Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Cybernomad's Portable Desktop

Luxembourg-based start-up, Jooce, has introduced an application aimed at cybernomads - people who use several computers - which is basically a "roaming desktop."

Cybernomads often do not have their own computers, and so use those in libraries, Internet cafes, and other public places which offer computer access. Of course, these machines cannot be customized to their preferences and even if they could be, their preferences cannot be saved; public computers have to be accessible to all users and are generally crippled to block access to illegal sites, porn sites, and social networks/chatrooms.

Jooce's application is web-based and allows cybernomads - or anyone else who is not at their personal computer - to access their own, private "desktop." This includes saved files, bookmarks, and e-mail. They also offer a collaborative/shared version, called Joocetop, which allows friends and relatives to access one another's files and information.

While many are hailing this as a breakthrough idea and application, the truth is that it's nothing of the sort. Joocetop is, very basically, a portal - a portal with a fancy name comprised of buzzwords ("A Mobile Desktop for the Cybernomad") - and offers nothing new. The difference is that it makes it all incredibly easy for the HTML-challenged.

By opening a Yahoo! account, you can get the very same thing. Customize your My Yahoo! page to include whatever "modules" you generally use; keep your files in a briefcase; make your Yahoo! account your primary e-mail and organize it through your filters and spam settings, then redirect any other e-mail accounts you have through Yahoo!'s POP services, and Bookmark any external ones (that do not offer POP access); open your GeoCities account and create a customized page with links and pictures, using their "SiteBuilder." Better yet, simply set My Yahoo! to show your Bookmarks and e-mail on your page. Voila! - your very own, "roaming desktop," or WebOS, as they are wont to call them now.

That's what a portal is: your own desktop, with links to all your content and so forth, modified according to your preferences! And portals like Yahoo! are about as dumbed-down as you can get; you don't need to know HTML or any other coding, you just need to spend some time learning the interface (where everything is located, what does what and how, etc.).

There are other WebOS available, such as Global Hosted Operating System (g.ho.st) and desktoptwo, but it's important to understand that these are not actual desktops and are most certainly not functional OS; these are merely portals, just like Yahoo! and others, which aggregate functions from several other sites into one, convenient place. The issues people are having with these "apps" is that they hog memory and run poorly on older and inferior machines. These are not issues when you use actual portals, because actual portals are actual websites which require nothing more than surfing to the site and logging in.

So all you cybernomads should note that you do not need a WebOS or roving desktop; just set-up a Yahoo! account and customize your My Yahoo! page - all for free!

© C Harris Lynn, 2008

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