Motorola Takes Us a Step Closer to Personal Computing Nirvana–and it’s Not Even a Computer

Motorola Atrix 4GIt took five years, but the personal computing nirvana vision I first heard from Zoho CEO Sridhar Vembu is becoming reality. The concept that I discussed in The Cell-Phone Aware PC May Be a PC-less PC, and other posts is simple.  Instead of a plethora of situational devices with redundant computing capacity, carry around just one powerful mobile device, which:

  • brings connectivity, the browser and personalization, with
  • data and apps in the cloud, while
  • the actual devices we interact with are inexpensive displays and keyboards (and other peripherals) that come in various shapes and sizes, truly focusing on usability, ergonomics and convenience.

The first product that gets quite close to the vision is the Motorola Atrix 4G

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve » Zoli Erdos)


Microsoft Word is Desktop Software. Supposedly. Then Why Does it Fail to Load Offline?

Dave Michels’ recent post, I thought I Was So Cloud resonated well with me, since I’m experiencing the same pain regularly, even without the dramatic experience of a cashed harddisk.   I’m now using 4 computers, not counting the iPad, and like Dave, "I am so Cloud", so moving between them should be seamless. It almost is. My data is always there and always up-to-date. But if I turn on a laptop I have not touched for a while, there is a painful process of Windows updates, Firefox updates, FFox plugin updates, Adobe or Java updates – just to name a few. Sometimes the popup windows from these suckers interfere with each other, the crazier ones want to reboot while others still install … yes, we still have too much stuff on the local computers. 🙁

Little did I know my saga would continue this afternoon. Since I planned to spend some time in a medical office, with no wi-fi (Why is it that the smallest little dirthole garage, tire shop you-name-it services privide free wi-fi, but medical offices where you likely spend 10x as much don’t?  Oh, well…) I synced up a few Word documents to my thin little  Vostro 13, and was ready to stay productive offline.

If only the Gods in Redmond had agreed… Booting up in the waiting room.  Installing 4xxx 5xxx finally 6237 of 6237 updates.   WTF?  Even I’m not dumb enough to believe it actually installed 6k updates, but that’s what the display said. Oh, well, finally Windows boots… then spends a few minutes configuring updates. Done.  So now we can work.   Click the file, see Word load, then wait. Wait. Wait.


Something’s not right.  I have the free Office 2010 beta version which downloads components on initial load, but this is taking forever. Oh, no:


Abort.  Internet connection lost, Word cannot be opened.  Oops.  No, the connection has never been lost, there’s none at this place, which is why I keep Office and local documents on this laptop in the first place.  I understand it wants to update, but it should be able to start without anyway.  MS Office is a desktop, “offline” package, after all.

If I can’t use it without being online, I just lost the very reason to use it at all.

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)



Universal, Actionable Search: Zoho’s Improved Answer to “Where’s My Stuff?”

zoho search Search, Don’t Organize

– is the Google mantra, meaning we should stop wasting time filing away information in folders, sorting, labeling it for later retrieval, when it’s so much easier to search / find it.

That is, if you know where to search. Did you discuss that project in email?  Or was it a Document?  A Presentation?  A Spreadsheet?  A Wiki?  Was there a meeting on it that’s in your Calendar?

We’ve finally resolved the issue of universal search on the desktop, but not on the Web.  Google’s productivity tools all have their own search facilities (I love Gmail search) but you have to execute search on an app by app basis.  Even my Android-phone fares better, where I can search within a particular app or all my data.

Surprisingly, Zoho came out with Universal Search before the King of Search (although it would be naive to believe Google won’t catch up…)   The Universal, Actionable Search solution announced today is just that:

  • Universal: working across several Zoho applications, e.g. Mail, Docs, Writer, Sheet, Show, Notebook, Discussions, Accounts
  • Actionable: depending on the context you can edit a document, respond to / forward an email, IM a contact..etc on a single click, right from the search results, without having to launch the individual application.

A nice step towards contextual integration we’ve just discussed recently.

