Google Project Ara Reaches Phase 2 Ahead of 14 January Conference

 

22 December 2014
Loren W
Melbourne Australia

 

In June 2014, Google announced to very little fanfare outside of the tech community, the most adventurous mobile phone project ever known. A modular hardware eco-system, allowing you to put the phone together yourself, made in a modular form, and offering a more custom and future proof phone that allows you to update, components as required, creating bespoke high end or low end phones. Using the same components (called ‘modules’) in any of 3 size frames or endo skeletons (endo for short), all will greatly reduce electronic waste for Google (about 25%), and allowing for the production of phones that cost only $50 and up to produce, depending on the specification. Modules such as CPU, screen quality, Wi-Fi, battery, LEDs, speakers, night vision, health sensors, even Pico projectors and more are already available, most are available in different specifications as they are in phones today. The phone is targeted to be used by 6 billion people, 1 billion smartphone users and 5 billion ‘feature phone’ 3rd world users. This is no small endeavor, 20 partner companies, 150 people across 3 continents, universities, chip designers, industrial engineers all within Google ATAP (advanced, technology and projects division), and some members of ATAP are ex DARPA Innovation employees, and it is their methodology they are following for the project. Originally part of Motorola Mobility, Google kept ATAP on the sale of Motorola to Lenovo and they work under the Android team. Developers work on a common MDK (Module Developers Kits) to keep the development within certain common parameters.

The first prototypes are out, and are made up of the endo that via a ‘passive magnetic system’ binds all the parts together. (This means you can add extra parts such as more batteries, perhaps instead of a camera or other sensors as the technologies becomes available, on the surface of the modules are individual ‘cases’ (called shells) that can potentially even be custom printed on 3D printers so custom covers are a simple process. There are also 3 sizes , a small one 45x118x9.7mm (about the same size as an iPhone 4, ) a middle size 68x141x9.7m (about the same size as the iPhone 6) and a phablet model 91x164x9.7mm (larger than the Nexus 6, Note4 or iPhone 6+) The modules come in 3 sizes, 1×1 (none released yet) 1×2, and 2×2 (usually for battery). The Project Ara phone, is thicker than the new iPhone 6 but thinner than the even newer Nexus 6.

Even the modules are swappable between the 3 sizes of phone, allowing you to have 3 different endo skeleton sizes, all using the same components. The consumer pilot will be announced in Jan 2015 by Google but not likely to be offered until mid to late 2015. For developers the phones will be available in Jan 2015. The phone is uniquely targeted for the high end as well as the 3rd world. Leading to hopes some variations of the phones will be very low cost.

New Low End Chips
Since September 2014, Intel is working with Chinese chip manufacturer Rockchip creating new low end chips to compete with ARM, that will also be used in the lower end Ara modules in Spiral 3 or Project Ara in March 2015.

Updated Modules

Project Ara is entering the 2nd phase of development (2nd Spiral) currently and Spiral 3 is likely to take place around April 2015. Each ‘spiral’ addresses the next phase in technology advancements that are way ahead of the old Moore’s law observation, (that the advancement in technology originally transistors doubles every 2 years). Developers for project Ara are also working on 2 separate ‘reference designs’ for the best of breed models. The PXA1928 by Marvell, is a quad-core 64-bit system on a chip (SoC) offering communications of 2G- 3G- 4G. On the other high end the fastest mobile phone chip on the market is

 

the NVIDIA Tegra K1, this chip is part of the new modules google just announced is offering for developers. As technology is evolving this means the more software on a chip means, the unit can be smaller. However, the many lower spec modules are what google is most excited about as they openly target, the next 5billion users offering various health sensors and other similar heath modules as well. Google #AraDev even is being live streamed, and is at multiple live event sites on 14 January 2015. More Information is available from the Project Ara website www.projectara.com or you can sign up to the live stream here http://bit.ly/stream-ara , you can see the latest build of Project Ara here http://bit.ly/ara-video .

 

Google is Not Alone
Google is not alone, leaked in November 2014, by CEO Jun, Chinese phone manufacturer Xiaomi that hired ex Android VP Hugo Barra away this year has also announced their own modular phone and shown photos as well. However the ‘magic cube’ phone only allows the camera and battery modules to be switched out currently. That will be interesting to watch as well.

