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Oracle Heretic

10 Posts

Why Email Works Less Well Now


And What to Do About It

 

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At the risk of agreeing with the boss, I found Josh Kahn's blog post on email compelling. Admittedly, this is something I have been talking about for a while, so perhaps I can weigh in here.

 

 

Email is what I call a Primary Application (PA), by which I mean one of the first apps which was developed after the creation of the IT industry. Almost without exception, all PAs automate some process which is now legacy. For example, word processing automated typing. Spreadsheets automated green-bar ledger accounting, and so forth. Email automated snail mail.

 

PAs share one thing in common: Since they were created in an environment in which the capabilities of IT were not yet fully realized, they always take poor advantage of computing, and end up often being more of a nuisance than a help. Email is certainly one of these.

 

I think that EMC wants us to do much less email, and much more social networking, in exactly the manner that Josh indicates. By pushing our communication to social networking instead of email, it becomes more reusable. Intelligence which is lost in an email distribution thread is preserved in an online, searchable format. Privacy concerns can be easily addressed by using a private community.

 

The other intangible is the ability to listen in and participate in conversations which otherwise would simply be missed. There are more interesting things on twitter now for me at least than there are on email. That's for sure!

 

Not that we will ever fully escape from the snare of email. But as Josh say, we can develop filters and strategies to make email less a burden. But long term the strategy is clear: Push email conversations to social networking.

 

I am constantly performing the following maneuver:

 

  • I receive an email.
  • My normal inclination is to simply respond to the email. I am now training myself to resist this impulse.
  • Instead, I go to the relevant community (say, Everything Oracle @ EMC), and create an appropriate object to discuss this issue (often a question or discussion).
  • I then respond with a link to that object, which now contains the answer the person is looking for. I require them to click through to see the answer, though.

 

What am I doing here? I am saying to the person who sent the email:

 

  • Isn't this a much more interesting and useful way to communicate than email?

 

I will admit, it doesn't always work. But it takes very little additional time, and at least my answer ends up in a more useful context.

 

Thoughts on this strategy?

jive.png

Working with Graphics in Jive


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I keep getting asked the same question over and over again. So I thought I would write a blog post about it. The question is basically:

 

  • What's up with copy / paste of graphics into Jive?

 

And so here goes:

 

The Big Picture

 

Jive does not support pasting graphics into a rich text document. Or any other location for that matter. Period. End of subject. No discussion. Yeah, I know. That really sucks. OK, let's move on.

 

You will notice that pasting text into Jive does work. But this also comes with some risks. More on that later.

 

Once you accept that you cannot paste the graphics in, the question becomes:

 

  • What's the most efficient way to get graphics into Jive?

 

I have spent a lot of time working on that one. Basically what I have come up with is this set of heuristics.

 

Microsoft Word

 

Many of my team like to work in Word. Even my manager says he likes to work in Word. I can sympathize. My first suggestion to anyone creating a document in Word with the intention of moving it to Jive would be: Don't use Word as a rich text editor. Instead develop your document in Jive. Yes, slightly risky, because of Jive's notorious document save bug (basically a silent failure of the document to save, causing you to lose work if you have not copied your work somewhere else).

 

Which gets to where Word actually does work: As a scratchpad repository for Jive content. When you save a document (especially one which you have not saved for a while), it is a good idea to copy that content out of Jive and into something like Word. (This leads to the obvious subject of how to migrate from Word to Jive: Don't worry, I cover that next.) That way, if Jive fails to save the document, you haven't lost your document. (You have no idea how many times this has saved me time.)

 

But then, again, you have your content in Word and now want to move it to Jive. Or possibly you have a Word document which contains content you want to repurpose in Jive, including graphics. How do you move content from Word to Jive? I have also spent a bunch of time on that.

 

First of all, copy / paste is generally not your friend in the case of Microsoft Word and html. Word has a tendency to put tons of stray tags into your content when you paste into a rich text editor from Word. Nasty stuff. Stuff you can't get rid of without the dreaded html editor.

