Posts Tagged ‘Gnome’

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Gedit 3.2 GDP Completions on Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot

Curiosity gets the best of me sometimes. Okay, most of the time. Did you know GNOME’s text editor, gedit, has a plethora of extensions which can basically transform it into an IDE? Something I’ve always wanted is intellisense-style autocompletion. The closest thing I’ve found for gedit is GDP Completions Plugin in the gedit-developer-plugins package in Ubuntu.

sudo aptitude install gedit-developer-plugins

However, there’s a bug in that package and the popup menu doesn’t actually work. Ctrl + Space is supposed to bring it up. So you want to add the Gedit Developer Plugins PPA and upgrade to the more recent version.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:user/ppa-name
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade gedit-developer-plugins

If you try to run gedit now, you’ll notice it won’t… run, that is. Great. I know, right? The problem is that the bzr plugin (also included in the gedit-developer-plugins package) is trying to use the gtk2 version of bzr-gtk, but that doesn’t work in the gtk3 gedit. Anyway, you can pull a copy of the gtk3 bazaar plugin into your local bzr plugins directory. (I found this info here). Create ~/.bazaar/plugins/ if it doesn’t exist.

mkdir ~/.bazaar/plugins
cd ~/.bazaar/plugins
bzr branch lp:bzr-gtk/gtk3 gtk

The gedit-developer-plugins package and gedit should work after that! An alternative to the above would be to add a PPA that includes bzr-gtk 3. Not sure if one exists at the moment, but that would be a cleaner solution. And you thought it would be simple. I know I did. ๐Ÿ˜›

It’s not as polished or featured as other implementations, but it’s a good start. Here’s a screenshot after I type os. then hit Ctrl + Space:

Further reading

External tools plugin

Rolling your own gedit 3 plugin

GNOME 3.0 Beta v0.0.6 Impressions

GNOME 3.0 is due for release April 16 and I’m pretty excited by it. So I finally decided to check out first-hand how it’s progressing. My perspective is that of a GNOME 2.X user, but like many people, I was a little skeptical of the changes in 3.0. I tried the 0.0.6 image from the GNOME3 website and ran it off the USB key.

The Good

  • It’s pretty. And minimal. Love the new font.
  • High quality and scalable graphics and interface – tried it on both a 10″ netbook and a 23″ monitor with success. Large title bars and close buttons – easy to hit.
  • All the updated core GNOME programs! I especially like the progress with Nautilus, the file manager. Instead of using a status bar, it uses a floating alt-type yellow info box to display info. Plus it seems much faster.
  • Single stroke exposรฉ-like effect that reveals all windows, scaled and tiled. This is bound to the Windows (Super) key, which actually makes it more appropriately named for GNOME3 than any version of Windows. Note: It can also be reached by clicking Activities in the top-left corner. From here, you can use your mouse to switch to a window or quickly close windows, launch/switch-to a program from the left sidebar, or you can start typing a substring of a program to run, or a string to search using wikipedia or google (these options appear after you type something… OR you can browse applications by clicking Applications. Additionally, on the right, you can manage workspaces. With the smart launcher and window manager functionality tied to a single key, I found myself actually starting to heart the windows key and its prime keyboard real estate.

  • Don’t worry, you can still alt-tab! ๐Ÿ™‚ And it’s improved, with mouse input, and grouping instances of the same program.

  • Integrated chat with notifications is great.
  • Modal windows are now attached to their parent window (by default, this can be changed).
  • Slick animations with meaning. Like the modal windows that slide out of the parent window’s title bar. I think OSX does something like this….
  • Yelp, the Help browser is about a billion times faster. Seriously. This is largely due to the shift from gecko to webkit, I believe.
  • No more minimize/maximize buttons. At first, I wasn’t sure about this and thought I wouldn’t like it, but the way the new desktop is designed, I don’t miss them. You can add them back, if it’s a concern. And all the old window shortcuts still work: [Alt+F9] = Minimize; both [Alt+F10] and [double-click title bar] = Toggle Maximize; [Alt+right-mouse-button] = window menu.

  • GNOME is just much leaner than it has ever been before. Instead of starting 3 different programs at login (nautilus, gnome-panel, metacity), it simply starts gnome-shell.

