Back in December 2007 when I’d seen the first press releases about what was to be called a netbook, I knew that would be one of those way-cool things that would become very popular. And this is going to be one of those things, too. Now I have no way of knowing if this exact brand would be popular, but it is going to be something like this that becomes popular. It is the next must-have consumer appliance. The price point that it will end up selling at will be about $129 or so. Oh, and it’s power draw is only about 10 watts when running. Someone is going to figure how to make a nice supercomputer from these things, by hooking them together, and it will run at a price point that we can’t imagine right now.
Nice set of quotes, touching on issues of aesthetics of computer programs:
More on aesthetics, of chess problems:
Installed SuSE 11.1 and just after the install it asked me if I wanted to report my system information to smolts.org. Seems like a promising way to link up with others who have the same hardware, and find out what works and doesn’t work. I recall from my SuSE 6.0 days (1999, I believe) finally getting my soundcard to work after finding someone who had the same motherboard. But everything now almost always works out of the box, so I suspect that it will be used to decide which drivers to maintain, which to improve, and which to ultimately retire. I just hope the driver for my 1996 Wacom ArtPad doesn’t get deep sixed…
Here’s my system hardware:
From Distrowatch, here is the announcement of a new version of ASP Linux. This is one of the best and most polished distros around, with a very nice consistent feel to it, and especially good is the integration of multimedia codecs, and proprietary drivers. Everything just works. I like the experience of installing, and popping in an encrypted DVDD and just seeing it all work with no messing around with downloading of additional codecs, etc., etc. Unfortunately, the website is in Russian, but you can just download the .iso from the link, and the install can be in almost any language, even English.
Sooner or later one of the hardware manufacturers will realize that this is exactly what they need, an OS that just works, even better than MACS used to, and start using it in their offerings. Anybody listening at Dell? probably not How about at Lenovo? Maybe… How about at Imformatica Positivo? Now remember we are in a downturn, too:
ASPLinux, a Russian company developing Linux solution and providing a variety of Linux services, has announced the release of ASPLinux 14, code name “Cobalt”. The latest version of this Fedora-based distribution promises to expand the functionality of Linux as an operating system with new services, such as Linux telephony, support for webcams, full support for sleep and stand-by modes on laptops, automatic network setup, and easy configuration of GPRS, CDMA and VPN services. The product uses Linux kernel 2.6.26 and glibc 2.8, and ships with X.Org server 1.5, GNOME 2.22, KDE 4.1, OpenOffice.org 3.0, Firefox 3.0 and other popular open source applications. It also includes several non-free device drivers, including ATI and NVIDIA graphics drivers, and non-free software, such as Adobe Flash player and Opera. For further information please see the ASPLinux product page (in Russian). The installation DVD is available for download from here: ASPLinux-14-i386-DVD.iso (3,994MB, MD5, torrent).
Here’s the summary of the Top 500 Supercomputers, broken down by Operating system. Linux only has 87.8% of the Top 500 supercomputers. But it really isn’t fair to compare Windows and Linux, after all, Linux cost 10.8 billion dollars to develop, and Windows development team probably only had a budget of a couple of billion dollars or so. Poor Bill Gates…
|Operating system Family||Count||Share %||Rmax Sum (GF)||Rpeak Sum (GF)||Processor Sum|
|BSD Based||1||0.20 %||35860||40960||5120|
|Mac OS||1||0.20 %||16180||24576||3072||Totals||500||100%||16958600.19||25449076.20||3121579|
But what can it do for you?
Well, what do you want it to do?
If you ask the question: Have Computers made us more efficient? you have set the bar rather low. Instead ask: Have computers made us as efficient as they possibly can? When you ask that question, you will start to use computers differently. Brad DeLong, deputy assist to the Treasury in the Clinton administration, notes in this article in Wired that they can be a distraction, and this is so true.
Paul Virilio also talks a lot about the unintended effects of technology, but he has been doing that for a long time now.
And of course, remember the Mennonites!
Here’s the article:
The High Cost of Efficiency
Computers make us more productive. Do they also slow us down?
July 2003 Wired Magazine
By J. Bradford DeLong
In the spring of 1994, I wiped the game Civilization off my office computer. I wiped it off my home PC. I wiped it off my laptop. I threw away the original disks on which it had come. It was clear to me that I had a choice: I could either have Civilization on my computers, or I could be a deputy assistant secretary of the US Treasury. [emph bye_f] I could not do both. It wasn’t that my boss ordered me to – she herself played a mean game of computer solitaire. In this, I was the boss, and I had decided that with Civilization on DeLong’s hard disk, DeLong’s productivity would be unacceptably low.
Computers are tremendous labor-saving devices. They give us power to accomplish extraordinary amounts of work in extraordinarily short intervals of time: financial analysis, data mining, design automation. But they also give us the capability to do things like play solitaire. Or send instant messages. Fiddle with fonts. Futz with PowerPoint. Twiddle with images. Reconfigure link rollovers.
But he really gets going when talking about the needless use of powerpoint (Full Disclosure: I really really dislike Powerpoint)
At the organizational level, however, the uses of high tech that might be valuable for an individual can be pointless or counterproductive. Consider a meeting to decide between two courses of action. Often, the same decision would be made whether weeks were spent preparing overheads or no overheads were prepared at all. It’s easy to see that, from the company’s point of view, all the hours spent on PowerPoint slides are dissipated waste.
But of course the best attack on powerpoint comes from Ed Tufte, who takes his criticism a step further, and notes how powerpoint interferes with thinking, hides information, and leads to wrong decision making. Yes, choice of tools is important!
This reminds me of a design problem described by my first year design studio instructor–which was to design a bottle opener. The best design: Someone brought in a can with a pull tab. Think Schumpeter and creative destruction!
I’d also note the decreasing levels of abstraction in the software I use: Revit, where you work in a space that is WYSIWYG (when looking at a sheet) and when looking at the model, you see it in 3D, vs. Autocrap, where, until a recent version, line-weight was keyed into line color for the 2D views, (Yuck!) & and 3D was basically unworkable. I am convinced the next interface for architects will be a pen that you can draw with on a screen that is also your monitor, and it will be about 50″ diag., at a resolution of something like 10,000 x 6,000. It will look like a desk, and to use it, you will have to keep it clear of papers!
IT has been more than two decades since Scotty tried to use a computer mouse as a microphone to control a Macintosh in “Star Trek IV.”
Since then, personal computer users have continued to live under the tyranny of the mice, windows, icons and pull-down menus originally invented at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in the 1970s and popularized by Apple and Microsoft in the next decade.
Last year, however, the arrival of the Nintendo Wii and the Apple iPhone began to break down the logjam in technological innovation for the way humans interact with computers