Desktops Are Here to Stay

“In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant,” says John Herlihy, European Director of Google’s online sales. Sorry, but I just can’t see that turning out to be true…

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“In three years time, desktops will be irrelevant,” says John Herlihy, European Director of Google’s online sales.

Sorry, but I just can’t see that turning out to be true. Three years is an eternity in the tech world. Surely we’ll have things that haven’t even been thought of today, but I don’t see any of them replacing the desktop, or some form of it.

Less people see movies in theaters than used too, but that’s not because they can download them to the iPhones, it’s because larger TVs, better sound, and crisper pictures has created a better home viewing experience. Recently, 3D movies in IMAX have upped the ante again, but home entertainment has been quicker than ever in catching up.

Sooner or later computers and TVs may meld into a single entity, they’ll have HD and 3D capabilities, with 17.1 surround sound, maybe smell will be integrated, maybe you won’t even have to use a keyboard, but the size of the screen will be larger, not smaller.

I use a 17-inch notebook, which is larger than most, but I still prefer to use a larger desktop monitor whenever possible. I have experimented with my TV and it is better to watch YouTube on, but I won’t be using it the next time I play Minesweeper.

The smaller screen is simply too limiting. It’s crazy to track all those Tweets and Facebook updates though a tiny little screen, even if you can have them all open at once you are then limited in your options.

It’s not just video, you can forget about writing a research paper on any kind of smart phone.

Herlihy continued, “In Japan, most research is done today on smart phones, not PCs.”

That makes sense. Smart phones will be used more in the future because they allow the internet to be taken anywhere. To be able to access Google, IMDB, or the latest sports scores comes in handy numerous times daily. Amount of time used or searches on a smart phone will likely be higher for most people than those on a desktop, but the quality won’t be.

I can never see myself reading a thousand word article on a four-inch screen.

What do you see for the future of screens? Bigger or smaller, or both?

Originally published March 4, 2010.

Governing the Cloud

This week’s episode of C-SPAN’s The Communicators explored “The Future of Cloud Computing.” Microsoft’s Senior VP and General Counsel Brad Smith discussed how cloud computing is advancing and how the government needs to clarify laws to deal with this upcoming and ever-evolving technology.

This week’s episode of C-SPAN’s The Communicators explored “The Future of Cloud Computing.” Microsoft’s Senior VP and General Counsel Brad Smith discussed how cloud computing is advancing and how the government needs to clarify laws to deal with this upcoming and ever-evolving technology.

“Cloud computing” refers to services offered that allow storage of various files, e-mail, etc. on servers owned by third-party companies. By using these services users can access their information from any device with internet access, like a PC or smart phone.

The government’s involvement is a must in multiple ways, dealing with how the privacy of your information stored on the cloud is concerned as well as how the government itself can take advantage of the cloud.

The interview was recorded a few weeks ago, but even more questions were raised this past week when Google launched their new Buzz service, which is directly integrated into Gmail accounts. This integration lead to some concerns being raised with the privacy Google is allotting their users.

I have used Microsoft’s Office Live service for a few months and love the ease of access it allows to files. Certainly a flash drive can do the same, but they can be costly, not to mention misplaced. Gmail’s large amount of storage space also eliminates the need to ever delete a message. It may seem ridiculous to have over 1000 messages in my inbox, but you never know when you’ll think, “I wish I still had that… oh, I do.”

Storing pictures on Flickr or even Facebook also reduce the chance that you will accidently lose something that you will want to look back on someday.

Originally published on February 14, 2010.

See Anywhere… live

A few years ago when Google Earth was released, I thought it was one of the coolest things out there, and I still do; but now there’s something better. Blaise Aguera y Arcas demoed what has been going on with Bing Maps at TED2010 and it’s completely blown me away.

A few years ago when Google Earth was released, I thought it was one of the coolest things out there, and I still do; but now there’s something better. Blaise Aguera y Arcas demoed what has been going on with Bing Maps at TED2010 and it’s completely blown me away.

Now, not only are maps and satellite photos available–all of which are great quality no matter if the city is big or small–but you can keep zooming in farther. Beyond Google’s Street view, Bing allows you to move freely up and down sidewalks, even in and out of businesses.

Pictures from Flickr are integrated right into the view, and the big finale: There’s video too. Not just some random YouTube clip that happened to be filmed nearby, but actual real-time streaming video from the location you are looking at on the screen.

