The truth about my life

Mon, 21 Nov 2005

Some of you may know that the disk on my laptop passed away a while ago. Since then I have been using Windows in my very own way. Feels like carrying personal stuff in luggage and traveling abroad:

I have to admit that, although the desktop sucks from the usability point of view, it can be forced to work for a particular purpose in a given timeframe; thanks to valuable free software projects like Firefox, Thunderbird, Gaim, Workrave, PuTTY, Eclipse,, FileZilla, Mono, Planner, Vim, GIMP and some other useful tools. Another positive comment I have to add about Windows is the smooth support for the hardware it's running on, a Dell Latitude D505.

I spend most of my time reading and sending e-mail and I'm a happy user of Evolution since the beginning, but the Windows port of Evolution is not ready for everyday use yet. So I did what everybody else did and temporarily switched to Thunderbird and that's where the royal pain in the rear began. But I'll start with things I liked so far.

I'm addicted to the vertical layout. IMAP performance is very good (specifically filtering on IMAP is very fast since it's processing only header data and can move messages server-side) and overall IMAP implementation is very mature. I guess that's all.

On the other hand, I find mail filtering and searching facilities very primitive. These should cover needs of basic mail users, but hey, that's not me. I have to deal with about 1k messages everyday which is more than a month's traffic of many others.

Thunderbird's mail composer stinks. Really.

It lacks several features Evolution offered from the very beginnings, like text e-mail signatures, proper HTML formatting, message templates, live spell checking and rich formatting in plain text mode (so I can easily switch to bulleted or numbered list mode even in plain text).

The small dock at the top of the window where recipient addresses are displayed is a usability nightmare. I'm using it for a month and still hate it. The attachment pane provides no useful information about the attachment other than the file name. Composer needs a lot of usability love.

Apparently they had to make contacts pane available for the composer in an attempt to fix the issue. I think it's the poor man's solution.

Another point is that, the composer displays wrapped text lines in plain text mode, but the text is submitted completely unwrapped. I'd love an explanation. This looks really pointless to me.

Thankfully it follows the RFC and strips off text signature part followed by "-- \n". On the plus side, it also supports some not-so-useful features like message receipts and message priority.

I don't want to go deeper into Account Settings and Options dialogs, you can set things up once and forget about them forever. But I'd like to note that some settings are very confusing for the average user.

I'd like to conclude with importing features. Thunderbird can import from a variety of applications like Outlook, Outlook Express, Eudora and Netscape Mail but not from a standard mbox file. It even stores the data in mbox files, but can't import one? Sounds really stupid. Sure, I can go ahead and append the file to the file holding Inbox of Local folders, but the average user just can't do stuff like that. Why an average user would need to do that is another story :-)

I think I'll be reviewing other mailers, like Sylpheed and KMail soon.

Sun, 04 Sep 2005

Jeff just added us to the right-hand bar of Planet GNOME. Thanks Jeff!

Fri, 27 May 2005

I'll keep bad news short. German embassy in Istanbul rejected to give me a visa and according to some awkward law, they noted that they don't have to tell me about the reason.

This means, I'm not allowed to attend to GUADEC at Stuttgart. Also I won't be able to visit my uncle and cousins in Bochum.

I'm disappointed. The worst is, I'm not able to do anything about it.

Good news is, at least I can watch presentations live over the net.

Tue, 03 May 2005

I would love to attend GUADEC at Stuttgart/Germany this year and Miguel's word about "Stop Energy" was pretty much encouraging.

Now that I'm a usual suspect in Kiev/Ukraine, I am not able to get a visa for the trip to Germany because I have to take my passport back to German Embassy in Turkey. Bummer.

Roozbeh's challenge is very much the same.

Sun, 01 May 2005

This guy claims that GNOME is so gay, and it sucks. Dude, you're off the April fools day by about one month.

This was also funny.

Wed, 27 Apr 2005

I'm getting addicted to mouse gestures in a few GNOME (and alike) applications like Epiphany/Galeon, Firefox and Gaim.

Mouse gestures work usually the same in most applications and they are very useful especially in browser-mode navigational or tabbed-dialog user interfaces, that is, generally web browsers and instant messengers (but not spatial file managers). A quick list of most useful gestures in applications I mentioned:

 <----+            +---->    <------*   *------>     *
      |            |                                 |
      |            |                                 |
      *            *                                 +---->

Previous tab    Next tab        Back    Forward    Close tab

Just try to draw the shape using your middle mouse button anywhere in the application window. Depending on the way you installed these applications, you may or may not need to install additional plugins to activate mouse gestures. Gaim and Epiphany needs extensions, Galeon has them built in.


Sat, 23 Apr 2005

I haven't been checking in to Ximian Bugzilla for a while. I had a few handy shortcuts in my Epiphany bookmark list, one of them pointing to bugs I reported against Evolution, which I clicked accidentally today. The result was the famous Bugzilla "Zarro boogs found." which was simply not possible. I knew they were there a few weeks ago.

I wondered if the bug list for Evolution received the love, and it turns out that indeed the move was complete. Along with the GNOME 2.10 release, Evolution is the official groupware suite and bugs against Evolution should go to GNOME Bugzilla. Yay!

Wed, 23 Mar 2005

On his last blog entry Robert Love announces the 0.8 relase of the Beagle and shows a very scary screenshot of his desktop.

Fri, 11 Mar 2005

I like Rhythmbox, The Official Music Player for GNOME, because:

  • iTunes like interface: very easy to navigate and find what exactly you want
  • GStreamer. Those guys rock, at least in audio.
  • You can very easily drag files to any Nautilus folder, a feature I was missing a lot in XMMS (a Winamp like player - a very good example on how an inconsistent and hard-to-use application might look like)
  • All in all, it's simple.

