Tag Archives: Microsoft

That VR is so hot right now.

VR3


VR is HOT right now. Do you know why? You probably see those goofy goggles and imagine some gamer shooting aliens. That is WAY off. The whole VR world has changed. TechWite helps you understand how.


  • “Old VR” – Think of Google Maps “Street View”—flat, boring…
    • 2D – although you can “move”, the images have no depth.
    • Viewed through a porthole – big screen, little screen, it’s still like a submarine.
    • Controlled manually – by a keyboard, joystick, or game controller. It kind of works, but it’s not like being there.
    • Still images create the 360 degree “dead” world
    • No interaction with anything “in” the images
  • “New VR” – Think of Star Trek TNG’s “Holodeck”—mind blowing, you are there!
    • 3D – What you see has depth, you can see “around” objects
    • It Devours your vision – that’s what those goofy headsets are for- everything you see is part of the VR world. Add stereo sound, and that’s why it’s called “immersive”. You are in it!
    • Controlled by your movement – Turn your head to the right, you see what is on your right in the VR world. Look up, look down, ditto. This alone is a bit of a shock the first time you experience it!
    • Content can be 3D 360 degree video – Want to go for a helicopter ride over Manhattan? Be sure to hold on to something before you look down!

That’s just the beginning. Size, gravity, time – they can’t stop you. Examples:

  • RTVR – Like drones? Be one. Experience flying, in Real Time Virtual Reality
  • Remember Fantastic Voyage? You are now a tiny submarine inside a living human body. Explore the arteries and veins and organs. You see this, and experience it.

There’s so much to learn about this, to think about. Fortunately, the Tech media is all over it. (Links for you, below.) Start reading about it. But no words can do this justice, you must experience it. Get some Google Goggles, get the New York Times app for your iPhone or Android, and download one of the demos. Then take some time to imagine the possibility of experiencing the impossible.

—TW

via TidBits On the iPhone, Virtual Reality Is Unofficially Real

via AirWatch Blog  5 Epic Examples of Business Using Virtual Reality

via Google Filed Patent For Injecting A Device Directly Into Your Eyeball To Improve Vision – Forbes —Yes, another suggestion that we are not that far from “The Matrix”.

via Augmented and Virtual Reality: A New Vision – Deloitte CIO – WSJ

via Virtual Reality Therapy: Treating The Global Mental Health Crisis | TechCrunch.

via Samsung Announces Gear 360, a New Virtual Reality Camera – The New York Times.

 

Forecast CLOUDY For IT Jobs and Vendors

AWS_sysadminWake up and smell the drought. IT infrastructure jobs fast evaporating…

via The Morning Download: Cloud’s Impact on Traditional IT Vendors Looks Increasingly Serious, JPMorgan Chase Says – The CIO Report – WSJ

“41.6% of corporate workloads at big companies are expected to be running in the public cloud within the next five years, up from 16.2% today.”

Hey, this is no happy blog post. Techwite wants to help, Techwite wants to be positive. And Techwite also wants to speak the truth. Sometimes that means taking a look at what is happening and discussing it. If that’s not for you, skip this. I’ll have a Tip soon about iCloud Calendars. Otherwise, if you have more information or comments about this post, join in.—TW 

Make no mistake, moving to “the cloud” is part of a trend to shift as much of corporate IT as possible into a commodity subscription service, like electricity.  Billed monthly by volume used, managed offsite, no local server upgrades or software updates, maintained by somebody else. The WSJ article referenced here concerns itself chiefly with the effect on the investment world of mega-cloud vendors Microsoft and Amazon on their smaller rivals Oracle and IBM. But from a human standpoint, your local IT, your local data center, your local administrator, your local Help Desk, THEY (and if you are one of these people, I am talking about you)—ARE ALL GOING AWAY.

“Hybrid Cloud” and “Middleman” Hosting is a stepping stone. You’re company isn’t putting everything in the Cloud? Not yet? Accenture, IBM, Dell—somebody like that—can take care of your local IT administration requirements! They’ll manage your relationship with Microsoft, and for now you can tell everyone you are “going to Office 365” although technically, you’re not. (That would be using Microsoft totally as your host for Office…)

Your IT Infrastructure Director may optimistically tell you, “Don’t worry, we’ll need someone to engage in ‘vendor management‘, someone who understands Infrastructure…, and heck, if you get on well with them, maybe you can work for the hosting vendor!”

