The application bandwagon?

A couple of years ago I remember reading in the technology press about how desktop software was dead, and that the web was the future. Skip forward to today and I still hear the same thing, only with the word ‘web’ replaced with ‘cloud’ – cloud being a buzzword, simply meaning some server, somewhere

A couple of years ago I remember reading in the technology press about how desktop software was dead, and that the web was the future. Skip forward to today and I still hear the same thing, only with the word ‘web’ replaced with ‘cloud’ – cloud being a buzzword, simply meaning some server, somewhere.

I liked that promise, in a world where Microsoft Outlook takes about 10 times longer than the combination of Google Chrome and Gmail to load, web based software certainly seems to me to be the future. So I was surprised today when I discovered that the BBC is launching some new pieces of client software for mobile phones. These days, all the major web sites have their own ‘app’ – The Guardian, RadioTimes, WordPress, even the White House to name just a few examples – yet nearly all of those apps could work just fine in the web browser. Does this mean the web application is dead? I pondered this, and came to the conclusion that no, web apps aren’t dead. The fact that The Guardian and The Whitehouse haven’t released an application for Windows or MacOSX tells me that this is just a mobile thing, and that installable applications are perhaps easier to use than web sites, with their caching, gestures and smooth animations. The BBC’s applications will feature high-quality flash, something Apple don’t allow inside the iPhone’s web browser so that’s probably their reasoning. Installable applications (on the iPhone in particular) create a desktop presence, you can bet that people who’ve installed The Guardian’s app visit The Guardian more often that those who have a bookmark buried away somewhere, or type the address manually, so there is added benefit to the content provider. Of course, as the Windows Quick Launch area taught us, too much branding on the desktop can get annoying, so maybe it is a fad after all, and we’ll all be using web based mobile apps in 2 years time?

Is that client software? Google cleverly pretends to install client-side software, when it is in fact, just a web application.

Cell by Stephen King

What an amazing book. Despite the inevitable of label “Horror”, I’d classify this as more of a psychological thriller. Yes there are many gory scenes, but the meat of this book is not in the action sequences, but in the constant feeling of fear, fear of the unknown experienced by a group of people who find themselves unaffected by the “Pulse” sent out through the mobile phone network, a pulse that resets the human brain to its most primitive form and eventually takes those affected by it (most people) the “phone crazies” on a different evolutional path.

A couple of months back I finished reading Cell by Stephen King.

The hardback original cover

What can I say? What an amazing book. Despite the inevitable of label “Horror”, I’d classify this as more of a psychological thriller. Yes there are many gory scenes, but the meat of this book is not in the action sequences, but in the constant feeling of fear, fear of the unknown experienced by a group of people who find themselves unaffected by the “Pulse” sent out through the mobile phone network, a pulse that resets the human brain to its most primitive form and eventually takes those affected by it (most people), know as  the “phone crazies” on a different evolutional path. What could have been?

The book could be described as a zombie apocalyptic story, but rather than the usual approach of “virus hits earth, chaos ensues, lead character finds a big gun, shoots zombies, makes their way to safety” the author gives the zombies original abilities and strange behaviours that just  cry out to be explained and will keep you reading.  All of the characters feel well written and believable, meaning you as the reader care about them, making the goodbyes sad and the dangerous moments tense.

Much has been said about the ending of this book, with many readers disappointed that it didn’t answer all their questions. While I won’t give anything away, all I will say is I liked the ending, it suited the tone of the book. If anyone has ever seen the original cut of Blade Runner, and then the Director’s Cut you’ll know what I mean – sometimes what is not said can be so much more powerful, in the same way the ending to the first Matrix film was ruined by the two subsequent sequels.

So I highly recommend this book, don’t be put off if “horror” isn’t usually your thing.