November 2013

samsung galaxy gear - small green tomatoes

Today’s numbers that show how well Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch have been doing have been all over the map. An early report in BusinessKorea declared the Gear a flop that sold only 50,000 units since its introduction in September, with daily sales of “800 – 900 units” in Korea. Samsung quickly responded with an announcement that it had sold 800,000 units, and that sales had exceeded their expectations. Later, the verb applied to those 800,000 nouns was tempered to shipped.

The Galaxy Gear is meant to be a peripheral device for a smartphone, connecting to it via Bluetooth LE. As with other smartwatches such as the Pebble, when wearing it, you can see notifications from your phone for email, text messages, incoming calls and so on without having to dig into your pocket or riffle through your bag for the device. Its use of Bluetooth LE means that it can only communicate with devices running Android 4.3, which currently are the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Support for the current flagship phone, the Galaxy S4, will come when Android 4.3 comes to that phone.

Powered by a single-core Exynos system-on-a-chip running at 800MHz with 512MB of RAM, the Gear has about as much under the hood as a 2009/2010-era smartphone. Its display is a 227 pixel-per-inch 320 * 320 Super AMOLED touchscreen. Incorporated into the wristband are a 1.9 megapixel camera with back-illuminated sensor, a speaker, and two noise-cancelling microphones. It also has an accelerometer and a gyroscope. It’s an enticing platform for a mobile developer.

The Gear has received mostly poor reviews. The integration of components such as the camera, speaker, and microphones into the strap makes it rather stiff and uncomfortable to wear for some people. The notification system — one of the primary reasons the watch is worn — has been called inconsistent, although it’s said that software upgrades have fixed some of these problems. Battery life is short. Geek.com published a leaked report citing a 30% return rate for Galaxy Gears at Best Buy.

The Gear is another data point for my theory that Samsung are great at making things for which there’s an existing template or a long history that they can use as a guide — think TVs, monitors, washing machines, and many other products that bear a Samsung label. However, when they’re venturing into terra incognita — just think of every smartphone that came before the Galaxy S3 — they need help. As The Verge put it in their review of the Galaxy Gear:

As with industrial design, software engineering isn’t among Samsung’s strengths, and the results on the Gear are a painful mix of unreliability and inadequacy.

Samsung exec David Eun had this to say about the Gear at Business Insider’s Ignition conference:

“What we’re dealing with is small green tomatoes,” he said of the Gear’s first-generation growing pains. “And what we want to do is take care of them and work with them so they become big, red ripe tomatoes. And what you want to be sure of is that you don’t pluck the green tomato too early and you want to make sure that you don’t criticize a small green tomato for not being a big, red ripe tomato.”

In other words: Yes, it’s not ready for the market, but please blow $300 on it anyway! We’ll get it right eventually.

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Where I was, two Thursdays ago

by Joey deVilla on November 18, 2013

Even though I was on vacation, I had to do one career-related thing at a certain place since I had to be in the neighbourhood. I’ll spill the details later, but in the meantime, here’s a hint…

JFDI

Click the photo to see it at full size.

This article also appears in The Adventures of Accordion Guy in the 21st Century.

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IT “soft skills” in action

by Joey deVilla on November 16, 2013

wants to connect but is scarred

…and you don’t want to know the kind of baggage the external hard drive has been carrying around…

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new employees are friends not food

Trust me, it’ll do wonders.

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The WSJ on Steve Ballmer’s decision to leave Microsoft

by Joey deVilla on November 16, 2013

Joey deVilla and Steve Ballmer

Me and Steve Ballmer at the Canadian Windows 7 launch, October 2009.

The Wall Street Journal’s recent article on Steve Ballmer’s upcoming departure from Microsoft says that it wasn’t a firing, but that he was getting strong pressure to leave from the board, who felt that he wasn’t making the necessary changes quickly enough. Among the rank-and-file, the feeling was the same, as a story from my last days at The Empire:

Certain identifying details in this story have been changed to protect the innocent. Namely, me.

“So,” said one Microsoft manager, well into one of those post-party parties at the 2011 Microsoft MVP Summit, in those wee hours of the morning when the last shreds of careerist pretense dissolve in Glenlivet and the candor comes out, “what do you think of Ballmer?”

Standard Operating Procedure at Microsoft is that the highest-level person in a group of dining or drinking Microsofties pays and expenses. Like World of Warcraft, Microsoft has numbered levels. Also like World of Warcraft, the fun begins at level 60. I was a level 61, these guys were level 63, and I was enjoying scotches on their expense accounts.

“He’s got to go,” said another manager.

“Oh yeah,” said the one who posed the question.

“Probably,” said another, with a look on his face that suggested that he was wondering if this conversation would come back to haunt him at some later date, when a promotion to the next level was on the line. At Microsoft, you’re encouraged to think about that next rung on your career ladder all the time.

Ballmer’s decision to leave was a tough one, especially for a guy who really, truly, and enthusiastically loves the company with a passion that I didn’t often see inside Microsoft Canada’s walls (Redmond was a little different, but in the Toronto office, it was like a medieval Italian village, and not in the good way). I know a lot of people who could never make that statement “At the end of the day, we need to break a pattern. Face it: I’m a pattern” in public, never mind in those quiet moments during a long dark night of the soul.

I’ll leave it to Alex Wilhelm at TechCrunch to summarize:

Ballmer was an imperfect CEO, but his final years will be considered his legacy, and I think that the changes he made to the company that he viscerally loves will bear out as generally correct. He initiated a new business model, began to reform key product lines to protect revenue streams and meet market requirements, turned the company into a respectable, if still flawed, hardware company, and retooled its executive layout to prevent it from shredding itself through internecine warfare as it has for so long.

Yes, there was Vista, Zune, Kin and a host of other flops under his tenure. But the Microsoft of today is the strongest that I can remember it being, and that’s not a bad note for Ballmer to leave on.

 

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du hast code

Found in Jad Jabbour’s Pinterest.

And hey, for old times’ sake:

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RayWenderlich.com’s job interview article series

by Joey deVilla on November 15, 2013

job interview

RayWenderlich.com, one of my go-to sites for iOS development, recently published a series of articles on resumes and job interviews. While they’re writing primarily for iOS developers, most of the advice they give applies to developers of all stripes. Check ’em out:

i has the dumb

If you’ve just come from a job interview and didn’t think it went well, you can console yourself by reading about a recent job interview of mine that I blew six ways from Sunday. It’s covered in this article, with this follow-up.

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