Ubuntu getting unreadier and unreadier for the desktop

I’m pretty sure that isn’t a word, but anyway. Since upgrading to 13.04 yesterday, I’ve found the following bugs:

  1. Unity crashes when turning on the AV receiver. So far I’ve tried using proprietary/open source video drivers, removing all GNOME-/Ubuntu-related dotfiles and directories in ~ (like .gconf), and purging/reinstalling the ubuntu-desktop and xorg-* packages.
  2. Can’t save display settings as root.
  3. Login screen resolution not set.
  4. Still no hint as to whether I should install the fglrx or fglrx-updates driver (the latter gave me a black screen), so I guess that’s not the right one then
  5. When logging in to a virtual terminal, it says “Welcome to Ubuntu 13.04”, and a few lines later it says “New release ‘13.04’ available.” I’ve verified that /etc/apt/sources.list contains no references to older packages, and that lsb_release --all reports “Ubuntu 13.04”.

Delicious data loss

After many years, it looks like Delicious will never have support for excluding tags from a search, so when I saw that they had added a “Remove Tag” functionality I finally decided to get rid of all the “toread” tags from posts already tagged with “read”. This didn’t quite turn out as expected:

From: Victor Engmark
To: feedback@delicious.com
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8

Dear Delicious Support,

For ease of searching I decided today to remove the “toread” tag from all bookmarks I have already read – That is, I went to the toread+read tags page <https://www.delicious.com/engmark/toread+read>, selected all, clicked “Remove Tag”, carefully clicked only on “toread”, and clicked Save. This I repeated for each page until there was only a single page left. During this process I discovered several bugs, here listed according to increasing severity:

When selecting a bookmark the links above (except “Rename Tag” since it’s sneaky and doesn’t actually just rename on the selected items) are “activated”. That is, they turn blue. After clicking “Save” the page would refresh, all the checkboxes would still be ticked, but the links would still be gray. Expected behavior: When bookmarks are selected (before or after an action) the links should be colored. In the case of some bookmarks it was not possible to remove the “toread” tag. I repeatedly tried, and every time the same bookmarks showed up on the page after the refresh. Expected behavior: It should be possible to remove tags from any bookmark. After selecting the bookmarks mentioned in point 2 and clicking “Remove Tag”, the “Remove Tags” dialog only displayed a single tag: “toread”. Expected behavior: This should behave like for other bookmarks, that is, show all the tags for all the bookmarks. When trying to edit individial items from the bookmarks mentioned in point 2, the “Edit Link Info” dialog doesn’t display the same tags as the toread+read tags page. For example the bookmark “Ryan let’s assume that you blend fiction and reality only on special occasions” <http://www.qwantz.com/index.php?comic=1992> has the tags “toread”, “read”, “comic” and “funny” according to the toread+read tags page, but only “RyanNorth” in the “Edit Link Info” dialog. Expected behavior: The “Edit Link Info” dialog should display the same title, URL and tags as the bookmarks list.
Somehow, instead of removing the “toread” tag Delicious removed the “read” tag! Expected behavior: Remove the tag I requested to remove, and only that.

I’ve now lost seven years worth of records of what I’ve read online! Please help me fix the state of my bookmarks. In case you can’t obtain a diff between the bookmarks of yesterday and today I can provide you with one for reference (I do daily XML backups in case of just such a situation). This procedure should be nothing more than a reversal of the tag removals done in the last 48 hours or so.

Posted to my blog
<https://github.com/l0b0/paperless/wiki/Delicious-data-loss> for
reference.

Sincerely, a long-time user.

Long story short, I’d misunderstood how the feature works: Instead of removing those tags which you leave in the tag cloud, it removes all tags which you remove from the tag cloud! I had thought it was a “remove these tags” feature, but actually it was a “keep only these tags” feature.

Restoring from the XML files was out of question (they only support HTML import now), and they were unable to provide a reference for what such an HTML file should look like and whether tags would be replaced completely (messing up the changes I did since this started) or just added to the existing ones. I guess a migration to Pinboard is finally in order.

