Apple, Condemned to Death by a Thousand Papercuts

Ever since Steve Jobs’ death, Apple pundits and fanboys all around the world began counting down the “inevitable death of Apple”. There can only be one Steve Jobs and he is dead. He defined an era when only an era can be defined. The emergence of the iPhone can only be described as a goldfish swallowing the whale. They say history repeats itself and once again we’re seeing the sequel of “PC overtaking Apple” as “Android overtaking iOS”. Funny how we never learn. Maybe someday Steve Jobs will be resurrected by bio technology and we’ll see this whole drama play out again in the bio field. But I digress.


Apple products are distinguished by the polish and intuitiveness of the interface backed by solid technology in both hardware and software. It’s quite a formidable package and one that is yet to be rivaled. Samsung, Google, and BlackBerry are still chasing Apple’s tail. The brilliance of Apple under Jobs’ second coming is that they made just the right trade offs with open and closed systems. They leveraged open technology to build an OS (OSX), even though I think they bet on the wrong horse (mach kernel) in the long run, and leveraged that for mobile. They created a new market for touch screen devices that created a whole new paradigm and even extended it to tablets.


Like any brilliant invention that revolutionizes the world, once people got hold of an iPhone they soon settle into a state where they can’t image a world without it. It feels natural, almost meant to be. Every time I try to use an Android, I feel like it’s a different beast. My mind locks up when I run into many of its unintuitive rabbit holes that come from logically inconsistent and/or unintuitive interaction designs. I’d frequently find myself forgetting how to access a certain setting or getting lost in an application’s menu. A lot of things just don’t feel right. The battery life was atrocious.


However, at the end of the day, the iPhone is simply a mini computer (that connects to the internet), camera, and media player with phone capabilities. That’s it. What sets it apart is the application eco system and all the innovations it introduced to the market. However, the company is now feels decidedly conservative. There’s no excitement on the horizon. What’s coming after the iPad Mini? The iPhone grande? Or maybe the iWatch? AppleTV as a gaming console anyone?


The app eco system will eventually be the downfall of Apple. They’ve created a culture of fear by acting as arbiters of taste rather than protectors (ensuring that malware isn’t circulated). Take away all the applications from any smartphone and you’re left with the internet, music, and movies for your entertainment; email, sms, and voice for communication. When you get banned from Apple’s App Store you have no recourse (other than public appeal). With Android, their Play store is much more permissive and moreover, users can choose to install non-market apps.


Without a visionary like Jobs, Apple needs all the help it can get with innovation and there’s no greater inspiration than an eco system of third-party developers. Interface improvements like the ubiquitous pull-to-refresh came from outside (apps like Facebook have a nice flick to go back from a picture view which I think should be standard). Also, Apple’s preference for sandboxing all data and more importantly locking down the music and video library is also another weakness that will irritate users more and more. The big issue at hand is Apple tries to control how we interact with our own data in the name of protection. We can’t download and play music or movie files from the internet without going through iTunes or syncing it via PC. Movie files can only be played if it’s in Apple’s mp4 format unless we use third party apps.


The smartphone revolution is far from over, it’s only beginning. As more and more of our lives go mobile, we need newer ways of interacting with the device. There are still lots of improvements to be made, such as text input, before they can completely replace computers. Social interactions are also another area ripe for innovation (I’m thinking device to device communication like Bump and more location-based networks that involve more than just checking in). Payment/point-of-sale is yet another are that will eventually become a major pat of smartphone usage (something with more substance than the Passbook, something that makes use of technology like RFCs).


As technology matures it’s only natural that there are no low hanging fruit to pick and that pushing the envelope involves great risk. However, with companies Samsung chasing them on the hardware front and Google chasing them on the software front, they really can’t afford to rest on their laurels.

