Another Beryl user

Since more and more people here at AITI are using compiz/beryl these days, I finally gave in and decided to try it as well. Because of the particular ATI card I have, open source drivers are out, and I have to use fglrx. For the time being that means Xgl (as opposed to aiglx).

It took a while to get everything up and running, but now here I am with a working Beryl. And it *is* cool. Unecessary, but so very, very cool.

Published in: on 2006.10.31 at 15:57  Leave a Comment  

Playing with Gnome yet again

I love fluxbox. I think it’s a great window manager, that does just the right thing. My preferred terminal application is rxvt (actually, urxvt these days). I probably spend 99% of my time using a terminal, running GNU screen. The applications I use the most are vim and irssi.

Every once in a while I try out Gnome and KDE. After a short period of RAM munching I usually end up running back to fluxbox.  This time I’m trying out Gnome again, on an Ubuntu box.

For one, I can say that it feels a bit faster than it used to. I’m even running beagle, and I’m still able to use the system. That is a first, for me at least. But Gnome is still a far cry from fluxbox. The most annoying thing of all is that it keeps throwing out stupid little messages at me. Yesterday, for instance, an annoying thing jumped at me to inform me that “my battery is fully charged”. WHAT KIND OF UTTER STUPIDITY IS THAT? Do I care? Shouldn’t it be the laptop’s job to control my battery level? Why the hell to I have to get this? I know I can disable this somehow, but IIRC, Gnome claims to be about sane defaults..

Evolution has a way of just pissing on me as well. Constant pop-up messages. Funny, mutt never behaves like that. I guess that’s why mutt is usable, Evolution is not. And most importantly: why, why, why does my mail client handle my todo list? If somebody could do the whole world a huge favor and split this beast into seperate applications, this globe would be better place.

There are some really good Gnome apps though, the best ones being Tomboy and Muine. F-spot is slowly getting there. It’s neat, but there are some things I’d like to be able to do with it. The Ubuntu crowd screwed Nautilus and use the horrible browser mode lunacy by default. A few mouse clicks and you are back to the normal, useable spatial Nautilus, which is quite nice acutally.

The main difference between using fluxbox and Gnome is that in fluxbox you are busy using rxvt and vim, working away, whereas in Gnome you are using gnome-terminal and Gvim, constantly being interrupted by some stupid message dialog jumping right into your face and ruining your workflow. Nice touch.

Published in: on 2006.10.31 at 09:00  Leave a Comment  

Another weekend of Wesnoth

This weekend the kids went to visit their Aunt, so Ama and I had some peace for a change. There were so many things I had wanted to take the opportunity to do while they were away, but instead I played some more Wesnoth.

What I did this time around was try to use as few units as possible on each level. That way the units a I did have were given enough combat opportunities. I even got Konrad involved in battles already on the first mission, something I’ve never done before.

Another thing is that I didn’t use the Merman’s simply as cannon fodder for a change. I worked out a strategy at the Bay of Pearls which worked very well, and I only lost a single Merman. The mermans later became very useful at Muff Malal’s Peninsula. Since I only used very few units on land, I used the merman to keep the zombies occupied while I planned my attack from land. It worked perfectly.

But now I’m stuck at Isle of the Damned. I’m so close to defeating the last lich (the Northern one), but I run out of time. And those wraiths are just so damned annoying. I wonder if it’s possible to beat all three liches with two of each (warriors, archers, horsemen, magi, scouts, shamans) plus Konrad and Ye Olde Greybeard. All the characters are level 3, but still..

I had a really great weekend. I think the main reason is that I stopped thinking about all the things Wesnoth would do differently and just played it for what it is. Of course, I’m not sure the master plan was to send the kids away for the weekend just so that I could play computer games. Oops..

Published in: on 2006.10.30 at 14:06  Leave a Comment  

Double shot of Wesnoth

Since we had a “long” weekend, I had some free time for a change. It’s been ages since I last played Battle for Wesnoth, so I decided to give it a go. I was a bit curious to see what had changed since 1.0 (yes, it’s actually been that long).

Battle for Wesnoth is almost there. It’s very playable and you can have hours of fun with it. There are still some minor points that annoy me. Most of it is probably just me nitpicking.

Most of my issues have to do with the battle system. I know the Wesnoth developers want to keep it simple. But I still feel that fighters equipped with projectile weapons (and that includes spellcasters as well) should have some advantage of distance. That is, after all, the biggest advantage of an archer, that they can shoot from a distance. In close combat, they don’t carry the same heavy armor, so they are at a disadvantage.

