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Your Next Gadget: Portable PC

When thinking about purchasing a new computer, or more specifically a portable computer, there are many things one should consider, as follows:

  • Purpose
  • Budget
  • Processing power
  • Screen real estate
  • Graphics performance
  • Amount of RAM
  • Storage space

These things will affect a user’s experience, positively or otherwise, when thinking about Your Next Gadget. For additional reading on the differences between a notebook and a netbook, I would recommend reading this Brighthub article before continuing.

Of course, there are a number of reasons for getting a new computer. One reason might be because of the aging desktop or laptop computer trying to serve its purpose, or at least keep up with the times. Another reason may be for portability/mobility. Being able to do work or have fun wherever and whenever can be a major factor. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll just focus on a couple of reasons: desktop replacement and mobility.

Desktop Replacement
Being able to do in a laptop what you can do with a desktop is always a good reason to get a new computer, as notebooks/netbooks consume lower power, hence savings in your electricity bill. However, that scratches the possibility of getting a netbook, as netbooks are designed with Internet connectivity in mind, and not for graphic design nor editing multimedia/video files. Notebooks, as described in the Brighthub article, range from screens with 10 inches and above. However, personally, a desktop replacement notebook should have a minimum of 13 inches for its screen, as using a 10 inch screen is frustrating, especially when you have a 19-inch monitor for your desktop. A notebook’s portability, however, is inversely proportionate to its screen size. The bigger the screen, the less portable it becomes.

Netbooks maybe portable, and in some cases, ultra-portable because of the thin-and-light form factor of newer netbook models, but they don’t offer as much versatility as a notebook. For instance, most netbooks, if not all, don’t have an optical drive for reading or burning CDs and DVDs. Also, most netbooks don’t have the processing power as notebooks. The most common processor installed in netbooks is the Intel Atom processor, which in this case is a single core processor that can’t efficiently handle resource-intensive applications. I have used the MSI Wind U100, and I was utterly frustrated with its sluggish performance. Personally, a single core processor doesn’t quite cut it. I want responsiveness and snappy performance from my operating system. So should you.

If you just want to stay connected to the Internet anytime, anywhere, and if you truly want to be mobile, get a smartphone. I would suggest one, but that’s for another article.

For this round, as far as versatility goes, the Notebook wins.

Notebooks are kinda pricy. Netbooks are a dime a dozen. As far as I’m concerned, Sony portables are overpriced and underspecced because there are a number of portable PC manufacturers that offer the same specs as Sony’s portables for a fraction of the price. Stay away from Sony. If you want a portable that can go head-to-head with the best desktop rigs, with a budget north of the sky, Alienware is your choice.

For this round, cheaper is better, therefore the Netbook wins.

Processing Power
As I’ve stated above, notebooks offer more processing power than netbooks. However, with the advent of AMD’s Athlon Neo X2, it may change quite a bit. The Neo X2 is a dual core processor with low power consumption that’s designed to compete with Intel’s single core Atom processor. The Atom still outclasses the Neo X2 when it comes to power consumption, but the number of cores outweigh the smallest number of watts consumed. And notebook manufacturers aren’t shy of putting as much cores as they can in a notebook than in a netbook. Intel’s still playing catch up in releasing a dual-core Atom processor globally, but the battle for netbook supremacy next year (2010) for most number of cores in a netbook should be interesting.

For this round, more cores is better, therefore the Notebook wins. At least, for now.

Screen Real Estate / Graphics Performance
The bigger they are, the harder it is to lug them around. However, for media enthusiasts, watching a movie on a 17-inch screen is a lot better than watching the same movie on a 10-inch screen. The only time it would be the other way around would be when the 17-inch screen has a crappy graphics processor and the 10-inch screen is able to playback video in high definition. Most portables have integrated graphics processors in the motherboard, and most of them don’t support 3D hardware acceleration, so it’s something you should look for when hunting for that perfect portable PC.

