Friday, December 30, 2011

Wrapping up the year in us

So 2011 was one of our more interesting years, as readers of this space may have noted. It started on a sad note with the passing of Jane's father, right after we had visited them for the holidays. He had had health issues for a number of years but it was still never something you expect to have happen, and he was the first of David's grandparents to be lost. Hopefully he won't lose any more for quite some time.

The remainder of the winter was lost in the record-breaking snows, with snow days to boot. I got to travel to NYC with David in April, while Jane went to visit her mother. June marked our first family trip of a week or more in almost two years. Between family issues and work we hadn't done that since July of 2009 when we went to Cape May.

Then, we came back and things really got busy. I made the fateful decision to run for office - the story of and results from have been well-documented here and I won't rehash it all. But from early July until November, that consumed us here. I worked on campaign activities (and my day job) while Jane and David went to Cape May at the end of July. Jane did activities for me when I went away Columbus Day weekend. It was pretty much at the center of everything.

While that all happened, David's school moved for a two-year stretch as he graduated to Grade 4. My business was able to continue improving our results from the horrible 2009, and we began the process of spinning off our database and CRM efforts into a separate company (I'll still have a hand in it but not daily). I lost an employee in mid-November who was very good, and I think he had a great opportunity. But the way they forced him to leave with only the minimum notice - well, there's a certain company that makes home music systems that I won't be using or recommending. Their name starts with "S" and they have an iOS app to control their stuff. I hope he does great there, though - he's a good guy.

Outside of Washington, DC, the world I live in is a better place than it was a year ago. That helps. The year-end has been busy (I was shorthanded all week), but good for us. I worked a very solid 4 days. Monday? We got another cat. I think it'll work out.

My plan for the last day of the year is to work out in the morning, veg all I can during the day, and go out to supper early. Might be in bed before the ball drop. Got a really busy 2012 to look forward to!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

So what's in the cards for 2012?

Well, I'll talk about the personal year in another day or so. This is about technology. Yeah, I know it's not thrilling, but I have a pretty good track record of predictions here - way better than most of those who call themselves pundits. Then again, maybe it's because I do this for a living. Go figure.

First - Apple will introduce an iPad 3 sometime in the February-March timeframe. Done deal. This year's model with have their "A6" processor and it'll be quad-core. Graphics will be via a 2048*1536 "Retina Display" for the iPad. It'll be the same size as the iPad 2, and get about the same battery life. RAM may go up to 1GB, but I'm not so sure about it. Storage will increase to a maximum of 128GB, but the low-end model may or may not stay at 16GB. I kind of thing they'll go to 32GB.

And the iPad 3 will still dominate the tablet ecosystem, with pundits saying Android will take over any day now.

Second - Amazon will sell the Kindle Fire well enough to keep it on the market. After a minor hardware revision mid-year (addressing things like volume buttons) it'll be clear that the Fire crushes the tablet market from below the way the iPad does in the mainstream. At least one second-tier vendor will abandon the market entirely.

Third - RIM won't finish the year as an independent company. They will either collapse and be broken up Nortel-style, or be sold as a server and software company. Their handset market will vanish. That sign has already started to appear.

Fourth - Apple will have an "iPhone 5" this year, but only if an LTE chipset of adequate power usage can be gotten. Right now I'm not sure. When the LTE iPhone does ship, it will have a form factor change, though I doubt a radical one.

If the chipset isn't there, we might see the iPhone 4S last through all of 2012.

Fifth - Android apps will start to sell better, but iOS will remain the developer platform of choice, and the sales will continue to reflect that. But some developers will be able to make a living catering to Android first, which hasn't been the case to date.

Sixth - Although I'm not really making many desktop predictions, I'll make two here: Windows 8 will ship late in the year, and be decent. It won't be more than a blip in the numbers until 2013, and won't ever make much of an impact in the tablet market. Also, Apple will have an update to the Mac Pro in 2012. That will be the swan song for the platform. Any redesign will be shrunken to a more mini tower form factor, and cheaper to manufacture. Don't expect that until 2013, either. But I wouldn't be surprised to be wrong about the Mac Pro in any way at all.

That gets us through most of the year. I didn't make any real predictions in desktop/server areas because all the action is mobile nowadays - not a lot of change will happen there, and not many new developments. Chipzilla will have a new desktop/laptop chipset platform shipping in the spring, everyone will revise their systems to use it. Linux still won't be on any desktops. Done deal.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Why I use Kerio Connect instead of MS Exchange

A week ago, my server died. I raced up to the office, grabbed a spare MacBook Pro I was about to give to my new employee (so he had to wait a little bit, oh well), and in about an hour I'd transferred the whole system over to the laptop and had it all running again. Try that with Exchange!

Then this past Sunday, armed with a rebuilt server i was back up there again and transferred it all back up. Not a message was lost.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Speaking of tech: One More Thing:

One more thing for the moment: I had a post back in June predicting the next iPhone. I missed that they would keep the RAM the same (512MB) and that they wouldn't support VoRA. other than that? Nailed it. Even said it would be probably called the iPhone 4S.

I am patting myself on the back in congratulations now.

Anatomy of a (successful) campaign

So as those of you who have followed me through any other media (Twitter, Facebook, my website, or local print/online news) know by now, the election is over and I won my race - the vote was 466-288 in my favor and I will be taking office on January second. I've gotten a lot more local attention than I really expected with the win, and I've used all the other places I post to thank my wife, Matt Veno, and all the other people who helped me. I thought here in longer form I could discuss the dynamics of the race and also why I believe it is we won. This isn't an all-purpose blueprint for local politics, but it worked here.

I think most would-be politicians wouldn't necessarily share most of this, but I'm trying hard to do things a little differently. I want to be as transparent as possible (of course I'm not going to share things told to me in confidence), and help people understand how I'll work, and why I'm voting the way I will. This, to  me, is part of that process. Also of note, though: When you are an actual in-office politician, there are legal and other reasons for being careful about what you say in print and online. I'll still be maintaining this blog, but I'll likely be posting pretty rarely and sticking to non-political subjects. Not that I write a lot of political and/or local issue stuff here, but I'll be doing even less of that and mainly sticking to things like sports and tech.

I also haven't been a major poster on Patch, but I've participated in some issue discussions as a candidate that I won't be able to do as an elected official. I haven't posted on Salemweb in about 6 years, but I won't be starting now... My Facebook page will still be a place to keep people informed, but mainly targeted to residents of the ward I'll be representing. A lot of city officials have some form or another of electronic presence, but I think I'm pretty much the first to use it so heavily. So there's going to be a period of finding a balance. Don't expect any postmortems of Council meetings here, though.

About the race itself - Councillor Ronan (my opponent) is a good person - and I actually like him, but in office he was much more conservative than I think most of the ward expected from him based on his pre-election talk two years ago. There's plenty of places online where you can look up specific policy issues over the last two years, but I believe that voting away from the ward's interests opened up an opportunity to challenge (it is what galvanized me - before this June I had no interest at all in getting into politics). Similar things happened in Ward 3, and there was also a successful challenge there.