 

 

 

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Threating Letters to the Prime Minister, Warnings From the Muslim Community and Even from Iran

Loren W
17 December 2014
Melbourne Australia

  • In what will likely be seen as a lone attack by a crazed individual, sex offender, and fraud, struggling with not being viewed as more important than he was, self-declared Peace activist, Sheikh, and Ayatollah, Man Haron Monis was the gunman at the centre of the Sydney Café siege on 15 December 2014, was very widely known to authorities.
  • It is be hard to understand where the actor Man Haron Monis, who also used the name Ayatollah Manteghi Boroujerdi ends and the peace activist began. Warned by Iranian officials as having a long history of crime and fraud in Iran prior to fleeing and seeking asylum in Australia. He told the media he had be involved in the Iranian intelligence and security community but it appears he ran a travel agency only before fleeing with $200,000 of customers’ money and leaving for Australia.
  • Despite this he was granted asylum. Even after he was convicted of accessory to murder his ex-wife with his girlfriend (a self-confessed terrorist), in 2013, and sexual assault in 2014 ( where he claimed he was an expert in astrology, numerology, meditation and black magic before allegedly indecently assaulting 7 women)
  • As early as 2007 the Islamic communities warned that Haron was not a genuine spiritual leader.
  • Haron wrote many hate letters in 2009 to Australian War widows, a charge he was convicted of (menace).
  • In 2013 Haron wrote letters to the PM Tony Abbot challenging him to a live debate with a view to change Australian policy warning otherwise Australia and Australians could be attacked and emphasizing he was being ignored by the Australian government, and copying the letter to the ASIO, and AFP amongst others.
  • Haron was not on a watch list despite this, and even if he was he could not be watched at all times, he had changed his beliefs just weeks before the siege (something he even announced on this web site).
  • There are heroes in this story, mainly the Australian people, that when an element of racism showed its head in social media spoke up offering #Illridewithyou on twitter to offer solidarity with the Muslim community not feeling safe as a result of the actions of a sick individual.


4 December 2014
Melbourne Australia
Loren W

This One Might Be the Biggest of Them All

bear

digital wallet

  • Apple Pay – is the digital wallet service from Apple launched in the USA only (for now) in September 2014 that by using NFC (Near Field Communications) touching or almost touching specific Apple devices allows payments to be made instantly, using technology like Visa’s PayWave and MasterCard’s PayPass and AmercianExpress’s ExpressPay Terminals but tied to the security of the newer Apple Devices.
  • However there is a familiar name in finance looking to compete with Apple Pay and their current rival MCX. Andrew Robertson @robertsonabc reporting for ABC News reports that the big 4 Australia banks and 8 other financial institutions are looking to spend $1Billion to introduce a competing system within 3 years. It is with a company called SWIFT Financial and is believed to be a better deal for stores and banks as it bypasses the current delays in receiving payments as payments are received the instant they are made.
  • It is not clear if the payments will only use a bank to bank transfer method (what SWIFT if famous for) or still use credit cards. Currently Apple Pay works with very few debit cards, mostly credit cards, something MCX and SWIFT would love to avoid. Though MCX plans to use credit cards as well.
  • MCX the other digital wallet consortium is coming out sooner in 2015 with their product called Current-C that is not supporting Apple Pay either but is currently not well received by some as it uses older technology (QR codes) than the Apple Pay use of NFC. However some of the largest retailers in the USA has chosen to go with Current-C vs Apple Pay currently, in a war with 1-3% credit card fees. According to a story by Jacob Davidson @JakeD of Money

 The Name Game

  •  Note: A bit confusing on the word-smithing here. Swift is also the new name for the new apple programming language for Cocoa and Cocoa touch (used in new apps) for Apple iOS and OS X devices (iPads, iPhones and Macs).
  • MCX is the Merchant Customer Exchange – a company created by a consortium of U.S. retail companies to develop another merchant-owned mobile payment system, called CurrentC launching in 2015.

SWIFT Financial – Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, is the 1973 Belgium founded Cooperative set up and control the standard that currently enables some 9000 banks in 209 countries (and territories) to send 15 million messages a day. SWIFT currently does not send funds only payment orders that banks then use to transfer the funds. SWIFT codes (or BIC codes) are unique to each bank. For instance there are 2300 banks in the USA alone with their own SWIFT codes and 311 in Australia.

