Microsoft Mulling Smaller Windows 8 Tablets
I'm sure this has already all been said, but just to pile on...I seriously doubt size is Microsoft's primary problem busting into the tablet space.
Seems like they should focus on fixing, by all reviews and accounts I've read, lack of apps. Or perhaps more succinctly, according to many reviews and comments, the inability to run Windows desktop apps.
However I must admit I am perplexed. My iPad doesn't run OS X apps and yet the iPad is well loved. Lusted after even. Why do we all scream for the ability to run desktop apps?
Simply opening the Win RT space to all windows desktop apps seems like it would only frustrate consumers with apps that weren't designed for the tablet form factor and don't meet their needs on a tablet. Pointing at ARM as the root problem is a technical excuse for something everyone thinks they want but can't have.
I don't give a crap my iPad is using an A6X processor and my Mac is using a i5. Why should I care if my Win RT tablet is using ARM and my desktop PC isn't?
I think it's more correct to say the iPad has a significant number of the *right* apps to make it attractive. By "right" I mean serves use cases for the tablet form factor.
Everyone also seems to focus on the pure quantity of apps available as a measure of success for a platform and why I want to invest in the platform. I suppose pure numbers are great because you are statistically more likely to get a hit on the *right* app. But I don't want to spend my time browsing millions of apps to find the right 0.01% I'd actually use. This is my #1 frustration with the Apple store.
Obviously MS is working hard to get the "big hits" from other tablets onto theirs. These are table stakes.
If I were Microsoft I'd also start working hard to understand the core things people do with tablets and look at the most popular desktop apps in their space to identify target applications to push for ports. Ideally unique applications the other tablets don't have yet. Their advantage is the desktop market. They need to bridge their desktop users into tablets with the applications their customers identify with. Office is a great start, but obviously still not enough.
They also need to leverage their small app space as an advantage - it's easier to ID and promote the *right* apps when you don't have millions of crappy apps to wade through.
That at least gets MS into the game. If they want to get ahead they need to identify and successfully execute on a disruptive technology. The space is becoming too saturated at this point to compete at status quo
New Advance In 3D TV Technology
Forget HP. Isn't 3D dead? For that matter was it ever really alive?
I still can't imagine any value for 3D in my living room. The screen is too small and the effect is totally lost. For that matter I'm still struggling with any value add even on an IMAX screen. Except perhaps increasing sales of Tylenol.
I'm excited for HP delivering on a dead technology. Three letters - ROI. Just sayin...
How Does a Self-Taught Computer Geek Get Hired?
As a hiring manager, and former developer of 13 years, I can offer a few thoughts.
The best thing you can do is leverage your network for not only leads, but personal references. I'll take a personal reference over a buzz word laden resume every time. Work to build your network. Ask your network for leads into companies you may be interested in. If they don't know somebody, perhaps somebody they know does. Local interest groups and technical societies (IEEE for instance) are an easy way to build your network as well. Recruiters are another great way to get in the door. They have established personal relationships with the hiring managers and can make an introduction for you. You might end up working contract but once you're in the door you can start working on a full time position if you're interested.
If you're sending resumes in cold then focus on learning an emerging, but hot, "new" technology. HTML5 comes to mind right now as a good example. And definitely make sure your resume is effective. You have the first half of the first page to hook the hiring manager's interest. Make sure the most important information about how you can benefit your prospective employer is front and center.
When you score an interview you're on the toughest part. Research the company you're about to interview for. Google is your friend! Know a little about their products, their business plan, and other basic tid bits. Make sure you can comment on how your skill set would benefit their products if nothing else. If you have the name of the hiring manager see if you can find them on LinkedIn, and Google their name to see if they have any other info posted about them. If it's a small company then you might do a little homework on the CEO or founder. For all you know you might interview with them. Don't be afraid to ask questions on materials you find in the interview. We often see Facbook and Google used by employers to check on a potential candidate. Here's your chance to turn the tables.
While it's good to answer technical questions to prove your mettle during an interview, at the end of the day I can teach skills. What's more, the skills I need now are probably not the skills I'll need in two years. I want someone who can clearly learn fast, is motivated to look for better ways to do things, and is generally wants to grow beyond the person I'm hiring today. This is tough; look for ways to show you're more than the skills you have today. You have the smarts and the motivation to go further. Be confident, but not cocky.
