Friday, May 13, 2016

Office 365 marching backwards in time

Particularly in the Apple ecosystem, users enjoy consistency of software user interfaces. At the company where I work, they have made the unfortunate decision to use Office 365 as an exclusive company wide email/calendaring etc. software suite. I have found Office 365 on the Mac to have poor HID guideline compliance but had noticed some incremental improvements over time that seemed to suggest that Microsoft was on a slow trajectory to create software that could one day integrate comfortably with Mac OS. Then entered 15.22 On the Mac, native applications with embedded text editors near universally utilize one of the few actual fruits of object oriented design (though there may seem to be many when you consider OOP strictly at the operating system API scale): the NSTextView. The NSTextView provides many conveniences to developers, but more importantly, to users. In particular it supports some basic Emacs keybindings to allow you to quickly navigate and delete text a bit more easily. WebView on the Mac also supports similar conveniences, and I have always been frustrated working with WebApps, in particular Jira and Confluence by Atlassian, which have the hubris to intercept and block these keybindings which are normally supported in Safari. Today after updating Microsoft Outlook to version 15.22, these keybindings have vanished. I invoke the image of Linus Torvalds to share appropriate sentiments. I am sure that Linus has gestured similarly to Microsoft before, not just nVidia.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Magic Trackpad 2 "burns" my fingers

I was really excited about Apple's new Magic Trackpad 2, particularly its advertised pressure sensitivity, and placed an order for it last week. This might sound like a spooky tinfoil claim at first, but it seemed, just by using it for a minute with my fingers, that my new Magic Trackpad 2 was generating a significant electric field. Fortunately, I am right-brained and nerd enough to own a TriField Meter which I produced and measured the said field of the device. The device generated a consistent background field of approximately 3 milli-gauss (mG), which very often peaked to 10mG during consistent use. As my hand left the device, I was often able to trigger an EMF spike that exceeded 50mG. While EMF safety is still under debate, this field strength consistently exceeds the commonly believed safe EMF range of .5 - 2.5mG. It is true, that if I place my meter directly on the LCD of my iMac, I measure background fields of 40-50mG, however, the strength of this field produced by my iMac at my normal head position while using my computer has a background EMF of only .3mG. I used to experience headaches working at old school CRT monitors, which produce far more EMF radiation than modern LCD monitors, and have been glad they have largely disappeared. For a device that I will touch for hours during the day, the EMF field strength of the Magic Trackpad 2 is too strong. The subtle burning sensation in my fingertips that I notice during use of the Magic Trackpad is unfortunately irritating and seems to linger in my pointer finger for some time after I discontinue using it. Ok, I will get out the Reynolds Wrap now and make it official.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Swift doesn't have much Objective-C ancestry

I have been reading The Swift Programming Language with interest today. While it is possible that the ebook is a living document, my current opinion is that Swift inherits much from C++ but at the expense of the runtime flexibility of Objective C. I feel it is a mistake to consider Objective-C as an ancestor to Swift in its currently documented form. The most glaring disappointment is the lack of runtime introspection. Introspection capabilities seem to be limited to the is and as operators; there isn't mention of an equivalent for Objective-C selector types, and no mention of any introspection for class structure. While there are obvious influences from Ruby in Swift, again any introspection capabilities of Ruby do not appear, at least in the current documentation.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Time to act: (A Letter to the U.S. President)

Dear Mr. President:

We have a moral responsibility to assist Mexico, in a far greater capacity, to help end our drug war. We need to share greater intelligence, surveillance technologies, special forces, and even large and effective numbers of military troops (should they be welcomed). We should offer any and all assistance we can make available to end the murderous lawlessness that rages in Mexico. It is our problem. Americans perpetuate the violence by providing enormous revenue for the drug cartels, our laws have failed to stop this drug consumption for decades. We need to own up to our responsibility and fight the violence with far greater attention, commitment, and moral resolve.

Violence is escalating at our southern border and our national inaction is beyond disgraceful. Americans consume roughly 50% of the entire world market supply of marijuana and cocaine -- much of which is trafficked through Mexico. Regardless of the legality of these narcotics in the United States, our citizens are providing a vast market for obscenely brutal and violent criminal organizations. It is understatement to suggest that our attempts to thwart American drug consumption have failed for decades. While I do believe legalizing these narcotics and distributing them through government regulated channels would ultimately eradicate drug violence and reduce drug addiction, I do not advocate this here as most American politicians, including the Obama administration, find such a painfully obvious solution to be an unthinkable political anathema, regardless of the moral reprehensibility of ignoring an obvious solution to an increasingly tragic problem.

Arizona has passed exceptionally xenophobic legislation allowing state officers to enforce immigration laws. You have commented on this but, in my opinion, have not provided an effective alternative. The political hysteria in Arizona is directly related to the astronomical rise of murders in Mexican cities bordering the United States. Arizonans are beginning to believe that the violence is beginning to spill over into the United States. Regardless of where the violence is happening, and where it might happen in the future it is our responsibility to stop it. We made this mess and we need to clean it up.

American citizens were reputedly tortured and killed in Mexico this week in Ciudad Juarez. An American citizen Rafael Morales was taken from his wedding in Ciudad Juarez, tortured and murdered. His body left in the bed of a pickup truck. While the Mexican death toll does not seem to matter much to the United States, and it seems far more important to spend billions in two wars on the other side of the world, American deaths in the drug war are beginning to multiply. How many are required before you assert leadership and do something tangible and effective about it?


