Month – January 2012

The Northern Spy – Tempus Fugit


February 2012

or, “Time flies like an arrow,”
if we would marry Virgil’s observations on its irretrievability to the unidirectional dictum of modern physics. “Time’s a wasting,” is an apt observation in any day and age, and for all that a week now seems a relative eternity in Internet time, we assume that the flight of time still takes place at the same speed in some external time-inertial frame of reference, call it eternity or what you will.

Certainly investors seem to have concluded that time has already flown for RIM, which benighted company resolved to solve its market share problems by appointing a company insider to be its great helmsman, only to see its shares plummet. Excuse us, but the Spy fails to see how someone who’s been part of the problem these last several years can suddenly morph into the solution. It is for situations like this that the expression “changing deck chairs on the Titanic” was coined.

Frankly, the Spy doubts that Steve Jobs himself could save RIM now. If the greatest catastrophe that can befall a teacher or other person in authority is loss of respect, the greatest that can befall a high technology company when time is flying this fast is perceived irrelevance. The fifteen seconds of fame is over. The Spy’s Fourth Law implies a corollary. Loss of mindshare precedes loss of marketshare, but the lag time is much less. Months will tell the tale, and the most strenuous efforts can only delay the inevitable. You did read here first about the impending Kodak bankruptcy, did you not?

Speaking of which, the former film company’s woes (what is film, anyway?) have now been compounded by Apple’s claim to own the firm’s digital patents in view of joint work done on those projects. Kodak may not be able to raise much money under the circumstances, and is left hanging by a thread.

Oh, and there is a parallel aphorism that the Spy frequently uses in his classes to illustrate the difficulty of teaching the English language, with its confusing overlap of words sometimes used for nouns, adjectives and verbs in vastly different contexts. In the spirit of “Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo”, it goes:

…and Fruit flies like a banana.
which is likewise a propos of the slowly rotting MS hegemony, so well brought out in ironical relief by the Wisconsin decision to use money obtained from antitrust proceedings against MS, not to purchase more MS product at penitently self-serving reduced prices as they might have done a decade ago, but to purchase Apple product instead. The corpse of W*nd*ws is not yet cold from the self-inflicted wounds of arrogance and lack of innovation, but it’s already starting to putrefy. As RIM illustrates, the canonical next step is to fire the CEO and replace him with an insider who will say “We are already on the right track; all we need is a little time to do more of the same a little louder and people will re-embrace our vision.” Sorry, but the enterprises has begun to follow the general public and embrace Apple instead. The movement has become a mass migration.

Simply put, we’re getting little from anyone outside the Apple camp because there’s nothing much to give. Nemo dat quad non habet (sometimes loosely translated as “A Scotsman cannae give ye his pants.”).

Apple’s startling (to some) quarterly results and its consequent propulsion into first place in market capitalization (ahead of Exxon) is but further evidence that the cusp has passed. The Spy expects Apple’s share of the overall computing market to accelerate further over the next couple of years into the twenty percent plus range for desktops and laptops combined (though it will be far larger than reported if you call handhelds and pads computers).

The Spy does believe that Apple and the Google allies will have to come back together to negotiate patent sharing eventually rather than continuing to hand hundreds of millions to lawyers, but the cold hard reality these days is that Apple innovates and everyone else imitates. Microsoft got away with copying Windows from the Apple OS because of loose licensing, but the shameless coping going on now is doomed to failure.

Errare humannum est,
but to really foul things up it takes a computer. The Spy was recently chided at Church because a mailing of popular devotional books abruptly ceased (and he’s the guy who arranges such things.) Enquiry elicited the explanation that a Canada Post computer program checking address validity of the mailing list in question had inexplicably removed large numbers of correct addresses due to a “glitch”, and the mailer had no way of knowing which ones had been removed unless the affected individuals contacted them. Supposedly we’ve been added back in, but won’t know until we see them. Even if entirely true, the incident reveals an over-reliance on the computer software. There oughta be a backup scheme.

