Proprietary software vs. Open-source software vs. Cloud + SaaS

Open-source software has won the argument. Now a new threat to openness looms with the advent of “Cloud computing” — the delivery of software as a service (SaaS). Moving from one service provider to another could be even more difficult than switching between software packages in the old days. For a foretaste of this problem, try moving your Orkut profile to Facebook without manually retyping everything. The obvious answer is to establish agreed standards for moving data between clouds.

Read the article: Unlocking the cloud

Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine

It’s not elegant and it’s not sexy — it looks like a large photocopier — but the Espresso Book Machine is being billed as the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago and made the mass production of books possible. Launching today at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait.

The Espresso Book Machine — which actually is a self-contained 150 pages-per-minute printing and binding machine — can produce a full book in five minutes from a catalog of 400,000 references. It only takes one button. High-speed all-in-one printing-and-binding machines are not new, but this idea is. Using the Espresso Book Machine, any customer can walk in, pick any book from a touchscreen (or bring its own in CD or USB stick,) and walk away with a “real book” in five minutes. The price? Around $43 for a 300-page out-of-copyright book.  Some photos here.

Read the article: Revolutionary Espresso Book Machine launches in London

Browsing sites more conveniently with Firefox add-on Autopager

The AutoPager Firefox extension automatically loads the next page of a site inline when you reach the end of the current page for infinite scrolling of content. By default, AutoPager works with a ton of sites including Google, Digg, Reddit, Hacker News, Lifehacker, New York Times etc. AutoPager is free, works wherever Firefox does.

Read the article: AutoPager Automatically Loads the Next Web Page Inline

Light and Cheap, Netbooks Are Poised to Reshape PC Industry

Get ready for the next stage in the personal computer revolution: ultrathin and dirt cheap. Personal computers — and the companies that make their crucial components — are about to go through their biggest upheaval since the rise of the laptop. Netbooks are a big success story in the PC industry, with sales predicted to double this year, even as overall PC sales fall 12 percent, according to the research firm Gartner. By the end of 2009, netbooks could account for close to 10 percent of the PC market, an astonishing rise in a short span.

The new breed of netbooks, built on cellphone innards, threatens to disrupt that oligopoly. Intel and Microsoft, which make the chips and software that run most PCs — face an unprecedented challenge to their dominance. The big winners in the rise of netbooks that use cellphone chips could be the cellphone carriers, which would have access to a whole new market: PC users.

Read the article: Thin and Inexpensive Netbooks Affect PC Industry

Undo sent email (well, within 5 seconds)

Have you ever sent an email, and just as it was going on its merry way, you realize you misspelled something or you sent it to the wrong person. Well, now you can take advantage of that delay to “undo” the message. Just enable the feature in Gmail Labs in Settings. It only works during that 5 second delay between the time you hit send and the time that Gmail actually sends the message.

Read the article: Gmail Undo Send

An idea whose time has come

Entrepreneurialism has become cool. Victor Hugo once remarked: “You can resist an invading army; you cannot resist an idea whose time has come.” Today entrepreneurship is such an idea. The triumph of entrepreneurship is driven by profound technological change. A trio of inventions—the personal computer, the mobile phone and the internet—is democratising entrepreneurship at a cracking pace. Today even cash-strapped innovators can reach markets that were once the prerogative of giant organisations. An activity that was once regarded as peripheral, perhaps even reprehensible, has become cool, celebrated by politicians and embraced by the rising generation.

Read the article: A special report on entrepreneurship: An idea whose time has come

Evolution of the interface designs of operating systems

Over the years a range of Graphical User Interfaces have been developed for different operating systems such as OS/2, Macintosh, Windows, Amiga, Linux, Symbian OS, and more. Here is a look at the evolution of the interface designs of the major operating systems since the 80’s.

Read the article: Operating System Interface Design Between 1981-2009

Introducing Wolfram Alpha…

Stephen Wolfram is building something new — and it is really impressive and significant. In fact it may be as important for the Web (and the world) as Google, but for a different purpose. In a nutshell, Wolfram and his team have built what he calls a “computational knowledge engine” for the Web. OK, so what does that really mean? Basically it means that you can ask it factual questions and it computes answers for you.

Where Google is a system for FINDING things that we as a civilization collectively publish, Wolfram Alpha is for ANSWERING questions about what we as a civilization collectively know. It’s the next step in the distribution of knowledge and intelligence around the world — a new leap in the intelligence of our collective “Global Brain.” And like any big next-step, Wolfram Alpha works in a new way — it computes answers instead of just looking them up.

Read the article: Wolfram Alpha Computes Answers To Factual Questions. This Is Going To Be Big.