Author Archives: conner_bw

Expedia Sucks, List Of Alternatives

I used Expedia to book a flight and car rental for me and my family, once, and it led to the worst booking experience of my life.

I ended up paying an extra thousand dollars in “unforeseens”, losing a day in travel time, and every customer service representative not affiliated with Expedia charging us those surcharges told me: “Sorry, because your family used a third party Expedia nothing can be done.” Further conversation about this was unflattering. When I reported this to Expedia, expecting some sort of compensation, Expedia’s own customer service was unhelpful in so much that I am now out a thousand dollars. After corresponding with them they frankly don’t care.

Expedia takes your money then passes you off to their uncooperative partners who have no qualms making disparaging comments about how much they themselves dislike Expedia. These partners will add charges which are “disclaimered away” in Expedia small print. These charges will cost you much more than you had planned.

Never again will I use Expedia. You shouldn’t either. Here is a list of alternatives:

Know any others? Leave a comment below! Just make sure it’s not a sock puppet from one of Expedia’s many merger and acquisitions.

Xubuntu 14.04 – Good Looking Desktop

I updated to Xubuntu 14.04 LTS a few months ago, April to be exact, and I am sticking with it.

After following advice posted in a comment on Reddit I managed to squash most of my annoyances with the derivative and can say with confidence that I’m happy with it.

Some screenshots:

Screenshot 1

Welcome to Xubuntu

Screenshot 2

Floating Window

Screenshot 3

Fullscreen Window

To accomplish the above I took a screenshot of an empty section of a Window border and set that as Panel 0’s background, I checked “Don’t reserve space on borders” for said Panel, I moved my Close, Minimize, & Maximize buttons to the left, I made a Sidebar, Panel 1, to look a bit like Unity, and I installed the evolvere-dark-fallback theme.

A few more tweaks later and I am a delighted and productive user. Long live Xubuntu!

Xubuntu 13.10 – Ugly But Honest

I’ve been using Ubuntu over eight hours a day since 12.04 and I couldn’t take it anymore. I wiped my partition and replaced it with Xubuntu. Here’s how I made it my home.

Windows:

I changed the window dragging behavior to be more like vanilla Ubuntu by 1) Enabling “Snap windows to screen border,” 2) Disabling “Wrap workspaces when the pointer reaches the screen edge,” and 3)  Setting mouse double click time to 400ms so that double clicking a window bar would maximize it. [ Source ]

Xubuntu-Fix-Window-Double-Click   Xubuntu-Disable-Wrap

Shortcuts:

I had to learn some new shortcuts and abandon others. Bye bye Dash, hello RAM and speed? I’m cool with that.

By default Super+r is mapped to a decent Application Launcher. To compliment this, I mapped Super+s to Catfish, a minimal but versatile file searching tool included with the distro. Finally, I deleted mappings I didn’t care about so that there would be minimal conflict with my keyboard heavy workhorse apps PHPStorm and Renoise. (Yes, I’m here for the free beer not the freedom. Sorry enthusiasts…) To make the window switching more like Unity (and OS X) I mapped “Switch Window for same application” to Alt+`

Xubuntu-Shortcuts-2   Xubuntu-Shortcuts-1

Desktop:

I use the Desktop as an actual workspace; keeping work-in-progress on my Desktop then moving those into “folders” when I’m done – as the metaphor was intended.

The default Xubuntu Desktop is kind of ugg boots. I made it more to my liking by creating  ~/.gtkrc-20 and adding the following configuration to it: [ Source ]

style "xfdesktop-icon-view" {
    XfdesktopIconView::ellipsize-icon-labels = 0
    XfdesktopIconView::cell-text-width-proportion = 3.0
}
widget_class "*XfdesktopIconView*" style "xfdesktop-icon-view"

Sound:

There’s a bug with the sound indicator. I temporarily fixed it by following these instructions on WEB UPD8. Keep an eye open for the official patch by following this bug report.

