Somebody Else Hates Twitter, Too

Go figure. Nearly five years into writing RCPU, and probably my most popular entry ever is a raging rant about Twitter. Well, if all I have to do here is moan about things I don't like and then rake in the hits, you haven't seen anything yet.

First, though, let's get to a couple of e-mails from fellow Twitter-haters, who, along with many of the good folks who have commented on the blog entry, have made your editor feel a lot less alone in the world on this topic.

Writes Jeremy:

"Amen to your Twitter rant on RCP! I can't often express how much I dislike Twitter.

"Being a senior architect at my company (and I'm not old), I'm sure the younger engineers think Twitter is great to exchange high school giggles when I'm not around because of my refusal to use Twitter. I'm sorry you have to use it. It's a sad commentary on where our society is heading that people think that someone cares about most of the thoughts that come out of their heads, and that these thoughts make it onto their Twitter pages. Most people's check-out stations (you know, the booth in your head that checks your thoughts at the door to your mouth) are broken these days as it is. Apparently, there is no such biological function between our minds and our Twitter accounts.

"I'm sure someone (Library of Congress) is archiving all that drivel so when the cockroaches take over the planet they will laugh at us and decide that Twitter and other careless uses of our technological capabilities were our downfall.

"</rant> Thanks, I feel better now. That's a lot of pent up frustration I've had to keep to myself for a while due to everyone else's seemingly high opinion of Twitter!"

I feel better, too, Jeremy. You've come to the right place for Twitter bashing. You seem to get what I was saying: It's the whole concept of Twitter that I don't like. People keep telling me that I can filter this or block that, but that's not the point. The whole idea just irritates me.

Adds Tony from the United Kingdom:

"Your rant about Twitter was absolutely perfect and I think you're quite right.

"As a 63-year-old electronics engineer, now Wi-Fi specialist, I completely abhor what is going on. I was explaining to a sociologist the other day that the Internet was designed and built by engineers as a technical challenge, as were the PC and the Mac. We gave the world the 'library' with shelves and left them to 'fill it with books' whilst we found new toys to play with.

"Twitter reminded me of all the fun we had when we first got Telex and tried to abbreviate everything. Did we pay per character? I can't remember, but I do remember having to get permission from the divisional manager before we could make one. Having built a better system than Telex, why do we have to go back to it?

"TWITTER AND FACEBOOK ARE FOR CHILDREN!!!

"English is the language that built the Internet and controls the world now; it is the most beautiful language when used and written well. Let's not lose it or get on to the subject of punctuation. Perhaps I am now too old."

Nah, Tony, it's not an age thing. You're just a clear-thinking person. And I love your library metaphor. What are we filling the Internet library with? Lots of stuff, I suppose, but the most popular "books" checked out seem to be the least edifying. Alas, we seem to be fighting a losing battle here, but at least we're on the side of good and righteousness. Thanks to you and Jeremy for your e-mails.

If you want to keep the Twitter rants or praises going or just comment about whatever comes to mind, e-mail me at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/24/2011 at 1:23 PM2 comments


5 Reasons Why I Hate Twitter

I'm going first-person in this entry because this is a personal rant that I don't want ascribed to any of my RCPU colleagues. So, there will be none of the obnoxious royal "we" I so love to use in this space. Just so you know.

Twitter, the infernal social networking site, apparently turns 5 years old this week, an age that seems to match the emotional maturity of many of its frequent users. Now, recently, Twitter and Facebook, its far more tolerable cousin, have gotten a lot of credit for enabling protesters in places like Libya to, well, protest. If folks are using Twitter to advance the will of the people in a climate of repression, then good for them and good for Twitter. More power to them. I still wish they would find some other way to do it, though.

Personally, I hate Twitter. Anybody who has ever read anything about Twitter in this newsletter knows that. Of course, I have three Twitter accounts, one for this newsletter (@leepender) and two for personal blogs I write on soccer (which I will not promote here). Those are all unwanted necessities -- no matter how much I dislike Twitter, other folks seem to like it, so I kind of have to use it in order to get people to read my stuff. Or so everybody tells me.

But let's get back to me hating Twitter. In "honor" of Twitter's 5th birthday, I offer five reasons why I hate Twitter:

  1. The whole concept of limiting Tweets to 140 characters is obnoxious. I usually don't care about what my "friends" on Facebook are doing, but I really don't care what somebody is doing if that activity can be expressed in 140 characters or fewer. While people can actually get into some relatively substantive discussions on Facebook or on blogs or message boards, Twitter is designed only to accommodate off-the-cuff comments, which usually are either poorly considered or so heavily abbreviated that they're impossible to comprehend (or both). We've already lost thoughtful debate in the Western world to the insidious and intentionally controversial sound bite; we don't need a popular Web site that not only encourages sound-bite "discussions" but actually excludes all other form of communication.