Another thing about interviews, don't be a cardboard cutout. I have no interest in working with a card board cutout every day, neither do my employees. Don't be afraid to be enthusiastic, show some humor, and demonstrate some personality. Look around for clues as to what your interviewer's own interests and hobbies are. If you see a connection then casually ask about that signed baseball on the desk, or those weekend fishing trip photos. Strike up a little side conversation. Make sure you don't let that side conversation dominate the interview (a minute or two at most) but don't be afraid to spend a minute sharing common interests. Trust me when everyone sits down to review the stack of interviews at decision time you will be remembered.
Just a few thoughts...
What's Keeping You On Windows?
And now I am under the impression why are people still using Windows it is because there is no compelling reason to switch. Whatever platform you currently have and invested time in is probably good enough for you and switching isn't going to solve that many more problems.
I definitely fall into this camp. Why invest my valuable time lerning a new OS vs. just getting things done?
I'll also pile onto other threads with respect to the applications on Windows that aren't as good on other platforms, specifically games and MS Office.
And one oddball thing keeps me on Windows - my employer uses it. It's a whole lot easier to rig my home machine for working remote.
America Losing Its Edge In Innovation
...the sales pukes for promising vapor ware. Making the engineers work overtime while the sales guys kick back and collect a big ass check and golf every afternoon.
...the execs for flying on the corporate jet and "opening opportunities" meanwhile collecting multi-million dollar severence bonuses if they screw up.
...the lawyers laying claim to your idea because somebody else bothered to file a patent first, even though you busted ass to get it to market first and made it happen.
So lemme see, the engineers do all the work, get none of the credit, are paid almost nothing in relative terms, all while working massive overtime in the process. Hell yeah! Sign me up!
Sony, Universal Hope To Beat Piracy With 'Instant Pop'
Why even make full CDs?
The CD is obsolete, so produce singles from one-hit-wonder bands and don't bother with filler, at all, ever.
I disagree, there are still true artists out there the record industry didn't prop up to pinch quick cash on a one hit wonder. And some good reasons to buy CDs still exist:
- Better quality - I can rip a CD at any bitrate and any format I want. I can rerip later to the latest standards if I want.
- Artwork and liner notes. Yea yea electronic electronic. Call me old school but there's just something better about flipping through the little booklet.
- Context. Some artists still design their albums as a compilation vs. "singles". And while not all the songs may be hits, the group of songs works well together and makes them all better. Except that Queensryche Mindcrime II album. That album was shiite no matter how you slice it.
- Albums with a lot of songs still cost more to buy from iTunes or Amazon or whomever
On the downside:
- Storage space - my 1000 CD collection is becoming unwieldy
- CD format won't last forever I'm sure
- Not as convenient as being any where and downloading a new tune
- Every artist has a bad day. You still sometimes pay for the full album and get 1 good song mixed with crap
Nintendo Warns 3D Games Can Ruin Children's Eyes
And here I thought it was a myth...
Did the Windows Phone 7 Bomb In the US?
Can you site your source on that? Because I'm looking at my config and "Server requires encrypted (SSL) connection" is checked and last I checked that means encrypted connection.
I also note our corporate enforced phone password to unlock the phone appears to be enabled. I haven't tried it but I bet if I fail to enter the the right password a few times my phone will be wiped.
Did the Windows Phone 7 Bomb In the US?
Aww don't tease! Please share a suggestion!
First, I generally buy CDs and rip them so no DRM involved. BTW I'll state here iTunes is superior to Zune for ripping CDs. The workflow is far more polished.
Second, you're not entirely accurate on Zune.
Zune will manage your own ripped MP3s without DRM. It will also provide artist metadata, related artists, albums, etc. for free.
The 10 downloads per month you get off the Zune pass and any other songs you buy are MP3 and DRM'less. Even if you disconnect service.
Or at least I import them to iTunes and use them on my Nano, so I'd assume they are DRM free. Yes, I still use a Nano and iTunes. My smaller/lighter Nano is far more convenient when I'm working out, skiing, biking, whatever.
The all you can listen to music part of the Zune pass is DRM protected and unless you hack it you lose it when you disconnect Zune pass service. That content is also limited in terms of where you can move the music to. i.e. I haven't found a way to send it to my phone on a playlist for instance.
Which is where Zune is a huge selling point for me. I've listened to so much crazy new music since I got a Zune pass. This is what really got me leaning MS's way. It's FAR superior to listening to short samples and and risking 0.99 on a song I may not even like on iTunes.
