Archive for the ‘Misc Tech’ Category


Enough is Enough

17 September, 2014
Melbourne,
Loren W

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When Apple sent me a review unit in the shape of an iPhone 1 in June 2007 it was to be 9 months before it was to be released here in Australia. Even getting the device was not easy, calling in a favor or three, the iPhone was a game changer, made extra special being one of the first in the world to have one, even rarer in Australia for the better part of a year. It was not till 2011 when the first real phablet hit the market the Samsung Note that I decided to ditch the iPhone series of phones, for this larger form factor, and never looked back.

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The Sony Xperia Z Ultra was released in 2013 carried on the Android phablet tradition well,

clip_image006with the best looking and largest Android phablet to date and thinnest at 65mm and with an amazing waterproof design, slick finish, with the ability to take video and pictures even underwater, which I did just that in the Cook Islands on a holiday there. The Sony Z Ultra suffered from some odd issues to date I do not know if they were OS or hardware and the phone’s camera had no flash. A bit of a drama but almost bearable.

Shipping with Android 4.2.2.

clip_image008I had one issue that I could not ignore. In 2014 with a boring UI .
Apple iOS was dated being 7 years old, and there was no phablet version and even Android’s UI is looking old as well.

Then along comes Windows Phone 8. Looking all new and fresh, with its tiles and thing, it was hard to resist.

With Sony about to bring out a new phablet to replace the Z Ultra, it was time to dump it mine, but for what, the Note 4 would not be out in time, so buying the Samsung Note 3 would be stupid, and there was no Apple phablet yet. Nokia released the Lumia 1520, and it was love at first sight, but I had to get one from China to satisfy my love affair, as again they were not out yet in Australia,

The Lumia 1520, is I still believe the best mobile phone hardware on the market today. The Camera is amazing and the weight and design once you have taken a bite of the phablet fruit, was a no brainer as well. There were 2 issues that made we have to dump it. Lack of apps. – something I can live with I had enough farting apps with the iPhone 1, 2, 3 to last me a life time, but everytime I wanted a new app, Windows was 99% of the time not on the list but Android and Apple were. This is even tolerable because there were compromises and work-abounds for most apps or doing without was ok. I started carrying my iPad Mini and using that where I needed iOS apps.

What Finally made Me Decide to Dump the Best Mobile in the World (to Date) the Lumia 1520

clip_image010On a few occasions and at an increasing rate, the 1520 has thought it was an Android or iOS device when loading pages via safari. That is it asks me to install an app vs using the webpage I am on. Sometimes this is iOS, and other time Android but never Windows Phone 8 ironically. On some occasions the screen locks or crashes as it I assume tries to install the iOS or Android apps in question. My test for Windows Phone 8 is simple are the top 8 apps I use for android or iOS available for Windows Phone 8, including games that I do play occasionally. The resounding answer is a big no. Saying that I like how Windows Phone manage Office files, but that too is being addressed by the others.

What Can Save Windows Phone

clip_image012If you have amazing hardware like the 1520, then can anything save or grow the marketplace. There are a few things, if tablets were to run the Windows Phone OS as Apple / Android do then it would be a no brainer as developers on the new hardware would benefit, new apps would be born, and they could both grow each other. If as I and others suggested before, and as Microsoft has sometimes hinted, if Windows Phone was to also run Android Apps the additional 1.4m apps added to the mix would be nothing to sneeze at. Training is a huge issue in Australia and until that is addressed Microsoft will have a hard time gaining any traction. Viva la iPhone6 Plus.

The new Apple iPhone launches Friday in Australia and around the globe.

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30 August 2014
Melbourne
Loren W

When Online gaming service Steam owned by ValveSoftware that have 65 million users globally, told Australian consumers they were not entitled to refunds, under any circumstances. They broke consumer law it has been said by the Australian Federal ACCC ( Australian Competition and Consumer Commission).

The inference was made that Steam in selling products to Australian consumers was not Australia based so did not  have to adhere to local consumer law. Valve is now hurrying to comply with local laws prior to a hearing in Federal court on 7 October 2014.


Year 2 costs (Renewals) Can Be Dramatically Higher Thank you Expect – From Godaddy and perhaps others

Being in and now out of the hosting and domain name business for a long time, I have met with much frustration trying to find low priced hosting, and domain name registration for hobbyist endeavors.  Hosting companies across the globe seem to be struggling to keep customers and I can see why.  A year ago, I started moving my domains to godaddy I was blown away by their service and knowledge, compared to some like crazydomains in Australia that had severe customer service problems reports against them to ICAN as well, but well priced.  Interestingly the domains from godaddy were also 10-15% less than the Australia market price so that was nice as well or so I thought. A year on and thus the catch, my hosting is well settled in forwarded how I like it etc.Now I discover that the pricing for the domain names I received was “a special price’ and advertised at 55-77% off retail, You guessed it making my renewal prices on all my domains now twice as much as the average market price here.  I never in a million years thought hosting companies would be as covert as this NEVER NEVER seeming to offer new products at what they call regular price,  on domains only average in reality but GREATLY reduced, per them, only to figure most customers will not pay attention to the 200% increase at their renewal time.  I will query this to many about the fairness of this, but am disappointed I was taken in this way.

Bottom line query upfront and especially renewal costs when buying hosting and domain registration, even so called know-it-alls can miss the obvious sometimes.

The good news is there are companies like onlydomains.com that seem to ignore the BS and offer good consistent products, prices and services and services .

 

 


 

11 May 2014


Being gainfully employed for more years than I care to acknowledge, but on both the hiring side and the needing to be hired side of employment at different times, I am continually amazed at the increased lack of unprofessionalism, from many in the recruitment industry. It is disheartened to read, of shortages when many between, 45-55 cannot get the jobs they are better qualified for than anyone else.

It is funny however, to hear the excuses, the recruitment companies give. Some will tell you they don’t place over 45’s because companies do not like them, as they are not adaptive enough (but not put that in writing of course). Others will tell you it is the resume, but offer no feedback or solution. Worse many others just lie and say companies are not interested, when they never pass the details on in the 1st place.

 

When hiring, I have even had agencies I hired, and even in some cases given exclusivity to, not pass on details of good clients, that when contacting me via some other means, I have hired that person, only to then fight with the agency over commission, even though they have not passed on the details days, or weeks after being chased by the applicant. Likewise, I have had agencies and we are talking the largest and smallest in Australia, tell me I had been turned down for a role, only to later discover the turning down was by them not the company doing the hiring. If you were to query over 45’s in key management roles in the IT, Telecoms or similar Industry, that were hired in the last 12 months, I would wager if they used an agency at all they wound up getting a job by some other means. I also query economical results we hear on the news all the time about the number of job roles available and those filled. I see many jobs advertised multiple times in different ways, I get it, I have done it. But if that role is filled and advertised 5 different ways, then is that 1 or 5 jobs being filled. I am not sure of the integrity of the industry these days.

 

 

The Truth Is Out There – Maybe

I would also like to know why some agencies will take you all the way to the interview stage tell you are a good shoe in at least for an interview then to be told the job is on hold. While a short time later the job role is filled. Yes there can be hiring internally, yes, a job might go away due to budget evolving priorities etc. I am referring to specific roles where this is not the case and the worse thing is that recruiters will not call their clients (job seekers back), that is worse and the industry needs to take a good hard look at this. The good news is when I am in a position to recruit again, and I get proactively contacted by the same recruitment companies that would not give me the professionalism I and my peers deserve. I seek a small amount of joy reminding them of their unprofessionalism previously, and refuse to this day to use certain ones. All a job seeker wants and I believe deserve is the truth, I believe they can handle the truth. Not hirable, not having the right skills, too niche, anything. Just stop the lies and false hopes, it also makes it difficult when the right client does come along as they have been so disheartened by the agency process.

