Work around GTK+ open type ahead find

Typeahead find in gvim’s GTK+ open dialog box is driving me bananas, but today I discovered a trick I hadn’t seen before that will help work around it with a bit of relearning.

For those who aren’t familiar with the problem, John Goerzen describes how painful this feature is for large directories. Just imagine, then, having to regularly deal with large directories on particularly slow, remote filesystems. Argh. Unusable!

The trick I came up with to work around the problem is to first enter the path incorrectly and then fix it afterwards. Type a blank first, then the whole filepath, then [Home] to return to the beginning of the line, and finally [Delete] to fix the path, and [Enter] to open the file.

It still takes an awfully long time for gvim to read the file, but it’s a great improvement over either trying to type the filename blind, or waiting for each directory to be scanned. Ultimately, these files should be moved off the remote filesystem and into subversion, but there are cross-platform compatibility issues that prevent me from doing this at this time (OpenVMS + Linux + win32).

I’m still looking for a real solution. In the comments to John’s post, someone suggested there is a gconf setting that controls this, but so far I haven’t been able to find it. So for now, I’ll have to live with this hack.

Geek father

Being Father’s Day today gives me pause to consider Debian Jr., a project for kids. The goal was to make Debian the OS kids prefer to use. I wanted my own kids to grow up enjoying using a system that puts the fewest barriers in the way to learning about how computers work, and to making computers work for them.

It’s nearly six years later now: enough time for my second youngest to grow from a toddler to an eight-year-old girl, for my youngest girl to be born and put to the test the lower limit of our “for kids from 0 to 99” slogan, for our boy in the middle to grow from a preschooler to a preteen, and for the two oldest girls to turn into teenagers. Perhaps by the time we have grandkids, Debian Jr. will finally be “done”.

In that time, our kids have gone from using a VT-420 attached to my Pentium 100, exploring commands using the “magic” tab-key at the bash prompt, playing with words and letters in pico, to playing 3D games and creating artwork in the Gimp on the family Sempron 3300+. And through it all, they’ve remained happy and proud to use Linux, which none of their friends have. They have become, I believe, more firmly grounded and comfortable with computing than they might have been using a system “dumbed down” for kids.

To all the Debian using fathers out there today, Happy Father’s Day! May you and your kids’ lives be enriched as you share in the finest OS in the world.

Junior programming refocused on “kid languages”

I’ve refocused the Debian Jr. programming metapackage on languages made for kids. I’m sure there are some who have used scheme or python with their kids, and sure, if you want to do that, go ahead. But these were only initially included because of a lack of choices.

Littlewizard is an icon-based language only recently added, and kturtle replaces the less-kid-friendly ucblogo. I’ve also been pursuing #236721 to see what it would take to get Squeak into main. While it doesn’t look like there’s hope of that anytime soon, recent changes to their licensing might allow it to go into non-free.

Tinkerer and explorer

Always a tinkerer and an explorer, I’ve known I wanted to self-host a blog for some time. Blog hosting sites have their pluses, but I couldn’t resist making something distinctively mine with cool technology like the Rails-based Typo. Besides, I couldn’t be outdone by my wife, who has for months now kept a successful knitting blog. The time has come. will include ideas about programming at work and play, Debian development, home-based learning, kids and family, or whatever else strikes my fancy or seems noteworthy at the time. No lofty goals, in other words. Just a place to collect my thoughts and connect up to the blogosphere.