Friday, October 10, 2008 as the Machine

If a really pale guy named Casper shows you a virtual computer online, you may be seeing a ghost. Not a ghost ghost. Just Nothing spooky about it. It's just the Global Hosted Operating SysTem that you'll find at

Oh, don't be such a fraidy cat. Click through and see what you can do when your operating system is online instead of sitting on your desktop.

I did. The home page looked cool so I clicked on the start button to launch the virtual computer, affectionately called a VC. Hey, isn't a VC someone who funds this sort of thing? Well, anyway, the next thing that happened is that it scared my old Compaq to death. I got a script message saying the system was running slow. So I bailed out and re-launched the on my newer Lenovo laptop.

Now the screen looked like a real desktop, littered with all sorts of junk including an analog clock, media player, Google search box, Yahoo! World News headlines, and a bunch of apps. There are a couple of yellow stickies saying that if you register, you can upload files to your Drive with 5 GB of free storage. You also get to use Mail and Chat that works with your favorite IM service.

I'll suggest you click on the icon that looks like a bus and take the Tour. It's text, not Flash or video, that describes what you'll find on the system and how you can use it. Note that this isn't a "real" computer in that you can't load any of your own software and expect it to run. The software applications are SaaS (software as a service) hosted apps that mimic typical office programs you are familiar with. There is a Bulk Uploader that looks a lot like an FTP program that lets you upload files to store or work on.

So why would you want a virtual computer if you need a physical computer to get to it? Probably the big reason is so that you can access your stuff anywhere, anytime you can get to any Internet connected computer. Log-in from home, work, or public access computer and there's your desktop just like you left it. All your files and tools are right there ready to use. You can tote your own PC or mooch one from a friend and you'll still get the same experience.

Well, sort of. As I mentioned, my almost-last-century Compaq couldn't handle the load. The FAQs recommend at least 512 MB RAM and a broadband connection of at least 1.5 Mbps. Your browser can be Microsoft IE, Firefox or Safari, but you'll need a Flash plug-in that is at least at version 8. Honestly, I thought the whole system was a little poky even with a computer that easily met the specs. But, hey, it's only in alpha deployment right now. Give an cyber specter a break!

The closest parallel to that I can think of is remote access software such as GoToMyPC. But with that setup you need to have your host machine running and Internet connected at all times. Otherwise there's no PC to go to. is out there computing somewhere in the "cloud" as they say. The ghost-boosters keep it up and running.

Get it? Ghost boosters? Yeah. Well, if you ain't afraid of no ghosts then try the guest account or register as a user and put a in your machine.

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