Alternatives

There are alternatives, sites like LinkedIn provide a service better than I think they can appreciate, that often helps so out some of the job seekers, as they can see jobs filled and not filled. Other job boards will offer more direct contacts to company’s vs via agency contacts. I hope there are good recruitment agencies out there, but based on my own experience, and those of my peers over the last 12 months I am not so sure.


It is Past Time to Update the 2002 Paper. .

 

30 April 2014
Loren W

Melbourne Australia

Just typing that gives me goose bumps, not because of the corny line, but because I lead with teams at British Telecom, to do our part and introduce some of the early business Internet products and services back in 1994, that are still used today across the globe, including business broadband, reducing upgrades of business grade Internet services from 65 working days to being done instantly, offering IP Addresses for broadband, to even offering data connectivity for data centers, 1GB asymmetric bandwidth for folks like big brother TV and dark Internet for the military that offered redundancy in case of disasters including 9/11. In 2002, they stupidly sued Prodigy and other ISPs over patents because they believed they owned, a case I had nothing to do with but gave me my nickname for life, ‘MrInternet,’ when a journalist said to me who you think you are, ‘Mr. Internet’ ? .

What is Net Neutrality?

Tim Wu, Columbia law school professor that kicked this off in his paper Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination, in 2003, Professor Wu wrote, his paper based on research done largely in 2002 and the paper was written in 2003. Decades in Internet time, I applaud it immensely, and agree 100% with the messages and the intent, but not the elements missed. As it is written there is some confusion over Open Internet and Net Neutrality as they are not the same necessarily.

Wu wrote the paper has he says, ‘To make an initial case for a broadband discrimination regime as an alternative to the structural remedy of open access to achieve the goal of Network neutrality’. The paper needs to address transit, peering, infrastructure costs, return on investment, cross connects etc. as he has taken this to the carrier and ISP level naturally.

It is time Wu, updated his paper it to reflect some of the technical issues that were not relevant or addressed at the time, due to the evolution of the Internet. Where Professor Wu, compared 3 general approaches I believe there are some clarities that are needed as there is a lot of grey that was not there or not addressed in 2003. Peering / Transit Agreements, Cross Connects, Cost to deliver service, impact by content providers (eyeballs), recouping costs (ROI), all aspects that need updating, or were not even addressed at the time.

Even the major usage restrictions professor Wu addresses in his paper are largely either non issues, or easily addressed in today’s evolved Internet. For instance when this paper was written 40% of the top 10 ISPs in the USA prohibited wireless & home Network usage for the Internet, laughable in today’s marketplace.

Where Net Neutrality Contradicts Itself Perfectly – Tim Wu wrote, “Network Neutrality is best defined as a Network design principle. The idea is that a maximally useful public information Network aspires to treat all content, sites, and platforms equally” To me it makes the Internet sound like it should be a treated as a ‘utility’, in itself a completely good thought. Teasing this out a bit more, if you pick up on the word from Tim Wu uses ‘aspires’, or best intention, the principal of the service, then I agree entirely with the premise, we should ‘aspire’ to treat all sites equally period. If you start to even trickle towards, reducing freedom of speech, or limiting free thought I even agree more with that principal of Net Neutrality.

Unfortunately this does not address the impact of the Internet ‘technically’ based on the infrastructure of the delivery. Specifically in his paper Wu mentions Telco’s are failing to see long term pictures in favor of short term gains. In business this is ROI (return on investment) cannot be ignored.

All Internet is NOT Created Equally – Treating the Internet as a utility with an analogy for a moment, I and my neighbor should be able to get the same electricity to our homes, but the data center 4 blocks away requires a hugely different infrastructure and capacity to get the electricity even there to their door. In some cases the power company might pay for all or some of that, for the power hungry data center will have to make some sort of commitment or payments to address just the infrastructure to their door. If the data centre let’s call it Netflix DC was to somehow bypass the local grid, and tap into another power grid improperly, or local homes, (though it would be illegal of course) then the grid would have to boost the power for that area, and the hypothetical DC would not pay for that upgrade. A stretch on the analogy but not far from where Net Neutrality starts to contradict itself or more so where equality is not the issue and infrastructure is not properly addressed. There all the customers would have to subsidize the cost of Netflix DC, or the power grid would have to. Remember Netflix DC in this case is not paying for any power.

If you further look at what well known advocates of Net Neutrality have proposed, there are several methods to implement a Net neutral Internet:

  • One of the simplest methods for implementation comes from Cardozo Law School professor Susan P. Crawford, who “believes that a neutral Internet must forward packets on a first-come, first served basis, without regard for quality-of-service considerations

  • Another approach offered Tim Berners-Lee allows discrimination between different tiers, while enforcing strict Neutrality of data sent at each tier: “If I pay to connect to the Net with a given quality of service, and you pay to connect to the Net with the same or higher quality of service, then you and I can communicate across the Net, with that quality and quantity of service”. We each pay to connect to the Net, but no one can pay for exclusive access to me.”
  • United States lawmakers have introduced bills that would now allow quality of service discrimination for certain services as long as no special fee is charged for higher-quality service.
  • Some of these ideas complement each other well but one speaks volumes to me, Tim Berners Lee said it best and I paraphrase this above, if all parties PAY the same to connect to the Internet they should enjoy the use equally, but there are different tiers’
  • But the point I have never seen properly addressed, is what happens if the user of the Internet requires a special design or architecture enhancement that due to their volume, scope or amount of content totally impacts the Internet for everyone else. If a smaller customer you start to tip your toe into a fair use policy but for others like Netflix, then it is a whole different kettle of fish (by the way why would you put fish in a kettle).
  • I am not bagging on Netflix I cannot get it ethically in Australia without using a VPN, and spoofing my IP address. Their recent deals to pay for bandwidth in the US funny enough goes against Net Neutrality.
  • Back to the utility analogy, you then start to go down an obvious path and say well the Netflix and other content providers should pay for this impact. Warning, you could be accused with that very thought of breaking an agreed aspect of what Net Neutrality is perhaps. 

On-Net and Off-Net Internet Advantages and Bundling Advantages – Here it gets interesting, if an ISP has content on its servers in its own data center, or owns another service say movies or TV, then any content sent to their customers on their Network (referred to as on-Net), then by its mere nature these services can be delivered potentially faster and definitely cheaper. Any content not on my Network is considered off-Net. The impact of this might be if you are moving content around on the Internet it might not be tallied to any usage limitations you have, but content Off-Net it does. Here there is a lower cost to the provider so why should the customer not be allowed to benefit for this bundling. In a Net Neutrality would it breaks a few guidelines? Furthermore if you live in an area where your ISP does not have direct connectivity to faster Internet services, even the basic speed to your service can be worse or better than your neighbours, hardly fair but part of the facts of Internet life. 

Prioritizing Traffic – Almost ever since there was business grade Internet, there has been issues in ‘prioritizing’ Internet traffic and imposing Network management practices. That is the privileged traffic for some versus other customers. This does not have to be about limiting the speed of the Internet to consumers necessarily (contention). But about peering and transit, that smoke and mirrors part of the Internet and who pays for what part and where some of the aspects of Net Neutrality fails to address impact. If we assume ISPs have capacity to provide non-contended Internet to their users, then you have to query when a tiered service is a nasty thing or just a simple internal Networking management practice.