The next factor was our campaign strategy. Our early effort was to get support from families we knew were aligned with us politically. We also tried to place as many signs early as possible. We started in early August with stickers and signs - at times it seemed like our house was full of them but over the four months of the campaign we placed about fifty signs and got almost a hundred stickers on cars. Lawn signs and stickers don't move many voters. What they do is solidify supporters psychologically (after all, they care enough to display support in public) and they also help you establish a level of credibility to the rest of the voters. Without signs you're an unknown. We had signs out over a month before our opponent, and I believe that provided a show of strength early. We also got crucial early support from Councillor (at large) Furey, who knew me well enough to expect the sort of change on the council he was hoping to see.

We also obtained the registered voter list from the city and put it into a spreadsheet for analysis and into a Filemaker database for reporting. That was roughly 3200 voters. We also bought the list of voters that came out in 2009 to the last municipal election. That list was our bible. 2009 had only about 830 voters show up. They were likeliest to show this year as well, assuming they were still living in the ward (most were). And we had a very good turnout among that group, despite not having a mayoral race on the ballot this year. So our strategy was to target the heck out of the 830, make sure I met as many of them as possible, and got exposed to them as much as we could. Then came the hard work. I didn't ignore the other 2370 voters entirely, but I didn't go out of my way to target them - they weren't likely to vote and most didn't.

I walked to almost every door of the 830, and met a good number of them in person. When they weren't home, I generally left a hand-written note on my palm card and left it in their mail slot or door. I also left cards with neighbors who were available to talk to, or displayed a sign for another citywide candidate - even if they weren't on my 830 it meant they were interested this year. We printed well over a thousand cards and there's only a handful left in my house. I finished door-to-door last Sunday, doing it from August onwards and pretty much only taking the Columbus Day holiday off to go on a fishing trip with my son.

We also sent out a mailing of a letter that former Councillor Matt Veno (who was the campaign head along with my wife) wrote along with a copy of my card. This was sent to about 500 households (the 830 - removing hard supporters of mine and my opponent's, and accounting for homes with multiple voters) on Halloween weekend. We wanted to make sure it was seen and the closer to election time, the better. That helped us move the needle.

A few days later, in the middle of the final week, we then followed up by dropping (by hand) a letter I'd written myself introducing me and asking for support. My wife and a number of our friends delivered them to the 830 over a 3-day period. We also guessed that if the Salem News provided any endorsement at all, it would be of me. So we designed a 4-up postcard that we could drop it into if that happened (in the hope it would be something we could use). When it did, we had the text pasted into the postcard by 9AM Friday, and we printed and hand-cut over 800 postcards Friday into Sunday that were delivered right up to Monday morning - again, Jane and all our friends did the delivery by hand. I did all the printing/cutting.

Besides this, we had several friends and supporters making phone calls on my behalf to their friends and neighbors. We had meet and greet events in each neighborhood of the ward over the four months - the last one was the Sunday before the election. Our initial fundraiser was in early August. That was a big success because a lot of people came who needed to know that we were credible. The biggest issue with it, though, was that the cost there was a lot higher than we'd anticipated so we only came out a little bit ahead. That put us in an early fundraising hole but we were able to keep costs down otherwise.

Finally, the electronic portion of the race mattered as well. I used my Twitter account (@joshturiel) as a tool to communicate with supporters and to help find them. I set up a personal Facebook page (I'd avoided it until this year - my wife is the big Facebook user in the family) and then used it to create a campaign page. That proved to be an effective way to help get even information, photos, and even video out to people in the ward and around Salem. Lastly, I also set up an email list of all the people who gave me their addresses - around 50 so far. We sent out a few email list updates during the campaign and it helped with support.

I met people during the campaign that I hadn't known before at all, and some that I only had known online. It was really one of the most rewarding experiences I'd ever had, and I surprised myself by enjoying the in-person aspect of it so much. Election Day was nerve-wracking even though we were fairly confident by then. The video of me on Patch that night? Yep, I was exhausted. Now the hard part begins.

It's a heck of a challenge to serve in elected office. Even the people I have political issues with are people I respect for taking on the responsibility. Now I get a turn at it, and I hope I can do my city and my ward proud.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Education of a candidate - Final Week

As I write this blog entry, there's exactly one week remaining in the campaign. Election Day is on November 8th. We've survived another Halloween season here in Salem, the police logs are still being tabulated but as far as crowds go, the nor'easter on Saturday night combined with a non-weekend Halloween to lower crowds a little on the final weekend. Still busy, but not as insane as the last few years have been. Not as good for the tourist-orinted businesses but better for a lot of the residents.

David's soccer team, by the way, is 5-1-1 going into the final week of the season. They had a scoreless tie as the storm got started this Saturday.

In campaign news, the buzz I'm getting back from people is good. We wound up having to print more signs and palm cards. I made some round button-sized stickers that people have been wearing around town - a ton of kids and parents wore them during the Halloween parade earlier in October. That was pretty cool. I've gotten out to do door-to-door campaigning at least 1-2 times per week, including a stint yesterday. We also did campaigning during trick-or-treating time last night. By about 9 when we finally shut the lights out, it was only our house and my opponent's that were still handing out candy. Kind of a perverse Halloween arms race.

During the past month plus, I've had my own debate (in September - still available at SATV's website), been to the main At-Large debate, traveled to Hull on the wind turbine fact-finding trip, met with at least 400 people between events and door knocking, and held 3 meet & greet events. Running for office may be more work than serving in office!

More seriously, I've enjoyed it a lot more than I ever thought I would have. I'm not the sort of person who normally revels in going out and mingling with rooms full of people, or knocking on the door of a stranger. The first few times are hard. Then it gets easier - and after a few more times you start enjoying the interaction. I've met people I normally never would have known existed, and it's turned out to be one of the highlights.

It's also awesome and a little scary the way people put their hopes in you. There's a lot of responsibility involved in any elected office, and you realize it pretty quickly. On the local level I never thought it was as big a deal as it was for national-level candidates. Then I became a candidate and saw it for myself. You lose your jadedness pretty quickly.

So we've still got some more activities to go in this final week, I've got a busy weekend of door knocking ahead of me (and a pair of soccer games - indoor season starts Saturday night!), and a lot of last-minute work. It'll likely be a close election in the end, and I've got to motivate people this week to show up on Tuesday.

See you all online in a week!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The value of preparation

I've been running the Mac OS 10.7 Lion since release as my main OS. And I've been working with all the ensuing developer betas as well. I adopted the encrypted file system early in production, but when I migrated to a bigger SSD a few weeks ago I had to disable that to efficiently migrate over.

Well, yesterday I tried to re-enable it. Didn't go so well. The encryption process failed and left me with a not-quite-usable hard drive, and Disk Utility could have nothing to do with it. Were I a client of mine, I might well be out of luck at that point. But because I actually do the things I tell clients they should do, I had options. Here's how I was prepared for it, and what I did to fix it:

- First, I had a second SSD (a small one) installed in my laptop. I took out the Superdrive to install it last winter. On that SSD I keep a full install of the latest OS, in vanilla form. I also keep copies of Carbon Copy Cloner and Drive Genius on it. The main use for the drive is archiving installer files, though, and storing all my Parallels VMs.

