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Thread: Ideas for redesigning the "desktop"...

  1. #1
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    Arrow Ideas for redesigning the "desktop"...

    I just want to open the discussion on something I've been thinking about for a while...

    Does anyone else out there think there may be a better way of displaying the desktop than the classic "window" based idea we have at the moment?

    I'd just like to get a brainstorm going and/or find out if anyone knows of any linux projects that are seriously looking again at the idea of how we organise the OS GUI.

    Ideas I have been playing with are things like:

    • Semi trasnparent windows
    • Better touch screen intergration
    • Simply buying a 32" monitor
    • Stacking of windows (Similar dare I say it to the Vista approach)
    • Using headsets to give vast amounts of desktop space to work with


    These are just a few ideas but I'd love to hear what everyone else thinks so feel free to post any ideas no matter how off the wall...

  2. #2
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    Re: Ideas for redesigning the "desktop"...

    have you ever tried beryl?
    "To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge"

  3. #3
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    Re: Ideas for redesigning the "desktop"...

    probably, and it's not a redesign of the window concept...

    I think that a 3d reprensation of a desk, with the windows being more like papers (stackable, foldable). it would give a sense of freedom and personnal organization that I think lacks in current designs.

  4. #4
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    Re: Ideas for redesigning the "desktop"...

    i saw a concept once where you could divide your desktop into rectangularish shaded regions and set them to display things like calendars, to-do lists, rss feeds, folder contents, and such. It was nifty.

  5. #5
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    Re: Ideas for redesigning the "desktop"...

    Have you seen 'looking glass'
    Its pants though

  6. #6
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    Re: Ideas for redesigning the "desktop"...

    looking glass is a really good start in my opinion

  7. #7
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    Re: Ideas for redesigning the "desktop"...

    Windows acting like paper? So your looking for Metisse?

  8. #8
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    Re: Ideas for redesigning the "desktop"...

    kind of, but much more advanced than that. and windows would stay open (or folded) until you need them (saving the order between sessions). it would mimic a real-life desk, basically.

    edit: but then again, another concept I would like to change would be the input method. a mouse is too limited for what I had in mind.

  9. #9
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    Re: Ideas for redesigning the "desktop"...

    Actually, Beryl still uses the 'windows' metaphor that we are all familiar with. I'm sure there are human factors projects out there investigating alternative ways of interacting with PC's, but who knows what will come of them.

    Part of the problem is hardware. There are only so many things you can do with a mouse and keyboard. Available hardware limits the possibilities of the interface. For instance, Xwindows and the Mac were not really practical until someone invented the mouse.

    One of my favorite devices in the past few years was a logitech mouse with imation ifeel capabilities. This device was almost universally panned by the technical press, because they all felt that it was a useless gadgety feature. They couldn't have been more wrong. I got this mouse for several PC newbies, and it made teaching them windows so much easier. The mouse would bump as they moved over buttons and such, and the tactile response reinforced their learning process, and made them more confident. Logitech dropped the product, which is a damn shame in my opinion.

    But there are new inventions coming out today. I haven't played with one, but the controller for the Wii is an example. You could do some really interesting things with that technology and a head mounted display (VR, here we come). And I'm sure there are people out there researching it.

    Most people turn off the sound events in windows, ubuntu doesn't come with sound schemes, although you can make your own. Sound themes are not necessarily a waste of resources. As with the ifeel mouse, they provide additional learning reinforcement.

    I think part of the problem is that techies don't pay a lot of attention to human factors. The study of interfaces, everything from computers to phones, dashboards, and even doors (which way should they open?)) How often do you see interface options for the colorblind, for example?

    Enough of that. I think that as people investigate the limitations of the windowed interface, they will be able to come up with alternatives. Microsoft tries to refine its interface every few years, but still hasn't succeeded in coming up with anything truly intuitive yet, even with its millions of dollars spent on R&D. Part of this is due to GroupThink, no doubt, but its also because coming up with a new way of interacting with the PC requires a rare level of creative thinking.

  10. #10
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    Re: Ideas for redesigning the "desktop"...

    i think pretty much everyone would agree that the current desktop paradigm needs a change. there are plenty of people who don't even use a graphical environment because they especially know how inefficient it is!

    however, i don't think anyone really knows what exactly should be changed. pretty much every 3D desktop software (even Vista!) is taking some sort of step in the right direction, but in other areas they are stagnant or even stepping backwards. building a 3D layer over the current paradigm is not the best solution, in my opinion, but it is a start.

    the change will come with open-source though. there is plenty to mess around with, and as long as people keep messing around with various ideas, something amazingly fresh and useful will appear. this is unlikely to happen with Vista and OSX though, because we are forced to do things according to their vision. and their vision is blinded by what consumers want. consumers may claim to want something new, but hey, we're all part of the linux community, we know quite well how users react with something new

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