Opinion

Holographic display demo

This, as they say, is cool.

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Non-ugly HP computer

Flying pigs are next. Mark my word. (Via, Engadget)

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Windows-based billboard gives up

Haven't we all seen something of this sort before? (Thanks, Fake Steve!)

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Five things to make Windows a lot better

The bit I'm referring to starts about half-way into the article but the whole thing's a good read. And I completely agree with those five things, having been stuck with Windows for the entire summer. What annoys me the most is the "Restart Now, Restart Later" dialog boxes. I feel like... driving a very sharp object through something.

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ThinkSecret's 9A527 Gallery

Excellent browse-through. When you come to the screenshot of the Time Machine preference pane, you'll see that Apple engineers are already borrowing interface elements from the iPhone. (Although, to be 100% correct, I'd have to say that a similar UI element existed in iMovie 6 and earlier)

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TextEdit icon in Leopard

An icon worth a read.

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Skim 0.7

My preferred PDF viewer.

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Apple Event on September 5

Literally Translated: Say Hello to this year's iPods.

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Mac OS X Welcome Movies through the ages

This brings back memories. Happy ones.

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TinkerTool 3.7

Apparently, it has been out since June and I am surprised I never found out about it. It mainly adds Universal-ness.

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Mini-Microsoft

Not a new blog but unknown to many. Written anonymously by an employee at Microsoft who writes about what truly goes on at Microsoft.

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Aqua's successor

An interesting read, at least, the first two-thirds of it.

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Leopard Welcome Video

I love it, I absolutely love it! And nobody else will care for this but, in the animation, they actually split up Chinese characters by component! (Oh, and I would recommend making a quick copy of the video in case Apple Legal gets annoyed by this.)

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But, is it legal?

Now that the iPhone has been shown to be unlockable, the question arises whether normal people would want to do and how legal it is. Engadget tackles this question, after being the one to show the first video of the unlocked phone.

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Fatty isn't Fake?

If that ugliness of an iPod is indeed the real deal, I am 马上 getting one of the current nanos.

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Google Earth 4.2

Now you can look the other way. Neat.

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Apple's notebook market grows to 17.6%

I just bought one.

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Microsoft Messenger 6.0.3

Bug fixes.

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Google Indic Transliteration

Google's transliteration tool for Hindi showed up a few weeks ago in Blogger for me as a क symbol, which toggled the Hindi mode on and off. But when I tried it out, I was disappointed because it was very buggy and I couldn't compose an entry in Hindi. However, I am deeply impressed by Google's improved Indic Transliteration - currently, it's only Hindi but I'm sure they will be working on Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi and other languages.

Hindi speakers commonly use a very ambiguous but oddly standardized form of English transliteration which depends on the native speakers ability to guess what the word corresponds to. Here's a random sentence I tried which the tool perfectly translated into Hindi:
Isse aage hum aur kya kahein jaanam samjha karo
इससे आगे हम और क्या कहें जानम समझा करो
Here we see that, what Google does yet again, is that it adopts the way people naturally write romanized Hindi, instead of trying to make them learn a new method of transliteration that is easier for computers to parse. This other thing is what Palm did with Graffiti, which was a cumbersome way of writing text, character-by-character, that the PDAs could easily decipher.

If you notice, the Google transliteration engine will not work offline, because it retrieves the transliterated results directly from the Google servers as soon as you hit the space key after typing a word. Although I do not know how the software is implemented, I am guessing it uses large volumes of frequency data as to what English letter combinations correspond to what Hindi letter combinations, sorted by popularity. In that way, they would not need to devise a complicated parsing algorithm for a transliteration system that is standardized only by the weak force of common consensus, but instead present only what seems to be the most probable match for the given word and give the rest of the matches when you click on the word, which, of course, has an uncanny resemblence to "I'm feeling lucky" and "Google Search". It is also the same way that most romanized Chinese and Japanese input systems work.

In fact, what would be really awesome would be if Google converted this amazing piece of web-based software into Input Methods for Mac and Windows so that they could be used in any app. on any computer. 

