The Slashdot Effect

Writing an article and actually getting it up to slashdot is fun. Yesterday I had about 55.500 hits on my article, which can be found on this page:

It's fun to analyze the logs afterwards, because you can see when the article was actually posted. There is another peak, between 15:00 and 16:00 and I'm not sure where this comes from.

My ISP survived the “attack”, though. Good job from them.

Getting people to switch….

Having done a lot of Windows help in the last time I learned some important things. The first thing is that people don't care which Browser or Email client they use if it is installed on their Computer. I usually remove IE and Outlook (as far as possible) and then install Firefox and Thunderbird. I tell the people it's more secure and they start using it on the fly. They just don't care and I feel better :-).

Another thing I learned is that there is far more software I'm used to use available on Windows than I thought. For example I didn't know that there is a Gimp port to Win32 and even Frozen Bubble is available. It's the best way to get people in touch with Free Software just to install it on their favorite OS.

The last thing even I always run into and Linux newbies tend to run in is that they know an application on windows and look for something that gives them the same functionality on Linux. I did some google research today but I didn't find something that I could imagine usefull regarding that case.

What I would propose is a free software library that gives the people to search for applications by “Windows Name”. For example I kept looking for a good application that is similar to Dreamweaver on Windows. Nvu is the answer, a project started by the Lindows people. It took me a good amount of time just finding this project. Sourceforge and Freshmeat are good for what they do, but actually we need something that gives people a hand for finding what they need by their own means. One could even add something like windows ports and i18n stuff in order to make people test something on Windows knowing that it exists on Linux too. If the people are used to the applications, the OS doesn't matter.

Maybe I'll start doing something in that direction, but only after finishing my exams, doing another talk and write two articles I was asked to do.

Multitasking is bad

Ok, I just read the nice article on OSNews about the power of the command line for newbies and I'm quite impressed. This guy is absolutely right.

I had an encounter with my uncle last weekend because he bought a new computer (which didn't work well BTW). He and some other people I know are not really close to the concept of multitasking. Multitasking for them is maybe to smoke and phone at the same time, but the way I multitask will never be archived in anytime soon. They do one thing at a time and actually don't need a computer that does multiple things at a time and disturb there workflow by doing this e.g. when a background mail program pops up an error message they are totally confused. So what to do with our nice GUIs when they suck on the one hand and most of the features they provide are actually unnecessary? I'll sleep over that.

Another thing I start wondering about while reading the article is the questions why there are actually email programs. For the average user who gets about 10 emails per week and doesn't care about nice rulesets, folders and whatever feature a separate email program is far too much overhead. Why not just put two more icons on the desktop, one for “Inbox” and one for “Write Mail”. The inbox folder could add (like KMail) the number of unread messages to it's name and expand to a plain listview of emails. I believe that is enough for mostly everybody, despite of the people I know :-). The Write Mail icon could give a new mail window and nothing more. Would be far more easy for the average user to handle that instead of KMail, Thunderbird and whatever. Maybe I should start hacking KDE.

The last thing this article inspired me to was the gui notification system. How often am I disturbed by stupid, mostly unimportant messages by my desktop environment. There are actually better ways. Something like a system status log that would appear somewhere where it doesn't disturb and gives e.g. the last two events that would have lead to a message box otherwise. Another way would be to make the notifications intelligent. If I'm just typing an email or playing frozen-bubble, I don't want to know if my browser reports an error or not. Just put some heuristics in and it would be really nice.

The very last point for today is the intelligence of web browsers. We got a quite uniform system to find out if a domain name exists, called whois. But browsers keep telling me if I enter a non existent domain that the “server” is not responding. Think about that!