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Archive for April, 2010

Who’s next? Java?

April 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Just little point worth considering: in his Attack on Adobe Steve Jobs talks about how it’s somehow inherently bad to have an extra software layer between what the user sees and the OS/hardware.

Ironically since the time Java was rolled out by Sun, most of the IT world has in one way or another been moving in the opposite direction, cross-platform’s been the ultimate buzz word and after all HTML5, java script and CSS, all those kosher technologies that Apple claims to embrace, don’t they all need an extra layer in the form of a browser to run properly on the user’s machine? So what’s so bad with flash, some might argue that it’s an extra layer on top of another extra layer but the thing is when you install the flash player it’s pretty much like a Java VM, you can play flash files without a browser so I don’t see how something can be so inherently wrong about that.

Imho Apple is once again making the same mistake that have kept them from becoming the next industry standard in the past. They won’t allow people to come into their sandbox with their own toys, instead they insist if you want to play with them you have to buy their toys from them and that sounds pretty much like coercion to me. While the Iphone et al may have been a great device when it came out, the industry has pretty much caught up with it, and today there’s lots of touch screen smart phones available on the market that offer the same or better functionality than the iPhone. Well, alas, Apple will probably continue to live in its ivory tower with a handful of dedicated converts.

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Categories: IT

Give credit where credit is due

April 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Over the past couple of decades Microsoft has been perceived by many as a monstrous monopolistic leviathan capable only of dishonestly capitalizing on innovations done by others (such as Apple), and such powerful is this perception that it’s sometimes easy to overlook some the true innovations that originated at Microsoft.

One of the more recent ones was the complete redesign of the familiar menu-based GUI in the MS Office productivity suite, the new ‘ribbon interface’. It was quite a bold step on the part of Microsoft, as it wasn’t just some minor tweaking to improve the user experience, no they simply went and scrapped the old GUI that everybody had gotten used to and to some extend dependent upon. I remember the cries of indignation from old time Office users back in 2007.  Initially a lot of people talked, blogged and complained about how they were lost in the new interface and how they couldn’t find one thing or another in it. Well, to be honest, it represented a bit of a learning curve for me too, I remember the day I fired up MS Word 2007 for the first time, having typed up a page in the document I was working on I decided to save it and duh, the familiar floppy disk icon was nowhere to be found, after several minutes of searching for it in vain I had to resort to reading Help, that’s how bad it got.

But a couple of months later, on another computer I had to download and install OpenOffice and all of a sudden all those menus just weren’t the thing any more, they were plain boring and on top of that, compared to MS’ ribbon they were also time consuming.

Today many other software manufacturers are using the Ribbon interface in their products, in fact it’s well on the way to becoming a standard for productivity software. And with this piece I just want to give credit where it is due, MS may be many things, and they’ve had their share of flops in their time, but the Ribbon interface is definitely not one of them. In fact I dare say that in terms of user experience it leaves most Apple products in the dust. It’s truly innovative and effective at the same time

Categories: IT

Apple’s totally losing it

April 13, 2010 Leave a comment

Just came across this article today http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8616274.stm. It seems Steve Jobs is losing touch with reality. The crux of the article is that Apple now only allows for specific tools to be used to create applications for their iPhone platform, which now also includes the iPad. According to the article there are just three such tools, all applications created with any other tools will be automatically rejected by the AppStore.

Many developers have already announced they will be stopping making applications for the iPhone. The article offers a very funny analogy; dictating which tools developers can use when writing iPhone apps is akin to telling them what desk they must be sitting at when working on iPhone apps. It’s a totally ludicrous requirement.

Categories: IT

Apple heeds customers

Apple finally announced a new OS for the iPhone that will include multi-tasking support. As usually this new feature, which should have been there all along, was presented with a lot of funfair, according to the BBC, Steve Jobs himself demonstrated how in the new OS you can listen to the radio while typing up an email message.

So it looks like there’s at least one good thing about the iPad, which runs the same OS as the iPhone, as it now would seem. After a rather puzzled reaction from industry pundits to the fact you couldn’t multi-task on the iPad, Apple obviously decided that for the iPad to make sense it does need multi-tasking after all, and now this will spill over into the iPhone world since both devices use the same OS. Better late than never.

Categories: IT

Religious cults

I was listening to Rachael Khon’s Spirit of Things today, they were talking about coercive religious cults when it occurred to me, aren’t all religious cults coercive? Aren’t they all about forcing all sorts of laws and regulations on people which they aren’t supposed to question because all those laws etc. supposedly come directly from God. And since your local leader/preacher/priest is a representative of God, naturally you’re not supposed to question them either.

So what’s really the difference between the Moonies and the RCC, or the ROC for that matter (for those of you who don’t know ROC stands for Russian Orthodox Church it’s like the Russian Version of the Catholic Church only in Russia it’s more like the RCC in Poland). And I often get a rather strange feeling when I hear orthodox priests condemning sects, since after all aren’t they essentially just another sect, if you look at them objectively?

I think for the first time questions began popping up in my head when I was trying to find something (truth, God) with local baptists.  It was around about that time that the first Mormon missionaries turned up in our city and all those baptist preachers suddenly began talking about the dangers of Mormonism in their sermons. I had to check them out for myself though. So first I attended a service at the local Mormon community and I was rather disappointed and puzzled somewhat too, because it was just like a baptist service except they used water instead of wine for communion.