What I would love to have with it is, a good equalizer but it's more of a GStreamer thing than a Rhythmbox one.


Tue, 08 Mar 2005

So on Friday and Saturday, with Parkyeri people, I was at the Free Software and Open Source Days at Bilgi University of Istanbul.

Well known faces of Free SoftwareTM Community were around. We had a lot of fun, took pictures, did little bits of hacking and discussed on patents and so on. But bad news today: EU adopts a common position on patentability of computer-implemented inventions -- which may prevent further development of free software by making it illegal! What the f*ck?! Anyways, I'm not going to write about that shit, many other people will do it much better than me.

At the mini-conference, we had famous guests:

Erçin and Arda have a lot of pictures for your viewing pleasure, while I have only a few (until Miguel publishes his huge archive of touristic places in Istanbul):

Miguel, Gökmen, me

Peter, Miguel, Gökmen, me, Afşin

We had the history of Computer Languages printed out, and a AG6B demo. Fun, eh?

Miguel's presentation pointed out some crucial concepts like Mono, GNOME and Free Software which was great.

We had a quick and delicious dinner, we went over to Baltalimanı where GNOME-Turk team meeting took place. With Peter and Miguel, we had an in-depth discussion of ethnical, economical, political and social problems of mid-east people from very different aspects, with the touch of the history. I really enjoyed that a lot. Later the night, some of us were at Roxy for a beer, or five

With Sezgin, Miguel and Miguel's cameras and lenses and other power toys, we went over to see what Istanbul hides behind the streets on Sunday morning. We were on Galata tower, then we went to Ayasofia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern, and although it was closed, to the Nuruosmaniye entrance of The Grand Bazaar. Awesome.

We crossed the Bosphorus and jumped over to the Asian side of the city, and enjoyed a short walk on the Baghdad Street. That was already too much for me, but what I can tell is the monkey called Miguel de Icaza Amozorrutia just didn't stop.

On Monday morning, we ran to the airport so our 32 year old famous hacker could fly over to Lebanon, Beirut to meet Robert Fisk, the author of Pity the Nation: The Abduction of Lebanon. According to the news the situation is a bit fragile, but he showed up on IRC a couple of hours ago, so I think everything is OK so far. To put in his words, "he has 32 years of experience in surviving" and he's probably going to stick with survivors. Anyway, I don't think it's all that serious

More to come soon,

Thu, 17 Feb 2005

I've just installed Evince (a Postscript/PDF viewer) and I'm a happy user of it. Compared to gpdf, which was just a Gtk+ port of some features of the xpdf codebase, it rocks really hard. Here are some features:

  • Type-ahead-search and search highlighting
  • Document Index
  • Page thumbnails

It's available in Debian/unstable. This made me apt-get remove --purge acroread. Yay!

Sat, 15 Jan 2005

What I really like about GNOME people is, they care about the user:

    From: Elijah Newren 
Reply-To: Elijah Newren 
      To: Hongli Lai 
 Subject: Re: Objections [Was: GNOME System Monitor will use libgnomesu]
    Date: Thu, 13 Jan 2005 13:31:59 -0700  (22:31 EET)

On Thu, 13 Jan 2005 20:28:01 +0100, Hongli Lai  wrote:
> Elijah Newren wrote:
> > Actually, I was thinking of a home desktop machine when responding.
> Home desktops have special sysadmins?

Of course not.  But it looks like we're talking past each other (am I
just having a bad day at explaining things or what?), so let me
restart from the beginning and attempt to be more clear:

Mike said that a showing a dialog that effectively says 

"You cannot do this because you don't have something you don't
understand, nor do you understand how to fix it because we can't
describe a useful way to fix it that will work on every distribution
we support. Um, thanks."

is better than risking having users think

"The computer on my left running Foobar Distro has this useful
feature, but the computer on my right just has a blank space where
that option is - why? And how do I get it on both?".

As far as I understood what Mike was saying, he was looking at the use
case of a user who wants to undo the differences between distros.  I
think that's a rare use case because (1) most users aren't using more
than one distro, and (2) most users aren't skilled enough to undo
differences between distros and we shouldn't expect them to be.  The
only people that we can expect to have such skills are system

Further, I think that the dialog would do a lot of damage in the
normal use case because (1) the user doesn't understand it, (2) they
are likely to think that something is broken in their system, and (3)
they may even avoid using the application altogether since they don't
know what is wrong with their system--thus losing even the standard

Since I think the dialog is bad for the majority of users, it follows
that I dislike the idea of showing it "just to help sysadmins".  One
possibility I provided as an alternative way to help the sysadmins was
to document the run-time checking for libgnomesu somewhere in the help
documentation or in the release notes.

I hope that clears up any confusion about what I previously said and meant.  :-)


These guys rock.

Sun, 07 Nov 2004

If you GNOME guys are getting addicted to the Firefox' smooth-scrolling feature (which is more of a GRE thing than Firefox) and would love to have it in Galeon or Epiphany, here is your trick. You owe me a good coffee (but not one of these):

  • Fire-up your favorite GRE-based browser.
  • Go to about:config (no typos here, that's exact URL)
  • Find general.smoothScroll set it to true
  • You're done.


PS: I'm serious about the coffee.

Wed, 06 Oct 2004

Paolo Borelli pointed to another easter-egg: Just type "free the fish" in the Run Command Dialog. Woohoo!

Okay, thanks to James Henstridge, I have found an easter-egg in Zenity. Yay!

About me

I'm Enver ALTIN. I'm from the other side of the river.


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