Tuesday, November 15, 2011

NET9: Six Years In...

Wow! So much has happened this year. For us at NET9, we've had a child born, seen Android take off, iOS mature, the number of tablets rapidly expand, and mourned the passing of a great tech icon.

A great bit of tech news slipped past us without as much as a word from the site about it, but we are very much amazed at the staggering amount of developments that have occurred in this short amount of time. I have a feeling the coming year will bring an avalanche of innovation and progress that will continue to blow our minds.

We've made it through a lot of tough times since we started six years ago, but I see great times on the horizon. We always keep a positive outlook here at NET9, and we believe the future is going to be very bright indeed.

Definitely "Making the future happen" here at NET9. To many more amazing years of mobile tech.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Blogger iOS App

Google has finally brought Blogger to iOS via official app, and we look forward to using it quite a bit. So far, the app allows just about everything you would expect. You can edit posts, view previous posts, add photos, and publish all from within the app.

There is one thing I don't like about the app, but it's probably something that can be fixed in an update. The keyboard is portrait only, which I never liked using. Other than that, the app is perfect for blogging on the go.

The best feature I've noticed is that the app can be used offline to create posts, although saving/syncing is not available in this scenario. Lets hope Google keeps this app updated.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A New World, A New Life

It's been an amazing couple of weeks, with the birth of our daughter topping the list of great events here at NET9. We've seen Google gaining ground in mobile with the Motorola deal, as well as Google Plus jump into gaming, while the iPhone 5 is on the horizon from Apple. Speaking of Apple, we were surprised with the news of Steve Jobs stepping down as CEO. Of course many more Android smart-phones and tablets have made it on the mobile scene since our last post as well.

HTML5 is beginning to shape the new web and cloud computing is one of the big topics in development right now. The patent wars are in full force, and social networking royal rumble between Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter is changing the way people communicate forever. No one really knows how these conflicts in tech will end, but one thing is for sure, the events developing now will impact what mobile computing hardware and software we use and how we use it in ways we never imagined.

There's plenty more great tech news just waiting over the horizon, and the year is not over, but coming close to an end. We believe there are a lot of big surprises in store and we're making the most of every opportunity to be a major part of this bold new mobile future.

Cr-48 Update: Offline Apps
Lately, there has been a good deal of work being done by Google and other developers to make Chrome OS useful offline. This work has resulted in several apps that make using Chromebooks offline a bit more enjoyable. I've only just started to find some of these new offline apps, and will be adding more to the list as they become available. Right now, these are my favorites.

Offline Gmail
Using Gmail offline works just as expected, with a slightly unfamiliar appearance than the web version. Reading and replying to email and even composing new mail is possible. Once online, everything is synchronized and works like any other e-mail client. It's not the most elegant solution to e-mail, but it does make using a Chromebook away from Internet access a bit more useful.

I've been using Scratchpad to take notes and compose this blog post, and so far it works well for my needs on the Cr-48. Until Google Docs becomes usable offline (editing and not just viewing documents), this app will have to do. This is one of my most favorite Chrome apps at the moment thanks to its simplicity and functionality.

Amazon Kindle Cloud Reader
Sure this is a no-brainer application, but I love the idea that I can pick up a book where I may have left off reading on my iPod Touch or PC and have yet another device I can read my books on. The interface is sleek and simple, and there's nothing to get in the way while reading. And while I'm no advocate for reading on a laptop or PC, the Cr-48 display is quite good for the occasional burst of e-reading.

File Manager
Probably the most important offline app for me has to be the file manager for the mere fact that I can save web pages for later viewing, organize pictures, listen to music, and even watch some video when offline. Utilizing a fairly large usb stick, I can work with all my files even when I'm not connected to the web.

So, these are just some of the great apps and tools we take for granted on the more well established OSes we all know an love (or love to hate), but Chrome OS is coming along quite nicely. I look forward to seeing how these and future apps evolve over time into foundations for cloud computing.

