Semantic desktop and web is the future

Story: Removing/Disabling The Semantic Deskop in KDE4 Running on openSUSE 13.1 Part 2Total Replies: 19
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Feb 18, 2014
8:43 PM EDT
I know that user's experiences with this semantic stuff have been difficult, and a lot of people don't see the benefit. I don't see the effort or funding as having been wasted. As I said when I wrote about this some time ago, plain-text searches are plainly inadequate. They depend too much on humans manually tagging non-text storage objects like photos, and audio and video files to make them search-friendly. As we accumulate terabytes of stuff search is going to become a huge problem. It already is-- how many of us have perfectly-organized multimedia archives where we can find what we want without a lot of hassle?

The other key part of the semantic desktop is 'web of association'. This is why Nepomuk wants to index every last little thing on your system. To quote my own self:

Quoting: The idea is to make the computer form the types of associations that we make every day. I'll wager everyone has an Auntie Em or Uncle Henry who bootstraps their memories in this fashion: "When did Cousin Ellen lose her mind and go to work for the Infernal Revenue, instead of keeping her honest accounting job? Well, that was back when Grandpa Jones broke his hand and couldn't play the mandolin anymore, and Fred and Ethel just had their third baby and had to sell the sports car, and that baby boy is all grown up now and just had his 23rd birthday, so it was back in September 1988 when Ellie went to work for the bad guys."

Nepomuk aims to make possible the same web of associations to our files and their contents that we make in our heads all the time. The possibilities are vast: what if Nepomuk could catalogue audio file lyrics, recognize song snippets, incorporate image-recognition, figure out who the musicians in a song or the actors in a movie are? It's not so far-fetched as Google and others are working on these technologies now.

The key concept is making knowledge processable by the computer. I hope they keep working on it. Google has made a lot of progress in semantic search, but of course they keep everything under wraps, and fling token bits of code over the fence when they feel like it.

KDE 4: Leader of the Semantic Pack

Feb 18, 2014
8:46 PM EDT
Ridcully, you've done some glorious work dissecting all this stuff. Thank you.

Feb 18, 2014
9:20 PM EDT
Thankyou Tuxchick, I appreciate the compliment very much. I always come back to a set of very simple ideas. KDE4 is a great DM. The semantic desktop is a superb concept, and particularly useful for large networks in business, government, education, research....etc. No denying it. The problem with many users is that they neither want not need it, but at the moment KDE4 has been designed as "one pattern fits all users", or at least that's my impression. And so, choice to use KDE4 as an individual wishes has been lost.

How they would implement it I have no idea, but choice to use or not use the semantic desktop (with no penalty on the user who chooses not to use it) would solve all the problems.

As to the work in dissecting all this stuff.......I confess that at times I felt like throwing my hands in the air and calling for several bottles of single malt.....anything to get away from it. LOL. And the other part is editing.....It sat in the OpenOffice edit folder here for a week or so before I began to upload it. No matter what you did, you found that there was another conflict later on........and then to have the breaking news of Nepomuk just as you put it in the Edit queue......exited stage left screaming hysterically. I should tell you though.....? You've been there and done that all too often yourself. Even after it was on LXer, Jdixon, bless him and thankyou Jdixon, told me of an error on one of the images which needed to be fixed pronto.......It was.

That's enough of a rant.......But looking back, great experience and overall, I enjoyed it. I wonder what I will think about next ? As long as people enjoy my perspectives on things, I will try to keep writing. Thanks again.


Feb 19, 2014
1:40 AM EDT
Tony, thank you for the absolutely great work you've published here. I appreciate it and I want you to know that I do.

You've hit on a lot of things that had me nodding my head, but the major things are actually the simplest things. And remember, I do this with the new and most often young user in mind.

Right off the bat, Linux is a new and strange environment to the kids we present it to. Let's just focus on those from 14 - 18 for now. This has been a pet peeve of mine for years. The convoluted, nonsensical and unnecessarily difficult-to-pronounce names of the various components of the OS and the apps within.

Nepomuk, Semantic Desktop, Akonadi server? Right away we've presented these kids with the equivalent of giving them support documentation in a foreign language, Naming these components should keep simplicity in mind. I mean, we use KDE on most of our reglue computers now because of how much it's improved. It's absolutely wonderful, but it can be the best computing environment in the world, but if you are scaring away your users at first blush, what have you accomplished?

ewww - ewwww pick me pick me. I know, I know, I know...

Nothing. You've accomplished nothing.

Step 1 for us. go into system settings and completely disable Nepomuk in Desktop Search...for the younger kids anyway. If we leave it running for older kids we disable portable storage indexing. We also warn them that it might be sluggish at first, but then again, my all time favorite search tool, Google Desktop Search could bog your machine down for a couple of days if you left it indexing all the time.

Don't get me started on Google Music Manager. That's best left for when you sign off at night. it has all night to chomp and chew through that.

