A Minimal Laptop for the Cloud

No caps lock key here, it has been replaced with the search button!

Yesterday I was welcomed home with an unmarked, laptop-sized, cardboard box which contained to my delight a new CR-48 Chrome Notebook.  For those interested in the pilot program, head over to Google and check it out.

It is No Nonsense

This is exactly what a laptop should be, all you need and nothing more, and very few ports:

  • One USB
  • One VGA
  • One Headphone jack
  • One SD Slot

That is it, outside of the keyboard there is not a single printed word on the black, rubberized case, not even “google”. The whole thing exudes that “first principles” attitude google took to making it, mentioning in the key-note address that most operating systems began their life before the internet was such a prevalent force, Chrome OS being one designed to deliver the web directly.

Nothing but Net

The promotional videos are no joke, this thing starts up in a few seconds and boots right to Chrome. I was amazed, having come from my terrible windows work computer; how fast this thing started. It is a little odd at first having only the browser window, but it soon dawned on my that truly very little of my day-to-day computer activities do not occur on the web. This blog is a perfect example, composed entirely in the WordPress web application.

Are we ready for the Cloud?

Using the CR-48 is a little like getting shoved out of the nest as a baby bird; I think most of us like the safety of our current operating system, however for the most part we can do everything we need to in the cloud. There is no problem using social media, email, task management, yet there are a few drawbacks that I have discovered:

  • Development Tools – Right now there appears to be a lack of web applications for web development, although rumor is the next eclipse will be a web application.
  • File Transfers – You can download files and then access them from other applications, but this could be improved; I’d like to be able to access my Dropbox folders from the gMail attachment dialog, for example.
  • PC Still Required – It might be possible, but it would be a tedious pain, to “convert” to full Chrome OS usage without the benefit of a normal desktop. Documents will need to be converted to online versions, photos uploaded, notes scanned and uploaded.

Making the Jump

I don’t think that I will be a 100% online user  in the near future, too many of my activities demand legacy software; in all though I’m extremely pleased with the Chrome OS Laptop and it will make for a perfect internet appliance while on the go.

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Linux: Better Late than Never

This weekend I took the plunge and installed Ubuntu 10, I simply was fed up with msMpEng.exe taking up all of my memory, or the Windows indexer using all of my processing power… maybe it was Outlook take 100 years to start. In short, Linux is a breath of fresh air.

I had been avoiding the inevitable for one reason or another for some time; I am all for open sourced software; but for a time it was computer games, then engineering software, then graphics software (all of which were windows only) that prevented me from making the switch. I’m not much of a gamer any more and I have to say the truth is that ones tools do not impart skill; I should have no problem continuing to design and create with the software easily available on Ubuntu. Increasingly ones computer is simply an internet portal, the majority of work being completed in the cloud; perhaps that is why only recently has Linux been gaining more mainstream adoption from former windows users. I was able to do almost everything I did on windows immediately, so I didn’t feel out of touch and could take my time learning the differences. Thus far I have been very pleased.

Some of my favorite features is the seamless integration with chat and social services, I have a widget that shows my whole buddy list from facebook or gchat right at the desktop. There is also a feed tool that shows updates from facebook, twitter, digg and other services. Another great feature is the package browser/software center. This let’s you manage your installations and updates in an effortless way. I was surprised how instantly everything “just-worked.”

What really excites is the new found control I’ll have over the operating system, something that just did not exist with windows. I recommend you check it out, you can test it on a cd or usb stick and install it alongside windows in a duel boot configuration.

Available for Desktop and Laptop

Available for Netbook

Trophy Office Space Revisited

As a follow up to this post here we have a series of views of the office building. As mentioned in the prior post, this building is designed to accommodate small to mid-sized firms that are largely dispersed with remote work environments. The firm might lease this space or a few of the floors to have a conference room and some “on-the-ground” offices to meet clients or hold discussions. I conceived of the idea of stacking glass boxes one on top of another to create the space; this was largely achieved by tying everything to a offset core containing the utilities, elevator and bathrooms. The floors are cantilevered off this core with steel trusses, but designed to appear as solid cement slabs. The core itself is reinforced concrete around large steal beams anchored to a massive foundation. I have a feeling that this building as designed may break many building codes; but with some re-work it could become a feasible design. Enjoy!

The building is designed to look like floating glass boxes. The elevator core ties everything together, while the floors themselves are designed to appear like solid slabs.

