Speaking of cloud computing, I’ve been itching to write an article about it.
Ever since the inception of Web 2.0, it has been prophesized that it will kill desktop computing. Some people believe that browser is the new operating system and the underlying OS is now irrelevant or it will come to a point that it will be irrelevant. This reached fever pitch when Google announced Chrome OS, a cloud OS that will change the way we interact with computers. Personally, I think it’s foolish. Here are my reasons why.
- Cloud purists (yeah, I said it) believe that online and offline computing are mutually exclusive i.e. one is the antithesis of another. I strongly disagree on this matter. I believe that the future of computing, web 3.0 if you will, should be the marriage of online and offline computing. One that harnesses the benefits of both worlds. Think about it, they are doing it now but won’t admit. Both worlds are trying to outflank each other by implementing each other’s core strength. Here’s how:
- Desktop apps are now starting to implement online capabilities. Take MS Office for instance. Office 14 have now collaboration features and the ability to be saved on the cloud.
- Web apps now increasingly mimicking desktop apps. Google has released Gears to enable offline capabilities. Google also released Native Client (NaCl) to allow browsers to run native (sandboxed) code locally. On the UI side, we’ve been pushing AJAX and CSS to copy rich desktop applications.
- Flash and Silverlight are new breed of platforms that harness the power of both worlds. They are blurring the line between desktop and web applications. Silverlight has now the out-of-browser experience that allows application to persist outside the browser.
- Internet’s reach is now well extended beyond PC and we can’t expect every device to have a browser. Internet experience should not be confined to the browser. Rather, the web experience should be connected to the device’s experience. iPhone is a monumental evidence for this. Yes, browsing in iPhone is cool and fast but you have to admit, it’s still broken (don’t get me started on that). The same reason it is broken on an Android, Blackberry or a WinMo phone. Mobile web browsers just don’t cut it. That’s why developers chose to develop native apps for iPhone despite the fact that Apple initially offered web apps for the iPhone. Today we are increasingly living in a connected environment. Phones, TV, portable media devices, photo frames, etc are now internet capable. Pushing a browser into these devices is just burying our heads in the sand.
- Personal computers (even devices!) these days are just too powerful to be left untapped. The ubiquity of low cost yet powerful device is just too huge to ignore. Yet web applications barely scratch this computing power while users demand too much from them. Web apps have been pushed too much even on some areas they’re not supposed to. What we have are sometimes missed, sometimes hit user experience *cough* Google Docs *cough*. Native apps can deliver incredible great user experience once done right. Why? They can take advantage of computer resources such as local storage, hardware acceleration and GPU processing.
These are 3 compelling reasons why cloud alone is not the panacea of computing. Rather, together with desktop computing, it can create the seamless experience every user is looking for: an experience that takes advantage of all the resources – networked and local.
The issue of standards
Despite of the points I made there’s one thing that outweighs them all: standards. Yes, native frameworks / OS are proprietary (most of them anyway). In these days of open source, open standards and anti-trust lawsuits, people just go nuts over standards. This is for good reason. I am not in any ridiculing what standards have brought to us. Standards allow fair competition and encourage innovation. However, the same standards are holding us down. Standards are slow to implement and too much politics are involve. This is where I think that standard has to also evolve into something else. They have to evolve from specific implementations to strict guidelines of native frameworks. Let the companies innovate as long as they operate under the rules. This way, again, we are harnessing the best of both worlds. It’s a stretch, I know.
What’s your take on cloud computing? Hit the comment section and let me know.
I’ve been itching to blog something about Photosynth, Microsoft’s jaw-dropping, award-winning, photo stitching technology but I can’t find a good subject to test this baby. Finally, I realized my trip to Mt. Pinatubo would be the perfect subject. I made a couple of shots on the crater so I thought it’d be really cool to “stitch” these photos together and create a 3D replica of the place. By the way, I took this photo way before I discovered Photosynth, that means these photos are not “orchestrated” to initially work with it. These are random shots and we’ll see how really good the software is in relating these photos together and building, not just a panoramic view, but a 3D replica of the place. Here’s the final product:
(you need to install Photosynth’s plug-in for your browser. This is actually my biggest, if not the only, gripe here. MS should have implemented this using their Silverlight platform)
Update: WordPress does not allow iframe so that means the synth won’t be visible. Just follow the link above.
Fresh from the oven, MS just recently launched the highly anticipated (if you’re following Robert Scoble’s blog, this is what made him cry) Worldwide telescope. Get it now!
