Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

It’s Colorized

Friday, October 15th, 2010

Alas, Frederik’s master plan has not seen a whole lot of progress. I wanted to go down that path a little as well — that has everything to do with sitting next to Lydia for a day of not-always-exciting meetings. She challenged me to make my desktop as horrifyingly pink as possible. That would be useful if I had to plug in my laptop to give a presentation: the color scheme would shock everyone awake.

So, clear challenge. Now how do you make your desktop as pink as possible. KDE is terrifically configurable, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple to configure it. Here are my notes in KDE 4.4.5 (Fedora 13). To some extent it’s intended to show where additional polishing might be applied to make KDE more consistent. And overall it will show that for an overall appearance manager we need something more — or something else — than we have right now.

Wallpaper: right click the background of the desktop, pick Desktop Activity Settings. That’s the only configuration item there. It opens a Desktop Settings – Plasma Workspace dialog. Pick Wallpaper. Click Get New Wallpapers. There’s a search bar in the resulting dialog. I tried searching for unicorns first, but the right search term is "Sugarcoma Bunny". Click install and then select that wallpaper, click OK. The dialog goes away and the first step (over one million pixels) in pinkness has been made.

Colors: start System Settings, pick the Appearance module. The title now changes to Style (because that’s the selected item on the left). Go down one item, to Colors. Pick the tab Scheme. Click Get New Schemes. (This Hot New Stuff is really darn useful). Once again there’s a search bar, use "pink". You could pick either Ruphy’s "So pink that it hurts my teeth" or Fregl’s "Fluffy." I think the "hurts my teeth" theme is a little better, but it still needs a little tweaking.

This is where futzing with color schemes gets a little complicated. There is a tremendous number of settings to deal with, and I’m not really sure what all of them do. (Here’s a bit of history related to color display in the scheme list).

Switch to the Colors tab (in the Colors item). From the drop-down box, select Window. Click the button next to Normal Background. Pick a better color. I used #FBBCFF. OK the color dialog, then click apply. For reference, we’re in System Settings – Appearance – Colors – Colors – Window. Five selection levels deep. You might want to Save Scheme to keep these custom settings around, too.

Icons: there doesn’t seem to be a very pink icon set. I skipped this bit for now.

Windows: if you stick with the Oxygen window decoration, there are some additional colors to set. The window shadows are colored as well, and in a pink desktop, you should have pink shadows. I changed the windowdrop-down shadow to use #FBBCFF; the active window glow uses #FF37C7 and outer color #FFC0FF.

Other appearance items: to be truly pervasively pink, we would need a pink splash screen and emoticon set as well. Switch to the Splash Screen item. Click Get New Themes. For some reason this dialog is different from the ones used earlier. It’s titled Get Hot New Stuff and labeled internally with System Settings Add-On Installer. There’s probably some string not being passed to a constructor there to make the labels more meaningful. Note to self: check same dialogs in KDE 4.5.2, then file a bug report if necessary. Searching for "pink", "bunny" and "fluffy" didn’t yield anything, so we’ll have to leave the splash for now; same for emoticons.

[[ By now the desktop is pretty darn pink. But let’s start two applications to see how far the colors go. ]]

Konsole: start Konsole, go to Settings -> Edit Current Profile. Select the Appearance tab. Notice the extremely cool way color schemes slide in, but there’s no quick way to import a color scheme. The New button gives you basically a bunch of color selectors; there’s no Hot New Stuff here, nor a quick way to import settings. It’s not clear to me how to export the settings either — I’ll file a wishlist item there.

It’s straightforward to set up light and dark pink (or purple) as foreground and background colors, but the other available colors are a bit problematic. I use irssi in screen a lot, and the blue and yellow that it uses was a bit jarring. Since I don’t use any other colors in konsole, I just picked a bunch of settings to colorize things in a nice way for my specific use. KDE 4.5 note: seems that the menus have changed a little, and you need to go through the settings dialog.

Kate: the other application I use a lot is Kate, and it uses its own color schemes. Go to Settings->Configure Kate and then under Editor Component / Fonts & Colors you can mess with the colors. Again, no clear way to export a scheme or use Hot New Stuff to get new ones. Here again there’s a huge number of colors to set up (which might explain why there’s only two color schemes by default). I took a quick route to setting up a pink scheme and changed only the four text background colors: normal, selected, current and bookmark = ( #FFBBFD, #FF7DCB, #F8E0F4, #FF39F9). The current line is perhaps a bit greyish, but that does make it easy to spot. I haven’t touched any of the syntax highlighting.

