I see a number of different problems listed in Garfinkel's story, which are actually quite distinct, though they share one common attribute: data loss.
In his Palm example, the problem IMO is a lack of a more centrally integrated "beam" function. I was listing the killer features of my Palm IIIx to a co-worker. Size/weight aspects blow doors on a paper planner. Cryptinfo knows more about me than I do (secure data/password storage). And beaming rocks.
The problem is that there's no "beam me" button on the Palm. There really needs to be one. And yes, it should have a confirm button, 'coz you don't want to be randomly beaming corporate secrets or your little black book....
Dialogs suck. But how else are you going to talk to people? I prefer the more minimalist (and flexible) interface of the command line, but I build things into my environment -- shell prompt lists userid and host, terminal window ditto, root is bolded -- and sit on my hands before hitting Enter on a lethal command. That's just training (and experience ;-)
Marlowe's journaling file system suggestion (JFS) is good, but JFS is rather more limited than what we're looking for. Rather, what you want is some ongoing versioning system for everything you do. Sort of like saving state within a given application every minute or so, then gradually dropping snaptshots as time passes -- say 60 second snaps for ten minutes, 10 minute snaps for an hour, 1 hour snaps for a day, one day snaps for a week,.... A year's worth of work would be 79 snapshots. In a diff format, the dataload could be manageable.
Garfinkel is dead wrong when he classes this as an OS issue. These sorts of problems are a data management system issue, but that's not a level of complexity you want, or need, to deal with at the OS level. Yes, a system of data storage and versioning, but as an applicaiton layer with which other applications can interface. System-level information itself could be managed through this interface, but as another form of versioned information, not as an OS-level interface.
And so, information becomes timeless, or as Tom Stearnes might say:
After such knowledge, what forgiveness? Think now
History has many cunning passages, contrived corridors
And issues, deceives with whispering ambitions,
Guides us by vanities.
$0.02, less in some markets.
Karsten M. Self
SCO -- backgrounder on Caldera/SCO vs IBM
Support the EFF!!
There is no K5 cabal.