New Apple Devices And Software Soon
One post for all the exciting news that has been breaking is just not realistic, so I want to focus on the few items we are most excited about.

iOS 5: This is a big one. Finally, iPod Touches, iPhones, an iPads will be free from needing the initial connection to a computer before using it. That's the one feature I've been waiting for, and all the others are just icing on the cake.

iPhone 5: This iPhone could be the one that gets me to upgrade from my current smartphone, the N97. Considering I use my iPod Touch 4G more than even my desktop these days, the logical progression is to move to an always connected and more powerful mobile device. I see the iPhone 5 being the perfect "next phone" for me.

iPod Touch 5: Here's where things get interesting. I've heard rumors that there may not be a successor to the current iPod Touch this time around, and some that say not only will there be one, but it will include a 3G radio to become that always connected mobile device I want. Depending on what path Apple takes, I could be moving to iPhone territory, or I could upgrade again to one of the best no-contract mobile device coming to market. Either way, Apple will be getting some of my money soon. How exciting.

And speaking of exciting...
First Weeks As A New Dad
My beautiful daughter Amai was born August 19, 2011 and it's been like a wonderful dream I never want to wake up from. She's been keeping her mom and I pretty busy, but every moment with her is a blessing. Our daily activities have shifted to revolve around her and it's an adventure for sure. I've learned to squeeze as much time out of the days, and learning new tricks to getting things done efficiently. So, although we have less time to ourselves (a lot less time), we are getting to the point where Amai's world is running like clockwork. I even had time to write this post without many breaks. We are really looking forward to our future as a family and we hope Amai can look back on this writing when she's older to see all the events that were happening as she grew up in this amazing time.

So, we have a great future ahead, and we are so very excited to still be here to share our thoughts, ideas, and moments with this brave new world.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

iPad 2: One More Thing...

So the iPad 2 has been shown, used, and dissected hundreds of times by the time you’re reading this. The tech in the iPad 2 is not very exciting. Front and back cameras? The iPod Touch 4G has them. Thinner and beveled edges? Got that too. What’s truly exciting about the iPad 2 is the dual-core A5 chip and the Apple Digital AV Adapter allowing you to mirror everything done on the iPad 2.

Aside from a better back camera, these two features are all that I am missing in the iPod Touch 4G. I’m willing to wait for those until my next mobile upgrade. But that doesn't tell you what I think of the iPad 2. I like it, but won’t buy it. I have a laptop, a smart phone, and an iPod Touch. I don’t see and need for an iPad. I have come to the conclusion that if I can’t take a computer with me everywhere, it’s not truly useful to me. Sure, it has a larger screen, but I could have that with the digital AV adapter.

No, the iPad or iPad 2 is not for me. I find the iPod Touch is far more useful to my needs as mobile computer. But beveled edges and cameras be damned! It’s all about the massive number of useful apps and awesome games. Apple has the magic thanks to the developers. It is this growing app “gravity” that will solidify and extend Apple’s lead. There’s no doubt that the iPad 2 will sell in droves and will be great for attracting even more developers perpetuating the process. 2011 is definitely the year of the iPad 2, but the year is just getting started, and a lot can happen in a year.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nokia+Microsoft, IBM+Samsung, Cr-48 Update

So, Nokia and Microsoft have joined forces and could either change the mobile industry forever in a huge way, or be the end for Nokia and the beginning of a new mobile era staring Apple and Google. I’m still not sure what to think about this news. On one hand, it’s sad that Nokia has given up on Symbian OS for Windows Phone OS. On the other hand, this could lead to some interesting mobile developments in the near and distant future. I truly hope it works out for both Nokia and Microsoft, and wish them the best. However, I will wait and see what comes of this new partnership. Meanwhile, I’m growing fonder of iOS and even Android to some extent.

IBM and Samsung have announced a patent cross-license agreement, and will likely have a huge impact on computer technology in the world soon. Of course, cross-license agreements like these happen all the time, but I imagine as time progresses this will be one of the most common solutions to the ever growing patent problem that has been stifling innovation for many industries. I look forward to a day when the patent application process is made obsolete and companies can see that collaboration is key to the survival and growth of any industry.

