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They're already using Ubiquity as a verb
August 27, 2008 7:39 AM   Subscribe

Ubiquity is a Mozilla Labs experiment into connecting the Web with language in an attempt to find new user interfaces that could make it possible for everyone to do common Web tasks more quickly and easily. Check out a video demonstration of Ubiquity. And here's a tutorial.

Ubiquity 0.1 (xpi link, Firefox required!) lets you map and insert maps anywhere; translate on-page; search amazon, google, wikipedia, yahoo, youtube, etc.; digg and twitter; lookup and insert yelp review; get the weather; syntax highlight any code you find; and a lot more. Ubiquity "command list" to see them all.
posted by sveskemus (70 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is fantastic (and the demo makes me wish I travelled more frequently).
posted by ardgedee at 7:48 AM on August 27, 2008


It seems like 'Launchy' on stereoids.

I did like and found somewhat impressive the 'email this to chris' example. How does the email integration works? Does it require gmail or it launches any available client?
posted by Memo at 7:50 AM on August 27, 2008


Memo: "I did like and found somewhat impressive the 'email this to chris' example. How does the email integration works? Does it require gmail or it launches any available client?"

It requires Gmail for now but I think they're working on making it launch your favourite email client.
posted by sveskemus at 7:51 AM on August 27, 2008


So, have we come full circle to command prompts again or am I missing something?
posted by cimbrog at 7:53 AM on August 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


It seems like 'Launchy' on stereoids.

It's like the bastard son of Quicksilver/Launchy and greasemonkey. There is a ton of potential here. Hell, even in its current 0.1 alpha form, it's frigging awesome.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:58 AM on August 27, 2008


> So, have we come full circle to command prompts again or am I missing something?

If Raskin's example in the video was a command prompt it would have looked something like gmail --gmaps"-090.4848393883789347894,+078.894378943743943893" --yelp"name of restaurant" -svofc --gcal"081004:23:30:00" --carl@example.com "Let's eat at this restaurant" and the only people who could use it are the ones who can write their own emacs keybindings.
posted by ardgedee at 8:03 AM on August 27, 2008 [14 favorites]


Actually, this is Windows OLE.
posted by DU at 8:09 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is really neat, but he lost me as soon as he said "mashup." And then again. And again.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:12 AM on August 27, 2008


No wait, it's not OLE. Just the email thing was. This is pretty neat.
posted by DU at 8:13 AM on August 27, 2008


So I read the in-depth article but it was kind of over my head.

Do I understand correctly that this will be a killer app once a user-friendly frontend has been built for it?

Please explain this to me as if I were a six-year-old.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:25 AM on August 27, 2008


So, have we come full circle to command prompts again or am I missing something?
The bigger picture here is that it's using natural language to describe complex functions. Consider front-ends for this that make use of speech recognition.

Command-lines are more about getting explicit control to a lot of knobs that a less advanced user might not want or need, and are too clunky when in a UI with a thousand widgets. Using natural language is quite the opposite. The only thing they have in common, really, is that you type them, and that isn't necessarily an important part of the interface, just the one they are using to develop this. I could also see someone coming up with clicky icon macros for this, although I would probably stick with the CLI.

This is pretty cool.
posted by cj_ at 8:29 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is wicked. And "mashup" needs to go.
posted by everichon at 8:31 AM on August 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


Having tried this out for a few minutes I am pretty impressed - didn't expect to be.
posted by rongorongo at 8:33 AM on August 27, 2008


Please explain this to me as if I were a six-year-old.
Doing stuff on the web is harder than it should be. Ubiquity is trying to make complex multi-step tasks into easy 1-step tasks.

When it's finished, you should be able to type a sentence into the computer, and it should understand and do what you want.

