When I joined IBM in the 1980s, they tasked me with helping build what eventually became one of the very first CRM applications. Like that time, I had to work with MIS (now called IT), and the result was terrible. Instead of the app making things easier by automating many repetitive manual tasks, it required more labor, was incredibly annoying to use, and delivered what I thought I had asked for and MIS , showed a disconnect between.

This experience was far from unusual, because even though I could code, the people at MIS didn’t understand the business. They tended to make decisions in a vacuum, which undoubtedly made their jobs easier in terms of building apps, but made users’ jobs much harder because users had surprisingly little to do with the process.

Well, AI is about to change that by slowly turning users into programmers. Microsoft is leading the way with its efforts to add AI capabilities to Windows, Office and the Microsoft Store.

Let’s dive into how Microsoft AI will benefit collaboration and user experiences, and we’ll end with our product of the week: a new set of headphones from Dell’s Alienware unit that look like nothing you’ve ever seen.

bad developer joke

A Facebook post said something like, “Giving users the ability to work with AI to code will mean end users need to clarify what they want, so your jobs are safe. “

The implication was that users generally don’t know what they want, so giving them the ability to create directly with AI would end badly. However, both my experience and this joke highlight the underlying issue that programmers and users lack training in how to collaborate with each other.

Part of the underlying problem is that programmers generally have little interest in business operations, and operations staff have little interest in coding. Since neither side usually wants to learn the nitty-gritty of the other, this can lead to some disgruntled users and very frustrated programmers.

AI has the potential to overcome this problem, because as it progresses, it will naturally try to learn about the user and, over time, be able to provide a result closer to what the user needs. Will happen.

I say “should” because, in my experience, one of the problems often encountered when building an app is that the user hasn’t fully thought through what they want. It is only after looking at the draft app that they will suddenly realize that what they need is not something they got.

AI solves this problem by not having personality, so it doesn’t get irritated, angry or frustrated. It learns through repetition and is willing to iterate infinitely to meet unmet user needs.

But users and programmers will still need to develop competence with the tools. Otherwise, they will likely become frustrated with endless iterations that result from users not being able to fully articulate what they want, and specifically what they want. No want, in the new app.

windows 11 baseline

By placing Generative AI in Windows, Microsoft creates a forcing function trend where users will learn to work with Generative AI to achieve better results. They need to learn to fully articulate their needs in order to reduce the number of annoying iterations it takes for the AI ​​to understand those needs, and most importantly, it needs to develop the skills necessary to understand and communicate that to users. that what they want.

We’ve had some mixed results with this sort of thing. Boolean logic is what the Internet has used to refine searches. Those who learned Boolean logic found that they could get the results they wanted much more quickly than those who did not. Still, we’re not up to our necks in Boolean logic users on the web, showing that the weak link remains users who refuse to learn the skills needed to become more proficient.

However, the difference with AI is that AI can help bridge the gap by learning what makes a particular user unique and attempting to bridge the gap in knowledge and experience. Unlike Boolean logic, which is static, AI will evolve to become a more personalized interface for the user and substantially reduce the need for a unique AI communication skill set for the user.

Users who are in the effort to learn how to better work with AI will benefit, and with AI being in the operating system, they will get plenty of opportunities to practice. Still, I expect most of the communication heavy lifting will come from the AI, not the user, as shown in Microsoft’s Windows Copilot introduction video:

Microsoft is blending AI into the Windows 11 platform to make it easier to use, easier to find apps, easier for developers to offer those apps through the Windows Store, and faster in every aspect of the OS and user experience. Blending AI.

wrapping up

The move to aggressively place AI in all aspects of Windows will dramatically change the user experience over time. Just as we started with a command line interface, then moved to a graphical user interface (GUI), and are now moving to AI interfaces, each step should improve productivity, reduce user frustration, And should bring the development process closer to the respective apps. They should help.

We are at the beginning of the development of this technology, so expect growing pains as it matures. However, it marked an early significant departure from the traditional view of the technology, which forced users to acquire new skill sets in order to take advantage. We are now developing AI systems that will learn how to work with users and effectively flip this dynamic on its head, leading to far more interesting, less frustrating results than expected.

