Google Chrome OS

I feel like this should have been expected.

The same day that Google Apps came out of beta—Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs and Google Talk—Google announced that oh yeah, they've been building an operating system.

Now, the premise of a Google OS is not new in the least. As recently as December, rumors of a Google OS abounded when a statistics tracking firm, Net Applications, detected a significant amount of traffic out of Google HQ—with OS information hidden. Similarly, rumors of a Google Browser were fierce for years until Chrome was released last September—and Google had apparently been using it internally ("dogfooding") as it grew and developed over the course of two years.

When Google officially announces the project tomorrow (Wednesday), I'll be wary of the hype—Google doesn't do it themselves, but everybody else seems to hype their products up quite a bit. And I'm sure that misconception/misrepresentation will be rampant on Twitter and around the Web.

I'd like to point out that it's called Google Chrome OS, implying it's an extension of the Web browser. It's going to use a Linux kernel, but operate Web-based in terms of software. (Think apps like Google Docs and Gmail, but for all of your standard computing.) They swear they're making it a full-fledged OS that'll run on things from netbooks up to full desktop computers—but I find it hard to not emphasize the thin client/netbook angle, as they admit they're targeting netbooks first. (Which, too, is unsurprising since netbooks are hot but the OS market for low-end hardware is severely lacking in quality and/or user-friendliness.)

I'm sure I'll use it (like I use the work-in-progress Chrome version for Mac as my main Mac browser), but I'm still not entirely sold on the fact that this thin client thing is that great, amazing Google OS that people have been wondering about for years. Maybe I'm throwing the "thin client" buzzword around too much and maybe Google will surprise me. I felt the same apprehension toward Chrome (though the V8 Javascript engine and the multiprocessing intrigued me), but have since been won over. (More on that some other time.)

Side note: (Taking off the "newsroom Web developer" hat, putting on "online news consumer" hat...) I like the fact that the New York Times article links to Google's blog post in the lede. I love seeing news sites externally link like that. I have a Wikipedia-induced habit of middle-clicking bunches of in-text links that I think are relevant or interesting; that's just being helpful to your reader.

Learning to crawl

To say I'm rusty at "blogging" may be an understatement. I can't say I haven't been trying, at least.

Daytum

What's that you say? These numbers? This screenshot? What's all this, then? That's Daytum, which I've been using lately—but that is entirely a story for another time.


Again, it hasn't been for lack of trying that I haven't updated lately. But I think I've narrowed down some other reasons for the sheer wall of writer's block that I've encountered.

  • I love to over think and turn every small argument into a multi-paragraph explanation. "Think before you speak?" Yeah, try speaking when your brain likes to stay in overdrive all the time.
  • "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all?" I don't believe in this so much in this day and age, but I grew up under that mindset and I often cannot shake that self-consciousness.
  • Yes, fine: I'm rusty. Sue me. Sometimes it's plain hard to let go once you're used to having so much restraint. (This, too, is an understatement when applied to my life.)

In all honesty, I wrote a lot (you've just seen the numbers, above) over the past week—most of it related to the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson last Thursday and the circus that took place between the "old media" and "social media" (or "new media," nomenclature isn't that important). In a cliché sort of way it very much tested my resolve in choosing to work in this particular industry—for goodness' sake, I'm a Web developer (an enabler of "new media") working in a newsroom (which, I guess some would call the heart of "old media").

I wrote over 1,700 words, venting all sorts of frustrations: public spite and lack of trust of the media, new media douchebags, the crowdthink behind America's Twitter hipster support of Iran (but apparently not Honduras or any other recently rigged election)… But I couldn't bring myself to publishing it, thinking it more noise among the noise.


Today, the newsroom had a little get-together to say goodbye to a few folks. One of the radio folks (whose desk is near mine), had a mini speech regarding his departure. As a radio personality, he said, he never thought he'd get to work in a newspaper's newsroom—although growing up, his family always figured him for a reporter or columnist type. His time here was shorter than other jobs he'd held, but what will stick with him the most was that he was given the chance to do something he loved in a place he loved and never expected to work.