For the Spy, said redundancy is sometimes in the form of paper. He was reminded of the value of this recently when twice in a week he clicked on an old file only to discover that he had no program that could read it. Spreadsheets from before about 1997 can no longer be opened, and his older mark books kept in a proprietary program written in Pascal back in the eighties are also no longer readable. Good thing he has a filing cabinet full of paper copies, the ultimate backup.

And, lest you chuckle, consider the fate of data on other media such as tape, floppy disk, CD, and even Blu-Ray. The first two are gone, the third is going, and the last will never pick up all the business. Data, including music and video, is stored and retrieved from the cloud these days, not via physical media. The Spy does not expect any computers to have physical media readers five years from now, except for solid state “drives”, and they likely built in. What will that do to your backup strategy?

Nothing remains static,
including one’s software experience. (and if you were expecting a proverb that starts “the more things change”, it’s French, not Latin.) The Spy has previously praised commercial backup program GoodSync, and been cautious about donationware competitor Carbon Copy Cloner. However, he has discovered that the speedy former has slowed down with time, taking ever longer to complete a backup (can’t tell why), whereas the even speedier and much lighter latter has added features to the point where it is a worthier contender for backup honours than before. The only thing it now lacks is the ability to create jobs that can be run with a simple click (it has timed jobs, so this is a curious omission).

Likewise, things are shifting around a little among Bible programs for the Mac. Accordance is still the nine hundred pound gorilla, especially for scholars, but Logos is coming on, adding features and convenience. Their iOS reader took a huge step forward recently with the addition of the NIV to the basic package. The Spy uses that translation enough so that its omission made the package unattractive, compared with the better established (on mobile platforms) Olive Tree software. He still prefers the latter, especially for its ease in side-by-side comparisons. Being able to pull up the Greek or Latin on the same page as an English version is a great advantage. And yet…and yet, on his Mac, for basic quick searches when preparing his adult Bible class lessons, he uses the simple Online Bible, which plugs along after all these years just being…indispensable.

As to cost, Accordance and Logos will set one back a grand or so depending on which book package you purchase. The Logos iOS reader depends on your PC/Mac purchase and is of little value with out it. Olive Tree and Online Bible give away the reader along with assorted public domain Bible versions and other books, then of course charge for individually priced modern translations still in copyright. In the end, the latter model is far less expensive, even if less comprehensive.

One more caveat: The latest Olive Tree package for the Mac runs only under Lion, and the Logos package requires an Intel processor.

Speaking of change and processors,
have you got an office pool going on the date Apple will dump Intel as it did the PowerPC, and only sell hardware with A-series chips of their own design (and possibly manufacture)? The Spy has a sneaking suspicion it will be this year.

Do you have a pool going on the date Apple’s share price will pass $500? $600? The month Apple becomes a trillion dollar company? On the date Apple will announce a dividend? Buy or build a chip fabrication plant? Announce their own network? Introduce a radically new television product? Buy a slightly used country out of bankruptcy?

Finally, if all that Latin is Greek to you,
the Spy offers “Quidquid Latine dictum sit, altum videtur”–if you say something in Latin, it sounds profound..

–The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor and chair of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several organizations, including in the corporate sector, and participated in industry standards at the national and international level. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and six novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he’s a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to ArjayBB.com. Participate and you could win free web hosting from the WebNameHost.net subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe’s fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon’s Booksurge.

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:
Arjay Books: http://www.ArjayBooks.com
The Northern Spy Home Page: http://www.TheNorthernSpy.com
opundo : http://opundo.com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http://sheaves.org
WebNameHost : http://www.WebNameHost.net
WebNameSource : http://www.WebNameSource.net
nameman : http://nameman.net
URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:
Booksurge: http://www.booksurge.com
Fictionwise: http://www.fictionwise.com
URLs for items mentioned in this column
Carbon Copy Cloner: http://www.bombich.com/
Siber Systems (GoodSync): http://www.goodsync.com/
OnlineBible: http://www.online-bible.com/maconlinebible.html
Logos: http://www.logos.com/mac

Brutal Deluxe Releases Fishhead Copier for the Apple IIgs

Antoine Vignau of Brutal Deluxe has posted a new software package for the Apple IIgs.  According to the posting:

Brutal Deluxe Software is proud to introduce Fishhead, the Caped Copier, to the Apple II community.