While there are plenty of concerns surrounding AI, for now, these moves from Microsoft represent little risk but promise significant improvements in productivity and user satisfaction.

tech product of the week

Alienware Tri-Mode Wireless Gaming Headset AW920H – Lunar Light

Alienware products don’t come cheap, so when Dell sent me a set of its AW920H headphones, priced at a very reasonable $179.99 for tri-mode wireless headphones (I’ve found them for as low as $159), I was interested. That’s because most headphones I find in this class are priced in the $250+ range.

These are Dolby Atmos earphones, so you get virtual surround sound, they have up to 55 hours of battery life that can charge in 15 minutes for up to 6 hours using a USB-C fast charger, and they have Dell’s Alienware Aurora The analog ID is the R13 gaming desktop. They come with a mini-phone cable, so you can use them on an airplane or if you have a device that doesn’t support Bluetooth.

Alienware Tri-Mode Wireless Gaming Headset AW920H - Lunar Light

The Alienware Tri-Mode Wireless Gaming Headset AW920H supports Dolby Atmos and provides up to 55 hours of playtime on a full charge. (Image credit: Dell)

One cool feature is that if you have an Alienware PC or laptop, they’ll sync the colors of the LEDs on the headset with the LEDs on your PC. Like most headphones in this price range, they have active AI noise canceling on both inbound sound and the microphone (I use Discord when I can, and it’s annoying when game sound is bleeding into the voice stream) It is possible).

I still haven’t found a way to successfully play the game on a plane. There’s often not enough bandwidth on plane Wi-Fi, and there isn’t enough space on a small plane table for a gaming PC, let alone a gaming PC and mouse – and most of the games I play do so properly with a gaming controller. doesn’t work However, Dell showed off a gaming controller prototype at CES that may finally fix that.

The Dell Alienware Tri-Mode AW920H headphones are a bargain for what they do, and while they’re primarily focused on gaming, they should be fine for movies and music as well, and they’re my product of the week.

Puppy Linux is a niche computing solution that reflects the flexibility and usefulness of open-source tools and the staying power of the Linux operating system.

Usually in this column, I focus on new versions of Linux distros that introduce new tricks and features. But the current version of Puppy Linux, FossaPup64 version 9.5, is not a new release. It replaced the Precise Puppy version in 2020.

FossaPup64 provides a safe and secure Linux platform optimized for single-user settings. It is a modular distribution, which very few Linux distros offer. You can seamlessly swap out newer versions of the Linux kernel, firmware, and apps to keep the installation fresh. Its lightweight design packs full functionality, no matter how many ways you choose to use it.

One of the main features of Puppy Linux is its ability to provide a reliable and fast portable computing platform. Pop Puppy Linux into any computer’s USB drive to boot straight into your last computing session. Or do a thrifty install on your desktop or laptop computer to boot from a USB stick or CD and save settings and data without disturbing the existing operating system.

FossaPup loads into the computer’s RAM. It runs Linux and apps much faster than the old computer could otherwise handle. When you turn off the computer and remove the USB stick, no trace of your computing session is left behind.

This Pocket Linux approach is a great way to revive an older computer that no longer runs the updated Microsoft Windows. It also empowers newer, more powerful computers to improve their operating speed. Running in RAM is fast on any computer.

longevity matters

Barry Kauler, the founder of the Puppy Linux project, introduced the original Puppy Linux distro in July 2003. He developed the concept into various experimental variants. A few years ago, Kauler moved out of the Puppy Linux development role to release other Linux systems. In the meantime, the Puppy Linux community keeps Puppy Linux playful and barking.

I stumbled upon Puppy Linux in 2006 when I started my crush on using Linux. For years, I relied heavily on its pocket computing power. It remains an invaluable backup tool and keeps many older computers up and running.

A recent encounter with an ailing computer—which I mention below—reminded me that well-designed OSes don’t always have to be upgraded two or three times a year. Many Linux distros only upgrade infrequently.

I’ve used various versions of the mainline Puppy Linux distro over the years. Its ability to boot from a 2GB USB disk was a great solution for dragging my heavy laptop around or using someone else’s non-Linux computer.

what’s inside

Today, installing FossaPup Linux on a large-capacity USB stick is child’s play. It remains my primary go-to Linux OS whenever I need a quick fix to revive an ailing PC or perform tasks elsewhere on site.

Puppy Linux has a different look and feel. Several versions—called puplets—remain in circulation. They cater to different user and hardware needs.

