Waiting for the Apple next shoe to drop!

September 8, 2009

With 10.6 out the focus in no longer on the operating system.
The focus is on the “way it all works together” – the operating is systems just one part of the platform – and Apple is for now the only one who does it all. Computer hardware, operating systems, major applications, cloud services, web-portal, hand held devices.
And there are many more parts that Apple has that are significant:
• WebObjects – the most mature framework for providing web-services
• Micropayment System – iTune music store is probably the biggest micropayment system on the web (maybe Amazon or Google Adsense are as big? but even Microsoft is not in the same league)
• Relationships with all the other players – wireless carriers, semi-conductors, major software developers, music industry, motion picture industry, and now the game industry.
OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard is just the first step of a what I believe to be Apple pulling all these together and laying the foundation for much more interesting and yes eye popping integrated products / features in the near future.

The 9/9/09 event will probably have a new iTunes, will it be a 64bit OSX 10.6 app? Will it (when run on 10.6 as it will still need to maintain compatibility with 10.5/ Win XP) have some new cool stuff built on the new capabilities of 10.6)?  You can be sure it will take more advantage of the cloud and extend their iTunes store franchise.

We still have iLife and IWorks (not to mention Logic and Final Cut) in their next versions that will take advantage of cool stuff made possible by the “cleaning up” done in 10.6 and they are much bigger income streams / product differentiators than the operating system these days.  Apple not only makes some money on these products but once they have you using them / knowing them / building your life-workflow around them, you are a Mac person as the friction to change to Linux or Windows go way up!

And then there is the the mobile device integration thing!  The iPod Touch / iPhone as a remote control for your computer or application or House is still in it’s infancy, the larger tablet will only move this further along.  Image your mobile device being the interface for things that have no controls a black box (or silver and silver in the case of Apple TV), now imagine then working through the cloud. This is where it’s all going. Apple and the rest of us only see the tip of the iceberg, this is the foundation of the future.

OSX obviously needed some re-architechting to lay the foundation of all this, remember OSX is the operating system of much more ethan the Mac now, it is the bases of the current and next generation of mobile devices and as such the bases for app fronted cloud services. Webobjects which is the bases for all of Apple innovation (the Apple Store, ITunes and mobile me are all built on webobjects) was done before anyone at Next or Apple full understood it’s significance, but it gave them the tools to build the future. OSX is the same they are building the basic architecture of the future.

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Windows will never be as secure as Mac / Linux

August 26, 2009

Over and over again I read the mis-informed or simple minded mainstream press writing about Mac security based on tech industry myths (mostly created by “Security firms” that make their living on people being afraid and need a robust threat level of viruses, malware and trojans to build their biz on.

Their line goes something like this: The bad guys don’t target Mac’s because their market share is to small. for example here is a quote from a cnet story – Mac security not so much about the Mac:

“Even if Apple moved to 10 percent market share, why spend the time on the 10 percent when you can just nail 90 percent with one bug?” Miller points out. It’s far easier, and far more lucrative, for those shadowy figures in the hacking business to spend their time going after the other 90-plus percent of computers in the world than it is to try to exploit flaws in the Mac–even if there’s a shiny new computer involved.

There is truth in the fact that Windows is a larger target than the Mac. But in the last year or so the Mac has become a much bigger target with significant market share for some time now (6-8% overall and as much as 30 to 50% of the high end – above $1k – consumer laptop business).  Yet the Mac is still totally free of any known virus in the wild. And only a very few (in the single digits) trojans are out there (note these can not be spread from computer to computer and require the user to go to a “questionable” website and then explicitly “ok” the installation of software) .

The same article above clearly states:

No security researcher I spoke with could think of an instance of a Mac running Mac OS X that had been exploited in the wild. Not as part of a contest, or as part of a show-stopping demonstration, but through a malicious attack aimed at pwning a Mac. Few were even sure that any viruses or worms existed for the Mac; there was a Trojan horse type of exploit in the wild last year, but it was delivered through a porn site, and it required users to take several steps to infect themselves.

The reason Mac’s are safer than Windows machines is clearly more about basic multi-user aware underpinning, design philosophy, backwards code compatibility and plain old code quality.

Here is one of  the best ways I have seen it explained it: from the stroy FUD: On Snow Leopard Anti-Malware — Learning Curve.

A few salient facts before continuing.

