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Mobile is the fly in Microsoft’s ointment.

(I had intended this to be the point at which I ripped Microsoft a new one for its lack of mobile focus; but honestly it doesn’t really move me)

Anytime I prepare to write about Windows and mobile I always pause  bit. Do I write a history on where it went wrong? Do I chastise Microsoft for its lack of mobile focus? Do I rant about how Microsoft should just come out and say they have nothing for phones? Maybe I do the big overview where I read the tea leaves and tell you that there is a plan?

I have no clue.

What I know is that Microsoft’s current posturing on mobile doesn’t work for either the company, their hardware partners, or users. Also the deal with Nokia provided a temporary relief by providing hardware but it wasn’t backed up by Redmond (and hurt relations with other hardware makers).

I also know that Microsoft is committed to mobile beyond being an app vendor. I also know that the mobile world is made up of iOS and Android and that’s it.

Lastly, I also know that Microsoft is working on an update to Windows mobile and views it as vital.

The issue right now is Windows Mobile is a non-factor in mobile beyond a handful of enterprises, phone enthusiasts, and fans. Microsoft should be clearer and provide a real roadmap for where its mobile entry is going.

And honestly that is it; that is all.

shocked-monkey

 

I loathe writing about politics, not because I hate it (I don’t and it was a major) but because stupidity it almost automatically generates. And this is no truer than in this election.

Donald Trump will be the 45th President of the United States and no one saw it coming. Oh I know one or two did, but most of us didn’t. And beyond the actual win was the way the map looked when it was all said and done. Basically it was these clusters of blue lining the edge of the country with the middle red as a red wedding.

This Presidential election was ugly. It was so ugly its primaries were ugly. And yes I am of the opinion that both the Democratic and Republican primaries were messy affairs that tainted the winners. The GOP’s base revolted from the kingmaker’s after years of the party playing it’s various cards and allowing political ideology to overcome common sense. That and a weak bench of candidates helped Donald Trump reach the convention podium.

And bless their hearts but the DNC doesn’t look better. Knowing Hilary Clinton was the preferred nominee is one thing; trying to play House of Cards while not being Kevin Spacey is another. Also Bernie Sanders did hurt Clinton by both: 1. staying in too long and 2. painting her into a corner as a corporate puppet. It did not help that Clinton is not personable in the way her husband or Barack Obama are. She is a wonk; she is built to be one who get’s it done and not the one to convey they feel your pain.

So we got through the primaries and ended up with the least optimal choices for the next leader of the free world. The Pussy grabber and the Crooked one. We operated under assumptions that there was no way in hell they’d elect him; I mean look at him.

Meanwhile Clinton spent part of the campaign dealing with one side that honestly thought they had been screwed and a coalition busy basking in the warm glow of Obama’s smile and pictures of him and Michelle. It became an election built around fear and anger and the deciding factor was a populist fuck you vote from people we discounted. So now we are here; except now it’s the America we were told we were becoming fearful of an America people thought died.

I’m getting to old to feign fear of the thoughts hidden inside other people. I’m getting to old to demonize people I disagree with. Life is too short. Right now people have gone from hand wringing to public outcry to attempting to move to Canada. We go online and wallow in information to shore up are choice or demonize others or gloat like pigs in a trough.

Maybe this was the right election and maybe Trump is the right man for the job if for nothing else we can stop lying to ourselves about the myth of America. Maybe it is the cynic in me but the glass at some point is half empty, not full. Sometimes we need the uncomfortable and the ugly to run around lest it fester. It doesn’t mean it won’t get better, but it does mean it gets more honest.

So I’ve been off; away from tech writing but still glued to technology. And while I have not been posting about the latest rumblings around it, I do have opinions which I now present to you. Apologies for the bad sentence structures beforehand.

