Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Desktop Work Continues

I continue to work on the next-gen desktop for deployment. Now that the hardware issues are finished I have started to move 3D thin clients out to regular users for the first time. The immediate feedback was that the 4 sides of the cube didn't provide enough workspaces, so I enabled a hexagon for everyone. It turned out that cubecap images only worked with 4 sides, so the Beryl guys put in a change to allow a PNG image to be placed in the middle of whatever shape you have. (Thank you!). (Seen in shot below) I am finding that users click the mouse and press function keys often by accident and they are stepping into a lot of Beryl gestures without knowing what they did. Compiz I am sure would have the same issue. So, I have eliminated a lot of the shortcuts and made any desired screen effects be very purposeful.

I also saw the announcement of the news-notification applet which is very similar to mail-notification and it's working great. It monitors a RSS file and creates a popup when the file changes. This will allow me to push messages to the entire City at one time with information about hurricanes or other important events. (Seen in shot below).

I have also deployed cairo-clock which seems to run fine over remote display.

I had a short IRC conversation with Federico about how users are struggling with shared documents. Generally, people don't know where things are saved and now after 20+ years of people working on computers, I am losing hope that this concept will ever improve. :) Previously what I did was put all of the important documents in regular GNOME cascading menus and people loved it. Now that we are deploying the main-menu (slab) that won't work. So, I wrote a small python application that simply creates tiles for our documents and then opens them in the appropriate application. (Seen in shot below).

What Nautilus really needs is the ability to create 'filelists' just like you create 'playlists' in iTunes. Playlists are simply groups that organize your music in virtual folders. 'Filelists' should work the same way. Click into the list on the left side and all of the documents appear. This eliminates users having to know where things are, and allows them to organize documents into conceptual groups instead of thinking in terms of directory layouts. Sometimes files that you use are not your own, and you don't have the ability to change the directory names. Filelists should be supported per user, and it should allow global ones that the adminstrator puts in as well for all users.

[ Pics -- Go to my blog if they do not appear]

[Below: Beryl with 6 sides, hexagon cap displaying on the bottom and top. news-notification displaying popup of recently added RSS feed in lower right hand corner]

[Below: Pyton application that creates tiles of frequently used documents. File names are hidden, and descriptions of the documents are displayed instead.]


Anonymous said...

Just wanted to give a whole hearted approval to the idea of file lists. It's a great idea. On windows you can try to organize a 'folder' to remember an aligned layout (something that is missing on linux) -- the only problem is that the windows implementation is infuriatingly fragile -- it will semi-randomly forget the layout (even when more memory is allocated to such things and especially after a hibernate). This drives somebody who works on spacial memory just crazy.

Keep up the good ideas!

Anonymous said...

maybe I should clarify > I meant: aligned to grid layout > with the location of the icons representing an organization akin to your second screenshot.

Andrew Z said...

I could not find a good Gnome RSS applet. Which one exactly do you use?

BTW, thanks for the notify-send tip. Our terminal servers automatically detect the closest printer, so I added the notification for clarification.

grep said...

your Pyton application that creates tiles of frequently used documents, would it be possible for me to obtain a copy of it? I'm experimenting with the same things you're doing, just, on my own time for anticipation of a linux conversion around my work here that I may be one of the main participants in.

please let me know
tim at engr.csufresno.edu