The Northern Spy: Prognostications for 2014
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The Northern Spy: Prognostications for 2014

By Rick Sutcliffe

A year of consolidation looms in parts of the high-tech landscape. For instance, television manufacturers will continue to exit this unprofitable sector and find other ways to (try to) make money.

Sony in particular remains problematic. The Spy recently purchased a Sony 1040 receiver as both reviews and specs seemed promising. After all, very few receivers at any price have all of AirPlay, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and BlueTooth, and many no longer offer phono inputs. Sony's model has them all at a reasonable price point.

However, finding stock has been a problem, and this seems more than just an end-of-model-year issue. Yes, after years of being behind the feature curve, Sony surpassed the others in receiver featuritis last year, but was the company too late with too little? And, can they turn their TV business around? Is it worth trying? Time will tell, but there's not much good news coming out of Sony these days, and it has to be considered an acquisition or failure target.

Mind, he hasn't got the unit yet, so no review for a while. It takes time for a truck to trek across the frozen north, y'know. Interestingly, a "trek" is a mud-covered truck boasting a gun rack, a large dog of uncertain pedigree, and a driver with an attitude. One is wise not to argue at intersections or shake one's fist when being passed at a double line.

The RIM/Blackberry soap opera continues to stagger out, but an end seems near. Having seen the company apparently close the door on potential acquisitions, the Spy forecasts that it will in 2014 either transition to a software and services provider, or cease operations altogether.

And speaking of consolidation, wouldn't it be nice to be able to edit a Scrivener window with Nisus Writer Pro, combining the stellar conceptual organization of the one with the search and replace facilities of the other? Talk about a killer App. Take it further--revision the idea of a window on data being anything but a "view" on data, and the editor of that view be mutable, not its owner.

Try this. You are writing a textbook on programming in Modula-2 release 10 using Scrivener for organizing the views. You mouse to a section of text in body style, and the menu bar changes to that of NisusWriter. You mouse to a section in code style and it changes to BBEdit, allowing you to compile directly from there. You mouse to a chart and the menu bar becomes that of Excel. Each tool does its own thing on the portion of data assigned to it by the style/tool menu, just as each socket goes on the wrench for a different job, each screwdriver bit drives a different screw. We need a paradigm shift here, folks. Things could be so much easier.

Not at all a high-tech operation (and that's the main part of the trouble), western postal services have thus far failed to re-invent themselves to match the challenges on the information age. Royal Mail has been sold into the private sector, the U.S Postal Service loses phenomenal amounts of money, and Canada Post has recently announced the cessation of home delivery and more substantial rate increases.

The Spy cannot see any of them surviving many more years unless they can re-invent themselves as something else. How about selling or contracting out mail delivery by Canada Post and USPS to Amazon? The postage stamp is going the way of the hand plough.

Company killers include, therefore, failure to keep up (RIM/Blackberry), failing to diversify when your products are commoditized (Sony), failure to re-invent the business to match new conditions (Post Office). But perhaps all can be merged under complacency--we're a mature company and have been making lots of money doing things this way in the past, so let's just continue in the same groove and we'll make even more. NOT. Ask Olivetti, Underwood, Burroughs, and CN-CP Telecommunications whether this strategy works.

Today's salient question for the technological futurist is: has Apple become a mature and complacent company? If not, where are the new and innovative products? If so, how long will it last before a couple of kids in a garage eat their lunch in the rapidly changing marketplace?

The stock market is answering the first question in the emphatic positive. Shares are stable, and about two thirds of their peak value. This fits the profile of a mature company in a stable market with limited growth potential, not that of an up-and-still-coming innovator in a rapidly expanding market. Any self-styled prophet who purports to know the answer to the second is suffering from terminal hubris.

So, the long awaited Mac Pro finally came out, though Apple fudged its 2013 introduction promise by making the announcement but setting shipping dates starting in February. You'll read more about it here eventually--but the Spy will not be an early participant this time--too risky. But what of 2014? Is there anything in the wind besides incremental upgrades to Pad/Pod/Phone hardware, to IOS, and to Mac OS?

Not obviously. If Cupertino isn't having second thoughts about getting into the corpse-littered TV business, it ought to. Else, go whole hog and build the full suite of premium audio-visual products, or buy and merge Sony and Panasonic into the money making operation neither will be without consolidation and a management makeover.

Meanwhile, the iWatch concept is being tried by others, but the Spy remains skeptical that such a device offers the potential to be more than a geekish curiosity interface to more capable devices. There is such a thing in this market as being too small to be practical. Mind, if anyone can invent this particular light bulb as its own thing, convince us we need it, and make money from the concept, it is Apple. Show me.

On the third hand, the company shows no indication of getting back into other peripherals such as printers (though they could do a far better job than HP and its imitators of late) and neither is there any solid indication of a new market-defining product rising from behind the smoke of Cupertino obfuscation, notwithstanding the spaceship building and the multitude of prototypes behind sealed doors and lips that will never see the light of day.

