Short Takes: March 13, 2015

Short Takes: March 13, 2015

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news. In this issue: Apple's Watch launch event, Apple's sites and services outage, Verizon hates Microsoft, Google embeds itself into the U.S. Patent Office, an Apple Watch for $45, underwater goats, Windows Build ludicrous speed, and a creepy, tell-all Barbie.

 

Making News Out of Nothing At All

I would be remiss not to mention this week's Apple press event in this edition of Short Takes. In fact, some would call "foul" if I didn't. Of course, there are those who thought it was phenomenal like maybe, Al Gore, who was in attendance and clapping as loudly as anyone, but then there's more sensible, discerning adults like myself. The news coming out of the event was huge in sheer volume only, not in anything monumental, so I won't spend a lot of time on it. I had originally considered dedicating this entire edition to the Apple news (or lack of news), but that would only serve to add to the noise. And, frankly, Apple doesn't deserve it based on the effort.

From Tim Cook's Mr. Rogers-like demeanor to HBO CEO Richard Plepler's George Hamilton perma-tan to a feature-limited Apple Watch that can be bought for $17K, the event was a wash. Why? It's about soul. Apple has lost its soul. Sometimes bashed for being a soulless character, it's even more clear now that Steve Jobs was Apple's energy, strength of character, and creativity. And, now there's nothing left.

For some odd reason, I had that old Air Supply song, "Making Love Out of Nothing At All" coursing through my head, which subconsciously helped concoct this section's title. And, then I went back and read the song lyrics (which apparently I didn't already know despite being a child of the 80's) and they seemed perfectly fitting. It should've been the theme song. In fact there's some really good golden marketing nuggets in here.

Feel free to sing along: Making Love Out Of Nothing At All Lyrics

 

 

Apple Watch Battery Wins Against Apple Site Outage

I promised I wouldn't spend this entire Short Takes edition on the Apple press event – and I won't – but there's something truly ironic about touting all-day battery for the Apple Watch on Monday, but then promoting a massive sites and services outage that immobilized Apple customers in a multitude of countries on Wednesday as just 12-hours. Per Tim Cook and the details I provided over on Supersite, all-day now equals just 18 hours.

One of the favorite, linchpin words used during the Apple news conference was "reinvent." If you plan to own the smartwatch market, I guess you can take some liberties and reinvent time along with reinventing the laptop. Apple has since apologized, citing DNS problems as the cause.

 

Why is Windows Phone a Failing (or Failed) Platform?

There are many reasons that can be attributed to why Windows Phone is a failing platform. And, while Microsoft is working feverishly to fix those problems through a hopeful glorious Windows 10 release late this year there's one big problem the company can't fix. And, unfortunately this is the biggest problem of all. A quick jaunt to the Verizon Wireless web site shows that Verizon seems to truly hate Microsoft. Notice that Verizon now sells no (zero) Lumia models and it offers twice as many BlackBerry devices.

This could have a lot to do with how Microsoft tends to release new devices through AT&T first which still makes no sense to me considering Verizon is the largest provider. Almost reluctantly, Verizon finally rolled out months-old updates to Windows Phones a few weeks ago, but if Microsoft can't fix its availability problem with Verizon, plain and simple: Windows Phone is doomed. I'm not professing that Verizon rules the airwaves or the market, nor does it own the last word on platform success and failure, but repairing this partnership would be the best sign that Microsoft is truly interested in fixing its platform.

 

From Lobbyist to Kingpin

I'm an avid comic book reader and was hooked into it during my first visit to a 7-11 store when I was about 6 years old. I remember that day vividly. The spinning rack full of colorful superhero images, the quality feel of the pages, and the smell of fresh publishing propelled me into a lifelong journey full of heroes and villains, good versus evil. Back then, good always prevailed.

Fast forward to today and things have changed quite a bit in comics, which I believe, in turn, has somehow seeped into real life. Good doesn't always triumph, and sometimes the stories are written to cast even the villains in a good light.

This week it was announced that Google executive Michelle Lee will take the head seat in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Senate confirms Michelle K. Lee as director of @USPTO, 1st woman to lead agency. #WHM #makinghistory pic.twitter.com/Q5NGBOAbc3

— USPTO (@uspto) March 9, 2015

The seat has been vacant since 2013, but here's where this gets a bit sketchy…

  • Lee is a former deputy general counsel and head of patents and patent strategy at Google
  • Lee has been the acting director for the agency since 2012

Obviously, this suggests that Lee has both the experience and the expertise. But, is it irony or something else that an ex-Google executive now is the mastermind behind patent reformation? I mean, it's not like Google has ever needed help fending off patent litigation. I can't believe this appointment wasn't scrutinized a bit more.

