Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What IS a "PC" Anyway?

I've been thinking about PCs lately (as in "Personal Computers" not "Politically Correct"). When us old timers think of a "PC" we generally think of that first IBM PC or the Apple II - with the glowing green screen, and a hip, cool user interface called DOS.

I bet if you asked my kids what "PC" means - they would say "Politically Correct" (hopefully). To them, there is no concept of a "personal" computer because they grew up in a world where all computers are "personal." In their limited experience these computing devices are the default:

  1. A computer (or two) in your house
  2. A mobile telephone ("but my phone sucks - I need a smartphone")
  3. A tablet
  4. An e-reader
  5. A XBOX 360 (or Wii)
  6. A handheld (non-phone) gaming platform
  7. Video screen in the car
  8. Streaming custom radio station based on your music preferences (e.g. Pandora, Spotify)

We of the older generation didn't have any of these things growing up. Here's our list:

  1. A rock
  2. A cardboard box
  3. Duct Tape
  4. 5 Hot Wheels cars
  5. Hammer and nails
  6. Firecrackers (or some other equally dangerous explosives)
  7. Pong (if you were LUCKY!)
  8. 8 track tapes - and then cassettes (if you were a 1%er back then)

When "personal" computers came out - it was a revolutionary concept. "A computer in every home" was such a far-fetched idea that it simply boggled the imagination.

Once the PC came out - there was a "war." The war between operating systems that has raged for 20+ years. Microsoft became the dominant player - because they were first with some business applications that went along with the hardware that IBM was selling into businesses.

Apple was trying (sort of) to do the same thing - but they focused less on business and more on education and the hobbyist. The techie. The artistic nerds.

And so the battle "raged" on (not really - because Apple only had 3% to 5% of the worldwide market, anyway). There are passionate "Windows" guys, and passionate "Mac" aficionados - and even a small sect of Linux lovers.

Then, came the iPhone. The paradigm of what computing "should be" and "could be" changed. Forever. A phone with no buttons. A phone that was a slab of glass. A phone that could surf the web. A phone that could contain "apps" that would amuse/help/inform/guide/save-your-sorry-lost-butt... a phone that would (later) include FaceTime video conferencing (hello, Jetsons!)...

Then, came the Android phone.

Then came the iPad.

Then came the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Then came the end of the "personal computer."

What's coming next?

There's talk of a Facebook phone running a modified version of Android (yes, a Facebook Operating System... *groan* ) so you could obsessively update your status 24/7. There are already 5 variants of tablets coming in the next quarter - and desktop computer sales have fallen off considerably. Mac OS X for non-phone, non-tablet computers has been re-vamped to include features from the iOS version. Microsoft is jonesing to get their Windows 7 Phone platform going with Nokia.

There are free applications for personal music, personal text messaging, group text chat, group video chat. We can Linkedin our Tublr Facebook Twitter stream with our Flickr YouTube Picasa stream to broadcast our lives in realtime.

We have phones with 5-10 megapixel cameras. That also do VIDEO. That we can upload LIVE at the event!

We can buy books, movies, TV shows with a single click from our phone then watch them on our TV at home - or on our laptop on an airplane.

Yes, the term "PC" ("Personal Computing") is as dead as Flash. Information is becoming a a commodity - sharing our pictures, where we are, what we "like" and what we stand for in a live 24 hour per day, 7 day per week stream - now that is personal computing.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Stop The Censorship - SOPA = CRAPA!

If you haven't heard of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) - then listen up, people!
It's basically a bill (you can read it for yourself here) that allows any intellectual property holder to shut down any website's online advertising and block credit card payments - all without the need for that whole "due process of law" thingie getting in the way.

It works sort of like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's (DMCA) "takedown notices". You know - the ones where someone can claim copyright on a YouTube video and they pull it?

In this case, if this thing passes (and it looks like it very well might), the people who own the intellectual property only have to file some "specific facts" (yeah, really - that's what it says) to back up their claim that a site stole their property - and the payment and ad networks have five days to cutoff all contact with the accused site.

Well at least they can't take the site down completely... right?


BUT - they don't have to - because then the US Federal Government will have the right to file an injunction against any site with a hearing with a judge. If it gets the injunction, the US Government has the right to block all US access to said site - at the DNS level!

It also means that search engines have to be careful - because they could get into trouble because they have the duty to prevent the site in question "from being served as a direct hypertext link."

Let's not forget all the ad networks and payment processors that also have a duty to cut the site off.

Oh yeah, and there's one more thing: Internet service providers and payment processors can simply block access to sites based solely on the belief that the site(s) are "dedicated to the theft of US property". Oh, and the ISPs and payment folks can't be sued, either.


Listen, I'm no fan of priracy in any form - whether the intellectual property owner is American or not. It is a big problem. It is a legitimate problem. However, censorship legislation is NOT the answer. There are definitely "rogue" sites out there that are making money from what amounts to "stolen [IP] goods". Fine, go after them. Shut them down.

It's bad enough that ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement) can seize domains at will and have, in fact, wrongly shut down 84,000 subdomains of mooo.com just last year.