  • Unix was developed as a research project at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill New Jersey. The key researchers were Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie. Thompson and Ritchie won the 1999 Technology Award and Bill Clinton was present at the award ceremony in Washington.
  • MS-DOS was developed by Tim Paterson and his Seattle Computer Products. It’s won no awards.
  • Unix is a true multiuser system. MS-DOS is a hardware interface. The acronym itself stands for ‘disk operating system’. It’s not an operating system – it’s a disk operating system. It doesn’t deal in access control or ownership. It’s a hardware interface.
  • The Unix we use today is based on the original Unix from Bell Labs.
  • The Windows lusers use today is based on MS-DOS. Not the internal architecture to be sure – that architecture is based on the ‘VMS’ work of David Cutler – but the system’s security is based on (crippled by) good old MS-DOS.
  • Web servers everywhere run Linux and Apache Stronghold and practically speaking they’re impenetrable – this because Unix was built the right way from the start.
  • Windows will never be secure because it wasn’t built with security in mind (or much else for that matter). And that’s just a fact.

The quote above deals with the fact that OSX is built on Unix and as such has a strong, well tested, security system built in from the lowest levels protecting the system from actions by user accounts.  Windows on the other hand (as was Mac OS9) is built on a single user foundation – the assumption in the days of DOS through Win 32 was that the user had complete control of the computer and there is no separation between user accounts and the administrator account. Microsoft has spent the last 10 years trying to graft this type of structure into Windows without breaking too much backwards compatibility. It is a losing battle and is a fundamental difference that is why it will always be less secure than Unix and Mac OSX.

The size and age of the Windows code base makes it virtually impossible to eradicate the bugs and vulnerabilities, and it would appear that Microsoft’s design philosophy of feature bloat that continues to graft new networking and frameworks deep into each release of windows without removing the older ones will only make it worse as time goes on. Dating back to the early days of DOS and Windows Microsoft has let developers directly access the hardware bypassing the operating system, and while they have moved away from this for a long time bits of the old code are still lurking in the depths of their code base.

Apple on the other hand tends to build additional functionality by adding new core  functions to their operating system with a much more deliberate long term architecture perspective and well defined API’s (this dates back to the original Mac operating system which abstracted the actual hardware and made developers use the toolbox). Examples of this is coreaudio, coreanimation etc.

Lastly the way Apple historically  maintains backwards compatibility is much cleaner as they have done it through complete emulation as in the “OS9 Classic Mode” that was a fully sand-boxed environment. They do this on a transitional bases phasing it out completely over time so that they phase out legacy code with a smooth transition from the user perspective.

Microsoft as is typical is adopting some not all of the same concepts in their new Windows 7 but as usual they are still years behind OSX and they have not addressed much of their core issues.

All of this is simply security at the OS level, Microsoft also has many security related issues at the application level, and they build much of the application support for everything from Office apps to IE into the operating system which opens up many many more vulnerabilities.

In summary it is true that no complex software is bug free, and no operating system / application suite  is totally secure, but OSX is much more fundamentally secure than windows.  Everyday thousands (maybe more) of Windows users with or without added security software lose hours of productivity to dealing with infected computers, there are virtually no Mac users suffering the same fate. Millions of Windows machines the world over are acting as bots:

  • spreading viruses,
  • clogging the internet sending spam emails
  • Participating in denial of service attacks

Meanwhile Mac continue to secure and productive network citizens.


Fun with Upgrading your computer

August 8, 2009

With all the talk of upgrades here is some of the fun stuff floating around the web:

Apple’s upgrade path from fake Steve:

From: The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs

From: The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs

Walt’s version from: Deciphering Windows 7 Upgrades: The Official Chart:

Windows 7 Upgrade paths that can kill!

Windows 7 Upgrade paths that can kill!

The MS response by Ed Bott Microsoft blunders with a confusing Windows 7 upgrade chart:

The MS response

The MS response

Just for fun here are some old charts on the web about upgrades

An old HP Unix upgrade chart HP Tru64 UNIX Version 5.1B-2 and Higher: Patch Kit Installation Instructions

HP Unit Chart

HP Unit Chart

It is always easy to make fun of Vista!

Vista was no easy path

Vista was no easy path

MS makes it interesting (or difficult):

What version of Vista can I upgrade to from XP?

What version of Vista can I upgrade to from XP?

