Task-based menus for a file


Just throwing this out for wider talk perhaps. I have been silently watching a list called xdg@lists.freedesktop.org. Now the list talks about freedesktop standards which basically is trying to have some sort of standards that all desktop environments can follow. One of the discussions on the specific list shared above is and was about ‘New MimeType fields in .desktop’ . It is a fascinating thread with many people giving loads of interesting view points. If you are into desktops even casually, you would enjoy the discussions thoroughly. Seriously thinking, I shared the below on the list –

“Hi all, I read quite a bit of the fascinating thread. As a user I have often had to fix the same at my end and at times had to re-fix it again. For me it’s the ‘mkv’ and related media file types. Now I have different applications which are for different things, For e.g. mpv is exclusively the player (followed at times by vlc) for playing the content. Mediainfo to have technical knowledge/bits about the content. ffmpeg for doing some basic stuff (extracting subtitles or adding subtitles etc.) to the content, re-encoding into smaller resolution etc etc. Sadly, none of the solutions as of date tell me if I hover or even go into properties of a mkv file which application does what. I do know this is perhaps a bit outside the discussion having, but does anybody have any ideas? At the very least, it should make the user more aware of what he can do with particular applications perhaps. One way is to perhaps have a database so if I ask in a way that the system understands which are the editors which can be used to manipulate or edit mkv files, it should give me a list available from debian database. I do know that apt, aptitude etc. do try to do something on those lines but it has many shortcomings. And as somebody else mentioned, don’t think the solution would be done tomorrow but at least sometime in future.”

While I stopped at the above on the list, allow me to extrapolate or share a bit more where I am coming from. Somebody did share that this should be actually done by the desktop provider, and GNOME 1 did provide a solution in the early days, now then they have moved to being a more ‘dumb’ desktop or in their words simplifying. In any case, while I haven’t hadn’t had the opportunity to see the new MAC desktop, Windows 10 desktop interface is nothing to write home about. All our DE’s starting from GNOME, MATE, XFCE, could and should be giving us much more than it has, making users having richer and better experiences than they have today. And while I shared about .mkv (the Matroska Multimedia Container), the above applies and can apply to any file format which can be manipulated in different ways using different tools. I just shared the one I use most often as a use-case scenario. And this should be made easier now that we have processors have multiple cores (for e.g. Intel and AMD quad cores are now there at decent prices) . So would it be too much of an ask to have something which helps people be more productive. As of today, for anybody who is new to either Debian or any X desktop, there is still such a substantial learning curve and more so applications and how they fit in the puzzle and what can be done and what cannot be done.

A much screwy thing to add to the mix is file format and which file format version can a particular app. read. The biggest and the most common culprit here is pdf. A good webpage which shares the versions and the comments which tell how people are still having issues with various versions of pdf. Most of the foss tools I use top out at pdf 1.4 which is quite an old format 😦 . I am open to testing and debugging if somebody does try decoding the new versions. For me, this is also an issue as most I.T. notices and what not we get, at times I have to try and figure out things, at times go to MS and use an acrobat reader and that is dumb.


There are also lot of banking stuff that we cannot do on free software, especially in India as lot of powerful proprietary interests are there which make sure that no public API’s are available, or even if there is, it would be something half-done or after back and forth, they say, this is just for show, as had shared last year. I would probably add another section later to talk about it. From what little I know, in Europe the law mandates that there are public API’s not only for banking but wherever public money (read taxpayer money) is involved. Again, not all countries, but some more than others. At least, that is what I had seen over the years.

Till later.

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