Sunday, December 18, 2005

Still haven't called the political parties, working in a call centre one tends to put off talking on the phone as much as possible. I have been following the debate over Linus Torvalds post to the Gnome Usability mailing list, this really is a tempest in a teapot, if that's how Linus feels he is entitled to his opinion. Personally I now prefer the Gnome desktop, though I was a KDE user until switching to Ubuntu. In part at least I can agree with Linus, Gnome doesn't offer enough advanced options in it's GUI settings menus, for some advanced functions it is occasionally necessary to enable them from the terminal window. What I'm not sure about is if this is a bad thing, the position of the Gnome usability people is that to many options confuse people and that anyone who knows enough to want to use the advanced options knows enough to enable them from the command line. Again I'm not sure this is really an acceptable answer, many users in the Windows world who are not power users in a general way will figure out the advanced options to do particular things they want to do, if we in the open source community want to attract those people to Linux we must provide graphical access to those options. That said the answer is not KDEs cacophony of buttons and check boxes, some of these confuse even me, and I'm quite geekish, and the look ugly as sin. Perhaps the answer is something more along the line of the current Gnome menus but with an advanced button thrown in that brings up an advanced menus with additional features, this seems like the best of both worlds. One thing the usability people need to remember is that a feature a user can't use is unusable.
I often hear people complain about the state of gaming on Linux but there really are some cracking good open source games out there, I killed most of yesterday playing Freeciv, this open source implementation of Sid Meyers classic Civilization has developed into something far beyond the original game, with hundreds of customizable options and the ability to play networked as well as single player games against computer generated opponents, this game available for Windows and Mac as well as Linux is well worth the download. Another open source game to which I have recently become addicted is Kbounce, this excellent KDE game requires the player to trap the bouncing balls in no more then 25% of the screen, this is harder then it sounds especially as there are more balls added at each level. Unfortunately your Windows and Mac using friends will have to sit this one out, another reason to move to Linux. If you like platform games check out Blob Wars, Metal Blob Solid, this interesting platform shoot em up is great fun, it's available for Linux, Windows, Mac and AmigaOS4. The only frustration with this game is I can't figure out how to get passed level 4 if anyone has figured out the secret of this level please let me know. Finally now and then everybody needs to frag, there are now a fair number of great shoot em ups available for Linux, but most are commercial proprietary software, for open source purists who feel the need for some blood and gore choices are more limited, fortunately there's FreeDoom a complete Open Source first person shooter base on the doom engine. Some of the levels in this game appear to need fleshing out but whets there is great fun and good for many hours of fragging.
Ash and I are off to my parents this afternoon for an early X-mas, on our return I hope to motivate myself to call politians and find out more about the positions of the political parties on matters open source. I may post an update later today.

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