Category Archives: Rightbrain

Window maker and dockapps nostalgia


Tried a bit of nostalgia driven “comfort” programming making wmapcups. It is a Window Maker dockapp that presents the status of an APC UPS via the apcupsd.

Window maker itself is a bit dated compared to the ‘desktop managers’ these days but it is fast if can look past that. If your keyboard sees more action than your mouse and you don’t want to to overboard with tiling window managers this is a good trade off. I use window maker at work on one of the older PCs while the newer ones run xfce4. I use dockapps under Xfce through a panel plugin called xfce4-wmdock-plugin which gobbles up X11 programs that provide the hints that they are dockapps.

My running dockapps in xfce4 panel plugin.

Dockapps are widget-ey programs with UI made of a small square (64×64 or 48×48 pixels) mostly presenting some information. Most dockapps would serve some purpose now handled by panel (or taskbar) plugins except they have the same consistent ‘square’ tile feel. The whole ‘style’ of window maker and dockapps is inherited from the NextSTEP OS.

To write a dockapp, some familiarity with X11 programming would be useful. However its quite simple to glean the essence of it from the existing dockapp sources. Also there is library called libdockapp that wraps up the most common pattern used in the sources. For pythonistas there is a module for writing dockapps as well (I’ve not tried it yet).

Window maker development was dead for many years during before being started up again in 2012. The current team accepts patches for window maker and few orphaned dockapps that they’ve adopted.

Camera overkill.

EOS 1D s Mark III

Many friends and relatives said I was mad when I bought my D80. Now look at this:

Canon EOS 1 Ds Mark III (the number of words in the name scares me) that belongs to a relative. Apparently he had (quite) some money to spare. My D80 had a chance to take a picture of that beast. I dont know how much it costs (did not dare to ask him either).


More pixels than your PC can tolerate, More Autofocus areas than you can manually select (comfortably). Detailed specs on dpreview (clicky).

From an Apple

The second apple mac that I am laying my hands on. This one is a MacBook pro. First impression : Nice looks. Tried safari and this blog on it (thought it might look like what IE had done to the face in ACID test 2). To my relief its not bad. A couple of tricks (that put a smile on your face) that the mac does are the magnetic charging dongle (which acts like those freaky alien limbs which hauls itself to the host; though this one just snaps automagically) and ‘white’ screen flash technique for the webcam photograph. The bad part is that “ps -ef” command shouted about wrong option (ps ax works).

Synce and TyTN II

Got my TyTN II (aka Kaiser) a week ago inspite of bad feeling about the driver and performance issues it is believed to have. The reason I bought it is that it has lots of the connectivity options (not that I use all of them all the time), GPS, more RAM, more stuff to ‘tweak’ (than symbian) (well I could have done with openmoko but dunno when and how to get it to my country, later perhaps). If you ask me again its just bad habit.

With linux

There are some things you can half-do, with SynCE.

  1. Connecting and listing files: It works fine, plus gnomevfs plugin makes the phone appear in the file browser (nautilus) like in windows (BTW, did not see that in Thunar – the one that comes with xfce).
  2. Syncing : Using Opensync. SynCE folks have written a ‘synce’ plugin to it. I could see syncing between the phone (synce plugin) and evolution plugin as well as ‘file’ plugin. However contact and calendar field mappings are screwed up (I’d rather back up before I try something stupid).
  3. Internet on phone using net connected PC: It works when you have ‘sync-engine’ running (which is like the application layer part of activesync).
  4. Internet on PC using net connected phone: Not tried it yet.


  • Google earth works – it uses cell tower in case you dont have GPS (or disable it)..
  • Mapking (no TomTom 🙁 ) – a bundled piece of s/w with license to one map. I’ve tried Bangalore (its got Chennai and Delhi) – Not useful as the traffic police spend their spare time blocking and unblocking routes.

Sloppy part

  • Battery: With big stuff comes big battery drain. On standby its decent :-).
  • The graphics issues: Well it is present. But it varies from app to app. I wonder if its old apps (counting on GDI to perform at a minimum level) that suffer. Google maps was fast, some screens are painted real fast.
  • Tilt screen: Its a good thing to show off but I am always worried about making it ‘loose’ – Its way too much weight hanging by two (metal I suppose) rails.

So why not other phones ?

Mio A701

Mio A701

  • N95: The 8Gig version is good. But currently I am sold out to Win mobile and no touch screen and registry to mess around with (atleast none so obvious as in WM).
  • HTC P3300: Actually this could have done the job but I was tempted by the RAM of Kaiser and prospects of 3G in India.
  • Mio (A701/A501/A702): Expensive, could not find in India.