Archive for May, 2008

Touchscreen won’t kill the mouse… [or will it?]

I’ve really not been keeping up with what Microsoft are doing in UI design, although as the owner of an HTC Windows Mobile PDA/Phone thingy, I have a passing interest. I also sometimes look longingly on at iPhone users who swish their fingers around and do funky things, while on my HTC phone, apart from the contacts application, my finger basically just replaces the mouse. Still, I have my work calendar, address book, journal/notes, task list and more syncronised on my HTC phone!

In my post of the other day, I bemoaned the fact that creating slides and moving objects around even in the latest PowerPoint, really hasn’t changed much since Freelance under DOS, and even it had some neat features not found in todays PowerPoint for selecting, moving, duplicating and aligning objects.

It was with some interest then that I just spotted Robin Bloors commentary via his twitter stream, on Bill Gates latest claim that Touchscreen will kill the mouse. Robin is probably more right than Bill, but either way, hopefully creating objects, grouping them, moving the around on the screen and aligning them will get much easier. I’m all for that.

The chances of me still using Microsoft products by then, remote.

[Update] I’ve been giving some more thought to Robins argument, I do think he is right. However, I also think there is a reasonable alternative, at least one I could use. At home I use a draftsmans table as a desk. You know, one of those ones that sits up at an angle. Using my laptop on it, with a large external monitor for the extended desktop contain mostly the windows I’m not currently working on, IM clients, my calendar etc. works out ergonomically quite good.

I could see replacing the laptops sit up screen with a touch sensitive display of somesort, along with either a visual touch keyboard, perhaps projected onto the desktop; or a standard keyboard. I think that would work out fine, no mouse.

However, on a traditional flat desk it would be no use at all. Rather than having to hold your arms up all the time, you’d spend the day with your chin on your chest, not ideal for the neck. Still, I’m sure someone could resolve that, ergonomic touch screen stand anyone ?

RedMonk IT Management PodCast #10 thoughts

I’ve been working on slides this afternoon for a couple of projects, and wondering why producing slides hasn’t really gotten any easier in 20-years since Freelance under DOS? Why is it I’ve got a 22 flatscreen monitor as an extended desktop, and I’m using a trackpoint and mouse to move things around, and waiting for Windows to move pixel by pixel…

Anyway, I clicked on the LIBSyn link for the RedMonk IT Management Podcast #10 from back in April for some background noise. In the first 20-mins or so, Cote and John get into some interesting discussion about Power Systems, especially in relation to some projects Johns’ working on. As they joke and laugh their way through an easy discussion, they get a bit confused about naming and training.

First, the servers are called IBM Power Systems, or Power. The servers span from blades to high-end scalable monster servers. They all use the Power PC architecture, instruction set RISC chip. Formally there had been two versions of the same servers, System p and System i.

Three operating systems can run natively on Power Systems, AIX, IBM i (formally i5/OS and OS/400) and Linux. You can run these concurrently in any combination using the native virtualization, PowerVM. Amongst the features of PowerVM is the ability to create Logical Partitions. These are a hardware implementation and hardware protected Type-1 Hypervisor. So, it’s like VMware but not at all. You can get more on this in this white paper. For a longer read, see the IBM Systems Software Information Center.

John then discussed the need for training and the complexity of setting up a Power System. Sure, if you want to run a highly flexible, dynamically configurable, highly virtualized server, then you need to do training. Look at the massive market for Microsoft Windows, VMware and Cisco Networking certifications. Is there any question that running complex systems would require similar skills and training?

Of course, John would say that though, as someone who makes a living doing training and consulting, and obviously has a great deal of experience monitoring and managing systems.

However, many of our customers don’t have such a need, they do trust the tools and will configure and run systems without 4-6 months of training. Our autonomic computing may not have achieved everything we envisaged, but it has made a significant difference. You can use the System Config tool at order time, either alone, with your business partner or IBMer, and do the definition for the system, have it installed and provisioned and up and running within half a day.

When I first started in Power Systems, I didn’t take any classes, was not proficient in AIX or anything else Power related. I was able to get a server up and running from scratch and get WebSphere running business applications having read a couple of redbooks. Monitoring and debugging would have taken more time, another book. Clearly becoming an expert always takes longer, see the wikipedia definition of expert.

ps. John, if you drop out of the sky from 25k ft, it doesn’t matter if the flight was a mile or a thousand miles… you’ll hit the ground at the same speed 😉

pps. Cote I assume your exciting editing session on episode 11, wasn’t so exiciting…

ppps. 15-minutes on travel on Episode #11, time for RedmOnk Travel Podcast

Repair, Refurbish or redesign?

I posted this as a response to some of the very short sighted comments and rant going on over on PoguesPosts, the latest in Technology from NY Times reporter/columnist David Pogue. The topic was about replacing a broken screen on an iPhone and the $245 cost.

Universally though both David and all 108 posters before me seemed to completely miss is the opportunity to do things better, not to gripe about Apples costs, or the poor or otherwise design of the iPhone. So, here’s my take on it.

“I think the point is that we and the companies that we buy from, HAVE to start being much more responsible with our electronic goods from the point of design.

Is it unreasonable to expect the designers of one of the best gadgets in the last few years to think about how they are serviced, refurbished and disposed of, I think not.

We simply can’t go on forever buying stuff and dumping the old, unwanted broken stuff without regard. The designers have their part to play in this, as do the companies that sell us stuff. Why didn’t the designers expect to see a reasonable amount of broken screens? Why isn’t there a reasonably priced refurbishment program that replaces the outer case, scratched glass etc.

This is an important challenge and one we all need to rise to. It is simply not good enough to just keep dumping old electronic devices with no regard to where the raw materials, components for the next one come from, and where the waste goes from the last one.

Shame on Apple for not making it easier to replace a broken screen, shame on Apple for not providing a more cost effective repair service.”

{Edit: What really made me think of reposting this was because when I read the posted version(uneditable) I realised I’d missed a vital NO in “no regard” in the 2nd from last paragraph.}


About & Contact

I'm Mark Cathcart, formally a Senior Distinguished Engineer, in Dells Software Group; before that Director of Systems Engineering in the Enterprise Solutions Group at Dell. Prior to that, I was IBM Distinguished Engineer and member of the IBM Academy of Technology. I'm an information technology optimist.


I was a member of the Linux Foundation Core Infrastructure Initiative Steering committee. Read more about it here.

Subscribe to updates via rss:

Feed Icon

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 887 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 83,850 hits