Saturday, September 26, 2009

okay, Ballmer isn't exactly a doofus, he's just drawn that way

Take the time to watch TechCrunch's recent interview with Steve Ballmer and you'll discover that he's actually possessed of a fair amount of intelligence, in sharp contrast with the derisive caricature he's created for himself through a string of reckless, ill-informed comments. Still, one reasonably candid, semi-articulate interview does not a rehabilitation make. Ballmer has shown himself all too ready to resort to ostrich argument to make Microsoft's dominance of the PC industry appear more unassailable and make its prospects in other businesses appear brighter than they really are.

As well he should, I suppose, as CEO of an important company, the value of which is largely a function of its ability maintain near-monopoly market share in the PC operating system and office suite markets. Anything less than self-assurance beyond reason on his part could translate to billions of dollars worth of market capitalization shrinkage, leading to a roomful of angry investors demanding his head on a pike at the next shareholder's meeting. You might think of it as his own reality distortion field, a notably stronger one than that generated by his predecessor, who more than makes up in the odd combination of happy-go-lucky attitude and killer instinct for what he may lack in charisma.

In the end, of course, the antics of its leadership matters far less than Microsoft's ability to execute, which remains in serious doubt following years of half-baked initiatives. If the new projects Ballmer mentions in the interview don't prove more substantial, the company is in real trouble.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Microsoft poaching Apple Store employees

9 to 5 Mac (and, I've little doubt, just about every other Mac-centric website), is reporting an effort by Microsoft to hire Apple Store employees.

My take? So what's the problem? If they succeed it will just serve to improve the quality of service at both company's stores.

Please tell me I don't need to parse that for you.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

a history of heartaches

On page two of a three-page AppleInsider article, that spends the first two on a history of HTML and the web, leading up to a discussion of HTML 5 on the third, there is a chart which traces the development of both web standards and browsers over the period from 1990 to the present. For anyone with more than casual involvement with any part of that process, that's a chart that should be drawn in blood, sweat, and tears.

My own involvement was mainly investing the effort to learn HTML, XHTML, CSS, a good chunk of JavaScript, and the basics of the DOM, before deciding that the powers that be for the web had better get their act together before asking poor chumps like myself to jump through any more hoops. (I also needed to be able to generate real-time, synthesized sound in response to user input for the project I was working on.)

As it turned out, most of what I went to the trouble to learn has continued to be relevant, so if I ever regain interest in writing more than the most basic sort of web page, I'll have a jumpstart. I was lucky in that respect.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

beautifully succinct comment

MacDailyNews is a frequent source of quotable comments, but the one they posted here is a gem...

"Life's short. Get a Mac."

Monday, September 07, 2009

Japanese government mandates Japanese CPU, world benefits

Hardmac (Macbidouille) reports that the government of Japan has decided to pool the (relevant) resources of "the majority of its electronic industrialists" to produce a Japanese cpu by 2012.

This peculiarly Japanese development, something that certainly couldn't happen in this country and probably couldn't even happen in China, is most apt to succeed in the same market segment where the TRON RTOS project has succeeded, i.e. in small portable devices and embedded systems.

No doubt the project will be informed by the ecosystem which has grown up around the ARM architecture, widely regarded as the current performance per watt champ. Several Japanese corporations already participate in that ecosystem, and they should be bringing that experience to the project. The project might even choose to concentrate on advancing ARM, which would be game changing, but even if not it's likely that any significant new developments will find their way back to ARM, as those corporations apply what they learn to what they're already doing.