The book of Jobs (post two of the thumb drive chronicles)

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Moses came down from the mountain with tablets in hand to give to the masses the commandments of the Lord.  As these commandments where chiseled in stone so too is the faith chiseled in the minds of those who believe in their lord and savior.  But if your faith is more on a technological level, than a spiritual one and you are looking for that savior that is going to alleviate your woes of system crashes and deadly viruses and you are also looking to trade in your travel bible for a digital do it all.  To thee I say don’t panic because there is an APP for that.

In an auditorium full of anxious Faithfull’s and gleaming lights resembling Sunday mass at an Evangelical temple; Steve Jobs appear onto the crow with tablet in hand to give unto the world the IPAD.  And Jobs spoke selling the iPad as the messiah of technological innovation.  But like every other messiah before it, it has fallen short on deliverance and heavy on gimmicks.  Like every other new religion that springs up out of nowhere, with its ideas and underlining structures rooted on century old believes and sprinkle with a modern twist of propaganda so is the iPad rooted on four years old technology simply implemented in a bigger shinier package.

And Jobs said on to thee…

I am Steve Jobs, who brought you out of the land of Microsoft and free you from windows.

You shall surf the web anywhere.

You shall read eBooks.

You shall play games.

You shall watch videos and movies but you shall not purchase them anywhere else but iTunes.

For six days you shall labour and do all your work, but on the seventh day you shall enter the apple store and spend all of your money.

I shall take 30 to 40% of everything sold in the house of Apple.

Shall you make fun of me your app will be rejected from the app store.

You shall not use flash or even think about future support.

The lack of flash support in a device being sold as the ultimate web experience is like a born again Christian without the Holy Ghost.  75% of online videos are made in flash, 70% of games online are made in flash including those on face-book.  The IPad lacks support for Java, adobe Air, and lacks any USB connections.  Closing the devices to an apple mandated doctrine will only hurt the device in the long hull.  Forcing developers to use apple tools to produce their applications; only stagnates advancement and hurts the consumers in the long run. The lack of a camera has certainly crushed the hopes that many had for Skype conversations or for face to face meetings on the go.

But in the end no other company can compete with Apple in terms of product desirability or mass appeal.  Therefore I don’t see the Church of Steve Jobs fading anytime soon even under the worst recession we have seen in the last 60 years.  But less not forget that when it comes to aesthetics there is no other religion like the Catholic Church, where the Catholic Church fails is in being open minded and progressive and Steve Jobs seems to be pulling his doctrine out of the same page.

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Microsoft Tags, what could this be?

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Finally Microsoft has done something which could put them on the map to catch up to Google in terms of bringing relevant information to users all over the world.

Microsoft Tags (http://tinyurl.com/3x3ts9g) is a service which the company has recently released and get this “it is a free service” to use. It works by placing tags in the real world such as a billboard or any landmark then people with mobile devices can access this information. This means that if for example you are in the realty business and you place these tags on some of the properties you are selling you could access more detailed information about such properties on your mobile devices.

This reminds me of the Minority Report (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0181689/) which would scan people’s eye retinas to serve them personalized ads (I see this coming very soon to the U.S). I believe that such a technology already exists in Japan and it could make its way on to the U.S.

However this being great and all that Microsoft has finally done something innovative. I wonder if this service/technology will only be available to Windows 7 mobile phones. I really doubt folks with Android phones will be able to use it. I somehow don’t see Microsoft sharing or allowing other mobile devices accessing this information. So lets not put our hopes up on this one folks.

It would be great if they did make it available to everyone just think of the possibilities in terms of how much information people would be able to access on the spot. Think of it in terms of students conducting research studies or if your at a museum or at a historical landmark and being able to get all the information about a particular piece of art or place.

This is the kind of innovative technologies Microsoft should be focusing on instead of trying to keep its tight lock on the world with its Windows/Office products.

I would be great if they would make it open source with a GPL license.

The DOJ knocking on Apple’s iron closed doors

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Recent news that Apple has surpassed Microsoft for the King of Technology title (http://tinyurl.com/38oxxjz) has stirred up some additional controversies with regards to the DOJ(Department of Justice) wanting to start an antitrust investigation into Apple’s iTunes music monopoly and everything else.

