cooler. drier. better.

My name is Regan. These are my amalgamated frivolities.

GNOME 3 is not designed for people →

Language Log: Don't know much about psychometrics →

Language Log’s Mark Liberman reminds us of the importance of well-structured tests and reasoned analysis of their results:

The education professionals will see things in terms of the urgent need for more of their guidance in reforming the educational system. The domain experts will point out that their vital field needs more emphasis and more funding.

As for the politicians, they’ll blame the sad effects of others’ mistaken or even evil agendas, and the failure to give enough power to their own faction.

…I thought it would be a simple matter of configuring the Launcher bar to pop up somewhere else on the screen. Like the right side. Or the bottom. This would be simple, I reasoned, because any other Linux distro I have used would let me do this.

Brian Profitt ran afoul of Ubuntu’s new “There’s only one way to do it” design philosophy when trying to move the new launcher bar in Unity to some other edge of the screen. He points to Mark Shuttleworth’s infuriatingly glib response to a user’s request that its location be configurable:

I’m afraid that won’t work with our broader design goals, so we won’t implement that. We want the launcher always close to the Ubuntu button.

Well, the thing is, we should be able to put that button somewhere else, too.

I have the same issue with Gnome Shell in Fedora 15, and Gnome has its own crew of annoying designers telling me I use my computers wrong, but I remain hopeful that some solution can be reached.

Or I can just switch to Windows. Ballmer and Gates let me put that Start menu anywhere I damn well please.

Skype for Asterisk will not be available for sale or activation after July 26, 2011 →

Microsoft’s hobby is buying things and making them less useful.

John Poelstra doesn’t like that Gnome 3 suspends the computer when you close the lid of your laptop, and there’s no way to configure that behaviour.

Well, there’s no way to configure it in the GUI, which is basically the same thing.

Poelstra has this to say:

This is going too far. I’ve never liked the suspend-on-close behavior, but I tolerate it on the MacBook because suspend always resumes. Apple is in the unique position of fully controlling the software and a finite amount of hardware. GNOME and the Linux kernel are not.

He quotes Allan Day, a Gnome Design Team member:

The vast majority of people do not like lots of settings: they find them difficult to use, and it makes them think that GNOME isn’t intended for them.

You know what makes a given piece of software feel like it’s not intended for me? If it only works in one way, and I don’t like that way, and I can’t change that way. That software feels like it was designed for use by UX designers. Or Apple users.

I have nothing against Apple or its users, but Apple’s products are designed to do the things that Apple thinks I should want them to do, not the things I actually want them to do, so I choose not to use them.

The stupid thing is, I started digging into all this because I agree with the UX designers that suspend-on-close is a good, sensible default behaviour. I just think the hibernate-on-close is better for me. And I had to dig deep to find a way to do that, because somewhere along the way, the UX designers started running the asylum and turned sensible defaults into “optimal behaviour”.

The commands for setting laptop lid closing behaviour in Fedora are here.

ZDNET's Ed Burnette on the Android data leak scare →

The story is getting a lot of attention because it was noticed on Android, but it’s not, in fact, an Android vulnerability. It’s a security bug in any program that does not encrypt its authorization tokens.


Should you be worried? Until a patch is available (either through the Market or an Android update) the problem can be avoided by not using the affected applications in a vulnerable situation. What’s a vulnerable situation? Based on the information we have so far, IF you sync your calendar or contacts while using the open WiFi of the local StarBucks or airport, and IF somebody within 50 feet or so of you is waiting for you to do that and is running a packet sniffer, and IF you think they might do harm by looking at your doctor’s appointments and boyfriend’s phone number, THEN you might want to take precautions such as turning off WiFi until you get back home to your secure network. Otherwise, in my opinion it’s not worth getting too worked up about.

It’s being fixed server-side right now.

is changing language tantamount to changing math? →

Turns out it isn’t.

Configurable NotifyOSD Bubbles For Ubuntu 11.04 →

Canonical appears to have given up on providing an easily-customized Gnome-based desktop environment, so it’s good to see modifications like this coming from the community.

Clippy's back →

Perhaps the cartoon search dog from XP will return in a feature length film to coincide with the launch of Windows 8?

Photo: Sound check #3 by teeba

This blog’s ten months of dormancy ends today! You’ll note that the URL is now, a major upgrade from the old

Since I last posted here, my life has changed drastically:

  • I got married
  • I flew in an airplane
  • I joined an organized sports league

Some things have stayed the same:

  • I still live in the same house in the same town
  • I share this house with a beautiful woman and a ridiculously cute dog
  • The woman continues to tolerate me, except now she is contractually obligated

I have, however, become old:

  • I wore a toque last week. In May.
  • We went to a bar in Toronto for my friend Laura’s birthday last Saturday. I wore a cardigan.
  • I am all the time yelling at the television.

I plan on continuing to post here with some regularity. We all know how that works out.