Right now, it does pretty simple stuff: for example, you can highlight some text in Spanish, hit the shortcut and type "translate" and it will turn it into English. You can get maps or add events to Google Calendar. As it evolves, it will be able to handle more complex tasks.
posted by JDHarper at 8:41 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I keep trying to check out The Herd's site for more commands, but their servers are getting pounded all to hell this morning.
posted by middleclasstool at 8:42 AM on August 27, 2008


<Scotty>Computer? Hello Computer?</Scotty>
posted by blue_beetle at 8:54 AM on August 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


goodnewsfortheinsane: Please explain this to me as if I were a six-year-old.

Basically, it's an attempt to allow a computer interface (specifically, a web browser), to understand context, in two ways:

- Semantic: Knowing that when you type a number followed by a word or two, then something like "St." or "Rd", or whatever, that it's an address. That 10 digits is probably a US phone number. Big web sites are starting to tag data this way (you may read about "the semantic web"), and things like Apple's Data Detectors, which pull out date and location data from emails.

- Referential: When I say "this", knowing what "this" is based on the context I'm working. If I'm in Word, it's probably the doc I'm working on. If I'm in a browser, it's probably the URL of the site I'm looking at. If I say someone's name, I'm probably referring to a specific person in my address book.

This is all very cool stuff, at least conceptually. I've been waiting a long time for the technology to start catching up to the promise...
posted by mkultra at 8:56 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Thanks, JDHarper and mkultra. So this is an application of / step towards what they call the "Semantic Web"?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:59 AM on August 27, 2008


This is awesome. I fear however it'll need a button-based UI to be useful to Joe Bloggs. Trying to get my Dad or many of my friends to remember they have to type specific words to do things will be a non-starter. Give them buttons to push and it'll work I reckon.

That said, my teenage brother and sister will figure this out in a millisecond.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:04 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yes.

If you're wondering where increasing computer horsepower is going to go, now that the need to drive most of our current UI's has plateaued (e.g. even low-end machines can run modern OS's), it's toward more real-time analysis of dynamic data.

One of my business partners and I have had a running joke for the past several years that the perfect UI is just an empty box you just start typing into, and it figures out what to do from there. Quicksilver is/was a good foray into this area before it became bloated with hotkeys and triggers, and this is another way to attack this problem. I'm excited to see where it goes.
posted by mkultra at 9:06 AM on August 27, 2008


I installed this and am working through the tutorial. The video made it look awesome but it seems less awesome in person. I'll be interested to see where it goes.
posted by DU at 9:11 AM on August 27, 2008


Wow, I just tried this out. Impressive. Really, really impressive.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:12 AM on August 27, 2008


This looks like a pretty cool concept. I think it'd be nice to have contextual menu choices for highlighted selections, as an option instead of typing commands.

But what's this fascination with embeddable maps? Wanna know the easiest way to embed directions into an email?

"Dear John, let's have lunch tomorrow at this great new restaurant, 'El Pollo Del Mar." Want to see some reviews or find out where it is? Google it, ya lazy bastard!"
posted by ericbop at 9:19 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


I fear however it'll need a button-based UI to be useful to Joe Bloggs.

Whoa...I'm having Princeton Review flashbacks...
posted by ericbop at 9:20 AM on August 27, 2008


Interesting, thanks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:29 AM on August 27, 2008


This looks extremely cool but I think I'll wait until a beta before I install it... I'm much less adventurous with software than I used to be. I'm too busy to install alphas.
posted by camcgee at 9:35 AM on August 27, 2008


camcgee, it's just a Firefox extension, not a full-blown program. I doubt it'd do any harm, i.e. crashes and the like.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:37 AM on August 27, 2008


It sounds pretty neat, but this always turns me off:

Ubiquity is trying to make complex multi-step tasks into easy 1-step tasks

In my experience, that doesn't often work out as well as one would hope.
posted by freebird at 9:41 AM on August 27, 2008


Google, web browsers - really simple interface, work with any website. Ubiquity - complicated interface, very limited website range. Seriously?

I can see me using this, having worked out which Google services work with it and memorised the commands. I'm a geek, though, so I'm comfortable with a commandline interface, and I can touch-type. I can't see many people using this much.