From April Survey: 84% won’t upgrade to Windows 7 in the next year:

In addition to Mac OS X, enterprises are looking at a rainbow of Unix alternatives, as shown in the chart

In addition to Mac OS X, enterprises are looking at a rainbow of Unix alternatives, as shown in the chart

From http://karchesky.com/comics/stochastic/operating-system-chart/

What is the best OS for you?(December 7th, 2008)

What is the best OS for you?(December 7th, 2008)

Other charts I found looking around:

The Mac is better at all but Porn

The Mac is better at all but Porn

Believe it or not, YouTube has been inaccessible in any corner of the world for about an hour.

Believe it or not, YouTube has been inaccessible in any corner of the world for about an hour.

The Joy of Tech! 2007

The Joy of Tech! 2007

Computer Hardware Chart (July 20th, 2009)

Computer Hardware Chart (July 20th, 2009)

Unix Family Treee

Unix Family Tree

IT guys love flow charts - from Oracle

IT guys love flow charts - from Oracle

Migration from SBS or NT 4.0 to Windows Server 2003 or SBS 2003 is not a simple one!

Migration from SBS or NT 4.0 to Windows Server 2003 or SBS 2003 is not a simple one!

Lets not forget Linux

Lets not forget Linux

From the www.itjungle.com (love the name)

Doubling up the core counts to a maximum of 32 cores in the Power 570 did not change the upgrade paths, as you can see:

Doubling up the core counts to a maximum of 32 cores in the Power 570 did not change the upgrade paths, as you can see:

All in good fun!


Day in the Cloud Presented by Google Apps & Virgin America – June 24, 2009

June 26, 2009

Here is one of the best cross-promotions done using social and web 2.0 media:

Day in the Cloud Presented by Google Apps & Virgin America – June 24, 2009.

On Wednesday, June 24th, Google Apps and Virgin America invite the brave and the willing, the airborne and the earthbound to embark on the “Day in the Cloud Challenge,” the first online scavenger hunt played simultaneously in the air and, well, everywhere else.

Wherever you are on the 24th, simply sign up, arm yourself with a powerful array of Google Apps, and you can point and click your way towards glory—and an enticingprize pack. And if you do happen to be a Virgin America passenger, we’ll even throw in complimentary WiFi.

Day in the Cloud Challenge – With Virgin America and Google

I made the sacrifice this morning to get up at 3:30am (after blogging until 12:30am) to attend a 6am Virgin America/Google event called ” Day in the Cloud” challenge. There are very few things that will get me out of bed at 3:30am. Before this it was only for night breastfeedings when my boys were infants. This time I had to chance to be on a Virgin America flight from SFO to LAX with other media – that were playing an online challenge game against the Virgin America flight from LAX to SFO. The Virgin America flights have GoGo Inflight Wi-Fi so we could all go online after the flight was above 10,000 feet.

The challenge is an online game that is a combination of brain teasers and questions. The term “cloud” relates to cloud computing: “Cloud computing is a new way of using your computer that lets you store, access and share your information through the web, instead of on your hard drive.”

Gaming on the airplane – my 10 year old son would be so proud.

**All of today those on other Virgin America flights and even those on ground can play the challenge (on June 24 until midnight) by logging onto the Day in the Cloud website**


SEO and Tech Daily: Google and Virgin America take Cloud Computing to new heights.

Like to fly?

The Google App Team and Virgin Atlantic have a little contest for you.

They’re literally taking Cloud Computing to …ugh …. the clouds!

As airlines continue to roll-out Wi-Fi in the US and abroad, a challenge in the air is taking place on June 24th.

All you need is a (free) Google account and one hour (only!)

‘Day in the Cloud’ is a scavenger hunt using Google Docs (and free Wi-Fi if you happen to be on Virgin Atlantic at the time).

Become one of the top scorers and you might win a brand-new HP netbook, 1 terabyte of Google Account storage for your photos and mail … plus, you’ll fly free for a year on Virgin America.

For those who absolutely must have their feet on the ground that day … it’s OK …. you can play too.

Details on ‘Day in the Cloud’ can be found on the recently launched website here.

You can also follow the ‘challenge’ on Twitter or participate with the hashtag #dayinthecloud.

The official eligibility rules will be posted here soon.

As of this post, flights were still available to select destinations on Virgin America if you want ‘the full experience’ …..

…. and you thought Spymaster was cool.