Comments (2) Posted on at  

  • » Hi, Yeah I tried it too. I liked the concept. But there is another tool in the market which is more powerful I guess. You can check that out at www.quillpad.in. In google transliteration it gives you the transliterated word only after pressing the space. You type 'pani', 'mehnat' etc etc.. it give your undesired first option. Then you have to take pain to go back to correct the word. But in case of quillpad it give you on the fly output which is really cool. Apart from that is as good as google's transliterator if not more than that. Also at quillpad they are supporting 8 languages which is covering 60-70% of all Indian population. And as they promise on their site, it's not a big deal to support many other languages for them. So I guess in this case google has a long way to go.
  • » बहुत धन्यवाद इस लिन्क के लिए। गूगल की सेवा की तरह, ऐसा लगता है कि यह Quillpad भी मैकिंटौश पर काम नहीं करता, पर मैं इसका विनडोज़ पर इस्तेमाल करके देखूँगा। ऐसा लगता है कि इस साईट पर गुजराती भी है, जो मेरा एक दोस्त ढूँढ रहा था।

Microsoft Tafiti Beta

A really cool web search portal that Microsoft has come up with and leverages their Live Search. It has been made in Silverlight, which means that it works across most browsers and platforms.
Tafiti, which means "do research" in Swahili, is an experimental search front-end from Microsoft, designed to help people use the Web for research projects that span multiple search queries and sessions by helping visualize, store, and share research results. Tafiti uses both Microsoft Silverlight and Live Search to explore the intersection of richer experiences on the Web and the increasing specialization of search.

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Stanford's Gaze-based Password Entry

I had seen a slightly older demo of this technology but it looks like it's really maturing now.
(Via Engadget)

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suprnova.org

After years of slumber, suprnova.org wakes up once more. Y'arr!

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labs.google.co.in

Google's "gift" on India's Independence Day that they had hinted about earlier.

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Parallels-VMWare Showdown

You've just got to love Benchmark Wars. I do.

I'm really glad that VMWare has very conclusively won this performance battle because I very much prefer its elegant and crisp Cocoaness to Parallels' clumsy UI, which seems to have been cooked up in a single night. And although they've released two full versions of their software, they seem to be making no effort towards make their UI look professional. Parallels is also the software that made my Mac break its kernel panic-less spree.

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First Look: iMovie '08

Even though I have iMovie '08 installed, not being a video aficionado means that I haven't had the enthusiasm to put it through its pace. Macworld's first look at iMovie '08 gives a good sense of exactly how much of it is different from iMovie '06 and what I can expect when I get back to my tech job in September when I have to cater to a mob of iMovie users who're making video projects. It seems that people who're making small, simple projects will be pleased by iMovie '08, while those who work on large projects, on which they spend months instead of days, will be disappointed by its limitations. (No chapter markers, honestly?) Thankfully, iMovie '06 caters to this latter group.

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Camino 1.5.1

Bug fixes. Better ad-blocking. But until Camino has Hindi rendering support, it's not my default browser.

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Impulsive Highlighters II

It has taken just about exactly one week for the idea of the complete redesign to go from inception to completion. It's been the most rapid and the most fun web development project that I have worked on and we, the makers, were literally giddy with excitement at the prospect of letting it loose in the real world. The previous version of Impulsive Highlighters, which was introduced on October 17, 2006, was supremely important because it gave Impulsive Highlighters its own identity, as it had been previously using one of Blogger's default templates. Now, it has been changed to align with our thoughts of the day and embodies a simplicity and elegance that its predecessor lacked.

We made a lot of changes to the template so that it looked better on today's larger monitors, while still maintaining compatibility with the most common older screen resolutions. We made changes so that the text was more legible and the colours more subtle. We split up the posts into an Opinions column and a News column because the smaller posts looked a bit awkward on the old template. We reworked the Archives so that they were organized in a more sensible format and easier to browse. We wrote a ton of conditional CSS and JavaScript to overcome Blogger's shortcomings and Internet Explorer's plain lack of consideration.

But, the flying bit, I have to confess, we just thought was wicked cool. 

Comments (6) Posted on at  

  • » Great site redesign! Easy on the eyes. Clean and professional. I first found your site through a search for "Leopard" in NewFires blog search. Been reading your site ever since.
  • » it's great!
    btw, what floating bit?
  • » We were having some problems with it so we'd disabled it. Reload the page in something other than IE and you'll see the flying bit.
  • » A very professional looking template.

    I think should change the color of the text to white (like you do for the main text) on rollover for names of those who have written comments.

    I personally think there is something missing with the right column.
  • » Thanks for pointing out the bug with the comment byline links, Aditya. I have fixed it.
  • » Really smooth on Safari. On others', not as much.

HandBrake 0.9

A refreshed UI along with presets for Apple TV, iPods and the iPhone. Grab the latest version of this DVD to MPEG-4 ripper/converter.

