Web Browser is THE Tractor App

smallbee2You don’t hear the expression “tractor app” much anymore.  It refers to  a computer application that, by its very nature, draws people to an operating system platform, just like a tractor pulling a bailer.  It could be argued that, for Microsoft, Word was its tractor app.  For the Mac, it might have been Adobe Pagemaker or Photoshop.  Haiku may never have a tractor app in the true sense; an application so well-suited to it that it draws people in from other operating systems.  But for people who want to be able to do all the basics, simply, it might be that the single-most important application is the one that has the potential do “do it all,” and that’s WebPositive, its default web browser.

Before you look around for something to throw, let me explain my reasoning a little.  No other application serves as many different functions as a web browser does these days.  No single application is used more.  And by no other means are so many capabilities and services made available in universal, cross-platform ways.

With each new iteration, WebPositive is giving us access to more web-based applications and services, from word processors, to spreadsheets and databases, to calendars, to cloud storage, games, you name it.  It even supports YouTube videos now.  Every time I open it, I discover new sites it is able to “parse.”   And it only stands to reason that, over time, more and more possibilities will open up.  This helps fill the gap while programmers are discovering the platform and writing Haiku-specific applications for it.  And it eliminates an excuse for people who are already used to a certain cloud-based solution and wouldn’t want to work on an operating system platform that didn’t provide access to it.

What I’d like to do with this article is to start what I hope will be a large and useful list of sites and services people have discovered WebPositive works with, and to add to it over time.  I’ll start it out with this:  SimpleNote.

SimpleNote is a very easy, and nicely free, cloud-based note-taking resource that is completely platform agnostic.  You can keep as many different notes as you like, and they’re all accessible, searchable, and editable from within a single interface.  There are apps for various platforms that serve as clients, but there’s also a very clean, handsome online interface for it.  I was thrilled to discover I can log into it and edit all my various notes from it.

Your turn.  Use Comments to start posting some of your favorite web sites that work with WebPositive.

And of course, kudos to Pulkomandy for his tireless work and many improvements to good old Web+

Missing Out on the Beauty of BIG Icons!

smallbee2The first computer I ever owned that had a graphical user interface was an Amiga 500.  It was quite low resolution, so it would have been easy for Commodore to compensate by using tiny icons.  But it didn’t.  Some of the icons for programs on the Amiga were huge.  I remember one that looked as big as a deck of cards.  Granted, Amiga’s color limitations when not in HAM mode gave all the elements of the desktop a blocky, monochromatic appearance.  But I always admired the Amiga’s gutsy, big icons.

Starting with Windows 3.1,  I fell-in-line for awhile, and got used to dinky, boring icons.  Even when icons became scalable in the late 90s, and for an embarrassingly long period afterwards, I continued to use little retro-sized icons; in part, because BeOS didn’t support true icon resizing.    It wasn’t until I moved from Windows to Mac as my choice for day-to-day business computing that it finally dawned on me what I was missing out on.  Selecting “view options” from the desktop, I dragged the slider to the right,  and lo, the Mac’s beautiful, artistic icons leaped up to “Amigaesque” proportions…and they were stunning!  120×120 icons on a 1900×1200 monitor are about an inch high.  I love looking at them.  When I try reducing them to a smaller size now, I feel cheated.

Next, of course, I had to try resizing the icons in Haiku, where they also scale smoothly these days.  I bumped the icons up from 32×32 to 96×96, and they really came to life.  Ultimately I backed them down to 64×64 so my standard set of always-needed icons fits in a single row across the top of the screen, but they’re still large enough to appreciate their beauty.  And the Haiku system icons are indeed beautiful, kudos!

If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time staring at a computer desktop.  In my own case, the simple act of making the icons bigger is something that has given me pleasure every time I turn on my computer.

A related note…

Coming from a long, unfortunate past in Windows, I became accustomed to the typical columns of icons along the left side of the screen, and anything different than that was alien and difficult for me to get used to.  But when I discovered the nifty clean-up feature Haiku offers by doing SHIFT-OPT-K (sorting the icons across the top of the screen alphabetically), I quickly came to appreciate and even like that layout.  It satisfies the “Monk” in me to be able to snap those icons into a predictable order when they get unruly.  Their being alphabetical means that, once you become accustomed to their onscreen order,  it becomes fast and easy to find what you want, even after a cleanup.

“Rent-an-app” indeed.

Most of the time, the focus at leBUZZ is on what’s going on in the Haiku community, but sometimes I indulge in a little editorializing on what the world outside looks like to a Haiku insider.  One thing that’s on my mind today is companies that adopt the increasingly common “rent-an-app” approach to software distribution.

Microsoft does it with Office.  You don’t buy Office anymore, you rent it.  You pay a yearly fee for the privilege of using it, like a tenant in an apartment building.  Adobe does it with Photoshop, except you get access to lots of other programs too…building supposed value so they can jack the yearly rent up to something nearer to the price of buying Photoshop afresh every 365 days.

I don’t love Office and do very well without it.  I do love Photoshop.  Fortunately for me, the last lifetime-licensable  version they offered has more capabilities than I’ll ever take advantage of.

They say, “never say never,” but I think I can safely say I’ll never let a company force me into renting their software.  There’s something so impermanent-feeling about using software that’s going to expire.  I just can’t get comfortable with the idea.  Am I the only one who finds the “rent squeeze” approach to software sales deplorable?

