How Chrome OS Could Survive

A recent random blog was picked up by some major outlets, saying it knew Why Google needs to pull the plug on Chrome OS. The author feels that, if Chrome doesn’t do well when it debuts on Netbooks, it could spell doom for future Distributions of Linux ever standing a chance at replacing Windows.

While I am a huge Windows fan, I can see obvious benefits to letting Google ship an operating system on a laptop. As it’s been described, Chrome OS would literally be little more than a shell with a web browser out of the box. But therein lies the beauty – it’s nothing at all, it’s the blank slate the Windows users always want. My dislikes of Linux are often how hard it is to get something working, it always relies on me opening a command line to install a package of some kind. Even the easier download services that Ubuntu and others offer don’t seem easy enough. This is where Chrome OS has it’s chance to jump ahead of the curve. An “app store” for the operating system.

After Apple’s hugely successful App Store on the iPhone and iPod Touch, Google knew what they had to do to make Android successful, and quickly became the number 2 smartphone. Why Apple hadn’t put something like this on the Mac itself is beyond me (my largest complaint about the Mac is how little software there is for it, it’s one of the reasons I’ve never bought myself a MacBook). But imagine the Google Chrome OS having 2 icons on the desktop: one that takes you straight to the web, and one that takes you to a simple app-store for Chrome OS. It’s a very straightforward way for you to one-click download and automatically install software for anything from office productivity, to media players, photo editing software, to games. With the ease of a one click install, and with the resources of Google, a large catalog of software at launch, I can see Chrome OS, if done in a form like this, as hugely successful.

However, If Google is really going to rely on their web apps to be their saving grace, it is likely that Chrome OS will be a short lived soiree into the PC Operating System Market for Google. Using Google Docs is nice, but it’s no replacement for having the tools at my disposal. If an installable and local version of Google Docs is available for a one click install, Google will change minds about the complexities of Linux.

Why does the Adobe Flash battle matter?

All the geeks out there have been reading pro- and anti- iPhone and Flash battles. Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, says Flash drains battery life on the iPod. He also claims that it’s the biggest cause of crashes on Mac computers. InfoWorld has even come up with a Peace Plan to try to settle the conflict. One of the thing’s I’m most curious about: why is Adobe so passionate about this battle?

Flash has always been a large part of their business, it’s true, but Flash has not evolved. Since Adobe bought Macromedia in 2005, I feel development from version to version has been fairly static. True, I’m no Flash developer, maybe there have been giant improvements in how it works on the backend, but from what I can see, it’s very stagnant. In 2007, when Microsoft released the Silverlight platform, I expected to see a big push from Adobe – but it never came. Microsoft and NBC (you know, MSNBC), cornered the Olympics and did some amazing things, showing several cameras at one time, in fluid motion. It’s got fantastic performance and it’s turning my regular internet connection in to something beyond magic!

After all of this, only one question keeps coming back in to my mind: why does Adobe care if Flash is killed off? Adobe is clearly losing ground to Silverlight, and, to agree with Apple and everyone else, HTML5 is coming, and you won’t need Silverlight, or Flash, or shockwave, or anything else to play videos, listen to music, or have great interactive experiences online. Why not work HTML5 into other Macromedia / Adobe web development products, such as Dreamweaver and Fireworks. You have a chance to streamline your business model, and make other products thrive, and you’re complaining that you might lose the foothold that exists in Flash. Adobe already has lots of other businesses cornered, like the Acrobat PDF. They have great software i nthe form of the former Syntrillium property, now Adobe Audition. Why focus on this one tiny platform whose days are clearly numbered?

If Adobe’s Dreamweaver & Fireworks applications are promptly and properly updated, I sincerely don’t feel that they should be too sad to see Flash go. While I understand Flash is one of Adobe’s most identifiable brands, but it has problems. In an economy where companies are downsizing for kicks, if you’re forecasters are expecting the Flash team to have a hard time, why not just kill it off?