If you know your stuff, you can probably point out that your “hosting vendor” is missing the boat with Microsoft Exchange backups, mobile security, a proprietary and non-standard archive solution that “locks you in”, and inefficient mail routing. But how long will that save your job if you are seen as a bump in the road to “the full Cloud”? And will that endear you to your potential new employer? Remember, the CIO wants his IT Infrastructure to be as easy to manage and replace as an iPad.

Meanwhile, the data center/hosting company is getting squeezed on both ends and trying to survive a similar change. How long can they compete with their big brother—and former mentor? Does anyone need a middle man?? Your Account Manager’s boss is telling him, “Don’t worry, we’ll probably get absorbed by Microsoft. And either way, you can probably work for them!”

We are seeing a massive consolidation and centralization of data and processing, and elimination of jobs. In addition to the stripping of jobs as the infrastructure ascends to the cloud, much of the work that was outsourced to cheaper labor sources will soon be automated—think robots and “chatbots“. There are going to be fewer and fewer jobs in IT Infrastructure. (Coincidentally,  last week the Verizon strike provided an example of this shift:  The Verizon Strike Signals a Larger Economic Battle.)

What about the people? The overall trend is clear for companies, especially large companies, and service organizations. But what about at the individual level? The level of the gal or guy in IT today? IT is the “service economy” equivalent of the Detroit factory job in the manufacturing economy of 20 years ago. This is just the beginning. Clearly there will be some jobs in hands-on management of Cloud services, such as AWS, and there is still time and opportunity for corporations and small businesses to hang onto that shred of control. As for other opportunities in IT? Infrastructure is going to shrink drastically or disappear altogether. That leaves software development. Web development, mobile apps, databases. The skills will be needed and they are constantly churning, so those who can stay on top of the latest development trends will likely stay employed.

Many of these trends are going to affect the rest of the economy as well. The Uberization of driving jobs will soon shift to autonomous cars and robot assisted shipping. Even the old saw about finding a job “flipping burgers” will not hold true for much longer. Where will people find work? That I would like to know.

“…we have to make sure that we have the kinds of policies here at home where we provide people with the skills they need to get the jobs that are available in the economy…”
US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, interview with Kai Ryssdal, Marketplace

Yes, Jack, we need to be sure that people are trained up for those jobs. But what are those jobs? And where are they? Where are they?

— Techwite

Happy Birthday Windows 95

I Love Working on a Macintosh.

Does that sound weird? After all these years? To me it doesn’t. But to people who have never worked on Macs—or for some reason that I cannot fathom—have worked on Macs but just not liked it, let’s face it, it sounds weird. Because even in this enlightened new millennium, most computer users use Windows, and sure, they eventually get work done, but honestly, how many Windows users love working on Windows?? Seriously? Even the geekiest of Windows Weenies, the hottest Windows programmers, the most talented of Windows technicians, how many “love” working with Windows? I’d wager, very few. Very, very few. And Mac users? When they switch, when they get their first Mac, what do they say? You’ve probably heard it too: “I love my Mac!”

This is not just hearsay or advertising. I’ve been in this business so long. For years people would tell me their sob stories about their Windows computers, their malware, viruses, their crashes, and slow downs, and on and on. As a consultant I refused work on Windows. There was plenty of work; Windows is a job-creation-machine. But to me, it was always the same nightmare, helping with the same stupid problems. It was no challenge; it was an affront to my creativity. It was “stone knives and bear skins”. Friends, relatives, and potential clients whose business I refused all got the same answer: “Why don’t you get a Mac?”

The price difference was often the reason, and that has diminished over the years, but even deeper, the answer, in the old pri-mac-evil days was pretty basic: “If I get a Mac, who will help me when I have a problem?”

And this was true. With Windows, you could have your brother, father, sister, friend, colleague at work, TOTAL STRANGER, or homeless person on the corner help. The power of ubiquitous monopoly meant that nearly everyone knew someone who could help them reboot their their Pee Cee, format the hard drive, and re-install Windows. (Which was the standard process to fix 95% of the issues with Windows – which, by the way, is why it was called “Windows 95”).

