The Evangelist

Worldwide Technology News

I realize I haven't had much time to publish new articles to the blog lately.

In light of this, I would simply like to wish everybody a happy, healthy new year.

Stay tuned, there is more to come.

-The Evangelist

For those of you who haven't heard, an official native port of Google Chrome is now available for Mac OS X and Linux.

Before this, Crossover Chromium offered an alternative way to run Chrome on OS X and Linux.

It should be noted that these are still in beta, and therefore there still may be bugs that need to be worked out.

The Linux port can be downloaded as either 32- or 64-bit .deb or .rpm packages for both Debian-based distributions such as Ubuntu and distributions that use the Red Hat Package Manager, such as Fedora.

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There can be no doubt that netbooks have become extremely popular over the course of the last two years. While many (including AMD, as was discussed in Why Intel's Atom May Revolutionize Mobile Computing) doubted that there would be much of a market for netbooks at first, this doubt would be quickly eliminated by the sheer amount of netbooks flying off of the shelves.

Netbooks certainly have their advantages over other classes of portables. They are lighter, smaller, and cheaper than your average laptop. While there are some ultraportables such as the MacBook Air that are typically slimmer and more powerful, they come at a hefty price.

Netbooks are useful for those who are on the go and don't need that much processing power. Students can undoubtedly benefit from the advantages of a leightweight and cheap computer.

That isn't to say that netbooks aren't useful around the house as well. They make for great secondary machines, so that they user has processing power when they need it and mobility when they don't.

Intel's Atom processor has become the mainstay of most netbooks. The processors have truly revolutionized mobile computing by helping to create the netbook market.

A number of operating systems are now preloaded onto netbooks. Microsoft's Windows XP Home Edition has historically been the popular choice because it is lightweight and because XP is still very popular. Microsoft is now pushing their much-improved Windows 7 onto netbooks.

In addition, Linux has made some headway on netbooks. Projects such as Moblin and Ubuntu Netbook Remix (UNR) have been created to create distributions optimized for use on netbooks. These interfaces make it easier to get to what you want and help the user cope with the smaller screen size.

Unlike the highly portable devices of yesteryear, netbooks have become an unqualified success.

The only question that remains is where netbooks are headed next. The category is rapidly changing, and innovative new classes of devices are being created, such as the smartbook.

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Google's Chrome OS has the potential to challenge Microsoft on the netbook front. The interface is sleek and very minimalist, much like netbooks themselves.

The operating system is based on Linux, and is specifically designed for netbooks. It's interface is similar to that of Google's Chrome web browser.

Instead of desktop apps, LinkGoogle Chrome OS will take advantage of Google's extensive cloud services such as Google Docs and Gmail.

Netbooks with Google Chrome OS installed will probably be cheaper than their Windows counterparts, although it is hard to tell what will happen (as Microsoft will undoubtedly want to keep their dominance). Chrome OS netbooks will include solid state drives. While these drives surely won't be able to store as much information, with Google's cloud services it is doubtful that much storage will be needed.

Back in October 2008, I wrote a couple articles about Apple's Brick. At the time, there were quite a few rumors as to what Brick would be, from a new Mac Mini design to a Mac netbook. Of course, the "Brick" turned out to be a manufacturing process for the MacBook line of laptops.

With the introduction of Brick, a unibody aluminum 13" MacBook and 15" MacBook Pro were released. Later, the 13" MacBook would be replaced by a 13" MacBook Pro and a 17" MacBook Pro would be added to the lineup.

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When the line was originally released, the only option was a glossy display. A matte display is optional on the 15" and 17" versions for those who would prefer that option.

The mouse button has been integrated into the new glass touchpad, eliminating another button in traditional Apple style.

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There's no doubt that the new unibody MacBook Pros are a leap forward in design. Sure, unibody laptops probably won't supplant traditional processes anytime soon, especially for cheaper models, but the fact remains that the unibody design not only looks better, it makes for less pieces of plastic and breakable parts.

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It's been a while since I mentioned Opera in a post. The browser has a mere 1.50% of marketshare according to Wikipedia, coming in behind Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, Apple's Safari, and Google's Chrome. Considering Opera's quality as a browser and how many features it has pioneered before other browsers, it is surprising how little marketshare Opera has.