Imagine the possibilities for that.

Stick a camera wherever you want and stream it 24 hours a day. Better yet, stick a camera on every street corner and stream them all live.

Imagine being able to watch any location on the planet live and on demand.

I’m not much of a map fan, but this goes far beyond maps. This truly connects the world.

Try it out for yourself.

Originally published on February 13, 2010.

Deluxe 2 is a Good Continuation for Zombie

Most of Rob Zombie’s albums have had a few great tracks that have a beat that’ll get lodged in your head for a good while and a few tracks that a more atmospheric than rock music; his latest effort, Hellbilly Deluxe 2, doesn’t entirely buck that trend, but it is another strong effort.

Most of Rob Zombie’s albums have had a few great tracks that have a beat that’ll get lodged in your head for a good while and a few tracks that a more atmospheric than rock music; his latest effort, Hellbilly Deluxe 2, doesn’t entirely buck that trend, but it is another strong effort.

The album was entitled, in-full, Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool because Zombie felt it had a similar vibe to his 1998 debut solo album, Hellbilly Deluxe: 13 Tales Of Cadaverous Cavorting Inside The Spookshow International. It is Zombie’s first album since 2006’s Educated Horses, but he hasn’t been lounging much—he’s directed two Halloween films and an animated feature, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto.

The album’s first track gets things moving with a steady bass drum beat, followed by Zombie’s voice which is unlike any other in music today. A few creepy piano sections, with a beat reminiscent of the eerie Halloween soundtrack appear as well.

“Sick Bubble Gum” is one of those tracks that you’ll be dancing to all day. Just don’t sing the refrain too loud in mixed company. I’m not entirely sure what it’s about, but I don’t think it’s Juicy Fruit.

“What?” is the album’s best track, after an shot intro, presumably from one of many B-horror films that influenced Zombie into what he is today, the song doesn’t look back. The refrain—“Vampire lovers in palm bikinis said / On and on and on and on / Cannibal man and the jungle girls say / On and on and on and on.”—is proof that being Robert Frost isn’t a prerequisite to writing a catchy tune. Driving music at its finest.

The next three tracks aren’t the best, but they’re good enough to listen to and get to the final tracks, where the album picks up once again.

“Death And Destiny Inside The Dream Factory” is another with a standout beat and fun lyrics.

“Burn” is a little slower, but is another solid track. It’s got another refrain to hum along to, “Papa oom mow mow / Papa oom mow.” Uhh, guess you have to hear it.

“Cease to Exist” has a good, though short, instrumental section. “Werewolf Women of the SS”… how is a song with a title like that not fun? Good guitar solo.

“The Man Who Laughs” does a few things. It starts as a pretty decent song, then about four minutes in it goes into a multi-minute drum solo. Not all that expected from Zombie, but it works quite well and would be something to look forward to live. After the solo, the song kicks right back in, but ends shortly after.

The subjects of his songs might be a turn-off for some people, but this is heavy metal from a B-horror film enthusiast we’re dealing with. The beat is where it’s at.

For the most part Zombie is sticking to the formula he’s had for years, but that’s a good thing. The drum solo is a sign that Zombie is willing to keep things fresh, and that is also a good thing.

Originally published on February 10, 2010.

TED: Spreading Ideas, Inspiration

Technology. Entertainment. Design. That’s what TED stands for. But it’s only the beginning. TED finds the smartest, most unique, most inspiring people around the world and gives them time to speak about whatever they want to. Then they post them on the internet so anybody can see.

Technology. Entertainment. Design. That’s what TED stands for. But it’s only the beginning.

TED finds the smartest, most unique, most inspiring people around the world and gives them time to speak about whatever they want to. Then they post them on the internet so anybody can see.

J.J. Abrams, the creator of the TV shows Lost and Fringe and director of Star Trek and Cloverfield, said in his 2007 speech, “When I talked to the kind rep from TED, and I said, ‘What should I talk about?’ He said, ‘Don’t worry about it. Just be profound.’”

The incredible part is that most of them are. Hundreds of people have spoken at TED conferences, and while not all of them are great speakers, most do have something for everyone to take away from what they say.

The TED conference has grown since it began in the 1980s and is now held annually. TED2010 featured 50 speakers over four days. A companion conference, TEDGlobal, has been hosted in India and England.