The Bad

  • Requires 3D support. Unfortunately, this is not always a simple request for us Linux users. Tried it on my netbook and failed. Couldn’t run it and probably never will thanks to the terribly supported poulsbo integrated graphics.
  • And not just any 3D support… Tried it on my desktop, also with integrated graphics, but a better supported ATI x1250 – performance wasn’t stellar, but it was usable.
  • Not very mature and not very customizable (yet). Panel Applets in prior versions of GNOME are extremely popular. Now we have this huge piece of space we can’t do anything with. But I’m sure something like panel applets will come eventually.
  • It’s really hard to train myself to look to the middle of the top panel for the time/date… I keep looking at the top-right. ๐Ÿ˜›
  • Some of the changes had me fishing for functionality. Like, where is the control-center? It’s not in the Applications list under the Activities window. It’s under the user menu, under System Settings.

    And once you’re in the System Settings, you often want to change many things. At first, I was opening System Settings, selecting a component (they’re called Panels) to adjust (Background, for example), making changes, closing, repeat. When you open a panel from the System Settings window, that panel replaces the contents of the System Settings window. I didn’t notice the All Settings button that replaced the search entry in the dark grey area! After realizing that, it wasn’t so bad. ๐Ÿ™‚ And to be honest, I think the theme or something is not quite finished. Looking at other screenshots on the web, the button is much more noticable.

The Ugly

  • BIG change in the way it expects people to use it. This will likely cause lots of frustration.
  • Doesn’t quite seem ready for prime time. I guess that makes sense, it’s still beta.
  • Some odd input lag every now and then. Visual artifacts. For both of these, I point my finger at my integrated graphics. Just a general lack of polish. But that’s to be expected with alpha/beta software.
  • Bold, black window titles with same-colour shadow. Ugh… I expect that will change soon. ๐Ÿ™‚

After trying Shell, I’m actually more excited for it. It still lacks polish in areas, which is expected at this point, but I love the direction GNOME3 is taking GNOME. I’m hoping I can get by on my integrated graphics, but I’m probably willing to purchase a low-end video card to get better performance. Anyway, I’m really interested to see how Canonical’s Unity and GNOME Shell will evolve side by side. Now I have to try Unity, I guess….

File List Applet – now with more autotools!

I decided that before I did any more work on the applet, I would improve its installation process to make it easier for people to try it out. So, the process to get and build the source now looks like this:

Download

  • Browse source here.
  • Download the source: bzr branch http://stevenbrown.ca/src/FileListApplet

Install

  1. Install dependencies (Ubuntu package names given): sudo apt-get install python-xdg python-gnome2-desktop python-gtk2 python-pyinotify
  2. Branch the source using the bzr command, above.
  3. cd into the directory.
  4. ./configure --prefix=/usr (the prefix is important!)
  5. make
  6. sudo make install
  7. If the applet does not show up in your Add to Panel menu, try restarting the bonobo-activation-server: killall bonobo-activation-server.

Autotools

Autotools is pretty much the standard in source package management on linux. Except for the name, there is nothing automatic about autotools. Every encounter I’ve had with autotools has usually defeated me and left me frustrated and leaving whatever I was working on to do something else. For me, because I had labeled it the next step, it basically stalled the entire project for a while. Most people tend to copy and paste other projects’ autotools setup, but I figured that was overkill for my purposes and I didn’t find anything that quite suited me. I looked at gnome-blog, but it seemed like some stuff wasn’t quite working properly and some was completely unnecessary… in fact, this seemed to be a trend when looking at the autotools stuff in projects. Why is this? Autotools is not simple and due to this simple fact, I think it fails completely on many levels. Developers massage it enough to get it working, but few actually understand it all – I know I sure don’t! So please forgive the sloppiness and feel free to send patches. ๐Ÿ™‚ I gave up doing a couple things, like getting the revision number (bzr revno) and including it in the version string (see configure.ac). I know it’s probably something super simple, but I couldn’t seem to pass a variable containing a string as the version….

I feel that GNOME, as a platform for development, could seriously benefit from some kind of frontend to autotools that handled GNOME development nicely and hid as much as possible from the developer (including all those nasty config files that pollute the package tree). Anyway, I did not have an enjoyable time grappling with autotools, but I’ll end this mini-rant here.

