Category Archives: Reviews

Instapaper

Instapaper is one of the best web-based tools I’ve used in a long long while. I love the recommendations — I just skim the headlines and click Read Later. The Google Reader integration is awesome too. It just integrates so well into my daily routine.

Instapaper, an example of a tool that does one thing, and does it well.

Firefox Scaling Zoom Kills Performance

I’m rather insistent about scaling zoom being set by default 120% of my copy of Firefox. I achieve this with the NoSquint plugin add-on. Of late I’d been noticing that Firefox page scrolling was really really really bad.

Turns out this is caused by scaling zoom — turn the default page zoom to 100% and performance is really good, with scrolling being smooth and uniform.

Also, I today discovered that I’ve been right to avoid using the word performantperformant is not a word! Seems this is quite endemic to the technology industry as I’ve seen this word being used in everything from white papers to published books…

Safari 4 Scaling Zoom

Finally, Safari has page scaling in the v4 Beta. Sadly though it appears to exhibit strange behaviour with GMail for instance — When I zoom in, it also scales the width of the entire page, which means I now have to scroll left and right :(

Now, whilst this may or may not be the best thing for scaling zoom to do, my question is rather about whether it’s the right thing to do…

Page scaling should in theory scale everything right? Thoughts anyone? Perhaps you’re familiar with the W3 recommendation on this matter…

Overall Impression of Windows 7

After using Windows 7 for 2 weeks I think I’ve got a pretty good feel for it. I haven’t wavered once in all this time, sticking closely to my goal of using Windows through and through.

It was not an ordeal. It was not painful. It is a definite improvement over XP/Vista. Will I switch to using it full time rather than Linux? No.

Windows has improved to the point where it no longer makes me rip my hair out, but it still doesn’t impress me. It’s finally what I expected Windows XP to have been, so really, I’m not impressed. I am however not irritated by it, which is impressive.

P.S.: For all you who are considering it — nothing has proven incompatible for me except for Daemon Tools which won’t install at all. Yes it is faster. No, really.

On the Frustration Experienced in Trying to Install Photoshop CS3

This is perhaps the best way I’ve seen frustration with a software installer expressed in a long while:

I forsee Friends of Ed creating a book series, “Foundation Adobe CS3 Installation”, Amazon cross selling people who buy the software with something like “Customers who purchased Adobe CS3, also bought 100 capsule bottles of Excedrin, Pepsid AC, and a book titled “How to find a job when you’ve been fired for missing a deadline because you were installing Adobe CS3″.

— Dave Gillem on Crucial Limit

P.S.: Yes I like long titles :)

Windows 7 Beta: Performance

After having used Vista for 2 years since I got my Dell, I’ve to say that it’s the slowest, buggiest version of Windows by far, even beating Windows ME for the title. Random lockups, sluggish UI, more random lockups, skipping audio, inability to delete/copy/move files in any reasonable amount of time (“Calculating remaining time” anyone?) to name a few of the problems that plagued Vista.

Windows 7 seem to have fixed all that. It just works (so far). None of the earlier problems are prevalent in 7. Speedy UI, effortless file operations, and no more skipping audio.

Let’s just hope it stays this way. Sad that I keep applying the (so far) qualifier to anything I have to say about Windows 7 — Microsoft has let me down too many times before.

I ♥ Amarok

I’ve been using Amarok on my GNOME desktop for years now, and loving it all the way. Recently I switched from Ubuntu to Fedora 10, and there’s no Amarok 1.4.x package — just the 2.x.

2.x is still nascent in terms of functionality, and every other Gtk based player I’ve tried (Banshee, Rhythmbox, Quod Libet, Exaile, BMPx, Listen etc.) don’t do it for me.

Long live Amarok 1.4.x. Whilst not quite what the authors of Amarok dream of — they want to turn it into a rich media platform, which is a nice idea — it was (and still is) amazingly good at what it was meant to do. Play and manage music.

P.S.: So good in fact, that I installed the dependencies and compiled the source for 1.4.10

Fedora 10

I’ve been running Fedora 10 since the Preview they released a while back and I must say that I’m incredibly impressed. After switching away from FC 3 to NoNameYet (which became Ubuntu) I’ve never looked back, being thoroughly impressed with it. Fedora has managed to make me reconsider, flaws and all.

First Impressions

It all starts when you boot the computer, and the extremely impressive start-up screen comes on. Not is it just animated, it’s of a blue sun with solar flares. I rebooted 2 or 3 times to just look at it. The show is all too soon over though, since Fedora 10 boots quite fast, almost matching Vista.

Freedom at a (really low) price

Now, Fedora is of course geared towards Freedom in the somewhat narrower than usual definition of software freedomFree software is a matter of the users’ freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. Now this comes at a bit of a price for the typical user — you’ll have to spend quite a few minutes installing bits and pieces of proprietary, or otherwise un-free software like Nvidia drivers, MP3 playback, Java and so on. This isn’t particularly difficult thanks to RPMFusion.

Shiny new stuff

Fedora certainly does deliver on its promise of an up-to-date, easy to use desktop. The latest GNOME, and all the latest GNOME/Gtk/Mono applications are included in repositories, and are merely a click and some automated downloading away.

The bad

One complaint I do have about Fedora though is yum and PackageKit, the package management duo of choice. Compared to apt it is downright sluggish. All the waiting required makes me pre-plan(!) my package management.

Thoughts

I find that Fedora makes for an able desktop, wonderful development environment, and presents a good chance to contribute to the free software community. I haven’t even been trying and I’ve filed bugs and spent a couple of hours with the SELinux people discussing minor problems in the Preview. For some reason it seems to encourage me to give back shrug.

Maybe it’ll even convince me to start contributing code again…