It seems that Apple has been making shady deals with the music labels (http://tinyurl.com/354mssu) to only release their new titles on iTunes before any other major on-line competitors such as Amazon or Walmart. Amazon and Walmart only account for 12% of on-line music sales while Apple’s iTunes accounts for 70%. Well this 70% is whats got the DOJ knocking on Apple’s iron closed doors.

Now lets add to this that Apple has recently announced that they will be launching an advertising platform (http://tinyurl.com/ybfdwrk) which will compete against Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and wait for it Adobe’s ad platform (http://www.gigya.com/public/Content/Widget.aspx). This explains their recent rejection of flash no matter what Steve Jobs tells the press or how many letters he writes about Adobe Flash being too resource intensive and not performing up to part on the iPhone or iPad. Steve Jobs claims do have some merit but is not an excuse to dump Flash period.

The DOJ is also looking in to the fact that Apple only wants to have developers use their very own development tools to develop applications for the iPhone, iPod, iPod Touch and the iPad. This means that you must buy a Mac and sign-up for a developers account through Apple’s website. Developers can’t just say well “I’m going to use Eclipse (http://www.eclipse.org/) to develop my applications” no you must have a Mac. The one thing that’s got me puzzled is why would Apple do this when they provide an SDK for these devices. Developers should have a choice in writing their applications in whatever IDE they see fit.

Take the Android OS for instance; It lets developers use whatever tool they want and across a variety of platforms/operating systems. This could be due to the fact that Android is open source and has no specific platform which is trying to push. This could also explain the recently high numbers Android’s got in sales (http://tinyurl.com/2b2yrvu).

This leads me to the conclusion that Apple is worst than Microsoft when it comes to vendor-lock in schemes. Not only do they make you buy a Mac so you can create software for their devices but also lock down these devices so that they only function with a Mac/iTunes.

So yes I say let the DOJ have their way with Apple and I hope that they bring that iron closed door down. Because if this happens it will benefit us consumers a great deal.

On a side note there were some rumors that Steve Ballmer would address developers at WWDC

on how they can write/develop applications for Apple devices through Visual Studio 2010. Is Visual Studio 2010 not a third party tool; If this is true why can they do this but not any other small tech firm who sells third party development tools?

How to administer Ubuntu/Linux servers through your web browser

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In the IT world it is very common to see IT administrators mange Windows servers. Most of these IT administrators either went to school where they were only taught how to setup networks using only Microsoft technology or only dealt with Windows servers and nothing else. We too at some point only dealt with Windows servers and yes we struggled with the reboots and the patches that sometimes brought them down. So we put ourselves through all these headaches simply because we did not want to deal with command line terminals or poor Linux/Unix point and click interfaces.

Well we got news for all those IT administrators who are still hanging on to their Windows servers just because of their GUIs. Yes we IT administrators now have the option to choose between Windows or Linux servers without the need to worry about the terminal/command line.

Most Linux servers give you the options to install a GUI or simply stick to the command line. While most hardcore Linux administrators will tell you that a server should not use a GUI and that the command line is the best way to go not only because of security reasons but also because you can get things done faster. And to some extend they are 100% correct but if you are a novice in Linux land and are trying to get your feet wet then why punish yourselves.

So instead of actually installing a complete desktop layer like Gnome(http://www.gnome.org/) or KDE(http://www.kde.org/) you could instead install Webmin(http://www.webmin.com/) which allows you to completely control and configure your servers. Webmin runs as a web application on a secure port and with a self signed security certificate so all of the information being transmitted is encrypted. It is also extremely easy to setup/install and once this is done you can use it to update your servers right from your web browser.

What can I do with Webmin?

  • Configure your server
  • Install/Update Server
  • Install and Update software
  • Manage Firewalls
  • Manage Email Servers
  • Manage SSH Servers/Connections
  • Manage Database servers(a variety to choose from)
  • Manage Network interfaces and connections
  • Manage Web Servers and Websites
  • Manage Hard disks and volume shares
  • Manage system backups
  • Manage Users/Groups/Directory/File permissions
  • Much more…

Don’t take our word for it take it for a spin http://webmin-demo.virtualmin.com/.

Now Windows administrators have zero excuse to not use Linux in their server rooms. We also recommend Ubuntu(http://www.ubuntu.com/) for Linux novice whom maybe reluctant to take the plunge trust me you will not regret it.

No matter how much reorganizing gets done nothing can stop the downward spiral!

