Microsoft and Nokia

So Microsoft bought Nokia. I can’t say I’m surprised. It will be interesting to see if this can bring them back from the brink of irrelevancy. I love the look of Windows Phone as an OS, and have been quite outspoken on my anticipation for the Nokia Lumia 1020 as the ultimate travel companion. However, Microsoft needs to experience a fundamental attitude shift if they’re going to claw their way back into the mobile devices market.

The Apple vs. Android vs. Microsoft debate is thoroughly uninteresting. Each platform has their strengths and weaknesses. Apple got there first with shiny touch phones and pioneered the App Store business model. Google snatched up the software-only market by stealing Microsoft’s modus operandi—build the OS and the cheap hardware will come, along with butt-loads of market-share. Microsoft is kind of a wild card. They’re that arrogant corporate jock that storms in late and gate-crashes the hipster/nerd frat party. Google’s dominance and market share is quite straightforward. Android is popular, not because it’s good, but because it’s free and it’s “good enough”. The interesting debate, and the only one worth having, is about brand attitude.

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I googled some quotes to prove I read books

I don’t read books enough. I used to devour them. I distinctly remember inhaling Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and William Gibson’s Bridge trilogy. But over the last 5 years or so I have developed a kind of “book attention deficit disorder” perpetuated by social media and more shallow forms of amusement such as films and TV. I remember the precise moment when it started, too. I was reading the first of the Dune books and came across a concept so profoundly insightful that I instantly believed the book had peaked, and that reading on would be pointless. That a writer in 1965 could so accurately predict the inevitable outcome of the war the human race has with its desire for advancement and its own lack of foresight, simply blew my mind.

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Are you a Computer Scientist, Programmer or Software Developer?

Alternative title: Are you willing to be pigeonholed by someone with a narrow view of the software industry? I recently came across a post by Alan Snorkin which claims there are three types of people in software: computer scientists, programmers and developers. It’s pretty short and worth a read.

On the face of it the post seemed insightful. I could see myself as fitting best into the programmer category. But I fail to see the point of  this kind of restrictive pigeonholing. It may appeal to recruiters and managers who percieve it makes their job easier – but beyond that it’s largely counterproductive.

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Google PDF Quick View

Google has started to integrate it’s Google Docs PDF viewer into search results, allowing you to view PDFs right in the browser. Finally, you can uninstall that bloated Adobe Reader plugin, like you’ve always wanted to. If you’re on a Mac, you can see PDFs without waiting for Preview to open.

OK, so this is pretty old news but I hadn’t really noticed until recently as they don’t show a link for all documents. But why is this so awesome? PDF is a rich format that offers many features not really relevant to web search. Most often searchers are just looking for some information, like MSY’s latest price on that Hot New Intel CPU.

But this only affects search results. But you can install a Greasemonkey script which opens all links to PDF, PPT and DOC files using the Google Docs Viewer. We’ve had online apps for a while, but I consider Google’s  step of opening up the GDocs Viewer to be THE official singularity, or “beginning of the end” for the humble desktop application. After this, there is no turning back. And I for one, want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Or as a friend of mine once said “Firefox + Internet = Operating System”.

That said, one feature that needs improvement is searching within documents. This is only enabled for some documents, presumably the one Google has had time to index the metadata or OCR. And search hits are only highlighted with no feature of iterating through them.