The Macalope Weekly: FUD. It's what's for dinner

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[Editors’ Note: Each week the Macalope skewers the worst of the week’s coverage of Apple and other technology companies. In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

Apple cannot confirm or deny that it hired a security expert, but the Macalope hopes it’s true. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s parents apparently never told the company that if you don’t have anything nice to say (or sell) then you shouldn’t say (or sell) anything at all. And RIM’s come up with a killer plan to save the BlackBerry. The only question is who it’s going to kill.

Eat your vegetables!

Apple quietly hired security expert David Rice this week. Of course, the only ways to hire someone who used to work at the NSA are “quietly” or “noisily killing everyone who might know.” Quietly was probably a good choice on Apple’s part.

This is a move the Macalope’s hoped Apple would take for years. He’s never been impressed with the company’s sometimes unserious approach to security.

Every time the Macalope brings up security, someone in the comments goes off about the inherent security superiority of OS X because Unix doodily doody doo-doo and the fact that Apple showed a 5-slide deck about security at WWDC last year means it’s clearly on top of it and shut up, shut up, SHUT UP. Admittedly, the Macalope’s no security expert. That’s why he relies on the opinions of people who know what they’re talking about. Like his pal Rich Mogull.

Over at TidBITS this week, Rich has a terrific look at Apple and Microsoft’s position on security over the last 10 years. Like the horny one, Mogull hopes Rice’s hiring is a sign that Apple’s found religion on security (which the Macalope understands involves special underwear, animal sacrifice, and a monkey).

Recent moves by Apple, especially the hiring of prominent security experts like David Rice (the author of Geekonomics), and Window Snyder (former head of security for Mozilla), combined with product updates, indicate that Apple may be quietly, yet significantly, improving their security capabilities.

While the Macalope wants to see Apple protect its users, he doesn’t buy the doomsday scenarios either. But that doesn’t mean the company shouldn’t prepare for the worst. Mogull explains the real threat:

The real issue isn’t Mac vs. Windows, but Mac and Windows 7 vs. Windows XP. Once attackers face two hardened platforms, instead of two hardened platforms and a diamond-filled defenseless baby slug, that’s when market share starts to really matter.

Who knew we might miss XP when it’s gone? Well, other than from the butt-of-our-jokes angle.

OK, enough vegetables.


Who likes red meat?!

After years of struggling to bring tablets to the masses, it finally looks like our friends over at Microsoft have come up with their iPad killer: a PowerPoint deck! After all, FUD is their core competency.

One slide questions how an enterprise could secure corporate intellectual property and mitigate against lost and stolen iPads. Another slide, titled “What customers are telling us about the iPad,” dismisses the iPad as “poor for data creation” and as having “limited enterprise manageability, security, hardware and support”.

Microsoft’s solution, on the other hand, was rated high by people who wanted to use a mouse with their tablet, enjoy the time the boot-up cycle affords them to get a cup of coffee or take up macramé, and those who are simply filled with self-loathing.

It then suggests a number of points that could be used as a plan of action for approaching enterprise clients that are not already committed to the iPad, then strategies for approaching those that are.

“The first step is to latch onto their leg and start crying. And, whatever you do, don’t let go no matter how hard they shake.”

Apparently the company has finally started noticing Apple sitting in the cafeteria eating out of a brown paper bag with “Microsoft” written on it with an El Marko by Microsoft’s mom.

The company saw some of the PC sales volume being replaced with tablets and sometimes ultraportables. As tablets were secondary devices that weren’t direct computers, they had created a “little bit of a drag” on the market, the company said.

Oh. Really. “Tablets.” Wonder who sells these so-called “tablets”? Probably lots of companies in equal proportions.

You have to feel a little sorry for Microsoft. They’ve tried several times in the last 10 years to score a basket with different tablet strategies. Then Apple walks in and sinks a behind-the-back shot from down court. That’s gotta hurt.

No à la carte orders

InfoWorld’s Galen Gruman reports that Microsoft isn’t the only one seemingly struggling with the tablet thing.

Where the PlayBook differs from every other tablet, real or announced, is that it must be tethered to a BlackBerry (via Bluetooth) to access secured services such as email and VPN access that a business would make available via BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES).

Brilliant. The Macalope sees no way this “enterprise customers must buy two devices” plan could possibly fail.

RIM’s plan also is meant to tempt companies to (re)standardize on BlackBerrys, given that BES can’t manage other devices; it’s a ham-fisted approach to try to reverse the BlackBerry exodus now occuring in business.

Yes. When your girlfriend is leaving you because this guy she met is more dynamic, gives her more freedom to be herself and, frankly, is just better looking, it’s always a good idea to turn into a control freak. That’ll get her back!

The Macalope wonders if anyone at RIM told Deutsche Bank about this plan.

International financial firm Deutsche Bank should be opting for the iPhone over its previous smartphone of choice, the BlackBerry, says an analyst with the company’s Equity Research group, Chris Whitmore.

Well, gosh, that’s sure going to be awkward when they go to deploy the PlayBook!

Like the Macalope, Gruman wonders if RIM’s crazy like a fox or just plain crazy like a freakin’ crazy person.

My conversations with RIM execs leads me to believe that the real impetus behind the PlayBook strategy was to bolster the BlackBerry in business while having a product that would fly in the consumer market. But those same conversations gave me little sense that RIM has thought through what it takes to accomplish this goal in either market.

Really? Gosh, their executives sound so on top of it in their interviews.

He isn’t making any sense at all. Quite literally, we don’t know what Mike is talking about right now.

No, the Macalope’s never going to stop quoting that interview because it’s just too funny.

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