It’s official a tradition now.
First up, resolutions from last year:

  • Exercise: FAIL
  • Speak more Japanese to Kaio: FAIL
  • Be “smarter” at work: WIN
  • Take more photos and videos: FAIL
  • Move this blog to some hosted service: WIN

Yes, the last one is a really lame one. It doesn’t count. So basically, I failed at everything, except maybe the most important one. Moving over to Facebook (and changing jobs in general) has lead to much more personal learning and development than I had expected.
So here’s my set for 2011:

  • Manage Diet (i.e. learn how to resist free food at work)
  • Speak more Japanese to Kaio (obligatory)
  • Take big risks at work, seize the FB opportunity
  • Produce more content (writing, photos, video, whatever)

Looking back at 2010:
At this time last year, I was just starting to use my Mac Mini, still questioning whether it was a good choice. I seemed pretty positive on it at the one month mark. A year later, I’d say it’s still good for what it is, but the non-upgradeability finally got me.
Basically, it comes down to what one expects from a desktop. A desktop is not an appliance. I expect to be able to add, upgrade, modify as a I please. Apple only make appliances, and the Mac Mini only got away with its specs because it was just enough for what I needed at the time.* A Windows PC is what really defines the desktop. After this realization, I built a PC with somewhat ridiculous specs. It’s had a couple small problems, but nothing that I can’t deal with. Pretty happy with the performance so far, and in hindsight, it’s ridiculous to give up the flexibility of PC configuration for the space savings of something like a Mini. Flexibility is what you’re supposed to get for going with a non-portable, and the mini is kinda giving up one without getting the other. It’s really an appliance for people who just want a simple computer. But fundamentally, I wanted a PC desktop, and a mac mini just does not have the same properties.
On another level though, I’m just OK with Windows again. There are probably a few reasons:

  • Working at a company that mainly uses the web as a delivery platform gives me a different outlook on client platforms. Basically, Win32 has won here, and there’s really not much that Apple can do to change that. They can make pretty machines, or write cool integrated software, but the network effects in the PC world still provide more benefits, especially for someone like me who can navigate the configuration space. In any case, I realized that thick clients in a way are basically stagnant. And the web is available everywhere. All important thick client apps come out on all relevant platforms anyways, so mac/win doesn’t make a big diff here. So I might as well use the one I’m used to, and the one I can derive the most value from. Mobile is where the party is at.
  • I’ve been using a Mac laptop for most of my time at FB, and it’s been kind of a mediocre experience. Some things are nice, others are not. It’s not a clear win either way. It has made me realize that my muscle memory is pretty optimized for Windows.
  • Also somewhat work related: while many/most FB’ers use macs, FB is a product meant for the general populace, which still overwhelmingly uses Windows. It’s good to be able to relate in terms of experience.
  • Win7 is good. IE9 looks like it will be decent. In general, seems like MS is getting its act together.
  • Starcraft 2
  • There’s a lot of good free stuff on win that doesn’t have a free equivalent on the Mac. This you only realize after using both for a long time. It really sucks that there’s no Paint.NET for mac.

But really. I’m spending my own money here. The SSD and 16G of RAM that the PC lets me get is going to produce more value over the long run then some nicety of the mac.
There’s still a chance down the line that all PC like devices will become appliances. In that case Apple may have the edge. They arguably have the edge for laptops already. But if this world is realized, you’d also think that MS would be with it enough to adapt how they develop their platform. Their success with Xbox indicates that they understand appliances to some extent already.
In other tech happenings, 2010 was really the year of mobile. WP7 showed up, and made a pretty good impression for 1.0. Still behind for sure, but not DOA, as many had feared. iPad roared ahead, and Android played the same lame catchup game. I guess I should learn one of these platforms soon, but I also think they will more and more use the web for application delivery, as their hardware capabilities improve. At the end of the year, I’m still using the iphone 3gs. One I got from work, but only because the 4G came out a few months after I started, and it was too late for me to switch. I still haven’t bought an iPad. May very well buy whatever the second generation model when it’s released.
In last year’s post, I was just starting to sip the web-app koolaid. Now I’m basically serving it up to others. It’s not really the fact that it’s an app that’s delivered through a browser using certain markup and programming technologies, it’s the fact that the app can me modified, updated, and pushed to the user instantly, that makes all the difference. Also since all devices will soon speak some subset of the web (arguably they do already), the web format allows the developer to effective target a specific large subset of these devices relatively easily.
In any application area, where web technologies and desktop technologies can provide identical experiences, there’s not choice but to write the web app. Sure, the web app technologies will continue to play catch up, (such is the nature of anything that is supposed to be standards based) but playing catch up is easier than staying ahead. And there are too many companies now who depend on web technologies improving that I predict it will simply continue to do so. Otherwise we’re back to the world of large, closed, dominant platforms.
In working with web techs though, I also had a related realization this year that, while web app development has many efficiencies compared to the traditional model, those extra efficiencies are “consumed” by new problems. It’s the classic “it will take as much time as you have”. Sure we can now worry less about packaging, integration testing, and all the pains of traditional software deployment, but now you have to deal with the craziness that is the browser support matrix. We now have a true cross platform technology, but as any good dev knows, nothing is truly cross platform, so what it really means is that we have to support a huge variety of platforms. The nature of instant deployment makes this possible, but it is a difficult, new problem that did not exist in the world of win32.
On the photo front, I didn’t go with the GF1. And the GF2 was more consumery than expected. The PEN2 wasn’t as great of an upgrade, and so at the end of the year I finally ordered the GH2. It’s not as small as the other candidates, but it is significantly smaller than the Nikon d70 that I have now, and I don’t think I can find full amateur photog sophistication in anything smaller. That combined with the supposedly awesome video capabilities of the GH2 pushed me over the edge. The micro four thirds stuff really seems like a good example of the classic “attack from below” scenario. I’m doubtful that Nikon and Canon can produce compelling entrants here, because they will be afraid of competing with their more traditional DSLR lines. It will take Apple-like confidence and risk-taking for them to stay with it in the long run. Sure the D3x and the 5D Mark II’s will still be around, but eventually mirrorless designs may kill them off too.
My dad went with the d7000. I played with it a bit over the xmas break. It’s good for what it is. it’s a better d70. But that’s just not what I want anymore.
What else? Oh, I attempted to get a karaoke unit for Qian for xmas. Unfortunately karaoke players are all either $200 or $10000, the latter being huge professional systems. In the $200 range, it’s a crapshoot, and I think the one that I got, the RSQ nk 2000u, might have to go back. It has the feel of one of these super-cheap electronics that supposedly have a good feature set until you realize the software is as flaky as the best french pastries.
Ok, that’s all I can think of for now. Maybe I’ll add some more later.
* btw, it seems whenever people talk about mac specs, it’s along the lines of “oh this is enough, or it’s all you need”, as in, it’s damn expensive so I’m going to get the minimum configuration I can live with, VS on the PC it’s “this is the best bang for the buck”, etc.

1 Comment

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *