I’ve always been an Ubuntu fan for the past 10 years since the distribution came out with the promise of a usable deskto, with a promise of openness, regular releases, great integration between different and separated projects, great vision for world dominance. I loved all of that and I loved the execution, including the latest evolution. I love HUD and how it uses screen real estate, allows me to be more effective at commanding window-based application without having to touch the mouse. I love most of Unity, the dash and the lenses although I don’t use most of it.

Lately I’ve gone from concerned fan to very sad: I’m considering switching to another distribution. What I don’t really like is the lack of investments from Canonical on productivity tools that we live for: an email client and a calendar client. I already ranted about the sad state of free software collaboration tools and unfortunately Canonical decided to invest time and energy in supporting not a desktop for productivity but as a gaming platform, a cloud operating system and a mobile system. Canonical is devoting its engineers to develop things I really don’t care about. All I wanted was a good, solid desktop operating system for my daily computing needs: email, calendar, web browsing, audio/video collaboration tools and a decent way to exchange ‘office’ documents with peopls stuck in 1998 way of producing content. Sadly Ubuntu is not going to provide that in the near future, it even backed out from offering the most basic tools like an email client and a calendar client.

When I look at the alternatives though, I am even more sad and want to cry. GNOME seems to be stupidly following all the things that Apple does, including the obvious mistakes like the broken behavior of ALT-TAB (I expect GNOME developers to invert the way we scroll pages any time now, because Apple did that with absolutely no logical reason). GNOME also lacks a modern email client, addressbook and calendar client, with Evolution being stuck in 1998. And spare me to mention KDE: great technology, just no decent UI for it.

I’m sure Ubuntu will look great in a couple of years on TVs, phones, clouds but all I wanted was my desktop and I fear that for the next couple of years I’ll be stuck with a broken one, being it Ubuntu or Fedora or something else.

If you’re like me you’re going to love Dizzy.js. Like many, I think that PowerPoint and all its clones are very poor tools to express ideas in a compelling ways. A very interesting alternative for me is Prezi, I have two main issues with it: it’s based on proprietary software by Adobe (Flash) and it’s proprietary software itself.

Enter dizzy.js, a Javascript library that enables you to create nonlinear presentations similiar to Prezi but storing data in the SVG-format with the navigation and animation is done via Javascript. Go have  a look at it: it’s good already and I can’t wait to use it.

via dizzy.js – nonlinear presenting.

14032008(005)A better filesystem and a better user interface. Haiku filesystem goes in the right direction (read the interview to Kevin Musick, BeServed author). I happily read als that the Sugar UI will be developed also for other hardware that is not OLPC, which is good. I had the chance to play with a XO laptop and I loved it, even though the machine is slow (it was an early prototype from the AMD Italy folks).

Then there is ITSME, for which I hope to see soon something. There is lots to be done.

I think that a document is anything that I save on my computer, anything that ‘documents’ my actions and my life. So bookmarks, images and text files, maps, email messages, calendar entries are all documents to me.’  Saving these digital documents’  in folders as one would in an office phisical-space-cabinet is too limiting.’  What if the same file fits into more folders?’  For example, a remarkable presentation to a client for project A, would it go to ProjectA folder or to Remarkable folder? The picture of my nephew goes to the FamilyPhoto folder, but should the very good one go also to CandidateForContest folder?

With today’s desktops we can do most of this (link, alias, copy), but it’s not easy and it’s not all.’  Emails are stored totally separated from the projects folders and that’s bizzarre. Same goes for pictures if you want to organize them in a meaningful way, with title, comments, tags (using iPhoto or F-Spot) they are separated from the file system folders.’  If we think that the desktops we use today are some 40 years old, I think it’s about time that somebody starts to innovate.

When I met professor Giorgio De Michelis I immediately liked his a vision because it fits in the issues I briefly described, and some others.’  I’m glad he will be presenting the new initiative, called ITSME, that matches hardware design with a new desktop metaphor together with Elserino Piol and Prof. Alfonso Fuggetta at the IDC Italia >> Innovation Forum 2008.

I’ll be there to listen to the event because I’m really not impressed by all the existing operating systems 🙂