Drewloid's Blog

I’m thinkng the hardware on this little transformer is pretty decent, especially with the add on keyboard. but the typing experience has a bunch of key lag and it’s totally harshing my love.

it’s a nice try, but i have to suspect that while it could be an android problem, it is more likely an oem integration problem.

i’m not in love with the ipad either, and i doubt the bluetooth keybaord has this problem. maybe it s a browser problem. regardles, i don’t know why there needs to be a 1 second key lag everyy few keystrokes, or why the cursor keeps jumping to the title box. I must brushing the mousepad. once again, pc oem’s miss the little things

Seriously, people who do stuff that has a major impact in the world aren’t all that common.  And in a week, 3 of them have passed.  Wow.

First, Steve Jobs trundles off.  Not completely unexpected I suppose, but it’s a pretty big deal.  It’s also kind of a big deal that there are a bunch of boneheads out there who don’t grasp what he did.  He invented the personal computer.  Sure Ed Roberts at Mits built the Altair 8800, and that was darned important, but don’t kid yourself, the Altair looked a lot like a Data General Nova and wasn’t all that friendly.  Jobs and Woz built the Apple ][, and it was the full meal deal in a nice box.  It wasn’t scary looking.  Personal, get it?  Of course, Jobs was especially great because he wasn’t a one hit wonder.  His work will be influential for at least the next century.  Apple ][, Mac (ok, Jef Raskin gets a lot of credit for that one), iPod, iPhone, iPad.  The computing paradigm of the next 10 years is all right there with the release of iCloud, and in this business, 10 years is a really really really long time.

And I just read two more big important people left today.

Robert W. Galvin died this morning.  Ok, I’ll admit, Motorola is kind of a joke today, but when Bob Galvin was in charge this was possibly the most innovative company in America and the world.  Most of what we take for granted today in the form of radio and wireless came from Motorola.  Let’s get real.  This guy did not shy away from risk and his company’s greatest achievement is probably the invention of the cellular phone.  Innovation in the form of the Iridium satellite phone system is what ultimately took them down.  That kind of risk takes balls.  But that was just part of it.  He had crazy ideas like profit sharing plans for employees during the McCarthy era.  His company didn’t invent the microprocessor like Intel did, but they made some pretty great ones.  The Motorola 6800 processor begat the MOS Technology 6502 which landed in the Apple ][, and the original Macintosh had the Motorola 68000 in it.  And Motorola under Galvin was one of the very first American companies to adopt the Total Quality Movement principles that other Americans had come up with and Japan used in the 70’s to redefine out notion of quality.  The quote at the end of the New York Times obit is “The absolutely distinguishing quality of a leader is that a leader takes us elsewhere.”

And as if that is not enough, Dennis Ritchie died this past weekend.  I guess when you are an uber-programmer then that isn’t quite a big news.  He only invented the Unix operating system and the C programming language.  These are the technologies that are behind a very significant portion of all computer cycles executed today.  At heart, everything Apple ships is running Unix and uses a variant of the C programming language.  The original Apple ][ used the 6502 processor which traces lineage back to the PDP-11 (via the 6800) where Unix and C got a lot of their early development.  When DEC withered away the Moto 68000 family was the place for Unix.  One of the major models of writing computer software we use today came directly from this guy’s work, and tons of newer technologies descend from his thinking.  Open Source can trace it’s roots back to Dennis Ritchie, as can Linux.

These three people led the invention of a really vast and huge amount of the stuff we take for granted today, and their separate innovations are surprisingly related.  Galvin provided the hardware technologies behind Steve Job’s successes.  Ritchie provided the software (open up a terminal window on your Mac and that’s unix).  Jobs provided the creativity and vision to focus on the experience of the technology rather than the focus on technology for the sake of technology.

Innovation and leadership on the scale these three people provided doesn’t happen all the time; it is quite rare.  And I’ll note one more thing.  Bob Galvin was 89, Dennis Ritchie was 70.  Steve Jobs was only 56.  Steve was nowhere near done.

Perhaps I am simply weak, but I simply cannot stop enjoying and laughing at the iPhone competitors and the many pundits who keep second guessing Apple’s moves.  You know, the strategy that is leading them to make all the profits in the phone business, the “tablet” (actually iPad) business, and in the PC business.

So when I see Andy Lee’s comments in today’s Seattle Times, I laugh a bit more.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/businesstechnology/2016448788_windowsphoneqa10.html

I think his comments are generally reasonable and make sense for someone in his position.  It certainly would not make sense for him to lend any credibility to Apple’s strategy since that option is not available to him, and besides, it would not be possible for him to win trying to play Apple’s game.

But in the answer to the first question – “some people are making comparisons of pace.”  Well, that’s just bust a gut funny.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/We_will_bury_you

Soviet Russia made a lot of progress on a lot of fronts real fast in the 50’s – easy to do when you are way behind and there is someone showing the way to help you get caught up.  But don’t imagine that you can possibly continue the “pace” once you get caught up.

And of course, Lees is smart enough to say it is someone else saying this stuff – “I’m not saying it, so and so is saying it.”  That’s a standard language pattern to deflect challenges and criticism.  So I suppose it is the same pundits and critics who continue to entertain me saying it.

Microsoft product launches were never this entertaining.  Although watching the stock go up by leaps and bounds when I had a lot of it (and it was doing that) was pretty good.

I’m very sad that Steve Jobs has passed, and I send my love and condolences to his family.  And I think that at this time, rather than focus on being sad, I will focus on my gratitude for the things that Steve did and how we have benefitted from the things he did while he was here.

Thank you

On the heels of Apple’s new iPhone 4S announcement and the general disappointment amongst the bloggers, pundits, and especially Wall Street Analysts who add no value whatsoever to anything in the world, I must reference one of my very favorite quotes of all time, from Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. 

 

See also: http://www.theodore-roosevelt.com/trsorbonnespeech.html

When and if any of these folks ever actually ship a product, maybe they will have something of value to say.  Until then, they are a continuing source of amusement to those of us who effect change in the world by actually doing things.  I will acknowledge that if you can get paid what the analysts get paid for doing nothing, that’s someone who is a bit smarter than me.

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

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110331/03350113711/according-to-microsofts-own-numbers-microsoft-costs-world-economy-500-billion.shtml

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.

http://minimsft.blogspot.com/2010/10/mr-ray-ozzie-and-microsofts-chief.html

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:

http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/news/2011/03/one-month-later-honeycomb-has-just-50-native-apps.ars

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.

http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/24/color-blind/

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.


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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."

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