Yesterday Was Change Everything Day

Advance warning: This blog post is a bit rambly and pointless. It’s pretty much “Hey, here’s some stuff I changed about my computer” brain dump. You probably don’t care.

Yesterday I made massive invasive changes to the software I’m running as part of my day to day life.

What triggered it? Well, the initial triggering event was something I’m sure you’ve heard about by now: Google reader shutting down.

An appreciable proportion of the information I consume comes through RSS (or Atom), so shutting down google reader is kinda a big deal for me, so I spent some time playing with replacements. I’m currently trying Feedly, although the Android app is so bad I’m not sure I can stick with it.

This put me in the mood to start tinkering with my setup though (a mood which hits me about annually, and then I lose interest for another year, though in this case it’s only been six months).

So I was kinda in the mood to change my software around, and I was feeling fairly hacked off with Google and uncomfortable with how much of my life lived in their software.

Including my browser. Fortunately, there’s this quite nice alternative to Gogle Chrome. It’s a bit niche, but you may have heard of it. It’s called Firefox. Check it out. It’s not bad.

Actually, you know, it’s really not bad. It’s only been a day or so of using it, but honestly it’s dramatically better than I expected. I’ve not had any problems with it so far and it’s generally been a fairly pleasant experience. Previously when I’ve tried to switch back I had all the expected problems – slow, memory hungry, blah blah blah, but this is easily the equal of Chrome and hasn’t caused me any problems so far.

Discussions around this and google reader caused me to resurrect an old rant to a friend. What rant? This rant!

Tabs are fundamentally wrong.

Tabs are window management reinvented badly by each application. Your application should not be doing your window management. If applications do your window management then each one will reinvent it differently and probably badly. Further, if you actually need your applications to be doing window management that’s a sign that your window manager needs improving.

Of course… pretty much every window manager needs improving in this way.

Then it occurred to me: This is a problem I’ve solved before. I used to run wmii. For various reasons (a post for another day) I stopped. However, when I was using it I felt absolutely zero inclination to use tabs, and in my current xmonad setup I really did need to use them (this is a problem that I can and have fixed in xmonad before, but the fix was a bit clunky when I last used it).

So I decided to give wmii another try. There were some fraught moments when I accidentally broke everything doing it (wmii is not the most user friendly software in its failure modes), but I’ve now got it working and useful.

Honestly? wmii is fucking amazing. If you have the opportunity to try it out you should take it.

So, TLDR, beginning of yesterday I was running this:

  • Google reader
  • Google chrome
  • Mint desktop environment with an Xmonad window manager

Today I am running this:

  • Feedly
  • Firefox
  • wmii with no desktop environment

The only change I’m unhappy with is the one that prompted the whole thing: While Feedly nominally satisfies my requirements for a reader, it’s pretty grossly inadequate. So, still in the market for changing that one.

The resulting changes though? I’m way happier with this setup than with my previous one. So, thanks Google, I guess.

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