The Blog of Tom Webster

Chronic Ranter, Reviewer, and Developer

Chrome OS: Aura Window Manager

  2012-04-09 12:40:00 PDT

Google made a major update to Chrome OS today, releasing the Aura window manager on the Dev channel users. Check out the full rundown and screenshots in the Google+ post here.

Chromium OS Bootable Flash Drive! (Built on: 11/4/2011)

  2011-11-07 05:02:00 PST

This version brings a bunch of beta design functionality and some speed increases! Enjoy! I did notice some driver weirdness on some machines with this build, let me know what you find out.

Chromium OS - 11/04/11

Credits and Utilities: To unpack this file, you will need the totally awesome and free unzipping utility: 7zip This pack contains the Image Writer for Microsoft Windows, which is a great, simple way to take or place images onto drives. Give these guys a hand! Instructions are included in a text file in the download!

Kodingen

  2011-10-27 15:00:00 PDT

As a coder, I've never found cloud-based IDEs to be very useful. Sure, its a great idea, all of your data and project work accessible from any location and securely stored. It sounds like the perfect development environment. I had played around with Cloud9IDE, but I never felt that they were getting it quite right, they had moved in a good direction, but their scope was too limited. I didn't just want to store my open source projects in the cloud, I wanted shell and FTP access, I wanted a small hosting platform for testing, I wanted the ability to share and publish my creations at will. No cloud IDE could give me that... until now.

Enter: Kodingen. Kodingen is a web developer IDE, plus FTP server, plus SVN/Git/CVS host, plus web host, plus platform. Its hard to describe all the things Kodingen does, or... will do, rather. Lets get that point out of the way first. The first thing you should keep in mind when building things on Kodingen is that it is a beta platform. Work has been progressing fairly rapidly as they gear up for their big stable release, but in using this as a development platform, you'll run into things that just aren't built yet. For instance, the integrated domain purchasing/linking: I have no idea how this will work in the future, it looks like a good idea, but the final product has yet to be released. As far as version control systems go, don't count on it just yet, those are still in development. For every feature that Kodingen has, there's another feature that just isn't finished yet. I don't really see this as a downside, however, instead, I feel very excited for what the future holds.

For a very-much-in-beta project, Kodingen is one of the slickest HTML5 applications I've laid eyes on. Everything slides in panels, smooth animations permeate every little thing, right click menus are abound and easy to use, and the interface is extremely clean for how powerful it is. They rely on a bunch of open source tools and technologies, which is a huge benefit for them (no licensing) and for their users (we can move away if we want). The major gripe I have is that we haven't heard from the developers in quite a while, the last public post was from March 16th. When you get into the backstory of the project, though, you can't really fault the guys. Kodingen was built from savings, without investors, without VC funding, without Techcrunch Distrupt or the LAUNCH conference. This incredibly useful, incredibly cool project was built by a very small team of developers with their own money. Very cool.

One thing that I wish worked now was the ability to pay for an account, out of all the features to lock out in the beta, I was initially surprised this was one of them. When thinking about it, you wouldn't want people paying for a half-baked, unfinished product, though. These guys are smart, they aren't greedy, and they know how to make their users happy. Progress is slow, but the site is fast and stable, and I'm sure when they finally release 1.0, its going to make a lot of people happy (and hopefully make them a lot of money as well). In the mean time, why don't you sign up for the free account over at https://kodingen.com and consider throwing these guys some dough if you like what you see.

Google's Super Social Search Shift

  2011-09-28 09:49:00 PDT

Just running a standard search for the Fedora Project (I'm on a VM kick lately...), and I see that Google is now retroactively looking at content you've posted from other Google properties, not just Buzz or Plus. In this instance, Google pulled directly from my Fedora 13 review (Not entirely sure why my picture is showing twice...). I can only imagine that this is the beginning of a huge fundamental shift for Google search and how it operates. The future of search is social and Google has seen the writing on the wall. I can't wait for the day when I run a search of some new gadget or software and some of my tech blogger friends pop up in the search results. This is going to be very cool.

Edit: Now that I think about it... anything I've posted to Blogger automatically got shared in Buzz... I guess Google could just be pulling from Buzz (which they've been doing for a while now), but either way, still cool to see it in action.

Ghost in the Wires - A book by Kevin Mitnick

  2011-09-27 14:30:00 PDT

Just finished reading a wonderful book by Kevin Mitnick, hacker extraordinaire! As some of you may know, Kevin Mitnick was a fugitive hacker who ran for years and taught us all about social engineering, how to effectively use zero-day exploits, but most of all, how hackers need to target people first, computers second. In this book, Kevin is finally able to write about his firsthand experiences running from the law, compromising administrators and systems, and going into some great technical detail at the same time. The very first thing you'll notice about this book is that it reads like a spy novel. Twists and turns! Backstabbing! RHosts files! Its all in here. The book contains technical bits for those who 'get them' (I do! I do!), but the story is completely comprehensible to anyone without any technical experience whatsoever, thanks to Mitnick's brilliant writing style. If you've read any other books concerning this tale, you'll get the other perspective, straight from the source. It isn't a very deep book and should be looked upon as a spy-novel dealing with computer hackers. Its fun, its a ride, its about 400 pages, but it is a popcorn-style book. Have fun and run through this, I enjoyed it.

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