17 June, 2014

Surfers, Do Not Attempt: 5 common tsunami myths debunked

As a SoCal resident, I have indeed met some surfers who get rather overjoyed when the see the "entering tsunami hazard zone" signs, thinking, "Oh, good, I just have to wait for a quake and I've got a wave to ride". Well, that's precisely the problem. Below are some common myths people believe that are often exaggerated compared to reality, and as per the thoughts they stir in these people, just might get them killed.

Myth 1: Tsunamis are just like ordinary waves, but bigger.

Here's precisely what makes surfers in Hawaii often fail to heed tsunami warnings only to end up in a 10-minute-long rush of white water: A normal North Shore wave is a 30-by-300-foot wave, which just crashes and dies. A tsunami, on the other hand, is a 30-by-633,600-foot (120-mile) wave. That long wavelength is key: instead of just crashing and dying, a tsunami will keep coming in as a 5-to-15-minute-long torrent of seawater. So, you may be fine riding it out in the ocean... ah, but once you reach land, the tsunami won't stop. It'll keep coming, and before you know it your surfboard is suddenly a life preserver that you end up holding onto for dear life as the water keeps rushing in.

Myth 2: All waves — including tsunamis — look the same

Don't let this myth fool you either. The tsunami that left Japan in 2011 reached Hawaii in about 5 hours, but it subsided into a series of 10-foot swells. Yet despite their low height, they still had enough energy to, just like a flood and/or storm surge, devastate coastal towns and damage many buildings beyond repair. An episode of "Weather Caught On Camera" on the Weather Channel includes a piece of supposedly viral video documenting the rush of seawater that turned out to be the tsunami, which looked nothing like a wave at all, but rather a sort of flash flood of seawater that just kept coming.

Myth 3: All undersea earthquakes trigger tsunamis

It's not the shaking that triggers a tsunami, despite how strong it may feel. The seismic waves are too short and low to displace water. In order for a quake to generate a tsunami, a quake needs to cause permanent vertical deformation of the ocean floor. Meaning, of course, that a strike-slip fault like the San Andreas, where the tectonic plates slip past each other, would only cause horizontal displacement of the ocean floor, and thus, no tsunami. Subduction zones and thrust faults, on the other hand, do indeed cause permanent deformation of the ocean floor, and thus, a tsunami can indeed be triggered.

Myth 4: Earthquakes are the only tsunami triggers that exist

Many people assume that because earthquakes are the most common triggers, they must be the only triggers. Not so. In 1958, a strike-slip Fairweather Fault quake, registering 8.3 on the MMS, caused 40 cubic yards of rock to detach itself from a mountain lining Lituya Bay. Alaska. The slab slid into the bay at over 100 miles per hour, displacing enough water to cause a 1,720-foot wave in the bay.

In geologic and Neolithic history, however, there were some tsunamigenic landslide events far bigger than that one. Landslide debris carbon-dated to roughly 6000 BC, for example, detached itself from Mount Etna in Sicily — roughly 8 cubic miles, or approximately 43.6 billion cubic yards, of it, that is. The resulting wave, when plugged into computer models, that is, would have had initial heights of 165 feet in the open ocean (Lituya Bay was far shallower, which is why the wave was so much higher), enough to swamp countless Neolithic villages. The modern threat posed by the Cumbre Vieja volcano in the Canary Islands, as another example, consists of a 120-cubic-mile, or 654.2-billion-cubic-yard, block of debris just waiting to slide into the Atlantic. The tsunami generated by that could have initial heights of 2000 feet and, remote from its generation location, it could break up into a series of about 20 165-foot waves, enough to devastate the entire Eastern United States.

As if landslide triggers don't sound scary enough, there's also impact events. The asteroids that created the Chicxulub and Burckle Craters, for example, were big enough, and their impact plumes wide enough, to displace hundreds of cubic miles of pure ocean, generating tsunamis with initial heights of close to 10,000 feet (especially in the case of Burckle Crater, which, if my calculations are correct in my other post on it, displaced, at the very least, about 600 cubic miles of pure seawater; in the case of Chicxulub, the impact was in a shallow [less than 200-foot-deep] sea, not a 12,500-foot-deep ocean), and still 1000+ feet as they approached landmasses — enough to wipe entire countries off the map should repeats of these impacts happen today.

