Observing others react to (or fail to confront) the devastating 2005 hurricane season angers me. Lately, we've gotten the idea that an effort to study, discuss, and extract useful knowledge from a tragic event, even as it unfolds, is a necessary element of compassion. Learning all we can from horrific events, internalizing those lessons as individuals and organizations, and making those lessons change the way we behave, plan, and react makes us stronger. It's a prophylactic against individual and organizational paralysis in the face of extraordinary circumstances.
Stories by Tom Yager
With great respect, you probably won't be deciding the outcome of the CPU race; not if your normal shopping list has called for backward-compatible, x86 systems (25 percent faster than the previous years' models) at about the same cost.
When Apple made its announcement about the Mac's steady march to Intel, I flashed on the Great Wall of Client Conformity at last year's Intel Developer Conference. Intel displayed its reference desktop motherboards ringed by third-party "alternatives" or knockoffs. The message I took from it was: An Intel PC is an Intel PC wherever you go.
Linux can't run roughshod over the 64-bit x86 landscape anymore. Microsoft has now shipped its 64-bit editions of Windows -- a lineup that includes Windows XP and a handful of varieties of Windows Server 2003 -- for AMD and Intel 64-bit x86 (Microsoft calls these x64, collectively) as well as Itanium 2 chips. If you weren't aware of this debut, don't be surprised. Most Microsoft customers don't know what 64-bit Windows is, whether they need it, or where to buy it.
Now that it's buying into Mac platform, IT should dig deeper into Apple Computer Inc.'s server lineup. Like you, I make my living in technology. And like you, I don't make capricious career choices. The decision I made about two years ago to focus my IT operations, my research, and a good deal of my editorial output on the Mac platform will shape the rest of my working life.
To me, a mobile connection to the Internet means that my mail server hunts me down wherever I am and tosses my mail to me. Instead, I've had to settle for using my phone as a modem and, later, forwarding new mail headers to my phone as text messages. But none of my tricks worked reliably. Business-class mobile messaging is not a do-it-yourself project.
Luckily, there are two mobile e-mail vendors well equipped to handle this task. Good Technology Inc.'s GoodLink and Research In Motion Ltd.'s (RIM) BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) use push technology to deliver new e-mail to a reachable handheld using common wireless networks. Other messaging-related data, including calendars, address books, and folders, is kept in sync with in-house mail servers using the same push technique.
Companies large and small routinely set their expectations of computer systems according the capabilities of Intel Corp.-based x86 computers and 32-bit Windows. We're due for a shift in standards.
Enter Apple Computer Inc., which got the bright idea of taking a pair of 64-bit IBM Corp. PowerPC CPUs, jacking them into server-class internal buses, and squeezing the whole thing into a desk-side tower chassis. The result, the Power Mac G5, delivers on the present need for rapid computing, deep multitasking, and responsive user interfaces -- as well as the future need (current for some, including myself) for mainstream computers that rapidly process and analyze massive data sets.
What a difference two years makes. Back in 2000, I remember that two-thirds of the press releases crossing my desk carried a tag line resembling "XYZ software, enterprise solutions for Fortune 500 firms". Everything from product design to supply structure favoured huge corporate accounts. The trend toward consulting and away from ready-to-run software and hardware put much of technology's promise out of reach for companies that didn't write six-figure purchase orders.