{November 26, 2007}   changes

sunday was the HSK exam. that thing is hard; more a test of your test-taking skills than your actual chinese knowledge. since it tests for levels 3-8, and we’re probably around 4, there was a lot of guesswork involved. apparently to get level 4 you have to score somewhere around 50%.

monday vanished pretty quickly. since I was going to take pete’s room after he moved out, there was lots of packing to do, had to get all of our stuff down to my room so that they could clean it before letting me move in (I saw them finish cleaning today, but apparently there’s still more stuff to do, they keep giving me wildly different estimates of when it’ll be done). after moving most of our stuff, we played a game of go, and went to the mexican restaurant for dinner. the incompetence of their staff never ceases to amaze me – really, they just can’t get things right. every single time they make at least one mistake (bringing the wrong food, forgetting someone’s meal entirely, etc). it was amusing at first, but I’m sick of it now. the only reason I still go there is because the food is delicious and it seems to be the only mexican place in hangzhou (perhaps in all of china :P). we had agreed to meet our friend there after dinner for salsa dancing, but after about 10 minutes of that we decided we didn’t like it and went home.

oh, and I discovered that works in konqueror now. :) somehow the java applet refused to load properly in summer – but it worked in firefox. weirdness. but yay for updates. :) I might actually start playing go regularly now. maybe. I get distracted so easily :)

now it’s tuesday. we finished moving stuff in the morning, and now pete’s on his way to the airport. I’m waiting for them to let me move… all my stuff is bagged up and ready. there’s a lot of stuff.
I miss pete already…

{November 19, 2007}   random ideas

coding is too addictive sometimes.
I have an HSK exam on sunday, but I haven’t started studying for it. I’ve been writing down notes and ideas for new projects in class, instead of paying attention to the teacher (I don’t think I actually missed much, though).

I think I’m gonna have to keep myself away from kde4 for the rest of the week. wah. plasma seems to be really shaping up lately, and there are a zillion other things I wanna work on too… and 4.0 is supposed to be out soon… but school’s important too, I guess.

if anyone’s interested in my crazy ideas, here’s a few of them… if it turns out someone’s already done one of them, or if there’s a reason for it being infeasible, tell me :)
first, I’d like a screensaver containment for plasma (and after getting back from class, I found out someone had been thinking the same thing on irc). not only could you have a screensaver as your normal background, but we could potentially have plasmoids on the screensaver – I think that would be really cool. it’d also serve as a kind of lazy-kiosk-mode, and fulfil my wish of having a volume control on my screensaver (as soon as we get that kmix plasmoid). of course they’d have to be immutable while the screen’s locked, to prevent random losers putting up obscene images or anything, but normal actions provided by the plasmoids would be usable – you could theoretically have an amarok-control plasmoid so that your friends could change the music without having access to the rest of the computer. :)

second, I thought it might be nice to have a small app for flash games, so that you could play them without regular web browser stuff cluttering up the window. thanks to the magic of kparts it shouldn’t require too much code, and perhaps it could strip out annoying crud from the pages (or just load the flash app itself if the html is unnecessary). it might be feasible to have some kind of generated list of games – plus of course the user could bookmark new ones.

third – after hearing that okular wasn’t meant to be a magical view-anything program, I decided that I wanted such a program. konq can do that already, but I find it hard to remember all the steps to get it set up well, and it still isn’t exactly what I want. I’d like something that has a permanent file listing on the left (like that regular sidebar thing but with files, not just folders), a main pane for viewing the file, and lots of happy kde magic. it’d use the kde preferences to decide which kpart to load, there’d be a nice easy edit-button that did the same thing for opening the file in something capable of editing it (probably a drop-down thing to show alternate programs), good drag&drop support, thanks to kio it could view any file anywhere…

of course, all of these fun ideas are unlikely to happen in the near future – I’m more concerned with practical things like finding out whether kate will have a dbus save method and squishing bugs in the systray. oh, and homework, I guess.

btw, it turns out that you really shouldn’t use ungrounded power bars. pete needed an extra one, and noticed after buying it that it didn’t have a grounding prong. I plugged my laptop into it because there wasn’t anywhere else to plug it in…. later on he touched my leg and apparently it felt strange. he told me to put down the laptop, and the strange feeling went away. o.0 I shut down the laptop right away and unplugged it. looks like no damage was caused, but it’s kinda spooky to think I was charged enough he could feel it. now we’re back to sharing the grounded power bar. (it does have two outlets, but one no longer works. china may have really cheap products but you often get what you pay for!)

