Gentoo, Uncategorized, XMonad

LCA 2008

So I’m here at LCA 2008. Tomorrow morning there’s the Gentoo Down Under Mini-Conf, at which I’ll be giving a short-ish tutorial/talk on what I’m calling “The Portage Ecosystem”. That link will give you the slides I’m going to use. As it stands, I don’t know if I’ll end up using all of them as I’m only meant to be talking for 10-15 minutes :s

I’ll also be helping to man the Gentoo stall at the LCA Open Day, where I’m going to demo my laptop running Xfce+XMonad, on which I’ve spent a couple of hours playing with different layouts, etc. since posting my previous post.


Time to join the crowd

To quote the immortal Tripod:

I always get into stuff, just as it finishes being cool.

Well, I decided to buck the trend for once and get myself a blog whilst they were still cool, more for the sake of doing so than anything else I suppose. So, first things first, I had to decide where to have my envisaged blog.

I’m not into the whole “social network” thing (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, etc.), especially after a friend of mine (who for now shalt go nameless) studied the relationships inherent in Facebook for his honours thesis (graph theory), convinced just about everyone else doing honours with him to join it (thus decreasing productivity as they all started to play games on Facebook rather than doing work), and once it was over decided that he was sick of Facebook. I, however, wanted a (semi-)serious blog. I quickly narrowed the list of possible online blog hosts down to Blogger and, as to me they seemed to be the two largest/best free blog hosting sites.

Since you’ve found your way here, my eventual decision regarding which of these two I should go with should be obvious :p. However, I decided as my first blog post to discuss why I decided to choose over Blogger. This isn’t a review per-se, more of a rationale which may help someone else make up their mind.

The Google Factor

Most people seem to think that the fact that Blogger is now owned by Google is A Good Thing (R). I disagree. I think that the following strip from Userfriendly best sums up my feelings on the matter:

Userfriendly on Google

I don’t like having all my eggs in the one basket. If Google does decide that they’re going to ignore their famous motto “Don’t be evil”, then at least this blog will (hopefully) not be under their control (then again, it mighn’t be long until Google is the internet :p ). It’s bad enough that – just because I’m signed in to my gmail account – I can’t even access Blogger’s front page easily and instead get redirected to a sign-up page.


Down the track, I may wish to port my blog over to my own website. If and when that occurs, then it should be much easier to shift my blog from to a self-hosted (or at least externally-hosted) WordPress installation, whereas Blogger doesn’t even seem to let people export their blogs. This sounds suspiciously like the techniques used by a certain company… 😉


Blogger aims to be hip. seems to be catering itself slightly more towards the intelligentsia of the blogging community. I never claimed to be hip or cool, but I do like to think I have some “little grey cells” in my head 😉 The actual setup and layout of also seems to be more professional, though this opinion dropped slightly when I saw after I first logged in the word “Howdy” used to greet me.


Most people on Blogger seem to use this extremely annoying theme where all the blog content is in this tiny little rectangle taking up the middle quarter to third of the screen… and that’s it. The box seems to be hardcoded to be that size rather than dynamically growing with the text size. This is particularly annoying to me, as I like to increase the font size of most web pages I visit to make them easier to read.

I know that this isn’t a universal trait: there are some Blogger blogs that take up the majority of the horizontal screen space, just as there are themes that restrict the blogging area. But the impression I received from looking at various blogs that this is not the norm.

Feature Promotion has rather clear links off its main page showing various features available, as well as the different themes, etc. that bloggers can use. Furthermore, it is possible to search through the forums to find discussions on other possible features, etc.

If this is also the case for Blogger, then they’ve hidden it well. All I got is “hey, now that Beta is no longer Beta, we’ve got cool stuff!” without an actual explanation of what that cool stuff is. I still can’t find anywhere what exactly the features in the Beta where meant to be.


I don’t mind having a couple of small, unobtrusive ads on web pages or blogs to help alleviate the costs of providing a free service. So I really don’t have a problem with what I’ve read that is trialling the usage of ads on some blogs. After all, it’s quite rare to get something for nothing!

However, I believe that if you are blogging solely to make money, then you should get yourself a real job. Blogging to me is an opportunity for people to get their ideas out there to other people, and you should be grateful that anyone is actually interested in what you have to say, rather than trying to scab some money off them. So I don’t like Blogger’s approach of giving people a cut in exchange for them letting Google put ads in their blogs. That’s just increasing the overall amount of greed in the world.

Summing up

There’s probably other reasons I chose over Blogger that I can’t recall at the moment, but these are probably the most important ones anyway. The only real concern I had with is that Blogger apparently plays nicer with Haskell code in posts, but using <pre> apparently works well enough.

So, here endeth my first blog/rant. I’m aiming to use this blog mainly for discussions of a more technical nature, but possibly including some more personal-style posts as well (and by that I don’t mean post-teen angst about people not liking me, but more on various ethnic, etc. issues that affect me). So, to all 3 of you reading this, I hope you liked it! :p