Linux, 2017!

First of all, please do not read this post as a complain. Just as an analysis. I am a Linux user for decades. I remember using Linux in my first year of University, somewhere about 1996. I never stopped using Linux, in the server, but during some years, somewhere between 2002 and 2017 I was a Mac user for the desktop (one PPC Mac Book, two Intel Mac Book Pro). Back to the beginning of 2017 I needed an update, and decided to go back to Linux. Mostly because of the price of a decent Mac Book Pro when compared with a generic laptop. I decided on a Dell, and without a lot of thinking, decided on a Dell with a 4K display. Well, I had a hard time trying to install a distribution. Tried Mint, Debian and Ubuntu. Curiously, all gave trouble with UEFI boot, but the one that ended up installing a working Linux was Mint Given it is Debian based, I can keep up with the Debian updates, and install most packages available only for Ubuntu.

While I see some applications getting better, from 2002 to 2017, it seems Linux community continues rewriting the wheel. I can’t see any big difference from what I am experiencing today in the desktop with what I was experiencing earlier with Gnome 1. Yes, the code was changed. It might be more stable, faster, support a couple of new things. But it seems we continue rewriting and rewriting the same old applications.

Then there is the issue with a 4K display. Even if GTK3 has support for High DPI screens, a lot of  applications are not written for this toolkit. And I am not sure, at all, that this is something that need to be managed by the graphical toolkit. I still think it is a Xorg issue, where we should be able to define DPIs for each screen, and have the basic low-level tools scale everything. As this is how I see things, I decided today to look to the blog of Xorg. And it doesn’t have news since 2013. As I could read, now most work is done as independent libraries. Nevertheless, it is strange no changes were needed to be done in 4 years.

Also curious that a bunch of applications using node.js are being working great. Examples are GitKraken, Code, Atom, Franz… and even Sublime is working great on 4K (even if it has some other issues). Unfortunately Unity3d is not working properly in 4K, but that looks more like an issue with their own GUI system, than anything else (but then, if Xorg took care of things, maybe it would work great, just like it works acceptably under Windows). But other things, like old Gtk, Xlib, QT or even Java applications still look like needing a microscope to be read.

So, here I am, with a shiny new laptop, deciding to keep Linux, or getting back to.. huh.. windows! Yeah, I do dual boot, but I like Linux for most things. But some aren’t possible As a teacher, I know I will have problems when trying to use a beamer. When connecting an external display, everything will look monstrous. Or I can change the resolution on the built-in screen, go searching the HiDPI switch, turn it of, restart the session for it to be correctly applied, and then use the laptop. Shame.

And yes, I know a lot of this is my fault. If I did not change to Mac, and if like me other hundred of developers didn’t do the same, probably we would have a lot more Linux users, writing and patching these applications. Or we would just end up with a lot of more distributions, a lot more window manager, but with the same main issues.

At last, but not less important, I would like to thank you to everyone that is still working on Linux making it better. I know this is not a paid job. I know you (and I) do what we want, and what makes us happy. That is why this is not a complain text. Just looking to what I see, without pointing any fingers.



Any.Do – The best task tracking system ATM

Any.DO-Logo-+-NameFor a long time I have been trying different ways to track my stack of tasks. I tried different approaches, from using paper (it is fun!), Calendar Mac App, Wunderlist, and recently Any.Do.

Paper is probably the best, as you can write freely, draw, scratch, rip, and other physical activities that are quite fun. But, unless you get a small notebook, it gets hard to be with you all the time. You could also scratch on a smart phone device, like Samsung S Note app. But when I am working in my laptop, I do not like to have to take the phone to add or remove entries. So, next natural step is to use a tool that syncs tasks between devices.

Wunderlist is cool. Cool enough for me to use it for some time. It has the fun fact that it keeps finished tasks scratched, just like you might do in paper. Nevertheless, the app is (or was, when I tried it) quite limited. You could have different todo lists, but it was hard to see them all at once. You could add some manual tags to tasks (I did that for some time), but it got boring. And it wasn’t easy to sort tasks. You needed to, somehow, change its date.