Recent developments in graphics processing technology from manufacturers such as NVIDIA and ATI are making great progress in taking graphics processing to the next level. This only means that your processor, Intel or AMD, will be able to allocate more processing powers to handle other stuff that would normally be reserved for rendering graphics. At least, that’s how I understand them. And they’re cramming it into notebooks, as well as netbooks. The year 2010 will see a new wave of ultra-portables that can display 1080p high-definition videos, but not now. Not yet.

So for this round, the Notebook wins, for now.

Amount of RAM / Storage Space
As of this writing, most portable PC manufacturers are bundling at least 1GB of RAM in notebooks and netbooks. Very seldom do I see a listing for a portable with anything less. It doesn’t matter if the RAM is DDR2 or DDR3, nor if it’s 667MHz or 800MHz. The more you have, the better. The same goes for storage space. The most common hard drives currently included with portables are SATA drives. There are manufacturers that offer SSD, or Solid State Drives. The advantages of using SATA drives are capacity (it can go up to 1TB) and price. As for SSDs, there are no moving parts (hence, more rugged), but the largest capacity currently available is 512GB, and it is VERY expensive.

This round goes to both notebooks and netbooks.

Overall, the notebook is the most sensible and most practical purchase. Personally, I would settle for a netbook since I figured I don’t really have a need for an optical drive these days, what with the proliferation of very cheap USB thumb drives. A netbook that has a 12-inch screen with a decent graphics processor, about 160 – 320GB of storage space, at least 2GB of RAM, and at least a dual core processor for about US$500 wouldn’t be bad. Not bad at all.

The Smartphone Party: You’re Invited!

Nokia finally plays catch up to what is showing to be the start of the smartphone revolution, but it seems they were a bit late coming to the party since the revolution started a couple of years ago with the launch of Apple’s iPhone. Although there were smartphones already present in the market, their presence wasn’t felt until Apple decided to enter the fray and put their marketing muscle behind their very much anticipated offering. Only then did the public notice the smartphone.

Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the Blackberry, were more focused on providing devices for corporate executives, way before Apple launched the iPhone, but now, they started innovating and began to market their devices not to just the elite, but to professionals who can afford the lifestyle of always being connected.

The first smartphone that I ever wanted was a Sony Ericsson P910i. Now, there are a whole slew of new smartphones being released almost every week, with Samsung and LG a little bit ahead of Nokia. The number one handset maker in the world, however, decided that it’s also time for them to cater, not just to dumbphone users, but to smartphone enthusiasts, as well. This is evidenced by the upcoming releases of new touchscreen smartphones, such as the 5230, powered by Symbian S60 5th edition. This particular software that debuted with the launch of the Tube, aka 5800 XpressMusic, is far from being the perfect smartphone OS, especially when it’s compared with the iPhone OS, and the more recent Palm Pre’s webOS, but it gets things done, and that’s all that matters, especially for me.

Nokia may be late to the party, but Sony Ericsson might have come and gone already and it seems they have dropped off the race. That, or they seem to be producing devices that does not merit rumors or hype, which means people may be losing interest in the handset maker altogether. Not a good sign.

Smart Sandbox is MySandbox. Sort of.

A few weeks ago, Sandbox officially went to public beta. I would like to explain what it is and what it is good for, but Jayvee of A Bugged Life has beaten me to the punch and has put it more eloquently, as quoted below.

What is Sandbox?
Sandbox is an online platform that allows anyone to connect with friends and share blog posts, photos and videos. Apart from this, Sandbox is also an online content store where you can buy music and games. So what sets it apart from other social networks? Sandbox is also locally developed and thus there is a continuous stream of offline fulfillment through giveaways, raffles and prizes.

In other words, Sandbox is in the business of building communities because not only is there interaction between your friends, there is also conversation between the developers and the users. In marketing terms, it isn’t just horizontal exchanges between consumers, but also vertically, where the product talks back and gives value to insights and suggestions from the community — alongside promotions and giveaways! – SOURCE

I was given the chance of participating in the private beta testing phase of Sandbox, and I have seen its growth and changes, from the very minute detail of a typo to the addition of a major feature. I wasn’t all impressed with it at first, but I can’t really blame the developers. It is, after all, in the very early stages of development.