 

Cook’s Apple

It’s hard to remember how positively received Tim Cook was as Apple’s CEO. His leadership was a major change of pace from the days of Steve Jobs. I’m reminded of those days again because now the chorus has changed. I’ve noticed in some of my reading around Apple a serious discontent on the part of longtime Mac users as well as professional Mac users feeling uncertain about it’s future.

The introduction of the latest MacBook Pro line has led to a bit of a social media backlash; with some seriously thinking of switching platforms or simply holding onto older Macs longer. To be honest to have such discussions being out there is weird giving the nature of Apple. Or maybe not.

Apple is no longer the company Steve Jobs founded in the seventies. It is not the company built on the back of the Apple II or Lisa. It is the Apple that he rebuilt in the late 1990s and whose fortunes can be tied back to the iPod and forward to iOS. This new Apple needs to maintain the iOS train while getting to the next big thing; unfortunately MacOS isn’t that and only exists until iOS can at least replace Mac laptops.

 

Beyond Mobile

Given how much disruption is supposed to be an underlying part of technology, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone asked what will disrupt mobile. In fact it’s hard to really look past mobile to any emerging or potential trend.

I mean tablets, smartwatches, and virtual reality have all been tied to mobile. Smartwatches are literally just there to be phone extensions. Media dongles like the Chromecast exist to extend the phone’s reach to your TV.

So what exists beyond mobile or is mobile so big we haven’t reached the edge yet?

 

Nadella’s Windows

This is something I will revisit later, but I want to start here. Satya Nadella’s time as head of Microsoft has been interesting to watch. He became CEO after what was largely a dark period for the company; maybe not in terms of profit, but in direction. Microsoft failed to successfully modernized its mobile efforts with Windows Phone and made missteps with developers. It made some moves to successfully move the company forward (Azure) and has seen success in the cloud while stumbling in the consumer market.

Much of the failings of the last decade were pinned to former chief Steve Ballmer who three years ago decided to retire and hand the reins to then Cloud head Nadella.

Now I’m not going to bore you with the overview; tl;dr of it is Nadella has been credited with a renaissance at Microsoft with new products and a rejuvenated workforce. For me the focus is on where Microsoft is going with Windows under Nadella.

Before recent reports; much of the news around Windows was about both the decline in the PC market and the innovation around Microsoft hardware. It’s weird but the PC’s decline has lead to a sort of resurgence. However for Nadella and Microsoft Windows and especially it’s mobile half are what keeps tongues wagging. And we may have an answer next year.

 

How bout dem Ghostbusters, huh?

Not crossing that red line? Okay then what about Man from U.N.C.L.E.? No

Divergent?

The Golden Compass?!

The movie franchise, a trend that has once again found it’s niche in the box office. Every movie company worth their salt wants one and will dig for any comic, game, book series, or web series to turn into the next big thing. Now the problem for most studios they tend to shoot the pistol before they pull it out the holster. They already making the sequel before they make a single buck on opening weekend.

So the that end let’s me provide my .02 cents on how to make a movie franchise work.

Step 1: Make the first movie GOOD
Okay so you have the next Star Wars on your hands. You know it, the writer knows it, the toy company knows it, and best of all the Execs know it. They’re already talking sequel, and this is where you need to walk gingerly. The first movie needs to introduce viewers to whatever world you’re imagining. Do not make a film that is essentially a 2 hour preview for its sequel. Just because you think there is another story to be told will mean it will. So make the first tale a complete one and worry about the sequel when you get it.

Step 2: Make sure you do Step 1
Remember the Golden Compass and I am Number Four

Step 3: Find a good Cat herder
Okay let’s be honest Paul Feig was a bad fit for Ghostbusters 2016. In fact the entire premise was if looked at from the larger plan SONY had for the IP. Feig is a director of R rated comedies and he had to both tone his stuff down and work on a franchise with a fan base outside his comfort zone and that he ended antagonizing/being antagonized by. So on the company side you need at least one person who get’s the mechanics of the franchise, potential/existing fan bases, and can manage the director if needs be. Yes this kills creativity but it’s your money.

