The Evangelist

Worldwide Technology News

Everyone knows that the economies of United States and a number of European (and even Asian) countries have been struggling lately. What's new is that the struggle is starting to hit the tech market hard as well, especially after the bailout failed to pass congress in the United States.

One of the companies hit hardest is Apple (AAPL). Apple's market segment is rapidly decreasing with the rapidly increasing price of oil and, in turn, food and other goods. No longer can some people afford Apple's expensive computers and electronics (even if they are of good quality).

But other companies are taking a hit as well. Hewlett Packard, IBM, Google; it seems as if no company is immune to the effects of what is a recession. It does seem that with computers becoming less affordable due to the increase in the prices of other goods, as well as the computers themselves.

This brings to mind netbooks and subnotebooks (as discussed in The Netbook Trend, published September 21, 2008) and nettops. This recession could foreseeably cause a reactionary response from the computer companies. Clearly, technology plays an important role in our day-to-day lives. At the same time, there are now new and more cost effective ways for technology to play those roles.

For one, perhaps Sun Microsystem's model of slim clients accessing a remote server may become economically viable again, as less well-to-do families, who in my opinion definitely deserve access to computers and the internet, may no longer be able to afford even a cheaper computer of their own.

Perhaps online services will become even more popular. Instead of storing files on their computers, users may turn to online storage, if it is cheap enough, for their files. Movies and televisions shows could be available on the internet accompanied by advertisements so that the producers can still make money (a number of television studios are already doing this).

At the same time, subnotebooks and cheaper computers will become ever more widespread. Many users don't use all of the power that their computers have - and the OEMs can take advantage of this.

At any rate, it seems highly likely that the changes in the economy will result in changes to the computer industry and the way it operates. But it is my belief that technology will continue to play an extremely important role in the everyday lives of many people throughout the world and, hopefully, even more in the future.

It's Google's 10th birthday, and in recognition they have launched Project 10 to the 100 (which is, notably, a Googol).

The project is an open call for ideas to help change the world and make this planet a better place while having an effect on as many people as possible.

Here's how it works:

1. People submit their ideas - you can submit an idea right now if you want at their idea submission page. A single person may submit as many ideas as he or she would like, as long as they meet the deadline of October 20, 2008. You can even include a video up to 30 seconds in length.

2. The people vote - 100 ideas will be posted on the website, and the public will have a chance to vote on which they like starting on January 27, 2009. From this, twenty semifinalists will be chosen. Five finalists will then be picked by an "advisory board."

3. Google funds the idea - Google will then fund companies to further your idea with a total of $10 million USD.

You can learn more about Project 10 to the 100th as well as submit your idea at the Project 10 to the 100th Website.

I will be following up on Google's noble project later as well as when voting begins and when the semifinalists and finalists are chosen.

Hello everyone.

This is simply a note that all of the times have been changed to Eastern Standard Time (EST), which should make it easier for those living on the east coast of the United States.

The Evangelist

Netbooks have been getting more and more popular these days since Intel started encouraging manufacturers to produce the devices and put the term back into use this February.

Historically, the original 'netbooks' were produced by the company Psion starting in 1999. They had just enough processing power to browse the web, read the email, and perform basic office tasks such as word processing. However, they generally ran non-standard operating systems (at first a derivative of Psion's Epoch Operating System and then, later, Windows CE. Because the market at the time was small, the cost of the Psion Netbooks was high, and they used non-standard operating systems, they were a flop.

Today's netbooks are a different kind of beast. They typically run either Linux or Windows XP and are fairly inexpensive. To make things better for Netbook manufacturers, today's market for them is a different beast as well. One prediction indicated that the amount of netbooks could go from under 500,000 for 2007 to 9 million in 2012, while another estimate proposes that around 50 million will be distributed by 2011. This could give netbooks such a big market, in fact, that they have the potential to upset the industry.

