In a move that I hope is a sign of things to come, Netflix has added a special HTML5 interface to its streaming video survice to support Samsung’s ARM-based Chromebook (per Engadget). I hope this is the writing on the wall for Netflix’ use of Silverlight but time will tell. This move could also open the door to being able to use Netflix on various Linux flavors and other operating systems like FreeBSD or OpenBSD using Chromium.
Marco Arment made some excellent comments as to why Apple is not including any sort of cellular data connectivity in any of the MacBook lines. This is one of the only major things lacking from Apple’s laptop lines.
“With LTE, you can burn through a 5 GB data cap in an hour if you’re downloading big video files, and it would be easy to burn through the cap in just a few days if you’re streaming HD video — which, in 2013, is commonplace.”
Back in January, I had some major problems with my Verizon FiOS business connection where only the Verizon-provided ActionTec router would work. The rest of the details are for another post but I ended up using my Verizon 4G LTE USB data card as a stopgap until Verizon could do a truck roll. I only had the 4G LTE USB data card and router as our connection for about 36 hours and many of those hours were while we were sleeping. Using YouTube and a little bit of Netflix from our Apple TV units during that time we easily burned through 8GB of data. I had to upgrade our Share Everything plan with another 2GB so we didn’t go over that month.
I have been using 3G EV-DO since around 2005 just like Marco. The advent of 4G LTE has really transformed the way I use cellular data. I would absolutely love to have it built-in to a MacBook of any sort. As it is, I currently either have some sort of router in the car, occasionally use a MiFi device, or tether (actually using Personal Hotspot via WiFi for the most part) to one of our 4G LTE iPads. Marco also makes some good suggestions about what could be done.
“To start, Apple could just put cellular-connection detection and responsible-usage logic into iTunes and Software Update. That would be sufficient to launch with new 4G MacBook models at WWDC, then they could have a session on the new API and start enforcing responsible practices in the Mac App Store. Along with maybe working something out with Netflix, they’ll have addressed the biggest accidental bandwidth hogs that most people will face.”
It would be very disturbing to have the latest HD TV show episode, which easily tops 1.5GB, download in the background. Unlike with 3G, you might not even notice because 4G LTE is so fast. As Marco points out, it would also be essential to disable automatic software update downloading. As a technical professional, I would be willing to deal with these issues manually but most consumers would not want to be bothered and would not have any idea there would even be an issue until they started receiving data usage alerts or, even worse, a massive cell phone bill.
Built-in cellular connectivity in laptops is also mostly aimed at business users except in the case of the various Chromebook models. The Chromebook is unique in that everything is web-based and not very much data is transferred except for streaming media. Apple may not be including cellular data because of the focus on consumers rather than business users. In any case, I think Apple needs to create a new API for OS X as Marco suggested sooner rather than later. Apple can obviously implement 4G LTE cellular data just fine in the iPhone and iPad lines so I hope the MacBook lines are the next frontier. The next generation MacBook Air seems like the perfect candidate to me.
Due to my use of iOS devices like the iPhone, iPad, and iPad mini, I have not been interested in any Android devices. None of the available devices have had any advantages over whatever iOS devices I have been using at the time. That appears to be changing but it has nothing to do with Andriod. I still have no interest in Android at all but I do have an interest running Ubuntu on a tablet. As was announced a couple of weeks back, Ubuntu is pushing into the phone and tablet markets.
A couple of days ago I discovered the Ubuntu installation instructions for the Nexus 7 tablet. I’m interested in any feedback from someone who has tried this process. I will probably wait until after Ubuntu 13.04 is released on April 25, 2013 but running Ubuntu on a Nexus 7 might just be worth it.
Last night, I was investigating some alternative operating systems to the instability I have experienced with Ubuntu 12.10 on my Lenovo ThinkPad X230. Because of virtualization software, I need some form of Linux that works well with Intel HD 4000 graphics and is pretty stable. I installed Linux Mint 14 Cinnamon two days ago on my X230 and I am somewhat impressed. On a forum post, I discovered something even more interesting.
I am rather surprised by Google’s interesting move into the high-end laptop space with its new Chromebook Pixel. The specs resemble the entry level 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro in some respects but the Chromebook Pixel has a touchscreen, slower processor, less storage, less memory, and the option of built-in LTE. I’m impressed with the design and would buy one immediately if I knew I could run OpenBSD or at least Ubuntu on it. Why is Google moving into this space?
If you haven’t, like me, been to a BSDCan Conference before, this might be the year to go. The schedule looks great with lots of excellent presentations. This is also the 10th annual conference and the schedule looks excellent. All the details are available from the BSDCan web site. I’m not sure if we will be there yet but we shall see how the next few months pan out.
Today marks the start of 2013. This year will contain an amazing number of changes to our lives. As I mentioned a few days ago, we will give more details as to what the major change will be in the next several months as everything falls into place. As far as technology goes, the coming changes are requiring me to be more mobile and less tied to a desk so more articles are coming about working in mobile settings and without the typical peripherals and advantages of a desktop computer.
Jeff Carlson’s Thoughts about the iPad mini for Photographers points out some great points about how the iPad mini is an excellent tool for photographers just as the iPad with Retina Display is. The lack of a Retina Display is helped by the smaller physical pixels in the iPad mini’s 1024x768 resolution display as opposed to the iPad 2 with its larger 1024x768 resolution display.
Which to buy? It’s a hard choice. In every way but the display, I would prefer the iPad mini. I expect that in the next revision or two, the iPad mini will also get a Retina Display. Once that happens it will be no contest and I would definitely recommend the iPad mini for nearly all scenarios. For my uses, the iPad mini will be my choice. I am currently using a 3rd generation 32GB iPad with Verizon 4G LTE. This will shortly be replaced by a 64GB iPad mini with Verizon LTE.
Back at the beginning of September, I ordered a Lenovo ThinkPad X230. I have been using mostly desktop systems but decided to get back to using laptops more due to some changes coming next year. I chose the X230 for a few different reasons. I also picked exactly the options I wanted since this laptop will be used for OpenBSD and Linux and will not see Windows at all.
Today marks the first Christmas for our fourth and youngest child. I remember each Christmas since my wife and I were married a few days short of five years ago. I’m in a different place in my life as I appreciate the quiet time with our kids more than I have in the past. Each year is precious. They grow up so quickly.
I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I hope that all of you have been able to focus on family, friends, and God, the source of all our blessings. In the next few days as 2012 winds to a close, remember the things that have been most important to you over this year and each year before it. Cherish the most important things in life.