    Now, I don't follow that many people on Twitter, and some who Tweet often (analyst Ray Wang comes to mind) are actually worth following, even if I still hate the format. But most of what's on Twitter, even in my limited feed, is drivel -- and, yes, that generally includes the stuff I post, too. Oh, and if you haven't noticed, I'm long-winded, so that's another thing that drives me nuts about the character limit.

  2. There are too many weird symbols and abbreviations in Tweets. I'm not even talking about abbreviated words here, but I'll get to that in a minute. Something like "RT @leepender hates #Twitter #rant #moron" just looks like a jumble to me, but that's the way most Tweets look. Hash tags are bad enough, but now there are incomprehensible abbreviated hash tags (like #FF, which apparently means "follow Friday" -- oh, of course). The long-forgotten "at" sign made a stunning comeback about 20 years or so ago thanks to e-mail, but now it preens around all over Twitter as if it has been one of our favorite punctuation marks for generations.

    And hash, don't even get me started on you. You were just a button on a telephone before Twitter came along. Even the Associated Press requires reporters to use "No." instead of the hash sign. (As in, "TCU was ranked No. 2 in the country in football but should have been No. 1." Yup, still talking about it.) Oh, and some of the "trending" hash tags are real gems. As I'm writing this, "#100factsaboutme" and "#icantdateagirl" are "trends" on Twitter. Oh, do tell me more!

  3. Twitter and texting are killing the English language. English is a beautiful and complex language -- maybe someday even I'll learn to use it beautifully -- but our quick-hit communication culture is turning the language of Shakespeare (as the French call it) into a bunch of random symbols. I'm not concerned about kids not being able to spell or whatever; we have spell check on just about every device now. But when there's more value in knowing how to shorten words to the greatest extent possible than in knowing how to skillfully string them together, that's a bad sign for a language. And, yes, I did watch Idiocracy recently.

  4. This is more of a complaint about social media in general, but it certainly applies to Twitter: I don't want to have to get messages from 800 different places. There used to be this wonderful thing called e-mail where people could communicate in writing, and it was possible to receive and send messages in one place and through one interface. I used to hear people complain about colleagues who only used e-mail and wouldn't pick up the phone. If only we could limit ourselves to e-mail and the phone now.

    These days, people can contact me on Facebook (both on my "wall" and via Facebook's messaging client) or on Twitter (through both Tweets and private messages), among many other options. I hate that. Just e-mail me. Seriously. I hate breathless e-mails or even voice mails about whether I got someone's message on Twitter or, even worse, saw someone's Tweet. Seeing someone's Tweet sounds like something that would have been really exciting in junior high, but it's not such a thrill now. Yeah, I know, there are aggregators for all this, and I can have Twitter e-mail me when somebody sends me a Tweet or a private message. But it's just another source of communication to have to worry about. All of a sudden, preferring e-mail over anything else makes me the Luddite. It used to make me cool.

  5. Maybe this isn't such a big problem anymore, but for a while there was some question as to who was actually who on Twitter. Some enterprising or possibly trouble-making person would go register on Twitter under a celebrity's name and start posting as that celebrity. Then, the real celebrity would come along and start posting under the name "TheREAL(celebrity)." Of course, I don't follow any of those people, so it doesn't really matter that much to me. But the notion that the person I believe to be Tweeting might actually be somebody else altogether really bothers me.

Well , I've managed to go on for more than 1,000 words about this now, so for those who have actually made it this far (or just skipped past the list), I want to hear from you. What do you like about Twitter? What do you hate about it? What do you like or hate about RCPU? E-mail me at lpender@rcpmag.com or comment on this blog entry on the Web site...but please, if you re-Tweet this, don't ask me later on whether or not I saw it on Twitter.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/21/2011 at 1:23 PM43 comments


Nokia to Microsoft: Oh, Did You Think That WP7 Deal Was for Tablets, Too?

Oh, wow, this is awkward. Yeah, Microsoft, about that deal to run Windows Phone 7 on Nokia phones? You know -- the one between two companies going absolutely nowhere in the mobile space? Well, we kind of hope that you didn't think that deal was for Nokia tablets, too. Because it's probably not, if the sources who talk to Reuters are correct in their assessment. So, yeah...apparently, pretty much nobody wants to have anything to do with you when it comes to tablets, Microsoft.

