Under The Wire

Under The Wire

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Is Linux passing the girlfriend test? No, thanks to Free Software Foundation

Photo by Fernando Neves Guys at TechRadar UK made a girlfriend of one of them playing with Linux, in their girlfriend test.

They told some simple tasks to the girl and looked how she was accomplishing the “challenge” using Linux.

This test aim is to demonstrate that Linux is noob-proof when it is about to deal with basic tasks:

  • Bookmark a website in Firefox: is it the same thing that doing it in every operating system with Firefox.
  • Write and print a letter in OpenOffice.org: same as the previous. It is still not demonstrating anything but the availability of common software for Linux and Windows.
  • Rip a CD: different system, same behavior of the GUI that let the girl do what se wanted. But are you sure she won’t have any troubles?
  • Send an instant message: here things are getting quite harder. The girl wanted to use Windows Live Messenger and had to use Pidign. She can nearly the same things after some trials. It is not Linux fault but the experience is losing some of its initial appeal.
  • Create a pie chart in OpenOffice.org: other OpenOffice stuff, same consideration I made on the second task.
  • Put the ripped CD on to her iPod: thank you Apple, thank you Free Software Foundation for the choice of OGG. The poor girl is not smiling anymore.
  • Photoshop her head on to my body: she found GIMP and get it to work. At least the girl should receive a standing ovation since she managed to deal with the unusual interface. She is not a regular noob. Definitely.
  • Watch a video on YouTube: my dear package manager, having flash installed is a thing that users want to do in a click or two. I know flash is evil, but the web is heavily relying on it. And using the web is more interesting than having a pure 100% free system.
  • Make a phone call using Skype: problems are coming out. And in this case I can’t tell you this is not a Linux fault. An 'audio playback problem' needs to be fixed before noobs are going to consider using Linux.

A noob that has to deal only with browsing on nearly pure HTML/CSS sites that has to do some office work with OpenOffice could consider using Linux.

If the user wants to do more multimedia related stuff the situation is getting terribly worst. Maybe you are wondering about the responsible for this fall of Linux perceived usability

I’m pointing my finger against the Free Software Foundation that is trying to prevent anything not open being installed in the system. In my opinion this is a really bad choice.

The girl would have a better opinion of Linux if she could have out of the box working MP3, Flash and Skype support. Losing users in the name of an ideal is not a clever choice in my opinion. Maybe it is the right choice from the moral perspective. But an ideal without users is not going anywhere.

Just my 2 cents, as usual.


Give power your Firefox SearchBar

Many people use Firefox but few know how improve the search bar.

There are may add-ons to search  but only two are really useful:

  • Add to Search Bar: adds a function in context menu that enables to include any site in the list of search engines. Right click on search box of site that you want add and then click on “Add to search bar…”. No sweat!
  • ContextSearch: permits to search  selected words directly from context menu.

One other trick very useful  for open search directly in new tab is that:

  1. write “about:config” in address bar and press enter
  2. click ok on the alert page
  3. write “browser.search.openintab” in filter box
  4. change value from false to true by double click
  5. restart Firefox

The last trick that I want advise permits to search in address bar by different search engines. Normally, when you write a word in address bar Firefox uses “I’m feeling lucky” of Google, but it’s possible to use all search engines of the our list and to do it we must put before the word a keyword. This trick works only if the keyword is associated with a search engines.

For add a keyword:

  1. Click “manage search engines” in search bar menu
  2. Select a search engines and click on change keyword
  3. Insert the keyword that you want use. Foe example I use “–g” for Google, “-w” for Wikipedia and “-y” for YouTube

If you want change the default behavior and set the normal Google search, you do this:

  1. write “about:config” in address bar and press enter
  2. click ok on the alert page
  3. write “keyword.URL” in filter box
  4. double click on line and insert “http://www.google.com/search?q=”
  5. restart Firefox


Saturday, November 29, 2008

Microsoft thinks to WEB 3.0

All know what is WEB 2.0, but Microsoft already thinks to WEB 3.0.
Web 2.0 concepts have led to the development and evolution of web culture communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, video sharing sites, wikis, blogs and tags. Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information, but they want do a high-interaction user-to-website and user-to-user.
In the future this high-interaction will be not only user-to-user but also user-to-machine and machine-to-machine: WEB 3.0. Microsoft is studying how use internet technologies for communicate between machine: we'll can buy metro ticket or restaurant by our phone, but also control our house thermostat. All this is only the first step of the innovation that WEB 3.0 wants introduce in our lives.
In WEB 3.0 era, all is interconnect, we'll not open refrigerator to see what buy for lunch, but refrigerator will give us shopping list or send it directly to supermarket.
To support WEB 3.0 our phone and other common used devices will became "intelligent".
Maybe someday, while I'll have breakfast, I'll talk about my coffee pot :) .


