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Athen plans to ban SUVs from the city //at 00:41 //by abe

from the Shit-Utility-Vehicle dept.

According to this Spiegel Online article Athen plans to “ban offroaders” from the centre of the city with the beginning of September 2006. Since the Greek governments argues about the traffic space these cars need, their drivers “only being posers” that have “nothing to do than driving around all the day”, I suspect, they mean SUVs and not offroaders. At least here in Germany, you usually don’t see offroaders in the cities, but a lot of Sport Utiliy Vehicles which usually just pretend to be an offroader (Wired, Guardian) but are perfect for parking with one or two tires on the sidewalk.

As outrageous as this sounds — it may have a real and reasonable reason: SUVs are usually bigger than other cars (especially in Europe), they need more parking space and have bad turning circles. They often have to back just to turn left or right in Athen’s narrow alleyways. Because of this, they are accused to cause most of the traffic jams in the centre of Athen

I’m still not sure, if I should believe this news, although SUVs are some kind of enemy concept for me. Why only SUVs? Why (AFAIK) also small offroaders like the Suzuki LJ or SJ? Why not being consequent and taking the Paris of ’50s (or ’60s? Can’t remember and Google and Wikipedia didn’t help…) as an example and creating a Zone Bleue (“Blue Zone”), in which only cars may enter, which have appropriate dimensions.

“Zone Bleue”? Back in the decades after WWII, Paris had problems with big lorries in the city, so Paris’ introduced the Zone Bleue (AFAIR) in the inner city, which was restricted to vehicles with a floor space less than 5m² or 6m² or so, so even some French car makers started build special “Zone Bleue” versions of their delivery vans with bumpers closer to the van body, tunneled rear lights and rolling shutter instead of outside lying sliding doors. And often high roofs for raising their capacity. (The only “Zone Bleue” van I found pictures of on the net was this Citroën HY Zone Bleue Pickup. You can best see the unusual rear bumper and the tunneled rear lights on the lower left picture.)

But back to Athen: Another reason which makes me sceptical about that news is that neither the Englisch Google News nor the the German Google News (also tried several other search terms…) finds any other news about this except the above mentioned Spiegel article.

Found via


OpenLDAP sucks! //at 01:58 //by abe

from the lacks-documentation-and-performance dept.

Not only that in an access_ctrl of OpenLDAP up to version 2.1 access to dn=bla really means access to dn.regex=bla and therefore matches also all children of an LDAP entry (for luck they fixed this in 2.2), but already being in rage the following nearly made me bite into the edge of my desk:

/etc/openldap/access_ctrl: line 7: unknown dn style "exact" in to clause

<access clause> ::= access to <what> [ by <who> <access> [ <control> ] ]+ 
<what> ::= * | [dn[.<dnstyle>]=<regex>] [filter=<ldapfilter>] [attrs=<attrlist>]
<dnstyle> ::= regex | base | exact (alias of base) | one | subtree | children

Also the man page mentions exact as DN style:

For all other qualifiers, the pattern is a  string  repre­
sentation  of  the entry's DN.  base or exact (an alias of
base) indicates the entry whose DN is equal  to  the  pat­

Yet another day I could throw OpenLDAP into the trash can!

The Galeon 1.3.x Rant, Part 2: Kazehakase is the real succssor of Galeon 1.2.x //at 01:57 //by abe

from the the-easiest-way-to-get-a-problem-solved-is-to-rant-about-it-in-public dept.

Well, I’m somehow suprised that my Galeon 1.3.x rant got so much response and especially so many constructive, non-ranty responses. Thanks, guys, you made my day!

A few of my arguments against Galeon 1.3.x are solved now (which of course was one of the targets of the rant ;-)… On the other hand, some of my statements were claimed false, but I still believe them to be right. I just strongly disagree with pure simplification being the right way in UI design.

But more important, I now know that Galeon 1.3.x will never be like Galeon 1.2.x and that it’s no legitimate successor of Galeon 1.2.x, because the focus and the design principles changed to more focus on beginners who may be confused by too many options and features and therefore excludes people which — for working efficently — need a tool being highly configurable regarding their customs.

