Monthly Archives: November 2008

Hillary is haunting us

Why on earth do i get the “news” every day that Hillary miht become the secretary of state – that it is highly likely and so on and so on. I am tired of it. Either she gets it or not – the news that it may  be likely was out a week ago – and i dont want to read this as a new news every day! Personally I do not think that it would be a very good idea, but its really not that important. The only thing I know is that Hillary had lost the primaries.

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Looking for HTPC window manager

I have looked at different projects but could not find out which one would fit perfectly to my needs – it seems many use Linux for watching TV. I do not want that. What I want is:

  1. A dedicated window manager which is able to manage multiple screens (2)- the second one is a beamer
  2. An interface to watch movies, this could or should be the window manager. So I should be able to interact on a laptop and have the video display for a video projector on the other display. Maybe this software could also allow me to choose an alternative sound track in addition to the display. I also might like to display ODP presentations or PDFs

Freevo, MythTV all do not what I need. The thing is that they do much more than I need – I do not want to use MySQL. On the other hand I could not see how they handle secondary screens – so my guess is that most people use a HTPC as a small machine which has only one display. What I want is rather to turn a laptop or better one user login of a laptop into a presentation machine. The main goal would be to make a perfect display on the second screen like fitting 16:9 mode. I have played arround with Ubuntus screen resolution tool and found it disappointing, too.

it would also be nice to be able to customize the look of that screen like either have some starting animation or some sort of screen saver or a simple background. Certainly it should be easy to set up powermanagement either to off or to select a power save mode for one display.

The idea is to have a nice cinema environment where you can select what people will see – so maybe it would also be nice of one could program the enviroment to queue different videos and have some kind of intermission with either spoken words (audio file) or some large sentences or both.

Looks like such thing does not exist. Maybe this is less home cinema but more small cinema solution? And indeed I would like to use it to present movies to a small crowd.

Regards,

Thilo

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New digital remote control

Inspired by the pseudo hologram of CNN I got a vision about new remote controls. It could work like this:

Imagine you have a full 3D virtual view of a house – or a room on a screen. Now you can move through the room and do something with the objects like switching on the light in a room when right clicking on either the virtual  switch or the room itself. so every room could have attributes that you can set like “set temperature” etc. The nice thing would be that you are able to set these things over internet.

Or you can use it to balance the speakers of your hi-fi system. Or to connect different objects like drag something from your computer in room A to the hi-fi system in a room B.

And maybe related to SecondLife it could be nice if you could invite people virtually to a virtual copy of your home, if they had a virtual character. They could move around your home and look around as they were there. Before that sure one would need a real 3D virtual copy of the rooms. An open question would be how one would deal with changes in rooms – and sure sometimes one would like to exclude people. OTOH the 3D data would also be cool to load virtual furniture. My guess is that todays 3D technology can is quite able to recognize these structures. It would be important to get the right images nto the computer. I would think that one starts with a few pictures – then the software tries to get where top and bottom is and what fits – and the user can help my declaring where the bottom is. Then the computer should ask to take more pictures from certain perspectives. So the virtual world would grow. Then it would also be nice to be able to cut out some furnitures to be able to push them around – or to test how you get them through a door.

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The Obama posting

Why vote for Obama? From my perspective as a german or european I can say that I have been offended already by many of the words that McCain and Ms Pain have chosen. I am terrified about the incompetence and arrogance like he would not meet with some european leaders like Mr. Zapatero who are not in the boat in the Iraq war any more.

Obama might not be perfect and still policies of the US might not change as many in the world would like to see, but with McCain I could bet the US gets a lot of trouble. The US has an increasing number of enemies – and those are not falling from heaven, but are the result of the policies of the last 150 years or so. Many US citizens ask themselves why so many attacks are made against the US. It is because the US is omnipresent as a military force – it is because the US is trying to dominating the world and in its presence they often disregard other cultures – but then – some cultures like the arabian culture are highly sensitive to such a disregard, unlike some other western cultures. So this results in people not just being a bit angry but willing to kill. This is the reasoning of the whole terror problem from my perspective – the other part sure is that there are still regions who suffer in the globalization process and the people who live there have nothing to loose.

McCains way means to not look at the root causes but to solve problems with military force. But if you look back in history very seldomly military force has helped to actually solve conflicts. It has in the 2nd world war in Europe. I would admit that – and I wont say force in general is always bad. Sometimes it is necessary. But as a last resort. A war is costly and it always means that the once who suffer most are the innocent. But if so many innocents have to die – and there is no resolution in sight – is it worth the cost?

What people in the USA would need mostly is a leadership who reduces the military – its funny how McCain talks about cutting expenditures while at the same time talks about extending the military budget. There is no ONE cure for everything and the same is true for the military. One of the major problem is the high militarization of the USA. As an US citizen you might not even realize this – as a european I see it in all movies and speeches. In fact the military has become a substitute for a real economy and familiy and real friends in many ways. I think Obama is a chance for the USA to correct some things that have gone in the wrong way. Now in the midst of an economic crisis it would be time to rethink many of the policies that have been established after World War II and also before.