TED’s lineups have included some of the smartest and most successful people on the planet, but you don’t have learn anything to be inspired by William Kamkwamba, who as a 14-year old in Malawi, TED went to his local library and used plans from a book to build a windmill to power his house.

Some speakers are well-known, like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs (who’s 2005 commencement speech at Stanford was selected to TED’s Best of the Web series). Neither one speaks about computers nor how they became rich and famous. They focus on something audience members can actually do in their lives.

Lesser known speakers can also have a great impact. Richard St. John and Renny Gleeson gave three minute speeches that are humorous, teach something, and are relevant in everyday life.

David Blaine’s reputation as magician has led to critics saying that his feats have been mere illusions, but watching him explain how he held his breath for 17 minutes, might change some minds.

What keeps TED interesting is the variety of topics and how they are presented. Some people talk about their own adventures, like Mythbuster Adam Savage or Steven Levitt in his talk, “Why do crack dealers still live with their moms?” Speakers, like author Malcolm Gladwell and musician Derek Sivers, tell what they have learned from others. Arthur Benjamin takes the Entertainment part of TED to a new level.

TED2010’s lineup includes comedian Sarah Silverman and movie director James Cameron. Sir Ken Robinson and Bill Gates will each return to give their second TED speech. Gates will be followed by educators Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin, whose KIPP program was discussed by Gates at last year’s TED.

Originally published on February 6, 2010.

Sprint Understands What Teens Want

While ten minutes of talking on the phone each day may not seem like very much, the Beyond Talk plan is absolutely genius because many people, specifically teenagers, hardly ever talk on the phone anyway.

Reuters reported yesterday that Sprint is putting forth a new cell phone plan where users receive “unlimited texting and Web surfing for $25 a month but limits phone calls to 300 minutes a month.”

While ten minutes of talking on the phone each day may not seem like very much, the Beyond Talk plan is absolutely genius because many people, specifically teenagers, hardly ever talk on the phone anyway.

Earlier in the day, Flowtown released the findings of a study that shows the percentage of 12-year olds who text is more than double that of those who actually talk on their cell phones. While the percentage of those who talk on cell phones increases with age, 77% of 17-year olds text while only 60% will talk on their cell phones, texting is still the preferred way of communication.

Another finding of the study shows that 63% of teenagers phones do not access the internet. As Sprint’s plan also allows unlimited Web browsing, that number could drastically increase in the next few years. Not only as people begin to use Beyond Talk, but as other companies lower their prices to stay in the competition. As more teens have access to the internet social networking will only grow.

Web access will make teens happy, but $25 a month sounds like a great way for parents to get kids to start paying for their phones too.

YouTube Redesign Not About Looks

I haven’t been on any sites in the past few days where somebody isn’t complaining about the YouTube redesign. “It looks stupid,” misses the point. It’s more about functionality than looks.

I haven’t been on any sites in the past few days where somebody isn’t complaining about the YouTube redesign.

“It looks stupid,” misses the point. It’s more about functionality than looks.

The most important change is the quicker ability to share videos via other sites. Facebook, Twitter, Live Spaces (Live Spaces? Where’s the competition in that?), good old fashioned e-mail, and more are all one click away. After all that’s what the internet and YouTube are ultimately about. Sharing. Anything to make that quicker is welcomed by me.

The like and dislike buttons make more sense than the starred ratings. What is the difference between one and two stars? Either way the video isn’t worth watching. Like or dislike is simple and to the point. It would be nice to see what the current like vs. dislike standings are before you vote, but it’s understandable why that isn’t displayed. First, if there are three likes and eighty seven dislikes, you probably won’t watch the video and second, the more people who vote, the more accurate representation of the general view of the video.

Directly to the right of the video window you will find suggestions for other videos to watch depending on how you got to the one you are watching. If it is on your favorites list, your other favorites will be displayed. If it was one of the latest videos from a subscribed channel, the other latest videos from your subscribed channels will be displayed.

The look of the comments have been altered some, you can’t see a reply or a like/dislike button for each comment until you hover over it. That’s a feature that I like on all websites because things tend to look a lot less crowded. Where the number of comments statistic has gone, I don’t know, but I would like to see it.

The quality of most comments continues to decline by the hour, but that can’t exactly be put on YouTube.

There are still some improvements, minor tweaks really, that could be made, but for now I am clicking the Like button for these changes. If you still don’t like the changes, the best advice I can give you is: Don’t use it.
What are your thoughts on the redesign?