Category: geekspeek

If you’ve seen the Laptop Hunters ads from Microsoft recently, you know that every single one of them features an Apple computer at some point during the “Hunter’s” shopping adventure. But why? Microsoft has TEN TIMES the software market share Apple has, and is the de-facto standard in personal and business computing markets. So why is Microsoft dumping incredible amounts of time, money, and emotion into this ad campaign against a flea on their back? Because they’re scared. Microsoft isn’t just scared, in fact, they’re terrified.

While on one hand you might look at Apple’s paltry 9% market share and balk at the infinitesimal nature of it, you might also contrast it with the 2.41% market share Apple held only 4 years ago. Apple is hitting the consumer/business sweet-spot hard, and Microsoft has nowhere to go but down.

Case in point: Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Once hailed as the titan of web browsers with a >95% user base, IE today seems to be in a virtual market-share free-fall, nearing the 50% install base for all browsers worldwide. Just a few very short years ago Microsoft had a clear market advantage, while competitors had little hope of breaking in on the exclusive browser party. Yet, despite all the haughtiness of IE (maybe even because of it), other browsers such as Firefox and Safari have been able to chip away steadily at IE’s grip.

But most frightening to Microsoft must be the fact that while they’ve employed over 1,000 full-time developers at one time on IE, Mozilla employs only 175 full time employees. How did this small, lean, hodge-podge group of hackers manage to take the rug out from under Microsoft? While there are probably many factors (which I certainly won’t address here), it’s likely in part due to the fact that the Firefox developers were focused, determined, and eager to address a serious problem that was crippling the web space.

I can only see the competition having a royal fit behind closed doors in response to the current “browser war” climate. When all you have is everything, how can you survive if someone starts taking it away, little by little? In the last two years we’ve seen Microsoft pledge renewed support to web standards, CSS3/XHTML support, and even :gasp: transparent PNG’s. For those of you who don’t know how big of a deal this is, just ask your IT guy.

And don’t forget the smartphone market. I recall a couple of years back watching Steve Ballmer (chair-throwing CEO of Microsoft) scoffing violently at the idea that the iPhone posed a threat to their smartphone market dominance. His smarmy “Well, let’s wait and see, hahaha” attitude is nothing short of epic by way of fail. Not only has Microsoft lost half of their Windows Mobile presence seemingly overnight, they’ve lost nearly all of it to one, single phone: the teeny-weeny iPhone. Yes, that fledgling little phone has snuck in and stolen the proverbial wind right out of Microsoft’s smartphone sails.

And so the Déjà vu begins for Microsoft. Apple has gone from just over 2% desktop market share in ’05 to nearly 10% today. If Apple were to continue at this rate, they could theoretically own the entire OS market within the next ten years. Unlikely, but a frightening prospect for a company that has just witnessed how deafening the sound of a little trickle can become once it turns into an unstoppable landslide. Even with Microsoft’s sudden “conversion” to open web standards for their browser lineup, they’ve been able to do little to stop the inevitable slide down the slippery slope. Losing their grip on the web through IE is bad enough in a world where desktop apps are dwindling. But to lose additional OS install base to Apple, well that would be downright disastrous. Microsoft had a pretty good lock on consumer’s buying decisions because of IE. But with that strangle hold now loosened, people are beginning to peel back the scales from their eyes, and are curious to learn what else there is to see. Of course, there’s Apple. And oh, what a sight for sore eyes it is.

Then there’s the matter of money and power. Apple may be half the size of Microsoft, but as others have shown, Microsoft isn’t impenetrable. And Apple’s half-as-big size isn’t a bug that can be stepped on, it’s a smaller army with shorter swords but sharper tactics. Apple pulls in a healthy $33 Billion (that’s B) per year, and has over $15 Billion in cash on hand (probably closer to $18 bil by now). This from a company that Michael Dell (Founder of Dell Computers) stated that, if deciding what to do with Apple were up to him, he would “shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders”. Oh, and that was before Apple kicked Dell to the curb, surpassing Dells market cap in 2006. Yikes!