What's left? Services. Apple already sells an integrated cloud. The Spy has noted here before that an Apple data network would be a good fit. So would consulting services. The latter is not without its risks, as it would effectively be a startup, but what of an acquisition? Think the governmental anti-trust folk would object to a merger with IBM? Nah, bad idea, despite the delicious irony it evokes. The cultures are too different. But as the pinstripes have shown, there is good money to be made outside of hardware and software.

One thing for sure--Apple must not give in to the predatory shareholders who buy a position, force the company to make short-sighted moves (such as splitting into several units) whose only purpose is to kite share values, then sell out, leaving an empty shell behind for long-term doldrums. The CPR is only now recovering from such stupidity after being torn apart in just such a fashion decades ago. Let's at least see one corporate board that knows fiduciary duty goes far beyond the immediate greed of a few shareholders who cannot see past the end of their own wallets.

Very low down tech indeed populates this section, for the Spy hears unconfirmed reports that the newer toilets that are supposed to save water and money don't put enough dihydrogen oxide into the mains to keep them from sludging up, so the sewer system must be periodically flushed by the utility itself. True or urban legend, the yarn does illustrate that not everything that's new is without its little setbacks. Same goes for compact fluorescents, which may save electricity to the homeowner, but whose manufacture and chemical contents are far from green.

Speaking of which, the recent ice storm in the far east (Ontario, Quebec and realms to their south) that has knocked power out for over a week to some, illustrates that the people seeking to ban wood stoves and gas fireplaces for not being sufficiently green ought to give it a second think. Freezing to death isn't worth the environmental brownie points. The Spy will keep both to supplement his high-tech ultra-efficient furnace and heat pump.

People sometimes wonder (well, some or two have made a point of asking) why Modula-2 R10 has only zero-based cardinal indexed arrays as built-ins. Answer: because we Wirthians believe that the core language should consist only of the minimal building blocks needed to write programs, with no duplication or unnecessary weight thrown on the compiler (this is anti-Ada.) Everything else is offloaded to libraries.

Thus, though you can define ordinal and cardinal non-zero based arrays, you do so by refining a library template, not by using a facility that was only built in because of tradition and a lack of vision. It's the same reasoning as Wirth used when he removed Pascal's built-in I/O to libraries for Modula-2 and Oberon.
Look for a compiler real soon now.

And finally two real predictions.

As in 2013, there will be at least one more North American mass killing involving guns, and at least major political scandal in both Canada and the United States, only just perhaps not involving any of Stephen Harper, Rob Ford, or that Obama fellow down in the Excited States--what's his title there? Until the public becomes jaded and loses interest, exclaiming over others' failings will be a normal side-effect of living in the Information Age--you can find out anything about anyone anytime.

If people are fools enough to think they can keep secrets, or would be embarrassed when (not if) they are revealed, they shouldn't aspire to be public figures--except entertainers, who thrive on scandal-driven publicity. Indeed, in the latter case, the Spy sometimes thinks the celebs' own flacks make the stories up and leak them to the tabs.

--The Northern Spy

Opinions expressed here are entirely the author's own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics at Canada's Trinity Western University. He has been involved as a member or consultant with the boards of several community and organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level.

He is a co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and nine novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (paper and online), and he's a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce have lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of BC since 1972.

Want to discuss this and other Northern Spy columns? Surf on over to ArjayBB.com. Participate and you could win free web hosting from the WebNameHost.net subsidiary of Arjay Web Services. Rick Sutcliffe's fiction can be purchased in various eBook formats from Fictionwise, and in dead tree form from Amazon's Booksurge.

URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Arjay Enterprises:
The Northern Spy Home Page: http://www.TheNorthernSpy.com
opundo : http://opundo.com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http://sheaves.org
WebNameHost : http://www.WebNameHost.net
WebNameSource : http://www.WebNameSource.net
nameman : http://nameman.net
General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Books:
Author Site: http://www.arjay.ca
Publisher's Site: http://www.writers-exchange.com/Richard-Sutcliffe.html

URLs for items mentioned in this column
Modula-2 R10--see the link at: http://www.modula-2.com/

