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

MTR 5.0.0.1 - The Mac's oldest and...
MTR (was MacTheRipper)--the Mac's oldest and smartest DVD-backup app--is now updated to version 5.001 MTR -- the complete toolbox, not a one-trick, point-and-click extractor. MTR is intended for... Read more
LibreOffice 4.4.5.2 - Free, open-source...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
Adobe Lightroom 6.1.1 - Import, develop,...
Adobe Lightroom is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $9.99/month bundled with Photoshop CC as part of the photography package. Lightroom 6 is also available for purchase as a... Read more
File Juicer 4.41 - Extract images, video...
File Juicer is a drag-and-drop can opener and data archaeologist. Its specialty is to find and extract images, video, audio, or text from files which are hard to open in other ways. It finds and... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.52 - File, phot...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
OmniFocus 2.2.3 - GTD task manager with...
OmniFocus helps you manage your tasks the way that you want, freeing you to focus your attention on the things that matter to you most. Capturing tasks and ideas is always a keyboard shortcut away in... Read more
TinkerTool 5.4 - Expanded preference set...
TinkerTool is an application that gives you access to additional preference settings Apple has built into Mac OS X. This allows to activate hidden features in the operating system and in some of the... Read more
Tinderbox 6.3.1 - Store and organize you...
Tinderbox is a personal content management assistant. It stores your notes, ideas, and plans. It can help you organize and understand them. And Tinderbox helps you share ideas through Web journals... Read more
Parallels Desktop 10.2.2 - Run Windows a...
Parallels Desktop is simply the world's bestselling, top-rated, and most trusted solution for running Windows applications on your Mac. With Parallels Desktop for Mac, you can seamlessly run both... Read more
Adobe Premiere Pro CC 2015 9.0.1 - Digit...
Premiere Pro CC 2015 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous Premiere Pro customer). Premiere Pro CS6 is still available for... Read more

You Against Me (Games)
You Against Me 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A simple game… You. Me. Claim, steal, lock, score, win! | Read more »
Yep, it's True - Angry Birds 2 is O...
The not exactly rumors were true and the birds are back. Angry Birds 2 has come to the App Store and the world will... well I suppose it'll still be the same, but now we have more bird-flinging options! [Read more] | Read more »
You Could Design Your Own Card for Chain...
If you've ever wanted to create your own item, weapon, trap, or even monster for Chainsaw Warrior: Lords of the Night, this is your chance. Auroch Digital is currently holding a contest so that fans can fight to the death (not really) to see which... | Read more »
Bitcoin Billionaire is Going Back in Tim...
If you thought you managed to buy everything there is to buy in Bitcoin Billionaire and make all the money, well you though wrong. Those of you who made it far enough might remember investing in time travel - and it looks like that investment is... | Read more »
Domino Drop (Games)
Domino Drop 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Domino Drop is a delightful new puzzle game with dominos and gravity!Learn how to play it in a minute, master it day by day.Your... | Read more »
OPERATION DRACULA (Games)
OPERATION DRACULA 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: 25% off launch sale!!! 'Could prove to be one of the most accurate representations of the Japanese bullet hell shmup... | Read more »
Race The Sun (Games)
Race The Sun 1.01 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: You are a solar craft. The sun is your death timer. Hurtle towards the sunset at breakneck speed in a futile race against time.... | Read more »
Tap Delay (Music)
Tap Delay 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Back in the “old days”, producers and engineers created delay and echo effects using tape machines. Tap Delay combines the warm... | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: July 20-24, 2015
July is Heating Up With 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out... | Read more »
Red Game Without A Great Name (Games)
Red Game Without A Great Name 1.0.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.3 (iTunes) Description: The mechanical bird is flying through an unfriendly, Steampunk world. Help it avoid obstacles and deadly... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education 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
12-inch MacBooks in stock for $20 off, save o...
Adorama has 12″ Retina MacBooks in stock for $20 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. For a limited time, Adorama will include a free Apple USB-C to USB Adapter, free 4-... Read more
College Student Deals: Additional $100 off Ma...
Take an additional $100 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through August 8, 2015. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take... Read more
2015 13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sal...
B&H Photo has the new 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale today for $1199 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
2.8GHz Mac mini available for $988, includes...
Adorama has the 2.8GHz Mac mini available for $988, $11 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more
Updated Mac Price Trackers
We’ve updated our Mac Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers: - 15″ MacBook Pros - 13″ MacBook... Read more
High-Precision Battery Fuel Gauge IC Extends...
Renesas Electronics Corporation has announced its new lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery fuel gauge IC, the RAJ240500, designed to extend battery life for connected mobile devices such as tablets, notebook... Read more
27-inch 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1799, $20...
B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1799 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any Apple... Read more
Twelve South Free Dual Screen Backgrounds Co...
Twelve South has posted a second collection of travel Desktop photos, noting: For the Twelve South team, a vacation is never just a vacation. It’s a time to try out new prototypes on the road, visit... Read more
Apple Refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $380 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac – $1949 $... Read more

Jobs Board

Engineering Manager, Search Relevance, *Appl...
**Job Summary** Apple 's new Spotlight Suggestions service provides fast, relevant search results from the Inte et in Spotlight and Safari on iOS and OS X. We are looking Read more
Lead Infrastructure Engineer - *Apple* /Mac P...
…of a team * Requires proven problem solving skills Preferred Additional: * Apple Certified System Administrator (ACSA) * Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC) Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales. Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales. Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales. Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales. Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.