Afrika

protagonize.jpgFor quite some time, I’ve dreamed of starting an historical fiction blog. I’ve toyed with this idea as I think it would be a fantastic experiment in social media. In my eyes, the blog would be written by a World War II Army soldier, and would be dated and conveyed as such.

This morning, I discovered Protagonize, a community-driven, collaborative fiction writing service that just recently launched. I’m late to the game, however, but better late than never.

Protagonize is one of those ideas that slaps you in the face and asks, Why didn’t I think of that?

The concept is community-driven, collaboration on works of fiction. As a social media kind of guy, anything having to do with “community-driven” or “collaboration” is going to end up on my radar (again, late, but it appeared). It’s just the way I roll.

In this case, Protagonize resounds with me because now I can write my story, but I can let you add to it, provide your own missing pieces, and, well, collaborate. I’ve begun a new story, Afrika, which begins by introducing Johan “Joey” Friedrichson, a German-American U.S. Army officer in World War II who is in deep cover in Rommel’s Afrika Corps trying to collect intelligence on Rommel’s plans. We are briefly told about his wife, Michelle, who has yet to have a picture painted. Why don’t you add that part? Or help us figure out what Joey’s plans are next? The story is wide open.

Age of Exploration 500 Years Later

In 1519, an explorer by the name of Ferdinand Magellan began a journey that would be the first of it’s kind. He would lead an expedition that would circle the globe for the first time. It would cost him his Portuguese citizenship, 219 crew members, 4 ships and even his own life. In the process, his expedition would sail through the southern tip of South America, Guam, the Philippines and throughout the Far East. It would be the first trip of its kind.

In 1804, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark embarked on horseback from the small port town of St. Louis and headed west to explore the great unknown chunk of land gained from Napoleonic France in the controversial “Louisiana Purchase”. The Louisiana Purchase forgave millions of dollars in French debt as well as provided the critical port city of New Orleans to the United States. However, the territory came with millions of acres of unexplored land.

Notably, after two years of exploration along the Missouri River basin and eventually finding the Pacific Ocean, they returned bringing information and intelligence about the Natives they met and territory they explored. Further exploration would happen in subsequent years cementing the western territories as part of U.S. culture and history.

One hundred-fifty years later, in 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced to Congress that he wanted the U.S. to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade, an ambitious goal that was itself controversial. As history tells us, Neil Armstrong became the first man to lay foot on the moon on July 16, 1969 stating that, “This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”.

Amazingly, we continue to explore in our innovation. Obviously, I’m one of these geeks that gets into all the new tools and gadgets that some new entrepreneur comes up with but not everybody is. The other night, I spoke at Social Media Club DC and I compared today’s internet with the internet of 10 years ago. Ten years ago, realtime online communication carried a connotation of creepy stalker-like chats on AOL. Today, we have real time communication instantly in so many forms and on so many platforms that the lines blur.

And we don’t really think twice about it.

When I think about the explorers who have gone before us, I see that they explored and discovered and brought something back for the rest of us. Magellan told us about peoples and nations and geography that we did not know existed before. Lewis & Clark showed us just how big the United States really is. Armstrong brought space, the final frontier, to us. Everyone of these explorers added something back to society through their discoveries.

Then they all came back (Well, except Magellan who died en route to coming back). Consolidation took place.

Today we are in another innovative age. I’m proud of my friend (disclaimer: he’s also done contract work for b5media) Keith Casey. When I met him several years ago, he was a die hard developer. He mocked me for using Twitter and now uses it religiously. Today, he is the CTO for WhyGoSolo an upstart company that suddenly has the eyes of the world on them. I feel like I watched somebody grow up in front of me (Keith, no offense, man. You were grown up already)

At this point, I’m thinking some consolidation takes place. Sure there’s the economic consolidation (recession) that people like to talk to. But I think I see consolidation being more of a maturation of what we have. “Now the Moon has been walked on, let’s build a Shuttle and put satellites up there.”

At least that’s me.

The Problem Microsoft Created: Mac Office 2008

msofficemac.pngAbout a year and a half ago, I made the switch to Mac and I have not looked back. To this day, I feel confused when I go into Windows (XP or Vista) even though I used to support XP for Northrop Grumman.

When I made the switch, I was very much used to Office 2003 (I was coming from a Windows world!) so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Mac Office 2004 was included on my new Macbook Pro. I used the 30 day free trial and then bought a full license. However, I got frustrated after a bit by the sluggishness and the prone nature of Office 2004 to crash.

For those of you following along at home, this was because Office 2004 was never redone for Intel processors (or as we in Intel Mac world like to say, there was no Universal binary). It was built for the old PowerPC architecture and so the underlying code was not optimized for zippier, more threaded architecture. Yes, I know I’m getting geeky here.

So anyway, I went out and bought iWork ’06. I switched to native Apple apps all around. Instead of Entourage (Outlook for you Window users!) for calendaring, contact management and Email – I switched to Mail.app, Address Book, and iCal. Instead of Microsoft Word, I used Pages. Instead of Powerpoint, I used KEynote. The only thing I was missing was an Excel replacement – so I kept Office Mac 2004 around. In fact, at that point, I would have still bought Microsoft Office simply because I needed Excel.

That all changed in iWork ’08. Numbers was added giving me a full featured spreadsheet. Keynote got better. Pages rocked. There was no reason to use Microsoft Office anymore. So I didn’t. I uninstalled (Read: I just dragged it to the trash can. Forget about the Add/Remove programs nonsense).

Now the difference between iWork and MS Office is minimal for most users. It’s not a lightweight poser. The apps are full featured and is compatible with MS Office. Office probably still offers additional perks that iWork doesn’t have. It’s always had way more features than anybody else.

Now, Microsoft Office 2008 for Mac is out and it really does look good. The problem is there is no free demo. Since I bought Office 2004, I am eligible for the upgrade price of $239.95.

Here’s the problem. iWork ’08 costs $79. I own iWork ’08. For me, buying it was a no-brainer. But assume for a moment that I did not own it. I could try it out. Apple offers a 30 day free trial of iWork ’08. Microsoft trial of Microsoft Office 2008. Nah, sucka!

Which is odd.

Because Microsoft still offers a free trial of Office 2007 for Windows, it does not seem to be decision of corporate intent. It just seems that the Mactopia people are tone deaf.

If the MBU people at Microsoft were smart, they would recognize that NOT offering a 30-60 day trial of their product is tantamount to Product suicide. Hey, your main competitor is giving their product away for 30 days and the total cost of ownership is $79. Microsoft Office is way more expensive and, let’s face it, more Mac users are inclined to use Apple products than Microsoft so they should be doing whatever they can to get crossover customers.