Tech Week in Review

Wireless freenets, MS viruses for Macs, Dell vibrant while Apple doomed, the significance of OS X, and the ultimate SETI number cruncher.

Free as in Wireless (but not Exactly as in Beer)

Moshe Bar's latest column for Byte is a great international perspective (he lives in Israel) on the grassroots wireless freenet movement that is taking hold around the world. A lot of progress has been made in larger cities in the US, particularly the San Francisco area. I encourage those of you who have DSL or cable connections and AirPort Base Stations to strike up a conversation in your neighborhood about setting up a local wireless network. It's turning into the 21st-century backyard picket fence, to hear some tell it. Maybe all of us computer geeks really do have social skills.

Microsoft-based Viruses on the Mac

Yeah, and you all probably thought you were immune to all that junk. For the most part, we Mac users are, but Microsoft has apparently noticed that some malicious code can be run in PowerPoint and Excel 2001. Get the fix.

If you're running Office 98, don't think you're safe, either. PowerPoint 98 apparently has problems, too, and MS has a patch for you folks, too.

I think these updaters speak for themselves. I don't even need to bash MS this week.

Dell Is Vibrant and Healthy! Apple Is Doomed!

Boy, it's nice to see some unbiased financial reporting (registration required) in the Wall Street Journal. You know, the nice unbiased kind of reporting that says "Dell might be an exception to the death spiral of the PC market" and "Apple may have to lay off people to save itself."

Now maybe I read better financial reports than Gary McWilliams and his quoted analysts, but I seem to recall Dell posting an enormous loss last quarter (they did hand-wavy things with their books to make it look like a small profit), while Apple posted a narrow profit (for the second quarter in a row, without any huge one-time write-offs or other hand-wavy tricks) and was, in fact, the only major U.S. computer maker to do so that quarter.

Then again, when's the last time you heard a financial rag actually criticize Dell for anything? And other than Walt Mossberg's regular columns, when's the last time the WSJ said anything good about Apple? Like I said, great to see unbiased financial reporting at the WSJ. Wonder if McWilliams and/or some of those analysts own Dell stock?

Side note: the original Mac Observer piece that tipped me off to the WSJ article had a really confusing headline. At first, I thought "Wall Street Journal Suggests Apple May Need To Announce Lay Offs" meant that someone at the WSJ was actually saying Apple ought to lay off some folks, which I thought sounded even more ridiculous.

O-S-X! O-S-X!

You know, like "U-S-A, U-S-A!" Cheerleading. Go Apple. Rah rah rah and all that. Having not used 10.1 yet (it's probably on the way in my October Student Developer mailing), I can't say for sure if it's all it's hyped up to be, but as far as OS X in general goes, Simson Garfinkel isn't far off. His article on the positive aspects of OS X relative to Windows gives a good historical overview as well as a thought-provoking analysis of why OS X is poised to give the industry a real shaking. "Within a year," he writes, OS X "will be the start of the next big thing in desktop computing." A bold statement, to be sure, but one more and more people are beginning to agree with now that 10.1 is out.

"I Have Got to Get Me One of These!"

Think the G4's gigaflop rating gets you foaming at the mouth? How's six teraflops — that's six thousand gigaflops, or six trillion floating point operations per second — strike you? I don't have the slightest idea what I would do with a 256-CPU computer that's about 1000 times more powerful than a G4, but it sure would be cool. Maybe I could find a bunch of programmers to build one of those nifty Star Trek holodeck gizmos.

copyright ©2000-2004 by Chris Lawson