A Real PLUS for the Haiku Community

How in the heck did I miss this one?  I just ran across an excellent Google+ site covering Haiku, and they’re doing a bang-up job of it.  Buzzer Richard Nyhus is keeping it maintained, and there’s a steady flow of new information coming from him and from his readers.  Called simply “Haiku OS,” it has over 462 people following it as of today.  I’m going to be following this site with keen interest.

https://plus.google.com/communities/116050756631351429142/op/join

I encourage everybody to join the party over there, and be sure to share the link around with friends, etc.

OpenJDK – A Shining Star That Needs Some Polish

I’ve been trying out a variety of Java apps that have been ported to Haiku, taking advantage of the OpenJDK capabilities that were added to the operating system in 2012.  There are many beautiful apps like Pixelitor that made their way across the great divide to Haiku at that time, but now there appears to be a new divide.  Two (or more) different versions of OpenJDK for Haiku are floating around.  Some apps work in one, some in another.  Some no longer seem to work in any that I’ve found. Here are some of the awesome apps that are presently “just out of reach” unless the user wants to twiddle with multiple versions of OpenJDK

https://www.haiku-os.org/community/forum/apps_i_use_haiku_openjdk

There’s a serious need for community attention on this, and I’m hoping leBUZZ can serve as a focal point for it.  Somehow, we need to bring all the Java ports under one roof…(HaikuDepot)…and get them all working under the one version of OpenJDK offerred officially there.  If we can get everybody on the same page, we can swing the door open on this thing, and let in all the good stuff.

I’m going to set up a bounty for this, and see if I can find someone who is willing to work on this.  If you are interested in helping get Java apps running under Haiku’s OpenJDK, please (dane) contact (@) me (bayland.net).

People in-the-know seem to think the task of making these already-ported apps compatible (runnable) using the OpenJDK from HaikuDepot is unlikely to take more than 15 or 20 minutes per app.  Apparently it is mainly going to involve preparing or editing “recipes.”  If we can pay someone $15 per app they get running, they could potentially make somewhere between $45 and $60 per hour working on it.

I’ll compile a list, and would encourage readers to post the ones they like and want most.  

The Apps Roll In For Haiku

With the arrival of Qupzilla (1.7.0 running under QT 4.8.6), Haiku users are suddenly finding a whole world of online web-based productivity tools available to them…turning what has primarily been a hobby OS into an increasingly-legitimate workstation platform.  It has allowed me to move much of my daily business work over to Haiku, including collaborations, text editing, word processing, and more.

Today, we begin a series of leBUZZ articles investigating really useful tools that are immediately available to Buzzers everywhere.  First stop on our tour: ZOHO.

ZOHO is an online resource that provides a very credible and complete set of office tools, including a word processor called ZOHO Writer, which has been described, I think accurately, as “among the best online word processors on the market.”

ZOHO Writer  has a lot going for it, including all the basic features you’d expect from a WYSIWYG style editor.

The site About Tech describes ZOHO Writer as “…an excellent online word processor…can easily replace Microsoft Word for many homes and small offices. And, because it is free to use, you cannot beat the price.

  • “Export documents to a wide variety of formats including Microsoft Word, PDF, Rich Text and HTML.
  • Publish documents to the web or to your blog
  • Full revision history including the ability to rollback to previous versions
  • Collaborate by sharing your document with friends or colleagues

One nice feature of this online word processor is that it allows you to publish your document straight to a blog, which makes it a handy tool for frequent bloggers. The publish utility supports Blogger, LiveJournal, WordPress and TypePad.”

Of course, all the features in the world are pretty worthless to Haiku users if the service doesn’t work well on this platform.  That’s the best part about it. It does.  Really well!

I created an account, logged in, and created the following document in just a couple minutes, with zero training or learning curve.  The doc is nothing fancy,just a quick one-off to show some of the features.

https://docs.zoho.com/writer/published.do?rid=zdpjx9b17ae1079174c17839a37e2faddaf95

I’d encourage everybody reading this to use the instructions in the previous article to download Qupzilla and try out ZOHO Writer.  Pop back here with your impressions.

EDIT (2/18/15) Apparently ZOHO has tightened its standards for supported web browsers.  It now reports Qupzilla’s engine as being inadequate, and only allows viewing, but not editing, of files.

The wait for apps…is ending.

Haiku is suddenly a whole lot more useful, courtesy of a web browser that can parse a lot of important online services.  With it’s high level of site compatibility, the Qupzilla browser, version 4.8.6, has opened the door to hundreds of major web-based “apps” and services.

Qupzilla, which runs on Haiku in the QT environment, is not only fast and stable at this point, but can parse pretty much any web page you throw at it.  And given how much of our productivity these days is tied to online services, I find I’m spending more and more of my day doing real work in Haiku!

