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vendredi 31 mai 2013

Petit Poème Mathématique

J''’aime les suites
.

Entre la vérité et la raison, quand je commence à compter plus loin,
Et que je tends vers l’infini, perdant la boule,
Je me multiplie et je tends plus vite vers l’infini avant d’exploser
Ou je multiplie mes emmerdes pour imploser à 0.

Entre le 0 et 1, quand je commence à compter plus loin,
Je m’arrête pour comprendre ce qui me divise,
Et je commence à compter cela,
Pour ensuite ré additionner ces morceaux,
Pour revenir au milieu, dans le présent,
En y restant plus longtemps à chaque fois.'
'

samedi 25 mai 2013

Petit Poème Physique

J'aime les photons.

''Le photon ne connait pas le temps
et va donc où il veut instantanément

Il danse toute la journée, et fait des vagues parfois,
sur lesquelles les autres peuvent venir surfer

Quand il rencontre d'autres photons,
ils brillent plus fort ensemble et changent de couleur en rythme

Quand il veut, il devient proton pour créer un peu de sens.
Si ça devient explosif, il s'émet juste à nouveau pour ne pas partir en fumée.

Quand il veut, il devient électron pour créer un peu de vie.
Si ça devient brûlant, il s'émet juste à nouveau pour ne pas partir en torche.

Quand il veut, il devient neutron pour créer un peu d'équilibre.
Si ça devient trop chiant, il s'émet juste à nouveau pour ne pas partir en tristesse.''

mercredi 23 mars 2011

A Dialog About States

A libertarian and one of his new friend are in a bar, drinking a beer after work. The friend heard about his fellow being a dangerous anarchist so he decided to investigate a little bit more about that craziness.

The Friend: for you what is a state?

The Libertarian: a group to force the people in a country.

How is the state forcing the people?

The state threatens to put them in jail.

What is a state for?

It was actually to force people not to force each other.

You said “was”. That’s not true anymore?

No. Now, a state is to force people to do what some want: the biggest minority in democracy or the chief in dictatorship. To force them to give some of their money to the state, not to smoke in a bar, etc, etc.

Why do you think the purpose of a state has changed?

I think because people sometimes believe that forcing people to do something they want can be easier and less expensive that getting them to want it. And people quickly understood that the state is the biggest gun of all to force others.

So, in XIXth Century, people owning companies ask the state to force companies abroad to pay money. That prevented the abroad products, which were better, to be cheaper than the local ones. The richer won whereas the abroad companies and the local consumers lost.

When they saw that, it was easier for the new so called “socialists” to convince the less rich to trust them. They could tell the less rich they would make the state to force the richer to give them more money and fewer hours to work. 

OK, wait, if they did not, we would still work 12 hours a week for a misery, wouldn't we?

Actually, this is not right my friend. More money and / or less work and / or better work conditions is not contradictory with the growth of a company. Smart entrepreneurs, like Herb Keleher, know for a long time that happier loyal employees make happier customers that make happier shareholders. For example, why do you think Henry Ford raised wages in the 20s?

Everybody knows that! To make his employees customers!

Sorry but this is the myth, not the reality. Henry Ford raised the wages because he understood that better paid employees would be more loyal and it would thus be less expensive than recruiting and teaching new ones.

That’s the same issue in >?xml:namespace prefix =" ""st1" /?< China…

Wait… China, you won’t say China is a paradise, right?

No, obviously, I am just saying that in China they have been doing in 20 years what we did in one century, which is raising the daily available dollars for a huge part of them, maybe 300 or 400 million people. And you can see many regions out there where the “bargaining power” has been reversed: too many jobs, not enough people, so employers have to seduce people, not the other way around.

But there is no liberty in China?

Yes, and that’s a shame. But as you saw in Arab countries recently, education and globalization will lead to more freedom. What’s the biggest issue with China is not what they’re doing, but that they’re doing it at least 80 years after us, and at ten times the scale. So it is a big deal. Either we let customers in West profit from less exensive products and chinese producers raise their living or we turn back to closed systems where local low value producers will be happy but the Chinese and us as customers will be less wealthy.

Ok, but let’s back to us: honestly, the state is not “forcing” you…

How do you call one that would threaten you with guns if you don’t want to do what it tells you (which is what would happen if I refuse to pay taxes).

Right, if you’re not happy, you can leave the country?

But I was born here! Between you that want a state and me that don’t want one, why should you be more legitimate to stay?

…hmmm, because this is democracy?

Why democracy should be seen as a verifiable god given truth?  [The friend is mum]. By the way, why do you like the state?

Because it can help the poor.

Can you say the “less rich” instead of “the poor”? Honestly even the least rich today in our country are probably “richer” than Louis XIV was. And for me there are no way but arbitrary decisions to decide whether one is “rich” or “poor”: absolute adjectives can kill.

OK. So, because it can help the less rich.

Are you OK to agree that it’s doing it by racketing money from other people?

Yes. But it is necessary.

Necessary for what?

Because, it’s unfair to let them die!

Unfair to whom?

To me, first…

…so you feel better off knowing that the state is doing it? So you are asking the state to force people to do what you want?

…Ok, me, but everyone should feel the same?

Why? Wanting to help the less rich is a choice you make, partly to feel yourself better. You can think that people which don’t feel worse when thinking about the less rich are assholes, but why is that giving you the right to force them?

…but you don’t feel worse about the needy?

I feel worse. And I want them to get wealthier. But I don’t want to get what I want by forcing other people with a state.

…but without a state, they would die!

No. First, all the “universal” services from the state could be done much better and / or cheaper with time thanks to the right to compete. And, as in any country, we would have much higher “real solidarity”, where people choose to give money for nothing. The lower level of charity in a country is directly correlated to the higher level of state intervention.