I also never saw Galeon as part of GNOME, but as a very useful browser which unfortunately has this GNOME stuff in, but still is faster and more useable than Mozilla or Firefox with their XUL rendered GUI. So I used it and used parts of GNOME with it. I always wished SkipStone would have been as powerful as Galeon. But already the first comment to my Galeon 1.3.x rant pointed me to the true Galeon 1.2.x successor — without GNOME and just with pure GTK: Kazehakase. Thanks Miroslav Kure!

Galeon and GNOME developers should take a leaf out of Kazehakase’s book: They claim to be user-friendly by castrating the configuration window without any pointer in the program (help doesn’t count here!) to more options via the gconf-editor or about:config and therefore castrating their old users which are just used to have the power to modify the behaviour of an application.

Kazehakase just does what both, beginners as well as experienced users want and e.g. Lynx also does since ages: Letting the user (and not the developer) choose the user’s level. On the first tab of the Kazehakase configuration window, you can choose between UI levels “Beginner”, “Medium”, “Expert”. The default was “Beginner”, I’ve chosen “Expert” and I’m happy with it. GNOME developers may choose “Beginners” — for their clientele which I no more belong to.

But that’s not enough. Tommi Komulainen pointed me to about:config for the details. That’s fine. But Galeon doesn’t. Which isn’t fine. Kazehakase does. It has a menu entry “Detailed preferences” which just opens a new tab with about:config. IMHO a very elegant if not perfect solution. I really hope that at least this will be copied by the Galeon developers. So, Tommi, please tell the Galeon Developers on the GNOME Developer’s Summit in Boston next weekend, that I wish just two more menu entries beyond “Preferences”:

  • “Detailed browser preferences” which opens a new tab with about:config and
  • “Detailed UI preferences” which opens gconf-editor /apps/galeon.

With this, you probably help a lot of disappointed Galeon 1.3.x users. (And I know for sure that I’m not the only one. /me winks at Myon.)

OK, enough ranty sentences. If you want a more detailed and less ranty discussion, read on…

Read more…

Why Galeon 1.3.x and GNOME 2.x still suck and I stay with Woody on the desktop //at 01:56 //by abe

from the rant dept.

Many of my friends and probably also many people from the channel know that I stick with Woody on my desktop because I hate GNOME 2.x and especially Galeon 1.3.x which is a complete rewrite of Galeon 1.2.x from GNOME 1.x, but with many features missing. I often get asked for the “why”, so here are the reasons, why I won’t switch to GNOME 2.x and Galeon 1.3.x…

Thanks to gconf-editor, I could enable some more features in Galeon 1.3.x, which cannot be changed using the configuration interface of Galeon 1.3.x or the GNOME 2.x Control Center (but could be changed in Galeon 1.2.x or the GNOME 1.x Control Center, which counts already as big minus for Galeon 1.3.x and GNOME 2.x). The main thing belonging here is the position of the tabs and detachable menus. I prefer the tabs on the bottom and menus being detachable. (Another thing, which sucks in Firefox but works in Opera, too.)

Another set of configuration items are only available via about:config, e.g. the deactivation of “type-ahead find”. (Although I think, that “type-ahead find” is a good idea and feature, it also sucks in Galeon 1.3.x because of some focus bugs removing focus from input fields when a meta-refresh starts in another tab. After the focus is removed, further typing triggers “type-ahead find”.)

Other features I missed in earlier version seem to be implemented in Sarge’s version of Galeon 1.3.x, e.g. automatically focus the address input field after hitting Ctrl-T, Ctrl-N or the equivalent buttons. Similar, many of the “use middle button or Ctrl to open in new window/tab” features on buttons are now available in nearly all necessary places (address field, smart bookmarks, back button, up button, new button, etc.)

