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2008 — Yearly Archive


Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin. … She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that ‘We Shall Overcome.’

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.  And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

America, we have come so far.  We have seen so much.  But there is so much more to do.”

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5 November 2008 7:19 am

The CSMonitor going Web-only

The CSMonitor is going to stop printing its weekday edition and go web-only Monday through Friday. I’ve always had a soft spot for the Monitor because of well-written articles and the fact that it continued to maintain its foreign bureaus at a time when the rest of the industry was cutting back and relying on syndicated NYT/AP/Reuters stories. Here’s hoping this experiment succeeds. (Incidentally, the Monitor gets 90% of its revenue from subscriptions and only 10% from ads. Like Wikipedia, it’s a non-profit.)

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28 October 2008 11:34 pm

Not as Annoying

Windows 7 wins a ringing endorsement from MSNBC: “Next Windows won’t be as annoying”.

Jokes apart, Microsoft tends to do lousy .0 releases and very good .1 releases. And Windows 7 == v6.1.  Who knows, maybe I won’t have to switch to Ubuntu after all.

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10:59 pm

Chrome Burning Bright

So Google finally got tired of waiting for other browser vendors to improve their offerings – not surprising given how their business absolutely depends on the web. Chrome is definitely very important because it’ll change the way people think of browsers. Back in 2005 I wrote about the browser of tomorrow and listed some key features:

  • Offline Access – baked into Chrome thanks to Gears
  • Compiled code that can access the browser DOM – present thanks to the “V8″ Javascript VM
  • Modern widget set – still waiting on HTML5

2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

A lot of the buzz about Chrome has been about how this is a warning shot about Google’s platform ambitions. Actually, Google’s ambition has been plain to see for some time now: to suck in as much of personal and enterprise computing into the web (preferably its own server farms) as possible.

Its own browser furthers that goal by giving it a greater say in how the web shapes up, but don’t expect a Google OS on your desktop anytime soon. The real gruntwork an OS does (supporting obscure devices, maintaining software and hardware compatibility) is remarkably unsexy and thankless and tends to produce not “ooh shiny” fanboys but “my printer does not work you suck” maniacs who troll your forums (both Microsoft and most Linux distro vendors know this pretty well). Of course, Google will be looking to get its mittens into controlled environments like mobile phones and Internet tablets. But even a browser like Chrome alone will have some profound consequences for the industry:

Mozilla: Now that Google is committed to a svelte, usable, cross-platform browser (dare I say it, the vi of browsers), Mozilla will have no choice but to become the emacs of browsers – an über-customizable does-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink app for dealing with the web. Extensibility will remain Chrome’s weak point simply because XUL (which Firefox uses to create its UI) is so much more expressive. Like emacs’s elisp, XUL is Firefox’s Achilles’ Heel and its single biggest competitive advantage.

Microsoft: It has to get serious about web standards – its rendering engine, Trident, is showing its age (complex CSS-based layouts load significantly faster on Gecko than even IE8 Beta 2). More than that, it’s commitment to Javascript has been iffy as it has bet on Silverlight’s .NET DLR to bring a modern multi-language VM to the browser. With Google showing off what can be done with Javascript alone, this strategy is looking like a classic case of overreach. Sun has the same problem – a JITed Javascript is the beginning of the end of Java on the web client. At this point the best option for both is to work out how their VMs can handle standard ECMAscript in addition to other non-web languages, and how to make these VMs ubiquitous on as many browsers and platforms as possible.

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4 September 2008 1:57 am

This is London

The Boston Globe’s Big Picture feature today features London from above, a bunch of stunning photos by aerial photographer Jason Hawkes. Go see them all.

Also, if you like great photos, add the Big Picture’s RSS Feed to your feed reader. You’ll get some real gems from time to time, like the Olympic opening ceremonies and events, California wildfires and even astonishing photos of the Large Hadron Collider (a couple more photos below).


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29 August 2008 11:55 pm

RIP Sir Arthur Clarke

20 March 2008 12:33 am


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