Self-Sabotage

Ian King & Dina Bass reporting for Bloomberg on Microsoft being a day late and dollar short with whatever they’re trying to do:

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has sold about 1.5 million Surface devices, people with knowledge of the company’s sales said, a slow start in its bid to crack the fast-growing tablet market to make up for slumping personal-computer demand.
First Microsoft pisses off their vendors by coming out with what they consider the “ideal” (to add extra cheese to those air quotes, imagine Steve Ballmer making them) form factor for a Windows 8 tablet.
Then, their “ideal” fails to gain traction, making vendors think twice about even making their own.
Way to shoot yourself in the face, Ballmer.
Seriously though, what’s the incentive to make a Windows 8 tablet at this point?

Adapt Or Die

Google is shutting down Reader. A lot of people are upset about this. I’ll admit I’m a little bummed about it too. I read my Google Reader feeds via the awesome Reeder application multiple times every day.
But here’s the thing—all of us bitching about Google Reader shutting down are all people who work in the world of technology. Regular people have no idea what RSS feeds are.
If nerds like me can’t live to a world without Reader then I should think about changing professions.
Get over it. Adapt or die.

Strong But Weak

strong_opinions_weakly_held.gif

He would flip on something so fast that you would forget that he was the one taking the 180-degree polar [opposite] position the day before.
—Tim Cook on Steve Jobs, taken from The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin

It’s All About Quality

Craig Mundie on Microsoft’s (new) perspective on hardware quality:

“We said, ‘oh the OEMs, that’s their design, they deal with it.’ We got huge diversity out of that at all possible price points, but it became hard to guarantee a uniform quality of experience that the end user had,” he explained. Pointing to the initial touchscreens in Microsoft’s first-generation phones, there were clearly devices with better hardware than others. “If you were in front of a bad one then people said that was a piece of crap; it didn’t work a damn.”
Right. Quality of hardware matters. No shit, Mundie.
The reason Microsoft didn’t give a damn about hardware quality in the 80’s, 90’s and 00’s is because they were only trying to license Windows to businesses and businesses don’t mind if they’re giving their employees crappy PCs and laptops. For businesses, it’s all about the bottom line. Forget how important the quality is or how people will appreciate it more and it will last longer.
Sounds like Microsoft’s (and Bill Gates’s) original mantra might be changing. It used to be, “A computer on every desk and in every home.” It was all about quantity, not quality.
Now Microsoft is trying to sell to human beings with opinions and, surprisingly, it turns out a lot of people like to buy quality hardware.

Tell Me A Story

Last night, while I was gettng ready for bed in my hotel room, I decided to find out what else Siri was programmed to say.
I asked her, “Tell me a story.”
In the story Siri told me she mentions someone (or something) named ELIZA. I decided to find out who or what ELIZA was.
Turns out ELIZA was one of the first natural language processors ever written:

ELIZA is a computer program and an early example of primitive natural language processing. ELIZA operated by processing users’ responses to scripts, the most famous of which was DOCTOR, a simulation of a Rogerian psychotherapist. Using almost no information about human thought or emotion, DOCTOR sometimes provided a startlingly human-like interaction. ELIZA was written at MIT by Joseph Weizenbaum between 1964 and 1966.

[…]

ELIZA was named after Eliza Doolittle, a working-class character in George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, who is taught to speak with an upper-class accent
There’s a bunch of cool little details they programmed into Siri.
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