Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Lost and Lonely "About Me"

If you take a trip to System > Preferences > About Me, you'll notice a place for all your personal information:
  • A picture
  • E-mail addresses
  • Instant messaging accounts
  • Physical addresses
  • Web page
  • Blog
  • Calendar
  • Professional information
  • Password
It's probably completely empty. You've probably never visited there before. Why would you? It's not used for anything ....

About Me represents a great unused resource for the Gnome desktop. Evolution could access this information, setting up e-mail accounts for you as automatically as possible and supplying your calendar without extra work on your part. Empathy could use it to seed the initial accounts. Your picture could be set as an avatar if you like. More esoterically, gnome-blog could use this information and Nautilus could try to set up an FTP connection to your web page.

Why isn't About Me used for anything? Security. Developers are correctly concerned that making About Me central to your personality will create a situation where rogue applications could use this information to exploit you or your accounts.

Why don't we store the information in Seahorse (it handles passwords and keyrings)? On Gnome first run, you could be asked for this personal information. Applications which want it will need to be authorized by the user in order to access Seahorse. Ekiga obviously needs this information. The game you downloaded doesn't. End of story? Am I missing something? Probably.

About Me could simplify a lot of things on the desktop. It was created with that in mind. What a shame it's not really useful for anything right now.


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