[OT] "Pre-announcement" of Python-based "computing appliance" project.

Richard Hanson me at privacy.net
Sat Sep 25 01:30:28 CEST 2004

[A heads up: Post of moderate length and moderate content. :-) ]

Alex Martelli wrote:

> Ksenia Marasanova <ksenia at ksenia.nl> wrote:
>    ...
> > > are discussed there too -- namely, they're hiding folders, drive
> > > names, etc, from the user view, and creating a new and much simplified
> > > user interface.
> > Fortunately, Apple has been working even harder and is already there 
> > with Tiger:
> > http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/spotlight.html
> > http://www.apple.com/macosx/tiger/search_finder.html
> Even more fortunately, Apple has learned some lessons over the last 20
> years, so its systems, while quite usable for grampa, do also appeal to
> power users and geeks -- Tiger will seamlessly let you use its wonderful
> search facilities _together_ with good organization of your materials
> (if you take the bother of the latter).  Consider Mail.app: its search
> functionality works across all mailboxes or on a single mailbox --
> you're _still_ encouraged to do a little decent filing of your mails,

It *does* seem necessary to "educate" the database about our own
preferences and styles of organization and the like, as well as
"rating and filing" specific, individual objects. I'm interested in
figuring out ways to make it *very* easy to "add value" to the
database with a more efficient HCI -- unless it's very, very simple to
do (nearly automatic, even ;-) ), the user won't do it.

> though the search does make it more feasible to survive with the popular
> "one big inbox and never bother filing" paradigm;-).  

I'm thinking one database with some auto-indexing helped along with
specific user guidance re the "value-adding" aspect. Without some sort
of fast auto-indexing, of course, and without the easy ability for
user attribute-adding, the "one big box" paradigm could be painfully
slow for precise narrowing of large collections of heterogeneous
objects. Presumably, the above mentioned apps, and Google, of course,
do the auto-indexing part.

> Consider Google:
> it doesn't eliminate the advantage of well-organized, navigable sites,
> even though it gives you a chance of surviving the typical "designed by
> marketing, what's this ``usability'' newfangled thing?!" ones...

Heh. Don't get me started re the latter... ;-)

Apple's work definitely sounds like a step in the right direction. Is
there *complete* integration of *all* object types? 

As I see it, the user should be able to tap a button and change an
email into a snailmail doc, or vice versa, say, with the system
handling the details automagically. And, with a few appropriately set
filters using attributes, sorts, and such, the user should be able to
see all the emails, documents, pics, sounds, flicks, etc. relating to,
for example, "Pink Floyd" -- all in one, narrowed view even though the
objects are of disparate types. 

(Some of my early inspiration was XTREE for DOS from the 1980s --
XTREE provided a global view which could be narrowed; although, things
were still a bit primitive back then.)

I don't have access to the modern Macs -- they sound more interesting
to me than the Wintels I'm using. (Although, pedantically speaking, my
currently not-working Fujitsu laptop uses a Transmeta chip, not an
Intel one.)

Mike Meyer's link to an implementation of Jeff Raskin's work also
sounds quite interesting. I note from scanning the smaller zipfile
referenced in the link some similarity with my own ideas -- no save or
delete, for example, such being either unnecessary or is transparently
handled under-the-covers. 

(I'm having connectivity problems, so I won't be able to review the
implementation of Raskin's "Humane Interface" till I can get wxPython
DL'ed again. Perhaps tonight.)

civilization-wobbling-along'ly y'rs,
Richard Hanson


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