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Dash 4.0.0 - Instant search and offline...
Dash is an API documentation browser and code snippet manager. Dash helps you store snippets of code, as well as instantly search and browse documentation for almost any API you might use (for a full... Read more
Bookends 12.7.9 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
TrailRunner 3.8.834 - Route planning for...
TrailRunner is the perfect companion for runners, bikers, hikers, and all people wandering under the sky. Plan routes on a geographical map. Import GPS or workout recordings and journalize your... Read more
iFFmpeg 6.2.5 - Convert multimedia files...
iFFmpeg is a comprehensive media tool to convert movie, audio and media files between formats. The FFmpeg command line instructions can be very hard to master/understand, so iFFmpeg does all the hard... Read more
DaisyDisk 4.4 - $9.99
DaisyDisk allows you to visualize your disk usage and free up disk space by quickly finding and deleting big unused files. The program scans your disk and displays its content as a sector diagram... Read more
iFFmpeg 6.2.5 - Convert multimedia files...
iFFmpeg is a comprehensive media tool to convert movie, audio and media files between formats. The FFmpeg command line instructions can be very hard to master/understand, so iFFmpeg does all the hard... Read more
DaisyDisk 4.4 - $9.99
DaisyDisk allows you to visualize your disk usage and free up disk space by quickly finding and deleting big unused files. The program scans your disk and displays its content as a sector diagram... Read more
BetterTouchTool 2.07 - Customize Multi-T...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
BetterTouchTool 2.071 - Customize Multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more
BetterTouchTool 2.07 - Customize Multi-T...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Pokémon GO Generation 2 evolution guide
At long last, Niantic Labs finally unleashed the Generation 2 Pokémon into the wild. Pokémon GO trainers are scrambling to grab up this new set of 80 Pokémon. There are some special new tricks required to catch all of these new beasties, though.... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week
It feels as though the New Year got off to a creaking start as far as mobile games go, but that's changed over the past few weeks. The last few days alone have seen the debut of a number of wonderful games, so we thought we'd take the time to... | Read more »
Recruit more scallywags and discover new...
Get ready to show off your sea legs all over again in Oceans & Empires’ new grand update, which aims to make the act of rising to the role of seven seas ruler even more fresh and appealing, thanks to a richness of new content on both iOS and... | Read more »
Mage the Ascension: Refuge (Games)
Mage the Ascension: Refuge 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The groundbreaking roleplaying game Mage: The Ascension manifests in our turbulent present with Refuge, an... | Read more »
Vampire: Prelude (Games)
Vampire: Prelude 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The classic roleplaying game Vampire: The Masquerade returns to digital games with a Prelude of things to come. Experience a... | Read more »
Digby Forever Guide: How to dig to the d...
Digby Forever is a sparkling homage to arcade classics, and while you may be tiring of the number of arcade games being thrown at you, this endless digger finds many ways to stand out from the rest of the pack. The game manages to be challenging... | Read more »
The best sales on the App Store this wee...
It's been quite the week in mobile games, but if the latest releases(there were some pretty darn good ones, in case you missed out) aren't really doing the trick, perhaps some of these discounted games will. Many of these premium games had their... | Read more »
Why the new Fire Emblem Heroes update sh...
It’s exciting to see Nintendo delving into the mobile sphere, regardless of whether it’s to give fans another platform to enjoy their fans or simply a sound business venture. Two of the company's announced mobile games have finally come to... | Read more »
New Fire Emblem Heroes update adds new h...
Fire Emblem Heroes received a sizeable update first thing this morning. The update features a batch of fresh content along with a few updates to the game's systems. [Read more] | Read more »
The Deep Paths (Games)
The Deep Paths 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: 25% off launch sale!!! The Deep Paths: Labyrinth Of Andokost is a first-person, dungeon crawling RPG, with traditional grid-based... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

13-inch 2.0GHz Space Gray MacBook Pro on sale...
Adorama has the non-Touch Bar 13″ 2.0GHz Space Gray MacBook Pro in stock today for $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray... Read more
13-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for $1...
B&H Photo has select 2016 Apple 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and up to $100 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB Touch Bar MacBook... Read more
KSI-1802R SX Disinfect-able Keyboard With Wav...
KSI has unveiled a new, innovative medical keyboard, the KSI-1802R SX, at HIMSS 2017, running February 19-22 in Orlando, Florida. KSI-1802R SX is the only keyboard that combines dual factor... Read more
15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for up...
Amazon has 15″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP including free shipping: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pro Space Gray: $2720.38 $79 off MSRP - 15″ 2.7GHz... Read more
Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad using Apple’s Education Store and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free: -... Read more
13-inch 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air on sale for...
Newegg has the 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (MMGG2LL/A) on sale for $1029.99 including free shipping. Their price is $170 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Choose Newegg... Read more
Save up to $600 with Apple refurbished Mac Pr...
Apple has Certified Refurbished Mac Pros available for up to $600 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each Mac Pro, and shipping is free. The following... Read more
12-inch 1.1GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $1...
B&H has 12″ 1.1GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 12″ 1.1GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1149 $150 off MSRP - 12″ 1.1GHz... Read more
InTouch Health Expands iOS And Windows Produc...
Specialty telehealth enterprise provider InTouch Health has announced an expanded range of FDA Class I listed medical devices and software solutions for ambulatory, non-acute and non-emergent... Read more
iMobie Airs World’s 1st iCloud Manager with M...
iMobie Inc., an Apple-related software company, announced their newly-updated iPhone manager AnyTrans with exclusive feature to sync and manage contents across multiple iCloud accounts. With it,... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Manager *Apple* Systems Administration - Pu...
Req ID 3315BR Position Title Manager, Apple Systems Administration Job Description The Manager of Apple Systems Administration oversees the administration and Read more
*Apple* Technician - nfrastructure (United S...
Let’s Work Together Apple Technician This position is based in Portland, ME Life at nfrastructure At nfrastructure, we understand that our success results from our Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Manager *Apple* Systems Administration - Pu...
Req ID 3315BR Position Title Manager, Apple Systems Administration Job Description The Manager of Apple Systems Administration oversees the administration and Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.