If you don’t have Qupzilla loaded and running under Haiku yet, it’s easy to get/install under Haiku’s new Package Management system.  Just open a Terminal, type the following, and hit Enter:

pkgman install qupzilla_x86

Work continues in earnest on Haiku’s own native web browser too. WebPositive is growing in capabilities and will very likely even surpass Qupzilla’s prowess.  But in the meanwhile, Qupzilla gives us that needed Internet productivity.

I’ll be doing a series of articles on the great online services that work under Qupzilla, and I encourage others to post reports of the ones they discover that also work.

By the way…this WordPress article was written using Qupzilla.

Fake News Sites are Taking Over

This is miles from the typical subject matter I blog about here, but it’s something I really feel the need to climb the soapbox and speak about.

It’s getting harder and harder to find legitimate news sites on the Internet.  They exist, but if you use an aggregator like Google News, they’re interspersed with a growing number of what appear to be bogus sites whose “news stories” have a generic or unoriginal sound to them.   The stories are surrounded on all sides by a blizzard of tasteless banners, ads, and links that take you to other equally useless sites.  In just a few minutes, following links from Google news, I was taken to about twenty sites (names ommitted) that easily fell ito that category, and had certain things in common:

1. Odd, generic or unusual names.

2. News stories that report things in a broadly general way that sounds suspect.

3. News stories that seem like thinly-veiled rewrites of stories you’ve read elsewhere.

4. Ads above, and below, and on either side, popping up over the top of, and often, crowbarred into the midst of, the news story.

5. Bad grammar, and authors for whom, it would appear, English is a second (or third) language.

6. Similar page design, with a very generic looking top banner, and a slogan that says something broad and vague, like “All the news for you.”

I plan to write to Google News and ask them to do a better job of screening their news sources.  They’re wasting everybody’s time directing people to sites that are little more than advertising vehicles.

Web Browser is THE Tractor App

smallbee2You don’t hear the expression “tractor app” much anymore.  It refers to  a computer application that, by its very nature, draws people to an operating system platform, just like a tractor pulling a bailer.  It could be argued that, for Microsoft, Word was its tractor app.  For the Mac, it might have been Adobe Pagemaker or Photoshop.  Haiku may never have a tractor app in the true sense; an application so well-suited to it that it draws people in from other operating systems.  But for people who want to be able to do all the basics, simply, it might be that the single-most important application is the one that has the potential do “do it all,” and that’s WebPositive, its default web browser.

Before you look around for something to throw, let me explain my reasoning a little.  No other application serves as many different functions as a web browser does these days.  No single application is used more.  And by no other means are so many capabilities and services made available in universal, cross-platform ways.

With each new iteration, WebPositive is giving us access to more web-based applications and services, from word processors, to spreadsheets and databases, to calendars, to cloud storage, games, you name it.  It even supports YouTube videos now.  Every time I open it, I discover new sites it is able to “parse.”   And it only stands to reason that, over time, more and more possibilities will open up.  This helps fill the gap while programmers are discovering the platform and writing Haiku-specific applications for it.  And it eliminates an excuse for people who are already used to a certain cloud-based solution and wouldn’t want to work on an operating system platform that didn’t provide access to it.

What I’d like to do with this article is to start what I hope will be a large and useful list of sites and services people have discovered WebPositive works with, and to add to it over time.  I’ll start it out with this:  SimpleNote.

SimpleNote is a very easy, and nicely free, cloud-based note-taking resource that is completely platform agnostic.  You can keep as many different notes as you like, and they’re all accessible, searchable, and editable from within a single interface.  There are apps for various platforms that serve as clients, but there’s also a very clean, handsome online interface for it.  I was thrilled to discover I can log into it and edit all my various notes from it.

Your turn.  Use Comments to start posting some of your favorite web sites that work with WebPositive.

And of course, kudos to Pulkomandy for his tireless work and many improvements to good old Web+

Missing Out on the Beauty of BIG Icons!

smallbee2The first computer I ever owned that had a graphical user interface was an Amiga 500.  It was quite low resolution, so it would have been easy for Commodore to compensate by using tiny icons.  But it didn’t.  Some of the icons for programs on the Amiga were huge.  I remember one that looked as big as a deck of cards.  Granted, Amiga’s color limitations when not in HAM mode gave all the elements of the desktop a blocky, monochromatic appearance.  But I always admired the Amiga’s gutsy, big icons.

Starting with Windows 3.1,  I fell-in-line for awhile, and got used to dinky, boring icons.  Even when icons became scalable in the late 90s, and for an embarrassingly long period afterwards, I continued to use little retro-sized icons; in part, because BeOS didn’t support true icon resizing.    It wasn’t until I moved from Windows to Mac as my choice for day-to-day business computing that it finally dawned on me what I was missing out on.  Selecting “view options” from the desktop, I dragged the slider to the right,  and lo, the Mac’s beautiful, artistic icons leaped up to “Amigaesque” proportions…and they were stunning!  120×120 icons on a 1900×1200 monitor are about an inch high.  I love looking at them.  When I try reducing them to a smaller size now, I feel cheated.

