How To Ask Questions The Smart Way

20. September, 2012

When you write software, you get bug reports and pleas for help. When you use software, you sometimes (or even often) stumble over problems and need help.

Since processes of this type involve more than a single person, friction occurs. To reduce this friction, read this document: “How To Ask Questions The Smart Way

It’s a good read for both sides. It will help you understand why some questions irritate you and it will help you understand why you didn’t receive any help when you had a problem.


Leviathan Wakes: Book One of the Expanse Series

17. September, 2012

Leviathan Wakes (Amazon) is the first book of the Expanse series.

First of all, a warning: Buy this book on a Friday evening. You might not get much sleep after starting reading.

I admit that I felt uneasy after reading the first scene in the “Look Inside” sample chapter. Julie’s fate made me wonder whether this was going to become splatter & gore later. That didn’t happen. The author does use violence when it makes sense at that point in the story. It’s still repugnant but it makes sense.

Which is the strong point: Everyone in the book is smart. There aren’t any stereotype evil guys. Everyone – protagonists and side characters – has a clear plan, a goal, means and will to achieve that goal – even if someone else is getting in the way. If something goes wrong, it goes wrong for a reason. If people make mistakes, they make them because it seemed a really good idea at the time. Shit happens. A lot of shit. The hard-boiled cop and the righteous ex-military, scraping off each other. Each absolutely sure that their course of action isn’t the best but only viable solution. Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t about cop vs. military. This is the struggle of two completely different characters that need to achieve the same goal and who actually get along pretty well. If one of them isn’t broadcasting information that might kill thousands of people in riots. And the other isn’t shooting people in the head in cold blood because he believes them dangerous sociopaths that might get away with their crimes.

The story takes many twists and turns, never losing enough speed to get boring, but with slower sections to allow the reader to put down the book. To handle the most pressing human urges. Eating. Drinking. Restroom. Reading on to know what happens next.

Characters: Great individuals. Most of them seem to be the usual stereotypes but cracks appear pretty quickly. People get away and people die. I cared. Well done.

World: He doesn’t go into much physics and cuts a few corners (distances are probably not quite right and flight times are probably not accurate) but the world as a whole makes sense. After reading the book, you have a feeling how Ceres and Eros look on the in- and outside, and how they work. Medicine is advanced but not almighty. If your bones break, you’re mobile again after a few minutes but it still takes the bone some weeks to heal.

I have only two minor points of criticism: When Julie comes out of her locker after four days without water, she passes a lot of ship but doesn’t stop to find something to drink. I could imagine that she’s too frightened to stop and get killed but there is no hint either way in her thoughts.

And there is no trace of information how everyone makes sure they don’t get contaminated with the “virus” as they enter and leave infected areas. A few sentences about medical checkups and decontamination would have worked wonders.

Apart from that, I loved the many details.

Q: What’s the most important part of a military ship?

A: A coffee machine that spits out good stuff no matter free fall or 5 g acceleration.


The End is Nigh

12. September, 2012

No, the world doesn’t end 2012 but it will soon be a much less hospitable place for us humans. Before I share my view, what do you believe will be the most prominent factor in the massive reduction of the human population?

Update: Polldaddy didn’t keep my poll alive and I missed to copy the results before it was gone. Sorry for that.


Firefox Crashing When Opening a New Window in openSUSE 12.2

11. September, 2012

Does Firefox crash for you when you open a new window?

Report the crash using the built in tool, then browse “about:crashes” (shows you which crashes you reports), click the topmost link.

If frame #0 in “Crashing Thread” (bottom of the page) reads “libtracker-sparql-0.12.so.0.1205.0”, then this package is the culprit: tracker-miner-firefox

Delete it and Firefox should work again. If that helps in your case, you’ve been hit by this bug.

What’s this piece of crap do? From the web site:

Tracker is a semantic data storage for desktop and mobile devices. Tracker uses W3C standards for RDFontologies using Nepomuk withSPARQL to query and update the data.

If you don’t know, Nepomuk is the great technology that builds search indexes over anything on your disk. Unfortunately, it’s developed by people who believe quality in software is nice to have. So it tends to hog the CPU wasting your time, it can fill your harddisk with useless junk, and please, don’t run it on computers with more than 100 MB (that’s 0.1 GB) of disk space or more than 1’000 files; otherwise, it might never finish. If you try to search something, bring some time – useless results take a moment to come up with.

Don’t disable it either, or apps like Dolphin will be unhappy. It’s already beyond the abilities of these people to hide the UI elements for rating and tags when you try to protect yourself.

I opened a bug to have Nepomuk removed from KDE until it reaches alpha status but that bug was closed.

‘Nuf said.