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The Inexorable Browser, among other things...

edited March 2008 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
Note: this is a random thought. I sit here with my reasonably freshly reinstalled Mac (after I dropped a magnet on the hard drive at the beginning of the year, and then sat around for a while half heartedly trying to recover data off the old hard drive so i could send it off to apple for a replacement - until i got bored and just bought a new one twice the size) and I struggle to find applications to install. So far I have come across 2, and only 2, which I cannot live without. Even that could be reduced to one if I really wanted to: the web browser (Firefox, in this case). For interest purposes, the second is MSN messenger - there is a browser-based version but as yet it is far from fully functional and to be honest it's appalling to use. The cynic in me may suggest that that is because it has been designed by Microsoft to work in IE. Even the client application itself I could almost live without. There are times when I either dont feel like talking to any of the people on it or it's inappropriate to do so but if I was to try and live without it full time I think I would probably start to struggle - as a time-filler, organizational, or even professional tool it can be second to few at what it does. So here I am. I have my MSN client and my single browser window open with an array of 9 tabs providing a window into an area of my online life - 4 related to Lussumo, 2 social networks, an industry news-type site (theregister), a geek site (lifehacker), and now, following my huge data loss, google email. The latest addition to that sentence is what leaves me in this very ponderous position of just how effective and encompassing such a simple tool as a web browser has now become - as I mentioned, since I lost a seriously large chunk of data (and, infact, my life - that data has been with me for a number of years now) in the crash, and following a post on LifeHacker, I decided that I would set up a Google Apps account on my primary domain name, and route email from my other email accounts into this one box. All my mail falls in there, gets filtered automatically, filed away, and sits there waiting until I need it for some reason or another - parallel to this process the mailbox also gets checked by my phone every few minutes so I know if I need to check it. For those 2 reasons I have just decided I am not going to bother configuring my Mail client. This is a decision I am still not sure about because if it so happens that I end up somewhere with no web access and I urgently need some information from my email account then I will be unable to access it - then again that sort of situation doesnt happen very often and even if I configured Mail to use IMAP, with the fantastic UI google mail provides I'd probably still rather access it through a browser. Of course there are other applications I could install - an office suite (though, again, that can be handled somewhat impressively by Google Docs, part of the Google Apps package), an FTP client, and so on - and I have no doubt that I may install some of these in the not too distant future, but this is almost entirely from a comfort viewpoint and not a technical one. I lied when I said I'd only installed 2 applications, I've actually installed 3 - VMWare Fusion. Ahhh virtualisation, another wonderful buzz-word of the 'Web 2.0' era - and what a fantastic technology it is. I can sit here on my OSX 10.5 macbook, using both Windows and Linux as if they were part of the package - what's more I can pick up those virtual machines and move them around with very little difficulty and replicate my 'living' environment to within impossibly small differences wherever I choose. I am also a big fan of Mobile Technology - I work in professional services for a managed service company which is building up a mobile division of which I am heavily integrated - we recently attended the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona where EVERYTHING is about ubiquitous high speed network access and location based services. In the direction technology is heading, and the rate it is moving, I can forsee a point at which by holding a mobile device mixed with virtualisation and hosted solutions you will be completely at home wherever you are in the world, and this both scares and excites me. I wonder if we are putting too much faith in people like Google (I say people like, I just mean Google - who else is there? Microhoo? Good luck.) but then I suppose we are just about coming full circle back to a Mainframe style environment while the whole IT world diverges and converges in ebbs and flows and it doesnt seem like such a bad concept at all. This has been a heck of a post, almost certainly completely irrelevant to everyone, and if you're still reading then you're either bored or have impressive stamina. I'm getting quite tired now but thanks for your time. Maybe I should start a blog... in the meantime I'd certainly be interested to hear other people's views on the blurb above.

Comments

  • I too realised recently that my computing time is mostly taken up sitting in front of a browser. Even other applications I use produce what ultimately ends up on a server somewhere which is viewed, accessed and otherwise executed through a browser.

    Although I love IMAP email and Google mail is great, I still use Apple Mail extensively as it allows multiple accounts both IMAP and POP to run seemlessly.

