I don’t have a choice, I have to comment.

Apple killed the PPC G4-based Mac mini today and replaced it with an Intel Core Solo (single core) or Core Duo (dual core) model. This gives a theoretical performance in create of 400%. They upgraded the graphics from the woeful Radeon 9200 (which is included inside breakfast cereal packets these days to something that would support Core Image.

Finally, they’re popularising the HDMI connectivity and they’ve not only included Front Row (and an upgraded, actually useful version as well) but it has analog and digital audio meaning you can finally do something with the Dolby 5.1 on those DVDs you’ve been playing. They’ve positioned this in the living room and when you consider the price of LCD TVs with built in Freeview digital decoders, at half decent resolutions for a change, things become very compelling.

They also put in 4 USB ports rather than two and I can see why having experienced the Mac mini with 2 ports, both taken up by a MS mouse and PC keyboard and wondering where to put any other peripherals. Having to unplug the keyboard in order to print made me glad of hot-swap and resentful of the mini. They’ve fixed my biggest gripe.

They also added in Gigabit ethernet. This was obviously a chipset freebie.

The rest? iPod cases made of dead cow? Bleh. A big speaker-cum- iPod-holder? Mleh.

And no “one more thing”?

I’m pumped about the Mac mini and even the RDF can’t get me enthused about the iPod HiFi.

Do you work for bozos? Is it your fault?

Guy Kawasaki and Robert Scoble have some fun reading about whether or not your company is about to descend into mediocrity (about to suffer a bozo explosion) or even if you can plainly see that it has already gone.

My last big employer, a telecoms dot-commer, had a lot of bozos. We partnered with anything, moving or not. We had administrative assistant’s assistants. There was an entire row of BMWs out the back in the choice parking spots. We didn’t hire anyone unless they had a degree and it didn’t matter what the degree was (we had a lot of arts graduates sitting learning how to write code for weeks on end during the boom). We spent more on the cafeteria than we did on the datacentre. We spent a lot of time telling employees how bad our competitors were. We had lots of MBAs with good hair and no ability to lead. We brought in consultants for everything to second-guess our IT department and provide the same conclusions in prettier presentations. We had VPs who neither commanded anyone nor reported to anyone and they didn’t appear on any of the org charts. I learned to use the terms “win-win”, “five nines”, “task force”, offsite retreat”, “core values” and in normal conversation. We had heaps of marketing items like fleece jackets, pins and mugs, but employees were not permitted to have them unless they had a friend on the inside of the marketing department. We had more project managers than workers. Meetings would commonly last 4 hours. The IT managers promised new multimedia capabilities with a Windows migration and then neglected to configure sound cards nor install anything other than on-board graphics. We had good employees leave and we had excellent prospects refuse to join when they met some of the development teams.

Pretty depressing.

And it was nothing I could do. Eventually, I left. Sometimes the bozo quotient just gets too high and recent news shows that they’re still climbing out of their self-made downfall and they still need to make more layoffs.

Interestingly Guy includes some ways to avoid the situation, but it’s important for us to note that these are options open to management! These are not open to the rank and file – the people most likely to notice the bozo mushroom-cloud as it arrives.

Currently in my day job (not infurious):

  • I hire people who can do stuff I can’t do.
  • We love our customers and we welcome our competition (more on this latter point later)
  • We need more staff, but we’re coping
  • We’re not marketing heavily because we need to grow slowly
  • I’ve never made a hire based on a resumé. We hire people.
  • much like the first point – I hire people who do what I can’t do
  • We spent the period of Summer 2004 to Summer 2005 culling the chaff.

If you can see the bozo explosion happening and you are in a position to do something about it (other than leave) then you’re negligent if you don’t do something about it. Think about it.

Good ideas don’t wait until you are ready

A couple of weeks ago I shared some wine and cheese (well, cheese anyway) with some pub mates. We talked about technology, the number of bones in the human body, the length of human DNA and all sorts of things. I shared my vision of a internet-cafe-sum-business-incubator.

BOOM.