Techmamas: Day in the Cloud Challenge – With Virgin America and Google

Day in the Cloud Challenge – With Virgin America and Google

I made the sacrifice this morning to get up at 3:30am (after blogging until 12:30am) to attend a 6am Virgin America/Google event called ” Day in the Cloud” challenge. There are very few things that will get me out of bed at 3:30am. Before this it was only for night breastfeedings when my boys were infants. This time I had to chance to be on a Virgin America flight from SFO to LAX with other media – that were playing an online challenge game against the Virgin America flight from LAX to SFO. The Virgin America flights have GoGo Inflight Wi-Fi so we could all go online after the flight was above 10,000 feet.

The challenge is an online game that is a combination of brain teasers and questions. The term “cloud” relates to cloud computing: “Cloud computing is a new way of using your computer that lets you store, access and share your information through the web, instead of on your hard drive.”

Gaming on the airplane – my 10 year old son would be so proud.

**All of today those on other Virgin America flights and even those on ground can play the challenge (on June 24 until midnight) by logging onto the Day in the Cloud website**

Luckily, I answered questions on cloud computing and Google Apps right – but could not handle the brain teasers on 2 hours of sleep.. I tried… One of the questions was about Google Talk emoticons. I was sitting with a group of fellow gamers and we just “Googled” Google Talk emoticons to find the answer. One brain teaser was “What is second largest cave chamber in the United states“, which we also found in Wikipedia using Google search.  Part of the challenge is demonstrating the ability to find the answers online. One of the gamers is an official “puzzle” expert, so I decided to site next to him to learn some puzzle strategy. He was helping me with strategies to find answers, and I was excited to at least help him on one question (it required language translation so I said he should just enter the phrase into Google Translate).

As always, meeting the other participants is part of the fun. I sat next to myGadgetSpin buddy Eliane from Ubergizmo. Behind us on the plane was one of the Virgin America social media guys that we had met originally on the Orange County Virgin America launch party (Bowen).  Two bloggers from sites that I read every day on my RSS feeds were sitting in front of me ( Ben Parr fromMashable and Anthony Ha from Venture Beat). There were also Google and Virgin America representatives to talk with.

The most fun Google representative for me to talk with was Google Digital Mom Jenn Mazzon. We not only shared thoughts about our busy lives as moms of multiples, but also strategies for working mom family management. Jenn shared her use of Google Calender and Google Apps as family management tools in a video interview that I will load this weekend.

I will have another chance on my flight back to SFO to play the challenge. I need to have more caffeine before I can attempt playing again. Or just sit next to the Puzzle expert…

Later tonight I will load some pictures.


Have we seen the peak of Microsoft as the force in the Computer Industry?

April 30, 2009

There are so many articles appearing about with bad news for Microsoft:
Is Silverlight Stalling? – PC World.

NewsFactor Network | Microsoft Sees Its Profit Drop with PC Market. “Fresh off one of the worst quarters in company history,Microsoft Relevant Products/Services offered investors little evidence that a beleaguered personal computer market would recover anytime soon.

On Thursday, Microsoft set the wrong kind of record, as it reported the first year-over-year quarterly revenue decline since it first sold stock to the public in 1986. In its third quarter, which ended March 31, Microsoft said its revenue fell 6 percent, to $13.65 billion, from $14.45 billion. It reported net income of $2.98 billion, a 32 percent drop from the $4.39 billion in the period last year.”

Opinion: Microsoft is doing something half right.

“Ever since Bill Gates stepped down and Steve Ballmer took over his role, Microsoft has been getting one thing after another wrong. Vista continues to be a disaster both for users and for the company’s bottom line. And Microsoft’s ad campaign last year, starring Gates and Jerry Seinfeld, is already a model of how not to do television advertising. Somehow, though, after years of stumbling around like a drunken college freshman after an NCAA basketball win, Microsoft is getting its act together.”

And I love this one: “To make matters funnier, all those virtual devices will take their toll on speed, so it won’t run fast at all without very modern hardware. Add in the fact that you will need all of the resources to run Windows 7 PLUS all of the resources you need to run Windows XP. From what we hear, Microsoft recommends 2GB of memory for Windows 7, but then again, it also said you could run Vista in 512MB. Har har. Upgrading to Windows 7 on older hardware promises to be a very poor choice.

So, what you will get with XPM is not an XP machine but a bloated resource hog that emulates the worst of 2004. Slowly. It may be a good fit for green screen COBOL apps that won’t run on the Broken OS, but that is about it, and you will pay for the ‘privilege’ in terms of resources used and speed of operation.”
 Charlie Demerjian from The Inquirer

How can a company that was invincible a few years ago continuously and consistently stumble so badly? I think it is like what happened to GM (only much faster): they are big and bloated, they believe their own PR, and they are Managed by Committee.

