Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Microsoft buys the Parts of Nokia that Matter

Well, it's not like we didn't see this coming. Microsoft buys most of Nokia, after initially investing enough in them for Nokia to kill their Symbian system and not invest into the Android phone OS. So the only two major tech companies who have not bought a cell phone manufacturer are Apple and Oracle.

Like the Google-Motorola deal, this one is about positioning. Some say this proves Microsoft is committed to the mobile device market. Some will say it's one market loser going after another. Personally I think Microsoft should have bought a company that's less politically encumbered - HTC springs to mind.

I actually have a Nokia phone running Windows 8, and I actually have to admit that what they have done is stellar. App availability and quality aside, the platform is stable, responsive, and has a lot more thought put into it with Bluetooth interaction and other things than Android and the iPhone. And Nokia has most definitely put its expertise in making excellent hardware to good use - even on the Nokia 810 the display is excellent, a true black, and they still cater to people who like to be able to remove the batteries from their phone.

Out of the box it has locally-stored navigation, which is huge if you spend any time at all outside of the 3G+ coverage zone, like for instance how to get home when your phone navigates you into deep, deep West Virginia.

I certainly wish Microsoft all the best. Most of us in the tech industry like bashing Microsoft, but nobody has done more to make technology accessible to end users. The rode the cheap PC wave, embraced the Internet, and created one industry after another. Without Microsoft, Linux would be nothing. And I am very interested to see what they do to the mobile market now that they bought themselves one heck of a head start.

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Newsflash: People surprised that EVERYTHING is monitored

So for the last couple of months the Edward Snowden drama has been like a bad soap opera. Sad, monotonous, and weirdly predictable. I suppose most people were surprised we actually live in a police state, search and seizure protections have been gutted, and forfeiture of "criminal" assets has turned many a police force, now bloated and cash-strapped as the "war" on drugs money and "homeland" security money dries up, into a profit-seeking entity.

What now?

Apparently the response from Lavabit and many others has been just to curl up and go away. The latest to do this is Groklaw - an informative site I have been a huge fan of. "We can't be private in our communications, so we give up." is the summary of most of these sites' goodbye letters. Unlike most sites though, Groklaw watched the watchers. Yes, there are risks involved in watching the surveillance state back. But like all resistance, lawful and otherwise, it's a necessary risk.

Even the Guardian is standing firm - a better summary as to what the combined security apparatchiks in the US and UK are doing: http://reason.com/blog/2013/08/19/british-snoops-to-the-guardian-nice-litt

I know, I know, it's a lot of links to Reason, but then, it's nice when they keep summarizing what it is that I care about.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

On Mass Shootings...


In every instance, we failed the victims long before the madman touched a firearm. One cannot rationally argue that these people descended into madness in a vacuum. Someone, somewhere knew something. And did nothing. The "this is not my problem" attitude condemned the victims to their fate.

In short, we are ALL to blame. People here don't ask anyone else if they're okay (incidentally, a study of suicides makes reference to how many suicide notes stated that had just someone even pretended to care, the person would not have killed themselves). People here don't say something when they see something, especially in northern VA - see a toddler making a beeline for the sliding door to run onto a busy street? Not my problem. Someone's car broken down? Honk and swear - make sure to not offer any help. Guy shot and bleeding out next to your gas pump? Step on over, pay no mind.

At the same time the left has closed mental health institutions in the name of humanity, and the right cut access to mental healthcare because they see it as welfare. This abandons the caretakers as well as the mentally ill.

The social contract broke down into utter selfishness. That's what's killing people.

Of course, it's much easier to make the assault weapons ban and magazine size restrictions in effect in CT at the time of the last shooting national. American Exceptionalism: repeating the same thing the states tried on a national level and expecting different results.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Enterprise Time Tracking Software Idiocy

Going between client sites all the time I also get to touch a lot of "enterprise" time tracking software packages. Most of these must be the most retarded (apologies to those with mental disabilities, there is no way you could actually invent something that dumb).

Of course, companies need to know what their employees and consultants are spending their time on. This is not the problem. But ERP systems' (they want to be called this, but they aren't). The problem is, in a word, usability. And this leads back to the classic dichotomy between the two types of software in the world:

Elective Use Software

Compulsory Use Software


Elective Use Software:

By definition, it's what a user elects to use. In order to be elected, this software must provide some sort of value or reward to the user, usually revealed in a day-in-the-life product planning exercise. The test is simple: Does a user's day or particular activity get markedly better with the product vs. without? One can also use the term made famous (but not invented by) Steve Jobs: "suck less"

The hallmarks of software of this sort then, is that provides utility, and so is actually something you can use, and will use because it makes your day better. Not only that, but most software of this nature also has the job of convincing you of the utility it provides quickly, and intuitively.