ISPs manage connectivity differently. We used to Network manage our Networks even contending Internet capacity but not so customers would notice or lose packets, a common practice on pro-actively managing a billion dollar Network .

However, if you have a lot of customers like Netflix and others have then you are simply a special case.

In some cases your customers force carriers to upgrade their Networks capacity to consumers, creating a skewed asymmetrical impact. That impact caused by heavy content providers means someone has to pay for the end to end Network overhead (bandwidth) before it ever gets to the consumer.

Or they have peering / transit agreements in place to address this. When Netflix cut out some of their cross connects, they created a revenue and infrastructure vacuum not seen before. That is a content provider with a lot of eyeballs not paying what was thought was their responsibility to do and as others did in the past. So if cross connects carriers did not get paid and Netflix was not helping upgrade their infrastructure which they obviously would not do, carriers are forced to somehow priorities Internet traffic or just charge more to consumers for a service they might not be using.

There is an old adage you cannot manage what you cannot measure, unfortunately with the Internet usage for these customers not being static but very ‘spikey’ at certain hours even trying to charge customers is not easy. It is only logical carriers wanting to profit more and not let the Netflix continue to impact their revenue and infrastructure would limit somehow the ways the new content providers operate.

These are not simple issues are all about playing well with others and making or for content providers also saving all the money you can, but to date Net Neutrality seems to not be caught up with the impact of content providers impact of the skewed infrastructure, and architecture required to manage this content, that by its own definition shapes the Internet for all of us and impacts underlying aspects of Neutrality that again did not consider this when it was written. As Governments start to finally look closer at this surely it is worthy of revisiting this important document. Sorry I called you surely.



But Choose Your Suppliers Carefully

12 March 2014
by Loren W
Melbourne, Oz

One of the next new big things in technology is home automation and the connected home. Home automation is not new it has been tried for decades with little success. This was mainly due to the lack of affordable hardware and wireless speeds and cost to allow an affordable viable solution for the consumer. With countless global suppliers like Belkin, Google, Apple, AT&T all investing heavily in what we do at home, it is not for the fainthearted with the likes of Verizon recently realizing its money and time was best sent elsewhere ceasing new sales last October 2013 in the USA. However at CES2014 the consumer show of all shows, the DIY market for home innovation is growing so fast it is hard to keep up and separate some of the innovation with novelties and junk.

However there is an emerging number of winners and a horizon full of losers. Here are some thoughts.

·  Google recently bought a company called Nest for $3.2B they currently make thermostats and smoke alarms and combined with Google’s language recognition it is the strongest sign yet that home automation is becoming fashionable or soon will be. A logical step that is not too far reaching is a connected home with connected wearable technology.

· Apple as recently as late 2013 patented new technology that uses data from your current phones, tablets and even credit cards to inform systems and your home of more data about where you are just to turn devices off and on for you.

· SmartThings a new start-up company, in 2013 went looking for public funding of $250,000 to launch a new standard suite of apps that talked to multiple devices. They received $1.2m, showing the interest in home automation.

 

· One DIY Home Improvement Store in the USA Lowes, (part owner of Masters Home Improvement in Australia), even showed off their own IRIS system earlier this year offering everything from automated controls of devices, email and text alerts, monitoring to your mobile device even voice activation via your mobile phone apps, even smart doggy doors, plant watering, even control blinds at automatic times, allowing another standard.

Choosing a Safe Home Automation Supplier / Installer

The best suppliers will be those that offer better products, services, management, and with home automation moving to the cloud, offering to minimize any security issues.

 

Recently, Belkin a supplier of home automation products that makes a system called the WeMO, had 5 vulnerabilities highlighted in the US by (FEMA-CERT) The Federal Emergency Management Agency Computer Emergency Readiness Team. It was discovered that this impacted 500,000 devices that offered a vulnerability that could result in anything from a fire to a waste of electricity. Belkin updated their products with firmware last week.

This shows off the big picture that where the cloud or Internet is used, then security has to be paramount to prevent hackers. Any Internet network needs specialized testing (Pen Testing) that works as a preventative measure. This is used internally for banks, government connections and all Internet services.

Different Standards

Depending on what you want to connect, some devices might not talk to other devices. To get past this standards like ZigBee uses a suite of standards (or communication protocols) allowing multiple types of devices from different manufacturers to talk to each other, using low power, and good 128 bit encryption for security. Unfortunately, there are many different standards that only support some services, or devices making upgradeability potentially problematic.

 

 

What makes a good home automation service?

Simply, it depends on what you are looking to automate, but that said some simple things to consider;
· Can I or do I want to install this myself.
· What is the ongoing running cost?
· Can the system be expanded if needs change, what can and cannot be added?
· How long has the supplier been in business?
· What happens if something goes wrong (support / warranty etc)
· If security is involved is this part of their business or just a side line.
· Is it user friendly?
· Can it be used via my tablet or smartphone over the Internet?
· Do you need any updates to your home Internet / Wireless?
· If security alarms are tied into this who will be monitoring the service (in case of a break in or false alarm)?
· How customizable is the service
· Will my service play nice with other systems?

The Wrong Supplier?

Soon everyone will be getting into the connected home.
A logical step will be home security companies like Swann and AAPT. These sorts of companies
look good on paper but suffer from a few major flaws for themselves and potential problems for the consumer.

  1. Not being independent – only supplying their own products /
  2. Not being able to innovate – by supplying their own products in such as fast developing marketplace,
    they are hindering their own growth, and disadvantaging consumers. For the retailer carrying these products they will also be limited.
  3. Too limited in range of product- Any company that is currently focused in one element of the connected home (like security systems), has created their own problems adding to their key line will likely hinder their key products and be a waste of time and money.
  4. Out priced – All this means not being able to offer the vast range of affordable products and solutions hitting the market place with speed. Instead they will be bringing over priced products that will cost the consumer more and be quickly outdated.

     

    Winners on Price and Selection – Google & Apple for multiple reasons; distribution (Apple Stores and online), consumers will feel less comfortable buying from others online, and that is the only way they will compete. Also because they will be able to innovate or appear to be by adding and removing products fast.
    Who else – Microsoft and your incumbent Telco, Microsoft because they are already in your own solidly with the Xbox but perhaps not soon. Your local Telco / ISP because they already have you connected with Wi-Fi, Telstra and iiNet have already announced home automation plans, 3rd Party suppliers like Belkin will also continue to offer low  cost versatile products that can easily be added to your connected home.
    For the Geeks –  Raspberry Pi may sound delicious, but it is also a credit card size computer that is being used to power many things but is also finding a home in the home automation. Though perhaps not as refined yet as many products, it may well shape the next generation of the connected home.

The connected home is here to stay, the advent of less expensive hardware, new low power requirements of the technology, less expensive faster Internet and the major buy in large global players means the opportunities have never been faster paced or exhilarating. I cannot see what happens next, these truly are exciting times.

