October 17, 2005 Archives

17 October 2005


Every time I rebuild my thesis document, I log the number of words, pages, figures, citations and so forth, that it contains. This has primarily been used to generate the progress graphs that I post from time to time here. As of today, the file has 1000 lines, which is a pretty impressive milestone I think.

My SVN archive of the thesis document is now at revision 219, which equates to roughly one commit per day since I started using it.

Also, for those pointing out how much time has passed compared to how much I have left to go, will be reassured to know that the 1568 days that have passed since I started my PhD are a mere 97% of the time I intend to spend on it.

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories: PhD

17 October 2005

Brave New World

  • Aldus Huxley
  • 256 pages
  • 1932
This is an absolutely fantastic book, and I'd recommend it to anybody. The brilliance in the book, (and arguably the scariest thing about it) is how close the dystopian/utopian future is to our current reality. I've not much idea about 1932, but I guess things like the habitual and accepted drug use, and escapism through television are things that have developed since then.

The other aspect of brilliance in the book is the uncertainty and ambiguity over whether the World State is Utopian or Dystopian — certainly the majority of the citizen are happy and contented, and the little malcontent is much more subtle than in George Orwell's 1984.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories: Books

17 October 2005


GNOME logo KDE logo I got it into my head a week or two ago that I wanted to give KDE a proper try. I've long been dismissive of KDE for various reasons: QT was non-free, KDE was not part of Debian, it didn't look very pretty when I last tried it (for all of 5 minutes), its applications are slow to start and bloated with configuration options. That sort of thing.

As a long time GNOME user (5 years I reckon) I've been reasonably happy with it, but recently I've been becoming aware of some of its deficiencies, and given that free software is about "freedom" rather than blind faith, figured it would be good to get an proper understanding of what the other side has to offer.

  • First impressions — to be honest I was a little overwhelmed. The first thing I needed to do was configure a few things so that they suit me. For anybody used to GNOME, the KDE Control Centre is like a very bad dream - it actually needs a special "search" facility to let you find the options you want to change! It does however have all those options that you wish they hadn't got rid of in GNOME.
  • Applications — so far I've really used three: juk (in place of Rhythmbox), akregator (in place of liferea) and konqueror (in place of firefox). The are other programs for which I couldn't find a direct replacement (e.g. gaim) or for which I'm less keen to jump in at the deep end with (i.e. evolution) but these seem to run adequately within the KDE setup.
    • Juk: I like juk a lot. It does everything Rhythmbox does and all those things that I want that Rhythmbox doesn't do: displays a pop up on track change; it has a jukebox style of operation (i.e. play through this list of tracks, which I might be adding to, but then revert to random play of the whole collection); and it does something reasonably sane with album art (just a shame it doesn't have an option to look for jpeg files in the same folder as the mp3s!)
    • akregator: I'd be hard pressed to notice the difference between this an liferea. It was a simple matter of importing my liferea feed list, and it's basically `just worked' ever since. I think it displays the html better than the gtkhtml backend for liferea, and the viewer is better integrated than the mozilla backend. I do slightly miss the virtual folder support, but it was never that great anyway.
    • konqueror: The nice thing about konqueror is that it is better integrated than firefox is (but that's obvious because firefox isn't a gnome application). Haven't really had time to delve into it much. I will need to work out how to import (and preferably sync) my bookmarks and how to enable type-ahead find, which I don't see how anybody can live without.
  • Overall — I intended to run the trial for one week, and fully expected to be switching back to my beloved GNOME at the end. As it turns out, it's been a lot longer than a week since I started this experience, and although I wouldn't say I'm hooked, I am finding myself growing used to KDE. I installed it at work (just to get juk) but whenever I next get around to logging out (according to w my gnome-session has been around for nearly two month!) I will probably give KDE a go there as well.

Well, that's it for now. I may post an update at some point.

Posted by Robert Hart | Permanent Link | Categories: Computers