So what is really the difference between the Mormons and the Baptists? Sure the Mormons’ theology is several centuries younger and the Baptists claim theirs is based on nothing but the bible, Solo Scriptura and all that cow, you know,  but in truth there’s all those preachers that publish thousands of books every year interpreting the shit out of the bible.  And truth be told some passages in the bible are so obscure and esoteric in form that most people can never make sense of them. You’d have to have studied the languages they were originally written in plus the history of the peoples that wrote them to understand what the authors actually meant to say. Some famous examples come to mind, like the gates of Hades that won’t be able to defeat Christ’s church. One baptist friend of mine was convinced that since the passage mentioned the gates of hades it meant the church was going to attack the hades at some point in the future, while in actuality the gates in ancient Hebrew was often used to refer to the elite of a city, since those people would gather at the gates to talk business.

Now where was I? Sects, if it acts like a sect it must be a sect, so my point is all churches are essentially sects, it’s just that some are not as crazy as others in the conventional terms of the word crazy. And in some sense, to be a true follower, don’t you have to repent, and doesn’t repentance mean metanoia or change of thinking and isn’t a change in the way you think a form of going insane? It’s fine line I suppose, between being nuts and being a good Christian, a lot finer than most religious business operators would like to admit.

Categories: Religion Tags: , , ,

build your own hardware

There’s a famous quote attributed to Alan Kay and often repeated by none other than the black turtle neck god himself, Steve Jobs, that really good software developers will eventually want to build their own hardware to make sure their software runs just right. Bill Gates once said he’s always been able to resist that, but there may actually be a point to it. Sometimes it makes sense to offer products that combine software and hardware.

What it got me thinking about is Smalltalk. Earlier I wrote about how best technologies often lose out to their pop culture counterparts, well Smalltalk is definitely a very good and solid software technology that’s been a major source of inspiration for the main stream but which has remained largely ignored by the main stream throughout its history. Today all of the most prominent Smalltalk vendors are software companies, Cincom, Instantiations etc, but what if they were to roll out a Smalltalk gadget, preferably something mobile with a touch screen and a QWERTY keyboard, a next generation dynabook with Smalltalk as its operating system. Sure the competition in this market is fierce but then again Smalltalk potentially could offer things all those I-Phoners out there can only dream about and it would be a major boost to the language too.

Add to that a Seaside based online app store,  after all Smalltalk is easier to develop in than Objective C, you get all the power of objects but without having to use all that outdated, assembly like, C boilerplate code.  And no need for a special IDE, it’s all already there at your fingertips.  Give it a snappy name like the Heretic (a pun on Seaside’s heretic approach to doing web apps), get it manufactured in large numbers in China and make it cheaper than the competition.

I wonder if that could work.

Categories: IT Tags: , , , ,

my father thought he saw me today

I got a weird call from my mom today, she wanted to know if I was doing OK. When I asked why, she said my dad thought he saw me on Victory Square at 6 a.m. today. I couldn’t help laughing I only woke up at 10 today so I couldn’t have possibly been seen on V square at 6 and the second reason why it was kind of funny is because in perhaps ten years I haven’t had a job where I had to be early than 9 am while my father has been working jobs in which he’s had to come in at various ungodly hours such as 7 am.

Sad really, the way my parents have gotten so old. Also the way they were fixing to get their old apartment redone for over twenty years until eventually some real estate agents showed up at our doorstep and said they had a buyer for our apartment who wanted to make it into a store and so didn’t care what condition it was in. The first buyer eventually didn’t buy it, was never able to scrap up enough cash, but the real estate guys turned out to be quite persistent, the whole thing with them finding us some entrepreneur to buy us a new apartment and take our old one for its good location, it went on for almost two years, but eventually they delivered on what they promised. Things just fell into place in mid 2008,  these Muslim dudes with weird names and Russian aliases said they wanted to make our little apartment into a butcher’s shop and the real estate guys found a better place for us on the same street but in a newer block and the apartment itself was bigger. They even arranged for some basic repairs to be done there before we moved in.

Well, by and large it was a nice deal for my parents, they never had to do any redecoration in the old apartment they just left it as it was in shambles and moved into a new one.  Pity I didn’t get to live there with them for long.

It was also funny how when the whole thing was going down and I already knew we were moving out, I’d be walking home to the old apartment and I would imagine that we’d already moved to the new one and that I was just going back to the old place on instinct and I would try to feel nostalgic about it. In reality after we’d moved, my instinct never led me to the old apartment and I didn’t really feel that much nostalgia either. In fact the few times I walked past our old block I couldn’t help wondering how we’d been able to live all those years so close to the road. The window of my old room looks out directly onto a  busy road.

Initially it wasn’t so bad, it used to be we only had a handful of cars in our city but recently it’s gotten totally out of hand. I remember I began to really notice this change for the worse a few years ago when I would be awakened at 8 or at 9 by the sound of motor vehicles of all sorts driving right past my window. I then had a plastic window installed in the hope it would reduce the noise level, it did but hardly to the extent I’d been hoping for. I could still hear them and it was especially bad when heavy duty trucks rumbled past, I could really feel the vibration lying on my couch. I knew I had to get out I was just to lazy to do anything about it.

It’s pretty much the same thing with this country. Things have been getting worse all the time and I know I have to get out but I’m paralyzed by my own laziness.  Man, I really have to get a move on before it’s too late.

Categories: Random thoughts