I tried for some time Evernote for that. It allows to add tick boxes to your notes. But again, not easy to see all tasks in one screen, unless you add them all in the same sheet. And if you do, it gets complicated to manage the order, and the categories, with lots of cut, copy and paste.

So, recently I am using Any.DO. It is also available for Mac, Web, and Android, so easy to sync around. And it has three main ways to see your tickets: per category, per time, or per importance. And in each of these three views, you can sort easily your tasks just by moving them around. I am very satisfied (for now, at least) with it. But I still wonder how much more fun and efficient it might get with the paid version. But a monthly (or yearly) subscription is not exactly what I want right now. Nevertheless, if I could buy the app (and not a service) I might be buying it soon.

Apple discriminating… again!

Yes, yet again, Apple discriminating. Not sure if by their own will, or just because they are stupid. Nevertheless, they got warned, and their action will clarify this point.

Now, why? Not sure why (there is a page with that story but I really never read it) but Apple has a trailers page. It is a nice page, with HD version of trailers. So, why not use it. The problem is that the HD versions, that are watched opening QuickTime (or supposedly, any other similar application), doesn’t work if you are using Firefox (on Mac OS X). You get a redirect to the original trailers index page.

Nevertheless, if you change your Firefox user agent string to the Safari user agent string, then the link will work properly. This means it is not a technology problem or anything. It is just Apple filtering what user agents can watch the movies.

So, if you still want to use Firefox and Apple trailers page for this task, then install, for instance, the Firefox user agent switcher plugin.

And a final thank you to João Neves for his precious help debugging this problem.

Diablo III – Open Beta/Stress Test Weekend

This weekend was the Beta Open Weekend, or the Stress Test Weekend. This fact is already interesting. I do not know any other company with any similar initiative. This is not only great for them as a mechanism to check how good their servers can cope with the game and some hundreds or thousand players, but also because this works a demo. I would love to know how many players made the pre-order during this weekend. I am one of those.

There are lots of critics about this game. Most of them are funded. The characters don’t seem as dark or scary, but more comic-like, the magic system is more simple, the inventory items are smaller with less detail, etc. I defend that we need to be open to new approaches to the same game. If it is all similar, just an enhanced version with new enemies and new characters, that doesn’t get that interesting (my opinion).

We expect some issues to improve in the final release, but we can’t expect much changes.

I didn’t play much, but my main complains are that for two times that the game returned me a black screen only with a cursor when exiting (Mac OS X), and that it doesn’t have any logic to have a character (witch doctor) whose primary weapon is a jar full of spiders. And, as far as I could dig, I can’t have a standard weapon instead of those “magic” weapons. But probably I didn’t dig enough.

Now, waiting for the release in May.

Firefox vs Safari on Mac OS X

I confess I use Firefox, and I really prefer firefox user interface. But this is just stupid! I never had problems with Firefox before, and now that I have a fast machine and 8 GB of RAM Flash acts like this? OK, I know it is Flash.. but.. :-/

Also, no idea why I can’t get my Quicktime plugin to manage .mov files. It just does nothing. Check below how it behaves in Firefox and in Safari.

Firefox 9, Mac OS X Lion and Apple Trailers page

I am having some trouble with Firefox 9 (well, I had it already with Firefox 8, and after the update the behavior continues) and Mac OS X Lion, when trying to download a trailer from Apple trailers page. I have no clue about what is going on, so if you have any idea that can solve my problem, please leave a comment, or contact me directly.

First, choose a movie from Apple trailers page. Any movie will work. I chose Prometheus, just because it is one of the first in the list, and Science Fiction. There is a small bar at the left that reads “View Trailers (4)”. I expand it clicking the arrow. Before continuing, I activated the Web Console for Firefox, that shows what is going on (that is, lists the requests that are sent to the server, and the received response).

Next step, choose one of the trailers. Let’s say, the first. In the small arrow in the “watch now” button, you have two sections. One of them is named “watch” and the other “download”. Let’s try to download one trailer (or watch it in QuickTime, instead of watching it directly in the webpage). Click the 480p (20MB) link.

What happens?