  • Apply Financial (not apple) launched the SWIFT App for iOS that offers validates SWIFT/BIC codes. SWIFT has worked with the CIA and NSA since 9/11 and other
    governments to protect various interests. If a bank’s assets were to be ‘isolated’ such as Iran in March 2012, then one of the things they would do is cut off or manage the SWIFT communications. What countries have control over SWIFT has been the topic of discussion since 2012. Apply Financial – offers an ‘API’ – code to make apps and programs so that banks and companies not just banks share SWIFT payment codes SWIFT is a supplier / partner of Apply Financial.
  • Some aspects of this story are attributed to Jacob Davidson @JakeD (twitter) of Money and Andrew Robertson of ABC News Australia @robertsonabc (twitter)

27 November 2014
Melbourne Australia
Loren W

Well there are two firsts for me here.

  • I never review kitchen appliances and I never review copied / or such heavily inspired products.
  • I have seen and tested a couple of other similar bullet type blenders all suspect in their quality and with no warranty. I opted to review a model that was available on the high street made by a company called Smith and Noble as well as the branded Magic Bullet.
  • To be honest I am not sure the legal logistics here. The Magic Bullet is made in China by Homeland Housewares out of the USA and the Smith and Nobel Rocket Multi-Purpose Blender is made in China by Smith & Noble, a subsidiary of GSM International Limited out of Hong Kong. These blenders are of the small personal variety, and are about the size of a regular size travel mug with their cups in place.
  • There are slight but significant design differences between them that make the machines slightly unique.
  • There has been so much press over juicers, and blenders etc. that the original magic bullet started to get some bad press here in Australia. This is largely because in the USA the magic bullet is sold for around $50 AUD, and has a 300W motor.
  • However in Australia the unit sells for $120-140AUD. Almost 3 times the price. I believe there is some impact due to the USA model is of course 110V and the Australia version is 220-240V, but as a result it is no surprise that the market in Australia is seeing a lot of competition in personal blenders currently.
  • Interestingly the Smith and Noble Rocket Blender Version has some improvements over the Magic Bullet.
  • The motor on is more powerful at 350W, vs 300W on the bullet, the gasket attaches and removes easier, and the way the cups engage in the Rocket vs the Magic is better on the rocket.
  • Other than that the devices seem almost identical and the Smith and Nobel Version is also $60 AUD.
  • Though getting one for testing was a bit tough, due of course to the demand here in Australia. I contacted the Magic bullet people in the USA that deferred me to their distributor here in Australia who were not very helpful but eventually told me they were not longer selling the magic bullet direct to the public but as distributors did not know what shops actually sold the blenders. Even their website advertises the magic bullet but they do not sell it and did not know who did.

     

    Accessories Galore

     


    As with the Magic Bullet, the Rocket Blender offers a kit offering drinking cups, shaker lids, etc. all those available with the equal spec. magic bullet.

  • I salute Smith and Noble (GSM International) and their pricing and product quality, they are worth a consideration if you are looking for a personal blender product this one is the best value in the market place.
  • The rocket blender is available from suppliers per the GSM website listed here http://bit.ly/rocket-suppliers . Information all but limited on the magic bullet is available here.

Note:  Sorry about the formatting issues, we are moving servers and all content from 2006 trying not to create a black hole along the way, or did I say that already.

 

By a Dummy

15 November, 2014
Loren W
Melbourne Australia

  Why Me?

  •  I saw an opportunity in 1994 where   business users could benefit from   consumer broadband services being tweaked for business and my 15  seconds of fame began.
  • I was what they called a Product Manager, for one of the largest telcos in the world British Telecom. For me I would listen to no one, or I would listen to everyone or something in between, to introduce and market a new product or service that if successful would make my company a lot of many, I did. I had good timing and loved the Internet and knew what it was becoming.
  • Every country in the world has evolved differently in how they went from offering the original expensive Internet services used by governments and big business (at around $35k per year in 1993) down to consumer products including broadband for both Corporate, SME/SMB and home use.
  • In the UK, expensive Internet services over copper were dedicated then ISDN based, broadband was adopted by home users later business adopted it later. That was me, this again was slightly different around the world. I did not invent the Internet, I just introduced new Internet services like business broadband and cloud services, I had some good ideas an unlimited budget and great bosses, and good timing.
  • This was pre-dotcom bust we had team meetings in Disneyland Paris, we booked the entire London Zoo for our Xmas party, or an entire theme park times were tough then.   
  • Also in the UK at this time 1991, my  incumbent Telco BT, was moving out of being 100% government owned to being regulated by a government ombudsmen that has changed as the nature of the Internet and related services has evolved as well.
  • At the other end of the spectrum I was creating services for every corporate company in the world that wanted Internet or server capacity to the UK. They wheeled me in as the guru to close the big deals, they got comission, (HUGE) I got 15 secs of fame and was able to keep introducing every new Internet service I wanted (that I could cost justify on a 12 or 24 month ROI). I had a few tricks that helped. 
  • BT were a duopoly on Internet with WorldCom in the UK at this time that was all about to change.

