Shifting Sands and Schedules

I’m blogging this entry fairly late in the day today.  I will enjoy sleeping longer and missing being in the office before the sunrises.  At least I will enjoy these guilty pleasures for the next couple of weeks.  Hence my blogging schedule will be thrown out of whack.  But I don’t mind the extra sleep.  I am definitely less cranky and more productive.

I should pick a better time to write this.  But I need a creative outlet.  Fighting with Perl and web applications, and reading reams of documentation can wear a person out.  I look forward to taking a change from Java.  But Perl is not a pretty language.  You can easily write code that you can’t maintain.  At least not easily.  The same could be said about Python, C or C++.  Still Perl can easily win a code obfuscation contest.  And my Perl skills need work.  Still I welcome to the shift from Java and JSP to mixture of Perl and my firm’s in-house RAD tools.  Even if it means wading through tons and tons of documentation.

Another shift is writing I guess.  I’m doing more of it, and enjoying it.  The effort of writing novel still drags on.  I blame my compulsive reading of RSS feeds, and magazines.  Still I like to stay in touch with the parts of the tech world that I enjoy and see future promise.  Also other tasks hang over my head, so it can be difficult to concentrate at times.  Writing and coding projects seem to move at a glacial pace nowadays.  Still they move forward.  I need to shift in Qt, C++ and Python coding again.

Lastly I have a trip to plan and random life tasks to do.  I’m excited about the results obviously.  But such tasks often involve decisions that take time and some can be life-altering.  I’d prefer that the tasks would do themselves.  But unfortunately my not doing them, is just procrastination.  That is what I’m doing right now, procrastination by writing.  I should get back to work now.

Grey Clouds, Sunny Outlook

I get into the office really early in the morning. These past fews I normally got greeted with a dark sky and street lights. Each day the sunrise earlier. But each day the sun would rise, brilliant lines of yellow, orange, red and pink would form across the skyline. In the distance the CN tower, banking towers and skyscraper condominiums would cut dark silhouettes into the brilliant sunrise.

Today I see the dark grey dramatic underbelly of clouds stretching across the sky. The morning greyness feels even greyier under this ceiling of cloud.

Today I am in a cheerful mood. Two more days until my work project changes. A few more tasks and I’ll be able to write my novel without interruption. I also finished reading the book I wanted to finish before the end of Lent. Kubuntu Linux has infested my work laptop. The new upcoming release of Jaunty (9.04) feels and looks amazing. Everything works out of the box, even the webcam and the Bluetooth mouse. Finally I’ll be able to catch up on correspondences. And start working on learning Qt and maybe a natural language (French or Italian?).

New Obsession: Adept 3.0

I wanted to get involved with an interesting existing FOSS project related to Kubuntu. Adept the deb package manager caught my eye. Now anyone who used the old 2.x version of adept_manager, will probably point out how the busy the user interface is. Its not the easiest tool to use. Then again you could pretty much say that about any KDE 3 programs (k3b and d3lphin) being the notable exceptions.

Adept Manager version 2.x
Adept Manager version 3.x

The newer version looks much cleaner and feels like a true KDE4 app. Very, very nice. Now while my C++ skills are not fantastic and my QT4 knowledge is non-existent, I would very much want to contribute to this app. I guess I will start off with filling bug reports, and slowly make my way into spelunking around the source code.

P.S. This post was written using KDE 3 & KDE 4 and Firefox 2.x & 3.0!

KDE 4: My Desktop Just Got Cooler

Tuesday, I decided to make the plunge and try out KDE 4.0.0 One word: amazing. So ever is my quick and unscientific review of KDE 4.0.0

KDE 4 is a very sexy looking desktop. The panel is darker, the default wallpapers classier and artwork much more modern. The icon and widget theme Oxygen and the effects make the desktop stunningly pretty. The Oxygen window decorations don’t add much. I ended up switching to the Plastik. Also the artwork for the new KDE 4 games is simply beautiful.

Naturally artwork is a very subjective thing, but it does help with the user experience. If a user wants to look at a program, then he/she might want to work and experiment with it too. So far I am impressed by the Oxygen art team’s progress.


Older KDE 3 applications also work well. So the new KDE libraries are as stable as the KDE developers claim them to be. Unfortunately not all the KDE 4 programs are stable. I encountered a number of crashes with the new Plasma-able version of superkaramba. Other KDE 4 applications can seem a bit unstable at times too. Also interoperability between KDE 3 and KDE 4 applications is a bit weak too. The most stable apps so far the one related to systemsettings and the KDE games.

Again, since KDE 4.0.0. is a release directed towards developers and early adopters, I am not going to complain about this. I am sure other windows managers were less stable after such a massive API change. Things should get better with the next release of KDE 4. Probably by the time Kubuntu 8.04 Hardy Heron will be out, most of these bugs will be out of the way. Remember KDE 4.0.0 is just the first version in KDE 4’s lifecycle.

