Jolicloud Pre-Release

I’m writing this in the browser as I tend to do, though instead of running Windows or OSX, I’m using Jolicloud on my netbook.  I’ve had it loaded previously, but since I hacked the system with a new wireless card (to hackintosh) it failed to work without a wired connected, severely limiting my desire to use it.  Recently though Jolicloud released a more public beta and I loaded it up yesterday from Windows 7 and Jolicloud took care of everything …

A few system updates later (seems every OS has that post load) I’m really pleased with how Jolicloud runs.  The metaphor is a bit different than most operating systems – for starters, you need to have a live connection to do most everything.  This is great for most things, but something to really consider if you travel around as you won’t be able to do much without finding your way online.

Jolicloud runs over ubuntu from what I can tell, and while it’s linux all the geeky stuff is hidden away behind a simple interface that’s essentially just a launcher.  The “apps” you load are all single window browser apps via Mozilla Prism.  Just like running prism on a standard pc or Fluid on your mac, these apps look like apps when you use your task switcher, but also have the limits of just being in the browser.  A few examples of minor limits are no easy way to see you’ve got new mail with Gmail or ?alerts from twitter.  These are hardly deal breakers, but certainly adjustments you need to make.

I’ve encountered a few bugs (this is pre-release) which will hopefully be resolved in time for the full release.

  • The first is that Prism is not maintaining my login from Firefox to the Prsim web app.  I’m thinking this should work as it’s running from the same base, though perhaps I am misunderstanding how Prism utilizes the Firefox system.
  • A more serious issue is that it’s impossible to use Facebook Connect to login to various sites.  When I’ve clicked to use it Firefox loads from Prism and instead of redirecting back to Prism, the page load dies.  This one neds to be fixed so things are considerably more fluid

Jolicloud is really a slick system.  I’d definitely recommend checking it out for someone less geeky and using one of the linux based netbooks.  Coming from Windows, there are going to be some adjustments (no real offline apps), but for casual computing it’s a great system.

Is the 13″ MacBookPro a Shot at Netbooks?

Apple’s COO Tim Cook had stated the following regarding netbooks in a recent earnings call:

“When I look at netbooks, I see cramped keyboards, terrible software, junky hardware, very small screens. It’s just not a good consumer experience and not something we would put the Mac brand on. It’s a segment we would not choose to play in.”

For the past month or so, I’ve been thinking what my next netbook might be …

With the prices as they are it’s easy to consider netbooks almost temporary machines. My good friend Andy Abramson almost considers them disposable leaving his MacBook Air in the hotel safe and dragging around the netbook which he can afford to have smashed or even stolen.

In my case, I have been trying to do as much as possible on the netbook and while that’s been both largely successful and pleasurable, there are certainly some limits. The newer crop of netbooks is supposed to alleviate the video processing power and heavy flash web page processing the Atom really does at admirable job trying to handle, but lags. Battery life is of course a major plus on netbooks and I’ve gotten as much as 7.5 hours of active use during a day of business. I love that the battery is solid enough to go a few days of intermittent use without even having to plug in – something my other laptops (work lenovo X61 and personal 15″ macbookpro) can only dream of managing.

The new 13″ MacBookPro is completely changing my perspective on mobility … It’s only slightly larger and about 1lb heavier than I’m used to carrying around but offers an quantum difference in capabilities. The price is rather different as well. Instead of topping out at around $500 for a netbook, the 13″ MacBook is closer to $1800 configured the way I’d want. The price difference, while considerable is small compared to the newly found power I’m likely to find once again.  And let’s not overlook the new battery power to die for according to Anandtech … making the MacBookPro even more attractive!

While netbooks are really about compromises … MacBookPro’s are not.

Lenovo IdeaPad ION Powered Netbook Coming

Lenovo IdeaPad

Portable Monkey brings some news about an upcoming Lenovo IdeaPad 12″ netbook and I am lusting for it. As much as I love my Samsung NC10 (writing this on it), I can’t help but find it lacking on a few fronts and ION seeks to remedy that.

Of course the netbook is a compromise, but after almost 6 months of regular use, I miss the oomph of a more powerful system. I would also love to have a bit more screen resolution and the new Lenovo seems to cover off on both bases. The Sammy’s video performance is very average though that’s apparently how it works with the Intel Atom integrated graphics solution.

I’ve not seen any updates that would propose to offer anything better than what I have in the initial Atom product. Until now … ION will definitely offer MORE. I look forward to tracking the updates on this as it gets closer to release … hopefully the battery tax won’t be substantial.

