While I haven’t had a lot to say on any subject lately, I would be remiss in not congratulating Microsoft on having an excellent year in 2014. I have been quite critical of Microsoft in the past. From the days of the OS wars to the introduction of the Surface tablet, I have been vocal in my distaste for their methods.
Now, that never stopped me from using many of their products. Some of it out of necessity mind you. However, competition forces have made Microsoft grow and change more in the last year than they have in many years prior.
The most significant event of the year to me was the naming of Satya Nadella as CEO. The changes that he has brought about have clearly transformed the company back into a true industry competitor.
Now, while many of the other important changes this past year had been started under Steve Ballmer’s watch, I doubt that they would have been implemented in the same way utilizing his vision. So without further ado, here is my list of Microsoft’s other significant achievements:
Microsoft Office for iOS
Visual Studio 2013 Community Edition
Surface Pro 3 launch
Completion of the Nokia acquisition
Update 2015/01/21: How could I possibly forget this one?
Open sourcing .NET stack and expanding it to run on Linux and Mac OS platforms
Almost three weeks have passed since I decided to remove Flash from an older laptop. Now it’s gone from all of my systems. So what have those three weeks been like?
At first there were the odd d’oh moments where I’d totally forgotten that I had disabled Flash, and I was wondering what was happening on a page. Then there was the time that I realized that the Amazon widget that I used on my blog used Flash. I quickly switched it to a banner ad, as I did not want to be a hypocrite (I detest hypocrisy).
Even with Flash removed from the system, Google Chrome allows me to selectively toggle its built-in Flash on an as-needed basis. I’ve looked for (but haven’t found) an extension that will make this easier to perform. Maybe I’ll just have to write one.
But overall, I’d say that I’m happy with the results.
Being a software developer I run multiple systems, with different configurations and operating systems versions. System and application updates are a fact of life, however annoying they may be. Rebooting is disruptive to workflow, particularly when you have dozens of windows and tabs open.
Recently after rebooting, I received a popup from Adobe telling me about a new version of Flash, so like I always do, I clicked continue, etc, etc, until the new version was installed. Later that day I did the same on another system.
Today I booted my Vista laptop and received the same popup. After completing the install, I paused and asked myself, “why am I doing this? I don’t really use Flash. It has no particular value to me”. And it has started to include the annoying habit of trying to install some McAfee something or other, as well trying to cajole me into making these kinds of updates automatic. Damn it, I said “no” the last time. Quit asking me!
Well, enough is enough. I decided to uninstall it completely from that system. One problem is that I have been gradually making Chrome my default browser over time, and Chrome has Flash builtin. Time to switch back to Firefox as the default on that system.
I don’t do a lot of browsing on that particular system, but I think that that makes it a good test bed for living without Flash. Let’s give it a try!
Update: It turns out that you can disable Chrome’s built-in Flash. Just type “about:plugins” in the address bar (omnibox), and click “Disable” next to the Flash plug-in. Sweet.
Is there really such a thing as an original idea these days? Somehow, I doubt it. Before you read any further, you just have to watch this video:
Okay. So you have an idea, and you think that it is winner. Odds are, that right now, 1000 people have a very similar idea to yours. Of that 1000, maybe 10 will take action. Now don’t be discouraged. Your idea still has merit. There is probably a component of your idea that is truly unique. That will be your differentiator.
What you need to do now, is to perfect your differentiator. Do that in silence. Do it in isolation. Tell everyone around your about what you are doing, but don’t reveal your differentiator until you have it perfected.
Then sell it. Hammer the competition with it. Dominate your sector with it. But don’t stand still. You had better have some more differentiators up your sleeve if you want to stay the market leader.
And don’t be surprised if the world doesn’t “get” your differentiator the first time that they see it. With time, they will.
“Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.” — Howard Aiken (American computer engineer and mathematician 1900-1973).
I previously wrote about the fear of someone stealing your ideas. What’s important is that you believe in your ideas enough to put massive effort into developing them to the point that you dominate the sector with your implementation.
Once you have done this, you should have no fear in sharing them. Gone are the days that a VC is going to sign an NDA. So share your ideas with them, secure in the knowledge that you have developed them so far that no one else can surpass you. Tell everyone that you know what you are up to in order to get word of mouth excitement brewing. Free of the worry that you are giving away the “secret sauce” to your invention and your future.
I haven’t even finished reading it yet, but this may turn out to be the most important book that I’ll ever read! I truly wish that I had read it as a teenager.
Before reading this book, I would have just thought that success was something that was just defined by the individual. Now while that is not totally untrue, I realize now that success is my duty, as it is everyone’s.
There is much more to the book than I have space for here. Please, please, read this book. It’s that important.
If interested, you can buy the book from my American store here: