Drewloid's Blog

Archive for March 2011

I love techdirt, it is a great blog.  But of course, everyone sometimes has to show their ignorance.


As soon as Red Hat or some other Linux vendor does what they need to do to completely displace Microsoft in the markets where Microsoft makes its money, then sure, those vendors can have that money and maybe people will spend less money on those products than they are spending now with Microsoft.

But to suggest that the money that is going to Microsoft is somehow costing the world economy money is utterly and completely ridiculous and suggests a complete lack of understanding of economics at any level whatsoever.  At the very least, let us keep in mind that all the money that goes to Microsoft gets cycled back through the economy in some way or other.

It also suggests that the people who are buying Microsoft’s products are somehow making poor decisions with how they are spending their money.  This is a typical bias we see a lot of, that someone who isn’t there on the ground thinks they know better how someone should be living their lives or rationing out their scarce resources.  This kind of hogwash is flat out insulting to the intelligence of the people who are out there making decisions about how to spend their money.

When Linux is ready for the mainstream I’m sure it will be no problem for it to displace Windows.  But considering the lack of success I’ve had with installing Ubuntu, I’d say it will still be a while.

I don’t know if I do, but it would be cool.  I don’t know if I would want to know who it is.  I think this person is smart, and has good ideas, but then, I agree with most of what mini-microsoft has to say.

Since I’m getting back into the tech industry game at a high level, I’ve been catching up, and I came across this blog entry about Ray Ozzie leaving the ‘soft.


It seems likely I know this person.  For starters, I was there for nearly 14 years, and I know a lot of people.  But the second paragraph of this post gets my attention.  I am the only person I know who made a point about not caring to be in a billg review.  And I was an architect for a team I started.  And I did retire from Microsoft without ever being in a billg review.  I don’t think I was actually *bragging* about it, but as I say, I have no need to have the richest and possibly smartest person in the world tell me that something I said is the stupidest thing he has ever heard.

So, cool.  And Mini, if I do know you and you were referring to me, I would like to think we are still good friends.

I read this this morning:


The 6th paragraph of this article implies that developers need the Honeycomb source code to build a customized app.  Really?  Because that is just plain crazy.

If having open source is a substitute for having an SDK, and Google needs to rely on making the source code available to be able to support developers in creating Android applications, then Android is doomed long term.

Because a supported SDK is such a trouble saver.  I’d rather have accurate documentation than the ability to debug into the underlying source code to figure out why my app is not working.  Because with accurate documentation, I will hopefully design my code so that I won’t have to debug into the underlying platform source.  Hey, if I can have both that is simply awesome.

But the developers who are sophisticated enough to benefit from the underlying source are in the minority in my experience.

I was just looking at this blog post on techcrunch and there is a little poster at the bottom about perspective which reminded me of something that happened once at Microsoft.


I was part of a team planning a new product idea and the proposal had gone up the chain to billg and steveb.  The one hour review meeting we were going to have with bill got grabbed by our division VP (jeff raikes at the time) to talk about yet another reorg.  Jeff and his number 2 robbie bach were both pretty hot for our product team so not actually getting in front of bill may have worked in our favor. Of course, we missed out on the infinite joy of having the richest and possibly smartest person in the world tell us how some part of our plan was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard.

The wait for a response from bill had been dragging on so I took it upon myself to send bill and steve my own impassioned description of the business case for our team.  It was like 3 short paragraphs.

After I sent it I asked my boss what he thought, as I had naturally cc’d him on the email.  His response was quite simple.

“The time it took Bill to read that is probably worth more money than you will see in your entire lifetime.”

I’m going to let everyone in on a little secret, and anyone who bothers to read this will discover how Apple manages to be so darn successful selling their shiny high margin toys while everyone in the rest of the PC ecosystem is fighting the low margin war.

I had the epiphany today when I went to listen to an audio track on my computer.  This track is in stereo, big surprise there.  It is a recording that takes full advantage of stereo and some times has a speaker in the right ear, and sometimes the speaker is in the left ear.  All the way one way or the other.  The strange bit was … they were coming from the middle.  This sort of annoyed me as the left or rightness of the audio is kind of important.  I played another similar track, same problem.  I played the original CD I ripped it from, same problem.  I thought the system needed a reboot, so I rebooted, and still the same problem.  I even imported the track into Audacity to make sure it was all the way left and all the way right.  Yup.

I hadn’t ever noticed it before so I didn’t think it was a configuration problem, but I checked anyway.  And there in the audio driver setup was some sort of audio processing crap.  I turned it off, and the problem was gone.  How it got screwed up I do not know, but there it was.  I don’t even know why this feature is available on the driver.  I mean seriously, in stereo I want two distinct channels, not some magic processing that makes them mono with “expansion”, or whatever the hell this was doing.

This is the sort of thing that doesn’t happen with a Mac, or with Apple products in general.  You see, I’m on a super budget laptop from HP.  I don’t buy expensive PC laptops with my own money, they don’t work any better.  They might be a little faster, a little brighter, whatever, but my experience with them does not in anyway justify paying twice as much, and I’m a cheap ass bastard.  I think it is sad that this laptop of mine would be a lightning screamer if it were running XP and is a slow turd with Windows 7, but I can’t do much about that.  And don’t talk to me about Ubuntu.  When Ubuntu actually installs successfully without a bunch of farting around on a random PC laptop, then I’ll use it as a primary environment.  I’ll write about that some other day.