Technorati Tags: home automation,smart house,apple,google,nest,belkin,ziggbee


Just as it did for British Telecom sell off of BTCellnet / O2 for $29B in 2005

9 Feb 2014
Loren W
Melbourne Australia

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In 2005 when I was at British Telecom they sold their Mobile Phone division BT Cellnet / O2 to Telefónica for $29B USD (that’s around $37B in today’s money), it was done for many reasons, largely to clear debt and work faster as a company towards profitability and focus from the mobility perspective on R&D. Though very different in some respects to Google, there are some similarities to the recent sell of Motorola. For instance they did not sell their R&D for the company or mobility. As a matter a fact BT R&D was and is still thriving in mobility as well and had the largest R&D in the world at the time 2nd in the world in 2005 and 4 in 2010, depending what numbers you look at. Their R&D alone is still in in 170 countries with labs in the UK, Boston, and Abu Dhabi. They immediately made mobiles again, then backed out and are about to re-enter the market making mobile phones again changing their business models and relationships as they go.

Looking at the BT / BT Cellnet/O2 Mobile and Google / Motorola sell off now here are some of the top reasons the
Google /Motorola sell off was a good idea

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1) Getting rid of a legacy business improves ROI (return on investment). That is, If Google was to start a new mobile HARDWARE division tomorrow, it would benefit, from the intellectual property it still owns on the R&D side, patents, talent and with no Motorola legacy and it would be more profitable as it would not have the legacy costs and overheads

2) Anything they do next in mobility will not have to address their relationship with other supplier’s vs their own with Motorola.

3) There is nothing stopping Google still offering mobile technology as a matter of fact it is likely. They could even produce mobile devices again also likely.

4) Selling Motorola allows Google to not have to be dragged away from innovation,

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5) As Spock said, The Needs of the Many Outweigh the Needs of the Few. If Google really wants to woo partners, (hardware, developers etc) then enabling multiple suppliers and not antagonizing any others by having your own to contend with is a great way to do so.

In a nutshell, Google will eventually if not sooner re-enter the mobile marketplace, in the meantime they will with Samsung and others continue to innovate and lead the next generation. They also own a 6% $750M investment stake in Lenova.

The new Nexus products will now be made by others, with the Nexus 6 mobile being made by Lenovo.


The Biggest Fails Microsoft Made with Windows 8

29 January 2014
Loren W
Melbourne Oz
Twitter: @mr_internet

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As a longtime personal Microsoft and Steve Ballmer fan boy, though professionally technologically agnostic as I rolled out various hardware to support millions, (a contradiction I know), I like many were and still are gob-smacked & disappointed when Microsoft launched Windows 8 RT originally. Not because it was not fit for purpose (a different debate), but because REALLY REALLY bad communication by Microsoft has I believe set the marketplace back years, and I believe irrevocably so. Let’s briefly touch on the whole RT name game fiasco. As simple as it sounded walking into computer store and asking for a Windows 8 tablet (and not RT) began a series of hair pulling questions prior to the Surface 2 being out for even the savviest of consumers. I heard the same story over and over again as many did.

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One simple question is what few if any retailers could answer. What version of Windows 8 is on this tablet? Tablets at least in Australia, were not labeled with the word RT. There were 12 or so on the market at the beginning here in Australia, but only 1 or 2 running the Windows non-RT full version. Trying to find that out was not easy (I am talking 3rd party devices of course). Initially MS Office was only on the RT version but 3rd parties were offering a trial version of Office as well on the non-RT versions so that made it less simple, if asked if it had Office on it. When you were lucky enough to figure out the right version say the non-RT version.

clip_image006Then pre-Windows 8.1 had a couple of challenges, on the tablet, with the early version just not being that great, ok awful, Touch was not working great pre 8.1 and really needed a keyboard. But there were no keyboards, docks or case enabled keyboards like the Android tablets had for 3rd part devices, or those that were there were also awful. Third party Bluetooth keyboards worked well, but without a matching stand fitting together a workable tablet was just too hard.

clip_image007Like many reviewers we are often given the hardware we are reviewing, usually on the bad stuff. Having no keyboard, and with touch being not very good on the tablets early on the 1st gen, Windows 8 tablets were and still often are painful. I was told to keep mine, and told I would give it away as I found it unusable, again I was told it was mine.

clip_image009However that was not the worst problem. Microsoft has said repeatedly they are committed to touch. Unfortunately in practice this meant exclusively from the mobile / tablet market, and totally ignoring completely the desktop market. As a result there are still very few touch monitors on the market for PCs, and demand for this is very small ( I have one, it needs an OS that supports touch well and Windows 8 is not it yet). The only Microsoft market embracing touch then was the mobile phone and naturally the tablet market. Here’s lies the irony, with Microsoft not having a market leading tablet, or even tablet / app eco-system, (e.g. such as a good metro version of Office at the time of Windows 8 Pro launch on the market. If Microsoft wanted touch for business to work they could have thrown some money at it. Instead they left the market to fend for themselves, whilst they threw all their rotten eggs in the RT basket.

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The result now is Windows 8 is pooched, with many companies, and even hardware vendors preferring to ignore or sell around it.

Ignoring the natural maturity and slowdown of the PC market some companies like HP seem to even go as far to appear to blame Microsoft for their woes.

One litmus paper for this is the highlighting of the extension for Windows XP support (likely until Windows 9 is out)and more proactive selling of Windows 7. Unfortunately even if Microsoft combines their phone app ecosystem as it might with Windows RT, it still will lack a good cohesive eco-system as compared to Apple or yep Android.

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There in lays the paradox, with Windows 8 deemed a failure (a tear is forming in my eye), then Windows Phone 8 by name alone also will be tainted regardless of how perfect it might be with 8.1 etc. Microsoft needs one of 2 things, kill RT and have a tablet running Windows phone (why doesn’t Microsoft listen to Paul Thurrott), that I bet likely against. Or you got it, more a Windows Phone running Android. Microsoft is already close to launching a phone running Android under Nokia, is the next logical step, an Android / Windows Phone 8 Hybrid?

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Windows / Android hybrids are nothing new, I wrote early 2013, when Samsung launched their first hybrid machine (the Ativ Q), But in 2013 there was a problem in that Android was running in a virtual machine and required a boot into Android or Windows dues to incompatibility of hardware. However, a current trend like Asus at CES in Jan 2014 launched their TD300, a quad-core i7 Powerhouse tablet/laptop that runs both Android 4.2.2 and Windows 8.1 with 4GB Ram, and touting both a 128GB SSD drive and a 1TB hard disk, it is no slouch.

With Android and Windows both able to boot with Intel chips now, even Intel is behind the opportunity. Again at CES Erik Reid GM of Intel’s tablet business, also showed off the dual boot nature of the Haswell chip.

Windows Phone partnering with Android, can be good for both Google and Microsoft. It gives Microsoft a foot up into market share and Google more of a foot into enterprise. Apple has recently said and shown they are making a play again for enterprise, again. Perhaps in Google and Microsoft’s case the saying, The enemy of my enemy is my friend is applicable, or what Lincoln said, I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.


Tech News TV -

What Does the Future hold 2006 – 2100

Original Blog from 2 September 2006

Note: from 10 Jan 2014

Working in a job where you need to predict trends in technology for the next 5-10 years as I did for a few companies also means hiring futurists that look further into the future as well. Here is a summary of some predictions I gathered in 2006 looking forward up to to 2100 from my industry (telecoms, data centers, internet) and much more.

I forgot I wrote it.
Amazing how many have come to pass or are ongoing today.

I had a kind comment that reminded me of the story thanks

Ever wonder what the future holds, well here is a view of some of the top futurologists (yes they get paid for this). In the past they predicted texting and other things. See what and when their next predictions take…

View original post 5,609 more words


Tis the Season to Be Streaming

 

Loren W
18 December 2013
Melbourne Australia

 

For those of you that know all of this call it a refresher. I get asked this all the time and surprised how many are not aware of the simplicity here. I spoke to Apple yesterday on point 3. Instructions even if you can find them are often random, inconsistent and even Wrong. In my case Apple support was nice enough to pass to a specialist to confirm my suspicions.

