The Beauty doesn’t like the sound controls

December 31, 2007

Zonbu Volume AppletI sent the beauty a web based flash video clip last night.

It played no problem (smoothly etc.), but without audio (she had it muted).

The beauty wanted to replay the clip with audio and found it a bit confusing to un-mute things and turn the volume up.

She was able to use the Fn key to unmute the volume (as she would have on her Acer laptop) but the lack of on-screen feedback was irritating to her (Acers have a nice lime green OSD that shows mute/unmute and volume level). When she unmuted it, or thought she had (she indeed had) she couldn’t understand why she couldn’t hear anything (the audio level was about 10%).

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Interview with Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu Founder

December 29, 2007

Mark Shuttleworth, ubuntu founderOver at CPILive.net they have a great interview with Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth. It is definitely worth a read.

From the interview:

What are you most passionate about in your work?

Tidal waves. I’m fascinated by things that sweep through society and then change everything that they touch in different ways. The Internet itself was the first big tidal wave that I could actually witness. I guess I also saw desktop computing as a kid, but I didn’t really have much of a perspective on it. But watching the Internet sweep through society, changing the way my mother worked, changing the way businesses worked, changing the way people designed products and so on, has been amazing. I wanted a project there that was right on the cutting edge of it.

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Econonmist: Ubuntu driving force behind Linux in 2008

December 29, 2007

CNet logoOver at CNET.com they have an interesting piece on an article in the Economist that largely credits the anticipated increased rise in Linux adoption in 2008 to the work done by Canonical on Ubuntu and its acceptance on the desktop.

From the CNet post:

That’s largely the doing of Gutsy Gibbon, the code-name for the Ubuntu 7.10 from Canonical….Ubuntu (and its siblings Kubuntu, Edubuntu and Xubuntu) has smoothed most of Linux’s geeky edges while polishing it for the desktop.

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SpiceBird = Thunderbird + Outlook tools?

December 29, 2007

Synovel LogoI just watched a very interesting web demo of a new open source email client that adds many of the collaboration and calendaring functions that office workers need.

Spicebird, from Synovel looks like a potential contender to replace Outlook for Windows users or Evolution for Linux users. It could be perfect for a device like the Zonbu.

You can catch the demo here: http://www.spicebird.com/demos/spicebird.html

-Mr. Zonbu


PC Mag: The gOS PC isn’t fully baked, doesn’t like Via platform

December 29, 2007

PC Mag logoPC Magazine has posted a review of the gOS PC, and the author is less than pleased with his overall experience.

I’m not entirely surprised, and I’ve been talking about the need for these entry level devices to have a more practical computing power level for a while.

Here is a brief quote:

The gPC was slapped together to sell to Web-savvy people who have very little pocket money. My advice to these people? Save up for just a little longer and buy something for at least $450 that runs Windows Vista, or get the ASUS Eee PC 4G laptop. This advice also goes for tech-savvy readers looking for a simple Internet PC for Grandma or Uncle Phil, or for a really cheap PC to tinker with and rebuild.

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40+ Plug-ins for the Gimp

December 27, 2007

I recently came across an excellent list of plug-ins for the Gimp Photo Editor which is included with the Zonbu.

While not all of these make sense for the Zonbu, and some may not even run well on the lightweight hardware, others, like Red Eye correction are perfect for the target audience. Anything that puts the features at hand that a typical home user would be interested, should fit the Zonbu philosophy.

In that vein, I really miss the ability to right-click-and-resize-to-email feature I had in my Windows XP power toys. Should be an easy one I add I expect…

Hopefully some of these will make it in to the next Zonbu update: http://www.techzilo.com/gimp-plugins/

-Mr. Zonbu


Some more Beauty feedback on the Zonbu laptop…

December 27, 2007

Beauty & the Geek LogoA few more small items that the Beauty and Grandma have had to say about using the Zonbu laptop:

-The lack of thumbnails when viewing a directory of photos is problematic and needs to be enabled somehow

-When returning from hibernation often the wireless doesn’t seem to come back to life. The wizard says it is connected, as does the signal strength meter, but it is necessary to re-run the connection wizard to get back online.

-The printer offering to install every time it is powered on is also still a problem, and equally annoying…

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Consumers watching more and more video online

December 27, 2007

I get various industry news clippings in my work mailbox every day. This one particularly caught my eye as it directly supports the hypothesis that video playback is becoming more and more important for Internet access devices like the Zonbu:

According to the recent release of The ChoiceStream 2007 Survey of Viewer Trends in TV and Online Video, 55% of connected consumers who watch TV watch some type of video on devices other than their TV sets, including their computers, mobile phones and digital media players (e.g., iPod). Not surprisingly, video-watching on these alternative devices is more popular among younger consumers (66%) than older ones (36%).

You can read the full article here: http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.showArticleHomePage&art_aid=73291

-Mr. Zonbu


EEE PC and Hotcakes, Aisle 3

December 26, 2007

I just saw this and wanted to pass it along. I’d love to know how it compares to the unit sales of the Zonbu product to date.

Of course, the Zonbu hardware means getting people to accept a fundamentally different approach with a monthly fee, which is always a challenge.  And, to be honest, after playing with my Eee for a week it is really a very different product, but still something that can threaten Zonbu sales…

Taipei (Taiwan) – Asustek has managed to take their Eee little PC and turn it into big sales numbers. In the first quarter of sales, the Eee PC shipped 350,000 units, which is 50,000 more than industry experts’ predictions. The Eee PC will be available at Best Buy in U.S. in 2008, and also in Japan at the same time. They are also available for online sales right now.”

More here: http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/35385/122/

I said it before, I’ll say it again.  I’d be benchmarking seriously against this device, the gOS PC, and the N8x0 series tablets as well as an Acer entry level laptop.  Those are the products that can will  are stealing sales from Zonbu.

-Mr. Zonbu


$400 Acer + 17″ LCD – Is Zonbu getting squeezed by the mainstream PC makers?

December 24, 2007

Acer SystemWith so many PCs available at or below $500 now, is Zonbu at risk of getting squeezed by the main stream makers?

I think so, and I think it may be time for them to start considering some higher profile partners. HP, Acer, Dell and Asus all come to mind and have all shown interest in Linux products. I’d warm up the phone lines at Zonbu HQ, it may be time to start seeing other people (beyond Via)…

I just saw this deal posted over at Deal News:

“Acer Aspire T180-UA381B AMD Athlon 2.4GHz Desktop PC + 17” LCD

TigerDirect.com offers the Acer Aspire T180-UA381B AMD Athlon 2.4GHz Desktop PC with a Acer AL1706AB 17″ LCD Monitor for $399.97. With around $36 for shipping, it’s the lowest total price we could find by $76. It features an AMD Athlon 64 3800+ 2.4GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, 160GB SATA hard drive, dual-layer DVD burner, Gigabit Ethernet, memory card reader, and Windows Vista Home Basic.”

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