That’s one of people’s biggest mistakes: wanting to provide a service to everyone by letting the state do it alone with no competition and paid by force. You know, if I can’t convince you to let me live with no state, I would rather let free groups to compete to provide the services and be forced to give money to the less rich for them to choose one of the services.

and what about free school and free French culture ?

It’s a bad example my friend. In France, it’s not a coincidence if we have the highest level of state spending and among the worst results, according to PISA. Second, there, it’s you that is richer and was born in a better off family that is stealing the less rich to pay for your higher education or culture they won’t get. As I said before, and Frédéric Bastiat before and better than me, everybody is trying to force anybody else with a state. Based on that, guess why I am sure you’re feeling a rise in “selfishness” or a crisis of the “vivre ensemble”.

You think it’s because of the state?

Yes. Gifting apart, the best way to get what you want from a person is to trade it for something he wants more. While trading, both are thinking they’re winning. As a state is to force, from the start, there is a forcer and a forced. State is feeding the fight between people.

Ah ah, you said it, “thinking” is the right word. Because we know each other that someone can lie in a trade and someone can regret!

You’re absolutely right…and that’s why some people or companies provide services to tell you whether or not you can trust someone else before a trade. And companies as ebay have even digitalized the process with feedback: you know you should not lie on a trade because people will know and may boycott you.

As you saw with Mediator recently, a state does not seem to be really better at providing trust J

Ok so, according to you, a way to prevent people from lying or forcing others is the risk for them to be boycotted?

Yes.

But “professional forcers” like Mafia would rise in your world?

I don’t think so. Especially because the state won’t be there to force people not to buy drugs. So many businesses done today in fear and violence would be pacified. Remember Prohibition. Patrick Ricard looks a bit like Al Capone but is less violent don’t you think?

And many groups will provide security services because it's obvious people want it.

Yes but don’t you believe that with time only one private security company will emerge as a monopoly and thus recreating a state?

You know, the very first reason for monopoly or oligopoly is the state. Because companies run by men, are like anybody else, wanting to profit from the state. Bigger corporations are most often pro state and can get rules to prevent competition from newcomers. So with no state, chances are smaller to be the only one to provide a service to anyone. And if eventually the only risk is to come back to where we are…

…but with what consequences! This would be a civil war!

Neither for me. First no place can work without having many people believing at least a bit in trade, state or not state (think about Iraq). Second, most of civil war is actually to…lead the state! So if people lose their faith in the state, one of the biggest causes of war is already gone.

…you say “faith”?

Yes, it’s really that faith I want to kill. I am logical. If some people want a state, I don’t want to force them not to have them. I want to convince them that the state is what prevents us to get wealthier and eventuallly happier. And, to start, I want that people not to force me to be forced by the state. Would you?

Then the dialog stopped and the two buddies left each other. That night, The Friend did not sleep as he could not stop thinking about what The Libertarian told him. What if he was right ?

mardi 14 décembre 2010

The French Apple Is Even More Applesian

As all the geeks in France, I was following this morning the release of the new Freebox, alias the Freebox Revolution.
I won't digress on all the stunning innovation Free brought.
What was at least as interesting for me was that introduction reinforced once again my (happy) feeling that we have at least one "Applesian" company in France, and it's Free.
This morning the comparison was more than ever.

Free created the buzz by letting NO information filtering prior the release.
The release was made "a-la-Cupertino" with a keynote full of live bloggers and journalists.
Xavier Niel, the French Steve Jobs, seemed to have the same sense of "WOAHING" the audience in a quite millimetered presentation.
For the first time, the product mix the great technological innovation with a "real" effort on industrial design.
And the new home page following the release uses all the tricks we've been seeing for years on Apple.com : big fonts, clear messages, interviews of the protagonists in video (Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel !)

For years Free looks a lot like Apple on the corporate side (vertical integration, technical expertise, Chief as the main product manager...) ...
Today they played well the Communication part of Apple's recipe.

I can't wait to see the Advertising campaign to see whether they will keep on that comparison : "product focused commercials", anyone ?

mercredi 29 septembre 2010

Paving The Future With A Little Help From...Pink Floyd

in 1973, they predicted it, almost :-)

Would make a very good track in a spot for a Digital Companion. ''

All that you touch
All that you see
All that you taste
All you feel
All that you love
All that you hate
All you distrust
All you save
All that you give
All that you deal
All that you buy
Beg, borrow or steal
All you create
All you destroy
All that you do
All that you say
All that you eat
Everyone you meet
All that you slight
Everyone you fight
All that is now
All that is gone
All that's to come
And everything is going to Facebook
But Facebook is eclipsed by the ???''

mercredi 28 juillet 2010

On The Third Wave Of The Web : Mass Delegation

"Web 2.0" may be the most used and abused buzz term on the Web.
People made fortunes with conference around it, consulting on it and using the template to duplicate it with any domain like "Bank 2.0", "Supply Chain 2.0", "IT 2.0" or whatever.
To agree, I think we CAN recognize that a series of evolutions in the way people use the Web can be synthetized with a concept.
But I will refer more to waves, illustrating the fact that these evolutions are not perfectly synchronized and exhibit a certain kind of fuzziness which let the smartest entrepreneurs profit from their prime understanding.
For me, one of the key characteristics of the Web and of computers in general is the trend towards massification. Habits, usages and skills that were previously limited are massively made available to the greatest.
Let me sum up the first two waves regarding this axis : this will lead to what I think will characterize the third one.

1) The First Wave Of The Web was about Mass Consumption

Turning back to the 90s, the Web for most of the users were primarly about "consumption" of information, made massively available by the low cost of publication through easier programming languages, free web server and cheap bandwidth.
People were able to access a big flow of information coming from anywhere in the world.
Tools like Google Search allowed us to find what we want to know.
People were the primary requesters of information and the main consumers of it.
Production were still a professional activity and most seen websites were so digital copy of the traditional media machines.