But then, I thought the web sucked in 1992 and Usenet was way cool, so what do I know?
posted by alasdair at 10:03 AM on August 27, 2008


Until I can: randomly pickup a phone somewhere in the world and say "add a comment to metafilter, make it snarky", then hangup and have a computer somewhere figure out what I meant, log into the site, analyse my previous comments, and add a comment to a relevant thread using my writing style, and then send me an email to let me know I've been banned; I won't be satisfied.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:06 AM on August 27, 2008 [7 favorites]


This looks like a pretty cool concept. I think it'd be nice to have contextual menu choices for highlighted selections, as an option instead of typing commands.

You haven't tried right-clicking a highlighted selection, I'm guessing.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:07 AM on August 27, 2008


blue_beetle: "<Scotty>Computer? Hello Computer?</Scotty>"

Heh, and Raskins' old man (R.I.P. Jef) wrote about that very thing in his book "The Human Interface"

While I loved Jef's concept of a ZUI, it seems that Aza seems more in tune with the gradual evolution of interfaces instead of trying to do something radically contrasting with convention (or "intuition" as us non-UI people like to call it).
posted by symbioid at 10:12 AM on August 27, 2008


Oops. "The Humane Interface"
posted by symbioid at 10:13 AM on August 27, 2008


OK, after watching the video, can I say I'm annoyed with this style of presentation. It reminds me of Lessig's video for Obama. Is this style a common thing these days?
posted by symbioid at 10:15 AM on August 27, 2008


> In my experience, that doesn't often work out as well as one would hope.

I'm usually optimistic about these things. The multiply-cited Quicksilver is a happy example of how it can be done well.

Even when they're well designed, they're not fully convenient. Command strings like Tell Carl Chayevsky to meet me 12:00 Wednesday at the Starbuck's on 33rd in Omaha is common English, easy to understand, and verbose. Power users will begin demanding shorthand methods. My extreme shorthand might be m CarlC -> Starbucks/33rd/Omaha -> 12:00 Wed and yours might be msg carl3 "noon 3 oct" "1285 33rd 67369".

A single tool that can accommodate full customization while retaining the accessibility it currently displays without taking much effort to configure... that's the hard part. I was sniping on command lines above but conventions of shell syntax came about that way for a reason: No matter how fast you type, you'll get more done if you can type less. ls -a ~ is always going to be faster to type than Show me all the files in my home directory.
posted by ardgedee at 10:15 AM on August 27, 2008


(Whoops, hit 'post' early...)
These systems' downfalls tend to begin when the power users (the squeakiest wheels) have the ear of the interface designer and the platform begins to favor increasingly abstract convenience methods, making it more intimidating to new and casual users.
posted by ardgedee at 10:22 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Quicksilver is a good example, and I do notice now that in my quote noone is saying it will make "complex" tasks into "simple" ones, just ones requiring fewer steps. I think there is a certain "conservation of complexity" and while I love Quicksilver, I'd argue it makes my environment *more* complex, but makes certain frequent tasks faster to accomplish.

It's the "magically make complex things into simple things" that seems to always lead to trouble. I am however a little dubious about using "natural language" for tasks that are frankly not what natural language was designed for. I really don't want to program in a natural language, nor drive a car, nor do taxes. Most computer tasks are more like this than talking to a friend, and I'm not sure trying to pretend they are not is productive.
posted by freebird at 10:29 AM on August 27, 2008


If you add menus instead of a CLI interface, isn't this just Mac OS X Services for your browser? Not to denigrate it, since it looks useful, but it has been done before.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:49 AM on August 27, 2008


n'thing a lot of other people in saying that this is really awesome.

この私にもできるんじゃないかしら。I guess so.
posted by Mach5 at 10:59 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


If you add menus instead of a CLI interface, isn't this just Mac OS X Services for your browser? Not to denigrate it, since it looks useful, but it has been done before.

