February 2012

I’ve just finished taking a look at the future, or at least a part of the future.

There is an online working emulator of Mozilla’s Boot to Gecko project.

You’ll need a recent version of Firefox to explore. It is a Mozilla project after all and Mozilla is the shepherd of the browser some of us love.

I’ll show you some screen shots in a moment, but if you just can’t wait, click the link and, if you remember, come back and read more here later.


OK. If I’ve still got your eyes, here’s what I saw. Now remember, this is screen shots on my GNU/Linux/Kubuntu running Firefox 10.0.2. As I understand it, the “apps” are all done in HTML5. That’s the coming Web standard which is slowly being rolled out by Web designers.

The first shot shows my browser with several tabs and the opening screen of the emulator. That text in the top left corner says “Drag up to unlock” and a click-drag does just that. Looks like it would be a finger drag on a touchscreen of a phone or tablet just like today’s smartphones.

I had to use the feature of reducing my screen image on my 15.6″ laptop screen to get the whole emulator to show in my browser window. The emulator doesn’t have a scrollbar as I’m seeing it. Firefox lets you reduce a screen in the browser by holding down the Ctrl key and tapping the minus key. Ctrl and the plus key reverse that and make things bigger if you want bigger fonts like me, most of the time.

I didn’t try everything. I was too excited to get my first thoughts out to you wonderful readers.

After an unlock, the main “Menu” screen shows. A moment after the emulator started, the message you see at the bottom of the shot popped up. I haven’t figured out how to clear it, yet.

I started with a peek at the map app. (Love the sound of that.)
You can click and drag the map around as you would expect from a map from Google Maps.

There wasn’t a noticeable delay making a switch from one app to another. On a real smartphone or tablet, this ought to be quick.

Here’s the last screenshot. I did this on Leap Day, the 29th of February.
The news is from today in the CNN news “app” running in the Boot to Gecko emulator. This is no mockup. That time showing in the top corner of the emulator is the current time when I took the screenshot.

This thing really works!

This emulator, and the eventual hardware version, coming on the heels of the KDE Active “Spark” tablet may mean iOS from Apple and Android from Google may soon have some competition.

Update: Click and drag the Main Menu screen to the left. There are more apps to try.

Today, Aaron Seigo, a key KDE Plasma developer, announced the launch of the site through which we can pre-order a Spark tablet.

Go to the web site and find out more. http://makeplaylive.com

Please make note of the commitments. They define much more than the hardware specifications do.

To value the person, not the consumer.The user experience on Spark is focused not on the apps you have installed but on your day-to-day activities. It supports you in getting on your making and playing, treating you not as a consumer of app but providing tools to live your life with. This emphasis on the human value rather than the monetary metric of consumption is important to us.

To encourage and enable participation. Creating Spark has been an open, ongoing process of participation. People from around the world have been involved, and you can be too. Development and design is done openly and in the community. You are encouraged to make new things with Spark and find news ways of using it, seriously and playfully. There are no walled-gardens, no secret rooms.

To make Free software. Every bit of software we make is Free (as in freedom). We also work with hardware vendors and operating system developers to increase the amount of freedom delivered in their efforts. Our goal is 100% Free software, from top to bottom, and we recognize that this is a long term effort.

To make mistakes. We are not perfect beings and in our efforts to find our limits, we will err at times. We recognize and celebrate our limits, rather than let them hold us back.

To listen to and incorporate your input. Your thoughts and your actions are valued by us; they are what will help make us and our products better.

I’ve pre-ordered a Spark. The price is expected to be around 200 Euros with current plans for delivery in May. I’ll be patient, but, I’m feeling like a kid. “I CAN’T WAIT!”

I’ll keep you posted.

Okay, maybe things have changed since I was a computer coordinator. Back then, It was the standard line to students from educators. “Don’t use Wikipedia.”

I’d like to hear from you. Has that changed at all since 2006?

Here’s why I ask. Today, January 8, 2012, I read an article in Science Daily about the entorhinal cortex. The article reported that a UCLA study suggests that stimulating this important brain region enhances memory and might be important in future treatments for Alsheimer’s disease.

I decided to check for more information about the brain region and looked at the Wikipedia article for background. You might imagine my surprise that the bottom section of the article contained a paragraph about the UCLA study.

Did I mention that the study is being published TOMORROW, January 9, 2012?

Maybe the more widely accepted Brittanica has also updated their article. I cannot check Brittanica Online Premium. I don’t have a subscription to that encyclopedia. I did a search, though and got no listing .of an article on the entorhinal cortex. this morning.

No student should be encouraged to read only from encyclopedias. That recommendation has always been wise. Check your sources. Look at multiple sources. Ultimately, try to find primary sources. However, is Wikipedia still “unacceptable” these days?

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