even more windows are flying by...

by Matthias Dittgen Wed 14 Feb 2001 10:48:49

So if you have been a beta tester for MacOS, would you do beta testing for M$ windows xp? Probably I am late, but I just recognized that there is another windows version to come…
“built on the enhanced Windows 2000 engine”….I guess they have a lot to enhance :) and why don’t they enhance the former versions right? Windows98 becomes pretty usuable with the time, not that stable of course….so they only should make it more stable.
But I don’t really want to heat an operating systems discussion here! I just wanted to add that it was not possible to register for the preview programm with ie5.5….I had to use mozilla, that’s cruel!


I wont be impressed till they give me a 3D gui, with interactive powergloves and VR goggles like in Johnny Neumonic ... or maybe a datajack and a cyberdeck ... a la Shadowrun ... yeah ... give me a 3d matrix and some Black IC to fuck with and I'll be in computer heaven. Give me COM+ and some new GUI/Task bar crap and I'm thinking about seeing how far I can throw a chair and still significantly hurt someone with it ... hmm. Whistler is alright ... microsoft IS actually leaning on some pretty seriously neato internet shit ... but it's really nothing revolutionary. No 3D internet yet ... so who gives a shit. I'm still waiting on old Billy Boy to deliver me that ... till then him and his software kingdom can stay prety to the unix-psychos as far as I'm concerned (Unix psychos that all have a win98 partition so they can play video games mind you) ... I love bigots ... they can never help themselves from being dumb ... hence unix bigots and (Im not sure they exist) windows bigots. There's an alternative to taking sides or sitting on the fence ... it's called apathy. Why waste time giving a fuck when you can ... oh I don't know ... be handing out roses and chocolate on Valentines day. :)

Whistler only uses the same metaphors as usual! Mainly a lot of buttons! All the GUI thinks are object that shall make acting or working easier, but...
Commandline tools lose their power...
What we need is a compromise! Example: I can write a HTML page with a tool full of buttons, or I can do it using pico or vi. But when the page becomes bigger and bigger I need something else....
I really hope you can follow my thoughts! It is hard to explain....I'll think of better examples....

the screenshots i've seen of whistler look like microsoft took just stole one of the dumber looking themes off or something. ick.

chances are, you would be very disappointed in any 3-D GUI that came out. humans don't think in 3-D. when you conjure up a mental image of your house, you don't see it as a 3-D representation, you see it as a series of 2-D views. most of the experiments that people have done with 3-D GUIs have failed miserably because of this. plus, text is awful hard to read at much of an angle so it gets tricky if you have have to deal with text on the system. the only thing 3-D seems good for is moving through a simulated environment like a quake level or something.

and data gloves have proven to be miserable input devices for the simple reason that they get sweaty and are uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.

personally, i'm going to be disappointed in every computer interface device/metaphor that comes along until the day that i get my direct neural connection. what i don't really get about william gibson and neal stephenson's visions of "cyberspace" is why they seem so stuck with visual interfaces even when they've got direct neural links. they're thinking too small. metaphors are useful when what you want to do is something that you are used to doing without computers (office tasks, graphics programs, games, etc). people who do things with computers that can really only be done on computers find themselves moving away from metaphor driven interfaces (what the hell is the metaphor for a unix command line, or grep, or emacs?) because once you reach that point, metaphors only hold you back. why jack into some virtual world whose metaphor imposes artificial limitations on what you can accomplish. i believe that when we can directly interface with computers, we'll find much more efficient interface grammars than the tired "cyberspace" visual metaphor.

Oh you're entirely right about the visual metaphor holding us back. If my mind can access the bits directly I'm not quite sure there really is much of a metaphor for that. The question is ... can my mind accurately go down to that level? Additionally ... in terms of the internet and such ... not everyone will necessarily have a Datajack when they exist ... so there will have to be SOME metaphor whether it be html or XML or whathaveyou ... people sitting at terminals or using VR/Gloves or whatever ... need metaphors or some sorts. A command line is still a metaphor ... well at least I look at it as one. When it comes to controlling the low level functionality of my OS it is my preferred metaphor to Billy's winblowz ... but it's still a metaphor ... or rather ... a layer of indirection. That's just because my eyes/mind don't like reading binary and issuing machine code control calls. And I'm not sure ... even with DNI ... if we will. That's why I think once we get DNI it will only increase the bandwidth and transfer speed ... not really improve the level of control ... hence ... no machinecode DNI. There will have to be SOME metaphor ... whether its a neat looking 3d gui or not is up to the designers. I think the 3d gui may be the most intuitive as far as transferring tons of data rapidly (right now we can transfer a good amount with just percieved 3d visuals and semi-3d sound). But regardless ... I'm almost positive once you have a DNI there will be some form of intuitive metaphor for controlling a computer that is altogether impossible for us to really imagine in terms of gui or command line ... it will only make sense if you have a DNI. That will be most effecient and will undoubtedly be vastly superiour to my fingers + eyes + ears approach.

