Monthly Archives: February 2013

More on the Chromebook Pixel

I’ve been reading a number of perspectives on the Chromebook Pixel. As you know from my previous post, I think it’s overpriced and I doubt Google will sell very many. However, as a conceptual product, I think it may represent an important step forward in computing. Touch on laptops will be important, as will integrated wide-area wireless connectivity. Here’s a perspective from CNET that is, I believe, prescient. For many use cases today, the Windows or Mac OS laptop is too complex. It’s full of lots of software (much of which you don’t use) that needs to be patched and maintained. Let’s think about this…what do most of us really do with a desktop or laptop that does not require connectivity to a remote resource? Without connectivity, a great number of the use cases evaporate. Build in wide area connectivity. Keep the network edge device simple, robust, and load software dynamically, obviating the need to manage the device. As for input to the device, Steve Jobs famously dissed touch on a laptop, but why not let it be an adjunct to the trackpad, so that when you touch the screen, it works? Over time, we’ll settle on the combination of pointer movement that works…and it’s likely to be a hybrid. App by app, some things will lend themselves to touch while others to “traditional” input modalities.

There are a few things missing in Chrome OS. A file transfer app (but there are network workarounds), a general purpose text editor for local files, but I’ve found that I spend less and less time working with my home iMac and do most of my computing on my basic Samsung Chromebook. I use Chrome remote access to run the Mac when there’s something that I just can’t do, but in the last few days of updating my WordPress, Drupal, and MediaWiki sites, there’ve only been a couple of things that just really didn’t work from Chrome, and mostly with manipulation of large SQL text files, XML files, and things like that…

Perhaps the Chromebook Pixel is really just Google’s attempt to put a stake in the ground. Google may know that few will be sold this time, but it will give pause to those who say that Chromebooks are cheap little devices and could never be a full-time computational platform. It will set the stage for broader acceptance of the Chromebook and its ilk as the simple, easy to use, reliable network edge interfaces, and the end of traditional desktops/laptops. We need a connected personal communicator and a network portal. That’s it. The network is the computer.

New Google Chromebook Pixel…what are they smoking?

My regular readers (all two or three of you 😉 ) know that I really like Chromebooks and Chrome OS. I think it fits a niche and is the perfect platform to take you toward a cloud-based computing strategy. I’ve just read about the new Chromebook Pixel, and I’m confused by Google’s strategy. I don’t doubt that it’s beautiful (super hi-res display) and well-built (with fast components), and I’ve completely drunk the metaphorical Jim Jones kool-aid about the ease of use and maintenance of the Chrome OS. However, even though it comes with a terabyte of Google’s cloud storage for 3 years, they have priced this at $1300. I just don’t see it. I’m typing this on my $249 Samsung ARM Chromebook and am perfectly happy. What’s up, Google?

One more Chrome OS memory update, zRam now works!

I have just found out that in the month since I last tried to activate zRam (virtual memory) on my Samsung ARM Chromebook, it’s now been enabled for this platform. My last post on memory management was made before I discovered this. To turn it on, do this:

  • Ctrl-Alt-T to open a crosh terminal window
  • Type swap enable
  • Restart
    • I’ll probably leave the “don’t discard” flag set for a while, but it’s really likely to be moot with the virtual memory working. Woohoo!

Chrome OS memory management…

I’ve been running my Chromebook with the “don’t discard tabs” flag (chrome://flags) enabled for over a week, and I am much happier. I have the memory monitor enabled (also in chrome://flags), and it lets me decide when I need to close some tabs or restart to free up memory, rather than having Chrome decide for me when to discard tabs, and tossing ones I don’t want to toss. I highly recommend both enabling the memory monitor and turning on “don’t discard tabs” for anyone with an ARM Samsung Chromebook…

I’ve not experienced any “he’s dead Jim” tab crashes, so the stability has been good (but I do restart when memory drops below 100MB free usually). Just saw that the beta channel is updated to 25.0.1364.87 today, so we’ll see if things continue their improvement…