Net Neutrality or Is It? 🙂

  • I am no expert on Net neutrality as silly as that might sound.
  • I and my team introduced Business Broadband in 1994 to an unsuspecting world (a product offering specific features of the already exiting and more expensive Internet).
  • It was a quieter, gentler time, we did have a big issue with peering arrangements that was how different ISPs managed traffic across our networks. 
  • I personally evangelized everything from the regulatory, legal and commercial offering, marketing campaign and training the original sales teams across the UK, Europe and the US tweaking the $15k a year services that was the Internet and making it a $2k a year service. It then became the commodity we all know and love today. I did NOT invent the internet, I just made it cheaper and more accessible to businesses as an alternative to fixed internet or ISDN.


What is Net Neutrality?

  • There is the question for the ages. Everyone has a view on what it is or what it is not.
  • The fathers of the Internet Vinton Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee have spoken out in favor of net neutrality
  • A simple view is that all Internet usage / viewing should be treated equally.
  • However for things to be open for all SOMEONE HAS TO ADDRESS THE COSTS ! !
  • In 2014 Netflix had 50 million customers, and 32% of all video streaming in the US is via Netflix, requiring some sort infrastructure management and costs to handle this.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in March 2014, after a long dispute they had paid Comcast and others not for Network Neutrality but for ‘Interconnection fees’;

  • Netflix believes strong net neutrality is critical, but in the near term we will in cases pay the toll to the powerful ISPs to protect our consumer experience. When we do so, we don’t pay for priority access against competitors, just for interconnection.
  • The essence of net neutrality is that ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast don’t restrict, influence or otherwise meddle with the choices consumers make. The traditional form of net neutrality which was recently overturned by a Verizon lawsuit is important, but insufficient.
  • Strong net neutrality additionally prevents ISPs from charging a toll for interconnection to services like Netflix, YouTube, or Skype, or intermediaries such as Cogent, Akamai or Level 3, to deliver the services and data requested by ISP residential subscribers. Instead, they must provide sufficient access to their network without charge.
  • That is no carrier should slow down a service like Netflix. Netflix also said about peering arrangements
  • Some ISPs say that Netflix is unilaterally “dumping as much volume” (Verizon CFO) as it wants onto their networks. Netflix isn’t “dumping” data; it’s satisfying requests made by ISP customers who pay a lot of money for high speed Internet. Netflix doesn’t send data unless members request a movie or TV show.
  • Interestingly, there is one special case where no-fee interconnection is embraced by the big ISPs — when they are connecting among themselves. They argue this is because roughly the same amount of data comes and goes between their networks. But when we ask them if we too would qualify for no-fee interconnect if we changed our service to upload as much data as we download** [** in other words, moving to peer-to-peer content delivery] – thus filling their upstream networks and nearly doubling our total traffic — there is an uncomfortable silence. That’s because the ISP argument isn’t sensible. Big ISPs aren’t paying money to services like online backup that generate more upstream than downstream traffic. Data direction, in other words, has nothing to do with costs.

Show Me the Money and a Bad Analogy by Me

This is the one that gets me going.

  • A lot of the debate on Net neutrality has not been on freedom but cost.
  • In early 2014 Comcast offered a comment on the Netflix comment

“The Open Internet rules never were designed to deal with peering and Internet interconnection, which have been an essential part of the growth of the Internet for two decades. Edge providers like Netflix have always paid for their interconnection to the Internet and have always had ample options to ensure that their customers receive an optimal performance through all ISPs. We are happy that Comcast and Netflix were able to reach an amicable, market-based solution to our interconnection issues and believe that our agreement demonstrates the effectiveness of the market as a mechanism to deal with these matters.”