Companies like Intel, HP, and Dell on the hardware side and Microsoft on the software side have much to gain or loose from the increasing popularity of netbooks. While Microsoft has stopped distributing Windows XP to the major OEMs for use in standard PCs and laptops, they are still distributing the operating system for use in netbooks and nettops (the term for a desktop device with similar function). This is a clear sign that Microsoft realizes what's at stake here, and realizes that if they do not continue to distribute Windows XP for these devices, Linux and other small operating systems ideal for netbooks will saturate the market. It seems likely that Microsoft has their own plans for netbooks, and may release a special version of their Windows Vista operating system or their upcoming Windows 7 operating system (with its tauted MinWin Kernel) for use with netbooks and nettops. It seems likely that Microsoft would be unsucessful in pushing Windows CE for use with these devices.

A Nettop

And then there is Intel, whose new Atom Processor (see Why Intel's Atom May Revolutionize Mobile Computing is being used in many newer netbooks. The chips are ideal for use in this kind of application, and Intel has much to gain from the sale of the chips. AMD, on the other hand, does not have a comparable product at the time.

Intel's Atom

Remember the Palm Foleo? Although the term hadn't been put back into use at the time the product was announced, the Foleo was basically a netbook (albeit a failed idea for one).

And certainly the OEMs have much to gain or lose from netbooks.

ASUS has been pusing their Eee PC for a while, but there are other manufacturers getting in on the market as well. Hewlett Packard has their HP 2133 Mini-Note PC, and Dell has just recently released the Inspiron Mini 9. A number of independent companies are also vying for a slice of the pie, including Skytone, Everex, LG, MSI, Lenovo, and VIA (who would also manufacture the processors for these systems), among a number of other manufacturers.

But will the netbook really live up to all this hype and excitement? I tend to think it will, at least until smaller portable devices become capable of doing the same thing as netbooks with the same efficiency. Netbooks are great because they can be used for word processing and web browsing easily because they have a keyboard with decently sized keys (compare to UMPCs) and enough screen real estate to multitask and really get something done. It also seems likely that features standard in netbooks today, such as solid-state drives (SSDs), will be incorporated into tomorrow's laptops, desktops and servers.

As always, early adopters can expect some kinks here and there - but that's something easily accepted considering the benefits of these lightweight machines.

Windows Vista has been getting a lot of grief lately from users, IT managers, system administrators and businesses. And Apple has been there all along with their "I'm a Mac" advertisements to stir things up and keep the pressure on Microsoft. The new "I'm a PC" ads by Microsoft is a clear indication of this, because it means that Microsoft has recognized the threat to their marketshare and is now reacting to it.

But it would seem that Vista may be thought about the same way by another group: the Original Equipment Manufacturers, or OEMs.

Hewlett Packard company is the largest distributor of Microsoft software in the world. Yet recent reports suggests that the company is at least considering building their own operating system. These reports suggest that their is a team at HP looking into a Linux-based OS because of Vista's pitfalls. This would suggest that HP is recognizing that many users do not like the direction Microsoft has taken with Vista and the problems others have experienced. Then again, the entire report could just be rumor, the alleged HP contacts not real or just trying to create buzz. I don't think there is enough information to believe either theory at the moment.

But if HP is working on their own OS, that could mean usurpation in the industry if they plan to mass market it (unlike Dell simply selling Ubuntu on laptops that are only available from their website).

The rumors speculate that Hewlett Packard would take the Linux operating system and basically build their own user-friendly distribution of it, modifying it greatly. This would be necessary to compete with Windows, which most users are familiar with. In addition, many users who have tried Linux consider it difficult to use because it lacks much of the automation of Windows, as well as many of the traditional Windows user interface (UI) elements.

Then again, Dell is offering a "Mini OS powered by Ubuntu 8.04" on its new Inspiron Mini 9, which is explained to be "Ubuntu 8.04 with a special Dell interface." This brings up the question of whether HP's OS would really be so different.
Dell's MiniOS

But the real question is why HP would consider this in the first place. Windows currently has the vast majority of the marketshare for operating systems. In making their own OS, HP could be taking a risk. If they do produce an OS and want to distribute it in any meaningful quantity, they may have to ship units to stores and distributors (which would mean convincing those stores and distributors that the risk is worth taking). If they did not take their computers that run Windows Vista off the market, they would risk their new OS not being accepted and the end users only buying the Windows Vista PCs. If they did try to force their new OS and stopped distributing Vista, the users could reject it anyways, doing great damage to HP as a company. Finding a healthy medium would be extremely difficult as well and, if done wrong, could also damage the company.

