Archive for August, 2007

Cold Turkey Salad

Cold Turkey Salad… yummy!

I had this yesterday and it was so good I’m having it again today. It’s a nice salad for a hot day, made from a bunch of stuff that happened to be in the fridge:

  • Mixed organic greens
  • turkey
  • avocado
  • red pepper
  • apple
  • orange
  • pine nuts
  • dried cranberries
  • raspberry vinaigrette

Okay, so the pine nuts and dried cranberries weren’t in the fridge. Eaten with a bowl of cherries and ice water. If I was fancy (had money), I think I’d have some nice white wine. 🙂

Weird Dream

This post brought to you by #2 Orchestra. Have a listen while you read:


I rarely dream. Or, at least, I rarely remember them.

I fell asleep with my music playing. So I had really vivid (and random) music playin in my dream… and I’m sure the shuffle had something to do with what was happening in my dream. I was staying in some kind of dormitory thing that resembled the SANYO dormitory I stayed at in Japan. Except, this one included a church… o.O At times, I found it uncomfortable to use my computer in my room, so I would go to these hideous multi-purpose rooms that looked like bathrooms (tiles, and kind of stained, but clean) where there was a counter I could use. I brought in chairs… cheap plastic chairs that I recall from elementary and high school…. not sure where I would get them. Anyway, I went to church (I know, I know!) and we were singing. I hear that’s what people do in church. I have lots of church choir and monk chanting music in my classical collection, so this was obviously playing during this time. Then we stopped singing, and the priest whistled, then everybody else whistled… This strange simon-says-like event carried on for a while, followed by some applause.

After leaving the church, I was going to watch a movie on my computer in one of these multi-purpose rooms. The priest was concerned about me, and said he wanted to watch it with me. I’m not sure what the movie was, but it had a ‘3’ in it and I’m pretty sure it was a horror movie or something. I told the priest, “Okay, but I’m sure you won’t like it.” figuring it would probably just validate his concern for me – in his mind. So while I was setting up my laptop, I had this vivid drum and base music playing. Someone else, who is a familiar face from elementary and high school, walked by outside and told me the music was a little too loud. He closed the door, grabbed one of those cheap plastic chairs (from somewhere) and joined us. About here, I woke up with Rebound by Spark from The Robotic Girl Next Door playing on my computer.

What a nightmare! First, I went to church… THEN, a priest followed me into a small tiled, windowless room. o.O Anyway, it was a weird random-play music induced dream, to say the least. If you want weird dreams, hit shuffle on your music library and go to sleep. Leaving the window open for a draft probably helps. Drugs probably help too… though I wasn’t taking any.

Pidgin 2.1 UI Ideas

Quite a lot of UI modifications have been made to Pidgin since 2.0, in a relatively short time. I’m happy to say, it’s gradually getting better. The window has a minimum size which prevents UI elements from being cut off, the text formatting has been collected into a drop-down menu, and it generally looks much cleaner.

I’ve been lurking on the pidgin-devel list keen on UI discussion, as I think it’s an area where pidgin can improve greatly. I spent an admittedly long time in The Gimp illustrating a couple UI ideas in the form of mockups.

First, this is the target conversation window mockup, done by Hylke Bons.

Now, this is what the conversation window currently looks like (minus the comments, of course).

I’ve basically modified the target UI slightly.

Full-size user avatar


It’s nice to see the avatar how it’s meant to be seen. It makes the conversation more unique for each individual. I think the vertical space will eventually be needed as pidgin implements more protocol features, anyway. Some people complain that too much space is occupied by such an infopane, but a button which toggles full-display and no-display (or small-display) could easily be implemented. I was thinking you could just double-click a tab, but when I tried it to see if that did anything, it let me give my contact an alias within the tab! Feature discovery! heh.

Selectable text

Something that has always irritated me with nearly every modal window: why not make text selectable? I can’t think of any reason why not to do it. It doesn’t change the UI at all, and will make it more useful to those copy-paste users – there’s a lot of them. (Get user info – which is terribly delayed, and fails often – should only be needed when the user wants to select information that is not displayed right in front of them.)

selectable text

Clickable links

Any email links should behave like a mailto: link, displaying a menu with the options of writing an email to that address or simply copying the email address. The same should be done for links inside the chat window, “open in browser” and “copy link location.”

clickable email links!


Pidgin handles many different protocols: MSN, Yahoo!, ICQ, IRC, etc. The idea is that you can use a single IM client to communicate to all of your friends. Many people use multiple protocols for whatever reason (some of my friends are on MSN, the rest on gChat, a couple on ICQ). But really, having a bunch of accounts for the same person cluttering your contact list does more harm than good. A good way to overcome this is to use the “Expand” item in the contact list context menu: right click on a contact, and select Expand in the context menu, then drag all this person’s different accounts into this expanded contact. When in a conversation window, you can change the active protocol used to chat with your friend by using the Send to menu item. But the problem is, you have to go up and check the menu to see what the active protocol is.

super-useful protocol button!