Opera has some unique and interesting features rarely found in other browsers (and often requiring plug-in extensions). The browser has a built-in BitTorrent client for downloading files via torrent (which, contrary to what some may believe, has legitimate uses; I will be covering this in an upcoming article). It also features an IRC client, a feed reader, and an email client.

Opera, while not open source, is free for PCs and cellular phones. On the PC side of things, it supports Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and even FreeBSD and Sun Microsystem's Solaris. Opera is also available for Nintendo's Wii (free) and DS gaming systems (free for the DSi), as well as a number of smartphone platforms.

It has all of the features you would expect from a typical web browser today such as tabbed browsing, a download manager, and zooming. In addition, it supports mouse gestures (an innovative feature that can make navigation easier for some users) and excellent built-in security features to make browsing safer.

The latest release of Opera also includes an innovative new feature called "Opera Unite". This allows the user to run a web server that can stream media, share files such as videos and pictures, and even host a website. While there are plenty of other frameworks out there for doing the same things, Opera Unite is unique in that it aims to bring it to the average user and make it relevant for them.

To download the Opera browser, or to see all that Opera has to offer, visit the Opera website at

The Flock browser has come far since my last post about it in 2008.

PC World ranked it number 6 on their "100 Best Products of 2008". It was the CNET "Webware 100" winner for best browser. In addition, it has won some other awards and has even been covered in the New York Times.

Flock's concept is certainly a logical one: social media has become incredibly popular; integrating this media with the browser can undoubtedly prove useful. Flock can connect with sites such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook to track updates from friends and other information.

Flock also has a built-in email client, blog editor, and feed reader.

While Flock might not be good for those who don't like their browser to be loaded down, it certainly has some great features for those who want to keep in touch without having to have tabs open with all of their social networking sites all the time.

Ah, the Pirate Bay. It would be difficult to find another site that is so loved by some and yet so loathed by others.

Back in July 2008, I posted an article about IPETEE, the Pirate Bay's proposal to encrypt the internet. Since then, the site has been experiencing a number of problems. Some are worried that action against the site will cause it to disappear from the internet altogether. At any rate, the site has come into the spotlight due to its popularity, making it nothing less than a giant target for lawsuits and criminal proceedings.

At any rate, not much has come of IPETEE, considering it's lofty ideals and goals. It's a bit sad to see a plan that could have so much potential benefit not get anywhere after a huge announcement, but this seems unfortunately typical for vaporware.

All of that said, I hope that there has been continuing work on IPETEE or something similar. The concept was interesting because it would not require that client applications have special support in most circumstances; instead, traffic would be encrypted after it is passed from the program and decrypted before it is passed to the program. This makes it much more practical and useful than encryption for individual programs.

While IPETEE may be far from reality, there are steps you can take to make your experience more safe, secure, and private. Firstly, for email communications, look into GnuPG. Second, look for https:// in the address bar when you are purchasing items off the internet or doing banking. Third, make sure that you have a good working firewall - such as the freeware one from ZoneAlarm - before you surf the internet. All the encryption in the world won't protect you from snoopers if you're computer isn't secure. Lastly, make sure that you have wireless encrypted access set up on your router if you use wireless in your home.

For such a simple device, the Peek has proved to be immensely successful.

Now, the company has introduced the Twitter Peek, a device that aims to bring Twitter (and just Twitter) to the palm of your hand and do it right.

It's no surpise that the innovators at Peek chose the immensely popular social blogging site for their new device. Twitter is undoubtedly one of the most popular social sites on the internet, and interest in the service continues to spread. While many use Twitter to post the latest updates on what they're up to, Twitter has been used for many other things as well. It is a useful tool for businesses to stay in touch with their customers, a way for campaigning politicians to spread their messages, and has even been used to organize protests.

One might wonder why anyone would but a device simply to Tweet when they can simply use a computer, a cell phone, or PDA to send tweets. At the same time, one needs to look at the original Peek: you can send an email using a computer, a cell phone, or a PDA. But that doesn't mean that the Peek hasn't done well.

One great the about the Twitter Peek is that you can get a "Lifetime Service Plan", which means that you don't have to pay for additional service again, as you would with a cell phone. The Peek, of course, is a lot more mobile than even a notebook. Also, unlike a PDA, you don't have to be within the range of a Wi-Fi hotspot.

At any rate, if you are into Twitter or you just want a simple device to access your email without any hassles, Peek has an excellent product lined up for you.