For now Search is either accessible via or by using the search box in Zoho Business – eventually all Zoho Apps will get the Universal Search box.  (I have no information on how it will be implemented, but once again, context comes first: I’d expect the default to be within the specific app, other apps or “all” selectable, whereas in Business, which is Zoho’s  business portal the “all” setting is more logical)

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(Disclosure:  Zoho is CloudAve’s exclusive Sponsor)

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve)


Fun Video from


Work. Online. (Zoho Employees On the Loose)

(Cross-posted @ CloudAve )


Intel & Microsoft Leans on the Netbook Market

The proliferation of affordable netbooks is good for everyone – consumers, that is.  Computer manufacturers loath it (high volume, low margin business) and so does Microsoft: they can’t exactly sell $100+ worth of software on a $200 machine.  So they come up with all sorts of evil plans. smile_devil

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Windows Barely Live Mesh and Why TechCrunch Needs a New Tab

Steve Gillmor redefined TechCrunch today with a thoughtful but loooong (1709 words!) post on Windows Live Mesh. Others come to rescue translating him:

Robert Scoble: But, let’s translate Gillmor: Microsoft Mesh is fascinating. Agreed.

Phil Wainewright: Steve turns that around and points out that what Mesh is really about is connecting the desktop into the cloud

Mike Arrington: I’m pretty sure he’s saying Mesh = good.

Even Microsoft’s Steve Clayton is lost:

I got lost about two thirds of the way in to this post from Steve Gillmor but the first third was a great read. Actually the whole thing was but I just got a bit lost as I think some of the things going on in Steve’s fast thinking brain didn’t quite make it through to the keyboard so you’re left having to assume some things. I’m assuming he likes Mesh though. I think he does.

Commenters on TechCrunch were ruthless, I won’t even begin quoting them. But don’t get me wrong: this is a good article, which would have been a great fit for ReadWriteWeb, but the TC crowd expects short, to-the-point, fairly descriptive posts. In the words of TC owner Mike Arrington:

Steve is an acquired taste. his writing isn’t efficiently packaged into bite sized chunks like a lot of people have come to expect. but if you decide to give it the attention it needs, you may find that you come away a little bit smarter after you’re finished.

Yes. And perhaps Mike is trying to redefine TC’s style himself. But you have to know your readers, Mike – perhaps a a new tab for Essays would be appropriate – or if you want Gillmor’s writing part of the main flow, a graphical “grab a coffee this is a long one” icon would help.

Now, on to the bigger question, why Live Mesh is just Barely Live. (And yes, this will be a long post, too, but due to the screenprints.)

The first leaked news declared this a solution to “sync everything with everything”. Then came Amit Mital, Live Mesh General Manager with a visionary video and announcement at the Web 2.0 Expo last week, adding towards the end: initially it will sync only Windows PC’s, adding more platforms and devices over time. Ahh! So it’s a … Foldershare for now.

Minutes after the presentation I was chatting with a startup CEO who reminded me he had seen a similar video from Microsoft years ago: kid playing, Mom capturing video on cell-phone, family watching it almost real-time on various devices, executive-type Dad watching video on his laptop at an airport feeling “almost at home”. Great video, and yes, it was conceptually familiar, but what has materialized of it?

Live Mesh will be great when it really happens, but for now it’s largely waporware: pre-announcement, typical Microsoft-style. And now, if you’re still here, why don’t you follow me through the hoops of trying to sign up for (Barely) Live Mesh.

Google Search and several Microsoft blogs point to so that’s where we start:

Hm… I could never figure out why I so often get signed out of Live Network (good old passport style), and if that’s the case why can I not sign back here. But that’s OK, we just take a detour to, sign in and come back to

I though I had just signed in, but fine, let’s do it again. Oops:

The sign-in button changes to sign up – as in sign up for a waiting list. Not fun.. but let’s do it anyway. Btw, before the wait-list screen there was another screen where I had to agree to some terms – sort of usual for actually using a service, but for getting on a waiting list?

Now we’re in something called Microsoft Connect. Is this the same thing? Who knows…let’s click Register (but why, after sign-up, sign-in, agree, now register? WTF?)

I’m starting to really not like this. So far I’ve been presented with a maze of registration, confirmation, you-name-it screens, and I don’t know where the hell I am. Let’s backtrack a bit.

Oh, several screens above, at the waiting list signup, it stated on the next screen I should click Connection Directory, a small option on the top, not the main Register for Connect link… but who reads small prints, all screens should offer enough navigational clues to not get me lost. OK, redoing, now…

This jungle is the Connection Directory. No sign of Live Mesh, at least not on the first page. Text search to the rescue: there we are… somewhere towards the bottom (scroll way down) there is Live Mesh Tech Preview! Voila! (or not). The button to click is Apply Now! As if I hadn’t done it a zillion times already…

Hm.. I can do this now with my eyes closed… click..

Geez, this looks like a plain old BS signup form again. I’ve had it. Done. I let others experiment with Microsoft’s Windows Dead Mesh. Let me know when it’s Live. For real.