04 novembre 2006

Why you shouldn't use Windows Live Messenger (formerly MSN Messenger)

MSN is the second most used IM protocol in the world (following AIM) and the most used in Europe and in a lot of other parts of the world. Let me explain why this is and why it is a bad thing(TM).

Before the launch of MSN Messenger, there were other proprietary Instant Messaging protocols going strong, like AIM and ICQ, but Microsoft used its monopolistic position to push it's own protocol and installed Windows Messenger by default on Windows, as done with Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer, following Microsoft's lock-in strategy. Being it based on a proprietary protocol it's very hard to write reliable alternative, non-official clients, usefull for example on platforms other than Windows.

Reasons to not use MSN may include:

  • you don't want to be locked to Microsoft for the rest of you life. Yes, you cold always use alternative clients that support MSN. It has already happened however that Microsoft suddenly slightly changes it's protocol with the consequence that a lot of alternative clients stopped working, even outdated versions of the official program won't connect anymore

  • it's a proprietary protocol, there is an alternative, called Jabber, witch is open and based of standard protocols, witch means it's a lot easier to implement and it's supported by a lot of clients

  • privacy concerns, you may not like the idea of all you conversations going trough Microsoft's servers

But all my friends use MSN...
Well... that's exactly what the Microsoft lock-in strategy is all about, use it's monopoly to make enough people use it's own technologies in order make it very difficult for people to switch back to anything else. Fortunately there is a way out, using one of the multi-protocol client's, like Gaim, that allow you to use Jabber, MSN, AIM, ICQ, Yahoo! and others with the same client or alternatively using a plain Jabber client and use the gateways offered my some Jabber servers to connect to other networks.

Lately Jabber is starting to become e bit more widespread thanks to Google who used it to implement Google Talk, whoever wants a gmail account, witch automatically creates also a Google Talk account can e-mail me at nimatar(at)gmail.com to get in invite.

My Jabber ID is fela@jabber.org

29 maggio 2006

Colemak keyboard layout

The standard QWERTY keyboard layout still used by computer keyboards was designed with typewriters in mind, quoted from wikipedia:
Frequently used pairs of letters were separated in an attempt to stop the typebars from intertwining and becoming stuck

The position of the letters however determine also the ergonomics and the speed of the typing. This is why they invented alternative keyboard layouts, the most known of which is the Dvorak Simplified Keyboard with a greater focus of the position of the letters.
When I come to know that, having learned myself touch typing, I was quite interested and did some research on the net. That is how I came across the colemak layout, specifically designed for computers and specially made to allow an easy transition from QWERTY. I've started to practice 3 days ago and am able to write using 16 letters so far. For my day to day use I'm still on the standard QWERTY and the two don't seem to interfer.

26 maggio 2006

Fixed width

A thing that bothers me a lot, apparently without a really good reason, is seeing for example screenshots of people that don't use fixed width fonts on IRC. I also felt quite bad about the fact that gmail didn't use monospaced fonts for text emails, and I felt even worse about kmail using sans serif by default. Probably it's only a matter of getting used to something, but to me it feels a bit like they don't read exactly what I write. Using pure text, the only way to manipulate the look of the text is by using the width of the letters, but for this to work all letters have to be of the same size.
Nobody would think to use Comic Sans in a terminal. And almost everybody write code using monospaced fonts. Well, think of IRC as a multiplayer terminal...
There are also other things, some time ago I've written a bot for IRC that let you play games, but it uses the fact that letters are the same. And also ASCII-art don't shows right if you don't have the right fonts. Another little thing are smileys, :) looks best with mono, while else it's better to use :-) Probably for most people these thinks don't make much of a difference, and not mono fonts are usually considered to look better. Maybe I'm just too geek... I don't know, but I feel very strong about this. I think that using monospaced text for pure text should be like a not written standard. I know that the default courier without antialiasing that Windows uses isn't exactly pretty. But that isn't true on Linux, where there is more choice, and I think the free Bitstream Mono fonts are quite nice.

21 maggio 2006

English and Cina

Again two months without blogging... I'm tempted to say "I hope I'll post more often in the future", but already I've said that so often that I don't even believe that myself anymore (even if I still silently keep hoping :-) On one side there is the fact that I don't really have much interesting to say on the other side there is of course my ever lasting laziness.

As you may well have noticed I've decided to start blogging in English since I will probably need English much more that Italian in the future and blogging is a nice way of practicing. This also gives me a good excuse to blog.

Lately I'm also becoming convinced that knowing Chinese would be very usefull, looking how things are going in the world. I'm not much interested in work opportunity and such as of the ethical importance that the future China is gaining. More specifically I'm convinced that the most important battle of liberty of this century is against the Chinese government. I don't have much doubt that the current totalitarian regime can't last forever. The question however is, what will be next? Will it slowly move towards a corporate driven "democratic" society as they are currently seen in most Western nations? Not to forget that it will possible take decades, if not longer, before the liberty and life-style of Chinese citizen would be acceptable. I'm convinced that a revolution or at least a coup d'etat would be possible if there was an adequate framework to support it and if there was enough awareness of the situation and the possibilities, around the world and inside China itself. My idea is that, given its economical and political influence on the world, this would be a great opportunity for the human kind to emancipate and to go beyond democracy.
You have heard it right! I think democracy isn't the best possible solution. And no, I don't think that communism is much more that a wonderfull utopia. A different kind of society, that is enough similar to the current capitalistic one, but which would solve some of it's issues should be possible. In Italy they say that voting is a diritto/dovere, it's not only a right but you should to it. I don't agree with that. Everybody should have the possibility to chose it's representants but you don't have to. Actually I think only people that either really want to or that are in a position to make a good choise should be able to determinate the future of a country. It is important to give everybody the same opportunity in life, but people with different skills should do different things and not everybody is as qualified to make a right choice as it comes to government as in my opinion is showed well by western society.

Probably you shouldn't take these thoughts to seriously, it are just things I think when I can't fall asleep. And surely there are a lot of situations and facts that I've not taken into account.
So now you know wat the hell the title was about in the case you were wondering :-)

13 gennaio 2006

What is your Perfect Major?

You should be a Philosophy major! Like the Philosopher, you are contemplative and you enjoy thinking about the purpose for humanity's existence.

Philosophy 92%
Mathematics 83%
Engineering 83%
Journalism 83%
Psychology 83%
English 75%
Art 67%
Biology 67%
Theater 67%
Dance 58%
Chemistry 58%
Sociology 50%
Linguistics 33%
Anthropology 17%


È curioso come i miei risultati siano molto simili a quelli degli sviluppatori kde e anche i loro risultati siano molto simili tra di loro, si vede che e' mio destino diventare uno sviluppatore kde :-)

12 gennaio 2006


Ho scritto ruby come titolo... quindi in linea di principio ora dovrei parlare di ruby, ma sapete che vi dico, non ho affatto voglia di parlare di ruby, in realtà non mi viene in mente niente di cui ho veramente voglia di parlare. In realtà questo è propabilemte il post più intulite nella storia e non trovo alcun motivo sensato per cui dovrei pubblicarlo. Ma da quando in qua una cosa deve essere ragionevole perché la faccia. Ora poi non mi sento affatto in vena di comportarmi in modo ragionevole, per cui dovrete sorbirvi questo post inutile e sensa senso.
No, davvero, non ho proprio testa per dire qualcosa di sensato, è solo... avevo bisogno di scrivere qualcosa, non era importante cosa, bastava scrivere. Scrivere stimola la creatività ed è un buon modo per distrarre la mente e lasciare che percorra qualcosa di diverso che la realtà che ci circonda. È per questo che ora volevo scrivere qualcosa, ed è per questo che alla fine non avevo voglia di scrivere di niente di troppo concreto e preferisco invece scrivere qualcosa che non ha capo ne coda.
Mi piace, a volte, perdermi in divagazioni inutili e senza senso. Mi piace esprimermi con pari caoticità di quanto lo sia il mio stato d'animo. Mi da l'illusione di domare e capire, anche soltanto per un'attimo, i miei sentimenti.

Wow, ho appena riletto il post ed è davvero sgrammaticato ed illeggibile, per cui complimenti e soprattutto ma non avete proprio niente di meglio da fare? se siete arrivati fin qua incolumi.