The WorldWide Telescope (WWT) is a Web 2.0 visualization software environment that enables your computer to function as a virtual telescope—bringing together imagery from the best ground and space-based telescopes in the world for a seamless exploration of the universe.
I’ve been following this product since I first heard about it. This was also presented at TED conference.
(Trying it now, very cool)
Today I was invited to the private Beta of Microsoft’s Live Mesh! Thanks to Nadia Fortini for inviting me. There’s so many things to say about mesh so I’ll just quote something from Liveside.net:
Live Mesh is a “software-plus-services” platform and experience that enables PCs and other devices to “come alive” by making them aware of each other through the Internet, enabling individuals and organizations to manage, access, and share their files and applications seamlessly on the Web and across their world of devices. Live Mesh includes:
- A platform that defines and models a user’s digital relationships between devices, data, applications, and people—made available to developers through an open data model and protocols.
- A cloud service providing an implementation of the platform hosted in Microsoft data centers.
- Software, a client implementation of the platform that enables local applications to run offline and interact seamlessly with the cloud.
- A platform experience that exposes the key benefits of the platform for bringing together a user’s devices, files and applications, and social graph, with news feeds across all of these
According to the news the beta is limited to 10,000 users only but some folks at Liveside was able to find a loophole on the system. Mesh allows you to invite people view your shared folder. Invited user will need to sign-up before they view the folder. Viola! Instant access to the system.
I’m a Foldershare user (which is also in beta) and functionally speaking they’re pretty much the same. But since in the coming months, Mesh will allow users to add their mobile devices (my assumption is Windows mobile powered device is the first priority, but support will come to other phones. Especially MS recently announced the availability of Silverlight to Nokia phones) and will support Mac computers, I think Mesh will be another great product from MS. And it’s been getting a good review. Here’s a great article from TechCrunch stating why Google should be worry about Live Mesh. And here’s another from ZDNet.
Being a Microsoft fan, I’ll be objective and use the product first before I give my verdict. I’ll use it for a week and get on with my review then. In the mean time , I still have a few invitations here, so if you’re interested, leave a comment with your email. Thanks.
Here are some more interesting links:
– Robert Scoble made a very good post with lots links.
– TechCrunch outlines Mesh.
I recently discovered this app called fring. Basically, it’s a “mobile Internet service & community that enables you to access & interact with your social networks on-the-go, make free calls and live chat with all your fring, Skype®, MSN® Messenger, Google Talk™, ICQ, SIP, Twitter, Yahoo!™ and AIM®* friends using your handset’s Internet connection rather than costly cellular airtime minutes“. With just a few hours of using it, I must say it’s awesome! I had an application like this before called IM+. It was good but not free. I tried the 30-day evaluation copy but I was too lazy to purchase the actual product. I used to have it on my iPaq 6325 until it was stolen.
Right now I’m using Samsung i600 with Windows Mobile 6.0. Great smartphone but there’s no built-in IM here (ugh), so I tried Skype Mobile but it’s not compatible. I also tried Yahoo! Go but only version 2.0 (current release is 3.0 beta) is compatible with my phone and this version did not include the messenger. So I sadly retreated to Yahoo! Mobile Messenger which is so frustrating because you have to refresh the page to check for new messages. My main IM app right now is Yahoo! Messenger so finding an app that support it is the main consideration. Recently, I’m thinking of dumping it for Skype. Yahoo! services suck these days. Yahoo! Photos was shut down. Then they also pulled the plug for 360, which was my only social networking site. Damn it, Jerry what’s happening! If selling the company to Microsoft would mean better service, then I’m all for it.
Anyway, I can’t believe it took me this long to learn about this software (though it’s still in beta)! So far it’s really good. UI is well-polished, elements are well placed – It’s perfect for a smartphone with QWERTY keyboard like mine. I like the cartoon-ish touch here. It’s also snappy and responsive, almost like you’re on a PC. And here’s the real treat, it supports video calling!
So I think I’m gonna stick on this one. Anything other than Yahoo mobile messenger is better. And if you have a Smartphone of Pocket PC you should get this one. I highly recommend it! iPhone users, fring is also available for you and it’s the first VoIP app for your phone, click here.
To install fring on your phone:
- Fire up your phone’s web browser to http://www.fring.com .
- Click the ‘Download’ link. The site will automatically detect what kind of phone you’re using and will give you the proper installer.
- Follow the installation process
- After the installation, you will need to register and subscribe to the services that you want to use (e.g. Yahoo!, Gtalk, MSN, etc.)