FryUp: BIOSed towards SSDs

Chrome, Android and a great Microsoft opportunity

Naked for the blind and disabled

Some people say charity starts at home, but what it really means is that you get a chance to take your kit off in public. Geeks are no exception. Here, have a perv at some nude London ones, who probably should’ve just given some of their venture capital to the Take Heart India charity instead of giving away to their exhibitionist egomania like this. They don’t even mention how to donate the money. Nude London Tech Calendar from Leapanywhere.com on Vimeo

Pop Stasi

I blame Joel Veitch of delicately rude rathergood.com for this one. YouTube

BIOS versus SSDs

ChromeOSomatically, Google now says its operating system won’t support hard drives. Actually, it will but not the electromagnetic/mechanic variety, but solid state ones. The reason for this is to get fast boot times, no more than seven seconds to start up the device. Despite what analysts say, fast boot times are great and good. It means you can start up the computer, do something quickly and then close it again. With slow boot times, you leave the damn thing on all the time, as you don’t want to wait an aeon for the OS to come up. Some analysts say they don’t understand why Google wants to run Chrome OS from SSDs, but that’s an easy one: first, they’re coming down in price and second, it doesn’t matter that they’re smaller in capacity than standard hard disks. You won’t be storing much data on the SSD anyway. It’ll all be in the Google Cloud. Introducing SSDs is a half-way measure though. Really, what Google should do here is to get rid of the BIOS, that little boot-strapping piece of code in read-only memory that’s slow to execute. That would provide a nice speed boost for booting but… it would require talking to hardware vendors about customisation to produce BIOS-less PCs. Looking at the above though, I wonder if there will be any point in getting a Netbook with Chrome OS, in New Zealand at least. We just don’t have the network infrastructure to support it yet, not unless Google steps in and puts a smile on the government’s face with a fibre to the premises network. Google Chrome OS will not support hard drives

Open shop already

Speaking of Google and New Zealand, what happened to full access to the Android Market for Kiwi developers? Presently, NZ developers can distribute free apps but not paid ones as Google Checkout merchants. Only Americans, Britons, Japanese and continental Euros can sell priced apps, and Google doesn’t have any idea when more countries will be added. If Apple and Microsoft can provide access for NZ developers to their mobile marketplaces, why can’t mighty Google do the same? Android Market: Supported locations

The Intarweb explodes

Microsoft isn’t taking the round of boxing around the ears by webkit and Mozilla lying down, and is readying Internet Explorer Number Nine. Reading Dean Hachamovitch’s blog entry, IE9 will have a souped-up Javascript engine, so that it no longer is left in the dust by Chrome, Safari and Firefox. That’s one thing, but what I’m looking forward to the most is hardware acceleration, something that could really tilt the tables in Microsoft’s favour. What this mean is using DirectX to render web browser graphics and text. Given how fast even budget video cards render stuff nowadays, this makes complete sense. In fact, it’s quite strange that Microsoft didn’t think of this a few IE revisions back. If you have Silverlight (is that hardware accelerated?) installed you can watch Dean H, Christian Fortini and Anjali Parikh show off what a DirectX boosted web surfing experience means. Yeah, it’s too long and the sound is lousy, but the clip is worth watching. Get Microsoft Silverlight IE Blog: An early look at IE9 for developers

XKCD Academia versus business

Cartoon: www.xkcd.com

Robert X Cringely Google and the collapse of Western civilization

The web is getting dumber by the minute -- and Google is largely to blame. We need smarter search engines, before it's too late I've come to the conclusion that the end of civilization as we know it is indeed upon us. And I blame Google. Though all search engines are at fault, Google in particular is contributing the most to the dumbing down of the web, which in turn leads to the dumbing down of everything else. Eventually we'll get so stupid we'll forget how to feed ourselves. I got to this state of mind after spending a lot of time looking at Google Trends. It gives you an instant snapshot of what Americans are searching for at any one time, distilled into a constantly shifting list of the Top 40. It's both fascinating and deeply distressing. What do I learn by looking at current Google Trends? That Johnny Depp was named People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive (once again, I wuz robbed). Lowe's Foods is running big specials on Pampers and bacon (hopefully used separately). And Fidel Castro is still not dead, despite what Perez Hilton says. Here's the No. 1 Google Trend as I type this: nephelococcygia. It's a word made up by Aristophanes 2,400 years ago and it means "cloud cukooland." Really? That's what America desperately wants to know about right now? As the boys over at eSarcasm noted recently, Google Trends get even weirder. Apparently over the last week, a ton of people searched for heated toilet seats, flaming Care Bears, and parakeets with intestinal disorders. Go figure. Here's what happens when some search phrase climbs the Google Trends charts: Every Tom, Dick, and Hairball web site latches onto it, hoping to coast to some easy traffic by writing 200- to 300-word "stories" that are often nothing more than "hey, heated toilet seats are a Google Trending topic, isn't that odd?" Sometimes they're not even that sophisticated. It's all about who can get there first. Why do they do this? Because it works. Despite the completely brain-dead, worthless waste of pixels that constitutes 99 percent of such posts, Google often rewards them with prime placement — which translates into traffic, clicks, and money. Because of that, it's not just the bottom feeders who are doing this. Mainstream sites see that surfing Google Trends works, so they rush to do it too. Some well-respected sites (including, ahem, some InfoWorld sister sites) have been throwing as many bloggers at a trending topic as they can in the hope that at least one of them will crest the Google wave and capture eyeballs. This may be a reasonable short-term strategy (or possibly just a desperate one), but a series of short articles that essentially repeat the same information from the same sources doesn't exactly make for intelligent discourse. Here's what makes it worse: Google and the other search engines are about as smart as well-trained Golden Retrievers. They will fetch whatever you tell them to fetch — but only what you tell them to fetch. So if you want the dog to find a hambone, it will find a hambone. Wrap that bone in a sock or bury it under a pile of leaves, though, and it's like your dog suddenly has no nose. That hambone might just as well not exist. So if you write a story about a laptop and you want Google to find it, you'd damn well better put "laptop" in the headline, the subline, any boldfaced text, and sprinkle it liberally through every paragraph of the story. The more often you repeat the same phrase, the better the search engines will treat you. If you use notebook, netbook, portable, or any other synonym — what used to be known as good writing, in the pre-web days — Google turns into the Golden Retriever with no nose. Thus we end up with completely asinine (yet Google friendly) stuff like this: "There's water on the moon. Yes, you heard me right. Water on the moon was found by scientists. What does water on the moon mean? Will water on the moon really make a difference in our lives? These are the questions I sat out to answer..... "Further more, ice on the moon could give scientists insight in to the creation of our solar system.  Polar ice has given scientists many indications of how the Earth was formed, and ice on the moon could give even more information." So, to summarise: Water moon ice water moon. Got that? This "story" comes via Examiner.com, which I could swear used to be an actual news source at one time but now just seems to regurgitate search terms in almost random fashion. Couple this disturbing trend with companies like Demand Media, which generates 4,000 web articles and videos each day based entirely on search term popularity and profitability (see "This blog has NOT been brought to you by an algorithm"), and you end up with a web that is rapidly filling up with crap. As more sites struggle to rise above the noise and get traffic, they will resort to these kinds of tactics, publishing less original reporting and more odious regurgitation. Because the regurg is cheaper to produce and makes them more money. Case closed. The problem, as I've said before, is how search engines work — or rather, how they don't work. And by "search engines," I really mean Google. We need it to get a lot smarter in a hurry, before we all end up in cloud cuckooland. Is Google broken? If so, how would you fix it? Post your thoughts below or e-mail me: cringe@infoworld.com.

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