First Upgrade For My Computer After Nearly 4 Years

After nearly 4 years since I bought my desktop computer and after complaining about constant thrashing I finally decided it’s time to give it a little upgrade. It now sports 8GB of memory instead of just 2, and the improvement is noticeable.

The big culprits for the thrashing turned out to be Eclipse and Unity. We have pretty large projects by now, and having the main ones open together requires no less than 2GB of virtual memory and nearly 1GB of actual memory. That’s a lot, and it doesn’t include at least one running Android emulator! Unity added quite a bit to that (I don’t remember the number) but switching to Gnome helped.

I’m still happy with this Core Duo, now very old, computer. It does its job well and I expect it to last a year or two more.

Goodbye Unity, Welcome Back Gnome (Classic)

I gave Unity a good chance, but it was simply torture. Maybe it’s the over 3 years old hardware I’m running Ubuntu on, or maybe it’s the servers I’m running on my machine for the project I’m working on, but the hard drive kept thrashing to a point where it was unbearable. Sometimes just clicking a top menu or switching to a different window would take over a minute while the hard drive was grinding as if it was being benchmarked.

So I decided to go back to Gnome classic. The computer is way more responsive now and works considerably faster. My guess is that either Unity’s memory requirements are so high that I ran out (of 2 GB) and the memory had to be constantly swapped or it’s my relatively old 3D accelerated nVidia video card or Unity is doing too much disk access. Whatever it is, Unity does not work well on my machine.

I’m not so happy about reverting back to Gnome because I don’t like to be the kind of person who doesn’t accept change. But for the sake of productivity – I have to forget about Unity for now.

Ubuntu 11.04 Launcher Doesn’t Auto Hide

If you installed Ubuntu 11.04 and after a while the launcher stops auto hiding as it should, it may be because you did some dragging and dropping in an application. For example, if you use Konsole (like I do) and you drag one of Konsole’s tabs to reorganize their order, the launcher will suddenly pop up and will not hide itself automatically.

The easiest workaround I found is: right click the tab in Konsole and choose “Detach tab”, then drag the tab in the newly detached window back to where you intended to put the tab in the original window. When you’re done – the launcher will hide itself.

Excluding (some really annoying) bugs, is anyone else having difficulties with the new Unity interface? Or am I just too old for these kind of conceptual changes?

EDIT: This is a known and confirmed bug in Unity. I dutifully added my two cents.

Facebook Disables Contact Info Sharing (For Now)

This is what I get for reporting news on this blog – having to report change: Facebook will temporarily disable the new contact information sharing it just announced. PC Magazine reports:

Facebook announced Tuesday that it will temporarily disable a feature that allowed the social-networking site to share user phone numbers and addresses with app developers.

Douglas Purdy, director of developer relations for Facebook, said in a blog post that the site is “making changes to help ensure you only share this information when you intend to do so.”

I still recommend you remove all “real life” contact information on Facebook. Put a current email address and nothing more. Your privacy is too precious.

A Day Of Privacy: Facebook Now Shares Your Private Info

Facebook announced they’ll be sharing phone numbers and addresses of users with platform application developers. I recommend removing personal information from your Facebook profile (I’ve done it a long time ago.)

Also, if you haven’t already turned off Facebook applications in the applications privacy section, maybe it’s time. If you don’t use Facebook applications – why not turn them off? Legacy apps, which you installed in the past, still have a so-called “legacy access” to your information.

Dindy One Month After Turning Free

Sometimes you have to experience something to really learn a lesson. I heard before about the Hershey’s Kiss experiment and the vast difference between dirt cheap and free, but I had to see it with my own eyes.

Before Dindy was free it cost 0.80 USD and I had around one download per day for a little over a year. Now, after making it free, Dindy gets downloaded 50 times every day. So in one month it went up from 366 to 1924 downloads with 784 active installs (40%.) Dindy’s rating remains around the same (4.25 out of 5), which is good.

Users are offering good enhancements and I’m trying to keep them happy. In the past I refused to do reply-to-SMS in Dindy because Google removed SMS capturing and reading from the API in the first Android release and, for some strange reason, never brought it back. So while it’s still possible to read SMS messages programmatically there’s no official support and applications using it may break at any time. Now that Dindy is free I don’t mind adding it and the next update will probably have reply-to-SMS (the texter will get a message telling him/her to call in order to make the phone wake up from silent.)

I put up a donation button on Dindy’s website but so far I got no donations. I’m still considering a donation button inside the app.

How Can We Take Back Our Privacy?

Privacy has become a huge issue. We get free (or cheap) and useful services in return for information about us and the potential uses of this information are becoming more frightening over time. If you don’t have anything to hide you might think this is OK, but what if someday someone will make use of the information you shared to do something you don’t approve of? The problem is that you can’t take it back. You can’t have your information withdrawn to get your privacy again, not even if you give up on the services that you got in return.

So I’ve been wondering if there’s a way, without legal assistance, to create a software mechanism that would allow us to take back our privacy. For example, let’s say I decide to close my Google account. I would like then all the data Google has on me to become undecipherable to them or to anyone else.

Unfortunately my thoughts on this led me to realize that this is a lot like DRM, which has failed miserably so far as people find the keys required to decipher the information eventually. But I’m still wondering whether this could work somehow.