Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘microsoft

RIP Paul Allen

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The news just came across the wire that Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died today at the age of 65.

Allen died of complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the same cancer he overcame nine years ago but which he announced earlier this month had returned and for which he was seeking treatment. 

His family released a statement, which in part said:

While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much-loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend. Paul’s family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern. For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us – and so many others – we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day.

Allen co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates in 1975, and after leaving the company went out to found and chair Vulcan Inc., an entity which managed his various business and philanthropic efforts. 

Allen was also the founder of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, the Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and throughout his lifetime gave away more than $2 billion to such causes that included education, wildlife and environmental conservation, the arts, and health and community services.

Written by turbotodd

October 15, 2018 at 5:22 pm

Posted in 2018, microsoft, obituary

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Captcha Gotcha!

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Houston, we have a problem.

And I want to hear from anyone else out there who has had this problem. Because I fear it may be an increasingly prominent one in our always-connected, increasingly cloud-based cyber existence.

I was in meetings last week in NYC…you know, with actual people…and I was trying to look someone up on Twitter.

You know, on the actual Twitter web site, not a Twitter application.

Only to discover I apparently no longer knew my password.

So I set about trying to recover my password from Twitter.

But my account had been blocked, because apparently I tried to get
into it too many times.

Shame on me. Trying to get into my own Twitter account! What kind of psychopath, am I?

So then I tried to have Twitter send some info to my email and/or phone number.

Nothing ever showed on my cell phone, a number I’ve had for years.

And I assumed the account was set up so long ago, that I probably included my Hotmail email address.

So now I went to Hotmail to login.

And guess what happened?

Of course. I know no longer knew the password.

So I tried to recover the password.

And that’s when the Captchas stormed the castle.

You know, those cute little boxes where you enter characters that no mere mortal can read, much less interpret, so you can try and access what you assumed to be your account?

The person who invented those? They’re now officially on my most wanted list. Right up there near number one and closing fast.

So then I thought, perhaps my Hotmail address became a Live.com address.

So I tried that.

More captchas. No success.

I refused to throw down my sword, I was going down fighting.

Especially considering this was Microsoft!

So I tried to sign up for a new Outlook cloud account. I would simply start over, begin anew, smell the spring roses of the azure fields.

It wouldn’t likely help me in the pursuit of reclaiming my Twitter ID, which I’m pretty much has been hacked and is now manned by some pimply-faced 14 year-old Twerp somewhere in Eastern Europe.

Now I’m starting to get paranoid, thinking perhaps Microsoft has me on their hit list.

Because when I tried to submit the new Outlook account request, it was kind of like the Internet equivalent of the Windows hourglass.

And people laugh wondering why in the world I said earlier in the year I was going to break out my Underwood manual typewriter!

Written by turbotodd

February 22, 2013 at 3:24 pm

Bada Bada Bing

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How can Microsoft get more bang out of Bing?

By hiring Burson-Marsteller PR firm CEO and former Hilary Clinton campaign loyalist, Mark Penn, the well-known strategist and political pollster.

According to the Wall Street Journal “Digits” blog, Penn is being brought in to help ignite “more consumer use of Bing,” Microsoft’s search engine, which lags well behind Google in terms of search market share.

When examining the earnings results from both Microsoft *and* Google this afternoon, it seems that Microsoft needs all the help it can muster in this particular battle.

Microsoft posted a $492 million loss for fiscal 4Q 2012, largely due to a $6.19 billion writedown of its failed acquisition of advertising-service engine aQuantive.

Google, on the other hand, seems to continue to act second only to the Federal Reserve when it comes to printing money, bringing in $1.25 billion in revenue for the quarter, and realizing a 42% rise in paid clicks year-over-year.

However, it seems Microsoft isn’t the only one out looking for some PR help.  Penn’s firm, Burson-Marsteller just released a study of how Global Fortune 100 companies are using social media (conducted in partnership with Visible Technologies) to create more influence.

First, the top most-often mentioned companies on social media in that group: HP, Ford, Sony, AT&T, Samsung, Toyota, Honda, Walmart, BP, and Verizon.

The study examined some key social media vehicles, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Pinterest.

CNET broke down the five key findings of the study:

  1. The Fortune Global 100 were mentioned a totla of 10,400,132 times online in a single month. Gone are the days that companies and brands could tally and sort through all of their media mentions each morning.
  2. Video content creation is on the rise, and there was a 39 percent jump in the percentage of companies with a branded YouTube channel in the last year (and excluding ALL skateboarding bulldogs!).
  3. Engagement is becoming second nature to companies. Seventy-nine percent of corporate accounts on Twitter attempt to engage with other users by retweeting and using @mentions.
  4. Multiple accounts on social media platforms allow companies to target audiences by geography, topic, or service.
  5. Companies are rapidly adapting to new platforms. Google Plus pages for businesses were launched last November, and by February 2012, nearly half (48%) of Fortune Global 100 companies already had a presence on the platform.