Also, let’s not overlook the irony of Microsoft paying their “hunters” to buy a computer with Windows on it, giving the deeper impression that the only value that comes from a PC comes by way of free, not cheap, when cheap is probably the biggest selling point of the commercial. I mean, even I would be thrilled for at least one day if someone outright bought me a Kia. Still, that wouldn’t stop the realization from hitting the very next day that I wanted to sell it.

So, back to the Laptop Hunters. For Microsoft, this isn’t a campaign to be cool. This isn’t even a campaign to sell the brand or the product. This is a campaign to survive. I’ll repeat myself, because this is really the point of it all: THIS IS A CAMPAIGN TO SURVIVE. This campaign is an attempt at a controlled blast to try to stop the Apple avalanche. Because Microsoft knows if things keep going as they have been for the last 5 years, they’re Applesauce. Maybe a more apt name for Microsoft’s Laptop Hunters campaign would be Apple Sniping. Clearly, the last thing Microsoft is hunting here is laptops.

*EDIT: As of Aug. 3rd, Apple apparently has just about $25 billion in total cash.

Apple share:, IE Reference:, Mozilla reference:

Seems this guy could build anything he wants. Clearly, he’s a genius. I’ve poked around his website for many months now, coming back occasionally to remind myself how cool he is. Each time I visit, I’m amazed at the creativity and industry I come across on this site, from digital cameras made of flatbed scanner parts, to lego marble machines, to wood furniture, to shop tools. Wow, what an inspiration.

I’ve been wanting to make some furniture from the plans he’s posted, particularly the napping bench, the couch/day bed, and heck – why not a few milk crates, kitchen chairs, or even a queen size bed. In a world where the equivalent is crappier, plastic-ier, and expensive-ier, how can you look at his stuff and not want it at least a little?


This stumped me for a minute or two – I knew I had seen that it was possible to attach multiple images to an email message, but it wasn’t obvious once I had gotten the new iPhone 3.0 OS installed. Here’s a quick refresher for you if you are wondering too…

Go to a gallery on your iPhone. Click on the rectangle (with an arrow shooting out of it) in the lower left corner of the screen:

You will now be in select mode, and you can scroll throughout this entire gallery and select whichever images you would like to copy:

Now that you have some images selected, simply press the copy button at the bottom of the screen, and Voila! they’re in memory:

Go to your mail application, activate your cursor in the email body, and again press your finger down on the cursor until you see the magnifying glass. Let go, and the black copy/paste bar should appear. Press the paste button, and there you have it. You should see all of the images that you selected appear in the email.

Note that you can also choose the “share” button, instead of the copy button after you’ve selected your images from the gallery. Be aware that depending on which approach you use, final image sizes will vary (i.e. copy/pasting will allow you to send the full resolution image, while choosing the “share” option to send the image to mail will cause it to be shrunk down to a more suitable “web” size). Something to be aware of if you need one or the other.

Sent from my iPhone


June 20th, 2009 Permalink

Simple but beautiful new app from Apple: Voice Memos

Sent from my iPhone

Against the loving wishes of the gestalt AT&T, there have been some enterprising young folk who have figured out how to enable tethering on the iPhone. In the U.S. Now.

Of course, realizing immediately it was foolish to not have computer tethering available just because I was using a crap mobile carrier, I decided to give this highly immoral iPhone mod a whirl. I must say, it’s surprisingly fast. Clearly reports of safari page rendering times on iPhone being bottlenecked by the phone’s processor – and not the 3g network – are spot on. In a pinch, I could use tethering and ALMOST not notice the speed. That’s saying a lot, since I consistently get ~7Mbps download speeds at home.

Please note: There is a simple way to do this, and a less simple way to do it. I’m linking to the simple way, mainly because *it’s simple*, but also because it’s how I did it, and I had no problems using this method.