Now, I’m the type of geek that gets his hands dirty without reading the manual first, so when I check the manual is when I find a bug. I look for answers first, and upon finding no documentation whatsoever, inform and suggest solution/s to the developers. After all, that’s what a beta tester is supposed to do.

Sandbox has two interfaces: web and mobile. Sandbox Web caters to the user that prefers accessing a site via a proper web browser (e.g. Firefox, Chrome, etc.), while Sandbox Mobile, also accessible via a computer’s web browser, is designed with the mobile-toting geek in mind. Sandbox Web is where most of the promotions and giveaways are found. From here, you can get free games, music, photos, etc. To get the free items, Sandbox will send a link to the mobile number you subscribed with upon joining. Unfortunately, you will need to be a Smart subscriber to be able to get those free items. Being Smart-powered, it wasn’t a surprise. Also, these free items aren’t available internationally.

Sandbox Mobile, when accessed using a web browser, displays three columns, but only displays the center column when accessed using a mobile phone. However, this interface is basically a skinned Mostyle interface, and the backend is also a customized Mostyle engine. Mostyle is a mobile site generation engine that simply asks for some information, and with a few clicks of the mouse, a mobile site is born. At least, that’s what I think it is. Currently, users are allowed to create up to two mobile sites.

In summary, Sandbox is a mega mashup of services and web apps. It tries to put together a number of social network sites into one big portal that is designed to be accessed on a mobile phone. It allows users to post status updates and blog entries, share videos and photos, and provide a markteplace of sorts for selling and buying stuff. It is still in beta, and a lot of features are being added as of this writing. Hopefully, all pending issues and bugs will be fixed when it goes gold. User adoption rates will basically dictate if this service, developed by Pinoys for Pinoys, will sink or swim.

Further reading:

Too Loud: Mirrored Posts in Social Networks

It has become quite a common routine for people to open a whole slew of social network sites upon opening a browser in one’s computer. My browser, Firefox of course, opens up about a half dozen sites when I start my online routine. There usually is no problem in doing this, but the problem lies in updating all of them with as little time in between when doing so. Thankfully, there are a number of web apps or services that help me update all of my social networks in one go. Also, the social networks themselves are adding features that let you update other social networks when posting updates. When left unchecked, it can cause feedback, much like a microphone that’s too close to a speaker. It gets loud. Too loud.

Twitter, by itself, does not post updates to other social networks, like Facebook, MySpace, Plurk, etc. Facebook, by itself, also does the same thing. The difference between the two is that Facebook imports “stories” from other sites, such as blog feeds, Google Reader, StumbleUpon, etc, and shows it in the home page. Facebook is noisy as it is, with updates from friends that answered quizzes, joined groups, became fans, etc. Twitter is noisy when the people you follow update their statuses by the minute, which is sometimes the case. I don’t mind the noise. Not at all.

Other social networks choose to do something different. Take, for example, Friendfeed. Although it functions like Twitter BUT with real-time updates, it also aggregates friends’ feeds from other social networks. So if a friend of mine is a Friendfeed user and I follow them on Friendfeed, I get their status updates to Friendfeed and any social network they have decided to add to their feed, like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc. Friendfeed is great as it tries to be the one-stop-shop to check friends’ updates and start-slash-continue discussions by posting comments. The problem with Friendfeed is that it can’t post an update to other social networks, other than Twitter, at the same time.

Ping.fm solves this dilemma by providing a service that updates a number of social networks. So in one posting, I can update my status in all the social networks I belong to. It was great, at first. However, whenever I check my Friendfeed, it displays my Ping.fm-based update several times because the same message was posted to a number of social networks I added. It may not be a problem, nor would anyone care, but it was me who was annoyed by multiple instances of the same message. I decided to remove the social networks from Friendfeed that I update simultaneously through Ping.fm. So before, when I update my status, my Friendfeed displays the same message that I posted in Twitter, Facebook, and Plurk. Now, it just displays the update I posted to Friendfeed. This way, I don’t annoy my followers with a number of mirrored posts. The only difference in those mirrored posts is where it was posted.