Myth 5: Earthquakes can impact California, but tsunamis can't

While the San Andreas Fault is indeed a strike-slip (which, let's face it, is indeed incapable of triggering a tsunami), other California faults sure aren't. Take the Puente Hills Fault, which was responsible for April's 5.1 in La Habra and could trigger a 7.5 directly under downtown Los Angeles if it rips entirely, for example: it's a blind thrust fault. That means, yeah, it's thrusting the Puente Hills, east of Los Angeles, upwards... and oh, yeah, it would take a very long time to rupture due to the large, long, shallow underground rupture area. In the event of a similar fault off the coast, underwater instead of on land, rupturing, that could cause a tsunami in proportions far out of range for its magnitude, which for the SoCal coast could be devastating.

As for remote tsunami sources, while the tsunami of Japanese origin in 2011 obviously didn't do much damage to American shores despite traversing the entire Pacific ocean, there are indeed sources much closer to home that can still trigger far distant tsunami damage effects. In 1964, for example, a 9.2 quake on the eastern edge of the Aleutian Trench triggered a tsunami which devastated Northern California, and Crescent City in particular... but even that isn't the most significant megathrust tsunami threat to SoCal. In that case, we could be looking at a 50-foot-plus tsunami that could reach SoCal in as little as 2 hours from its source: the Cascadia subduction zone.

The last time Cascadia ripped, triggering a quake that could have easily been about as big as Alaska's monster, was on January 26, 1700. The tsunami from that one was big enough that, oh, yeah, even Japan got swamped... and when a tsunami is generated, it doesn't just propagate in one direction, it propagates in all directions. According to computer models, a repeat of that one could cause a tsunami to reach San Francisco in 1 hour, Los Angeles in 2 hours... oh, yeah, and could easily cause in excess of $70 billion in damage to the entire West Coast of the United States, including the portion in California not affected by the quake itself. Yeah, I certainly wouldn't want to be on the beach when that happens...

Geologic Evidence Supporting Biblical Events, Part 3: Ringwoodite

Literally less than a week ago, scientists made a VERY important discovery: large quantities of hydrous ringwoodite, a mineral that, when water contacts it, undergoes a redox reaction: hydrogen dissociates from the water, which then goes on to protonate the mineral, and the resulting hydroxyl radicals get locked up in ionic bonds within it, locked between 400 and 700 miles within Earth's mantle. The volume of ringwoodite that these scientists were able to find turned out to be enormous: enough ringwoodite, according to estimates, to hold 3 world oceans' worth of water. That's enough ― naturally ― to easily cover all the continents up to the height of Mount Everest and STILL have a good 5,000 feet to spare, at least. And, when ringwoodite melts, the water dissolved in it is no longer soluble and escapes ― mostly, of course, as water vapor.

So, what happens when a large burst of heat and/or seismic energy is blasted into Earth's mantle through 2-mile-thin oceanic crust by an object like the Burckle impactor and directed straight towards the ringwoodite layer? Ringwoodite's chemical formula contains very large amounts of magnesium (very brittle), iron (not brittle by itself, but is compounds are indeed brittle), and silicon oxyanions (also, indeed, as brittle as, well, glass), making it, naturally, a VERY brittle material. Even if the impacting object's heat burst didn't flash-melt large amounts of it (which it probably would have), the seismic shockwave blasted through Earth's upper mantle by the impactor could easily, by the time it reached the ringwoodite layer, have separated out into a series of smaller seismic waves ― literally the equivalent of a magnitude-10 earthquake, possibly larger.

This shaking could easily, easily have resulted in fractures in the ringwoodite layer. Guess what happens when those fractures reach the layer of magma below the ringwoodite? The magma is going to want to find an outlet, and that's just what happens: it pushes its way through the ringwoodite cracks, releasing the water from it, oh, yeah, and causing it to buckle and fracture in even more locations due to the steam pressure, allowing more magma to then enter those cracks... Yeah, the end result, of course, is phreatomagmatic runaway ringwoodite breakdown, ultimately forcing all that water that was once locked up in the ringwoodite to gush right onto Earth's surface as either A, steam, or B, superheated water, which then goes on to fall as what could be as much as 1000 feet of rain per hour, all over the planet.

Add the tsunami, the hypercanes, and, well, everything else associated with the Burckle impact on top of this runaway process, and suddenly the story of Noah's flood doesn't sound so far-fetched after all, does it? Yeah, the amount of water locked up in the ringwoodite deposits is indeed cause for concern to say the least... ah, but then again, once that water was able to seep back into the ocean via Earth's subduction zones, the ringwoodite would have been able to re-form, slowly but surely sucking all that water back up again, where it got rediscovered almost 5000 years later, right now, in 2014.