2) The Second Wave Of The Web is about Mass Production

Since the 2000s, the Web for more and more users is also about "production" of information, made massively available by easy to use tools as blogs, wikis, etc...
Now (almost) anyone can produce a text, image, sound or video, make it available for anyone else to consume.
People are also commenting media, rate it, like it, forward it.
In this framework, Facebook is a good example of the latest incarnation of it, centralizing every media you produce in a single place, and organizing it around you as a person.

3) The Third Wave Of The Web will be about Mass Delegation

So after consumption and production what will we need, to constitute the Third Wave ?
I sum up this by the term "Mass Delegation" : the need not to just use computers for me to do things but also to do things FOR me.
In a world, where there is 2000 years of video on YouTube, 2 billion people on the Web and 200 to 300 people gravitating around me, I will need a computer to which DELEGATE many tasks in order to cope with the scale at which the Web has evolved, for example :

Remember for me what, where, when and why I did see, read, hear, make, write, like.
Buy or book for me.
Tell the people I want in my name about me.
Suggest for me what I will want to see, read, hear, do.

Thus, the next wave of the web will be about the need of digital proxy, more and more useful as it knows about me.
And there will be two ways to get it.
The first will be centralized, massive failure prone, privacy challenging, advertising loaded, aka Facebook.
The second will be personal, intimate, controlled, aka...?

mercredi 14 avril 2010

On The 3 Questions About iPad

As any geek fascinated by electronic gizmos, I followed the craziness around the beginning of April, aka iPad.
Almost everything has been said about it : here are the 3 main questions I got from it.

//

1) What's the market for a third computer between smartphone and desk/laptop ?

iPad is a marketing bet : that there is some room for a third computer that sits between the smartphone and the laptop.
As time and numbers will flow our RSS feeds, we'll know two things :
First, how many iPads and iPad ersatz will be sold. Second, and most importantly : how many iPads and iPad ersatz will be sold ADDITIONALLY to laptops and desktops.

2) Is this the beginning of the end for the Desktop UI ?

iPad is a new computing user interface : one in a full screen computer that gets rid of mouse, windows, files, folders, etc, etc...that is the same plain old user paradigm we've been stuck in since the rise of the first Mac 26 years ago.
I hope the logical next step for Apple will be to spread this new paradigm up to lap and desktop to make computers simple, easy and fun to use again.

3) Is this the beginning of the end for the "Web" ?

iPad is an ecosystem : a system that could destroy or replace the web ecosystem if continued to be successful.
iPhone OS is the only "browser"
Objective C is the language instead of Javascript / HTML and CSS
Apps are the equivalent of "web sites".
iAd is the equivalent of Google AdSense.
AppStore is the Google.
The main difference between the two is obviously about control : control from one company or control from a complex ecosystem of standards (W3C), foundations, companies...
I can't wait to see how Google will react to this danger: will they be as stupid as Microsoft and try to contradict themselves by pushing the "app" model ?
Or will they be smart and accelerate the development of the web ecosystem.
Chrome OS, Chrome Tablets and Chromebooks will so be quite interesting to follow !

lundi 2 novembre 2009

On The Smartphone OS Wars & Apple: Beware Of Useless Comments

I did not post for a while, working hard on projects I had to get out.

But the comments on a recent study made me wake up to add my small sauce to these debates.

What's the debate?
Gartner said that Android will be the second most sold platform after Symbian, trumping iPhone OS.
So many analysts, too happy to bite the Apple, reminded us of the 80s when Apple, after having made the PC popular was dumped off by the Wintel combination.
For them, history repeats itself so if Apple does not open its platform, it will be beaten up once again, jumping back to low market share from a double digit one on the current smartphone market.

I think the direct comparison is not quite adequate: here is why.

1) Comparing Apples and apples: Apple vs. Android OEMs

What seems to be forgotten in these comments is that Apple is not competing with Google to gain marketshare on OS platforms, but with OEMs selling pocketable computers.
At the end of the day, Apple would be better off with 10% of the smartphone market if, for example, 80% of the rest is split between many 5-6% marketshare Android-run smartphones OEM.
The real "fight" in the smartphone OS wars should be on comparable players, namely Google, Microsoft and Nokia's Symbian.

Google's Android keeps on signing OEM up. But it's funny to see that this is by using the same strategy Microsoft was to kill Netscape and for which they were sued!! Financing a huge investment with the profits of another activity.
Microsoft is slowly becoming irrelevant on this market and the only remaining chance is to make a big splash with WM7 in April 2010: a limited product may sign the end of the road for them.
Nokia is also at crossroads: Symbian is almost running only Nokia & DoCoMo's phones and is also perceived as quite dated. The real deal beyond open sourcing is now planned with Symbian^3 coming by April 2010.

2) Is the horizontal model to repeat?

What's the most fascinating about the horizontal model of PCs is that...it never repeated itself until now!!! Any other consumer electronics industry has today a very high dose of software but none of them has really switched to a decoupling of hardware, OS and applications.
Neither music players, nor cameras, nor consoles, nor cars have gone this way, so the question is why?
First, one missing forgotten piece has made it possible: the quite standard hardware architecture made by IBM that's not at all yet done in smartphones.
Second, the OEMs have learnt that horizontal system can steal profits to software / hardware components providers and don't want to get back to this situation.
Third, the Smartphone industry seems to plateau in term of form factor / hardware fonctionnality, reinforcing the importance of software.
It has so been quite remarkable that until now Operating Systems have not yet played a big role in mobiles and kept on producing highly fragmented products.

3) Conclusion

As I try to explain, OS marketshare is not yet really relevant as such for Jobs&Co. So what could really drive Apple done?