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1) Air Video – Use the Air Video app to stream formats of movies, tv shows other video that are not normally necessarily natively Apple compatible. You need a client app (free) for PC or Mac here and an iOS app as well.

2) Typing – Using AppleTV (ATV) can be a pain to type on, sometimes better with an Apple BT (Bluetooth) Keyboard (or many other brands work as well).

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3) What happens in the cloud can be downloaded from the cloud – If using a BT keyboard is too big a pain as they are sometimes finding the ATV and if buying an iTunes video (movie or tv show), you can buy it via any device PC, MAC, iOS device (iPhone, iPad etc.), then download it directly to your ATV (or download it to your iOS device then stream it via Airplay to your AppleTV, but there is no need to download if all you want to do is watch it on your ATV. Note: This works great but you CANNOT rent on one device and watch on an ATV, or vice versa. Purchases yes, rentals no.

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4) Android– Streaming via Android to ATV is now possible via many (but not enough ) apps including airstream available here

clip_image0085) Control Panel – you can simply navigate on your iOS device and then stream your device to your ATV, many are not aware of this

6) 3D Streaming – Most new 3d TV’s allow you to convert 2D (normal) TV to 3D on the fly. The same hold true for your 2D iTunes or 3rd Party Air Video content from your Mac, iOS Device, PC, or Android

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Note: There are other streaming ways not addressed here like DLNA, but there are some new tools coming out in a few weeks so will talk more about it then.


I love reviewing surprises in good technology

Loren W
11 December 2013
Melbourne, Australia

clip_image001The last time I tested a Bluetooth keyboard it was for a 10” Windows 8 tablet, and it REALLY needed a keyboard to make full use of the Windows environment. I eagerly returned both, and there was no sleek alternative that made either one very useful. I tried many since and for Tablets, nothing seem to work very well.

clip_image003Skip forward to the Nexus 7 2013, a great inexpensive smaller form factor Tablet now running Android 4.4 KitKat Operating System

If you were to ask what 5 features you would want in a keyboard for the Nexus 7 they would likely be.

· Light

· Long Batter Life

· Bluetooth

· Good Quality Keys

· Affordable

You get all of these features, and more with this keyboard, plus it acts as a lightweight case as well. The special keys mean you have an easy use of scrolling and the home button, and more that we all use so much. With a 60 day standby time, 4-5 hour charging and actual use time of

clip_image00455 hours, you will forget to charge it. The LED indicators are equally useful. Finally, some Bluetooth devices can be a real pain to sync or do not remember you did any syncing to begin with. As a result, you have to re-sync the device every time. Not the case here either (no pun intended). The simplicity of the design is one of its best features, and a welcome idea, it efficiently fits and then acts as a protective case as well. Unlike some flip type cases, where the case itself can get in the way, here is either used or out of the way.

I highly recommend this keyboard, it is useful as well as it is functional, and with the great specs it is a no-brainer for anyone using a Nexus 7 2013 tablet, if they are ever in need of a keyboard.

You can see more on MobileZap’s website http://bit.ly/MobileZap3


What We Know, What We Don’t Know, and What We Don’t Know We Don’t Know

"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough." – Albert Einstein

30 November 2013
Loren W
Melbourne, Oz

Technorati Tags: Apple, Prime Sense, Kinect, Microsoft, iPhone,

skynet

What We Know

Interesting Apple Patents – It is known companies including Apple will often introduce hundred that have little no intention of ever being developed, partly to hide the patents they do intend to release. Apple was granted over 220 patents in November 2013, alone.

clip_image003[4]If we simply look at some of the patents Apple has received in the last 4 years, especially recently how they relate to what PrimeSense is already doing themselves or with partners, then some interesting elements appear.

Who Are PrimeSense? – Founded in 2005 by Israeli’s Alexander Shpunt and Aviad Maizels. Both were in Military R&D with Aviad serving as head of a technical R&D section in the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

Previous Apple Patents –In 2010 2 months before Microsoft announced the Kinect, Apple applied for a patent to track information from its users. There was a minor kafuffle over this at the time, in early September 2010, based on personal spying concerns including form the EFF. This technology could;

· View a user’s face & take pictures with no noise. · Record the user’s voice, whether or not a phone call is even being made,’· Determine the users’ heartbeat, take a photograph of the surrounding area, and determine where it is being used. · Bottom Line The patent looks who you are, where you are, and what you are doing and saying and even how fast your heart is beating.

clip_image004[4]October 2012 Patents – Showed us finger print scanning that was released but also Polymer dispersed liquid crystal window, uses technology to hide the camera, and fingerprint lenses on the phone.
May 2013 – Patent offers a technique where a sensor for an iPad or iPhone recognizes movement away from the screen not just touch in a pull gesture (aka Kinect like).
November 2013 – Patent 8,593,534- Offers a mode of taking photographs only when the subject is in proper view, addressing the subject and background images. rove of facial recognition. Patent 8,593,423/5/ – tracking not just touch but hand recognition technique (note: a partner of PrimeSense has also brought that technology to market themselves 3GearSystems. Patent 8,593,426 looks to image identification by differentiating or matching colors in multiple images

My Favorite Patent (application) wording – 20130265378 The method terminates the transmission of images captured by the first camera and transmits images captured by the second camera of the first mobile device to the second device during the video conference.”

As clear as that might be it made by head explode

clip_image005[4]Relevant PrimeSense Timeline

CES 2011 – 2 months after launch of Microsoft Kinect, Multiple companies show off new products and partnership with PrimeSense, the highlight is picked up by many as the potential of using sensors in smartphones. In 2012 – PrimeSense announced the launch of their new Capri 3D sensor their smallest yet (x10 smaller), and due to be launched for OEMs in mid-2013, able to fit into a phone or other small device (e.g. TVs, Watch etc.), offering short and long range detection/ viewing.
Early 2013 – PrimeSense Releases World of Sensing Marketing Video, showing off different technology uses including TV, and PC image sensing
Mid 2013 – PrimeSense releases 3d Sensor SDK, makes it available to developers. Late 2013 – Apple buys PrimeSense
Note: In the recent pre-Apple purchase marketing Video PrimeSense released a PR video showing some potential uses for their tech nology. These included;

· Eye-tracking tech – already in other vendor’s phones. Adjust volume as you move them away from your ear. Face recognition – obvious choice with the tech form the Kinect and all. 3D Mobile – is possible now as the HTC phones have shown us, how that can be used to be more usable is still to be seen

What We Don’t Know, We Don’t Know.

· It is interesting none the less, that many of the patents Apple has obtained or requested are now very similar to product elements that PrimeSense and their partners have already released or has been tried unsuccessfully by others.

clip_image007[4]· We know Apple released their Touch · ID system recently for the iPhone 5S, it improved on the biometric finger reading technology that had been in the marketplace already for some time but not working very well until now.

· Similarly, the Android Galaxy Nexus released in 2011 offered facial recognition that many to this day cannot use as the product is not great.

· Even the Kinect itself from Microsoft and PrimeSense was greatly flawed needing a huge amount of room to work well.

· Technology and software has evolved as has the marketplace, with sensors now small enough for phones, or watches. Much of the technology will be less of surprise when released but welcome as the evolution it is rather than a revolution in technology.