DISCLAIMER: YMMV. AT&T may hunt you down and cut off your fingers or rip out your tongue. You might be charged $7,633.27 in data charges. You may void your warranty. AT&T may void your life. You might fill your void with some sweet out-of-wireless-range-tethering-goodness. In other words, PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Go to this address (on your iPhone’s Mobile Safari browser):

Scroll down to the spot shown in the screenshot below, then click on “download”.

Then scroll to the bottom of the list and select “USA”:

Choose your carrier:

Click install:

You will get a warning that the certificate is unsigned; that’s ok, click “install now”:

Now go to Settings > General > Network > Tethering:

(Note that you’ll probably see a warning that says something to the tune of “contact AT&T to enable tethering on your account”. Just dismiss the warning and click on tethering again. This should show you the tethering configuration screen):

Now for the fun part: setting up your Mac/PC to connect via bluetooth. Alternatively, you can plug in your USB cable and share the connection that way. Setting up the iPhone to connect via Bluetooth on the Mac is still a bit sketchy. I had to choose “Any Device” instead of the “Mobile Phone” option when choosing a device type. It seems that this process requires a few attempts before everything connects, so let patience and persistence be your friend. :)

Once you’ve got your connection set up, you should be able to turn wi-fi off (on your laptop/computer) and rock and roll with your newly tethered connection.

There are a few more steps to getting bluetooth set up, but they’re pretty intuitive, and I’m typing this on my iPhone. Let me know in the comments if you have any issues and I’ll try to follow up with any help I can offer.

Happy tethering, you rebel!


I was looking for a way to show only hidden files (files with names preceded by a period) when I use the ls command, and I came across the solution today. Of course, we all know how to show hidden files like this:


“ls -a” or
“ls -all”

BUT WAIT! Can’t we show ONLY hidden files? Well, my friend, if that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ve come to the right place. Let me show you how:


ls -ld .??*

Yep, it appears that it’s really that simple. Hope this helps someone else who’s needing to find two simple hidden files in a folder with over 1,900 high quality digital images of a candy factory. Or something like that.

For those of you who were wondering why Apple chose PNG’s as the screen capture format, you’re not alone. I’ve thought about it quite a bit, and I think the reasoning is a quality/size issue. I suspect that Apple decided on PNG format for their screen captures because:

A) The format employs a lossless compression algorithm meaning your images will not have compression artifacts
B) Due to the compression algorithm employed, the filesize is quite small for images and graphics
C) The DEFLATE image compression scheme employed is non-patented, thus creating a good, cheap solution that is better than the patented LZW data compression scheme, and
D) PNG supports alpha transparency, and is thus used for many of the OS’s key transparency features for AQUA, Apple’s GUI

“Ok, but how do I change the default PNG format to JPEG in Screen Capture” you ask? Well, look no further. Here is how you do it, step by step. (It’s really simple).

First of all, fire up Terminal, Apple’s Built-in Command Line interface application. You can find this in: /Applications/Utilities/Terminal. Once it is started up, copy and paste ONE OF THE LINES BELOW.


defaults write type pdf
defaults write type png
defaults write type jpg
defaults write type tif

As you can see, you can choose between multiple formats, including PDF, PNG, JPG, and TIF. If you prefer, you can use JPEG instead of JPG, and likewise TIFF instead of TIF. Feel free to tinker with it. I have Leopard installed, and this worked perfectly the minute I pasted this into Terminal. I have read that you may need to restart for the changes to take effect, specifically in Apple’s Tiger OS. However, this was not necessary in my case.

***ANOTHER QUICK NOTE: If you are having issues getting this to stick, AND you are getting a prompt in Terminal saying “PERMISSION DENIED”, then you may need to use SU (SuperUser), or SUDO if you have not created a Root Password and enabled Root Access. Here is the code you will need to use if you encounter a problem related to permissions:


sudo defaults write type pdf
sudo defaults write type png
sudo defaults write type jpg
sudo defaults write type tif

Good luck!