    I've never had a drive failure (touch wood, damn that's plastic, is there any wood left anywhere?) but maybe my opinion would change if I did.

    Then there are games, I don't spend too much time playing games except when waiting at the airport but many entertaining offerings are now available online.

    Yes do start a blog mate, I find your writing style very pleasant and well worth the time it takes to read!
  • My condelences on the hard drive loss. I lost a 300gb last week myself. Stuff on there I will never get back. The platters are actually physically damaged. :(

    Dropped a magnet on your hardrive? Raises a few questions:
    1. How the hell did that happen?
    2. How big/strong was the magnet? It is a common misconception that magnets have this almighty ability to kill electronics.

    (Before you yell at me - magnets can kill electronics (I'm not talking screens) but it usually requires a massive magnetic field - commonly called a degausser. Your standard available magnets are not usually strong enough to cause this kind of damage.)

    As for the email - I just made the switch last month to run all of my domains mail through gmail instead of my usual server. Switched flawlessly, I love it. I also go mobile. IMAP is where its at. I can check my mail at home with Thunderbird, or on the road with my phone and never miss an email. It hits both my home PC and my phone, and updates live. Even on my laptop when Im at say a hotel or something. It was a pain setting filters but once set its perfectly organized no matter where or how I check my email. With POP your limited to the client you retrieve your mail with. IMAP being stored on the server makes it perfect. Once your directory/filter structure is set your done. Dont have to redo it for every client you use. I'd highly recommend switching to gmails servers and using IMAP.
  • edited February 2008
    Electronics in general aren't too affected by magnets but hard-drives most definitely are. They are, after all, just magnetic disks and so other magnetic fields can physically pull the particles out of alignment, corrupting the data. As for MSN, I thought Adium could connect to the MSN network? I know Gaim certainly can and I'm sure there's a binary out there for macs. If not you can always just compile from source. I do agree with what you're saying though. If we take a look at the iPhone, you have access to email almost everywhere, you don't even need a wireless network in close proximity. I think the web has, almost inadvertently done the world of software a huge service. The combination of Javascript and (X)HTML is so potent. Using just this (well, and CSS) and a little server-side magic entire applications have been developed which rival those on the desktop. With things like Adobe Air, these apps will soon become part of the desktop. This is such a cool prospect as you now no longer need to worry about web browser compatibility for javascript-heavy applications. The development time for these apps is almost nothing compared with other desktop apps which gives developers more time to work on polish, UI and functionality so we end up with much higher-quality applications.
  • Krak/Fyorl - the magnets in questions were 'uber orbs' (apparently otherwise known as 'oids' among other things' - they are pretty darn powerful considering their size and indeed it was definitely those which knackered things. In an attempt to prove it WASNT the magnet's fault I ran them along my work laptop hard drive the day after with exactly the same effect. Dumbass says what. What? That was a pretty bad weekend by the time I'd finished... Oddly enough I was putting some serious thought into a home backup system over christmas but I never got round to building it and then WHAM. I still haven't built it. I do have the Mac Messenger client, that was app No. 2. My point was that there is also a webmessenger version so in theory I could use the browser for MSN, but I choose not to.
  • Google mail (gmail) can check your other email accounts through pop3 and send email "from" the account through their servers. When Gmail first came out I wasn't horribly impressed (it was a pretty simple and predictable webmail, nothing fancy) and it has come a LONG way.
  • I bet if you'd play with iCab you'd be hooked. :)

    Does MSN Messenger do something not handled by Adium?

    I use an external FireWire-based hard disk for backup (FW for speed over USB, even FW400 beats USB2). Make backups weekly (SuperDuper!) and have mail accounts set to delete from server when well over a week old. So if the hard disk dies I have a backup (bootable!) and can get un-backed-up mail back.

    After losing about a year's worth of work a bit ago thanks to hard disk failure, now it's backup to one FW external, and to another which is essentially a mirror. I can still get smacked (no offsite backup), but I haven't reached that level of paranoia.