Compulsory Use Software:

Classic IT software falls very much into this category, as does just about anything labeled "enterprise". Because the person purchasing the software is not the person using it, usability, and by extension, productivity takes a back seat. Really. Look at SAP, look at the time entry systems where you work, and stuff written by your internal IT departments for internal consumptions. Cumbersome user interfaces, unclear instructions, and overall very unintuitive.

The irony. The enterprise planning software and time trackers actually impede productivity as they are designed today. Bravo.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Do you have Dream? That'll be $10, please.

Apparently it still costs $10 to see Dr. Martin Luther King's speech in case you missed it.

Awesome. People will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their bank account and depth of their rolodex.

In other news, the SOPA protest is in full swing. It is definitely an interesting list of supporters, who won't be getting any of my money. Ironically, the right-wing "let freedom ring" people are in full support of this bill, since it purports to stop the Chinese from stealing our stuff. mmkay.

See the money trail at OpenCongress.org (a prime target for a SOPA shutdown when this passes, for sure!).

Companies:

Oh, wait, the bill says I can't. And I can't link there either.

Ironically, "Open Congress" is listed as a supporting corporation - what's up with that?

About 21 MILLION dollars have been donated by supporters of the bill, notably to:



Rep. Eric Cantor [R, VA-7] $668,192
Rep. Howard Berman [D, CA-28] $590,398
Rep. Steny Hoyer [D, MD-5] $557,107
Rep. James Clyburn [D, SC-6] $486,927
Rep. Michael Capuano [D, MA-8] $465,500
Rep. Bruce Braley [D, IA-1] $438,839
Rep. Nancy Pelosi [D, CA-8] $416,100
Rep. Allyson Schwartz [D, PA-13] $409,019
Rep. John Boehner [R, OH-8] $403,800
Rep. Gary Peters [D, MI-9] $395,798

Sen. Harry Reid [D, NV] $3,502,624
Sen. Charles Schumer [D, NY] $2,648,770
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [D, NY] $2,080,651
Sen. Barbara Boxer [D, CA] $1,431,843
Sen. Scott Brown [R, MA] $1,364,872
Sen. Robert Portman [R, OH] $1,363,009
Sen. Patrick Toomey [R, PA] $1,291,744
Sen. Michael Bennet [D, CO] $1,019,172
Sen. Mark Kirk [R, IL] $911,296
Sen. Patrick Leahy [D, VT] $905,310


Of course, none of this is fishy, one bit.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Adobe's Circular Logic

Well, I can't say I am surprised.

I went to look to download Adobe's PDF Reader today, but it kept on wanting to install some third party download manager. Since that's now impossible, I wanted to read about what kind of data the download manager collects, and what it does to your system. Naturally, I went to the EULA (End User License Agreement) page.

Surprise! They're all in PDF format.

I'd have to agree to something I can't read, to find out what I agreed to. Nice!

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Holy Cloud Computing, Batman!

I have been spending the last couple of months working educating a client about cloud computing, building demos, and so on. If I hear another sales droid try to explain cloud computing in the terms of their products, I'll puke.

A couple of observations that most sales droids seem to not be aware of:
  1. Having VMWare installed is not cloud computing
  2. Oracle software (including WebLogic) is fundamentally incompatible with cloud computing

The above combination is a new term I'll post here: "Could Computing"

In other words, it's a waste of time and effort. Here I'll explain my assertions:

Cloud computing has nothing, in theory, to do with virtualization. It has to do with elastic, on-demand scaling for applications. Virtualization makes it easier. But even with virtualization any clouding effort will fail because of the achilles' heel of most organizations: configuration management.

Which leads me to explain my next assertion: Configuration management for Oracle products isn't just hard, it's damn hard. Look at the use cases at most of the Oracle shops: Servers are configured with IP addresses and not names, TNS Listeners are hard-coded with IP addresses and not names, and database configurations get incredibly complicated, very quickly. A lot of time (and money) is spent on "clustering" applications that should be running as independent parallel applications and load-balanced, but aren't because developers would rather code their customers or employers into a corner with massive, monolithic applications. This tends to derail the "clone and boot" methodology of elastic scaling (cloud computing) in most shops. Because of the effort involved in getting an Oracle database server up and running, and the effort to get something like WebLogic running, and have everything talking happily, the installations are static, rigid, and fragile.

Which explains why VMWare bought SpringSource: sell free stuff to companies who don't know any better. You're damn right I bought that stock.

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