1024×768 Desktop

Lots of people customize their desktops. Many don’t, but I do.. a little. Here’s mine:

1024x768desktopusage_annotations

I actually had to remove the Time Tracker (Hamster) applet to scale my 1280×1024 desktop down to 1024, but I think that was all. And I only just decided to try moving the Tomboy and Deskbar applets over to the top-left corner… looks a little odd, but it’s much more accessible. It’s good to try out new things, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ (When the keyboard will do, Alt+F12 and Alt+F3 for Tomboy and Deskbar, and Super(windows-key)+Space for Gnome-Do are good shortcuts to keep in mind.)

How about you? (If you run Ubuntu, read this – which is why I tried scaling my 1280 desktop to a 1024, in the first place).

File List Applet – GNOME Panel Applet

This is kind of a proof of concept I’ve been playing with. The idea is that finding a file within a folder is often easier by type, and you are often only interested in the most recently modified file. The problem with a file manager is that although you can easily sort by either type or modification time, you cannot filter your view of all the other files you’re not interested in. I previously wanted to address this issue within Nautilus, (and I still believe this functionality would be wonderful in Nautilus), but I ended up doing this much less ambitious applet as a proof of concept.

This applet will let you add any number of folders to it, and will try to categorize the files automatically and intelligently. Currently, it’s more automatic than intelligent as it just looks at the mime-type. Even so, I’ve found it especially useful for keeping track of all my downloads:

Steven is catching up on the latest on planet.gnome.org and has downloaded a couple screencasts demoing the latest and greatest. These files are typically 2-10 megabytes, so they didn’t download instantly. Steven continues reading and forgot about the screencasts until a couple hours later. At that time, he can simply click on the File List Applet, select Downloads, select Video, and look at the top of the list for the newest files. Steven is happy. When finished, he can follow the same process to delete them – without once opening his file manager and being assaulted with ALL the files in his Downloads folder.

Ultimately, I would like to extend the idea to provide the same type/subtype menu system for all files under all folders – a type of summary – but I have not implemented that yet. There are other features in the cooking pot, as well, but I have to get started on some “RL” tasks… like my resume. ๐Ÿ™‚

Screencast

I had a problem recording audio, so I ended up typing as narration. Unfortunately, this makes the YouTube one pretty unwatchable, but you can give the “HQ” version a try.

Download

No tarball yet as it’s still extremely rough.
Browse the source here.
Branch the source: bzr branch http://stevenbrown.ca/src/FileListApplet

Install

Update 2009/04/05: Updated install instructions here. (Some people don’t look at the comments….)

Installing will require some manual modifications.

  1. First, make sure you have the following packages (Ubuntu): python-xdg, python-gnome2-desktop, python-gtk2, python-pyinotify
  2. Then branch the source.
  3. Adjust the FileListApplet.server file’s location to wherever you keep it.
  4. Then copy FileListApplet.server to /usr/lib/bonobo/servers/.
  5. Restart the bonobo-activation-server. killall bonobo-activation-server
  6. Add it to the panel like other applets.

Update 2008/12/05: Added a couple screenshots.

What I did today – Time Tracking with hamster-applet

In GNOMEe 2.24, hamster-applet will be included by default. When I use it, I love it. I should use it more often.

I should note that “laundry” is actually inclusive to other room-cleaning activities. ๐Ÿ™‚

Rhythmbox Plugin: Jump to Playing 0.3(.1)

Update 2012-01-29 – Deprecated:
Brief: This plugin has been deprecated. For future versions and updates, please go here.

Less Brief:If you’re using a newer version of Rhythmbox, you’ll need a newer version of this plugin. I’m not sure exactly which RB version the plugin format changed, but I am currently using Rhythmbox 2.90.1 on Ubuntu 11.10 and this plugin no longer works. However, Timo Loewe has ported jump-to-playing to Rhythmbox 3, all properly hosted and everything! Get it and any future updates here (https://github.com/dmo60/JumpToPlaying). This is the version I’m now using. Thanks, Timo! ๐Ÿ˜€

– – – – –

The following pertains to the deprecated version of the plugin…

– – – – –

This plugin will display the View : Jump to Playing Song link as a button in the toolbar and/or as link in the Browserโ€™s context menu. Other Rhythmbox plugins can be found here.

