Benny's Adventures

Google is Closer Than Ever to Taking Over the World!

Apparently in the year 2010 Google flexed its financial muscle and spent 1.6 billion dollars on 40 companies. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue because after all I use Google products and services for practically everything: e-mail, calendaring, searching, reading RSS feeds, and browsing the web. But then I think about how I’m using Google products and services for practically everything: e-mail, calendaring, searching, reading RSS feeds, and browsing the web.

The repetition is not accidental. I’ve sometimes thought about this and it is unsettling. Google’s creed might be “Do No Evil” but even the best of intentions can turn sour quickly. Outside of intentions service outages can cause problems if I am Google-dependent and Google is down. And finally there are privacy issues with one entity knowing practically everything about me.

As long as Google does a decent job this should never be an issue but with people’s lives increasingly becoming affected by the internet the issues become more significant with every second that passes. Eventually legislation will catch up to the internet and provide a foundation on which justice can be defined on the web but until then the onus is on us – the users of the internet – to keep ourselves safe.

To that extent my goal is to move non-essential things off of Google. For example there was a time in which I had a blog on Blogger but I’ve now moved/graduated (however you want to look at it) to WordPress. I’m looking for a RSS feed reader that is not Google Reader. And I can use Firefox as a browser (I still prefer Chrome though…). I can use a different search engine and use Google to double-check if the other one doesn’t suffice. The few things that I can’t easily move is e-mail and calendar.

It’s daunting though! To alter a way of life on the internet is difficult and energy-intensive. Perhaps that’s why Google is and will continue to be successful.

I hope Google never becomes evil.

31 October 2010 Posted by | Internet | , , | 3 Comments

Microsoft is Not an End-Stage Company

Paul McDougall over at InformationWeek makes a claim I consider ludicrous: Microsoft will not be around more than a decade.

To be fair McDougall doesn’t come out and say that Microsoft will wither away and die as a company but judging by the language used in the rest of the article I can’t imagine him conveying anything else.

And perhaps he is just taking this stance to draw traffic to the site. In any case I’d still like to toss in my two-cents.

I do believe that Microsoft is going through a tough time. The market is changing and Microsoft has had its missteps. Remember Vista? Come to think of it, I seem to remember people saying Microsoft was dying when Vista was having trouble. Windows 7 came around and is considered pretty successful. Ah but guess what, it’s Windows 7’s success that is dooming it!

Microsoft – and in fairness, Apple as well – always has its detractors and these claims repeat every year if not every week but they continue to survive and thrive.

The first piece of evidence is Internet Explorer’s market share. This is one of the areas where Microsoft is struggling but with IE9 looking to compete strongly with the other browsers in the most popular game now – speed – Internet Explorer will become more competitive. That’s not to say it will or will not lose more market share but at some point the internet browser market will reach a steady-state (given no large disturbances such as Chrome or Firefox suddenly becoming unbeatable) and Microsoft is setting up to have a large of the pie as possible when the equilibrium is reached.

McDougall makes a short claim about smartphones and I think he does this without really knowing what’s going on. Windows Phone 7 has recently come out and though it has its faults it also shows promise.

One thing McDougall makes a mistake in is not giving value to the PC market share Microsoft holds now (>90%). Apple survived and thrived having a very low market share for a long time and then took off when the iPod came out. Apple was able to leverage a developing market, find success, and use that success to fuel further endeavors. Similarly Microsoft has the potential to leverage their success in the PC market to improve in other sectors.

It’s not a guarantee for success by any means but there are signs indicating that Microsoft is slowly but surely getting the right idea. And fortunately for Microsoft they can afford to be slow and sure because of the market share.

McDougall ends with some dubious statistics:

Market research group NPD recently found that 13% of iPad users bought the Apple OS-based device instead of a Windows PC.

This bit of data fails to mention if anybody in that 13% already owned a PC. While McDougall posits this statistic as a definitive number it really isn’t and I immediately see that as a huge (and frustrating) hole in his argument.

And do you know anyone under 30 who uses anything but a phone for the bulk their personal computing and communications needs these days?

I understand that this is an opinion piece but opinions based on faulty sampling is not something I’d be proud of displaying as what I believe. Before I get into a straw-man argument… I’ll move on.

McDougall starts with this:

I believe that Microsoft as we know it may not be around in another decade–maybe not even in five years.

This is not a bad thing. I think this is precisely what Microsoft needs for continued success – change.

30 October 2010 Posted by | Technology | , , , , | Leave a comment

Quidditch at Duke


I recently discovered that Duke has a quiditch club. More recently (and incredibly!) I found out someone I know is in it! How awesome is that?

22 October 2010 Posted by | Life, Photography | , , | Leave a comment

Flat Earth Society

Apparently there is still a group out there who believes the earth is flat. After reading a bit about it in a blog I was unpleasantly surprised. It makes me wonder if there are other people believing ridiculous things. There are some legitimate concepts and ideas that either cannot be proven or disproven or have multiple sides but some things like the earth being round (not quite a sphere but close enough for most approximations) or 1+1 (as defined by math currently) =2 really can’t be questioned.

Well, I think it’s safe to say the misanthrope in me got a huge boost today.

8 October 2010 Posted by | Science | , | Leave a comment

Google TV? Meh.

google-tv-logo-1-e1282154624777My first response when I heard about Google TV was expecting to see another website like YouTube or Hulu. However I finally decided to investigate a bit and see what the buzz on Google News’ Sci./Tech. page was. First I checked out Google TV’s blog and read some blurbs from the development project manager. One paragraph goes like this:

One of our goals with Google TV is to finally open up the living room and enable new innovation from content creators, programmers, developers and advertisers. By bringing Google Chrome and access to the entire Internet, you can easily navigate to thousands of websites to watch your favorite web videos, play Flash games, view photos, read movie reviews or chat with friends—all on the big screen.

At first it seems just like turning the living room TV into a computer. Then I realized that it was.

It could be that I’m predominantly archaic in my thinking because I grew up right as computers were becoming ubiquitous and I don’t think that everything should have access to everything that a computer can. I think however that I have reasonable evidence that I can accept innovations. For example, take the Xbox Live features added over the years. When social elements were added on top of the basic matchmaking functionality in the original Xbox’s Live system that was a step forward. When Xbox Live added Facebook integration I was not enthused. Similarly I don’t particularly feel the need for a browser on my TV especially when I already have a desktop, a laptop, a phone with internet access, and the potential to have an iPad, an iPod touch, and more devices all with internet access.

Furthermore let’s think about what consequences this could have. Browsers crash. I do not want my TV to crash. I don’t want to ever have to reboot my TV especially if I’m right in the middle of a show I love. I don’t want to worry about viruses or malware on my TV. If we’re starting turning objects into computers the drawbacks will be there as well as the benefits. I can understand that Google is seeking another way to make money. But is anyone else just not excited that everything around them is turning into a computer?

I can’t wait for the day when urinals are connected to the web so while you’re peeing you can check your e-mail.

7 October 2010 Posted by | Internet, Television | , | Leave a comment

A New Format and A New Schedule

It’s been a while since I last posted. I apologize for that. The frequency should become more consistent now because I’ve dedicated 30 minutes of my morning to writing a blog post. My thought is that this will help me think about something other than school for at least 30 minutes or day. Even if the post is about school though it will probably be from a different angle. Either way it will give me a routine of updating. Furthermore I’ve made a slight tweak in the format: I’m not doing the “in _________:” part of the title anymore. It was getting cumbersome I think.

6 October 2010 Posted by | Blogging, Life | , , , | 1 Comment


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