Wednesday, March 17, 2010

add TCO to your TLA vocabulary

TCO = Total Cost of Ownership, and refers to the purchase price plus the cost of support over the lifetime of a device, whether it be a computer or a fleet vehicle.

In a survey of corporate IT managers, the Enterprise Desktop Alliance found they responded that Macs were cheaper to manage far more frequently than the reverse (that PCs are cheaper to manage). The survey was divided into six categories, with the results varying from a low of 31% claiming Macs are cheaper vs. 23% claiming PCs are cheaper, with respect to software licensing fees, to a high of 65% claiming Macs are cheaper vs. 16% claiming PCs are, in the case of time spent troubleshooting.

Results in the other four categories fell somewhere in between, with the cost of supporting infrastructure coming in at 37% lower for Mac vs. 25% lower for PCs, system configuration 50% lower for Macs vs. 25% lower for PCs, user training 48% lower for Macs vs. 16% lower for PCs, and help desk calls 54% lower for Macs vs. 16% lower for PCs.

With such a strong indication that Macs really are cheaper to support, it's not so hard to imagine that they might actually have a lower total cost of ownership than PCs.

If you factor in productivity, those "cheap" PCs may be costing you even more.

37Signals takes a well-aimed shot at Karl Rove

"Courage and Consequence" huh? That must be the courage to do the wrong thing, and consequences and how to avoid them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

ReadWriteWeb discovers Boulder

It's true what they say, for a relatively laid back town, the population of which swells and shrinks noticeably in step with the University of Colorado's academic calendar, Boulder's got a lot going on.

(Posted from ‘The Goat’ mentioned here.)

intellectual rigor vs. the null hypothesis

In sifting through old bookmarks, I happened on a link to Real Climate, which is currently headlined by this testimonial.

Some who are loathe to accept the notion that mankind's activities are altering the global climate point to lower temperatures over the last few years as proof that global warming is a bunch of hooey. What this specious ‘analysis’ completely neglects to take into account is that the last few years have been an ebb period in the solar cycle. In fact 2008 and 2009 were two of the three lowest years in the last century for the amount of energy received by Earth from the sun, and we should expect that future such ebbs in the solar cycle won't, on average, be as deep as the one we're now emerging from.

And, before you join others in jumping to the conclusion that the sun is cooling off, remember that a century is a very short period in the life cycle of such a star, and that it has been both cooler and warmer in the past.

Friday, March 12, 2010

anticipation reloaded

And so it continues, or begins again. Starting today you can actually commit to the purchase of an Apple iPad, for delivery or pickup on Saturday, April 3rd.

Shall you get the base model, or go for more memory, or one of the 3G models. Should you get AppleCare (2 years for $99)? How about a case? Oh, and you'll be needing a charger.

There's some apps you're sure to want too, but you'll have to wait until you actually have your new iPad in hand to get those. Patience, patience. ;-)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

can't touch that

In what may be the most insightful view of Apple ever, Gary Hamel's two-part post in his WSJ blog is certainly the best piece I've seen on what is so special about Apple as it is today. My hat's off to him.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

our faltering, disjointed patent system, and how to begin fixing it

John Gruber, of Daring Fireball, waxes long and eloquently about the Apple-HTC lawsuit, quoting Tim Bray at length, and interspersing those passages with his own comments.

My take on the situation is that Apple had to sue somebody, or risk seeing the legitimacy of their patents evaporate for failure to defend them, but even that is evidence of a broken patent system which substitutes litigation for respect.

As previously stated, I believe the protection of the rights of the inventor to be only one of two important principles behind the patent system, the other being the maximization of the rate of accumulation of knowledge and technique in the public domain, for free use by all. Clearly, we have recently erred in the direction of protecting the inventor, providing protection even for creations that should not have been patentable in the first place.

One way to quickly roll this situation back, without having to first wade through the messy detail, would be to shorten the term of all patents, both going forward and retroactively.

I propose ten years from the date of priority be made the expiration date for all protections relating to the ownership of an invention, and that only the right of creative attribution should persist beyond that term, with limits on awards for successful false claim suits.

Combining this with higher standards for the issuing of patents going forward would at least insure that the situation is simplified and dramatically improved over the next ten years.

If this proposal gains traction, you can expect the pharmaceutical industry to cry foul, and I suppose for them you might choose to start the ten year period at some later point, perhaps the date when a new drug is deemed safe for use and no longer experimental.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

what Joint Venture (TM pending) might and probably won't be

If you, like myself, caught the news of the "Joint Venture" (TM pending) trademark application at a time when you didn't have time to go looking for details, your imagination, like mine, might have run away with you, suggesting all sorts of possibilities. Let's dispense with those first.

Here's some things "Joint Venture" (TM pending) probably won't be about:

  • an intellectual property consortium

  • a research & development consortium

  • a venture capital fund for small businesses using Apple technologies

  • a partnership involving a brand new direction for Apple

What it seems to be about is branding a consolidation and expansion of marketing to and services for small businesses and corporations, possibly in conjunction with and including support for value-added sales/service consultants. If this much turns out to be accurate, then you can also expect Apple to set standards it expects its non-employee representatives to live up to, and probably also standard contracts, with an array of options. I'd expect those contracts to include a clause that allows Apple to directly take over (or reassign) the relationship with the customer if they aren't happy with the quality of service provided by their Joint Venture (TM pending) partners.

What added value might those sales/service consultants provide? Installation and on-site training and service is practically a gimme. Beyond that, one significant possibility is custom programming - building applications, scripts, or simply Automator workflows that are tailored specifically to the customer's needs - and, to this end, Apple might provide some additional building blocks beyond what's already available.

There might also be resources available to encourage smaller business software companies to port their niche-dominating apps to the Mac.

(If this is to scale up very far, they're going to need deprogramming camps to soften up the preconceptions of people who've been exclusively exposed to and conditioned by Windows and Windows applications, to get them to see what they've been identifying by keystrokes and mouse clicks in more general terms and to weaken their notions of what the limits are.)

A bit too abstruse for prime time, perhaps, but potentially a massive project with far-reaching implications.