- I also had a fairly current Time Machine backup from Friday if needed. That would have shut me out on some recent photo updates, though, so it wasn't my best option.

- I use Backblaze for offsite backup, and that was current if I needed it (photo recovery)

- And finally all my recent document changes were mirrored on Dropbox.

So at that point I had a plan to go forward as needed. First, I rebooted to Lion's Recovery Partition and tried to fix from there. No luck. Next step was to reboot from the second drive (at home, you could use a 16GB or 32GB flash stick much the same way as I use my SSD, but it'd be slower), and try Drive Genius. I couldn't fix the drive, but I could see it and mount it (along with the Finder warnings that it's not fixable, back up and erase ASAP). Now I was out of the weeds. I was out of the house (at a meeting) when this started happening, so I put the Mac to sleep and went home.

Once I put the Mac back on the desk at home, I connected my FW800 drive that I use for Time Machine backups. It's a 2TB drive, with plenty of space for additional backups. I used Carbon Copy Cloner to copy everything from the mounted drive to the external (this is still booted from my secondary SSD, by the way). Then I erased the drive, and re-cloned back to the now fixed volume.

After that was completed (took about 2 hours each way for the 260GB of data - I did the initial clone right when I got home and started the clone back before bed), I verified that the drive would now boot and changed the startup disk back to it.

Sure enough, it worked. Back to normal. I had to re-connect Dropbox and also change Backblaze's settings to accommodate the new volume ID, but that's it. Now that this was done, I went and updated my Time Machine backup to be 100% current. Usually I do it about twice per week, strictly manual.

Had the cloning effort failed (If I couldn't get the disk to mount), I simply would have restored from my Time Machine backup from last Friday, then remirrored Dropbox and restored my iPhoto pictures from Backblaze. That simply would have been more complicated but I could have done it fine.

The lesson for all of you: Even when you are a tech professional like me, things go wrong. When they do, don't panic, have a plan, have fallback methods ready just in case, and always make sure you have backup alternatives that you are using.

Under a month of campaigning to go!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

iPhone 4S - the "S" is for Steady as She Goes

So once again, Apple's done an incremental update instead of a radical one. Millions of dollars have been lost - mainly by case makers who got faked out on the design. Why did Apple just release an incremental upgrade to last year's iPhone? Well, that depends on your perspective:

  • First of all, it's not really incremental. The outer shell is basically identical. That's it. Oh yeah, the screen as well. Battery life is a little better, performance matches that of the iPad 2 (2+ tines the speed of the iPhone 4), it's got a new radio and improved antenna system (the death of "you're holding it wrong") the imaging system is all new and way better, and I'll give good odds that when it's torn down you'll find more than 512MB of RAM in it. This is a far bigger update than the update from the iPhone 3G to the iPhone 3GS was.
  • That said, the iPhone 4 has been an enormous success, and is still pretty much a state-of-the-art form factor. And it's still the best-selling smartphone on Earth. Why mess with it too much?
  • The biggest thing in the iPhone 4S is Siri. Plain and simple. Between Siri and the Nuance dictation system that has been built into iOS 5, the iPhone 4S has the muscle to handle voice processing and the integration only Apple can really do (as the only company besides RIM that builds the phone and the OS both). Siri is going to be huge. It's Jetsons stuff.
There will, of course, be an iPhone 5 at some point. And it'll likely have a redesign to go with it. But that will come when LTE chipsets work well enough (and carrier deployments are far enough along) to justify putting them into a mainstream phone. There isn't a company right now betting everything on an LTE phone. It's not mature enough.

In the end, Apple doesn't sell you speeds and feeds. They don't say a lot about RAM or processors or gigahertz. They say as little as possible about the guts of their devices. What Apple focuses on is the experience, the underlying glue that ties a computer to the user. And it's not a language that analysts speak well - which is why the iPhone 4S is so underwhelming to them.

The lines at every Apple Store next Friday will say otherwise. Consumers get it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

2-odd months in

So after a little over 2 months as a politician wannabe, here's where we are at:

For starters, the campaign seems to be going better than I expected. My opponent has just begun getting signs out (I've counted 2 so far), compared to over 30 from my supporters. Obviously he's got more supporters than that - he won handily 2 years ago to win the seat in the first place. But he's not distinguished himself in this term, and there is a lot of opposition to him, even from people who nominally would otherwise agree with him politically.

The lesson here - service and listening are really important. In fact, they are key. My major objective in the ground game is just to learn what I can about issues important to each person. Simple things like a loose piece of sidewalk caused by a city-planted tree. Issues in getting trash collected on a dead-end street. Plowing problems at a city-owned parking lot. These are the everyday problems that people face in the neighborhood, and I'm trying to do what I can about them even at this early point. Even if I can't solve them all myself, I can't help but try.

Our only scheduled debate is this coming Tuesday evening. I'm looking forward to it. I've written down facts that can be helpful in making my points about the state of politics here in Salem. The current Council has given me plenty to work with.

Otherwise, as I noted above, the ground game is underway. We're still doing backyard gatherings where we can, but I'm letting Jane worry about those logistics (book it and tell me where to go and when to show up), and I'm trying to make sure to get out into neighborhoods to meet people door-to-door. I did it for about an hour and a half yesterday in between family obligations, and I'll be doing it right after I post this blog entry. At least once a week, trying to get it done more than that and cover all the ground I can.

In the rest of life, things are decent. Business has been stronger than it was earlier in the year. We're all fairly healthy, school is going well for David at his school's temporary home (they're doing extensive renovations so they moved to a Catholic school on the other side of town that closed two years ago). And best of all, his soccer team is undefeated at 3-0, and I'm one of the coaches. Yay!

Keep following the campaign at, Twitter at @joshturiel, or Facebook (I finally caved) at

Saturday, September 10, 2011

10 years later

Everyone else out there has written a 9/11 post. Here's mine. 10 years ago, I was at Interop in Atlanta with my friend Jim. We'd flown down on Friday night, and stayed with my friends who lived down in Alpharetta. Played golf all weekend, then went in on Sunday evening for registration and to get our rooms at the Marriott downtown. Monday was a day of classes. I still have all the curriculum books.

Tuesday morning was gorgeous. Jim and I had breakfast at the hotel early, then walked to the convention center for the 8AM classes we were in. Different ones. The room started buzzing right before 9AM. Pagers were going off, and cell phones were ringing. Seemed odd to me. Right around 9, someone from the conference went up and spoke briefly to the lecturer - who announced what had happened at that moment and dismissed class.

I walked outside to see both towers burning on TV. A short time later, the Pentagon was hit - and suddenly news coverage was cutting in for that as well. Cell phones were overwhelmed, though my email-only Blackberry (the Blackberries we all know and I make fun of didn't exist yet) worked fine. So I had some access to information, though not much.