Step 4: Picking the right Franchise
Easier said than done. For every Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, there is an Earagon. A premise may look good on paper but on film it flops hard. Sometimes it depends on timing. The 5th Wave was part of the post Hunger Games crop of YA Dystopian series; but it came after the craze was over. Also you need to be sure to think about any potential controversies that could derail a series. The Golden Compass series was one of the highest selling children series and made a no brainer except for the seemingly strong anti-religious tone of the series. Lastly, if you pull from the nostalgia files make sure there is some fans left; then try not to piss them off. This is the thing I think messed up the Lone Ranger, John Carter, and the Man from U.N.C.L.E.. People have to have some memory of the thing you’re pulling out of the bargain bin. And if they do you have to treat it with a modicum of respect. No one wants to see characters they love shat on.

Step 5: Make sure you’re doing Step 1, then Step 3, then 4
GO CHECK

Step 6: Determine whether you have a Franchise or a Cinematic Universe
Cinematic Universes have been the thing ever sense Marvel translated the titles it owned the film rights to into blockbusters. Now everybody wants one. But the question is do you? See there is a difference(SONY). A franchise is about one person or group that exists in a world where their the main actors. A Cinematic Universe on the other hand are a bunch of franchises that exist on their own but also in shared space/universe with others; their connected. So for example Marvel/Disney and DC/Warner have universes; they have individual titles and characters who share a world and interact in it. Ghostbusters on the other hand is a franchise. You can spin off a franchise into a cinematic universe but that involves creating a series that separates from the main into it’s own thing. But saying you have a universe when it’s just one series does not a universe make.

Step 7: Make friends with the Geeks (but not THAT close)
see Paul Feig and Ghostbusters 2016 or go on Twitter

Steps 8-10: Be China friendly, get good writers, Have Fun (duh)

Now the following is just me providing a slightly insightful opinion on the EU referendum. I am piecing together this opinion based on the some the stuff I’ve read and even then I am playing catch-up so there will be gaps. Also I’m limiting myself to talking about why the vote went the way it did so let’s start.

So that just happened.

Yesterday the United Kingdom held a referendum on whether to stay a part of the European Union (EU). The referendum went under the name Brexit for short.

Now you may have missed it (I’ll be honest it snuck up on me too) but you’re probably hearing about it now. Immediately following reports that the UK had voted “Leave”, the British Pound started falling in price and every type of market you could think off started dropping like flies.

 

So the European Union is a bit of an amorphous entity. The EU is a weird mix of an economic trade organization and quasi super state. The EU started as a way for the various industrialized nations of Europe to come together around economic trade. As time as gone on the European Union has become a government without going all the way; almost the United States of Europe. The EU has a currency, a parliament, no army, but can create binding laws.

 

The basic issue behind Brexit and why it came to a head in a referendum vote is complicated; much more complicated than either the Leave or Remain sides say. For some the vote is about immigration and others national control.

The Brexit vote has been seen by some as a nationalist rebuke of global trade and globalism. For others the referendum vote is seen as an exercise in anti-intellectualism and anger. And in many ways Brexit was all those things. the vote also reflects the fact that the UK has always been iffy on the EU; it did not switch over to the Euro (EU currency) and it has in conflict with the EU over various policy issues. It was a move by the current Prime Minister of Britain David Cameron to appease members of his own party and maintain power. Another view is it was a referendum highlighting growing anti-immigrant and right-wing sentiment in the UK; or a vote for Britain to be in control of it’s destiny.

 

The Brexit vote then came and the result is the UK is leaving the EU. The fallout has been immediate.

For me the interesting thing has been reading the comments on Twitter. Most people in my timeline are/were for remaining in the EU; so they are upset. I think a lot of them thought that their fellow countryman would see through the rhetoric of the Leave campaign and vote to stay in the EU. And in the aftermath many are decrying the voters who turned out and voted to go as anti-immigrants, racists, bigots, xenophobic, and short-sighted.