But there is still a lot missing, so here’s the big list on why Galeon 1.3.x still sucks and therefore my desktop will not be upgraded to Sarge until I managed to get Galeon 1.2.x running under it, or Etch is released with a Galeon 1.3.x which has all the features I’m missing since 1.2.x:

  • The state of tabs isn’t shown in the list of all tabs. In Galeon 1.2.x tabs still loading were marked red, already loaded, but not since then visited tabs are marked blue. In Galeon 1.3.x only the tabs itself but not the list entries in the menu are marked that way. (What I also dislike, is that you can’t get the list of all tabs anymore by right clicking any of the tabs. That way you can change tabs much faster then first selecting the “Tabs” menu from the menu bar.)
  • Scrolling through the list of tabs using the arrows beside the tabs bar switches instantly to the next selected tab instead of just scrolling through the tab bar, which makes scrolling endless slow and urges you to use the list of all tabs to change to another currently not shown tab, but as mentioned above, this list isn’t accessible anymore by right clicking any of the tab. *grmpf*
  • There is no more “Related Links” button or equivalent feature to access any relationship information about the currently visited page.
  • Editing key-bindings was as easy as just pressing the wanted key-binding for a menu entry when hovering with the mouse over it in GNOME 1.x. Haven’t found out yet, how to change or add key-bindings in Galeon 1.3.x…
  • Pressing Ctrl-U in the address line or any smart bookmark opens the source code of the current tab instead of just clearing the input field (without copying its content to the clipboard).
  • There is no more “search in current page” widget for the toolbar anymore. You have to open a (very slowly opening) popup window, if you want to have a search function besides the type-ahead search function.
  • If you click the “New” button for opening a new tab, it always opens at the end of the tab list instead of directly after the current tab. So I always have to move that tab back to where it should be. This sucks in Firefox, too. In Galeon 1.2.x there was a switch for this behaviour (as well there is in Opera), so both behaviours were possible: “Insert new tabs after current tabs”.
  • You cannot Drag & Drop a link from a window into itself in Galeon 1.3.x. This was a useful trick in Galeon 1.2.x if you want to work around barefaced hyperlinks with target attribute or want to temporarily not send requests with referrer header.
  • You can’t switch the proxy temporarily on or off just via the menu. You have to click “Edit → Preferences → [Wait for a few seconds] → Network → Configure Network Proxy → [Wait for even more seconds]” and then you can switch it temporarily on or off. In Galeon 1.2.x it’s as fast and intuitively as “Settings → Proxy → Disabled”.
  • And in general: Galeon 1.3.x is just fucking slow compared to Galeon 1.2.x. Every menu I open, every mouse click I make, every key I press, … 1.3.x is just not as responsive as Galeon 1.2.x was. (Although I guess that this is more a GNOME 1.x vs 2.x than a Galeon issue. But, well, you probably guessed it: GNOME 2.x sucks, too. ;-)
  • The bookmark editor in Galeon 1.3.x just sucks:
    • First, it’s just horribly slow (the rest of Galeon 1.3.x seems quite fast compared to it).
    • Drag & Drop often doesn’t work as you are used to how Drag & Drop works, e.g. you can’t drag items from the right folder content view pane to a folder in the left tree view pane.
    • Although I see that I may make sense in some environments, I dislike the “feature” that some of input fields for proprerties have been moved to a tabbed popup window. So you can’t scroll through your bookmarks anymore and have a look at e.g. when you added it whitout having to do a few click for each bookmark.
    • Also the tree view structure was easier to recognise than the new one without the helpful tree being shown as lines.
    • The Galeon 1.3.x bookmark editor doesn’t show the favicons neither in the folder content nor in the tree view. This another big step back in ergonomy.

And the following is the list, why Galeon 1.3.x also sucks. But these issues aren’t big problems for me, since I solved them somehow or can live with them:

  • Not all configuration options can be changed using Galeon’s configuration interface nor using the GNOME Control Center. Which user knows that he can change even more options by using gconf-editor or opening the URL about:config by typing it into the address field?!? A big minus in ergonomy for GNOME 2.x and Galeon 1.3.x.
  • The toolbar icons and the spinner are no more themeable.
  • There are no more buttons for toggling the history or bookmarks pane.
  • The toolbar isn’t editable by right clicking on a blank part of it.

