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How, and Why, Apple Overtook Microsoft

erp_consultant Everyone misses the boat... (401 comments)

Throughout the history of personal computing the landscape is littered with companies that have missed the boat. Back in the 70's IBM had built a very successful business selling big iron to huge companies. Personal computers? Those are for hobbyists, thought they. So along comes Microsoft, who did see how important personal computers were going to be and struck a very lucrative deal to license the operating system (DOS then, Windows now).

Fast forward to the 2000's and along comes Apple with this little gadget called the iPod. Apple didn't invent the portable music player. Lots of them were already on the market and they all had one thing in common - they sucked. All Apple did was come up with a slick interface and an easy way to synchronize your music from your laptop to the iPod (iTunes). Then came the iPhone and the iPad. Both devices extended on the slick interface and offered superior vertical integration between devices and OSX.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is twiddling it's collective thumbs. They completely missed out on the music player/smartphone/tablet revolution. Sure, they have products in all those areas but market share remains in the single digits. Now they are playing catchup to everyone else.

Around the same time, Google seizes on the void left in Search. Microsoft could have had this market too but let it slip.

Finally comes Facebook and the whole "Social internet" thing. Google was perfectly positioned to control this market but, once again, big company misses boat.

So it seems to me that all of this is just part of the evolution of business. Someone comes along with a clever idea and quickly grows into this massive company. Then they rest on their laurels and miss the next big thing. Big companies are good at making money - at milking the corporate cash cow. Not so good at real innovation.

4 hours ago
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By the Numbers: The Highest-Paying States For Tech Professionals

erp_consultant Re:Salary versus cost of living in each city (136 comments)

Ahh yes, the debate reignites :-)

First off, you are absolutely right. Making 125K a year in Silicon Valley isn't worth a hill of beans if you have to pay 5K a month for a nice apartment. Or maybe even not so nice.

I did some work recently at Stanford University - right smack dab in the middle of all that. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn...all of them right there. I had a heck of a time finding a hotel that didn't cost a fortune. For a while I stayed in San Jose and did the commute. It was about a 15 mile commute. Some days it would take over an hour each way.

So I switched my strategy and found a small motel in Redwood City - a 3 mile commute. Every morning I would drive through Atherton on the way there. Nice big homes on about an acre lot. The sort of thing you might see in a nice suburb of Dallas or Atlanta. One day I got curious and went to Realtor.com to look up the house prices in Atherton. You can't touch anything there for less than 10 million.

Now I realize that Atherton is the priciest zip code in the USA and the homes are very nice but holly shit! Well, it turns out that everything in the SF Bay Area is overpriced. Even dumpy little apartments are a few thousand a month. It was a real eye opener.

Where I live - a state that borders California - I could buy one of those Atherton McMansions for about 1 million, maybe 2. Not that I really want one, but just for comparison sake. You can buy a nice new house in a good neighborhood with good schools for less than 400K. Less than that if you go to the suburbs. On a 30 year mortgage that is less than 2K per month. In Menlo Park that would get you an 800 sq ft apartment. Maybe. It's actually probably more than that.

Bottom line - I like northern California. I've worked there many times over the years. But there is no way in hell that I'm going to live there.

about a week ago
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Surface RT Devices Won't Get Windows 10

erp_consultant In other words... (158 comments)

He's dead Jim...

about two weeks ago
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IRS Warns of Downtime Risk As Congress Makes Cuts

erp_consultant Re:Congress is the real problem here (253 comments)

"Why is the tax code so convoluted that there is an entire industry devoted to following the code?" - Good question. A lot of it has to do with lobby groups who seem to have their hands in every piece of legislation. Some of it is just general government mindset. They love to congratulate themselves for passing more regulations.

"If you are going to give people money, give people money directly, and not via the IRS" - Couldn't agree with you more. It is far more efficient and less expensive to give the money directly than to funnel it through some government black hole and hope it comes out the other side. But it's not going to happen. Why? Because government (both parties by the way) wants to attach money to votes. Simple as that.

This country is drowning in rules and regulations - and it's not just the tax code. Ask someone trying to run a small business. If you are an attorney or an accountant it's great. Keep you in business. For everyone else? Not so good.

about two weeks ago
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IRS Warns of Downtime Risk As Congress Makes Cuts

erp_consultant Well cry me a river... (253 comments)

All the more reason to move to a flat tax system.

about two weeks ago
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Microsoft Reveals Windows 10 Will Be a Free Upgrade

erp_consultant Subscription = Fail (570 comments)

MS can't be serious can they? Do they really expect people to pony up money every year to use the OS? Maybe corporate customers will go for this. Consumers...no way.

The big question of course is what happens if you don't pay the vig...ummm, I mean the yearly subscription fee? Is MS going to somehow brick the PC? Will you see annoying pop ups until you pay? Will the OS have restrictions - like how many programs you can run or reduced screen resolution?

I think the likely outcome is increased sales of Apple products and/or Android tablets. And reduced sales of MS products.