Trying to get smarter about HTML5 and CSS

It’s been a cold, wet day here, with big snowflakes and 33 degrees. Not much accumulation of snow, but what little there is will freeze up hard tonight. Basically not a great day to go outside so I’ve been reading up a bit on HTML5 and CSS. My thoughts are that I’d like to try some Drupal theming. So, I’ve been doing a bit of reading. I’ve been doing HTML for a long time. It was 1993 when I wrote my first HTML pages. However, while I did a lot of early web apps, including Java and Javascript, my HTML skills didn’t progress much beyond 1990’s techniques. I’ve never been strong in design, anyway, and better in coding. However, in order to work on Drupal themes, I needed to get up to date on HTML and CSS. I found what so far seems to be a pretty decent book, HTML5 for Masterminds. I’ve gotten thru a couple of chapters, and it’s making a lot of sense so far. Will continue to read more tomorrow.

Global internet usage stats

Here’s a fascinating white paper from Sandvine on global internet usage in the 2nd half of 2012. It’s interesting as a snapshot of what’s going on today, and also as a lens to the future. The percentage of Internet traffic that’s real-time entertainment is huge, though the players vary across the world due to licensing and regulation. Sandvine is projecting exponential traffic growth for both wireline and wireless internet, though more in wireless as you might expect, particularly as LTE becomes more prevalent. They look at the North American, European and Asia-Pacific areas individually. There are more similarities between North America and Europe than with the Asia-Pacific area, with filesharing taking a much bigger percentage of the aggregate. It’s interesting to reflect on both the cultural differences as well as the connection capability differences (with generally higher speeds available in many Asia-Pacific countries). I think it’s also interesting to think about the emergence of China, and what will happen from a traffic perspective as more devices become able to connect at higher speeds, particular outside the coastal urban cities, and reflect on what would happen if the barriers to free flow of Internet traffic were lowered.

Finished recategorizing the blog entries; social network musings…

Well, all 305 blog entries, dating back to 2005 are now recategorized after the infrastructure migration. I know that’s not a huge blog, but it was enough work! I have no idea how close I came to the “old” categorization 🙂 . It’s actually not a bad idea to do it manually, so that I looked at things thru the prism of new blog categories. Anyway, there are now no uncategorized entries in the blog! I’m hopeful that I’ll actually post some more here. I’ve been trying to parse the divide between what goes to Twitter, what goes to FaceBook, and what goes to the blog. The nice thing about the blog posts is that they are mine, with my own “terms of service” and I can do with them what I want. I’m currently cross-posting these entries to FaceBook, and cross-posting Tweets to FaceBook, but am not linking the blog to Twitter. I do have my Tweets displayed on this blog via a Jetpack widget. I guess the question is really what’s of transient value and what might be worth keeping. It’s been interesting reading back to my 2005 blog posts during this recategorization and figuring out what was interesting to me 8 years ago. I don’t know that I have quite the same level of attachment to my FB posts or my Tweets. I could send my blog entries to Twitter and not loop Twitter back to FaceBook. I’ve resisted sending any status updates to LinkedIn, keeping that for connections and a resume presentation. I’m thinking I’m going to do more via WordPress now that I can use the iOS apps for posting. That might mean that I want to reconfigure the direction of Twitter updates…sounds circular to me!

I found my pocket knife!

A southern boy likes to have a pocket knife, and better yet, a Leatherman. I’ve got several, but after New Year’s, I could not find my small Leatherman “juice” model (which is small enough to go in my pocket to work). It has blade, pliers, screwdrivers, a corkscrew and a bottle opener/can opener. What else do you need? I’d given up on it, figuring that I’d not see it again…but tonight, I did a presentation at a Scout meeting, and as I was unpacking the computer bag, the Leatherman was in the pocket with the dongles and cords. I think I put it there during our holiday travels at some time and forgot it was there. That particular bag is one I sometimes use for traveling but not day-to-day going to work, so I’d not looked there. I’m a happy camper!

Blog migration change status

I’ve got most things cleaned up now with migration of my blog to a current generation WordPress installation (see my post and comments with some of the blow-by-blow). I’ve changed the Permalinks and like the structure with date and post name much better…I don’t know why I didn’t do this before. The one thing that didn’t map over at all was the post categorization. My categories are there, but none of the posts were tagged. I’m going thru and updating this, and have gotten back to mid-2009 posts. I’m also cleaning out some dead links. I’m not sure my categorization meshes with the original, but it’ll work!