 

So, for the text, simply do a full copy, and then for your paste do Shift-Control-V (Shift-Command-V on the Mac) instead of Control-V. That will paste as simple, unformatted text. Now you get to go apply your formatting again. Yeah, I know. That sucks. Did I mention that you probably should avoid Microsoft Word as an editor? You get the idea now, I think.

 

On the graphics, you will need to right-click each graphic in Word, and select Save As... Generally speaking, if you have a choice, choose .png. Otherwise, if the graphic is something else (say .tif, .bmp, .gif, or .jpg), then simply save it as is. I use my Pictures directory for this purpose. You might find some other place. The essence is that you need to save the graphic as a physical graphic file in a directory on your desktop or laptop, and that needs to be in a format that Jive understands. (Generally, Jive does all of the standard graphics formats fairly well, but does not like the product-oriented ones like .psd (Adobe Photoshop) or .ai (Adobe Illustrator).) Also, avoid anything which looks like Windows stuff (Microsoft Office graphics file, Windows Metafile, etc.).

 

Once you have a graphics file, simply insert that file into Jive in the normal manner, i.e. clicking on the picture icon in the toolbar, selecting the file, etc. Annoyingly, once you have the graphic in the document, you will notice you can copy / paste it just fine! Enticing. You can even copy it out of Jive and into Word. Arrghh! But, no, like I said, pasting into Jive doesn't work. OK?

 

By this method, and with careful parallel editing (I recommend side-by-side windows, one in Jive and one in Word for this operation), with care and patience, you can get your content out of Word and into Jive.

 

Microsoft Excel Charts

 

Given what I said above about Word, of course, Excel charts need to be pushed to a graphics file (again, choose .png), and inserted into Jive in the normal manner.

 

Microsoft PowerPoint

 

Repetition of the obvious point is not necessary, but there is one nice little trick in PowerPoint that I figured out a while back. The germ of the idea came from my boss, Sam Lucido. He likes to use PowerPoint as a graphics file editor. (And why not? PowerPoint is a decent little graphics editor in my view, far better than Visio. But I digress.) Anyway, you always have the option in PowerPoint to push anything graphical to a graphics file, simply by selecting it and right-clicking on it, and selecting Save As Picture.... This can include all of the PowerPoint graphics objects, embedded graphics, groups, whatever. Anything other than text in other words.

 

You can also do something similar with an entire slide if you want to by selecting Save As... and then choosing .png. You are asked if you want to convert the current slide, or all slides. It is very handy to do all slides, as you end up with a folder containing a single .png file for each slide. I generated this graphic in that manner, for example:

 

OpenArchitecture.png

 

So, that's it. Once you get used to working with graphics in Jive, it becomes second nature. Remember to have fun, and play with it a bit.

Oracle Heretic

Why RAMP Teams?

Posted by Oracle Heretic Jan 27, 2014

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Is RAMP a Team Sport?


And Why I Should Care?

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I was asked today to explain a bit about the approach my manager (Sam Lucido) and I have come up with on optimizing RAMP points across teams. In my previous post on this subject, I spoke a bit about the approach itself, and how it is fairly easy (with a bit of time and effort) to hugely increase RAMP points.

 

What I did not cover was the why. What is it that EMC (and other IT companies with similar Badgeville-based gamification social networking sites) is trying to accomplish, exactly? Why encourage these particular activities? Why the big emphasis on ratings and comments, for example?

 

Remember that I started functioning as a professional website developer back in the early 1990s. Yeah, I know. The dawn of time and all that. Yes, I am an old guy, and I have been around. What that means to you, though, is that I am steeped in this stuff. It goes all the way to the bone.

 

Now, looking at the behavior which EMC encourages us to participate in, and combining that with a long-standing familiarity with the way the web (and particularly Google) works, I can tell you that RAMP is fairly brilliant. (Admittedly, the genius behind RAMP is undoubtedly Badgeville, but still.)

 

What EMC is trying to accomplish is a fundamental shift in the culture. Let me explain.

