Tweed is our new iPad app that gives you a great way to short-list and read articles posted to Twitter by people you follow or from Tweed’s list of Suggested Reads. It’s like an RSS Feed Reader, but with Twitter as the source of what to read. Using Twitter as the feed gives the user a richer reading experience by incorporating not just content published by people they follow, but also the links those people recommend or re-tweet. Even if the user doesn’t have a Twitter account, Tweed gives them access to curated feeds across a range of news and opinion topics.
With Tweed you can scroll through a list of links, tap or flick an article on to your short-list and the page begins loading as you continue to look for interesting things to read. When you’re ready, tap on the page in the short-list and it springs up to read in your choice of full-content or text-only viewing modes. You can read it now, or later through the built-in Saved for Later feature or using Instapaper. You’ll never forget an article again with Tweed’s history of all links that were short-listed, read or saved for later. And if you run out of things to read, there’s our list of Suggested Reads with the ability to follow new people you discover through Tweed.
Tweed is available now on the App Store and is currently on sale at just $2.99USD (normally $4.99USD).
We’re half way through March and so far:
- The new Lithium for iOS app has been launched.
- Lithium 5.0.12 has been released with bug fixes and iOS app compatibility
- Xsnmp is out of beta and has had it’s first production and bug-fix release
- We launched Instavie.ws, a location-based Instagram photo viewing site
- James has posted an essay on the Post Peripheral Control elements of the iPad Post-PC Era
TL;DR Version: IT requirements are rapidly changing, especially in the Mac IT space. I don’t think the IT Department is going away. IT professionals do need to embrace the shift from being the only people who can configure something to being the people who are the best at knowing what to use and how to integrate it. Mac IT people need to realized the next big thing in IT alone is not going to come from Apple.
I agree that the traditional role of the IT department is changing and some strongholds such as desktop support is becoming obsolete. The driving forces are cloud-based, Software-as-a-Service applications and the low cost ubiquity of notebooks and tablets. I doubt though that this amounts to the end of the “IT Department”, in house or contracted out. That doesn’t gel with the cyclical nature of technology use in business nor does it account for the growing need for organizations of all types to leverage technology as a differentiating factor.
Round and round we have gone with centralized and decentralization, outsource, insource and crowdsource. Hosted, data centres, ons-ite, shared and dedicated servers. All have seen ebs and flows in popularity and most have had resurgences and reinvention rather than terminal acquiescence. Computers are becoming easier to use, Mac or Windows, iOS or android, it is absolutely easier to use, integrate and collaborate using these off the shelf without the need for an opaque nerd quorum that you think of as the “IT department”. No doubt this will continue to a point where as DHH envisions there will be no need for a dedicated IT department to provide the same services you enjoy today: email, calendars, file servers, help desk system, collaboration tools, etc, etc.
That’s progress and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Today there is a dedicated IT department because out of the box your Windows machine aint that useful or safe, and the application you use to do your job is a product bought by your employer that is hosted locally and the setup and maintenance of it is understood by few. The prevalence of Macs and iOS devices in the work place, ready-to-go software as a service applications and incremental improvements in usability on all platforms means we can rely less on this IT Department and do it ourselves whether we are part of a small, medium or large company or starting out as a new business. What is difficult today should be easy tomorrow; otherwise we are doing it wrong.
Now imagine if we dismissed our IT Department or consultants completely on the heels of easy to use computers and ready to roll hosted apps. What becomes of technology as a competitive advantage when we are all using the same handful of readily available SaaS tools on our out of the box Mac or PC. I use a bunch of these today to give my business the edge, but that edge blunts to a liability when its what everyone else is doing. This is where the notion that there is an End to the IT Department comes unstuck.
All businesses and competitive organizations need to leverage technology to distinguish their offering and make it more appealing; better, cheaper, faster, stronger. Without an IT department, you hand this advantage over to service providers and hope for the best. That what is best for the outsource company is also best for you — and all the other customers of the same service. For some businesses this will be fine and the reduced overhead quite welcome. I wager though that enough businesses will want to differentiate their offerings using the latest technologies in creative and unorthodox ways that will keep the notion of an IT department or consultancy alive and well.
There is however some writing on the wall. Three years ago I took a full time job with a telco. I was the weird uber nerd because I brought with me my own MacBook Pro and iPhone to a Redmond-blooded Windows and Blackberry shop. I never had a company notebook or phone and subsequently only saw the IT department when my Windows domain password expired before I could change it. When I left this job a month ago, employee-owned iPhones were common and a handful had got themselves a Mac that they used at work. What was the height of geekiness was becoming more common. And the question shifted from “why do you bring your own computer?” to “what Mac should I get?” and “is now a good time to buy an iPhone/iPad?”
Back to that writing on the wall. It’s been there for a while. You’ve walked past it countless times. In fact, it’s done a better job of staring you down than you have at heeding it’s warning. The IT game is changing in many ways and some of the biggest changes are happening in the Apple business, enterprise and education space. Mac Admins now more than ever really need to stop, take note of the messages that Apple is sending you and make sure you adjust, stay relevant and stay employed. Likewise for companies that provide products and services to IT departments, as my company does, there has never been more of a need to adapt to changes in the needs of your customers. The GFC didn’t scare me nearly as much as the cancellation of the Xserve did.
But it’s not all doom and gloom: No one will miss desktop support, right?
Complex, dedicated server infrastructure is going to become less common. Desktop support will become a distant memory. Your employer or customers will rely on you less to assemble boxes that allow them to get their job done. All this is going to come ready to go, out of the box or available in a cloud using an app downloaded in one click from a store. So, IT Professionals, you must evolve and roll with this to retain your place as the awesome go-to guy. It’s becoming easier for your customers to do things for themselves, but you’ll always be able to help them do it better. Embrace the change from being the only guy who can setup a service and become the best at integrating the right apps and services into the customers workflow on the platforms that best suit their needs.
For Mac IT people this is particularly true and the changes are upon us now. I am one of you. My livelihood is currently wholly dependent on customers who use Apple products in an IT environment. But the next big thing, in the strict IT sense, won’t come from Apple. The cancellation of the Xserve redefined where Mac OS X Server fit into the market. Today Apple has announced that not only is Mac OS X Server going to be free, it’s part of the Mac OS X 10.7 operating system itself. What used to be an ordered ecosystem of users, you and the servers is now users, the server/services and you. That change in that order is significant, know your place.
Apple’s retreat or recapitulation in the IT and server space is, in the immediate term, more about getting out of an inconvenient area than meeting the market’s requirements. Undoubtedly they are, as always, skating to where the puck is going. But a world where Mac OS X Server alone is enough for business is a long, long skate away. The need for servers and network infrastructure will be around for a while yet but it will get increasingly simpler and consist of less physical devices. However, an organization’s need for something more, the next big thing and the competitive edge is infinite. That’s what will keep us IT professionals in a job for a long time to come — as long as we don’t put our heads in the sand.