The stories you hear here in the Seattle area about working on projects at Microsoft are legendary: where you can be on a team of thousands, and most of the team is just there to  coordinate  communications with the rest of the team.

Design by Committee gave us the Turd Brown Zune, Vista and now the crazy pricing install strategy for Windows 7, where as you use it it will tell you that you can do this or that after you connect to MS and “upgrade,” or rather “turn on,” features already in the operating system you already bought – (this should go over well with customers)!

They have lost any concept of caring about the user experience at the same time the rest of the market is making that their focus!


Mapping the Current Web Transition – ReadWriteWeb

April 29, 2009

Great overview of where the web is going.  I should write a better version of this! But until then you should reed this:

Mapping the Current Web Transition – ReadWriteWeb .

Some Highlights:

Social Media: Closed social-network sites cannot survive in their current form, and yet they are so dominant today. So the transition to open and pervasive will be a big and messy fight… which will be great fun for journalists to cover!

Actually I think they will open up and link up – facebook and webpress and plaxo are already on this tract.

Advertising: Advertisers will adopt a barbell approach: CPM for branding, and CPA for direct-revenue generation (as soon as publishers figure out how to make money selling CPA). CPC will still be dominated by Google but will become less dominant as CPA gains traction. Google will play in CPA and CPM but won’t dominate as it does in CPC. Publishers will sideline CPA because nobody will be able to compete with the CPC price set by Google. Ventures that bridge the gap between publishers wanting to sell CPM and advertisers wanting to buy CPA will do well.

Revenue: Primary revenue will come from subscriptions and transactions, with advertising as one driver of those revenue lines. Today, we are in transition and in recession, so any revenue is good.

Content: UGC reduced the cost of content but created too much junk. Curation (adding human editors to automated UGC content) will be aided by semantic technologies that aim to do what humans currently do well.

Start-Up Hero: Today, it’s “Nobody” because we are all in a hangover funk. In the near future, entrepreneurs really will hold the best cards; financiers will be secondary.

Funding: The “Big VC” model is broken but will carry on for ages (“Zombie VC”). Angels and small VCs are in the cat-and-bird seat today. But they need a revived public market or something other, which we’ll call “private + transparent.”

Prime Market: This is a century-long shift, like the one from Europe to America. Asia is not ready yet, America is in turmoil, and Europe is conservative, so this is another transitional phase.


Great info on OS X Disk Fragmentation

April 15, 2009

When your disk get fragmented your over all system performance will suffer and applications that use large blocks of data will suffer performance hits especially badly.

The article linked bellow provides a great basic lesson on OS X disk fragmentation and uses the example of installing a boot camp partition for running your Mac in dual boot (Mac and Windows) mode as a reason someone might want to use a defrag application to “fix” your disk.

1disk-defrag

Disk Fragmentation Diagram

Many people reading this will be doing some digital audio recording with their computers  and along with video editing these type of applications use very large files and can suffer significant performance issues when your disk drive(s) become too fragmented. If fragmentation is bad enough it can easily be the cause of drop-outs or lost frames in AV recording / editing applications (which is why this subject is so important to the pro media creation community).

Apple official word on disk fragmentation is that OS X takes care of this for you, and under most instances it is true. But over time there are a number of circumstances that can cause excessive fragmentation. The biggest is the lack of free space.  I have found (empirically from years of use) it is a good practice to keep a MINIMUM of 10% of your disk free at ALL times.

The 10% is also dependent on the size of your disk and the size of files your work with (when considering the size of files remember the hidden files like cases you programs use but you never directly see – if you are working in photo shop on a 100 mb file you may have 5x or more the file size taken up in cases for undo’s and general workspace).  The overall free space needs to be considerably larger (10x is a good minimum so if you are doing music or video and yoru files sizes are 500 mb you ned 5 gb).

This is fine if you have a 500 gb disk and you can keep at least 50 gb free, how ever it can become difficult when your disk is smaller and the files you work on are big i.e. you have a 80 gb drive and you need to keep 8 gb free (as with a 1st gen Macbook air).  Using your computer for Audio Video hub applications like movies on iTunes can be very problematic on laptops that typically have small (and slower) hard drives.

In the Disk Fragmentation & OS X: When Does it Become a Problem? blog post on theAppleBlog.com  Andrew Bednarz does the best job of telling you what to do to reduce excessive fragmentation inlcuding links to tools you can buy to help.