Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Trying GS Extensions

So far, I'm not much of a fan of GNOME Shell extensions. For the most part, I prefer the default set-up, and I have no problem getting around the desktop and getting work done.

Up until today, I had the following extensions installed in Fedora 16:

Alternative Status Menu: I like this one because it gives a Power Off option, which is something that should have been included in GNOME Shell from the beginning. I installed it from the Fedora repos, but it conflicted with GNOME Shell at first, until some subsequent updates apparently fixed it.

Icon-Manager: Don't use it, have it turned off.

Workspace Indicator: This is a pretty good extension for showing which workspace you're currently on, and provides an alternative way to quickly switch between workspaces. I have it running, but I rarely use it for switching workspaces.

Dock Extension: Don't use it, have it turned off.

User Themes: I have it turned on, but I've played with it only a couple of times.

Applications Menu: It's turned on, but I rarely use it.

Today, I added a couple more extensions: Panel-Docklet and Area Screenshot. Until now, I've only used extensions installed from the Fedora repos, but I pulled these two from the GNOME Shell Extensions site.

I use Google Chrome (or Chromium, depending on the distro I'm using at the moment). But the GNOME Shell Extensions site doesn't work with Chrome or Chromium; if you go there with one of those browsers, you'll see a mesage saying, "You do not appear to have an up to date version of GNOME3. You won't be able to install extensions from here."

You'll see this message even if your GNOME 3 version actually IS up-to-date.

So, I went to the site using Firefox.

Once you find an extension you want to install, you click on it's name and you're taken to that extension's page. There you'll find an on-off switch next to the name of the extension. Turn it on, and after a few seconds you're given the option to install the extension. I did this for Panel-Docklet, it installed, and I was taken through a settings manager. I was notified that I could later access the settings by right-clicking on Panel-Docklet.

While Panel-Docklet can be turn on/off via Advanced Settings, I see no way uninstall it other than going back to the extension site with Firefox and uninstalling it there.

One problem I'm noticing is that the icons sit too high on the panel, cutting off the top part of the icon. This screen shot gives you an idea:

With the mouse hovering over Panel-Docklet, you get a drop down list showing all open windows on each workspace, separated nicely by workspace.

If you right-click on one of the icons, you get a menu with the following items: Close Window, Minimize, New Window, Application, and the name of the active window. Under Application, there are options to Quit Application and Remove from Favorites.

If you right-click on one of the workspace numbers, you get a menu with the following items: Settings; and a menu of the same Favorites that you have in Dash (the dock) -- only, in reverse order! Hopefully this will be fixed.

It seems a bit buggy yet. I've lost control of the mouse at various times, particularly after trying to take a screen shot with GNOME's default screen shot app. Also I've noticed some times when the wrong workspace number was being displayed. Further, I'm not sure that I like having it up there in the panel any better than simply using the hot spot in the upper left corner to get a view of apps running on various workspaces, although it does seem useful for going directly to a particular running app quickly.

Next, I added the Area Screenshot Extension. As noted in the extension's homepage:

By default, this extension does nothing; you have to assign a keyboard shortcut to it. To do this, you can run the following command[s]:

gconftool-2 -s --type string "$key" 'Print'

After running those commands, I tried it out. The extension's homepage notes:

When you hit + Print now, you can select an area on your screen with your mouse. After releasing your mouse, a new screenshot will be saved in your local "Pictures" directory with the current timestamp. You can also take a screenshot of a single window by simply clicking on it.

When taking an area screenshot, you can set a timer to be able to open context menus and such, which can't usually be captured. To set the timer, simply press the numbers 1 to 9 on your keyboard to define the countdown. The timer will appear in the bottom left of your screen. After making your selection, it will count down to zero. Pressing 0 on your keyboard will deactivate the timer.

Well, things worked okay, except the timer didn't work at all here. I pressed numbers on the keyboard to define the countdown, but no timer ever appeared on my screen. I was able to select areas of the screen with the mouse, but the extension didn't work at all, for example, when I right-clicked on an icon in the Panel-Docklet extension to open up the menu.

So, I'm not sold on most of the GNOME Shell extensions I've tried so far. For now, I think I'm better off staying close to the default GNOME Shell, as designed by the GNOME developers. That set-up works fine for me; we'll see how things turn out in the future.

A few additional notes regarding the extensions from the GNOME Shell Extensions site (as opposed to the ones available in the Fedora repos):

- Right now, if you want to update extensions, you have to uninstall them manually and reinstall them. Gnome 3.4 is supposed to include features for automatic updates of these extensions.

- You can either go to the site to uninstall extensions, or you can remove the extension's directory which is stored in ~/.local/share/gnome-shell/extensions, then restart the session.

I think I'll wait few weeks, then try uninstalling and re-installing some of the extensions from that site, and see how things have progressed.

f16 wallpaper fun

I managed to get an automatic wallpaper changer working in Fedora 16 in GNOME Shell, thanks to Ubuntu forum member "mareser." It's a script run by a cron job. mareser provides the script and a command to set up the cron job in this thread; anyone interested can pick them up from there.

Since I was trying this in Fedora 16 (not in Ubuntu), I did a few things differently. I dropped some wallpapers into a directory called ~/wallpapers, extracted the script to my home directory, and within the script edited the following line to read:


I edited his command for setting up the cron job, changing the time interval from "30" to "10," and replacing "$USER" with "steve" and "$HOME/edit/this/path/" with "/home/steve/" I used su - to get root access instead of sudo, so here's the command I used to set up the crontab:

# sh -c "echo \*/2 \* \* \* \* steve bash /home/steve/ >> /etc/crontab"

Well, it works, and it'll do for now until I find a really nice GUI automatic wallpaper changer for GNOME Shell that works in Fedora.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

BCS :(

Boise State coach Chris Peterson made the point that when he's voting (in the USAToday coaches poll), "I'm trying to make the best case for Boise State to get in there ... I probably shouldn't be voting."

Which, of course, is what every coach would be doing.

And, how many coaches really know all that much about teams outside of their own conferences? These guys don't have time to watch many other teams play, other than their own upcoming opponents, or the teams they've played against, so what do they really know?

Why should the coaches poll carry so much weight, then?

As Peterson also said, the polls lack credibility when teams ranked in the top ten can't even get into a BCS bowl game. This year: Boise, Arkansas, Kansas State, and South Carolina, all ranked in the top ten in the AP poll, the USAToday, and the BCS standings, all left out of BCS bowl games. Instead: Michigan, Clemson, Virginia Tech, West Virgina -- none of them ranked in the top ten by anybody, all of them playing in BCS bowl games.

Maybe Peterson is gonna come across as a "whiner," but he makes some points that are pretty hard to argue with:

I think everybody is tired of the BCS ... Everybody's frustrated. Nobody really knows what to do anymore. It doesn't make sense to anybody. … I don't think anybody's happy anywhere.

...The whole thing needs to be changed, no question about it...

...Why are we voting at all if it doesn't really mean anything?...

...I haven't heard anyone saying, 'Hey, this is really good.' Nobody likes it. Nobody understands it. Everyone says it needs to be tweaked. Hopefully it will be.