My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Google Chrome OS and Open Source - Star Wars A New Hope

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Google Chrome OS and Open Source - Star Wars A New Hope



Lay me on an anvil, O God
Beat me and hammer me into a crowbar.
Let me pry loose old walls
Let me lift and loosen old foundations.

Carl Sandburg, Prayers of Steel

Open Source is going to get a big boost now that Google Chrome OS and its NC (Networking Computer) Netbooks and Laptops codenamed Cr-48 has landed as per the article “Google's Chromes updates: Browser, Web Store and Notebook OS will redefine ‘Cloud computing’”, published December 7, 2010, 1:02pm PST by Sam Diaz, Between the Lines, ZDNet.

The codename is plainly obvious if you are a student of Inorganic Chemistry or even have basic knowledge of your Periodic Table; forty eight (48) is the total number of Protons and Neutrons in the element Chromium, based simply on multiplying the Atomic Number of Chromium in the Periodic Table by two (2).

Chrome is actually an alloy of and Steel with trace amounts of Chromium and Magnesium, which if one is symbolically inclined, can be seen to represent Google and its partners Acer, Samsung for the hardware and Intel for the processor. Even the logo for the Chrome browser, again if you are an Inorganic Chemistry student, is the structure for the Di-Chromate, which is Cr2O3!

To say I am excited, both as a Chemistry and Electronics Degree holder from the University of the West Indies is an understatement. Today is a new day, for Open Source, Cloud Computing and Open Architecture!

“Game changer” is somewhat an inappropriate choice of words, as this is actually an old idea, as Google CEO Eric Schmidt will readily admit, he had been trying to pitch to Sun Microsystems some thirteen (13) years ago when he was then Chief Technology Officer as stated in the article “Google offers a peek at its Chrome Laptop. Hint: It's an NC”, published Tuesday December 7, 2010 9:50 pm ET by Robert McMillan, Yahoo! News.

As in my last article, you can gush over the specs of the Google Chrome OS as well as the Cr-48 test smartbooks at Administrator Kirk’s Geezam blog in the article entitled “Chrome OS gets into gear with Google Cr-48 Notebook”, as specs are not my thing; performance and a push towards the future gets me excited!

Ironically, I had heard about NC (Network Computers) while I had studied computing and Turbo Pascal programming as Glenmuir High School student in Sixth Form (American Grade 12) between the years 1995 to 1997. Back then, you could only do computing at Glenmuir High School when you reached Sixth Form.

I remember back then my computer teacher speaking of a fanciful concept by a then Silicon Valley titan Novell that boasted the idea of computers connected to a Server with client software on what were called “dumb terminals” or NC’s, with the main applications backed up on the Server that was possible over the brand new Ethernet (IEEE 802.3) Networks.

Thus for me or anyone to claim the idea is original is not true, as neither myself nor Google CEO Eric Schmidt were around when the original idea was hatched: we merely were pitching the ideas to different people hoping it would catch on. Google Chrome OS is not a new idea, but rather a Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) style, for Open Source and Cloud Computing. Open Source groupies and the Young and the Restless, hold your horses! Next year in the Summer of 2011 thought, not this Christmas 2010 as stated in the article “Google unwraps Chrome PC's too late for holidays”, published Tuesday December 7, 2010 6:30 pm ET by Alexei Oreskovic, Reuters, Yahoo! News.

Thus Google Chrome OS debut that re-introduces the concept of a NC it is not a game changer in the strictest terms; I prefer to use the word “overdue update”. The hardware introduced is in keeping with the trend towards SSD (Solid State Drive) that the Apple iPad heralded as per my blog article “Dell Inspiron Duo and the Solid State Drives - Charles Darwin and the Survival of the Fittest” and software updates are in keeping with the trend that Google Docs and other Cloud based applications of its ilk heralded.

Yes there are other stories, but I would rather quote these above as sources as CNET and Yahoo! News had different Reporters/Bloggers report on different aspects of what this latest entry into the OS market has to offer, both in terms of hardware and software. It is pretty much what I had predicted back in 2009 to a bunch of brain-dead Shurpower Engineers and other Doubting Thomases back at C&W (2001 to 2004): the NC is a possibility due to increasing speeds of computers, Wireless and Wired Networks.

All those hardware and software improvements that facilitates these increases in speed in not just good for Artificial Intelligence as I had opined prior in my blog articles entitled “Google and AI - I Robot” and “Google and AI - The Matrix and the Terminator Rise of the Machines”.

History lesson aside, Google Chrome OS will open the door for Open Source to the mainstream, as it is the first major partnership between consumer electronics hardware makers, in this case Acer and Samsung making the hardware and Intel supplying the engine …er …..I mean processor for effectively what can be considered the Mach 2 Jet Fighter that will effectively revive the Netbook and the Laptop by introducing a redesign using SSD.

A whole new class of computer is being debut here folks, the smart book, as promised by Google CEO Eric Schmidt as stated in the article “First Chrome OS notebook coming this month”, published November 2, 2010 by Molly McHugh, Digital Trends and as suggested in my my blog article entitled “Google Chrome OS and Smart Books - Connection between SSD's, Fountain of Youth and Lazarus

This may be the revival of the Netbook and Laptop and PC, which the Apple iPad’s emergence on the scene was slowly poisoning to death as stated in my blog article entitled “Tablets and the Future of the PC - Jurassic Park and License to Kill”.

