History of multitasking

Multitasking is so obvious today we don't even notice it. Some exceptions, such us iPad, remind us of the days when this was not possible. A few months ago ./ had an article about a Blit Terminal - claimed as a first multitasking GUI. Let's name a few GUIs that supported multitasking in that era and their evolution:

  • 1979 (1980) OS9 (included a GUI on some platforms like Tandy Color Computer)
  • 1981 Xerox Star
  • 1982 Blit Terminal (allowed usage of many applications from the server at once on the terminal)
  • 1983 Apple Lisa
  • 1984 X windows (similar to Bliz it allowed multiple applications to run on the server and showing them on the client terminal)
  • 1984 Apple Machintosh
  • 1984 IBM TopView (multitasking for DOS)
  • 1985 Atari TOS/GEM (kind of multitasking via special accessories)
  • 1985 Amiga
  • 1985 Deskqview multitasking for DOS applications
  • 1985-87 Windows 1.0 (tiled windows) - 2.1 (real multitasking) 
  • 1986 (1989 first public release) NextStep (object-oriented, multitasking OS)
  • 1988 OS/2 1.1 (similar to Windows 2.1)

I see this as 3 different development branches: (1) development of standalone multitasking GUIs for personal computers, (2) development of server-terminal GUIs and (3) bringing some "GUI" multitasking functionality to CL interfaces.

None the less, it is impressive what these systems were capable of, given the time and hardware available, while still trying to lower the prices for the masses.

Evertale - online scrapbook

It is nice to see ideas from academia transfer to everyday life. Remember all those lifelogging applications such us Forget-me-not [PDF], PersonalStreams [PDF] or most known MyLifeBits [PDF].

Evertale is a very similar web based applications - a self writing scrap book of your life :). It is not available yet but if you want to be notified about the release of Android version and have a chance to win Galaxy S II, subscribe to their mailing list. 

Context of the email in everyday usage

I already posted a list of interesting visualizations for the email. But those were all (academic) prototypes and not used by the general public. However, several Gmail extensions are already available that provide some visualization and insight of the email. Do you know any other? Please let me know if I missed something interesting.

Rapportive: http://rapportive.com/

"Rapportive shows you everything about your contacts right inside your inbox. You can immediately see what people look like, where they're based, and what they do. You can establish rapport by mentioning shared interests. You can grow your network by connecting on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and more. And you can record thoughts for later by leaving notes."

Gist: http://gist.com

Similar to the above Raportive: "Get names, pictures, social networks, and work information with every email. Search and find contacts from everywhere, even if they're not Gmail contacts."

Inbox Influence: https://inbox.influenceexplorer.com/

"A new tool that allows you to see the political contributions of the people and organizations that are mentioned in emails you receive. This easy-to-use tool can be used for researching influence background on corporate correspondence, adding context to newspaper headlines or discovering who is behind political fundraising solicitations."

Etacts (not available anymore, but still interesting): Lifehacker article

Allowed to see social information, conversation history, and advanced sending preferences on the left

Graph you inbox: http://www.graphyourinbox.com/

"a Google Chrome extension that allows you to graph Gmail activity over time. You can use it to visualize your communication with friends, your Facebook activity, when you purchased items on Amazon or how often you use certain words or phrases. We provide the same search functionality used by Gmail, but instead of a list of messages we show you a graph of your email trends over time."

MailBrowser (also not developed anymore :() http://mailbrowser.com/

A nicely designed help in web forms

I needed to extend my TV license and while entering my data in a web for I was greeted by a nice web form and help interface. Yes, it shows up only when the form field is selected and there is no hint that the help is available. It also a bit surprising the first time it pops on the screen. But nonetheless the whole web form design (see left steps) and help frame is easy to understand and visually connected.

TagStore - navigating to files using tags

TagStore is a PIM research prototype that provides a way to tag files and navigate to them using a tag generated hierarchy (I already mentioned it on my list) in addition to a regular hierarchy. It is not the first such system as many similar were developed before (TagFS, Semantic File System, etc.), but you can download it, it works on Windows, Linux and OS X and it is open sourced. But beware, it is a research piece of software.

I'm not particularly good at tagging things (check how I tagged my blog posts a while ago and how I do it now) and I'm also not a big fan of such systems, but you might like it.