I was recently forced to spend some time at a hospital due to a bowel inflammation. The inflammation is due to a chronic disease whose cause is still unknown. It's also not clear whether there are non-surgical treatments to completely cure the disease. I won't go into details in this post, suffices it to say the event has distracted me a bit from my usual focus on games, Xbox360 and XNA.
Let me start with a few words about nutrition journals. Although there is little scientifically established information about the link between food types and inflammations of the digestive tract, many patients report that specific diets do help. The problem is that there does not seem to be any single diet that fits all.
It is therefore important for each individual to assess the effect of each food type on one's digestive system. Any good programmer knows it: before you optimize, you need to measure. The same goes for nutrition. Before doing changes to one's regime, it is important to keep track of what goes in and, well, what comes out.
The difficulty is that keeping such a journal requires discipline, as it's best to record that information as soon as meals are eaten, and directly after visits to the bathroom.
This is were mobile devices and the net comes into the picture. Smart phones make it easy to fill in the journal. The journal itself is probably best kept on a central server (in the "cloud") in order to be accessible from anywhere at any time through any device.
But do I? I see Windows 8 as an attempt to regain control over the Web. What place will have competing web browsers (Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera...) in the new operating system when it includes it's own browser as a mandatory component? If the web view of Windows 8 succeeds in pushing out other browsers, Microsoft will be free to invent new technologies, forcing others to play catch up. Are we getting back to the Windows 98 and "optimized for IE6" days?
Happily, I don't see that happening. Non-Microsoft smart phones and tablets have conquered large portions of territory once owned by Microsoft and Intel. Hopefully HTML5+js will gain adoption and proper support across all platforms.
Note that the irrelevance of platform-specific technologies such as Silverlight applies to others as well. Why keep making iPhone and Android apps when you can make a web app instead? Are the specificities of GUIs compelling arguments to redevelop client apps multiple times? Will users be willing to pay for apps when free web apps become ubiquitous?
We can turn to the PC platform to find hints of answers. The computing power they offer still has no equivalent in the cloud, and demanding applications such as development tools, CAD and video games will always feel best at home on a PC. I expect those applications to keep being developed using a mix of native and VM-based languages and frameworks.
Is there a similar place on the smart phone? Applications requiring unrestricted access to the mobile's resources come to my mind. This includes media players, games, device management... I expect however that a very large eco-system based on "silly apps" will soon disappear, possibly in a very sudden manner.