It’s funny how I seem to have not been giving the Cr-48 much time lately, but there are a few good reasons for that. For one, I have been using Netflix [a lot], and I can watch movies on my iPod Touch and PC, but it’s not compatible with Chrome OS and so there’s the problem. The second reason for not using the Cr-48 is mobility. Sure, I could take it some places, but it can’t be with me everywhere I go. The iPod Touch takes care of that problem also. There are other small reasons I haven’t been using the Cr-48 much, but they are few. I have yet to discover a “killer app” for the Cr-48, but for now I can just count on it eventually replacing my PC for most of my everyday use. I think the PC is becoming more of a storage server for files [music, movies, photos, etc.] now anyway. I’ll keep coming back to the Chrome-powered notebook to find new web apps and to do a lot of web work and research, but I don’t see it ever getting as much attention as a mobile computer like the iPod Touch.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Cr-48: Basic Web Apps, Advanced Web Concepts

So it's been almost two weeks since NET9 got the Cr-48 in the lab, and although I haven't used it every day I have thoroughly enjoyed the time using it. It turns on and boots up extremely fast [my most favorite feature], the hardware is solid and simple to use, and I don't see myself needing much more than Chrome OS has to offer. But this isn't a Cr-48 review, it's the begining of a series of posts surrounding our ongoing experience with Chrome OS as a whole.

Web Apps By Google
The first places I went after starting up Chrome OS were Google Docs, Gmail, Google Reader, and YouTube. Google Docs is how I take my notes, prepare blog posts, jot down ideas, and doodle. I have the ability to read and edit docs from other devices like the iPod Touch, and I have been using Google Docs primarily since it was Writely way back when.

Gmail was the next logical web destination, and my cornerstone of communication. I email, chat, and voice/video call all from Gmail, and have it in a pinned tab always. Instant access to email through the Cr-48 is what dreams are made of.

Speaking of dreams, Google Reader is perfect for my Cr-48 use. I use all the keyboard shorcuts to navigate, and for the first time in a long time, I am able to keep current with all my RSS feeds. In my opinion, Reader was made for Chrome OS.

YouTube, however puts the greatest strain on the Cr-48 of all the Google apps I've used so far. Video is hard work for the little notebook, and I'm sure it has everything to do with Flash at this point. Hopefully HTML5 will solve this problem if Adobe doesn't do so first. For now, YouTube videos on the Cr-48 are barely ok.

More In Store
Aside from the numerous Google apps running on our Cr-48, there are some other very useful apps in the Chrome Web Store. The Box.net app is essential to this sort of OS as a storage alternative/supplement, and a great way to transition to cloud computing in general. Then there’s Picnik, for editing photos online. The concept of editing images online is a powerful one, and Picnik does an excellent job of it. It connects to various sites like Picasa, Flickr, Facebook, and more to offer a seamless experience.

As the Chrome Web Store continues to mature, I’m sure there will be many great new options in the cloud for getting things done as well as an entertainment hub for the future of computing. It is a very exciting time for the web, and we are deeply invested in how mobile will shape it. The Chrome Web Store will be an integral part of shaping the web and how we use it in the future.

Smart, Fun, Cloud
Working in the cloud may be a big deal to most people trying to wrap their heads around the idea behind Chrome OS, but the entertainment and educational factors of such an idea are yet to be tapped. As entertainment is largely at the forefront of any great new technology, it is logical to see entertainment aspects of cloud computing being a very big contributor to its progress. Social games, audio/video streaming, and more will power the cloud after a days work.

Education is another large force that will help the growth of cloud computing the world over. Because it is more economical and encourages collaboration, the global reach of education via the cloud is boundless. Online books, video lectures, and various information on the web is accessible to most anyone. And thanks to cloud computing, more people will be able to afford and obtain an educational experience with greater ease and efficiency.

