Review : Cherry Picks of the Month
A new month has started and with it a new selection of interesting applications have caught my fancy. I’m always on the lookout for new and innovative ideas for graphical interfaces, making it a point of flipping through web sites and magazines just to see what other people are doing out there.
This month’s selection include a couple of games, a spreadsheet, a great dynamic debugging tool and a new way of managing your files.
Professor FizzWizzle is a fun, mind-expanding puzzle game, where you take control of the diminutive genius, Professor Fizzwizzle. You must help the professor use his brains and his gadgets to solve each exciting level. Do you have what it takes to get past the Rage-Bots and bring the prof back to his lab? My oldest daughter started playing the demo for this addictive game and soon enough father and daughter were huddled together debating how to best complete the puzzles.
I also recommend FizzBall by the same company, also receiving high scores from my daughter. Have you heard of that old cliché “learn by playing”? This game will definitely validate it for you and your kids.
Pyspread is a cross-platform spreadsheet application that is based on and written in the programming language Python.
Can you imagine being able to write your own “formulas” in Python and use it in a spreadsheet? Ohhh, the possibilities…
Parasite is a debugging and development tool that runs inside your GTK+ application’s process. It can inspect your application, giving you detailed information on your UI, such as the hierarchy, X window IDs, widget properties, and more. You can modify properties on the fly in order to experiment with the look of your UI. In other words, it is like Firefox’s Firebug extension, but for Gtk applications. Salivating yet?
In order to poke around Eye of GNOME and uncover all the layers that make up the UI, I ran the following from the command line:
I could now freely inspect every single component of the interface and interact with them via a very handy python shell at the bottom of the screen. I highly recommend it!
Finally, GNOME Zeitgeist, a very interesting way of managing files in your desktop. My dad just recently bought a brand new computer (a Mac actually) and paid an extra fee to have a technician come to his place and transfer all of his contents, thousands of digital photos and music accumulated through the years, from the old computer to the newer one. Once all of his files were safely transferred and the old computer conveniently put to use as a door holder, he was presented with an interesting problem: he had absolutely no idea where his media was!
This is where an application like GNOME Zeitgeist comes in handy. The physical location of files in your operating system should not be of concern to a desktop user. Ask him when he took a picture or recorded a song, and you may get a better answer: “It was the first week of March, 2009”. Now, ask which folder/partition that file resides and you’ll be out of luck! Being able to search by date and tags is a very interesting way to deal with the proliferation of multimedia files accumulated through the years and this project is well worth watching (literally, watch the video here).