Good Riddance to Ye Olde Trade Showes

Last spring, your editor did some fast talking and smooth persuading to break through his company's somewhat limited travel budget and get himself sent to Atlanta for Tech-Ed, Microsoft's annual conference for IT folks. And do you know what happened? Nothing.

Well, not much, anyway. There was a superb, as always, Redmond magazine party. There was some quality time spent chatting with a few third-party vendors, some more interesting than others. And there was a chance to meet fellow pixel-stained hacks and hang out with some far-flung colleagues. More

Posted by Lee Pender on January 03, 2012 at 11:56 AM1 comments

12 Stupid Technology Predictions for 2012

Predictions are stupid. They're a waste of time for the predictor and for the, uh, predictees who pay attention to them. They're almost impossible to quantify, rarely very specific ("Virtualization will be important!") and generally forgotten a few weeks after some pundit sprays them all over the Internet.

Well, it just so happens that in what is not exactly the busiest week of the year, we at RCPU have some time to kill. And we feel compelled to kill your time, too. So, we're loading up a predictions entry that will undoubtedly be...stupid. Because all predictions are stupid. But here we go, anyway, based on nothing at all: More

Posted by Lee Pender on December 21, 2011 at 11:57 AM4 comments

Happy Holidays from RCPU

As you might have noticed this year (or maybe you didn't), Scott Bekker and Jeff Schwartz have taken over most of the writing for RCPU. There are many reasons for this. One of them is not that I don't love our readers -- I do. My job has shifted over the last year, though, and Jeff and Scott -- the channel guys -- are doing amazing things with RCPU. Our benevolent queen ("editor" or "producer" just doesn't begin to cut it), Gladys Rama, is running this show like Aaron Rodgers steamrolling NFL defenses (except Kansas City's, but I'm confident that the Packers would have won that game with Gladys at quarterback).

I do plan to keep contributing to this magnificent newsletter, and I'd like to, as I do every year, thank everybody who has read RCPU faithfully in 2011 and invite you all to come back in 2012. This is our last edition of the year, so let's get on with some more thanking.

To Scott, Jeff and Gladys, thanks for doing 99 percent of the work here but somehow letting me keep the title "editor." It looks flashy on my business cards. To Becky Nagel, Kurt Mackie, Chris Paoli and our whole Web team in sunny California, thanks as always for your continued support and hard work. To Doug Barney, editor in chief of Redmond magazine and my boss, thanks for letting me continue to write for RCPU and for all the support and advice you've given me for this newsletter over the years. And again, thanks to our readers, the brightest and most interesting people in the industry. Whatever you celebrate (or don't), have a great rest of December. We'll see you in 2012. --Lee

Posted by Lee Pender on December 20, 2011 at 11:57 AM0 comments

LAPD Rejects Google's Cloud E-Mail

Did anybody really think this was going to work? Did Google really expect to impress Joe Friday with something called "the cloud"? Just listen to that tone, so flat and humorless. Soak in the foreboding nature of the "Dragnet" theme. This guy was going to send his e-mail -- strictly the facts, of course -- into something called "the cloud"? Think again, mister.

Google made a big splash when it won the deal to provide e-mail services in the cloud for (as Jack Webb flatly drones it) "the city, Los Angeles, California." But the tough, no-nonsense LAPD (yes, we're kind of conveniently forgetting at least the last 20 years or so here) has put the kibosh on that idea, saying that cloud e-mail didn't meet the city's security requirements for the cops. More

Posted by Lee Pender on December 15, 2011 at 11:57 AM13 comments

Carrier IQ and the Unwritten Rule of Privacy

What is Carrier IQ? Do you know yet? Media organizations are jumping all over each other to tell us, but it's basically a rootkit that tracks pretty much everything a user does on a smartphone, in some cases all the way down to individual keystrokes.

AT&T and Sprint have already owned up to using it, and it might even be present in some form on the iconic iPhone. Naturally, people are freaking out about this, fussing over privacy and even suggesting that Carrier IQ might violate federal wiretapping laws. More

Posted by Lee Pender on December 01, 2011 at 11:57 AM9 comments

5 Holiday Smartphone Apps I Wish Existed

My favorite holiday has come and gone. Yes, for reasons neither religious nor political nor controversial in any way, I like Thanksgiving better than Christmas -- although I do celebrate Christmas. Really, what's better than a holiday that's all about gluttony and football? It's as though the day was created just for me.

