Monday, February 23, 2009

Rise of the small machines

I posted an earlier blog about Microsoft bringing XP out of an early retirement to fight the new wave of netbooks shipping with Linux.   But the real story here is why everyday Americans who usually hold to the mantra of "bigger is better" are flocking to them in groves and made them one of the best selling tech products of 2008.

I read an interesting article this past week in Wired magazine with the following sentiments: Back in 2000 when our first child was due I went out and traded our trusty Subaru Legacy wagon in for a GMC 2500 HD (Heavy Duty) Suburban with a 454 V-8 that got 10mpg.  What a great truck. It was huge, fast, and huge!  But after driving it for awhile I quickly found out it was not good for the ole' daily commute and grind.  Then some parts needed replacement and GMC thought very highly of its HD line and charged accordingly.  It was all that we wanted but waaaay more than we needed.  It was soon traded in and replaced by a much smaller and economical Mazda MPV van when gas was going out of sight at $1.50/gallon.  ;-)

This is like the new fifteen and seventeen inch wide screen portable desktops that are available at the local electronics store with dual-core processors and 4GB of RAM that can double as small enterprise servers in a pinch.  They are not good for daily commuting either unless your idea of light is a 7 or 8lb. anchor in your bag.  Well, what is quickly being discovered that most of the time spent on a portable PC is mostly made of web surfing, social networking, and e-mail.  All of which can be accomplished by a sub-$500 netbook with a 4GB SSD, 512MB RAM, etc.

While I'm not stumping for everyone to have small, portable laptots I am advocating spending within our budgets and understanding what the PC is exactly used for then purchase for the individual purposes instead of the one-size-fits-all big box store recommendations.

And this back-to-basics mentality is just right for this new economy.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Gather 'round the PC kids, let's see what's on the WWW tonight....

Last year I almost purchased the DVR service and receiver from Dish Network but after a shocking call with Dish I decided against it because of all the fees heaped upon loyal customers who want more service. Alas, I did downgrade my service to the lowly Family package that has programming geared towards the G-rating scale, but I have recently been watching more and more TV over my 6mb Internet connection.

We have a 42" plasma screen in our living room that is connected to a satellite receiver and it has a VGA connection to a free standing laptop that has WiFi access. We can now watch television shows and movies anytime we want on and various corporate sites such as NBC and CBS. Since it can be viewed in full screen and in 720p it is even better quality than if I watched via satellite.

So other than saving some money I utilized my existing Internet connection even more. And that is good all around.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lions, Tigers, and Firefox oh my!

As my FF extensions were updated this morning I was reminded on how increasingly applications are being accessed by us on the WWW.  Given that more and more apps are exposed to web services and being accessed by legacy apps the browser is becoming even more of a services portal. 

Today's browsers are customizable with extensions that do everything from removing ads to filling in forms.  And this is just the beginning.  We're only a few years into the Web 2.0 phase after the dot com bubble burst and it seems there is no slowing down.   The phenomenon of social networking will push the envelope even further in the near future. 

Just more proof that tomorrow's OS is today's browser. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The gospel according to Android

This past week my partner in crime at Red Hat finally saw the light and converted to the faith of Android.  Like me he was a longtime user of BlackBerry, but when he neared the end of his contract I talked up the only available open source smartphone on the market: the T-Mobile G1 (Google One).

Being RHT employees we already understand the value of an open operating system that doesn't have to be jailbroken only rooted.   And we get all the goodness of Google apps, funding, and innovation that come along with the privilege of membership. 

Domo arigato Mr. Roboto. 

Happily sent from my G1

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cheap PC's are en vogue. Thank you Linux.

While Moore's Law marches on for processors and consumer electronics most Americans are opting for technology that's "so last year". But Linux is the OS at the forefront making netbooks affordable and keeping Microsoft at bay by forcing them to offer XP on comparable offerings. If/when Windows 7 debuts it will already be well behind the curve for a portable operating system and will come in several flavors that will probably make most consumers scratch their heads with confusion.

This new emergence of low-end computers is made possible by running Linux. This allows PC's to run as little as 2GB and 4B SSD hard drives, 512MB, and 900mHz processors. Most PC's with those specs and other operating systems with bloatware/antivirus/customer service add-ons would not even boot much less run seamlessly all day accessing full versions of Java, Flash, and Silverlight web apps.