=> Innovation: Apple is clearly leading the pack in term of OS features. April 2010, with Symbian^3 and WM7 will show us if a commitee and a declining company can out innovate to give developpers the will to promote new kind of apps on something else than iPhone.
=> Volume based cost reduction: today the top end Android phones are not much less expensive than iPhone, from customers side. We'll see whether OEMs will use the probably high volumes of Android to position themselves on lower prices.
=> Developpers: AppStore is currently the most profitable way for developpers to make money. That's based on the high usage of iphone owners, the simplicity of buying process and the volume of iphone users.
Apple really lost his power in PC when many applications were only developed for Windows.
To succeed, Microsoft, Google and Nokia will have to love and cherish the developpers to move the same way: that don't seem to happen for now.

lundi 15 juin 2009

On The Computing Battle Royale Happening: Why The Computer Industry Will Change As Never Before.

Months ago, I wrote about what I was seeing as the most radical redistribution of roles in the computer industry since the emergence of personal computers at the beginning of the 80s.

The past months came up with so many announcements and news that it's hard not to be sunk.

However, here are the most interesting questions for me.

1) The Form Factor Battle: Netbooks are a mirage

There is not a week without one of the major companies in this sector trying to come up with a new moniker for this "bizarre" no man's land of 5 to 9'' screen computers.

First Intel reinvented the term Netbook to name them.
Then, Microsoft and nVidia started to try to deconsider this new term with the most simple "low cost small" laptops.
Recently, Qualcomm and Freescale started promoting the "Smartbook" name.

I am more on the same camp as Microsoft and nVidia on this: I don't think that Netbooks can survive as a standalone category for a long time.
As defended at many places on the Web, these computers are sieged between pocketable mobile phone computers that are much more portable and laptops that are much more versatile.
In the 2 to 3 years coming, pocketable will become more and more powerful and able to connect to massive screens and keyboards. In the same time, laptops will become less expensive with Moore's law.
So Netbooks will join the "nice attempt" graveyard of network computer, smart terminal and Co.
There are definitely no room for this cross over: they will die.

2) The Processor Battle: Intel vs. ARM

After exiting the mobile phone ARM-based industry years ago, Intel has come back with an AMD-promoted "x86 everywhere strategy", launching the Atom Brand towards sub-laptop territories, keeping power and compatibility but working on power savviness and integration.
I am quite sure that Intel's focus on Netbooks with the current generation of Atom is just a transitory step towards the main end game.
With the Medfield chipset, due for end of 2010, Intel will be able to target eventually mobile phone and will be in an face to face battle with the ARM's ecosystem, led by Qualcomm, TI and nVidia.
Sure, we'll see mobile phones with Medfield in 2011, probably from obscure Taiwanese companies without enough brand power to really make a difference.
The real deal for Intel would so to sign a deal either with one of the Top Tier mobile phone companies (Nokia, Samsung, LG, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Palm, RIM, HTC and Apple) or with one of the Top Tier desk/laptop companies, that will eventually go to pocketable computing (Dell, HP, Acer, Asus, Toshiba, Sony...).
I think that whatever the deals, Intel will need to find another angle of attack than "x86 compatibility".
Medfield will need to provide a real breakthrough in term of power vs. battery life to have a chance to win.
We'll see.

3) The OS Battle

In the 2 to 3 years coming, we may be on the verge of a radical change in OS dominants players.
Mobile phone OS suppliers (Palm WebOS, Symbian OS, Mac OS X, Android...) will move up to laptops with cleaner, more web oriented, touch oriented interfaces, able to rival Windows.
And once the Netbookmania has blown off, all the interesting work done (by Jolicloud, gOS Cloud, Intel's Moblin or my friend Olivier Seres' iFrame ) will migrate both to the simplified "laptop segment" and to the pocketable computing world.
I can't know yet who will win and who will loose, whether the 25 year old OS / Hardware unbundling will survive but this is one of the most interesting question of all.
Will the "slimmed down Linux exposing only a browser to the Cloud" work and mark the decline of computing power democratization we've seen for the next 50 years?
Will a dramatically new kind of kernel emerge as we're celebrating the 40th anniversary of Unix?

Finally many questions, few answers, so stay tuned!

jeudi 26 mars 2009

On The Beginning Of The Next Generation Of User Interface: Augmented Reality

I have long been an advocate of going beyond the current paradigms i.e mouse, desktops.
The current evolution for 2009 is on touching screens, popularized by Apple with iPhones.

March 2009 may be remembered as the real start of a breakthrough in user interfaces, as Vuzix and Metaio have just combined their forces to release the first commercial augmented reality user interface.

Portability and pixels to be told by the computer

Vuzix have been developping a "head up display" that's the ultimate solution for screens. By being on the nose, you can combine ultra portability, actually wearability, and a huge number of pixels allowing to see as much information as with a screen for a desktop computer.
The revolution is to combine it with a digital camera from Metaio, the "CamAR", that can get what you're seeing and show additional information on top of it.

CamAR.jpg



Portability and maniability to tell the computer

As this point, you may say that you've already seen this kind of system.
But here, the "be told" part of the interface is completed by a new way to tell the computer, via a PhasAR, a kind of joystick to control what's you're seeing on the wearable screen.

PhasAR.jpg



From niche innovation to mainstream commercial success

As I said before, this is just the beginning.
Everything may be too big to seduce more than the people not afraid to look like cyborgs.
The CPU power needed to understand the data as well as what Intel demonstrated a long time ago in an Asian IDF and fit in the pocket may not be there yet.
And most of all, no OS has ever been built from scratch for this, being to it what Mac OS were to the desktop and webOS is to be to the touch palmtop.
It took around 20 years between the first personal computer from Apple and the definitive mainstream success of personal computers with...Windows 95.
Let's hope that some smart guy will make this transition a little bit faster...

lundi 9 mars 2009

On An Interesting Coming Website Going Beyond Google: Wolfram Alpha

9 months ago, in this article, I wrote about that many companies were trying to beat Google and detailed 3 questions towards this goal.

