Everybody wants to save the earth, nobody wants to help mom do the dishes.  --P.J. O'Rourke

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Don't Bet Against Chrome OS

Well, Google has taken the wraps off it's much anticipated Chrome OS, and it didn't go over so well.  In fact twitteratti and techtards everywhere were almost universally "meh" about it - oh and it's behind schedule too.....isn't that just super.  In case you weren't paying attention to the star in the east and missed the demo, here's the gist of it.  Chrome OS is essentially the Chrome browser, and isn't really what most people would consider an OS.  Google Chrome will be sold on a netbook like hardware platform that boots instantly right to an enhanced Chrome browser.  The tech press however, was looking for a Windows killer and a repeat of the Apple/MS wars.  That would have been a good story, but a glorified browser isn't exactly a "stop the presses" event.  I think however, that they are largely missing the point.  The important thing about the Chrome OS is that it isn't an OS.  I freely admit that the proposed platform has it's limitations, you won't be running Photoshop CS3 or Visual Studio on a Chrome machine any time soon.  Most people will want (or need) to have a traditional PC simply because Browser based apps are still pretty rudimentary compared to locally hosted OS based offerings (OS apps have had a significant head start).   Soon however, possibly even now, browser based apps and cloud services will be "good enough".  I would argue that video entertainment (games, video editing, photo editing etc)  is the most resource intensive task most people do with their home PC's.  Do I really need a dual core PC with a super duper video card and tons memory to do word documents and other office stuff? Not IMHO.  Is the average PC really suited for entertainment display? Not IMHO, the screen is too small and the speakers stink.  Hooking the PC to a large HDTV is a great way to go, and alot of people have already done that, myself included.  The trouble is, I already have two computers hooked up to the TV, namely the digital cable box/DVR and a game console.  Both of those "computers" are a lot less of a hassle to deal with than the PC/OS combo.  So, If I loose the PC with the OS, what am I giving up?  Seems to me, the answer is "not a heck of a lot", except for word processing and photo editing, both of which are or will be "good enough" in the browser in short order.  In my opinion, within the next 3-4 years, the only think keeping most people chained to a traditional OS/PC combination will be habit.  Come to think of it, the instant on chrome browser/network device combo makes a compelling case for those "Nettops" that have popped up here and there, one of those would make the perfect kitchen computer.

Monday, November 23, 2009

20 inch Fixie Bikes, Burgeoning Trend or Evolutionary Dead End?

The new thing it seems is fixed gear, large frame bikes with 20inch BMX sized wheels.  Actually, this configuration has existed for quite some time, but was pretty much restricted to folding commuter bikes.  In many ways, this configuration makes some sense, smaller wheels are inherently lighter and stronger than large wheels and are also superior from a wind resistance and inertial perspective.  The obvious problem with BMX bikes is their diminutive size, which makes them uncomfortable for long rides. (in the opinion of this 6'4" individual).  The payoff for the small size is of course the ability to do stunts,  I gather that this setup seeks to combine (some of) the tossability of a BMX with the greater leverage and comfort of a larger frame.  Judging by the Japanese video below, it seems to work out pretty well, although with the probable downside of ride quality and steering twitchiness.  Still have yet to see one in the flesh, but Boston has a pretty vibrant single speed community, so it's likely only a matter of time.   Kindof the Yang to the 29er Ying or something.

YACFMP - 1972 Ford LTD Country Squire Station Wagon

Yet Another Car From My Past

I am pretty sure this is the first car from my childhood that I can explicitly remember, though if it's not, it's a damn good guess, because Ford sold a boatload of these land yachts.  Measuring nearly 19ft long (to put that in perspective, that's longer than a current Chevy Suburban) and weighing two and a half tons, and available with a 460cid V8, these disco era toddler barges were whales even by the standards of the day.  The coolest features by far were the 3-way magic doorgate and the flip up third row seats.  Although the "wayback" was big enough to host a threesome, The magic 3-way tailgate wasn't as kinky as it sounds. Though undoubtedly a double entendre, the 3-way referred to the ability of the tailgate to open like a door, or fold down like a pickup - which given my age at the time seemed magical enough.  At the drive in we would park backwards, drop the tailgate down and the three of us kids would lie in the back in sleeping bags to watch the movie.  As well as sledding innumerable families to the movies, the Country Squire appeared in well over 100 movies and TV series, and seems to have been especially popular with the producers of  "CHIPS".

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Real Bass Boats for Real Bass

Most Americans outside the "coffee milk belt" mistakenly confuse a "Bass Boat"  with those logo-sticker-encrusted, disco-glitter-bedazzled plastic speedboats best known from basic cable fishing shows.  In Non-Rhotic American English the word "Bass" refers to the Striper (Roccus Saxatilis) and a "Bass Boat" is a rugged, deep water inboard like the beautiful MacKenzie Cuttyhunk pictured above. Designed for the steep chop and swift currents of the Northeastern coast of the U.S., these chunky, no-nonsense boats are the precursors of the now ubiquitous deep-vee center console fishing boats.  Like the Striper, these boats were seemingly everywhere at one point and then very nearly vanished completely in the 70's and 80's.  Thankfully, both are enjoying somewhat of a resurgence now and several new companies have started making updated versions of this venerable design, both in fiberglass and wood.  It's easy to see why, In addition to the rugged, good looks of the Bass Boat, the design is much more flexible, economical and family friendly than the center console.