Google Themes Your Gmail. Cloud Computing on the rise?

19 11 2008

While at work today sometime early afternoon, I happened to accidentally click on my GMAIL tab on Firefox to find new colors running across the screen. Was it the Websense filter doing it’s job by filtering out some color script? The blue was a deeper hue than I could recall and after going through the settings on the “settings” link, was not able to find a solution for the color change. The only thing referencing to “color” was the labels. Asked Kaci if her Gmail looked any different but she replied with a negative.

Got home and checked Gmail. Surely, this wasn’t the Google Gmail blue we’ve always known. Had to check again so clicked on “Settings” on the top right corner and booyah, there was a new tab “THEMES” listed at the end – not visible when I was at work. Was this merely a cosmetic upgrade?

It was a tough choice between “Planets” and “Ninja” but we now know who won.

After Microsoft launched a half-hearted theme option on their HOTMAIL/LIVE website 2 weeks ago, I guess this was just an inevitability especially since the iGoogle page had that feature as an option some years back. Also, the iGoogle page had been tweaked recently to get all the gadgets incorporated in a seamlessly convenient package. A positive step from Google but a giant leap towards the social acceptance of cloud computing.

When we say “Cloud Computing,” think of being able to use your computer anywhere you go without having to tug along your laptop. The concept thrives on the notion that any computer that can connect to the internet can connect to your “computer” which in actuality, exists on external servers. When you download an MP3 or movie or any file for the matter, or when you write up papers or make charts, they get stored on a server making them accessible from any internet ready machine at your disposal. The trick is to make the UI (User Interface) all effortless by blurring the lines between what is stored on your computer’s physical hard drive and what is stored on your “online” computer.

In the future, when you log on to your computer, the operating system you see and interact (Mac OS / Windows / etc) won’t be stored in your hard drive. Google Docs, Adobe’s Photoshop Express, and Microsoft’s Office Live Workspace are a few examples of commercial software backed by well known companies basing their ideas on online applications. The full featured desktop operating system is on it’s way out and even Microsoft’s making sure they don’t miss out on this trend (hint: Azure).

Simply put, Google’s Gmail themes is the tip of the iceberg of bigger things to come. We are going to be seeing another major technological paradigm shift in the next 5 years and whether we like it or not, it’s already taking place.

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Nabaztag <3 bedtime childrens books

5 03 2008

As most senseless gadget geeks, I’ve always wanted the Nabaztag. Half of it’s functions borders on the useless but the cute little cuddly French wifi (802.xx) rabbit has a strong personality. Now there’s even more reason to love it and it comes in the form of being able to read books with RFID tags. That is if you get the rabbit with the “/tag” suffix.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags were originally used in WWII. Allied aircrafts had giant transistory units weighing hundreds of pounds and helped ground forces identify friendlies. Nowadays, credit cards, passports, proxy cards, etc carry them the RFID chips. In the case of the Nabaztag, it just reads books with those tags. Then there’s also the RFID stickers you can purchase to have your Nabaztag read news, weather, etc.

Oh and it’ll set you back by $165 + taxes. The first gen bunny goes for a very hot price of $95.

With Easter coming up, this is almost a “must-have” item for families with little ones.

Click here for the online store if you’re interested.

EDIT: Forgot to cite Engadget for the reporting.





The Incredible Pats on the receiving end!

3 02 2008

I’d been bummed ever since learning that the hard-working San Diego Chargers were put to the sword by the New England Patriots who completed their 18-game winning streak and ensuring a perfect 100% win record this season. Then major disappointment as the stupid Favre-led Green Bay Packers fell to the about average New York Giants. The Pats are going to wipe out the Giants at the Superbowl XLII in Arizona I though. Boy was I wrong.

So yup. The Patriots lost out to the Giants in a thrilling final 35 seconds.

The warning signs were already there in the final 2 games for the season with the Giants beating Buffalo and then going on to narrowly losing out to today’s runner-ups, the blueboys from the North East.

