Particle Debris (wk. ending 4/29) Chaos, Disruption & Infamy

| Particle Debris

Chaos, lostHere is the most stark, blunt and searing analysis of the abject failures of the mobile community I’ve read to date. For all those people with their head in the sand, this is the wake-up call. “Anatomy of failure: Mobile flops from RIM, Microsoft, and Nokia.

It’s gotten so bad, it’s almost funny. Even John Dvorak can’t put it bluntly enough. “What’s happened to Research in Motion?” The competition is flailing, flopping about like a downed, wounded pheasant.

How do you bring out a pad computer [interesting terminology - JM] to compete in the market when you are known as the king of the hill in email, and then leave email out of the equation? It’s flabbergasting.”

Of course, I point to J.D. only to show how laughably, tearfully serious the situation is.

Meanwhile some very astute members of the technical community may have found a weakness in Apple’s tablet product line. Check out Harry McCracken’s “Hands on With the Nook Color’s New Software: It’s the Netbook of Tablets!” and Ryan Kim’s “How Cheap Tablets Could Be the iPod Touch for Android.” You can bet that if a company like Barnes & Noble or Amazon starts to gain some serious traction with a $249, 7-inch, color, book-reader + tablet with some serious Android apps, Apple will have to counter with its own 7-incher — despite the pooh-poohing by Steve Jobs himself. There’s some talk of Amazon going even cheaper, and using ad support to subsidize the price. In any case, these two companies appear to be out thinking RIM and Moto.

Did Knight-Ridder invent the tablet as we know it in their 1994 research for the future of newspapers? At first, I thought this was a fabrication, but I have seen nothing to suggest it isn’t real. If so, Knight-Ridder, in my mind, will go down in infamy for having been shown the future of newspapers by its research staff — and done absolutely nothing.

Do you like casual clothes, tunafish sandwiches, white wine, Hollywood movies, USA Today and Pepsi? Take your time. Really? Then you are, at heart, a PC person. If you want to know what the Mac person prefers, read: “Mac vs. PC: The stereotypes may be true.

Lots af bloggers and wannabe writers will tell you how to be popular on Twitter or supply Do’s and Don’ts. But the very best advice I’ve seen is very down to earth — and from a Macintosh expert, Chris Breen with Macworld. Here’s the real list of Do’s and Don’ts and don’t let anyone tell you different. “Weeding unworthy Twitter followers: Five do’s and don’ts.

Why are so many large companies being hacked? Of course, the standard (lame) answer is weaknesses in server software and an onslaught by the Chinese. But I have another theory, based on my own (and my wife’s) experiences. Namely, young, non-technical managers are having a really tough time distinguishing really good sys admins from beginners and wannabes. They don’t have the technical skills to know a UNIX guru from a UNIX novice, they don’t know the right questions to ask, and so they (and HR) end up hiring low budget people to save a few bucks. Those people carry on until something really bad happens, and then the whole company pays a heavy price, far larger than the money they saved. So here it is, folks: if you want to be a serious, professional organization with IT gurus, (like Apple) let your Ph.D., UNIX wizard Chief Scientist do the hiring, not the HR department. Don’t believe me? Here’s a real-world example from an expert, Arik Hesseldahl: “Amazon’s Cloud Crash Is Over, But the Talking About It Isn’t.

Those of us who are somewhat older (ahem), tend to be collectors. We grew up in an era when, if you didn’t own it or didn’t have physical possession, it wasn’t available. So we collected music, stamps, books, coins, and travel souvenirs. There’s still room for some of that, but there’s a good case to be made for the fact that we don’t need to own so much junk anymore. After all, when I read USA TODAY on my iPad, I’m not collecting newsprint. Rather I’m accessing the cloud. Carried to a reasonable extreme, there’s little need to own content anymore. Check out this very well written, compelling article by Lance Ulanoff: “The End of Content Ownership.” That said, my wife and I watched a Blu-ray movie last weekend, and my reaction, after seeing so much compressed stuff on Netflix and DIRECTV DVR was “Now THAT’S 1080p!” So we’re on the journey — just not there yet.

Amidst the kerfuffle recently regarding “Locationgate” there was very little technical insight. The issues were mostly political and philosophical. ANd that’s very much okay. However, I was interested to read a tutorial on Assisted GPS and how it works. After all, understanding how the technology works is key to understanding Apple’s initiatives — even if they were slightly mis-guided and lacking in adult supervision. Check Glenn Fleishman’s “How the iPhone knows where you are.

Okay, this one is slightly offbeat and maybe a little shaky, but the author brings up some good points. Apple needs a large sea of discontents if it’s to slurp up growing sales. And so, the larger the sea of discontents, the larger Apple’s sales — and profits — become. Author French writes: “Is it possible that dissatisfied Android users form the basis for a sales-rich stream of new Apple customers? If true, and this flow of unhappy customers doubles in size, is it likely that Apple’s ability to dominate the market from a profit perspective, also grows rapidly?” Check out: “Hypothesis: Apple Wants Android to Win.” Food for thought in a time when even the lamest observations pass for deep analysis.

Technical Word of the Week (TWoW)

Some readers have mistakenly believed that TWoW must be a relatively new word, coined within months of this writing. Not so. I cite words that are both high-tech & recent but also older and interesting. This week’s list has both.

