Linux, AOL/TimeWarner, and the future of computing
art2mis at nc.rr.com
Mon Mar 25 12:49:28 EST 2002
On Saturday 23 March 2002 12:27 am, you wrote:
> > In Britain, when you sign up for cable you can also receive a certain
> > number of email addresses for the family, which you can read and write on
> > your TV screen. As Britain is still a largely PC-less country, this is a
> > great way for the non-PC public (who generally have NO DESIRE to actually
> > use a computer, but would quite like to communicate and browse) to get
> > "wired".
> I'd be interested in learning more about this -- is Sky Digital? Puts my
> furniture hypothesis to the test!
I'll have to check with my sister-in-law, who uses the service...I'll get
back to the list with some details.
> This also highlights another important difference in the World Wide Web --
> different parts of the world use the web quite differently and the
> differences are culturally based. This brings Internationalization to a
> whole new level. Anyone that has to do Internationalization for typical
> software UIs have run in to the problems with German words being too long
> for the widget and having to deal with text going the opposite way -- but
> these are trivial in the face of developing truly internationalized web
> sites. For instance, in Japan a significant percentage (possibly even a
> majority -- can't remember) access the web over their wireless I-Mode
> phones. So then on top of dealing with language, currency and date issues,
> you have to deal with radically different form factors and resolutions.
Absolutely true! I helped design Whirlpool's European websites a few years
back, and it was a completely multi-lingual templating type solution, where
the German played complete havoc with all the layouts. Another major
difference is cultural in the sense of text and graphics. Many Americans
would be completely turned off by the lingo and pictures that really work in
Italy and even Britain. I mean, do you think Page 3 girls would work here?
> > While I agree with the resolution problems of TV sets, we have to
> > remember that the masses who do not now own computers really don't want a
> > "computer".
> I don't think I know anyone not online, so I'm a bit hobbled in doing too
> much market research here.
That's amazing! I guess I still have to deal with way too many people who
are still really scared of computers. Craig and I are certainly the ones all
our family, friends and neighbors call when something isn't working... Where
do you live again, Michael?
> > They especially don't want something as hard to learn and non-intuitive
> > and downright scary as most commercial software (MS or PC or Mac or
> > whatever) is today.
> Definitely agree. My original thought -- inspired by Josep's article and
> the Oracle Network Computer initiative that dates back to 1996 -- was an
> Internet Appliance with email and a web browser. The OS is a stripped down
> Linux, but it would be as hard to tell that as it is to tell that a lot of
> ATM's run OS/2 (at least, the one I saw boot a few years ago did).
> When you turn the appliance on you are ready to go. If you want something
> fancier -- a word processor, spreadsheet, etc. -- go to the store. The ISP
> can do network management to detect if anything goes wrong on the appliance
> and since they are all the same it's easy to go to the local branch office
> and swap them out. Data redundancy can be handled with POP3 and other
> mature standards.
I'm a big fan of the internet appliance. In fact, since so many
full-featured applications are written in Java now and available online, you
don't need to move to a "real" computer in order to use these types of
applications. You just use a service provider. Now, you have to trust these
people with your data, but that's actually a blessing. How often do typical
computer users, even knowledgable ones, back up their PC's? Using a service
provider to store your docs and spreadsheets and financial software is
actually a great idea.
I especially love network computers for businesses, as it completely solves
the software and hardware maintenance problems of having Windows on people's
desks. I've been in the business long enough to have started programming for
dumb terminals, and I miss them!
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