Why the hell do I feel like an MS commercial? Look I don't work for MS. I don't work for Apple. All I'm saying is what works for me and why. Your mileage may vary, and all I really want to do is encourage people to not be a fanboy and think for yourself. Apple changed the game, but a lot of other companies have learned to play and even bested Apple in some areas. I still think in terms of a solution for the masses Apple is a great choice. They just don't work for me personally.
Did the Windows Phone 7 Bomb In the US?
Smart is spending your time and money on the things you enjoy, or that add value to your life. I program for fun. I enjoy spending time on my own little projects.
Applying my development skills and time to troubleshooting why iTunes can't be pointed to files on a NAS after I moved them is not personally fun for me. Why should I waste my time? I just want to listen to my music and code.
This particular quoted post is in response to another article I had just read on Apple suing another small company. I was musing on how ironic it was that Microsoft used to have the same stories. But I seemed to see Apple on the headlines more than MS and the general villany seemed to be shifting.
I personally bought Apple stuff because I perceived it to be state of the art at the time, had the best music management system, and was simple and intuitive. Trendy was a nice side effect. At a certain point I noticed there were superior products for far less money that did what I wanted, but people kept soaking up Apple stuff. And I was wondering why?
Note, I'm not the first to make this observation...
Did the Windows Phone 7 Bomb In the US?
I own one of those 40k units - a Samsung Focus to be specific. I've waited a year for MS to get Win7 out so I could compare iOS, Android, and Win7 before upgrading my phone. I have to say, after 2 days so far I love Win7. I will also say that feature wise it is still behind iOS and Android on some pretty basic features. More on that in a sec.
We all have different needs and wants from our devices so to help you understand my angle; I am an occasional business traveler who enjoys being connected to email, can access maps and driving directions, restaurant and business information nearby, read various Office documents, and generally stay in touch. I am also a hobby programmer and enjoy writing little utility apps for my personal use. I am not a heavy app downloader - my iPhone had all of 20 installed apps. I am a gamer but generally enjoy puzzle and strategy games over FPS or other games that demand heavy real-time input. I do not own an XBox (PS3 for me). I do not use Facebook or Twitter in any real capacity. I tried, and I just don't get it. And finally I am a HUGE music lover. I'm the guy that still buys CDs for the artwork and rips them at higher bitrates. I'm always on the lookout for something new. I also rip all of my DVDs (movies and TV) so I can take them on travel and watch them on the plane.
If you picked up on the iPhone comment above your first question might be why I considered defecting? The simple answer is iTunes. I've had many minor glitches and nags with iTunes over the years, however the recent move of my music and movie library to a NAS was so painful it was the last straw for iTunes.
So what's to like about Win7?
- First and foremost Win7 was really easy to learn and figure out. Navigation was a little mystifying at first, but after a few minutes I had it figured out. Within a couple of hours I had the whole phone explored and setup. And setup was also MEGA easy.
- One word - ZUNE. Unlike iTunes it was easy to setup, let me import anything I want, and I love the subscription service. I had Zune on my PC before I had any kind of mobile Zune player. Unlike iTunes, I get my music through Zune in MP3 format, and I'm free to use it how I want. I'll also add it's visually a nice experience. The experience translates to the Win7 phone just as well. Oh and that setup problem I had with iTunes. Zune was more than happy to adjust itself to my music library on my new NAS without bitching. I'll also add the Zune SW multitasks better - iTunes tends to get sluggish and freeze up if you're importing movies or a lot of music. Zune seamlessly handles it in the background.
- WIRELESS SYNC - something Apple has continually blocked. I'm happy to say if my phone is plugged in for 10 minutes on AC power and sees my Zune server it will sync over 802.11.
- Mobile Office - an essential for me as my biz is an MS shop. Online versions of office are available through Windows Live so you don't even have to buy a PC version of Office if you don't want to. No clue if it will work on Mac tho.
- 4" AMOLED - actually more the phone than Win7 but I'll say Win7 makes full use of the this gorgeous screen
- It works well as a phone.
- Voice commands - I feel silly talking to my phone but when I'm driving and I want to find a Starbucks or something it actually works well. Disclaimer - I am an American, and I speak with a "Hollywood accent" which is to say most people would say I don't have an accent.
- Support for my work calendar off Exchange, AND a Windows Live calendar so I can keep my personal and work lives separate. Not necessarily unique to Win7 but they did a beautiul job integrating everything together.
- Free development tools that work really well. I did C/C++ development for many years, then I did Java for a few years, and I've been doing C# for a while now. When I can just download the free tools and write an simple application in a few minutes that speaks volumes. As far as I'm concerned MS still makes the best development tools on the planet and being able to leverage my PC development skills to write a phone application directly is HUGE because I'd rather spend time making an app that works vs. learning the tools and frameworks specific to some phone device.
