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.

GUI Widgets

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.

GUI Toolkits

Why must every GUI toolkit suck? Before you argue that your favorite GUI toolkit does not suck, realize that some of the following are true:

  • 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.

Another Thing

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!

Last modified 16 years ago Last modified on 01/08/06 23:49:48
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