Monday, December 28, 2009

Banish the Mouse

We use a lot of technology in our lives that really should have been consigned to history a long time ago. Today's topic ... the mouse.

The computer mouse is an outmoded, unwieldy device that still stumps beginning computer users. It is supposed to act as a "pointing device," even though the Lord gave each one of us several highly flexible pointing devices at the end of each arm. We should be rid of the mouse, and here are just three reasons why ...

  • Pointing
    Touch screen technology is getting better and better, and corporate purchasers should demand that it become more and more affordable over the next 12 months. Web links, launching programs, and moving files around can all be done by substituting touchscreen technology for the mouse, without any new software development whatsoever.
  • Drawing
    Creating lines, boxes, circles and other forms is virtually impossible without invoking a pre-defined shape from within a program. In fact, I am not sure it is possible to create a worse drawing instrument than the mouse. It was once described as trying to draw with a potato instead of a pen. Can we please move to the stylus? Please?
  • Click, Double-click, Right-click
    The all-time, hands-down winner of unintuitive device design. At least Apple just went with one button. My Microsoft mouse has four, plus a scroll-wheel. No wonder it takes years to get really productive with a PC!

I suspect that I'm tilting at windmills, but am I wrong? Isn't there a reason why the good SmartPhones and PDA's don't have pointing devices anymore? The most successful SmartPhones in the past 10 years?
The iPhone. The BlackBerry Storm. And now, the Droid.

What is the common thread? Sophisticated, inexpensive touchscreen technology. No stylus. No track ball. And best of all, NO MOUSE.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Windows 7 is helping in interesting ways

When Microsoft released Windows 7 in the fall, it began to release a modest amount of pent-up computer purchasing demand. According to research done by Andy Golub at ChangeWave, companies have been holding off non-essential PC purchases in hopes of bypassing Vista altogether. Now that Win7 is coming as the default operating system on new systems, corporate purchases of PCs is beginning a modest recovery. As the chart here suggests, next quarter's PC purchases will could approach levels not seen several years.

Most of my clients are still using Windows XP, and we are now starting to plan the rollout of Win7 as a focused effort in 2010. Have you considered how Windows 7 will impact your business? Does your IT team have a plan for utilizing the new operating system? Now is the time to start the process so that your firm can be ready when the inevitable life cycle replacements become critical.

Read more from this ChangeWave blog post ...
Windows 7 Accelerating Corporate PC Purchasing

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Will democracy kill Firefox?

Mozilla has been talking about the next major revision of Firefox, version 4.0, which is slated for release some time in 2010. A series of ideas have come to light, including a "ribbonized" browser, using similar user interface ideas as Microsoft Office 2007. ComputerWorld reports that "users blasted the idea" and that Mozilla backed away from that terminology.

The great power behind Firefox is that it was created by a group of independent developers who were not bound by the requirements, biases, and pre-conceived notions of a major public company. But when a vocal minority hijacks the creative process, then those developers lose their independence. They are now being led by that minority and not by their own creativity. Their creativity may or may not produce the best ideas every time, but it will produce the most innovation. I suspect that the superiority that Firefox enjoys will begin to fade as the developers listen more to the voice of the "people" than they do to their own crazy thoughts.

Here is the Mozilla's Firefox Roadmap ...
Firefox in 2010

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Microsoft still dominant in web browsers

With today's release of Firefox 3.5.6, I thought it would be worthwhile to look at the changes in market share for the major web browsers. Over the past three months, the data at W3Counter indicate that we seem to have entered a period of detente.

This chart shows that much of the bluster about Chrome's market share versus Firefox versus IE is just white noise. Over the past three months, Internet Explorer 8 has been becoming the most popular Microsoft browser, as well as the most used browser over all. While its 3-month average is still just below IE7, the trend is unmistakable. In aggregate, the family of IE browsers was the choice of over 51% of all web users.

Firefox is still the dominant #2 browser, with over 31% of web use being conducted with the popular open source Mozilla product. Google's Chrome has rapidly laid hold of just over 4.5% of browser use, and is holding steady at that mark.

There are web developers that insist on ignoring Microsoft's position in the market. Any expectations of significant success for their application are unrealistic.

Read more about ...
Firefox 3.5.6 patch at
Global Web Stats at

Monday, December 14, 2009

Will the Tablet kill the Netbook

Market analysts are starting to predict the demise of the netbook. A ComputerWorld contributor, Mike Elgan, has published his vision of seven key attributes that will vault the tablet to the top of the mobile computing heap within the next few years. Here is his list ...
  1. Touch instead of pen
  2. Cell phone operating systems
  3. Cheaper components
  4. App stores
  5. The rise of e-books
  6. Faster mobile broadband
  7. HD video on demand

For a few of these, Mr. Elgan has a point. Certain functions are more intuitive when invoked with a finger, rather than with a stylus. Writing, of course, isn't one of them. But just about everything else we do with a computer is. There is a reason, after all, that we instruct users to "POINT and click." And humans point with their fingers, not with a stylus. Orchestra conductors are exempt from this generalization, of course.

Cell phone operating systems are far more robust and capable than they were just a few years ago. This is the primary point of device convergence that is emerging in technology. And of course, as economies of scale emerge in tablet technology, prices should begin to soften.

Beyond these points, though, the author is making too large of a leap, in my view. Faster mobile broadband and HD Video will not play a role in the spread of tablet PCs. Neither will app stores or e-Books.

The only driver for tablet adoption will be PRICE.

Ask any business user. Every single one of them will tell you they'd love to have a tablet, but ... But what?
They are too expensive!!

When tablets are priced competitively with middle grade laptops, their use will explode.

Read Hello, tablets. Good-bye, netbooks! by Mark Elgan, ComputerWorld

Monday, December 7, 2009

Google and IBM: the best cloud solutions

Evans Data Corporation, a software development research firm, conducted a study earlier this year to identify the best public and private cloud solutions. The company surveyed hundreds of software developers, asking them to rate cloud platforms across a number of areas, including of scalability, reliability, security, and openness.

The clear winner, in the public space, is Google. 31% of respondents view Google as providing the most scalable offering, with Amazon coming in at a distant second with less than 18% of respondents.

In the private sphere, IBM leads the pack, especially in areas of security, receiving a top ranking from 21.7% of respondents. The race for the top spot is much closer, with Amazon earning the confidence of 20.2% of the responding audience.

These results confirm Google's market leadership in the cloud computing space. I believe this will prove to be an important, long-term revenue source for the company, as well as a reliable solutions for small to mid-sized businesses.

Read more ...
Study: Developers Pick Google, IBM as Top Cloud Platforms by Darryl K. Taft, eWeek
The survey report (free with registration)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Big news from Intel

The data center world is headed for major changes. Yesterday, Intel debuted a fully-functional, 48-core chip, which is expected to be 10 to 20 times more powerful than conventional dual- and quad-core chips. What this means is that today's data centers and server rooms, with 5, 10 or even 15 robust servers, can potentially be scaled back to 2 or 3 servers. This has significant implications for space planning, energy costs, and staffing.

While Intel is initially targeting cloud-based applications for this device, one can easily imagine mid-sized firms taking advantage of this technology. The chip is still in the research phase, and Intel has not announced plans for when it will be commercially available. However, they are expected to put 6-core and 8-core processors on the market early next year and important design elements of 48-core superchip will be integrated into Intel's products during 2010, as well. By early 2011, we will be seeing the 6-core chip finding their way into high-end workstations, which will have implications for capital expenditure strategies during that time.

Read the article at ComputerWorld:
Intel unveils energy-efficient 48-core chip
By Sharon Gaudin