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Gnome == Pain
Date: 15/2/2004
I recently had a Scribe-Linux user mail me about some problem they were experiencing running Scribe with Gnome. So I thought to myself "I should run Gnome for a while and see if I can reproduce these issues and fix them".

Well I'm back in KDE land now less than 24 hours later and now I remember exactly why I use KDE and not Gnome. To a point, Gnome sucks. It sucks so badly that I'm quite surprised that anyone actually uses it. I'm using the Gnome that ships with RedHat9, which one would assume is reasonably recent. Lets see:
  • The file selector is a crime against usability.
  • The notification area applet can't stay up for 2 minutes without crashing, and now is permanently dead on my machine.
  • Strange little daemons popup crash messages when I boot Gnome.
  • Lots of the perferences can't remember there settings for more than a few minutes. e.g. the animiate minimize setting.
  • Some of the pref apps don't even load, or take 30 seconds to show up. So long that I had assumed that they had crashed.
  • Crashes are so common with Gnome that I began to expect things to break, instead of expecting them to work. When things crash they just never appear, no crash dialog or notificatin that they died... they just disappear silently.
  • Windows don't dock on the edge of screen. Although there is probably an option hidden somewhere to make it do that, although I doubt the pref app would actually work.
  • The file association editor is craptacular. Amongst other things you can't seem to set the default application associated with a file type... I gave up after 10 minutes of trying.
  • It for some bizarre reason uses ~/.gnome-desktop as the desktop folder instead of ~/Desktop. What were they thinking?
  • On the first few boots into Gnome the file manager took ages to display the desktop. It just showed a flat colour rectangle, no background, no icons and no right click menu. Then some minutes later something timed out and the wall paper appeared. Then a little while later some icons showed up. Riiiiight.
  • Gtk? Oh please, it's horrible. Compared the average windows application it's a barf fest. Whats with the massive waste of screen real estate? Huge icons? 10px borders on everything? Guys guys guys, thats no way to write a widget set.
  • Woe to any application that tries to explicitly place windows on the screen, Gnome gets all stropy and moves the window half off screen in a little fit of temper, completely ignoring the hints the application gave it. It's like trying to do business with a 2 year old!
I'm sure somewhere in the world the little Gnomers are hacking away at their c code. But please stop! Go and help a real desktop!
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Date: 12/2/2004
If your looking for a Windows version of i.Disk it's been temporarily taken offline to fix some important bugs. I was going to fix it over the last week but I ran into some problems. Anyway it'll probably be back online over the weekend.

If your experiencing crashes (esp on Win95/98/ME) with the latest build of Scribe then try deleting or renaming the file 'lgiskin.dll' in the Scribe directory. Apparently there is some problem with it. I've installed Win98 in a VmWare image and I'll be making sure it's good for the next release.

Going back to 256mb of RAM was an eye opener. Gee I remember 'swapping' now... so I've hot footed it out to the local bits and bytes and picked up another 256mb of SDRAM. So that work can continue unabated. At this rate I'll have replaced everything in my box by the end of the year :(

I've released a number of bulk discount InScribe licences for companies and organisations. If you are interested in what sort of support and tools are available for sites then I'd be happy to help. InScribe is growing into a nice, safe and cheap alternative for businesses not afraid of throwing off the yoke of slavery.
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I love hardware...
Date: 8/2/2004
I've spent the last week running audio and video rendering tasks that take 3-4 hours per run. And my machine has consistantly failed to finish the task at hand without locking up, rebooting or crashing the application. So for all you neophyte hardware geeks out there the standard procedure for tracking this sort of stuff down is:
  • Go through your BIOS settings that relate to motherboard settings (ie performance options) and gradually down tune them to the most conservitive settings. A few at a time and retry the procedure that kills the machine.
  • If you get it to work go back over all the settings you changed in the last run and retry them just one enabled at a time until you isolate the setting that causes the machine to be unstable.
  • If nothing works then move on to hardware. Swap out the RAM sticks, trying one at a time. If you only have one stick, beg borrow or steal another one to test your RAM.
  • Check the temp on the CPU, maybe you need to keep your system a bit cooler. Generally most modern CPU's run hot, somewhere in the order of 70°C. Anything above 80°C is dangerous. You can try taking the case off the machine and pointing a room fan at it to help test whether tempurature is an issue.
  • After that I'd look for issues on the mainboard or it's settings. Possibilly you need to look at swapping out the mainboard or CPU to see if one of those is at fault. This is the least fun option, but it's the only way to go when you've isolated everything else.
In my case one of my sticks of RAM (6 yrs old) had developed a fault. Fortunately it was the 128mb stick not the 256mb stick. So I still have plenty to get by on.

Over the weekend I finally put my head down and had a go at finding that "stuck account" issue that some people are having with Scribe. So I wrote a simple email server that servers up unlimited amounts of random email, with throttled sockets to simulate the latency and bandwidth issues you get in the real world. Then I setup 7 accounts in InScribe and let them hammer the random server for a couple of hours. Nothing. Nada, zip. It was still running smoothly after all that time and 2000 or so messages downloaded. Quite often 4-5 of the accounts were active at the same time. So it seems that it's going to be more difficult than I hoped. I've got some more avenues to test though and I'm not going to give up. I will get to the bottom of this :D
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Date: 4/2/2004
I'm pretty happy with what I got working last night:
Some of the architecture things I've been working on in Lgi are really comming into the own now. Like the GDisplayString class that lays out text in the native character system of the OS so that it cuts down on all the character depth conversions and charset issues. Windows native unicode is 16bit ucs-2, on Linux the native unicode is 32bit utf-32 and on BeOS it's 8bit utf-8. All that is abstracted away by the GDisplayString class, which also does missing glyph replacement at the same time.

Ok so it takes a programmer to appreciate ;)
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Scribe on Linux Poll
Date: 3/2/2004
I've been running a poll on the Linux version of Scribe. And it seems that I'm losing more users than I'm keeping (yeah I know the sample size is pretty small, but what other info have I got?). If you have tried Scribe on Linux, I wouldn't mind knowing what things forced you to look elsewhere?

Are there missing features? Too restrictive feature set on the freeware version? Not stable enough? Not fast enough? No source? ;) I'm listening!
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Date: 3/2/2004
I got i.Ftp running on Zeta last night, the main window came up and it was recognisable. Fonts are broken and the toolbar images were missing but it's a start. At least it's building, and showing something that I can work with.

I don't know if this is new or not but the default simple debugger now has the ability to launch bdb to handle the debugging session. This is pretty cool because if you can't work out what the problem is from the stack crawl then being able to fire up bdb to inspect the value of variables is just way cool. Much better than the current sad state of affairs under Linux. It's almost as good as debugging under Windows, which is pretty svelte these days.
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