 

EMC has historically been populated by lots of guys like me. You know, techies, like to use vi, grep, awk, perl, and all the rest. A geek. Historically, we geeks tend to communicate in three ways:

 

  • Email
  • Con calls
  • Sitting in conference rooms

 

Now, I can tell you that those are perfectly acceptable means of communication for many purposes. However, if you are an IT company, and you want to promote your message into a technical audience over the internet, these modes of communication, really, really suck. And they need to be (largely) replaced by another mode of communication which is far more effective at facilitating real change: Social networking.

 

I'll give you a practical example to make all of this become real. My good friend and co-teammate Matt Kaberlein asked a question over email recently. This question was:

 

  • What is VMware's current thinking on allowing vMotion of VMs running Oracle RAC with RDMs for shared storage?

 

Now, I did not know the answer. I will readily admit that. But I knew who would know: Don Sullivan, Kannan Mani, and all of those guys over at VMware.

 

At that point, I had a choice. I could either simply forward Matt's email to Don and Kannan (old habits). Or I could create a question on the community, and then forward the link to that question to Don and Kannan, and ask them to answer it. This resulted in this question, which as you can see if you click through, has been viewed a very respectable 232 times (as of this writing), and has been commented upon numerous times.

 

Now, my old behavior would have resulted in no RAMP points. It would have solved the problem. Matt would have known the answer to his question, and in the process his life would have been enhanced. Great.

 

But by simply changing my behavior very slightly (at minimal additional cost in terms of time), I not only earned 180 points for raising the question, I also got another massive hit of points from all of the comments.

 

Now, that's great for me. I got buckets of RAMP points. Cool. But is it good for EMC? You betcha.

 

Email as a communication modality truly and profoundly sucks because it creates brief, ephemeral bursts of intelligence which are very poorly captured and leveraged. Using social networking as an alternative captures that intelligence and shares it. This makes all of that great information (which in our case was obviously very interesting to many folks) available to a wider audience.

 

So, what is it that EMC is asking of us? Simple: Become social networking aware professionals. Shift our communications mediums away from low value methods like email and con calls and into the direction of blog posts and webcasts.

 

Again, much of this is simply changing habits. The work remains the same. The technical content itself is always there, and there are practical problems (like vMotion of SAN-based Oracle RAC nodes) that need to be solved here. But the way that these problems get solved and issues get addressed needs an upgrade.

 

Hence RAMP. RAMP forces us to change our habits. And that's good in my view.

I just passed 50,000 RAMP points, and that puts me into a new category: 128KB. I still don’t completely get the nomenclature on the RAMP levels (1KB, 2KB, etc.), but I did find the explanation on the RAMP community about what the levels are, and the point requirements for each.

 

Sam asked me to send out a set of tips on earning points. Here goes:

 

  • Update your status as often as possible (daily would be good). I don’t always do this, but it is an easy way to earn points. You get to earn some points each time you update your status, limit of 1X per day.
  • Rate other folks’ content. You can earn points for rating stuff up to 5X per day. I rate everything I read, unless it is literally ridiculous to do so, especially content created by our team members. This helps them too. See the next tip on comment for why.
  • Comment on other folk’s content. Another major point earner. No daily limit on this one. I comment on almost everything I read, especially content produced by our team. This also helps in terms of the entire team earning RAMP status, because having your content commented upon earns you points and badges. Thus, you are helping the team earn more points by commenting on their content, similar to rating them.
  • Blog. This is the biggie. Lots of points for blogging. Sometimes I push out similar content to multiple communities for this reason. For example, many times the same content can be reused on both our community and the VMware community. However, you should do so on different days, as you only get points for blogging 1 time per day.
  • Tweet out your blogs. This drives the page views up, and you earn RAMP points for having your content viewed a lot.
  • Follow people. I think everyone in our group should follow everyone else in the group. I certainly do. This helps in various ways. First, if you click through on the emails you receive from ECN, you earn the Frequent Visitor badge. Each click through counts as a unique visit, even if you are already logged in on another tab. I do find that I open an enormous number of browser tabs as a result. Some housekeeping is required. Also, when you follow someone (like a member of our team), you receive an email every time they create content. This gives you an obvious opportunity to click through, comment, and rate the content, which helps both you and the team. In terms of who and what I follow, I include the following:
    1. o All the members of our team, i.e. Sam, Indranil, Simon, George, David, Peter, Will, and myself. (If I forgot anyone, please let me know.) You can click through on each of the links I show above for the team, and simply click on Follow on the top right. That will result in an email to your Inbox every time they make a change on ECN.
    2. o Our community
    3. o The VMware community
    4. o The Microsoft community
    5. o The SAP community
    6. o I also follow EMC Forum and the Admin corner, although it’s your call on whether you want to follow those as well.