Dave McClure is No Devil

The more I read about this the more I’m angered by TechCrunch’s irresponsible reporting on Angel Gate. Unless, and I seriously challenge him to because he can’t, Michael Arrington can produce substantial evidence that collusion did occur he should issue an apology. I have every reason to believe that Michael showed up uninvited to a dinner of friends, got really pissed and hurt because they told him to essentially screw off and then assumed they were up to no good. Of course, that’s being generous. It seems more like he got so pissed he decided to damage their reputations using TechCrunch simply because he has the power to. The only place to find a balanced debate on this is the Quora thread. Then the post an innuendo-laden email bomb from Ron Conway regarding a dinner he didn’t attend.

All I got to say is screw Tech Crunch for writing whatever they damn well please simply because their founder got socially snubbed. It’s Tech Crunch doing the dirty Mafia type hits if you ask me.

End of updated rant. The original article below.

The recent crap storm about TechCrunch’s expose about back room Mafia-style price fixing by angel investors kept taking an unreal turn for the worse. First, I have to hand it to Michael Arrington for doing this. It takes balls to make accusations like this and pretty much turn the entire community against you. He has everything to lose and this is one sorry publicity stunt if it goes wrong. In the UK he’d be sued out of business for libel even on a blog. In some other country, he might never be seen again.

The first guy to fall under the bus is definitely Dave McClure. He was the first to respond and now he really got thrown under the bus. I spent the good part of the day with him last year when he came to Japan. That doesn’t make me an expert on him or make me privy to what he does for business but if does the things that people allege him of doing in this “Angel Gate” scandal this man definitely has the most elaborate smoke and mirrors act I’ve ever seen.

The Dave McClure I saw is generous with his time and despite his bad boy image he’s the most approachable guy on earth. I literally walked up to him in a crowded party, briefly introduced myself, and asked him to attend a startup event happening the next day. He did not know who I was and he did not care. He showed up first thing in the morning and stayed all day. He brought a Japanese startup founder with him, gave a great presentation and mentored people all day. The event was basically a workshop for amateurs throwing around ideas. If Dave was just pretending to be interested or being polite, I must be blind because he critiqued ideas and gave feedback like he was about to invest money.

I don’t know about the intricacies of the allegations or how this situation is going down now that Ron Conway threw down the gauntlet but Dave’s been on the grind. Dave does a lot of things that other people in Silicon Valley don’t like try to connect the Valley with entrepreneurs in Asia and other regions. He works hard, he gets his hands dirty, he’s more accessible than a lot of “classy” investors, and he’ll pick up the phone when you call.

I don’t know who else is implicated but if you look around a lot of people have got Dave’s back. That says a lot. These are the same people he would have been “screwing” if allegations are true. These people are also very smart. I don’t think you can really damage someone’s reputation if they’re the real thing. Dave sure was in the wrong place at the wrong time but the dude’s literally everywhere. If I needed advice I wouldn’t hesitate to ask him and anybody he invests in will get a great deal just because Dave McClure doesn’t do anything half-assed period.

Fire in The Valley, Fire in My Belly… and Yes, Mike, I Have Stopped Beating My Wife. – Master of 500 Hats

So A Blogger Walks Into A Bar…

Tablets and Slates

Seems like this year is going to be the year we find out whether print media is about to taken by a revolution as big as the rise of digital music players was for music. Although print may be an industry in decline, we are confronted with more reading than ever before. The only difference is that we have to swim through a flood of scattered and diluted information yet somehow synthesize it throughout the day. I know so many people who don’t follow the news much less read a newspaper or weekly. I’ve found myself vacillating between print and internet news, although I’m becoming more and more convinced of the solid value offered by print (I read the newspaper and a weekly these days).


I’m a bit puzzled by this recent surge in interest by companies rushing to enter the market with some kind of tablet or slate. Some are dedicated readers like Amazon’s Kindle that are designed exclusively for a reading experience (black and white, easy on the eyes, and low power consumption) while the ones arriving this year will lean towards more of a communication device tailored for reading and other uses (like Apple’s rumored tablet).


