Sunday, November 27, 2011

Firefox Add-Ons in Mint 11

I had two add-ons in Firefox 8 that I was able to disable, but not to remove. There was no remove button next to either add-on in the add-on manager. These were Stylish 1.0.2 and the Unity global menubar extension. I have neither run nor installed Unity since my latest fresh install, and so that was puzzling. Actually, both were puzzling, since I never installed either. Someone's been messing with Firefox. Anyhow, this will fix both:

sudo apt-get remove mint-stylish-addon firefox-globalmenu

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New Gmail Interface Sucks

Have a gander at what Google is about to inflict upon its user community:

  • At the left center is a left arrow. That, from within a message, indicates return to the containing folder. This isn't new, and is fairly intuitive.
  • Next is a box with a plus sign in the middle. We're supposed  to magically intuit that this means archive. Yup, much clearer than using the word "Archive.".
  • Then we have a circle (very close inspection makes it out to be an octagon) with an exclamation in it. I don't know about you, but I don't find spam exciting, so never in a million years would I have guessed that this button marks the message as spam. Certainly is clearer and more intuitive than the current button labeled "Spam."
  • Next over is a trash can. Fine.
  • This is followed by a shape vaguely similar to a manilla file folder. Much clearer than the current button labeled "Move To."
  • This is followed by, maybe, a luggage tag, which is supposed to represent "Labels."
  • Not shown in the above screenshot the right and left arrow buttons, retained from the prior interface, which move to the previous and next message. Which goes to previous and which to next? Hell if I know--I always guess wrong the first time. Yes, a bad interface feature from the prior Gmail version retained for the next Gmail version.
So Google is screwing up Gmail just like they screwed up docs, though maybe not as bad as they are screwing up the Blogger interface. There's an airhead in a video explaining why they are doing this, but it all comes down to "some illiterate moron thinks pictures are cooler than words."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Assault at UC-Davis

So, when a police office assaults a group of students, who do you call? The police? The campus police, maybe? I am very impressed with the students in this video. They stayed peaceful in the face of intense provocation and the chant at the end, "You can go" was excellent.

[ Note added at 19:05: at least some of those policemen were campus police. From the NPR story:

Still, what happened Friday on the campus of the University of California Davis has struck a chord. In a demonstration of support for the Occupy movement, a small group of protesters was sitting, arms linked together. Campus police told them to move. The students didn't. And that's when an officer walked down the line of seated men and women, pepper-spraying them. Some took it straight in their faces. Many of the several hundred others who were there screamed in terror and frustration.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Linux Mint 11

This is a new experience for me: I've been using Linux Mint 11 for a week now, and I can't think of any bugs I've noticed. Every new version of Ubuntu brings new bugs as they attempt to make Ubuntu more like Windows, though now they seem to want to make Ubuntu more like a smart phone. Dumb. I'm sure there have been some bugs with Mint11, but so insubstantial as to be ignorable. Unlike Ubuntu, everything works out of the box.

Okay, here's a bug, but it's something Ubuntu long-ago conditioned me to ignore. Here's an instance:
Gtk-WARNING **: Locale not supported by C library.
Using the fallback 'C' locale.
This with a fresh install. I guess this is what Mint gets for basing itself upon Ubuntu.

I abandoned Ubuntu due to the Ubuntu Unity garbage and the almost equally unusable Gnome 3. I tried XFCE for awhile, but so many things just didn't quite work that it was not worth my while. Importantly, it appears Linux Mint will put a shell over Gnome 3 in an attempt to keep it usable; see . I'm counting on this; otherwise it might soon be time to abandon Linux.

Okay, photo transfer from my digital camera is exceedingly slow with Mint, but it didn't work at all with Ubuntu 11.10, so I can live with this (by using a Windows 7 laptop).

It's amusing that I dump Ubuntu when they, for the first time, pick a distribution name worth remembering, "Onerous Ocelot."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Enough Already

I have been trying to decide which professional membership to drop, ACM or IEEE-CS. CACM and Computer are, IMHO, of roughly equivalent high quality. It looks as though there are two deciding factors. One is the terrible job IEEE has done placing Spectrum online; they are using, who are not content with PDFs, but feel the need to litter the PDFs with navigation controls and other garbage. Why put navigational controls in a document that is viewed in a viewer with fine navigational controls? QMags' garbage is impossible to transfer to a Kindle, making it useless to me as an electronic format. The other is that ACM Computing Surveys remains excellent, and IEEE has nothing comparable.

Further, today I read "Living in a Digital World" by Samuel Greengard, 10/2011 CACM ( It reminded me of the excellent idea of the digital sabbath and of the nice work done by Nicholas Carr in The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (Norton, 2010). The technology surrounding us is dehumanizing and reducing our ability to function, and we need the scientific and engineering communities to continue to remind themselves of this.

ACM 2, IEEE-CS, -1

Google Hates Us

First Google Docs. Now Gmail. Google is trying to push us to unattractive interfaces with the idea that we are basically illiterate, unable to deal with words on the screen, and hoping to switch to obscure pictographs. Gmail's new interface is ugly, with little contrast between the foreground letters and the backgrounds, it spaces things out so that screen real estate is used poorly, it forces us into greater use of frames meaning that the arrow and page up/down keys are less useful, and, other than that, I don't like it.