So, on a lark, I decided to upgrade my laptop last night from Xubuntu 8.04 (Hardy Heron) to 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex). Smoothest, most flawless upgrade I've ever done. Slick as I'd expect from a Debian derivative. "aptitude dist-upgrade", and done. Then I noticed that Kubuntu Intrepid was including KDE 4.1 instead of 3.5.10 as its desktop. Nice. I'd been wanting to check out KDE 4.x anyway.

Now, don't get me wrong, I never minded KDE 3.5 - it's just that it didn't really wow me. I had my own way of working, forged from years of using OS/2, Mac OS, NeXTSTEP, Windows and several breeds of Unix desktops, and KDE 3.5 just got in my way when I tried to work like that. So I usually used Xfce instead. But I was feeling froggy - so I tried it.

Switching was easy. I already had the 'universe' repositories selected (oh, and this can be done graphically in Hardy/Intrepid, BTW - no more editing sources.list unless you want to). All I did was pull up a console and do 'aptitude install kubuntu-desktop. If you hate/fear command lines, you could do this with Synaptic too. Then I just chose KDM as my default login manager (an optional step, BTW - you can use KDE with GDM if you want), logged out, logged back in, and BAM! Instant KDE desktop.

Now, I had a few gritches straight away - for some reason Kubuntu's default KDE config omits a lot of window decoration themes and Qt styles, which sorta narrows your options. This might not bug most people, but while I like the 'Oxygen' widget style, the 'Oxygen' window decorator leaves me cold. So I fired up Adept, the KDE apt frontend (which, by the way, is clunky, but that's not KDE's fault specifically), installed a few more and configured. Then I swapped around some keybindings to fit what I've come to expect (and to use the Windows key, so my ctrl+foo combos can be free for apps) - but that's optional, the defaults are sane.

Well, KDE 4 looks sharp. Take everything they did right in Windows Vista, and a few ideas from Mac OS X, plus a few more that are decidedly Unixy, and there you have it. It took me a second to get oriented, but I quickly fell into the KDE way of doing things. I figured out how to add a second panel easily enough, and how to add application launchers, or files to a panel. What wasn't immediately obvious, though, was how to put launchers on a specific panel. Not obvious, that is, until I put my mind back into the OS/2 paradigm, which is what predominated back in KDE 1.0. All you've got to do, is drag the app to the panel. Obvious. Too obvious, actually. Maybe slightly counterintuitive to a Windows user, but Mac users will figure that one out quickly. The 'right-click, select option' paradigm is much less set in the heads of Mac fans.

Plasma, the new desktop manager, is interesting. It's shades of the Mac OS X Dashboard (and can even use HTML-only OS X Dashboard widgets). Where it's a bit of a departure, is its desktop handling. In Windows, Mac OS, GNOME and previous versions of KDE, the desktop consists of files stored in a Desktop directory, plus sometimes some "magic" icons that don't actually live on the filesystem anywhere. In KDE 4, you instead get a dashboard widget, called a Plasmoid here, that offers a 'folder view' - basically an always-open file manager view into an arbitrary directory, which by default is the "Desktop" directory in your home dir. On the desktop itself, you can place files or application icons - but if you do, it works like it does in RISC OS or CDE. The file or app isn't actually copied or moved anywhere, it's just a pointer to it on the desktop. Since I'm a long-time ROX-filer user (and may not give it up yet!), this is just right for me. Besides, I've never been a fan of desktops festooned with zillions of files everywhere. If you really can't live without this functionality, KDE 4.2 will include the capability to "maximize" the Folder View plasmoid, allowing it to function as your entire desktop. This will restore the KDE 3.5-style icon handling.

The new Kwin includes OpenGL desktop compositing. It can use either the Xrender extension, or OpenGL directly. In my case I'm using OpenGL because that was the default, I haven't really tried the Xrender option. Kwin has an effects engine similar to what Compiz offers, but in my experience it's a lot faster than Compiz, and generally feels less balky. In a word, it's slicker than an eel in a barrel of snot. It's so slick, in fact, that I'm seriously tempted to switch to Kubuntu on my main workstation when I get back. Or maybe I'll try out Gentoo's KDE 4.1/4.2 stuff and see how it is.

I am not well at all.

After managing OK for about three years, life has gotten so stressful and painful, and broken that I finally admitted to myself I need to go back into therapy.  Between having a surge of my old adoption issues coming up, and some very serious, awful polyamory drama mixed in with losing a best friend, I'm not doing so well. 

I hated being in therapy before. I don't think I'll enjoy it any more this time around.  But I need the help, and I know it.  Medication alone is no longer managing my depression or anxiety.

Today, I asked my psychiatrist for recommendations.  He gave me one, who I called and I don't think will work; she in turn gave me another suggestion. I'm now waiting to hear back on that.  Finding a good shrink is a little too much like dating for my tastes. 

I'm still stressed and shaky from my Dr's visit and the phone calls, and I still don't have an answer.  This is going to be hard.  Wish me luck--I'll need all the good thoughts I can get.

I'm busy, all the time. I knew November would be crazy, but that was back in October, when as far as I knew, all I would have to deal with would be the Iron Noder challenge along with normal baby duties. Then I got 2 web design jobs (Hooray, money! Boo, lots of work!) and also found myself a coder on our favourite place on all the inter nets. I could have postponed the E2 coding work but the thing is, once I start something, I get really into it. So, all in all, I've been spending way too much time on the computer, and the rest of the time is taken up with baby stuff and people calling around and the like. It's easy to forget that you are actually in a relationship with the person you have had a baby with, and that relationship needs tending. It's Jo's birthday soon, and we'll do something nice. I have lots of hobbies, and right now, she doesn't have any, and doesn't know what to do with her time when the baby is asleep. She ends up reading trashy magazines and watching the same period drama DVDs over and over.

It's been snowing here. Apparently we're getting a wind blowing down directly from the Arctic on an unusual path, and so Ireland and England are colder than Siberia at this time. We're spoiled by the Gulf Stream, they say. We should be like Canada, like Alaska, like Northern Russia, they say. They say the Stream might stop one day, like it did in The Day After Tomorrow, but with less stupid. If that happens, The Emerald Isle becomes Iceland, England's habitable areas shrink to an area the size of Wales, and suddenly all the European migration trends reverse, as people start worrying more about warmth than they do about money. There won't be superstorms sucking frozen air down to flash-freeze us all like Siberian mammoths, just a slow death of a way of life that lasted a lot longer than it should have. They say that one day they will be able to bring the mammoth back to life. That one day there will be cities in Antarctica. I hope I live long enough to see everything that ever happens, because I would hate to be left for dead in the middle of all these stories.

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