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OS of a century

August 12, 2013

Artists and OS designers, it’s that time to go from sordid to magnificent.

You know how dull the old traditional system of displaying all the files in a folder in list-view fashion goes? It’s nothing short of dull an under-informative.

Now that can change. If skilled at using all the fabulous features of intensive, smart graphics programs then it’s time to integrate some of those algorithms into the OS itself and develop some special graphical features that can be very useful.

The end effect can easily be regarded as decking out windows in skinned fashion, letting users design windows such as provided for in the old Newsrog or Stefan Stuntz’s Magic User Interface (MUI). 

On a 1440 px × 900 px screen, 30 folders will display routinely in OS Vista. With 15 folders displaying in “orbs” on either side of the screen once the “window peer” option has been selected, the resulting graphical figures show every file name in every folder. The contents of any particular orb can also be inflated into a larger orb by selecting it and then scrolled using a proportional scrolling effect.

Why would anyone want to do this?

This idea came afterwards from performing a system backup. The backup could be made smaller by identifying which folders contained a lot of files. Maybe I wanted to put those files on a special disk apart from the disk image created by Acronis True Image software that I use and have been generally quite satisfied with.

More to the point, identifying how many files exist in each folder determines what shall be done with them and is no simple task.

That’s where utilizing special graphics card technology to reproportionalize the general view can be helpful. The stages go from selecting or specifying the arrangement, choosing a function to see all orb content move around in cyclical fashion to reveal all files, or taking control of one orb to enlarge it once or enlarge it again into a stock window.

The magic would be in utilizing special routines to craft the appearance of the file name entries to display as if through a lens. In terms of proportion, the widest angle view possible would autocalculate according to one of a number of possible methods. It should be like peering through a peephole to see contents of a container, or like looking through a convex automatic bread machine window to reveal enough information about whether pan sides need be scraped or liquid/flour added.

To contrast the lens with another, rival effect, the entire screen could be turned into a wider-than-monitor touchscreen effect where by applying a stylus or finger, the screen will move to reveal all files in every folder, thereby autocalculating the size that the display needs to be to show everything. Actually, turning windows into an autocalculated touchscreen that can be moved even by the mouse pointer to its predetermined limit would be a nice OS feature.

The right coder could manipulate the bitmapped fonts, possibly even reinterpret existing fonts according to their own peer group of greatest size and then rescale those to a smaller size. The mouse wheel could also expand or shrink the display inside the orb to user spec.

Orbs could also do more than appear in only two forms. They could also be transformed beyond their default double-option into a skin of choice with its own display. Then they can be shrunk down to either the large or smaller default orb. There’s also no reason to limit the display to orbs if skins options were available. But the scaling and sighting inside would be where the graphics-intensive work would be done.

For the orbs, it would be as if each orb revealed the specific layer that refers to the folder. The action within the orb would each have its own screen allotted to memory. So in effect, it would be a window to the contents of the folder.

To summarize, orbs could be used to represent folders by summarizing their contents and scope in a visual way complete with methods that style that fashion of looking on through the window. What can be condensed in the orb can also be scrolled through in the touch-screen way, even using a mouse. And skins can determine how the aperture looks to the user. The target benefit would be instant discovery available onscreen without clicking folders in sequence.

It’s definitely time to consider a more user-friendly work-space file overview under the touch-screen model UI that adds user functionality by incorporating the unseen space.




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