Today, I read about a new website coming in May, made by Stephen Wolfram (who made Mathematica), namely Wolfram Alpha.

Wolfram himself announced and introduced at this blog , and Nova Spivack, who made Twine, had chance to spend two hours with Wolfram being demoed the website, and then commented back about it.
Right after, Jon Stokes, who I cherish the damn insightful articles around chips at Arstechnica, expressed quite abruptely his doubts about the site.

Let's look at this site through my 3 questions:

1) Doing better
On this point, Wolfram Alpha (WA) seems to be on a right track. Following exactly the path I laid out (coincidence obviously ;) ), WA will be to give ANSWERS to requests, NOT just PAGES with the words told.
You will type questions in a typical Google-like search bar and WA will answer you.
You might so not cobble with the toundra of pages from Google to find the answer you're (implicitely) looking for when telling words to google.com.

2) Doing it different
On this point, WA seems to be exactly as Google, having to build a (guessed) big database and (guessed) big web sites to centralize all the logic to find answers and serve them to people.
Even worse, as explained by Spivack, the tool has to be bootstrapped and fueled by an army of persons entering tons of information by hand only for the sake of WA and maybe a ever growing total paycheck.

3) Monetizing different
On this point, no information is given.
Jon Stokes made his best point on this: even if the process is (sometimes) painful to find an answer with Google, we humans have quite been mastering the process and are able to go through it quite easily.
So, beyond the possible engeeniring masterpiece, what can WA be useful for?
As I explained, the biggest limit of Google is not for humans to find answer but that computers are completely unabled to use it in order to act for humans.

So what may be the most valuable part of WA is NOT THE HUMAN NATURAL LANGUAGE INTERFACE but the COMPUTER ABSTRACTED INTERFACE.
This could be opened and monetized to any other computer in order to get the answers and act upon them.
To take an example back from Spivack, it's pretty easy for an human to get the price of a share from Google with google.com but pretty impossible for a computer provided that a human read through the cumbersome functions written in XML to tell the computer to do so SPECIFICALLY for this question.
As far as I understand WA, it can contain a kind of a way for a computer to ask GENERALLY, making computers as empowered as we are with search/answer engines.

lundi 26 janvier 2009

25 Years Ago, The First Mac

Last week, many people through the Web celebrated the 25th birthday of the personal computing revolution with the introduction of the first Macintosh by Steve Jobs.
I watched a countless number of times this famous introduction by Master Steve: great introduction speech, grandiose "something-special-is-happening" music from Vangelis and crowded room applauding like in rock concerts.

Digging inside the gazillions of reports and history look-trough, two facts stroke me:

1) Many's been happening in the computer

Comparing original and state of the art desktop Macs is a wonderful demonstration of the forces induced by Moore's law that brought endless improvements on the internals of the computer.

comparing_Macs.JPG

Basically every important one in the computer has been gigantically improved for half the price! No other industries have ever been able to maintain over a so long period a systematic skill to improve a concept. Thumbs up!!!

2) Few's been changing between the computer and us.

The Macintosh was finally bringing to mainstream the revolutionary GUI and mouse invented in the late 60s and 70s by brilliant minds mainly in Xerox's PARC.
Comparing original and state of the art desktop Mac's UI

macos.JPG

Basically nothing's been changing!! Same old "it's on a desk" metaphor, same annoying process to save, name and classify in a tree, that's forcing us to think about one the computer should be able to do alone, same way to go to the content...

3) Computer will have to change outside while keeping on changing inside

Following the looking backward, most of people are looking forward for the next 25 years.
For me,
The Mac that has already shrinked to the pocket with iPhone will continue this trend beyond wearable computing.
The Mac interface, as illustrated by the iPhone or by the new Palm's webOS, will have to go beyond 30 year-old "manipulating files on a desktop with a mouse" world.
That's the biggest challenge and I hope a soon-to-come MacBook Touch to show the way forward in the coming months.

lundi 25 août 2008

Libertarians vs. Democrats

I've just come back from 3 weeks of holidays and a good discussion with my parents, especially on my philosophy and libertarians.
That's a recurrent process: when I talk with a person about that I am a libertarian, the person is amused at first.
Then when that person is a socialist, I am accused of being sold to big corporations, money or whatever.
When that person is more right wing, I am disdained to be just an idealist because my view can not work.

The biggest hurdle to this kind of discussion is that most often the person is orienting the talk by bombarding me with questions on how to solve this or that "problem" without forcing people with a state.
I previously used to be trapped in this by trying to draw how people without a state would make what some want for any case such as security, education, insurance, roads or whatever.
This always leaded to a kind of brainstorm ping pong on actually designing in details such an answer to a problem currently dealt by the state.

After reading and thinking about it, I now try to make my opponent shift to a deeper and more subtle understanding of being a libertarian.
For me, the main difficulty to compare libertarians and "democrats" (not the US party but the ones that love, trust and enforce democracy) is due to that they are not aiming at the same questions.

Democrats and democracy is a question of WHAT to do WHATEVER the means, FORCE INCLUDED: the way is to let each person in the place vote and do what the most want.
More precisely, in today representative democracy, persons are voting for WHO is going to tell what to do.
That is the rule of the strongest: the state is the strongest and it is making the laws.
Once this has been done, the government has a limited period to do what it wants with any means.

Libertarianism is a question of HOW to do WHATEVER the aims: the way is to let each person in the place do what he wants except forcing people, be it as an end (like a serial killer) or as a mean (like a state).

So as a libertarian, when I want the state to stop acting, this does not necessarily mean that I don't want the aim the state was trying to reach. It means that for me NOTHING should justify to force/racket people via taxes and rules, even for apparently "heart minded reason".

mardi 17 juin 2008

On iPhone: 3G And Beyond

So that is.
After a rather boring keynote (too many applications shown), Steve Jobs detailed the upcoming iPhone 3G, the second version of iPhone.

