Category Archives: Linux

Google Talk with Video Calls?

Google TalkI read at the Swedish IT website IDG.se that the Nokia N800 internet tablet comes with a version of Google Talk that supports video calls. Is this really true? Then why isn’t it available in the Windows client? And why hasn’t Google Talk been released for PC Linux when it’s obviously available for internet tablet Linux?

Speaking of Google Talk, when are they planning on making significant progress? It was released 18 months ago and still, it’s not possible to e.g. call Google Talk contacts from Gizmo Project, another SIP compliant VoIP client. What’s the point of being standards compliant if it’s not possible for other clients to communicate on the same terms?

Mono

MonoI’m excited about the progress of Mono, the open-source implementation of the Microsoft .NET development platform. The software I’m developing at work is written in C#. This basically means that in the future, we could switch from Windows XP to Linux with relatively little effort. The only things that would need to be re-written, I’m assuming, are the OPC communication library, and the database communication (we’re currently using a Microsoft Access 2003 database).

I see a few potential benefits from switching to a Linux-based platform for the EM5 machines:

  • No Windows XP/XPe license cost.
  • Easier to set up a secure, restricted environment for the operator.
  • Secure remote administration using SSH.

Some emotional aspects as well:

  • No sucking up to Microsoft.
  • I like Linux.

Of course, I would need to do a proper investigation to see if there are other aspects that makes Linux less suitable. For example, many customers communicate directly with the queue database of our software system. That communication must be working between their system (e.g. Microsoft Access or whatever they’re using) and ours (using e.g. MySQL).

Just four years, eh?

Wow, only four years were required to fix a major usability issue in Gnome:

Bug 102501 – Drag-and-drop extract operation should run instantly in background

An impressive sign of just how dedicated these Gnome developers are! Do they ever sleep?!

I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought File Roller is broken when it’s just taking an incredible amount of time to respond to a user-triggered event. And I thought Gnome was about usability.

OK, so I’m complaining instead of fixing it myself, and the developer actually apologizes for the extreme delay in delivering a fix. But seriously, how can such an in-your-face bug like this exist for four years before someone steps up and fixes it? I should probably just close all my Gnome bugs, since most of them are enhancement requests, which I’m sure have an average life cycle of eight years or more…

The complex world of calendars

Organizing your life digitally is hard.

When it comes to e-mail and calendaring, I’m very picky about keeping it universally accessible. I want my mail available whenever I need it, regardless of where I am and what computer/mobile/OS is the current flavor of the month. My mail and calendars are the most important digital bits of my life.

When it comes to e-mailing, I’ve pretty much found a working solution where I can access my mail anywhere, anytime. A big part of the solution was the switch to a web-based mail solution: GMail (once again, Google comes to rescue). It lets me store all my mail on secure and reliable servers, while at the same time allowing me to access it using Mozilla Thunderbird. It’s a very good combination. If I’m at work or at home, I use Thunderbird and has direct access to all my mail, both sent and received. It doesn’t matter if I’m running Windows XP or Linux, because Thunderbird can share your mail on a dual-boot system. When I’m on the road (actually the rail), I can access my mail using the web browser of my mobile. While it’s not nearly as convenient as using a real computer, it works. Sometimes, it’s a lifesaver to be able to send a quick e-mail when you’re not in front of a computer. It even let me keep contact with my friends while on the Azores.

Now, to the problem: there is no universally accessible calendaring solution.

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Since Gmail proved to be so successful in fulfilling all my mailing needs, picking Google Calendar as my calendar of choice was only natural. It has a great web interface with drag-and-drop functionality, multiple calendars support, and the ability to subscribe to public calendars. It also allows you to export your calendars if you would like to switch calendar service in the future. However, you can only use Google’s web interface to modify your calendars. While there is support to display your calendar in e.g. Mozilla Lightning, any attempts to modify it within Lightning will only result in error messages. That’s because Google’s calendars are read-only for other clients. To be fair, I regard Google’s web interface far superior usability-wise compared to Lightning, but not being able to modify your calendar while offline is a great limitation. Also, I have not yet been successful in synchronizing Google Calendar with my mobile, even though there is a program called GCalSync that claims being able to do exactly this.

So my question is, what is the perfect calendaring solution? Is there any free calendar solution out there that supports editing your calendars in any client, and has a decent web interface for those occasions when you’re not using your own computer? Or am I better off trying to set up a CalDAV server myself in Linux?

Replace Evolution with Thunderbird in Ubuntu

Ubuntu ships with Mozilla Firefox as their web browser, and Evolution as their mail client. However, this poll in the Ubuntu forums clearly shows that a majority of Ubuntu’s user base forum regulars prefer Thunderbird:

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I think Ubuntu should change the default mail client to Thunderbird, especially now when the Thunderbird developers team up with Eudora to make the mail client even better. Asa Dotzler summarizes it in a good way:

The next version of Eudora will ship on top of the Mozilla Thunderbird framework, with some modifications to accommodate users who are familiar with the Eudora user interface. The two teams will be working together in the Mozilla CVS repository and both products will benefit from that collaboration. The two products serve different user bases today so there will be distinct product releases, but it’s still a big win for both.

Think about it for a second. The Eudora developers and the Thunderbird developers working together will result in the most concentrated group of experts on how mail should work on the face of the planet. I think that’s damn cool.

While I’m not sure about the different user bases of the products, I’m pretty sure this is a good thing for the future Thunderbird development.