Telling people, “If you get a Mac you won’t have all those problems,” was not enough. Apple support in those days was notoriously hit-or-miss. Apple had a 90 day warranty! (I kid you not! Ninety days!!) There was no Apple Store. There were no “Geniuses”. And Apple had yet to launch a convincing and brilliant Mac vs. PC advertising campaign.

So Microsoft helped. By releasing Windows 95. Ten years after the original Mac, Microsoft embraced the interface so completely, copied the Mac OS so totally, that in the end they won over more users to Apple. “Windows 95” legitamized the Macintosh just as Apple was suffering the “Time of Darkness.”

And here again we have to acknowledge a strategic vision that moved Apple. Maybe it was Steve Jobs—he always gets the credit, for all I know it was Phil Schiller—or someone else at Apple, but they built a comprehensive strategy to address all those objections, one at a time, piece by piece.

Over time, it started happening, they all started to get Macs. For awhile I helped some of my clients move their stuff, but Apple had the tools, and the Apple Store, and the Geniuses available, and soon there wasn’t much work there, and that was okay. It was satisfying to have all these people tell me, “I finally got a Mac! You were so right! It works great!” These days, Macs have become so mainstream, so accepted, so successful, that I don’t even hear that anymore.

Being a Mac user isn’t special or unique. It’s just a good choice. You’d hardly congratulate someone for buying a Mac any more than you would congratulate someone for buying a decent car. And…most people nowadays even understand and accept the emotional attachment that people have for their Macs.

And on this important anniversary, I just want to say, thanks Microsoft. Happy Birthday Windows 95. I love working on a Mac!

Microsoft Flashback 2001: “What’s in a Name?”

“Internet Explorer 3”

Microsoft used to play version number leap-frog with other software vendors. Why? Because everybody knows: the HIGHER VERSION NUMBER is BETTER SOFTWARE.

Nevermind that “Microsoft Word” went from Version 2 to version 6, it was BETTER than “WordPerfect 5”!

Which is why without ever releasing a Mac web browser before, Microsoft introduced “Internet Explorer” as VERSION 3. Because it was BETTER than Netscape’s current version at the time, you guessed it, “Navigator 2”.

As for their OS’s, Microsoft laughed at IBM’s “OS/2”, which was released after “Windows 3.1”, and then they jumped all the way to “Windows 95”. THEN their marketing department had a few too many martinis at lunch and got SO FULL OF THEMSELVES that they decided they were THOUSANDS of times better than anyone else. The result? “Windows 2000”.

From Unpredictable #12, March 20, 2001

Windows 10? Whither Nine?

What’s in a name?  Windows 10

Ironically and coincidentally—TechWite wrote only yesterday about “What’s in a name?” in relation to our favorite OS,  “TEN”, currently known as “Mavericks” and soon to be called, “Yosemite”.

Hey, Microsoft just announced they’re opening a “Microsoft Store” in Manhattan, about two blocks from—you guessed it—the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. So now, instead of walking by the empty Microsoft Store with the bored Windows Geniuses at the Bridgewater Commons Mall, you can walk past the empty Microsoft Store with the bored Windows Geniuses on Fifth Avenue. This is just part of Microsoft’s long history of imitation. And they’ve done pretty well with it.

Today the TechWite Twitter feed is inundated, maybe obliterated, with short blather about Microsoft’s BIG preview and announcement of the next version of Windows, known as “10”. Does this sound weirdly familiar?

Microsoft decided to restore the “Start” menu, and “Search”, from the Start menu. They’ve decided that desktop users might prefer an interface that lets them use their keyboard and mice, as they have for the last twenty-five or thirty years, and still get to see those “Live Tiles” so loved by the Twix-snapping Microsoft  Surface (tablet) crowd. And, they’ve even added some nifty features like using multiple Desktops. (I know, Mac people, we’ve had that for years. Just cool it, and let me finish.)