This above is so relevant. The original Internet cost models pre-dated heavy individual users providing heavy demanding users the content. If you built a data centre at your business the power provider if needing to upgrade their power feed would incur large costs for doing that, it would be crazy to expect them to absorb all the cost they are a company and need to make profit on that specific business transaction. In this day of net neutrality people are ignoring the costs.

How to Fix Net neutrality

  •  So again as I am no expert, but like many I have an opinion
  • Many believe that the Telcos are not capable of self-regulation
  • Others believe that government cannot react fast enough or impartial enough to act in the best interest of the consumer.
  • This all might be true.
  • You need to define as with any business who needs to pay for the cost of service.
  • What worked in the UK though not perfect offers a simplistic view.
  1. The telecommunications act is way out of date and a re-write updating it needs to be addressed. Due to the length of time this would take introducing new guidelines, under the remit of a new ombudsman that offers a layer of protections and guides on the top of the FCC Telecoms act of 1996 can put a short term fix in place. This ombudsman (a buffer between the carriers and the government) acting on behalf of anyone complaining about carriers will hold the carriers accountable, for dubious acts, and have the bite of the Federal Government and be able to move faster than the government as was done in the UK with. In the UK Ofcom covered, TV/ Radio/ Internet/ and Spectrum Licensing. When a new Internet service was introduced OFCOM had to be notified and consulted.

    Ofcom presides over licensing, research, codes and policies, complaints, competition and protecting the radio spectrum from abuse in the UK

  2. All content providers need to pay for peering agreements (transit, peer or customer), also called pay swap, or sell. See wiki peering. For what peering is.
  3. All Telco services offered need to be transparent, (prices are on the Internet), how the service works needs to be transparent as in the UK.
  4. Where there is no individual provider of traffic (e.g. bit torrents) those costs if large enough should be paid by the user (a P2P tax) or pay as you go.



27 November 2014
Melbourne Australia
Loren W

Well there are two firsts for me here.

  • I never review kitchen appliances and I never review copied / or such heavily inspired products.
  • I have seen and tested a couple of other similar bullet type blenders all suspect in their quality and with no warranty. I opted to review a model that was available on the high street made by a company called Smith and Noble as well as the branded Magic Bullet.
  • To be honest I am not sure the legal logistics here. The Magic Bullet is made in China by Homeland Housewares out of the USA and the Smith and Nobel Rocket Multi-Purpose Blender is made in China by Smith & Noble, a subsidiary of GSM International Limited out of Hong Kong. These blenders are of the small personal variety, and are about the size of a regular size travel mug with their cups in place.
  • There are slight but significant design differences between them that make the machines slightly unique.
  • There has been so much press over juicers, and blenders etc. that the original magic bullet started to get some bad press here in Australia. This is largely because in the USA the magic bullet is sold for around $50 AUD, and has a 300W motor.
  • However in Australia the unit sells for $120-140AUD. Almost 3 times the price. I believe there is some impact due to the USA model is of course 110V and the Australia version is 220-240V, but as a result it is no surprise that the market in Australia is seeing a lot of competition in personal blenders currently.
  • Interestingly the Smith and Noble Rocket Blender Version has some improvements over the Magic Bullet.
  • The motor on is more powerful at 350W, vs 300W on the bullet, the gasket attaches and removes easier, and the way the cups engage in the Rocket vs the Magic is better on the rocket.
  • Other than that the devices seem almost identical and the Smith and Nobel Version is also $60 AUD.
  • Though getting one for testing was a bit tough, due of course to the demand here in Australia. I contacted the Magic bullet people in the USA that deferred me to their distributor here in Australia who were not very helpful but eventually told me they were not longer selling the magic bullet direct to the public but as distributors did not know what shops actually sold the blenders. Even their website advertises the magic bullet but they do not sell it and did not know who did.

     

    Accessories Galore

     


    As with the Magic Bullet, the Rocket Blender offers a kit offering drinking cups, shaker lids, etc. all those available with the equal spec. magic bullet.

  • I salute Smith and Noble (GSM International) and their pricing and product quality, they are worth a consideration if you are looking for a personal blender product this one is the best value in the market place.
  • The rocket blender is available from suppliers per the GSM website listed here http://bit.ly/rocket-suppliers . Information all but limited on the magic bullet is available here.