I couldn't help but think of the short-lived year I took on photojournalism at school and the divine providence that somehow brought my other interests and skills (technology, computers, Web programming) into that very journalism industry that I was enamored with.


That one little comment about "doing what you love, where you don't expect to" was the best thing to help me forget about that "Internet versus news media" shitshow. This post (spontaneously written and posted since I promised myself I'd post by week's end) is a lot less eloquent than what I'd written on that subject, but I'm quite happy that I didn't add any fuel to that fire. It's shaped up to be one of those hits that just needed to be taken and not dwelt upon.

Look. I love what I do, I love where I work, I love the things I'm responsible for doing. I work on things that I think are cool (and I am not often impressed by things online) and I get to work on a relatively well-trafficked news site. (Caveat: it really sucks when you break it.)

Sure, I'll probably find reason to be a critical asshole on the Internet when I lose my optimism in the above. (Which I hope never, ever happens.) I'm young, I'm naive, and frankly I don't believe I have the experience or the bravado to perform such iconoclasm (*ahem*) on the media industry.

And either way, arguing on the Internet is still, to this day, one of the less productive pursuits out there. (Cue generic messageboard meme image. You know the one I'm talking about.) It's silly and it brings to mind Vonnegut's quip that "electronic communities build nothing."

It is noise that makes me unhappy and I am much happier keeping my head down and working. Newspaper's spending good money hiring a programmer like me, so why don't I help them out a bit instead of biding my time with the online circlejerk?


Folks interested in some actual commentary on the Michael Jackson "old versus new media" circus should read this excellent blog post by Wendy Parker and this L.A. Times column by Tim Rutten. Chances are I'd have repeated everything they'd said.


I need to find something better to talk about for next time; may be Django and programming-related or a "recommended reading" of the blogs I read and my sheer resistance to using an RSS reader. (I middle-click that "blogs" folder several times per day.) Maybe. Who knows?

Woah there.

Let's play catch up, shall we? I got through the end of the school year—and bid bittersweet goodbyes to close friends graduating. I spent a week on the road, with highlights in Colorado and Utah. And now, I'm in beautiful Spokane, continuing my work at the Spokesman-Review. Not technically an intern this time around, but with a mere three-month stay, I might as well be.

Let's count the number of times I've written on this site since I last stepped foot in Spokane. One, two, three, four, and this should be five. And how many months has it been? (Ten.)


About this time last year I decided to try and "go legit." Trim the amount of minutiae I'd write and leave only "professional" material, you know? Since then I've only occasionally written—and due to a strange sense of apprehension, rarely have I posted any of it.

I've been asking myself exactly what I want out of my blog on the internet. I've been tweeting semi-regulraly, but I've yet to really enjoy limiting myself to 140 characters—anybody that has read my blog before the drought and anybody that has gotten an e-mail from me knows that I'm pretty uh, verbose. And that apprehension and lack of updating has been gnawing away at me, little by little.

Admittedly, this drought tied in with some intern drama and discussion that happened around this time last year, a lot of it having to do with some "inside baseball" talk of newsroom affairs. It didn't happen here, near, or anywhere involving anyone associated with me, but this whole bit with Jessica DaSilva hit a bit too close to home for me: I, too, was a newspaper intern at the time, in a newsroom constantly bracing itself for an uneasy future. It was an okay time to learn to bite my tongue.

So I had this seed of doubt planted in my head for a while now, unsure of exactly what I wanted to write or what I could write. In some side writing, I jested that the overwhelming connectedness of the Internet was causing hysteria regarding what you could get away with saying or having online. In school, a lot of teachers preached the double-edged sword of "you really need to be in social media," but "you really need to keep it all super professional." You got told about Twitter, but you were also told to try and sterilize your Facebook profile.