Kind of. OS X Services understand the context of your selection in a very primitive way- whether it's text, a file, an image, etc. Stuff like Ubiquity attempts to understand the content of what you've selected as well, and give you appropriate choices based on that.
posted by mkultra at 11:01 AM on August 27, 2008


A link is better. Here's why:

The bandwidth cost is smaller.
Sure you may say it's only a couple hundred kb, but if you're operating over a particularly slow internet connection (say, over an anonymizing network like TOR, or over a poor signal-quality wireless connection, over an older cell network, etc) and you've got a couple dozen of these e-mails, that adds up rather quickly. Especially if you're on a per-megabyte data plan.

The embedded information could be outdated.
If a person sends me an e-mail with a review and I read it a week later, there's a lot that can happen in between. For example there might be a health department violation that shuts it down. Maybe the place burns down. Maybe there's a rash of strange food poisonings of indeterminate origin but the restaurant is suspect. I won't know any of that. But if I had been given just a link, I would see the most current data and WOULD know that. And you might argue that, rather than embedded data, embed some AJAX app that pulls the data down when you read the e-mail. Well who still has javascript enabled in e-mails? Honestly, you're just encouraging bad behavior if you do that.

You remove choice.
With a link I have the choice to click on it or not. If you embed the data, I don't have a choice. Now you may ask why would I need a choice for something like that? Well, maybe I'm using a system that can't handle displaying a map (like mobile phone with a small screen and barely-readable text). Or maybe I already know where the place is, and now your map is nothing more than bloat, but I have to view it anyways because it's forced upon me in the e-mail.

The sender's computer technology is not necessarily equal to the receiver's computer technology.
Sent from a PC to a text-only mobile phone. To a text-only terminal. Maybe you're graphics card is on the fritz and you can only boot your linux machine to a command prompt. You can still read e-mail... although now you'll never know what the hell that garbage in the e-mail was because, instead of a link, you had a bunch of embedded junk your text-based e-mail reader didn't understand.

Okay, so ditch the e-mail side of this. Any other problems?

Maybe.

An interface that understands human language syntax is very interesting. As someone already pointed out, this is the big step toward's voice-command interfaces. Very cool stuff. But people have been working on these sorts of things for years. It's nothing new. So why aren't we already using voice-command systems? Because parsing human language syntax IS VERY DIFFICULT. Everyone has a different syntax. Those nuances can be really hard to work around.

And what about the user (grandma) who doesn't "get" that it's a computer program so you need to speak to it with a limited language and syntax set? When, rather than just a command, she includes color commentary about dad's trick knee or merle's passion for raspberries, can this thing parse the command out? Probably not. It just leads to user frustration, discouragement and eventual abandoning of the system.

And a platform like this wouldn't work on a mobile platform, where typing instructions comes at considerable difficulty. This is why icons and gestures would work better. Highlight text, let the system parse the text and take a guess at what you might want to do with it, such as a URL would prompt options to open it in a web browser, e-mail it to a friend, and if the link is prefetched, know whether or not to translate the page as well. If it's text, maybe it's something you want to search for, or if it's just a word offer the option to define the word, etc. Each command being a simple icon/button push/tap.

Then there's the privacy issue, which is hard to talk about without know more information.

And there's certainly some security issues here, such as relying on an RSS feed to provide your functions. What if a feed is altered AFTER it's gained the trust of its users to, say, sniff passwords or insert advertisements (spam) into pages they're viewing/emailing around?

What if the openAPIs it's based around (Google) are later closed? Then the functionality goes away.

There's a lot of holes to patch in a system like Ubiquity.
posted by ruthsarian at 11:05 AM on August 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


翻訳は楽しい!
posted by sveskemus at 11:06 AM on August 27, 2008


I am however a little dubious about using "natural language" for tasks that are frankly not what natural language was designed for. I really don't want to program in a natural language, nor drive a car, nor do taxes. Most computer tasks are more like this than talking to a friend, and I'm not sure trying to pretend they are not is productive.

Actually, worse than counter productive, a massive fallacy. The major problem in answering the quiz linked in Are You Savvy Metaboffs? is drawing the line between natural language and precise terms. As you say, natural language is often the wrong tool.
posted by Chuckles at 11:11 AM on August 27, 2008


cimbrog writes "So, have we come full circle to command prompts again or am I missing something?"