I guess this whole post is just repetitive and doesn’t really clear anything up for anyone… but I just had to say: I don’t really care if Apple or Adobe wins the argument. But frankly, too bad, Adobe. Flash is on it’s way out. Now go make Dreamweaver better.

What Facebook Tells Everyone Else

To cut to the chase, just view the American Civil Liberties Union facebook quiz. I will explain it in full below.

You might be wondering why this isn’t on the whutsIT Tech Blog (editor’s note: whutsIT was a distinct techblog I was maintaining around this time, it no longer exists), but I don’t consider this a huge PSA. I think most people who will read this know what’s going on when it comes to Facebook, I just think they don’t care. I may be wrong.

Let me explain. Every time you “accept” a quiz, or “send” a drink, or “farm” a ville or whatever you’re doing on Facebook, your information is shared with people you don’t know.

Wait, what? No, really. You’re not just answering stupid questions, and you’re not just clicking on funny pictures, and you’re not just showing your pictures to me. When you “Facebook Connect” with an application, you’re eseentially giving whoever made the application all of the information that you put on Facebook. When I talk about “whoever made the application” I don’t mean your friend that wrote a quiz to send you, it’s whoever made the ‘quiz’ software that your friend used to build the quiz.

If all of this seems too abstract or complex, the ACLU developed a Facebook Quiz which shows you exactly what these companies know about you when you use their “apps.”

Is it something to be concerned about? Potentially. Many of these companies probably don’t care, many more probably don’t have any way of truly harvesting valuable information about you. But very quickly they can get your email address, your friends email addresses, and all kinds of other information that can be used to identify you, spam your inbox, call your phone, send you junk mail, and who knows what else. All without you ever even typing a word.

whutsIT will soon write about Facebook Phishing – in otherwords, what people can do with the information you actually DO type into those quizzes about your friends, family, what kind of kisser you are, etc… you might be surprised at what I can do with that information.

Why do teens text?

I recently heard this story about kids who text so much their social skills may be starting to suffer. The example given in this story is a teacher who states that students are more likely to ask questions virtually, via email or perhaps some sort of course management system, rather than come up and ask her in person.

I was as socially awkward as they came, in high school. And some teachers petrified me more than others. I would have loved the ability to avoid them! I do not think that text messaging is the reason students don’t particularly enjoy talking to their teachers.

Still, the majority of that article, as well as many others, focus on how much texting teens are doing. Researchers (empowered with tax dollars, surely), teachers, and parents alike stare at kids confused. Several of my friends, who were once convinced that “if they wanted to talk to me, they’d call me” now send well over a thousand texts every month. So, what happened?

I’m one of the haters. I text as little as possible, but it’s still easily 20-30 texts sent every day, with some days going far higher. I remember the first time I got a text message, not knowing my phone was capable of it, circa 2003. I remember building my mobile plan from ten cents per text, to 100 texts a month, to 300 texts a month, to 500, then finally unlimited. I remember proposing to my friends, before unlimited texting plans were available, a device that would forgo voice communication and be used solely for unlimited texting at $40 a month (I still think it’s a good idea). But why have the youngsters taken to texting? I don’t know why it’s so hard for so many to see.

The answer is simple. Teens and younger generations text because it allows us to multi-task. I can carry on multiple different conversations at one time. We are a multi-tasking society, and studies have shown younger generations are far better at it than our elders. What was thought to be a distraction has proven not to as disastrous as once thought, as younger employees browse the internet at work and still get more done than tenured employees who curmudgeonly hate technology. If I call someone, that takes away from my ability to talk to the plethora of other people I may be talking to at that exact same time. Texting also allows for a response later. This isn’t much different than leaving a voice mail or even an email – but the message is wherever you are and the response can be immediately returned.

It seems painfully obvious to me, but I’m sure we’ll continue to see increased usage of texting. We will also continue to see researchers scratch their heads as to why kids avoid social interaction? But I do not think it’s causing our kids to become e-hermits, I think it is almost entirely motivated by the desire and ability of teens to multi-task and interact with multiple people at one time.