Contact me!

You have questions? I have answers! Email me by clicking here.

Become a fan!

Follow me on Facebook by clicking here.

Tweet @ me!

Follow me on Twitter by clicking here and clicking the follow button.

He's mad as heck!

And he's not going to take it anymore? See what has got Mike's goat (who knew he had a goat!?!?) and checkout his infamous rants by clicking the Read More link below.

Read more

Nothing to see here!

This little guy has absolutely nothing to do with this website. The webmaster just thought he looked cool.

The Art of Computing

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Tuesday, 01 June 2010

Your Hardware Selection Depends on “Their” Ecosystems

 “I found a cure for the plague of the 20th century, and now I've lost it! – Dr. Robert Campbell/Sean Connery, Medicine Man (1992) – Cinergi Pictur


Today, two things seem to define who you are…your significant other and your computing device.

One is (hopefully) permanent, the other changing.

Hint -- the device is the one that should change more frequently. 

You can (and probably do) have several devices.  They don’t seem to mind when you prefer one over the other or when another enters your life.  Try that in your personal relationship and it will go over like a lead balloon!

We came to that epiphany when our son just had to have one of those new tablets for school and other stuff.

That was the same line he used when he “needed”:

-  A new notebook

-  A new smartphone

-  A new netbook

None of the devices eliminated any of the others. 

Be Prepared

When our son heads for school, out with friends or goes anywhere, it looks like he’s packing for a three-day trip.  They all go into his backpack…just in case.

Our – his, yours, mine -- fascination/lust/commitment has very little to do with the device, rather what it allows us to do.

You can thank or blame the chip manufacturers (ARM, Intel, others) for helping companies cram their computer chips into more and more systems, devices, things.


Figure 2 - They’re Everywhere – The chip industry is working diligently to cram their processors into everything.  The best way to predict where we’ll see the next big advance is to see where they are focusing their development assistance efforts.  Soon we’ll be there. 


Making the right device decision isn’t as easy as Dr. Campbell’s jungle cure, “I gave Alka-Seltzer to a kid with a belly ache.”

Most of us don’t get real excited about the computers in cars, healthcare equipment or industrial systems.  But introduce a new computing/communications device to solid/rave reviews and people will fly half-way around the globe to stand in the cold for hours. 

They’ll buy it sight unseen because of what it is going to allow them, free them to do.

All of this excitement and fervor about reshaping computers overlooks the facts that computers – real computers – are the backbone of business, industry, government and yes…entertainment.

We’re feeling a bit like Dr. Crane, “Wait a minute. I don't understand.”

Computer sales remain strong and forecasts are very optimistic. First quarter PC shipments were up 8+% over the same period the year before. 

While we normally think of PCs in terms of desktops and laptops, industry analysts project that the growth will occur in all categories because organizations are beginning the long-awaited PC-replacement cycle. 


Figure 3 - In Every Form – You may only think of a desktop or notebook computer but today’s PCs come in an increasing array of shapes and forms.  Somewhere, there’s one (or more) options for all of your wants, needs.  Source -- IDC


Excitement Boost

The momentum could produce more than $100 billion in global sales over the next12 months. 

The versatile notebooks will experience a solid increase in unit volumes, but year-to-year revenue increases will be modest because of the growing popularity of low-cost netbooks. 


Figure 4 - When Performance Counts – Netbook, tablet, smartphone/book producers all optimistically say they will replace (kill) notebook systems.  The problem is, they forgot to ask us – the users.  People just keep buying newer, better, more powerful, less expensive notebook/laptop systems.


Notebooks/laptops have increased in power, performance, features and capabilities while coming down in weight and price.    

Notebooks/laptops are designed for the people who want to do it all – photo/video editing/enjoyment, music storage/play, iNet surfing, social site updates, research, write, analyze, communicate.


Figure 5 - On the Road – For the user who wants to do some major video post production; carry huge filing cabinets of documents, data; tap into their music library and keep their complete family photo/movie library with them, nothing equals the capabilities of the notebook/laptop computer.  There’s just something about having it all that can’t be replaced by any device.


Asus defined a new computer category – netbooks – about two years ago. Small, stripped-down portables, their key features were that they were cheap ($300 - $500), lightweight, good battery life, cheap. 

Coda Research projects by 2017 there will be over 100 million netbook users worldwide generating huge volumes traffic per month, Netbook satisfaction has been “mixed.” 

Most folks buy them for their mobility, even though 60 percent of the users never take them out of the house.  Then, they complain about the performance and lack of “real computer” functionality.

As Dr. Crane said when referring to the real buying decision, “closing your eyes won't make it disappear.”

Who are they kidding?  They bought it for the price !!!!


Some assert that netbooks will cannibalize notebook sales; but increasingly, folks are seeing them being bought as second or third systems--especially if you’re plopping on the couch.

Asus and Acer showed off some powerful netbooks at next week’s Netbook Summit -- --  that are still inexpensive (read cheap).   

In fact, muvee demonstrated their netbook version of Reveal 8 video production software on Asus netbooks.  In the preview, it was fast, looked good and the content was all ready to post to the Web which is great since it done on a netbook! 

