oqo

Have you heard of the OQO computer?

There’s already been several years of buzz about OQO, but I somehow missed it until yesterday, when our systems administrator told me about it and directed me to the website. For those like me who have been out of the loop, this is a full-fledged PC that can fit in your pocket. It’s more than the Pocket PCs currently on the market (full Windows XP and Office programs), and it comes with a built-in keyboard. It has WiFi and Bluetooth built in, 1GHz processor, 20GB hard drive, and 256MB DDR RAM. You can easily hook it up to a full-size keyboard and monitor to simulate a desktop experience. I’m impressed! For those who just can’t wait to get their hands on one of these, they’ll be available in the web store this fall. No price is given at this point, but I’m guessing they’ll be several thousand dollars. Considering that it would replace your desktop, laptop, and PDA, the price might actually be reasonable.

TechTV’s Best of CES 2004: Mobile Computing
CNET | Transmeta: Time for PCs to get personal

CFK gets some props

Change for Kentucky gets national attention.

Jeremy Horton, the man who is keeping the Dean spirit alive in Kentucky, guest blogged at Blog for America this week. After scrolling through the first part of the comments folks left, I am reminded of why I never bothered to read the comments at BfA; far too many people using it as a bulletin board to post their random whatever about semi-related subjects.

new mouse

Iowa State University researchers have developed a new type of computer mouse/pointer.

image of the mouse alternative Iowa State University researchers have developed a new type of computer mouse/pointer. It’s supposed to be more ergonomic. I think it looks a bit odd, and I can’t see how it will be easier to use. I’ve tried a few trackball type mice, and usually they frustrate me. I can’t move the mouse pointer as quickly with them, and by the time I’m finished with whatever I’m doing (or have given up), my thumb feels cramped. This new mouse they’ve developed is controlled by the thumb as well. I hope it’s more effective as a pointer tool than the current ergonomic alternatives.

overloading the ‘net

Will RSS feeds overload the ‘net?

Wired News has a short article about RSS feed readers and the potential they have for increasing web traffic. I knew about this article because it was listed in the RSS feed that I get from Wired. Go figure. Anyway, the author and others are concerned that because aggregators are becoming more and more popular among those who like to read regularly published electronic content, eventually a large chunk of web traffic will consists of desktop aggregators regularly downloading that data throughout the day.

The trouble is, aggregators are greedy. They constantly check websites that use RSS, always searching for new content. Whereas a human reader may scan headlines on The New York Times website once a day, aggregators check the site hourly or even more frequently.

If all RSS fans used a central server to gather their feeds (such as Bloglines or Shrook), then there wouldn’t be as much traffic, because these services check feeds once per hour at most, regardless of the number of subscribers. So, if you have 100 people subscribed to your feed, rather than getting 100 hits every hour (or some other frequency), you would only get one. The article notes two difficulties with this scenario. First, a lot of RSS fans prefer their desktop aggregators to a web-based aggregator such as Bloglines. Second, the Shrook aggregator is not free, and probably that will be the model that its competitors will take.

I don’t completely agree with the premise that having a central server distributing content to feed subscribers will reduce the flow of traffic on the ‘net anymore than it currently is. Whether my aggregator checks my feeds once an hour or whether Bloglines does it for me, I still use up bandwidth when I log in and read the content on the Bloglines site. For some feeds, if I want to read the whole entry or article, I still have to click to the site. Frankly, I think the problem has more to do with aggregators that “are not complying with specifications that reduce how often large files are requested.”

Readers are supposed to check if the RSS file has been updated since the last visit. If there has been no update, the website returns a very small “no” message to the reader.

But Murphy says the programs often don’t remember when they last checked, or use the local computer’s clock instead of the website’s clock, causing the reader to download entries over and over.

Perhaps the best thing for us to do is to educate ourselves about which RSS aggregator we use and how it may affect the bandwidth of the feeds we download through it.