For certain a president McCain means much more war(s) than a president Obama. Why has the violence in the Iraq gone down? Because some Iraquis have turned on Al Quaida instead on to the US military – in fact  that proves my point. You can partly win a war militarily – but freedom can only be established if the root causes are solved.

I knew it would be terrible when George W. Bush was elected. I think this is the last chance for the USA to gain some new ground. Otherwise I see a very, very bad ending Nobody will cooperate with a McCain-USA. This ignorance has to stop NOW.

So please do us all a favour and vote for Obama if you can!!

Thank You

Thilo

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Hint for Ubuntu users: Look at man pages!

Some tools, especially for the command line do have an “onboard manual”. So like you have started using the command line and wonder what you can do with “ls” or “ssh”? Too many Ubuntu users are used to use (who too many u*s? lol) Google to find answers. Sure you can do that, BUT – some tools show you a lot of information by typing:

man ssh or man ls

Other operating systems like OpenBSD rely even more heavily on that ressource. The nice thing about these onboard manuals is that you can use them even without internet access. Also you can learn more than you really wanted. So you might just want to know how you can do this or that but when readin “man ssh” you find out other cool stuff you can use or that make it even easier as you thought. I highly recommend to use those manuals. Unfortunately some applications have begun to dismiss this opportunity. But still many core tools have high quality manuals. Maybe try this when you have got a questions:

  1. read the onboard manuals
  2. read the documents on your package under /usr/share/doc/package-name
  3. Use the answers in the Ubuntu wikis
  4. Google around
  5. Go to chat channels and ask a question
  6. Post a question into an Ubuntu forum.

Why is forum last? Because you will eiher get no answer or at least its not so fast as chat. Also people in forums do often get the same questions over and over again.

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New Ubuntu and new GNOME fast user switch applet.

I like that new fusa applet, because they implemented something I had wished for a long time – you now can tell with one applet what you current status is and it tells that different applications like pidgin and empathy. Like the clock applet that now also shows weather information this allows the user to have less applets on his panel. This is exactly the right direction.

But I am still missing this: Rather than still adding different applets I like to configure my panel. It should have some standard elements that cant be damaged. Right now it happens to me and many many users that the destroy their panel and either NEVER find back (end of GNOME usage!!) or with extreme efforts. my suggestion would be to have a new panel which has less possibilities. So it has some standard setup that cant be destroyed. Then let there be the old panel for all those who desperately need all kind of applets. I usually dont.

I need this:

  1. most importantly under no circumstances should I be able to destroy my panel accidently
  2. I like the standard elements like the three main menu entries, the clock, user switching and the message field.
  3. I also like to be able to add some quick application starters. But I would suggest that you do not put them directly on the panel but rather they are hidden and you get icons if you move over a special part of the panel. This might by standard be just the applications the user used last – or if people drop icons on that field primarily it might be those that were dropped. I would give this field a special look and name. It might even be extandable to also collect text clips or image clips – so generally .
  4. The panel should only have these menu entries: “Configure panel …”, “Help”, “Info”. Then what appears should be a panel setup tool where you could configure the panel like you have different tabs where you could enable and disable some displays – but generally discourage people dropping random applets onto this panel.

Why all that? Because panel space is very limitted and with more and more functionalities the panels are getting overcrowded and unusable. Messaging should also be better organized – like you have some inboxes from different senders and those can be either applications or people from an instant messenger. So what is bad is that you have Skype, Empathy, Ekiga, Pidgin,… that all have a status icon in the message area. And also it is bad to have every user organized differently in every application. I am not a coder but wont it be much  better if applications also like system updaters send messages via jabber to a user? And that the desktop will have a minimal jabber server running – and then the user could also set forwards of messages. So if I get a phone call on Ekiga on my notebook I should be able to answer it on another desktop with another SIP application maybe. I think identification of ressources and messaging between appliations and users will become extremely important. Especially because the user has a limitted possibility to understand the messages. It should be the task of the desktop to organize information well and not to flood the user with messages and informations.

So on the one hand under the hood the messaging needs to be intelligent and then I like to see the third generation panel. The panel really is one of the elements in GNOME that has not changed a lot – meaning you still can destroy it easily and only things that have changed are applets that added additional informations. But I think the applet idea was not good. Because you can add endless applets. I have also seen on the MacosX that people put their “panels” or how they call it to the left or right and put something like 30 icons with small sizes on it. That shows that this drag&drop editing approach has a natural end. Nobody can really say that this is easy to handle. Like you then have all those icons but on a fresh installation, even if you would have all the software installed a user would need maybe days to regenerate his panel setup.

I think the panel needs some major overhaul similar to the one that Epiphany got after Galeon some years ago. That means remove all the clutter and give the user less options – but make everything more easy and structured an dependable.

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