Bryan Ruby

Thoughts, Words, and Deeds


I purchased the Google Nexus 7 tablet

If you follow me on Google+ or Twitter, you likely already know that I am not a tablet fan. I know the statement is contradictory when coming from a techy person like me. I have a hard time seeing the benefit of a tablet in my day to day life. I already own a great smartphone (the Android-based Droid Razr) and I prefer the ease of a physical keyboard on my computer and notebooks when writing content is crucial. Overall, I'm just not convinced that a tablet will allow me to do anything more than what my current devices already do. Perhaps this is a sign of my age, but I lost my "wow" some time ago for new technology.

Google Nexus 7 BannerYesterday, I bit the bullet and finally ordered my first tablet, the Google Nexus 7. Although, I bought my wife an iPad 3 last spring (it seldom gets used around here), I never really felt comfortable playing with the iPad since I am not the primary user of the device. With regards to my decision to purchase the Nexus 7, I have to admit that I'm not looking forward to confusing my family further with another new device in our home. We are already at war here in Ruby Manor battling the mix of Windows, OSX, iOS, Linux, and Android devices scattered throughout the household. The mix of DVR and Blueray players connected to our TV's aren't helping either. Life should be simpler but we tend to have complicated matters as none of my family are fully satisfied with a single cloud service whether those services come from Apple, Google, or Amazon.

Who really invented the tablet?

The 1994 Knight-Ridder video I attached at the bottom of this post  is a fantastic reminder that the tablet predates the iPad and Android tablet by many decades. During the "hypermedia" era of the late 1980's, I can recall taking a "tech of the future" class where my professor discussed in similar detail what a tablet might look like in the future. He described a day where students would be sitting under trees reading not not from paper books but utilizing exactly what we know today as the digital tablet. 

 Believe it or not though, the origins of the tablet computer date back to the 19th century.

Electrical devices with data input and output on a flat information display have existed as early as 1888.[3] Throughout the 20th century many devices with these characteristics have been ideated and created whether as blueprints, prototypes or commercial products, with the Dynabook concept in 1968 being a spiritual precursor of tablets and laptops. In addition to many academic and research systems, there were several companies with commercial products in the 1980s.

Ready or not: Content management is going mobile

Not having the opportunity to own an iPhone due to lack of coverage by phone carrier AT&T, I haven't been a smartphone user. Then a few weeks ago my carrier, Verizon, introduced the Motorola Droid and I purchased my first smartphone.  Since then, I've been carrying the Droid where ever I go and taking full advantage of the phone's features.

My experience with the Droid has forced me once again to question what I know about Web content management and best practices. I knew I would use the phone for social media aspects (Facebook, Twitter) but I've been surprised at how much I hungered to read content from various Internet sites. Despite the iPhone and the Droid both having good Web browsers, I've come to the conclusion that reading content on a smartphone for a site like still sucks.

How much further do content management systems need to go to deliver content to the mobile user as well as the touchscreen tablet folks? Delivering content to mobile users has to be more than just stripping off the site's cosmetics and delivering only text. Though, I suspect that's what most of us will do as a lot of time and money would be involved. Also, I don't think it's just the delivery of content that needs to change for mobile devices but also how we manage the content that will also need to be changed. I think the challenges are enormous and wonder if we're really ready to deliver on the promises we're making.

One such promise that is being made for the tablet folks is the vision being provided by the publishers of Sports Illustrated. This vision for hypermedia isn't new but perhaps we're a lot closer now to having this vision become reality as our smartphones, electronic books, and tablets advance forward into the future.

I do not like the word Smart

I was reading an article this morning regarding the use of ARM-based chips in a number of devices including "smartbooks". It appears the industry would like you to now call those smaller and less powerful laptop computers a smartbook instead of netbook.

To describe these devices as a smartbook is idiotic marketing for two reasons. First, "netbook" is a term that has been around for two years and most people today recognize the term being applied to smaller sized notebooks. When you hear the question, "What is a smartbook?" it seems very natural to just answer by replying, "a smartbook is a netbook". Secondly, I have to say it's very moronic (worse than ironic) to call a dumbed-down notebook a smartbook. At least when you say "smartphone" it is in reference to increased functionality over the traditional mobile phone and not less functionality.

I do not like the word "smart" being attached to devices and applications that are far from actually being intelligent on their own. Is marketing that insecure in the devices they're selling that they need to attach the word "smart" to cover up their own lack of intelligence? I have a theory that any time we attach the word "smart" to software or devices it is inviting doom into our lives.

Dell Mini 10v can do linux, linux, and more linux

It should be no surprise to long time readers that I'm a fan of both netbooks and the linux operating system. Earlier this year, I bought a Dell Mini 12 netbook with Ubuntu Linux and I'm still satisfied with my purchase.