Screenshots


Using a future version of Rhythmbox – patch here – the menu item will appear in a plugin placeholder, above Properties. Otherwise, it will appear at the bottom, like previous versions.


From version 0.3, the Open Folder plugin will also be placed in the plugin placeholder.

Changes Since 0.2

Just a couple small changes since 0.2.

  • Selecting the context menu option in the preferences will now display the link in PodcastView and PlaylistView popups, as well as BrowserView and QueuePlaylistView.
  • Assuming the patch on bug 557152 is applied, this will place the context menu items in a plugin placeholder and allow the Preferences to remain the last menu item.
  • Update (Nov 10 2008): Modified version of patch has been applied to RB development trunk, so the next version of Rhythmbox will have this update. Yay! Version 0.3.1 of jump-to-playing is to account for the modifications. Please use it. ๐Ÿ™‚

Download

jump-to-playing-0.3.tar.gz jump-to-playing-0.3.1.tar.gz
Browse the Source: Here
Grab the Source: bzr branch "http://stevenbrown.ca/src/jump-to-playing/"

Installation

  1. Extract the jump-to-playing folder into your ~/.gnome2/rhythmbox/plugins/ directory (or ~/.local/share/rhythmbox/plugins/ directory, if the .gnome2 directory doesn’t exist). Completely replace any previous versions.
  2. (Re)Start Rhythmbox and enable the plugin in Edit : Plugins.

Todo

From my previous post.

  • the gconf keys in gconf-editor say they have no schema. The main pluginsโ€™ keys have a schema and donโ€™t give a warning. Definitely not serious, though.
  • it currently adds/removes the ui string when the options are toggled in the configure dialog. I have a feeling it might be better to only add/remove them in the activation/deactivation, and just hide/show here. Maybe faster?
  • it currently hides the browser button in small display mode. That has nothing to do with the jump-to-playing button. That should be in core, if it was decided that was the desired behaviour.
  • to hide the buttons in the small display, it checks the value at activation, and it connects to the View menuโ€™s toggleButtonโ€™s โ€œtoggledโ€ signal. So whenever itโ€™s toggled, the gconf value for the small display mode is checked, but I think thereโ€™s a delay sometimes. Pushing Ctrl D quickly a few times may result in incorrect UI presented. I remember deciding that this is due to a delay set on the gconf callback to overcome some other bugโ€ฆ.

All patches are welcome! ๐Ÿ™‚

Update 2008/10/26: Added screenshot, descriptions to screenshots, and link to main plugin page.

Update 2008/11/10: Added link to version 0.3.1 and added description.

Update 2010/12/08: Added alternative installation directory.

Jump-to-Playing Rhythmbox Plugin TODO

I haven’t looked at the plugin for a while, but I’ve been meaning to reproduce my “todo” list for it that I wrote on the rb-dev list a while back.

  • the gconf keys in gconf-editor say they have no schema. The main plugins’ keys have a schema and don’t give a warning. Definitely not serious, though.
  • it currently adds/removes the ui string when the options are toggled in the configure dialog. I have a feeling it might be better to only add/remove them in the activation/deactivation, and just hide/show here. Maybe faster?
  • it currently hides the browser button in small display mode. That has nothing to do with the jump-to-playing button. That should be in core, if it was decided that was the desired behaviour.
  • to hide the buttons in the small display, it checks the value at activation, and it connects to the View menu’s toggleButton’s “toggled” signal. So whenever it’s toggled, the gconf value for the small display mode is checked, but I think there’s a delay sometimes. Pushing Ctrl D quickly a few times may result in incorrect UI presented. I remember deciding that this is due to a delay set on the gconf callback to overcome some other bug….
  • in the context menus, ‘Properties’ should really be the last item. They need a placeholder put in the UI core. UPDATE: I’ve filed a bug with a patch attached here. Jump-to-Playing and other plugins will need to be updated when the patch is applied. I’ve just done it on my local copy w/Rhythmbox HEAD…. Looks like this:
    Before (red) and After (green) applying the patch and using an updated plugin

    Before (red) and After (green) applying the patch and using an updated plugin

  • Show the context menu item in PodcastView and PlaylistView popups, as well. I’ve added this in my local copy, already. Maybe I should just bump the version and release….