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Apple's One-Time Hardware Discount for Students

This is nothing new but scores of students don't know about it. If you become an ADC Student Member, which costs $99 per year (although you need do it for only one year), you get a One-Time Hardware Discount on buying a Mac. This is one whopper of a discount, make no mistake. It's not very useful if you're thinking of buying a MacBook or a Mac mini (because it's only another $50 or so less than the standard educational discount), but, if you're planning to purchase an expensive Apple computer like a MacBook Pro and also happen to be a student above 18 years of age, you're in fine luck. However, One of the conditions of the One-Time Hardware Discount is that, well, it's one-time... per life.

Let me give you an example of the discounts. The usual MacBook Pro which sells for $1999 normally, is sold for $1799 at the regular Apple Education stores and for $1599 at the ADC Hardware Purchase Store. The $2499 model is similarly sold for $1999 and the $2799 for $2239. So the discount you get more than makes up for the $99 you spent on the membership.

But, that's not all. Another benefit of this membership is that "Upon purchase and activation, you’ll receive Mac OS X and Xcode Tools". Now, I don't know if that means, if I buy it today, I will receive Tiger now and any new versions of Mac OS X (*cough* Leopard *cough*) when they come out during the course of my membership, or whether I'll just get Tiger. Since the membership is $99 and Leopard is probably going to be $129, if their terms and conditions are still the same when Leopard comes out, I'll go ahead and buy this instead of Leopard and get it for $30 less, in addition to a voucher for an extremely sweet One-Time Hardware Discount. 

Comments (3) Posted on at  

  • » You only get a copy of the "currently shipping" version of Mac OS X and that is pretty much useless if you're planning on using your One-Time Hardware Discount cause you'll get the "currently shipping" version on your new Mac anyway! Now if only they would give us the option of choosing when to avail our copy instead of sending it as soon as you sign up...
  • » I was seriously not aware of the ADC membership and one-time discount. I would have bought the 256MB 8600M GT version of the Macbook Pro if I had known this earlier.

    The research done wasn't enough I guess.
  • » it seems Indian students can't avail it!!

“Namaste India!”

When I read "Namaste India", the first thing I got reminded of was Fake Steve's blog, but it looks like Google is up to something. I just hope it's something exciting.
Happy 60th birthday, India! We can’t wait to celebrate, but we’re going to wait a few days for the formal unwrapping of our gift to Indian users.
For those not in the know, August 15 is India's Independence Day. Happy Independence Day everyone!
(Thanks, Rungta!)

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Keynote's Alpha Tool

One of the features of Keynote '08 that excited me the most was its new Instant Alpha tool, which promised to take away backgrounds from images. Features like these always leave me a little skeptical until I've tried them out myself because they promise a lot. Taking out backgrounds from images is by no means an easy task. Try it in Photoshop some time and see what ugly results you get. So, at the first opportunity, I went over to a nearby Apple Store and opened Keynote '08 on one of the brand new iMacs. I first found a very easy picture for it in which the foreground and background had very clearly distinguishable colours, and Keynote removed the background perfectly.

Then, I started looking for a tougher assignment for it and came across this picture:

Within two minutes, I was able to convert it to this:

Yes, it's not a perfect job but it's a very reasonable one and much less uglier than what I could get in Photoshop in the same amount of time. It's fair to say that, if I had really cared about removing the background properly, and spent another couple of minutes with the picture in Keynote, I would have been able to remove the background more cleanly. I consider myself impressed by the power of Keynote's Instant Alpha.

I am also very much impressed by its user interface. Somebody has spent a good, long while thinking about it, that's for sure. It's very natural and the instant you click on the photo with the tool, you just know what to do. Contrast this with most of the more complex Photoshop tools (like the Healing Brush, etc.) in which your intuition usually leads you incorrectly, and I, personally, have had to refer to Photoshop's documentation for many of its functions. So, I definitely give a very generous tip of the hat to whoever designed and implemented the Instant Alpha feature in Keynote because it is remarkably well done. 

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The Bouncer

This piece of software is absolutely hilarious. Watch the video 'til the end.

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Adium 1.1

Animates while updating contact list, has sexy new tabs. Go get it!

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Daring Apple

A lot of Apple's moves get regarded by people, who are tech-savvy enough to regard such things, as inexplicable, foolish, or both. These include things such as the exclusion of 3G from the iPhone or perhaps the glossy screen and looks-like-a-fish-types-like-a-cow keyboard of the new iMac. The fact is that some of these decisions truly are bad decisions from every aspect imaginable, but that, would I rather an Apple that was daring and produced things like the G4 Cube that eventually flopped out or would I rather Apple become a dinosaur and let its products stagnate simply because they seem to be good enough? No! I want Apple, not Krusty.

