The future is now
December 28th, 2012 by ravi

Here’s a puff piece on the New Scientist about how the mouse is on its way out:

If the Leap is anything to go by, the days of the mouse are numbered. The 3D-gesture-sensing device lets you control your computer with a wave of your hand – and it could be yours early next year.


Pointing and clicking has been a mainstay of our interactions with personal computers for nearly 30 years, and old habits die hard. But if the Leap is as good as the pre-release hype suggests, the mouse could soon be ousted, with little more than a wave goodbye.

This sort of thing in the media (especially science/technology journalism) is hardly worth noting, except that it serves as a clear example of the bipolar approach (wilful ignorance or hyperbole) the media defaults to when it comes to Apple. On the one hand Apple is projected as a revolutionary and inventive company despite scant evidence of any great inventiveness (in a technical sense) on the part of Apple. On the other hand, well, there is the above piece.

The days of the mouse are numbered, yes. Time to wave goodbye, true. Thing is, we do not have to wait for some futuristic technology from an unknown tech startup. Pointing and clicking, the mainstay of our interaction with computers, is being ousted today, and being done so by a technology so subtle that, apparently, science journalists have failed to notice. That technology is the touch interface made ubiquitous by the iPhone and iPad, the implementation of which has put paid to “pointing and clicking”.

The user is the consumer is the employee is the enterprise
November 10th, 2010 by ravi

Three year olds are clever people. Take the example of my son who vehemently resisted our pleadings to ingest more food: “My stomach is full. There is just no place left for any more food”. But his resistance turned to enthusiasm when, just a few moments later, some ice cream made an appearance. Upon being reminded that by his own admission his stomach was out of room, he scoffed dismissively: “That’s my stomach for food. Ice cream goes into a different tummy“.

It is less humorous and hardly clever when a corporation adopts this line of defence. Nevertheless, time and again, this is the very approach employed by corporations both vending products and selecting them. Like most subterfuges the effect is achieved through wordplay, in this instance the [mostly] false dichotomy created using the words ‘consumer’ and ‘enterprise’.
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The Blackberry Apex
August 9th, 2010 by ravi

You know that old saw: “first they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win”? It occurred to me that it applies quite well — except for the ‘then you win’ part — when it comes to technology and the attitude of business jocks. Every bit of technology created and embraced by geeks is ridiculed by men in suits as, well, geeky, upto a point where it’s value becomes apparent to them; shortly after which they turn ridiculous in their addiction to it. This second point (of addiction) in the life of that technology, almost always identifiable by the near-hysterical adoption of a totemic device, we refer to as the BlackBerry Apex.

The chart below depicts this finding for one technology: electronic mail or e-mail.

Corollary: not every BlackBerry Apex has a corresponding iPhone Recovery.

Disclaimer: I attempt to kid! Some of my best friends wear suits!

The “nobody could have predicted it” meme has to die!
November 12th, 2009 by ravi

When no WMD were found in Iraq the neocons who had been promoting the war on that premise offered as an excuse the claim that nobody knew or predicted that outcome at the time of going to war. When the economy fell apart last year because of the real estate bubble, Chicago school and classical economists employed a similar defence, that this result could not have been, and was not, anticipated. I am not trying to turn political here on this blog, but this excuse is trotted out all too often despite its being entirely unjustified and ill-reasoned.
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John Dvorak on Apple
November 2nd, 2009 by ravi

This is John Dvorak commenting on the Apple Macintosh in 1984:

The nature of the personal computer is simply not fully understood by companies like Apple (or anyone else for that matter). Apple makes the arrogant assumption of thinking that it knows what you want and need. It, unfortunately, leaves the “why” out of the equation — as in “why would I want this?” The Macintosh uses an experimental pointing device called a ‘mouse’. There is no evidence that people want to use these things. I dont want one of these new fangled devices.

[ via Daring Fireball and  Jan. 1984: How critics reviewed the Mac – Apple 2.0 – Fortune Brainstorm Tech ]

Finland: life, liberty and the pursuit of fast torrents
October 15th, 2009 by ravi

The move by Finland is aimed at bringing Web access to rural areas, where access has been limited.Finland has become the first country in the world to declare broadband Internet access a legal right.

The move by Finland is aimed at bringing Web access to rural areas, where access has been limited.

Starting in July, telecommunication companies in the northern European nation will be required to provide all 5.2 million citizens with Internet connection that runs at speeds of at least 1 megabit per second.

via Fast Internet access becomes a legal right in Finland –

What’s up with CNN’s graphic (see above) anyway? A Dell monitor, Apple keyboard and mouse, and what looks like Windows style icons/placement. Couldn’t they get a consistent stock photo that depicts fast Internet access better than this?

Cloudy with a chance of data loss
October 13th, 2009 by ravi

Microsoft and T-Mobile have lost T-Mobile user data:

The cellphone provider T-Mobile and Danger, a subsidiary of Microsoft and one of T-Mobile’s partners, said over the weekend that a technical glitch in their computer systems would probably result in some customers losing their personal information like contact names, phone numbers and digital photos.

via Glitch Could Erase Data for Some T-Mobile Users –

What is interesting is that there seem to have been no backups to recover from? Why not? Well, everyone from Adam Smith to Richard Stallman to Joe Stiglitz has pointed out, in their own way, the simple fact that the your interests and that of those you get/buy services from might not always coincide, and in a situation where there is a great imbalance of knowledge/expertise, your ignorance can be easily exploited. This is not a point that is particular to cloud computing, but cloud computing, when consumed as prescribed, does increase your dependency and lower your control over your data.

The solution may not be to turn Luddite and shun technology, but the recent Google/Gmail issues and all that has occurred since (Apple’s MobileMe problem, the drama surrounding, the above T-Mobile/Microsoft issue) should encourage us to think harder, especially about the trend of moving away from standards, published protocols and data formats, and especially the separation of data and presentation.

Often times, the move to cloud computing (e.g: web-based email) from older technologies designed with the above criteria (open standards, separation of data and UI) in mind, is a step backward. It should be unsurprising that even as Gmail was suffering from a prolonged outage for the web interface, the standards based and client-server IMAP interface was fully functional. For those who started using the Internet after 2000, cloud computing (under which label we might legitimately include web-based services, as per their own claims — to hesitantly quote Larry Ellison: “The interesting thing about cloud computing is that we’ve redefined cloud computing to include everything that we already do”) might be synonymous with the Internet itself (just as the term World-Wide-Web is often used interchangeably with the Internet). Online services are the only ones they may be aware of, and this serves vendors in that space quite well. They would prefer that you forget the hardware device you use, the peripherals that connect to it, the power of the operating system that enables all your activities, the idea and existence of rich, powerful desktop tools (software). Again that serves their interests. Does it always serve yours?

Jobs on the Kindle
September 15th, 2009 by ravi

Steve Jobs, like me, doesn’t quite get the point of the Kindle:

A couple of years ago, pre-Kindle, Mr. Jobs expressed his doubts that e-readers were ready for prime time. So today, I asked if his opinions have changed.“I’m sure there will always be dedicated devices, and they may have a few advantages in doing just one thing,” he said. “But I think the general-purpose devices will win the day. Because I think people just probably aren’t willing to pay for a dedicated device.”

[via Steve Jobs on Amazon and Ice Cream – Bits Blog –]

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