Here are my thoughts on it.

1) Apple is now a traditional mobile phone vendor
When the first iPhone came out, Apple succeeded in disrupting the classical model by selling it at real price and taking a share of the exclusive carrier's service revenue.
With the new iPhone, Apple is now back with the other sellers: the company will sell most (if any) iPhones to the carriers, that will resell it at a low price to people while paying back with the service.

2) Apple completed the traditional hardware package.
As many, me included, explained six months ago, some pieces were missing in the first iteration of iPhone. Most have been reintegrated in the product, especially:
i) A faster cellular connection: as shown in the keynote, HSPA is almost as pervasive (especially in France) as EDGE and almost as fast as Wifi.
I already explained how cool was the pervasiveness of EDGE, balancing the slowness of it. With HSPA, combined with the same kind of unthethered plan, I would almost never used Wifi except from my home.
ii) A more precise location: thanks to GPS, iPhone will be able to compete and eat the market of dedicated pocketable GPS. This kind of product is on a dead end and will disappear in the 5 years to come.

3) Apple brought the software to the next level.
Beside the upgrade to please IT Administrators to be more "enterprise friendly", I think the biggest way to justify the new SDK+AppStore system is really about gaming.
Actually, the only interesting piece in the apps demo in the keynote was all about gaming, combining SoC intensive visual calculation and innovative sensor based gameplay.
With this, an iPhone is now a direct competitor to a PSP from Sony and to a DS from Nintendo.
These two companies will need to add phone capabilities if they want to stay in course.

Beyond these announcements for iPhone 2, we can now quietly think about the iPhone 3.

1) iPhone 3 will be based on a dedicated SoC
Steve Jobs confirmed that Apple did buy PA Semi to make chips for iPod/iPhones. This will thus create a third branch dedicated to advance processors for pocketable computer, besides the new from Atom and the main from ARM. As a technical nerd, I will be very interesting to see which kind of performance/energy advantages Apple will be able to raise from designing for its own products, regarding an OMAP from TI, a Scorpion from Qualcomm, an Atom from Intel or a Tegra from nVidia.

2) iPhone 3 will upgrade the as usual hardware feature.
You can be sure that iPhone 3 will have:
i) a better camera: more pixels, a zoom, flash and auto focus are a must and not very hard to bring.
ii) a better screen: HTC seems eventually to move the trend to VGA screens. Could Apple be ahead by pushing a 800x480 WVGA one, that seems to be the physical limit for pocketable?
iii) a faster network: as I understood, Apple just brought the HDSPA 3.6Mb/s version to the table: we will thus see HSDPA 7.2 and HSUPA 3.6 in the iPhone 3.

3) Which new can be done in iPhone 3?
Here are what Apple could bring to really advance the course.
i) "Wireless IO" : using Wifi or UWB, Apple could make the iPhone a hub to dispatch sounds, images and texts to the better IO available at any time.
ii) "iContact" : using NFC technology, Apple could leverage its power on iTunes to foster the development of eTicketing on the iPhone 3.
iii) "iPhone Server": this could be the more radical feature, building upon what's Nokia doing on Symbian. The idea is to profit from Wifi and HSUPA high uplink bandwidth to make the iPhone a personal web server able to answer to request about the user in real time.

Don't know yet what Apple will bring in this iPhone 3. But after reintegrating the mainstream with iPhone 2, Apple will need to surprise us once again on features to sustain the iconic value the brand is raising.

jeudi 5 juin 2008

How To Beat Google?

Introduction
2008 marks the 10th anniversary of one among the most recent successful companies, Google.

Looking at the WWW today, one can see that Google is everywhere, nearing Microsoft like monopoly, in many domains such as revenue growth, brand recognition, management practices and computers' network expertise.

Facing this kind of power, people tend to have one of two kind of reactions.
Being angry and trying to beat the player in front of states' court.
Being fascinating and trying to beat the player in front of people, offering a better solution to them.
I am definitely at my humble level in the second category.

In this text, I will expose some of my thoughts about the way a group may beat Google in front of customers.

1) Beating Google by doing better
Even if the company has been digging in many territories in recent days as Microsoft's been moving around Windows+Office, the main role of Google is to provide what we call "search".
Search for me is an unnecessary complex word for a more simple activity: what's Google actually doing is answering questions from people.
When you're typing words to tell to Google, you're not actually "searching" but morelike asking a question.
Except for a very small subset, the way Google's answering is very primitive.
It's just getting from its giant memory the pages in which the words are: the main value in this process is so not in "what" Google is getting but how it is ordering these pages.
The main limits of Google answers is so:
You always needs to read pages to get the "real" answer.
Sometimes, the fact that Google just see "words" and not "proper nouns", "common nouns", verb or adjectives is that it misses completely the point and you're wasting time either refining your question or reading more and more pages.
Google does not read between the content words and actually encourages people not to type them.
Google is working well to answer to a person, but not at all for a computer.

The last point is the most important: the limits of Google for answering to a person is a waste of time.
But the limits of it for answering to a computer is a dead end. Because of that, one of the main aim of a computer, that is to do something for a person is lost.
When you want for example to know in which cinemas you can see a film, you'll type the nouns, Google will answer probably the pages of cinemas companies first, you will read these pages and get it.
But if you want to tell a computer to tell you that when one of the cinema is in the city where you are, there is no chance it will ever be able to do it for you, as from the words to Google, it won't read the good information.
Thus there are many room today to beat Google by doing better and actually many companies trying to do so.
One of the main problem of them, beside technology is the second way of beating Google.