The biggest thing about those first few hours is the uncertainty. Two major cities had just been attacked. I was in the downtown of one of the biggest other cities in the country - and nobody had any idea what, if anything, was coming next. It didn't seem likely that terrorists would be attacking a convention center full of nerds in the middle of Atlanta, but on the other hand it wasn't unthinkable anymore either. After all, a few hours before nobody thought that planes would be used as missiles, and that the WTC and Pentagon were invulnerable.

Later that afternoon, after the towers had fallen and before the fires were out, we left Atlanta, got a ride back out to my friend's house, and sat to regroup. We all thought getting out of the city was a Good Idea. My wife's parents were back in Salem visiting her while I was away. They'd driven up and they stayed at the house with her - home was all set. One of Jim's relatives worked for TJX at the time and was originally slated to be on Flight 11 but got moved to a different trip.

When we got back to Alpharetta, we realized quickly that we wanted to get back home. We also had no idea when and how we could do so. The air system was shut down, no estimate on reopening (it wound up being about a week before the system was back up to normal). My wife had been planning to fly down to meet us the following weekend (we then were flying home together) - that was cancelled. After some brainstorming, we arranged to rent a minivan (we had a lot of gear, plus our golf gear needed to get home with us), and made plans to drive home. We picked up the minivan at the Atlanta airport. Otherwise deserted. We left Thursday morning, drove the back highways through the Blue Ridge Mountains, and after stopping at Jim's sister's house outside Philly overnight Thursday, we made it back to Boston Friday afternoon - again taking back roads to avoid New York City. We didn't want to see the smoke.

In my small, relatively insignificant life there was minor fallout in comparison. A friend of ours back home stopped speaking with Jane a few weeks later - she basically felt Jane was insufficiently sympathetic to her 9/11 experience (which was a tough one - she heard the doomed traders on the box at her office, working inside one of Boston's high towers). Jane was focused on her family's safety and getting her husband home. I can't blame either side for it. There was other personal things that were strained over the experience. There were people we had strained relationships with before that we reconnected with - 9/11 was an experience that put a lot of little things into perspective.

Time marches on, things happen, and the world heals somewhat. We had scheduled a vacation for the end of September to Martha's Vineyard. After some discussion, we went ahead on the trip. It was nice to get away, though obviously subdued. After coming home from vacation we found out that Jane was pregnant. And our son was born that following May. I grew up in a world where 9/11 doesn't happen. He's growing up in a world where that does happen, in a nation that's been at war for 10 years, and where suspicion is the new normal. Times change. We lost more than 3000 human lives that day. It's a cliche, but we lost our way as a nation and as a planet on September 11th, 2001. I only hope, for my son's sake and the sake of an entire generation, that we find it again.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A mighty wind

So there's been a massive controversy here in Salem about a proposal to put a single wind turbine up at Winter Island. It would be a little less than half a mile from the nearest houses (there's a few houses on Winter Island Road), near the shoreline by the Harbormaster's office. It's big (to make power usable you have to be big), and I'm a little skeptical as to how much power it will actually generate, but I'm interested.

The first couple of public meetings that have discussed it created a massive fuss - folks down at the Willows were talking about how you'd have to block off massive portions of the park to maintain a "Fall Zone", how ice would be flung from it like shrapnel, and how a "giant machine" could't help but cause health and enjoyment issues for everyone. Other people complained about vibrations, sound, shadow flicker, and everything they could throw at it. Marbleheaders showed up to complain about the views (except for the Healthlink folks, who love it because it doesn't burn coal).

Now, I'm naturally a cynic - but on the flip side of that I tend to trust technology given that I'm an engineer by trade. So I started doing some of my own research by looking at actual peer-reviewed data. Sure, there have been issues with early-generation wind turbines. Newer (as in the last decade or so) technology turbines run slower and are quieter than the older-generation models that have justified complaints. I'm still going to go listen to one, though.

The biggest thing I was worried about was the potential to close off a large portion of Winter Island. If we had to lose a lot of parkland to support this, I'd be firmly against it. For this, I turned to Google Earth as my friend. So first, I looked at Hull:

Link to Hull Turbine

As you may notice, it's not exactly sealed off. It's a few feet past the outfield fence at the high school. This was Hull's first turbine.

Hull Wind #2 is in a more conventional location - and old landfill:

Link to Hull #2

No special access restrictions appear to be in place there, either, other than it being a place that folks aren't exactly going to for fun.

You can find other sites worth looking at through a DOE site that I found, but the bottom line I see here is that for the most part, wind projects nowadays integrate fairly well with their surroundings. My concerns at this point are based on costs rather than safety. And unless I see compelling data otherwise (from either a cost or a safety perspective), I'd support a turbine at Winter Island.

Though I'd prefer to see a bunch of them out in the ocean by the Miseries.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Another one bites the dust

The mobile dominos are toppling fast. This week, Motorola comes off the market with their purchase by Google (not sure how that's going to pay for itself) and now HP had pulled out of the tablet/phone market entirely - only about 6 weeks after entering the tablet market in the first place. Go figure. Meanwhile, Apple's the only company in the hardware biz with sales increases.

What's the secret here? I think it's kind of simple. Apple recreated the mobile phone with iPhone. Google frantically redesigned their nascent OS (Android) to clone as much of iOS as possible, and gave it away to make sure that Google services would remain available in the new mobile world. Meanwhile, all the phone vendors who previously built their own operating systems all united behind Android because it was free. Thus saving a few dollars per handset - which may seem like a small amount but remember how slim margins are.

Meanwhile, RIM and Microsoft were so late to the party as to render themselves irrelevant. Symbian was DOA. Palm rebooted themselves with the WebOS, but it was too little too late and they sold to HP last year.

So now the phone business is realistically two contenders: Apple at the high end (with their single handset model and by far the most robust developer ecosystem) and Android. Android, though, isn't a monolithic platform. It's just what everyone who doesn't sell an iPhone puts on their commodity hardware.

The dirty secret of Android is that its market share is irrelevant because they dominate the low-end of the market - people who get "smartphones" because that's what phones look like nowadays. People who shop on carriers that don't offer iPhones. And a lot of people without the money to spend on the apps that make a platform a worthy development environment.

In other words, you've got iPhone and then everyone else - and the iPhone thus far continues to dominate where it matters.

In the tablet space, this is even more of a mismatch. With the carrier lock out of the equation, iPads sell through at a 1:1 ratio. There's virtually no inventory. On the other hand, all the other tablet devices combined sell at a lower rate than Apple sells their Smart Covers (probably less than whatever the bestselling Smart Cover color may be), and the figures on HP's sell through that leaked this week indicated that fewer than 1:10 of the TouchPads sold to Best Buy made it into customer hands - not even factoring in returns. And this for the 3rd place (if that) tablet platform. RIM's results with the PlayBook are about as dismal, but RIM is stubborn. And Samsung has had middling results at best.

See, people don't want tablet computers. They want iPads. And unlike in the phone market where other factors are at play (carrier choice, plan pricing, contracts) the iPad doesn't have those constraints. Plus they have an ecosystem that dominates. No wonder Apple sells them as fast as they can make them.