 

If you follow stuff and then make a habit out of clicking through on the emails, rating and commenting as appropriate, you will earn lots of RAMP points in no time. Plus, you will be helping the team earn points in the process.

Oracle Heretic

Technology Addiction

Posted by Oracle Heretic Nov 4, 2013

In a comment to my previous blog post, PeterHG postulated that Oracle can transform itself in the post-relational database era. I am skeptical with the idea that Oracle would eventually transform into something other than the dominant relational database company on Planet Earth. The issue I have with this is what my friend Andy Watson calls Technology Addiction.

 

The usual definition of technology addiction is when a person uses technology too much. I certainly have that. I regard a screen as being essential for me every waking hour of my life at this point. I simply consider that normal. Being addicted to technology in that manner is kind of like a teenager who likes to talk on the phone a lot. That teenage is not addicted to the phone. He or she is addicted to communicating with his or her peers. Similarly, I regard technology like the one I am using now as a communication channel. The fact that I communicate this way is therefore a normal for me.

 

My definition of technology addiction is instead focused on enterprises like Oracle, Sun, etc. Various IT companies develop what I call "religious convictions" about the nature of technology. It becomes very hard for those companies to reinvent themselves when those religious convictions no longer hold.

 

Sun was a great example. I was around NetApp during the early days of that company, and heard the company's deep story. The NetApp founders included some Sun guys who decided that the prevailing way of doing NFS was stupid. They saw what Cisco had done with the router. Before Cisco, routing had been done by taking a big, honking (say) Sun box, putting a bunch of NICs in it, and running routed. The cost of a router was thus in the low 5 figures (say around $15K). The genius of Cisco was that they immediately replaced this method with something better: A purpose built appliance that did nothing other than routing, but did so with much better performance, manageability, and cost than a general purpose UNIX box. The cost of a router fell by around 3X to about $5K.

 

The NetApp founders had an interesting idea: Let's do for file and print what Cisco did for routing. Similarly, up to that point, the correct way to do file and print was to take a big honking (say) Sun box, put a bunch of disks in it, and run nfsd, samba, CUPS, etc. The NetApp guys came up with a box called a filer. It did file and print, but nothing else. Like a Cisco router, it was cheaper, faster, more manageable, etc., than a general purpose computer.

 

They presented the idea to Scott McNealy. His question: Does it run UNIX?

 

Answer: No, it will run a purpose-built, proprietary OS which will be customized to do file and print, and nothing else. Based loosely upon FreeBSD, but not UNIX in the traditional sense.

 

McNealy then replied: Not interested.

 

McNeal was a UNIX bigot. If it did not run UNIX, he did not think that it was interesting. That directly led to the decline of Sun (although Oracle did not help out with that when Larry abandoned Sun as the default platform in the early 2000s). Before Sun went down the tubes, and even when they were still fairly healthy, they were dramatically eclipsed by NetApp. NetApp eventually had higher revenues and net income than Sun did, due to their explosive growth during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

 

So there you have it. Scott McNealy had a severe case of Technology Addiction, according to my definition. He was not able to transcend his religious conviction that UNIX was The Way. (Clearly, he was wrong about that, as we can see now. Other than AIX, all of the proprietary UNIX platforms are rapidly becoming legacy.)

 

Now, getting back to Oracle. Clearly, Oracle is closely associated with relational database technology. It is what is on the truck. That's what makes technology addiction so insidious for large IT companies. In order to reinvent themselves, they have to disrupt their current products. Think about it. In a given customer situation, assuming a particular workload needs to be managed, is Oracle likely to recommend a non-relational approach? I would say that is very unlikely. Oracle will lose a lot of license revenue for that workload, if they go with (say) a NoSQL approach. Hence the ambivilence and inconsistency that Larry Ellison has demonstrated on the subject of Cloud Computing (on the one hand, bashing the idea, then seemingly embracing the cloud, only to distance himself again when he changed the "c" in 12c from "Cloud" to "Consolidation".