So cloud computing is here, and Chrome OS is doing an awesome job of bringing it all together so far. For me, it has sparked inspiration about where computing is headed and allowed me to view the web as more of a journey and less of a destination. We look forward to continue the journey by getting to know Chrome OS and the Cr-48 through the coming months, and we’re excited to see what becomes of cloud computing and how it eventually will infect mobile computing.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Touch, The Cr-48, And The Way

How Touching
The iPod Touch is one our most used and loved mobile devices to date. Because it has so many capabilities as a mobile computer, it's a wonder why it's not as popular or more so than the iPhone and iPad. Sure, its weaknesses are connectivity and screen size compared to its Apple created siblings, but ironically those also happen to be a couple of the iPod Touch's greatest strengths.

Having the option to chose the way one connects the iPod Touch to the web is the very reason I decided that the iPhone wasn't right for NET9. I'm free from a monthly carrier bill, and I can use apps like Skype, Google Voice, Textfree, etc. to make/receive calls and sms messages for cheap or free over wifi. As for the screen size, my eyes are very good and I have no problem reading text on the smaller screen. I can take the iPod Touch with me anywhere at this size, which makes it 100% mobile.

There's almost no limit to what the iPod Touch can do for my mobile computing experience, and I'm sure Apple will continue to improve this under-hyped consumer device over time. It's currently my main mobile computer at the moment, and shall remain so until something better for my needs comes along.

On Cloud 9
As you may have seen from my excited tweets, I finally received a Cr-48 notebook from Google recently, and have been wrapping my brain around finally seeing my dream of web-based computing. I won't go into a detailed review of the Cr-48 or Chrome OS, because there are so many already out there, and I would rather just integrate my ongoing experience with these sort of devices.

In terms of hardware, the Cr-48 is a solid machine incorporating simplicity and elegance that some see as “cheap” while others see it as “Zen-like”. I love the hardware personally, and it does the job while not getting in the way of what’s important, which brings us to the Chrome OS itself.
Basically, the browser is the operating system and there’s not much left to add to that fact. I see this as the future of cloud computing, and Google has a great head start with Chrome OS.

I plan on pushing this devices capabilities powered by Chrome OS and will continue to report on my progress going forward. The best thing I like about the Cr-48 and Google’s new OS is that it sparks so many ideas for me to put to the test. I am truly thankful for this great new opportunity, and can’t thank Google enough for making this possible.

Uncharted Territories
I believe we are once again transitioning into new and interesting places with respect to mobile technology and all technology as a whole. Devices like Microsoft’s Kinect for the Xbox 360 prove that slightly advanced camera tech combined with a microphone can provide an amazing gaming experience and possibly a great new computing interface paradigm.

Our mobile devices such as smart phones, media players, tablets, etc. have become our new PCs, and offer many more capabilities at the same time. Features like cameras, microphones, GPS sensors, accelerometers, and touch screens have been incorporated in mobile devices for some time now, but are just beginning to become useful in very creative ways. Meanwhile, technology such as NFC, gyroscopes, compasses, and various new sensors and wireless connectivity options are starting to change the mobile space once again. They are getting smarter.

Between more powerful and faster mobile processors, the growing additions in hardware features, and the smart new ways in which software utilizes the hardware, the future of mobile is becoming a very powerful force indeed. Mobile is starting to learn, to become like our pets, if you will. It is our new keys and wallet/purse. It connects us in more ways than just telephony. It records and outputs our location as well as our textual, audible, and visual memories. It is becoming closer to us than our best best friends. Soon, we will be putting it on like clothes, but eventually it will become part of us like our eyes, ears, nose, etc. We are more than half-way t
here, and there’s no reason for us to turn back now.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Predictions For 2011

This is our first predictions post composed entirely on a mobile device [iPod Touch 4G], and we know it won't be our last. NET9 is five years old now, and we are growing a little wiser each day. This year has been very enlightening, and we are excited about the future we are building. So here's what we've got...

- TV is changing, weather you like it or not. 2011 will see concepts like Clicker.com competing with ideas like Google TV for your visual attention, and depending on if you're a die hard cable cutter or just want to add the web to your TV for simplicity, you will have new ways to watch what's on. We also see Google TV coming to PS3 and Xbob 360 in 2011.