Friday, November 28, 2008

Apple admits that OSX needs antivirus

Really bad news for the Apple maniacs that their beloved company is recommending to use antivirus. Yes you read right. At Cupertino are suggesting you to install an antivirus software on your Mac.

Even if in the commercial the subtle Mac was laughing at the poor PC that was ill.

Even if Mac OSX is a UNIX. I am a UNIX hater, I never hid that, and I’d like to know what the people that are theorizing the UNIX safety by design are going to say. I think it would be something fun.

Even if nobody cares to write a virus for a niche of the market. I think that that niche proved to be so dumb that will welcome any malware in his system. If Steve Jobs fooled you once why a good social engineer can’t make your machine working for him?

This is the official announcement. It is Apple.com, so I think that you are taking your credit card and doing an online order of the software suggested.

With the Apple fanatics desperate for that revelation and the users of other operating systems laughing so loud that they can’t read anymore why should I go on with this post?

Thanks to Feliciano for his post.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Make Firefox 3 look exactly like Safari

Many people dislike Safari and switch to Firefox; I recently decided to try it and I started using it regularly. There are many features that only Firefox offers but there's one thing I particularly dislike of Firefox: the interface. Safari is truly well-designed: the GUI is uncluttered, simple and nice looking. How to make Firefox 3 look like exactly like Safari? These are the steps you have to take:

  • Install the "Combine Stop-Reload Buttons" extension (currently at version 0.3); it merges the stop and reload buttons
  • Install the "Fission" extension (currently at version 1.0); it provides a Safari-like progress bar, which shows behind the URL
  • Install "Quartz PDF Plugin" to give Firefox 3 the ability to view PDFs
  • Install the "Inquisitor" extension... it's so cool!
  • Open a blank page and type about:config , press enter, click on "I'll be careful, I promise" and edit "browser.tabs.tabMaxWidth" to "200" and "browser.tabs.tabMinWidth" to "150"; this will change the tab width to make it more like Safari.
The result is almost pixel perfect! ...Enjoy!


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Make presentation with LaTeX using Beamer and the Dubino theme

Today I had a look at LaTeX as a tool for doing presentations.

I’m trying to abandon all the clerkish office automation suite. For my documents I’m happily using LaTeX, but sometimes I have to make presentations of my works and  the only program I was able to work with were Microsoft PowerPoint or OpenOffice Impress.

The geek I have inside wanted to do everything with LaTeX, so today I spent a couple of hours “learning” how to use the beamer package (Thanks to Swanz for the suggestion).

The operation you have to do to have it fully functional (Ina Windows environment, if you use other operating systems this is not the post that will tell you what to do in details) are the following:

  • Install MikTex and Texnicenter
  • Add the beamer package to MikTex (Using the MikTex Browse package tool). On my PC I had to install the following packages: beamer, pdftex-def, pgf, xcolor, ifxetex and translator. I don’t know what the package I mentioned are actually doing, but I can tell you that to make it work I needed to install it.
  • Half of the work is done. Now we have to write the actual presentation. I’m not teaching you how to do that, you can Google to it. Sorry for this joke, is since I had this link that I was looking for a reason to use it :-)

Since the standard beamer templates are everything but satisfactory I also hacked what I found to have something enjoyable. To have the wonderful Dubino theme you have to:

  • Downlaod it from my skydrive.
  • Copy it to this folder C:\Program Files\MiKTeX 2.6\tex\latex\beamer\themes\theme
  • run texhash (In Vista you have to do that in a Run-As-Administrator console)
  • Congratulations, you have done it!


If you are not understanding what I wanted to do don’t worry.

This post was more a note to remind me what to do than a real tutorial. If you don’t like this post, I’m sorry, but after all this is my blog and I can write what I want, isn’t it?


Friday, November 21, 2008

EtherPad. The only way to write shared documents

Forget about Google Docs and other online tools that promises to help you editing collectively your shared documents but doesn’t have a way to see the modification to the document in real time. Such applications are the past in collaboration tools: with EtherPad we have a really cool web-application to write plaintext with your friends seeing what others are doing live.

Here my 2 cents:

Why does EtherPad rocks?

You can see the modifications live. Do I have to add something more?

Try it and fall in love with its clean interface that provides nothing more than a shared Notepad. And does it well!