The study also highlighted that 93 percent of the Global Fortune 100 companies’ Facebook pages are updated weekly, up from 84 percent and 59 percent each of the past two years.

I’ll add my own two cents, considering IBM is a member of that Fortune Global 100.  In our own Facebook research, for example, we, too, have found video to be an increasingly impactful online resource.

We’re also seeing that the more data we share, the more interest we garner in terms of reshares (infographics are also impactful, but need to be used smartly and selectively).

That is to say, the more useful and insightful data an organization can share through its social media activities, the more they’re able to rise above the information overload fray and present prospects with “news they can use.”

No matter which famous political PR flack they hire.

Written by turbotodd

July 19, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Mac v. PC Shopping Guy

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Welcome to Austin, Texas, where it’s expected to reach a balmy 106 degrees today.

I would retire to the pool and use my newfangled Verizon Jetpack Internet everywhere device to let me do a few emails while sipping virgin Pina Coladas, but I’m afraid my skin might start burning and smoking like some bad horror movie. Yes, it’s going to be THAT hot outside (and it’s only June 26).

In the summer, I tend to get up really early to do all my grocery shopping and things, so that I can then come home and never leave the house until the sun goes back down.

And on the subject of shopping, while flipping through the news on my iPad this morning, I discover this whopper of a story in The Wall Street Journal online.

Travel company Orbitz recently discovered that people who use Apple’s Mac computers spend as much as 30% or more a night on hotels. So, in turn, Orbitz is starting to give them different, and sometimes costlier, travel options than what Windows visitors see.

You mean, I have to go back to using Windows in order to get the best deals on Orbitz? Not necessarily, but it’s quite evident that you’ll be given different promotions, many of which will cost more because you’re part of the cool, Apple fanboy set.

Now if we could just see what Orbitz would offer up to Ubuntu Linux users…a cardboard shack out back?!

I’ve been writing about IBM’s smarter commerce initiative for several months now, and this is a perfectly good example of how companies are using all that great information they’re garnering in their web browsing and sales activities, then using that information to market differently to different folks.

Before you Mac users pull your long dormant Windows7 machine out of hibernation, first, remember you can always opt to rank all your results on Orbitz (and other travel sites) by price, and you’re obviously not limited to the promotions you are offered.

But Orbitz did find that Mac users spend an average of $20-$30 a night more on hotels than their PC counterparts, according to the WSJ story, which is a substantial difference considering that the site’s average nightly hotel booking is around $100.

I sense a whole new wave of Mac v. PC commercials coming on:

PC Guy: Dude, I stayed at the Four Seasons for $30 less than you did last night because I run Windows!

Mac Guy: Yes, but you didn’t look nearly as cool as me hanging out at the hotel bar with all the hipsters. And when I turn my computer on it just works!

The data also revealed that Mac users tend to stay in more expensive rooms than the Windows crowd.

So, this is the part where I go back outside, grab my Pina Colada and multiple cans of 60 SPS Walgreen tanning spray, and hand you off to the IBM Smarter Commerce Website so you can read more about how you can utilize such predictive analytics for business advantage.

And don’t forget about my last post, where I mentioned some recent announcements IBM made in the predictive analytics space.

Below The Surface

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So Microsoft went and introduced a tablet computer, huh?

I watched some of the live blogging coverage from the Milk studios in LA, where the announcement was made.

And though it seemed like an interesting product, doing Surface means I’d have to do Windows, and I’ve done everything possible to minimize my exposure to Windows, and I’m going to keep it that way.

I learned as much as possible about Mac OS X.  I’m now getting much more familiar with Linux (Ubuntu 12.04, in particular). And so I’venot been in a steady Windows environment for some time now.

And you know what?  I really don’t miss it.

This has nothing to do with the old OS/2 v. Windows grudge match.

I’ve long been over that.  It simply has to do with what environment is it that helps me get my job done day in and day out, and be productive with minimum interference from  the realities and demands of the operating system.

And the UNIX-based Mac OS X does that.

So, for the most part, does Linux (although Linux can be a little more of a challenge until you get the basic hang of it as an OS).

Windows, on the other hand, I always felt was intruding in my productivity.

There was always something going wrong in Windows for me.  There was always something crashing.  Something needing to be moved from one place to another for something else to work.  Some file to associate with some thing to get the app to open. And on and on and on.

Mac’s don’t do that.  For me, Macs just work.

As much as I liked PC guy, Mac guy definitely won the computing platform war.

And I have a feeling that will be the case with tablets as well.