Oh, but you want to have something to do with them, don't you? Evidently, given that you've filed a patent lawsuit against Barnes & Noble and a couple of makers of Android-based tablets. It's a case of if you can't beat 'em (or even begin to compete with 'em), sue 'em, huh? You used to be on the other end of those lawsuits, Microsoft. Give that some thought. 

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/20/2011 at 1:23 PM5 comments


Going Green: Four Irish Tech Gurus for St. Patrick's Day

Everybody's Irish on St. Patrick's Day, but only the lucky few are Irish all year round.

And now is a good time to be Irish in the technology industry. Despite a struggling economy, the Emerald Isle's technology sector is booming, particularly for a country its size. And just this week, a small Irish company got a big injection of green when Google bought video-technology firm Green Parrot.

In honor of the greenest day of the year, we thought we'd look at four Irish luminaries (think of them as leaves on a lucky four-leaf clover) who've made names for themselves in the tech world.

Now, "Irish" is a word with quite a lot of weight behind it. Setting aside the obvious squabbles on the island itself, "Irish" can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. To college football fans, it's the nickname of a Notre Dame team that didn't win the 2011 Rose Bowl. (Which your author's alma mater, TCU, did. Just saying...again.)

Here in Boston, plenty of folks are "Irish" without being Irish-born. Given that millions of Americans (including your author) have some sort of Irish heritage, we decided to stick to writing about folks who were actually born in Ireland. There's no doubt that Irish-Americans have contributed immensely to the technology world, but we're limiting the scope here so as to avoid taking up too much Internet space and developing carpal-tunnel syndrome.

So, on St. Paddy's Day, raise a glass to these fair-haired lads.

Denis O'Brien
Hailing from County Cork and with an MBA from Boston College on his CV, O'Brien made millions -- check that, billions -- as founder and part owner of the telecom company Esat Digiphone in the 1990s.

O'Brien has really made his name, though, not just as a mobile mogul but also as a billionaire with a heart. After amassing a fortune in Europe, O'Brien moved into other telecom markets that weren't even markets when he arrived (and arguably still aren't). His company, Digicel, now has millions of customers in places like Haiti, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.

But O'Brien isn't the type of executive to strip the mostly poor natives of those nations of their last pennies via big phone bills. Quite the contrary; O'Brien and his company provide an affordable and critical service to people who wouldn't have it at all otherwise.

And the Irishman is serious about his mission in the nations he serves. He's made 20 trips to Haiti since the country suffered a massive earthquake last year and is building 50 schools there, according to Forbes.com. O'Brien told Forbes earlier this month that he's trying to break into the market in Libya -- unsuccessfully thus far, having failed to acquire a license to do business in the troubled nation -- in order to further Internet penetration there, which could provide fuel for opponents of the country's ruling regime.

Sean Gallagher
Nearly blind as a child, Gallagher has achieved an impressive vision that will help build Ireland's economy for years to come.

The young man who started as a farmer in rural Cavan has become a media sensation as well as a consumer-technology mogul. The company he co-founded, Smarthomes, revolutionized homebuilding in Ireland by baking the basic internal infrastructure of consumer technology into houses as they were being built. The company is now working on technology that lets homeowners control their heating systems by mobile phone.

A networking guru, Gallagher has connected countless Irish entrepreneurs to important business contacts via BNI Tara, which is part of the Business Networking International organization. And in Ireland, Gallagher is best known as host of "Dragons Den," a reality TV program that features entrepreneurs and their ideas for start-up businesses.

John Ryan
Ryan might not be such a hero for some observers, but he's an Irish tech success story nonetheless. Founder of Macrovision Solutions Corp. (now known as Rovi Corp.), Ryan is largely responsible for technology that prevents consumers from copying music and DVDs illegally.

It's a long way from Tipperary to California. But Ryan made the journey, and he eventually pioneered Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology in 1983. Macrovision's technology made its way into VCRs and DVD players and, of course, onto the Internet.

The owner of more than 70 patents, Ryan has likely saved the entertainment industry billions of dollars by protecting intellectual property. Having moved on from Macrovision, Ryan is currently director of Command Audio Corporation, a patent-licensing company in the media industry.

Johnny Gilmore
A native of Warrenpoint in County Down, Gilmore is one of the forces behind one of the coolest inventions of recent years: the Slingbox. The TV-anywhere device delivers live TV to all sorts of formats, including mobile phones and tablet computers.

Gilmore was COO of Sling Media, the company that made Slingbox, for four years and helped engineer its sale to EchoStar Corp. in 2007. Gilmore also has management experience at tech firms Handspring, Palm and Iomega. He began his career at Accenture in England.

Gilmore is a major player in the Irish Technology Leadership Group, which links individuals and companies in the American and Irish tech industries.  