Way, way back, Apple chose a very tricky business for itself when it chose to bundle its hardware and software together into a single package. Of course, back then, it was the norm, so it wasn't a difficult choice. But, it stuck to this model against all odds while the rest of the industry moved on to the split hardware-software model, and it failed miserably. Why? Well, even with the benefit of hindsight, I can only guess. And my guess is that, not only did it stick with a hardware-software bundling model which didn't work out, but it also stopped radically innovating. In the present day, Apple still sticks to its hardware-software bundling model but what it has changed from its doom days is the radical innovation bit. It's doing it all the time now.

If you were a casual bystander in the year 2001, then you suddenly saw Apple introduce the iPod, a digital music player done the Apple way. If you waited a little longer, in January 2002, you saw the weirdest and coolest personal computer ever - the iMac G4. 2003 was to see the introduction of a revolutionary new line of laptops - the 12", 15" and 17" PowerBook G4s - arguably, the most lovable laptops Apple has ever made, apart from the TiBooks. Meanwhile, the iPod mini was becoming a smash hit in 2004. In 2005, Apple unexpectedly replaced its best-selling line of iPod minis with the nano. Think to yourself - would Microsoft or Dell or Sony have done this? No. What they'd have done is introduced nano side-by-side with the mini and just fattened their line-up, offering customers more choice, not wanting to risk losing any sales in case people really did like the colours on the mini and would not like the black and white of the nanos. Then, in 2006, Apple switched to Intel processors, abandoning the PowerPC chip that they'd used ever since time began, and also dropped the 12" notebook that was oh-so-popular (and still is!). In 2007, they came out with the iPhone.

These are all huge risks that Apple took. Some of them hit the mark perfectly such as the move to Intel processors while others were mistaken and Apple later corrected itself (such as not offering colours on the nano, which were added with the second generation, and dropping their small, performance laptop). What this demonstrates is that Apple is a company with balls. That's what makes following it so much fun! That's why it gets so much press attention. They just know how to do things with style in a way that only few others know to do. Apple not only knows how to make good products (and, on the whole, more often than not), but also to produce them in unexpected and exciting ways.

There is a sense of vision that I feel is lacking at most other companies. In my opinion, innovation comes at an individual level. When a good idea comes out, it comes from an individual and not from a board meeting. Think back in history to all good ideas and inventions and you'll see that you always associate inventions and new ideas with individuals. And it is so in almost every field. Even when inventions are credited to companies these days, such as Apple being credited for the iPod or the iPhone, know that the base idea or vision probably came from a single person although it was perhaps refined and brought to actual fruition by a larger set of people.

And this is why a company that wants to be innovative needs to encourage individual thinking, and run with daring, original ideas. Think about iMovie '08. It's been completely redone and all thanks to the original idea of one person in all of Apple. What's so great about it is that they ran with it. They abandoned the several versions of iMovie that had been building on top of each other for more than half a decade and went with this radical new design that makes making movies quicker and more painless than ever. Of course, since it's completely rewritten, it abandons everything that the old iMovie cherished including many useful features such as the timeline, plugins, etc. and many users can rightfully claim that, for their needs, it's a piece of trash. But the point I'm making is not about the quality of the software, but the quality of the decision that made it possible. It is daring to the core and completely the sort of thing that Apple does and why people love Apple.

This is why people fear for the day when, some day, Steve Jobs inevitably has to step down, because, although, everyone rationally knows that he is not running every bit of the company individually and Apple won't fall apart if he goes away, they are also aware that Steve Jobs' personality and personal beliefs are represented in even the minutest detail of every product that comes out of Apple and that, it is, effectively, run by one man's vision. And so, although it's possible that because of this one-man dependency, Apple might go to the dogs when Jobs goes away, I'm glad that, at least while he's here, Apple is doing some great things. 

Comments (1) Posted on at  

  • » i agree

Bob Keefe

I think I've heard just about as much as I can take on this issue of a certain Bob Keefe's question to Steve Jobs during the Macworld mini regarding why Apple doesn't put Intel stickers on its computers.

I have just read what Bob Keefe has to say on this and I've decided that I'm going to take his side on this issue. I understand some people thought the question was rather stupid because they have been Mac users for a long time, they know Apple's philosophy and to them, it couldn't be clearer why Apple does not put Intel stickers on its Mac. However, I'm afraid that everyone is not as illuminated as we are, and, if the fellow is writing a book or something about it, it's good for him to have some sort of official quote from Apple, and what better opportunity than to get it straight from Steve Jobs himself?

