jeudi 31 juillet 2014

Windows Phone is like OS X a decade ago -- gaining respect, finally

Windows Phone logo street

Four years ago, I asserted: "Windows Phone 7 series is a lost cause", and it was. But you gotta give Microsoft credit for persistence. Today the foundation is solid, and app developers are finally starting to notice, like they did in 2004 with Apple's flagship operating system.

But pundits howl like the zombie apocalypse, which is pretty good analogy for mindless Android and iOS users constantly clicking and scrolling. Microsoft's Windows Phone "glance-and-go" design philosophy is all about living beings and interacting with them rather than cold plastic and metal slabs. (Say, isn't that where we lay the dead before burying them?)

Ex-Microsoftie Robert Scoble is pundit-of-the-minute (honestly, twenty seconds given zombie attention spans), demanding that Microsoft abandon Windows Phone and surrender its collective mobile soul to Android. I have expressed many times in the past that Microsoft's mobile strategy sucks -- or did before buying Nokia. The path reaching Windows Phone 8.1's release was a long road to ruin. But from devastation, new things rise.

"That train has sailed" Scoble tells GeekWire. "The real answer is, give up Windows Phone, go Android, and embrace and extend like you did with the Internet. But they don’t listen to me".

Trains sink. Except in science fiction movies where they fly, like the closing of "Back to the Future III" -- end of a series that got the year ahead, 2015, wrong. Cars don't fly and most homes don't have fax machines. The point: The future isn't always what you predict. Scoble is too caught up in the numbers game.

As is colleague Mihaita Bamburic with today's headline "It's game over for Windows Phone". Mihaita reports about Strategy Analytics data showing Windows Phone "28.94 percent decrease year-over-year in market share", based on unit shipments.

Yeah, yeah, hand me a hanky so I can blow my nose.

Given Microsoft's purchase of Nokia, the world's largest Windows Phone maker, and the logistical handicaps, the decline is unsurprising. Windows Phone remains a distant third to Android and iOS, but No. 3 nevertheless. Let's silence the gripe and pass the snickerdoodles

Comment banter to my story "Why is iPhone so destructible?" makes a valid point about these stats. John Topper asks WP7Mango: "Is that why in the US Windows Phone market share dropped from 4 to 3.8 percent?" He answers: "Why should I care what the market share is? I don't buy my phones based on market share stats. In fact, I don't buy anything based on market share stats".

Right. Who does? I don't. Do you?

Mean Transition

Again, I am reminded of OS X, which transition left Apple an applications wasteland -- all while Windows surged. The modern Mac operating system released in March 2001, into a market where the best way to measure Apple PC share was a magnifying glass. But by 2004, the same year Service Pack 2 made Windows XP usable, enough good apps grew from the OS 9-to-X-transition devastation to promise revival.

What pundits ignored then about OS X as they do now with Windows Phone: The platform isn't a single entity. By 2004, Apple had retail stores, iPod, iTunes, and iLife pulling consumer sales -- many "halo", people buying music players also adopting Macs, for example. Pretty computers running a UNIX core pulled niche creative professionals, and their demand for supporting apps spurred developers to produce them. Then there were the rebels: People seeking escape from Windows or looking to live a different digital lifestyle.

Windows Phone also doesn't stand alone. Microsoft's efforts to tie the platform to existing strong-hold products like Exchange and Office are more sensible today than four years ago, in part because the platform and the integrated strategy around it has matured. I bought the Nokia Lumia Icon, and to my surprise really enjoy using Windows Phone 8. But I got the phone anticipating Surface Pro 3, purchased day of availability. Like someone choosing iPod and a Mac a decade ago: Product synergy.

The Windows Phone apps wasteland observed a year ago -- even just a few months ago -- fills with new growth. All the majors I care about -- Adobe PhotoShop Express, Facebook, Flixster, IMDB, Instagram, Kindle Reader, Netflix, Shazam, Tumbler, Twitter, Vimeo, and Vine, for example, among others -- are available. My bank and credit card provider have apps. Absent: Apple and Google apps, although most Big G services work just fine in the browser, including Plus, and Microsoft provides solid support for Google Calendar and Contacts and Gmail.

