While lots of people (including Paula) were ga-ga over the promise of mobile Linux as exhibited at Intel's Developer Forum in Shanghai, I couldn't help noticing that the devices shown were uglier than Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? (It's her centennial today.)
This is a serious problem, not just for Linux but for anyone hoping to compete with Apple in the device market.
Design -- which includes the user interface -- is a tough nut to crack. It's not easily done by a committee. It demands breakthroughs, unique genius, and thus (some might say) a proprietary attitude.
It's interesting, then, that Intel chose to make this announcement (and that of its Atom chip) in Shanghai.
China is as big in assembly as Intel is in chip production. Both are anxious to go up-market, into name brand products, where the money is. Neither has yet been able to do so.
They're both stars in their own right, Intel and China, but they've always wanted to direct. (So did Davis, by the way.)
The hope is that, with hundreds of thousands of Chinese developers working hard on the problem with Intel hardware, a solution will come. This is like expecting those millions of monkeys to write Shakespeare. They might, but you won't be able to find it in all the dreck.
This is not a knock against Linux or China. Microsoft is on the same quest. So are Nokia and the other cellphone makers. Problem is they're starting to look like a touring company of Spamalot. Only without Eric Idle writing it.
So let's give them some help. What should a really great mobile Linux device look like, and how should it work? Inquiring minds want to know, in Shanghai, in Santa Clara, even here in Atlanta. If you come up with something good, China will make it, Intel will supply the chips, and we'll market the you-know-what out of it.