Sunday, July 1, 2012

The hottest device in the market today, may also be the most overrated

I am of course talking about the 10 inch tablet device like the iPad.
The Macbook air is so much better for the business user than the iPad. Similarly the Surface may also turn out to be better for the this type of user. I see so many people even in our boardroom propping up their tablets like a laptop but then have to put the tablet down flat to type. I suppose the MS Surface would make life better in that regard. I doubt though that it will give me as a business user and developer what the brilliant and underestimated value a Macbook air can give me. But what about if I just want to sit up in bed and browse away using a nice touch interface? Or if I just want to jot down some quick notes without have to fire up the small Macbook Air type laptop/netbook? Or what if I want to look at a quick video or take a quick snap? Wouldn't the tablet be perfect for that? For me an Android phone with the bigger display (including the Galaxy note) completely negates the need to have a the traditional tablet at all. And I can also still store this device in my pocket and make phone calls on it. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Google Drive and the Cloud.

I am torn between the benefits of offline vs. true cloud file management. The wonderful google drive has added to these mixed feelings. While there are clear benefits to having synchronized local drives, it also slows down our forward progress. Take trues google doc .gdoc files. These are similar to Unix symbolic links, where we can setup easy access to files or executables somewhere else on our computer. A .gdoc file then is a pointer to your actual file somewhere on the cloud and definitely not a copy of the file. At first I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have a local off-line editor to manage .gdoc files as well? But the offline gears type browser editor, should be used as an exception, not the rule. If you want to stay true legacy, you still can because google drive still synchronises .docx files the traditional way, where behind the scenes, files are being copied back and forth. An example of the exception to which I was referring to is if I am on a plane and want to work on something, clicking on a .gdoc file would be a problem. For these rare situations, it should not be a big deal to download the file manually beforehand, work on the file using the gears version of gdocs and sync it back up manually once done. If you forget to download the file, you would be out of luck, but how many times would it happen? If so just eat the peanuts and drink you coffee. You can pick up the file at any airport lounge. It won't be long before every plane also has online access (with a price of course) anyway.
I also like some of the talk about moving development environments such as eclipse to cloud with access to source code also in the cloud. Wouldn't it be nice to just install a development environment once and have it available on any any computer? Well, we are a few years away from that, but at this point I am certainly enjoying not having much dependancy on legacy office apps like word or excel. Instead I work on a google doc, don't even worry about saving the file. Then come home and from any computer, go into my google drive, and the link is just sitting there. No waiting for a sync, just click and I continue where Ieft off. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Steve Jobs Betrayal

Most of you have read this quote I am sure.

Jobs said, “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank, to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.

I guess he didn't!

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Facebook IPO

Is Facebook another AOL or Yahoo? Or will it be another Microsoft or Google? Obviously most investors are hedging their bets on the latter. I am going to be a wimp and sit on the fence on this one. What I can say is that I really did scratch my head when AOL bought Time/Warner. It just made no sense that a glorified ISP with contact that you could anywhere by surfing the internet, could buy a seriously established outfit like Time/Warner. As it turned out I had every right to scratch my head. Facebook certainly needs to become a lot more than a social network with advertising. Maybe it will expand to the enterprise via its social network and its large user base, much like google did with its search engine. Microsoft"s entry point to the enterprise was its home PC operating system which they managed to monopolize. But I also can't deny that I am scratching my head how a social networking website could have the third biggest ever IPO in history behind GM and Visa. On the other hand Zuckerberg is a bona fide wunderkind like Gates and Jobs there just may be no stopping him. The next few years will be very interesting.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The New IPAD

There is no doubt Apple revolutionized the tablet. In fact I wrote a long blog entry about that. But now they are just goofy. Their home page says "RESOLUTIONARY, the New IPAD". Ok....whatever. 
So they really are calling it The New Ipad. Ok....whatever. 
Why didn't they call it what is it. The New Ipad 2. 
So what do they call the next one that comes out in 3 weeks or so. 
ALITTLEMORE-SOLUTIONARY, "The New Ipad S"? Or The Brand Spanking New Ipad? The newer Ipad? 

I am looking forward to the iPhone 5... er I mean the New iPhone launch to see what it has to offer beyond Siri 2, or should I say the New Siri. 

Poor Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave already. I am afraid this company has already lost its lustre in such a short time. It really is amazing how one man can make that much difference.