The entire Send to menu can be replaced by a protocol button in the infopane that acts as both the protocol indicator and selector. The space to the right of the protocol button can be used for protocol specific functionality, as they become available (video, voice, whiteboard, etc). Using the button to change the active protocol could change the available actions to the right of it.

Tab size

A lot of discussion/debate/flame is going on with the purpose of reducing tab-size (removing the status, and close icons). Personally, I think the status icon in the tab is very useful for seeing the status of the people you have open conversations with and should not be removed. If you have 10+ conversations open, you can always right-click on a tab and get a nice list. Sean Egan (the lead developer) jokingly put forward the idea of having the conversation tabs on the side, which actually doesn’t look bad. Maybe the format-bar and info pane would have to go on the right of the chat window… not sure how that would work.

Update Aug 5th

  • First of all, if you want the developers to hear your thoughts on this issue, you should discuss it on the pidgin-devel mailing list. If you just want to follow any discussion from the list, you can browse the archives.
  • I noticed this post has been dugg.
  • After a little feedback on the mailing-list, I’ve got another mockup. I’ve added a dropdown indicator to the button when the active conversation-buddy has more than one contact, and put example contact lists for clarity.

    Further illustrating the protocol button next to the contact list.

Update Aug 14th

It’s true. Pidgin doesn’t have a Send button. I had no idea this bothered some people, but I guess it could be made more obvious.

Greyed out text telling the user how to send a message.

Random UI Stuff and Link Dump

Radial menus in GNOME! libsexier, indeed! Awesome. I was wondering when radial menus would creep their way to the desktop. After watching the video, I enabled Desktop Effects in Feisty and ran the demo, but the performance wasn’t very good. I’m not sure why. Should I be using an updated Cairo or other lib? Does my computer just suck that much? 🙁

iwant iphoto and imovie. F-Spot devs, please check out the iphoto demonstration, particularly the usage of “events.” (version 4 is out! I still need to try that…) Anyone capable of working on a movie editor for linux, please look at imovie. 🙂 I’m totally jealous of these 2 particular pieces of software… as I would use them a lot.

The Office 2007 UI Bible documents the history of Microsoft Office’s UI and various decisions that were made. I’m not done reading it, but it’s quite interesting.

Compiz Fusion is lookin nice…

More worthwhile links

Scanning in Linux

After actually using my all-in-one printer/scanner/fax/copier thing for scanning some photos, I’ve discovered it’s not actually that great as a scanner; Jack of all, master of none, I guess. It has trouble differentiating any dark colour from black, so the resulting scans have an excessive amount of black in them and generally much fewer colours than they should. The device in question is a Brother MFC420-CN, and for most tasks I require, it’s great – just not for producing quality scans of photos. Not sure if there’s some settings on the scanner I can change, but I tried a bunch of stuff in the scanning software to no avail. On that topic, gnomescan will be a much needed improvement over xsane for Linux/GNOME. I tried it out and it mostly worked. 🙂 But the version I was using ( has since been rewritten so if you want to use it, try out the svn (version 0.5+).

What was I scanning, you ask? Some class photos from elementary school for a friend. See if you can find me in my grade 3 class. 🙂

My grade 3 class photo

Cleansing Gmail of Facebook notifications

If you’re like me, you like receiving an email telling you should log into facebook to check your messages or something. But those emails accumulate and obstruct the rest of your inbox!! I tried searching for facebook but that returned a bunch of legitimate emails and chats that mentioned facebook, and that I did not want to delete. Then I tried the following term:


Genius. Thanks, Google. Go through and make sure all the emails aren’t important, then click Select: All, and click Delete. Repeat until you’re happy you’ve removed all the pointless emails. From now on, delete the notifications when you’re done with them! 🙂 For more information on gmail search keys and syntax, go to the Gmail Help Centre > Searching Mail > Advanced Search. This can all be accessed using the “Help” link located in the top-right of your gmail screen.

This should be easier in a dedicated client, of course, like Mozilla Thunderbird or something: just sort by sender. Speaking of Thunderbird, looks like Mozilla won’t be supporting it anymore. 😮 Certainly not as substantially, anyways. I currently use a combination of Thunderbird and Gmail.

I laughed at this comment, by “Kurt”:

Want a new vision of mail? I got one for you:
After 8 long years start adding a f*cking scroll bar to the header view!

Amen, brother. Amen. I imagine nearly every user has had their email content obstructed by a massive header at some point.