{November 16, 2007}   mmm, code

well, I was expecting that I’d have time to code again starting in december, so I thought I should fix up my kde4 problems ahead of time. somehow I ended up coding instead. :)

the main problem I’ve been having is an evil domino effect that highlighted some weaknesses in a few important areas. apparently there’s an issue with the version of libxine I’m using which affects phonon, making it hang or otherwise be slow and broken. then there’s knotify, with synchronous dbus calls, which hangs when it tries to talk to phonon because phonon’s stuck because of libxine. then there are other important bits of the framework, like kwin and plasma, which hang when they try to talk to knotify because it’s hung waiting for phonon…

the end result was that sometimes I got no desktop, sometimes I got a desktop that took ten minutes to load and I couldn’t use it afterwards (no creating, moving or switching between windows), and sometimes I got a desktop that was just really, really slow to respond to anything requiring window management and plasma would occasionally hang for 5-10 minutes.

anyways, hopefully this has been fixed now – I’m just waiting for stuff to recompile. :)
[edit – yay, it is fixed! :) oh, and I haven’t a clue why the title of this post showed up as my name in rss]

since I had a kinda-sorta-working desktop once in a while, I somehow ended up poking at the systray code again. I wanted to get it back to where it’s supposed to be, not floating at the top of the screen or in never-never-land. I found some code in kicker that did a similar thing – most of it used stuff I couldn’t use, but I discovered some important functions I would end up needing. eventually I got the co-ordinates right – it actually was much less of a pain than I’d expected. the only problem was getting it properly on top of the panel, because panels don’t want windows on them. soon as I’ve got confirmation that the way I’m doing that won’t cause headaches for anyone else, I’ll commit the code.

as for RL… I’ve passed my midterm, and I’m busily ignoring the fact that the HSK is a week away. the reason I expect to have time to code in december is that pete’s going back to canada. :( wah. I’m gonna have to buy a hot water bottle, the nights are getting colder and colder… actually, I’m already wearing two shirts during the day, since buildings aren’t heated here. I need to buy a new jacket, really.

oh, and only posts in the KDE category are showing up on planetkde now, so if you’re interested in the other stuff I’ve been doing in china you’ll have to get the full rss feed separately.

{November 12, 2007}   another boring week

my bike got stolen on friday. that’s about all that’s happened. I’m kinda surprised it didn’t happen earlier, really; bike theft is very common here.

I seem to be a little less sleepy today. that’s probably good. the weather’s a little warmer, too, although it’s still fairly chilly. pretty normal for november, I suppose, although I’m not used to the lack of pesky rain. :)

{November 8, 2007}   more about food

time has been passing rather quickly lately. seems like I don’t do much more than eat, sleep, go to class, or sleep through class. I’ve been sleeping quite a lot. I’ve also been reading stuff, and wasting the rest of my time reading blogs. somehow other stuff just doesn’t happen. I’ve been meaning to go shopping, but somehow it never happens: today I slept from about 2pm to 6pm, and yesterday there was a surprise meeting with an important teacher.

last week I did do at least one interesting thing: I made soymilk. it was fun, and pretty easy. just soak the beans, blend them, filter and boil. 125g of beans produces more than a litre of soymilk. I discovered that I still don’t actually like drinking it, but it’s good for cereal, and pete drank it so fast it was all gone when I wanted another bowl of cereal in the evening. :)
bread continues to be delicious, food is nice… school still sucks. I don’t really have much of any enthusiasm left there. I’m not sure when I’ll start programming angain; I got as far as rebuilding kde4, but something’s wrong – it runs so slowly I can’t do *anything* – so I’ll have to fix that before I can do anything else with kde, and I’m not really motivated right now. I just want to sleep.

et cetera