References:
http://blog.freedomsite.orghttps://twitter.com/juliepsamuels , http://www.macworld.co.uk, http://twitter.com/AshleighAllsopp, twitter.com/threegear, http://www.latestpatents.com, http://www.patentlyapple.com


Xbox One At Least Temporarily Kills Cord Cutting Technology

29 November 2013 
loren w
Melbourne Oz

In case you didn’t know Australia is a big place. It is the size of the USA but with the population of Cameroon. Most of the population are in a handful of cities as a result of the area covered the majority of TV is via satellite instead of cable With Foxtel the largest of the satellite TV providers only servicing the largest cities a different company Austar served the rural ones but with substandard customer service and substandard user interface.

So as not to lose to the competition that they could not serve, Foxtel started providing TV shows over the Internet via the Xbox 360 4 years ago 4 is little as 5 dollars a channel with no minimum. They called the service Foxtel play catchy huh? This meant at the time you could buy any station you wanted and only the stations you wanted. Foxtel has not
long ago purchased the competition and as a result has only just now increased the minimum purchase required to buy stations in packs at 25 dollars each via the Internet alone. However the selection of stations is still huge the selection enormous and ability to spend very little with no cable is a blessing as long as you have an Xbox 360.

Unfortunately with the release of the Xbox One Foxtel over Internet service is not available and has not confirmed if it ever will be. This is a real shame as Foxtel was ahead of the curve on the service of offering all stations over the Internet alone. Currently Foxtel says the technology is very different but they are in negotiation with Microsoft

 


 


Good Design Makes a Useful Accessory

Loren W
23 November 2013
Melbourne Australia


Firstly, I have to admit upfront I have always HATED phone power packs. Strong words I know but they are usually cumbersome to use, don’t work, get in the way, too heavy, offer little value the list goes on.

However, if you have a phone, that allows you to take advantage of a bit of good design tech on the phone itself, then a smart design for a battery pack is possible and in this ‘case’ is really good (no pun intended)


I am referring to the 4500mAh Power Jacket for the Sony Xperia Ultra distributed by MobileZap in Australia. The cool bit it of tech I am referring to on the phone is the magnetic connector for power charging or docking. This means the power jacket that also protects the phone very discreetly uses the magnetic charging port to charge the phone.

Specifications
The extra battery is a whopping 4500 mAH, meaning it is about 50% bigger than the huge battery on the phone already. This means it extends standby talk time from 34 days to a crazy 85 days, talk time from 16 to 40 hours and music playing from 120 hours to almost 300 hours that is over 12 days. This will of course vary with real world usage.

There are a couple of other side benefits as well. The case does not cover the micro USB port on the phone as it charges to the magnetic dock as mentioned. This means you can charge the phone at the same time you are charging the power case (especially handy in the car with a 2 port USB adapter) . It also has really functional blue led lights on the back so you know when it is charging, or discharging. Finally there is a little kick stand on the back of the case that is useful as well.

PROS

  • Good Design – (no wires, does not cover any ports, easy to put on and remove)
  • Good Value (4500mAH battery for $56.49)
  • Discreet Useful Case – Some would buy it just for being s case with a stand
  • Not too heavy –
  • Powerful – adds 150% battery use- Great for the traveler

More more information visit the MobileZap website here , their facebook page here or say hello on their new twitter page here


11 October 2013
Melbourne, Australia
Loren W

When cooking BBQ, Stews, Sauces, Dips, etc., liquid smoke is an important ingredient adding a smokiness that is amazing. Hard to find here in Australia, but not impossible. It is actually easy to make as well. If you do find it, Colgin is the best brand and has been made in Texas since 1945. Otherwise, here is an easy way to do it yourself but believe me is not as good as colgin.

bbq

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1. Fill your grill with the wood chips of your choice, Note: the type of wood you use will make a big difference in the taste you get. Do not mix the type of wood you use if you plan to do this again as the mix of woods can often not be duplicated. I prefer Mesquite, then Hickory.  It is always best to soak your wood chips for 30 minutes before you cook so they cook more slowly and will no incinerate (leaving you more wood taste for your liquid smoke). Cook your food as you would Note: Do not use any starter fluid or starter chips coated in starter fluid. If the chips have starter fluid on them, they cannot be used when making liquid smoke, because the chemicals from the starter would become part of the end result and would not be safe to eat. After you have cooked.

2. Go through the grill to collect roughly 1 pound of wood chips that did not completely burn up. Sift through it, and try to avoid getting ash mixed in, as it is hard to filter out later and taints the taste.

3. Fill a pillowcase with the wood chips. Note: Use a pillowcase that you do not want to use again because once this process is complete, you will not be able to use it. Rinse the clean pillow case out.

4. Bring a pot of water to a boil. You will need enough water to completely cover the chips.

5. Place the pillowcase of chips in the boiling water, and allow it to boil for at least 30 to 45 minutes. When the water reaches a dark reddish-brown color, you can stop boiling the chips and pillowcase because you’ve obtained sufficient material from the chips. Note: If possible, boil the water outside. You may want to do this step outside because the smell may become overwhelming inside.

6. Let the pot of boiling water stand until everything has cooled down enough to allow you to touch it.

7. Take the pillowcase and chips out of the water. Drain the water out of the pillowcase, and throw away the wood chips.

8. Bring the reddish-brown liquid back to boil until it has reduced down to 1/3 to 1/4 of the original amount. This will concentrate the smoked flavor.

9. Let the liquid cool down, filter through a tea strainer or old type coffee filter and taste.

10. If it tastes bitter, add a small amount of honey or other sweetener to cut down the bitterness.

11. Put it in the bottle of your choice.

Google Officially Releases Android 4.4

Posted: November 10, 2013 in Misc Tech

The Hunt for Defragmentationism Begins

10 November 2013
Melbourne, Oz
Loren W

First I have to say I was disappointed when Google surprisingly changed the name of their new Android 4.4 operating system at the last minute from ‘Key Lime Pie’ to ‘Kit Kat’. For those that do not know all of their versions have been named after a tasty sweet since 2009 (namely in Cupcake, Donut, Éclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream Sandwich, and Jellybean)

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My simplistic logic was by using the name key lime pie it would bring this amazing dessert more to prominence and if it only meant one more physical key lime pies in the world (and who doesn’t love key lime pie ) then that would be a good thing. Alas I’m over it now.

The news as Google has said is that the new android version Kit Kat will be backwards compatible with older mobile phone hardware than ever due to the requirements of less memory been required to run the operating system. Mainly where many smart android phones have 1-4GB ram memory, the new lower spec means a phone with 512MB of ram will now be compatible, in most cases.

What remains to be answered though is if this will cause new problems. Likely yes, some seen some not.

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Fragmentation
Google has a problem in the marketplace to some extent with ‘fragmentation’ and always has had. That is because there are so many new phone models every few weeks or months and google unlike Microsoft and Apple does not manage the hardware, each phone was not necessarily compatible with the latest OS perhaps only the one previously or before. Oddly, this means 3 different phones purchased in the same store on the same today, might have 4 different operating systems, (gingerbread, jellybean, or honeycomb, or even ice cream sandwich).

Operating systems are partly Google, the handset manufacturer and phone carrier’s responsibility. Crazier still, the same exact model phone supporting one carrier can often be on a different version of Android than the other. This makes supporting the device, product clarity for the consumer, and developing new apps for the devices ‘fragmented’ in the marketplace.

