Archive for novembre 2006

Web services -follow up

novembre 5, 2006

When I considered the web services, I thought that something was missing: a terminal instead of a client, or just a modem. The trend seems to keep the client, though, either reduced to the minimum, either packed with a modem-router.
The first is Linutop. the idea is to provide a tiny and cheap central unit with the mostly used softwares (browser, wordprocessor and viewer). In its concept, the user with such a product could rely on web services to extend its abilities and capacities (storage and additional web applications). Moreover, the product is opened to some other usage (point sale,…etc)
The second, Easy Gate, is rather a rich client, though it is remotely maintained. It’s like the former with more softwares but combined with a dsl router. And yes, it is offered by a ISP included in the subscription fee. Don’t know yet if that runs well, but, despite the client solution, the whole unit is by this way a service.

I would rather like a slave device, something like a network storage, and a remote desktop somewhere.

Communicate with the computer

novembre 3, 2006

Information technologies enhance the communication, though, their model comes from the theory of the information and that differs from the communication. It’s the model of the transmitter and the receiver, respectively the input and the output in a computing or information device. This model transcends as well the programs, it is a function indeed.

Transmitter –> Receiver
Input –> Output

I/O aren’t yet some data, they’re just gates. How can one build something with such a single thing? Simply, the data as an output will be considered as an input, and then one can goes on. This principle implies that there’s nothing by itself in a computing device, one has to fill an input, hence, « garbage in, garbage out ». It implies also that the information technologies, from the hardware componments to the Internet, are networks. This is why the network can be ubiquitous, not because there’s a lot of hot-spots everywhere, because ITs are network in their principle. And since one uses them, one becomes a gear of the overall network. Last but not least, the transmitter and the receiver or the input and the ouput has to speak the same language, that is to say that in its nature this model implies a standard. So one understands that it is not just an agreement between everybody indeed, but a key part.

Nonetheless, this is not communication, but just transmission. Academics in the 70’s presented the human communication under the model of the information to finally discover that it’s a mutual interpretation. At a first glance one could say that it is like a transmission between Self and the Other, respectively the transmitter and the receiver; however the Other is a relative notion to Self, hence that don’t fit with the model since communication is between Selfs

Self –><– Self

How can one define the communication? Certainly the keyword is « share ». What’s the basis for a mutual interpretation? Something which is shared, and in first the body which is the same for everybody. The communication fails when there’s nothing to share or sharable and that’s the case with a computer. So, if the user can share something with the computer and the latter can takes that into account, one can get something like a communication.

As far as I know, this was already the case with MacOS 8, simply because the user can add some note upon the files or the folders and because the Finder can optionally display these notes as a row in the list. Hence, one can sort the list through the notes; it’s not really powerful but by this mean the user can related the data to his context and thus, something more meaningful for the user is shared. Now Spotlight can search in these notes and it’s more powerful than to archiving with filename and foldername. Though, using tags just for this purpose isn’t enough, the next step is to correlate these tags with the system and the applications, in such a way that the user can tell to the system what it has to do with these tags. Something like: « this tag…do this ».

Nothing new here, this is certainly the trend. But there are a lot of other things which can be shared between the user and the device. Contact list and bookmarks doesn’t have to belong to a specific application, afterall only the user knows the meaning of these data. A given browser or mailer will just have to look at it and fill it, whatever the storage. Of course one can say the same about every document, that would not be a problem if the interoperability was warranted indeed. Last but not least, among the other things which could be shared, there’s the GUI itself and the functions of the application. The former seems to imply a kind of polymorphism, the latter is already applied in its principle through the libraries, but one cannot still request the function of a given application to use it with an other one. Obviously, this kind of ideas are anti-monopolistic in themselve.