Are you serious? They call that an operating system?

I will be mentoring Scott Peterson this year in the Google SoC. Scott has contributed a number of excellent patches to Banshee in the past, and I’m quite pleased to be working with him.

He loves tacos and coincidentally, so do I. As a result, he will be doing the official port of Banshee to Windows! Taco Power. The primary action items for Scott will be full hardware support, getting the GStreamer stack working (CD ripping, playback, transcoding), CD Burning, implementing a native playback engine, and all around fixes and refactoring where necessary. After that I’d like to see a slick installer wrapped around it that pulls in the necessary runtime components. I am quite eager for this work to start, as is Scott, and I’m looking forward to another great year of SoC. Good luck Scott!

In an ultimately related note, I installed VMWare Workstation 6 Beta, and it is bloody awesome. Finally USB 2.0 support, and all the devices show up automatically without having to tweak some files. With Workstation 6, I installed and ran Windows Vista for the first time. What a joke. I’ll be testing Scott’s work under XP and Vista, and I was curious to see what we’re up against anyway.

Vista validates my feelings towards GNOME, Linux, and our community. We are rocking in our world, and it shows. Vista looks like nothing more than some glassy upgrades to the XP UI with little change in functionality and lots of extra obfuscation. I don’t think these guys even know what HIG is. You also are constantly answering menial questions. Any time something happens, you get a message along these lines: “A program has been started, do you want to do this? If you started this action, continue.”.

Installing the VMWare Tools was really fun. First Vista asked me twice if I wanted to run the installer. Yes. Then for every driver the installer installed, Vista asked me to confirm that I wanted to install it. I think I had to click “Continue” at least 15 times. This is their answer to keeping the computer secure, the user safe. ASK LOTS CONFUSING OF QUESTIONS (at least you will choose the correct answer no less than 50% of the time!).

Even worse is that after all these years, they obviously have never tested any of their software on real users. It is incredibly hard to navigate through dialog boxes and prompts. It’s the classic usability issue we know so well in GNOME – the difference is that we have fixed it, we are aware of it, and we are better for it. Here’s a perfect example. I ran the Windows Update stuff, but wanted to restart since VMWare Tools finally finished installing. So I clicked “Stop” in the updater. I was stopped by the Vista police and had to answer some questions regarding my actions. It went something like this (mind you, the button I clicked was labeled “Stop”):

“Are you sure you want to cancel Windows Update?”
[Continue] [Cancel]

WTF? There are so many things wrong here. Let’s see. I clicked “Stop.” So here, does “Continue” mean “Continue Updating” or does it mean “Continue Stopping?” Maybe “Cancel” means “Cancel Updater.” Hmm. Maybe “Cancel” means “Cancel my stop update request.” Nothing about these statements are clear. It’s like a flow chart from hell. It really isn’t possible to make the right choice. You are playing Russian Roulette.

In GNOME it would have gone something like this.

“Are you sure you want to stop the GNOME software updater?”
“You can resume the updater at a later time by going to Control Center, Software Updates. The updater will resume from this point.”
[Continue Updating] [Stop Updating]

I don’t even have to read the dialog text to figure out my correct choice. This is simple stuff.

Anyway, there are so many other things wrong with Vista that I have run into, and I think I’ve explored the system for all of 15 minutes so far. This is the quality that comes out of the Microsoft Machine after 5 or more years of development. This is what they managed to produce. Awful. They live in a box of delusion.

I didn’t mean for this post to turn into a Vista review, so I’ll stop before I become too irate. I had some other more important updates to write about, but I’ll save that for another post. GNOME rocks.

Some updates at 3:23am

I released Banshee 0.12.1 which has a few big fixes, most of which are iPod related. Along with this Banshee release comes libipoddevice 0.5.3 and ipod-sharp 0.6.3 with support for the changes introduced by Apple in iTunes 7.1. If you have an iPod and use Banshee, especially if you have used that iPod with iTunes 7.1, you’ll want to update.

For the last month and some odd weeks I have mainly been working on fixes for Banshee 0.12.x and related areas, and making sure all will be rocking with SLED 10 SP1, to be released rather soon now. I submitted the equivalent of Banshee 0.12.1 for RC2 last night, and that’s what you can expect out of the box for SP1. I am eager to start hacking on trunk again, and will work on drawing up a road map for Banshee 0.13.x in the coming week. There are a number of other fringe projects I want to lend some attention to again as well.

Mark my pages

Tonight Gabriel informed me he spent a couple of hours hacking up a bookmarking plugin for Banshee. He’s committed it to trunk and takes the prize for getting the first new (and unexpected) feature into the new 0.13.x development series!

We are both a little unsure of the UI for doing bookmarks. I think the menu is probably okay – it’s out of the way at least. I’d like to see CTRL+D create a bookmark and also would like some kind of keyboard shortcut for activating an existing bookmark. Imagine you’re trying to learn a certain verse of a song or something and would like to quickly jump back to a bookmarked position.

I made a short screencast of it because I am now addicted to screencasts and I wanted a reason to unnecessarily use the totally awesome annotate plugin in Compiz.

Banshee Bookmarks
OGG Theora, 2.2MB

This plugin is only a few hours old and already there’s a lot I’d like to do with it, but I wouldn’t want it to get bloated. Probably just quick keyboard shortcuts. Awesome work Gabriel!