What's wrong with that?

Well, to be honest, there's plenty wrong with that if I can't really work in a shell environment, which to me is the real strength of the "command prompt." It's interesting, but I agree with many of ruthsarian's points.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:15 AM on August 27, 2008


mkultra writes "One of my business partners and I have had a running joke for the past several years that the perfect UI is just an empty box you just start typing into, and it figures out what to do from there."

"Computer. Tea. Earl Grey, hot."

Sorry for the obligatory Star Trek reference, but that's a pretty good example of how we think of a computer interface "in the future."
posted by krinklyfig at 11:20 AM on August 27, 2008


翻訳は楽しい!

うんことのクレイジー

انظر لي انا الذكيه!
posted by hellojed at 11:23 AM on August 27, 2008


goodnewsfortheinsane: So this is an application of / step towards what they call the "Semantic Web"?

Now that I've played around with it a bit more, I'm going to retract most, if not all, of what I said before about this app's relation to the Semantic Web- it seems to do little data parsing at all, and what there is seems to all happen on the client. If I highlight "my butt", and give it the "map" command, it will try to find my butt on Google Maps (note: don't look for it, it's not there) instead of passively looking for appropriately-tagged data.

Here's how my version of this would work, actually using the "Semantic Web":

I'm reading an article by Jonas Fullacrap on a topic I'm interested in, which does not contain contact info for him. But I want to ask this guy some questions, so I pop up Ubiquity2.0 and say "email Jonas". It sees that I don't have a contact by that name, but that word appears on the page in caps, and it's next to another word in caps, so that's probably the name of the guy I'm referring to. It then does a search on the internet for Jonas Fullacrap, looking for an appropriately tagged email address for someone with that name (Ubiquity3.0 looks for the context of the page I'm looking at to try to narrow down the 100 Jonas Fullacrap's out there). Up comes a new email form.
posted by mkultra at 11:32 AM on August 27, 2008


This is Zork for your browser.

This webpage has black background. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

> Search Torch

Your search has found the following results:
- Torch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- HowStuffWorks "How Olympic Torches Work"
> Use Torch

Please choose a result.

> Use Torch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

You have used Torch - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. You feel like you've learned a lot of subjective information. An entire afternoon has passed. You have ended up in the article for 'Ajdovščina'. The webpage still has a black background. You are still likely to be eaten by a grue.

posted by Memo at 11:32 AM on August 27, 2008 [10 favorites]


Memo: "This is Zork for your browser."

LOL WUT
posted by sveskemus at 11:40 AM on August 27, 2008


"So, have we come full circle to command prompts again or am I missing something?"

What's wrong with that?


The main problem is that Average Joe User doesn't RTFM. Most users just look at the interface and figure it out from there, which is impossible for a command-line app like grep. Any modern UI used by mainstream computer users needs to clearly display what kinds of actions are available and have easy to understand widgets to perform those actions.

Using text only, certain obvious actions are harder to express (drag and drop can be much easier than manually specifying objects to use, for example) and it's more difficult to show the user what actions are available. A well designed text only interface can be more efficent than a full UI though, even for mainstream users, especially if it is used for specific actions that work well with it.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:44 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


God dammit memo, you made me look up Ajdovščina.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:45 AM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Impressed. This might make me finally switch to Firefox from Safari (damn you, convenient iPhone synchronisation!).
posted by athenian at 11:49 AM on August 27, 2008


From all of the stuff I've read from Aza Raskin, and from using the software he's designed, I've come to the conclusion that he's a hack.

He's been making cargo cult copies of Quicksilver for several years — he tried to sell a clone for windows (and only succeeded in marketing), almost everything he's done for Mozilla is tinged with it. But he doesn't really get what made Quicksilver great, not that any of the other cloners really have either. They focus on UI flash instead of fixing Firefox so that it's externally scriptable, so you can implement 'Ubiquity' universally among your applications (like as a Quicksilver plugin).