Six months ago, I would not have considered Windows Phone, which app selection still looked too much like a graveyard. Momentum grows, even as zombie pundits seek to feast on the platform. Like OS X in 2004, for which Apple produced the best apps, Microsoft does same with Windows Phone. Office is surprisingly useful -- more than it ever was on Windows Mobile. I write on my Icon with increasing frequency. Then there are the Nokia apps, which are absolutely great, providing the kind of digital content creation capabilities reminiscent of Apple applications on OS X a decade ago. Nokia's stuff isn't as tightly integrated, but the utility bangs heads -- or should I say the zombie dead.

Reaching Down to Move Up

Where Windows Phone's future can -- and I predict will -- defy the doomsayers is the brilliant low-cal, high-nutrition strategy. Nokia is still a leader in the global mobile marketplace. In most geographies, the flip and other so-called dumb phones being converted to smart slabs bear the Nokia brand. Meanwhile, in the overall handset market -- not singling out smartphones -- Nokia still ranks number two, according to most reliable market-research firms.

Not that you would know. There is way too much misinformation about the global handset market. BGR headline from yesterday: "Strategy Analytics: 85% of phones shipped last quarter run Android". That's inaccurate. The analyst firm says smartphones, which make up the largest chunk of the global handset market but by no means all of it.

As I predicted three years ago, Microsoft's platform deal undid Nokia. But actual ownership, with resurgent Windows Phone and some solid devices could save the device maker. Nokia Lumia 635 is great example. It's a tasty smartphone morsel that offers lots for little cost, and that's exactly the winning way to move existing Nokia customers using hundreds of millions of dumb phones to smarter ones with the same brand. I can walk into my Microsoft Store and buy the no-contract phone for $99 or $129, for AT&T or T-Mobile, respectively.

That's what smartphones should cost, with no carrier-contract obligation, or even less. In India, where Nokia once commanded 70 percent market share, the official brand store sells a dual-SIM Lumia 630 for ₹11,329 or about US $186. That's exactly not cheap based on household incomes but bargain basement compared to iPhone 5c, which Amazon India sells for ₹32,900 ($540) but lists for ₹41,900 ($689).

Microsoft should keep up the entry-level push, while courting aficionados with devices like Lumia Icon, 930, or 1020. Windows Phone will get more respect, and Nokia will help bring it. Sure the apps go to Android and iOS first, like they did Windows a decade go. But people still bought Macs, and increasing numbers for a convergence of previously stated reasons. The only thing dead here is the zombie apocalypse of mindless smartphone users and pundits seeking to eat Windows Phone's brain.

Endpoint management is very much alive


There are plenty of IT managers who would argue that device management -- for PC, laptop and tablet fleets -- has long gone the way of the Dodo.

In fact, Info-Tech analyst Mike Bassista agrees, recently suggesting that "organizations should treat IT as utility; any endpoint should be able to access the applications and services needed by its user. And like the power company doesn't need to manage light bulbs receiving electricity, IT doesn't need to manage endpoints receiving IT services". Whilst there is some merit to his comment, I really believe device management is more important now than ever before.

New challenges

Virtually every company has encountered the problem whereby employees viewing IT as non-responsive actively purchase new hardware and software behind the backs of the IT department, in order to do their job. A 2014 survey by Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan found that 80 percent of respondents admitted to using non-approved SaaS applications in their jobs.

This problem of shadow IT is creating a hidden, growing pool of assets that companies own but are unaware of, which creates legal, security and compliance risks. Imagine a scenario whereby an employee has downloaded software to a company PC, which is leaking records data to the internet. Any penalties and fines issued by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) would be aimed at the company and not the employee.

The main concern surrounding shadow IT is that this is just the beginning. As more individuals trust cloud based software and services, it is likely that growing numbers will bypass IT and download applications without thinking. The risk of data leakage grows significantly with increasing trust in the cloud.

Shining the light on Shadow IT

The real issue with shadow IT is the unknown danger. IT managers should be worried about those unseen, unmanaged, and unpatched PCs, Macs, tablets, and phones, which have a greater likelihood of being connected to the corporate network and pose a greater risk of data leakage.

Assuming that Wi-Fi and corporate networks are secure, the usual anti-viral / firewall protection is in place, what do IT managers need to be thinking about?