There are desktop clients, whether AIR-based or otherwise, that let users post messages simultaneously to multiple social networks. Twhirl, an AIR-based desktop application, posts primarily to Twitter, but has extended its coverage by using Ping.fm’s service, posting tweets to other social networks. However, I still use Ping.fm’s service to update my social networks instead of Twhirl, mainly because I can’t use Twhirl on other computers or on my phone.

And then, there’s Plurk. Although the concept is similar to Twitter, the execution is very different. And recently, they have decided to add a feature where a plurk is also posted on Twitter and Facebook, among others. Since I was using Ping.fm already, I saw no reason to use this feature. It only made sense that I stick to one service, or method of updating my status, to prevent confusion and me annoying the hell out of everybody else.

If only Friendfeed’s aggregation features and Ping.fm’s updating service merge into one, with a desktop client to boot, it would make updating and keeping tabs on multiple social networks a whole lot easier. That would, in my very humble opinion, take the social network scene to a whole new level.

Facebook’s News Feed Woes

Facebook has been receiving a lot of flak lately due to the recently deployed redesign of a user’s News Feed, the default or home page of a user upon logging in. A number of people have created groups petitioning the return of the “old” Facebook, claiming that if they wanted a Twitter-like interface, they would have used Twitter instead. However, just to clarify some things, the new Facebook News Feed is something more akin to Friendfeed, which is a micro-blogging platform that also took a page from Twitter, but does more. Friendfeed aggregates a user’s social network updates, including Twitter, Facebook, Plurk, Google Reader, and blog feeds, among others. With Friendfeed, users can comment on posts and feed updates, and they also have an option to “like” them. The major difference between Twitter and Friendfeed is the 140-character limit. Now, this “like” feature is what Facebook copied from Friendfeed, and Friendfeed copied the “like” feature from Twitter’s “favor” feature. So you see, Facebook did not copy Twitter. Facebook copied Friendfeed, which copied Twitter somewhat. Or at least, that’s how I perceive it. And it’s not just me.

Personally, I like what Facebook did to the News Feed. For me, it was easier to use than the previous design, although I wish it had the auto-update feature of Plurk, which notifies you when there are new updates to your timeline, or in Facebook’s case, the News Feed. Facebook’s notification system is limited to the kind where someone comments on your status, tagged you in a photo, or shot you with mayonnaise in the face. Plurk notifies you if any of your friends have updated their status or responded to one of your or your friends’ updates. It may not be easy, but it is doable.

Since the deployment of the new design, there were a few minor tweaks in a Facebook user’s News Feed, like the “People you may know” and “Requests” sections are now above the “Highlights.” There will be more changes and tweaks in the News Feed, as Facebook has expressed, one way or another, that they will be taking into consideration the feedback and input of their users. This may not be a good idea, according to TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington. And I agree with him.

Facebook is a free service. To demand something from a free service is not really my cup of tea. Whatever they decide to implement, if I like it or I hate it, it doesn’t really matter. The bottomline is that it’s really my choice if I want to continue using the service or not. And it is yours, too.

To each their own, I guess.

Browsers: An OS’ Achilles Heel

After reading an interview of one of the winners, Charlie Miller, of this year’s PWN2OWN hackfest, I realized how vulnerable Apple‘s OS X is. Sure it is *NIX-based, and inherently secure, but it doesn’t mean it IS secure out-of-the-box. Firewalls and Antivirus programs are simply not enough to protect one’s OS. If a bug is found and exploited in one of the applications, the whole OS is screwed. An operating system is only as secure as the applications running on it.

In the hackfest, contestants try to hack different browsers by finding bugs and exploiting them as proof of the bug’s existence. As the Internet becomes more ubiquitous and applications are moving to the cloud, browsers are becoming a more critical application, and it is only logical for hackers to try and hack into the system by exploiting a browser’s vulnerabilities.