NOTE: I am of course fully expecting on March 19th or whatever the date is, that they brand it the IPAD 3 or Ipad Steroid or IPAD GT or some other name and claim that was their plan all along. Either way its all a very goofy marketing campaign from a marketing oriented company which is what they have become.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mobile Apps vs. Web Apps

All this talk about mobile Apps and App stores these days just make my blood boil. Aren't we going backwards, not forwards? I mean really. Version control management, individual downloads of device specific software? Haven't been dealing with these types of painful issues for several decades? Aren't we talking so much these days about cloud apps and cloud media? Wouldn't we want to push these ideas to the latest technology devices, which today are mobile ones?
Remember the age old fat client issues we have been having on the workstation? 1) Office on Windows only and totally different version for the Mac? No office for Linux. 2) Microsoft outlook needs to be loaded on every PC in order to see your email. 3) iTunes always has to be updated in order to do anything with a new service offering. 4) checking for software updates and then loading same thing on each device you have?
Isn't apple talking about moving iTunes to the cloud along with your songs? I thought finally after so much platform dependence, that we were getting some great web apps like Google Docs, Gmail, Maps, Facebook etc. that run on any platform. The only thing preventing further progress is having to support backwards compatibly of browsers and developers not having access to device details pre HTML5.
Now we new mobile devices and about everything you want to do on a mobile device requires a device specific app.  Hello? Why is HTML5, which gives us the much needed device access,  not becoming mainstream quicker?
Yes I realize that device specific apps will perform better and also help some the device manufacturers gain a competitive advantage by releasing a new feature that only their app can support. It gives them incentive obviously to be more innovative, I concede.  In fact I will go as far as to say there is a place for native apps, but it has gone too far. I mean even today, news media sites don't need their own Apple App or  Android App, yet they want you to download their mobile app whenever you go to their site to read some content. Why don't they do a very good Web app instead of the lame ones they do today? Furthermore, mobile devices generally support modern HTML and don't have the same backwards compatibility issues faced by the workstations. I do see the need for some native apps, but apple's 30% interest in any apple store app, may have a lot do with the slow movement towards HTML5 even if Steve Jobs was pushing for it ahead of flash.
The media does not help with the misinformation to the public about mobile apps. They really push them. I just saw a review on BBC world on the new playbook OS 2.0. As usual they continue with the same old boring media diatribe about the playbook only now releasing native email.  I mean give me a break. Why do you want a separate copy of the same email on every device you have? How do you effectively manage your inbox? Why do I have to setup my email client all over again (and please don't use the same boring argument about offline access please)? Has anyone easily been able to synchronize their native contacts app with a central repository of contacts (in my case Google contacts). For whatever reason that is always a pain in the #*&. Why not just build superior mobile web apps for mail, calendar and contacts. 
If anything BB OS is ahead of its time. They have a superb bridge native application (yes a native application that actually makes sense) to the bb smartphone where I can actually share its email, calendar and contact data as well as BBM which means I do not need a separate copy of the same thing. I just got OS 2.0 and didn't even bother to setup the native email, calendar or contacts, just like I never bothered to set them up on Android and IPAD devices. The numb-skull on BBC world also made a stupid sarcastic comment about native BBM not being supported on the playbook. If he stopped being a sheep and actually decided to think for himself, he would realize that BBM in not an internet application and was not written that way, like google talk or skype for example. Instead it uses the blackberry BES service which is tied to the physical device itself by PIN. Just think about it. If you have one phone number and somebody texts you, you're only going to get that message on that number not on another number on another device. It's exactly the same thing with a PIN. If playbook was offered on 3G, he may have an argument, but BBM would have to be re-engineered for a single profile to share multiple pins, otherwise each device would need its own separate profile, which would be pointless. The bridge again offers up BBM service to the playbook just fine. 
Apple is pushing iCloud more and more. But they are also pushing apple specific apps from the app store more an more. They seem have the media in their back pocket and we just follow along. Let's push for HTML5 please?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

OS wars. It gets personal like religion or politics

It always amazes me when people say they work on the best platform out there and refuse to ever change. How many people say "I have been using MAC products only since 1984 and will never change". How do you know it is the best for you unless you spend a good deal of time looking at others. When I say looking, I mean using them on a daily productive basis in some way to judge for yourself. I tend to switch my daily use OS every year and a half or so. I had Ubuntu 8, then MAC OSX Tiger and Leopard, Then Windows 7 and now Ubuntu Linux 11.10. I like to do this to stay better informed as it is my job to stay as informed as I can get in this regard. Right now I also use MAC OSX on a Macbook Air at home which used Lion. I have a Windows virtual version everywhere. On mobile I have Blackberry, Samsung Android tablet, Ipod touch (an iPhone without the phone plan) and even played with the first version of the iPad quite a bit.