But, I counter: if I'm going to be social media "friends" with folks and if I'm really going to operate profiles and a Web site that employers and the public can see—well, I'd rather have them judge me on the honest fucking truth than some high and tight face I'm trying to put on. Mostly because I realize that:

  1. I trust my judgement. As it is, I don't regret a lot of things I've done and I think I'm mature and steady enough to not make a complete ass of myself. (Although there's a particular frightening photo of me on Facebook that seriously invokes Rufio from Hook... I dare you to find it.)
  2. I'm a terrible liar. That is, I'm not very good at it and (as I have recently found out) I'd rather be dead silent than play a face.
  3. …I had other reasons, but I guess one and two seal the deal in my mind.

I'll admit, I'm unusually deliberate and self-conscious, but aren't most of us raised to be responsible for ourselves anyway?

Okay then.

See, we're all human, we all grow up, we all make mistakes. Blogging here doesn't mean I'm going to be perfect all the time—more likely, it should be, in itself, a timeline of what I've done, where I've traveled, what I've thought, how I've grown. It's been a personal blog, it's still a personal blog, and while I'd love to see it do something else, them's the breaks for now.

I've missed writing only somewhat—since I've obviously been writing all along. What I've really missed is being Mike Tigas when I write in the open.

The worst thing you can do to a career in media—especially in this so-called Information Age—is forget who you are and that you have the ability to voice your own distinct opinion. Watch what you say, yes. But be yourself and say what you need to say. There's a reason why everyone and their mother has a blog: it's easy to do it.

Think I just fell into the habit of over-thinking it, 's all.

I used to be a lot better at this blogging thing. Here's my way of saying (mostly to myself) that I'm back at square one and I'm willing to give it another shot. (God, doesn't that sound like a relationship "make-up talk" right there…)

And I swear, I will stop writing in my verbose, self-serving tone as soon as I can. Okay, I might be lying on this one.

Amends

This coming week is that dreaded "transition" week that I've put off thinking about. (I said months ago that I'd wing it. Aside from places picked out, I'm fairly golden with wide-open plans.) I'm going to pack up here in Columbia, go back to St. Louis for a day, then drive to and spend the rest of the week in Denver. Next Monday, I'll work my way up to Spokane, where I'll be living for the summer, once again.

I didn't graduate this weekend and I'm entirely okay with that. What really does bother me is the fact that I've spent most of the past week ill and bedridden. (Quick fact: I slept around 18 out of the 24 hours of Friday.)

What bothers me is that I'd considered this past week the last week, of my life as I knew it.

In hindsight, I can't remember a more stressful month since I moved to college. There are few things more stressful to me than the idea of closure, fast approaching. I like open-endedness. I like saying "see you later" instead of "goodbye." But what bothers me more than closure proper is poor closure or no closure at all when something comes to an end. (Example: any shitty, non-resolute but non-cliffhanger movie or TV show ending.)


Look, I used to live by the mantra of never regret anything (hand-in-hand with taking responsibility for everything you do) but lately I've regretted how far I've drifted from my friends here in Columbia. The popular conversation topic with me as of late has been "I haven't seen you in forever! What have you been up to?"

To which I'd normally reply with something about work or school. But the honest answer would really be more along the lines of "I don't know."

I've had the past year slip out from under me and I'm sorry about that.

If I never see you again, I wish you the best of luck. But I really, truly hope I see you again.

Eulogy on a student center

It's been an arduous Spring in a lot of ways, but I think the toughest part has been the near-graduation nostalgia that many folks close to me are experiencing. The trips down memory lane, the old emotional baggage, the skeletons in the closet... Come on, you know what I'm talking about.

I won't say I wasn't affected by it, but I'd like to stubbornly believe that I got by just fine until last week.

Last week on the Mizzou campus, part of the ol' Brady Commons was torn down, so that construction could begin on Phase 2 of the new student center replacing it.

Although I'm not graduating this month like I want to, I feel like the loss of that building still signifies the end of an era of my life as it stands in Columbia, Missouri. It's an era that has seen my life cross paths with that building over the past six years--often to great effect. Yes, it's just a building, just another stupid building on campus. But the loss of that stupid building just feels like a sign, telling me that my time here has mostly passed, that I should probably get going soon.


