More FUD from internet “reporters”.

Example #1: Is Honeycomb Android’s Vista?

Wow, ZDnet, how much did you get paid to run that article? Especially since the supported devices can be counted on 1 hand and the major player is the Xoom that really has had it’s own problems taking on the iPad. Any commentary on the matter is premature at best, so extrapolating from those comments is just bad reporting.

Do we need more examples? They come daily. One thing I can suggest is a good read between the lines in that article. If you do better than skim you’ll catch that ZDnet is actually making the same point. You won’t get it from the headline, nor just reading a few sentences, but the overall message is everyone hated Vista and loves Windows 7. Though they are nearly the same! Unfortunately it’s the headlines that a big portion of society base their opinions on. Shame on you ZD, you know that. Based on a sample of the comments it’s pretty obvious most of them didn’t really read it either.

FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) … PROPAGANDA. Don’t be lemmings, if you see a provocative headline dig deep or ignore it altogether but don’t rush to Tweet or update Facebook. That only adds to the problem.

“Some men relate what they think, as what they know; some men of confused memories, and habitual inaccuracy, ascribe to one man what belongs to another; and some talk on without thought or care. A few men are sufficient to broach falsehoods, which are afterwards innocently diffused by successive relaters.

It is more from carelessness about the truth, than from intention of lying that there is so much falsehood in the world.” – Samuel Johnson

Sony failed, Apple failed, why?

The world of software development is not too unique. Just like building a house, the skills of the developers involved will affect the end result in ways that may take quite some time to determine. Did that door jam go crooked? How about those windows, open it 5 times and does it break? We have worked with big teams and small teams, complex processes and streamlined, and the quality of the end result has almost nothing to do with the process and everything to do with the developers.

I personally remember years ago being on a team where one guy got real territorial about his part of the application. While I’ll readily admit the whole project was a mess, I took a lot of pride in my little piece, and perhaps I was real territorial also. The day finally came when I needed to ask him for a minor modification to his “piece”. I needed read access to one of his private variables. He said: “NO”. The cost for my part would be paid with every implementation of a specific object type, the cost for his, well none really, but he claimed to management that providing a getter method for that variable would invalidate too many tests and could introduce serious bugs. If you understand what I was asking for you’d know he was just flat out lying, but management simply didn’t know.

Therein lies the enabler, management.  While we have met a few good ones, they are more often like a bandwagon fan, except they often have much too much say. Or worse, they are simply complacent. We are constantly surprised at how many organizations continue to pay staff to sit on their hands. I have personally been told more than once that a person has no greater ambition than to keep getting a paycheck until their retirement in the next few years. No wonder they fall for these dirty consultant tricks.

So what happened when Apple launched it’s iPhone early order system? Or more recently to Sony’s gaming network? Underneath the media talking points there is certainly lazy “clock milkers”, and perhaps a sharp young developer labeled “chicken little” who either moved on to find people more serious about their work, or has been hammered into submission. That is why we chose the name VeraciTek, we do not plan to ever be “hammered out” and become complacent  and lazy. We’ve gone to bat for our clients and in some cases the problems were their own staff. That was certainly the problem in these cases. Bad staff = bad results. End of story.

Some indicators of bad staff:

  1. More preoccupied with smoke break than bullet proofing their latest methods.
  2. Long lunches on crunch days.
  3. Lying.
  4. Lying.
  5. Lying.
  6. Never stays late.
  7. Never comes to the office with ideas from the night or morning before.
  8. Lying.
  9. Doesn’t get excited about the project, this is based a bit on personality too.
  10. Lying.
  11. Lazy.
  12. Lying.

Veracity means “dedication to fact or truth”, hence lying being a pretty big violation in our book. It’s intolerable, and often the first offense can cost our guy his job. Even if we really like him. I’ll never forget having a conversation with an employee smoking a cigarette on the terrace about a small package I wanted built. It wasn’t the cigarette that cost him the job, it was the bologna excuse he gave for not doing it. VeraciTek will not be defined by the output of B$ers, cause we all know what they output.

Court Cases and IT

Bedrock Computer Technologies, LLC v. Softlayer Technologies, Inc. et al
(Source Article)

Please someone intervene here! Old lawyers in long robes, requiring corporations that use Open Source software to prove themselves innocent of infringing on patents that should have never been allowed to be issued. As we’ve mentioned before, software programs are built on top of prior inventions that are built on prior inventions. Carving out one’s piece of the pie by convincing a government official to issue a patent is corrupt and dangerous to everyone.  This is despicable! What’s worse, is that the big corporations are playing the same games. The fact remains, there is no ethical way a person can “invent” a tiny thing that uses hundreds of other “inventions” and then charge people to use it without paying every other inventor in the line. In short, patents + IT = train wreck.