Now to be fair, the Bible isn't the only ancient text that talks about an ancient worldwide flood. There's texts all over the world that tell the same story. The Mayan Long Count Calendar, for example, may be most famous for its end and re-beginning in 2012, but the previous end and re-beginning was indeed during this same Bronze Age period, and guess what it talks about as having happened? A worldwide flood! Likewise, Chinese texts, whose accuracy, thanks to the Chinese lunar calendar, is indeed more easily capable of being 500 years off compared to modern computer models (not to mention this could have taken 500 years to drain completely), also talk about the same "fountains of the deep" ― hydrothermal explosions that are indeed a calling card of the Ringwoodite Gun ― that the Bible talks about. There's also Norse legends talking about this same phenomenon. Egyptian legends. Sumerian legends. The list goes on and on.

The fact that we do indeed have all these references to a flood outside the Bible means that although Noah would have been the only survivor in the ancient Near East, he probably wasn't this catastrophe's only survivor, despite how much us Christians want to believe that. The Egyptians and Chinese were definitely great boat builders, and so were the Olmecs, Mayans, and ancient Peruvians. Anyone on a boat, which could have amounted to at least a few thousand people worldwide, should have survived. All those survivors would have needed to bring on their boats to bring the planet's biodiversity back to normal would have been a bunch of seeds, eggs, and mammals (which are the ONLY members of the animal kingdom that aren't egg layers, mind you). When the salt waters drained, it would only have taken maybe 5 years of rain at the most to purge all the salt from the soil. The Copalis River "ghost forest" is evidence of how quickly salt washes back into the ocean: the forest may have been sunken into a salt marsh during the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami of 1700, but since then, scientists have measured the soil's salinity and have found it to be MUCH more suitable for tree growth today now that the crust is being squeezed again. Moreover, although land species would have been affected greatly, marine species, already used to living underwater, certainly should have suffered few, if any, endangerments or extinctions, which they would have easily been able to recover from.

So, ready to keep arguing with me? Call me an ignorant fool for being a Christian? We all know how that's already turning out, using ad hominem personal attacks, not to mention sock puppetry. Yeah, that's about all you're able to use (and thus how immature you're able to be) based on this kind of scientific evidence I'm providing, which, yeah, is the same kind of scientific evidence that others have been using in an attempt to attack and undermine my faith. I'm really not that stupid, and the very wording of this post is indeed proof of that, so bug off!

12 June, 2014

Nexus or Nothing: 2012's AT&T upgrade catch-22 that made me get an (old) iPhone

Alright, let's be clear: As much as I love Google, there are some things about carriers, and AT&T in particular, in regards to lack of timely mobile OS updates, that really, really, REALLY piss me off. That was totally true from 2010-2012, i.e. the Moto Flipside years. My phone was stuck on FROYO, of all operating systems, despite Jelly Bean already being out in 2012. So, when I was finally eligible for an upgrade, I was, temporarily, ecstatic about a mobile device upgrade when I learned that a phone AT&T was already carrying ― the LG Optimus G ― was going to serve as the basis for what would turn out to be the Nexus 4, so I thought, 'Maybe AT&T will offer the Nexus 4 as well'. Man, was I wrong!

There were indeed a few options, including the Atrix HD, that first looked like they might work... ah, but wait, despite the Atrix HD being on ICS at the time of the upgrade in 2012, it wasn't scheduled to even get Jelly Bean MR0 (let alone MR1, which is what the Nexus 4 had) until 2013, and, if the searches are to be believed, I literally just Googled it a few days ago, and, to my utter dismay, it STILL doesn't have KitKat. And here I thought Motorola (especially as it was under Google's management) was the one vendor who got an A+ on ComputerWorld's Android report card. Yeah, this proves that wrong in a heartbeat... Either AT&T gets an F for timely Android OS updates, or Motorola, when it comes to their AT&T lineup in particular, only gets a B. Not the least bit cool.

