domingo, 23 de junio de 2013

My life with KDE 4.10.2: Using activities

Despite all the attacks launched on KDE with arguments about how confusing, complicated, and messy it is, I have discovered that non-technical users can learn to use this desktop environment and enjoy it.  My own experience is evidence of that.

I'll be blunt: I don't know how to code.  I am a literature professor, not a programmer.  So, in theory, KDE should be way beyond my league, as some people insist it is too entangled for average computer users who are confused by choices.

KDE does include a lot of choices (perhaps too many).  But you do not need to grasp everything KDE offers at once; you can gradually learn how to use it and, eventually, shape it to fit your workflow best.

When I first saw "Activities", I must confess that I did not find the concept practical.  However, that was exactly the same impression I got when I first saw the virtual workspaces in Linux.  Today, I cannot work without four of them.

This is how my main workspace looks normally

The term is about to finish and I am busy calculating the grades of students, getting ready for my own French exams, and preparing the last lessons of the semester.  In this hectic period, the whole concept of activities made sense to me in a sudden revelation.

This is my customized School activity
Modifying the "School" activity template, I can change the look of my virtual workspaces, so that I can easily access all I need to work and study:
1.  a calculator
2.  a spreadsheet with all the grades
3.  an English dictionary
4.  my notes to plan lessons

I can also have a Japanese and a Korean dictionary a click away with my School activity. 

That is not all, though.  Sometimes, one needs to select students at random.  So, the second workspace of my School activity has a dice widget that facilitates that task, especially because the widget can have as many numbers as students I have in my class.

The third and fourth workspaces sport only black screens.  I use one as a virtual blackboard to doodle freely with the KDE effect:

This is convenient, but you must be good at drawing :-P

The other becomes a curtain, so that I do not have to minimize the programs I need to run for a particular class (e.g. an Impress presentation, a document, or a VYM mind map).

When I am done, I simply revert to my regular workspace.  All the "mess" is cleaned with two clicks.

I find this an extremely neat way to use your computer.  So, there you have it: a non-technical user has learned to benefit from KDE's activities.

Thank you, KDE developers!

1 comentario:

  1. Yes, and your quick introduction to KDE activities made me see their potential. Hopefully, I'll be able to take advantage of that tool, too.