Most of the snarky tweets clogging Twitter are about the version number. You know the current version of Windows is 8, and you know that your Windows computer is at 7, because, seriously, has anyone other than real Windows geeks and BDC Microserfs upgraded to Windows 8?? (The answer I’m looking for here, is “No.”)

Which brings us back to, “Where”, you might ask, “Did ‘NINE’ go?” Hence the blizzard of tweets from the confused twittersphere.

Guys, let’s do a quick review. Everybody knows that a “higher” version number is better than a “lower” version number. Right? So clearly, Microsoft is saying that Windows Ten is going to be WAY better than Windows 8. WAY. What’s the problem people? So they skipped Nine? This is not a big deal!!

Next time: Why you should expect the next iOS release to be number…

Why your colleagues…

Ever wonder why some IT colleagues still look askance at you using a Macintosh in the Windows dominated office, but don’t seem to have much trouble with you pulling out an iPad? Why is that? Because the Macintosh is a full-bodied complete operating system and environment that competes directly with (or to be honest, devastates) the brain-dead Windows that BDC IT has invested in for the last 30 years.

And the iPad? I think there are two reasons. First, they don’t yet see the iPad as a real, complete tool to get things done. (They’ll change that opinion over time…) But mainly, because for the iPad, there is no competition. Heck, most of the IT guys have their own iPads, and LOVE them.

Ask Anyone Who Has to Use Sharepoint what they think of it.

Go ahead. I dare you.
Ask anyone who has to use Sharepoint in their office what they think of it. If you are one of the people who has to use it, I’m sorry. Because unless your IT department has tons of money and a creative, open-minded leaning, then you are using “out-of-the-box” Sharepoint. And for you, I am sorry. It is confusing, ugly, and browser dependent. It is all that is wrong with the PC today and Microsoft for the last ten years. And that’s why a Microsoft Partner company can actually send an email like the one below. A product which can sell itself by making Sharepoint “not look like Sharepoint”. That says a lot doesn’t it? Am I taking crazy pills? If you are paying to make Sharepoint not be Sharepoint, why are you using Sharepoint??
 
Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.32.05 PM

What is the Cloud anyway?

Lost in the Cloud #2

It was, hm, some years ago, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in between listening to Friday night jazz sets, and I was trying to explain to some friends what “the cloud” was. IBM had already starting to promote the concept of “the cloud”, and Microsoft was not that far behind. In IT, it was beginning to be a buzz word, just like all the other marketing labels foisted on us in the last twenty or thirty years. Clearly not that many people understood it yet. Except for the rare far-seeing visionaries, few people saw the power, the potential, the inevitability that was to become “the Cloud”. And though the term is now in common parlance, there are probably plenty of people who still want to ask, “What the hell are you talking about? What cloud?”

But don’t worry. I’m here to explain.

Other than its own defining article, “The”, the Cloud, is not much different than its real-world counterparts. Clouds are out there. Far away, up in the sky. They move, they disappear, they change, evaporate, and re-form. They do whatever they do, and unless they are up to no good, most people don’t even think about them. And that’s pretty much the story of “The Cloud”. It’s your data, accessible to you out there, and you don’t have to think much about it. And this isn’t even new.

Pretty much anybody on a computer, anybody using the Internet, was already using “the Cloud”—they just didn’t know it yet. How did this happen?

  • Email is the obvious one – All of you with your AOL, MSN, Yahoo, & Google mail “on the web” stored on some big company’s servers.
  • Facebook (and MySpace before it) – With all that personal information, photos, timeline, likes, accessible to just about anyone.
  • Flickr – And all the other photo-saving and sharing sites with thousands and thousands of your photos.
  • YouTube – Zillions of home videos, old home movies, and pirated clips of TV shows, and movies, and everything else.
  • iTunes – Jeez, let’s not forget the bizillions of songs, and albums, and playlists and reviews that Apple had up there-at first, just to buy and download and store on your own device, but that changed rapidly.

You get the idea. Everybody started pushing stuff up onto the Internet primarily to share it, but also to store it. As usual, Steve Jobs had some idea of where this was all headed. He understood this was going to be about storage. Storage players were beginning to appear – think DropBox and Evernote, with apps and access from many devices and platforms, and of course from the web browser. You could store your stuff, all kinds of your stuff, on the Internet (maybe even referred to by that time as “the Cloud”). It was safe there, presumably. (This was before we found out about our friends at the NSA). You didn’t have to worry about backing it up, or losing it if your computer was lost or stolen.