Other UI elements: text input and some other backgrounds still aren’t pinkish, but white. I may have missed something in the color scheme control module. Similarly alternating colors in lists aren’t pink and pink, but still while and blueish.

Plasma Theme: many Plasma themes are dark-ish. For this color scheme, you really want the desktop background to shine through. I tried the Glassified theme but struggled to get it to be transparent. I suspect XRender problems on this laptop. In any case, to change this: System Settings -> Appearance -> Style. Select tab "Workspace". Here you can pick themes. The obvious theme would be the original Fluffy Bunny, but it has gone missing again. I ended up with the Atelier theme — click Get New Themes, then search for that name. Install, apply, done.

After all this configuration, the desktop looks like the screenshot here. There’s still some disconcerting bits of white there — the open documents list in Kate in particular. But let’s take a step back and summarize where changes needed to be made to achieve the goal of "make it pink".

Wallpaper, system color scheme, icon set, emoticons, window deco settings and colors, konsole color scheme, kate color scheme, plasma theme. Less than half of these support Hot New Stuff. They are in several different locations, different KCM’s, require manual configuration in applications.

Now suppose that one of my new friends from Ljubljana were to come over and ask if they can make their desktop look like mine (o horrors!). It strikes me that it would be useful to have a new collection (or meta-HNS) setting that is called "Overall Appearance" or something like that that would apply a theme, wallpaper, color scheme, etc. etc. in one go — including Konsole and Kate’s default schemes. Then the idea of "share my desktop look" can come to fruition. Or have I just missed something obvious to do that already?

Trying my hand at blogilo

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Now that I’ve finished a portupgrade to KDE SC 4.4.4 on my FreeBSD 8-STABLE desktop machine at home (I use FreeBSD and OpenSolaris on my desktop machines, and I’ll be switching my laptop to OpenSUSE soon) I’ve got a chance to use Blogilo,a KDE-powered offline blogging client. With the OpenSolaris packages, Blogilo crashes on startup, which I haven’t had time to hunt down yet.

If this post goes through, then that means that the client software has worked, and that means that I’m satisfied with it. Which is not to say that I don’t have a barrel of quibbles with it — time to go file a bunch of bug reports, ranging from cut-off error messages to insufficient information in "details" of error messages (why couldn’t it fetch my WordPress blog ID the first time I ran it?) to a missing first-run wizard that forces you to pick a blog source first. Nested tabs. Little things which might make a satisfactory program great.

[ ObLicenseWonk: the website for Blogilo says it’s GPLv2, while linking to the text of GPLv3. if I look at what Blogilo links with, I don’t see why it can’t be GPLv3-or-later; since it links to freetype it really needs to be v3-or-later. ]


Thursday, December 31st, 2009

Last day of the year. Some will say last day of the decade, even if it’s the last day of the ninth year of the century. With a light dusting of snow on the rooftops here in the eastern part of the Netherlands and firecrackers going off — pop pop pop — all day. The three families at the end of this dead-end street in a residential area will get together this evening for traditional Swiss fondue, traditional Dutch oliebollen and have a quiet time of it. The kids might even stay up until midnight this time, now that the oldest ones are six. I think we spent an aggregate of 3 EUR on fireworks (sparklers) and 40 EUR on cheese, which seems like a good set up for me. I like cheese. So around midnight, I shall raise a glass and hold aloft a gorgonzola to salute friends and family close by; if I’m feeling smarmy I might do the same for friends, colleagues, comrades and enemies in the Free Software world as well. If that means building a Plussy out of Emmenthal, then so be it.

Collection Agencies

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

A while back I wrote about the Dutch national collection agency for music rights (performance and otherwise). That was related to a plan which was to charge webpage owners (i.e. individuals) a flat rate for embedding up to six videos in the page. This met with — rather confused, I said at the time — political opposition, and the plan was subsequently shelved. Today the collection agency Buma announced that it had reached an agreement with YouTube for an undisclosed sum; for this, YouTube obtains blanket permission to host (and redisplay) videos containing music that are otherwise subject to licensing in the Netherlands. Recall that Dutch copyright law is a little peculiar and downloading is — for the time being — allowed, it’s the making available that violates the copyrights.

The Dutch privacy organization Bits of Freedom (site is in Dutch) is, on the one hand, happy to have clarity, but at the same time there’s now a very strange situation: music videos hosted on YouTube are “vogelvrij” while all other video platforms are still encumbered. In addition, the artists are once again screwed over, as Buma has just sold (for an undisclosed sum) all these rights — for 15000 domestic artists and 2 million foreign ones. So if I were an artist (those of you who have heard me sing at conferences .. well, lucky you) I’d be kind of annoyed at this point, either for being sold out for too little under a blanket or for being sold out at all.