Also, it is at these times that the Mac world completely makes me feel ashamed for being a part of it. It's just a little question in a little press conference whose Q&A round wasn't even publicly available for viewing. Get over it and leave the fellow alone, instead of publishing his email address and filling his inbox with the nearest equivalent of spam! 

Comments (1) Posted on at  

  • » LOL he deserved it. (not the spam thou) cuz he really asked a stupid question.

Transmission 0.8

Sure, Apple's doing a bunch of releases today. But, here's Transmission 0.8 with Selective File Downloa­ding.

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Macworld Mini

Nevermind my disappointment right now about the lack of new portable Macs. I'm just going to have to get over that and hope that they come out with something by the middle of September.

Today's Special Event was quite a Macworld in miniature, don't you think? I mean, new versions of iPhoto, iDVD, Garageband, iWeb, Keynote, Pages, a completely and seemingly brilliantly redone iMovie and a brand new application called Numbers.

And, to top it all off, the iMac has been completely redone for the first time since 2004 and the Mac mini has received a processor refresh and now sports 1.83GHz and 2GHz Core 2 Duo chips under the hood.

iMac

If simply looking at something makes you want to buy it, you know that something has been done right. This is indeed the case with the iMac. I am protected from the almost involuntary urge to place an order by the fact that I cannot even vaguely justify it to myself currently, already having a desktop computer hooked up to a large 24-inch screen.


Now, if you analyze it from a metaphysical point of view... no, actually, scratch that. If you analyze it from a pure specifications point of view, a not unconsequential bit has changed. The CPUs are still the Core 2 Duos, but they are the new Santa Rosa models with the higher clock speeds. The graphics cards have been uppgraded to the ATI Radeon HD series and I wish I had a clue what that meant about their graphics performance, but I am severely out of touch with the GPU industry. The hard drive capacities have been upped from 160/250GB to 250/320GB which, I think, is a very worthwhile thing to do. Also, one of the more decent things that Apple has done with the iMac is upping the RAM limit to 4GB up from 3GB and also shipping the iMacs with a single 1GB chip. Apart from all that, the FireWire 800 port which was previously constrained to the 24" model has now been standardized across the line. Another thing that has been standardized across the line is the 24-watt digital amplifier which was also previously constrained to the 24" model while the 17" and 20" models got a 12-watter. And, of course, the screens are glossy and there's no 17" model anymore. This also means a sad farewell to the sub-$1000 iMac and the pricing structure is now as follows:

The really expensive custom option lets you put a 2.8GHz Core 2 Duo Extreme chip, up to 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive inside this beautiful enclosure, and, well, that's just something. Assuming you have enough green of course. I'm just disappointed there isn't an option for a 512MB or 640MB graphics card, especially for the high-end custom model, not that I'd be getting one anyway, but for all the rich kids out there who'll be complaining about it.

iMovie
The new version really does look delicious. There's not much that I can say here that's really illuminating, but this video really tells it all

Comments (1) Posted on at  

  • » Given that both laptop lines were updated three months go, it wasn't exactly reasonable to expect an update so soon. Admittedly the MacBook update was anemic, but an update it was.

    I'm just happy I can now get previous-generation Mac Mini's at firesale prices. :)

The new iMac?

If this is tomorrow's iMac, then it better be good on the inside, because it's a pathetic makeover of the Apple Cinema Display on the outside. However, I'm still keeping my hopes up that this is a Photoshop job. Incidentally, the image is tagged with Adobe Photoshop CS2 Windows.

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Oh, China

"One more baby means one more tomb."
"Raise fewer babies but more piggies."
I love China. There's just this limit of ridiculousness and I love it when they just walk over it.

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Welcome to the so-so

This is genius. Heard someone at Microsoft got fired over it.

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August 7

Apple has issued phone invitations to select analysts and members of the media for an event that will be hosted on Apple's campus next Tuesday, August 7. The event will take place at the Town Hall of Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, CA.

As reported by AppleInsider, Apple made it very clear that the event would not be iPod- or iPhone- related whatsoever.
Let speculation run rampant. I'm personally hoping it's a new portable Mac, because I'm hoping to get one in September.

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Be Microsoft

I wish folks would just realize that we are not going to be all things to all people. That's okay. We've got a job to do, and we have a very reasonable opportunity to do some very wonderful things. Let's stop worrying about the competition, or about what we can't do just yet. Can't we just focus on making our customers amazingly happy? Perhaps I'm too simplistic, but if we do just that, I really think everything else will work out.
I quite agree.

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News