rotate button sucks on the XO

Eben Eliason eben at
Sun Mar 1 19:09:16 EST 2009

On Sun, Mar 1, 2009 at 6:58 PM,  <david at> wrote:
> On Sun, 1 Mar 2009, Eben Eliason wrote:
>> On Sun, Mar 1, 2009 at 5:53 PM, NoiseEHC <NoiseEHC at> wrote:
>>> Eben Eliason wrote:
>>>> This whole argument, I feel, is fruitless.  That's just my opinion, of
>>>> course.
>>>> The touchpad isn't readily accessible in handheld mode, and was never
>>>> made to be.  I'll continue to suggest that the cursor simply be
>>>> automatically hidden in handheld mode, and that a simple means for
>>>> taking full advantage of the handheld buttons which are present be
>>>> made available to activities in a standardized way.
>>> This argument rests on the wrong assumption that the user can only rotate
>>> the screen in handheld mode. Of course the user can open the laptop as a
>>> book and read it rotated while using the touchpad with one of his thumbs.
>> I suppose that's true, though I'm not sure I see a benefit to that.
>> My impression of handheld mode is as a means of consuming content (not
>> creating content).
> why should you make that assumption?

Because I think there is an inherently limited set of controls
available, and the keyboard and mouse are not readily accessible in
this mode.  I think that defining a set of interactions that can be
meaningful in such a context are better than forcing every activity
and/or feature into a mode that's not suited to them.

I don't mean that content creation shouldn't be allowed in
principle—audio/video recording would still work great, for
instance—but I don't think the mode was designed in hardware to make
use of keyboard and mouse, nor do I think software should try to
facilitate it.

>> I think that the cursor AND the toolbars should
>> hide completely, leaving a fullscreen interface for the pleasurable
>> viewing of the pdf, webpage, image, movie, etc., with nothing else in
>> the way, and basic controls mapped to the buttons.
> how do you decide which controls are 'basic' and need to be mapped to the
> buttons? what do you do if there are more 'basic controls' than you have
> buttons?

Start with the most basic, and build up.  There's a limited set of
buttons there; that's something to be dealt with.  Video game consoles
have done a pretty good job with similar limitations.  At least in the
90s they did.  These days they've caved in to many more buttons.

Also, see the Browse activity description I linked to.  It describes a
system which makes double-use of the buttons, and can provide logical
secondary behaviors for controls like zooming, for instance.

>> It's a question of need, really.  When you're not using the laptop as
>> a laptop, what benefit do you gain from use of the cursor (and/or
>> toolbars)?  Let's draw a clear distinction between the modes and make
>> them independently useful, rather than trying to make every
>> button/control/feature work in both.
> even when only 'consuming content' you may need to zoom in on the page or
> things like that.

See above.

>>>> A suggestion for how this standardized system might work is laid out
>>>> rather clearly at  I'd
>>>> very much like to see an API for the press and press-and-hold states
>>>> of these buttons so that activities could take advantage of it easily
>>> I have read this page but it does not talk about screen rotation at all.
>>> Unfortunately (last time I checked) most of the activities are handling
>>> keyboard focus badly and they usually need some help with the touchpad to
>>> focus to their scrollable area. In handheld mode it means opening the
>>> screen
>>> a little bit as david Lang has just said.
>> This is why we need a consistent and easy to follow API (And
>> guidelines) for implementing this mode. ;)  If we could make it easy
>> to get right, there wouldn't be a need to build crutches to fall back
>> on.
> and how are you going to get all software in the world to comply with your
> API?

I'm not.  I'm arguing that activities that *want* to take advantage of
handheld mode should be given an API to make it easier to use to full

If we want to support fallback modes that work in a more general
sense, that's fine, but I'd really like to see something take off to
make handheld mode something more than just a folded up laptop.

- Eben

> especially with the recent changes in direction, XO's are not the driving
> force, and you can't even count on Sugar being a driving force. they re just
> one choice among many.
> David Lang
>> - Eben
>>> A footnote is that this latter touchpad usage conflicts with the one I
>>> have
>>> talked about halfway on this page, just imagine it.... :)
>>> ps:
>>> I would like to hear a similarly interesting conversation about the
>>> xvideo
>>> surface and X11 driver, please!
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