Man, talk about killing the goose that laid the golden egg.

about two weeks ago
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Regular Exercise Not Enough To Make Up For Sitting All Day

erp_consultant Re:Limited power to change working situation... (348 comments)

Get into work early. Seriously. Often I am the first one in the office. Before I sit down I do some stretches and deep knee bends. Then some upper body stretches for the shoulders and neck. Stretch out your calves as well. I can do all of this before anyone else gets in.

Try and do this a few times a day. Drink lots of water rather than soda. Not only will you consume fewer calories but it will give you an excuse to go to the bathroom more often. Resist the urge to eat lunch at your desk. If you go out for lunch then park a bit further so you have to walk a bit. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. I love it when I go to big meetings and there are not enough chairs. I'm the first one to stand.

The bottom line is that you can't always count on your employer. If you do some of the things above it might help. At the very least, you'll feel better.

about two weeks ago
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Why Run Linux On Macs?

erp_consultant Re:Makes sense if you have an older Mac (592 comments)

Thanks for the tip. I honestly didn't know what that Memory Pleasure thing was all about. I feel better about the memory usage now.

about two weeks ago
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Why Run Linux On Macs?

erp_consultant Makes sense if you have an older Mac (592 comments)

I've got a 2009 era MacBook Pro. Originally it ran Snow Leopard but since then I have upgraded OS's as they came out and now I'm on Yosemite. One thing I have noticed is that memory requirements have steadily gone up. At the moment I'm running an email client, Skype, Chrome and a password manager and it's using over 6GB of RAM. The same thing on Windows 8 uses less than 4GB of RAM. On Linux it's about 2.5GB of RAM.

The MacBook is pegged at 8GB of RAM - I can't add any more than that. So just a very basic load, like above, and I'm almost maxed out on RAM on OSX. That is unacceptable to me - almost unusable.

Ubuntu or Mint on the MacBook runs flawlessly. Faster, smoother, way less system load. Multi finger gestures work perfectly out of the box. The Mac trackpad, incidentally, is a major reason to run Linux on a Mac rather than a commodity PC. PC trackpads suck. Running Linux gives you infinite configurability, whereas on the Mac it is limited in that regard.

So for me on an older Mac, Linux (or even Windows 8) is a better option. The hardware still performs flawlessly (have to hand it to Apple there) and a new OS just breathes new life into it.

about two weeks ago
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Fighting Tech's Diversity Issues Without Burning Down the System

erp_consultant Zero sum game.... (479 comments)

What everyone seems to be forgetting in this is that employment is a zero sum game. If HR picks a female for the job ( to satisfy diversity quotas) all that does is put a white male out of work. What does that accomplish? Other than some feel good vibe for righting some supposed wrong. And if the woman is not very good at the job, what will that lead to? Her fellow employees will resent her.

I'll put it as succinctly as I can - if the female is better qualified than the male applicant then by all means hire the female. If the male is better qualified then hire the guy.

All of this "we should have X % of _whatever_ in a job" is nonsense.

By the way, where does Van Vlack get this 20% number anyhow? Based on what, exactly? Is she seriously suggesting that 1 out of 5 IT employees be female simply because they are women? With no regard to education, experience, aptitude and other qualifications? I suspect that she just pulled this number out of her ass.

Did it ever occur to Van Vlack, or any of these other diversity do gooders, that maybe just maybe women don't WANT an IT career? And that is why they are "under represented".

about two weeks ago
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PC Shipments Are Slowly Recovering

erp_consultant Death of the tablet? (130 comments)

Tablets seem to be peaking. Pretty much anyone that wants one has one (or two) already. For those of us that do actual work on a computer, the tablet is sorely lacking.

With Microsoft basically giving away Windows to manufacturers of lower end PC's, the prices are continuing to fall.

Case in point - at Christmas I got my nephew an HP Stream Notebook. $200 and it has an SSD. It's actually pretty good and a lot more useful than any tablet I have used. Small, light weight, expandable storage, great battery life. And you can type on it.

about three weeks ago
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Study: 15 Per Cent of Business Cloud Users Have Been Hacked

erp_consultant Achilles heel of the cloud apps.... (72 comments)

I've been around long enough to see things comes and go. The current flavor of the month is "cloud". Cloud this, cloud that. Even the behemoths of the ERP world - Oracle and SAP - are making an aggressive push to "the cloud". Companies like Workday and Salesforce are growing at a tremendous rate.

It all seems very appealing. Say goodbye to multi year implementations and increasingly difficult and costly upgrades. Rent it by the seat rather than making large capital outlays. Fully object oriented design. Open standards vs. proprietary tools. Lots of great benefits.

But.....

As Willie Sutton once famously stated when asked why he robbed banks..."because that's where the money is". The data of your company, and other companies in the typical "multi-tenant" configuration is all in the one place. The bad guys know this. They will target these data centers to be sure.

You are essentially taking your data from an environment you can control (largely) to one you cannot. That is a huge leap of faith.