Puppy Linux uses a combination of JWM (Joe’s Window Manager) and ROX-Filer to create a uniquely fast and easy-to-use desktop environment, making FossaPup – and other Puppy Linux variants – one of the most lightweight Linux OS out there.

Puppy Linus FossaPup Desktop

Puppy Linux uses a unique combination of JWM and Rox-Filer to create a powerful, lightweight Linux desktop.

FossaPup64 is built using the Ubuntu focal fossa (64-bit) package. This gives it binary compatibility with Ubuntu and access to the Ubuntu focal Fossa repository.

FossaPup is not an unofficial derivative of the Ubuntu software family. Like other Puppy projects, FossaPup is completely built from the ground up with an in-house distro construction tool called Woof-CE. It bears no resemblance to the traditional Ubuntu skin.

remedy for dead hardware

A recent panic call from a neighbor reminded me why I prefer Puppy Linux, despite the vast majority of Linux distros I use.

A work-at-home neighbor, which means no tech support, suffered a seriously bad computer just hours before a work project.

Yes, it was Windows! But in fairness, sometimes the same thing happens with Linux.

The computer wouldn’t boot once it was on, and all the digital content my neighbor desperately needed was locked inside an inaccessible hard drive.

I caught my FossaPuppy on a stick and hooked it up to the sick computer. After a while, Good Ol’ Puppy Linux boots into the computer’s RAM.

An icon for the Windows partition on the hard drive popped up on the desktop. After a few clicks, I found the important files and saved them to another USB stick for safekeeping.

Puppy Linux setup setup tool GUI

FossaPup’s separate setup tools offer a number of personalization options with a graphical user interface (GUI).

a new linux believer

My now enthusiastic neighbor was amazed that he could stick to completing the project using my Fossapup OS on his “broken” computer. He could still work on PNG images, Microsoft Word documents, and Excel spreadsheets that I retrieved from my hard drive.

Puppy Linux Apps let it get the job done. Before this machine encounter, my neighbor didn’t know what Linux was. Using the built-in Puppy remastering tool, I cloned a copy for that. A few days later, I used another Linux boot repair tool to fix the corrupted files on his Windows computer.

Yes, you guessed it. My neighbor is still using FossaPup Linux and is “transitioning” from Windows.

Why use FossaPup on a stick?

Puppy Linux isn’t the only Linux-on-a-stick distro out there. Some distro developers now let you install the ISO file on a USB drive instead of a DVD to view the live session and start the installation.

Some distros have a complicated way of creating persistent memory partitions to save data. PhosApp goes further. It lets you save a particular module on a USB drive and even save multiple system setups.

FossaPup Linux is different because its persistent memory feature is better integrated and works more reliably. You can use this Puppy Linux version as a more than “live” session environment.

fosapp spread

Puppy’s code-building system maintains compatibility with the classic Puppy PET packages and Ubuntu repos. The Quickpat interface installs applications and updates the system to a lesser extent.

FossaPup Linux comes with Ubuntu and the in-house-built Puppy Linux applications.

FosaPup Linux comes with a mix of Ubuntu and in-house-built Puppy Linux applications.

Puppy distros lack user logins. Even if you have another OS installed on the hard drive, all Puppy Linux distros bypass the startup routine installed on the hard drive. But you can encrypt important content files with password access.

The advantage – even if you have to “pocket protect” the USB drive – is the ability to bring your personal desktop and apps to any computer you encounter. When you exit Puppy Linux, the OS and all your files go back to your pocket, closed desk drawer, or wherever.

ground level

FossaPup is worth a try. It’s a fun way to learn about Linux. Plus, it offers an interesting alternative to the traditional Linux OS.

The Puppy Linux line has several in-house applications such as Pburn, PuppyFone, Find’n’Run, Take a Gif, UExtract, Packit, dunst-config, pycom-gtk, Transtray, and Junkie Bluetooth. Puppy Package Manager (PPM) provides a mix of Puppy-specific .pet files and Ubuntu focal-fossa packages.

Besides the USB method, you can install this distro on a hard drive in two ways. Puppy Universal Installer offers to perform a full install that uses an entire hard drive partition. The second is a thrifty install, which installs only several core Puppy files with the 4FS file extension.

With thrifty installations, Puppy automatically saves all changes to the Puppy save file during a computing session and when you shut down the OS. A handy feature lets you set up multiple save files based on your needs, so you can load different Puppy Linux configurations in one place instead of maintaining different Puppy sticks.

suggest a review

Have a Linux software application or distro you’d like to recommend for review? Something you love or want to know?