I sure hope Google doesn’t end up paying these patent poachers. At the same time, maybe Google will stop playing their claim games also. It still bugs me that they scrape every website on the internet and earn their money off of our content. Even redisplaying it in their own format. Then they establish rules about our sites that they don’t even apply to their own! Virtual morals suck.

Microsoft Market Share 87.5%, that’s HUGE!

In an article entitled “Apple crushes forecasts again…” the Reuters “reporters” rely almost entirely on the words of one Tim Cook, who just happens to be Chief Operating Officer of… you guessed it, Apple.

On the same day, Intel’s PR department was explaining that there had been some strong purchasing in the past quarters and current numbers represent modest results, despite headlines like “Intel’s sales shine, defy PC growth fears” or “Intel’s earnings leap on business demand for PCs“.

So now look at the MacObserver version of this: “Apple Crushes PC Market with 28% Growth in Mac Sales. Wow, impressive. Also, again, lots of quotes from Tim Cook. In fact a lot of similarities with the Reuters article, only everything bigger, and now for the fun quotes:

IDC pegged Apple’s March quarter market share at 8.5%, up from 7% in the year-ago quarter” – Though half a year ago we were reading this: “Apple’s now third largest PC vendor in US with 10.6 percent market share. That was from Engadget, but don’t be fooled, that could be a different type of market share. Now look at this article from just about a week ago: Gartner rivals IDC to report Apple fifth largest, with 9.3% share of US PC market.  Ah, ok, now Gartner thinks the market share is higher, but look closely at the chart! Yes, that is a vendor list, it isn’t Apple vs. Microsoft, it’s Apple vs. Toshiba. That’s the same stat as the other two articles! Not only that but the stat that is consistently chosen by Mac fan sites are the vendor lists, not the OS comparisons, why? SPIN! Apple is still tiny in the PC Market and the most recent OS specific market share numbers (averaging 7 different reports March 2011) Microsoft 87.5%, Mac 7.12%. On phones, Android has more than TWICE (4qtr 2010 Gartner) the market share, despite the headlines.  Now just for laughs, how do you like this one from Apple fanboys pretending to be reporters in January 2009 (yes, 2009, that’s no typo) “Apple market share tops 10%, Windows share lowest since tracking began. So in January 2009 it was 10% and now it is 8.5% and this is fantastic news? That’s what Apple wants you to believe. BTW, the “Windows share lowest ever” had Windows at 88.7%. Gulp, they lost 1.2% share in more than 2 years. At this rate anyone else has a chance at getting just half the market share in, oh, roughly 75 years.

Apple has tapped into some powerful fuel. Firstly, fanboys. Fanboys are so completely loyal that they completely ignore any logic or factual information for the sake of their cause. They create faux IT news sites, blogs, and even magazines to promote their cause. The second, the tendency of news to really emphasize small things while downplaying the truly large. In other words, straining at gnats and swallowing camels. Hence the title of this article. Just don’t be fooled, there is a LOT of fluff, especially in the APPL stock price.

Apple again throwing stones, from a glass house.

samsung-f700So, Apple wants us to believe that Samsung threw together, within the period of almost exactly 1 month, an iPhone copy that just happened to be also packed full of superior parts? That is one big complement to Samsung. While it appears that rumors of the Samsung F700 being demonstrated in 2006 are not accurate, LG had launched their Prada phone by then and frankly they all look like each other.

lg-pradaWoo-Young Kwak, who is the head of mobile handset R&D at LG, said that Apple stole the design after the Prada phone won the 2006 iF Design Award. Yes folks, that is true, 2006, LG’s touchscreen won a Design Award and many months later iPhone appears.

There is no doubt that someone “invented” the all touch screen form factor, but the chances of us ever knowing who that was are slim-to-none.  What is also highly unlikely is that the LG was inspired by a phone not to appear until the following year. What is almost as unlikely is that Samsung could design and fabricate a superior phone “copycat” of the iPhone in 1 month based entirely on the iPhone’s initial launch.  What is most likely is that the charlatan Steve Jobs is again trying to convince the world that he is the innovator and everyone else are imitators.