In the interview, Charlie Miller stated that Safari on a Mac is the easiest to exploit, and Firefox on a Windows PC is the second hardest. The hardest application to exploit was Google’s Chrome, partly because of Windows and partly because of the Sandbox framework(?) Google used in developing Chrome. Safari on a Mac was easiest because of Mac OS X. I’m not faulting Apple for releasing an unsecured OS. OS X is secure, don’t get me wrong. However, part of the OS is the browser, in which Apple “forgot” to secure Safari, which makes OS X vulnerable to attacks as well. And with all the money in the world, Apple could have secured the OS a whole lot better. Even if almost all viruses are targeted at Windows-based machines, there’s still the off-chance that one of them will be targeting OS X, or other operating systems for that matter. And as I’ve mentioned before, more and more applications are moving to the cloud. Viruses or other malware don’t have to run on the system itself. There are websites that embed scripts that try to download and execute malicious code without the visitor even knowing about it.

Having a secure operating system, however, is not enough in preventing attacks. No matter how secure the operating system, and the developers can only do so much as to warn everyone of every single virus there is out there, if the user is stupid enough to download and execute a virus, there’s just no way of preventing a virus from infecting a system. It’s time for people to start wisening up and prevent user-initiated errors. This, in my humble opinion, is the most dreaded type of calls, and is abhorred by tech support.

Charlie Miller also mentioned in the interview that Google‘s Chrome and the way they developed the browser was the next evolutionary step in developing future browsers. Although Chrome was based in an open-source software dubbed Chromium, Google made it sure that Chrome is future-ready. I recently tried a pre-alpha version of Chromium, not Chrome, on my Linux install, and although it looked almost the same as Chrome, I doubt it is as secure. Preliminary tests regarding speed (in executing javascripts) were amazing. There were a number of critical things that don’t work, like setting options, navigating opened tabs (tabs were invisible), and saving bookmarks (it was non-existent). And there was no support for Flash, yet. It was like Lynx with a graphical user interface. But it did pique my curiosity, and I am eagerly awaiting Google’s release of Chrome’s Linux version.

As for me buying a Mac in the future, it will only happen when I have extra, and I mean EXTRA, cash laying around. And that would be in about N years. Maybe by that time, a Mac netbook has been released.

Goodbye, Chrome. I’m staying with Firefox.

My not-so-recent post about Google’s browser, Chrome, touts the browser as an OS competitor instead of just another browser. After having read about Ted Dziuba’s feedback on Michael Arrington’s post on TechCrunch, I decided to take another look from a different perspective on Chrome again, and Ted’s article does make more sense than Michael’s post.

To me, an operating system consists of a kernel and some applications. Chrome is simply just that – an application. If it’s going to compete with Windows, *NIX, or OS X, it’s going to need more than a browser. Maybe Android is Google’s answer to competing with (netbook) operating systems, but only time will tell if that ever happens.

On my home desktop system that I use for work and other stuff, I use Windows XP SP3, dual-booted with Ubuntu 8.04 or Hardy Heron (Hardy). Of course, I use Firefox whenever I’m using Hardy but when I’m booted to XP SP3, I use Chrome and Firefox. So I compared Chrome with my most-beloved Firefox, and I realized how shameful it was to think about permanently replacing Firefox with Chrome. Now, I’m only using Firefox. Here’s why.

Two processes for one webpage?
What I noticed is that when I open an application while Chrome is running, the application’s startup time seems to have tripled, or more, than when I was using Firefox. Notepad takes about a second or two to start. Not when Chrome is running, though. It takes about 20 seconds to open up. Sure, Firefox takes a longer time starting up than Chrome, but I do have a need to use other applications as well, especially when I’m trying to accomplish my other-job’s tasks, and my browser takes a backseat when I’m coding. My system is on the brink of crashing whenever I try to launch any Adobe CS3 application while Chrome is running. I knew I had to find out what was causing this issue that was nonexistent pre-Chrome.

