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Thursday, April 1, 2010

RAG unveils Mystic Sextant

Palo Alto, Calif., April 1 – The Reliable Analyst Group has unveiled a new system designed to model the software industry. Designed for use by software development managers and investors, the new system, dubbed the “Mystic Sextant,” is said to offer uniform standards for accurately assessing disparate technology vendors.

The heart of the Mystic Sextant is a six-dimensional hypersphere that graphs key performance indicators for technology companies using a variety of metrics, explained Buffy DeJour, principal analyst for RAG, who is also associate professor of n-space mathematics at CalTech and part-time Santa Monica lifeguard.

“The log-log axes on each of the six dimensions makes it super-duper-easy for buyers and investors to compare each of the technology offerings in a specific market segment,” she said. “Anyone can use the model, as long as you can visualize and mentally transform a Euclidean space in which 6-polytopes and 5-spheres are constructed. Like, who can’t do that? Totally!”

Long-range perspective, operational efficiency and commitment to purchasing RAG’s comprehensive consulting services are three of the Mystic Sextant axes, said DeJour. The others are the depth of the company’s net cash balance, percentage of budget devoted to research and development, and percentage of annual budget used to hire RAG analysts to author white papers and host Webcasts, she explained.

The Mystic Sextant system is both transparent and facilitates comparisons of competing technology and vendors, said J. Marcus Wellington-Smythe IV, senior design pattern expert at the Institute for Software Behavioral Studies, who helped formally prove the theoretical mathematical underpinnings of the model. “It’s foolproof!” he said.

When asked about the metrics based on a technology company’s commitment to buying RAG services, DeJour said, “The ‘RAG Spend’ axes are key to understanding the Mystic Sextant 5-sphere, which you might also know as a hypersphere in six dimensions. Quantifying how much a company is willing to spend with RAG demonstrates management’s long-range vision and their ability to execute on that vision. As if they could execute vision without our help. Like, seriously.”

DeJour is writing a book explaining the industry modeling system, “Mystic Sextants and Six-Dimensional Hyperspheres for Dummies.”

The biggest challenge facing RAG, said Wellington-Smythe, is finding the appropriate technology for disseminating the Mystic Sextant results to clients. “It’s not easy to accurately reproduce a 5-sphere in a PDF,” he sighed, “and current browser-based AJAX controls are sadly lacking.” The analyst firm hopes to have the problem solved shortly, said DeJour. “Totally!”

Mac developers embrace .NET with Visual Objective-C

Bellevue, Wash., April 1 – Declaring a “bright new day for our friends in Macintosh-Land,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer today unveiled Visual Studio 2010 for Mac OS X, expected to be available this summer.

Speaking to a full crowd at the Meydenbauer Center, Ballmer reminded the audience that Microsoft is one of the oldest and most competitive ISVs for Apple’s Macintosh platform. The company’s Excel spreadsheet software first appeared for the Mac in 1985, he bellowed, two full years before Microsoft released a Windows version. “We never stopped loving the Mac,” he shouted, waving an iPhone. “Every day, our Windows 7 dev team is inspired by the great work being done by the visionaries in Cupertino.”

Standing in front of a giant poster of the new Visual Studio for Mac OS X, his voice hoarse with emotion, Ballmer screamed, “Now it’s time to give something back!”

The centerpiece of Visual Studio for Mac OS X is Visual Objective-C, a native implementation of Apple’s preferred object-oriented programming language, which is used on both Mac OS X and the iPhone SDK. According to Ballmer, Visual Objective-C will also appear in Visual Studio 2010 SP1 for Windows. Applications written in the Smalltalk-inspired language will require only a simple recompile to run on both Mac and Windows 7 systems, he said.

Playing to the cheering developers attending the software launch, Ballmer then showed Visual Basic for Mac OS X, another component of the Visual Studio for Mac OS X suite. “You asked for it, you got it!” he shrieked, before being buried by an avalanche of rose petals and hotel room keys tossed by ISVs and industry analysts.

Ballmer said that the Visual Studio for Mac OS X suite (expected to ship by Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, coming to San Francisco June 8–12) is designed to woo developers from Apple’s Xcode. “I know you love your Xcode,” he roared, “but I promise you’ll love your Visual Studio for Mac even more!”

On-stage demonstrations at the event included Macintosh integration with Visual Studio Team System; using Visual Studio with Apple’s iPhone SDK to build a voice-recognition spreadsheet application for iPhone and iPad; and porting BioShock 2 from Windows to Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard.” Ballmer sheepishly apologized for the tool chain’s lack of support for versions of Mac OS X prior to 10.5 “Leopard,” saying, “We’re only human, okay?”

As he was leaving the stage, Ballmer turned back. “Oh, just one more thing,” he cried—and then showed off the company’s full .NET Framework 4.0 for Mac OS X, available for free download from the Microsoft website. “We love you, Apple!” he whooped, bringing the event to a triumphant close.