Sort of how they viewed them all along.

In my opinion this is where the Remain side failed. The problem that faced those who wanted to remain in the European Union, the big one, was they couldn’t sell it. Any campaign that wants to win has to make a strong narrative and tie it to a simple slogan. You have to get voters attention and keep it long enough to have impact in the voting booth. The second problem with the remain camp, especially online, is they were too busy decrying the type of voter that voted Leave while not making sure their voters hit the polls. See talking shit only makes sense when you can insure yours turn out; and this hits on the third issue.

The people behind the Leave campaign seem to have been more organized than the Remain camp. I mean they had an easier time because they could make the case that leaving the EU was an act of reasserting control. They could appeal to national pride. What was the story for the Remain vote? I mean if I went by Twitter then much of it was about the type of voter that would vote to leave and EU benefit vagaries. It also didn’t help that most of the pro-EU talk sounded like veiled threats. Leave the EU and we won’t fuck with you says such and such business. I should point out here that another issue with the Remain side is they didn’t really confront the anti-EU sentiment of the public meaningfully.  A big unanswered question, in my opinion, was how do you answer those who feel left behind by this thing you’re for?

The fact is Brexit went the way it did for a lot of reasons, but the big one may be an undercurrent of real distrust with the system we have. And that is something to think about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If we see real gun control after the Orlando shooting, I will be surprised.

Actually it would be ironic given how much money is spent to protect 2nd Amendment rights after similar events.

You know fuck this shit.

I am glad people are tired of the homophobia (even if they practice it) and they wear the rainbow and holler love is love and bitch about Conservatives for their various sins against the country and politics.

I love the various think pieces describing the act as either anti-gay and/or terrorist. I love how we say shit gets better, while also getting reminded how much gun violence happens in the United States of America.

Thank you and fuck you all the same like we needed a reminder.

Why is it this event is the catalyst for all this soul searching?

I mean really?

Now we aren’t safe?  Shit we have never been safe or secure.

So now that Isis’s name has been tossed around, we can all get on board banning weapons that clearly are for the maiming of human life.

Where was this when inner city violence was spiking? Or is it no one gives a damn if random brown bodies have holes and neighborhoods get turned over for bullshit.

The cynic in me doesn’t believe the little rainbow pin on your chest nor the monologue coming out of your damn mouths.

Apathy is sometimes the only true defense against madness….but only to a point.

Last night in Orlando, Florida a shooting happened. At the time I am writing 50 were killed and 59 injured when a gunman held club goers at the Pulse hostage. The club was a gay hotspot and the shooter was apparently an ISIS sympathizer committing the act in their name.

It was a heinous act we will add to list of acts that will be analyze for the next few weeks. So the story will go through the familiar beats: The killer, the victims, the outrage, the larger context, the handwringing, the posturing, the update, and the fade away. We will make statements condemning the attack. We will make statements how this act will be met with defiance, love is love, and how this will get better.

But will it?

Beyond gun control. Beyond closing down Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. Beyond PSA’s and hashtags; what do you do to put the demon back in the pit?
We have this epidemic that is happening because the world is changing and some honestly are confused by it all. There is this new world being built that is different than the one we had and it makes some angry and some uncomfortable and other’s feeling disconnected. And that disconnect is slowly being filled by things that honestly are killing people.
I mean has anyone heard how we describe ISIS? It feels as much like a viral epidemic than a terrorist organization. The collection of mass shooters seemed to be bound together by this disconnect from the world that sees them try to reassert order by violent means. And these people are not strangers or freaks; they come from next door.
And every time this violence happens we examine what went wrong. We find people to blame; but we all forget about it afterward.
There is only so much that can be said before the words become meaningless because the ones that need reaching can’t hear. And until they can be reached the cycle will continue.