- The Focus has an SD expansion slot - however it's currently got a bug and unreliable. However, WindowsLive access will grant you a 25GB "SkyDrive" which is seamlessly integrated with the OS. It doesn't apppear to be good for movies and music but it handles documents and photos really well.
- The touch interface is super refined and smooth. Very accurate. Very responsive
- Spelling/word suggestion seems more accurate and the UI lays out a horizonal and weighted list of recommendations that is far more useful than the iPhone's.
- WindowsLive email, calendar, etc is certainly more attractive than GMail on the UI department. And free web based versions of Office apps are nice. However I haven't played around enough to know if this is a true strength/value add. I'll give it the benefit of the doubt after 3 days but I may head south on this one later.
- The camera. I think Samsung further augmented on the Focus, but I could almost seriously dump my dedicated camera for my phone. And with the 25GB SkyDrive backing it it's almost unlimited photos! Not to mention the security of cloud backup in case my phone is lost or bites the dust.
- XBox Live - if I was a hardcore Xbox gamer I'd think this feature is the $hit.
So what's bad? Plenty but here are my current nits:
- This sounds stupid but I can't set my own custom ring tone or sounds. You have to use the canned ones. Or I have yet to find the setting.
- No email threading - I can make do but this is an awful nice feature
- Not a lot of configurability/customization - for instance I haven't been able to figure out how to change the default email sig
- Volume control is weird. You can set the volume but there isn't an easy way to check how loud you really have it. And no volume control I've been able to find on the Alarms. Which can be bad if you're a heavy sleeper.
- Limited apps on the app store. And it almost seems there are more fart apps up than useful programs right now. I will say some of my core favorites are available - Netflix, IMDB, OpenTable and Yelp. Apps are the real strength of iOS and Android. There are 10's of thousands of crap applications on iOS and Android but there are a lot of gems too.
- No cut and paste. I could care less about multitasking because you're just asking for battery drain there, but lack of cut and paste hurts
I could go on but let me leave it at this. MS did an awesome job polishing and focusing on a set of fundamental features and they've made a device that is truly a treat to use. Rather than having a bunch of half baked functionality in an attempt to satisfy everyone's feature demands they chose a set of core features and have built a really solid product here. For me the key differentiators lacking in the competition are Zune, and the tight integration of cloud storage and personal information management. Not that the latter aren't available on other devices, the experience just feels a lot more polished and seamless on Win7.
I think MS has two challenges ahead if they expect to stay in the mobile market. First they need to push OS updates with features that address top customer demands in a continuous and timely fashion. I'm talking quarterly updates at minimum. They are missing some pretty key and fundamental things. I think people will really miss some of these featurs and if they don't plug these holes quickly people will quickly become disenchanted and bail. In this process they need to ignore the temptation to match iOS and Android on features, and instead listen closely to their customers and what they truly want.
Second they need to nurture and grow their development and application lineup with quality apps. I am deeply saddened that we need more than one fart app. It's cute for the first 5 minutes and then it's just old.
There's my five cents.
Linux Wall Warts Small On Size, Big On Possibilities
I've been doing all kinds of research for some small Ethernet/WiFi connected boards for a couple of simple home projects. Mainly home automation and monitoring type things. These Linux wall warts are cool and all but for cheap and simple projects you're still paying too much.
If you're really trying to go off the ranch and do something cheap, tiny, and simple I gotta tell you Arduino boards are by far the most versatile and cost effective solution I've found. There are libraries for simple web servers and all kinds of stuff.
Downside is may have to wire up your own hardware and you're not writing anything terribly complex with the limited CPU and lack of real OS support. But honestly if I need that kind of oomph for Linux on a network project I'd buy a WRT54G or something and use that. Hardware is loads cheaper and probably 10x more reliable.
Apple Surpasses Microsoft In Market Capitalization
...am I the only one who perceives a very subtle shift in MS being the good guy and Apple becoming the bad?
Not that I'd argue MS has done anything different than they always have, just seen a lot more press on Apple and rather dubious strong-arm moves. For example
An End To Unencrypted Digital Cable TV and the HTPC
Don't blame Cable Labs or the cable companies for the limitations of cable cards and PCs.
First encryption is mandated by the content carrier deals signed by cable companies with the content providers. Remember, the cable company doesn't own the content, they only purchase the rights to broadcast it.
