I have always wanted to invent a new word. Not any old word, but a word that would gets used even in the deepest, darkest corners of coffee shops in Amsterdam. Not that I would ever get to hear the word used. I don't like coffee! So let's try vistarization. The process of a sensible, definitely obvious idea degenerating into a heavy weight project that takes many extra years to complete. I have images of small spacecraft trying to divert asteroids that are going to hit the Earth.

The question to ask is when you see a horde of IP related lawyers being super charged in a magnetron and you feel the static as the springs are being coiled for a big advertising campaign. The question is, what are you going to do about it? Is the free software community ready for the heralded embrace and consumption of a pseudo-proprietary, well-integrated set of services? Can Gnome or KDE or XGL transfer seamlessly into the pseudo-3D world? I'm not so sure? I hope I'm missing the point. Just because a process is as slow moving as quicksand and as easy to anticipate does not mean that the process is not a danger to the biodiversity of the world around it. Magma slowly eroding the side of a mountain village comes to my fevered mind.

So we know the services that will be available from the out role. We know what may be coming in service pack 1. So let's go on an intellectual hunting expedition. What I want from you community orientated folk is to be educated. I intuitively feel that there are many excellent tools out there in the wild just waiting for some KDE or Gnome Linux distribution to increase its value from. If you know of such proactively deadly assault tools can you make a comment with a link and share your knowledge with the rest of us? Can we legally invade and consume the XBOX/XBOX 360 universe creating a wonderful multimedia home experience, perhaps for the price of zero? Embrace and consume I say, embrace and consume and enjoy a really good free software streaming experience.

Yep, it is time for controllers such as dance mats and Nintendo Wii pointers to force us fat, saddened developers and administrators to physically interact with our environment. Wouldn’t it be nice to go home to our families with bodies rippling and healthy from exercise? No more empty pizza boxes. Just 16 hours of gruelling breakdancing. Yes, an hour of force feedback to tone those stomach muscles. 12 minutes of sprinting to avoid a kernel panic! And xcruiser to make us stronger in the hunt for that missing jar file or permission.



Terry Hancock's picture

The difference between the pseudo-3D of "stacked" windows, which I've had on my desktop for years, and the pseudo-3D of slightly transparent stacked windows generated by a 3D controller, is basically that the text is harder to read on the transparent windows.

REAL applications of 3D (such as an operating system metaphor of rooms and halls -- a "dungeon" as it were) or more compelling metaphors requires a lot of thought that doesn't seem to have been done. It's possible that it isn't really meant to be, IMHO. After all, we can only actually see 2D at once, so the advantage to a 3D environment remains marginal.

Of course, a true immersive 3D virtual reality environment has possibilities -- but I don't think anybody is offering that just yet.

I would predict that if there is a breakout 3D model, it'll come from hackers experimentation, and not from a market leader like Microsoft. And I predict there will be much wreckage of failed attempts before there is anything like success.

Part of the problem is that, while 3D graphics have gotten quite reasonably priced, the controllers are much stickier.

One of the great reasons for the success of the mouse is that it is extremely cheap to make (e.g. digitizer pens and tablets are far higher fidelity, but are still expensive enough that most people don't bother with them).

Alan Berg's picture
Submitted by Alan Berg on

Good point,

However, I think the icing on the cake is worth a few extra dollars per unit of mass production.

Terry Hancock's picture

Are you one of the rare few who is using your computer with a digitizer pen and tablet?

Not many people buy them, so there must not be many people who put enough value on them. The message of the market seems to be "the mouse is good enough". I suppose some people might be persuaded to add a game controller instead (would that help?) (those are still pretty cheap).

My point is that 3D must either offer a compelling new interaction experience, or the input hardware must be extraordinarily cheap. So far, most 3D hardware is more than $100 a unit, so it's still far from "a few extra dollars per unit of mass production". Maybe that's merely a matter of production runs, but so far, I haven't seen the breakout product.

I was expecting something like the "Spaceball" to take off, but it still seems to be a pretty niche-oriented product (maybe it's because they never release free software drivers!).

I'm also interested in 3D interfaces, but after a lot of years of hype (and none of the reality), I've become skeptical.

Alan Berg's picture
Submitted by Alan Berg on

Yes, in search of that one good idea. Something like the WII, but with a little more force feedback and the related visual experience?

Author information

Alan Berg's picture


Alan Berg Bsc. MSc. PGCE, has been a lead developer at the Central Computer Services at the University of Amsterdam since 1998. In his spare time, he writes articles, book reviews and has authored three books. He has a degree, two masters and a teaching qualification. In previous incarnations, he was a technical writer, an Internet/Linux course writer, and a science teacher. He likes to get his hands dirty with the building and gluing of systems. He remains agile by playing computer games with his sons who (sadly) consistently beat him physically, mentally and morally at least twice in any given day.

You may contact him at At