Thursday, March 31, 2011

A call for passive activism

IBM is celebrating their 100th anniversary by highlighting their top 100 contributions. One they selected is World Community Grid. From the World Community Grid website:
World Community Grid brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals - like you.
Here's how it works: IBM donates the hardware and coordinates the projects that get submitted to WCG. People like you and me install an application on our computers that downloads work for these projects -- such as curing cancer, AIDS, and polio, or finding more nutritious strains of rice -- and then churns through it (or as I like to say "and a miracle occurs"). Once it's all analyzed the data is sent back to WCG where the IBM servers aggregate it for the researchers.

You don't have to leave your computer on all the time, or have it running constantly so it slows down your computer. The hour your screensaver is running while you're at lunch or in a meeting is an hour you could be contributing to solving the world's problems.

Incidentally, there is a WCG team for Lotus Domino Bloggers. There are 26 members but only three of us have been active in the last couple of months. If you're reading this through PlanetLotus please consider joining your peers.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Motorola Atrix is the reincarnation of IBM Meta Pad circa 2002

It's no secret that I'm a slow adopter of mobile technology. It comes down to one reason: IBM spoiled me with the Meta Pad. This little gem debuted out of IBM Research in 2002. That's right, nearly 10 years ago IBM was touting a mobile computer you could carry with you and connect to various docks for different purposes. Antelope Technology licensed the Meta Pad and sold it as the Mobile Computer Core. People stayed away in droves. It was incredibly expensive, heavy, bulky and slow. Antelope Tech closed its doors within a couple of years.

IBM's idea of carrying your computer with you and just plugging it in to different form factors has stuck with me for the last decade. I knew what was possible and I wouldn't settle for anything else. I never bought a smartphone because I didn't want a phone. I wanted a mobile device that was a lot more flexible.

Other devices entered this space, most notably the Oqo and FlipStart. To me they were awkward compromises, and they're still prohibitively expensive. The closest I have found to meet my wish list was the SmartBook from Always Innovating. The only problem with that is it's only WiFi. I wanted something I could use as a phone, but since the SmartBook was so close I was seriously considering purchasing it. I never expected any manufacturer to build what I wanted.

Then Motorola announced the Atrix. I read a review of it and I was stunned how closely this mirrored IBM's goals from a decade ago. It's a phone. Dock it and you can play music and videos to your home entertainment system, using a remote. Connect a keyboard and fire up a full version of Firefox. Insert into a laptop chassis and enjoy a larger screen while traveling. And it's not insanely expensive.

Thank you, IBM, for showing the world what was possible. You're often ahead of your time, but I'm glad in this case it has come full circle.