Older blog entries for julian (starting at number 357)

Garrett LeSage is traveling the northeast US trying to get some good autumnal colors and just generally having a good time on a well-deserved vacation. He was in Pittsburgh last night and today and dropped by CMU campus to hang out. It was fun talking with him about what he's been up to at Red Hat and with life in general... I think last time I saw him was 2 or 3 LinuxWorlds ago. 'twas fun. Thinking about it, Linux really has come a long way from a few years ago. There are a lot of things which now Just Work. It's quite spoiling :)

It is kind of nice to not be particularly concerned with anything for a change... I really am not deathly afraid of getting low grades in my classes right now. Basically, I either am going to get into the HCI program, at which point I'll go for a masters and my undergrad intro classes won't matter much in the long run, or I'll switch to something completely different and... my undergrad intro classes won't matter much in the long run. So screw getting stressed over papers for English class or Freshman Seminar (I do of course still do them with a decent amount of effort -- I just don't stress like I did over this stuff in high school). In the end, it doesn't even matter. I'll spend time learning what I want to learn.

Apple gave presentations today... I think I need to work for them at least once. mmm... usability.

I got O'Reilly's "Mac OS X for Unix Geeks" -- looks pretty good so far. I love my TiBook.

So after I've already ordered a new DVI cable from Cables-n-Mor, a friend of mine just got his LCD monitor (he's been waiting for over a month because of the shipping problems in California) and lent me his DVI cable. I tried connecting my computer to the LCD (by the way, it took *five* restarts after installing my new motherboard before Windows saw my USB mouse -- Red Hat 8 detected and installed USB 2, FireWire, etc all on the first boot, and it all works as far as I can tell) using his DVI cable, no luck. I tried connecting my laptop to the LCD using his DVI cable, no luck. I tried connecting my laptop to his LCD using his DVI cable, it worked fine. I tried connecting my LCD to my computer using VGA, it worked fine, same with my laptop. So I think I can state with modest certainty that the problem is in the DVI connector in my LCD monitor.

I guess I'm going to try to convince Planar to take a look.

I am not having good luck with computers.

But hey, my new motherboard is great!

5 Oct 2002 (updated 5 Oct 2002 at 21:13 UTC) »
jfleck and josef: I've been pondering the street sign discussion some, especially with reference to the KDE post josef linked. While I definitely agree with most of what is said, having recently started using Mac OS X for extended periods of time I find it hard to dismiss Apple's decisions so easily.

I think that while the street sign analogy works really well for things like toolbar icons (Apple still does follow it for some of the toolbars, like the one at the bottom of iChat), the difference with program and file icons in Mac OS X is that they are not street signs. I don't have milliseconds to react to my Navigator icon. Yes, street signs aid in finding what I want quickly. However, I am staring at my Navigator icon the entire time I'm using my computer. The Dock puts all those photorealistic icons in my face almost all the time. Icons on my desktop are always there. I do agree that simplistic street-sign-like icons would aid me in finding my programs faster, but I would get sick of them pretty quickly. The current icons are more aesthetically pleasing, and for the most part apple has made attempts to differentiate the icons shape and color-wise as much as possible. The majority of the icons sitting in my Dock have very different outlines and different main colors.

I think designing interfaces requires walking the line between what is the absolute easiest to use and what is pretty. Obviously it's very easy to fall too far into the latter, but let's not fall too far into the former either. I wouldn't want street signs in my Dock.

5 Oct 2002 (updated 5 Oct 2002 at 03:17 UTC) »

Gabber2 is progressing nicely, even though I haven't been able to touch it lately - temas and James (and reatmon!) are doing a good job. I really wish I could just compile gtkmm2 here under OS X...

On another note, I normally think I can figure out people fairly well, but the past week I've been blatantly wrong a few times and unable to figure out even if a certain person is happy and joking around or depressed and sarcastic. I don't know if I'm all of a sudden interpreting everything wrong or if people are being weird. I do have confirmation from a sane friend that he couldn't figure out the certain person I couldn't figure out. The certain person was saying one thing, but in a very different tone from which one would normally say this, leading me to believe another. He was kind of weird. That still leaves several other cases in which I did not interpret people correctly. I wish the whole social thing were not so complicated.

I'm doing ok in classes so far, but they are for the most part uninteresting enough to make me not care about them and therefore make it harder on myself... I have an English paper due Monday, and I'm so completely not interested that I'm certain I'll put it off, even though I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to write about now.

I really think that being able to mess with gabber2 on this box would help take up more of my time -- anyone want to get gtkmm2 working on OS X? :)

I think my desktop machine is jealous of my TiBook, or else maybe it just doesn't want to have to live through college.

So over the weekend I decide to format everything except my home partition to get a nice clean install of Red Hat 8. Well, I accidentally formatted the home partition as well. Good bye music. Good bye config files. Good bye pixmaps.

So fine, I recovered some of my music from my TiBook and some other bits from Dekar, but I'm still missing quite a bit... and my CDs are at home.

That, of course, was not the indication that my desktop machine is jealous.