    I still don't trust my stuff to Google, but they probably already know where it is. :P
  • speaking of not trusting google; have you guys heard of the health records thing they're talking about doing? I don't do anything through email that i wouldn't mind google "tracking" me for (mostly newsletters from microsh*t (microsoft) and others) but health records are one step too far into MY private life. (not google's, MINE!) I saw an ad for a free webmail service that will check/send from your other accounts like gmail. I'll see if I can find it again.
  • fysicsluvr - google apps is essentially gmail and a whole other bunch of tools all hooked into your own domain - i use it as the entire mailservice for my main domain and then have it POP checking mail from my other domain. I am indeed pretty impressed with it. pbear - I have since set up time machine to backup my primary partition to a secondary one. Admittedly this is barely a backup at all but something is better than nothing. Aside from my mac I also have a media PC with about 1.5TB of stuff on it (about 10GB of which is 'important') and I also have a server spare which is currently doing nothing but has nice things such as RAID1 OS drives and RAID5 storage, albeit only about 150gigs worth - then again that's easily enough for all data considered 'important' (not that it wouldnt be a total downer if I lost all my film and TV archives...but backing up terabytes of stuff takes time and money) I also have a couple of web servers and my work laptop, and my phones. Ideally I need to devise some method whereby all my critical stuff gets replicated pretty much everywhere, and the rest of it gets at least mirrored, but I haven't put much thought into it yet.
  • edited March 2008
    no, if you have a google account and gmail you can use it to check and send from other email addresses. EDIT Checking other addresses: http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=21288 Sending from other addresses: http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=22370
  • oh my bad ... all i read was "google apps is essentially gmail and a whole other bunch of tools all hooked into your own domain - i use......" i thought you didn't know that you didn't have to have google apps to use gmail and check other email accounts. i should have read further and I would have realized this.
  • I have the opposite problem for Time Machine. Instead of throwing everything out, right and left, indiscriminately, I save everything. Copies of copies of copies. If I used Time Machine I'd be out of disk space inside a month!
  • Time machine, when disk space is full, will start to throw out the oldest, that's what my wife does with my closet, otherwise I'd still have the underwear I got married in!
  • Ah, but then I'd have 20 minor revisions to go back to but not the 21st that has the "missing" info. Even Mac OS X is not smart enough to know what is worth saving. :(
  • pbear I dont quite understand how you think you've beaten time machine as far as revisions are concerned?
  • I won't intentionally delete what I've decided to save. TM will if it runs out of room. I don't think TM will tell me what it's going to get rid of to make room for its next incremental backup. If I work on, say, a 300 MB Photoshop file, I'm making layers internally that I can fall back on. But I have one file until I decide to make a deliberate fork by copying it and actually deleting or flattening a few layers in the copy. At this point it is still just two files. TM will backup a copy of the entire file even if there is just a minor change. So I have TM making more copies than I need or want over the life of the project.
  • Time Machine WILL TELL YOU what it's about to delete if you have that preference set.

    I have not run out of space yet, but when it does, I have set it to inform me what it's deleting, I am guessing it will tell me the age of what it's going to delete not the actual filename.

    If it's the latter you want and you expect it to read your mind it ain't gonna happen!

    There's backing up as disaster planning and backing up for archival needs, they ain't the same thing, Time Machine is for the former use, not the latter.
  • I'm probably just ignorant on how it works, but I thought Time Machine did archival back ups to the same disk the data lives on--sorta like a subversion repository. At least that's the impression I got from Apple's marketing. Are we all talking about separate/external backup media?
  • It does archival backup if the external disk isnt connected, and then shifts them over. All the backups are archival regardless of destination though.
  • Surely you would not call them "Archival" if the older ones are systematically deleted when disk space limit is reached?
  • I may know the differences amongst versions of files edited in the past three weeks, but I won't remember which is which six months from now from date alone.
  • That depends what you define 'archival' as Wanderer.
  • An archive is less a backup and more a copy of anything kept in case it's required. It or they are specific files at a specific state or version and not updated nor overwritten but kept at that "version" for specific reasons.

    A backup is your latest version of the work which is updated as you revise it, not kept as a reference if required but in case your original goes to the great re-cycle bin in the sky by mistake or misadventure.

    Posted: Thursday, 6 March 2008 at 6:38AM

  • Ah if only unix had the undelete command...
  • *****
    i found the ad i mentioned above, it's GMX mail.

    www.gmx.com
This discussion has been closed.