Well, for most users, it will open QuickTime and start loading the video. For me, nothing happens. The Web Console just issues GET as it should. And logs the answer as [HTTP/1.1 302 Moved Temporarily 118ms]. And it is all. No further messages in the watch window, no QuickTime starting, nothing. Rien!

I have no clue about what is going on. If you have, please let me know (and if you say not to use Mac or to use Safari I’ll be punching you in the teeth).

Mac OS X ‘ls’ vs GNU ‘ls’

There are a few details that can change completely you decision when to use one version of a command or another. Mac OS X ‘ls’ command is one of those you do not want, and you are desperate to install GNU version of ‘ls’. Check the differences (below ‘gls’ is the GNU version of ‘ls’).

[ambs@stravinski Liturgica]$ ls
0001			0068			0135
0002			0069			0136
0003			0070			0137
0004			0071			0138
0005			0072			0139
0006			0073			0140
0007			0074			0141
0008			0075			0142
0009			0076			0143
0010			0077			0144
0011			0078			0145
0012			0079			0146
0013			0080			0147
0014			0081			0148
0015			0082			0149
0016			0083			0150
0017			0084			0151
0018			0085			0152
0019			0086			0153
0020			0087			0154
0021			0088			0155
0022			0089			0156
0023			0090			0157
0024			0091			0158
0025			0092			0159
0026			0093			0160
0027			0094			0161
0028			0095			0162
0029			0096			0163
0030			0097			0164
0031			0098			0165
0032			0099			0166
0033			0100			0167
0034			0101			0168
0035			0102			0169
0036			0103			0170
0037			0104			0171
0038			0105			0172
0039			0106			0173
0040			0107			0174
0041			0108			0175
0042			0109			0176
0043			0110			0177
0044			0111			0178
0045			0112			0179
0046			0113			0180
0047			0114			0181
0048			0115			0182
0049			0116			0183
0050			0117			0184
0051			0118			0185
0052			0119			0186
0053			0120			0187
0054			0121			0188
0055			0122			TODO
0056			0123			book.lytex
0057			0124			cleanGenerated
0058			0125
0059			0126			letra.dtd
0060			0127
0061			0128			letra.rnc
0062			0129			letra.x
0063			0130
0064			0131			schemas.xml
0065			0132
0066			0133
0067			0134


[ambs@stravinski Liturgica]$ gls
0001  0021  0041  0061	0081  0101  0121  0141	0161  0181
0002  0022  0042  0062	0082  0102  0122  0142	0162  0182
0003  0023  0043  0063	0083  0103  0123  0143	0163  0183
0004  0024  0044  0064	0084  0104  0124  0144	0164  0184
0005  0025  0045  0065	0085  0105  0125  0145	0165  0185
0006  0026  0046  0066	0086  0106  0126  0146	0166  0186
0007  0027  0047  0067	0087  0107  0127  0147	0167  0187
0008  0028  0048  0068	0088  0108  0128  0148	0168  0188
0009  0029  0049  0069	0089  0109  0129  0149	0169  TODO
0010  0030  0050  0070	0090  0110  0130  0150	0170  book.lytex
0011  0031  0051  0071	0091  0111  0131  0151	0171  cleanGenerated
0012  0032  0052  0072	0092  0112  0132  0152	0172
0013  0033  0053  0073	0093  0113  0133  0153	0173  letra.dtd
0014  0034  0054  0074	0094  0114  0134  0154	0174
0015  0035  0055  0075	0095  0115  0135  0155	0175  letra.rnc
0016  0036  0056  0076	0096  0116  0136  0156	0176  letra.x
0017  0037  0057  0077	0097  0117  0137  0157	0177
0018  0038  0058  0078	0098  0118  0138  0158	0178  schemas.xml
0019  0039  0059  0079	0099  0119  0139  0159	0179
0020  0040  0060  0080	0100  0120  0140  0160	0180
[ambs@stravinski Liturgica]$ 

My terminal has 46 lines and the first version doesn’t appear completely in the window. The second would fit perfectly ever if I had the usual 24/25 lines. Yeah, it will not fit for ever, as I am adding more items to this folder, but you understood the idea…