Update on My Netbook Usage

Samsung NC10-14GW netbook

I’ve been using the Samsung NC10 as my main travel system (also carrying my work laptop) since the end of December and I thought it would be worth reporting on my findings to date.  In general, the NC10 performs admirably for every request I’ve made though it’s not hard to find the edge of the netbook limit either.

Since buying the NC10, I’ve traveled abroad twice and found that aside from needing to connect to my office’s VPN, I can do everything I need with ease during the course of a business day.  I can email, IM, video chat, browse sites, open office docs, play media etc.  The battery in Windows XP goes basically the whole day though I actually rarely run XP as was pre-installed.  Instead, I’ve been using a combination of Windows 7 and OSX as my primary systems – mainly Windows 7.

Both OSX and Windows 7 use more power, but are infinitely more pleasurable to use over XP.  I accept the lesser battery capability in return for user experience and will definitely remove XP when Windows 7 is properly released.  OSX is something I run when I want to use a Mac specific app like iPhoto though after this vacation I will probably not do that too much more moving forward with this current rig.  As much as I like running the Mac side of things, editing high resolution media is not very efficient on the current Atom spec.  You really need more horsepower and ideally a GPU to complement the CPU.  This would most likely reducer battery life further, but again it would be worth the sacrifice to let something this size serve as a primary computer.  I’d pay more for this privledge as well.

This past week, aside from shooting a few hundred RAW images of my kids, I’ve also captured a lot of HD video clips with a Flip MinoHD I received from my wife.  It’s basically impossible to playback these clips at full strength … they play fine in smaller preview scale, but fullscreen HD is just too much to ask for a low powered system in these initial netbooks.  While I would not be looking to edit or playback HD video or edit RAW images on a daily basis I actually lost track a bit that my computer was indeed a netbook.  Of course I know it’s a netbook, but since it really is an incredibly versatile system, I don’t really consider it secondary.  This last thought is something I think is pretty impressive … While the intent of the netbook as it was sold was as a low cost, reasonably powered computer you can actually do a ton of stuff with it – and not really consider the limits unless you start to venture into richer media.

For me, the netbook is still a very strong category of computers and I look forward to upgrading to a more capable system at some point this year when things evolve.  For a typical user these current and even the soon to be released computers will serve a very wide segment and after a few months of use, it’s not hard to see why they are selling well.  In these financially unknown times getting a lot of return on a small investment is a great deal.

Psion is really working hard to keep netbook for themselves

02/07/2009 - Netbook For Mobile Internet

jkOnTheRun reports on how Google is now honoring Psion’s trademark of Netbook effectively killing the search term for anyone else.  If this pushes further we are likely to see devices currently called netbooks go through a rebranding.

What’s strange about this is that Psion has effectively been a dead company for years and has no active product in the market – even if they did in fact invent one called a netbook though it was discontinued in 2003 – long before the notion of low cost computers we now know as netbooks came around.

Why now?  What are they cooking here?  There’s no known effort underway that would require Psion to protect the term so their device alone could be marketed that way … and it’s not looking lie a legal battle is mounting to do anything other than stop people from saying netbook.

Sites like netbooknews apparently get 50% of their earned ad revenue from the term netbook and this change is going to sting initially for sure.  I’ve been debating removing the sticker on my NC10 which reads Netbook for Mobile Internet but now I might just have to keep it there out of spite.

Windows 7 Starter Edition – What can’t you do today?

Microsoft truly can’t get out of their own way … Windows 7 looks so good, yet we’ll have to suffer through a ridiculous number of SKUs when one would suffice. And the worst thing I’ve read yet on the topic is that Netbooks will get something called Starter Edition which limits you to 3 concurrent applications – who the hell wants that??

In a typical session I run Firefox (min 10 tabs), Pidgin, Twhirl or Tweetdeck, Ovi Suite and sometimes Evernote.  I also usually add in iTunes or for music. There are few processes like two-finger scroll, Jing and Dropbox running at all times and while  I’m not sure if the smaller stuff would be blocked but it seems I would have to make a choice on the applications running.  I would certainly NOT be able to fire up anything else like Skype for a video chat (which also works quite fine) without first closing down a bunch of stuff.

I run more than 3 applications at a time on my phones … come on Microsoft!

Update – Just ran across another source and it looks like Home Premium will be the standard netbook install for the higher end systems while Starter is really designed for emerging market low end systems.