Friday, October 10, 2008

Minimalist Computing

Some interesting points to ponder on today's Unclutterer Blog.

Alex Payne offers Rules for Computing Happiness: Software Simplicity that are relevant to CherryPal and the way users will "live in the cloud."

When it comes to software, in my opinion, there’s no better way to keep it simple than to use as little of it as possible. All software exists to offer some solution, but with software comes problems: a learning curve, bugs, upgrades, security issues, and so on. Clearly identify what you really want to accomplish and you might find that you don’t need a new piece of software, or that an application to meet your goal is already installed on your computer.

Once you’ve identified your goal, pick an application that helps you accomplish that goal and nothing more. Extra features mean more bugs and less focus. Microsoft Office is the perfect example of an over-featured application: it does so many things for so many different types of users that most of us are scared to dive into its seemingly unending menus and settings. If you just need to write, use a simple text editor like Notepad on Windows or TextEdit on the Mac. Good software gets out of your way.

Life without MS Office? It's possible. Once I lived in it, now I use Word only for formal projects. Payne has some comments about online software too.

Ever more applications are moving online, and this poses a new set of challenges when trying to keep your computing experience simple and enjoyable. Chances are good that if an application requires that you sync over the internet in order for it to work, it’s going to be a source of frustration. Syncing is a perennial spring of bugs and lost data, as there’s plenty that can go wrong during a sync. Instead, put data that needs to be available to multiple computers on web-based applications. For example, rather than trying to sync your documents across computers, put the ones you need to share on Google Docs. Just don’t get in the habit of using web applications for everything — not everything needs sharing, they’re no good when you need to get to your stuff while offline.

The last sentence points out one facet of the CherryPal that will be interesting to review. I will have my little data stick handy.

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