Endpoint management technology can counter shadow IT as well as support existing BYOD (bring your own device) practices by first discovering what devices are connecting to the corporate network. Second, the technology can run an inventory to understand what software is being used and by whom. Third, it is not only possible to patch those devices and applications, but manage them with the correct permissions in place.

5 essential factors of endpoint management

If, like me, you can see that endpoint management is very much alive and necessary, there are five things to consider before deployment:

Cloud-delivery: IT managers -- and specifically those in large organizations with disparate sites -- must be able to discover, patch and manage devices remotely. It's unrealistic to expect the IT manager to visit every site to load the endpoint management software.

Rapid discovery: if the process of discovering devices takes days or, worse, weeks, it's a waste of time and a security risk. IT managers should look to partner with a vendor or MSP (managed service providers) that develops an endpoint management service, which can work within minutes.

Reduce burden: if the endpoint management service actually adds a permanent layer of software code to each device, it is making more work for the IT manager, who will have to maintain the very code he or she has deployed.

Management automation: an endpoint management solution needs to automate repetitive management tasks; a good example is patch management. You need to know; that patches exist, be able to scan you environment to see if a patch is required and then deploy the patch. Selecting a solution that provides a patch content database can allow automation of the process.

Development road map: vendors must be able to clearly communicate the future of the services, which devices it will be able to identify, manage and protect now and in the future.

Moving forward

Endpoint management is more vital now than ever before. The devices we all carry into work are changing at a rapid pace and are increasing in number. Certainly, the laptop isn't going anywhere soon [any more than the TV will be ousted from our homes]. Managing endpoints is essential to combat shadow IT, police BYOD and help organizations focus on what is important.

Ashley Leonard is CEO of Verismic.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

How to overcome the main challenges faced by IT departments


IT departments always used to be the butt of jokes. Perhaps this was because being nerdy and geeky wasn't hip and cool until social media took the world by storm and made multimillionaires out of self-confessed geeks like Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.

Technology firms like Apple and Google are partly responsible for making consumer IT cool, but the IT department is still often viewed as an impenetrable world only inhabited by geeks and boffins that are often arrogant, rude and obstructive.

IT needs a PR makeover and this is probably the first and most important challenge that any IT professional has to contend with. Its consequences are far reaching. Not only is it hard to recruit good staff into IT, but the relationship with the rest of the business and employees can be strained, which doesn't help with job satisfaction or prospects.

So how can you alleviate the challenges faced by your team?

Staffing is key

In the US, it is forecast that 10,000 baby boomers will be eligible to retire every day for the next 15 to 20 years. Some of these boomers work in IT departments and their knowledge of the organization and its wants and needs will be lost.

Replacing boomers can be tough, as finding good, qualified staff isn't easy and today's graduates and students entering the workforce have different motivations. They are unlikely to stay in a job for life, so a motivating, flexible and challenging environment can help you attract the best staff, but also ones that stay for longer.

For Google's CIO Ben Fried, employing the best people in IT is not only a way of bringing IT costs down, it also has a huge role to play in improving the image of the IT department.

He told the Harvard Business Review that the IT team should be more knowledgeable about technology than other employees. This might seem common sense, but is actually not an easy task in today's world of tech savvy workers. If you have a broken laptop you want the first person you contact in the IT department to know more about it than you do and not offer a series of pre-scripted questions and responses as they are the lowest paid support service.

Having fewer, better qualified and more knowledgeable support staff, he argues reduces costs as they can tackle more problems and do so more quickly.

Work with people, not against them

IT departments traditionally had the role of the enforcer, preventing employees from connecting their own devices to the company network to maintain and protect business systems and networks.

With consumer proliferation of smartphones and tablets that battle has been firmly lost and users now bring in their own devices and apps and use them for personal and work-related tasks. Cisco estimates there will be 1.62 billion mobile devices in the office by 2016, so the trend is increasing.

Embracing rather than preventing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is now the best approach for IT departments, who still need to protect company data and information.

According to Paul Simoneau, a senior instructor and course director with Global Knowledge, the IT department's solution should be to controlling data access and securing the organization’s data rather than being pre-occupied with preventing users access to the network.

First, secure the data on servers, he says. Then provide users access to that data in the form of mobile web apps. This lets them access the data on any server they are authorized to access, but doesn't store any data on the mobile device.