GNOME 3.0 Ideas (Intelligent Desktop)

This is based off of a Summer of Code application I made in 2007, titled “Intelligent Desktop.” Recent discussions have reminded me to at least blog about it. And given my current employment status, I have the time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Note: You may also be interested in File List Applet filelistapplet.

Messy Desk

The desktop – this gigantic area of screen real-estate – is a mess. Some people use their desktop to dump random files that they’re working on, or have recently downloaded. Others work tirelessly to keep the pretty background picture visible with minimal icon clutter. Still others find the Desktop useless because it fills up with icons too easily. In the Nautilus Desktop (GNOME’s default), icons can get placed on top of one another either by a bug in placement or simply because there is no space left, which really deters from the usability. Personally, I clump different themed files/folders into the corners of my desktop. When a file is added to the desktop procedurally, there is no obvious place to put it and thus no obvious place to look for it. This is compounded if there is a “hole” in one of my “icon clumps,” in which case the hole may be filled with the new icon making it extremely difficult to locate by both file name and screen location. I recently gave up on having mounted drives displayed on the desktop. Anything dynamic fails miserably as their location changes each time, and sometimes they even end up overlapping other icons. In any case, it seems the desktop requires maintenance to work, when it really shouldn’t.

An Intelligent Desktop would overcome icon clutter automatically and intelligently. It would also be a starting point to looking at potential benefits of a more dynamic desktop view. I’ll explain what I mean by this in a second. This is NOT that silly little notification that your desktop has old/unused icons on it.

Automatically Sorted, Categorized, Updated and Easily Searched

The desktop is a useful place to dump files, but retrieving them is a pain. In fact, browsing the desktop for that particular file (or folder) is a pain without a lot of maintenance. My idea requires an always-visible, on-the-desktop set of UI elements that I will call the Desktop Action Window (DAW). The easiest way to think of the DAW is as a sidebar for the desktop. (Don’t stand up quite yet, sidebar haters.) But rather than the DAW being a collection of meta-information or unrelated widgets, think of it as a controller to the desktop view (formerly just a desktop). Performing actions on the desktop via the DAW simply creates a new view of the desktop. The original/default view that is customized by the user will always be available. If you think in terms of Model-View-Controller, the current desktop is essentially everything. With the DAW, the DAW becomes the controller, the desktop viewing area becomes the view, and the model is partially hidden. The DAW should allow easy management of multiple views of the desktop, some automatic (Images, Movies, Recently Modified), some static (Default, Custom).

And you shouldn’t be concerned about a sizable widget infringing on your carefully chosen background, there are ways around that: the DAW could be hidden when no mouse movement on the desktop occurs (like the controls of a photo slide show), it could be semi transparent until the mouse is over it, it’s location could be customized, etc.

Some quick ideas for different actions in the DAW include:

  • An automatically generated list of types of files on the Desktop. Selecting one of them displays all icons of that type.
  • A text entry for string pattern matching.
  • Ability to easily hide all icons, except ‘always visible icons.’
  • Ability to have custom views displaying only icons that user specifies.
  • Ability to easily open file manager and display all files
  • Some form of icon pager or scrollable desktop view to allow for arbitrary numbers of icons to be displayed per view.
  • Ability to view and manipulate an arbitrary folder, such as Home, in the same way.

Mockups

This is where I stop the prose and leave you with a couple mockups. The “Overflow” view could probably be replaced with “New” or “Recent” for recently modified files. Anytime new files/folders/launchers have been added, the button could be flashing to grab the user’s attention. Better not to alter the default view at all, I think.

Update 2008/12/04: I’ve started implementing what I was thinking about with the automatic view filter as a GNOME panel applet. Check out File List Applet.

Recent Geekiness

Hmmm… I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog front. Better write something. Show some sign of life. Well, officially 2 weeks of not being gainfully employed and I’ve been making pretty good use of the time, I think! (I know, you’d expect more blog posts from someone who has more time – I’m weird). Even though I haven’t been blogging much, I *have* kept fairly active in Twitter, so if you follow that, it’s kind of like my mini-blog.

So what have I been doing? Naturally, most of my time has been spent on the computer. I finished a tool (written in Python) that I had started in the last week of employment – both for personal satisfaction and for the benefit of a (ex) colleague. I think it will be useful, and that makes me happy. ๐Ÿ™‚

Warning: the following is quite long and geeky. Feel free to skip to the end.