Oh, and Epiphany even sucks more, because it has even less of my favourite Galeon 1.2.x features than Galeon 1.3.x has. Same counts for Ubuntu btw: There even is no Galeon in the standard distribution. (And no, Universe and Multiverse just don’t count for me. The philosophy “one application for one purpose” always sucks but does even more suck if we look at web browsers. Seems as if Ubuntu hasn’t learned from the history of Microsoft and the Internet Explorer. *slappingallaround*)

But not only to argue about Galeon 1.3.x, there are also some few details better than in Galeon 1.2.x, e.g. that the arrows for scrolling through the tab bar are located on both sides of the bar and not ony on the right. And the optional split view in the bookmark editor is quite fine (if Drag & Drop would work right)…

And yes, from the security point of view, Galeon 1.2.x sucks. It’s no more under developement, Galeon 1.2.14 from 17th of June 2004 was the last release. Also the Gecko releases based on the Mozilla 1.8 line (aka SeaMonkey 1.0 and Firefox 1.5) won’t be supported in Galeon 1.2.x, because anti-aliassing support for GTK1 has been dropped in those versions of Mozilla respective Gecko. But I’m sorry, sometimes, user interface and ergonomy come before security…

Oh, and btw: I would love it if somebody proves me wrong in any of my arguments against Galeon 1.3.x. (I just don’t think, someone will… ;-) But nevertheless feel free to leave a comment in the blog — They should work since now…

Now playing: Roxette — Jefferson

The Galeon 1.3.x Rant, Part 2½: Two completely different minds? //at 01:55 //by abe

from the flamewar dept.

Hmmm, there are people who left Usenet for Blogging. I never understood how blogging could replace Usenet. But at the moment I realize that Erich’s and my flamewar discussion about Galeon, GNOME and UI design is just like some thread in some newsgroup. That frightens me. But I have to answer to his recent posting, though, since his blog has no comment function. ;-)

So here’s my reply to his reply. :-)

Please, never claim again that kazekahase as a good UI. It’s sooo stupid.

Well, I haven’t played around with it long enough and already found some bugs to claim that, but it at least shows the right approach to how I expect a web browser to be: Fast and intuitively to use and configurable. So I do not claim that — yet.

close tab icon in the toolbar on the very left

Firefox has that, too, just on right side. If Kazekahase would have that as the only close button for tabs, I would agree that this isn’t that good. But it also has configurable close icons for each tab. And if the toolbar would be configurable, you easily could get rid of it. (I would remove it, too.)

preferences icon in the toolbar (I want to work, not toy around with my preferences!)

Just don’t click on it. And while you talk about it: Yet another thing I dislike with Galeon 1.3.x over 1.2.x is that it has no more “Settings” in the main menu. *eg*

No default keybinding for view source, view source opens in the back

Changed that easily by hovering with the mouse over “View source” and pressing Ctrl-U. Regarding the opening in the back, I agree with you. But since Kazekahase is still in a quite early state (in comparison to Galeon) I expect that this will change…

user level setting is useless, as shown by nautilus. Everone wants to punish himself by seeing all the options he has (and doesn’t understand)

There! Look! You said it: “Everyone wants configrability.” So why don’t give it to the users? Do you like dictators? I don’t. (With the usual exception: “Except if me being the dictator…” ;-)

A little bit later, you wrote:

No! Don’t tell people that there are more options. Don’t make them waste time by investigating what they could do, just let them use the browser…

You like censorship, too? Sorry, but since when a developer has to and can decide if looking through the configuration options is a waste of time or not for the user?

Do you think, looking through the list of packages to know what is available in dselect or aptitude is a waste of time? I’m sorry, but for me that’s the biggest fun in a new installation or after an dist-upgrade. Same counts for configuring a newly discovered application. What do you think was the first thing I did after starting Kazekahase? Yes, I went through all the configuration menus before loading a single web page.

two search fields wasting screen real estate (I already hate the one in firefox up there…

Yeah, history search could be done using the location field. But regarding “waste”: The default toolbar of Galeon 1.3.x wastes quite a lot of space by putting the location field in a toolbar of its own. (Can’t remember how the default toolbar in Galeon 1.2.x was… :-)

Default encoding: arabic […] Font settings let me choose the arabic fonts first…

Yeah, wondered about that, too, and will probably file a bug report about that.

autodetection disabled according to prefs.

Not sure about this. I saw that with other browsers (Galeon 1.3.20 under Sid for example *eg*), too, and it just meant “on” in comparsion to the other options which just hardwire the charset.