We also teach them how to use Kfind to search for files and how to use the search feature in Dolphin. Oh, and a note to the KDE guys... why do we gotta put an * at the beginning and end of the search string in Kfind? A lot of people report that they don't have to do that but every flavor of KDE I've used this past year demands it. I cussed and fussed about how much kfind ksucked. A simple dab of internet ink at each end of the search term? Who knew??? I know I drove TA crazy with my kvetching about that.

Step 2 for us is to set these kids up with a Gmail account and google calendar. We also show them the Kmail suite but we do our best to talk them down from a client unless they just really need one. So all that indexing and chomping and chewing isn't necessary for them to get to a system they can use right away.

Feb 19, 2014
2:33 AM EDT
Thanks Ken......and hey, in good "Strine", no worries mate !!

My first reaction straight off is that the articles weren't written for your particular newcomer users.......They were written "for" reasonably experienced Linux users and "at" the developers in particular. I'm not surprised or upset in the slightest that what I have had to say in the articles is of little use to you in your daily work with getting computers to kids - or a newcomer for that matter; but I am very pleased that you in particular seem to have enjoyed reading it. Newcomers are all exposed to a plethora of articles of varying degrees of technicality, and if what I wrote in those articles wasn't applicable to them, I'd expect them to turn the page to another article............and fairly quickly...and without any damage except to say: "Another highbrow article - gimme something simpler."

However, as to accomplishing nothing, I wouldn't quite say that. Those articles will definitely be in the hands of the KDE4 developers by now. They might not like them, but they will have been read. They won't react publicly, but the material will be digested.......and Oh yes.....there will be a reaction, but you and I will not see it for what it is. I didn't want to lead a torch and Molotov waving crowd of Linux discontent against the "hallowed halls of KDE", but like Martin Luther did to start the Reformation, I most definitely DID want to nail a large notice of discontent on their front door......with suggestions for improvement. In that respect, I think I did just that and I am sure they heard the nails banging into the door.

Good to hear from you Ken.......and thanks again for your kind comments.

Feb 19, 2014
2:53 AM EDT
Well, i 4 1 , did learn a lot with these articles/discussion. It will definitely help me to avoid talking nonsense if a discussion ever comes up. My Thanks to all who wrote/contributed.

Feb 19, 2014
3:47 AM EDT
Y'know what Francy. ? That is just about the nicest compliment I could have been given....thankyou. I also learned a heck of a lot from it all.....From bare bones in the KMail article to fleshing it out in Part2...It's been a great journey and the threads also give an enormous amount back. It's marvellous to be part of such a fantastic and well motivated team of LXer.

Feb 19, 2014
9:52 AM EDT
The breadth of experience (and opinion) has always been one of the primary reasons I keep coming back to LXer.

That "community" thing.

Feb 19, 2014
12:38 PM EDT
The way you say it slows the desktop to a crawl, it keeps sounding to me like the"symantec desktop".

Feb 19, 2014
2:55 PM EDT
I should have read this thread before I posted my response on the other thread


Feb 19, 2014
3:33 PM EDT
I can see some benefit in what Nepomuk is trying to do. The problem I have with it is that it requires /so much/ processing power that it almost mandates that everyone have an N-core CPU (with N being at least 2 and preferably much higher) for it to work without getting in your way and preventing you from getting other work done. Probably best to be running a kernel with virtual machine capabilities so you can allocate one of those cores exclusively for all the indexing your semantic desktop wants to do without bringing the rest of your computer to its knees. It's great that Google is working on this kind of thing. The trouble is that we're not Google. We aren't going to have a roomful of computers working on indexing our "stuff". When the average consumer is going to the local electronics store and buying 1-, 2-, 3-TB drives that they are filling up with music, photos, whatever, I'll bet they're not realizing that their computer is going to have to be left turned on all the time to allow their desktop to rummage around in all that data to index it on the chance that, one day, they'll want to find that photo of Aunt Millie taken on Thanksgiving Day of some unknown year. I sure didn't realize that when I moved to KDE 4. I couldn't find the kill switch for nepomuk fast enough.

The other annoyance that this series of articles brings up is the hidden tying of services to applications. I'm always a little POed when I find that I have zero choice when I install a package and I'm forced to install a slew of extra stuff that I don't need or, when there are multiple packages providing a given service, my ability to choose among those different packages is taken away. Try installing a word processor without a printing subsystem. That should not be a mandatory service. I rarely ever need to print out or send physical copies of documents any more. I need to install printing software in order to even /have/ a word processor. But even worse is that my choice of printing subsystem is taken away from me. Want LibreOffice? You must have CUPS. Does some of my selected software need a database? If so, why is MySQL shoved down my throat? (<sarcasm>Because I really like having to run MySQL on my system because I later decided to install a new package when there's already a perfectly good PostgreSQL database running.</sarcasm>) If I'm going to be forced to install an additional service, why not allow the user to choose which one of many packages provide that service? As in: "Hey... the package you've request requires a database. You have already PostgreSQL installed but you may choose one of these others if you like." or "You're installing a word processor. If you want to be able to print you'll also need to install one of the following packages." Hey... a guy can dream, can't he?