Dell's Doug Anson recently showed that the Dell Mini 10v is quite capable of running the latest linux desktops. I like just the fact that Dell entertains the ideas of running something besides Windows on their desktops and laptops.

Internet after Death

It was only a matter of time before someone was going to ask the final "what if" question for Internet users.

I'm sorry, but you're dead. Now what happens to your gigabytes of online data, Websites, automatic payments, and "virtual money"?

A new category of online services is emerging: A "Last Will and Testament" for Internet assets. It's just the start, and perhaps we'll see businesses producing "daemons" or "after-death worms" delivering payloads that represent your interests in perpetuity.

That's right, as you settle into your final resting place you too can have that peace of mind at Legacy Locker. Legacy Locker is a "safe, secure repository for your digital property that lets you grant access to online assets for friends and loved ones in the event of death or disability".  What's really blowing my mind is that there is a part of me that is whispering that this isn't such a bad idea.

Focus on print hurts newspaper sites

Mark Van Pattern has written a piece on PBS's MediaShift titled, "How the Focus on Print Hurts Our Newspaper Site".  His story is a common story I hear time after time from those in the newspaper business.

It's definitely no tangled bureaucracy, but even within this simple system you find conflicts holding the website back. The problem is that the different people in that system just have different priorities. As general manager, I want to see both a strong online presence and continued healthy print circulation. In contrast, the managing editor doesn't want to "hurt" the print edition by making the online edition too strong, fearing that it could tempt subscribers to abandon print.

Ultimately, this conflict is what's holding our online edition back. Without a full commitment from the managing editor, the website will never reach its full potential.

The digital age remains to be a dillemna for newspapers.  Newspapers either have to ballance their resources between print and online media or put more focus on one over the other.  I think it becomes even more difficult for publications when they find a large readership online yet the higher revenue remains on the print side.  Although it may take some years, I still say that eventually online media will beat old media.  It is just a matter of time.

Dell releasing the Mini 12 netbook this week?

Last year, I started looking for a linux laptop and ended up just migrating my old Windows laptop over to Ubuntu Linux.  Since my personal preference is for smaller sized laptops, I have also been keeping an eye on the new low-cost netbooks.  Currently, I'm leaning toward the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 with Ubuntu already installed.  However, my personal sweet spot for a laptop seems to be in the 10 to 12 inch range.

Today, at I came across reference to a yet to be released Inspiron Mini 12 (1210)!  While there have been rumors circulating on the Web that Dell will be introducing a 12.1 inch Mini netbook or (and) E Slim, I don't think anyone has reported seeing actual references of the Inspiron Mini 12 at  Until now!  Perhaps we'll be seeing the Inspiron Mini 12 released this week or possibly next week?  If the price is reasonable and Ubuntu is available, this Mini 12 will be my next notebook.

Why Google Chrome?

By now you've heard of Google's new Chrome browser which is currently in beta.  But did you ask yourself, why would Google want to enter the Internet browser market?  There are a number of reasons to why Google may have developed this browser, but I believe the explanation given by an article posted at CNET's Webware is the most likely reason.

On the Web, a site that responds a few milliseconds faster can make a big difference in people's engagement. It's for this reason that Google believes its new Web browser, Chrome, is a project worth investing in rather than a footnote in the history of the Internet.

Chrome, Google said during its Tuesday launch event, is much faster at showing Web pages than the most widely used browser, Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Google's hope is that performance will open up the bottleneck that chokes the speed and abilities of today's Web-based applications...

...Why speed means money
Google benefits materially from fast performance. First, when it comes to search, Google discovered when its search page loads fractionally faster, users search more often, which of course leads to more opportunities for Google to place its highly lucrative text ads. Second, a faster Web application foundation means that Google's online applications for e-mail, word processing, spreadsheets, and calendars can become faster and fuller-featured.

Microsoft reverses IE8 compatibility decision

On Monday, Microsoft announced from their IEBlog that they were reversing their decision for how Internet Explorer 8 would be compatible with Web pages designed for Internet Explorer 7 as well as Internet standards. You may recall that earlier this year Microsoft announced that Internet Explorer 8 in "Standards Mode" would actually be rendering pages in Internet Explorer 7's "Standards Mode". If you really wanted to have IE8 follow the latest standards then you would need to insert a special
tag to your pages.

While developers and users expressed opinions on both sides of the issue, I think it would be fair to say a large number of people were not happy with this decision. In my own comments, I stated that "this is just plain crazy" of a move by Microsoft as it held onto ideas of the past and not the present. In a March 3, 2008 post, Microsoft's Interoperability Principles and IE8, the IE team explains what you can expect with IE8 compatibility based on their changed decision.

Now, IE8 will show pages requesting “Standards” mode in IE8’s Standards mode. Developers who want their pages shown using IE8’s “IE7 Standards mode” will need to request that explicitly (using the http header/meta tag approach described here).