Archive for November, 2009

chrome os, wave, collaboration

Something in the news says Chrome OS got a demo today. I don’t even care, since I don’t think what’s being demonstrated — a glorified PDA with internet connection — is, by itself, very interesting. What’s important is what runs on it that can’t be run in another way or with as much ease. What might that be? It seems to me this “novel experience” (not necessarily novel technology) is in the roadmap of Google and other big companies — but only in pieces spread among them, with none of them seeming to have the entirety of it. And that is ridiculous…

So Google has the ideas. Microsoft has the delivery mechanism in the form of the installed base and the ready platform with the ability to propogate via a simple update. Apple has the hardware designs and marketing to get people to adopt. Yet, each is missing the critical pieces held by others. And so we stall in Year 2009 as each company tries to replicate some existing thing that another company is already good at.

(This very good article gives too much credit to Google, I believe. The situation is a lot more symmetrical and Google should not be elevated to a privileged position. The current Chrome OS for netbooks, I believe, is a clear misread of the market. People want a better phone, not a worse computer, and Google will likely fail with this if they make the latter without the former (Android?) catching on first. I think the “PC companies” are not that far behind either. It’s much harder for inexperienced Google to make a good cloud client than for say Microsoft to deliver good cloud integration. In some sense, Microsoft’s lack of execution on this front is due to politics, i.e. lack of will-power to lose a cash cow until it is inevitable, not due to technical barriers.)
(Read the article)

empty city

This video uses the Kangbashen New District (康巴什) of Ordos City to describe the misallocation to fixed asset investment, which of course exists.

In most developed countries with anemic growth, this would be disastrous. And beyond a point, this would be so in China as well. However, as is, one should look at the dynamics of the thing. I mentioned here the scale of urbanization that must take place, so the demand is there, just with a time offset. While this time offset may be infinity elsewhere, this is probably on the order of a few years here. One only needs to recall how “empty” Pudong used to be.

product integrals

Nice. Used one today.


I guess it happened like they say in the brochures, the guys in my college dorm started a company (called ‘apture’), now with millions of dollars of initial funding. This by itself is a great feat and I’m impressed that these guys, who could have been you or me in other respects — I know them so I know — made it happen. (But please, this is not to say there is something wrong with being Joe Codemonkey or Bob Engineer.)

At first I wasn’t too impressed with the technology. In terms of conception, popping up content on a page isn’t too much different from what people naturally do by opening tabs or what designers do in more laboriously manual fashion. Sure it looks nicer and saves work, but is that really going to revolutionize the web? Does that befit the ridiculous moniker web 3.0? Of course not. If that’s all there is, it’s a flash in the pan and stupid. But when I realized that server-side embedding is really what they’re doing, I recognized the Trojan potential in this, and I must say it’s a brilliant business move and sets up for potentially much more exciting technologies once they get around to implementing them.
(Read the article)

climate engineering

Came across this the other day.

Climate engineering may happen but it seems like the energies available to control the weather/climate is not nearly enough (not even the same magnitude) to make this a stable plant. Frankly it seems like a bad idea at this stage of technological development. On the other hand, it is a valid point to say that the climate is already being engineered anyway (more and more) just by the very fact that we take input and commit output to the system. It doesn’t much matter that we still don’t know what we’ve been doing.

In this sense, I think the entire argument about whether global warming is happening or not or is the model believable or not or is it actually global cooling is beside the point. The actual effect doesn’t matter as much as the fact that we’re engineering any system beyond our capability to understand it, much less to control it. One day there may be a way to engineer the climate in a controllable, stable fashion. Before that, it is prudent to be paranoid about the inputs driving the system unless there is proof that said inputs do not drive one of the unstable modes of the system.