Cleaning Your Bedroom and Improving the World

When I was growing up, my bedroom was always a mess. Every week or two, my parents would get me to clean my room. I wasn’t interested in cleaning my room, but I had to get it to at least pass a quick visual inspection my mom or dad.

To make sure I passed the informal inspection with minimal amount of work necessary, I would stand at the door of my room, where my parents would stand, and look in. I would scan the room and make note of the first thing I noticed that was out of place – pants on the floor, the unmade bed, or whatever was the most visually obviously out of place. Once this was taken care of, I would go back to the door, have another look, and pick the next thing I noticed. I would repeat this simple process until things were looking good enough.

This process has stayed with me ever since and often proves to be useful way to decide what to work on first. Over the past year, I’ve tried to apply this bedroom cleaning prioritization technique to help improve, in a small way, the open source desktop computing experience.

Last fall, I looked at my desktop computing environment and took note of the first thing that didn’t feel right. At the time, it was the ugly old Firefox icon (then called Phoenix). That helped, in small part, get the process started that culminated in the redesign of the visual redesign of all things Firefox and Thunderbird.

More recently, now having a beautiful web browser, I returned to my bedroom cleaning technique and took another look at the desktop and see what bothered me next. This time, it wasn’t visual. Rather, it was the sounds used in the Gaim instant messager application that were the most prominent rough edge.

I set out a few months ago to improve these sounds. Like with the Firefox visual work, I didn’t have all of the skill needed to do the work myself, so I looked to others for help. This time it was Brad Turcotte, a musician (aka Brad Sucks), that came to my aid. He and I bounced sounds that he created back and forth for a while until we had something that sounded right.

These new sounds have now been accepted by the Gaim developers and will be included in a future release.

Now, I’ll have to head back to my bedroom door and take a look around to see what rough edge I notice next.


15 thoughts on “Cleaning Your Bedroom and Improving the World

  1. The real problem about Linux/UNIX (except MacOS X) is that it takes time, effort, knowledge and routine to install. It’s not done in half an hour. And thats the real issue, why the Windows-users are hesitating to migrate onto the NIX platform. Not the sounds nor icons of any of the programs.

    I’ve been running Debian, SuSE, Redhat and and number of other distros over time, as well as MacOS X and Windows. And no matter how bad Windows is, it’s still the easiest thing to install on a PC. Linspire is getting there, though.

    So as long as these issues persists, there is a lot of poeple who doesn’t benefit from the great software, freedom and opensource community. How sad.

    I, myself have been using Windows XP ever since I sold my Mac, because after using OS X for more than a year, I simply couldn’t manage to force myself into the overwhelming work, of making Debian or any other Linux distibution run as I like it.

    Right now I’m a little keen to start using SkyOS which seems like a great choice, if it’s as easy as Linspire and Windows to install. If not, it’s just yet another distribution.

  2. I have to disagree with the initial installation process. Fedora is very, very easy to install. Easier than Windows XP IMO (and I’ve done at least 150 installs of WinXP and probably 25+ Fedora installs).

    As for SkyOS, I don’t approve of people taking all the open source goodies and contributing absolutely nothing back to the OS community. Similar story to Apple, but at least they provided code dumps for Safari/KHTML (Apple will tell everyone that they contribute to OSS.. but really if you look at the Apple Opensource page:, you’ll find that very few of their OSS ‘contributions’ matter at all to anyone outside of OSX).

    My main problem with Linux desktop at the moment is the difficulty of installing applications. Yes, I know I can do apt-get install or whatever the yum equivalent is, but usually the apps are not in the repositories or they are old versions. Therefore, I have to modify the sources.list and add a third party repository, which usually b0rks the entire thing. Basically, it’s a mess.

  3. Well, I’ll refrain from discussing Fedora, as I have never tried it. Maybe I should, if it’s that easy.. but installing the distribution is one thing. I still have not managed to make my LCD display work in the X-Window-System on Debian.

  4. Michel,

    You have got to be smoking crack.
    The only distros I have installed in the past 3 years that even approached the horror of a Windows install were debian and gentoo. Neither of these are aimed at newbies. Xandros, Lindows, Fedora, Ubuntu, RHEL, Suse, Mandrake : all of these are piss easy to install compared to Windows. If you do not want to mess with confuguration, don’t install debian and then cry about it – it is meant for experienced unix heads.

    People don’t choose not to install something based on the installation procedure. The reasons people aren’t using linux on the desktop:
    a) few preloads
    b) fear
    c) games
    d) ignorance
    e) no preloads
    f) scum bag hardware companies not releasing specs
    g) a violent convicted monopolist out for blood, armed with shills, patent & copyright shell companies, and format & protocol lock in plans

    in that order. Installation issues are not very high on the list. g) could be seen as the proximate cause of much of the rest.

    Re SkyOS: Lets not pretend that a non linux open source OS has a serious chance on the desktop. There is only so much mindshare out there.

  5. For me that’d have to be the ugly icons for ABC (and other torrent programmes).

    SkyOS looks real promissing, does anyone know where you can download it?

  6. What I don’t get is how the h377 you could adandon the blissful existence that is Mac OS X for the nonfunctional, unimtuitive, bugridden spyware hell that is Window$ XP.

  7. Thanks for being the guy that puts up his hands when everyone else stays silent. They’re all beautiful subtle fixes that goes a long way in making everyone’s bedroom a little bit cleaner.

    I wonder what’s next on your list =)

  8. Hey! My room is already clean! I’m using Brad Sucks’ sounds since your post on Acts of Volition. Shall I go out and play with friends? ;o)

    Thank you for all this.

  9. So many auditory distractions, I just turn my speakers off now. The worst offenders are those talking ads…Ohmygosh! Those things scare the heck out of me! Anyway, I gave up trying to rewrite every sound and nuance from every corner of my OS, browser, and other software, that I just gave up completely, which is a bummer, because I have over $300 in audio hooked up to my rig. sigh.

Comments are closed.