Web Operating System (WebOS)

The web operating system is different things to different people. Until now, use of the term has been much freer than is good for the sake of clarity and preciseness. For some people, a web operating system is merely an interface between a human user and web applications and services. This interface is basically an integrated collection of applications and services from the web – that is to say, each application concerned can be accessed through the WebOS. Other people insist that a WebOS should have an interface that lets the end user pick, make and discard applications at will. Some would agree but only if it also has the ability to save user settings for various users of the same system.

There are also those that believe WebOS is indeed an interface for applications but that it should be run from a remote server. On the other hand, some believe that an interface for web applications that is installed and found in the client computer is still WebOS; as long as it supports and provides convenient access through web applications, it can qualify as WebOS.

Finally, some believe that a web operating system should be more than just an interface but an active manager of the applications and processes that it supports. That is, it should prioritize applications and should set parameters for loading and running these applications with a view to optimizing speed, performance and stability. In a nutshell, a WebOS must have control over the web applications to which it provides access – just like the way a traditional operating system like Windows has ultimate control over the whole environment where the applications it supports are run.

Web Operating System: The Closer to Traditional OS, the Better

In the traditional sense of the term, an operating system is the software that manages the operation of a device (e.g. a computer). It is responsible for booting-up procedures as it is for controlling and managing the computing environment. It sets the protocol for accessing files, installing programs, running applications, allocating computer resources including memory, overseeing system security, and more. Aside from managing computer functions, traditional operating systems also have location in common. Specifically, a traditional OS like Windows and Mac OS are both installed in the end-user’s computer.

A web operating system is something that does the same things that a traditional OS does. It manages the environment where applications are run and loaded, provides a system of access, minimizes conflict among applications, maximizes use of resources, and does other traditional OS functions.

However, the WebOS is remotely available or available through the internet. This makes it independent of the local computer or device through which it is being accessed. That is, you can access media files through your computer even if your computer’s operating system has no media player support since you’ll be using the WebOS instead of the computer OS.

Note that in a WebOS setup, the operating system and the applications that it supports are located in a remote server and the whole system (both the operating system and applications) is accessible through an internet browser or via a plug-in/utility installed in the client computer.

Due to the fact that a WebOS, for all its advanced features, actually doesn’t have boot-up capabilities and hardware control, some people have come to dub it as the web-based desktop. It is simply like a computer desktop that provides a platform through which you can store files, manage/run a variety of applications and save your preferred settings with one difference: the whole system is virtual and web-based so it can be accessed only through the internet.

How a WebOS Works

There are a lot of web operating systems online. One is eyeOS that is freely available to anyone who registers and becomes a member. To access the eyeOS desktop, you should go to the eyeOS user interface URL, then log in with your username and password to get immediate access to a virtual desktop that comes with file storage, IM and text editing capabilities as well as other eyeOS-compatible applications. It works pretty much like your own computer desktop – except you will be using different applications (in eyeOS the email program is eyeMail, whereas in a Windows-based computer the email utility is MS Outlook) and you will not be using up your computer resources for file storage and such because all your files, programs and settings shall be stored at the remote server.

The WebOS Advantage

The main advantage of WebOS is that your files, applications and whatever it is you’re working on through your virtual desktop can be accessed through whatever type of internet-capable device. Thus, you can log on to your virtual desktop using a computer (old or new) or a handheld device without compatibility issues. Another chief advantage is remote access; that is to say, you can access your files, settings and applications wherever you may happen to be and whatever device or computer is available. You also don’t tie up your computer resources since all your stuff is housed in a remote server.

The development of applications that run on the various web operating systems – especially the open-source ones – can be expected to continue and even speed up through the coming years. When this happens, you can expect the benefits of having a full suite of applications available at your disposal wherever, whenever and using whatever gadget is conveniently accessible.

The Human ‘Operating System’

How do we ‘operate’? What makes us ‘work’? Where does our knowledge stem from? Where do our beliefs, cultures, phobias, superstitions, etc., originate? What gives us our individuality?

We can see quite clearly the importance of an ‘operating system’ (O/S) to the computer. Every general-purpose computer must have an O/S. The computer will not function without one. This fact has made Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, one of the richest men on Earth.

The ‘operating systems’ in the computer environment provide a proprietary software platform on top of which other computer programs, called ‘application programs’, can run. For example you can run the ‘application program’ Word, Excel or this PowerPoint presentation from the Microsoft Office Suite on one of the most popular ‘operating systems’, Microsoft Windows – Windows 95, 98, 2000, Windows NT, Windows ME, Windows XP, Windows 7…

All of these ‘operating systems’ reside in Read-Only Memory (ROM) that means you cannot gain access to the O/S. It is non-volatile and is never erased. But what you can manipulate is the ‘application programs’ in Microsoft Office – Word, Excel, etc.