- Your mobile device is the new PC and so much more. Today's mobile devices have become more powerful than the desktop PC of five years ago. Not only in power, but in functionality. Watch as the next stage in computing changes again with technologies such as NFC, AR, gyroscope sensors, bio sensors, and compass sensors. This is the tech that you'll see a lot of in 2011.

- Geo location gains steam in 2011. With the much needed help from augmented reality and NFC tech, where you are will be about much more than just checking in to Foursquare or other similar services. Coupons and local deals will continue to drive location-based services for the foreseeable future.

- Messaging, voice, and video communications shape future for carriers. Data rich devices and services are changing the telecom industry, and we see monumental changes taking place in 2011 that will fix or break the way many will use mobile computers. This is one of the largest issues we will face in coming years that affects the progress of mobile computing. I see a future where wifi makes an inevitable comeback because of this.

- Slates, tablets, and pads are the next computing fad. In 2011 we will have several Android tablets, and of course Apple will have an update to the IPad as well. The Blackberry Playbook also comes to market, and I imagine Microsoft and Nokia won't be too far behind. But like the netbook trend before it, we doubt it will last longer than a few years.

- Gesture-based ui and voice recognition begins to replace the mouse and keyboard in 2011. The Kinnect is just a first step for Microsoft's agenda for changing how people use computers. Windows Phone 7 could greatly benefit from this tech and even change mobile computing forever. We see other big companies like Google and Apple continue to advance this new paradigm in computing in the future as well. This is one area we are particularly excited about, and look forward to being a huge part of.

- Touch UI tech reaches inevitable limitations toward the the end of 2011. Touching will give way to letting the advanced camera and microphone technology handle majority the UI in computing. People are getting tired of fingerprints. After that we move to thought-controlled systems. We believe what mobile devices look like will change dramatically during this transition.

- NFC will finally go mainstream in 2011 with big names like Nokia, Google, Apple, and others building the tech into mobile devices. We see mobile payments being the biggest factor in this movement, followed by gaming, file sharing, shopping, and even ticketing.

- "Voltronization" begins now... All the features of our mobile devices will start to come together in very interesting new ways. The hardware is now more than capable, and software is more powerful than ever. Demand is growing for a congealing of all the functions of a mobile device in order to represent more and more of ourselves as accurately as we can. We are here, this is what we are doing, take a look, watch how this happens, it's happening now, and sure you can check it out again later if you like, but we'll be doing something else by then so...

Thanks for another wonderful year. To all our readers, Happy Holidays. Stay warm, safe, and loved. We'll see you in the future.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Time For Some More Change

So we have been looking at ways to update the site a little and we have decided on brightening up the text and we've added our Twitter feed to the sidebar as well. We are always looking to improving and adapting NET9 as we continue to grow. We hope you like what we've done, and we look forward to your feedback.

We finally got a new iPod Touch [4G] in the lab, and are loving the new features. The screen is amazing, the speed on and off-line is excellent, and the cameras are more useful than we expected. Of course, the mobility of this device is out of this world, and I personally love the multitasking feature. We'll continue to test the capabilities of these iPods as new apps become available and as various web services are adapted to mobile computing devices in the future.

As we come closer to the end of this year, we have seen many trends surfacing that will develop and mature throughout next year. We see this wave of new ideas and products around the same time every year, and this years' trends look to be the Kinect [because gesture and voice interfaces are the future], NFC [near field communication tech will finally start to gain traction in the states and will change the payment process in a huge way], Internet TV [Google TV, Apple TV, and various others are bringing the web and tv together, but each one has their own ideas about how it should work], Social and Location [who and where you are has never been so important in the last few years, and sharing all that was cool, but this time it's personal...].

We are seeing a lot of change in the mobile industry lately. Some of it we like, some we don't like. Some ideas we see as a big deal for the future [AR, gesture/speech recognition] are being overshadowed by frivolous quibbles between the very companies [Google vs. Facebook] that could be developing these ideas more quickly and efficiently. There needs to be a refocus of efforts on the parts of everyone in the coming year, because I see rough roads ahead if we don't.