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Classic XKCD comic..


Mojave, strength of the Bear, speed of the Puma?

So, Microsoft decided to pull some publicity about Vista by inventing a name, and showcasing it under that name.  This is what they did: An few weeks ago ( July 2008 ), Microsoft gathered 120 computer users ( supposedly Mac, Linux, Win XP and Win 2000 ) users and showed them a new OS, called Mojave. They get a 10 minute demo of the fancy OS in action. Then once the salesperson pulls his pitch and got some comments ( on camera and writing ), people find out it was Vista. 90% of them said that they liked what they saw of Mojave. Now what is wrong with that. Its a great marketing stunt, I mean these are people who won't use Vista, and now they see it in action and are impressed. Well there are a few points I want to make about it:

UAC: Microsoft admitted that UAC ( where it asks for a password to run any app not designed specifically for Vista ) was designed to annoy the user and that although it is a good security feature, because its new to Windows users, its a pain. Mojave did not feature UAC. Or at least in the demo, they didn't do a real "test in the wild" where random user apps were run, no, just their base set of applications. So take out one of Vista's most annoying features, and demo Vista, of course people will be happy.

Hardware: They ran this demo on the HP Pavilion DV2000. Hardware built for Vista. There was no cheap TV card inserted, or random webcam from 2003. This was a fully featured, decent spec laptop, which was built to work with Vista. Out in the real world away from Microsoft land, people want to plug in that sound card they bought in 2001, and that funky no name brand webcam that only works in Linux and Windows 98 that they bought before Microsoft rushed to make Win ME cause 2000 failed as a end user desktop. Vista is great if you plan only to ever have hardware built for it. Vista is also a resource hog. Old machines won't run it. I don't see Vista on the EEE ( altho it was done, I'm sure it was as a joke ). I do however see XP on mobile laptops, OSX on the iPhone, and Linux on just about anything more than a calculator ( remembering that Android, Google's new phone OS is Linux based ).

Software: I really enjoy Worms World Party, I don't know about anyone else, but its a game ( like StarCraft ) that I can keep playing. They didn't demo it on Mojave. Obviously, because its a random application that a user might want to run, that isn't Vista compatible. Microsoft might deny it, but there are a lot of applications that don't run on Vista. A 10 minute demo of selected apps in a controlled environment means that these problems are not obvious.

Time: Well, 10 minutes is not really enough to do anything decent with like determine whether 2 hours of music listening will degrade the system performance. I used to have an openSUSE 10.3 pc running 24 hours a day. I would reboot it mostly because in South Africa, power is not a consistent resource. Thankfully I'm in Netherlands now, and when I get a desktop I will probably do the same thing again. But on occasion that Eskom could maintain electricity for more than a month, we had uptimes of 30+ days. No slowing down, no crashing, no poor memory management, and no BSOD ( blue screen of death ). In 10 minutes you won't see these problems which are common to Microsoft operating systems.

The point is that in 10 minutes, I could sell a toaster running the first Ubuntu release with Enlightenment 0.16 to the Armish. If a demo is set up properly, anything can look good. I have always maintained that any OS is good enough for anyone to use if it is set up properly. Over the last few years linux distributions have got to the point where the end user no longer feels alienated by the OS, and honestly, Mac OSX and Windows Vista are becoming more like linux, so a demo of any of these 3 OSes could go down well if done properly. I want to attempt a screen cast soon of openSUSE 10.3 + KDE 4.1 ( with desktop effects ), and see how people respond. When I get some time, you will see the post :) All I'm saying is that in 10 minutes, you can't expect people to get a feel for an OS. It normally takes weeks before you discover all its nuances and get used to the way in which it operates. Although Microsoft will start shouting about this marketing trickery of theirs, its not really worth listening too.

In the end, my opinion is fixed on seeing no need to run a Microsoft OS, unless you're a heavy gamer, in which case you won't be using the resource hog that is Vista. Even then I find that if a game doesn't run under wine on Linux it probably isn't worth running or there is a clone out there somewhere. Of course game companies are slowly moving to prefer the consoles and there are even some games that have native Linux clients, like Eve Online ( sort of native, but ported with Cedega ), UT 2004, Enemy Territory:Quake Wars, etc. But thats just me, I'm a minority in this anyway. Either way, some Vista publicity stunt won't convince me or any serious gamers either. Maybe if Windows 7 allowed me to replace the display manager with XGL and run KDE4.1 natively, I'd consider it, otherwise, no thanks.