Lasagna: A First Principles Approach

I don’t know much about lasagna:

  1. I like it, and so does this guy:
  2. It has cheese and lasagna noodles, and probably tomato sauce.
  3. I’ve heard of vegetarian lasagna, so normal lasagna must have meet; good.

Armed with these gems, I decided to make a lasagna filled with all the things I like. It turned out great!

Ingredients

  • 6 Sweet Italian Sausages, casings removed
  • 6 Hot Italian Sausages, casings removed
  • 2 Boxes of sliced baby ‘bellas
  • 1 Box slicked shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 Cloves of garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Large tub of ricotta
  • Bag of shredded mozzarella
  • Can of shredded parmesan cheese
  • 28oz Can of Crushed Tomatoes
  • 28oz Can of Tomato puree
  • Black Pepper
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Parsley (Fresh if possible)
  • Basil (Fresh if possible)
  • Chili Powder
  • Nutmeg

Procedure

  1. Start out by filling your lasagna pan with hot tap water, and put in the noodles so they can soften.
  2. Throw the mushrooms and garlic in a large pot with some olive oil. Brown the garlic a bit and simmer the mushrooms until they start to get wilt-ish. I kept my chunks pretty big cause I wanted bites to be filled with mushroom goodness.
  3. Carve out a hole in the mushrooms and putt in all the sausage meet in the pan and brown. Cover the pot and periodically go in and mash up the meat so it becomes small chunks. Continue to do this until the meat is browned and you get a large pot of meat and mushrooms that looks like the picture below.
  4. Drain off a bit of the juice from the meat pot and pour in the crushed tomatoes and about 3/4 of the puree, add in a pinch of sugar, salt.
  5. Add pepper to taste and about a tablespoon of the basil and parsley. Simmer this whole concoction for about 30 minutes and let it reduce a little.
  6. Take your ricotta and throw it in a bowl, mix in a bit of nutmeg and chili powder and a little olive oil. (I must admit, I consulted the internet about this cheese mixture, otherwise I’d have never thought of adding nutmeg. An egg was also recommended, but I had none.)

Assembly

  1. Put a little of the sauce on the bottom of the pan.
  2. Lay down a full layer of lasagna noodles.
  3. Spread out half of the ricotta, then half of the mozzarella, then about half of the Parmesan.
  4. Lay on a thick layer of the sauce, make sure all the mushrooms and sausage bits are evenly distributed.
  5. Add another layer of lasagna noodles.
  6. Spread out half of the ricotta, then half of the mozzarella, then about half of the Parmesan.
  7. Add another layer of lasagna noodles.
  8. Put the rest of the sauce on top, then add a little bit of Parmesan over the top.
  9. Cover the whole mess in aluminum foil.

Cooking

  1. Cook in 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
  2. Remove the foil then cook for another 25 minutes.
  3. Let it cool, cause it’s going to be HOT.
  4. Enjoy!

Is it a dishwasher or a stove?

Thanks to Erin at Unclutterer for posting about this:

It appears to be a four burner stove that also has an oven and a dishwasher as part of it. It’s great to cram all of this stuff into one small space.  This would be perfect for a ultra small studio, and I’d imagine that all one would need to do would be to run a dedicated 220 volt plug for this unit and modify the cable to work in the US. I’ll likely incorporate this into a new apartment design concept.

Buy it!

Minimal Box House

This house represents an actual concept of a place I might like to live in the future. The goal here is to reduce possessions to the bare essentials; while at the same time having a reasonably pleasing environment that would still allow for entertaining. I eliminated as many walls as possible, only providing a small wrap-around for the bathroom enclosure. The construction is concrete block with a concrete floor and truss ceiling. Light is provided by a few track elements and the large windows. Heating is provided through the floor, while air conditioning is housed on the roof. I envisioned this being located either in a city overlooking a park of sorts, or a more remote dwelling perched on a hill. This could be at home over-looking rock creak park in DC or the San Francisco Bay.

Bathroom


The bathroom is almost entirely open, there are no shower curtains, doors, walls, partitions, just two walls to close in the space. The shower is mounted on the wall in one corner, and the Japanese TOTO toilet in the other corner. There is a small inset for shower items, a few towel racks and one medicine cabinet above the sparse sink. I can’t imagine what more would be needed in a bathroom; the toilet paper function is handled by the toilet. The medicine cabinet can easily accommodate the few things one might need to get ready. The large window lets in a lot of morning light.