We'll see what Google does as Motorola's owner. Either they become a unified hardware/software vendor that can compete effectively (screwing all the vendors who have come to depend on Android in favor of their own Moto division), or Google just shot themselves in the foot. Remember, Motorola Mobility isn't profitable, hasn't had a true hit since the RAZR, and their leading US product doesn't even get Moto branding - it gets Verizon's Droid brand. They have patents and middling industrial design. That's pretty much it.

Check back with me in 6 months on this one.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Running for office - month 1 update

So I'm a month into my candidacy. If you follow me on Twitter (@joshturiel) you see regular updates - I've converted it mainly to follow the run. My old vanity site ( which had bare-bones info about me is now a full campaign site with news updates, position statements, and a photo gallery. A month in, there will be no primary (I'm the only challenger in Ward 5), so it's full-on for November.

Here's what's been going on, for those who like to see sausage made:

I had all my campaign materials made, thanks to Gloucester Graphics who made the signs and bumper stickers, and Deschamps Printing here in Salem, who made our palm cards. They look great!

We had a fundraiser and kickoff party on the 9th over at the Witches' Brew here in town. Well-attended, and we were fortunate to get enough donations to really help with the run. We're in pretty good shape. Too much food left over, but we sent a lot of it home with people, and donated some.

Former councilor Matt Veno has been a big help to us, helping organize and introducing me to lots of important people to know. I'm learning a lot about what issues people care about. I've had great conversations with At-Large Councilor Tom Furey (who was happy to endorse me - a real stand-up guy and one of the true old-school politicians in the business), Mayor Driscoll, Ward 7 Councilor Joe O'Keefe, At-Large Candidate Darek Barcikowski (owner of the excellent Cafe Polonia downtown) former Council candidate Jerry Tache, and many others so far. I'm new to this game and definitely not a pro, but it's turning out to be kind of fun.

This weekend I'm starting a first real round of door-knocking (we've done it here around the house, but not in the rest of the ward) - we have a database assembled that will help me focus my efforts in the best places to start out with. It's not really a secret, it's just having good information available in public records. Next Sunday there's tentatively a backyard meet-the-candidate scheduled at the home of one of our supporters, and that'll be posted on my website as soon as it's set. We'll have more of them over the next month. September 13th will be a candidate's forum sponsored by the South Salem Neighborhood Association down at the SSU Enterprise Center.

I'm not going to write as much here in the next few months as I normally would have (I'm focusing my efforts on the campaign site and my Twitter updates), but I will keep posting as the election progresses. I'm enjoying it, and this blog gives me a more free-form forum to educate people who are interested in how this election works. Hopefully culminating in a victory post come November.

Also, my first campaign sign was stolen today off our lawn. So I guess I've officially arrived!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Enough's enough!

So I have been getting progressively more and more fed up with the state of the City Council in my lovely seaside town of Salem. I live in Ward 5 - and when long-time Councillor Matt Veno stepped down in 2009 he had two people vie to replace him. Both were local attorneys, Jerry Taché and the other John Ronan. John lives down the street from me, and seemed like a fairly reasonable fellow (and he is a nice guy - I don't have any personal animosity towards him), so I voted for him. Most did - he won the ward handily.

Over the next year, it started to become obvious that we weren't getting what I'd voted for. As Councillor, John started working with a group that became crassly obstructionist, and demonstrated what in my view is a clear misunderstanding of the Council's role and a shortsighted view of the City's finances. Read the Salem News' archives and Real_World's blog for more background. As the year began, I started hoping that we'd have a challenger emerge in Ward 5 for Ronan. Once the filing period began, I was disappointed to see that wasn't the case. As we got closer to the filing deadline, two things became obvious:

- There wasn't anybody interested in running
- There was also a lot of people sharing my sentiments

So after the proverbial "discussing with family", we got a candidate. Me. I went in on Tuesday after the holiday weekend and filed paperwork for the race, and Jane's planning to bring it in tomorrow. Getting signatures isn't that hard, it turns out, when people care.

Some people run for offices like this to make connections. Some do it to get lined up for bigger things later. That's not my plan. I'm doing it because City Council seems to have gone off the rails again (this happens on occasion in this and many other towns) and if nobody else is game then I may as well do it. Win or lose, I don't see myself trying for anything else down the road. Remember, I own an IT company in my real life. Two thankless jobs are enough!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My technical summer

I finally had a vacation a couple of weeks ago - we spent 10 days on the Vineyard. Delightful, and I miss the crap out of the place the second I drive onto the ferry to leave and look out at the harbor behind me as the boat pulls away from the dock. Business has been respectable, though not fantastic. New clients are coming on board pretty regularly and there are some opportunities that seem to be available that may be able to get us back in growth mode. Which would be nice.

Some of those are due to the upcoming Summer of Technology that I can look forward to. All I can say right now about iOS 5 is that I'm running the first beta on my iPad 2, and I'm expecting Beta 2 this week. Pesky NDAs. It is not yet at the point where I will trust my iPhone to it - I depend far too much on my iPhone whereas the iPad is a luxury.

But when iOS 5 arrives in the next few months it'll be awesome.

The next iPhone itself will be due in late August/early September. Maybe in conjunction with the 2011 iPods, but more likely a separate announcement. I'm expecting the iPhone 5 to be more of an "iPhone 4S", similar to how the iPhone 3GS kept the form factor of the 3 but beefed up the underlying specs. Well, I'm figuring on a dual-core A5 chip, possibly more RAM (768MB or 1GB, up from 512MB), a better imaging chip, a little better battery life, and not much else. It'll probably be a single phone for both GSM and CDMA networks, and will likely support VoRA on CDMA.

Next year will be the super-duper iPhone LTE. When both major US carriers are ready to support it and the chipsets are more mature.

Then, sometime between tomorrow and a month from now we can expect Apple to release new Mac minis (with i5 processors and Thunderbolt), new MacBook Airs (with i5 low-voltage processors and Thunderbolt), and new Mac Pros (with newer Xeons, Thunderbolt, and a redesigned chassis that should support rackmounting).

The only question to me is whether they ship pre-Lion or post-Lion. I'm hoping for pre-Lion as that way I'll have a higher adoption rate early. A lot of my clients aren't ready for Lion and are holding off on some new purchases waiting for upgraded models - they'll buy sooner if the new systems ship with Snow Leopard.

Windows has almost become an afterthought to the business - we support it but don't really actively seek new clients on the platform, and I can't remember the last Exchange server I installed from scratch (I've upgraded a couple). Windows 7 doesn't suck, but it's not enough to keep people who want to switch to Apple from making the leap.

And a lot of them do.

So I think I've pretty much got my time all booked out through September now, just on Apple's new kit. I haven't even had time to buy any more Bluetooth headsets. Still relying mainly on my Jawbone Era.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fixing the deficit (for grown-ups)

Just as a follow-up, I re-did the New York Times' "You Fix the Budget" interactive puzzle this morning, just to re-remind myself of how to be responsible. Here are my choices: I have a couple of other ideas that would likely take care of the rest of the long-term issue as well.

