The Redmond Bubble

If you know me, or follow me on Twitter, then you know that I follow politics closely. I also enjoy the HBO series Real Time with Bill Maher for the lack of censoring you see so much on main stream news sources. For about the last year, Bill Maher has had a segment on his show each week called "Life Inside The Bubble" where he makes fun of an example of a Republican issue or talking point in which is only being covered on Republican blogs or Fox News. Usually, the Republican base is up in arms about something that everyone else is ignoring because its a non-issue or they are trying to drum up faux outrage about a topic that isn't outrageous. While idea is common in politics, this 'Bubble' I mean, I've encountered it in other places as well. Earlier tonight, Marco Arment wrote about his experience of wandering into a Microsoft Store today while he was on his way to the Apple Store to buy AppleCare+ for his wife's iPhone 5. He was curious about the Microsoft Surface, not having seen one yet, and wanted to try it out in order to compare it to the iPad. Marco's entire piece is well worth your time to read but one thing in particular really caught my attention. During the aggressive demo the salesperson gave Marco, he made a particular comment. Marco writes:

He showed me Office, which was almost unusable: it was extremely sluggish, and touch targets were tiny and difficult to hit. He said this was the only tablet that could run Office, and if you used Office at work, this was therefore the only tablet that you could use at work. I played dumb. I read the rest of Marco's article but in the back of my mind, after I read that paragraph, I couldn't get the thought out of my head. This comment by the salesperson pissed me off. I have a ton of questions I wish I could ask him. Was this his opinion? Was he instructed to say this as a part of his training? Does he really believe this? The reason this really struck a chord with me is because I work for a large environmental non-profit in Washington DC. Despite being a non-profit, the day-to-day work environment at our office is more like a corporate job than working for a non-profit. We are managed and ran like a corporation. When I started there we were heavily married to Microsoft infrastructure and software - now almost 5 years later we're starting to move away from this, but it is still largely true. In the last few years more people are being given Macs, certain management now have MacBook Airs or iPads. Our new website is powered by Drupal. We're dropping .NET in favor of open source/Drupal/php. Things are getting better. We have about 260 employees, last I checked, and most of our workforce has Lenovo notebook computers. If you take the marketing & tech departments out of the equation, most of our employees spend 90% of their time in either Outlook, a web browser, or core Office apps such as Word, Powerpoint, or Excel. Whether in meetings or at their desk, this is how they accomplish most of their jobs. I've been an iPad owner since day one. When the iPad 2 came out and now the 3rd generation iPad, I bought them all. I think I'll skip the 4th generation iPad and pick up next years model but that's beside the point. My previous bosses and current one place a lot of trust in me and have been very flexible over the years of allowing me to select whichever tools I so choose in order to do my job. Because of this, I've had the iPad in the office from the very first model on a daily basis. It has now become a replacement for my old pad & paper that I used to carry around with me wherever I go. It goes to meetings with me, it is at my desk with me and I carry it around the office wherever I go. My iPad has full Exchange integration. I can access the company's employee directory in Active Directory through the Contacts app. I have access to my full calendar, can schedule meetings with others, and have full access to Exchange email. With my iPad in hand I have access to my entire Dropbox contents (which weighs in at 80GB currently spanning tens of thousands of files & documents since 2009), all of my Word, Excel, and Powerpoint files I need (Pages, Keynote, and Numbers work spectacularly), I can annotate things (Skitch), I can do quick image edits (Photoshop for iOS), I can reboot the dev box (Linode iOS app), our website stats are at my fingertips in any meeting (Analytics HD). I can even SSH into our servers with Prompt, make quick edits with Coda 2 or...well you get the point. I could list off another dozen apps I use once a week or so to do any number of tasks. You might think it a tad ridiculous for a Microsoft Store employee's comments to Marco to piss me off, but if Microsoft's standard as to whether you can use a tablet in an office environment is if it can run Word, Excel and Powerpoint...well, that's just bullshit. I challenge Microsoft to show how the Surface, right can do half of the things I listed above as well as my iPad can. And they aren't allowed to use the Google bullshit cop-out argument that you can do it in the web browser. I don't expect to pay $500+ for a machine to not be able to do my work on applications that are written in non-native code. That this employee or perhaps Microsoft trained him to pitch it this way, believes that the Surface is now going to somehow open up this huge door for people to be able to use tablets at work infuriates me. Talk about living inside a bubble. Is there any stronger way to hammer home the reason why Microsoft has been consistently behind all of their competitors for the last 10 years? Does Redmond Washington somehow block out technology related news from the rest of the world? Do they really believe that the corporate world has been holding off adopting tablets because of the lack of Microsoft Office on the iPad? Give me a break.