i'm not saying that we're going to access binary information by thinking "11001010100100011110"... it would be much higher level than anything we have now. i'm thinking more that instead of jacking in and finding yourself in this virtual reality with computer constructs designed to behave like the real world, which you have to interact with in order to get information, your computer would just be additional memory and senses. you would just "remember" how many times the word "thou" appears in a given shakespeare play. you would just "know" that your mother wants you to pick up some milk on the way home. as it is, your brain is able to process huge amounts of sensory information and perform complex searches on a rather complex "memory" system, and control exterior non-linear systems (limbs, etc).

researchers have done experiments with hooking people up to electrodes and showing them a screen with a mouse pointer on it that is being controlled by their alpha levels. after a relatively short period of time, they learn to control it pretty effectively. the interesting bit is that the subjects have no idea how they can do it; they just move the pointer around like its another limb.

computers will just be an extension of the body/brain. metaphors will be obsolete for all but a few very specific tasks (like games). you don't need a metaphor to move your arm and punch someone in the face do you?

metaphors are easy to learn but inefficient. we're stuck with desktop metaphors on computers now because computers aren't yet that integral a part of most peoples' lives. when everyone has a computer hooked directly into their brain all the time, it will be well worth it to take the time to learn more efficient interfaces that aren't really based on physical metaphors.

you say that you still look at the command-line as a metaphor. for what? i'm curious. what task in the physical world corresponds to how you use grep?

ok. I missed the're talking of the matrix here :)
So when the computer becomes part of my brain...and I am connected to the internet....and I just "know" that I should come with milk when I go home....people can manipulate myself, right? They can let me "think" of killing someone special is important....Dangerous!!!!
And when we become connected to our new brain....we'll lose something... Now I have two hands....then I'll have one hand and a device? There will be neural passways needed....ganglions...neurons....
But I understand what you're thinking of! Speech recognition software won't be needed any more! I just think the letter... No! I just would "speak" to the other person over the network.
Plugs won't be needed either if you think mobile phones as one of our new organs... :)
Evolution...Babies won't survive without a minimum of such devices...
A Baby won't need to learn how to speak anymore...

My name is "MAD of borg", you will be assimilated! lol

And grep is the metaphor for searching! (e.g. in a push loading drawer for white socks)
You have to divide your thinking of metaphors! There are acts and there are stills (objects, subjects)....
The Windose "Start"-Button is an object!
grep is a series of acts! (going through a lot of lines and looking for something in it)

I think metaphor might be the wrong word. Layer of indirection is perhaps better. When I make a function call from the command line thats just one level higher than the actual code/script that defines the command ... and then below those commands is machine code which has assembly one level lower which has binary and bios and such below that which has physical hardware one level below that. I look at a gui as only another layer beyond the command line as far as layer of indirection. I mean if you are going down levels its very obvious ... gui becomes several commands becomes script/code becomes machine code ... etc. But looking up from the magnetic harddrive or SDRAM ... it's pretty impossible to see up the layers ... so thus I still consider the command line a metaphor for controlling the computer ... just a simpler, one level simpler metaphor than a 2d gui ... which would be a simpler, one level simpler metaphor than a 3d gui etc ...

And I think I agree with you Anders 100% on how we will evolve into DNI. You're right ... its not really a metaphor anymore when you are thinking of using your computer as an extension of your body ... and at that point the computer will (should) only serve to augment your own capabilities. You could use the FPU on your computer to do floating point calculations must faster than your mind will ... and you can use the ram or harddrive for storage and queing ... and as such you will only be enhancing your brain's own ability to reference data incredibly fast. Our mind has some wacked search algorithms ... combine that with the 'hard' storage of RAM and the silly calculation capacity of a CPU ... that's probably the way we are heading. And yes ... the metaphor will be gone then ... you will 'browse' the internet much the same as you browse the sky with your eyes ... intuitively using the computer much the same we use a pair of sneakers to help us walk ... unnoticed unless you look at it and percieve it. Ever notice if you are wearing a hat ... within 10-15 minutes you forget you are wearing it ... hehe.

Yeah, my $0.02:

There's been a lot of talk on how the modern GUI is AFU just because it's married to the command line if you peel away the layers. Jason Lanier, that preeminent VR guy, likes to bash the command line every now and again. I apologize for the lack of informative linkz.

Jaron Lanier likes to bash the commandline; i like to bash VR. i think we'd get along great. ;)

actually, this article on ubiquitous computing does a pretty good job of explaining what i've been saying about metaphors sucking for situations that don't really have a physical analogue.

and i guess i wasn't clear on how i was using the word "metaphor". when you use photoshop or the gimp, you use a "pen", a "brush", a "magnifying glass", etc on a "canvas" to do things basically the same way you would with a physical pen, brush, magnifying glass, etc. photoshop is based around a (mixed) metaphor of an artist's studio and photo lab. the original Macintosh GUI was based on a metaphor of a desktop, complete with "folders" and "trash".

when i search for something in real life, i have to go through all my drawers, lift up the pile of dirty laundry on my floor, and pace back and forth pulling my hair out and yelling because i can't find my keys. if grep worked as a metaphor, it would just pop a list of all the files on my computer and tell me to go find it myself.