KDE 4.1 RC1 - Yet Another Top Release

Another KDE release!!! After I finally installed the 4.1 beta 1, both myself and the Mrs who use the EEE have decided that 4.1 is stable enough to replace 3.5x. This is a big step for us, because the wife works all day on the laptop ( until we get a desktop ), so it needs to be rock solid. And that it was. Two updates later, and here we are, still running 4.1, but now the first release candidate.

We've changed a few things around. Thanks to a suggestion on my 4.1 beta 1 review, I set the task bar to the desktop as a widget, but then moved it back to a side panel :P Its great on the desktop, but does reduce my productivity a lot, and the wife agrees, so screen space is sacrificed. Another thing I have done since the release candidate 1 is started using kopete from KDE 4. The reason it wasn't in use before was because of random crashes ( which it still sometimes does, esp when trying to make chat windows sit in certain tab groups ), but more because I was too lazy to migrate the accounts. I eventually did, and still am not 100% convinced its better yet, but its getting there, and its good enough for general usage.

One feature that I really really love with KDE ( this came in the 3.5 series i think ) is the common "Get Hot New Stuff" usage. I think this is fantastic, and will help new users pick themes for icons, emoticons and even now ( which makes me smile a lot ) plasma themes and widgets! This is so kewl, I spent some time dl'ing plasma stuff, and playing around with it, altho I still couldnt figure out where the dl'd widgets went? It is odd, I cant still see that it says it has downloaded it when I try again, but its not in my widget list, so its sort of vanished in a place that plasma knows where it is. Weird. But still kewl that you can :)

The Desktop Effects are so kewl. The task switchers are amazingly fast when XGL is running, and I was really impressed. Sadly, some apps were causing the XServer to crash completely, so I had to change back to good ol' XOrg. The reason the XGL + Desktop Effects impresses me so much is because its really great looking ( the one being a vista style alt + tab ), and it performed so quickly on my little Asus EEE. Obviously some really efficient code there to make that work, well done again to the KDE guys n girls.

So another succesful release, I really think that anyone who hasn't switched because they thought that it wasn't mature enough at KDE 4.0 release, its about time to consider it. 4.1 is not only mature, but it's also stable. Soon enough, the beauty of the KDE 4 series is going to start to outshadow competition, and with the desktop experience being most important to the end user, more smaller businesses and casual home users might start to switch, just to see KDE 4. The more real information there is about what Linux and KDE are, and what KDE looks and feels like, the more people will want to use it.

PS: No screenshots this time, since its virtually identical in appearance to my last review, but when the XGL issue is fixed I might do a screencast. 


Diablo III and the pillars of stupidity

Honestly people, haven't you realised that FUD ( fear, uncertainty and doubt ) is evil and that it is the internet version of vicious rumour style gossip. Blizzard anounced Diablo 3!!!! That is such an amazing thing.With the announcement came the usual trio of artwork, cinematic and gameplay trailers. So what do people do? They complain ( some of them without even looking at the gameplay trailer ) that Diablo 3 will be like WoW.

One of the first comments we heard came from a friend back in South Africa. She told us that a friend said that her husband, who's is big into games and the computer industry, said that it was gonna be like WoW in terms of gameplay and the "fact" that it would be only online. Immediately ignorance claims 2 victims other than the philistine himself. Then I hear more reports from friends all over that they heard its going to be more like WoW. And what brings me to write this is this article. Yes some idiots have actually started a petition about it. So this is in response to the FUD and stupidity out there about Diablo 3.

Dark, gloomy and deeply rooted in the diablo universe.

Click and run game play.

A promise of offline single and coop modes, taking Diablo 2 style gameplay to a new level in the same direction.

Now if people are complaining that they have given Diablo 3 a 3D engine and moved it into the modern day of high speed internet connections for those who have, whilst still maintaining point and click game play and the amazing feel of Diablo 2. If you have any doubt, and some to spare, watch the gameplay video. By now there must by tonnes of low res versions available on the net, so a poor net connection is no excuse. Also look at the screen shots. 