 

Hey Windows, Welcome Back.

smallbee2 I always wear pretty much the same style of clothes I’ve always worn.  Occasionally I’m back in fashion, which I think is pretty funny.  Maybe that’s what I like about Haiku.

For anyone who might have been concerned that Haiku’s approach to the desktop was too “Windows 98′ish” for modern-day users, consider the journey Microsoft has been on. Windows been through at least a half dozen iterations in the past 16 years.  It’s been fluffed…it’s been puffed…it’s been metro’ed.  And now, it’s going back.  The latest version, which, curiously, skips a version number and will be called “10″ (maybe to avoid being thought of as one version back from the Mac), retrieves much of the classic look of desktop operating systems we’ve used ever since Rover was a pup. 7ebdce9f-7ed1-401f-bb9b-8a242dabd28c-460x276-1

Once again, by default, there’s a fast bar and a start button (flat in appearance, no longer 3D), floating windows, desktop icons, and a trash can.  You can still get to the “metro” stuff from the start button, and a touch environment will appear when Windows detects that no mouse and keyboard are present.  But there’s no escaping it:  Microsoft realized they had sent users down a blind alley with 8, and they’re going back.

Suddenly, Haiku’s look, especially when users swing its Deskbar into “across-the-bottom” mode (which I prefer), is  en vogue again.  Are there things that could eventually be done to modernize it further?  Absolutely.  But in the meanwhile, Haiku’s comfortable, classic, mainstream appearance is certainly legitimized by Microsoft’s latest move.

An EASY Way to Help Haiku

smallbee2

If you’re not doing it yet, I’d strongly encourage you to set up an account with GoodSearch and make it your browser’s default search engine.  It’s so much like Google that you won’t really even notice a difference, and every search you do results in the donation of a penny to the charity of your choice.  Haiku Inc. is one of the available charities.  A penny might not sound like much, but it’s amazing how fast it adds up if you do a lot of searches every day.  Multiply that by hundreds of participants, and suddenly we’re talking about serious bucks.

In addition, there are lots of online companies you might already be ordering products from, NewEgg for example, who are willing to donate a portion of the sale to your chosen charity through GoodSearch’s “GoodShop” program.  At TuneTracker Systems, all parts ordered for their Station-in-a-Box systems result in donations to Haiku.

Many hands make light work, so the more people we get participating in GoodSearch and GoodShop, the more it will help advance the Haiku operating system!

http://www.goodsearch.com

To choose Haiku as your cause,

  1. Go to goodsearch’s homepage
  2. Click the “Choose a cause” button
  3. Enter “Haiku” in the search box.
  4. Select “Haiku (Saddle Brook, NJ)”

Being ready for the “next great exodus”

smallbee2

This week, Microsoft cut the tethers on Windows XP.  No more support, no more updates, no more patches, no more security.  And millions of users are asking themselves, “what now?”

A survey of current XP users suggests the majority will just keep using Old Faithful, or move to Windows 7, which frankly is the only Windows-based alternative that’s remotely like what their used to.  Windows 8?  Forget about it.  More XP users plan to move to Linux than to 8 or 8.1.  Strangely, just a sliver, 1%, plan to move to the Mac, which I find astounding given the quality of that operdownloadating system and the halo effect I’d expect it to have due to the popularity of Apple’s portable devices.  After Windows broke my heart one too many times, I moved to the Mac and never looked back.  It’s a great environment.  But I digress.

Here’s what I was thinking today:  Imagine if Haiku had been farther along right now.  Suppose its fast, stable, silky-smooth interface was already complemented by a full array of standard desktop necessaries such as a viable office suite, calendar and appointment apps, and a web browser closer in capabilities to the big three.  In other words, what if Haiku was as far along as Linux right now, and had begun to get some of the same credibility and name recognition?  What if people realized they could have a well-equipped windowing desktop environment faster than Linux, and infinitely easier to use?  Where might Haiku have shown up in the pie chart on the right?

The fact is, about a third of all Windows XP users are staying right where they are, for now.  That’ll change in the next few years, as they realize they can’t hold on any longer and have to move to something else.  Wouldn’t it be cool if, by then, Haiku was firing on all cylinders?  It’d still be a bit of a reach to expect more than a tiny percentage of the Windows user base to cross over, but a tiny percentage of tens of millions of people is nothing to sneeze at.

Here’s hoping efforts continue to bring credible office applications to Haiku’s desktop.   It’s not ready for the current exodus, but who knows…it might be ready for the next.

 

 

Post-PC world, Zaranthos’ take…

Buzzer “Zaranthos” had a comment on the Post PC world story good enough that I thought I’d put it up here as its own article…

Get out of my head. :P
You’ve echoed my feelings on Windows 8/8.1 Office 2007+ (ribbon bar). As much as they want to make things trendy for the smart phone generation it doesn’t make real work easier, in fact it makes it harder with a learning curve for people who once knew how to do something and suddenly no longer do. What has this unneeded frustration gotten Microsoft? Dismal Windows sales even as they proclaim the death of the aged Windows XP which they’re attempting to bury alive still having a larger installed base than Windows 8.

For a time I was able to use BeOS in a commercial work environment at least part of the time and I long for Haiku to reach maturity to give me alternatives to the madness being forced on us now. Nothing would please me more than to be able to slap Haiku and LibreOffice on an old XP computer and tell my customers they didn’t have to live with the annoyances of Windows 8.x even with band-aids like Classic Shell.

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