2) Beating Google by doing it different.
The real reason of monopoly is rarely the undefinite leadership of a company at the product level.
It's more often a particular core pre requisite that's almost impossible to defeat.
Intel and x86 has been there for 30 years because backward compatibility kills any chance to win with a better set of instructions.
Microsoft has been the endless leader of software because of a killer business model, selling to computer makers and so spreading any new Windows version with the PCs growth.
Google is a very solid leader not because of what they do, but because of what they have to make what they do, that is the most powerful, big and efficient mainframe ever made.
It always made me laugh to see that Google's always been pride of telling that you can know anything from Google. Actually, one of the stuff you can not know is about Google's computers. Simple but customized machines, numerous (500000+), dispatched all over the world, this system is fascinating.
However it promotes a model of computing that was popular in the 60's, the mainframe, centralizing all the information and computing resource under a single group.
The main reason why all the Powerset, Twine and al will fail is not because of their product.
It's because they're following the same architecture idea that's to make a super mainframe, and at this game, no one could out beat Google.
In the same way that Microsoft defeated IBM, to beat Google is to do it differently by pushing forward personal computing with P2P and not backward to mainframes.
To do that, there's even not a need to invent complex new protocols, but to come back to what the first vision of Tim Berners Lee for the WWW was: a person's computer that is able to GET and POST as a 'browser' but also to BE GOT and POSTED as a "server".
Promoting this approach, you may decentralize the Google system and gain more privacy, more scalability and more freedom to publish your information to anyone.
This will also put back personal computers in light to rediscover a role lost that's the third way to beat Google.

3) Beating Google by monetizing different
The main thing that's people are seeing from Google is software.
But as all the successful software makers, Google is not selling it to users.
Microsoft is selling to computers makers, Apple is selling the computers and Google is selling spacetime for ads.
As told before, a computer is aimed both for a person to do something AND to do something for a person.
The first is the main pushed by Google because in this one, there will be an interface for the person to do on which you can put ads.
Thus Google's business model is pushing a person to do more and more where a computer should also be a way for a person to do less and less (unpleasant) things.
Automatisation is thus really the way to attack Google business model not by trying to grab a share of it but by repurposing computers on tasks that limits its scale.

Conclusion
Many companies are today looking indepently at these 3 axis to compete with Google.
I think that it's in the combination of both 3 that a new leader would emerge.
This will come and after the US government, IBM, Microsoft and Google, will hightlight a new leader in the 5th generation of computing.

mercredi 23 avril 2008

On A Englighting Coincidence : Microsoft And Apple Today PRs

I wrote about the structuring tension that is sitting into the ICT industry.

Today, two releases are once again highlighting this tension, each coming from the two most important companies from the latest 25 years.

Apple did buy PA Semi.
Reading this on the morning, this made me wet ;).
For a device maker, buying a chip maker is a move that was not seen since the 70s when IBM or DEC were making everything from chips and softwares to devices.
The IBM PC killed these approach and fostered the growth of specialized companies in chips (Intel), softwares (Microsoft) and computers (Dell)...
The chips made by PA Semi are a mixture of performance and efficiency: Apple would so more than ever focus on growing the latest iteration of the personal computer platform, that is iPhone.

Microsoft did release Live Mesh
This is the next step in the "servicization" of Microsoft, from a personal computer champ' to a Mainframer coming back to the 50s while running behind Google.
Live Mesh is an old idea to solve a niche problem.
The old idea is to create a centralized mainframe (poetically said "in the cloud") to master many enslaved devices.
It is (for now) niche because the number of persons with more than one desk/laptop is quite marginal.
I will let a chance to Microsoft to improve the frame when pocketable devices will come on stage.

lundi 21 avril 2008

On the most forgotten but most important question words : whose

Try a little test : google the questions words in English.
On top of the list, you will find the usual suspects, what, who, why and how.
One will be quite less used than the others, whose.

However, the whose question has been the most important, controversial of all.
It has been the cause of so many wars, murders, conflicts and tears.
It's the essence of what makes humans different.

For anything, you can always ask : "whose is it?".
When this is a person, the answer has been agreed by blood and sanctuarized by a famous text : a person is self's.

But for anything but a person, the question remains: "whose is it?'.
Knowing this is the most essential, because we've been (quite) agreeing that the one whose it is can do what he wants with it and especially gives it to someone else.
To this question are only two answers: it is either a person's or persons'.

When it's a person's, it can change faster than when it's persons'.
Indeed, a person has just to agree with himself to do something to it.
When it's persons', they have to agree on what to do with it.

The most used rule for one that's persons' today is the one of the most.
What to do with it is what the most wants.
Most often, this is implemented by voting.
People are most often voting in two cases : for what to do with a state, where a vote is a person and for what to do with a company, where a vote is a share from the company.

The biggest difference between the two are :
For a company, only people that have shares can vote. These people BOUGHT these shares so took a risk to care about the company. They can SELL these shares when they don't care anymore.
For a state, only people that are citizens for this state can vote, so:
People living in the country where a state is can not vote.
People "investing" a lot in the state are as important as the others.
Citizens can not escape from the state to give away both obligations and rights got from the state.

Whatever the case, persons' is most often slower than a person.

So, while I am hating the system for states, I do think that anytime we can have one that is a person's, we should make it.

lundi 14 avril 2008

Will we eventually get smarter from that crisis : don't let people make money!!!

6 months ago, I wrote a text about money, following up the Austrian economics.

In English, it's quite interesting to notice that very often people are using the expression "making money" to refer to earnings.
What the current crisis is showing is a classical example of the dead end caused by taking this at the first degree.

For 10 000 years, people have been forbidding anyone to "make" money by using Gold for it. Despite very famous attempts, nobody has ever succeeded in making gold. The only ways to have gold is thus either to get it from Earth with hard mining or to get it from a person that has some.
As gold is among the most scarce, there are more and more to buy for a relatively stable quantity of gold. Prices are so going down with time.

For the last 100 years, we forgot that and let states grant banks the right to make money from nothing by manipulating the interest rates.
Typically when the Fed is lowering the rates, banks can make more money from nothing.
This more money will flow from banks to persons to buy things and give illusion of wealth, creating bubbles.