I then fired up the Task Manager, then quickly looked for Chrome’s process. It wasn’t too hoggy, just about 20+ to 30+ megs of RAM used. But I saw two processes for Chrome, and the other process was about 12+ to 15+ megs. This with just ONE webpage open in Chrome. And whenever I opened up a new tab, another 12+ to 15+ megs of ram gets eaten up by a new Chrome process. Imagine if you have 10+ tabs, that’s 120+ megs of RAM just for Chrome. Firefox maybe using up 130+ megs of RAM with about 12 tabs opened, but it doesn’t make my computer slow down to a crawl. Google still has to develop a way for Chrome to be more efficient when handling system resources.

Pretty, but not pretty enough.
Another thing that I missed sorely from Firefox while I was in my Chrome-induced hallucination is the ability to add extensions or plugins. I no longer care so much about skinning the browser. I’m happy with what Mozilla came up for Firefox 3, and Chrome’s tabs at the top instead of a menu bar is something that I’ll always look for in a new browser. For me, the menu bar (File, Edit, View, etc.) is a waste of screen real estate (especially for netbooks) and if there’s a way to hide or remove it, it should be added in the core. However, there are other Firefox plugins I can never live without, namely, Firebug, FireFTP, Foxmarks, and StumbleUpon. Chrome may have something similar to Firebug built-in, but there’s no integrated FTP client, no bookmark synchronization feature (that I know of), and it has to be “hacked” for a very limited demo of the StumbleUpon toolbar to work. Chrome is pretty, but not pretty enough, IMHO, to forsake Firefox.

With Google’s record of not coming out of beta for a long time (read: GMail), I wonder how long Chrome will stay in beta, if it ever comes out of it at all. For now, I’m cleansing my system (and myself) of Chrome.

So, are you still using Firefox or have you made the permanent switch to Chrome?

Cloud Computing: A Google Chrome Review

So the cat is out of the bag. Google Chrome has been released. For those who haven’t heard of it, Google Chrome is a browser in which Google designed the way they think a browser should be: a desktop application for web applications.

Simply put, Chrome is a web browser. But of course, with Google, it’s not just a simple browser. Chrome uses the Webkit engine, the very same engine that powers Safari. Webkit is a lot like Gecko, the engine that powers Mozilla Firefox, only faster. A lot faster. And as with all things Google touches, Webkit was greatly improved, hence it is really much faster than what Safari is using, and it all boils down to how fast the browser can interpret, or execute, javascript. And since Google relies heavily on javascript for its web applications, such as GMail, Google Calendar, etc. Google designed its own javascript handler for Webkit. Instead of letting Webkit use its own javascript handler, Google redesigned how Webkit handles javascript. Instead of one process handling multiple threads of javascript, they decided it would be better to have multiple processes handling one thread of javascript. This would make the web application respond faster and more stable. At least, that’s how I understood it from their comic.

I’ve been using Chrome since its launch. It doesn’t have any extensions available yet, and I haven’t seen an option to add some, but it is still too early in the beta stage to expect something as robust as Mozilla Firefox 3. And Google promises to release an API for developers, so it would simply be a matter of time before extensions, add-ons, or hacks start popping up.

What I like about Chrome is the way it lets you maximize the virtual real estate you see when viewing web pages. There is no menu bar, just a button to house the browser options and other settings, and another button that houses options for the web page itself. The status bar usually found at the bottom of the window is only there when hovering over a link or when loading a page. It fades out as soon as the page finishes loading. As with tabbed browsing, the tabs are up top, away from the web page’s content. The focus is on the content, not on the browser. There are times that I forget I have other tabs open simply because I was too focused on what I was doing on one tab. The navigation buttons are simple, and there is no stop button. Since you can always press the Esc key to stop loading a web page, you don’t have to bother moving your mouse to click on the stop button. Also, the home button has become optional since they introduced the New Tab page. It displays thumbnail screenshots of the nine (9) most recent web pages you have frequented, and it also displays a list of your most recently closed tabs. It also displays a list of your recent bookmarks. And speaking of bookmarks, it is optional to have it integrated with the browser itself. I wonder when and how they will integrate Chrome with a Google Account. Incognito browsing lets you “plan a surprise party” with confidence that no one will know what you were doing. The “Omnibox” integrates the address bar and the search bar, taking a page from Mozilla Firefox 3′s Awesome bar but a little more “evolved.” And Chrome has its own task manager.