One can only imagine the chaos and confusion, incorrect claims of ownership, cost, complexity, and general cluster this bill would cause.

SOPA: The evil act of censorship is alive and well in the US!


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Ding Dong Flash Is (Finally!) Dying

Adobe made a couple of interesting announcements today:
  1. They are killing off future development of Mobile Flash in favor of HTML5

  2. Their acquisition of Nitobi (the guys that made the open source PhoneGap) closed today
Ummmmm... what?

Yeah, well, as it turns out - it seems that Adobe has finally figured out that it's bloatware, 1990's, proprietary, resource-hogging, memory-leaking, browser-crashing plug-in has finally run its course.

It's finally "seen the light" of open standards (read: HTML5) - and actually bought one of the most awesome (and open source) frameworks around: PhoneGap. Never heard of PhoneGap? Basically, it's a framework that allows developers to create native applications for all the major applications (iOS, Android, Symbian, BlackBerry, etc.):

Now, the public line from Adobe is that developers will use PhoneGap and Air to create desktop application... yeah, right! But they had to say something - or Google and RIM would be really pissed off because one of the huge selling points of Android and the RIM tablet were that they could run Flash.


Of course Adobe is saying it will still develop Flash for desktop/notebooks - for now. My guess is - that within a couple of years they'll stop doing even that. The issue at hand is that people are increasing their use of mobile devices and decreasing their use of desktop devices.

Plus, as tablets become a more and more dominant computing/entertainment platform - Adobe simply can't afford to ignore where the future is going (as Steve Jobs told them back in 2008 - and then VERY publicly in his open letter called "Thoughts On Flash" and spoke at length with Walt Mossberg at the D8 conference in 2010 about why Flash sucks and why Apple chose to not support it).

Flash itself is too widely installed to just "go away" overnight. It has an installed base of about 96% of all browsers - and there are thousands of developers who create a wide variety of content that we consume everyday. Not to mention that the Flash codec for video has been the defacto standard for many years, and it will take time before all those videos get converted to a non-Flash codec.

However - it WILL happen - and most (if not all) new content that's being generated won't be generated in Flash, it will be generated in HTML5-ish technologies. With the acquisition of PhoneGap and their work on their Edge product (the one that converts Flash to run in HTML5) - Adobe is clearly signalling that the way forward for them is (eventually) going to be Flash-free.

Looks like Steve Jobs was right... again.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

How To Write A Resume That Doesn't Suck [INFOGRAPHIC]

For those of my friends and collegues who are (still) looking for work - I came across this infographic and posted it in the hopes that every little it will help!

How To Write Resumes That Don't SUCK [INFOGRAPHIC]


Friday, November 04, 2011

All You Need Is Love - Love Is All You Need

I saw this comic this morning - and it really is sort of a snapshot of life:

Although, I must say, that I didn't really care about panel 4 (a place to live) until I got married. Before that, it was "whatever". You can stay with friends, crash on a couch, stay out all night... you know - "whatever."

Panel 5 didn't really kick in until the kids were born - and then you have to sort of combine panels 4, 5 & 6 - and add life insurance and a will.

I'm really blessed because panels 7 & 8 are one-and-the-same for me. My hobby is computers and technology - and so are my hobbies (oh, add motorcycles to my hobbies).

After I was married for a while - the obvious question of having children came to the forefront. I was the one that really "wasn't ready" for kids (honestly - NO ONE EVER IS) - so I'm the one that proposed we get a dog ("...but NOT a puppy...") so we could try out our responsibility skills on a non-human first.

Of course, when I went to the shelter to get a dog ("... but NOT a puppy...") - I picked out... wait for it... a puppy. Let's just say it's a good thing we decided on a pet first... as my doggie-daddy "skills" needed a little honing. The following year, I went to the shelter to renew our dog ("Mac" - short for "Macintosh"... yeah, really) - I saw another dog that was a black and white border collie mix and was the virtual "twin" of our little Mac.

Of course, I had to have her.

So... we actually had boy/girl (dog) twins - before we had boy/girl (human) twins. I just love God's sense of humor!

Once the kids came (and the intense lack of sleep for prolonged periods) - we began to realize that the house we bought wasn't going to work out for active kids as they grow. So, we bought another house..on a quiet street... with a good insurance policy.

That leads to panel 13 - because, really, you DO need more money. And that begets more stuff. And then you need more money. And then you get more stuff. Trying to become more happy. [REPEAT from your late 20's to your late 40's].

The more money-stuff-happiness cycles you go through the more you need panel 16 (relax).

Since it's 2011 - it's almost impossible to even DO panel 17 (should have been "fire up an old tune in your 'oldies' playlist") - but I get the idea.

As my kids are getting older and my parenting role of "over-protective-teacher-and-instiller-of-morals-virtue-and-goodness" morphs into "supreme and ultimate dictator" - panel 21 really hit me between the eyes last night as I was snuggling with my kids watching some mindless show on TV: Love is all you need.

Here's my hacked version of the same cartoon (all apologies to Mr. Snider):

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