 

New Apple Tyrant Gold Mobile Phone-Supporting Watch

Gaaaahhhh! Too. Much. Apple.

Apple is selling it's very top-of-the-line Apple Watch for $17k and it won't be available until April. China shanzhai (China's knock-off industry) have them now for $45. BTW: The title of this section comes from a real product name given to one of the Chinese knock-offs. English most times doesn't translate well into Chinese - and vice-versa.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled Short Takes.

 

What Do Ex-Microsoft Founders Do with Their Billions?

Bill Gates saves lives and enhances living for people around the world. Paul Allen finds things and invents underwater mountain goats.

 

Windows 10 Fast Ring to Get Ludicrous or Whiplash Speed Setting?

With Windows Insiders getting antsy for a new Build, there's been much debate over the last couple weeks about what Microsoft should do about it. Should new Builds release more quickly? Should a new, faster-than-fast delivery Ring be created for those with insane desires?

According to Gabe, new Rings are being considered, but for now, Microsoft will turn the Fast Ring up to 11…

@GabeAul Still considering new rings, but for now we've decided to try to increase pace of Fast, and that means letting people know first.

— Gabriel Aul (@GabeAul) March 12, 2015

Hold on to your hats, folks! Here's the last guy that tried this…

It's hard not to notice, but doesn't Mr. Duggan (above) share a small resemblance to Microsoft's Ringmaster and Windows Insider chief, Gabe Aul?

 

Tech Creep-of-the-Week

I never intended to have a regular feature in Short Takes covering things that make you second-guess your comfort with technology, but it's becoming quite clear that some technology these days has advanced beyond just being cool and to a point of some concern. And, so warrants yet another spot in yet another edition.

In February we were creeped-out by the new Smart TV that captures your every conversation and sends it off to Samsung. Last week, we learned about some Google Glass knock-offs from AVG that seek "to combat the daily erosion of our privacy in the digital age."

This week? Mattel (yes, the toy company) is planning to release a new Barbie doll that takes a page from the Samsung playbook and records actual conversations with your kids and sends them straight to the toy company so they can learn your child's likes, dislikes, interests, and more. The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has launched a petition to stop sale of the toy, but Mattel is pushing forward "Hello Barbie" as safe according to applicable government standards, including the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The doll costs $75 and has a small embedded computer, a microphone, a speaker and a Wi-Fi interface. It's basically a direct-connect walkie-talkie with hair and curves.

Sometimes technology is cool. Sometimes it's downright creepy.

 

And, finally…

Without going into TMI mode, I've been struggling with a stomach bug this week.  I'm feeling much stronger now, but during the toughest intervals I was only able to string together about 10 minutes of work at a time before being "forcibly interrupted." My mid-work "outages" left me with some extra time to consider a few things.

Believe it or not, during my turmoil I thought about IT/Dev Connections 2015. Now, I realize how that sounds. Stomach bug – IT conference. I can just hear the jokes. But, during my brief moments of productivity, I've been busy working on vetting the sessions for this year's event. I was considering how important it is that you all get the chance to attend this year. I also considered how different IT/Dev Connections is from most of the other events that are being offered this year.

An IT conference should be an investment, not a gamble. When your boss agrees to cover expenses and lets you leave the office for a week, there has to be something tangible in return. Guesswork is not acceptable in a situation like this, but clearly most events are designed to lure you in and sell you something. IT/Dev Connections is not like that at all. I was watching the latest episode of Agents of Shield last night, and it might surprise you that a specific scene really brought this home. Some people actually do honorable things with no hidden agenda. Our whole goal is to provide the best technical training and professional advancement available.

When the sessions catalog releases in a couple weeks, you'll see this very clearly.

Based on my musings - some might call them feverish visions while in a weakened state - I provided a little more information on this topic. Check it out if you get a chance:

IT/Dev Connections 2015 is a Deeply Technical, Community-Driven Conference

P.S. Today is Friday the 13th.

[Want to discuss this further? Hit me up on Twitter, on Google+, or LinkedIn]

 

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