The release date came and went. Only T-Mobile was offering the Nexus 4 on contract. Ugh! I was literally, before my parents started seriously bugging me out of it (especially with my mother's retiree discount; she literally worked for AT&T for 31 years prior to 2003 and so is able to get a discounted upgrade price and/or phone bill), on the verge of switching carriers. Then, I thought, 'Wait a minute, even though Google lets carriers and OEMs get in the way of Android upgrades, Apple sure doesn't when it comes to iOS upgrades'. Reluctantly, I gave an iPhone 4S (a year old at the time, thus only being $99 on contract, versus the $299 PLUS a contract I would have had to pay if I got a Nexus 4 since it wasn't an upgrade option) a shot. Ah, at least it's got iOS 7.1 (and will be getting iOS 8 this fall) despite being 3 years old (the same age, believe it or not, as the Flipside was in 2012).

The transition was far from smooth, however. Aside from the iPhone, everything else of mine is Google gear. A Chromebook. A Chromecast. Google apps galore that literally double the space used on this poor little 4S, which performance wise is buckling under the performance stress and losing battery life tremendously. Meanwhile, this Chromebook I'm typing on (an Acer C720-2802) is screaming through an up-to-date version of Chrome OS, and, to the phone's dismay, even the old AC700 prior to last Christmas had outstanding up-to-date Chrome OS performance. Oh, and yeah, despite the plethora of Google content ― including Play Music, which all the major record labels still support ― now available for iOS, there's still some private music vendors ― notably Jesus Culture (and their Reconstructed album ― which, of all things, is precisely what I personally believe normal worship music should be today: Christian dubstep) ― that unfortunately still haven't gotten on the Google Play train, despite how easy it is to get a Play Artist Hub running (as easy as it is for the Dev Portal). And even then, most of these apps (notably Google Now and Google Play Music) only came to iOS in 2013; in 2012, nope, there was absolutely nothing.

Now, of course, it's 2014... which means, in addition to being 3000 miles away from home (SoCal), in Florida, for Christmas this year (thanks to an awesomely generous paternal uncle of mine), it'll also be time for yet another upgrade. According to rumors, it appears the Nexus 6 will be released earlier than most of the others have (at I/O), (update: I/O saw an Apple-style developer beta release of the version of Android that the Nexus 6 is bound to showcase ― release to be in November, according to further updates) not to mention Google's official Android Twitter account seems to have leaked it... ah, but given the overhaul that Project Hera appears to be bringing to Android's most fundamental structure (easily enough API breakage to make it a 5.0 release), nope, not too surprising. According to rumors, it'll be functionally identical to the G3 ― a 13MP camera with 4K recording, along with the same ultra-high-res screen that the G3 has ― yet fundamentally different from a design standpoint. As for carriage, well, let's make some noise in support of AT&T finally being announced as an official (NOT unofficial) carrier at I/O, shall we? Everyone, I'm using this blog to petition AT&T to carry the Nexus 6 for a change. The last Nexus device AT&T carried was the S, so in all honesty, they're LONG overdue for carriage of another one... So, let the blog traffic, the comments, the cries, and the screams begin!

11 June, 2014

Geologic Evidence Supporting Biblical Events, Part 2: Underwater Eden

People have sought out the so-called "earthly paradise" for millennia, let's be honest. From the medieval crusaders, to Christopher Columbus, to Juan Ponce De Leon, they've all circled the globe in search of one of the most puzzling biblical mysteries: the Garden of Eden. Little did they know, they were ALL looking in the wrong places. The Bible mentions four rivers flowing into the garden to water it: Pison, Gihon, Hiddekel, and Euphrates. The mention of the Euphrates, of course, suggests somewhere in the Middle East... ah, but wait, don't the Euphrates and Tigris (which the Bible calls Hiddekel) flow not into a garden but into the Persian Gulf? And where are the other two rivers?

Well, according to LANDSAT satellite data, there is indeed a "fossil river" (now known as the Wadi Batin) that flows out of what we now know to be Saudi Arabia, and a dammed river ― the Karun ― which used to flow into the Persian Gulf from the Zagros Mountains in Iran. Ah, could these be the missing Pison and Gihon rivers? If the Wadi Batin is the Pison ("gold" definitely seems to be suggestive of the color of Saudi sands), then where's the Gihon at? The Hebrew word that for centuries has been mistranslated as "Ethopia" is really "Cush" or "Gush" in romanized form, and, wait, it appears to be a loanword from Sumerian, where "Kashshu" is the correct spelling. This leads us to a people known as the Kassites, who are hypothesized to have conquered Sumer/Babylon during the 15th century BC out of the east ― possibly right out of Iran's Zagros Mountains. Ah, now that would make the Karun River the biblical Gihon, wouldn't it? Now we're getting somewhere.