Encryption is pushed on the cable companies to protect content by the content providers. The substantial cost of the content licensing agreement, and all the encryption hardware required to cipher and broadcast content comprise a good chunk of your monthly cable bill.
Second, the Cable Card is a result of the consumer electronics providers whining to the FCC about how the cable companies have encrypted their networks to protect the content. They can't play on the now proprietary encryption scheme networks and sell more TVs so they pressure the FCC, who in turn "looks out" for consumers by mandating "separable security".
The cable industry response is the Cable Card which is a standards based device any CE vendor can support to decipher content. Again costing the cable company millions to develop (vis a vis CableLabs) and deploy, and again the cost is passed to consumers. But by God your Tivo works now so at least we don't have to put up with a crappy set top box. Too bad everyone doesn't own a Tivo so we can all enjoy what we pay for.
Third Cable Labs has nothing to do with the restrictions on PCs. It is again the content providers - they refuse to allow their content to be streamed on an open bus (PCI/PCI Express/USB) that may be easily sniffed or otherwise compromised with their content in the clear.
Now I know every Slash Dotter on the planet is all about open source, Linux, and free love, but here is one case where Microsoft was actually able to do something the open source community can't. At least in my humble opinion.
Microsoft convinced the content providers that Windows Vista security could protect their content (via Win DRM, the draconian premade PC, dmi and BIOS scans, etc) and earned the exclusive rights to support the PC version of a Cable Card tuner (OCUR). I don't believe for a minute this is due to Microsoft's technical superiority in the security space. Rather a substantial amount of under the table money was forked out to secure rights. So while free love is cool and all, monopoly level income has it's advantages.
So I come back to the point which is don't blame the cable companies, Cable Labs, or cable cards. The root of the issue lies with the content providers. If the content guys could pull their heads out of their asses and figure out how to protect their content for reasonable cost, or otherwise establish a sustainable business model so they didn't have to protect it, we could all quit paying the price tag to keep their ridiculous profit margins safe.
High Court Allows Remote-Storage DVR System
I'm not a legal expert but the flood gates aren't quite wide open. Referring to No. 08-448 around page 21.
The Second Circuit
repeatedly explained that its rejection of petitioners' public-performance claim depended on a range of
factors: not only that each transmission would be sent
to a single recipient, but also that (1) each transmission
would be made using a unique copy of the relevant program;
and (2) each transmission would be made solely to
the person who had previously made that unique copy.
See, e.g., Pet. App. 30a-31a, 36a, 39a, 41a.
If I read this right the cable operators are in for one hell of a bill in both storage and replication hardware to create duplicate copies for each user request. Storage is cheap, but since there are also legal (and relatively short) limits on how long you can buffer something before it counts as a copy this tends to complicate scalable data replication. Not impossible, just adds extra cost and complexity. Which no doubt will be passed on.
But by definition we're consumers and we get to vote with our dollars. If this service is a value add pay a little more. If not, don't pay for it. If you aren't given a choice (i.e. added to your bill anyway) drop cable and go Hulu, Apple, Blockbuster, Netflix, or pick your own provider. Nobody is holding a gun to your head to subscribe to cable.
The value adds I see are data integrity and (if Cablevision does this right) the ability to take my recordings with me if I move. Or preserve my recordings if my non-DVR box bites the dust, If you're attached to your content and don't want to invest in your own DVD burner or something this seems worthwhile. I'm not personally this way, but some people are freaky about their DVR content.
Star Trek's Warp Drive Not Impossible
It's called "Tivo".
And since it seems to do a crappy job of getting me off the sofa I seriously doubt you'll be making Rigil Kentaurus anytime soon either...
Apple May Loosen Restrictions With iPhone 3.0
This may be slightly off topic but I find myself wondering if Apple has perfected the art of mind control.
For years it's been one thing another...closed hardware, closed OS, and now closed iPhones.
I give a nod that Apple has opened up a bit over the years. But what has me baffled is why people gobble up Apple products like starving lions on a gazelle when most of their products are overpriced, and tightly controlled.
Why do users tolerate this kind of control and pay more for it? Is there some kind of unconscious comfort knowing that I'm in a safe little box? Is Apple injecting pheromones into their plastics?
I'm mainly curious what the community thought on this is.
Reuse Code Or Code It Yourself?
Except every time I've ever done a prototype it is invariably shipped as product minutes later.
Naturally disaster follows.
What you say: "I have a working prototype."
What management hears: blah blah WORKING blah.
Moral: Never say you have anything "working" until you're really done.