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Wearable Linux: Notes from the Field - page 5

Business Now Embracing Wearable Linux

  • May 22, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

From the start, it was apparent that Microsoft's Rick Engle wasn't going to be making any new announcements. Engle was involved in Windows CE at one point in his career with Microsoft, but now he works with the company's Federal division. It was also clear that the audience wasn't the most receptive group of people, regardless of his well-engineered PowerPoint slideshow. Open snorts could be heard when he spoke of Microsoft's "support" of open standards like Kerberos. One attendee demanded to know why Microsoft insisted on bringing the desktop metaphor to wearable computing, where screen real estate is scarce. His answer said tons to the audience, too:

"A soldier running through a minefield" might need a more efficient interface, but a consumer, by extension, simply doesn't. A low murmur moved through the audience. If Microsoft's claims to being the Great Innovator are to be believed, where does "Good enough for the likes of you?" fit into the picture? Or maybe it was the hungry rumble of a roomfull of people who've lived their careers with one eye over their shoulders, waiting for the 800-pound gorilla from Redmond to move in; a roomfull of people who have just realized it may be open season on the big ape. Few seemed to believe the desktop is the last word in interfaces, especially in the small dimensions of the wearable computer.

Professor Mann, on the other hand, didn't have much of a slideshow. Instead of slides, he used glynx to browse his website with the audience, demonstrating the sort of recall he had available in a small screen you wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't had to make a last-minute repair with the ever-present electrical tape. He also provided a real-time feed of his view of the world as seen through a portable cam on the projector screen. In the proud tradition of academics everywhere, the camera mostly seemed to hover on his hands, feet, and glass of juice. From time to time, the feed would cut out and a transparent xclock would hover over a 20-column xterm with "bash$" scrolling every time he'd nudge the return key on his Twiddler, which happened with nervous frequency.

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