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+

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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.