Saturday, 24 September 2011

Preferred applications

It's interesting to try and remember why we have certain preferences. Particularly in software where those reasons can quickly become outdated.
Firefox web browser
  • Bookmarks ("favourites" in IE), with tags, synchronization/on-line backups, and just generally designed to scale to 1000s of bookmarks. (In theory Xmarks provides sync for all browsers, but the Firefox plugin is slightly too intrusive / buggy / un-supported).
  • NoScript. Other browsers don't provide enough extensibility to block scripts securely. NoScript also has a surprisingly large number of protections that work even after enabling scripts. It also includes a FlashBlock-like option. Ars Technica whiners are advised that the lack of click-to-play is a technical limitation of the Flash plugin; not FlashBlock extensions; that a FlashBlock enabled browser by definition still supports Flash; and if you want a fallback to static images, you need to code that behaviour yourself in JS.
  • AdBlock Plus - largely redundant with NoScript, but it makes me much happier clicking on random links. (Yes, I do whitelist sites I visit more than once. Unfortunately, most ad-serving sites also rely on JS, which I'm much more cautious about.)
Thunderbird email client
IMAP IDLE - which KMail lacked for a long time. The UI is flexible enough for small screens - unlike Evolution. The fancy indexing is very easy to disable if necessary. I get the impression KMail could work just as well, but it wouldn't be any better, and it's nice to have a UI theme that matches the web browser.
Preferably debian-based.
The bloat I don't use is starting to annoy me, but it's certainly convenient. KWin has nice fullscreen/no-border menuitems that are essential for the original netbooks, and there's a very convenient option to enable them automatically. LXDE looks nice and light, but the "run program" dialog is broken in Lubuntu :(. Unity-qt might be interesting once it's released (Ubuntu 11.10)... I'm not happy with at least one of the design choices, but my main reservation is about whether I'd be able to replicate all the full-screen options KDE gives me.
Kate, KDE advanced text editor
The main advantage of Kate is the sidebar, which is great for flicking between multiple files. At the same time, I can strip down the UI to get a nice clean fullscreen mode, either for small screens or just to minimize distraction.
Other terminal emulators seem to be a bit sniffy about resizing - Konsole will accept however many pixels you want, and leave a sliver of padding inside the window.
Amarok music player
I went off Amarok for a while and just used mplayer, but now it has gapless playback again, and it scrobbles, which are both nice to have.