Almost noone who fancies themselves a User Experience designer has any fucking idea what their doing.

There's so much tone-deaf bullshit coming out of Mozilla these days: 'AwesomeBar', 'Aurora', the self-signed SSL debacle, the abandonment of non-XUL Gecko, flashy useless UI mockups, hyper-aggressive PR, corporatization, etc.

It's annoying the shit out of me. The User Interface of Firefox gets worse for me with every release.
posted by blasdelf at 11:54 AM on August 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


But the Ubiquity edit-page command gives us an amusing way of blowing off steam when confronted with trolls.

Yes, I know there are other developer tools that let you do this. Hush.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:07 PM on August 27, 2008


I think the UI of FF overall improves with each release, even if it gets worse in some specific or another. The AwesomeBar is better than Safari's or Firefox's old address bar, but only an incremental improvement over the full-text title/URL search that Internet Explorer has had since version 5.5.

The marketing of the UI, though, makes the wrong impressions among the people they're trying to appeal to. The name "AwesomeBar" doesn't belong anywhere except in a candy company catalog.
posted by ardgedee at 12:11 PM on August 27, 2008


Maybe you'd like to use something similar on your desktop?

Enso doesn't mash up data, but it does let you interact with your computer using natural language. Use it like Launchy.

--I think it'd be great to use ubiquity for files I have on my computer as well as online data
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 12:20 PM on August 27, 2008


Is this worth installing Firefox 3 for?
posted by grouse at 12:40 PM on August 27, 2008


grouse: yes, ff3 is also faster then any browser i've ever used (if you dont count lynx)
posted by Mach5 at 1:51 PM on August 27, 2008


Is this worth installing Firefox 3 for?

I would say no. The only reason I use FF3 is because of Gecko 1.9 and the attendant bugfixes. The added features annoy the crap out of me, and are impossible to remove. 'AwesomeBar' can at least be slightly detuned, but it's impossible to unfuck the SSL handling, or the anal-retarded mimetype handling (though that was introduced in one of the later 2.0.0.* updates).
posted by blasdelf at 1:53 PM on August 27, 2008


Is this worth installing Firefox 3 for?

No - not yet, but i prefer it to the old one and IE of course.

Seems to me that Mozilla are planning a move into upmarket night clubs: AwesomeBar, Prsim, Weave and Ubiquity.

Mash up!
posted by healey at 2:02 PM on August 27, 2008


The bandwidth cost is smaller.

I call BS on this. If the information is properly conveyed in the image, than the cost will be smaller than loading the entire page. You could argue that it would be larger if it's sent to a large distribution list, but then it's just larger amount of data for the email servers to handle instead of the web servers, so no biggy there.

The embedded information could be outdated.

Expect to see the image link to the proper data in a later version. This is only v0.1a

With a link I have the choice to click on it or not.

Last time I checked most email clients offered you the choice to hide images. This service increases choice, because now the person can include a link AND/OR embed info.

Maybe you're graphics card is on the fritz and you can only boot your linux machine to a command prompt.

Okay, so I picked your most extreme example, but do you think linking to the actual google map would have made anything better in your given scenario?


As for arguments about usability, this app is for one person only: the power

I can't get friends to upgrade from IE6 to IE7 because tabs and big button scare them. These guys don't even use Firefox, which means 60% of the browser market is never going to see this. Of those that do use Firefox, I'm willing to bet 2/3 don't use plugins at all (sure you put FFox on Mom's kitchen computer, but does she know how to install an add-on?)

This is for bleeding edge productivity fans, power users and command line heroes. Every now and then they'll be using Ubiquity when someone looks over their shoulder and maybe, just maybe that person might be so blown away that they'll start using it. But for 90% of the web surfers out there, they'll never know about it, let alone use it.

posted by furtive at 2:11 PM on August 27, 2008


Ugh, that should read:

As for arguments about usability, this app is for one person only: the power user

I can't get friends to upgrade from IE6 to IE7 because tabs and big button scare them. These guys don't even use Firefox, which means 60% of the browser market is never going to see this. Of those that do use Firefox, I'm willing to bet 2/3 don't use plugins at all (sure you put FFox on Mom's kitchen computer, but does she know how to install an add-on?)