So the way my cheap ass PC laptop came to be is that some product manager (this is a marketing function by the way) wrote a list of features for a laptop and a price point.  And somebody made it happen.  And of course, one of the product features is the stereo audio.  For whatever reason, the product spec must have included some kind of special audio processing feature.  Or maybe not.  But the fact is that the audio chip vendor probably bought some package from somebody in some country and did some cursory testing and made sure it worked with the chip and included it.  So it gets stuffed into my PC laptop and nobody does any integration testing on this or any of the other 1000 things a PC OEM could do to make sure their hardware and drivers work well with Windows to add up to a wonderful user experience.  That is a lot of work.  It would also cost money.  Of course, if I buy a laptop that costs twice as much they still don’t spend that money – which takes us back to why I buy the cheap PC laptop, not the expensive one.

So there you have it.  Integration testing.  Hard work.  Thinking.  And a lot of hard work.  I mean, I’ve done testing of this sort, and let me tell you, it is tedious hard painful work.  You can’t fully automate it.  You have to do a lot of really intense hard work to polish up your product the way Apple does.  Apple doesn’t ship all that often, and when they ship they have done the hard work that it takes to make a well-integrated and polished product.

Apple’s Secret Sauce is … hard work.  Duh.

With every release of Windows Microsoft does a ton of work to have better and better device support, and the PC vendors keep stuffing in new crap that doesn’t quite work and makes Microsoft look bad.

It is the job of the manufacturer to make sure they are shipping a completely well integrated polished product.  Microsoft cannot do it for them.  And it is hard work.

Apple does it, so I’m inclined to think that as a general rule they are earning their high margins.  Until the PC vendors decide to do a little hard work when they want higher margins they will have to settle for smaller margins in exchange for not doing the hard stuff.  Simple.

I’m going to have to side with Warren Buffett on this.  The Wall Street types who do stock analysis are really crazy nut jobs.

Apparently the news from Apple that the WWDC will be focused on their software plans has everybody in a tizzy that Apple won’t announce the iPhone 5 at WWDC as they have typically been doing.  Let’s not forget that WWDC is about Apple’s software plans, not announcing new iPhones, and as far as I know, they didn’t exactly telegraph that they were going to talk about iPhone announcements at any of the other WWDC’s.  But I don’t know, maybe they did.  But basically, it’s business as usual for WWDC and people on Wall Street need to talk about something to justify their jobs of doing nothing for very high pay.

I won’t even get started on the whole idea that if Apple doesn’t announce a new iPhone 5 in June then it is late.

Of course these people aren’t crazy and they probably know exactly what they are doing.  For starters, they are justifying their big paychecks by creating the illusion of thinking, the way TSA provides the illusion of security for air travelers.

Their wild pronouncements on any news or non-news is how market prices of stocks move, and price movements drive trading volume, and brokerages make money by buying and selling small moves on their own accounts in addition to the commissions on trading for clients.  No movement, no money to be made.

I’d say just ignore these people, but I’ll fall short of completely siding with Warren on the idea that wall street should close up and be open only one day a year.  There are a lot of people out there who make a nice living trading their own accounts.  If you can make a nice living for yourself and your family eating the crumbs the man leaves behind, well, good for you.

Just as long as you realize that it’s all a big game designed to make money for the players, not the clients.

Wow, I haven’t posted to myself in a while.  Looking for a job keeps one busy.

I recently lived in Kailua-Kona on the big island of Hawaii.  In Kona there is only one degree of separation between you and anyone you meet.  I thought this was kind of crazy when I moved there, but I believed it could be true for people who had lived there for a good long while, because it really is a pretty small place.  Surprisingly, it was true for me too almost immediately.  I discovered this when I had been there only two months and picked up a girl at one of the beaches and drove her back to her car in town.  As we talked, we discovered we had a mutual acquaintance.  Amazing.

So I’ve been prowling around stuff and I found a blog by a guy named Anil Dash, and he’s pretty interesting to read.  I’d never heard of him before last night.  I took a look at his front page this morning and there is a bit where he is asking his friends in his social network about good pens.  If you are an afficionado of writing you will understand the importance of a good pen.  There in the second response to his request is someone I know from the destructoid gaming community.  And when I say I know someone, I have actually physically met them and engaged in conversation.  I might not know them *well*, but I try to make sure the people in my social networks are people I’ve had f2f with.  So there in this guys responses is someone I’ve actually touched in person.  This kind of surprised me.

Yeah, yeah, I know, everyone else already knows this, and I think it is pretty cool.  Seriously, when we were building the internet, I don’t think anyone I knew really imagined this.  Maybe they did, there were a whole lot of people a lot smarter than me working on the stuff.

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  • Roberta Koral: Hey Drew..Andrew ar Andy, whichever you prefer. I just found your blog. Roberta here.
  • globularity: Sharp analysis. -Davoid
  • Stephanie: What a marvelous article, thanks for writing it "friend."