Thursday, 13 December 2007

Compiz-fusion is a nice place to visit, but i wouldn't want to live there

Gutsy Ubuntu then (yes I know, not exactly cutting edge). Is it exciting and are the new desktop effects going to usher in a new era of cooperation between man and computer? Hmm, probably not.

It looks great, make no mistake about it. The way windows bounce around and beam into existence is suitably pleasing. I especially like the mammoth number of options which make your desktop anything from mildly annoying to utterly impossible to use. For most fun try turning down friction on the windows and watch as the slightest twitch of the mouse sends your window shooting off into the distance.

There are clearly more options than any sane human being could possibly want, but this is a new feature so they'll be playing with them and then removing them as you'd expect in gnome. Problem is the defaults - they don't really replicate the existing desktop but with added whiz. Try using the mouse wheel to switch between desktops for instance. The poor old wheel seems to have been neglected throughout in fact. I'm reliably informed these options can be turned on but either these people are lying to me or I don't have the patience to hunt through a million menus trying to find the option that makes my desktop behave as it did before.

I'm willing to believe the fault is with me here, but patience is something that's sadly lacking when I'm using a computer. It's a tool - I don't want it to get between be and what I'm trying to do, in the same way I don't want to spend an hour gently stroking a hammer before hitting a nail with it. Especially when, in this case, it's just garnish that slows things down. When I hit a key I want a response now, not half a second later when the graphics card has finished rendering everything or the desktops have finished scrolling around or

I have to say I'm somewhat disappointed, but again I suspect the fault is mine. I was hoping for a great leap forward in usability. Something that makes the computer a joy to use. Something different, like the glove things in Minority Report. Instead I got the same thing as before but slower and with the ability to add fire trails to my desktop. Thanks, but I'll be switching this off for a while I think.

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