First, Apple has a two year head start.  Apple has a massive application install base, one that increasingly links the Macbook line with the iPad, and an audience of several million happy iPad campers.

But, admittedly, Microsoft does  have going for them the massive Windows footprint and install base of their productivity apps stretching eons into the past.

If they can convince the market the Surface is a productivity tool, and capitalize on that massive footprint, there could be a there there.

But if they think they’ll compete on a feature match as a leisure tablet device, I think the Surface will soon sink well below it.

Written by turbotodd

June 19, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Skype In Or Out: The Most Expensive VOIP Call In History

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So Microsoft’s buying Skype for $8.5 billion?

Man, time flies.  I remember when eBay bought Skype for, well, wasn’t it like $2.5B?

But, that was in the Jurassic era, pre-Facebook, whom, by the way, Om Malik pronounces the winner of Microsoft’s newfound acquisition.

His reasoning?  Facebook gets to keep Skype away from Google and gets access to the Skype assets through Microsoft’s deal.

But Nokia also benefits after Microsoft’s recent deal with them to put Windows Mobile 7 into Nokia smartphones as their OS of choice moving forward.

Of course, you also will now see Skype moving into the X-Box, Kinect, Sharepoint, Outlook…the list goes on.

Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb points out, though, that Mac Fanboys will likely continue to get the short end of the Skype stick, as “neglect of the Mac version has always been an issue.”

He points out that Skype for Mac has been “several versions behind the Windows version for years” and lags in features, and that it would be hard to imagine that changing with this deal.

Regardless, one would hope the folks in Redmond just don’t treat Skype like the red-headed stepchild it seemed to be at e-Bay.

Considering its Microsoft’s most expensive acquisition ever (aQuantive went for $6B in 2007), I would think they’d want to make the most of it, although keeping all that talent around will require some nice velvety handcuffs.

$8.5B, though — that’s got to be the single most expensive VOIP call in the history of the planet!

Written by turbotodd

May 10, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Defending The Fortress

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I believe it was Napoleon who said “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

Ron Markezich, the sales lead for enterprises and partners in the U.S. at Microsoft, apparently explained to AllThingsD earlier this week that for every dollar companies spend on Microsoft software, they have to spend $6 to get it running right.

So I went and read the interview to get the full context.

The specific question Markezich was asked centered around Microsoft’s disruption of its traditional business model that “has brought in billions upon billions of dollars is sold” and whether or not “this new model [cloud delivery] ultimately catch up with and supplant the old one?”

Here’s the latter part of his response:

…So every one of these customers, we see their total spend with Microsoft go up anywhere from 2 to 6 times what it was before. The other thing is that if you look at the total industry spend, most of it is on activities where there’s no value added. Every dollar you spend on software from Microsoft, you spend $6 trying to get it to do anything. What we’re trying to do is drive that six dollars to zero.

It was also Napoleon who explained that “the fate of a nation may sometimes depend upon the position of a fortress.”  Insert “business” for “nation” and the intent of the statement remains.

But after the last two days, some perhaps might ask if the cloud ain’t all it’s cracked up to be, either.  

Amazon’s cloud done been down, off and on, for a couple of days now.  

ReadWriteWeb’s Alex Williams is keepin’ ’em honest, and updated, which apparently Amazon hasn’t been too busy doing.

ComputerWorld describes it as an outright black eye for the “dominant player in the cloud market,” with sites like Quora, Reddit, and foursquare “left staggering or totally knocked out” because of server problems in the Amazon datacenter.

By way of example, Reddit’s site explained it was in “emergency read-only mode” because of Amazon’s degradation.

In the ComputerWorld piece, analyst Rob Enderle suggests the biggest impact from the outage may be to the cloud itself.

“What will take a hit is the image of this technology as being on you can depend on, and that image was critically damaged today,” Enderle is quoted as saying.

On the other hand, it should be noted there are lots of flavors of cloud computing, and a fully public, rentable cloud service like Amazon EC2 doesn’t even pretend to offer 100% availability.  In fact, it quite clearly states in its public FAQs that “The Amazon EC2 SLA guarantees 99.95% availability of the service within a Region over a trailing 365 day period.”

In any case, I would recommend carefully reading all the FAQs before fully banking one’s business in the public cloud.

And I would also recommend reading more widely about cloud implementations around the globe.

One size doesn’t fit all (there’s the public cloud, the private cloud, the hybrid, etc.), and the IBM Academy of Technology conducted a survey released this past October entitled “Cloud computing insights from 110 implementation projects” which explains pros and cons, the good and the bad, as well as related considerations to be thoughtfully considered before embarking upon cloud deployments.

Maybe read a little of that before the media or the blogosphere scare you back into your private data center bunker with your AR-15 and 10-day survival kits!

Written by turbotodd

April 22, 2011 at 8:29 pm

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