and i used "remember" and "know" in quotes for a reason. they wouldn't just blend in with the rest of your mental processes and become transparent quite like that. the hope is that someday they will be just as effortless as remembering or thinking. when someone talks to you, your brain can tell that someone is talking to you and it's not just you thinking to yourself.

so we won't have GUIs anymore? Or just those of us, who are "thinking" this way? I have a visual brain...I mean I can remember things better if I see them in front of my inner eyes. When I learn a foreign language...a new word....I try to imagine it as picture. e.g. "Desktop" = "Schreibtisch" = a typical picture I would imagine for...
Language as a "layer", as a "metaphor"?
The topic is really complex!
So Micro$ofts Guidlines are obsolete? (I found in our link section :))
And read this part!

Couldn't we take any advantage out of our thoughts from here? What is the reslut? DNI comes when? What CAN we do in the meantime?
Anders, would you see yourself as a designer? You design 2D GUIs and webpages...
I know that we all have a lot to do, but why don't we make something in that direction together? Of course we already do here with this fnordboard.

btw. the things WHY e.g. my parents use computers: online-banking via internet, fax, writing letters, managment of scientific literature (articles), database for medicine, point of sale, etc. and playing chess (2D) or solitaire

I think what Anders was trying to get at is that no matter how you think or imagine or remember things ... the level of control possible with a DNI is lower level than that. You don't really imagine or think about moving your arm ... you just do ... and as he said ... you really dont know how. You don't think "Deltoid flex 10%, bicep flex 25%, pectoralis relax 35%, ... etc) You don't really picture your arm moving ... you just sort of ... move your arm and what happens? It does. That's because you control your arm with your nervous system not with your cerebral cortex. In fact muscle control and such could be considered on parallel with thoughts and memory and feelings and such ... they are both equal and distinct parts of the same system. And that's how controlling a computer could theoretically be once you have DNI. You could just 'do' it without 'thinking' about it. If you want to go to and search for a map to upload to your memory you could just do it ... without thinking or picturing or anything ... see its a level of control below thoughts ... it's all but a motor skill at that point. So there's the potential for a computer and all of it's functionality to simply be a part of us and our own functionality. A fully integrated system at that point. So you could use the CPU for floating point math without actually willing it to do it ... someone asks you to take the triple integral of a 7th order complex number you just do it without actually thinking "I'm going to load my calculator app on my computer and ask it this" or even picturing the computer or gui doing it ... rather ... it will just happen and you will have the answer as fast as you can read or hear the question ... such is the level of control I think Anders is getting at ... and I believe that is possible.


though i don't think that GUI/metaphor driven computer interfaces will completely go away. there are certain things that they are good for like looking at pictures, reading prose, watching movies, playing games, etc. it's just that there are a lot of applications which aren't helped by GUIs/metaphors and would be better off with DNI like data retrieval, mathematical computations (like Kurtis points out), and communication.

and DNI certainly isn't going to be here very soon (i'll be pretty happy if any of what i'm talking about happens in my lifetime). in the meantime, i intend to play around with wearables and generally do whatever i can to make myself into a cyborg.

I understood that before, Kurtis! It was just that I wanted to point out that beside calculations, memory, informations....knowledge....there are still things that I won't be able to do in that new way! And I mean the things I use the computer for, now! I do only few calculations! But I do play games... hear music....
I only wanted to tell you that I did understand that a message before! And I don't want to provoke you any longer!
And in fact I really like good looking GUIs! Stylish! Fast, not slow! Intuitive! Everything needs to fit together in look and feel!
I don't need drag'n'drop, but cut and paste....
And about wearables: I like the idea of having a waerable computer and its display is within contact lenses or is projected to the inner site of my glasses. And a transparency ("target lock") mode.... :-) or a sunglass mode, or night vision scope mode... everything with an easy to use "GUI" which is controlled by my eyes.... (or by my brain as you described...) This way I could take even "looking at pictures, reading prose, watching movies, playing games" with me....

btw. I think I made discussion something weird, because of my poor english.
Really hope you understand my ideas!!!!

Nah your english is better than a lot of Americans ... and I like the contact lense thing ... and that IS a lot more likely in our lifetimes than something like DNI. Just wandering around some mall and suddenly you get the urge to read over some piece of data you have stored in your wearable computer's memory and it populates the microscreen on your eye's lense or something cool ... it would probably get disorienting if you tried to overlay too much information over the real world ... as in ... it might be hard to read poetry and navigate around a mall or drive a car at the same time ... but you could always sit down or pull over or something ... hehe ... still it would be pretty crazy ... that's a lot of functionality to have available all the time. Cool.

I remember a commercial spot on TV for IBM e-business where a man sits in Venice and speaks to his girlfriend (via phone) with his headset, and at the same time he watches the stock-market with such a device in front of his eyes...
That is in fact a cool idea. Don't know if you saw that advert... I need such thing for my exams.... :)

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