Before college, I had the privilege of going to the Missouri Scholars Academy, Missouri's version of what some other states call a governor's school. Those of us taking part endearingly called it "nerd camp."

Over the course of the three-week program--so packed with activity that I still recall it as if I were there for months--I met a lot of interesting people and made a lot of life-changing friends. And (I guess) most importantly to me, I met and befriended my future first girlfriend there.

We had a little group that would go over to T.A. Brady's and play DDR during our free afternoons. We weren't allowed off-campus, so the Subway in T.A. Brady's was often the secondary meal option to the (then-newly remodeled) Mark Twain Hall cafeteria.

Two years later, I came back to Mizzou for college. Considering it was not even on my list until after Spring Break (read: after scholarship deadlines), it was what you could definitely call a brash and last-minute change of heart. I came to this town, naturally because I had plenty of friends going, but also because I'd grown up in the town (until third grade), and because of the whole Missouri Scholars Academy thing. There were a lot of little things pulling me here, but I'm not sure I would have gone here if not for the spectacular three weeks I'd spent there, years ago.


I was only remotely interested in journalism at the time, with dreams of computer programming and cyber security and hacking and NSA cryptanalysis. Late in high school, I'd developed a lust for photography, but that was about the only thing journalism had on me--I didn't care for the form or the ethics or anything, I just liked taking pictures.

Along with a friend (and future roommate), I went to Brady Commons and attended a news meeting at the student paper, The Maneater; I was looking to be a photographer. Just something to do for fun, so I could get better at it and hell--they paid you!

By the end of my freshman year, I was a journalism major.

Over the course of the next two years, I met Ron Jeremy, started to care way too much about work, failed out of school, got back in, went from being a photographer to being Online Editor to just being a programmer again... And somehow all of this (via an alum at the New York Times noticing me) launched me to my current job as a Web developer at The Spokesman-Review.

That final year, our online team turned a (supposedly) one-off podcast experiment into a standard feature. And (after three years of development hell) we launched a new Web site. I can't tell you how many times we'd stayed at the office 'til sunrise--even after the paper went to the printer and everybody else had left. There was a lot of mojo in that office, something driving us to work on these awesome things to our own detriment. I had never been so proud of anything I'd previously worked on.

For a few semesters, I joked that I lived in that building more than I lived at my apartment. And it was kind of true.

I'm not joking.

During my heyday at the Maneater, I started taking darkroom classes at the Craft Studio just down the hall from the production office. Started revisiting T.A. Brady's regularly with a newly-formed DDR Club. There was the Filipino Student Association down there, too.

It's not like I intentionally sought out things to do within the building, but rather, it was just coincidental that everything I did for a couple years as an undergrad took place there. (Which, I suppose, is just good use of a good student center.)

I've met so many people through that place and I've made so many friends. I've been through drama, I've had a lot of fun, and I've had my share of all-nighters in there. And while I'd love to say that it was in there that I found a place where I belonged, I think the more striking thing to me today is that most of these connections have far outlasted the battered remains of the old building.

And that makes the nostalgia a lot less painful.


T.A. Brady's is gone. The Maneater office moved across campus. The Craft Studio moved down the street.

It's time here has come and gone. And I'm not quite gone yet, but I can sympathize since my time here is running short. (Twenty-one credit hours, give or take a couple.)

Buildings come and go and the beating heart of the university will go on. (In all the hustle and bustle, I'm sure a lot of folks who live off campus don't even know that it's gone.) But to me, in a lot of ways, Brady Commons was the beating heart of the Mizzou campus.

Indeed, the in-construction branding for the new student center dubs it "The Heart of Mizzou." I hope that someday, someone else can look on that building and understand what the old one meant to me.

My first relationship, my college choice, my career path were all (in)directly influenced here. Plain weird when I wonder how life does that, but so it goes.

Thanks, Brady Commons.