 

So, my question: Will Oracle successfully reinvent themselves in a post-relational world? Time will tell, I suppose. But I must admit that I am a bit skeptical on that one.

An interesting discussion broke out recently on the VMware ECN community regarding the venue for upcoming tradeshows. Generally, EMC World is in Vegas, Oracle OpenWorld is in San Francisco, and VMworld alternates between the two. Since I generally do all of these shows each year, I spend a lot of time in these two cities.

 

In fact, I have stayed at two hotels more than any other in my entire long traveling career: The Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, and the Venetian / Palazzo in Las Vegas.

 

Anyway, the discussion on the VMware community had to do with these two cities as locations for our next trip. One of the participants in this discussion made the following statement:

 

But you'd have to admit, Jim, that in Vegas everything is within walking distance and that's a good thing too!

 

I had to laugh. What the writer meant was that it is possible to walk to the convention center (in the case of the Venetian / Palazzo, the Sands Expo) without going outside. That's because the strategy of a Las Vegas event like EMC World is for the hotel / casino to keep you in the property, gambling, eating, drinking, etc. without you ever leaving the building (with the possible exception of going to the pool).

 

Not so San Francisco. In the case of the Marriott Marquis, the Moscone Convention Center is about 1 block away. Yes, you do have to go outside to get to it though. But I suspect for most participants, the Moscone is closer than the Sands Expo. That's because Las Vegas properties are so huge, and you are required to walk fairly far in order to get around in the property.

 

I must admit that I do like the Venetian / Palazzo. But, having said that, Las Vegas is closed and non-green (brown?). There is no effective public transportation, so, again, you are pretty much stuck at the property the whole time you are in Vegas, unless you resort to cabs.

 

I have previously written on this blog that I dearly love riding on (and figuring out) public transportation systems. San Francisco is no exception. While certainly not perfect, San Francisco's public transportation is as good as it gets in the US, in my experience. Well, maybe the DC Metro is better. But San Francisco ain't bad.

 

I have been known to go down to the Powell Station (less than one block from the Marriott), and take the Muni to Golden Gate Park, over 5 miles away from my hotel. Cost: Around $4. A cab would be vastly more expensive, and burns lavish amounts of carbon.

 

The openness of San Francisco appeals to me too. There are a couple of fairly good restaurants in the Marriott, but there are literally hundreds of non-affiliated restaurants within easy walking distance. You can simply explore, or the concierge will arrange whatever you like, at a restaurant that the Marriott is not associated with in any way.

 

Not so in Vegas. There are over 30 restaurants in the Venetian / Palazzo. And some of them are terrific, no question! Morels is as good a steak place as I have found. Ditto for Pino. Ottos is incredible, old-school Italian. No question, there is some great stuff here, easily as good as San Francisco. What I find galling, though, is how you end up frequenting only the property restaurants. Again, a closed strategy.

 

Of the two, I will make no secret that I prefer San Francisco. But Vegas is OK, too.

Oracle Heretic

Ekman

Posted by Oracle Heretic Oct 31, 2013

Since today is Halloween, I thought I would write about something a bit different. One of my favorite TV shows is Lie to Me, the crime drama featuring Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman, the inventor and main practitioner of a form of lie detection. Lightman uses facial expressions which flash briefly on the face, called "microexpressions" to tell when someone is attempting to evade the truth.

 

Turns out this is not all science fiction. There is a literal person who is the basis for the Dr. Lightman character, and that is Dr. Paul Ekman. This guy co-discovered the fundamental nature of human facial expressions, and the manner in which they represent our emotions. Wow! That's a fundamental discovery, for sure.

 

I have been downloading and consuming everything I can about Dr. Ekman. I am burning through his most popular book, Unmasking the Face, as I write this.