Fixed tab width not using my screen efficiently (“GNOM”) is all fitting on the tab label, thats a total waste!

Gotcha! Yet another thing I hate with Galeon 1.3.x. In Galeon 1.2.x this was configurable, in Galeon 1.3.x all tabs have the same width. Really a waste of space. But you probably can tell me how I can change this since you have changed it in your Galeon, too, or? (You have changed something in the configuration of your browser? Really?!? Woah! SCNR.)

Why do I have a “switch proxy” checkbox in the menu when I don’t have a proxy?

Why there is a possibility to configure a proxy if you don’t have one?

Don’t tell me that it makes more sense to you to setup stuff like Emacs- vs. windows-style keybindings in every single application you use. That is just stupid, sorry.

It may be of use to configure some keybindings globally. But there always should be the possibility to change them locally. BTW: AFAIK GTK offers such global keybindings, but GNOME is just overkill for me.

Also I don’t like mouse gestures.

You don’t have to use them. Just keep them switched off. But don’t disregard the thousands of people who use and like them.

When they were introduced in Galeon I tried them, but I never got a hang for them.

Mouse gestures in fact were initially my main reason to use Galeon and not Mozilla. I first heard about mouse gestures in Opera 3.x and in my HCI classes at university. I like them and started using them with Opera 3 under Windows. I very quickly found out that the Linux browsers I used, didn’t have them, because I got so used to them, that I kept making mouse gestures in browsers which have never heard about it. And Opera wasn’t available for Linux at that time. So I found Galeon (1.2.x of course ;-).

And in general they are not faster in my opinion.

It’s just like gear shifting in a car: After a while you just don’t even have to think about it anymore. You just do it. You’re used to it. You can’t say, that counts for click back buttons, do you? (Well, it counts for hitting escape buttons, depending on you keyboard. ;-)

They lack interim feedback IMHO.

Does Alt-Left has feedback? Do you have a force feedback keyboard?

Apart from using the mouse usually is quite slow anyway…

You use always the tab key to navigate through web sites or your bookmarks? (As far as I remember, you aren’t a big fan of type-ahead find either…)

I’m a keyboard and command-line freak, I hold talks about command-line efficiency. But when it comes to the web, I need mainly two things to navigate: A location bar with history completion and auto-suggestion and a mouse with at least three buttons and a scroll wheel. My web browser is also the only graphical application I use regularly. Everything else runs in text-mode.

I consider mouse gestures to be another big hype.

Well, then it’s a hype which works very good for about eight or nine years for me.

I load about 50 (internal and external) web pages when I log in.
Oh my god. I would DIE if I had to work that way!

You don’t have to, but I want to. Why should I open all that pages manually, if Galeon can load sessions?

I let you use browsers the way you do (just use them and adapt yourself), and you let me use browsers the way, I do (configure and adapt them).

Today, also Wouter Verhelst joined the discussion with visualising very nice and clearly what the core of our discussion is: How to deal with experienced users who know what they want at same time as with beginners who should be able to start working right off.

Regarding Wouters rhetoric question, why he left GNOME, my answer is: Because I just don’t need it. I tried sawmill/sawfish and metacity with GNOME, but it just didn’t satisfy me and it doesn’t have anything I really need. fvwm2 with the keybindings a friend of mine and me developed during our HCI studies at university (about 8 or 9 years ago) worked better and were easier to implement. So after a few months of using a GNOME desktop I got back to good ol’ fvwm, which still works fine and fast on my 400 MHz desktop, although fvwm evolved over the years from version 1.0 to 2.5 since then.

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Hackergotchi of Axel Beckert


This is the blog or weblog of Axel Stefan Beckert (aka abe or XTaran) who thought, he would never start blogging... (He also once thought, that there is no reason to switch to this new ugly Netscape thing because Mosaïc works fine. That was about 1996.) Well, times change...

He was born 1975 at Villingen-Schwenningen, made his Abitur at Schwäbisch Hall, studied Computer Science with minor Biology at University of Saarland at Saarbrücken (Germany) and now lives in Zürich (Switzerland), working at the IT Support Group (ISG) of the Departement of Physics at ETH Zurich.

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