Apple iPhone6 Launch Fail

Posted: September 19, 2014 in Apple, Misc Tech

19 September 2014
Melbourne Australia

After thousands around Australia spent the night queuing for Apple iPhone6 , scores were disappointed when stock levels ran out barely an hour after the doors were open. John Chen one of hundreds in line is a student at RMIT, was equally surprised, waiting all night at the Apple Store in Fountaingate in Melbourne Australia. “We were told on multiple occasions there was enough stock”.  Even as late as 730am 30minutes before the doors opened. They expected there to be enough stock, they lied for a PR or something’’ Apple staff promised there would be more phones released tomorrow and lines would be forming at 12am again.

clip_image001

Apple #iphone6 launch day plagued by low stock levels over promised and under delivered again. As hundreds that spent the night leave empty handed


Enough is Enough

17 September, 2014
Melbourne,
Loren W

clip_image002

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.

clip_image004

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.


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.



Release of the Next Generation Larger Format Mobile Phone (Phablet) – is Imminent – This time it might change the whole marketplace.

8 April 2014
by Loren W
Melbourne, Australia

 

Even the name Phablet is part of technological ambiguity. PC Magazine used the word in 1993 to describe the AT&T EO 440 a personal computer, perhaps even a mistake in the current context of the word, but it was tablet of sorts with a modem in it and could be used as a phone. It was 5.9″ x 4.3″ and quit being made in 1994.

However, the Samsung Galaxy Note I circa 2011 (my 1st phablet) is normally referred to as the first phablet. By early 2013 it was estimated that 25.6m phablets had been sold worldwide and numbers were expected to grow to 60m in 2013 and 146m by 2016 depending on what your definition is of a phablet is of course. For the sake of this article we will assume a phablet is primarily a mobile phone larger than 5.89 in and less than 7in.

Phablets Lagging Behind and One Step Ahead

Most phone manufacturers have launched Phablets months after they announce the more popular smaller form factors, and thus often before the next generation mobile depending on your perspective. This has been true of Samsung, HTC, and Sony. This often means features of Phablets (other than the size) usually offer less features than the next mobile phone based on this evolutionary conundrum. For instance the Sony Z Ultra was announced soon after the Sony Z1 and way before the Z2. Unfortunately it was made to compete with the Samsung Galaxy Note, so offered less features than the Z1 or naturally the Z2.

All the phablets on the market offer similar features in some respects very different ones in others usually depending again on the release date vs its competitors.

For example the Sony Z Ultra is the largest of the main group coming in at 7×3.6×0.26 inches, but is waterproof to 30m, almost identical screen quality, but with a much lower quality camera than the Samsung Galaxy Note 3, has less memory than the Samsung but was announced 3 months before the Samsung. It has the same CPU as the Samsung so is almost identical in benchmark tests. The HTC Max is a lower spec phone but less expensive.

 

 

 

The Apple & Marketplace Phablet 3 Bears Conundrum

The late great Steve Jobs said tablets should stay big, phones should stay small period. Later Apple released the now very popular iPad mini. It is no secret Apple is testing a larger iPhone the iPhone 6, Google is sponsoring the Nexus 6, Nokia has the 1520. A recently leaked internal document by Apple shows concerns over losing sales to Phablets.

The next round of Phablet Wars included HTC, Google, Samsung, Apple, and Even Microsoft / Nokia.

 

 

 

 

Phablet Winners / Losers Summary Android – Samsung wins the high end spec race (matched by a earlier released less market savvy known, Sony Z Ultra 2). Nexus 6 wins on the best value front, HTC will draw interest from the 1 Max but with a low spec camera perhaps in line with the Nexus 6 , Motorola will draw a lot of interest with its 1st Phablet the X +1 and Microsoft will draw increasingly more interest with the Lumina 1520 and its replacement perhaps the Lumina 1820 due to windows 8.1 and Cortana voice assistant. . Apple might slip in under the minimum Phablet size but call it a Phablet anyhow, but might remain the one to watch. If they launch a phablet, (6inch or larger) it would change the phone demographic forever.

 

My Tablet is a Phablet – On the WTF side of things many new tablets continue to come out with phone features, as this happens folks will move to headsets vs talking into tablets as these less portable devices continue to trickle out.

 

 



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