We have to take into account, however, that there was a time ― about 7000 BC ― when the Younger Dryas period went into effect (possibly caused by the air burst of a large object such as an asteroid or comet), literally reinstating the ice age for another millennium or two. The result? The sea level was a good 400 feet lower than it is today, and glaciers would have been able to form at much lower altitudes, such as in the Zagros Mountains and in the highlands of northern Saudi Arabia, the melting of which would have fed the rivers in question. So, with the low sea level in mind, we come to our next question: just how shallow is the Persian Gulf?

The answer: VERY shallow, according to some data I was able to find... if the data is correct, the entire Persian Gulf is on one giant continental shelf, which would make it only about 200 feet deep at the most. That means... Yup, the Persian Gulf was at one point a fertile valley fed by glacial melt. Then again, oh, yeah, its floor is a VERY flat floodplain. When the sea level rose rapidly as the glaciers began to quickly recede when the last remnants of the Ice Age ended (about 6000 BC), it reached a critical point where it could just push its way across the entire plain in the same kind of free reign that tides can freely cross the Bay of Fundy today. The result, of course, is just that ― a flood, taking the form of what would appear to be a massive tidal bore as the fast-flowing melt-river is shoving itself against the seawater that it's contributing to the rise of, which would have quickly overwhelmed what was once the earthly paradise:

So, yup, there you have it. What was once the garden of Eden is now the bottom of the Persian Gulf... ah, and it's definitely not a garden anymore, now is it? The water would have been flooding the area about as quickly as it flooded the Black Sea (only not across a natural dam like the Bosporus but rather through a narrow strait ― the Strait of Hormuz ― that would have channeled the rising seawater to an unusually high amplitude as it pushed against the outgoing glacial melt), forcing the inhabitants to flee to higher ground and/or inland. Alright, that's two events down; you thirsty for more?!

06 June, 2014

Geologic Evidence Supporting Biblical Events, Part 1: Burckle Crater

The flood story in the Bible, I must admit, is indeed a very eyebrow-raisingly implausible one from a scientific standpoint. Rain for 40 days and 40 nights is nowhere near enough to cause a worldwide flood capable of wiping out entire continents catastrophically, to say the least. Not to mention, of course, that there indeed are no "fountains of the deep" or "windows/floodgates of heaven" that scientists know about anywhere on Earth that they're aware of. The "windows/floodgates [both equally valid Hebrew translations] of heaven", at least, don't seem to appear anywhere, unless, of course, you're using the claim to talk about the Black Sea flood... ah, but a scientific discovery made some years ago, 12,500 feet beneath the South Indian Ocean, does indeed give new meaning to the "fountains of the deep" claim.

May 10, 2807 BC (according to a Sumerian planisphere object similar to another one that documented the Kofels air burst, when plugged into computer models). An asteroid the size of Mount Rainier, according to scientific estimates, slams into the South Indian Ocean, approximately 1000 miles east-southeast of Madagascar, at more than 50,000 miles per hour. It flies into the ocean at such a high rate of speed that even after displacing the ocean above, it goes on to kick up an impact plume to sub-orbital trajectories, and this impact plume then picks up the displacing of water right where the asteroid itself left off. Ultimately, the resulting crater (known to geologists as Burckle Crater) grows to a staggering 18 miles across, at the bottom of a 12,500-foot-deep section of ocean, the water-displacing impact plume (and by extension the very section of ocean having been displaced by the impact) thus bearing the same radius.

So, I'm using this opportunity to put my hard-earned geometry skills to use. The formula, according to math books, for the volume of a cylinder is A=πr2h, so with that in mind, let's do the math here. To get the radius, we must divide the 18 miles of crater width by 2, giving us 9. Ah, but then, to convert miles to feet, we must multiply 5,280 by 9, which gives us a 47,520-foot radius. Using the formula on it, we get: π*(47,520)2*12,500 = approximately 88.6 trillion cubic feet, or 602.4 cubic miles, of displaced water. Compare that with the volume of rock currently detaching itself from Spain's Cumbre Vieja volcano, which is only estimated to be 120 cubic miles, and yup, you get the picture. The volume of water displaced by the Burckle impact can amount to many orders of magnitude more than that which will be displaced by the Cumbre Vieja landslide when it finally gives way, and that much water displacement is enough to generate a tsunami about half as tall as the ocean is deep, especially when you factor the speed and depth of the volume of water that is displaced.