We look forward to the court ruling on the lawsuit. While the courts are notoriously inept at understanding techno-babble we have seen some semblance of justice come from these cases. We don’t really know what will come of Mark Zuckerberg’s claims, but on this one a picture is worth a 1000 words. LG Prada beat Samsung and Apple, and won an award to boot. Being an admirer of LG products myself, I’d sure like this issue to hit the fan again. You know since Apple went throwing stones and all.

PLI the interface of Web 3.0.

While it may be tempting to clam that Toys “R” Us is precisely where iPads belong, here we will beg to differ. While these machines are certainly capable of being entertainment items the world still has yet to fully realize what Bill Gates’ form factor idea will finally contribute to the work place. Bill Gates because he was the one who touted tablets 10 years ago. We’re not really sure who invented them.

The tablet form factor, which is as far from an Apple innovation as bell bottoms, has serious potential. Gates knew it, Jobs knows it, and we here at V-Tek know it. We have already demonstrated some very innovative business application interfaces that are targeted for tablets. Page flipping, dragging, pop up keying, and a plethora of other layout methods stand to finally combine and create an interactive report style application interface that would leave Tom Cruise in Minority Report drooling. The outputs, the inputs all showing up in the same place. That’s where we see this going.

Some charlatan will doubtlessly appear on some corner of the web in the next few years and start touting this “new technology” as their own, and perhaps even give it a neato acronym. If they are rich enough they may even try to patent it, but the form-factor, the handling, the devices themselves are naturally evolving this. No individual can lay claim to this next generation of business applications, while many will try.

So before the illusionists get too noisy we’d like to propose an acronym for this. PLI or maybe ILP it will stand for “Paper Like Interface” and represent applications designed specifically to be navigated like a stack of papers, read like an e-book (complete with index), and combine the application’s interactive components with its output (reporting) components. Soon gone will be the days of antiquated web form fields in columnar layouts with next and submit buttons. Web 2.0 brought us AJAX and obnoxiously huge graphics, Web 3.0 will combine dynamic PDF forms, with tablet form factors, and sever the gap between inputs and outputs offering more than eye candy to productivity hounds. Beautiful outputs would equate to beautiful interface.

That’s straight from V-Tek’s crystal ball.

Apple Products

Being something of a country boy I’ve never had much use for fancy stuff. Fancy makes a great hick word for things that cost more than they should because of their fad premium or people who prefer such things. Apple products are just too fancy. There are definitely people technical enough to make an argument for the fancy machines. I’ve heard them flat out admit that they just like fancy stuff. Fair enough. What I most often hear though are falacious comparisons between a 2x to 3x more expensive fancy box and an ancient Dell. I’m torn when a techie type speaks such nonsense. Is it savvy marketing that propogates the illogical loyalty? The type that causes even the technical minded to defy reason? As I mentioned earlier, fair enough if you just like fancy things. Or, if the Mac user is like my friend who says he just knows the Mac shortcuts, well more power to you, but for a techie to stoop to marketing slogans to defend their purchases it’s just shameful.

Let me set the record straight on the Mac vs. PC fallacy. Here at V-Tek we have several Dell M1710 laptops from 5 years ago. They are still treating us great and capable of running all consumer OSes, including OSX, and that fast! They have higher native resolution than the 2011 iMacs, and even have fancy lighting that of course we turn off. Are we due to upgrade? Probably so, but in the last 5 years how many fancy Macs have turned yellow and croaked? Not only par but probably sub par. As a matter of opinion I will include my thought (shared by many) that Vista was bad. However Windows 7 is stable, secure, and powerful for the average user. For the non-windows developer, if you don’t know Ubuntu you really are missing something.

In summary, there are good reasons and bad reasons to own any type of product. Even if you think it’s “cute” that’s your choice. Just save your superiority complex. I’ve worked for months on OSX and don’t even mind it, what I mind are the bogus comparisons. If you have extra money to spend get the higher spec PC and it WILL outperform a Mac in the same price range. If you just want it to look good, well beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. I just happen to find the price tag to be a big part of pretty.

I was raised with the words of wisdom: “beauty is only skin deep” and believe it or not that’s right there in the Bible too. If you can’t trust the Bible, what can you trust? “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain…” (Proverbs 31). It’s not just true of people, but of technical gadgets too.

