Category: Software

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Build 2019: Principles Behind Microsoft Design

For the first time in a half-decade, I watched a Microsoft Build keynote this morning. Time gives fresh perspective, looking at where the company was compared to where it is today. Listening to CEO Satya Nadella and other Softies, I repeatedly found myself reminded of Isaac Asimov’s three laws or Robotics and how they might realistically be applied in the 21st Century. The rules, whether wise or not, set to ensure that humans could safely interact with complex, thinking machines. In Asimov’s science fiction stories, the laws were core components of the automaton’s brain—baked in, so to speak, and thus inviolable. They were there by design; foundationally.

Behind all product design, there are principles. During the Steve Jobs era, simplicity was among Apple’s main design ethics. As today’s developer conference keynote reminds, Microsoft embraces something broader—design ethics that harken back to the company’s founding objectives and others that share similar purpose as the robotic laws. On the latter point, Nadella repeatedly spoke about “trust” and “collective responsibility”. These are fundamental principles of design, particularly as Artificial Intelligence usage expands and more corporate developers depend on cloud computing platforms like Azure.

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My Personal Tech Kit 2019

I start the new year in a very different space, and with turnabout attitude, than 2018. About six months ago, I surrendered my digital lifestyle to Google, abandoning Apple as primary platform provider. Trust brought me to the Apple way. Distrust drove me away. Choosing between priorities privacy and security, in an increasingly dangerous Internet, the latter matters more. The Alphabet subsidiary truly has its ABCs ordered in ways that the bitten-fruit company doesn’t. I can trust that Google, being native to cloud computing and depending on it (mainly by way of search-related advertising), will secure my content and devices better than Apple, which is at best a cloud computing resident alien and more typically behaves like an immigrant who doesn’t speak the language well nor understands local culture.

Sure, I surrender some privacy but that would happen anyway, because privacy is a fiction. If you use the Internet or connected mobile device, you have none. Google is motivated to protect me (and you) because we are the product that generates ad revenue. Between marketers and hackers, it’s easy choice which I’d prefer to have my personal information. Granted anyone can debate which is, hehe, more criminal. But marketers aren’t likely to clean out my bank account or steal my identity. Or yours.

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‘The Most Diabolical Version of Solitaire Ever Devised’

What does it say about America’s grand cultural decline when big political forget-me-nots want to develop applications, just like their grandkids do? Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, 83, has developed a mobile app. Honest to God! It’s all over the interwebs. What are the chances there could be another Donald Rumsfeld, who is younger and develops apps for a living, thus making bloggers and Facebook Fraappers wrong? Nah.

Churchill Solitaire is available right now, for iOS, if you’re lucky enough to use iPhone, as does the former Secretary. The non-Android smartphone makes him feel safe because Apple CEO Tim Cook gave the “no-encryption-backdoor-for-you” middle finger to the U.S. government and Mr. Rumsfeld’s former employer.  The app is described as “the most diabolical version of solitaire ever devised”,  And the former Secretary of Defense is responsible? Boo hoo, Waterloo! 

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It’s Early Spring for Apple Software

My Apple love-affair started with the allure of hardware—the original Bondi Blue iMac in December 1998—but stayed true because of software. I found Mac OS 8.5.1 to be substantially more satisfying than Windows Me and to support broader range of applications than NT 4. The experience carried forward, particularly during the iLife era and priority placed on content creation that matters to most people. The company caught the transition from documents to digital media as main content created by most people

Over the past couple years, Apple apps and operating systems feel stuck in the last decade. They’re directionless. But as 2016 slowly advances, i see hopeful hints that software innovation will rise to the standard set by the company in the early 2000s. Fresh example, which is but a curiosity to some, foreshadows much: Music Memos; released yesterday. 

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Microsoft’s Hollywood-style Redemption Story

Satya Nadella is a man with a formidable challenge. Microsoft CEO’s predecessor, Steve Ballmer, squandered the company’s mobile fortunes. From smartphone platform leader a decade ago, the software-and-services giant is a category also-ran in 2015. Microsoft has no independent mobile platform future. The war is over. There remains this: Making alliances with old enemies to preserve existing territory, while using the foothold to reach into new frontiers.

Made available August 5th, Outlook for Apple Watch is a very smart move and metaphor for what went wrong on Microsoft mobile platforms and what has to go right to preserve and extend the legacy applications stack. While Windows 10 makes its way to Lumia devices, the future is Android and iOS and how the company supports them with contextually meaningful cloud-connected apps and services. 

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Chromebook Matters

My fourth ebook, Chromebook Matters, published over the holiday, and this one is available from Kindle Store, Google Play, and Smashwords. I’m done with Amazon exclusives.

Chromebook Matters is not a how-to book. It’s all “why” and “what”—why Chromebook matters and what it can do for you. I write an introduction for anyone—businesses, consumers, government agencies, or schools—considering buying Chromebook. I also address anti-Chromebook propaganda. Some claims are valid. Most are not.

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WWDC 2010 Keynote: A Story in Tweets

The problem with Twitter, publishing is lost content. Tweets go into the massive Twittersphere never to have meaning again. It’s kind of like chatter; people talk and it’s gone (or so most of us hope). Well, hell, I can’t let all my tweets go to waste, particularly during Apple’s developer conference keynote when Twitter was my real-time publishing platform. So I’ve painstakingly cut and paste this morning’s Twitterfest during Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ keynote for posterity’s benefit. 🙂