Holiday, Google Wikis and Gnome Musings

I love Autumn mornings - although the weather isn't anywhere near cold yet, curling up with a book (or a laptop) and catching up on my reading with sunlight streaming in is one of the best things of the season.

Given that I recently started using Google Apps for Your Domain, I find it very interesting that they went and bought JotSpot. I'm looking forward to seeing a Google-branded Wiki offering tied to either Page Creator or their business offering.

Like many others, however, I keep wondering why they just didn't do it in-house.

On the Ubuntu front, and despite still not having fixed things to my liking, I'm having quite a bit of fun with Gnome. Despite the garish icons and occasional UI kludges, there are little things like search-as-you-type in file dialogs (which also works in Mac OS X but which, amazingly, has better UI feedback in Gnome) and Nautilus's Finder-like side pane and location bar that make it quite tolerable.

Then there's the extensibility. Despite the lack of something comparable to AppleScript, you can automate all sorts of things, from mounting disk images to full-blown Python-based UI scripting using Dogtail. Sure, it's fragmented, dicey and nowhere as straightforward as on the Mac, but it's there.

I've also installed Beryl, not for the (rather hysterical and pointless) eye-candy - most of which I switched off right off the bat - but because it provides a decent Exposé-like feature. Sure, it's impressive to see the cube pager working on a relatively slow graphics card such as the i810, but my iBook has been able to do this for years (with roughly half the horsepower).

As to actual productivity, there is one thing that keeps bugging me: Even though I've been using Witch for ages to get around Mac OS X's rather irritating application-focused "task" switcher, Gnome's task switcher feels better, and I think I've figured out why: It's not just the fact that it lets me switch to individual windows, it's letting me switch to windows in different workspaces and being very, very fast.

Which means that when I'm up to my eyeballs in terminal sessions, Gnome feels a lot more efficient than Mac OS X.

Before people start mentioning that there are hotkeys to ease switching between windows, allow me to point out that Apple completely botched those on the Portuguese keyboard layout - the keys they picked are completely unusable. Additionally, Virtue has trouble with figuring out focus shifts to distinct windows from the same application in different workspaces, something that Gnome handles trivially.

Let's see what Apple comes up with when we get Leopard and Spaces.