1. Adoxography (n.) Fine writing on a trivial or base subject. (Like what I do.) Coined in the 19th century.

2. Instafodder (n.) An article that one immediately knows, with a quick glance, that needs to be saved for later reading. (With Instapaper.) Thanks to Dan Frakes, April 22, 2011. (via Twitter).

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Lee Dronick

read: ?Mac vs. PC: The stereotypes may be true.?

Well I like white wine and tunafish sandwiches, but not paired, and I am 60 years old. However, I am young at heart and most of the Mac stereotypes fit me.


Too funny, Sir Harry. smile I’m a whippersnap by comparison and virtually none of them fit me. I love the diverse group at this site. smile


Head in Hole. Road Signs to Confusion. Tried a Head in Hole as a DT Picture. Wife made me take it off so back to Mediating on Rock in Middle of Pond. Just looking at the Road Sign is chilling. I’m taking to covering the screen with my hand when I search for your articles, John. (It’s been a long winter and spring is wet and white this year.)

Lee Dronick

Head in Hole. Road Signs to Confusion. Tried a Head in Hole as a DT Picture. Wife made me take it off so back to Mediating on Rock in Middle of Pond. Just looking at the Road Sign is chilling. I?m taking to covering the screen with my hand when I search for your articles, John.

You didn’t like the photo I sent you? It might be too busy and the colors too deep for a desktop picture.

It?s been a long winter and spring is wet and white this year.

And I have miles to go before I Tweet.

John Martellaro

mhikl: Here’s where I get my own desktop/wallpaper photos.

Note: if you click on each photo, you’ll get a full resolution image, sometimes 3,000 pix wide.


Knight-Ridder, in my mind, will go down in infamy for having been shown the future of newspapers by its research staff ? and done absolutely nothing.

OK then, let me ask you this, John. The video has all the signs of having been made 10-15 years ago (cars, PCs, hair, clothes).  If you were a newspaper publisher at that time, and one of your staff made the assertion that this technology will happen, what would you have done?


Sir Henry, yes, your picture didn’t work as a DT - yes too busy, but alone, I find it stunning. How it came about is a great story.

John, namaste. The floating Astronaut is dizzying. There is joy in such resolution. Spiderwebs in Pakistani trees after 2010 floods, spectacular.

John Martellaro

iJack: Who me?  The physicist?  The guy who grew up on Heinlein, Clarke, Bradbury, Asimov, Zelazny, Sturgeon? The guy who has an Apple original issued, labelled VHS tape of Knowledge Navigator?  Hell, I would have jumped all over it in spades and beat Apple to it.


Sir Henry. Just got the tweet thing. Some might find your trigger a mite happy.

Lee Dronick

Sir Henry. Just got the tweet thing

It sounded a lot like Robert Frost’s poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snow Evening

...The woods are lovely, dark and deep.???
But I have promises to keep,???
And miles to go before I sleep,???
And miles to go before I sleep.

Some might find your trigger a mite happy.

Alas it is all too easy to trigger Mr. Happy


The guy who grew up on Heinlein, Clarke, Bradbury, Asimov, Zelazny…

John, nice to find another fan of these guys, especially Zelazny. I’ve been missing him for 15+ years now.



Agree 100% on Gruman’s ‘Failure’ piece. This made its rounds on the Twittersphere this past week (include from you, as I recall). The only place where I might differ with Gruman is on the question of whether or not the failure of of innovation from MS, Nokia and RIM has been due to their not being ‘desperate’ enough, as was Apple in 1997 (although I do agree that Apple had the freedom to ‘think different’). While this contributes, I am not certain that it has not been primarily due to the complacency of arrogance from a strong market position. I think this creates a powerful institutional inertia that is simply difficult to budge. The one implies that the company is alert to the need for change, but is insufficiently motivated, the other that the company is so secure in its orbit that it may not even be aware of the cosmos changing around it and the need to adapt - which is what I am more inclined to believe.

The CNN coverage of the Hunch survey is interesting, although, as in most surveys, I find myself not strongly described in either camp. By definition, Mac users, like any volition (choice) based minority, is going to be more adventurous than those who follow the status quo, and likely more affluent and better educated on average, and while I do like and eat more hummus than tuna sandwiches, some of that is confounded by my location at different times of the year. What I find more interesting than the some of the study findings is the 25% figure of self-described Mac users, again another data point pegging Mac use in the double-digits, rather than the oft-cited 8.5% in other sources.

Regarding Lance Ulanoff’s article, I have believed for some time that we are moving towards a new ‘content’ paradigm, where, by virtue of being able to access so much from the internet, or now ‘the cloud’, we will have less time for revisiting ‘favourites’ (not that we will not revisit, simply less often); but more importantly, the unmitigated access to so much content will make ownership of a diminishing fraction seem rather pointless. This is likely to make us more selective in purchasing, selecting for only those things that we truly value out of the vast ocean of interesting but not must-have content available. I have seen this in my family’s purchase of movies. This has a great number of implications for today’s business models, many of which spell smaller margins for content sellers, but given the cloud’s effect on overhead, these may not adversely affect gross profit for well-run, valued businesses.

‘Locationgate’? Nixon must be spinning in his grave at the trivialisation of his immortal Waterloo. Still good, thoughtful and adult pieces from Roger Kay and Glenn Fleishman.

French’s analysis is spot on. Android success is good for Apple and its iOS. Very good, indeed. Here’s to another year of compelling Android growth.


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