Who is the FSFE?

Monday, December 21st, 2009

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is lots of people. I have tried to illustrate this previously, with lots of photos and drawings, but one of the best ways of showing just who is involved is through the Fellowship Interviews. This month, Simon Joseffson, who .. well, I guess you should just read the interview. Stian, who does the interviews, asks all the right questions.

Upcoming Conferences

Monday, December 21st, 2009

All I want for Christmas is to stay home, play in the snow with the kids, rearrange the living room and plan how to attend the following interesting events (in calendar order), all of which are in the Netherlands or functionally equivalent (that is, take a train ride no longer than from here to Delfzijl):

  • FOSDEM — it’s the 10th edition of FOSDEM already! Wow, how time flies. I think I’ve attended four or five, only. While in past years I was running back and forth between the KDE and Sun (or OpenSolaris) stand, this year I will be rock-steady at the FSFE stand, where you’re welcome to talk about licensing, freedom, patents, and all else that ails you. Of course, I can still demonstrate KDE4 running on OpenSolaris, but only in its role as the platform I sometimes use to get my work done.
  • The 6th Amsterdam Girl Geeks Dinner with Karin Spaink as keynote speaker is scheduled for the 18th of February. Topic is privacy.
  • Linux Audio Conference is in Utrecht, from May 1-4. All you ever wanted to contribute to audio in the Free Software world, in 4 days. Kernel, applications, collaboration.
  • NLUUG Spring Conference of Systems Administration.

And did you know? You can support the FSFE in its support for Free Software throughout Europe — in legal, licensing, policy, governance, promotion, procurement and publicity — by donating to help it achieve its goals. Which include being at conferences (like FOSDEM, the NLUUG conferences, and many others) to spread the word about Free Software, for individuals, businesses, and organizations.

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

With the NLUUG fall conference over (and Linux Kongress and OSDevCon, all planned for the same days and me able to attend only one), my sights are re-set to the next conferences. And lo! They are almost upon us. Linux World in Utrecht (Netherlands), which is a small Linux-oriented trade show surrounded by three much larger IT trade shows (Storage, Security, and “Tools”). It tends to be fun, though not very Free Software-oriented. I especially like talking to the storage peeps, since there’s a fair amount of technology hidden under the marketing speak — for instance ZFS has dedupe now. There’s two FSFE-related items on the agenda: I will give a brief talk on best practices in Free Software licensing for your Free Software projects (one sentence summary: consider the future business implications of your choice; longer version could be had at Latinoware). Karsten Gerloff will be paneling on public procurement (probably one sentence summary: chosing Free Software is a way to ensure long-term safety of data and social investment).

After that, at one week distance, is FSCONS where I’ll run into Karsten again. Do you suffer from bumping into your boss all the time in random countries? I do. FSFE has a big lineup there, thanks to Alina and Matthias who are secretly coordinating our presence there. Again, best practices in licensing.

After that, things are clear right through to Sinterklaas, which is good for getting some desk-time.

And grumpy evenings

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Reading through John O’Mill’s Puure Piffel, I found

Homer never wrote a line,
nor Buddha, Christ or Constantine,
but you – poor pen and paper clown,
you cannot wait to write it down.

O’Mill – pseudonym for Jan van der Meulen – wrote nonsense rhymes; to him the EBN owes the word “omphaloskepsis”. There’s no date in the book, but it seems that it was published in 1965, and this rhyme remains the same.

Bad mornings

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

Woke up from a very convincing dream featuring a book – well worn and from the style printed mid-’70s – describing revolutionary Lego CAD / CAM techniques. Woke up with back pain, unsure if that’s related, so it was a matter of packing the kids off, painkillers, and back to bed until they started working. Reading the diary of Ludwig Wittgenstein, found a quote applicable to blogorrhea (loosely translated into English from the Dutch version I have):

Some people like to hear themselves talk. Is it possible I like to hear myself write?


Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

One of my favorite recipes is oven-roasted beets and potatoes, au gratin I suppose. It’s one of those things that goes with summer. Fresh potatoes from the garden, beets from the organic grower across the river, local cheese, some rosemary from the back yard. You can eat local. And it’s dead easy, too: take a pound of beets and a pound of potatoes, some olive oil, salt, pepper, rosemary and 150g of cheese (perhaps a cheddar, although I would personally recommend Tynetaler boerengatenkaas, but then I’m picky about cheese); slice the veggies and layer them in an oven dish, adding a little of the oil, salt, pepper and rosemary to each layer. Top with grated cheese and stick in in the oven at 150 degrees C for an hour or more, until nice and soft. While it’s in the oven, you can write blog entries 🙂