To be honest, it seems to be an exact clone of what Apple did to the Apple Macbook Air when they rolled out the new Mac OS 10.7 Lion Operating system with Apps support and a more iOS-like feel as per my blog article on Administrator Kirk’s Geezam blog entitled “MacBook Air and FLASH-based Harddrives  The Quest for Instant On”, inclusive of the superb eight (8) hour battery life and Instant On experience in milliseconds.

Google Chrome OS, effectively is an oversized Browser running on hardware with an Apps Store with Apps made by Developers that are housed on Google’s Servers in their Google's Chrome Web Store and streamed encrypted over the Cloud (American colloquial: the Internet) without need to have software or only minimal software installed on your computer’s SSD as per the article “Google's Chrome Web Store open for business”, published December 7, 2010 12:35 PM PST by Elinor Mills, CNET News - Digital Media.

Apps by the way you can download and used now without the hardware. Streaming to the Cr-48 smartbooks is done via Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) or via Verizon’s installed 3G modem, hopefully being upgraded to a LTE (Long Term Evolution) and ClearWire WiMax (IEEE 802.16d) Dual mode capable Modem, as Cloud Computing purists will tell you that a NC needs to be Network agnostic to truly take advantage of the power of the Cloud.

Support for printing (why print if it on the cloud, asking a rather silly question?) is in the mix from the get go unlike the Apple iPad which came out with wireless printer support to HP printers much later as stated in the article “Google Chrome Dev release introduces Google Cloud Printing”, published December 7, 2010 11:00 AM PST by Justin Yu, CNET News - Crave.

Ironically printers have been about since 2008 that can print via email attachments sent to an email address assigned to a Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) or Ethernet (IEEE 802.3) connected printer, such as the HP Envy 100 as stated in the article “HP intros Envy 100, Android powered Photosmart eStation AIO with Yahoo widgets (update)”, published September 20th 2010 9:25AM by Sean Hollister, EnGadget.

Google’s push to make Google Chrome OS printer agnostic will encourage faster mainstream adoption of the Cloud Computing concept, especially the idea of being able to print from ANYWHERE once you have access to the Internet. Good news for BBC, Reuters and AP Reporters out in field in a hostile zone, sending news reports as the action happens!

As for the Cr-48’s, these Laptops apparently are prototype smartbooks. From all the excitement online, it appears that they will be beta tested by volunteers from the business community and regular users willing to become guinea pigs for Google as stated in the article “Google Chrome hardware pilot program: 'Not for the faint of heart'”, published December 7, 2010 12:38 PM PST by Dan Ackerman, CNET News - Crave, tweaked based on their suggestions for the launch of the product by Summer of 2011 at about which time everyone is going to get Apple iPad 2 mania all over again.

It may just be smart book mania as well, as once Google Chrome OS bugs have been ironed out in both hardware and software, branded versions of the smartbooks go on sale possibly either in the Spring or Summer of 2011 as stated in the article “Google Chrome-powered notebooks on sale next year”, published Tuesday December 7, 2010 9:16 pm ET by Glenn Chapman, Yahoo! News.

Its relevance to Open Source is that the Apps Store gives Developers of Open Source programs a chance to port their programs to Laptops and Netbooks in addition to Android Phones. Eventually, as confidence develops in Cloud Computing, more and more computer manufacturers may come on board and in order to compete against Google Chrome, may simply opt to team up with Developers of Open Source OS such as Red Hat, Mandrake or even Ubuntu as examples.

Windows would be hard pressed to join the crowd, as Tablet makers who have opted to use Windows 7 e.g. HP Slate 500 and Dell Inspiron Duo, merely placed the OS on a touch screen device without full optimization, a task not so easily achieved using Windows Server 2003 and Windows 7 Professional, notoriously unreliable, resource wasting, and unsecured from viruses.

This leaves reliable, resource efficient and virus-phoebe Open Source OS in a perfect position to form a symbiotic relationship with a computer manufacturer, now with Laptops and Netbooks no one want to buy, a partnership to  make cheaper smartbooks with mutual benefits. Survival of the Fittest, Charles Darwin style for Netbook and Laptop makers and Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977) style for Open Source and Cloud Computing App and OS Developers, a combination that apparently the Government of the United States of America sees as beneficial, meanwhile striking at the heart of the Microsoft Empire.

Its relevance to Jamaica is also obvious, as we now have 100MBps Broadband from Triple Play Provider FLOW and soon coming from Telecom Provider CLARO in the form of LTE, with Telecom Provider Digicel currently doing Microwave Radio (recommended: Fiber Optic) changes (not upgrades, that’s software!) to boost capacity on their lackluster 10MBps 4G Broadband Network and Telecom Provider LIME now ramping up for the launch of LIME TV in December and its 3.4 MBps LIME 3G island wide as per my blog article entitled “Digicel vs LIME - The Truth about Charlie”.

Reliability is key; for Cloud Computing to be a reality in Jamaica, QoS (Quality of Service) would have to be guaranteed via the use of Fiber Optics, Alternative Energy and certification and oversight via ISO9001 certification as per my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers and 100MBps - Diamonds are Forever”.

However, back to the here and now, folks. The question that is now on everyone in the Tech Industry mind is: Will the American Customers like the new Google Chrome OS smartbooks enough to wish to commit to living always-connected lives as per the opinion piece by Ben Patterson in the article “Google' Chrome OS: Ready to live your life on the Web?”, published Tuesday December 7, 2010 4:41 pm ET by Ben Patterson, Technology Writer, Yahoo! News?  
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