Remember, however: This volume calculation doesn't even begin to take into account the lateral displacement, only that which is vertical. Lateral displacement can easily add a good 100 extra cubic miles of water on top of that which is already factored in by this vertical displacement calculation. Remember, even though all tsunamis involve whole-water-column movement, those generated by earthquakes, landslides, and pyroclastic flows don't have nearly enough energy to completely part the abyss dry. Only impact events have this special character, one of parting a large circle of the entire water column in a vaguely Red Sea-like manner, forcing all that water that used to be in that circle to expand skyward. That's obviously poised to result in displacement far more massive than anything we've ever seen.

That amount of water that is forced to expand vertically is absolutely enormous... and let's remember, even the wave that was generated in the same ocean some 5000 years later, by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, had enough energy to be detected in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans by tsunami buoys. A wave on the Burckle impact scale, by comparison, would have absolutely no contest given these calculations. You'd be looking at something capable of wiping out large swaths of entire continents tens to twenties of thousands of miles away, knocking over mountains with tremendous force... oh, yeah, and killing tens of millions of Earth's inhabitants of that time, billions if it happened today. What many of the models that doubt the tsunami obviously fail to take into account, let's not forget, is the effect the impact plume has on exacerbating the volume of water already displaced by the asteroid itself.

Even if the chevrons found in Madagascar aren't tsunami deposits, if they're impact debris deposits as the scientists often suggest, we have to take into account the effect a tsunami that followed the debris (likely traveling far slower) would have on shaping them in the fashion they have been shaped in. Tsunamis push everything up in front of them. If there were no tsunami, according to the models, the deposits would have very gradual slopes, and if they were eroded by something else, say, gradually over time, we would see steep cliffs similar to those edging Arizona's awesome geologic features. Neither of these appear to be the case. The deposits in Madagascar are large plateaus 600 feet high, and they're uniquely shaped ― gradually sloped on the ocean side, and on the land side, they slope at perfect 45-degree angles. Slow erosion doesn't do that. It takes a tsunami, it takes a MEGA-tsunami, to shape the deposits in that unique fashion by pushing up one side of the already laid-down debris like a bulldozer, all the while flattening the side closer to the coast.

On top of that, impact events and debris plumes also contribute something else to the ocean that can be very catastrophic: heat. This heat can result in another phenomenon that scientists use all too often to talk about what may have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, especially in this catastrophic form: a hypercane. Or several, for that matter. Remember, it's not just the impact site itself that can be easily superheated. It's also the ejecta fallout radius, which can be a good thousand or two miles across. Which, of course, means we'd be looking at debris falling on both sides of the Equator, heating large swaths of ocean and catalyzing the formation of incredibly destructive storms that go on to ravage the region long after the tsunami subsides.

To top this all off, scientists also discovered that the amount of ringwoodite hidden within Earth's upper mantle is enough to hold 3 world oceans' worth of water. That's enough water to raise the height of the entire world ocean by as much as 30,000 feet! There's little doubt in my mind that the A, thermal, and B, seismic energy being blasted through the thin oceanic crust by the impact event could have been enough to cause the water held within it to flash-boil, creating more cracks in the ringwoodite. Those cracks then provide a path for Lower Mantle magma, which flash-melts more ringwoodite, then producing more pressure, and thus, more fractures. The resulting runaway breakdown could have easily, easily have completely blasted all that water onto Earth's surface. We had a clathrate gun; now we have a ringwoodite gun. The result is the same.

So, like how this series is starting off? This is only the start of what I've got going as a series of demonstrations of the kind of evidence often underplayed by skeptics. Ready for more? This is not the end, it's only the beginning of what I have in store for the dissemination of evidence that, when put together, is enough to flick the legs that even the most atheist of atheists have to stand on right out from under them.

03 June, 2014

Five OS X Yosemite features Chrome OS already has

Alright, now that we're between the WWDC and Google I/O keynotes, we sure have seen quite a bit. Apple unveiled two new operating systems, iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite... ah, and this time, with iOS having gotten the redesign treatment last year, this year, it was the Mac's turn to face the Iverhaul. Definitely cool to say the least... but then again, while there were some unique features in tow for the Mac, others sounded very familiar to us Chromebook users. I know of a few of them in particular that seem to really stand out.

