Thursday, March 1, 2012

New Layout, Oops

So I was bored one day (today) and was wondering what new enchanting templates were available from google. Looks like there's no turning back now so if you have any suggestions let me know. I'll play around with the design when I have time.

Edit: I really didn't like the font and previous template (I find I like serif fonts far more than sans serif), I also changed the width to fit my monitor (before I would have to keep zooming to get a good font size). Note that I made such changes to optimize my personal viewing of the website, and though I hope such changes are aesthetically pleasing to you as well, if you have any thoughts or comments in regard to the layout of the blog leave a comment and I will gladly take in your feedback and change the layout if necessary.

By the way, more posts coming in the next few days!

Google Calendar Theme Change (for Firefox)

So if you're a google calendar user you probably know that google has taken out the old layout because it was "impossible" to maintain two layout. As well, their stance is unwavering. And, if you're like me, you aren't really a big fan of it (though they have recently added a number of new colors that are easier to see). This post is mainly for Firefox users since I'm going to talk about greasemonkey and stylish, both found on the firefox browser. Though I belive that you can run greasemonkey scripts on chrome but I will not talk about it here. So in this post I'm going to show you what I did to go from this (original)

to this

At least for me, it is far easier to see the actual event names and the screen space is used properly, unlike in the first picture (black text to white text). Plus, the space is used better as there is more space for the calendar.

Well, two of my favorite websites when it comes to tweaking websites to your liking is going to be and, with the first one catered specifically to greasemonkey and second to stylish. Now for stylish they do give you options to covert the script to greasemonkey which means running less addon but I guess I'm lazy so I have both addons.

Step 1. Download Greasemonkey and Stylish.

Step 2. The first script to download is found here, called "google calendar better 2011 style." Just click the blue "install with stylish" button and you're done. What this script does (Straight from the website)
- white event and task text on all colors
- classic yellow current day highlight
- grey hour label bg color

Step 3. The second script to download is found here and is called google calendar bars toggler. As its name suggests it allows you to hid the headers and other elements on the google calendar you are not likely to use (ever). It provides arrows (and keyboard shortcuts) for you to toggle their hidden state. The steps are similar to the second where you just click the install button.

And that's it, with these two scripts you can hopefully like google calendar a bit more. For chrome if you go to the script sites I'm sure they provide instructions to install the script as an addon (I've tried this with other scripts), though if you have any questions you can ask in the comments.

First post of 2012? Quick thoughts.

Well I guess it's evident now that it is not possible for me to maintain this web page during the school year. And by maintain I mean post new articles here and then. I have some ideas for new posts but I just haven't had the time (or motivation) to use these ideas and actually create the post. I am now going to spend a couple minutes to go through some quick thoughts that I've had on recent events in no particular order.

Windows 8 Consumer Preview

Nice name by the way, apparently "beta" is too mainstream. Disclaimer: I haven't personally tried windows 8 (though I would very much like to, and I'm not talking about virtualizing it here. I want the full experience.), but I can't help but say that it's kind of like mac os 10.7 lion. There are some features that I really like, such as the new windows task manager (I find the layout very informative and the colors convey the information efficiently), and I'm talking about the detailed view here.

Though I don't know whether this metro interface is the way to go, with the start menu "gone." The metro UI does not facilitate an efficient desktop experience. Say you just want to search up a program to start up, you would have to press the window key, then you have to find (I believe you press "control-f" to search all apps, and then select the app that you want to launch. But the thing is, the change is too drastic. The change from the desktop to the metro interface just seems so jarring, like I'm moving from one experience to another. I really hope that microsoft provides a way to disable the metro interface. That and a tweak to put back the old start menu and windows 8 would be good to go. In the end I actually have some faith in microsoft on this issue, where they will listen to customer demand and provide options (unlike apple and snow leopard/iCloud).

In the meantime I will consider downloading the consumer preview, though I will have to find some sort of external hard drive or USB drive to store the temporary windows 8 partition. I don't really have that much time at the moment, perhaps I will do that over the summer.

Google Calendar
I have been a longtime user of google calendar, but a recent change has really infuriated me, and continues to lead me to believe that Google is definitely evil. Google calendar recently eliminated the option to view the calendar in the "classic view temporarily." And they did this pretty suddenly. During the whole time I was using google calendar I received no message, no email about the change. Google said they gave some warnings in advance but for me personally I had no idea they were going to change. And I wouldn't be so vocal about the change if the new layout wasn't so bad. But it is atrocious, where the colors are horrible and the layout is not efficient with space at all.

These days when I have time I'm still trying to find a good replacement for google calendar, so that I can view it on the desktop. I thought iCal would be a prime candidate, but then the font is far too small on the calendar, and there is no way I can change it (I'm talking about snow leopard here). Outlook, turns out, doesn't even support the CalDav protocol. Busycal is very functional but is far too expensive (I'm not paying $50 for a calendar).

Oh yes, this also relates to google, though not specifically to google calendar. But one time I went to google groups to "discuss" the new calendar changes only to find that google had messed that up too. From the old, comfortable gmail-esque layout to the new repulsive layout. For whatever reason the site used up a lot of browser resources too as it was laggy and almost unusable. It behaved a bit better on chrome but seriously.

Last thoughts/Apple
I find that these days I'm losing faith in the big tech companies (I'm looking at you, microsoft, apple, google). Microsoft, well, they've been losing ground for a while now (though some faith was restored in windows 7), the metro interface is not useful in a desktop environment. For apple 10.7 was a disaster (when compared to previous releases, and in this case I'm talking about 10.4-10.6), where apple is slowly clamping down on the desktop OS, and they're not giving users a lot of choice at all. I'm still running snow leopard right now, and I'm not optimistic about mountain lion. I like how they're moving over to an iOS-like environment slowly, but some features are just not refined. I do hope that in the next iteration of OS X such features will be more refined, as in better multi-display support, and better application management when it comes to virtual desktops. I'm talking about issues such as versions and full screen mode multi-monitor support. However, typical Apple doesn't listen to customer feedback, and has said nothing about it. And Google has so far proved itself to be an evil company, with their tracking cookies bypassing browser restrictions (a la safari and internet explorer), and their new policy where they can use all your usage data (from gmail, youtube, etc.) to form an overall comprehensive picture.

I also realize that I am kind of schizophrenic at times, you might say, as I was so intrigued by BOINC when I first started using it. Now I no longer have it on my system. Though, over time I realized one thing. It is that my mac warranty expires in march 2012, and if I keep running BOINC I fear that since the computer runs at a hotter temperature that it'll break down easier. Though if I ever do build a desktop in the coming years I'll run BOINC on that for sure (since I can replace the parts far easier and cheaper than that on a laptop).