Chrome rant

First, take a look at this. Bunch of ‘monsters‘ written in the processing language. This little language from MIT is even more versatile than I first thought. I’m thinking of writing a small visualization bot of sorts later on, which might take some time since my primary medium of choice Mathematica just got bumped upto version 7. I’m harassing the school depot so I can get the latest copy without having to pay the ridiculous price tag that comes with this (albeit vital) program environment. 

These days I find myself using three web browsers at once, four if I include a little text-only script stuff (much like modified emacs) that I use exclusively to communicate with my school computer (which does all the heavy lifting these days). 

I use IE for all those pesky Korean/Japanese community sites that requires all those active x for full functionality (yes folks. For all the glitter the Asia is a backward place when it comes to CC licences and GNU philosophy) so I can keep in touch with people there. I’m currently in process of bugging them to ditch the crappy web services and migrate to twitter/tumblr/swurl/friendfeed. For some reason there’s already a sizable Japanese community on the twitter I think. Though most of them just ends up making a post or two and revert back to their original active x crap services (because all their other friends are still on the other service. Ugh).

I use firefox for all the research stuff. I have noscript which block out practically every single content on the website except for pure text unless I manually configure the site to show its content, which is a lifesaver when I have fifty tabs open and some website decides to pull in ‘bling is the thing’ flash content on my laptop. The ADP is just as essential. I usually spend most of my time in firefox without encountering a single ad, so less distraction, and less processing power/RAM wasted for something I’m not going to buy anyway. The zotero and ‘science toolbar’ courtesy of the thriving firefox plugin/extensions community makes making notes and bibliographies a sinch. I can practically fly through dozens of archives and scientific data depots on the web in course of minutes using my fully customized setup.

And then there’s the google chrome. The chrome is still in the beta stage (like most other google services really), and lacks some significant functionality like ADP and zotero integration, but I still come back to the browser time and time again. There’s something innately elegant about the basic design and layout of the chrome browser that make it a joy to use it to surf the web. And the speed isn’t half bad either (I guess all that webkit engine hypes have a good reason). I like how the bookmark bar appears and disappears at the touch of a shortcut, and I like how I can browse the web without using the mouse.  I love the maximum amount of screen estate allotted to the content of the website itself instead of browser interface, a big faux pas firefox 3.0 made with its big shiny buttons. I love how i don’t have to lose entire sessions of tabs when a single tab fails to respond. I can just shift-esc, pull up the in-browser taskmanager, and cancel or troubleshoot the problem tab. I love how the ctrl-f brings up the search bar at the top of the browser window instead of the bottom, and I like how it doesn’t take an entire line of my screen estate. it’s ergonomically sound, and just plain makes sense.

Google chrome is the browser I use when I ‘just want to go to Disney Land’, so to speak. And since the chrome is open source I can live with my conscience, unlike with IE (though I wouldn’t use it if it was open source). Google chrome is the web browser firefox 3 should have been. And things can only get better as the time goes, with the obvious amount of effort google is pouring into the chrome browser.

Bruce Sterling on education

I’m taking a bit of a break today, which leaves me some time to indulge in all sorts of creative yet ultimately possibly meaningless ventures, like mathematica visualization, the processing language study, and scrounging for interesting bits on the net.

While on my usual sojourn throughout the infosphere this morning, I found an interesting passage written on subject of education by someone I assume to be the Bruce Sterling (here’s the original website I found this in). This passage was intended as a response to a question asking him what he would do as a ‘head honcho’ of the Ministry of Education asked earlier in the said webpage. A little too close to the truth for comfort I think. And people actually wonder why the public education systems all over the world is hitting the rock bottom.

If I were head honcho of the Ministry of Education,
my job would not be to make schools work as learning
environments.  Basically, my job would be to make
school-age children walk in straight lines and
salute the flag as I freed up the productive
capacity of their parents.

If schools were learning environments, all the smart
kids would clear out in half an hour.  Then they'd
go home and demand attention from Mom and Dad.
That just can't be allowed.

Wondering chrome

A little life update, as usual.

Now I am not as busy as before… Meaning that I have fewer deadlines to worry about at the moment, though there are a number of them looming on the horizon. Now that I have a bit of time I want to write a proper blog post like I did before, but the sudden relaxed lifestyle led to an unexpected flood of ideas and curiosities that I just do not know where to begin writing now. Oh well, I guess I gotta take it slow and one at a time.

Google Chrome had been generating a lot of fuss since the very moment it was released, from the interesting user interface and multi-processing/self-contained architecture to its future development as a product of the ubiquitous Google nation (especially with Android OS set to come up in a very near future, and who knows what other surprises Google has in store for us with all their employees getting 1/5 workday set aside for personal projects). Those of you who have not tried Chrome yet for some strange reason should at least give it a whirl, see how it is like.

Despite some issues with the technical execution (usually centering around accessibility issues and memory-hogging… Which should be expected of a beta product) and the draconian EULA included with the default Chrome distribution (which Google claims is a mistake on their part), I must say that I like this browser, and can not wait to get my hands on the final release. There is certain atmosphere of simplicity and elegance sewn into the very fabric of the program itself that appeals to me. It is like looking at a baby. So little now, yet with so many promising future ahead of her/him/it.

Indeed, the true appeal of Google Chrome is not what it is right now, (though it is one nifty browser as it is) but what it can become and what it can push other browsers to aspire to, using its extensive database support, opensourced architecture, and inevitable wave of third party plugins.

Now that I think about it, maybe even the whole memory-hogging issue of the beta Chrome is some part of its intended design acting up (of course, it is the multi-process architecture gone bad, but beyond that). With Snow Leopard update coming soon from Apple widely proclaiming full support/utility for the 64bit+ architecture, it makes me think if Google also has in mind some sort of 64bit utilizing browser architecture that had been designed from the ground up to take advantage of the advances in hardware/software mode.

Whether you like Chrome or not, its development in the future will certainly be worth keeping tabs on.

Interesting resource

This is a two thirty in the morning post, just letting you know.

I came across an interesting service awhile ago, thought I’d share it with you.

http://vixy.net

It’s an online application that transcodes FLV files into other format of choice, like mp4 for ipod or avi for desktop viewing (for those who don’t have flv viewer). Although there are free desktop applications that does the same thing better, this one is useful in that it doesn’t eat up your computer’s resources. I’m transcoding some music videos and interesting TED talks into mp4 format right now.

Oh, and in case you don’t know what TED is, it’s an annual meeting of brilliant minds across the globe, giving talks on issues related to betterment of humanity. Their topics vary widely, from performing arts to particle physics, and each of those talks are truly a gem. I’ve been binge watching/listening Craig Venter these days. He is currently attempting to build a minimal genome network for construction of a base life-like system, so it has a lot to do with my obsessive interest in artificial life. It’s interesting how easy it is to find genome and synthetic biology relevant talks among the TED list. Whatever the result may be it is certainly the trend of the times… Makes me want to live forever.

The weather outside is the cool shade of a thunderstorm. I hope it continues into tomorrow.