One thing I love and hate about KDE is the tight integration between KDE apps. As of KDE 4.0.0 many of the integration pieces are missing. I will not harp upon my two favourite KDE applications, amarok & kontact (part of KDE-PIM). In both cases, the developers are not ready to get the code in place to deal with the new APIs, and the new features they want to add. A straight port to the new kdelibs is one thing. A new release worthy of the KDE 4 title is another.

However some necessary parts of the KDE integrated experience are not there. Example: the Regional/Language settings work… barely. Also the new kickoff menu does not always find new non-KDE programs, something the old menu did. (That might be more of a Kubuntu/Ubuntu integration issue though). Plasma whose ultimate goal is to integrate the desktop, kicker and applets with the rest of the system, has a long way to go.

…And Everything Else!
To finish off this off-the-cuff review, I want to point a few other things I noticed.

The new kickoff menu takes some getting used to. At first I frowned upon the limited space this new menu system takes up. After a few uses, it grew on me. The Favorites and Computer parts let you quickly get to a favourite application or location. The Recently Used keeps track of your recent documents and applications used. Everything is nicely compartmentalized. The regular applications menu is the part that takes use to the most. Displaying only one menu at a time gives a lot more information about each application. Only problem is when there a large number of applications in a submenu. If the KDE developers come up with a natural way of categorizing applications and keep the maximum depth of submenus to 2 then its all good. Also please, please make it possible to scroll between menus without all that clicking.

The new okular document viewer is awesome. With all the backends in place, it really does become the universal text document viewer. Excellent work. Also KDE 4.0.0 sports a new revision of the gwenview image viewing program. A few more plugins to do slight photo-editing would be nice. But I guess thats what digikam is for. Dolphin also got an update in KDE 4.0.0. Dolphin’s breadcrumb file displayer is now easily editable to let you navigate the file system path. I found this very useful to enter hidden directories without displaying all the . files.

The new konqueror is now an actually usable web browser. Kopete for KDE 4 is nice, but I miss having easy one-click access to my accounts. Now I have to click twice to do the same thing because of the whole profiles thing. KGet also shows promise to be more useful than it once was, with bittorrent integration.

Wrapping up, KDE 4.0.0 brings a lot to the table. Its a sexy-looking desktop with a lot of potential. Once all of the KDE applications get fully ported, and the few nuisances straightened out, KDE 4 will be the most fun free desktop out there. For now KDE 4.0.0 just made my desktop look and feel a lot cooler.

Review of 2007, the Promise(s) of 2008

The year 2007 has been quite a dynamic year for me. Instead of writing a long article about each thing… cause that might take me an year to write and edit, I will just present a list of lists of things that happened.


  • Completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto at Mississauga.
  • Picked my diploma for Bachelor of Science.


  • Traveled to Italy and Poland.
  • Walked down Unter der Linden in Berlin, Germany.
  • Checked out the Tower of London, National Gallery and Museum of Natural History in London, England.
  • Saw the sights of Florence, Rome, Assisi, and bunch of the Umbria region of Italy.
  • Walked around Gdańsk, Szczecin, Poznan, Gdynia and Malbork in Poland.

Software Development

  • Increased my knowledge of information security.
  • Restarted my involvement with the justCheckers project.
  • Deepened my understanding on software libre and open source.
  • Learned Javascript, CGI-Perl and JSP.
  • Joined the Ubuntu Toronto Users group.


  • Led a mock-up startup for a course.
  • Learned how to read and understand businesses.
  • Discovered the many aspects of open source businesses.
  • Read My Job Went to India, or how to stay in IT.


  • Wrote six articles on quantum computing.
  • Wrote seven personal essays that form my Hacker, Gamer, Lover book.
  • Wrote and voiced in an audio documentary, Casanova.
  • Started writing a science fiction novel.

Social Activity

  • Learned of the open access movement.
  • Learned the basic ethical theories: utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, and Rousseau’s social contract.
  • Debated for network neutrality.
  • Read Stallman’s Free Software, Free Society.
  • Read about the anti-software patent efforts in the EU.


  • Went to Taize in Montreal.
  • Made a lot more friends.
  • Learned the subtle art of dating.
  • Survived the downs of 2007.
  • Got my G1 driver’s license. Again.
  • Invented task logs, an organizational tool.

Things to Do for 2008

  • Finish justCheckers.
  • Write and publish two books.
  • Get a software development related job.
  • Start a company.
  • Find a real girlfriend.
  • Learn to drive and get my full G license.
  • Learn C and C++.
  • Get involved in a major FOSS project.