Apple or Windows makes updates mandatory on new phones or makes the phones obsolete, to manage this continuity. So, Google is fixing this by making the specification level required for Android 4.4 Kit Kat, lower so 4.4 is compatible with more phones, thus less fragmentation.

The desktop operating system is similar where the new Apple 10.9 Mavericks and Windows 7, required lower specifications or offered more backward compatibility for consumers and business to upgrade.

In the case of Windows 7, whilst its predecessor Windows Vista might not run on a certain Windows XP machine or do so very poorly, Windows 7 in many cases would run and work well.

There you could run Windows 7 on all the machines even windows XP that would not run vista, and not sacrifice anything.

In the case of Apple iPhones some devices that would not be supported with a new mobile operating system iOS, means you would buy have to buy a new iPhone.

With Google lowering the specification for Kit Kat though, the trouble there is many applications make better use of more than 512mb ram, and some phones might suffer with Kit Kat or might not get the update at all, adding another layer of fragmentation to the confusing mix, that is running the new OS but not very well, or with less features.

In most of these cases the OS (Google Android), the hardware manufacturer, and carrier might not release the update. Unfortunately the update is good, so demand will be high internally at Google and by the consumer. Many consumers already use updates bypassing these steps getting their updates (ROMs) online quite easily. It remains to be seen if the attempt to reduce fragmentation causes more problems than it fixes.


With Friends Like that Who Needs Enemas?

 

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2 November  2013
Melbourne, Oz
Loren W

· When the Provisional IRA bombed the tallest building in London (BT Tower) 42 years ago this week on Halloween 1971, it reaffirmed a resulting chain of events that are very timely today. The re-enforcing and sharing of communication and intelligence across continents between allies, of course the USA and UK. In 1971 it was a time of Nixon, fund raising in America for the IRA that was their main source of funding, as the USA did not recognize the IRA as terrorists (another story there worth reading). This was only 2 years after ARPANET (later DARPA) carried the first packets of Data). ARPANET being The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network a USA endeavor based on a a British design (Donald Davies CBE NPL UK) that later with Vint Cerf created of course elements of what we call the Internet today. London was the first International node of ARPNET, showing the bond digital communication would have from 1971.

arpanet1_small

However it was not till  years later that Margaret Thatcher had buddy Ronald Regan stop the collections to stop the flow of IRA funding. There was of course a multilateral agreement in place already of course since 1946 as part of the until 2012 unknown named, name Project ‘StoneGhost’ a Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information Network and part what is known as the 5 eyes alliance. This included Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and USA, but the UK and USA had a special bond

BT-Tower-Star-Wars-Lightsaber

· This was previously known as Intelink-C, Q-Lat and Quad link. Few even knew of the alliance till 2012, when a Canadian Navy officer was sentenced to 20 years for contravening information from Operation ‘StoneGhost’. Part of the alliance was the sharing of data as well. Today all of the fibre in the UK connects via BT Tower, in London with the 34th floor of BT Tower still covered by the Official Secrets Act. The UK still does its information gathering, the building is still closed to the public and you have to have a level clearance so high that clearance to Buckingham Palace and No 10 Downing Street (home of the Queen of England and Prime Minister) are below access levels required.

bucky

As the story continues to unfold that the US Government (wrongly or rightly I am not judging here), had concerns of the closeness Germany’s leader Merkel, had with Putin of Russia, it would not be too farfetched to find another ally had some small or large part in the exercise. to monitor (not spy that is illegal).

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HTC One Max vs Samung Note 3 vs Sony Ultra

14 October, 2013
Loren W
Melbourne Oz

 

Well well, previously a fan of the Samsung Note (I had the both the I & II), I jumped ship and dumped the II just prior to the launch of the III, to avoid any hardware loss and because I expected it to be boring, (as it was to me) and I got the Dive Safe / Waterproof Sony Xperia Ultra, the wonderful but slightly buggy, big brother of the Sony Experia Z, and predecessor of the new Sony Xperia Z1 (got all that).

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I have written previously how the main stream media has yet to address that a large slice of the Chinese mobile phone market (a larger slice percentage wise than the USA for instance) prefer larger phones (phablets). However, you need to look at the mobile phone marketplace to see the real interesting stories, and consider if HTC can survive to generate any success now.

Sony’s CEO Kazuo Hirai has just said it is planning to be number 3 mobile phone provider in the world avoiding China, and the USA for now, by focusing more on Europe and Japan where it has less of a fight. Sony has further said they plan on getting out of the low end mobile phone market entirely.

Sony has set a target of selling 42 million smartphones worldwide in the financial year to next March, an increase of 27 percent from a year ago. In 2012, Samsung shipped 218.2 million Galaxy phones while Apple sold 135.9 million iPhones, according to IDC.

HTC has recently slid into the red for the 1st time showing a loss of T$2.97 billion ($100 million), bigger than an expected loss of T$1.8 billion, according to Thomson Reuters Smart Estimates. That compares with a net profit of T$3.9 billion in the same quarter last year. Making HTC a possible target for a Lenovo buy out unless another player emerges like RIM (joke)…

Samsung still strong globally, risks running away with global market share as it saturates the market with every size phone and tablet possible. It has sales of almost $200 billion a year, made a $9.4bn profit in the third quarter and employs 270,000 people in 79 countries. It has a whopping 32 per cent market share, compared with Apple – its nearest rival – at 15 per cent. –

All that being said, for many it is whichever company innovates the best is the one that will win the hearts, minds, and dollars of customers.

The Phablet Contenders

HTC produced a very impressive phone with the HTC One, probably next to the iPhone the most appreciated phone design and build quality in the marketplace. The other phones the Note3, and Sony Ultra, all have produced similar size and spec phones.

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The 6” Note3 has a 13MP camera, Qualcom Snapdragon Chip and a 2300MHZ Processor, and a 3840×2160 (4k video and camera)


The 7” Sony has a 8MP camera but 3264×2448 (4k) camera.

Sony Xperia Z Ultra

The 6” HTC One Max sports, a 1920×1080 and 4MP camera, it will be market saturation and build quality (and being popular in the USA) that will help HTC. The Sony is likely a dead duck, outside Japan, and Samsung is already talking their next generation of phones before the Note 3 even gets a chance to succeed or fail.

What Next ? The US market will likely ignore the Sony Xperia Ultra, as much as Sony ignores them, though Newegg is releasing the Sony Xperia Ultra today October 14 in the USA. If the product gets a fair look, the specs will give HTC a run for their money, with better specs and good build quality. HTC will dazzle with nice hardware and average specs, Samsung will continue to etch away for the US dollar as it makes a phone for ever demographic. It will be interesting to see what Apple and Microsoft/Nokia can do in the 6” phablet space, in the next 12 months but currently no one has captured the imagination on the 6-7” mobile phone market with the perfect phone.

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Why Apple Needs to Build the 6" iPhone

Melbourne Australia
Loren W

One of the nice things about being an insignificant blogger with 100,000 followers,  is when you see the main stream media discuss important issues but miss an obvious yet crucial parts of the story.

Watching a BBC news interview recently based in China, they were speaking to locals about the new iPhone 5s and 5c mobile launch. When asked what they thought, the common answer surprised me a little. The common thread was the Chinese in the Apple iPhone & Microsoft/Nokia  new demographic interviewed preferred larger phones like the Samsung Note 1/2/3 / LG  meaning a 5.3 inch and larger screen. The interviewer elaborated that many do not have computers, so having a smart mobile with tablet PC-like features/ size means a bigger phone is VERY popular and a growing demand.

