Politics

When Hoedads Walked the Earth

When Hoedads Walked the Earth

I get the quarterly magazine of University of Oregon alumni, Oregon Quarterly. In this month’s issue is a piece about a group I used to follow with interest, a tree planting collective called The Hoedads (named after the hoe like tool used to dig a hole and plant a seedling).

I used to run into groups of Hoedads both in rock climbing circles and at various “hippy” restaurants in Eugene. I always admired this group for putting their money where their political mouths were. Most of us complained about our lot in life but did little about it. These folks took the bull by the horns and did something good and it worked for a long time and did good.

The images are wonderful and they bring back memories of Eugene, Oregon in the ’70s and ’80s.

World War II: Internment of Japanese Americans

World War II: Internment of Japanese Americans

Alan Taylor continues his series at the Atlantic’s In Focus on World War II in Photos.

This impressive collection includes a few images from Ansel Adams who was doing commercial photography for the State of California and the US government at the time.

The internment of Japanese Americans remains one of the most embarrassing and stupid ideas in US history, one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s mistakes.

Hardware software disintegration

HP’s webOS Reportedly Runs Significantly Faster on iPad 2 Than on TouchPad

It’s old news that HP has decided to sell off its computer business. The fact that the tablet and smartphone OS that Palm had in the works that HP bought runs faster on an iPad (iOS) or even as a web application under Safari is significant. What’s even more significant to me is the reason for the sluggishness:

The report notes that the TouchPad hardware had essentially already been designed when HP acquired Palm last year, with the engineers tasked with getting webOS running on the existing design. The resulting handicap of outdated hardware reportedly crippled the webOS team’s ability to innovate for the tablet platform and ultimately led to the poor market reception.

This strikes me as a blunder of enormous proportions and this is the place where Apple has consistently done better than the competition: Macs are designed to run OS X and OS X is designed to run on Macs. iPhones and iPads (and other devices) are designed to run iOS and iOS is designed to run on these devices.

Tight integration between hardware and software is one of the many ingredients of Apple’s success. It seems a shame that webOS, what many have considered a decent operating system, is orphaned because HP didn’t built hardware specifically for it. Why they didn’t do that is no doubt all about internal politics.

Which leads me to this: Steve Jobs is certainly a genius when it comes to product innovation and marketing but what may be his most important attribute is his ability to cut through the politics and push through what needs to be pushed through to get well designed products shipped.