Where Is the Future?
Now that we are 1/52 into the year 2006, it seems like a good time to vent about some things.
I am writing this in a <textarea> in Mozilla Firefox. It is virtually indistinguishable from a multi-line text-editing widget in Windows 3.1. I do not have any choice in this matter. The best alternative I can find is mozex, which loads some text into my favorite text editor, lets me edit it, and then dumps it back in Firefox when I am finished. That is hardly elegant, when I can accomplish the same thing with about as much effort by copying and pasting.
Why can't I embed vim in Firefox? Why can I not replace every multi-line plain text-editing widget on my system with instances of my favorite text editor? I know KDE explored this idea, but it's not working for me right now, and I've certainly never seen it done anywhere else.
- It can't do something that every other GUI toolkit can do.
- The rapid development GUI editor sucks.
- Creating GUIs manually in code is cumbersome.
- They just released a new version, because the previous version sucks.
- They are currently working on a new version, because the current version sucks.
- It is competing with other GUI toolkits that suck. If it didn't suck, it would clearly be superior.
- It doesn't work everywhere.
Computer Mediated Communication
I suspect that right now a whole lot of people are chatting with other people using AOL's stock chat client. I suspect they are looking at advertisements that they don't want to see, and on average, their names probably contain almost as many digits as letters, and not by choice. Meanwhile, I am connected to several IRC servers, IRC being a protocol which is quickly approaching its 20th birthday. Few will argue that IRC is a good protocol, but it is curiously pervasive.
What is wrong here...
- I can't send a message, using AIM, to someone is isn't currently online.
- Staying on AIM all of the time to be able to receive messages like an answering machine is problematic, at best.
- I can't connect from multiple places, or if I can, I can't reliably get all of my messages.
- I can't talk to people on some other service.
- On occasion, service is unavailable with no explanation.
It has been great to see wikis gain public attention this year, but why should they stop there? I want to see data in more structured formats being edited in the style of wikis. Rather than specifying high-level presentation details as well as content in flat text files, can't we have a better system where data exists in terms of lists, tables, name/value pairs, graphs, or whatever is desired, accompanied by a friendly GUI to edit this new structure of information? I also want to be able to access a wiki as a local filesystem and make my changes as though I were working on a local text file. MVS is the idea, but there has to be a better way to do this.
Vendors: fix your crappy web sites!
I should not be able to go to some vendor's web site, navigate a maze of pages to find a product in the Products section, and then have to start over and find it again in the Downloads or Service section to get a file I need. Welcome to the World Wide Web. Use those wads of cash I have given you to invest in some hyperlinks.
Some of these ideas are pretty bad. I don't care. Science fiction had us inhabiting other planets by now. I don't think it's too much to ask to make some better software.
What's the deal with airplane peanuts? And where are hovercars? I want hovercars!