Domestic Programs/Foreign Aid

- Cut foreign aid in half
- Eliminate farm subsidies
- Reduce the number of contractors

This first batch of cuts isn't huge, but it sets a tone. Virtually no industry in this country should be subsidized, we don't need to spend a lot of money bribing other nations, and we also shouldn't employ contractors to do what we can do with employees. I'd like to make some other cuts here that aren't listed as options, too.


- Reduce nuclear arsenal and space spending
- Reduce military to pre-Iraq War size, reduce European and Asian troops
- Reduce Navy and Air Force fleets
- Cancel or delay weapons programs
- Reduce noncombat military compensation and overhead
- Cut troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to 30,000 by 2013

These seem like enormous cuts, but it's time to get out of our entanglements overseas. We have by far the biggest, most powerful, and most expensive military on Earth. We don't need that much. And we've effectively eliminated Al-Qaeda as a major threat, we don't need to worry nearly so much about the remaining Taliban.

Health Care

- Enact medical malpractice reform
- Increase Medicare eligibility age to 68

Malpractice reform is a good idea in general and that area of law is abuse-prone. It won't make a big difference by itself but conservatives want it badly and it's good to give it to them. Barring single-payer insurance, we should up the Medicare eligibility as long as the present system still stands.

Social Security

- Raise the Social Security retirement age to 68
- Reduce Social Security benefits for those with high incomes
- Tighten eligibility for disability

Again, people live and work longer, so delaying full benefits another year is fine. Cutting benefits a little for high-income people is harmless, and making it more difficult to claim disability is also a win. We've had a lot of creep in disability over the years.

Existing Taxes

- Estate Taxes: President Obama's proposal
- Investment Taxes: Return rates to Clinton-era levels
- Bush Tax Cuts: Allow expiration for income above $250,000 a year
- Payroll tax: Subject some incomes above $106,000 to tax

All reasonable ways to get revenue while still keeping taxes lower than they were early last decade. I'd go further on the payroll tax, though, and apply it to all income instead of the ceiling it'd be targeted for here.

New Taxes

- Eliminate loopholes, but keep taxes slightly higher
- Reduce mortgage deduction and others for high-income households

Yes, I'd "soak the rich" comparatively speaking. Film at 11.

Altogether, my proposal based on the puzzle takes us from a $418 billion expected deficit in 2015 to a $604 billion surplus, and reduces the structural deficit by 2030 from $1.245 trillion to $62 billion. On top of that, I'd propose a massive nationalization of basic health care, with private insurers free to sell supplemental and enhanced coverage on top of that. That would likely clear up the remainder of the long-term deficit and free up money that currently is lost to health care inefficiency.

What's your plan? I know what most of the Salem News commenters would say, and it's not pretty.

Our latest local lunacy

Our beloved local newspaper, The Salem News, is pretty reliably right-wing in the editorial section. And beloved libertarian crank Barbara Anderson is one of our most reliably nutty contributors. Sparring with her was fun back in the day when you could comment anonymously on the boards there, but since they went to a "Real Names Only" policy I've stayed away (as have the vast majority of posters). Here's her latest drivel - be entertained by the comments there as well:

Short version is this: Any Republican is better than what we've got. Really? One poster in the comments makes plenty of salient points, only to get accused of racism for not mentioning Herman (who?) Cain as a serious contender. Gee, surprised? And then Robin Douglas does a great job of summarizing the real Obama resume/record, only to be greeted with the all caps "NONE OF WHICH QUALIFIED HIM FOR THE PRESIDENCY". Really? Plenty of presidents (including our last one) got the job with fewer achievements in the real world. But in the end, here's what finds Obama qualified:

- He was elected to the Presidency by a majority of voters across the nation. Period. The American people have already held forth on his qualifications, and by electing him they found his qualifications acceptable. Period. Next years' election will hold judgement on his accomplishments in the office, not his qualifications for it. That argument is over. He was elected. Move on, mouth-breathers.

Newsflash: We are digging out of a recession still. The economy has improved but is not yet back where it was in 2007 and prior. We have a huge deficit created by the combination of a massive tax cut and two wars, added to by a recession (which collapsed revenues further) and a moderate stimulus program (which wasn't as effective as hoped but likely prevented the damage from being worse). One party thinks we can cut taxes to solve any problem - the other knows better. I've never loved the Democrats but at least they're the adults right now.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Memories of sites and culture past

I was thinking about the previously mentioned ongoing death of k5, and I started to also reflect on some aspects of my Geek Life from days past. Here's some of my geek memories:

- The Geek Pride Festivals (for 2 years here in Boston) that were held at the old Armory. I still have some goodies from them.

- Related to that, I remember meeting the folks from the now defunct NewsTrolls site (Stephen Downes remains active on the web from their crew, and I remember Pasty Drone was a rather attractive young lady who sang as her day job). CmdrTaco was at the first one, too.

- I have a low 4-digit ID at Slashdot, just to point that out...

- Back in the days when the local computer shows (Northern and KGP) were the only way to get components at reasonable prices, I went to the one that was at the Shriners' Auditorium in Wilmington (I used to go to them every few months) and Bob Young was there, selling Linux CDs and books at a table in the entranceway from his mail-order tech bookstore in my hometown of Westport CT. Bob went on to partner up with a part-time programmer at CMU named Marc Ewing, and turned ACC into a company to sell Marc's Linux distribution. You may have heard of the company - it became Red Hat Software.

- There was a guy at the MIT Flea shows who sold nothing but NeXT Cubes. Did a nice business, even after NeXT was merged into Apple.

- I used to be a client of TIAC, one of the first ISPs in the region. I used to build Linux boxes because I'd decided that was the wave of the future (about 15 years later, I got tired of waiting for the future to finally arrive and nowadays I just pretty much do Mac OS X and Windows) and I upgraded from on-demand dial-up to a full-time 56k modem connection. TIAC gave me a Class C range to play with and so I routed it in the house. I still remember one day back in about '97 or so that my modem had gone offline at their NOC, so I drove to Bedford at 11PM, walked into the server room, and reset it. I had an unusual level of trust with them as customers went.

- My original Linux server (it was named and went through several different incarnations) was actually one of the first few thousand websites back when nobody was quite sure what this "web" thing would amount to. Everything was managed by hand and all my publishing was in straight HTML with no authoring system or CMS. Which is part of why I don't run it anymore!

- For years, I was the only 802.11 network broadcasting within about 3 blocks of my house. Right now I just checked and I can see 9 others from my upstairs office. Optimistically, they are all password-protected.

- In the days when shows like Interop came to Boston, I was active in the Netware Users' Group around here (BNUG has survived to this day and still does business - I even served as President myself in the late '90s for 3 years). We used to sponsor a booth and beer bash event with all the vendors during it. Lots of promo goods in the days when servers had 50% margins for resellers.