We've surely missed some great Irish tech moguls, so please send us more names and stories at lpender@rcpmag.com. And happy St. Patrick's Day!

Lee Pender is editor of the Redmond Channel Partner Update newsletter. He can trace nearly 900 years of Irish ancestry on his mother's side of the family. His roots go back to the FitzGeralds of County Kilkenny, who were proprietors of the still-standing Burnchurch Castle.  

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/17/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Lack of a Tablet (and Urgency) Costing Microsoft Big Time

Somebody out there has been doing math. We've heard about how the complete lack of a tablet has hurt Microsoft's mind share and maybe even its market share, but now some pundit out there says that it's hurting Microsoft's bottom line, too.

To the tune of $1 billion, no less. At least that's what one columnist over in the United Kingdom figures, old bean, based on some number crunching and analysts' estimates. And maybe it's accurate. Regardless, it only serves to further illustrate how badly Microsoft has screwed up this tablet thing.

And where is the Microsoft we once knew? The company that nearly missed the Web and responded by destroying Netscape? The company that cornered the market for operating systems despite not actually inventing much of what would become the OS? The company that blew out Unix and kept Linux on the fringes? Where is the Microsoft that reacted to the market with urgency, swiftness and debilitating viciousness when it sensed that it might be losing its utter domination of a market it wanted to own?

This Microsoft is different -- big, slow, almost complacent in the face of mounting and genuinely threatening competition. This doesn't feel like a kinder, gentler Microsoft. It feels like an aging, darn near bumbling Microsoft, particularly when it comes to responding to competition in consumer-based product areas. It's just strange, and we can't put our finger on why it's happening...but it is.

Are we overreacting? Send your thoughts to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/09/2011 at 1:23 PM5 comments


Patch Tuesday Light

It was pretty light lifting this month, patchly speaking. There was only one critical fix and only three altogether.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/08/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Microsoft Does Its Best To Kill off IE 6

Microsoft really, really, really doesn't want you to use Internet Explorer 6 anymore. Unlike Windows Phone 7, IE 6 actually has double-digit market share, but Microsoft wants to get that number down to zero. Standing in the way of that happening is the fact that lots of applications both internal and external at organizations run only on IE 6. We have a suggestion, though: Just kill IE altogether. Really. In our experience, it's the slowest, clunkiest browser around. Firefox and Chrome have both been better for us. Not sayin'...just sayin'.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/07/2011 at 1:23 PM6 comments


Windows Phone 7 Actually Manages To Lose Market Share

We couldn't make this stuff up. Nobody could. Despite the savior of Microsoft's mobile "strategy" appearing not to be a complete disaster (as we thought it would be), Windows Phone 7 actually lost market share for Microsoft at the end of last year.

Yes, that's right. The knight in shining armor that rode in on its mighty steed and relegated the old Windows Mobile platform to the scrap heap of history turned out to be more of a peasant tottering around on a mule. The latest numbers from comScore, the organization of the atrociously capitalized name that tracks these sorts of things, indicate that Microsoft's market share has fallen since Windows Phone 7 hit devices last fall.

OK, now for the requisite caveats. Windows Phone 7 only hit the market in late October in Europe and in early November in the United States. Some of the time period in comScore's January 2011 numbers includes the old Windows Mobile era, then. And, to be fair, Windows Phone 7 is brand-new. Said Microsoft official Achim Berg of the share numbers:

"We introduced a new platform with Windows Phone 7, and when you do that it takes time to educate partners and consumers on what you're delivering, and drive awareness and interest in your new offering. We're comfortable with where we are, and we are here for the long run; Windows Phone 7 is just the beginning."

Yeah, OK, fine. But really, losing market share right out of the gate? With all the press coverage and the TV ads and whatnot? It's not exactly building momentum, is it? One wonders whether Stephen Elop, former Microsoft executive and now CEO of Nokia (yes, it's still in business) is reconsidering his decision to stiff-arm Google and instead partner with Microsoft and Windows Phone 7. (Actually, he might not be, given that Microsoft is apparently forking over $1 billion to Nokia as part of the deal.)

Up at the top of the standings, Google's Android platform took over at No. 1 for the first time, displacing RIM and the BlackBerry mobile OS. Down in third place is Apple, which, despite the hype the iPhone constantly gets, boasts "only" about 25 percent market share. Microsoft isn't even really an also-ran at this point, though, as its 8 percent share (down from 9.7 percent in the pre-WP7 era) has it much closer to Palm than to third-place Apple.