Kitchen

For this kitchen I asked the question: “what do you need to do in a kitchen, if you spend a lot of time eating out and don’t have much more then you or you and your guest in the house at any time?” Notice there is no refrigerator or dishwasher, actually there is a small refrigerator hidden behind the right most cabinet, with a freezer drawer hidden behind the draw to the top left of the sink. There is also a small dish washer/drawer behind the cabinet near the oven.

A microwave is recessed at the end of the island, as well as a more normal oven. On top is a simple sink and a two burner stove, because honestly how often do you use more then two burners at one time? The rest of the drawers could provide enough space for a few plates, glasses and kitchen accessories; nothing fancy, just those thing that have the most utility and can prepare the bulk of the meals one would eat at home.

Office and Bedroom

In this picture we can see the “office” which is nothing more than a desk, a chair, and a computer. In fact, had I designed this after the desk I recently posted about, that desk would have been perfect for this space. The desk is located in the center of the space allowing the user to be as far away from potential distractions as possible, as well as be centrally located to all the things that would be needed during work, such as a bathroom break or a snack.

We can also see the the bedroom in this picture, which is a platform bed over a simple animal rug. It’s likely that this bed would flip up to revel some storage space for off season clothes or luggage. Next to the bed is a dresser and shirt rack. The idea would be that there is not much clothing in this place and so there need not be that much space to store it. Any laundry that needs to be done would be handled by a pick-up service. The top of the dresser and first couple of draws hold all the random dressing trinkets.

Living/Dining Room

The areas in this picture are the living room and dining room, which defined entirely by the furniture and placement. A sofa and Le Corbusier lounge over an area rug define the living room, where a large glass table below a painting define the dining room. I’d imagine if this were my space, I’d add a simple stereo to the living room area. A simple space to think, converse with friends, or have one to many cocktails!

Exterior

The exterior is as simple as the interior. A floating wall staircase takes any one to the roof to sunbath, grill, or maintain the AC unit. This arrangement sets this building in a city up against a street (where my motorcycle happens to be parked).

Final Thoughts

By starting out with a completely blank canvas and adding only those things that are needed or give me true pleasure, this is the building I arrived at. Certainly each person might slightly modify or add and remove elements. If you see something that you think is absolutely missing please let me know! Maybe I overlooked something, but I can’t think of it now.

Minimal Desk

The general design of this desk is inspired by an Ikea model that looks very similar: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/80115988 with regards to the leg lay out.

My goal with the design of this desk was to allow for as much open desk space as possible while providing for a small amount of storage for electronics, laptops, and desk items. The design constraints I chose were:

  • Expose as few cables as possible.
  • Be able to charge and store a docked laptop, a kindle, a phone out of sight.
  • Provide storage for a few pens, paper and sundry desk items.
  • Allow for the use of a large flat screen.

This desk is a simple design with two drawers, one larger and one smaller. Each drawer has an open back with a lip to prevent things from rolling or sliding out, but open to allow for cables to be routed.

The thought is that you would put your laptop docking station, kindle, and phone in the larger drawer, and the cables would come out the back to be routed to the monitor, keyboard, and power source. The fronts of the drawers are completely flat so at first glance it would appear that there were no drawers at all;

a small slot in a dropped lip allows the drawers to be opened.

The small triangular notch at the back of the desk provides a solid area to clamp or bolt a monitor arm which will let you float a large flat screen over top the work surface and makes it very easy to slide off the removable top. By removing the top you can make adjustments to the cables as well as store rarely used items like a wireless router, a power supply, or even valuables that you would like to keep out of sight. The top would likely sit in small slots or have a few short dowels to hold it in place. The goal would be that a closed desk would appear as one solid block of material.

The legs of the desk would be welded together steel or aluminum components, likely chrome plated, or powder coated if aluminum, or hard glossy paint. The legs are fairly large with small slots in their top and bottom allowing cables to be passed through. I envision passing a power cord to a power strip through one of the legs into the bottom of the desk. From here we would plug in a laptop docking station, the monitor power supply, the cell phone and kindle charger which would have their cables affixed to the inside of the large drawer. I’d easily be able to pull the drawer open and grab the laptop out of its docking station, but hide it and keep the desk clear of all but my object of focus.

I hope to post pictures of the real thing in the future!