With Thanksgiving in the books for 2011, though, the real holiday grind is setting in. The holidays -- whether you celebrate one, several or none of them -- are inescapable. Every time you turn on the TV, there they are. Going online doesn't provide much respite, either. Did you realize that today is Cyber Monday? Yes, you'd heard about that? And, really, we're still using the word "cyber"? Where's the next exit off this information superhighway? Where's Al Gore when we need him? Actually, never mind. We don't need him. More

Posted by Lee Pender on November 28, 2011 at 11:57 AM0 comments

Adobe's Flash in the Can: How the Company Is Failing Its User Base

Years ago, before the company I work for now even existed, I had the pleasure of knowing -- mostly by telephone, but still -- John Warnock, the co-founder and former CEO of Adobe.

He always struck me as a good man and a kind person. I remember when Adobe laid off a significant number of employees at one point in the late '90s (enough to make the news), Warnock spoke to me of his regret about putting people out of work. He was sincere. He meant what he said. He told me that the only positive he could take out of the experience was that cutting a few jobs would ultimately help protect many others. But it was small consolation for him -- that much was easy to tell. More

Posted by Lee Pender on November 09, 2011 at 11:57 AM6 comments

Microsoft's Courier Saga Highlights Ballmer's Lack of Leadership

Maybe we've been watching too much football -- if that's possible -- but we're in the piling-on mood here at RCPU. So, we're going to jump into the fray of pundits chirping about Jay Greene's excellent story for CNET, which chronicles the brief but intriguing saga of the would-have-been Microsoft Courier tablet.

The Courier, which will never be available, might have been pretty cool, and it might have actually given Microsoft a fighting chance against the iPad back when the iPad itself was brand-new. Greene lays out the tale: Two Microsoft executives, J Allard (of Xbox fame) and Steven Sinofsky (of making-people-forget-about-Vista fame), were each leading teams competing to come up with a design for the Courier. More

Posted by Lee Pender on November 03, 2011 at 11:57 AM11 comments

It's Time To Be Positive about Windows Phone 7

RCPU guzzles cynicism the way one of those "extreme" athletes swigs Red Bull or an SUV drinks gas. We get that. But we're setting it aside today, just for a little while. Let's put it this way: When your editor's mother told him, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything all," he didn't speak for 15 years.

OK, that last part's not true (at all), but it doesn't matter. Today, we are not only looking on the bright side of an issue, we're actually going to be nice about one of our favorite targets: Windows Phone 7. (A YouTube link to something from this century? This really is a new era for RCPU.) More

Posted by Lee Pender on October 27, 2011 at 11:57 AM6 comments

Why Is Yahoo Suddenly Some Sort of Prize?

Not since Brett Favre unretired for the second time has there been so much attention paid to a broken-down old war horse that should have already been put out to pasture. But here we are with Microsoft and Google batting for Yahoo, the Willie Mays with the Mets of the Internet industry.

As the old folks have been known to say, c'est la vie -- it goes to show you never can tell. Seriously, though, how did we get here? How is Yahoo even still alive, much less possibly sought after now by both Microsoft, which was laughing not long ago about not having bought the struggling online pioneer, and Google, which seems to hardly need Yahoo's services? More

Posted by Lee Pender on October 26, 2011 at 11:57 AM8 comments

Novell, Microsoft Turn Back the Clock with Antitrust Trial

We thought about opening this post with one of those pseudo-clever retrospectives about where we were in the '90s when Novell and Microsoft were doing battle, but frankly the '90s are getting to be so long ago that we don't remember them all that well.

If you want a throwback headline, though, look no further than this one in the Seattle Times: "Bill Gates expected to testify at Microsoft-Novell antitrust trial." More

Posted by Lee Pender on October 17, 2011 at 11:57 AM1 comments

Goodbye, Steve Jobs

Over the next few days, and probably for years to come, many people will write superlatives about and tributes to Steve Jobs. And most of them will be brilliant and thought-provoking and entirely true and worthwhile. There's nothing I can say here about the great Steve Jobs that somebody somewhere else isn't already saying.

So I'll just tell a story. This might seem like a post all about me, but it's not. Circa 1982, my father brought home some huge boxes around Christmas time. (In case you've been wondering, I'm only 37.) In one of them was something almost nobody else I knew had: a computer. In the others were a monitor and a dot-matrix printer. The price tag for the whole set would buy a crate of iPads today. It was an investment. More

Posted by Lee Pender on October 07, 2011 at 11:57 AM4 comments