One step forward, two steps back – online OS interface styling

[Image from Porte Voix where you can also find
some ace illustrations]

Having studied interface design a wee bit at uni it’s still something that interests me and I can’t help feeling that there are going to be some immense developments over the next few years. The more I think about it the more I think that there will soon be a way of accessing all of your Google files through a desktop style interface. Recently someone has made a web simulation of the old System 7 and there is already a version of Linux available through your browser at Cosmopod (and a similar service is available from My Goya). With these sites in mind it’s really only a small step to having your main operating system online and accessible via any browser as a web app. Aside from the fact that you wouldn’t ever need to upgrade software (your online provider would do the server updates for you) the best bit about this is the fact that there is the possibility of a really wide range of operating system “skins”. There are no shortage of interesting interfaces for websites and I love finding new ones from houses to books – each with their own special systems and animations. If your operating system was essentially inside your browser there would be no reason why you couldn’t really break the boundaries and add exciting or unusual layout and functionality. There have already been tons of suggestions as to what applications will be available online in the next wee while and with the use of APIs it’s inevitable that these will be pulled together all in one place (or, indeed, in many places). When that happens people will still want to style their online OS just as with their desktop OS with backgrounds, fonts, shortcuts and other interface tools. Having used Mac OS 7.5.5 at school (and recently having seen it ported onto the PSP) why shouldn’t my online OS interface be able look like that? As soon at the systems are in place people will want to begin customising them… and just as we have Steampunk laptops some people at least will want Steampunk, vintage Mac OS and computer game style operating system interfaces. So… here’s to 2008 when I hope we’ll step a few steps closer to a pixelated retro operating system future.

Software of choice

I wrote this post ages ago so I thought that I may as well post it so that it’s done. I read some stuff on Lifehacker about some other peoples favourite computer setup so for no reason at all I thought that I could also share my list of software that I use regularly:

Firefox [Far better than IE although it does sometimes die]

  • Adblock Plus [Fairly good at dealing with rubbish on peoples sites]
  • British English Dictionary [Gives you a red underline on “color” … woo!]
  • ColorZilla [Hover over a page to see what colours it’s made of]
  • Copy Plain Text [The Ronseal of Firefox extensions]
  • Firebug [CSS & HTML inspector]
  • Google Toolbar
  • Greasemonkey [Lets you do all of these exiting things]
    • Numbered Google Results [This is so useful when doing reports!]
    • Linkify Ting [Turns plain text with a .com etc into a link]
    • Inline Google MP3 player [Puts a Flah mp3 player where previously there was only a link]
  • IE View [Open links in IE]
  • Link Alert [Brings up an icon to tell you what type of link you are hovering over]
  • Linky [Lets you open multiple links]
  • MeasureIt [Better than holding up a ruler to the screen]
  • Minimize to tray[Takes Firefox out of the toolbar]
  • oy-oy search engine tools [For work]
  • Pearl Crescent Page Saver Basic [Better screenshots]
  • SearchStatus [Google and Alexa ranks]
  • StumbleUpon [For breaktime distractions]
  • Tab Counter [Not actually useful at all!]
  • Tails [Shows embedded objects]
  • Web Developer [Oh so many handy tools for the discerning web developer]
  • Bookmarklets
    • List all links [Great for exporting links to Excel]
    • Zap colours [Turns any page into black text on white background]
    • Word Frequency [For work – good for SEO]
    • Form TextResizer [Great for when you have a 500 character limit box]
    • Gmal This [Send this page with Gmail]
    • Gmail Compose [A Gmail popup]
    • WordPress it! [Straight to WordPress – genius!]
  • Tiny menu [After loading so many add ons this gives me back some screen space]

Adobe reader
AVG Antivirus
Easy CD Creator 5 Basic
Gmail Drive Shell Extension [Add Gmail as a drive on your computer right next to C:/]
Google Screensaver
Google Sketch up
Google Earth
Last FM
Microsoft FREE Zune Theme for XPScripts
Mouse wrap 2
Second life
Spybot search and destroy
The Gimp

Blip Chiptune 8-bit Music Festival Highlights (& Fez)

[Image credit: Null Sleep – New York Romscapes]

Well what can I say? Whilst it seems that everyone else on the planet is filling their ears with Crimbo tunes I am checking out some of the artists from this years Blip festival. Here are some of my faves:

Saskrotch – Unfinished The Hero Returns
Sabrepulse – Hey Kate
Bit Shifter – March Of The Nucleotides
The Depreciation Guild – Butterfly Kisses (a cool mix of chiptunes and a more conventional indie setup).
Firebrand Boy – The End (Firebrand Boy also does a mean cover of Postal service – Such great heights)
8GB – Lemon Prize
Markus Schrodt – Colors
And lastly but certainly not leastly…
6955 – Museum 1

Cool eh? 6955 also does the music for Fez; the most amazing looking yet-to-be-released video game. The reason it looks so awesome? It switches between a 2D pixelated world and a 3D one! Cool! Here’s the trailer:

Update: You can hear more of the same at Micromusic and at 8 Bit Collective.