- I also have fond memories of the old Boston Macworld Expo. Back in the mid-90s just before the return of Steve the event peaked - Ingram Micro used to sponsor a fairly wild party at the Museum of Science during the show and I was a regular, along with my wife and any of our friends we could get tickets for. I recall the old Talking Moose returning as a full commercial product one year. The vendor had a person walking around the Expo handing out demo disks dressed in a Talking Moose costume. He showed up at the party and was dancing with the girls until he passed out from heat exhaustion.
(reference that only a couple of people will get: "but I got the Berkowitzes!")

- The Boston show was yanked the year after Steve's return to Apple in 1997 and sent to New York for a few years (it briefly returned to Boston after Apple pulled their participation). I think Steve disliked the idea of riding buses between the two Expo sites in Boston.

- In 2000 I took the plunge and went to the Expo in NYC. Wasn't the same. Though I did get to see Jason Whong of Ambrosia Software eat bugs on stage and get drunk.

- The whole industry peaked in 2000 - the year the dot-com bust really started. At the Atlanta Interop show that year (I went for 4 consecutive years on the trip until 2001 when I was there for 9/11) they had Gigabit Ethernet (at the time a new standard) being sent via barbed wire, Penn & Teller were performing at a booth, and another vendor had the late Andrew (Test) Martin and Lisa (Ivory) Moretti from the WWF running a booth where people wrestled in sumo suits.

That's just a short reflection and semi random, but it's some of the things that stood out for me as memories of a bygone era in IT culture. The Internet was a place where you went to the local ISP and hung out with the folks there who ran it. There were no firewalls unless you were a government contractor or huge company. NAT wasn't needed - you were either dial-up or routed. The companies that are big today back then were a guy with a vendor pass and a table full of merchandise. The companies that were big then were fat enough to pay big-name performers to hang at their trade show booths. Of course they did - a decent computer cost about $3000 or more!

I miss it sometimes, but as I prepare to begin another lap around the Sun tomorrow, I don't miss it as much as I used to.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

One of my old favorite websites is dying

Back around the turn of the last decade, the website was a popular place, with a diverse community posting about technology and social issues. There was a proto-blogging feature (diaries), some very skilled and verbose posters, and the site was well-managed. I was a regular there (posting as "the original jht". At the time it looked like k5 (the nickname most folks had for it) would be one of the big long-term winners in "new media".

But sometime around 2004 or so, things started changing there. First of all, due to to some changes in his personal life, the site's founder couldn't spend as much time and care on the site as he once could. Then other sites with a more clearly defined profitability model started gaining traction. Finally, the trolls came and started chasing out the regulars. Today, though k5 is still on the Internet, it's barely registering in traffic stats and the community has mainly dispersed. The big surviving (and thriving) sites from that era are Slashdot and Fark (I'm still active at both of them, too).

But before k5 faded away, there were some really interesting discussions. Recently, I was wondering what I should do with all my content i posted there over the years I was active. This morning, I logged in and using the powers of copy/paste I created an archive file of it all. And I'm going to repost a few of my writings, along with the Big Questions I was responding to in them. Here's my first one below:

Original story link

Make the world a better place.

By seebs in Culture
Sun Feb 24, 2002 at 03:52:00 PM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)

If you were given a budget of a trillion US dollars, with the goal of making the world "a better place", what would you do?

I've occasionally had this conversation with friends, and it's amazing how many different ideas people have of what would make the most difference. What would you do, if you were going to try to get the most bang for your buck? A little of everything? One big project? Would you focus on short-term improvements, or long-term ones?
And no, I don't mean just this planet; if you think colonizing Mars is the best use of your money, go ahead.

My response:

I'd set priorities - the world needs basics first (3.00 / 2) (#293)
by the original jht on Tue Feb 26, 2002 at 09:00:40 AM EST

First off - the world needs cheap, reliable power. I'd build power plants in parts of the world that need them, using appropriate technology for an area (wind, solar, coal, gas, nuclear - probably not oil). People with no power don't need a lot - just enough for lights, refrigeration, and perhaps radio and/or TV. This'll make a big impact to people's lives and provide energy for the next two things on the list:
Item number 2 (and 3): Clean water supplies and adequate sanitation for parts of the world that don't have it. That'll cut back on disease vectors and improve health greatly.

Fourth - Provide basic medical care in places where it's not currently available. A little help goes a long way here, and money I gave out would be well-complimented by other charitable giving.

Fifth - Education. We need to replace the madrases (I think I spelled it right) and their equivalents in other nations with good, solid, basic secularized education. People don't need to be "fully indoctrinated into the capitalist system" to learn neutral facts about the world, how to read, write, and perform basic math, and be functional citizens of their society. People need to learn enough to thrive within their nation, and they need to learn that the rest of the world is not full of prospective enemies.

With those essentials funded, I think the world will be ultimately be able to take care of itself quite nicely.

Of course, the first three items on the list will cost money to build and money to run - As a society that is serviced improves their standard of living I'd expect to be able to charge enough for the infrastructure to pay for ongoing costs. So the infrastructure needs to be built as economically as possible understanding that the point of break-even operation may be years away.

And finally, I'd keep a million or so for myself to live off of - I'm going to be pretty busy coordinating all this and will not have time for my real job anymore. Hey - a man's gotta eat (and have a vacation house on the Vineyard!)...

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Salem political scene, as captured in the Salem News:

First, we have the editorial board:
"Taxes are bad. Government projects are good. Salem needs more of them."

Then, regular columnist Brian Watson:
"Why can't (Israelis/Palestinians) (Junkies/Residents) (Anyone/Opponent) just get along?"

Add to that resident one-noter Barbara Anderson:
"Why does anyone here even vote for a Democrat anyways? Can't you see they're EVIL?"

Plus regular letter-writer Anna Della Monica:
"How dare they tear down the ugly-ass brick former church on Lafayette Street! White brick boxes are pure history!"

Our local Wiccan community:
"What Salem needs are more Tarot card readers and places to buy incense - that's what's wrong. And if cars can drive up the pedestrian mall they'll but more of it!"

Infamous former board poster Northern_Lynn:
"Kim Driscoll's conspiring to turn us into a slum with taxes of $20k per home, and she runs the Illuminati, too!"

And finally, our esteemed City Council:
"It is too our business, and we're going to stop the mayor from running the town because we all want to do it. Besides, she snubbed one of us at a birthday party once or something like that.."

Add those all up, stir in a healthy dash of batshiat-crazy, and there's a snapshot of our political scene. And if you look it up on the Salem News site, you won't see any agreement (or any disagreement) - because all the commenters left a couple of weeks ago when the Snooze started requiring real names to comment.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Is Steve Jobs Essential?

This is in the wake of reading today's announcement that Jobs is once again taking a medical leave of absence due to health issues. First of all, I wish him well. Steve is a man with billions of dollars but he's also a man with a family and the CEO of a company that thousands of people work for. For the sake of all of them (but especially the family) I hope he gets better.