Internet Explorer 10

There is a bit of a buzz going about upcoming IE 10’s claim to “native support” for HTML5. This is quite oxymoronic. The whole point of browser containment of HTML is that it is platform independent, in other words, NOT native. However, Microsoft continues to flaunt their ability to hook their browser directly into their OS modifying as needed. A luxury that other competitors on Windows are denied. Isn’t that what got them in the notorious anti-trust trouble back in the day? Well, they aren’t stopping it. They proclaim their superiority based on the fact that they hold all the keys, not based on actual demonstrated performance. It just makes Chrome all the cooler when it can mange to perform quickly without “native support” and cheers for Firefox also. Sure it gets slow with two dozen plugins but for some reason we don’t disable them. Nice.

Microsoft’s Azure

PaaS (Platform as a Service). That’s the niche that Microsoft is targeting. Developers, popular languages, especially one of our old favorites here, the ultra-powerful PHP. Last year we got the opportunity to work with a Microsoft team on their PHP/IIS optimization engine. Unfortunately, we were much too busy and it was much too buggy.

For us to recommend Microsoft’s PaaS product, which really sounds pretty neat, would require them to drop their complicated and sketchy pricing antics. “$0.12 per compute hour” is not something we can explain to our clients and we’re not even clear what Microsoft would call a “compute hour” and how we could audit this ourselves. We owe it to our clientele to investigate this further.  So far they’ve already raised an eyebrow here with their “free until November” slogan. Ideally, once they stop imitating AOL’s model from the 1990s, they’ll sell this thing like a hosting package and drop their “compute hour” nonsense. For now, we call this experimental, at best.

Please do help us to keep the record straight, agree or disagree.

What’s so good about PHP?

I’m biased, PHP is fantastic. It has evolved into a super-power among programming languages. I liked Java, I deplored VB, C# is OK (copy of Java), Ruby-on-Rails is really more 4G, but PHP is just a flat out a git-r-done scripting language. Here are some of my reasons:

1. Super fast! Considering it is an interpreted language PHP flies. Even with gigantic script libraries included.

2. No DLL hell. So many people think that DLL hell was only a problem with Microsoft products but anyone being honest will have found DEPENDENCY hell to be exactly the same thing. Watch a whole building full of developers try to get their Rails versions synced with their libraries just to get one widget to work and launch the initial skeleton app. That’s just as bad as DLL hell. .NET versions, same problem. Even JAVA app dependencies can get wonky but PHP’s extensions folder is cake to manage (and they use DLLs!). In fact, for one client we have faithfully upgraded their PHP build with every point release manually and the code almost always works, and when it doesn’t it’s graceful and minor.

3. Loosely typed. This can be a train wreck for junior programmers but seasoned veterans who have delved beyond the 4th generation to make their own products and not just assemble a bunch of other people’s work will know when type matters and when it doesn’t. As it turns out, it VERY OFTEN doesn’t. Making strongly typed languages a real PITA.

4. The Frankenstein factor. All platforms have tempted developers to package bits of functionality into modules for reuse all over the place, even PHP. However, the PHP community began with nuts-and-bolts coders and the modules that come from that community are very large and specific. The small modules of functionality are incredibly mature and compiled into extensions. In other environments, especially the 4GLish of them, the “brilliant” idea was to make tiny modules for this or that. Mix that with some starry eyed kids and you don’t get apps, you get Frankenstein. And more dependencies to create the #2 mess mentioned above. The claim is that these modules speed up the development process, but I have yet to see that happen.

5. Environment. PHP sites by nature have everything necessary for a programmer to step in and modify. No project files, expensive IDEs, gigantic downloads, compilations, or gems to get just right. Even your environment variables can probably be left alone. Simpler is better.

6. Philosophy. The modern MVC philosophy of convention over configuration is an attempt to protect the world from bad programmers, but good programmers do this naturally. MVC is a good idea, and a decent pseudo-standard to code to, but it’s just that, a pseudo-standard. I’ve dug through other people’s models, views, and controllers in different languages and one thing that is certain. Everyone does their own version. In PHP we can implement MVC, and get it just as right (or wrong depending on who you’re talking to) as any other language.

7. The community. The PHP community is cool. Sure, being arguably (Java still holds the top spot, but it is not as web targeted) the the most popular web language out there means all kinds are posting their thoughts but there is a core group of geniuses on the main groups. Helpful folks, and there are code snippets posted to do just about anything. Easily modifiable for our own needs without any of the “hell” from #2 above.

I could keep going but that being said my bias is clear. Perhaps next week I should post an article like “What’s so good about Rails?” I could do it, just don’t know if I could make it to 7 points.