Apple tried pretty early on to capture and cash in on the consumer storage idea. But Apple stumbled a lot on this one. It was “Mac.com”, and then “Mobile.Me”, then “Me.com” – heck! I can’t even remember all the various names as Apple tried to re-brand and renovate this idea and eventually settle on (duh!) “iCloud”. At one point you could have your own web site, and photo galleries, and Internet storage that worked just like a disk drive, sort of… but it was all a moving target. Apple managed only recently to integrate iCloud into the MacOS, and iOS, and the Apple apps, and your data, along with iTunes and all the media available there. Microsoft, Google, even Amazon, are all competing with Apple in this same space. Who gets to sell you stuff? Who gets to keep it for you? In “the Cloud”. This “ecosystem” wasn’t just devices, it was storage, of your stuff, by someone else, away from your home—and eventually, storage of your work stuff away from your office.

Because the move of data —by businesses—into the Cloud, is another part of the story, to be addressed by TechWite, another time! TFSB!

The Incipient Cloud

wpid159-media_1399166873205.png

For decades IT people have made diagrams of their networks and data centers with lightning bolts that point from someplace local to a fluffy blob. Riding from the local computers and corporate data center and LAN, all the data and email and files and voice telecommunications, everything, rides that lightning bolt and disappears into this blob, which was sometimes called a “network cloud”. That cloud was a little symbol to represent the enormous external private and public networks that we now generally refer to as “the Internet”.

Unpredictable Issue#83

Unpredictable Issue#83.  That’s right, I’m re-discovering old content. From the end of 2000 to 2007, I wrote 83 issues of my newsletter “for Macintosh” and eventually also “iPod” users. Those were the days my friend. The final days of Microsoft’s Monopoly Game, the Return of the Steve, Windows Ex Pee, and the introduction of Oh Ess Ten. The Eunuchs took over Apple and forgot a Whole Lot about what makes a good user interface. Features that were GFD (Good for Demos) and interface options that were TOTE (Too Obvious to Explain). It was the era of the Geek Speak Review, when for a short time, I offered to work at Apple as the EVIP of DRAT.  Times haven’t changed much, we’ve got the FCC giving away the Internet, and Comcast buying it, the iOS team re-learning what works and what doesn’t, and everybody lost in the cloud. LIfe is good, and Tech is worth Witing about!

Lost in the Cloud

How did we get here?

Many years ago, before there was yet a new millenium—much less a generation to be named after it—Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates had clearly dominated the desktop computer marketplace with their super-successful Windows operating system and Microsoft Office combination. They had done very well, but not everyone was using Windows. That pesky Steve Jobs was still chipping away with his “non-business” Apple products. Especially in the Education market – that is: schools. Bill kind of enjoyed watching Jobs to see what he’d come up with next, but not Ballmer. He wanted to crush Apple. Period.

Turning their attention to the education market, Bill and Steve opted for the best and fastest way to compete. Philanthropy. They gave away Windows and Office to schools. This polished Microsoft’s image in the press. And at low cost. Microsoft’s many corporate clients had already financed Windows and Office, and with little competition, were locked into complex licensing agreements for years to come. This was great; Bill and Steve could write off the education donations at their full retail value—hundreds of dollars per unit. But, this wasn’t good enough for Ballmer. The problem was, it still cost Microsoft to ship boxes with disks, and manuals, and marketing materials to schools. “There’s got to be a better way!” He told Bill.

Bill thought about this. And then, he brought up a new idea with Ballmer: “What if we just gave them the ‘software license’? They can download and distribute it themselves. No disks, no manuals. We just send them a fancy postcard with a number on it. They’re responsible for the electrons. We just host the stuff on our servers. What do you think?”

“Brilliant!!” Ballmer beamed. “Full retail price tax write off for the cost of a post card!!”

And so began Microsoft’s ventures into electronic software distribution, to be rapidly followed by the “subscription model”.

To be continued…