I also feel that increases in level should be more significant. I spent a lot of time over the weekend trying to upgrade as many characters as possible in early levels. By the time I got to the Siege of Elsenfar, I had several level 2 characters, and two level 3 ones. But it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

As a matter of fact, in the Bay of Pearls I tried something. I created 12 horsemen, new characters without any experience. They were followed by 10 archers, also new. It was far easier to win with them than it was with my normal, experienced characters. They completely stampeded everthing in their way, and although a lost quite a few of them, I never felt in any danger. Come to think of it, maybe that is the intended strategy.

Finally, I’m not sure that I like that fact that you have a limited amount of turns. On some levels, where haste is crucial, it may make sense, but even then there are better ways. I hate losing just because “I ran out of turns”. Instead, give me a penalty, or make the enemy grow in strength if I go beyond the limit, or something. Don’t just end it.

One thing that makes Wesnoth a fun play is the fact that you don’t have to concentrate too hard to play it. I’m guessing that if the battle system were modified, and upgrading characters played a larger role, the game would become significantly more complex. Not to mention that it would become a very different game, focusing more on role-playing aspects as well as on how you position your warriors for battle.

So far, I’ve mostly been playing “Heir to the Throne”, which is the campaign I like the best. It just feels like the story behind it has really been worked on. I wish there were more campaigns like that.  I tried “The two Brothers”, or whatever it’s called, but it didn’t feel “right”.

So, all in all, Wesnoth is still a cool game. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you do. While you’re at it, try UFO:AI as well, a game that is slowly starting to feel So Right.

Published in: on 2006.10.24 at 07:48  Leave a Comment  

My contribution to the world of innovations

Last night I got a great idea for a new gadget for cars. I think it may be useful so please don’t touch that URL widget..

This is how it works: when somebody gets into the driver’s seat of the car the first thing that happens is that a breathalizer shoots out of the panel. In order to be able to start the car the driver must breathe into it. If there is any alcohol detected, the breathalizer quickly gives way for a large, pneumatically power boxing glove which continuously knocks the “driver” in the face. For added effect, a sampled sound saying “you stupid, stupid idiot!” could be added.

Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the occasional drink-up just as much as the next guy. It’s a great way to spend an evening (once in a while), and it has the additional benefit that you might say something foolish enough to impress somebody enough that you end up having purely recreational sex. Never mind that your partner d’amour for the evening is just a dumb-ass drunk as you are.

But one thing I don’t like is people who drink and drive.

Published in: on 2006.10.19 at 09:28  Comments (4)  

More stuff on

Now things are moving really fast. Two LUGS are now up on Linux Accra and Linux Cape. More will be coming soon, so keep checking back.

Published in: on 2006.10.17 at 16:34  Leave a Comment  

Freenode channels

Now two Ghanaian LUGs have channels on the the Freenode network:

Accra LUG: #laug and Winneba LUG: #wilugghana. So come on in and chat with us, won’t you?

Published in: on 2006.10.17 at 08:00  Leave a Comment  

Ghanaian open source community gets a planet

Check it out at

Published in: on 2006.10.17 at 06:27  Leave a Comment  

Visit to KNUST

Of late I’ve been on the road quite a bit, and as a result I’ve been really tired. So tired, in fact, that I forgot to blog about my visit to the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi.

Smith and I were invited by the Computer Science Society at KNUST to do a seminar on open source on Wednesday last week. We did this pretty much to a full house. It was great to speak to such a large crowd. There were quite a few questions and comments from the audience.

After the seminar itself, we fired up our laptops and showed off some open source alternatives to various Windows applications that people tend to use. Among the applications we showed were, Amarok, VLC, Gimp, Inkscape and Firefox.

All in all, I felt our visit was a success. I had a really great time over in Kumasi. I met some old friends and made a few new ones as well. I really look forward to going there again. Hopefully, the next time I go, the KNUST LUG will be active again..

Published in: on 2006.10.16 at 09:27  Leave a Comment  

Back in Accra

I just got back from one week in Western Region. I was there as part of the i2CAP team. We spent a few days in Takoradi and a few days in Tarkwa.

The idea behind i2CAP is that we give school teachers an introduction to programming. They will in turn teach their students how to program. At the end of it there will be a regional programming competition in which each school selects four participants.

At first, the language used for i2CAP was QBASIC, something I know very little of (I did program a little bit of BASIC, on a Commodore VIC-20 some 11,000 years ago). Now, thankfully, we are using Ruby.

It was really interesting to take part. It gave me more insight into teaching Ruby as a first programming language. I think Ruby has proved itself to be a very good choice.

One thing though: anybody going to Tarkwa and looking for a hotel: do not go to Lynka Hotel. The service, the room and the “breakfast” are all crap. Don’t waste your money one those clowns..
In about a months time I’ll be heading off again as i2CAP goes to Northern Region, Upper East and Upper West.

Published in: on 2006.10.07 at 16:44  Comments (1)