In the Play-Offs, the wild-card Giants beat the offense heavy Jeff Garcia’s Tampa Bay in Tampa Florida, 24-14. Then they went out to beat Jessica Simpson’s boyfriend’s team, Dallas Cowboys in Dallas, 21-17. The final shocker was beating the all-rounder/excellent Green Bay Packers out in Green Bay in a closely contested gam, 23-20.

So the marking was up on the wall. Peyton Manning’s lil brother Eli could play thanks to a deadly combination of time-management and pushing out a rush play through Brandon Jacobs and the rookie Ahmad Bradshaw. While the former was all strength and tall steel, the latter was courage and intelligence. This in addition to the long-armed Plaxico Buress’ sticky hands who plays better than his look-alike Akon can sing, and the Giants are a pretty decent team. The trick was to figure out how to stop Eli before he threw the ball.

Their running game is excellent but they’re vulnerable in the short-pass category. The Pats defense couldn’t keep up with this formula despite an excellent game in the offense for the dimunitive Wes Welker. So they lost and in the process sent shockwaves throughout the nation. The team nobody thought could make it to the Play-Offs did it as a Wildcard team, then going on to take on much stronger opponents. Brady’s sacking was a special sweet moment for me to savor.

Overall, the Giants played with so much passion, the Patriots were left in the dust and the better team won in the end. In the closing stages just when we thought the Giants were out, Eli was able to keep their offensive drive alive by tearing away from the clutches of 2 opponent players. We thought he was sacked but he got the ball out somehow and their 2nd string wide receiver Tyree made an unbelievable catch with his helmet.

Burress managed to grab the game-winning touchdown pass from Eli Manning with 35 seconds on the clock with a dummy and a slant to the left corner. All this from a team that got beat in late November by Minnesota 41-17 back in the Giants stadium in New York. The coach was about to get fired, Eli looked like the worst quarterback in history, and the team was a joke. The Patriots were pleasantly beaten to open a new record – first in history for an NFC wildcard team to win the Super Bowl.

PS: Fox’s 720p HD coverage of the game was bad. There were a lot of pixelated spots all over the broadcast but that was noticeable only if we looked up close to the screen. Maybe done to ensure a smoother broadcasting.





Criss Angel is an asshole

31 10 2007

So was watching this show “Phenomenon” on NBC (Wednesdays 8-9 pm) about illusionists and mentalists which are all fancy words for magicians but they’d like to disagree. The performers do shows and 2 judges, the famed mentalist Uri Geller and the ummm famed-illusionist Criss Angel, make their verdicts while the rest of the US make phone calls to vote their favorite acts. Anyway, so this time, it was a LIVE Halloween event and they had 6 noobies on the row this time and they all had a limited allotted time slot to complete their magic stunts.

One dude (Jim) put on a highly dramatic performance. Maybe a bit overly dramatic to most people’s taste and it got to Criss Angel. So Jim was shaking and trembling all over the stage during his act reminiscent of Edward Norton’s motions while trying to conjure up the spirit of Jessica Biel in the movie “The Illusionist.” It was ok on the movie but in real life, it’s kinda a bit too much isn’t it? Yea and while both judges (Uri and Criss) thought so, Criss was a bit less diplomatic and put something in an envelope taunting Jim to reveal the content of the envelope. His profanity laden words didn’t help his image any better and the two almost came to fist fights.

My words to you Criss Angel. You are a good “illusionist” but don’t get too high up there. Not good for your personal publicity. You might have some personal issues but don’t bring it on tv especially if it’s LIVE. What you could have told Jim would be something along the lines of “you got a bit too dramatic for my tastes…” and that would have been the end of it. Made yourself look foolish. Good thing people learn and I’m sure you do.

If you feel sorry for Jim and want to put out a sympathy vote, call 1-866-34567-05. The “05” at the end is his tag #. I’m just happy being apathetic. Hehe and Happy Halloween!!!