I can tell you that every platform has its pros and cons. It all depends on what the user wants. If you are a person who spends most of your time using products like MS Office, Project, Visio and ActiveX IE based web apps such as project server, the obvious and easiest OS for these products is Windows 7. If you like a nice OS that "just works" then the MAC is great. It also has MS Office and many other apps supported. However, if you regularly use (or have to use) other Windows products such as Project, Visio, Erwin, MS SQL client tools and IE it just gets to be more of a pain to use on the Mac as you have to configure a virtual OS or some other non native method to fire up these products. The Mac is a pretty good OS for a developer as it is Unix based and the gives the developer more flexibility than windows. The multiple workspaces of course is great. That is something still not offered by Windows. Ubuntu used to be a great OS for the technically savvy but not much use for your average user. However, with Ubuntu 11.10 you can pretty well get everything done using GUI tools. The installation of it on my Lenovo T510 could not have been smoother. Every device such as sound, display and webcam were automatically detected and configured. I loaded all my additional software using the software center and had to do very little configuration on setup files at the shell level. It has gone a long way to becoming mainstream, since Ubuntu 8. I think you can do more with it than either of the other two OSs I have looked at in detail. And its all free as well. Of course its main drawback is that it does not support as many Windows apps like the Mac does, such as Office, Axure and iTunes. A virtual version of Windows is a must, just as it is in the Mac world, but if Windows apps are not part of your day to day work, then the MAC and Ubuntu are very compelling.

For me and my needs I give Ubuntu Linux 11.10 #1, followed closely by Mac OSX and
Windows 7 closely behind that. Not any of them is perfect. Each one is better than the other in some things. You just have to know which is most important to you. The only way to know is to expose yourself to as many environments possible, so you can make an educated decision. However, favorite OSs can be like religion. One cannot bring reason with the decisions of many. They have a passionate loyalty to their OS and will fight "to the death" for their favorite OS and will unlikely give another a chance, no matter how good it is or how good it has become.

As far as mobile devices, well I am still trying to decide what I like best from the current offerings which are changing rapidy. The ios devices: iPad, iPhone, iPod touch are all the same in functionality for the most part. The iPhone has Siri, which for no good logical reason, is not offered on the other devices. But IOS devices work just great with limited and controlled functionality. That's the way of Apple. That's not a bad thing by the way for the majority of users out there. If you want to go beyond, you have to jailbreak the device which for many reasons, is just a bad idea. The more I use the Galaxy tablet though, the more I like it. Initially Android seems leagues behind the Apple products, but as you get to know it, give it some time, particularly if you are more technical, you will realize that it blows the lid off the Apple mobile products. But then again, what is good for you? If you want something very slick and easy to use out of the box, Apple is the way to go. If you want to get to know your mobile OS over time and play around with it a bit, and understand what it really can do, then Android is it because it offers so much with a lot of flexibility. For me Android Gingerbread (and even Froyo for that matter) win hands down over IOS 5. But then that's just me.

I didn't mention the blackberry phone or their tablet. That's an interesting one as you can't really compare them with the other two apples to apples (ha ha intended). Of course RIM is not the blue eyed boy anymore. Instead it has become everyone's whipping boy. It will most likely fade away or hopefully come back strong like Apple did, you never know (see my last paragraph). I have not looked at the Playbook, but in speaking with some people who really use it (not the media of course), many of them have made the playbook do wonderful things and they love the power it has to offer, so I think it is probably a pretty good product if one is willing to give it a chance. Unfortunately few people are.

As far as the smart phone blackberry, I know lots about the current bb platform and it serves me just fine for daily use functions and I am not ready to give that away just yet. I have the the non touch bold 9700. It does what I need done very, very well. That is email, Calendar, real-time Messaging and sms. Social networking experience is better on the Android and iOS, but its certainly not bad on the bb. For anything more sophisticated, I rarely use my phone. Instead I use a tablet for things like Skype and Hangout. I have my eye on a Galaxy S II to possibly bridge that gap. Sorry for me the iPhone / iPod will just not do once you get comfortable with Android. But then we have the Galaxy Nexus coming out now with Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Now that looks really interesting, with built-in Google hangout capability and all. But it needs to stabilize in the market, so best to just wait and see for just a little longer.

In the mean time I will hold on to the fantastic analog keyboard on my BB 9700 and still best email/messaging technology, till the bitter end.  But wait... hold the phone (yes intended again). What about this?
Guess who bought TAT? RIM did. Is the merging of QNX and TAT pie in the sky stuff? Possibly. Its a long shot and I am rooting for our battered boys and gals in Waterloo.