Information Overload Via RSS

Eureka! I found out where a good chunk of my time disappeared to. RSS feeds and my favorite feed aggregation tool: Akregator. RSS feeds are an invaluable tool and using them feels like holding a hand on the pulse of the Web. However, I realized how much time I wasted because I subscribed to a few news and planet feeds.

Every morning would start with firing up Kontact, and reading my e-mails. Then I would do the same with the RSS feeds. Then I would scan each story, decide upon its usefulness, upload the useful ones to my web browser, read them, bookmark and catalogue them. Only by the time I finished a good chunk of the day past by. Oh my.

I realized that I had become an information junkie, and nothing was getting done. Initially I switched off the automatic retrieval. But that was just a half measure. Instead today, I took the drastic step of deleting the news and planet feeds. Now I can get work done, and do the things I should do. Like updating this blog. 😉

Like a Sitcom

Yawn. Nothing is worse than a bad sitcom ending. Everything gets resolved into nice tidy way, and life proceeds as normal for the characters. Friday and today, many of my “issues” resolved themselves. Unlike a sitcom, this is not ending thankfully.

I finally got my schedule in order. Everything from classes to study periods all works out nicely. Not that I like the amount of bus based commuting I do. That hopefully will diminish after I look for carpooling rides. Now, if I can just follow my own schedule and due dates.

On the note of schedules, I finally made peace between my Palm and my desktop. Everything works at least in the Kontact-Palm interacti0ns. It took some time to bring back my emails, but everything now is in its proper place. My desktop neatly setup with few distractions (except the entire Internet and Half-Life 2) works for me now. Now I need to do work on it.

Most of projects are started and well on their way. The power of an enthusiastic group is awe inspiring. Things get done and quickly. Now if I need to do work.

The only things still in need of resolution are actual school work, my old work and minor things like exercising. Oh and I am still waiting for a coffee date.

In Search of Sanity and Coffee

I slept in today. Yesterday turned out too crazy for even me. I started off the day with a single plan: catchup. So what did I do? I wrestled with Kontact to work with my Palm. I decided to fix things… by backing up and wiping out my old KDE settings. The wipe out worked, and the backup not so much. That is the way I started my day.

Next, I “chilled” out by blogging and trying not to freak out about the loss of all my emails, contacts, and pretty much everything else.

Audio Docs class followed, and a changing of groups. My group remained the same with Rob, Masha and Amanda (a totally unrelated new Amanda), and a new girl joined our group whose name I forgot. I got randomly picked to record a sound on campus. Fortunately my partner finished 3 years in radio, worked in the CBC and confidently recorded everything. I helped “assemble” the mini-Disc recorder. And I held the bag. And provided conversation. Yes, I am hopeless.

In my absence, my group decided upon on using my idea (my obsession with Ewa) for the documentary project. Apparently the prof used my story as an example, and my group understood it as good. Rob started writing up the script, Masha organizing the project, and Amanda helping Rob. Yes, I feel touched with their decision, but the whole thing just started so spontaneously. Anyways, I promised to contact everyone, as soon as I got my email back.

I asked Masha about meeting up after class, but she said she had work. I then bumped into Kat, and asked her for coffee after 4. She said maybe, as I should of expected. Next I ran off to my cryptograph7 class.

Professor Charles Rackoff had already begun explaining to the class, why Max’s idea of a project on quantum cryptography did not work for the class. Basically, he did not want us dealing with physics especially when the class dealt with “classical” cryptography. Max’s second idea of hard drive cryptography sounds better. I got assigned the task of looking up on it. Cute.

Charles then quizzed us on the “obvious” and beautiful definition of pseudorandom number generators. I am starting to comprehend it, and the rest of the course seems to follow suit. Now I understand the theory, but I can not see myself thinking in pure theoretical-mathematical terms. My cavemen mind can understand art, writing and programming. My learning of mathematics is similar to my learning of dating. Me thinks me thick-skulled.

After class I met up with Kat, who passed up my offer for coffee, free lunch and a pleasant chat with old soup. Yes that is right. She preferred to go home and eat old soup instead of my company. I passed by Masha again, and foolishly proposed coffee after she finished work. She works at one of part of the university. Proposal refused politely and with tact. And not over lame, old soup.