Edit: Here’s how I ended up migrating to Pinboard, fixing the bookmarks in the process:

  1. Export delicious.html and create a backup of the file.
  2. Get the URLs and tags of the bookmarks in the XML file which used to have a “toread” tag but have changed since the fuck-up:
    git diff bookmarks.xml | \
    grep '^-.*[" ]toread[" ]' | \
    grep -Eo 'href="[^"]+".*tag="[^"]+"' | \
    sed -e 's/href="\([^"]\+\)".* tag="\([^"]\+\)"/\1 \2/' > url_tags.txt
  3. Make the URLs and tags sed-compatible:
    sed -i -e 's/[\/&]/\\&/g' url_tags.txt
  4. Replace spaces between tags with commas (otherwise “foo bar” is imported as “foo_bar”):
    while grep -q ' .* ' url_tags.txt
    do
        sed -i -e 's/\( [^ ]*\) /\1,/g' url_tags.txt
    done
  5. Loop over each of the URL tag pairs, and create a sed script from it:
    while IFS=' ' read -r -u 9 url tags
    do
        echo 's/\(HREF="'"$url"'".* TAGS="\)[^"]*"/\1'"$tags"'"/;' >> replace.sed
    done 9< url_tags.txt
  6. Replace the tags:
    sed -i -f replace.sed delicious.html
  7. Verify the difference between the HTML backup and the changed file:
    meld delicious.html{.backup,}&
  8. Import in Pinboard

I’m severely disappointed in Unity

Let’s count the ways:

  • Maximizing windows when moving them might be neat, but why not get rid of the button then and use the screen real estate for something useful?
  • Apple wrote the book on usability, but they screwed up when they skipped their own advice and put the minimize, maximize and close buttons right next to each other. That’s fine if closing an app doesn’t actually close the program, but in GNOME it makes absolutely no sense.
  • I just added my Minecraft shortcut to the side bar thingie, but some minutes later something went belly-up and not even a Java process was started when clicking on it. After a restart the shortcut was gone from the side bar.
  • Keyboard layouts have driven me crazy the last couple days. I can’t type “programmer quotes” (actually, single and double tick) without, for some reason, clicking the compose key once. After that it continues working, and it didn’t seem to realize that I had pressed the compose key at all.
  • Where did my freaking weather reports go? Did nobody else use that? There’s not even an option for it anymore.
  • Mystery meat navigation was never fun – Why would a sane person want to hide the main menu of each application?
  • Grouping applications by function was one of the best things about leaving Windows for Ubuntu 8.04.

Fortunately Ubuntu Classic is still available in the login menu. Yay for real backward compatibility!

Facebook won’t work with NoScript extension

Looks like they’re doing something retarded when detecting NoScript: Some links (for example, other people’s profiles) have an extra ?_fb_noscript=1 at the end, and the page includes a <meta http-equiv=refresh content="0; URL=/people/JohnDoe/12345678?_fb_noscript=1" />, which results in an endless loop of reloading the same page :/

The difficulty of bug reporting

This can be pretty hard: Say the GNOME screensaver password prompt sometimes won’t accept your password, no matter how many times you try. How do you check that you haven’t mixed up your password with one of the other 500 that you have to remember if you’re not using a password bookmarklet or a password manager or you change passwords every month (You do use different passwords, don’t you?)? How do you make sure that you’re typing all those special characters right, especially since you’re using multiple keyboard layouts? Does the “Leave a message” function show you the same string that would be sent to the password checking routine? Is it possible that any other software is at fault, mangling or interrupting your input? How do you even find out which software you’re typing the password in? Could a buggy keylogger be involved? Is there any debugging output, and where can you find it? Is Caps Lock or Num Lock on (EEE laptops don’t have those handy LEDs)? Are encodings in any way involved? Where should the bug be reported? Should I ask in the official mailing list before submitting one? If so, what’s the address and do I have to be a member to post? Is there some alternative forum which is more used? Is the list even active anymore? The bug is still marked as unconfirmed (although I’ve had to killall gnome-screensaver for months), so I guess we’ll have to see…