Christopher Penrose

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Hypocrisy of the Associated Press

Reflecting on:


The Associated Press has irrevocably embarassed itself with its needless and unwarranted attempts to "protect" its "intellectual property" by filing a counter suit against artist Shepard Fairey. First, the allegedly "infringing" image of Barack Obama is isolated by AP and is taken out of its original context -- words such as "HOPE" and "PROGRESS" are included in Fairey's politcal imagery of Barack Obama. Furthermore, the Associated Press ignores the glaring fact that Shepard Fairey's images, allegedly derived from an AP photograph, are unique art works. They are unequivocally divergent from the original AP photo in color, form and presentation. Furthermore, the cultural, political and artistic activity of Shepard Fairey to create and disseminate these works has had enormously more cultural significance than that of the Associated Press photo in question.

The assertation that the Associated Press owns Shepard Fairey's work, and that Fairey's images infringe upon Associated Press ownership rights rely on the belief (and legal acceptance of it) that photographic perspective is in fact ownable. What is hypocritical about this stance is that without this very perspective, Barack Obama himself would be the owner and arbiter of this image. Furthermore, if Shepard Fairey did in fact utitilze an Associated Press photograph to create his images, the new resulting art work enjoys an equivalent latitude for ownership that the "original" Associated Press photo is assumed to enjoy: Shepard Fairey is providing a new aesthetic perspective and context for an Associated Press perspective. What right does the AP have to dictate the boundaries of perspective, when their photographers have carte blanche to provide it themselves? Shepard Fairey has created, perhaps from a photograph, a work not only vibrant, unique and new, but successfully resonant to millions of Americans.

Again, the cultural resonance of the Shepard Fairey work clearly speaks to the fact that the Associated Press simply owns a photograph and Shepard Fairey has created an original and new work of art. The Associated Press, intoxicated by its greed, is trying to steal an American cultural artifact from its creator, and from the nation that acknowledged it and brought it to your attention. Shame on your pettiness. Shame on your lack of respect. Shame on your philistine hypocrisy. Shame on your contempt for America.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

On Linux as an operating system

Linux is a system kernel and it is in wide diverse use. But Linux is only a kernel -- it is not a complete operating system. Many pedants will argue this but completely miss the point. I expect this to happen. I promise not to sigh when I see it. I believe that there is a bit of myopia in the various Linux communities concerning how they relate to their various operating systems, and how they perceive the "failure" of Linux operating systems to be adopted by the mainstream. Instead I say they have succeeded quite well -- but "they" is crucial here.

It really isn't appropriate to discuss Linux as a singular operating system -- there are a large number of divergent Linux distributions each with significant application programming interface (API) differences. As long as the mantra remains "Linux", there will not be a consistent user interface experience, and there will not be a critical mass which draws commercial software developers (as they are drawn to Windows and Mac OS X). If a significant subset of the Linux community truly desires greater adaptation of a particular Linux distribution and the formation of a third major desktop operating system with commensurate mindshare and/or marketshare, they will begin to chant its name instead of "Linux" and reconcile that Linux is a spectacular system kernel but only a system kernel and not a desktop operating system. They need to promote the whole and not just a part.

"Hello Mr. Martian. I would like to introduce you to my friend, Matt. He is a foot like me!"

"Hello Mr. Martian. I would like to introduce you to my friend, Matt, he is a human like me!"

"What OS do you run on that PC?" "Linux"

"What OS do you run on that PC?" "Ubuntu"

What kernel do you run on that PC?" "Linux"

Once they promote the whole and not the part, they still have their work cut out for them. My first advice would be to make sure they back a desktop user interface api that has 0 lines of code from the X11 distribution -- second, base the desktop api on an object-oriented compiler efficient language such as Objective-C (first choice) or C++ (static typing makes UI development bulkier for everyone). For geeks aghast at Objective-C.... ok I am just going to sigh here. *sigh*

Friday, October 3, 2008

Wait, Is Google being evil?

Throughout my forays into marketing my new iPhone application (which I will leave out of this particular post in an effort to demonstrate that this isn't another marketing foray) I have stared at thousands of pages of Google search results. I have encountered some interesting anomalies. When I encountered this one today:

Publishing industry faces "Y2K" over new ISBN numbers - Software ...

Seb Janacek Minority Report: Apple alienating App Store developers? ... Fax - + 44(0)203 031 1357 Reference - JS/JK/SAP/CL/MAN/011 Country Code - UK ...,39024653,39126208,00.htm - 81k - Cached - Similar pages

which I discovered using this search, it gave me pause.

As I scanned down the results page I was immediately drawn to the text: Minority Report: Apple alienating App Store developers? I have read countless articles since the Android press conference last month with a similar theme. I checked the search result link here and the cached result here and I couldn't find the search terms I had originally searched for, nor the text "Minority Report: Apple alienating App Store developers?" These pages are from 2004 so it makes sense that mention of the App Store would simply be too prescient. I have encountered this often frustrating behavior often in Google search results when researching stories about my own app and company.

But the web mash up here, in the emerging arena of smartphone behemoths Apple and Google, reads as strategic and deeply sinister. Has Google been using subliminal techniques of suggestion in their search results? Have they been stoking the fire of iPhone developer ire to orchestrate a brain drain to Android?

You must love the conspiratorial implications!