Samsung, LG and more recently Sony have all introduced phablet mobile phones to warm  receptions.
it is not rocket science that a New iPhone 6, if larger might be very successful in China

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My Intolerance at Incompetence Continues  On A Terrible Trip to Paradise

5 October 2013
Melbourne Australia
Loren W –

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One of the worst things that happens sometimes to a company is their streamlining when they are being sold. It is not rocket science, they ‘lean-up’, reduce costs so they look that much better to their perspective buyers, regardless of the impact on their customers or staff. This is what happened to me recently on a holiday of a lifetime to the Cook Islands.

Hearing Air New Zealand is buying a larger stake in Virgin does explain the repeated appalling service we received, or just bad service. Firstly, having some sort of stupid loyalty to an airline with the name Australia in it, versus the alternative one with the name New Zealand proved my undoing and that of my better half.

On a simple flight going from Melbourne, to the Cook Islands on Holiday via, Auckland, to my paradise, we lost 10% of our holiday stuck in Auckland a beautiful city in New Zealand. Though there was a bit of weather in Auckland, it was already the 2nd challenge I had before my holiday had begun.

On the flight over, a mere 4 hours, I was not served any food and none was available on the plane to purchase. I queried the flight staff, and told I had the wrong class ticket, was not on their sheet, and would have to sort it out when I got to Auckland. I doubted myself thinking I had made a mistake, I also had to pay for in average in-flight entertainment something I again had thought I had addressed, but again it went with the same class ticket as the food.

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I found to my surprise there was no virgin support desk in Auckland Airport. By bad luck my mobile phone was not working in New Zealand either after being told from my carrier Telstra, it was all set-up.

So trying to call Virgin on the phone in Auckland resulted in spending much of my initial layover on hold and subsequently being cut off. I then tweeted Virgin that said they wanted to know more, but again was not contactable in a hub airport Virgin had no presence in.

Then the fun began, after a few hours initial delay at the airport, we were all told that bad news you hate to hear, our flight was being delayed due to bad weather at Auckland airport. Now speaking to the recently appearing staff, I queried, what the impact was, staff levels in case of delays, and my food query. I was not able to be helped on the food issue, and told there were back up staff available if the delay continued. Later I was told by the same staff our flight was going to be cancelled.

A few surprises happened then, multiple air new Zealand flights left in the same window of time, we were told air New Zealand had a lower safety requirement for cross winds than virgin had, something that seemed odd, but we were then all summoned to go to the plane though I had been told minutes earlier our flight was going to be canceled due to the weather. Almost an hour later after being bordered were told indeed the flight was not going to take off, and had to get back off the plane, whilst they changed crews, due to the delays.

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Again being told there were no staff issues, but the flight was being cancelled, then boarding the plane to only be told there WERE staffing issues seemed suspect. So after all being rounded up were told the bad news. Due to bad weather, our flight was being canceled for almost 24 hours, and we would try again tomorrow. We were told as it was an act of god sort of thing, there would be no accommodation except those with children if at all. When queried if it was a weather issue or a staffing issue we were assured it was a weather only issue. Later I was told it was a staffing issue only as it was after 8pm, and back-up staff were just not available. Calls to Auckland airport confirmed this, as did the weather reports that though it was gusty, flights were not delayed due to weather in our time slot.

Abandoned in Auckland

Now being in a strange (but nice) city, when I asked how best to source our own accommodation we were given letters, saying the flight was canceled, that was it, I said NO, how do we sort our own accommodation as we did not know the city. They mentioned there were help desks by the exits, and a company that would help us get rooms, great.

Ongoing to collect our luggage in our stranded city, we were confronted with a sad sight of dozens of bags from our and other flights all, thrown together leaving the passengers fumbling through rows and stacks of suit cases. It seemed in our case bags were taken off very early, as we were one of the first to visit this suitcase cemetery after learning we were stranded, this added to abandonment issue.

After collecting our bags, unfortunately a recently canceled Chinese flight due to technical issues meant the hotel seeking company, could not cope with them or us, now again with no service desk, no ground staff, the help desk folk gave us an Auckland guide that had some hotels in it. While my better half started there, I called directory enquiries, who were of no use.

We found a hotel 45 minutes away, turned out to be connected to the YMCA was a dump, but staff was nice, the linen clean, no phone to call the airline but all was good.

Again staff on the leg to the Cook Islands again were not able to address the on board food, drink or entertainment issue. We were however prior to boarding given $64 in food vouchers, to use at the airport, which would have been better the day before. Silly whilst many had to spend the night at the airport now folks were not able to spend $32 per person 2 hours before flying out. I saw quite a few folks buying $5 in soft drinks with $64 in food vouchers, a good day for the airport economy at least, as there of course is no change given.

NOTE: FYI, later I found all of that was not true, and my flexi ticket was all the proof I actually needed, adding to my disappointment in all the process issues we were impacted by, but resolved for my return journey, after a few emails over a few days, something I should not have had to deal with on my holiday.

We eventually made it to the Cook Islands, had an amazing holiday, however, at Auckland, after the 24 hour delays.

ET Cannot Go Home

Just prior to leaving for the airport in the Cook Islands for our return leg to Auckland then home to Melbourne, we were told our flight had been cancelled by our hotel staff due to a technical issue. They double checked and they said no our flight should be ok but there were some issues with other virgin flights??

After a great holiday on boarding to return to Melbourne, we were asked by check in staff, if we enjoyed our stay, and would like to stay longer if we could. Thinking this was a social question said the obligatory yes, with a smile and were then asked if we wanted to stay a few days as the flight was over booked.

We were a bit disappointed in this as we thought this was just a social conversation, we politely refused and continued on our way.

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As time ticked by we noted our plane had not arrived, and when it did, it was obvious there was an issue, as it did not totally disembark until 15 minutes before, we were due to leave again.

Then the announcement came that due to bad weather in Auckland, we were going to be delayed exactly 2 hours??

I note, in the mean- time an Air New Zealand, plane landed re-fueled and left again within minutes of the same time window and left for Auckland. As we only had a 2 hour layover in Auckland, (hopefully), this meant we would miss our connecting flight barring some action to address this. We were told the pilot would make up some time in the air and we would be fine. I queried the plentiful, Air New Zealand flight staff and they said there was a fog issue earlier but none impacting their flights. Huh?

We eventually made it to Auckland, and were hustled to the international transfer gates, and were the last groups to get on the plane, after being told we were not on the list for the entertainment, drink food, etc. I had them double check and we were there, what happened I am not sure but the flight went well for at least the last leg.

Final Observations

Airlines have to run lean in this tight economic climate, but they always have to. Of course an airline can have a bad day. However, having been lucky enough to travel to 23 or so different countries, either for work, pleasure or both, with many different airlines, I have never seen anything the level of incompetence poor communication and appears to be out and out lies, at what seemed to be general disregard for customers as we experienced MULTIPLE times on this otherwise trip of a lifetime.

I heard one Virgin staffer tell someone they tell’ limited truths’ to customers as many do not have high enough education to understand and appreciate the full story. Geez, great so lie to customers to appease them not something I thought I was paying for, and not what customer service should EVER be about.

There was some serious damage limitation offered for the return flight, that was appreciated, but if I learned one thing is if you are traveling to ANY city with ANY layover, you should NEVER use an airline without a service desk at that airport. Will I ever fly Virgin again, jury is out on that one

cc 100,000