Fishhead is a GS/OS desktop file copier application. It offers several features which make it a powerful software for diskette and file preservation purposes:

  • Attributes preservation — All copied files keep their original date, time and other attributes (e.g. invisible or locked) information
  • Batch mode — Removable devices can be ejected and Fishhead will wait for the next medium to be inserted before copying it, and so on
  • Error handling — Fishhead does not stop on read errors, it copies as much data as possible
  • History log — The program displays and saves a log file including the result for each copied file from the source disk

Fishhead recursively copies files from a selected volume by chuncks of 256 bytes. The main idea is to recover as much data as possible from a bad medium. Fishhead has been tested (for months) on an Apple IIgs ROM 01 and ROM 3, with Appleshare (localtalk, netatalk) under System 6.0.1.

You can Download the program from the brutal deluxe website at:

http://www.brutaldeluxe.fr/products/apple2gs/fishhead/

 

Firefox 10 Released

Mozilla has updated their popular Firefox Internet browser to Version 10.  Their email client Thunderbird has also been updated to compliment the Firefox package.  The primary focus of these updates are the inclusion of  developer toos, giving the developer easy access to the HTML and CSS code associated with the website being viewed.  The latest implementation of Firefox also makes it easy to build WebGL 3 dimensional graphics without additional software.

The latest version includes the following fixes and updates:

  • New: The forward button is now hidden until you navigate back
  • New: Most add-ons are now compatible with new versions of Firefox by default
  • New: Anti-Aliasing for WebGL is now implemented (see bug 615976)
  • New: CSS3 3D-Transforms are now supported (see bug 505115)
  • HTML5: New <bdi> element for bi-directional text isolation, along with supporting CSS properties (see bugs 613149 and 662288)
  • HTML5: Full Screen APIs allow you to build a web application that runs full screen (see the feature page)
  • Developer: We’ve added IndexedDB APIs to more closely match the specification
  • Developer: Inspect tool with content highlighting, includes new CSS Style Inspector
  • Fixed: Mac OS X only – after installing the latest Java release from Apple, Firefox may crash when closing a tab with a Java applet installed (700835)
  • Fixed: Some users may experience a crash when moving bookmarks (681795)

To download Firefox 10 Browser

Apple (AAPL) Adds Nearly 2.50 in Pre-Market Trading

Apple Inc (AAPL) is trading at record levels this morning with the stock reaching the 455.45 USD a share price level at 8:32am.  Regular trading will begin soon and then the real test of the current market will begin.  If yesterday is any sample of what is to come today, then we could see  record highs throughout the day.   News items driving this is the news that Samsung lost another major battle yesterday in German courts with regard to the ban on their Galaxy products from being sold in the country.   This injunction included both the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Galaxy Tab 8.9 products.

Office2 Version 5.0.2 Released

Byte Squared has updated  their Office2 suite to version 5.0.2.  The Office2 suite allows users to create and edit Word, Excel and Powerpoint files on their iPhone or iPad.  The $#5.99 App is a must for users who just cannot live without their Office suite.   Some of the changes in the latest version of Office2 Suite include:

☆ Document saving now preserves 100% existing content fidelity
☆ New page layout based document editor interface option
☆ Ruler bar with ability to set paragraph margins and tab stops
☆ Floating and inline images with multiple wrap options
☆ Floating shapes with embedded text and multiple wrap options
☆ Text boxes
☆ Footnotes and endnotes
☆ Ability to change paragraph spacing
☆ Ability to change line spacing
☆ Insert section breaks (continuous and next page)
☆ Insert page breaks and column breaks
☆ Ability to format text into multiple columns
☆ View headers and footers
☆ Improved support for right-to-left languages
☆ Revert to a previous version of a file

You can download the latest version of the Office2 Suite from the iTunes App Store at:

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id350399839?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4

Apple Stock Sheds Downward Trend and Jumps Back to Near Record Highs

Apple stock shed the downward trend it set in early morning trading yesterday and jumped $5.73 in regular trading closing at $453.01.   This close was up $5.73 from Friday’s close.  The stock jumped even further in after hours trading closing the late session up another 0.84 to end the day at $453.85 USD per share.  Rumors running through many news desks on the day were that the stock would push quickly tot he $500 USD per share mark, however, after moving up $5 early in the morning regular session, the rest of the day’s trading was mostly flat with just a slight upward trend.