I’m loving Chrome so far, but I have seen some quirks and eccentrities in its ingenuity. One is the overflowing text when typing in a text field in Plurk. It may be a CSS issue, or a Plurk issue, since I haven’t seen this appear in other sites. That, or I’m not websurfing enough. Another is the smoothness of rounded corners. Although it supports CSS-enabled rounded corners due to Webkit’s standards compliance, Mozilla Firefox renders the rounded corners more smoothly. Ajax is sometimes quirky, but most of the time, it works, and it’s the same with Flash – videos or sites itself. I can’t say much about Gears as I don’t encounter much implementations as I should. Chrome is also resource hungry, as my desktop PC slowed to a crawl when my antivirus started its scheduled scan. I also checked the task manager, the Windows Task Manager, and it indicated that Chrome used about half of my physical memory. Also, a bug I found in Chrome is when I tried accessing my router. I didn’t bother setting up a password for it, so I just leave the username field blank, and typed in the default password. Chrome would not let me proceed without filling in the username field. So I went back to Firefox to setup a router password and then tried Chrome to try accessing my router again. With the admin username and the password I set, it allowed me to access the router admin page. Chrome may have forced me to add a router password, but it should let me in and do exactly that using Chrome itself. I wonder how Google will address this in Mac and Linux. I would so love it if Chrome’s Linux version had an Ubuntu-flavored color/theme.

Features I would like to see added to Chrome in the future would be the ability to change the color of the window, or theming capabilities. Also, the ability to add extensions that are much like FireFTP, Stumbleupon, Delicious, and Foxmarks. I would have asked for Firebug, but when I tried the Inspect Element in the context menu, it showed me something that was achingly, very similar to Firebug.

After searching for Chrome tips and tricks, hacks, and such, I stumbled upon an article from TechCrunch that may have proven what Google is actually aiming for, and it made sense. Google, with Chrome, is not really aiming for, or joining, a browser war. Right now, I’m about 70% sure I’ll switch to Chrome and leave Firefox forever. But it’s not just that. Google is joining the OS wars. With everything being put in the cloud these days, one would only need a browser to do whatever they need to do. And computers are being developed to simply use a browser without an operating system. The birth of the cloud computer is near.

To Google and the Chrome developers, a tip of the hat or a pat on the back may not be enough and a big thank you is all I can manage to give you. This is a job well done. You may be evil, but you are so good at being evil. I simply can’t wait for the next iteration of this great application.


It has been a few months since I built a new desktop PC, and with this new PC I decided to use newer techonologies, like a PCI Express video card instead of AGP, DDR2 RAM sticks instead of DDR, dual core processor instead of the old single core, and a high capacity SATA drive instead of IDE.

What I didn’t replace was the operating system (OS) as it still serves me well and good. Ashamed to admit it, I’m still using Windows XP, not Ubuntu, OSx86 or Kalyway, or some obscure, new age OS. I am ashamed of using Windows XP, but I’m proud to say I’m not using Vista. At least, not yet. I stuck with XP because of the programs and applications I needed to use for work. If, and when, some entity or being or corporation decides to make something similar to Adobe CS3 that will run natively in Linux, expect me to be one of the first people to renounce Microsoft products. It’s Open Source all the way or nothing at all. Also, I’m too cheap to buy a Mac.

Everything was humming along quite fine, but one day, my wife restarted the PC and she gets this error that says the system folder is corrupted. She panicked and told me immediately that she didn’t do anything with the PC and that it just happened. I then proceeded to investigate the problem and decided it was best to run the diagnostic utility CHKDSK to find out if some of the system files were corrupted and just needed to be fixed. After about an hour of waiting for CHKDSK to finish, it reported that errors were found and fixed. I found this odd since the SATA drive where the OS was installed was just nearly a month old. I thought it weird to get bad clusters/sectors on the hard drive this early. After I rebooted, everything was peachy again.