How important is Steve to Apple? He's the public face and voice of Apple, and he's the veto on everything. But he's not the day-to-day manager nowadays - Tim Cook is that and by all accounts he's terrific at it. Ron Johnson is the man behind the Apple Store experience. Jonny Ive is the design guru behind the look and feel of every hardware product Apple produces (in collaboration with Jobs). Bob Mansfield makes Macs and other hardware work well. Bertie Serlet is the person behind the OS, and he's one of the NeXT vets. So is Scott Forstall, the man behind iOS.

Where Steve comes in is as the tone-setter. He makes the call to ax a product. He makes the "ship or not" decision. His DNA is infused within Apple's executive team. Can Apple continue executing without Steve Jobs? Absolutely. Most of the products they make a ton of money from don't spring from the mind of Jobs. They come from the teams under him. The place where I have concerns is in the vision side - there isn't (as far as I can see) a person there right now who can say "this is the future, this is where we are going, and it will proceed, period". If that person exists at Apple in the exec suite, now is the time for them to start becoming a mini-Steve in preparation for the day they need to take over. Hopefully it won't be for a while.

Meantime, I have a firm trust in the product pipeline. Product decisions are already made that will come in to play for the remainder of 2011 and into 2012. The iPhone 5 is done. So is the iPad 2. The iPad 3 and iPhone 6 are well underway as of now. MacOS X 10.7 is due this year. Mac hardware for the rest of the year is designed and ready, so are this year's iPods. I'm not worried about 2011, and I'm not too worried about 2012. They've made some odd decisions that affect my business as a consultant (mainly because I work extensively with Apple Retail in my business) that are odd, but that isn't stuff that is decided in the C-Suite.

My hope is to see Steve resume as much of a role as he can in the near future. If he can't do that, I'd like to see Tim Cook named CEO, Jobs remain Chairman, and some more talent come on board if needed. More than anyone not named Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs has his company and his identity intertwined. Hopefully Apple is well-prepared for that to not be so, and hopefully now is not the time to find out.

What went wrong?

True, I rarely write about stick & ball sports (I do write about NASCAR once in a while), but after the Patriots blew up their season last night I thought I should twist it around a little more before officially going into "anyone but the bleeping Jets" mode for the rest of the no-longer-interesting to me playoffs.

The game started really well, forcing the Jets into a 3 and out on the first possession. The Pats then started moving the ball easily, making mostly short passes to running backs and the tight ends and very quickly getting down the field. Even when Brady made his first pick in over 3 months, it didn't seem like a killer - the resulting defensive stand was outstanding and the field goal miss gave the ball back in good shape.

But the ensuing drive for a field goal wasn't quite as sharp as the opener, and now 2 dominant drives that resulted in a pick and only 3 points total had left the game tight early. The Patriots had been winning with early offensive execution that forced the other team into mistakes. That was the last offense we saw from the Pats until late in the third quarter.

The other killer play in the first half was the failed fake punt. Even if Chung had handled the snap fine, coverage looked like it might have gotten him anyway. A poor play call at a bad time. That resulted in what turned out to be the back-breaking score.

The way the Patriots blew up the Jets in December was to get ahead enough of them that Mark Sanchez was forced to take chances that he's not really experienced or talented enough to succeed with. He's not a terrible QB, but spotting them a lead gives the Jets a chance to cover up his weaknesses easily.

The sequence that clinched it was after the Patriots drew to 14-11 late. The defense had settled in well after the Jets got a lead and was playing effectively. But they immediately allowed the Jets to score to turn it back into a 2-score game. That took the momentum back and pretty much ended the game.

There's a lot of soul-searching that has to take place in Foxboro this winter. Right now, the Pats are losers of their last 3 postseason games and even though none of us expected a 14-2 dominant regular season, getting smoked in the divisional round by a team that we trashed a month prior (especially the Jets) is not the way to go out. The young secondary is a strength, the linebacking corps is solid, but the defensive line is thin and the Patriots' offense now has a 3-game track record of failing to show up in big playoff games. Not good. This may be a good year to use those stockpiled draft picks.

And one FOOTnote: Sitting Welker for the first series. Really bad move. Might have even contributed to the INT Brady threw. Yes, the Pats are all about discipline and marching orders, but if you can't even get out a few under-the-text gags without being punished that's just stupid. Deal with that in-house without sitting your key receiver.

Hearing that Welker was sitting was the first moment I started to have fear about this game. Winning the game is more important than maintaining the Patriot Way.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh - it's on, baby!

Verizon now has an iPhone. Hot rumor today is that Sprint will get their own in February. LTE has been slow enough rolling out to make it worth Apple's time and effort to build a CDMA version of the iPhone. So here's what I see this meaning over the remainder of 2011:

1 - I no longer think that the iPhone 5 will be an LTE device. AT&T doesn't have anything live yet, and Verizon is really just pushing it for data at this time. Sprint is currently tied to WiMax for 4G. Plus the LTE chipsets are still very early-stage.

2 - iPhone 5 will likely be a unified device with a combined GSM/CDMA chipset. I also suspect that VoRA (Voice over Revision A) support will be built in to it, as Verizon has said that that is slated for rollout beginning this spring. Maybe it's supported by the chipset in the current iPhone 4/CDMA, but we won't know until it gets torn down.

3 - Google is scared about US Android numbers. They announced the removal of H.264 support from Chrome yesterday and that is the first shoe to drop. Google controls YouTube, the single most popular video site on the web. YouTube has been experimenting with direct H.264 encoding (I prefer it - far better performance and lower CPU usage), and Flash has been taking hits. Well, now Flash will be the only supported way to handle H.264 on Chrome with Google favoring their WebM codec for HTML5 video.

The two vendors now backing H.264 the strongest? Apple and Microsoft. Look for Google to pull H.264 support from Android in favor of their codec, and they'll try to turn YouTube into a site that only uses Flash or WebM in the hopes of killing it for iOS users. The Hail Mary pass they're throwing here is to try and convince users that Android and Chrome are the ways to get YouTube.

Personally, I think that'll just open up an opportunity for a good YouTube competitor to take over - much as Facebook defeated MySpace.

4 - Google now needs to hit a tablet home run. CES showed us all the new Android 3 tablets, but Apple just sucked most of the handset oxygen out of Vegas with the Verizon iPhone, and within a couple of weeks they'll do iPad 2 as well. The beta of iOS 4.3 dropped today, and you can safely predict that'll ship with the new iPads within 4-8 weeks. Android is likely to be relegated to the extreme low end of the market. The brilliant analyst Horace Dediu at Asymco has it pegged. Android exerts pressure downward at the cheap non-smartphone handsets. They move volume. But those aren't the users buying apps and media outside of ringtones. The iOS users (which also includes iPod Touch owners - nothing is shipping from an Android vendor yet that is comparable) are buying apps and that locks them into the platform. Apple makes a ton of money that way and has people upgrading constantly.

Apps = lock-in. Remember that.

In a market where iPhone is on one carrier, Android is great on all the other ones because it's the best the users can get if they're not on that carrier. If they can get an iPhone instead, they likely will.

Yep, it's on! And it only took 2 weeks of 2011 to get the party going.