This is for bleeding edge productivity fans, power users and command line heroes. Every now and then they'll be using Ubiquity when someone looks over their shoulder and maybe, just maybe that person might be so blown away that they'll start using it. But for 90% of the web surfers out there, they'll never know about it, let alone use it.
posted by furtive at 2:12 PM on August 27, 2008


If Raskin's example in the video was a command prompt it would have looked something like gmail --gmaps"-090.4848393883789347894,+078.894378943743943893" --yelp"name of restaurant" -svofc --gcal"081004:23:30:00" --carl@example.com "Let's eat at this restaurant"

you've just sent a map of carl@example.com to the restaurant review's calendar in SF n00b

or the anal-retarded mimetype handling
One of my favourite bugzilla threads is the one where they argue viciously that when you click "do this for all files of this type" you actually mean "just do it this once please, and then ask me again (as I favour your retarded interpretation of web standards over doing what I say)"
posted by bonaldi at 2:44 PM on August 27, 2008


argedee:

If Raskin's example in the video was a command prompt it would have looked something like [comedically long command redacted]

Well, not really. I think if we're saying it's like Quicksilver, it'd be about chaining outputs of different things together, more like:

~ get-current-yelp-map | gmail --to=carl@example.com --date="next tuesday" "let's eat bitches"

The arcane timestamps etc in your example are a funny joke about how out of touch people that constantly refer to the command prompt are but command-prompt tools can be even easier than the crap i typed above. See Hiveminder's todo.pl, like

~ todo "eat some food [life bio] [due: tomorrow] [priority: high]"

works just fine on my machine.
posted by thedaniel at 3:18 PM on August 27, 2008


Here are some quickly hacked together Metafilter Ubiquity commands.
posted by sequential at 3:27 PM on August 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


The email demonstration seems pretty pointless. The recipient can look things up on google maps or yelp just as well as the sender can. Seems like it'd be much more useful to mark up the people, locations, times, etc. and let the recipient decide what to do with that information - how do I get there from my house? Have I been there before? Did I write about the last time I went there? What other stuff do I like that's nearby?
posted by plant at 3:48 PM on August 27, 2008


Not tried this yet, but feel compelled to comment because so many have compared this to Quicksilver. My feeling is, if this is like Quicksilver, it's probably not going anywhere.

I used to be a big fan of Quicksilver, but that was back when OS X was still 10.3. I was impressed with the *potential* of it, it seemed so powerful. But you know what? All I used it for in the end was a quick application launcher and all the potential went completely unused. I knew it could do all this, well... stuff... but somehow I never quite needed to be able to do any of it.

Spotlight achieving usable speed in Leopard put the final nail in the coffin for me, it handles the quick launch use case pretty adequately.
posted by pascal at 7:52 PM on August 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Did anyone else notice that "error occurred" in the top-right of the screen when he tried to add the restaurant thing to his calendar? He forgot to tab-complete (or whatever ubiquity's equivalent is) and he sent an "add" command instead of an "add-to-calendar".

Well, I thought it was funny.
posted by tehloki at 12:22 AM on August 28, 2008


I'm easily impressed by things happening in real time and I like it
posted by minifigs at 2:02 AM on August 28, 2008


So, I played with it last night. I got a wowhead and wow armory exension for it. Very nice.

Took a little bit of learning. The translation isn't perfect, but moderately functional.

Are there any livejournal addons for it? I don't see any, and their way of handling extensions is crap. I mean, a feed? WIth no other info regarding what they are until you click the link?

I like greasemonkeys extension handling much better. I hope they get a decent repo with tagging or something. Or a better feed setup with tags.

anyways, so far it's interesting. I can see potential. I'd imagine you'd need a bit higher power system, but not sure how it all works.
posted by symbioid at 10:00 AM on August 29, 2008


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