It’s everywhere. The term is “Going Bedouin” coined by Greg Olsen and Om Malik thinks that the New Office Space for startup companies will be the coffee shop and not the garage and you know it’s reached Deepest Darkest Peru when there are Irish Bloggers talking about it too.

I’d hoped for a bit of a head start. Too late! I’m going to have to get my finger out and do something about this which means moving things a bit faster. I don’t have to implement the full scale plan, but I do need to do something.

It’s nice when people agree with you as well.

Take a moment.

Daniel Steinberg is the editor of ONJava and java.net. He’s been working with Java on the Mac since it first appeared but also enjoys coding in ObjC and other languages. He is a longtime technical writer, trainer, and developer with Dim Sum Thinking, Inc.

He’s a humble family man and his recent blog, Dear Elena, where he is working through the grief of losing his daughter, just broke my heart. I have no words.

Video will kill the Radio Star….possibly not a good thing

I’m just off the phone with the local radio part of the BBC. I listened for a few minutes as they described the growing porridge industry and the price of heifers in Markethill and then it was my turn. Four questions about these recent virus/trojan/malware outbreaks on the Mac and then they switch to the news. BOOM. Done. Wham bam, thank you ma’am.

I’ve been thinking about doing a podcast similar to Jared’s SpodCast (EXPLICIT LYRICS) and even wondering about video podcasts now that we have these nifty iMac Core Duo machines with built in cameras. I think the horror may be too much.

It’s not the first time I’ve been on the radio. Back in college when I was running gaming cons I was interviewed twice as an “authority”. Now I’m the local authority on the Mac I guess.

Anyway – a quick conversation about it not being a big deal, how Mac users need to be responsible internet users and how Mac users tend to be creative, interesting people and we’ll see who else was listening at 6:45 in the morning! Brrrr.

Conformity

MJ and I are busy trying to brain storm on website design. For those of you reading this, you’ll no doubt have noticed we have a splash page that is one big graphic, and a blog, neither of which is related to each other in design (apart from they are both blue-ish).

In looking at various other Mac software houses, I see a trend of conformity. “Let’s put everything on a white background because the Apple website is all white. Oh hang on, they’re putting things on a black background now. Let’s use a rounded menu bar. Let’s put everything in rounded rectangles – even this blog is guilty of that!

Given the possibilities that the web technologies allow, is it that hard to come up with something even a little unique. I like some of the ideas at Panic – the outline of new product icon, the drag’n’drop download, although some more useful info about each product on the front page would be nice. I also quite like Black Tree, although it is a little on the monochromatic side. At least Delicious Library used an original colour set (regardless of whether I think it’s a good colour set).

We don’t need to represent a lot of information here. A bit about the company, the people in it, and the products we make/will make. Allow people to get information, software or just get in touch easily, and yet still be eye-catching and even just a bit original.

Soon, my precious.

Blogging versus Marketing: is the difference “truth”?

Blogging is definitely an additional tool in the modern marketing arsenal. It gives the appearance of transparency and the idea that the developers may actually be engaging with the customer.

Do I sound cynical? Well, I should. I’ve seen a lot of blogs recently which talk about products but very few that are such blatant marketing fluff as this one (where Robert Scoble tells us that Halo 2 will be on Vista only because of technical issues which he can’t explain) or this one (where Scoble tells us that Office 2007 will be the bomb, er, just because, okay? Important to note how he waxes a little about Business Intelligence features and, um, pivot tables…and stuff. Apparently they’re going to be much easier. Er, Robert – you’re a professional blogger for a massive company. Does that give you an insight into actually running a business?).

I like the Scobleizer. I really enjoy his posts where he shows passion about something. If it’s a third party product then you know it’s because of his passion. If it’s a Microsoft product then you can tell the examples he’s passionate about. And the problem is that these recent posts both read like his boss told him to get blogging. No-one can get passionate about telling everyone that a years-old game on years-old hardware will require a brand new PC and a brand new operating system just to run. It’s hard to get passionate about Excel 2007 pivot tables because….well…if you have a hard time understanding why then you’re probably just in the target market for that product. And wow, I’d like to see that Venn diagram….

