So criticizing the famous and now delayed Everex Cloudbook has been an unpopular decision. Heh, I guess it was just unpopular to go public with my opinion and making it even a little on Digg didn’t help. So in all fairness I think I should review the Cloudbook again in light of what everyone has mentioned. Before reading any further though, my kind readers need to understand that the point of MuddyGeek is to examine technology, open source, and environmentalism individually as well as how they may interact. For example, I may look at why a new solar powered building is very interesting from a technical perspective such as how researchers have made it thinner or more efficient. Or else I can look at the same building for its aesthetics and very noticeable stance on the environment. Not everything here is about cool technology. Something can be awesome from a geek perspective but environmentally detrimental nonetheless.
All that said, clarified, and finished… I would like to cover the Cloudbook completely like no one else has yet…
The Everex Cloudbook is $400 ultra portable-ultra mobile notebook running gOS Linux (gOS for Good OS but g can also be for green as these utilize low voltage processors and g for Google for their bundled apps). I am going to examine why the Cloudbook simply doesn’t matter and why it is a mistake for Everex to pursue.
This is Everex’s attack on the a couple markets. First, its going after the ultra portable niche market where the Asus Eee resides. These devices more commonly seen as the abbreviation UMPC are low appeal for most consumers. Why they are small and light, they also lack the functionality that a full size slightly more expensive notebook offers. The 7 inch screen is certainly going to sip power compared to the behemoth 17 inch notebooks many consumers flock after now. A 7 inch screen is also going to be harder on the eyes for many older folks thus losing its appeal to one group. My other big problem here is that the CPU and RAM combination. The processor is a nice Via C7-M which is about as easy on the battery as it’ll come for 1.2 GHz. Its still underpowered for most Linux distros today and gOS won’t be an exception for long. Maybe this would be okay with more RAM but the unit comes with 512 MB and it can only be upgraded to 1 GB. A basic Sempron or Celeron would have afforded better performance even if cutting down battery life slightly. Heck, throw in a ultra low voltage Core 2 Duo and see it fly.
I’m not talking about alcohol. I’m talking about getting away from water bottles. While it may be acceptable to keep a few water bottles around the house for emergencies (natural disasters, water main breaks, et cetera), water bottles are a disastrous concept.
Sanyo has constructed what I would call a beautifully designed building in Japan. This building, known as the Solar Ark, not only collects solar power but also aims to educate visitors about solar power and its history. Buildings like this are critical in expanding solar use in conventional buildings. By showcasing how solar has been effectively used while still remaining aesthetically pleasing, I think Sanyo is not only making it acceptable to go, but fashionable. I hope more corporations can take a cue from this and implement it.
I don’t want to be dismissive of those that have implemented (or are in the process of doing so) solar power. Hewlett-Packard is transforming its head quarters to solar. Google not only uses solar but has spelled its plans for pushing a lot of money into renewable energy (to the effect, they hope, that those technologies will be cheaper than conventional fossil fuels). Even Wal-Mart has tested renewable energy concepts in a couple of its stores (not really enough in comparison to the massive footprint the world’s largest retailer holds but a start).
You can see the Solar Ark in the gallery or learn more about it at the Sanyo Solar Ark site. If you’re visiting Japan, you can also visit the Ark to see the museum or check out the cafe. A bullet train also passes by.
The newcomer gOS is coming to an ultra portable notebook near you soon. Maybe. Someday. Everex, who started and sponsors gOS, did finally officially announce their gOS based notebook. Specs look decent with a Via 1.2 GHz low voltage processor, 512 MB RAM, 30 GB HDD, USB 2.0, and DVI output. What’s really cool is the developers’ version. That version gets a touch screen. Man, those developers get all the cool stuff.
Apparently, the Cloudbook version 2 which isn’t even announced yet will probably have touchscreen standard. Afterall, why mess with it on a developers’ version and not include it later?
Oh, did I mention the 7 inch screen? Talk about portable. Imagine the battery life! And to ice the cake, its touting a reported $400 price tag. Finally, ultra portable and ultra affordable. (I didn’t just say that, did I?)
Expect to see the Cloudbook at Consumer Electronic Show. In the meantime, Linux Devices has a little more information on it. Linux Devices was first with the story and supposedly they have an inside source who leaked the information. We’ll see how this goes.
UPDATE! January 3, 2008
Apparently this little notebook isn’t quite the innovation that Everex would have us all believe. UMPCPortal reviewed a Packard Bell Easynote XS in mid 2007. It certainly has a striking resemblance to the Everex Cloudbook, doesn’t it? The only difference that I can discern relates to the OS. Easynote runs Windows XP while Cloudbook while definitely ship with Linux. Definitely check out UMPCPortal though as they have a gallery of the notebook in action and a video demonstrating it.
My one final thought on this whole ordeal for now… Why does this even matter so much to so many geeks out there? Yeah, Linux is good and I want to see it grow but what’s passed that? I have read numerous opinions that this will give the Asus Eee a run for its money. I’m not sure anyone really even cares. These are fringe notebooks. The typical buyer is after a 15″ or 17″ laptop (or desktop replacement). If Everex wants to make a huge splash, then they need to release a powerful, inexpensive Linux based 17″ laptop. After that, Wal-Mart may be fine but they have to get into Circuit City, Best Buy, Staples, and wherever else people shop for good computers.
Rene Nunez Suarez is responsible for what should help half the planet’s population. He has invented and patented an extremely fuel efficient wood burning stove meant for cooking. Reports state this stove uses 90% less fuel than a traditional stove.
Every site I have looked it has praised Suarez over and over again. They place his stove on a pedestal. Its amazing. Now ask someone in a third world about it and see what the answer is. Suarez who? What stove? Save wood? I wish.
The interesting story is the background to Suarez. This man hails from El Salvador, lives with his mother, and drives a ’90 Kia. His wife left him and took the children. He has spent his life savings on this stove (some reported US$2.5 million). In turn, he’s won an award and received a patent. Whoop dee doo. Who really cares if no one uses the damn thing?
Suarez had a brilliant idea and has thus far lost out. He wanted to develop a better way to cook and thus save fuel and time for many people, even those in his own country. Instead, no one is buying the stove. The poor folk in third world countries haven’t the money to purchase it and their governments are focused elsewhere. Environmental groups are traditionally cash strapped or uninterested in actually investing in anything that would help the planet.
So I am imploring my readers, if someone out there is looking for a good thing to invest in, consider his stove. Consider the vast implications before continuing: If everyone who needed one had one, we could cut half the planet’s cooking related pollution down by around 90%. In turn, 90% less fuel means 90% more trees spared. We still need to revive our forests but sparing them is even better. The environmental impact would be enormous.
According to Treehugger, this device sells for $325. Perhaps ramped up production and economies of scale would drive the price down reasonably. Hell, we can build laptops and sell them to the third world but close to $100 each, why not a stove?
If you’re interested, read more at the Seattle Times. If you’re more interested in energy efficient cooking, look at the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group.
Replacing traditional roofs with gardens is something that I have long advocated. It saves on heating and cooling costs (and therefore reduces pollution) but the plants also help filter the air and improve the building’s aesthetics. I’ve kindly borrowed a few photos from The Grow Spot. These buildings and gardens are amazing. I love it. These would also go well with the vertical gardens. Just imagine massive buildings in New York City someday completely covered with plants. We will have to wonder why we never did it sooner.