Archive for June, 2009

Scribbles

I was cleaning and found this piece of paper. I have a habit of doing stuff like this, especially when I’m on the phone; this is how I take “notes.”

scribbles

There has to be some hidden meaning in there, right?

Please, let’s stop the future

Reading this, last paragraph,

Tim O’Reilly’s classic speech, “The Open Source Paradigm Shift”, makes it clear that the commoditisation of operating systems is imminent, with the next war being fought in the web app space. In 10 years’ time your desktop computer will almost certainly run nearly all your programs over the internet, with your OS being a relatively thin shell that fires up a web browser and points you towards the net.

This has somehow become a grand vision for the future that many seem to be ready to happily welcome and accept. But why does no one ever go further into the corporate borg-like system that this could lead to. If we accept a vision that everything should be pushed into the cloud then things could go far beyond the thinning of the OS. In fact, there’s really no need for a PC, or more precisely a box that contains the von Neumann architecture we’ve come to know (edit: not accurate, such a device could very well and very likely be a von Neumann machine) the components and peripherals we’ve come to know. We can simply have monitors with a few peripherals for input. The monitors would stream a framebuffer from our favorite company (computing services provider?) where “our” “computer” is a virtual machine on a server. We’d pay monthly fees for our virtual hardware, our applications, and our cloud storage solution. Of course prices will be horribly painful for those not in the coveted “middle class” and without the economies of scale the price of physical hardware and software will rise dramatically due to a smaller, corporate consumer base. All our computing needs will be handled by the company, what can and can’t be done will be determined by the company, our private information will be handled and secured by the company, and of course switching to another company will be a huge pain-in-the-ass due to competitive vendor-lock in practices.

Do we even want to think about the possible abuses of power, both corporate and governmental, that could result from such an infrastructure?

Iranian Courage

…Iran is not a backward country of medieval fanatics, but a modern nation with 70 million people, two thirds of whom are under 30 and have the same interests and aspirations as their Western counterparts.

Iran elections: The hope that Iran threw away

iranian courage

h/t Threats Watch.

Refresh

I was with the Windows 7 RC yesterday and noticed something really cool. I was watching a video on Hulu (using the web client) and as the mouse hovered over the Internet Explorer icon in the taskbar, I noticed the thumbnail view of the page was a live rendering, showing the video playing in real-time. It’s perhaps not terribly useful but it is pretty cool and a testament to what can be achieved on modern hardware.

Thinking along the lines of powerful hardware and immediate feedback and representation, I was, unfortunately, struck with this disappointing bit,

windows 7 folder refresh

The folder refresh option in the context menu. It’s somewhat sad that this still exists and updated data from the file system isn’t polled, updated, and displayed automatically by the OS. (There may very well be valid reasons for not doing this [e.g. cost due to hard disk seek + latency] but it’s disappointing none the less.)

I also bring this up because it was something that came to mind in the design of Fragment Sync. If you used an early version of FS, you might have noticed a refresh link in the Setup window; you would click it and it would updated the list of devices to show/update which ones were active or inactive. I reached the conclusion early on that this was horribly annoying and it would cost next to nothing to automatically detect and display such information, and at this juncture I conjured up a rule that there should be no “refresh” buttons, links, or whatever else in Fragment Sync, and all state changes should be detected and addressed automatically, without user intervention.

Hulu desktop

I’ve been a big fan on Hulu since I discovered it and the recently launched Hulu desktop is impressive. It’s a sleek app and performance and quality are very good. It’s not perfect, it uses quite a bit of memory, about half a gig, which seems excessive. CPU usage hovers at about 25% on my dual-core machine, which isn’t an issue for me, but might be a cause for concern for those with older machines. Also content navigation with a mouse is a bit clunky, as scrolling with the mouse wheel registers as a mouse click if the cursor is hovering over an adjacent panel.

hulu desktop

It also works well on my Mac Mini and with the accompanying remote, which, until now, I’ve never really had a use for.