Today my desktop machine was frozen. Which has been an incredibly rare occurance for me over the past year, so it was really quite odd. I couldn't ssh in or ctrl+alt+backspace or ctrl+alt+del. The reset button wouldn't work.

I hit and held power. It went off. I hit power again. Lights flashed on. Lights flashed off. That's it.

I'll investigate later this week and find out what died. I really hope it was the processor (I was going to buy a new one this weekend anyway). But it could be the power supply or motherboard of course... or something even more expensive, like my video card :(

I got the last laugh, though, because there was nothing important on that hard drive. I made sure of that earlier!

Now I just have my TiBook hooked up to my LCD monitor, speakers, keyboard+mouse, etc. Good enough for now. I just wish I could get gtkmm2 (and thus gabber2) compiling on OS X.

Uraeus: Not only am I on the list, but I posted the first message. Hint hint. ;)

The interview on WOPN went very well.

I apparently will be interviewed by OJ Barbicane on WOPN tomorrow (aka today) at 11:20 EDT. Cool.

Woo! Productive day, finally. We were supposed to have a meeting about Gabber2 development, but temas ended up having a really long meeting of some other kind to attend. However, in preparation for the meeting, I wrote up a little analysis of some of the usability things that I feel we should learn from iChat, Apple's AIM client -- it's intended mainly for those without the fortune of using iChat. I think it turned out quite well. Hopefully Jabber client authors will take note.

Tomorrow I'm going to return to Gabber2 hackage... and overclock my 800 MHz Duron. When 1.2 GHz Durons (the max my motherboard supports) cost only $40, I figure there isn't too much harm in messing with the processor I have now. If it turns out to work well, I'll overclock the 1.2 GHz Duron I buy at the upcoming computer show.

12 Sep 2002 (updated 12 Sep 2002 at 04:55 UTC) »

How can it be so cold outside and still so hot and humid in my dorm room here? Argh... I've lost so much sleep just due to the damn heat.

I can't seem to be able to find a comfortable place/position to do my homework... or else I'm just too bored/pissed at my homework. I dunno. I just don't feel comfortable.

Temas and James have been doing a lot more work on gabber2 lately than I have been. Hopefully soon I'll be able to catch up and start working away at it.

11 Sep 2002 (updated 11 Sep 2002 at 04:55 UTC) »

In my Interpretation & Argument (English) class, we were asked to write our thoughts about 11 Sept. -- we didn't have to hand them in or discuss them in class, though we are free to do so. I decided I'll just type them in here. If you feel the need to argue with me, just don't read this. I don't want to argue this topic more. I'm probably blatantly wrong somewhere in here.

I do not disagree that what happened on 11 Sept. was a great tragedy. It was terrible. I cannot believe that there are groups of people in the world who spend years planning to kill mostly innocent civilians. Humanity should be much more advanced than that by now.

Unfortunately, I must say mostly innocent. I empathize with those that lost their family members and friends, and do not feel that anyone deserves such an act be done against them. No one deserves to die. I do not believe in the death penalty. However, we should not kid ourselves. The people who were killed were probably not perfect (thanks Leonard). The United States is not an innocent bystander.

I'm sure most people are aware of the involvement the United States has had in the Middle East, and the fact that my "beloved" country trained many of the people who were later involved in this act. Why? It comes down to oil. Most Americans seem to be oblivious pigs when it comes to things like oil. When I start living on my own, one of my goals will be to minimize the amount of oil I use. I will spend an extra bit of money for a hybrid car. I will get an electric stove. I will recycle. We need to detach ourselves from these nonrenewable resources... for the short term we need to stop depending on the politics of the Middle East to get us oil. It's not healthy for anyone. From what I understand, the involvement of the United States in the Middle East has never helped anything. Therefore, our involvement should be kept to a minimum. The price of oil from that area should not have a great effect on our economy, it should not change the daily lives of the population. We have become dependent on them, and we are paying for it.

I read that in the early days of the gasoline automobile engine, there was some development on electric engines, but Ford and others did everything they could to make sure that such development ceased or was stunted. A century of development later, the electric engine is behind. I wonder why? The only way to make electric engines affordable is to demand more electric engines with better performance. I will be a part of that.

But where are we getting that electricity? Coal. Oil. Ugh. There are designs for nuclear power plants which can run off of the same supply of water they are initially given... no need to eat through massive amounts of water from a river at all times. There are designs for nuclear power plants which are for the most part failsafe -- they can successfully be shut down based on mere physics -- no extra power input required. There are designs for nuclear power plants which produce much less waste. But really, more focus on "alternative" energy sources is needed. (My dad, who used to work for nuclear power plants, told me of these designs. I will certainly look for some sources, but my point really is that we should go back to trying things other than coal and oil, and that nuclear power has matured more since the 1980's.)

I'm sorry for all of the survivors of 11 Sept. who lost loved ones. I hope the United States can clean up its international relations. I hope that humans learn that killing is not the answer. It's a shame.

It's still so hard to believe that the twin towers are gone along with so many lives. They were such an incredible symbol, and now they are a symbol of an incredible tragedy.

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