Then all sorts of weird stuff started to happen. I always get an error saying some application was impossible to turn off every time I shut down the PC. Bittorrent got cranky when downloading something while Google Desktop was running, which made me turn off Google Desktop every time I started Bittorrent. And some of the video files won’t display properly when being played when it used to play smoothly before. After a few weeks, new issues started popping up.

While all this was going on, my IDE hard drive remained silently as a blank drive inside my PC. Then a few days ago, I decided to install my operating system on the IDE and made it my primary boot device. I noticed a difference in XP’s performance in the sense that it’s more stable. Speed difference was not noticeable. I didn’t get any errors shutting down, and Bittorrent is doing fine, although I still haven’t reinstalled Google Desktop yet, so it remains to be seen.

But here’s the thing: the IDE drive where I installed my operating system is more than three years old. THREE YEARS. And I still haven’t seen a “Windows cannot boot because C:WindowsSystem32 is corrupted” kind of error on booting. I never had to recover data or fix errors on the IDE drive.

I searched for reviews and comparisons between IDE and SATA and it seems SATA has the upper hand. This is because it is slowly becoming the new standard as motherboard manufacturers opt to use the space-saving interface that is SATA, instead of IDE. SATA is also very convenient and easy to install, has a higher bus speed capacity, and is hot-swappable, meaning the PC doesn’t have to be shut down to replace the hard drive. One thing I think SATA lacks is the stability and reliability at high speeds. The faster you go, the more the steering wheel will wobble. Ok, that was a mouthful.

Anyway, although SATA will clearly be the new standard and IDE’s days are numbered, I will still stick with IDE and recommend it to be used as the OS drive, for now. When the SATA drive manufacturers get their act together to make SATA drives that have reliable clusters and more stable at higher speeds, only then would I recommend SATA drives.

So again, for now, stick with IDE.

On the Job

It’s been a while since I last asked this question to myself, where I contemplate if I should stay with a company or not. It’s been a long time, too, that I’ve been working for this company, almost as long as one of my previous employments. I may surpass my tenure from before with my tenure here, but I wonder, why am I even staying here?

Long story short, Bills. Short story long, I have no idea why, but I would like to think about it in the meantime.

The people around me, although I don’t work with some of them directly, are a hoot to work with. The office is bearable, thanks to these guys. The pay is not as good as it only covers *some* bills. Stretching the paycheck has become an artform for some. I’m still wrestling with my wallet as it sometimes isn’t agreeable. HMO coverage is mediocre at best, as it also dents the paycheck quite substantially, IF there is one. Future employees (read: fresh grads) should prepare themselves to be disappointed. Aside from the fact that they will not get what they want, they should also start embracing the principle that the world doesn’t owe them anything, much less the companies they will eventually work for.

As for the workload, I can’t complain. Some of the times, I am neck-deep in tasks and duties. Most of the time, it is smooth-sailing and quite enjoyable. This is the reason why I was able to take on a second job. However, the time I spend with my family became scarce. It’s not really recommended to work two jobs when you’re just starting a family.

The pay-grade has changed. So should your lifestyle.

This is probably what makes living so hard. The more you get, the more drastic your lifestyle will change. If it doesn’t, then you’re one of the lucky few who can. Examples of lifestyle changes would be taking a cab instead of using public transportation, subscribing to a post-paid mobile plan from using no mobile phone at all, buying more expensive branded apparel instead of buying cheaper brands, and pursuing a very expensive hobby like photography, sailing, etc. Most of the people I know changed their lifestyle so much after getting promoted that they get quite a shock when they realize how much they are paying to maintain it. I know I did. Can they, or we, change back to the way it was? It’s an uphill battle that most would just roll with the punches until they’re dead.

So in effect, everything you have ever done, everything you will ever do, and everything you will ever think about doing is all for naught. Not even for yourself. Those who were able to pursue their expensive hobbies and still able to smile after doing so are called contented. Those who cringe should think about going back to their old, simpler lifestyles.

Why am I staying here again? Bills.

What’s your excuse for staying?