‘Operating systems’ perform basic tasks, such as recognising input from the keyboard, sending output to the display screen, keeping track of files and directories on the disk and controlling peripheral devices such as disk drives and printers. For large computer systems, the O/S has even greater responsibilities and powers. It is like a traffic cop – it makes sure those different programs and users running at the same time do not interfere with each other. The O/S is also responsible for security, ensuring that unauthorised users do not access the system.

I believe this ‘operating system’ in humans is comprised of genes from not only our parents but also ancestors reaching back to the beginning of life on Earth. Within our ‘operating systems’ I believe we have what I would call a ‘trans-generation’ subconscious memory that is made up of data gathered from the point when life began to when we were conceived.

In addition to this we accumulate experiences and information during our life span on Earth that adds to this knowledge and might be likened to an ‘application program’ similar to Word or Excel, where we add our own files in a similar way to adding software and files to a computer’s hard disk which gives each computer its individuality. There are some experiences and information which change our personalities and seemed ingrained into us and there are also things which leave little impression on us and this might be compared to a game run on the computer’s CD ROM for a few weeks and then never played again. I hope this comparison starts to show how we can be individual even though we are born with common genes. So, it is possible to influence your life span on Earth, but you cannot change your inherited ‘operating system’!

We can get a very basic idea of the complexity of our ‘operating system’ by imagining a series of circles expanding from a small inner circle to the largest outer circle, like the cross section of an onion cut in half. The small inner circle representing when life began on Earth to the critical “missing link” point when the human race was created following the arrival of a highly intelligent extraterrestrial life-form that bred with, or somehow implanted its genetic material and educated our Homo ancestors around 13,000 years ago up to the outside circle representing our parents’ generation. The ‘onion’ diagram would need to be quite large just to show around 500 generations that will have come and gone during the 13,000 years that have elapsed since the arrival of the extraterrestrial visitor(s). Of course contributions to our ‘operating system’ from the Homo sapiens side of the family began long before the arrival of the ‘Alien Visitor’. From the point when life first began on Earth up until the arrival of our early Australopithecine/Homo ancestors, 500 million years of evolution had taken place. An important point for us was the emergence, from an unknown natural disaster that wiped out the dinosaurs, of a pig-like creature known as the lystrosaur. The lystrosaur slowly evolved into small ape like creatures called australopithecines that made the first steps on the human journey some 15 million years ago. But, for the purpose of this article I will assume that the Homo sapiens contribution to our ‘operating system’ may have been similar to a present day Chimpanzees’ ‘operating system’.

How can we prove that this O/S exists? This can be clearly shown when we look at the ‘interface’ of the O/S and the beginning of our life span on Earth. When we see a new baby for the first time we remark on which features it has inherited from which parent or grandparent. Diplomacy can be important at this time! I have a photograph of my great-great grandfather. Even though the photo is very old, I can see clear resemblances to my father and brother. With the advent of video cameras, future generations will be able to see more clearly the ‘similarities’ in appearances and mannerisms across the generations.

When a baby is born, the basic survival functions are already there adapted and developed from the earliest circles! A baby just ‘knows’ how to breath, cry, yawn, suck. If you drop the baby in a swimming pool it will swim. It will also know not to suck and swim at the same time!

It is clear that the new baby has come into the world with characteristics and a memory inheritance program that enables it to operate or to live its life as an individual on Earth. A cat will have the characteristics (O/S) of a cat, a swan a swan, etc.

It is very important to recognise that we have inherited this individual O/S. I hope the complexity of our multi-million year old O/S demonstrates just how amazing and precious we all are!

To explain further let us look at how we access our memory. In a computer it is very easy to locate a file, for example a Word document, and open it. But, unlike the logical silicon circuits in computers, our brain or memory is not accessed logically, because it is made up of chemicals that can be easily ‘disturbed’, thus creating many strange phenomena. So, in the Human O/S, is our intelligence, our IQ, a measurement of how easily we can access information from our memory?!

In the human it is important here to highlight three states of memory – Conscious, unconscious and subconscious. The first two relate to our life span on Earth, the third to our inherited ‘operating system’. My definition of conscious is ‘alert and awake’, the unconscious ‘forgotten experiences’, ‘still there but no longer aware of’ – (meet an old friend, begin to remember forgotten experiences) and the subconscious – ‘not experienced in our own life-time’ information.