It’s an interesting phenomenon that seems to be hitting all the right spots whether it’s the nostalgia for a time when people curled up with a good book along with the realization that a phone screen is just too damn small to do any kind of extended reading or viewing. We don’t want to lug around a laptop and we don’t want to be burdened with a key board when it’s not needed. Until you actually use one in real life, these devices look so full of promise because they seem to fit every conceivable situation where a laptop is overkill and a smart phone is limited.


Although I can see a lot of great uses for a connected tablet-like device with music, movies, games, email and the internet (even better with TV and radio reception), and a variety of text content (whether it’s stuff you fetch from Project Gutenberg, digital subscriptions or downloadable books), I can also see myself getting quickly bored with it. A smart phone is something that I can have on me at all times without feeling a burden but a tablet feels like more trouble than it’s worth.


I have a Dell Mini 9 that’s under 1 kg and it’s no more than having a hardcover John Grisham book in your bag, certainly feels lighter than the average college textbook. While it’s been great for the times that I really need a computer on the go (like travel or getting something done on the road), those occasions are actually rare. Most of the time I can get by with my iPhone and pick up from there when I get home. Also, the bulk of information devices feel useless without a ubiquitous connection. The iPhone was about as helpful as a Palm PDA once I stepped out of Japan with it.


The table device definitely has potential but like the iPhone, we’ll have to see new models of interaction and presentation before it becomes a truly must have item that’s part of our culture. Right now it’s hard for me to visualize it.

Living With Ubuntu

I’ve never been a fan of windows. Switching to a mac was definitely one of the best things that I’ve ever done in my life. It opened my life to a world of stress free computing, until Leopard. I still like the mac and I think the fonts and visuals are nice but I’ve also noticed some prominent people like Mike Pilgrim and Cory Doctorow moving off of macs and using Linux distributions like Ubuntu.


Work as a programmer requires a lot of server-side stuff and most of this is exclusively unix/linux especially if you are using open source frameworks. My curiosity was probably piqued when I was forced to go back to Windows XP for my previous job. In order to stay away from windows I did most of my development on a test server and eventually started using CoLinux within my Windows machine. One thing I learned is that you really don’t want to become reliant on any single platform or operating system. It pays to be versatile. I’m confident that I can work on any platform, as long as I can develop using Vim. Plus, I was getting spoiled by the command “apt-get install” for a variety of development tools and programs whenever setting up servers as opposed to the “configure and compile” hell on macs (I’d rather not use fink or mac ports, and these don’t even compare to the ease of use that linux package managers have achieved).


I’ve been slowly getting more and more curious about Ubuntu. Can I get used to it? Does it really work as an everyday operating system? Does it look good? Yeah, macs do that to you.


One of the main reasons was that I ended up ordering a netbook, Dell Mini 9 Inspiron to be exact. It has some wonderful specs 64GB SSD hard drive, 2GB RAM and a decent processor. I had two options for an operating system, Windows XP or Ubuntu. Windows is not a choice to me and it would also require lower machine specs (due to their backwards vendor agreements). I wanted something I could carry around with me and do some hacking on the train since I spend so much time on the commute and even more time tied to my desk at the office. Although, I know that I could hack the Dell to run OS X, I wasn’t convinced that it would be a good choice. Plus, I wanted to save using up the limited hard drive, which I know will be more than enough for lighter operating system.


In preparation for my netbook I decided to re-appropriate a computer that was sitting unused for my Ubuntu adventures. Set up was straight forward. I just kept looking stuff up and running “apt-get install” as needed. There were some tricky things and I ended up wiping my hard drive and redoing the install after screwing up the graphics but even then the learning curve was relatively mild.