1. Front-and-center Spotlight

Let's face it: The awesome desktop search behemoth known as Spotlight has indeed been a feature that Mac users have enjoyed for a solid 9 years and 2 months, and all the while hasn't changed a bit... until now. Then again, ever since its initial release, the competition ― led by Google and Microsoft ― have slowly one-upped it, and Chrome OS's implementation, thanks to a few flags, has led the pack. It therefore only makes sense for it to receive an overhaul... ah, but the overhaul revealed by Apple seems all too familiar for us Chrome OS users:

How is this familiar to us, exactly, you may ask? Well, a flag that just entered the Stable Channel with the release of Chrome OS 35 (and thus has been accessible to me, a Canary user, for a couple of months) has indeed offered the ability to reposition the app launcher in the center of the screen:

And did I mention this search box has Google Now-style voice search along with the "OK, Google" hotword (so far, "Hey, Siri" is only in iOS, and only in a beta release... ah, the irony) as well, making it even more powerful than OS X's Spotlight? You bet:

Then again, 2 months isn't nearly enough time for Apple to see that as something to intentionally copy, especially if it's still an experimental feature that not too many people use, leaving a window out there for mere coincidence, so I digress.

2. Notification Center cards widgets

Ah, the Notification Center. Right from the start, it was a clear ripoff of Android's implementation... and then iOS 7 came along, where all of a sudden, we had what looked to be a clear copycat of Google Now. By that time, however, Google Now had been available for Android AND iOS! Ah, and then Chrome's implementation came along with the stable release of Chrome 33, way back in March of 2013. Now that it's June, it appears Apple is copying Chrome's implementation of Google Now in OS X too:

Now, of course, it's time to demo Google's counterpart, which in Chrome OS, except for its trigger location (at the bottom of the screen), is nearly identical:

Yeah, thought you might enjoy that. I've been enjoying it since January, a full 6 months before OS X Yosemite was unveiled.

3. Google iCloud Drive

This new feature indeed seemed VERY familiar to me, a Chromebook user, to say the least. I almost laughed my head off through the whole presentation of iCloud integration in Apple's Finder:

So why was I laughing? Because I've had the ability to do that with Google Drive (which clearly is Google's alternative to iCloud) since Chrome OS 20, way back in 2012:

Not to mention, of course, that Google has indeed been working on a chrome.fileSystemProvider JavaScript API since June of 2013. What's that supposed to do? Allow third parties to offer their own online storage services via Chrome extensions to the file manager... Yeah, seeing a full year of work suddenly get ripped off by Apple? Please. You know better than that.

4. Large Attachments: Enter Google Drive's Gmail integration

This really isn't something entirely unique to Chrome OS that Apple decided to rip off; after all, it's through Gmail's web interface that this is possible, but let's see, what do we have here? Well...

... Yeah, Apple demonstrating how to easily and securely send large files via iCloud sounded like déjà vu to me, given how long I as a Chromebook user have been able to do this... and let's be honest, all you need to do is pull up Gmail in ANY browser, and you can do the same thing: Just hover over that "+" in the bottom left corner next to the paper clip, and the first option you'll see for attaching files is one to do it via Google Drive, where they can be as large as you want them, as long as they're not too big for your quota, which for me ― thanks to the free storage that came with my Chromebook ― is a whopping 115GB. Yeah, and Mac users only get 5... So, lucky me, I can send files 23 times bigger than Mac users can, even when Yosemite goes public.

5: Dedicated private-browsing windows: Uh, yeah, just press Ctrl+Shift+N

What does that do? Well...

... Yeah, exactly what it says: opens a dedicated window comprised entirely of Incognito (Google's equivalent to Apple's Private Browsing feature) tabs. It's been that way ever since Chrome's inception: Incognito tabs, by default, are always kept in windows separate from their non-incognito counterparts; the two are never allowed to intermingle. This obviously makes it incredibly easy to distinguish which tabs are being tracked by third parties (and by Google) and which ones aren't, because rather than having incognito and normal tabs in the same window, where the margin for the error of copy/paste from an incognito to a non-incognito tab (and vice versa) is very high, no matter how many URLs you copy and paste into a Chrome incognito window, as long as you paste them into the same window they'll remain incognito. Yeah, much better model indeed.

That's it for now; 5 is good enough, but it's clearly amazing what features we take for granted, because you never know what kind of awesomeness even Mac users are just now beginning to discover, far behind us. Heck, even as an iPhone user as well, I'm still pretty disappointed in this...