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June 2006

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Web 2.0 and Portable Computing.

By John Abbott, member of the Bentsen Grove Resort Computer Club, Mission Texas John( at )bgrcc.com www.bgrcc.com

Portable Computing has always lagged behind the rest of the computing market. This is probably because there are cur- rently less mobile devices than computers. But that is about to change. According to Steve Rupel (leading PR company on the planet) billions of mobile devices will reach the market this year and by 2010 there will be 50 million of them sold quar- terly.

Mobile device? You won't be calling them Pocket PC or Cell Phone long; maybe PCC for Personal Communication Center. The merger of all forms of digital communications is rapidly taking shape. Cell phones now contain very limited access to the web, receive very limited email, and take limited resolution pictures – oh and they work as phones too. With smaller and more low powered devices quickly coming on scene these lim- its will expand exponentially.

archive. From within that mail system I can also originate chats with my friends and maintain my calendar. I can make my calendar or part of it accessible to colleagues for event coordination.

I can use Zohowriter.com for my word processor. Zoho is a full strength word processor with all the power you find in Works, Word or Open Office (or any of the dozen or so word processors available. I am able to store my documents on- line, download them to my computer, publish them on the site so they can be collaborated by associates whom I have previ- ously arranged access. I can upload files from remote files (my computer or yours) and modify and store or simply store them on-line. And as an added feature I can use Zoho as a mail client; sending, receiving and originating email. Zoho automatically assigns you an email account when you register (free).

My project over the past month has been the installation of an Operating System on a USB Flash-memory Device (UFD). I started with a full blown Linux distribution on a USB 80 giga- byte micro hard drive. Well after some real torture and lots and lots of reading I managed to get it operational. However, in editing the boot file I managed to misspell something and now I've got to start all over again.

But I did find a couple of small Linux distributions: Damn Small Linux and Puppy Linux. I downloaded the ISO files for each and started working on a flash drive. Today I managed to get the thumb drive fully functional. Along the way I've learned a lot about what I still need to learn about executing from a CD or a UFD. But DSL in a tube really works.

Why do this? Well because I know that Web 2.0 is going to dominate the future of the web. With more and more of the platform being located on the Internet, less and less will be re- quired on your local computer. The computer will take on more and more of the role of thin client (from a client/server rela- tionship where all the applications are on the server). This in turn will have a direct impact on the cost of computers which will no longer have to come with expensive 3rd party software. So I created a portable thin client.

There will be some who say: “well I can have several pro- grams open at once on my desktop.” And my response would be, fine, I have multiple web pages open on my computer as I use Zoho to write this. I have a page set up with Wikipedia to check facts, the weather, my Google mail, my personal mail web account, XM radio playing great jazz. And in a few mo- ments I'll open another and watch the news on TV – all from my thumb drive. I sure hope my Gizmo or Skype phones don't ring during the news!

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using this article as long as it is kept in context with proper credit given the author. The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization of which this group is a member, brings this ar- ticle to you.

Web 2.0 (platform on the web) will take away a great deal of the chest thumping over O/S because the web interacts with all operating systems. The feature rich web already offers on-line mail processing that works perfectly with thin client or host computer. I am an advocate of Google's Gmail. I can access it on the web where it neatly threads my messages and stores up to 2.5 Gigabytes of mail in the in-basket or in the searchable

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