing was the choice I didn't want their service anymore. The support representative I talked to assured me that I would continue to be able to use Google just as I always have, but that Bing would be their preferred search provider. That information was not accurate. I can no longer use Google as I always have... because the search application was removed during the push.

That's right. I didn't get another competing option with this deal. What I got was clobbered. It's one thing to push an app I don't want to my phone. It's quite another thing to remove an app I already have and use regularly. That is what really ticks me off and what has me ready to cancel my Verizon service again.

If you have the same issue, you can get Google back. You simply have to download it again and re-install. The point is, I shouldn't have to use the data and I shouldn't have to deal with this. If you don't like it either, I suggest flooding the customer service lines at Verizon and lodging complaints. You can either do that or leave the service, which I would have done long ago if their coverage wasn't so good. Coverage or not, this whole annoyance coupled with the Nexus One around the corner makes me more and more likely to go find a GSM provider.

Backgrounds in Gnome 2.28

One of the neat things about Gnome 2.28 is the background slideshow.  I know, it's cheesy, but it's the first time I can remember something like this being baked into a display manager.

Of course, one of the things you'll want to do is create these slideshows, but the process can be painstakingly tedious.  Reasons 1-34786 are, you have to edit XML.  It's ugly, it's verbose, but it's pretty good for describing data... and making you want to throw up if you have to edit it.

However, due to the awesomeness of bash shell, I  have created a small shell script that will build this xml file from the contents of a directory.  The usage is simple, and easy to extend for your own use.  Currently it accepts jpg and png files, indicated by the optional arguments j and p.  It also accepts one argument for the directory where your images are located.   The default values are jpg and the current directory.

Here is the script.



while getopts jph fmt
  case $fmt in
  j) format=jpg;;
  p) format=png;;
  h) echo "Usage: $0 [jph] [image directory]";exit 0;

shift $(($OPTIND - 1))
if [ -n "$*" ]; then

echo "" > background.xml
echo "20090804000000" >> background.xml
for file in $( ls ${source_dir}/*.${format} ); do
   if [ -n "${first}" ]; then
        echo "${file}
" >> background.xml
   echo "${SHOW_DURATION}${file}" >> background.xml
   echo "${TRANSITION_DURATION}${file}" >> background.xml
echo "${first}
" >> background.xml
echo "" >> background.xml

Thursday, December 10

Another guy who just doesn't get it many shills do we have to go through before we get down to the point that declaring winners and losers is bad for everyone?

I disagree with almost every point this guy has.  How does a man become editor in cheif of a technical publication and write such uneducated drivel.  I don't know if he actually put thought into this or he's still running his copy of Red Hat from 1998... but his points are just wrong.

1. "It's too hard to set up a camera/printer/name etc" - I run Ubuntu 9.10... here's what I do.  I take one end of the USB cord, I plug it into my camera.  I take the other end and plug it into the computer.  Then I download photos.  For printers, I plug in the network cable, turn on the printer, tell the printer manager to go find me printers, select the printer, start printing.

By contrast, with Windows I have to make sure I have the right flavor of the current operating system(home, pro, ultra home, ultra pro, superduper pro, ultimate, super ultimate, etc), install the right drivers, restart the computer and then, maybe if the printer I bought doesn't require service pack 23, I might be able to use my printer.  Along with the driver install, I also got 35 days of free crapware that clogs up my machine and makes it go even slower than it already does even though I have a dual core processor that is more powerful than a gamers's machine from 2 years ago.

Is that really easier or just what you are used to?

2. "Divide and fail" - How many flavors of Vista are there?  Windows 7 Starter addition anyone?  Diversity is a good thing.

3. "Not enough innovation" - Sure, you say divide and fail, but then you complain about the amount of innovation.  That's the whole point of separate streams of work.  Different teams have different approaches to the same problem.  Rather than fight over it, they just do it and see who's is better.  Sometimes they merge back(See compiz and beryl), sometimes they don't... but they often share ideas and innovation occurs.  KDE's new desktop has a lot of different ideas... I'm not sure they are all good, but they are different.

And "innovative" doesn't win market share.  Windows still runs on the archaic FAT or NTFS file systems...  a hardware accellerated desktop is not "innovation"... and media center PC?  Ever heard of MythTV?

4.  This is probably the only point that actually makes sense.  Businesses do want someone to blame when something goes wrong and IT pros know the phrase, "No one was ever fired for hiring IBM" all too well.  But IBM's Rational stack BLOWS and everything else they do runs Linux.

To add to this guy's utterly retarded commentary, Linux desktops may have tailed off in their growth... according to his graph, but the point is they are growing.  Ubuntu was succeeding before netbooks came around.  He is taking a deconstructionist approach to infer that Linux is not a worthwhile desktop and, while it may not have consumed a large amount of market share in the last year, it is far from "rejected".  The very fact that Mac OSX, Android, ChromeOS, HP's Mini One, and Dell choosing Netbook Remix and Moblin for their netbook desktops shows that, in fact, corporate acceptance of Linux is growing.  At one time people said Firefox would never beat IE.  As of this year, Firefox is the number 1 web browser.  The year of Linux is coming, but it won't happen overnight.  Eventually people will either see the merits of a free and open operating system or Microsoft will admit that their kernel sucks and they are not an operating system company, but a gui company... as Mac did.

In fact, one could argue that there are 0 merits to the Windows desktop that can actually be attributed to Microsoft.  There is one thing and, in my opinion, only one thing that prevents adoption of Ubuntu/Red Hat/SUSE on the desktop and that is FUD.  The kind of misrepresentative FUD that Mr. Hiner is writing here is just the kind of thing that keeps the average user too scared to try something new and shoveling money at Microsoft for their average software.