Finally (I've certainly rambled on long enough)... great series of articles. I'd already figured out how to keep nepomuk from consuming all of my CPU cycles and have (also) switched to Thunderbird. Pity I can't do something about akonadi as I rely on Korganizer on a daily basis. Well, I already am doing something about it: the project to get Horde up and running on our home network is now almost ready to come off the back burner and get into the implementation phase.

Feb 20, 2014
12:21 AM EDT
I couldn't agree more Francy and Bob. What drew me to LXer and kept me was the amount of knowledge in the threads related to the newswire posts. The threads are more informative than the articles themselves in my continued experience (these two articles being exempt of course). :-)

Tony's research and how he was able to explain what it is that is going on so even the layman such as myself understand are amazing. These two articles together are a treatise into what could be done better by the KDE team, by any team. There is no reason why any user should have to go through what he did to get something rather simple to work the way he wants it me crazy but it shouldn't be that hard.

Feb 20, 2014
7:08 PM EDT
Scott, in all fairness, Tony is a Doctor, and he plays one on the Interwebs.

Feb 20, 2014
7:24 PM EDT
"...and he plays one on the interwebs"........Huh ????? I've just reached the senile age of 71 and I'm not with it this morning Gus3, so you wit went right over my head. Look, by way of explanation (and I suspect you threw that line above just to get me in), when I write a paper in my "research world of mycology", the fact that I have a PhD is extremely important as it lends a bit of authority to my statements, but honestly, apart from that it's like Mr, Mrs etc.....just a title. Doesn't mean I am not very, very proud of it....It took me roughly 25 years of part time study to get I guess I like to take it out and wave it around a bit, even if it truly means nothing in the Linux world. Just consider it a foible of advancing years.....after all, you only get a single chance to be proud of it. There, 'nuff said. Send rain please. :-)

Feb 20, 2014
7:49 PM EDT
You can have some of the rain (and high winds) we're about to get here.

As for the line, take a look here.

And as for the title "Doctor of Mycology," that indicates to me that you know how to conduct in-depth research and experiments, and present your findings coherently to your audience. (As opposed to a Doctor of Philosophy, who sometimes can't even be understood by his/her fellow philosophers.) I'll take your stuff over Michael Larabel's, or even my own. My stuff may be fun to write, but yours is fun to read.

Feb 20, 2014
9:07 PM EDT
Gotcha Gus3........shows how much "back in the woods" I am. But in mitigation I plead iggorance of American tv shows.......LOL.

Rain accepted with pleasure......we may get thunderstorms this afternoon.....cross my fingers.

Just a minor correction, what I have really IS a Doctor of Philosophy degree, but in the pure research area of mycological taxonomy - which allows me to identify species of the higher fungi (mushrooms and toadstools etc.) and yes, it did involve considerable field work, research, writing etc.....which all helps. But unfortunately, I can't wear the title of "Doctor of Mycology" best you can say that it is a PhD, IN the research area.....I'll wear that as long as you can stand it. But thankyou...I rather gathered a lot of people enjoyed what I was writing, but like any mere writer, it's always great to get feedback.

Feb 20, 2014
9:54 PM EDT
>>>>what I have really IS a Doctor of Philosophy degree,

Oh Dear, would I love it to sit right in front of you. I am starving for a good conversation. I live in an environment where Kindergarten is considered an achievement. ( i'm joking of course, but it feels that way more often than not )

Feb 20, 2014
11:09 PM EDT
Hi Francy.........Well, we could talk about toxic fungi, fungi and their importance in forestry, spinning and dyeing wool, beekeeping, propagating tubestock cuttings and setting them into the plantation, removing possums from a hen house and carpet snakes in a kitchen, what is the best single malt whisky.......Anything except computers - unless you really wanted to of course. :-) Oh yes, and the kookaburra colony that has adopted us and now considers we are its property. one sense, I guess we are.....How's that

Feb 20, 2014
11:17 PM EDT
Hmmmm.......thinking......thinking.......thinking.........I'll let you know :-)

Feb 26, 2014
3:13 PM EDT
Quoting:Does some of my selected software need a database? If so, why is MySQL shoved down my throat? (<sarcasm>Because I really like having to run MySQL on my system because I later decided to install a new package when there's already a perfectly good PostgreSQL database running.</sarcasm>) If I'm going to be forced to install an additional service, why not allow the user to choose which one of many packages provide that service?

It is not always possible to do that because databases unfortunately vary in features and especially SQL dialects.

But since this is in reaction to an article mentioning Akonadi I just wanted to make sure to point out that exactly this kind of choice is built-in there. My currrent information is that there are three supported databases: MySQL (probably also MariaDB, don't know for sure), PostgreSQL, and SQLite.

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