I expect that it is only a matter time before there will be a massive data breach for hosted cloud apps. We're not talking about someone's email account or twitter account. We're talking about an entire database full of SSN's and other personal information getting stolen. Everyone in your company and possibly customer and partner data as well. I don't want to be the one holding that press conference.

about three weeks ago
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Intel Pledges $300 Million To Improve Diversity In Tech

erp_consultant Re:More PC nonsense (341 comments)

Oh and how do you suppose that came about? Shotgun wedding anyone :-D

about three weeks ago
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Intel Pledges $300 Million To Improve Diversity In Tech

erp_consultant Re:More PC nonsense (341 comments)

If you are more than about 5 years into your career then academic credentials are not as important as you might think. Sure, some places require a 4 year degree but those are typically the IBM's and Deloitte's and who wants to work for them anyway? Experience is the key. If you are looking to move up the management chain then the degree is more important. If you're a tech then the only important question should be "can he/she code?".

about three weeks ago
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Intel Pledges $300 Million To Improve Diversity In Tech

erp_consultant More PC nonsense (341 comments)

What a surprise...yet another company jumps on the politically correct bandwagon. It seems that the strategy is to jump out ahead of this "issue" rather than wait for some shake down artist like Al Sharpton to come knocking on your door.

The quotes around "issue" are intentional, indicating that there is no issue at all. The reason that there is a lower representation in Tech is simply that there are fewer applicants that are Black or female or from other minority groups. Simple as that. All you have to do is take a walk around a college campus and visit a CS101 class. What will you see? Predominantly white males and asians. Is that because colleges are discriminating against others in their CS programs? Of course not. It just means that those people chose to study other things.

If Intel wants to give money to historically black colleges that's great. I'm all in favor of that. But to suggest that it will fix some supposed problem is ridiculous. In typical American fashion, the solution to every problem is to throw more money at it. It rarely works. To blame companies for "not hiring enough people from group X" is certainly convenient, and probably popular in some circles, but in the end its not accurate.

Companies hire from the pool of labor that is available to them. To suggest that they are overlooking qualified people because of the color of their skin or their gender is absurd. It is nothing more than a thinly veiled racism/sexism charge to which there is no substantial evidence to support it.

Quite frankly, there is more evidence to support discrimination based on age or medical health than age or gender. Where is the outrage over that? Where are all the big companies promising to throw all sorts of money to address it? Crickets.

about three weeks ago
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The Fire Phone Debacle and What It Means For Amazon's Future

erp_consultant Amazon phone is the Apple/Google Frankenstein (155 comments)

The Amazon phone takes something cool (Android) and locks it down Apple style. Apple can get away with it because they have perceived value in better quality hardware/design/vertical integration/app selection, etc. Amazon doesn't offer any of those benefits. So it ends up coming off as a cheap, locked down Android phone with crummy hardware and many of the good parts of Android missing. There are other cheap Android phones you can buy that offer more than the Amazon phone.

What Amazon needs to do is offer something the other guys can't offer. Give customers free shipping on anything they buy from Amazon using their phone. Or maybe a half price Amazon Prime deal for the duration of the 2 year contract. Make it possible to add Google Services without having to root the phone. Stuff like that.

Simply putting out yet another cheap Android phone is simply a race to the bottom. But a mostly stock Amazon branded Android phone with some cool Amazon services bundled in with it - now you're cooking with gas.

about three weeks ago
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Little-Known Programming Languages That Actually Pay

erp_consultant Re:I would say yes, it is worth it (242 comments)

That's a fair point and it's why I suggest keeping some C++ or such in your back pocket so you can ride out the ups and downs.

about a month ago
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Little-Known Programming Languages That Actually Pay

erp_consultant I would say yes, it is worth it (242 comments)

Here's why:

1) If your skills are limited to commonly used languages then a potential employer has a large pool of people to choose from. That means that you have to compete against a lot of people for a given position. It also means that your rate will be lower because a larger labor pool will tend to drive down prices. If, OTOH, you choose to focus on niche markets it will have the exact opposite effect. Fewer people to choose from and, therefore, higher hourly rate. Essentially it puts you (as an employee or contractor) more in the drivers seat.

2) It gives you something else to add to your resume.

3) It might give you exposure to industries that you might not have had otherwise.

4) It's fun :-)

Having said all of that, I still think that it is important to have a solid grounding in Java or C/C++. Why? Well, for one thing it gives you a good foundation for tackling other languages. It also gives you something else to fall back on if the esoteric thing doesn't quite pan out ;-)

about a month ago
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Sony Thinks You'll Pay $1200 For a Digital Walkman

erp_consultant No headphones? (391 comments)

I followed the link above and it shows a pretty impressive device. But it doesn't appear to come with any headphones. Now I would expect that on a $1200 music device you would not want to use crappy ear buds like the ones you get with an iPhone or Android phone. That would defeat the purpose of having a high end music player in the first place.

For $1200 I would expect it to come with a pair of high end, over the ear headphones. Something that might retail in the $300-400 range. That would better justify the price.

One more thing...how long will it be before we hear about someone getting robbed or shot over one of these things?

about a month ago

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