All the mistakes done with these new money will make people less rich and will have to be "corrected" one day or another.
The current crisis, fueled by the very low rates set by Alan Greenspan in 2001, caused a bubble on houses.

What's the most incredible to me is that many people don't yet see that this is the Fed that made this bubble and seems to thank it for solving it!!!

As long as we let people make money from nothing, they will do it so making us less rich by decreasing the value of money and making bubbles that will have to collapse with high collateral damages!!!
The only way to KILL the boom-bust cycles is to kill this right.
The only way to kill this right is to go back to a money that no one can make or destroy, gold.

mardi 18 mars 2008

Fighting The Empire Striking Back With Web Servers In Pocket

As I wrote before, we have been witnessing since the beginning of WWW a tacit fight between two philosophical camps in the computing microcosm:

In the left corner sit the promoters of "cloud" computing, the same that tried to sell the Network Is The Computer propaganda ten years ago.
As I explained before, "cloud" is just a more cloudy term to refer to mainframe computing, the popular architecture of the...sixties!!!
The few have computers and the many have screens and keyboards to tap in these huge and shared computing resources.
In this model, you are depending on the big guys for the right to do what you want with THEIR computers.
The main forces in this Empire are the biggest on WWW such as Google, that built the biggest mainframe ever with hundreds of thousands computers, and the makers of servers like Sun and Oracle.

In the right corner sit the more hidden promoters of "even more personal" computing, building on the shoulders of computing democratizers of the 70s, especially with Peer 2 Peer (P2P) computing.
As I explained before, "P2P" is just a fancy term to refer to the next step of personal computing, where more and more is done by a person's computer, sucking the control from the mainframes.
The main forces among these Jedis are the biggest makers of personal computers, from Nokia to Apple.

The latest interesting nascent trend from the Jedis is the idea of Pocket Web Servers.
This was started by Nokia with their Web Server for s60.
This has been worked by the iJetty project, targeting the Android stack from Google.
This SHOULD be the most important feature to add to Firefox to make it a real competitor to the Facebooks of the world.

A Web Server in the Pocket could make person to person communications much simpler by enabling a direct and standardized HTTP messages between handsets.

What's lacking for this?
Number 1, the collaboration of carriers to allow then optimize incoming requests to handsets on their network.
Number 2, a more spread will of persons to buy, thus own their name on WWW to be fully independent from service providers.

I can thus dream of the day where I may have Julienboyreau.com on my iPhone, letting who I want GET FROM it and POST TO it in real time, punching back all the Twitters and Facebooks of the world.

In the short term, 4 key companies may have to choose a camp :
Google may have to choose between Adwords (The Empire side) and Adsense (The Jedi side).
Intel may have to choose between Xeon (The Empire side) and Atom (The Jedi side).
Nokia may have to choose between Ovi (The Empire side) and Web Server, s60, NSeries (The Jedi side).
Microsoft may have to choose between Live (The Empire side) and Windows (The Jedi side).

mardi 4 mars 2008

On The Four Fifth

So, here it is : Intel revealed a name for its most hoped growth engine : Atom, circuits made for :
Pocketable device.
Executing x86 instructions.
This's giving me an occasion to talk about what I've been calling "The Four Fifth", pictured below :

the_4th_5th.JPG

Here you can see the four 5th generations that will make the next and ultimate step in computers evolutions.

1) how to see :

In 100 years, screens became more and more pervasive and more and more personal, following the machine that's driving it.
Today, physics is the problem : the best answer to portability is still the pocket but you cannot fit more than a 5 inch wide screen into it, thus limiting the number of usable pixels you can have with you most of the time.
Wireless screens could be a mid term solution to get more pixels when available, but not carried all the time.

2) how to carry
Once upon the time, a computer was "carried" by a whole floor.
Then smaller and smaller transistors made it possible to move it to a simple desk, bringing by the way the desk straight onto the screen, with files, trashcan, folders...
Then this moved to a bag, making a "hard transition" between when it's used (on laps or desk) and when it's not (in a bag).
Now this is moving definitely to a pocket, from Nokia+ARM to Dell+Intel, the starting battle : there is still a "soft transition" when it's used (on the palm at a hand) and when it's not (in a pocket.)
Whither to be once in a pocket?
Indeed, computers CAN be smaller than a pocket but what being smaller for ?

3) how to tell
This is the most visible, from punching cards to fill into a computer, to touching a screen.
Touching a screen will be on the top list of any pocketable makers in 2008 after the first iPhones.
Reading usability forums, you can see there is a whole new field building up to standardize words for gestures.
But what could be better than this ?
What if there is no more screens to touch ?

4) whom to tell
Yet another tough question.
As you can see on the image, the last 5 years brought a major shift into the process.
Since ever, the text a person wanted to tell a computer was "done" something, either assembling, compiling or interpreting.
The cursor was on "what" to do to the text and "how" was the text to do upon more than whom the text to.
Virtual machines are changing this and they are more and more pervasive.
Sun is progressively focusing not on Java but on the Java Virtual Machine able to eat any kind of text written in Java, Ruby...
The main breaktrough of Google in Android is Dalvik, a virtual machine able to read Java.
Mozilla is upgrading Firefox to push it as a super virtual machine, reading HTML, CSS, XUL and more.
Adobe's just released the first AIR that can read anything from "Ajax" oriented to Flex, SQL... Microsoft is talking now about "offlining" Silverlight to make it a repackaged version of the CLR virtual machine as an universal reader of languages.
These virtual machines can read texts BUT also bits for images, videos, sounds.
What could be better than these ?

All these questions will forge the path to computers from 2010.
The winners of this period will have to master software, circuits, physics and ergonomics to not only add The Four Fifth but to multiply them, in order to make the next big revolution in computing.

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