Kevin Bacon, Konfabulator and Flash?

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So this entry is a little like a schizophrenic, circuitous, software developer and employer version of the infamous Kevin Bacon six degrees of separation phenomenon on some weird level. Please humor me as I explain:
I am sure that many of you Mac folks out there like me have either seen or used Kaleidoscope for Mac OS at some point in the past. You might even be aware of the contributions to the UI and schemes by Arlo Rose, formerly of Apple’s Human Interface Design Center, which was founded by Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini, who later moved on to Sun, who coincidentally Arlo Rose also did a stint with before moving on to PGP. Tog, who nowadays spends his time working with Jakob Neilsen of the Nielsen Norman Group who has spent a great deal of time dedicated to usability and most recently as it relates to usability and design with Flash. Which brings me back to Arlo’s latest work: Konfabulator, a “widget” based system for extending and enhancing the Apple Mac OS X interface, and frankly doing whatever you want with it. Interestingly enough Arlo and partner Perry Clarke (who also works for Sun) decided to base the core engine on JavaScript to allow users to extend and create their own widgets for Konfabulator. So for you folks out there familiar with JavaScript and ActionScript you will find yourself building stuff in no time. Give it a whirl, its pretty darn cool I must say. And now for the final Flash MX tie in..drum roll please: Someone already beat me to the punch of asking Arlo and Perry if a future version would support embedding Flash .swfs in the “widgets” you create, see this thread for the answer. Maybe we can help generate a bit more discussion there?

Update: I have made a modification to the default “The Weather” widget so that is adds another preference: The ability to turn on and off spoken alerts of the temperature. It utilizes the built in text-to-speech capabilities built into Mac OS X and the API provided by Konfabulator for utilizing it. First grab this file: weather_mod.sit.bin. Unstuff it, and you will end up with one file, “The Weather.kon” Next, navigate to “The Weather” widget and right-click or control-click and do a show package contents. Drop this new file into the “Contents” folder and allow it to overwrite the existing file. Then simply close and re-open the weather widget and check the preferences for the new feature. Cool. I knew this Actionscript knowledge would pay off one day. 🙂

Oh you ask, how does Kevin Bacon fit into all this? Well as you know, Arlo Rose worked for Sun, and Sun and IBM worked together to develop and implement the JAVA RMI over IIOP or Java Remote Method Invocation technology over Internet Inter-Orb Protocol and in 2001 Kevin Maney of USAToday wrote an article about “Pocket Sized” computers or “metapads”. Kevin reported that it was demonstrated to him by Kenneth Ocheltree an ahead of his time, IBM scientist who, “looks like Kevin Bacon”. If you type in Kevin Meaney (only one letter off from Kevin Maney) into the University of Virgina Oracle of Bacon you will see that Kevin Meaney has a Bacon Rating of 2: Kevin Meaney was in Plump Fiction (1997) with Colleen Camp, Colleen Camp was in Trapped (2002) with Kevin Bacon, and we all know that on March 2002, Kevin Meany was arrested in the San Francisco International Airport, which is only about 13 miles from Macromedia headquarters. 🙂 I can’t wait to see the strange referrers and search query strings in my logs after this entry gets picked up by the spiders.


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