NBC News' Fear-mongering Regarding Leaked Apple Device UDIDs

I always enjoy when non-tech reporters write about tech stories and get just enough of the details wrong to make it seem to the average user that the story is true while the story actually perpetuates falsehoods. Keyy Sanders and Bob Sullivan, at NBC News:

The UDID -- which stands for Unique Device Identifier -- is present on Apple iPads, iPods and iPhones, and is similar to a serial number. During the past year, researchers have found that many app developers have used the UDID to help keep track of their users, storing the data in various databases and often associating it with other personal information. When matched with other information, the UDID can be used to track users' app usage, social media usage or location. It could also be used to "push" potentially dangerous applications onto users' Apple gadgets. The way this paragraph is written, it would lead the average reader to believe that any of the leaked 12 million UDIDs could be used to push malware onto the respective iOS devices they belong to. This is a blatant lie. In order for something like this to happen, the culprit would have to register 120,000 Apple Developer accounts, paying $99 each for them which would cost a total of $11,880,000. Then someone would have to manually enter each UDID into Apple's Developer portal. Then and only then would someone have to make some sort of iOS app (that Apple could kill easily by deactivating the offending developer account) and add that app to each of the 120,000 developer accounts they've made in order to be able to generate a link or share a file that users would have to drag into their iTunes or use a service like Testflight to receive over the air (most if not all Testflight users are developers themselves.) As you can see, this is a near-impossible scenario. Yet if you read the quoted paragraph, NBC would like the reader to believe that they are possibly in grave danger of having malware "pushed" to their devices. ::eyeroll:: The question is - did these two reporters not understand how this works or did they intentionally attempt to mislead their readers to make the story juicier?

Dropbox Doubles Space For Pro Users

Dropbox just announced on their blog that all Pro account users are getting free storage upgrades. * 50GB $10 accounts now become 100GB accounts. * 100GB $20 accounts now become 200GB accounts. * a new 500GB account option will be available (pricing not announced) The changes go live tonight. This is great.

Technology & Related Concepts That Need To Die

Joel's Technology Hit List

Monday Morning Rant, 26 March, 2012
  1. Skeumorphism in design
  2. Adobe Flash
  3. Adobe Air
  4. The concept of "write once, deploy everywhere" code (web standards being the exception, of course)
  5. QR codes
  6. Comic Sans and Marker Felt
  7. WPTouch WordPress plugin. Just don't.
  8. Websites serving up a "get our app!" splash page to iOS users prior to serving the requested page
  9. Websites refusing to serve page requests and insisting you get their app
  10. Websites who serve up a mobile version, but when you switch to the "full version" it forwards you to the homepage
  11. Websites serving up mobile versions only to iPads
  12. Using Powerpoint to make documents that should have been made in Word/Pages/Plain Text.
  13. Using Powerpoint to send images as if it were a zip file.
  14. Having www. in front of your domain name. I will add to this list over time. If you have any further suggestions, please let me know.

Why The iPad Has And Will Continue To Dominate The Tablet Market

Matthew Panzarino, writing for The Next Web:

In a Neilsen survey from earlier this year it was shown that almost no respondents stopped using their smartphones after purchasing a tablet, while 3% completely stopped using their desktop computers and 32% reported that they were using their desktops much less. Consumers treat phones and tablets as separate entities, they look at them as different tools for different purposes. He goes on to discuss many other points, in a well written piece that does a very good job of laying it all out.

Thieves Are Your Best Customers in Waiting

David Sleight, writing on his website Stuntbox:

These days the most common answer I get to, “Why’d you pirate that?” isn’t, “It was free,” but, “It was the only way I could get my hands on it.” Or, “It was a bazillion times easier.” As Jeremy noted, users are correctly identifying Byzantine content delivery mechanisms as damage and routing around them. Here’s what content conglomerates need to realize: This is a good thing. Fantastic even. The audience is telling you, in no uncertain terms, they want your stuff. And they are telling you precisely what stuff. The people you’re calling “thieves” are telling you where you need to be. They are jumping through hoops only slightly less complicated than the ones you set out for them via official channels, displaying the sort of pent-up demand that should make you drool. This is what’s commonly referred to in business circles as an opportunity. An excellent post that I recommend you read in its entirety.

Mountain Lion: Hands On With Mail

Dan Frakes, writing for Macworld on changes coming to Mail in Mountain Lion:

A VIP is any person you designate as being important enough to have their messages treated differently by Mail. You designate someone as a VIP by clicking the star icon to the left of the person's name in any incoming or sent message. You'll immediately notice that every message to or from that person now displays a star in message lists, making it easier to find those messages. In addition, when you designate a sender as a VIP, that person gets his or her own entry in a new VIPs section of Mail's Mailboxes sidebar. Click a VIP's name, and you get a list of all messages, across all mailboxes (including Sent and Trash), to or from that person. If like me, you use Mail exclusively, you'll want to read this article as it details all the gritty details of what's coming. Having been using the developer preview of Mountain Lion for 4 days already, I had not even noticed these changes yet.