Saturday, November 28, 2009

2GB of free cloud back up

Good news for lovers of the cloud: Ubuntu 9.10 comes with 2GB of free cloud backup and storage! Install the client and sign up for the free account and Ubuntu One scans your files for changes and uploads any new or changed files to your cloud drive. So most of your backup problems disappear, but you can also access your files from any computer in the world. If you've got Ubuntu on your work computer and your home computer (like me), you can access the same file from two different locations. For instance, you can be working on a file at work, finish up for the day and head home. By the time you've logged on, the files have synced and you can open the same file and carry on at home. Now that's living in the cloud.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chromium OS launched

Exciting times for Linux geeks. Google has open sourced its disruptive operating system Chromium. Essentially it's a lightweight operating system that contains just enough to power a browser (which is where Google sees us doing just about everything in the near future). The way Google have been able to achieve a boot time of 7 seconds is to strip out everything that is not essential to running a browsers. Anyone who's used computer before is probably familiar with the way operating systems get slower and slower over the life of the device. This is quite convenient for peddlers of locked in operating system, because it means you're more likely to pay for an upgrade, but the root cause is often sloppy programming of third party software. What often happens is that programmers put parts of their code into the boot process so that it run all the time. Why? Because if 50% of their programme is running constantly, when you actually start that programme, it appears to load faster. So the program looks like it's nice and fast, but what it's actually doing is choking your entire computer. Not good in the long run.
With Google's 7 second boot and Ubuntu's goal of a 10 second boot in its next release, it looks like speed is going to become on of Linux's hallmarks in the years to come. It may just be the tipping point for an increasingly impatient market.
More on the Chromium OS:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Record and play back classes

One of the difficulties still facing educators (who have embraced ICTs or not) is the problem of making learning resources available to students who are not physically present in the classroom. Traditionally this has happened through the use of copied notes, and more recently through electronically captured and distributed resources. The problem with this is the fact that the majority of the intangible 'magic' of learning happens in the discussion and questioning that surrounds the resources. This 'magic' has been difficult to capture, except in a monolithic, podcast or video podcast which is not searchable or integrated with the notes, handouts and presentations being used.
Enter Synote. Synote is a web-based teaching tool that allows one to record video and audio of a class, run it through voice recognition to transcribe the conversations, then make it available for others to play back. Fast forward the video and the transcript fast forwards too. And it's available for full text search too.