General Impressions


I love it. The visuals aren’t bad at all, even though it requires a lot of tweaks here and there. One of the things about Ubuntu is that it’s infinitely customizable from the source down. The desktop feels like a cross between Windows and OS X. I’m sure they get a lot of their ideas from both sides. I got everything I wanted from my Ubuntu install from transparent terminals (for vim), smoothed fonts, and all the software I need (basically FireFox for browsing and all the development tools that are way too easy to install). Since I’ve been using the mac for a while, I have my vim setup in a code repository along with a bunch of other dot files needed to customize my shell environment.


Productivity


This operating system is really built for productivity. First of all, there aren’t games (not a gamer but still) and no iTunes. The operating system is lightweight and there are a lot less distractions. Since I’ll be keeping my mac around for some time, I can safely keep all my media and other distractions away from me. Switching operating systems is the ultimate contextual switch so I’d like to keep it this way for as long as possible.


Also, Ubuntu has a variety of productivity tools that are even better than anything I’ve used on OS X or Windows. For example, the todo list/task manager Tasque comes with Remember the Milk integration built in! I’ve been longing for something like this on the mac for ages. It could use some work with syncing but I’m more than happy. Evolution is a great email/calendar client that tightly integrates with Google Calendar and other services. Keeping your system current is really simple and you can do it with a single command from the terminal or use the supplied GUI. If you think the Windows release cycle of 7+ years is ridiculous and Apple’s somewhere around 1.5 years is awesome, you’ll love Ubuntu’s 6 month cycle. Not to mention package updates are frequent so staying current is really simple (and involves a lot less headaches in terms of regressions etc.).


Light


Although the operating system is your typical heavy duty unix system with a great desktop, the system requirements are ridiculously low and it consumes less resources like your hard drive. In fact, I use an 80GB hard drive of which 12GB is a partition holding a botched install but I still have plenty of room and will continue to. All the packages I’ll ever need for development and otherwise are a simple “apt-get install away”. In the rare cases I need to compile, it’s a smooth ride as well. The stability of the system is exactly what you’d expect (although the distribution upgrade can be trouble for some).


All Open


I love that everything tied to this project with the exception of certain drivers and other commercial packages are open source. All the crucial components are developed by a community of people who care. You can be assured that desktop linux will keep getting better for everyone for decades to come since people will be standing on the shoulder of giants. If Ubuntu starts taking wrong turns, a group of talented people will start offering a better alternative. In fact, there are already too many alternatives to name and any of those could possibly be my next distribution of choice. It gives you power over what you use and opportunities for lots of education and discovery.


All in all I can’t wait to get my hands on a personal machine I can carry around with me and get even more acquainted with Linux! Unfortunately, the Dell Mini Inspiron I ordered on March 31 is yet to arrive and will likely be in my hands sometime at the beginning of June. However, Dell has pushed back my order no less that 3 times so I frankly don’t trust them. The only thing I know is that there is some kind of a global 64GB SSD hard drive shortage, at least with their supplier. I guess I’ll just get my fix at work and read a little more on the commute.

Founders at Work

Founders at Work certainly lives up to expectations. If you’re looking for inspiration on how people bootstrapped themselves in the tech sector to wild success here it is. Now, as a chronicle of the nascent IT sector at this point in history, there are a lot of people who were at the right place at the right time, think early 90s computer science majors. You can dismiss them as one hit wonders, trying to extend that last hit by becoming venture capitalists or dreamers now working at smaller web shops like the rest of us, looking at smaller payouts. However, you can’t deny the fact that they did it and succeeded.


There’s not much you can learn from one hit wonders. Just remember that if you ever get in a position where you find yourself out of your league with a wild streak of luck, you have nothing to lose but to run with it as hard as you can take it and cash out quick but not too quick. However this book is littered with gems. One story that stood out to me the most was the story of Max Levchin, the co-founder of PayPayl. He originally set out to offer encryption software for the palm pilot which evolved into payments (the most direct application of the technology). Paypal was more of a demo rather than the end goal. What stood out to me was the fact that as the service grew traction, he focused on fraud prevention more than anything else and even dedicated his full attention with the help of a brilliant intern to track down common patterns and flags to prevent it. The versatility to see the true deal breaker of a service and tackle it effectively, that’s not luck.


