Why can’t Windows PCs catch up to the MacBook Air?

“Several times a year, I have meetings with major PC manufacturers about their upcoming product lines, and the tenor is always the same: “Our customers told us this is what they want, and our market research says this is what people are buying, so we made this great product to address that market!” There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but you’ll never set any trends that way. If you want to make the product that everyone else compares their product to, you have to go outside the envelope. You have to take a risk to build something nobody has told you they want, because they don’t know they want it yet, and then you have to invest in it and stick with it until you get it right. The real irony here is that their marketing departments are constantly striving to find differentiators: ways to set their products apart from the pack. If every company is building products to address the same set of market research data, you’re not going to get differentiated products.”


Exactly! This article is a must read, and specially a must read by every guy that works in a Marketing Department somewhere.

I don’t agree with everything though. I think that many times Apple should listen a bit more to its customers. Yes we get it, you are the leader/visionary but we are the ones that shell out the bucks for your products. If ten thousand people complain about the glossy screens and request for a matte option, couldn’t you simply indulge us?

And the same goes for the poor deceased white macbook, which i sorely miss. Because now, when someone asks me why or what macbook should they get, i can’t simply recommend the white one that was good enough and cheap enough for most. And when most of your competitors sell cheap laptops (which i grant that aren’t that good but my interlocutor doesn’t know that) for 600-800€ that appear to kick ass in specs, is really hard to convince or recommend the a computer that starts in the 1000€ and always going up…

And this without even going in the thousand paper-cuts or annoyances in Mac OS. It is not that Apple hasn’t been warned or requested, it’s just that they refuse to listen.

But, back to the original point, Marketing Departments should understand that their point is not to undermine every bold move other engineering departments do and neuter them to mediocrity, but help to fine-tune and adjust those bold moves. At least that was what i learned in Business school. Maybe they were wrong? Because in practice i really don’t see that much computer companies doing it.


PDF plugin for Firefox 6 and above

If you’re a Mac user and you have Firefox you can’t see a PDF inside of it. Once you click on a pdf link Firefox will download and open it on Preview. There’s currently not a obvious extension on Firefox repositories to fix this. That is, until now. Just found out how to do it.

I’m not sure if you can see a pdf file on any browser if you have Acrobat Reader but if you do, just uninstall it. Preview can do more, faster and safer than that useless crap and Acrobat Reader it’s just a plain security problem waiting to happen. It really should have no place inside your computer.

But back to the Firefox problem. I’ve discovered this plugin which solves the problem. In fact you can use it for as a default for any browser and any user on your mac, however i don’t recommend it. First because i like the pdf preview plugin in Safari, as you can use trackpad gestures to zoom in and out, and all that. Second, because is a bit slower than the “standard” preview plugin. And third, because, although i have no reason to suspect anything, i’m always paranoid so i tend to give the least possible privilege/usage to anything i’m not entirely sure of.To be accurate i’ve encountered random forum references and news site coverage of this plugin, so i do believe it to be safe. But i like to play it slowly..

So, download the plugin and you’ll open the usual standard dmg file. Inside that dmg is a package installer. Now, you can just go ahead and install that but this will mean that it will be installed as the default pdf viewer not just for you but for all the users on your machine. Not sure why is that by default but i strongly disagree with it.

So right-click on it and select “Show Package Contents”. It will spring-open a new finder window with its Contents folder. From there navigate to “Packages/pdfBrowserPlugin.pkg”. Now don’t just click on it or it will install itself as default as we’ve discussed. Again, right-click it and select “Show Package Contents”. Copy the entire Contents folder to the Desktop or other temporary location. Open that local copy and just double-click the file “Archive.pax.gz”. Now you should see on that folder a file named “PDF Browser Plugin.plugin”.

Now you have two options. You can just put it in your “~/Library/Internet Plug-ins” folder, which is inside your Home folder,  and it you will be the default pdf viewer on any browser for your user. But like i said, i prefer not to.

