I use Evernote. Some business people think Evernote is in big trouble. They’re right about the reasons why: Several former employees believe a lack of focus hampered Evernote’s growth. Instead of focusing on its core note-taking product and on converting users to the paid service, Evernote spent more time releasing a bunch of new products and features that only helped it grab news headlines, they said. Evernote still has no Linux client.
Once upon a time, there was a great product called BitTorrent Sync. It allowed you to sync files between your devices — computers, phones and tablets; Windows, Mac and Linux, iOS and Android. It was released as a free preview in 2013. It wasn’t open source, but developers said: Never say never :) We still consider this option. The software used strong end-to-end encryption, so your files couldn’t be snooped on in transit or grabbed from a central server.
We got a good deal on a rental car, and planned to drive to Boulder and up into the mountains. The car was from Hertz, and came with their GPS system “NeverLost”. Its software is terrible, mostly because the system doesn’t respond quickly enough to anything. For example, if you miss a turn into a side street, it will recalculate — and then tell you to take the next suitable street, which we had invariably passed by the time it finished working out what to do next.
While I use Linux for my day-to-day work, I have given in and purchased another Mac for my personal computing. This new MacBook Pro is a beautiful piece of hardware. The old one was, too. After some shaky early adventures with conventional aluminium casings, Apple settled on their unibody design, in which the entire machine is carved from a single piece of metal. This makes it amazingly robust, and basically lets the entire body work as one big heatsink.
On trying to use Thunderbird 15: That tab bar is a terrible waste of space, especially for anyone using Thunderbird in 3-pane mode. There’s an option to turn the tab bar off unless it’s actually needed, but for some reason there’s no UI to turn on that option. It’s slow. Really slow. I mean, I thought Apple Mail was slow, then I tried Thunderbird 15. Sending e-mail seems to take an eternity.
Apple obligingly allows you to browse and download the open source software they use in OS X. Since they have listings for each version of OS X, I decided to take a look at how much software they were using that was only available under the GNU public license. The results are illuminating: 10.5: 47 GPL-licensed packages. 10.6: 44 GPL-licensed packages. 10.7: 29 GPL-licensed packages. 10.8: 22 GPL-licensed packages. 10.9: 19 GPL-licensed packages.
I have a confession to make: until this year, I didn’t have all my photos in a properly cataloged database. I’d tried various programs, but none of them quite satisfied me. iView MediaPro seemed to have bugs in its ITPC handling. I e-mailed their support address reporting the problems, and got no reply at all. Then they were bought by Microsoft, so that was that. QPict works well as a browser for large numbers of random files, but I don’t find it a very helpful tool for organizing them.
I was enjoying some soft blue cheese on fresh French bread, thinking about algorithms, when I had a sudden revelation. I’ve implemented it as The NSA cheese test so you can enjoy it.
iPhone SDK: no wireless network access (WiFi only), and no multi-tasking.
Human beings have different kinds of memory; they remember things in different ways. Three common classes of memory are spatial memory, visual memory and verbal memory. (There’s also chronological memory, but that’s not relevant to my point here.)
I have excellent spatial memory. It’s what I rely on most. For example, if I start to think about how to get to a given place in town, I literally find 3D visualizations of my route flashing into my consciousness. I also have pretty good visual memory; when I make the journey, I verify that I’m going the right way by comparing the visual appearance of buildings and landscape that I pass with the scenes I remember.
My linguistic memory is terrible. If you asked me to name the actual streets on the route, I’d have a hard time remembering them. My mental map of London, for example, only has 6 street names. This makes me a really bad person to get directions from. “You take the narrow road that heads off at a thirty degree angle, right at the place with the green copper roof, over the light colored bridge…”
There’s an upside to my condition. If you rely on verbal memory to navigate, as soon as you step outside your known area you are pretty much lost until you can find a familiar street name. In contrast, I have a pretty good chance of navigating between two known points, even if the area in between is totally new to me.
This hierarchy of types of memory also applies in my interaction with computers. When I want to find my password manager, I don’t remember its name. Instead, I remember that it’s in the bottom hierarchical menu of my KDE menu, positioned near the top, and has a green icon.
I know this experimentally, incidentally: back in the System 6 days there was a joke Mac INIT that removed all the text from the menus. I tried it, and was quite startled to discover that I could still use most of my favorite applications.
With that background out of the way, I would like to talk about why for me, the new KDE 4 application launcher is a user interface disaster of epic proportions.