James Hong of HotorNot (since sold off) was another funny one. What started off as a lark soon grew into a business but what caught me was the approach he took, like stopping some random guy on the street and asking him, “dude, did you see that new site ‘hot or not’, you need to check it out” or hosting images off of Yahoo! geocities to scale and finally convincing a hosting company to sponsor their infrastructure in exchange for publicity. That’s true entrepreneurship.


All these people rose up to the challenge and didn’t give up. They came up with some weird and unique solutions. It’s a story of inspiration and character. It makes you want to jump out of bed and start a company.



Founders at Work

The Anatomy of Social Change in the Information Age

Technological advances radically alter dynamics of social change. The election of President Obama is a watershed moment that represents an evolution over a decade in the making. For the first time, social networks were mobilized on a scale that silenced critics of the technology’s limited utility to society or the “realness” of online social connections. Social networks redefine the whole concept of grass roots. Grass roots are no longer limited by time or location as long as there is a broad cause that can bring people together.


The biggest obstacle of utilizing web technology for social change is probably mobilization. Although this is changing, people are averse to making physical or monetary commitments to online activities. The bulk of web sites and services are designed to cater to niche markets that satisfy a specific need and most services are naturally supported by advertising that targets those markets. Social change requires a commitment on the part of participants, a dedication of resources whether it be time and/or money. It is something that can’t be done without passion.


With something like the presidential election, the whole nation’s destiny is at stake so naturally it is much more easier to build momentum and engage participants in the cause. There are definite goals (getting someone elected) and a solid deadline (election day) and numerous milestones (state primaries). In addition, the movement is happening on both the national and local level. People can get engaged with fund-raising or volunteering. Having said that, no other cause can bring so many of the elements needed to succeed at that level. What are the elements that make campaigns of social change successful online?


Ideals


The internet is still a place driven by ideals, at times utopian and unrealistic. For example, despite many users being averse to spending money online for services they are just as much turned off by ads that support so-called “free” sites. The opposite side of ideals is outrage. Perceived social wrongs drive a lot of traffic, whether it’s evidence of misconduct or someone flaunting ill-gotten gains. Controversy drives people to chip in with their 2 cents and throwing links around the internet. The Obama campaign was driven not only by the ideals encapsulated in the Obama team but the collective anger at the Bush administration of the country’s economy that virtually wiped away years of solid economic growth. Underdogs are also likely to gain more support on the internet than giants (just look at Apple and Microsoft).


Novelty


Novelty is a strong driver for building interest on the internet. Obama’s status as one of the first, strong black presidents no doubt contributed to a lot of initial interest in the man and what he stands for even before people became acquainted with Obama the politician. A lot of the high-traffic generating content on the web is both weird and good. Obama fulfills this brilliantly, on first look novel but the more you get to know him, you realize that he is also brilliant and more than the hype.


Rich Content


With information technology it’s hard to tie people down to any one place and force feed them information. You need a variety of content to entice people whether it’s status updates via twitter or video messages on YouTube or even memes created by passionate supporters, you need to constantly be at the forefront giving people bite-sized chunks of content they can chew on between bigger events.


Social Networking


Although there are limits to the number of people one person can interact with, utilizing public accounts and a variety of official channels on social networks is one of the best ways to make the most of this new technology. Causes give like-minded people an excuse to interact with each other in an engaging way. It also creates a powerful motivator for bringing people into the fold through the social network’s version of peer pressure. It’s amazing how many times Obama came up in a variety of ways on places like Facebook and Twitter.


But Can You Bottle It?


I suppose the single biggest question is with all the hints and case studies offered by Obama’s presidential campaign is whether you can bottle it? Packaging something like this into a coherent application would surely be a great startup idea and would also be a driver of social change (which is good for society) but could you?