Email me your thoughts and I’ll consider them for future columns.

And use the reader comments feature below to provide your input!

Apple’s 2022 Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday revealed the latest versions of the company’s own mobile and desktop operating systems, in kickoff of its annual week-long virtual high-tech show targeting developers and the Apple consumer experience .

The event showcased Apple’s major software updates to iOS 16, as well as updates to iPadOS, macOS for the company’s computers, and watchOS 9 for the Apple Watch.

Presentations highlighted the new MacBook Air with a 13.6-inch screen and Liquid Retina Display, as well as a new 13-inch MacBook Pro – both with enhancements powered by the new M2 Apple silicon chip.

This year’s conference was Apple’s first major opportunity to introduce some of its new product lines based on its processor designs.

Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed during his opening remarks that these platforms and the products they run provide amazing experiences for users and provide developers with incredible opportunities to create, build and develop apps that will change the world. to use their superpowers to cooperate. ,

“WWDC is designed to give this community what they need to do their best work. We love to support our developers beyond WWDC with extensive world-class support,” Cook said during the virtual keynote. said during

One particularly impressive announcement revealed the ability to use an iPhone as a webcam. A clip-on attachment will let users secure an iPhone to the top of a computer screen and there will be instant integration for FaceTime and other videoconferencing apps via the Continuity camera features.

macOS Ventura Continuity Camera Lets iPhone Act As Webcam

Continuity Camera uses an iPhone as a webcam on a Mac for videoconferencing. (image credit: Apple)

Developing developer community

Cook summarized Apple’s efforts to grow the developer community. This support for developers extends to several important initiatives.

One is the recently opened Developer Center across from Apple Park where developers can connect with Apple engineers and reach their global community. Another fall came with Apple’s first online tech talk for developers to learn more about new technologies and connect directly with Apple engineers in live sessions and one-on-one office hours.

“We are also committed to developing the next generation of developers, including through our efforts to reach underrepresented communities,” Cook said.

Apple’s Entrepreneur Camps include female, black and Latin founders and provide advice, inspiration and insight from Apple to developers from underrepresented communities.

The company started developer academies to teach students the fundamentals of code and other essential skills to find and create jobs in the app economy. These 17 coding centers are located around the world.

For example, last October Apple launched a racial equality and justice initiative in Detroit. In Saudi Arabia, Apple launched its first ever developer academy for women in February.

“We are pleased to say that we have expanded our developer community to over 34 million Apple developers,” Cook said. “Today we are going to advance our platform more than ever before for our developers and our users.”

macOS Extended Access

macOS Ventura, the latest version of the desktop operating system, takes the Mac experience to a whole new level with many integrated innovative features.

Stage Manager gives Mac users a new way to stay focused on the primary task while seamlessly switching between apps and windows.

Continuity Camera uses the iPhone as a webcam on the Mac to do things that weren’t possible before. Handoff comes to FaceTime, allowing users to initiate an iPhone or iPad call and pass it on to their Macs fluidly.

Mail and Messages gets new features that enhance the performance of apps. The Safari browser transitions into a passwordless future with Passkey.

“MacOS Ventura includes powerful features and new innovations that help make the Mac experience even better. New tools like Stage Manager make focusing on tasks and moving between apps and Windows easier and faster than ever before , and the Continuity Camera brings new videoconferencing features to any Mac, including Desk View, Studio Lite and more,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering.

New features in Messages, cutting-edge search technology in Mail, and an updated design for Spotlight give Ventura a lot to offer and enrich the many ways customers use their Macs, he said.

Integrating Apps and Windows

The Apple software initiative brings new ways of working across apps and opens windows with Stage Manager, Continuity Camera features, and shared Safari browser tabs.

Stage Manager automatically organizes open apps and windows so users can see everything at a glance. The current window is displayed prominently in the center. Other open windows appear on the left and are easily switchable between tasks.

macOS Ventura Stage Manager

New features like Stage Manager in macOS Ventura help users stay focused. (image credit: Apple)

Users can group windows together while working on specific tasks or projects that require separate apps. Stage Manager works in conjunction with other macOS windowing tools—including Mission Control and Space—and users can now easily access their desktop with a single click.

