Flutterby™! : Pushing out to the 'Net

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Pushing out to the 'Net

2006-12-03 00:23:13.036747+00 by ebradway 9 comments

I a vein similar to Dan & Todd's bet about the death of TV, I'm beginning to believe that it won't be too long before we see computer applications pushed away from the desktop and onto the 'Net. For instance, Flickr is almost good enough that I'd prefer to just stick all my photos there. I don't have to worry about backups. I can easily share with friends. I can easiy order prints. Of course, I use web-based email almost exclusively (Gmail). Google's Docs and Spreadsheets provides rudimentary desktop apps. But what will really drive this is the coloboration possible with the Web that's really impossible on stand-alone PCs. I can gather comments on my Flickr images and share with other people easily. With GIS, in ESRI ArcGIS as well as NASA WorldWind and Google Earth, I can connect to remote data sources that are really too unwieldy for local storage.

At what point could this become the "norm"? I'm betting that if we can get ubiquitous pipes providing the equivalent of a full 30fps refresh on three 24" displays, the desktop will really be irrelevant. I say that because around that kind of throughput, doing crazy things like linear editting of video while playing DOOM XX will be possible. That throughput works out to (assuming each 24" display gives 3200x1600x36bit resolution) roughly 1300MBps or 1.3Tbps. Granted, right now in tightly controlled LANs we are only seeing about 10Giga-bps, we are just about three orders of magnitude away.

Of course, the real problem is latency. Video editting used to be relegated exclusively to SGIs, Macs and Amigas (with the VideoToaster) because linear video editting can't tolerate any latency...

[ related topics: Interactive Drama Photography Technology and Culture Todd Gemmell Space & Astronomy Astronomy Television Video ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2006-12-03 19:09:25.103165+00 by: Shawn

This ("applicationapplications pushed away from the desktop and onto the 'Net") became the norm - or more specifically, the intended norm - about five years ago. That was when the industry started calling web sites web applications. Fostering that shift is also arguably the whole point of the supposed Web 2.0.

Personally, it drives me nuts. I like having web access to my e-mail for certain situations, but for day-to-day use I much prefer to have desktop applications. Don't get me wrong; I've got no problem with the capability being developed, but I'm concerned about being forced down that road - which is typically how the [U.S.] market works.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-12-03 20:58:53.852774+00 by: ebradway

I'm concerned about being forced down that road

I doubt it. I say this because there will ALWAYS be a minority of geeks, techies, etc., who like having more control over their environment. Sure, their minority position may become smaller in terms of the larger population of computer users but the total population size will never really disappear. And there will always be lower-level APIs allowing everything to talk together.

I guess the rest of us "users" will be stuck in the Matrix while you guys manage to breakout...

But my main point was see how these web applications might reach the point where even the "power user" will use Web Applications more than local apps.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-12-04 15:08:27.884035+00 by: Dan Lyke

One of the things that has struck me of late is how freakin' complicated it is to build native apps, in fact to build computing services in general. I think web apps, even with all the flash and Flash and JavaScript, are easier to build, and that's where a lot of development is happening as a result.

I was helping set up the SGVCC annual fundraiser auction, and we were having some problems with printing out the database of bid sheets and such, and I realized that twenty years ago I'd count characters over and lines down and whip up a little BASIC to print the damned things, now it's simpler to have people cut stuff manually because printer layout's become more complex than it was back in those days.

If we can get back to APIs that make applications worthwhile to code again (and this is where I see the open source systems far outstripping the Mac and Windows APIs) I think we'll see a resurgence in local applications, only this time they'll talk to network apps.

On the other hand, JavaScript and HTML are now rich enough to do most of what a desktop app needs to, computers are fast enough that speed isn't really an issue (which is a reason Intel may push back), so while I'm not sure we'll ever really see X windows come in to its own in the way that the original network functionality was designed I can imagine further trend this way.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-12-04 17:21:47.606375+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oh, I also wanted to note that I've been noticing that the Flutterby server is getting a bit long in the tooth, and what seemed like lots of disk space back when I set up the sucker is starting to feel cramped.

And I'm no longer sure I need root. I use my web server for some specific things, I'm starting to (despite playing fast and loose with my internet provider's TOS) share some of those services with my home server, and as I look at buying more drive space or more server speed I'm seeing that it doesn't look any more expensive to buy it with 4 terabytes of net transfer a month than it does to buy the hardware alone.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-12-04 18:52:44.478892+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

I really hate hardware. Hosting my own stuff is a pain. If I could just give up some of the things I feel I need, I'd be much better off.

That said, I can't stand to put all my photos on Flickr -- or any other service. Photo apps allow you to upload copies of your photos to Flickr or Google's site so that you can share them easily. And you still get to own your data.

I'll screw up and lose my own data, sure, but I prefer to have multiple copies of data rather than just putting everything into one third-party service. Using F-Spot, for instance, I can publish the pictures I really care about to Flickr, PicassaWeb and my own server.

FWIW, I'm starting to play around with Amazon's services. Brackup + Amazon's S3 + EC2 seem like a really nice way to do most of what I want.

Now, if only I could find something similar to S3 that would give me a second place to back my data up to.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-12-04 18:56:45.933662+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

#Comment Re: made: 2006-12-04 18:57:28.056905+00 by: Dan Lyke

Looks like Dreamhost will give you 400 gig of drive space for $16/month. I haven't looked too far around, and I wouldn't trust that as my sole repository, but as an off-site it caught my eye.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-12-04 19:23:42.998293+00 by: Mark A. Hershberger

That seems very reasonable as a second store. Thanks for the info.

#Comment Re: made: 2006-12-04 22:36:59.280419+00 by: Dan Lyke

Here's an interesting article on Vista:

If we assume Microsoft's costs per employee are about $200,000 a year, the estimated payroll costs alone for Vista hover around $10 billion. That has to be close to the costs of some of the biggest engineering projects ever undertaken, such as the Manhattan Project that created the atomic bomb during World War II. And while Microsoft toiled on Vista, its stock price stayed flat.

Whatever my personal anti-Microsoft biases, I have to assume that a platform that lets companies do lots of incremental upgrades and respond to their customers desires more agilely is going to win in the long-term.