We're not sure what -- if anything -- is wrong with Windows Phone 7, but technology moves quickly, especially in the mobile world. Android has rocketed up the market-share table over the last few years. If Windows Phone 7 is going to do the same thing, it's going to have to do it from a big hole that it has dug itself in its first few months of existence. We can't really see why users would adopt Microsoft's mobile OS en masse, so low market share might be a continuing condition. But falling market share? That's just embarrassing -- and borderline unbelievable.

What's your take on Windows Phone 7? Have you considered buying a WP7 device? Have your say at lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/07/2011 at 1:23 PM13 comments


Microsoft Buries the Sidekick Next to the Kin

It took Windows 7 to make Microsoft users forget about Vista, but it's taking Microsoft's mobile offerings to make Vista actually look pretty good.

This week, T-Mobile -- oh, and Microsoft, of course -- killed off the Sidekick, the forlorn phone running on Microsoft's Danger data service that suffered a famous crash a couple of years ago. Somebody at Microsoft is obviously trying to make the Sidekick's euthanasia look like some sort of mutual T-Mobile-Microsoft decision, but we're guessing that T-Mobile coldly pulled the trigger while Microsoft looked away and flinched, a tear of regret running down its ashen cheek.

Replacing the Danger Sidekick will be another phone called Sidekick -- seriously, is that name really going to survive? -- which will run on...Google's Android operating system. Reading between the lines (or just plain reading the lines in our RCPmag.com story), we get the strong impression that T-Mobile isn't exactly looking forward to working with Microsoft again in the mobile space. 

Well, who would want to? After the Kin debacle and now the death of Danger (was it the next of Kin before its demise, or vice versa?), Windows Phone 7 would have to be a massive blockbuster to bowl carriers over enough for them to sink massive investment into Microsoft's mobile efforts. A decent OS WP7 seems to be; a blockbuster it is not.

Hey, at least Windows Phone 7 is alive, which is more than we can say for Microsoft's other mobile efforts. And it appears to have a bit of staying power. But it seems as though everything Microsoft does in the mobile space is one step forward and two steps back. Or, in this case, one product living and two dead.

What's your take on Microsoft's mobile strategy? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/03/2011 at 1:23 PM1 comments


Microsoft Considers Facebook Lawsuit

Evidently somebody in Redmond didn't "Like" Facebook's recent poaching of a Microsoft advertising executive, Carolyn Everson. Microsoft is now considering taking legal action to keep Everson in Redmond -- or, at least, away from Mark Zuckerberg (who was born in 1984; remind me again how that's even possible).

We always wonder what the endgame is in situations like this. Obviously, Microsoft wants to protect whatever institutional knowledge Everson has about the company's advertising strategy (if there is one), but, really, what's the point of tying all of this up in court? Facebook is a Microsoft partner; Microsoft has invested in Facebook. Isn't there a friendlier way to settle all this? Then again, if this leads to Pirates of Silicon Valley meets The Social Network, maybe we should all just sit back and enjoy the show.

Posted by Lee Pender on 03/03/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


Windows Phone 7 Update Goes Wrong

Finally! This is the kind of news we'd been expecting from Microsoft's forlorn mobile division. Things had been going entirely too well for Windows Phone 7, relatively speaking...until this week.

This week, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 updates turned some Samsung phones into even more useless hunks of plastic than they already were. Apparently, that's called "bricking" phones, which means that Microsoft should probably hire Troy Aikman as its next spokesperson. (If you don't get that mild scintilla of humor, check this out.)

Microsoft has pulled the update, but to be fair this whole thing might not be Microsoft's fault. Your editor's own personal experience with Samsung technologies has not always been stellar, so we're not ready to place all the blame for this problem on Redmond.

And, in the grand scheme of things, this snafu, no matter who is at fault, isn't the end of the world. In fact, it's not even serious enough to pack a comic punch, which is our main source of disappointment with this story.

We've been hoping for a while that Windows Phone 7 would finally take up Vista's mantle as Most Unintentionally Hilarious Microsoft technology, but the mobile OS will have to do better than this if it really wants to earn derision from RCPU. In fact, in a more news-packed week, we wouldn't have written about this at all. It's probably a good thing, then, that this is the last RCPU of the week. At least we avoided the obligatory Pink Floyd "The Wall" joke.

Have a take on Windows Phone 7? Send it to lpender@rcpmag.com.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/25/2011 at 1:23 PM7 comments


HP Hits the Skids

Leo Apotheker, the new HP CEO whose name means "pharmacist" in German, hasn't quite come up with the right prescription for his company. HP did OK earnings-wise this week but disappointed investors big time with forecasts for slow growth, which caused HP stock to slide in midweek. Get back to mixing those potions, Leo.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/24/2011 at 1:23 PM0 comments


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