The Shared tab group enables friends, family, and coworkers to share their favorite sites in Safari. They can see what other tabs are watching live. Users can also create a list of bookmarks on the shared start page, and even start Message conversations or FaceTime calls from Safari.

Many more sharing features

Messages on Mac can now edit or undo a recently sent message, mark a message as unread, or even recover accidentally deleted messages. New collaboration features make working with others faster and easier. For example, a user sharing a share sheet or file via Messages with drag and drop can choose to share a copy or collaborate.

If the user selects Collaboration, everyone on the message thread is automatically added. Edits for the shared document appear at the top of the thread. Users can also join SharePlay sessions from their Macs from within Messages so they can chat and participate in synchronized experiences.

Don’t count the pictures out of the picture. The new features provide a more consistent experience across Apple devices. Users can now find images in their photo library, across the system, and on the web. They can also search their photos by location, people, scenes or objects, and Live Text lets them search by text inside images.

iCloud Shared Photo Library users can now create and share a separate photo library among up to six family members. They can choose to share all of their current photos from their personal libraries, or share based on a start date or the people in the photos.

To be more productive, users can now take actions from Spotlight, such as starting a timer, creating a new document, or running a shortcut. In addition, Spotlight now includes rich results for actors, movies, actors and TV shows, as well as businesses and sports.

m2 macbook

Apple introduced a completely redesigned MacBook Air and an updated 13-inch MacBook Pro, both powered by the new M2 chip that pushes the M1’s performance and capabilities even further.

The slim design of the MacBook Air packs a large 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display, 1080p FaceTime HD camera, four-speaker sound system, up to 18 hours of battery life, and MagSafe charging.

macbook air magsafe charging

The new MacBook Air features MagSafe for dedicated charging when users are plugged in. (image credit: Apple)

It is now available in four finishes – Silver, Space Grey, Midnight and Starlight. The M2 also comes with the 13-inch MacBook Pro, which offers better performance, up to 24GB of integrated memory, ProRes acceleration, and up to 20 hours of battery life.

“Only with Apple Silicon can you create such a thin and light notebook with a fanless design and this combination of performance and capabilities,” said Greg Joswiak, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing.

“The M2 debuts the second generation of Apple’s M-series chips and extends the features of the M1. With power efficiency, unified memory architecture, and custom technology, this new chip is compatible with Apple’s most popular Mac notebooks, the MacBook Air, and the MacBook Air. The 13-inch brings even more performance and capabilities to the MacBook Pro,” he said.

MacBook Air Ports Side View

Apple’s new MacBook Air features MagSafe charging, which keeps two Thunderbolt ports available for connecting a variety of accessories. (image credit: Apple)

The new MacBook Air features a 13.6-inch Liquid Retina display, which has been angled up and around the camera to make room for the menu bar. The result is a larger display with thinner borders, offering more screen real estate.

At 500 nits brightness, it’s 25 percent brighter than previous models. In addition, the new display now supports a billion colors for more vibrant photos and movie watching.

The new MacBook Air and the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro join the 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro and M1 Max to round out Apple’s laptop lineup.

MacBook Pro 13-inch M2

The M2 on the 13-inch MacBook Pro supports up to 24 GB of faster integrated memory and 100 Gb/s memory bandwidth for more efficient multitasking. (image credit: Apple)

Both new laptops will be available next month. Prices start at $1,199 for the MacBook Air and $1,299 for the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

watchOS 9

Apple also previewed watchOS 9, which brings new features and enhanced experiences to the wearable operating system. The Apple Watch will now have more watch faces to choose from with more complex complications that offer more detail and opportunities for personalization.

Apple Watch, watchOS 9

watchOS 9 brings new experiences and features, app updates, and creative ways to customize the Apple Watch. (image credit: Apple)

For example, the updated Workout app, advanced metrics, visualizations and training experiences inspired by high-performing athletes help users take their workouts to the next level.

watchOS 9 brings sleep stages to the Sleep app, and a new FDA-cleared AFib History feature provides deeper insight into a user’s condition. The new Medicines app makes it easy for users to manage, understand and track medicines easily and carefully.

This fall, watchOS 9 takes the Apple Watch experience to the next level with scientifically validated insights into fitness, sleep and heart health, said Jeff Williams, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, while allowing users to build their own Apple Watch. more creative ways to do it.” Officer.