Apple charts a bold new course for Mac OS, office apps

Apri 1, 2021

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, announced a new direction for the MacOS and the Mac-based office apps that are provided with the Macintosh operating system (Pages, Numbers, Keynote).

"We have realized that providing high quality software with carefully tested user interfaces is not returning enough value to shareholders. We took a long careful look at our software development process and realized we are spending entirely too much time and money on producing a quality product."

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Microsoft: The company that hates its customers

I had some hope that Microsoft, once Steve Ballmer departed, might become more customer friendly. And in the past couple of years, Microsoft has made steady improvements to products like the Surface tablet/laptop--I see a lot of them in my travels.

Here at the office, we've actually seriously discussed moving away from Apple for office productivity software because Apple, since Tim Scott took over, has apparently just decided quality software is not particularly important.

Apple's new interface for iOS 7

Wired has an interesting article about how Apple's new look for iOS 7 (the iPhone operating system) was developed. The new software was announced yesterday (June 10th), and few people have actually been able to use it hands-on yet. Developers were given beta copies of the new software, but the rest of us won't get to try it out until later this fall.

Dumbest smartphone app ever?

Folks at Dartmouth and the University of Bologna (Italy) have developed a smartphone app that uses the phone's camera to determine if, as you walk down the street, you are about to be run over by a car. This is expected to save the lives of many Darwin Award candidates who walk while texting.

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Facebook vs. Google+: Competition is a wonderful thing

Facebook rolled out an updated interface and a bunch of new features yesterday, and I spent some time yesterday evening looking at what they had did. There is much buzz about a new music-sharing service, but to me, the most significant change is the addition of "lists," which is the equivalent of Google+ "circles." The concept is identical: you can group your friends and contacts into sets, and you can look at only what is going on in that set of contacts, rather than having to plow through every item that gets posted to your wall.

Knowledge Democracy:

My auto-responder will email your auto-responder

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave."
Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook

No, wait, that was William Shakespeare. I'm trying to take a little vacation this week, and so I set an auto-responder on my business email account that automatically sends out an email to anyone who emails me, noting that I won't be in the office until next Monday. But I forgot that my only lightly used Facebook account has my business email address.

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iPad is driving innovation

A new piece of software for the iPad demonstrates the innovation taking place within the Apple App Store software universe. SoundNote lets an iPad user take text notes that are automatically synced with an accompanying audio recording. Who would want this? Students....take your notes in class on your iPad while your iPad records the audio from the entire lecture. When you go back later to read your notes, click to hear the audio starting from wherever you are in your written notes. And it costs $5. That's right, five dollars.

Benoit Mandelbrot has passed on

Benoit Mandelbrot, who created the mathematics of chaos and complexity, has passed on. James Gleick's book Chaos: Making a New Science is, in my opinion, one of the best introductions to chaos theory, with a minimum of mathematics.

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Movie review: The Social Network

I was talked into going to see the movie "The Social Network" last night. Ostensibly about the rise of Facebook, it's hard to know how much of it was based on facts and how much was fantasy. I know that I thought the movie would never end. I can't recall another film in recent memory where every single character was so consistently unlikable. Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, probably is hard to get along with, but by the end of the movie, I was starting to feel sorry for him.

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Knowledge Democracy:

GPS drowns man in lake

In another sure sign of the eventual rise of SkyNet, a turn by turn GPS device guided a driver into a lake, where the man drowned. A second person in the car was able to escape. These devices are making us stupid.

E-voting machine plays college fight song

The city of Washington, D.C. challenged hackers to try to break into one of their secure Internet-based electronic voting system. It was part of a test for the software before deploying it in the city--letting D.C. voters skip going to the polls and voting online instead. Well, students from the University of Michigan hacked into the system and re-programmed the software to play the Michigan fight song after each vote.

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Don't believe everything you get off the Internet

In making a hotel reservation, I wanted to double check how to get from the hotel (B) to the office building (A) where the meeting will be held. The hotel appears to be less than one block from the office building. But the loop-de-loop blue line is the route that the map software gave. And that's why I seldom use a GPS device in the car.

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Cloud computing: The bad and the ugly

What do the following things have in common?

  • Minicomputers
  • Relational databases
  • Client-server computing
  • Object-oriented programming
  • Web 2.0

All of the above were the latest and greatest IT buzzphrases that, over the past thirty years, were supposed to solve all the world's IT problems. Cloud computing, which by squinting only slightly, could be replaced with the word "mainframe," is the latest buzzphrase.

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How smart is Boulder SmartGridCity?

Here is an article that alleges that Boulder, Colorado's SmartGridCity project is in deep trouble. The article has a long laundry list of problems, but what jumped out at me is the list of so-called "partners." If you look at the SmartGridCity Partners page, you can see the root problem of this project is too many cooks.

Community news and projects:

The death of speech recognition

There has been a long running debate about artificial intelligence, with a large contingent of computer scientists always proclaiming that computers "smarter than humans" is only five years away. And there has been a small but persistent group of computer scientists who have insisted computers will never be "smarter than humans."

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Apple buys majority share of Microsoft

[Cupertino, CA, 4/1] Apple Computer announced today that it had purchased a majority share of the Microsoft Corporation by buying virtually all founder Bill Gate's remaining stock. Gates has continued to be the single largest stockholder, with approximately 56% of the outstanding shares of the company. The transaction, estimated to be worth $30 billion, still leaves Apple with a substantial cash reserve of at least $10 billion.

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Let the cloud computing wars begin

IBM has announced a new online service based on the popular Lotus Notes. The new service is called LotusLive iNotes, and the new service is aimed squarely at both Microsoft Exchange and Google's Apps Premier Edition. Regular readers know that I don't have much tolerance for the whole cloud computing buzz--it's a glorified mainframe, with less fault tolerance and much less data security. If I had to bet IBM's offering against Google, I'd go with IBM every time.

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Diebold gives up on voting machines

Diebold has thrown in the towel on its troubled voting machines business. It has sold the whole division to its competitor, ES&S. Diebold electronic voting machines have been plagued with problems, and the company says it is writing off tens of millions in losses, due primarily to lawsuits from disgruntled local governments who bought the machines only to find out they are a security nightmare.

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Home-based businesses driving $2.5 billion software market

This story says that software for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch has grown to $2.5 billion. This is a market that did not exist just two years ago. What the article does not mention is that most of the programmers writing and selling software for the iPhone are working from home, and many of those businesses are making hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

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Will the Google OS challenge Microsoft?

The intertubes are abuzz with news about Google's announcement of its Chrome browser-based operating system. Folks that think it will be a Microsoft killer will be disappointed. The new entry to the OS marketplace will erode Microsoft market share at about the same rate competing software like Apple's OS X and the Unix-based Ubuntu. It's bad news for Microsoft, but the new software will barely put a dent in the Redmond company in the short term.

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