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Summary:

Over at Technologizer, Harry McCracken is in the midst of an experiment that he calls Operation Foxbook. The idea is simple: to forego desktop applications entirely for a period of time, doing everything on a netbook-class machine using Firefox. McCracken’s initial progress report is encouraging, though […]

Mozilla Firefox 3.0.2 Release Notes -  (Build 2008091618)Over at Technologizer, Harry McCracken is in the midst of an experiment that he calls Operation Foxbook. The idea is simple: to forego desktop applications entirely for a period of time, doing everything on a netbook-class machine using Firefox.

McCracken’s initial progress report is encouraging, though as he points out, he’s hit a few roadblocks on the way. Moving stuff like blogging, email, and scheduling into the browser didn’t raise any issues. The tough application for him: image processing, since he’d been a heavy Photoshop user. His writeup includes some notes on the web applications he’s tried as a replacement.

Interesting as it is to read about McCracken’s experiences, it’s more interesting to contemplate what a life in the browser would be like for your own work. Could you manage to forswear desktop applications, even for one day? If not, which applications would be the sticking point for you.

In my case, it might be possible to move my life online, but it would be terribly difficult and I’d be less efficient. The big deal for me is managing all the pieces of a complex development project. While I know of online editing and testing environments for Rails, and in-browser tools for manipulating database files, they’re nowhere near as powerful as the desktop applications that I’m accustomed to.

Even if you don’t think you could make the move online, it’s worth thinking about what tools you could use if you had no choice. It might be smart to set up the necessary accounts, and have a record of passwords somewhere other than your primary machine, just so you could keep working (however impaired) in case of a disastrous hardware failure.

  1. How will you listen to music; a pre-synchronized iPod? No iTunes right? He will have to do alot of streaming. He must have access to a fast connection.

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  2. Hm, I’m thinking the opposite would be a real challenge nowadays – how would the average Web Worker forgo *web-based* applications even for a day?

    This is what’s scary to me (as someone who develops web apps).

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  3. I guess I could rely solely on webapps except in one task: video editing. I don’t think there’s any online application that could manage gigabytes of video.

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  4. Great to see Harry replicate my own test, which lasted 60-days and worked quite well. In two months, 97% of my time was spent in the browser and I’m on the computer around 60- to 70-hours a week due to work.

    @CY: streaming is a great option, but for iTunes music, FoxyTunes is an awesome extension for Firefox that lets you listen to your tunes: http://www.jkontherun.com/2008/06/the-web-only-ch.html

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  5. I’m pretty much there really, apart from a couple of things.

    I really like Dropbox and it makes certain tasks less irksome – I could do without it though (for a day).

    I tend to use PuTTY for a lot of the day, for managing my Drupal sites. Vim FTW.

    I use ChatZilla an awful lot, but that’s “browser based”, so I’m not sure if it counts? It’s a FF extension :)

    If it wasn’t for basic file management facilities offered by the desktop, I could almost do completely without it – in fact I almost do.

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  6. I wonder what’s the percentage for each person between using web apps vs desktop environment. Halved at 50%? Mine I think is 75-25 spent within browser.

    Best.
    alain
    mor.ph

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