Monday, June 27, 2011

Linux vs Mac usage share pie chart - and how to make one with Google Docs

I'm a great fan of Google Docs and have been using the spreadsheet function ImportHtml a lot. Just playing around here is two usage share pie charts drawn up from data at Wikipedia:

If the data at Wikipedia is updated, so is my chart without me doing anything. If the page and table at Wikipedia is changed too much my chart is wrecked.

Simply put the formula "=ImportHtml("web address with your data","table","number of table to import")" in a cell and your desired table is copied to the spreadsheet. First table on the web page you are importing from is counted as 0 (the Usage share of operating systems page has my required data in tables 0 and 5). Obviously, it's possible to manipulate the data once it's inside the spreadsheet - in my case I simply copied the values of the cells I needed to a little convenient area. Mark the area with the data you wish to display then click the 'Charts' button (between 'Functions' and 'Filter'). Try to have the dialog window cooperate to draw up the chart needed then select 'Publish chart' from the drop down inside the chart box. I'm not entirely happy with the share data being converted to relative percentages (unfortunately Microsoft OSs do claim some 86%) - any tips on changing that?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

KDE ownCloud takes a look at Apple's iCloud

It seems that [ownCloud] support everything iCloud is doing and a bit more if you look into the feature set. And we have a fundamentally more advanced vision and architecture.
- Frank Karlitschek / Welcome to the cloud age, Apple
Since I'm getting by with SpiderOak (a backup service similar to but more advanced than DropBox) and Google services (backup my calendar!?) myself I haven't tried either of these cloud services. Thus, I'll trust Franks assessment (doubt Apple will do a comparison).

It appears ownCloud beats iCloud by several features:
  • free and open source (obviously)
  • is multi-platform (so is SpiderOak)
  • supports file versions (so does SpiderOak)
  • lets the user share files with anyone
  • is extensible so addons are being developed
  • doesn't bother people with DRM
  • decentralized storage
That last bullet point is something Greenpeace has an opinion about too!
Thay say iCloud = iCoal:
The company's new service, iCloud, may be an ambitious step forward for Apple in computing terms, but look closer and you'll find that it's tarnished by that Victorian-era power supply (and source of global warming pollution!) we know too well -- coal.
Accessing data anywhere on any device still needs those clouds to touch the ground somewhere. In Apple's case that's a US$1 billion new datacenter in North Carolina. All those servers require huge amounts of power - as our recent "How Dirty is your Data?" report revealed that Apple's new datacenter could use as much power as 250,000 EU homes. In North Carolina that power comes from burning dirty coal and dangerous nuclear power.

Uptime Institute interviews Greenpeace data center representative.
Treehugger also took a look at the iCloud data center, How Green is Apple's iCloud?:
Cloud computing is now at the stage that mobile computing was in 2007; we're only going to hear more about it, and it's going to permeate our lives. But from an environmental point of view, it shouldn't be a black box. We need to know what its impact is, and what is being done to minimize it as much as possible. I hope that Apple will release more info about its iCloud infrastructure and that they're doing all they can to make it something else than a brown coal-smoke cloud.