Now I’m going to admit that I’m going to be a marketing shill for our first product but I have the advantage that this product is being built for me. Not maybe for me personally but I’m going to be one of the first users and I’ve been looking forward to this for years and I have a team who are gagging for exactly this product in a production environment (as well as a group of prospective beta testers). Just needed to find the right combination of technology and a great code monkey )

Blogging is great, and er…stuff….

It’s like Steve versus Bill in miniature….

Guy Kawasaki started blogging in January and has come up with quite a few interesting posts – a lot of which he’s paraphrasing from his books which I must say are a good read if you’ve ever wondered about starting a business and promoting a product. My personal preference is “Rules for Revolutionaries” and if you buy using that link, Guy gets a referral from Amazon ).

Robert Scoble, who does something-or-other at Microsoft (I think he may be their blogger?) has been a long time blogger along with his A-list blogger friends. Sometimes it’s an interesting read when he’s enthused about stuff, I like his enthusiasm for geeky things.

The funny thing is that Robert sometimes criticises Guy’s blog. Sure, he refutes Guy’s recent “How to suck up to bloggers” which details ways to get mentioned on an A-list bloggers main content rather than being an also-ran in the comments. Robert says the way to get him passionate about something is to get everyone in his life passionate. Aha, that must be what Rick Segal (some Microsoft millionaire VC guy) spotted when some marketroid guys were targetting Robert’s kid, Patrick with some free goodies. I’m not sure that’s what Robert meant but when he urges you to get his friends and family passionate I guess he’s looking to score some cool free stuff. More power to you, Robert. What’s the point of being an A-list blogger and getting trackbacks from nobodies – “blagging” is an art when you’re a nobody, it’s an accident (and sometimes a benefit) when you’re A-list. Enjoy the free stuff, mate.

Ah, Robert is a “Technical Evangelist” at Microsoft. It’s in the small print halfway down the right hand side. Yeah, so I guess he blogs for a living. Tough gig.

Anyway, if it’s not necessary to suck up to A-list bloggers then why do people do it? Because they’re the remora hoping that their suck-uppage will merit them a mention on the A-list blogsite which will drive their traffic through the roof and merit them a few sales and, you never know, maybe some opportunistic B-list VC will try and beat YMG to that initial first round investment.

They suck up because they DO need to. It’s their business model.

I find it amusing that Firefox is now suffering the same fate as the Mac

That is: they have fanatical users who might give the product a bad name.

While the Mac community has been likened to a group of rabid internet thugs, I have always felt this to be an unfair comparison. After all, everyone knows you have to go to Usenet to meet rabid internet thugs.

Most Mac users are extremely enthusiastic about their chosen platform. Some recent switchers I know are so into their Mac that they actually spend time preaching to the heathens (one even wanted to open a Mac store as a sideline because there are no Mac retail stores in the province). This is real love^wobsession at work.

Firefox has the luxury of being cross platform and therefore able to catch people with obsessive tendencies no matter their chosen platform. For some, the ease of use of changing platforms and synchronising bookmarks is reason enough to use Firefox as there is no other browser that is as uniform across the platforms. (For some of us, uniformity is not actually a feature!)

Where the problem arises, for the Mac and Firefox communities (as opposed to Apple and Mozilla as organisations) is that some people cannot abide the presence of heretics and non-believers. I think it would be safe to say that a few hundred years ago these same people would have been staunch supporters of the Inquisition.

Note that being a product fanatic is different to being a product evangelist. A fanatic doesn’t take the time to even consider a competing product. An evangelist investigates the competition thoroughly because they have to have cogent discussion on why their product is better.

I would echo the advice given in the SpreadFireFox web site:

  • Be aware of why you use a product
  • Be educated about your product choices
  • When you have an opinion, always know why
  • Don’t argue with a brick wall.

For our product, I don’t think we’ll get fanatics. We’ll get people for whom our product is essential. And some who won’t bother. Either is cool – but corner me at a trade show and I’ll tell you all of the reasons WHY our product is essential….