Next, of course, I had to try resizing the icons in Haiku, where they also scale smoothly these days.  I bumped the icons up from 32×32 to 96×96, and they really came to life.  Ultimately I backed them down to 64×64 so my standard set of always-needed icons fits in a single row across the top of the screen, but they’re still large enough to appreciate their beauty.  And the Haiku system icons are indeed beautiful, kudos!

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time staring at a computer desktop.  In my own case, the simple act of making the icons bigger is something that has given me pleasure every time I turn on my computer.

A related note…

Coming from a long, unfortunate past in Windows, I became accustomed to the typical columns of icons along the left side of the screen, and anything different than that was alien and difficult for me to get used to.  But when I discovered the nifty clean-up feature Haiku offers by doing SHIFT-OPT-K (sorting the icons across the top of the screen alphabetically), I quickly came to appreciate and even like that layout.  It satisfies the “Monk” in me to be able to snap those icons into a predictable order when they get unruly.  Their being alphabetical means that, once you become accustomed to their onscreen order,  it becomes fast and easy to find what you want, even after a cleanup.

“Rent-an-app” indeed.

Most of the time, the focus at leBUZZ is on what’s going on in the Haiku community, but sometimes I indulge in a little editorializing on what the world outside looks like to a Haiku insider.  One thing that’s on my mind today is companies that adopt the increasingly common “rent-an-app” approach to software distribution.

Microsoft does it with Office.  You don’t buy Office anymore, you rent it.  You pay a yearly fee for the privilege of using it, like a tenant in an apartment building.  Adobe does it with Photoshop, except you get access to lots of other programs too…building supposed value so they can jack the yearly rent up to something nearer to the price of buying Photoshop afresh every 365 days.

I don’t love Office and do very well without it.  I do love Photoshop.  Fortunately for me, the last lifetime-licensable  version they offered has more capabilities than I’ll ever take advantage of.

They say, “never say never,” but I think I can safely say I’ll never let a company force me into renting their software.  There’s something so impermanent-feeling about using software that’s going to expire.  I just can’t get comfortable with the idea.  Am I the only one who finds the “rent squeeze” approach to software sales deplorable?

 

Hey Windows, Welcome Back.

smallbee2 I always wear pretty much the same style of clothes I’ve always worn.  Occasionally I’m back in fashion, which I think is pretty funny.  Maybe that’s what I like about Haiku.

For anyone who might have been concerned that Haiku’s approach to the desktop was too “Windows 98’ish” for modern-day users, consider the journey Microsoft has been on. Windows been through at least a half dozen iterations in the past 16 years.  It’s been fluffed…it’s been puffed…it’s been metro’ed.  And now, it’s going back.  The latest version, which, curiously, skips a version number and will be called “10” (maybe to avoid being thought of as one version back from the Mac), retrieves much of the classic look of desktop operating systems we’ve used ever since Rover was a pup. 7ebdce9f-7ed1-401f-bb9b-8a242dabd28c-460x276-1

Once again, by default, there’s a fast bar and a start button (flat in appearance, no longer 3D), floating windows, desktop icons, and a trash can.  You can still get to the “metro” stuff from the start button, and a touch environment will appear when Windows detects that no mouse and keyboard are present.  But there’s no escaping it:  Microsoft realized they had sent users down a blind alley with 8, and they’re going back.

Suddenly, Haiku’s look, especially when users swing its Deskbar into “across-the-bottom” mode (which I prefer), is  en vogue again.  Are there things that could eventually be done to modernize it further?  Absolutely.  But in the meanwhile, Haiku’s comfortable, classic, mainstream appearance is certainly legitimized by Microsoft’s latest move.

An EASY Way to Help Haiku

smallbee2

If you’re not doing it yet, I’d strongly encourage you to set up an account with GoodSearch and make it your browser’s default search engine.  It’s so much like Google that you won’t really even notice a difference, and every search you do results in the donation of a penny to the charity of your choice.  Haiku Inc. is one of the available charities.  A penny might not sound like much, but it’s amazing how fast it adds up if you do a lot of searches every day.  Multiply that by hundreds of participants, and suddenly we’re talking about serious bucks.

In addition, there are lots of online companies you might already be ordering products from, NewEgg for example, who are willing to donate a portion of the sale to your chosen charity through GoodSearch’s “GoodShop” program.  At TuneTracker Systems, all parts ordered for their Station-in-a-Box systems result in donations to Haiku.

Many hands make light work, so the more people we get participating in GoodSearch and GoodShop, the more it will help advance the Haiku operating system!

http://www.goodsearch.com

To choose Haiku as your cause,

  1. Go to goodsearch’s homepage
  2. Click the “Choose a cause” button
  3. Enter “Haiku” in the search box.
  4. Select “Haiku (Saddle Brook, NJ)”

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