My 2yr old Asus Eee 701 PC is still running strong with minimal specs and it just keeps going and going and going and going.....

Thursday, February 12, 2009

JBoss virtual show with real customers

Yesterday I was able to participate in JBoss' first virtual tradeshow dubbed JBoss Virtual Experience. Sometimes I get so involved in my own day-to-day working with Dell I forget that we at Red Hat have great buzz for JBoss.

There were many success stories of how our customers are kicking costs out of their IT budget and using more and more open source components in their infrastructure. The worse this economy gets there will be even more scrutiny on every dollar spent and weighing wants versus needs. And open source companies like Red Hat will be happy to lend a helping hand.

I was proud to be a part of the conference and enjoyed all of the sessions I could attend. It is gratifying to see all of Red Hat's hard work come to fruition.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ciao iPhone

After what has certainly been a love/hate relationship I bid farewell to my first generation iPhone. If all goes right tomorrow I will be selling it to a happy owner that I found on Craig's List.

I am the first to admit that Apple hit a home run with the iPhone interface and form factor but I quickly grew tired of its numerous shortcomings. No need to list because they are all over the WWW but I found to be the iPhone the worst mobile phone I have ever owned for voice use.

I have had numerous free (read carried subsidized phones) that outshone the Apple in most areas. Most of the iPhone's features were on my first Palm III and HandSpring Treo phone. No, what makes the iPhone special is the AppStore and the mobile internet experience but certainly for the phone capability. My G1 has push e-mail, a full QWERTY physical keyboard, can run multiple apps in the background, MMS, copy/paste, a removable battery, a non-crashing-once-every-five-minutes web browser, and to boot it's open source.

Maybe Apple should have called it the iMobile or iWeb. But iPhone?

Dell gets Linux!

I came across the above post when I was looking for Dell Mini 9 reviews specifically running Ubuntu Ultra Mobile Edition. I currently run UME on one of my laptops but the Dell Mini runs a customized version of the interface that proves if the GUI is slick and the OS is as stable as Windows it can have a future.

Even though Dell usually gets negative press for their support and lack of quality they deserve props for building a quality netbook with a choice between Linux and Windows.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The BarakBerry

Oh the scuttlebutt and speculation over the new Prez's BlackBerry usage! Based on the nature of his communication for national security and such I was surprised at his adamant demand for it. Basically, he won't take no for an answer.

This is usually enlightening but in this case it just looks foolish. There is already too much information on too many servers and this is the most powerful person in the global economy and our political environment.

With the recent press of MP3 players and mobile phones being purchased on eBay with classified U.S. Army contact info; I wonder what would happen if Obama ever lost or has his Berry stolen. Would the American public even be notified or would it just show up on Craig's List unidentified? I guess we'll never know.

Does Linux really have a chance?

There seems to be an evolution in the IT space where system integration is migrating to browser integration. Therefore the browser is the new application platform. When this happens the platform operating system will have less import because the application will not be native but in the cloud.

Enter Linux. Think of this is as the second coming mainframe technology. Applications being available through web portals though instead of emulators. Eventually users will be able to access their application no matter what code it was written in and the OS will need to be the following: CHEAP, fast, secure, standards based, and open source (if possible).

I can think of quite a few that fit the above description.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Close but no cigar Microsoft

The WWW and the blogosphere is alive with positive reviews of Microsoft Windows 7 beta running on everything from smartphones to netbooks. The biggest contributor of this is the failure of Vista. The OS that was summarily dismissed by major OEM's and home consumers alike. In fact, Microsoft extended XP support and use just to make people happy, not something they are accustomed to doing.

This is akin to asking Pontiac if any other car sold better than the ill-fated Aztek.

W7 is almost the service pack that Vista should have been but it is likely a marketing reason since a name change was in order but Microsoft is use to doing this as well, i.e. the Millennium debacle.

They are actually listening to their users and their community by making a light weight OS that can run on a computer that is not spec'd out like a WoW gaming rig. But here's where they fall short, they will still only sell one OS at a time and not support all versions for a seven year life cycle. Can you imagine if Microsoft open sourced their bits and adopted a subscription model like the enterprise Linux distros? No more legal threats and "Dark Side" like mentality towards their customers, just good software where people and companies would gladly pay for support.

And that my friend, is precisely why I work for Red Hat.