Hewlett Packard's technique so far has been to try to build on Windows Vista and try to make it more user friendly with additions. This method seems like it may be the best for HP as a company in the end, and certainly the safest. However, compatability and other problems may still exist with Vista, and the additions by HP can't always help that.

And then you have the fact that uptake of the 64-bit version of Windows Vista has been steadily increasing. It would appear that maybe users are ready to move on, as 64-bit compatibility in Windows Vista is not even as complete as that of the 32-bit version. Or perhaps it is being forced on the users (more and more vendors are selling laptops and desktops with the 64-bit version of Vista when the computer has a 64-bit processor).

So the question becomes, does HP think that enough users would be willing to turn away from Vista that they are actually working on such a project and, if so, are they willing to make the jump and take the risk? Only time will tell.

So Mozilla has released Firefox 3, and the browser's marketshare has been steadily increasing to the 43.7% is has now.

It will be interesting to see whether or not Firefox will continue to expand as quickly when its marketshare starts to near 50%. There are a lot of users out there who don't know that there is an alternative to Internet Explorer. And even those who do know that there is an alternative might not care because Internet Explorer "works" and is "good enough." This is more understandable with IE7 with its new features than IE6, which lacks some more basic features such as tabbed browsing. This is not to say that there aren't Internet Explorer users who actually realize the alternatives but choose to use IE because they prefer it, however. It will be interesting to see whether members of these groups switch to Firefox, making its marketshare continue to increase, or if Firefox will start to come to a "critical momentum," so to speak, and balance around a certain percentage. If internet access becomes available in more developing nations, the use of Linux and therefore possibly Firefox could also have an interesting effect on this dynamic.

But there is more to the future of Mozilla than the expanding marketshare of Firefox. There are other ways to expand as well.

Currently, it would seem that in the world of browsers, Mozilla is targeting the mobile platform with a mobile version of Firefox, codenamed "Fennec."

Through Fennec, Mozilla hopes to bring their standards-based browser to their mobile platform and make it so that device manufacturers as well as individuals (in some cases) can embed the browser on their devices. Mozilla also wants to make it so that the mobile version of Firefox is add-on capable, just like the regular Firefox browser for the desktop. This would help to enlarge the Mozilla community in the mobile market (and compete with Opera Mini). Mozilla also wants to help web developers with making web applications compatible with the browser and use developments from the project to benefit the desktop version as well.

Mozilla wants to make Fennec able to browse the web and access web apps the way they are meant to be viewed. They also want to make it so that developers don't have to go out of their way just to design a page or app that works well with the browser, which would be great. They want to make mobile browsing simple and fast. This is something that has proven hard for the developers of browsers for mobile phones. Simple tasks such as entering a URL or refreshing a page can be exceedingly difficult at times. Like the desktop versions of Firefox, Mozilla hopes to keep the mobile version secure to ensure that phones are not hacked and information taken from them.

Mozilla plans on using their leverage in the desktop market to try to make people aware of Fennec and why it is better than the other mobile browsers already available.

One interesting element is that Fennec is to be compatible with both touchscreen and standard phones, and be relatively easy to use on both.

Those with a Nokia N810 can already get Fennec on their phones through the Fennec Releases page. It is worthy of noting that this version is far from complete, and is definitely lacking in the UI and usability improvements that Mozilla hopes to have in the final version. The current version does however show how well the backend of Fennec works, and the browser is still technically impressive (although not really ready for general use and release; Mozilla will likely do what it does with its other products and not release the browser until they are sure it's ready).

It is my hope that Mozilla also explores opportunities in other areas. Mozilla has always had a commitment to supporting open source, and I hope they continue to honor that commitment in the future.

