Rich Internet Apps

Ryan Stewart writes: “For a great many things, technologies like Flash, OpenLaszlo and Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere (WPF/E) will give you a rich, web based deskop-like experience. The ubiquity and ease of the web can finally be used to deliver powerful, compelling experiences. But there are other applications that need the extra tie to the desktop. They may need to synchronize data or even just make use of the file system. By leveraging Rich Internet Applications, we can use the same code base that power our web-based RIAs, and simply add some of the desktop features we need. Once people start to get that, there is a lot to be gained in productivity and cost savings. Thinking aboout webified desktop applicatons is thinking about the past. The future is going to be applications that mostly run on the web, but have mechanisims to take advantage of the desktop when needed.”

Newspaper Sites

Adrian Holovaty writes:

First, the question of “How is this journalism?” is academic. Journalists should have less of a concern of what is and isn’t “journalism,” and more of a concern for important, focused information that is useful to people’s lives and helps them understand the world. A newspaper ought to be that: a fair look at current, important information for a readership.

Second, it’s important to note I’m not making an all-or-nothing proposition; I’m not saying newspapers should turn completely to vast collections of data, completely abandoning the format of a news article. News articles are great for telling stories, analyzing complex issues and all sorts of other things. An article — a “big blob of text” — is often the best way to explain concepts. The nuances of the English language do not map neatly to machine-manipulatable data sources. (This very entry, which you’re reading right now, is a prime example of something that could not be replaced with a database.) When I say “newspapers need to stop the story-centric worldview,” I don’t mean “newspapers need to abolish stories.” The two forms of information dissemination can coexist and complement each other.

Ubuntu and Free Software

Forbes writes:

[Mark] Shuttleworth wants to give back, by offering universal access to a free operating system to run PCs and servers. The world already has several free versions of the open-source Linux operating system, but Shuttleworths version, called Ubuntu, undercuts them all on price–and works better, according to many respected sources.

Support fees for Ubuntu (translation: humanity to others in a South African Bantu language) are comparable to Red Hats and Novells, but theyre completely voluntary. Some of Google’s (nasdaq: GOOG – news – people ) developers use Ubuntu, for instance, but the company doesn’t pay because it services its own machines. Other users might pay only to support those machines they deem crucial to operations.

Ubuntu now has 4 million users, half of which are governments, universities and a smattering of businesses. It adds new ones at a rate of 8% per month. After its public release in October 2004, Ubuntu quickly deposed Red Hat’s Fedora as the most popular version of Linux on DistroWatch, a Web site that caters to Linux users.

Microsoft’s Zune

Knowledge@Wharton writes about Microsoft’s vertically integarted approach:

Microsoft, well known as a software giant, is increasingly dabbling in hardware and playing a bigger role in product design. The big question is: Why? While some analysts dismiss Microsoft’s efforts as Apple envy, experts at Wharton say there is a bigger picture. Microsoft wants more control over integrating its software with the gadgets that could open new markets. Its real mission: Find new vertical markets to dominate so it can continue to grow even if its Windows monopoly erodes.
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Among the signs Microsoft is changing:

* It’s increasingly focused on hardware and software integration with efforts like Zune;

* It doesn’t try to fit full-blown Windows into every device. For instance, the Xbox doesn’t use Windows software;

* It’s increasingly focused on web services through initiatives like Windows Live.

Mobiles and TiVo-like Features

InfoWorld writes:

Texas Instruments is demonstrating PVR (personal video recording) capabilities for mobiles at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam this week. It is using its own Hollywood digital TV chip and OMAP 2 multimedia processor, along with software from partners PacketVideo and Software Systems (S3).

The technology allows people to record a TV program on their mobile phone and then watch it later, on the train on the way to work, for example. The TI package also provides “picture-in-picture” capabilities, allowing a person to watch a prerecorded program and also track a live sports event in a smaller, on-screen window.

The PVR technology should find its way into mobile phones in 2007, TI said.

TECH TALK: The Now-New-Near Web: The Now Web

The story so far: The Now-New-Near Web is the incremental Web in Time, Topics and Space. It is a web which is made by us with our mobiles, using rich media, and is a mirror image of the real world about us. This can be summarised as the N3 Web built around M4 (me, mobiles, media, mirror world).

Let us take each of the three terms now, new, and near and delve into them in the context of the incremental content.

Now is about incremental in Time. It is about events that are happening now. Other words to describe this web are real-time and live. The World of Now is the world around us. Watching a cricket match on TV or a business channel with its constant updates of stock indices and prices is a view on whats happening now. As Ryan Stewart wrote on ZDNet: The world works in real time. Stock quotes, conversations, events, all of it is in real time, and the web shouldn’t be any different. Being able to experience that event in real time is something that could be a huge draw for users. Why do people pay so much money to go to a sporting event or to a concert? Because of the experience. They’re surrounded by fans, they’re seeing everything with their own eyes and therefore creating their own perceptions.

Time has been a key aspect of our lives for as long as we can remember. History is organised along timelines. We think of key events in our lives via dates. 9/11 has been ingrained into the worlds memory as a defining moment of our lives based on the events that took place this day five years ago. In Mumbai, over the past year, two dates have been etched into peoples memories 7/26 and 7/11. The first date refers to the day Mumbai received over 900 mm of rain in 2005, and the second date refers to the bomb blasts which took place in the city recently.

Time is an organising aspect for our lives. So far, the view that we have had into our days has been via the calendar. The calendar compartmentalises time and links them with an activity. Our mobiles phones also have calendars built into them making it that much easier for us to make use of the calendar on a continuous basis.

In the enterprise context, the Now Web can be thought of as the ability to get real-time updates from business applications for decision-making. In the consumer context, the Now Web can be thought of as being able to get a view of what Ramesh Jain (with whom I have co-founded Seraja) has called the EventWeb. Over the next few columns, we will delve into the EventWeb in more detail with a series Ramesh Jain has been writing on his blog.

Tomorrow: EventWeb

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