Digital Books

The other day I read “Time Machine” by H.G. Wells using Stanza. I’ve always had my doubts about digital books simply for the fact that it simply doesn’t “feel” the same. Plus, my experience with digital content is most with made for the web content such as blogs. It simply isn’t the same level of quality as long form writing whether it be fiction or non-fiction. This isn’t to detract from online works but it’s just an entirely different ball game. The demands placed on a writer to construct an extended narrative unfolding over hundreds of pages also pushes the reader to concentrate and digest more of the message. Of course, this is assuming a certain level of parity in quality regardless of the content’s length or form.


I found the act of reading a book on the iPhone’s small screen equal to books in many ways. Since the iPhone doesn’t offer multi-tasking about the only possible distraction would be an incoming phone call (it is a phone after all) or the occasional buzz from an email alert. However, it does require the reader to focus and concentrate on the content until you can really get into the experience and set aside the digital interface. Luckily, I’ve been spending more time with books of the paper variety lately so it wasn’t hard for me to get lost into the world of words on the iphone screen.


However, there are moments when you feel a tidal wave of temptations when you reflect for a moment that beyond the words on the screen there are a slew of time-wasting applications awaiting your touch. However, overall I think I can readjust my reading habits to really start reading more books using Stanza. It’s a really good app and very well-designed. I suppose the greatest challenge is to get people to start reading more as more people exclusively get their daily dose of prose exclusively from the internet.

The Obama Campaign Significance

Barack Obama ’s successful bid for president is probably just as significant as having our first (at least openly) multi-racial president (remember his mother is white and he only met his father once or twice). He changed the nature of campaigning for good and finally delivered on the promise of information technology driven movements. Just look at the Barack Obama web site and you not only get links to Obama information on the web but links into virtually all the popular social networks and services, each with an official Barack Obama account (including an updated CV on linkedin). On top of that the site also hosts its own little social network where you can connect with others and promote the campaign. If the Kennedy’s debate against Nixon for the Presidency on live national TV was the defining moment ushering the age of television in American politics this election was the defining moment for the role the internet and social networks are to play in elections of the future. If network television brought everything to the masses, in this election, the internet brought back grass roots to the masses.


An interesting twist in this election is not only how Obama successfully leveraged the internet for a distributed grass roots campaign but how Sarah Palin unwittingly leveraged the popularity of internet memes by offering endless material for parody and innuendo from those seeking to exploit her image.


Barack Obama’s time as a community organizer in Chicago and his standing as a virtual newcomer and outsider served him well. While Obama’s campaign proved to be a demonstration of the power of social networks in spreading the message and building momentum in disparate pockets of social connections, we will have to see how and if Obama is able to maintain a meaningful dialogue with those that put him in power through the technology he leveraged so well.

If Lost was an IT Company

After watching Lost the other day I was taken by all the similarities that the island of Lost and its characters have with an IT company.

 

Jack Sheppard as the CEO

A solid runner who came up in the ranks starting with the code.  He’s a hands on type manager who’s not afraid to get down and dirty with the code.  He makes good judgement calls though he’s sometimes too conservative and always places too much faith in his employees, except the shady types.  His skills really shine as the fixer upper.  Data loss, server failures, security breaches, office politics, whatever.  Any crisis you bring, he’ll take it head on even if it costs him his marriage.  He still likes to think of himself as the coder so he finds it hard to accept his position as a leader and the one who makes decisions.

 

John Locke the Vice President

At heart, John’s a good man who strives to do the right thing.  He’s got the right skills and saved the day quite a number of times.  However, his fascination with the new and unknown coupled with well-meaning but frustrating indecisiveness and general bad judgement spell disaster.  He’s vice president because he could come in handy at certain times of crisis but as the captain in charge would be more than a disaster.  He’s made more than one bad decision that nearly cap-sized the whole company.  They want to give him a golden parachute but can’t.  He’s also led quite a few promising recruits right off the cliff because they simply took John at face value.