Every second of every day, we subconsciously access our O/S, but there are occasions when we can inadvertently access our O/S consciously, with some interesting results.

Disturbances to our brain cells can be caused by bereavement, illness (fever), drugs (deliberate or accidental), fasting, and sleep deprivation. There are long-term hereditary mental illness problems such as paranoia and schizophrenia, or problems during pregnancy, which can result in conditions such as Autism, Dyspraxia etc.

It is important to recognise that our conscious insights into our subconscious memory (O/S) are all in the memory which we sometimes refer to as the mind! Let us look at some of the amazing results. When we experience deja vu, our minds seem to recall memories based on our experiences. This tricks us into believing there is a displacement of time in our present conscious lives. But I also believe that as a race, we are trying to decipher memories of events that we have not experienced. I think we can accidentally introduce our past subconscious information, that is to say, data from our ancestors that is stored in our subconscious memory (O/S) to our present conscious memory.

As far as I know, there is no evidence of anyone touching a ghost but many people have ‘seen’ ghosts. I believe the memory of the ancestor exists in an individual’s subconscious memory (O/S) and under certain conditions the ‘video clip’ of the ancestor or location can be accessed from the subconscious memory and appears as a ‘ghost’. The same process applies to most Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) sightings. Many people around the world have ‘witnessed’ this phenomenon. Some claims UFOs are currently mapping our planet. I think they were doing these 13,000 years ago and where people believe they see UFOs today they are actually seeing an inherited memory hidden in their subconscious.

People who believe they are reincarnations of our ancestors may also be bringing forward memories from a subconscious collective memory. I believe these memories are not resurrected from the individual’s own life on Earth but from a database of human history which we all possess in our inherited trans-generation memory genes. In extreme cases, some individuals may find it difficult to lead their lives on Earth because of easy access to information stored in the brain of earlier generations. So, when Arthur Pendragon claims he is the twentieth-century reincarnation of King Arthur he is perhaps experiencing flashes of information from this trans-generation subconscious memory, which he has inherited and cannot easily control. Some people may believe they are reincarnations and others do not, depending on whether or not they have flashbacks from the trans-generation memory. A computer can also be seen to have ‘flashbacks’. We may do a search to find a file and come up with a completely different one that was thought to have been erased several years ago.

Some of us can be party to new ideas and inventions that have yet to be launched on the general public. Having this knowledge can give the impression that we can foresee the future.

Apart from having memories, we are also contained in the memories of other people. We may meet someone and be reminded of past experiences and sensations, but in the same way other people will meet us and recollect memories associated with us. Even if we do not have children our ideas are still transferred to consequent generations of people because of the impact we make on our peers and even on pets in our own lifetimes.

Our human tissue, our flesh and blood is comprised of a multitude of chemicals. So our brain or memory tissue is by no means a secure means of storing and retaining data. We can observe this reality as we grow older. The ‘links’ between the memory cells become weaker and we begin to look back on the memory that is easiest to access, our early memory of our life-span on Earth, our childhood and those we grew up with.. As we grow ever older we can become very confused as we slip back into information stored in our memory inherited from previous generations. Much of this uttered information does not make sense to even the closest member of the family. Perhaps, in trying to understand inherited memories we will gain a greater understanding of senility.

The silicon chip is a much more stable method of storing information. However, compared to the human brain, this silicon chip technology and the level of complexity is still in its infancy and computer ‘hackers’ can gain access to the information stored in these silicon circuits. As mentioned previously all sorts of ways and means have been tried to dislodge or in some way manipulate our memory genes, but we are still some way off before we can ‘hack’ into the hidden memory in the human brain. I think we can try to excavate this knowledge using our imagination in addition to our intelligence.

It is important that we are aware our genetic ‘operating system’ can be counterproductive. Under given conditions we can revert back to fears, beliefs, superstitions, etc., contained in our subconscious memory. Sometimes we experience irrational fears, such as sense of horror when we see spiders, but we have no past experience in our own lives that could explain why we would be so frightened of this creature. This fear is not learnt, it seems to already be within us and is sometimes triggered but we do not know why. Perhaps our phobias and superstitions were once logical to us but during our evolution we have become unclear about why we have these impulses. The knowledge to understand them is still within our subconscious memories but is obscured or has been altered by the addition of more information through the generations. People sometimes suffer so badly from these irrational fears that they try to overcome them using hypnotherapy. Maybe this works because the hypnotherapist is able to draw out the forgotten knowledge in the patient and match it to the trigger so that it is no longer irrational and therefore alarming. Some among us, for example politicians, religious leaders, psychologists and marketing executives, have learnt how to manipulate our subconscious memories, so beware!