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Over the years Microsoft has always given us mediocre products such as Windows(yes this means all versions including 7). Yet for some reason consumers buy these products; to me this does not make much sense. Why buy a product that breaks and you constantly have to call your tech support team(this means your geeky family member or geek squad). Now don’t get me wrong most people use Windows and its family of software because they have to not because they want to.

Microsoft since its early beginnings came across a wonderful business concept(sarcasm) called vendor-lock in. Every single product this company sells has some type of vendor-lock scheme. From Windows servers and home operating systems to their office products all 100% vendor-lock. So what does this mean? That there is not a chance in the world that you can safely move to a different operating system without loosing some data or not being able to move it at all. Yes this utterly sucks I know.

So now the giant wants to reorganize its gaming and mobile divisions(http://tinyurl.com/36bpk25) to catch up with the current trends. Oh yes sure that expensive new mobile phone(http://tinyurl.com/y7ktelj) they recently launched will do the job. This new gadget will get us all on Twitter and on Facebook. But wait a minute we are all there now and we all can use our not so expensive mobile devices. So again a little too late. As far as their gaming division goes, well lets just say it bleeds money and to think that this is the best division they have within the company. So if this division is loosing money(So far billions of dollars) what does this mean for Microsoft?

It means that their old way of thinking has got to go and that as a company it has to adapt to current trends pronto. No this does not mean lets wait and see if this or that becomes a trend. Apple (no better than Microsoft) has taken chances with new products and sure they failed a bunch of times. At one point the company was on the brink of going belly up but they hung in there. Microsoft needs to take a look at Apple and apply that formula to their products.

Here at the office we had an Xbox 360 for our gaming sessions. Guess what? Yes you guessed it we got the three red lights of death after an Xbox update(sounds a lot like the Windows blue screen of death). So we got ourselves a PS3 . Now we can game on-line and not pay a single cent. So now we have a better product while saving on a monthly fee.

Oh but wait I don’t know about you but I’ve been burned so many times by Microsoft products that I don’t think I could ever go back to purchasing or using them. Just look at what happen to IBM they too had this mentality back in the early 70’s and 80’s and now although the company is still in business it does not command the type of power it once had. And all because it forgot about what got them there in the first place us consumers.

So no matter how much reorganizing Microsoft does to their divisions they will achieve nothing that will be beneficial to us consumers unless they change their way of thinking and how they treat their customers and their competition. A little more innovation and smarts would not hurt either. Bang! Bang! Let us know what you think will ultimately happen to Microsoft’s mobile and gaming divisions.

What’s so great about the Apple iPad?

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As I was watching the tube last night, yes it was a geeky show on the Discovery channel! So I came across this iPad commercial which looked nothing like the I’m a Mac or their iPod commercials and I realized that there is nothing great about the iPad. Why? Because there is nothing special about it. It behaves exactly like my iPod touch.

We recently got a hold of one at the office so we could test all of our web applications, designs and to our surprise it behaved again just like my iPod touch. So basically this thing is a big iPod touch with nothing new. You can use the existing applications which you can use on your iPhone or iPod touch(http://tinyurl.com/y8j5s22) and the darn thing has Wi-Fi connectivity issues; out of all things that could go wrong is the Wi-Fi.

All the web applications behaved just like they would on a Mac/PC or on any other standards compliant web browser(Internet Explorer does not count). Some of the form controls on the web applications were a bit out of place although the CSS for these web applications validates without any errors and they are design with WebKit in mind.

Also I recently read some disturbing articles about how Apple wants developers to only use their tools to create applications for all their devices this just does not seem right. A developer should be able to use what ever tools he/she deems fit to create applications. So I’m starting to wonder how long can their devices survive starting with the iPad. Sure the iPhone was great when it first arrived and so was the iPod but these devices are quickly being dismissed by other products which are more open for development and less expensive such as the Android.

There are tons of small tech firms coming out with tablet devices based on Android as well such as the WePad(http://tinyurl.com/y8wvbxs) and the Adam by NotionInk(http://www.notionink.in/adamoverview.php).

So going back to the commercial on the tube it stated that it is already a revolution but why? There is nothing revolutionary about the device in fact touch screen tablets have been around since the year 2000. So why would Apple make such a claim. I honestly think that is because people like the Apple designs but not because there is anything revolutionary about it.

The one thing I liked about it is that is light and it is slick just like all of Apple’s products. But besides this nothing else stands out. If you guys have a different take on this device please share it or if you plan to get one or wait for the competition to arrive. I would like to be enlighten.