It is also my hope that Mozilla starts offering web services such as online bookmarking that can be used across multiple browsers and other services. Perhaps Mozilla, with their significant marketshare and strong support, could even take on the giants like Google and Microsoft in online services with the help of its large base of web developers. I know that I would gladly contribute to such a project by Mozilla to make such a change.

The future of open-source web browsing awaits us. And it's looking like a bright future.

In the so-called browser war, we are always hearing of the battle between Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox. Alone, IE version 5, 6 or 7 has less marketshare than Firefox. Together, they have about 50.6% of the browser marketshare according to w3schools, while Firefox only has 43.7%. Apple's Safari browser has 2.6 percent of the marketshare. Opera, on the other hand, only has 2.1% of the marketshare.

Opera is a fast and memory-efficient web browser with many innovative features that gets far less attention than it deserves. Being a user of Firefox myself, I can say that Opera has features that even Firefox doesn't have (while conversely Firefox has some features that Opera lacks, such as find as you type).

Quick Find is a nifty feature that allows you to search the content of sites you have visited in the past to help find something on a page even if you forgot which website it was at. With Opera Link through the My Opera Service, everything gets synchronized across Opera browsers over multiple PCs, allowing you to keep your bookmarks and settings no matter which computer you are on. Speed Dial, which is much like the speed dial feature on a phone, brings up a list of up to 9 user-defined websites instead of about_blank when a new tab is opened. Mouse gestures are an alternative to clicking buttons in the browser or using key commands, which can be useful for some users who like to use the mouse. The download manager is comparable to the one in Firefox 3, plus it has Bittorrent capability, a big plus. The browser also has widget capabilities as well as a jumble of other features that I won't mention here because both Firefox and IE7 already have them.

What is also interesting is that Opera is working on a set of developer tools for creating websites and web applications known as Opera Dragonfly. This is an interesting move for Opera to release a set of tools for developing web pages and then make sure they are compatible with the browser. While other companies have made similar moves, they have never to my knowledge taken it this far.

Overall, my experience with Opera has been a good one. The browser behaves as one would expect it to for the most part, and it has some great features. While many of these can be attained in Firefox through other means including add-ons, Opera has really gone far to make an original browser, and has really come far from earlier versions.

Okay everybody, here is your chance to participate.

I am thinking about starting some more blogs, which would have content generated by multiple bloggers/editors, and which would all be tied under the "The Evangelist" banner, so I would link to the blogs.

Such blogs would be a great opportunity for anyone interested to get involved in tech blogging and just writing and/or editing in general. Contributions to the blogs can be cited later for any reason needed. It's a great way to get involved in the tech and journalism worlds all at once.

So here are curent ideas for blogs:
Windows Vista
Game Consoles

Note: If you have another topic that interests you personally, please feel free to post it.

If you would like to participate, just say so. You can pick any one of the ideas that you would like (or bring up your own idea), and I would create the blog.

The reason I am doing this is to encourage tech evangelism and community participation, as well as writing and communication skills.

If you are interested, just reply to this post or send me an email at

Okay, so you are probably thinking that I fell off the face of the Earth, right?

Well, I'm afraid it's not true.

I have been very busy lately and have been unable to post to the blog or give it the attention that it rightfully deserves lately, and I appologize to my readership, but there was simply no way that I could have continued working on the blog at the time.

This message is to let you know that I am still here, and will be posting new articles. I may even be posting one later today.

I am aware that some rather racey advertisements have been displayed through my Entrecard widget. These ads were not approved by me. Instead, my account on Entrecard was somehow hacked and accessed in order to approve the ad. I will not reveal the identity of this blog considering the fact that it may not have been the owner or member of the blog who hacked my Entrecard account, but couldm also have been an outside party. I doubt I will ever find out from Entrecard, but I would hope that they improve the security on their server, because I doubt that my password was brute forced, and even if it was, Entrecard should limit the number of incorrect login attempts from each IP address at the very least in order to prevent such attacks.

At any rate, I am glad to be back. Keep an eye on the blog for new articles that will be posted very soon.

As a note, I am considering starting another blog, and will probably be redesigning my website, so you will likely see updates on these as well.

Hope you like what you have seen so far and will continue reading.

The Evangelist