Short Takes: March 27, 2015

Short Takes: March 27, 2015

An often irreverent look at this week's other news

An often irreverent look at this week's other news. In this edition: Applications that run on Windows computers get a new/old name, Windows Phone and Android to date with intent to marry, Microsoft shares the joys of employment with others, IoT gets government guidance, HP unboxes its boxes, and a popular social media network takes to the friendly skies – with lasers.


Just Don't Call Me Late for Dinner

What's in a name? Does a rose by any other name still smell as sweet?

Microsoft has faced a conundrum over the past couple years, one that might not seem like much to the average bystander, but one that appears to have tortured the software company to its very soul - enough to stamp a resolution promise on the Windows 10 docket. Amid all the Windows Insider theatrics and drama recently the company has finally decided what it will call applications. Once dubbed 'metro' – and even 'modern' – and most recently referred to as 'universal,' they will simply be called: "Windows apps."

This is a new Microsoft, folks. Logic seems to exist now.

Except Where it Counts

With news this week of a horrible Android security vulnerability affecting almost 50% of all devices in use, it's probably the wrong time to hear that Microsoft is still considering allowing Android apps to run on future versions of Windows Phone. Android remains one of the biggest gaping holes in mobile security. If you think differently, plain and simple, you're wrong.

Logic just took a step backward. We're back to square one.


Microsoft is in a logic tug of war, it seems. For every good decision, a questionable one erases any advances. I'm not sure who might be keeping tally, but this week anyway, I think the company might have come out ahead with this next announcement. I have a bunch of friends that work at Microsoft and I can tell you, they work a LOT of hours. But, they're relaxed hours. The software company really is a great place to work and treats its employees with respect and care. Ask anyone who currently works there (not any of those laid-off in the past couple years) and they'll give their glowing take on the joys of being an official Blue Badge.

Apparently, the head office thinks it's pretty great, too, as those in charge have decided to require suppliers to follow its lead with a few requirements to follow for continuing business with Microsoft. The company outlined three new entitlements it will require from any third party that meets a certain criteria.

  • First, we’re focusing on ensuring a minimum of 15 days of annual paid time off for the eligible employees at our suppliers, either through 10 days of paid vacation and five days of paid sick leave or through 15 days of unrestricted paid time off.

  • Second, this new benefits minimum will apply to suppliers with 50 or more employees in the United States. It will apply to their U.S. employees who have worked for them for more than nine months (1500 hours) and who perform substantial work for Microsoft. We recognize that this approach will not reach all employees at all of our suppliers, but it will apply to a great many.

  • Third, because we recognize that this approach may increase the costs for some of our suppliers, our plan is to work with them to implement these changes over the next twelve months. We appreciate that this may ultimately result in increased costs for Microsoft, and we’ll put a process in place for addressing these issues with our suppliers.

I'm just surprised Microsoft didn't figure out some way to include a free Office 365 subscription in the deal.

Brother Robot, Where Art Thou?

If you needed even more reason to question government intervention into your daily lives, here's one: under the guise of consumer privacy, the FTC wants to create a new investigative arm to monitor IoT and Big Data.

I've talked a lot about IoT over the Supersite recently. From Microsoft's strategy to a new Panasonic movement to open source IoT documentation, there's some serious advances taking place – enough to warrant a lot more discussion. The intent of the FTC to get involved so early seems a bit out of character. It usually takes years of public outcry before the organization realizes it should do something, and when it eventually does it bogs down the speed of advancement.

IoT – it was nice knowing you.

Don't Box Me In

In another chapter of "me, too," HP this week talked about the upcoming launch of a new Cloud system. If you've been following along, HP revamps its messaging about the Cloud every couple months. I guess it hopes that eventually something will stick and resonate with buying businesses. This time HP is taking the next logical, but already clichéd step of calling its new offering a "Cloud-in-a-Box" system.

In essence, HP is pulling together its OpenStack OS, open-sourced orchestration and management, and wrapping it all together in a pre-configured, pre-tested system.

Bill Hilf, senior vice president for HP's Helion business said this:

"Enterprise customers are asking for private clouds that meet their security, reliability and performance requirements, while also providing the openness, flexibility and fast time-to-value they require."

It took long enough, but HP nows joins the ranks…

  • April 2009 - RightScale + Ubuntu + Eucalyptus = Cloud in a Box

  • September 2010 – Oracle: Introducing "Cloud in a Box"

  • November 2010 - Exadel Cloud-In-A-Box, ElasticStack Cloud-In-A-Box

  • June 2012 - Microsoft Private Cloud in a Box

  • October 2014 - Microsoft and Dell Team Up for Cloud-in-a-Box Systems

  • March 2015 - Microsoft and Cisco offer a cloud-in-a-box

Flying the Facebook Skies

Facebook had its big F8 event in San Francisco this week. During this yearly conference we get to hear how a family and friends web site wants to strive to be something more when it grows up. Some of the more notable announcements:

  • Messenger as a platform

  • Spherical video (3D video and VR in your news feed)

  • LiveRail (a sort of bidding program for advertisers)

  • Apps analytics

But, one of the truly interesting announcements is the project codenamed Aquila. Google wants to deploy balloons to bring the Internet to the world, Facebook wants to launch drones the size of a Boeing 767 that blast the Internet down to the masses using laser beams.

I've seen this movie before.


And, finally…

What a week. We've had the flu raging rampant through our house the past couple weeks and I'm here to tell you, it wasn't pleasant. I've had bad colds before, but nothing like this. While flat on my back I learned a few things.

First off, the old 80's TV series, Knight Rider, makes an excellent sick-day binge. There was one day last week where I simply couldn't move and felt as if I literally had died. Knight Rider kicked off and ran from 1982-1986, but I completely missed it. Those were my high school years so I spent any free time between my childhood friends and my steady girlfriend. But, ah…the beauty and glory of Netflix stuck me squarely back in the 1980's and it was enjoyable.

Secondly, as a proud cord-cutter, I realized how dependent I've become on Netflix, yet finding something good on Netflix is hit-and-miss. I also subscribe to Amazon Prime and HuluPlus, and also watch Crackle (for Seinfeld episodes) quite a bit. Couldn't someone just make it easier to find good content? Well, apparently that someone has arrived. I've been testing a new web service called JustWatch recently. JustWatch labels itself as a "streaming search engine." It's not perfect yet, but getting close. The service allows you to enter a movie name or TV show and the results will show which streaming provider offers it. Filter by Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Google Play, Amazon, Crackle, HuluPlus, Playstation, Xbox, Vudu, and others. You can even bookmark movies and TV shows into your WatchList and start streaming no matter if your list contains content from multiple service provider sources.

Pretty nifty. Give it a shot.

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