ChromeOS is a huge departure from modern computing metaphors. In all current operating systems, the User Interface revolves around windows, and the ability to manipulate your various pieces of information in a layered, sliding-papers-around-the-desk sort of way. In ChromeOS, you have a browser…and that’s it. Just a browser window, and tabs to organize your different sites. You can have multiple windows, but each window is it’s own desktop, so that in effect you can have multiple browser windows open, but there’s no moving/layering or anything of the sort. You just have this full-screen browser, or that one, and you can flip between them.
Why would anyone be interested in a browser-only operating system? Google knows better than anyone that most of what people do these days on a computer revolves around the browser and interacting with the internet. They also know that the Web is an ever-increasingly capable platform, and that web applications are quickly becoming as capable as traditional desktop applications. Google is making a huge bet that moving forward, the distinction between online and offline computing will essentially disappear.
There’s a lot of potential in this new operating system for libraries and education in general. Google is placing a lot of their focus on ChromeOS on the issues of security and ease of use, two things that libraries everywhere are interested in. The operating system not only automatically patches itself and keeps itself updated completely in the background, but it also checks its own integrity, and if it notices any code changes, attempted hacks, or other issues, it fixes itself invisibly. It has a completely anonymous “guest” mode, where all browsing is untracked and wiped with every reboot.
On the other side of the coin, the standard operations of ChromeOS all revolve around being within the Google infosphere. You login with your Google credentials, and if you don’t have a Google account…well, you will if you want to use ChromeOS. That’s the only way to use the system (aside from the above-mentioned guest mode), and it’s tightly integrated (as you’d expect) with the entire Google set of webapps: Gmail, Google Docs, gCal, etc. If you have already integrated your life into the Google web, ChromeOS is nearly an invisible change. As a matter of fact, if you use the Chrome browser on your standard PC, and use Chrome Sync to sync your passwords and such, when you login to ChromeOS it automatically syncs all your information, including extensions and apps. It’s a seamless way to move from computer to computer, bringing your entire web experience with you.
On December 7th, 2010, Google held a press conference to talk about Chrome…both the browser and about the nascent operating system of the same name, ChromeOS. They originally talked about ChromeOS a year or so ago, and at the time it was aimed squarely at the then-burgeoning netbook market. In the intervening months, the netbook market has been cannibalized by the tablet computer (almost entirely driven by the iPad) and netbooks themselves have had their luster diminished a bit by Moore’s law, as the computing power of low-end laptops move down-market into the netbook space.
With their press conference, Google moved into the next stages of testing ChromeOS in the wild, by making a surprise announcement that they were going to be providing laptops running ChromeOS to the press and members of the public via an online signup process. The current number being thrown around online is that Google has around 60,000 of these laptops, codenamed Cr-48, to give away. This is the first hardware designed specifically to run ChromeOS, and can be thought of as a sort of reference platform for the new operating system.
I currently have a Cr-48, and have been putting it through a variety of tests over the last week. Here’s a video overview, and over the next few days I’ll be posting about my thoughts and a review of this new computing platform.
Google has launched their own ebook store, in direct competition with Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other commercial ebook stores. There are a number of really interesting pieces to the books in the Google Book experience, such as:
For me, this is a much more interesting eBook experience than the B&N store…the only thing that has parity with this is Amazon’s Kindle. With the standardization on Adobe DRM ePub files, Google is using most common combination of filetype and protection…and books that are not currently under copyright are provided DRM free. As a matter of fact, since the DRM decision is made by the publisher, if the publisher decides to release the ebook without DRM entirely, they can do that. That’s huge moving forward as the eBook market matures.
Consumers now have yet another option in the eBook marketplace, and libraries have yet another competitor in the hearts and minds of patrons. Hopefully we can find ways to make it work for us, and not against us.
Amazon announced today via Facebook and Twitter that one of their Black Friday deals was going to be blowing out their inventory of the Kindle 2 (the last generation of Kindle) for $89. These are new units, not refurbs, and include 3G access with the device.
This deal is going to get pounded, and who knows how many they have left in stock. If you want to try and grab one, the deal starts 11/26 at 9 am PST.
I’m not sure how I didn’t know this, but this is now officially my favorite “take a screenshot of my browser contents” tip ever. The website aviary.com is an online photo editor, among a LOT of other things, that allows you to do basic photo editing online.
Well…they have a built in shortcut that if you simply add “aviary.com/” to the beginning of the URL that you wish to capture, and BOOM…it caps the site and auto opens in the aviary editor. So, so useful.
Somehow, it looks like retailers TJ Maxx and Marshalls have scooped the tech world with the cheapest price yet seen for the iPad … $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi model, a full $100 cheaper than anywhere else. No real word on how long this will last, or how many each store is getting, but this is definitely going to be your best bet for a cheap iPad for the holidays. In-store only, I’m sure, but definitely worth some phone calls to stores in your area if you’re in the market.
It’s been too long in coming, but I think I speak for everyone when I say that I’m going to use this like crazy. I start nearly every writing project on Google Docs these days, and this is going to make everything much easier to manage for my writing.
I posted yesterday on Pattern Recognition about a Long Bet that had been adjudicated on the topic of online video, and then today came across a post on the official YouTube blog about how quickly the amount of video that is uploaded to YouTube is growing. Back in March they reported that there were 24 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every minute. Incredibly, that number just keeps going up, and it’s now over 35 hours per minute.
As YouTube says in its post:
…2,100 hours uploaded every 60 minutes, or 50,400 hours uploaded to YouTube every day. If we were to measure that in movie terms (assuming the average Hollywood film is around 120 minutes long), 35 hours a minute is the equivalent of over 176,000 full-length Hollywood releases every week. Another way to think about it is: If three of the major U.S. networks were broadcasting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for the last 60 years, they still wouldn’t have broadcast as much content as is uploaded to YouTube every 30 days.