Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Online Desktop

I want it all. I don't need it now, but tell me that you're working on it.

I took a look at a while back, and though that it was cute, but nothing to write home about yet. I want a truly online desktop, though, taking me away from living in my browser, but allowing me to be there if I need to be. No, I don't want Flock, though I think that's a great idea. Here are the things I want:
  • Unified contacts: I want entries in "About Me" for IM, e-mail, and social sites. I want my contacts from all of them to appear in one place, with updates aggregated. Think of an RSS feed for people. I want to be able to click on one of them to chat, e-mail, voice/video, or whatever is supported by the protocols for that connected person. If different services (e.g. Facebook and e-mail) are really the same person, I want to be able to join them into the same contact. Let's beef up , shall we? We can combine it with Gimmie.
  • I want my e-mail reader to aggregate, as well. I don't care where the e-mail came from. I just need to hit "Reply" and it'll send mail back where it came from. Take my contacts from "About Me" and automatically set it up for me. Pull my message from Facebook or wherever and include them, too. I'm tired of checking for messages in five different places.
  • Calendaring is pretty good now, but could always be better. Evolution uses online calendars and puts them in my desktop calendar. That's cool, except when it doesn't work and the whole panel hangs up. Uck! Make it stable, please.
  • I want my photo organizer aggregated. F-Spot should handle my local files, shares, Facebook, Flickr, and Photobucket photos transparently. When I import new photos, ask me where to put them. Give me the choice to do cross-site backups of all or selected photos/albums.
  • I want my office suite to work with online versions. OO.o already has a Google Docs extension, but it's tedious. I don't want to go to "Google Docs" and hit "Import." I want to choose to open a document and be presented with the Open File dialog with and extra bookmark for Google Docs. Any other major player should have an extension, too, of course.
  • I also want my office software to be my blogging software. There's no reason to use two interfaces for that. Sun sells a nice OO.o extension for this, so I know that it can be done. While we're at it, make an Epiphany extension which is useful for blogging, clips parts of a web page, and copies the stuff over to the office software for me.
  • I want a video aggregator, too. I want Totem to offer me virtually every online video in existence. And no, I don't want to do it from the sidebar. If I have to do it from the sidebar, make sure using it doesn't crew up my keyboard shortcuts like it does now. I just want to think "Play a video" and have a big, searchable list to work with. Local or online, it shouldn't matter. I also want video management for Totem the way Rhythmbox is formatted now.
  • Speaking of Rhythmbox, clean up the plugins. Add more online stores. Make easier to use. Let it record streams. Besides all that, I think it's pretty online as it is now. I can pretty much do all my music from there (including creating/ripping audio CDs and editing tags).
So that's about it. I just want it all. Is that too much to ask? ;)

For those who can't hear the playful tone in my voice -- this "whine" is really just a fun way to suggest how we could make the online desktop better. I'm actually quite happy (though not satisfied) with my desktop as it is.

I've come up with an addition to my list. My feed reader should work with my video and music player to list attachments which work with those applications. No, I don't want Rhythmbox to be a feed reader. I already have one. I want the feed reader to publish attachments and titles for Rhythmbox to look over and decide which are music. Totem should read the same information. See a feed? Subscribe and don't worry about launching a player from the feed reader. Decide "Hey, I want to watch something." Open Totem. "Oh, hey, there's a new episode of Linux Journal. That sounds good."


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