I had a chat in the maker space on Saturday. One of our friends runs most of it. We were talking hardware. He gets a fully loaded Dell Inspiron about every three years and then runs KDE on it. I said that the screen on my main laptop is failing, but at present we are not replacing anything else. Ebikes take priority, and what we have works. For now.
Son two informed me that the Ryzen 3 looks good for his uses (gaming). Immaterial. The current delays in getting anything mean that my mate is now running his dell a year longer than he needs — he usually replaces hardware every three years for tax purposes — and that will not be sorted until the middle of 2021, at the earliest.
By that time, we will be well into the habit of making do, repairing, and wearing things out. A depression has a habit of doing that.
I’ve moved from Xfce to Budgie. In part, because the interface is fairly close to modern macs, and also because I understand the Gnome stack better than KDE. And Xfce is no longer that much faster.
Xfce aims to be fast and lightweight while still being visually appealing and easy to use. It aims to be fast and low on system resources.
We were impressed with Xfce in 2008. And we’re still impressed by this desktop environment. The project has migrated to GTK3, witnessed a big revamp of its user interface, and more besides. It fared particularly strong in our recent survey of the best desktop environments. The project is under active development.
While the project bills itself as a lightweight desktop environment, this advantage has diminished. As the chart shows, its memory footprint is about the same as KDE and GNOME. That’s not really the fault of Xfce, it’s more a reflection that GNOME and KDE’s recent releases have made good strides in reducing memory consumption.
Why Budgie and not Gnome? I tried Gnome and did not like it: I like Plasma but the tools are (for me) in the wrong places.
It’s a desktop that seems purpose-built for people who love GTK3, the toolkit upon which the GNOME desktop is built, but not the GNOME interface. You might even go so far as to call it KDE Plasma for GNOME users (it even has a setting to open folders with a single click, a famously controversial design choice on the Plasma desktop).
There have been some other things happening this week, around the virtual world and on this blog.
The Auto Censoring of Conversations
If you are a politician you need to always heed rule 5. The game is hard and people will be personal in their attacks. This is not sexism. This is vigorous debating — now deemed by the AI as unacceptable.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, her main rival the opposition leader Judith Collins and more than 260 female parliamentary candidates have become a target for online hatred and sexism ahead of the Oct. 17 national polls.
That prompted the launch in August of the Parity Bot, which was first used in Canada’s elections last year and tweets a positive message every time it detects an abusive tweet against a female candidate.
“A whole bunch of studies out there show women candidates get exponentially more toxic tweets than men, which is why we have created this for women,” said Jacqueline Comer, creative technologist of the bot.
“It is not to say that men don’t suffer from this, but it is a bigger problem for women,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Since launching in New Zealand, the first nation to give women the right to vote in 1893, the bot has analysed 95,000 tweets and detected more than 1,800 abusive tweets, most of them targeting Ardern and Collins.
We need some AI hate speech. Linux has plenty, and this is one of the better ones.
sudo rm -rf .
Spam, Spam, Spam
Clean Talk has blocked, by the middle of this week, 1300 spambots — and I’m still deleting stuff on a regular basis. They now have an antiflood and antibot system. Both are switched on. You may notice this when you log in — it takes a few seconds to do so now.
The need for handles
One of the things that has happened with COVID is that many of the activists — who usually make one’s life hell from Health and Safety or HR — are now at home and trying to take out those who offend their woke radar. Given that, I strongly encourage everyone to use a consistent handle here. I despise such people, to quote the Didact:
I have no patience for SJWs and I take great pleasure in destroying their nonsense. If you are an SJW, and you have somehow stumbled across this blog by accident, be aware that I am your enemy, and that I have neither respect nor tolerance for your views- only open contempt.
I’m fairly sure the social media sharing thing is switched off, for the same reason.
Rules, Keyboards and mice
As part of the general Monday morning wakeup I’m finishing this and it is worth reviewing some rules for remote working. I find that my brain does not kick in for research until about 10 am and the morning cup of coffee. To be productive I need:
- Good vision. This means that I need to put my schleral contacts in. I generally do the lectionary post first thing in the morning — and I mispell words. Continually.
- A loading dose of coffee. I am not English. Kea has tea, and I do know how to make it properly. — at a rolling boil. I drink cold brew at home and plunger or espresso at work. I don’t do research until the second loading dose.
- Decent interface. Generally a mechanical keyboard (I touch type and I need the feedback) and a mouse. I’m fussy about Mice as well.
- Headphones. I split my writing time between home and work and I don’t really want to be disturbed. One of the few good things about the modern Mac Pros is that they have a headphone jack. I use Deezer and stream. If the headphones are in, I’m not available
- Notebooks. I am still paper focused for planning: to do lists, tasks completed, calendars, and notes for new work. My attitude is that once it is on a device, it is insecure. To paraphrase the Laundry, the only secure computer is down a mineshaft, gaurded by the military, disconnected from the internet, and switched off. I prefer to use Leuchterm notebooks, fountain pens, and a modified version of bullet journalling
- A separate gaming headphone and webcam. Including for laptops. Because good webcams and microphones matter for video conferencing.
That’s enough. I need a short black, then I need to get going.