Squeak Xbox port
Cees de Groot
cg at cdegroot.com
Thu Apr 10 15:49:36 UTC 2003
On Thu, 2003-04-10 at 15:07, Stephen Pair wrote:
> Sure...but I think that appliance needs to have Dynapad capabilities.
> ;) I don't think it's written anywhere that a PC has to be so
> non-intuitive and hard for Joe A. User to use.
pick any two. Ok, it doesn't *need* to be so maybe - it's not like a
thermodynamics law - but it seems to be the case so far that it's either
a closed-down controller appliance where the manufacturer has full
control over the interaction (Xbox, but also Apple in the early days -
remember the times that Apple software was user-friendly?) or something
everybody can hack at will and will therefore almost by necessity be
packed with features.
Squeak so far has a good approach by cleanly layering the various
levels. But I think that your default Squeak desktop is still a long way
from what a Mac presented in the early 80s in terms of being friendly to
the user. But I'm out of my league here, so I'll stop blabbering. I'm
just looking at what the market has presented so far...
> It is worrying, but the legal aspects will eventually shake themselves
> out in a compromise that takes all concerns into account. But it might
> be painful getting there.
You're an optimist. So far, I see little to support it.
> I doubt that (but maybe your definition of a PC is more narrow than
> mine)...first, many people are going to need PCs for work.
Nobody needs a PC for work (let's define PC as a monolithic blob of
computing power, UI devices, storage, and connectivity geared at
Personal use i.e. a single user). I need - for lack of something better
- a screen and a keyboard and a mouse, but that's about it. Oh, it'd be
nice if I could setup a couple of speakers (just finished listening
through all Mahler symphonies, gotta love these readily-accessible MP3
files). Now, if this screen and this keyboard/mouse combo somehow give
me access to what I want to do - not software, but functions - I'm more
than happy to get rid of that unreliable clunk of hardware that
comprises most of the cost of operating a PC.
(hey, it can even be argued that I *could* do without the
screen/keyboard. After all, I don't need a word processor - I need a
secretary to dictate letters to, he/she might need a word processor but
do I care?)
> children love computers, and not just for their superficial uses like
> you describe...
When I was a kid,
correction - when I was still *officially* a kid ;-),
I had a Philips game console. Forgot the model number, but this is the
70's, it had interchangeable cartridges and a 'touch type' keyboard (a
quick Google for 'old philips game console' tells me it was probably the
P2000). One of the cartridges was called something like 'Programmer'. It
came with a Language Manual, which described a sort of assembler that
allowed you to program and output to a single line on screen. If you
switched off the computer, your program was gone. Hey, I *loved* the
A couple of years ago me and my daughter played with Stagecast Creator -
nifty piece of software, quite popular I hear, and mostly the same as my
P2000 programmer cartridge: a limited, closed programming environment
that would probably be allowed by MS on the Xbox (if it weren't
programmed in Java) and caters to a large extent to the needs of the
kids of Joe A. User (can you spell 'good enough'?).
> One day, some company is going to figure out that they
> can sell a box with this open/free software pre-installed, do it for a
> fraction of the cost of more closed systems, and make a bundle of money
> because everyone's going to want it because there are tons of little
> free (or really cheap) features available for it right off the internet
> that people are writing for it.
I hope so. So far, however, I think that a lot of the money of these
closed systems is tanked into user interface design (the 'real' stuff
with test panels etcetera) and packaging (not only marketing-wise, but
also the technical issues of cramming ever more power in limited space.
If that (plus, of course, the actual hardware) comprises a big chunk of
the cost, the 'no license fee' advantage of open source systems
evaporates (especially because the 'cobranding' advantage also goes, and
both may be just in balance).
Furthermore, there's always the question about whether there's a need
for all that openness. I don't know - I'm sitting here besides a rack
with tools, Dremel, soldering irons; behind a Debian Linux machine, and
my 4x5" enlarger at the other side - I'm sort of a bad model of Joe A.
User ;-). However, looking at what most of my environment does with
their PC's, I certainly think there is a very large majority that would
be just happy with a browser, a mail reader, a word processor, a
personal finance package, and some (subscription-based) games. That's
such a predictable set of functions, it's really worthwhile to build an
appliance for that (and exactly that is what Sony, Microsoft and to a
lesser extent Nintendo are set out to do).
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