 

I suppose what I find so compelling about this is the nature of what Dr. Ekman discovered. It seems that we all have the same emotions, and we all express those emotions in virtually identical ways. This stuff is all hard wired. There is no "language" for emotions, like there is for verbal and written communication. A language is a piece of culture which is layered on top of our other hardware. Emotions are much more basic than that. They are literally hardwired into our consciousness, facial expressions and all.

 

That's completely incredible to me. I did not know that, at least not nearly to the extent that I do now, before I started seriously studying Dr. Ekman.

I like to talk about this idea I call a "dead tech". Most folks misunderstand what I mean by this. For example, I once told a professional librarian that the paper book is a dead tech. (Yeah, I know, not the most diplomatic thing I could have done that day. Whatever.) Anyway, she proceeded to argue about the virtues of paper books. Yes, they are very stable. Yes, they have a visceral sensual element which e-Books lack. But paper books are a dead tech nonetheless. Why?

 

Simple: If you (or any other reasonably sane person on the planet) was asked to invent a way for humans to communicate, you would not come up with the idea of cutting down trees, sending them to paper mills, etc., to do so. No, you would place this problem in the context of currently-available technology, and you would invent something reasonable.

 

Another example would be the car. I drive a Chevy Volt as my personal ride, which makes me an early adopter, I suppose. Even so, when I drive my Volt, I am constantly struck by how stupid a technology the car is. Of course, the car is stupid: It was derived from the horse-drawn carriage. Again, no one in their right mind would invent the car at this point. Therein is the inherent nature of a dead tech: It is ubiquitous in the culture, but is no longer what is optimally needed. If you had a choice, you would do something else, and you will switch as soon as the option is presented to you to do so.

 

Now we get back to relational database technology. I have been around some form of relational database technology for almost all of my IT career. During the late 80s and early 90s I was involved in the infancy of the Apple Macintosh. I ended up becoming an employee of ACIUS, the publisher of 4th Dimension, a very early relational database system. In that role, I became personally acquainted with folks like Guy Kawasaki, C. J. Date and Frank Codd. Thus, I have been steeped in this stuff for many, many years.

 

All of this came to a head today when I was on a webinar with a company called Cloudant. These guys were touting their product which is a database as a service offering. In that regard, though, they made the following statement:

 

At this point, no one needs to use relational database technology, and absent cultural or political reasons, it is not appropriate to do so. Better tools exist to do the job.

 

Sound familiar?

 

Now, I am not delusional. Again, I am not saying that relational database technology is going to fall off of a cliff. No, relational database is going to be around far longer than anyone presently on the planet is going to be alive. That's because of the huge entrenched position that companies like Oracle Corporation have within large enterprise. But still (and this is the point of my blog), does the speaker on this webinar have a point?

 

Relational database technology is great for what I call "monetary data", i.e. data which is either about money, or largely about money. For data like that, you need the level of reliability, durability, recoverability, etc., that something like Oracle provides. Trouble is, many emerging areas of what we call Big Data are not monetary at all. Instead, they are all about us humans figuring out new and interesting ways to use the computer technology that we are carrying around in our daily lives. We do not need transactional consistency for our grocery list. Hence, relational database will inevitably decline in importance within IT. That is just going to happen in my view.

 

So, the question in my blog post's title remains: Is relational database a dead tech? You tell me. As usual, comments are welcome.

I just completed the EMC Forum 2013 RAMP Mission. This is quite easy to accomplish:

 

 

That's it. Details can be found on the EMC Forum 2013 Mission Briefing page.

 

Enjoy!

Oracle Heretic

Platform Wars

Posted by Oracle Heretic Oct 26, 2013

I recently returned from Barcelona, Spain, where I traveled for VMworld 2013 Europe. As usual, I was "traveling heavy" as I call it. Here is my charging station from my hotel room in Barcelona:

 

TowerofPower.jpg

 

I call this the "Tower of Power". I am charging six devices here, which include:

 