Mouse Emulation added to JACE Apple ][ Emulator

JACE or Java Apple Computer Emulator has been updated once again by Brendon Robert.  The latest version of the emulator has mouse emulation implemented.   According to the release on CSA2, ”

  • Only “clamping” style mouse emulation is supported well, and it is supported VERY well.  It scales the mouse coordinates to the physical mouse, so it works seamlessly with the OS mouse too!
  • Interrupts and polling both implemented — polling seems to work pretty well at least.  Interrupts should work also, but I can’t tell if I’ve encountered something that uses interrupts or not…  :->
  • Resetting the mouse pointer to read relative mouse movement isn’t really implemented and could have unknown results.  I’m not sure what the effect of this would be but again, it’s a matter of finding something that uses the mouse that way.

While the implementation is still early, it does work with a number of mouse enhanced Apple ][ products.  It will not however, work with Dazzle Draw or Airheart.  Brendon is looking for help in the issue of the Resetting the Mouse Pointer as well as any insight into what could be happening with Dazzle Draw and Airheart.  You can download the emulator from the JACE page on Sourceforge at:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/java-ace/

To reach Brendon, you can check the CSA2 groups on Google and contact user BLuRry.

Apple hires new Senior VP for Retail Position

Apple has hired John Browett, former CEO of Dixons Retail to be the new Senior VP in charge of Apple Stores world wide.

Press Release From Apple:

CUPERTINO, California—January 30, 2012—Apple® today announced that John Browett will join the company as senior vice president of Retail, reporting to Apple CEO Tim Cook. Browett comes to Apple from European technology retailer Dixons Retail, where he has been CEO since 2007. Beginning in April, he will be responsible for Apple’s retail strategy and the continued expansion of Apple retail stores around the world.

“Our retail stores are all about customer service, and John shares that commitment like no one else we’ve met,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We are thrilled to have him join our team and bring his incredible retail experience to Apple.”

Prior to joining Dixons Retail, Browett held a series of executive positions at Tesco plc including CEO of Tesco.com. Earlier in his career he advised retail and consumer goods clients at Boston Consulting Group. He holds a degree in Natural Sciences from Cambridge University and an MBA from Wharton Business School.

Apple designs Macs, the best personal computers in the world, along with OS X, iLife, iWork and professional software. Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.


Apple Stock Down $1.58 in Pre-Market Trading

Apple is starting this week where it ended last week on a downward spiral.   While the record highs hit last week are still freah in people’s minds, the $445.70 USD per share at 8:17 AM EST is off by 1.58 or 0.35% per share.  News over the weekend included news of the lawsuit against Apple and other tech giants for colluding to prevent employees from jumping from one company to another,  While these claims have not been substantiated, they are the first serious challenge for Apple post Profit announcement.  There was also Tim Cooks response to the accusation that Apple is exploiting cheap Chinese labor and that Apple really didn’t care about the people building the products.

AT&T Updates Data Plans for Smartphones and Tablet Users

AT&T announced that they are upgrading their data plans for smartphone and tablet customers.  The new plans for Smartphones are as follows:

  • AT&T Data Plus 300MB: $20 for 300MB
  • AT&T Data Pro 3GB: $30 for 3GB
  • AT&T Data Pro 5GB: $50 for 5GB, with mobile hotspot / tethering

For Tablet users, the available plans are:

  • Keep their existing plan of 250mb for $14.99 a month
  • AT&T DataConnect 3GB: $30 for 3GB
  • AT&T DataConnect 5GB: $50 for 5GB

While these are better than the deals in amount of throughput, they still dont come close to the all you can use bandwidth Japan offers for $45 a month.

Source: AT&T Consumer Blog