From the origin of life to the present, we slowly evolved, gathering data and developing our senses with each surviving generation. I believe this collection of knowledge and experience is passed on to every human as a kind of ‘operating system’. I also believe from the many geniuses and remarkable inventions we are aware of in our history, it is clear our knowledge is not evolving, but rather it is being rediscovered.

Once we understand we have this amazing ‘operating system’ stored in our subconscious memory and accept that we are all pretty much equal in terms of our inherited ‘trans-generation’ data, then we might begin to bridge the formidable barrier between one person’s thoughts and those of another.

The great benefit of knowing we have an ‘operating system’ is that we can appreciate and understand how we operate and begin thinking for ourselves. I believe acknowledging our ‘operating system’ will move us forward to the next phase of our evolution where we can empower future generations with the knowledge to explore the mysteries of the universe and discover the path to universal love.

Revised from the original article – copyright November 2001

The Vulnerabilities of Outdated Operating Systems

Keeping your computer’s operating system up-to-date is rudimentary to keeping the system secure. Why? Whether your computer is built around a Windows, Mac, Unix, or Linux-based operating system (OS), the developers of the operating system – whether maintained commercially or through open source communities – are attempting to enhance the capabilities, features, and most importantly the security of the system. When a manufacturer releases a new OS, they are not just looking to profit from a new product, they are striving to produce and distribute a better product. In fact the latest trend this past year in commercial operating systems released by top corporations in the industry (i.e., Apple and Microsoft) is to provide consumers with FREE upgrades to the latest operating system. This means that corporations are not even profiting from the distribution of their latest system. So why not upgrade your computers’ operating systems when there are no financial costs involved?

Going back to why developers change operating systems on a regular and ongoing basis; while it has everything to do with business, only a fraction is about profits. One of the greatest advantages with a free market is that businesses will compete to produce a better, more desirable product. While competing to improve products, in this case, operating systems, the developers strive to enhance virtually all aspects of a system, including but definitely not limited to its security features. This is not an article on economics, but on why users should focus on the benefits in upgrading computers’ operating systems, instead of the drawbacks, and how upgrading the OS may improve the security of the computer and the user’s data it stores.

Often users have kept computers on the same operating system (usually the OS pre-installed when the computer was purchased) for years and even decades. Non-technical users will hesitate to upgrade the OS in order to avoid making any changes that might break the computer, or worse – might rearrange the desktop, menus, and toolbars in such a manner that it is difficult for the user to navigate or utilize. We get it, change is scary. When desktops and menus change appearance, and options are relocated, it can be hard to adjust to the new layout. Yet, if a user can overcome the temporary inconveniences of navigating a new operating system, he or she will experience the comforts and assurances that come with the upgrade.

Over a period of time, the number of exploits into any (and every) type of OS will increase thanks to penetration testers, hackers, and malware developers. The truth of the matter is that the longer a system is in circulation, the longer programmers have been attempting to exploit it through hacks, cracks, malware, and other tricks. It is a never-ending game of breaching and patching a system that makes it more secure. The problem with legacy operating systems – note, the word legacy is meant to describe a product that is no longer supported by the manufacturer – is that any newly discovered vulnerabilities in the system will never be patched or secured. Security vulnerabilities can allow attackers and/or malware to bypass network protocols, execute remote codes, escalate access privileges to system programs and files, disclose or collect user profile information, corrupt system drivers or files, cause a denial of service, and perform other activities that could harm the user, the system, and/or application(s).

When an OS reaches the end-of-life date set by the manufacturer, there will be no more resources or support available to maintain the retired system. The manufacturer will invest its resources in a new(er) system or product. Thus, when a manufacturer retires a system, so should the users. Users that keep their computers’ OS upgraded and up-to-date will have access to multiple types of patches for vulnerabilities, including:

  1. Definition Updates. Definitions added to system databases are used to detect malicious code, phishing websites, and/or junk mail (spam).
  2. Security Updates. An update will include patches or fixes for a product-specific, security-related vulnerability.
  3. Service Packs (Windows-only). A service pack consists of a batch of cumulative hotfixes, security updates, critical and non-critical updates.

A computer that has a supported OS can access the latest definition/security updates and service packs that are tested and released by the developers. Users that do not upgrade their computers’ operating systems, which have reached end-of-life, are leaving their computers and data at risk of being compromised.