You can chat with your friends to talk about what are you writing and really collaborate on what you are doing.

What is still to be done?

Support for other document formats than plain-text should be great. Unfortunately the world is not only about simple text.

Also a way to store files on my disk would be appreciated. Or are you thinking in the Google-ish way that all my documents are belonging to you and only to you?

Please try to get a 100% availability :-D. This service is really cool but if I can’t talk with your servers is quite useless.

Thanks to Oscar for the link!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Please Google, give me back the old Gmail theme!!!

Few minutes ago I logged into my Gmail account and I found a theme change.

I was not liking the switch form the capital G to the small g in the Google logo, and I am still not liking it.

I think that the new theme is ugly and even the “classic theme” is not as good as the new one. Thanks god they provided the Older version option to stay with  the Gmail we are used to.

Please Google, don’t change logos and themes with new uglier ones!


Friday, November 14, 2008

And the worst IDE ever is … Eiffel Studio!

I hope that you are a reader of Under The Wire and that you didn’t find this page looking for a solution to a problem with Eiffel Studio. Don’t waste more time on it, if it doesn’t work it won’t work whatever you search and whatever you are going to do. I’m sorry but the only advice I can give you is to not start a lost battle.

The only solution is to get a real language, with a real library and of course a real IDE.

If you like the Eiffel Studio icon (that actually is the only good thing of the whole project) save it somewhere and then trash everything else. Trust me, this is the only good idea!

Maybe you are thinking that all this hate (Yes, I hate it!) is quite excessive. I have my reason and after you read a couple of that you should only agree with me and join the Eiffel-Haters.

Here is a tragic list of the problem I had. The order is random, but it is impossible to tell what came first and what came then since once you solve a problem it will come back.

  • It auto-completes only what it wants and after you compile it. Not exactly what I was expecting. Sorry, I am a CTRL+SPACE addict.
  • It can’t understand that two files are actually the same file. What a stupid compiler (I don’t know it the stupidity is actually in the compiler on in another piece of software, however there is something that fails).
  • The library of Eiffel are so limited that they choose to introduce .Net support. It should have been a good idea. If only the debugger worked with .Net code. Please Ballmer delete the page written by Bertrand Mayer on the holy MSDN. It doesn’t worth the bytes on the server.
  • The user community is … hey there is anyone using it? It seems there aren’t and I’m not going to blame them. I just wonder why someone that is not completely crazy should decide to use this crapware. (Before you ask me, I am forced to use it. What a sad destiny).
  • Documentation? If you call the man pages documentation you may also consider good the Eiffel documentation. I am used to JavaDoc and MSDN and I can’t go back without being brainwashed!
  • Pre-compilation is a mystery. Why does it sometimes mess so up that the only thing to do is to take an axe and eradicate the all pre-compile folder. (Be sure to delete only what is in the EIFGENs, or you are going to break everything).
  • It is consuming my .Net. I know that this is only a word, but this is a horrible word. I don’t want you to touch my .Net. Is it clear?
  • It is open source and the community is not doing anything to pick the project to a decent working status. There must be a reason.
  • The native compiler generates C code. That means the need for another compiler and tons of new problem, just to make impossible working with this IDE.

What should I do? No, Vi is not an option. Nor killing everyone at ISE.

The only people that should be happy about this total failure are guys working at Xilinx ISE and EDK the two crapware for hardware design in VHDL. At least they work, poorly but sometimes works. This makes hardware's guys big losers, and they lost also the worst IDE award!

Eiffel: What programming should NOT be.


Please stop the monkey that are randomly hitting the keyboard and choose to stop this terrible project. An Eclipse plug-in will be enough. And maybe it will also work!


If I will need a contract on my programs I will rather call a lawyer. Surely I’m not going to use Eiffel!


Make your Firefox address bar better

The best thing of Google Chrome is its address bar that has both the classic address bar role and the search bar role.

Firefox To have the same behavior on Firefox you have to remove the search bar. After that you can type your searches in the address bar. Unfortunately the default behavior is to show the useless “I’m feeling lucky” Google response, to get a full response you have to do the following steps:

  • type about:config on the address bar and tell Firefox that you aren’t going to make a mess.
  • search for the keyword.URL entry. Once you found replace the default string with this one http://www.google.com/search?btnG=Google+Search&q=


Monday, November 10, 2008

Android threatened by huge security hole

If you're worry about your iPhone's security you should relax at the idea of a much more flawed operating system: Android.

This is what happens on a Android device: "basically anything you type into your keyboard is also being run in a hidden console with root permissions."


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