At the time of writing this, the Diablo 3 site was really behaving badly, so there are some links missing which I would have wanted to put in, maybe I'll do it later. Sadly I also wanted to download the gameplay trailer so that I could watch it again and a few times after that. And then my wife could watch it again and a few more times. Being both big Diablo 2 fans, we're excited about this one. And anyone who enjoyed Diablo 1 or 2 is gonna love this. Again Blizzard are doinga great job staying true to their game labels, where Starcraft 2 seems to be exactly what Starcraft fans what, I feel strongly that Diablo 3 is going to rock any Diablo fan's world!!! 

Rock On Blizzard! If you weren't in USA, I'd want to come and work for you as a game developer :)

This is me...

Take the Magic: The Gathering 'What Color Are You?' Quiz.


KDE 4.1 Beta 1 on opensusEEE

So, when i moved to Rotterdam the only computer i brought was my EEE. And since holland is rated 3rd internationally for internet penetration ( combo of speed and usage ), i thought, let me actually do what south african internet speeds held me back from. So i installed the latest KDE 4 beta. Using openSUSE 10.3, the one click install process subscribes you to the repository and gives u the latest packages. After those had dl'd and installed ( about 20 minutes on my 6mb/s cable connection ) I reopened YaST software tool and made sure i had all the packages i wanted. I installed some openSUSE branding, just to make it look polished. But i was in for a surprise. The last time I used KDE 4, it was ok. It crashed randomly and clearly was still  a work in process, but the potential was certainly there. I can see KDE 4 for what its worth. A great advancement in desktop technology. The plasma concept is amazing, and I love the idea of getting rid of "the desktop as an icon ghetto" ( in the words of Aaron Seigo - brilliant quote btw ). This was where I entered KDE 4.1 Beta 1. Wow was my first impression. The polished openSUSE branded loading screen is really pretty, so I'm glad I took the time to install the extra stuff :P

Now down to what's important. KDE 4.1 is clearly becoming a very polished desktop! Folderview rocks, and once the desktop alpha thing is fixed ( not sure what else to call it ). The idea of that is so kewl, its much better that a standard icon desktop, since you can do so much more. If you really want an icon wasteland, u can have one, but i like order on my desktop ( sadly my wife is using the laptop for work until we get a pc, so she dumps everything on the desktop ). The desktop zoom out, add activity is kewl. It doesnt really appeal to me, purely cause i'm not a multidesktop person, but if i was i can see why it'd use it. Kopete still doesnt seem ready ( crashed after a few mins ), but Kopete for KDE3 still works great :) That aside, I can see where kopete for kde 4 is going and I like it. Its gonna be very difficult for me to choose between digsby and kopete. Maybe i should write another post about digsby, a really kewl im client with a lot of features ( making it far more than an im client ). Dolphin has been amazing since it was first put into KDE 4, so I dont need to say much more than if you are to replace konqueror as a file manager, dolphin is the only replacement i could accept. Since I mostly use the net and web apps ( and the EEE is pretty much made for that :P ), opera runs great on KDE 4 ( as expected ), which takes care of most of my needs.  So after a few minutes playing around, I realised I was missing YaKuake. For anyone who uses the terminal a lot, maybe a programmer like myself, YaKuake is one of my killer apps. Its a Quake style drop down console. One button ( which I normally make ~ for nostalga sake ), and u have a term, which hides away with none of this alt+tabbing stuff :P With openSUSE one-click install, again it was done quickly, and all there :) Again, great job done to the KDE guys!!! The only things which i miss greatly are autohide panels ( since im on the EEE, 800x480 res and need all the screen space i can get ) and mac style menu bar at the top the of the screen, something I got used to before moving to Holland. Now for the screen shot spam.


Linux Availability Up

I'm not the biggest Ubuntu fan, in fact if you have read my blog or know me, u'll know what i think of Ubuntu. However, i must say im glad to see this. I give Cannonical credit for actually putting linux out there, something many companies have failed at. What it means is that Ubuntu Linux is now for sale on Best Buy. More Linux availability is better for the community as a whole, and I am all for that! So well done to the guys at Cannonical. Now convince companies to port their games. :P


Another Sign

We live in Rotterdam, and since dogs are really common, and people walk them, this sign doesnt surprise me as much as make me laugh. Gotta love the Dutch.


Read your sign first.

Sad and unfortunate signs - people really should read the signs in the prodomonant language before putting it up somewhere.