The online aspect of computers is becoming more and more important.   By 2014, ABI analysts feel that the majority of netbooks and laptops will be sold with embedded 3G capabilities to contribute even more to our wireless data traffic (it’s horrendous right now!).

Of course, we all know that it was smartphones and Apple’s iPhone way back in 2008 that delivered the different way of staying in touch…surfing the Web…keeping from being lost…watching videos/movies…listening to music…oh heck, everything!

Actually, the smartphone was a long way from what you’d classify as a “computer.”

With over 500,000 applications and more than 5 million downloads, the iPhone quickly became the fast, easy solution when you’re away from your computer. 



Figure 6 - Phone Apps – It’s hard to believe that smartphone apps went from zero to hundreds of thousands in less than two years.  With every iPhone or other smartphone sold, people immediately go online to buy the 10-30 applications they just can’t seem to live without.  Everything is increasingly at your fingertips.


The product category has helped contribute to mobile data traffic – video, music, games, stuff -- but they have done little in the way of creating content. 

Now it is the tablet, iPad and all of its wannabes that will annihilate netbooks, take a big chunk out of notebooks and at times even hurt smartphone (iPhone) sales. 


Figure 7 – Yes, But –  When people murmur the word tablet system, the only thing they think they’ll see is an iPad.  There are tons of options out there and more coming every day.  Companies in the Pacific Basin are working round-the-clock to get their designs and begin producing their alternatives.  Have to admit, this model is much more attractive than Jobs!  Source -- Acer


One M+ WI-Fi and 3G iPads sold in only a couple of weeks. Not too shabby.  And that’s only in the U.S. 

If their suppliers could get touch screen production yields above miserable to slightly painful, more of the oversized iPod Touch-like units could be sold. 

The sale/download of iPad apps amazed even Steve. 

While we touch type, the ability to move icons, content, whatever around simply by moving our fingers and hands is awesome…just awesome!!

But creating content for us is really where the rubber meets the road. 

If you’re only going to text or send a few things here/there, the smartphone swish screen is O.K.  You know, quick notes, check/answer an email…fine

The flat keyboard feel of the iPhone/iPad/tablet reminds us of the painful pre-chiclet keyboards.  Typing was slow, laborious, awkward.  Didn’t like them then, don’t like ‘em now. 

The keyboard of many of the netbooks is small/cramped but O.K.  For writing, note taking, emails, send/receive documents/attachments the netbook works.

The keyboard of a real notebook/laptop is comfortable.  Plus, you can have the speed, power and storage capacity (500GB) to have all of your audio, photo, video, document, ppt, materials with you. 

Of course, our son says he also has that when he packs up his netbook, iPad, iPhone.  

Sure, for crying out loud!  

Go-along Storage

He’s also packing two 500GB USB HDs in that backpack…just in case.

Every one of his computing/communications devices is different. 

Every one has a different set of tools, applications.

Every one works beautifully in its individual walled garden.


Figure 8 - Garden Bound --  Application gardens can be beautiful things to behold.  Pick the applications that you just have to have, and life is good.  You can do “everything” with the device.  The only challenge comes when you want to move from one device to another, because no matter how much you try, you can’t do everything with just one device.  Most of us use three to four devices every day.  Moving from one walled garden to another isn’t fun, isn’t always easy.


People like our kid chose their devices not because of the strength, capabilities or performance of the hardware but on the solutions/applications built for the specific environment.

Moving content from one environment – at least for him – is a creative challenge, a game (the kid is not well!!). 

Watching the kids do so much with their devices, the wife has said she’s ready to make a bold move and enhance her computing, communications capabilities with a new something. 

She scoured the Web.  Spent evenings and weekends in stores.

About the time she’s ready to lay down our credit card, someone introduced something  new.


Figure 9 - Just Do It – In today’s device/applications-rich world, there’s no such thing as the right device/apps decision.  Just pick the one/ones that you like best and be happy with your decision.  Don’t worry, someone will tell you you’re wrong…get over it! 

Photo Source -- Cinergi Pictures


Married guys know what Connery meant when he exclaimed, “Woman, must everything be a full-scale debate with you? Just do it! “

They’re All Good

There’s no one right piece of hardware, one device.

As Otellini (Intel’s CEO) said, the proliferation of new devices doesn’t produce an either/or sale. 

Instead of taking sales from other portable devices, we see the new units expanding the total market.


Figure 10 - Healthy Choices – Every time a new device category is introduced or a new device family is introduced, someone says boy that’s going to kill XYZ.  New devices just seem to expand the total market because one unit leads to another, leads to another, leads to…  So it goes in the increasingly connected world.  Source -- IDC


Pick the applications you want and back your way into the walled garden.

If the solution doesn’t meet your needs/expectations, you’ll know the way out.

Go to the store and buy into someone else’s walled garden.

Hits: 2327

Attention Facebook users: Check out Michael Berman's Jocgeek fan page at, or follow him on Twitter @jocgeek.  You can also contact him via email at  Mike's blog can also be found on the Huffington Post website at