My day ended with Rudy and company working on the average run time of algorithms. Algorithms and statistics are even lower down my mental understanding than cryptographic theory. And I just passed the algorithms course (probably out of the kindness of my prof), and never ventured back into that neck of the woods. So I tried helping Rudy’s group, even going off to figure out combinatorics. I re-learned that part, but still was mostly useless. Eventually, Rudy decided to end my suffering, and go home.

Went home, eat dinner and crashed into bed. Depressing dreams of living in a dystopian universe followed. I ventured out of bed late morning. Watched some old BBC Narnia stuff, cleaned around the house, and now in the process of resurrecting Kontact. Next I must undertake the task, of catching up two lost days and tons of homework.

I guess this puts off my writing my first epic scifi novel, and my blockbuster game. Tomorrow promises to keep me busy, until late night today. Yummy.

Open Source Palm-Desktop Groupware

I recently discovered the comfort of using groupware, to organize all my communication and email needs. I never used a groupware application before, so maybe I am just realizing the potential of such software. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I commute to university the majority of the time. This means 3-4 hours on the bus, with little to do. Last semester I began intensively using that time to finish homework, edit papers and so on. One of the things I wanted to do is to write emails on my Palm Tungsten E, and send them later. The Palm came with a Windows-only mail client, VersaMail. Not helpful when your main desktop being KDE running on Ubuntu Linux (Kubuntu 6.10). Fortunately that is where Kontact comes in.

Kontact: KDE’s Groupware Offering
Kontact acts as an all-purpose groupware program. I will not discuss the virtues of this program here. It is a serious contender for replacing Microsoft’s Outlook or Novell’s GroupWare. You should check it out yourself. Kontact comes with KPilot, a great program for basic syncing of a Palm. Unfortunately Kubuntu’s version KPilot had bug in it. Fortunately I found a deb from that fixed my problem.

First, I needed to migrate my mail and contacts from Mozilla Thunderbird to Kontact. I needed to export my address book in Mozilla to LDIF. Kontact easily imported this. Kontact also comes with a neat feature for importing emails from other clients. A simple wizard, and my Thunderbird emails resided now in Kontact. An hour later of organization, I readied myself for Palm integration.

Palm syncing on Linux can be a chore. Fortunately, Ubuntu 6.10 comes with easy PDA syncing for most Palm PDAs. To my horror, KPilot actually removed contacts from my Palm. After I installed the updated deb for KPilot, this problem also disappeared. Now I all I need was the Palm’s email program integrating with KPilot.

VersaMail versus GNUGetMail
My Tungsten E came with an email client called VersaMail. Unfortunately KPilot’s email plug-in does not use the MultiMail format which VersaMail uses. Not wanting to buy an email client, I searched for a free solution. I stumbled upon gnuGetMail. gnuGetMail is a simple, open source email client and uses the older single account Palm mail format. All I really needed was something to write emails for later sending. gnuGetMail does both sending and receiving of emails.

I recommend both Kontact and gnuGetMail to anyone considering Palm based emailing.

Kontacts, Palms & Course Juggling

Greetings again!

6 days into a brand new year 2007, and I am starting to feel the ominous feeling of stress. Without getting into details, things are not working out as planned, backup plans seem to backfire and a tense atmosphere has enveloped my personal life. Fortunately I have 359 days left to make up.

School started again on Friday. The last semester started and I am not sure which courses I want to undertake. I do have a less then promising backup plan. I hoped on continuing my journalism training, but getting into the course proves problematic. Oh well.

Today, unproductive in the realm of homework and past work, I dedicated to integrating my Palm into my lifestyle. First I migrated to using the Kontact groupware, as KMail and family works better with KPilot better than Mozilla Thunderbird. The migration proved not too difficult. The problem I keep running into is syncing the desktop to PDA correctly. The PDA keeps on loosing contacts, and not updating the desktop’s todo list. Not to mention that the Palm’s VersaMail client refuses to talk to anyone except itself. My goal for the ending minutes of day is to force both Kontact and the Palm to talk to each other.

Confusion (and angst) are the order of the day.