Personal Webtops

Recently I became interested in really customizing my google homepage. Not just having a bunch of news feeds and the weather, but really make a page that did things. So I looked at some of the tasks that I do frequently. Well, I do check the news… ok, so leave one of the news feeds. I read and write emails…. ok, so I need to find a way to track all my email accounts, not just my gmail account. I chat online… hmm, I wonder if there’s something that I can do about that. I also write software… not sure if that can be put on my homepage, yet.

Ok, so there are a few things that I do regularly. Well it turns out that the personal webpage is quite similar to all of the other personalized web pages from the likes of,, and They all use AJAX techniques to make rich web UIs. So if there is a web service, or a simple UI task that can be done, then a custom javascript widget can be written to accomplish that task. It can be anything from a game, to a calculator, to eventually a full office suite. (There are already a couple of word processors such as Zoho Writer).

So why is this interesting? Well, for one.. imagine not losing your files when your computer crashes. Imagine not having to worry about computer viruses taking over your PC. Imagine not having to drag that dang laptop with you when you go to the in-laws house, just so you can check email. If you can get to the web, you can get to your files. You can get to your desktop. Your PC doesn’t need to run anything but a browser. It doesn’t need a hard drive to hold any files. No hard drive, no viruses (well, almost).

So what’s my part in all of this? Well, I’m starting to code my own webtop apps. I’ve got a calculator already. I’m looking into creating a service for using AIM via my webtop. And in the future, I’d like to have an IDE for my development work.

So what will all this mean? I dunno, but by the looks of it, we’ll be able to have our desktop no matter where we are. Perhaps we can have a music player that ties into iTunes or another music library. Maybe we’ll find a use for that stupid “Active Desktop” feature that nobody has actually turned on for the last 10 years. In any case, we’ll see new and possibly useful ways of interacting with the web.

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