 

Sayid the Chief of Security

Former black hat now applying all his skills for the good of the company.  Sayid comes from a developing country where his brilliance quickly earned him a scholarship abroad to one of the prestigious Western schools.  However, he gave in to the dark side of cracking and hacking because he thought he was fighting for the right cause, against establishment.  However, weary and shook up from his early days, he’s hung up the black hat and traded it in for the white one.

 

Kate Austen the Senior Developer

Kate definitely has the skills to pay the bills and knows about all kinds of stuff, in fact a lot of stuff she shouldn’t know, the problem is that nobody knows anything about her credentials or her past.  Her attractiveness and natural sexiness also creates all kind of office turmoil amongst the males.  Though female and very feminine, her coding skills firmly keep her “one of the guys”.

 

Hurley the Junior Developer

Nobody really knows what he’s good for but everybody likes him.  He tries to help in little ways but still has a long way to go before people can entrust him with projects.  However, he’s good people and has some good ideas.

 

Sawyer the Consultant

A total mystery as to how he got his contract but the company’s stuck with him.  Always trying to sell more of his services to the company at exorbitant prices, he does still manage to prove his worth when the going gets tough.  Despite looking like a burly version of a grunge band vocalist, he knows how to code and came up the hard way with little to no credentials.  Unemployable, unmanageable, and hated by co-workers he still manages to woo the ladies with that sometimes vulnerable look and careless smile.

 

Charlie the Web Designer

Free spirit and nice guy.  Also a great designer but some claim his best days are long behind him.  The trouble coders have with him is that he puts his nose into the development side where it clearly doesn’t belong and can even sabotage the project.  Things could be better if he simply stuck to design and do something about his drug habit.

 

Survivors as the Company

The merger happened like a bolt of lightning.  Suddenly they were part of a new company.  Only a select few survived the hostile merger and now the survivors need to piece their lives back together.

 

The Others as the Parent Company

Nobody knows who the hell the “others” are.  Just that they show up when they shouldn’t and randomly poach the best talent and kill the ones deemed useless.  They’re scraggly-looking, ruthless and generally refuse to acknowledge subsidiary employees as human beings.

 

The Dharma Project as Stock Holders

These people obviously have power but not much is known about them aside from the fact that they provide the resources needed to keep the company going in the form of care packages dropped from the sky.  Although, they are nominally running the show, they’re absolutely useless when survivors really need help.

 

The Island

The island is so much like a typical IT company.  It’s small but obviously important to the world and there are all kinds of people involved in different subsidiaries scattered across the domain.  Too bad that there isn’t really any cohesion aside from the fact that all of them are in the same geographic region.

 

Lost (TV series)

Come Play in Our Sandbox? Google Apps

Here’s yet another gratuitous bandwagon blog post on Google Apps.  We’re starting to see an explosion of “sandbox platforms” for third-party developers.  Basically, you get a constrained subset of common features in exchange for access to a beautiful playing ground with lots of toys and playmates.  We have mini platforms such as Amazon’s web services where you get a highly-scalable and slightly expensive “infrastructure by the pound”, the iPhone SDK where the lucky developers blessed and approved by Apple are granted access to create native apps for mini-unix mobile device, expanded “platform” APIs like Facebook where you bring your own code and infrastructure in exchange for greater exposure to the FB user base, and now we have Google Apps that kind of mixes all these together.

I get the feeling that all these developments (while wonderful news in terms of opportunities and competition) are more or less part of a transitional purgatory as infrastructure costs plummet while capabilities rise.  Why would developers embrace such constraints if they have access to greater freedom at a small cost.  I don’t think it’ll take much time for developers to outgrow sandboxes (at least the good ones).  Before it was more or less Geocities/Tripod, shared hosting, to dedicated.  Now we have a variety of in-between stuff.

What Is Google App Engine? – Google App Engine – Google Code