Flights Of Fancy

Sometimes  the technical community leave you aghast.

The idea that you can trust to the wireless  links for your computing applications software when you’re on the move is breathtaking in its ignorance of the availability of the wireless links.

Yet that is what Google is proposing with its laptop computers called Chromebooks which are due to launch next month.


Somehow the US technical community has got so enthralled with the idea of Cloud Computing that it has forgotten that Cloud computing depends on wireless links. And the links are shitty.


Similar flights from common sense were Intel’s Pro-Share videoconferencing product of the early 1990s when the bandwidth of the telecommunications system could deliver only the jerkiest of  images.


Or Motorola’s $15 billion Iridium satellite constellation for a global wireless telecommunications system whose signals could not be picked up on a handset which was indoors.


Recently I was in a seminar in the US where engineers talked seriously about delivering 3G-based services to cars. This in a country where 3G coverage is far spottier than in the UK.


So ignorance of the realities of the world is nothing new in the technical world.


But you’d think someone would have told the Google guys before they put their faith in this flight of fancy.



  1. But it doesn’t excuse BTs attitude of clamping my local exchange at 1.5Mb. So I moved to cable.

  2. You’re absolutely right, Keith, and it puts the kibosh on pan-European Cloud Computing.

  3. Google are also no doubt unaware that in Europe we have data roaming charges which make using online data unrealistic.
    I have an iPhone which is great in the UK (even where I live, where there is no 3G for miles around) but when abroad, data roaming is turned off and so for the last 2 weeks it’s main use has been as an alarm clock.

  4. Just as well, I’d say, [Anonymous], else these things would be literally useless in many situations. But when Google say these apps will be available ‘in the summer’ yet they’re launching next month, it suggests that the offline software is an afterthought. And ‘in the summer’ is rather vague. Like selling a car in June and saying the wheels will be avaiable ‘in the summer’.

  5. “We’ve worked hard to make many, many applications available offline,” said Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Chrome. He said Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs will be ready for offline availability this summer.

  6. Sorry David but BT never failed to understand that ADSL was wanted. They drove the standards and untertook two major trials using Westell equipment when other countries were just installing 5 or 10 lines for R&D purposes.
    One problem was stopping ADSL destroying earnings in other areas but Martlesham produced good solutions to all of this. Once the rollout design and planning began in 1996 there were also a few areas of BT trying to protect their patch but in general BT management was VERY positive that this WAS going to happen.
    As for moral fibre, one early report on VoD over ADSL did conclude that the only way it would cover the equipment costs at that time (about $300/line) was if they delivered pornographic material, but as ever Moore’s Law soon fixed that problem and ADSL equipment is now as ‘cheap as chips’ 🙂

  7. Incurable optimist, Dick. Network operators never change – never have, never will. Remember BT when it started to become scandalous that they wouldn’t deploy ADSL? BT said stuff like: “What will people want all this capacity for? What do they think they’re going to do with 256Kbits/sec?” As if it would sap the nation’s moral fibre to have so wide a pipe. No. LTE will be deployed first in congested areas to relieve congestion. It won’t be used to get ahead of the demand curve and give bandwidth headroom. That’s just the way carriers are and always will be. Sorry to dampen your expectations. Hope I’m completely wrong.

  8. C’est la bloody old vie, Dr Bob

  9. I doubt that it is the technical people that think up these ideas but the marketing people who then convince the management and the financial people.
    Us technical people just do as we are told under pain of sanctions (dismissal when times get rough) and we are not allowed to say “TOLD YOU SO!” as we are then branded as defeatist (and subjected to sanctions and the blame anyway).
    The good ideas us technical people have get hijacked either immediately or presented at a future date as someone else’s good idea.
    When it goes wrong due to changes sufficient to totally warp the original idea then someone ‘remembers’ who came up with the original idea that was stolen in the first place.

  10. David – Might this be a way of breaking the cycle? You know – we don’t have the demand to justify building better 3G coverage, so we don’t build it, so people don’t use it, so we don’t have the demand….
    This might be the tipping point where demand for 3G, and therefore revenues from 3G, both reach the point where the operators at last see value in rolling out services.
    Or am I just an incurable optimist?

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