  • A MacBook Pro 17" which I am typing on as I write this. By far, my favorite electronic device of any kind. I am constantly embarrassed about how much better the Mac is than an equivalent Windows box. But more on that later. I just updated this device to Mac OS 10 Mavericks.
  • My EMC-supplied Lenovo Thinkpad, running Windows 8, fairly current build.
  • An Apple iPad 2, rather dated now, but still running the current iOS 7 build.
  • An Apple iPhone 4s, which has now gone into a state where it stubbornly refuses to update itself. This is a recurring problem, and I have spent time fixing this before, but since I don't really like this device very much, I am not willing to mess with it right now. As a result the iPhone is running the older iOS 6.
  • A Samsung Galaxy Tab 2. Also getting rather long in the tooth. But quite a capable device, for the money. Very favorably compares to the iPad, in my opinion. And the newer version, the Galaxy Tab 3 (which AT&T will not allow me to buy annoyingly) blows the iPad away, especially at the inflated price Apple is asking. Again, more on this later.
  • A Samsung Note 2 cell phone. This is my personal phone, and the device I probably use the most. A stunning phone overall. In every way this device blows the Apple iPhone away, and the new Note 3 is even better.

 

That means that I am presently carrying around every relevant platform known to man. Especially considering that I have a variety of Linux distributions running in VMs on both my Mac and Windows box. The question is, with that level of platform exposure, where I use all platforms available everyday, which one is better?

 

In my opinion, for the kind of work I do, I almost always figure out a way to use the Mac if I am going to be creating content. With VMware Fusion, on my Mac I have been able to create a mobile lab running 5 VMs:

 

  • 2 VMs running Linux as Oracle database servers
  • 2 VNX simulators as source and target storage arrays
  • A Windows client running things like Unisphere, EMC Replication Manager server, etc.

 

I am told that's a lot by most folks I show this to. I am able to do this on an 8 GB box because Mac OS is fairly stable and well-behaved, and the underlying mass storage is all SSD. Even when the device swaps a bit, performance is still OK. Thus, I can over commit the memory without a huge issue.

 

For any type of creative work, definitely the Mac is better. Even for browsing the web, or reading email, I would prefer the Mac over Windows at this point.

 

Not that I don't use the Windows laptop. I do, many hours per day. Especially for my corporate Outlook client which still runs better under Windows. Also, things like VPN, IM, and such, especially if they are supported by our IT folks, seem to work a bit more cleanly on the Windows box.

 

Now, how about the other devices? For the phone, no question, the Droid phones have the edge at this point, at least to me. Certainly, Droid is no less usable than iOS, and it is a lot cheaper. You can get a killer Droid phone for a fraction of the price of an iPhone. And I did. The Note 2 was around $200, and it kills the iPhone 5 that my wife bought (and returned) for $400. I see similar prices right now when I shop online at the AT&T store.

 

The tablet is similar. I had a platform moment earlier today. I have most of my online e-Books in the Nook marketplace because I started out with a Nook as my first tablet-like device. On the Droid devices, Nook is supported just like any other market. I can purchase books inside the app, no problem. With my iPad, though, when I finish reading the sample of a book I have downloaded, I cannot purchase that book inside the app. Similar restrictions exist for apps which sell music, video, etc.

 

Why the Apple restrictions? With Droid invading Apple's turf with the killer phones and tablets that are now available, Apple has to hold onto market share somehow. The way they are doing that is through jealous protection of the iTunes marketplace.

 

And therein lies the rub. As a person who prefers an open environment, where all of my personal data is available on all of my devices, Apple's proprietary strategy definitely hurts my feelings. (Enough that I threw down the iPad in disgust, and went and got my Droid device, so that I could go ahead and complete the purchase inside my app.)

 

As long as Apple can hold onto enough customers with that kind of stranglehold, they are not going to go out of business anytime soon. Question is: Does that lead to customer loyalty, or (like me) customer annoyance?

 

So where am I? On my desktop-like platform, I have yet to find anything better than the Apple device I am typing on now. For mobile, I think the tides may be turning against Apple. I wish Apple well, always have. I was a Mac user way back in the 80s and 90s. I think Steve Jobs is one of the greatest humans to have ever graced this planet. Problem is, I have a job to do, and a life to live. My devices need to empower me, not encumber me. I am currently choosing to embrace Droid while I stay on Mac OS for my full-blown desktop. But I am very promiscuous when it comes to platforms, as you can tell.