Miscellaneous:

XFCE Terminal. Edit -> Preferences -> Advanced: Unchecked “Disable Menu Shortcuct keys (F10 by default)”

I ran `$ sudo apt-get install indicator-cpufreq` so I could easily control my CPU governors.

I installed Deja-Dup. Then: Settings Manager -> Main Menu -> System – Enabled the Backup item that launches deja-dup-preferences. This brings back the Ubuntu Backup interface I was accustomed to.

Mostly, I spent a couple hours mucking about “Setting Manager” and learning the environment. This helped me appreciate (and learn) the new distro. When I screwed up I ran `rm -r ~/.config/xfce4` and started over. (Warning: don’t run this command unless you are an idiot, like me.)

Dislikes:

When restoring backups I had to learn deja-dup from the command line. In vanilla Ubuntu it was one simple right-click away.

I’m annoyed that I don’t have a global menu and HUD anymore but the feature is so horribly unsupported that, frankly, it’s easier to pretend that it never existed instead of hoping that Canonical will take ownership of their own flag ship. Yes I understand Linux users “hate” this feature. To this I say you’re morons and fuck you! 🙂

Menus and task bars at the top (or bottom) made sense when we had square CRT monitors. Nowadays all (my) monitors are wide screen. That means I have more pixels to waste from left to right than I do from top to bottom.  Stacking menus is stupid and a waste of valuable space:

Menu-bars-are-ugly

On the subject of task bars I tired to make a vertical Panel with Xubuntu but it was aesthetically disappointing. It’s felt like putting pants on sideways Ie. it doesn’t work. IMHO a designer has to design for this space, not simply move a bar.

But, at the end of the day I spend most of my time looking at text, wear glasses and can’t see for shit so do I really care about eye candy? It’s F11 for now…

Likes:

Xubuntu is a slick, tightly packaged Linux distro that accomplishes one thing well: Not sucking. Thank you to the people who made this. Long live Xubuntu.

I Want To Like Ubuntu, Really I do… 13.10

I started using Ubuntu exclusively sometime in the summer of 2012. Before that I was using OSX for almost ten years.

I like Ubuntu because of the Unity interface. It reminds me of OSX.

I don’t want an asinine “Start” icon and 400 years of ugg boots right-click menus. I don’t want the interface formerly known as metro.

I think Unity is a sensible compromise between OSX and something that isn’t OSX but close enough.

But holy shit, beyond “close enough”, what a cluster fuck of terrible.

As of 13.10, their iTunes substitute crashes all the time. The workaround is to disable a plugin that interfaces with Zeitgest, a piece of software that people have to apologize for. I’m having a hard time believing  Apple would release a version of their OS where iTunes crashes because they didn’t bother to check that it worked with their own flagship spyware. So either none of the devs at Canonical listen to music or none of the devs use their own features.

Java crashing all over the place unapologetically where it was previously working fine.

But mostly, after trying hard to get with the Dash vision of “search everything”, I said fuck off and disabled all online searches completely. It is now set to OFF in my Privacy settings. Arse what a brain dead implementation. 100 scopes of slowing down trying to get any real work done like some sort of bloatware from the late 90s. Who made this? RealMedia?! Why in the hell does anyone need hundreds of search providers in Desktop mode?  This is the opposite of what people wanted.

Maybe if Edge hadn’t been such a comically bad campaign we, the users, would actually give two shits about your convergence vision over there in Canonical marketing land, but in the meantime we’re trying to use our desktop computers to get work done so that we can make money to afford to buy your fucking phones in the first place.

Bonus stupidity: Wayland vs. Mir?

So yeah, I’m going to run 12.04 on some servers until EOL,  I will run 13.10 on this laptop for another nine months, but then I’m out.

It’s not me, it’s you.

I cannot, in good faith, support Canonical’s antics anymore. New distro suggestions welcome.