Distributions and Open Source 3D

I’ve done a lot of poking around with my computer, fixing lots of problems (and creating a few others). The most serious of these problems was my wireless connection, which appeared to die somewhat suddenly. I ended up trying multiple other Linux distributions over the course of resolving it. OpenSUSE had a nice polish to it, but I found the interface kind of cluttered. They seem to use their YaST back-end for everything configuration-related. Fedora 9 was really well organized and pretty, I was generally very impressed. But the best thing about Fedora 9? 3D acceleration worked when I booted it up! Even on the live CD! Not only that, but because of Fedora’s “Free” motto, this was the open source (ATI Radeon) driver! WHAT?! I couldn’t even get the proprietary (Catalyst) driver to work on Ubuntu!

Obviously, I had to do some more research. I found out that Fedora runs a lot of software that hasn’t been released as “stable” quite yet. Well guess what I’m running on my Ubuntu now? That same software. I’ve noticed my computer crash a few times when I leave certain other experimental software running for a while, but other than that, it’s stable enough for me to keep and enjoy the perks of 3D every now and then. But I certainly can’t advise it unless you’re willing to suffer the consequences – of which, there could definitely be. (I can’t use the closed source drivers, they somehow break my computer.) You could make a bootable thumb drive to test it out first. I did. Start here.

Performance, Games, and Screencasting

I guess I should talk about that. I read someone say the performance of the open source driver (radeon) is about 40% of the closed source driver (fglrx). 3D effects on the desktop work pretty good, but I can’t play FPSs (First Person Shooters) like Sauerbraten – an open source Quake-like game. In fact, I can barely play “Extreme Tux Racer.” Kinda sad. ๐Ÿ™ But I can play Neverball and CriticalMass! ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, and I can kind of play Frets on Fire, an open source Guitar Hero clone (has a pretty funny tutorial). So the open source drivers aren’t as feature complete or as high performance as the closed source ones, but since AMD/ATI have become more open, releasing documentation and helping out the community, the open source drivers have been quickly closing the gap. This is very exciting for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, enough of that.. I spent a lot of time playing around with 3d and getting my wireless to work again. And the primary solution to my wireless problem? Turning the wireless router upside down. It still cuts out every now and then, but it’s mostly solid now (although maybe a bit slower, due to some buggy drivers). yay. No Internet makes Steven cry. (I really wish I could run a cable to my room….)

I resolved connection problems with my printer (yet again). Oh, and I also set up mic recording and tested making screencasts. I want to use Istanbul, but it seems to have more problems and fewer options than gtk-recordMyDesktop. I was considering making screencasts, as video tutorials for introducing people to GNOME or other simple things. I’ve written down a few ideas, but I’m not sure where that will go. I would like to do it as a kind of mini series with a bit of polish, but I’d have to look into the somewhat shady world of Linux video editing.

Packaging

For some reason (perhaps I’m a bit of a masochist) I decided to learn about Debian packaging (creating those lovely .deb files that us Ubuntu users find so handy). My pain was further enhanced by choosing to package a library (Clutter), rather than a normal application. I found the documentation available to be overly verbose and not particularly plentiful – I suppose I wanted something concise and never found it. When I had finally produced two packages (the lib binary and the accompanying dev package) I could install on my system, I didn’t bother because a few other libs depended on the library I was updating, and I was tired of packaging. And I didn’t really want to create an even more unstable system. ^.^ But even though I didn’t use my packages (which I’m sure were far from “Debian” standards) I found the whole thing quite educational and I’m glad I went through it. I have a new respect for package maintainers and perhaps I can now package my own software (if I get around to writing something worth packaging). ๐Ÿ™‚

The non (less?) Geeky

Aside from all that geeky stuff, I’ve been spending a bit of time with friends and family, and doing lots of rollerblading. Played RockBand at Jeremy’s birthday on 360. Sung til everyone’s ears bled. Drums are fun. That game is seriously fun. It just came out for Wii, but I think I will wait for the next Guitar Hero which promises even more and should be out in Fall. More is better, right? I like more. Oh and I still have to push out that blog post about my roadtrip….