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Software toy or useful desktop alternative?

BumpTop replaces your desktop with a visual environment unlike any you've yet used. It's a bit like a futuristic gesture-based interface, but it's tied to your mouse.

BumpTop replaces your desktop with a visual environment unlike any you've used. It's a bit like a futuristic gesture-based interface, but it's tied to your mouse. Were it capable of simultaneous Web browsing, its utility would be much more apparent.

BumpTop makes the items on your computer's desktop more like their real-world counterparts. Icons and folders are assigned a virtual weight based on the amount of memory they take up and their importance to you. You can move them by click-and-drag, or fling them across the BumpTop space. The program determines their importance based on how often you use them, but you can also alter that by hand. In a way, BumpTop takes the "Cover Flow" concept to the next level. Stack items to keep them organized, flip through them as you would a photo album, sprawl them across the desktop arbitrarily, or order them in staid grids. Circular wheel pie menus make options a mouse flick away, and the 3D "walls" make for fast posting to Facebook, e-mailing, and Twittering.

To alter a group of items, you lasso them--but you probably haven't used a lasso like this before. Unlike the square-edged standard Windows lasso, this one lets you select objects by drawing circles around them. Icons can be more scattered without it slowing your work flow because factors like angle, size changing, proximity, and icon flipping all impact on how you interact with your desktop. There's a built-in photo viewer, and although it doesn't allow for user interactions yet, the Safari and Chrome browsing engine WebKit is baked in, too.

If WebKit moves toward integrating browsing with your desktop in a customizable manner, and more gesture-based hardware support becomes commonplace, it could push how we use our computers into a whole new dimension.

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