Or, you can just set it up for Firefox. To do this, navigate to  “~/Library/Application Support/Firefox/Profiles/SomeWeirdString.default” which is located inside your Home folder as previously. Now, on there just create a new folder called “plugins”. Copy the plugin file from the desktop to there and restart Firefox. You should now be able to see any pdf inside of Firefox.

The pdf viewer plugin is paid for commercial usage but free for any “domestic” our academic usage, so just select one of those options, regarding your status and it shouldn’t trouble you anymore.

If you’re on Lion and you can’t see your Library folder, check these tips. I strongly recommend making it permanently visible by:

Launch Terminal from within your own account, type chflags nohidden ~/Library, and press Return.

Updated at 26/Aug/2011

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

“You know who is making a shit-ton of money right now? Apple. You know how? By making software and devices that work seamlessly together, also known as what HP acquired in Palm.

So in a moment of critical importance for the future of HP, CEO Leo Apotheker decided that — in a world where Apple is crushing Microsoft and Google realized they need more control over hardware (like Apple has) — well Leo decided he wanted to be more like Microsoft.”

The Brooks Review

Losing the HP Way

“American firms have been laying-off their engineering staffs for years.  In today’s world of MBA-managed companies, R&D is perceived as not being a good use of money.  Apple is an exception and over the last several years they have been producing one great product after another.  HP worried about keeping up with Apple so Apotheker — like Lew Platt back in 1999 — decided to punt.  Apotheker decided to no longer compete with Cupertino. He said as much this week.”

Cringely on technology

The Secret of the Fibonacci Sequence in Trees

“I saw patterns that showed that the tree design avoided the problem of shade from other objects. Electricity dropped in the flat-panel array when shade fell on it. But the tree design kept making electricity under the same conditions. The Fibonacci pattern allowed some solar panels to collect sunlight even if others were in shade. Plus I observed that the Fibonacci pattern helped the branches and leaves on a tree to avoid shading each other.”

The Secret of the Fibonacci Sequence in Trees

Really!? They Killed WebOS?

If this is actually true, and i still have serious doubts about it, then it will earn the prize for the stupidest dickish move of the year from the usual champion Microsoft.

Really??? HP thought that after not even a 2 months on the market and what, 18 months?, of investment on WebOS/Palm it would just conquer large percentage of the market and bring in heavy profits? Really?

To be perfect honest, i thought, after the Blackberry pad fiasco (what was its name? can’t remember it anymore) that WebOS was the only alternative to iOS devices. The OS seemed nicely built, with attention to detail and good general design approach.

Sure most reviews claimed it had some bugs and some handicaps, but the general opinion was: “it seems interesting, it seems good, but it still is not there yet!”. In my view all of reviews seemed more enthusiastic than Android tablets/devices.

It also had potential as a simple unifying OS over all the printers, tabs, Laptops/Desktops and smartphones made by HP. It seemed a really interesting approach by HP and one that could in fact brought some revenues and added value to their offerings.

And not even going to touch the independence from Redmond approach which could have heavy profits on the future. Even licensing to other companies possibilities.

So, why? why? why? Why would they kill as prematurely a possible beautiful swan after they invested so much in its gestation and it was still a infant not-so-much-ugly duckling !?

Again, i sincerely don’t believe this is true or that it’s going forward. I hope… But i’ve seen stranger things coming from “corporate world”.

Adobe Flash 10.3

The nice folks at Adobe (usually i would just say this truthfully, but by now, i can’t.) have just made available the new version of Adobe Flash 10.3.

I strongly recommend everyone that uses flash on the Mac to install it, basically because for the first time since Apple dumped that responsibility, we Mac Users get a “auto-update mechanism and notifications” for this hacking/security issues riddled plugin.

Wow. It only took them a year or so to get that. Amazing. You would think that there is no easy solution for that kind of stuff!

Ah, Adobe… Always faithful to their true self.