Embrace mobile technologies

If your business hasn't gone mobile yet, then it almost certainly will. Mobile technology empowers individual employees to process, consume, manipulate and share huge amounts of information nearly instantly, from almost anywhere in the world, and often at very low cost.

All this mobility creates new IT management challenges. Mobile technology, combined with the related BYOD trend, is pervasive and ubiquitous providing challenges for IT departments who must integrate these mobile devices with IT systems and secure the networks against a wide range of mobile threats, including malware, unauthorized access and theft.

In a recent CIO Barometer survey, 65 percent of Chief Information Officers (CIOs) noted the development of mobile applications as one of IT's major challenges. Nearly as many (63 percent) also cited managing BYOD and other consumer technologies in the workplace as nearly as important.

Leverage big data

Harnessing data is one of the big tests facing businesses in the information age. Data growth is accelerating and anticipated to grow by 800 percent in the next five years. Understanding the scale, diversity and complexity of data demonstrates the challenge. Every day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. This comes from a wide range of sources, such as social media updates, emails, digital pictures, climate sensors and cell phone GPS signals to name a few.

There is huge potential in capturing and understanding data, much of which is unstructured, to inform business analytics and customer behavior.

The State of the CIO 2014 survey rated leveraging data and analytics among the most important technology initiatives in the coming year with 72 percent of CIOs seeking to improve the use of data and analytics to benefit business decisions and outcomes.

But if big data offers huge opportunities, protecting data and maintaining its integrity is a challenge that many IT departments are well aware of, especially given the fact that 71 percent of security breaches targeted user devices.

And according to Eric Williams, executive vice president and chief information officer at Catalina Marketing Corp., another big challenge is resisting the temptation to gather every available piece of information available to only throw it into a data warehouse. It is much more effective and satisfactory to take a limited sample of data to start with and get real insight out of it, then grow the methodology for analysis.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Google Chrome 64-bit Beta arrives, edges closer to final Windows release


Google has moved its dedicated 64-bit Windows build of Chrome one step closer to its final release with the launch of Google Chrome 37.0 Beta (64-bit). The new release requires Windows 7 64-bit or later to run.

The new build, which is also available in 64-bit form for Linux, moves to the beta channel, but despite media speculation, users should not assume a final release is just a few weeks away – it could yet be months before Google deems the build is stable enough for general consumption.

The new build, which is not compatible with 64-bit versions of XP or Vista, can be installed over the top of an existing Chrome installation -- users should find their settings and bookmarks are preserved.

On the surface, little should change for those switching to the new build -- while the move to 64-bit should, in theory, open up more than 3GB RAM for Chrome users, it’s worth noting that each open tab is given its own separate process. This means that the 32-bit build already allows up to 3-4GB RAM per open tab, which is more than ample for most people’s current browsing needs.

In fact, the switch to 64-bit puts users at risk of allowing individual Chrome tabs to gobble up more available RAM should memory leaks occur, affecting overall performance as a result.

However, switching to 64-bit architecture isn’t simply memory related; it also opens up Chrome to benefit from more general 64-bit performance improvements, while it can also be seen to represent a move to future-proof the browser.

Users should also be aware of question marks over compatibility with existing plug-ins, some of which may need to be upgraded. One notable example is that the Google Talk plugin doesn’t work with Chrome 64-bit; however, the plugin should become redundant when Chrome 38 reaches the beta channel. That’s because version 38 -- currently in the Dev channel -- adds a built-in WebRTC component that allows Google Talk to function without the need for a separate plugin.

Other compatibility considerations include the need to install a 64-bit version of Java.

Google Chrome 37.0 Beta (64-bit) is available now as a free download for PCs running 64-bit versions of Windows 7, 8 or Linux. Also available for Windows, Linux and Mac is Google Chrome 37.0 Beta (32-bit).

J butterfly joins HTC's premium Android lineup

HTC J butterfly

Today, HTC introduces a new smartphone in its premium Android lineup. Called J butterfly, the device features similar specs to the One (M8) flagship, but without making use of the latter's 4 MP UltraPixel main camera, employing a 13 MP unit instead. Pixel fans, rejoice!

That said, J butterfly retains the Duo Camera technology HTC baked in One (M8). It allows the smartphone to capture depth information to achieve a bokeh effect in photos, which is typical of DSLRs. On the front, there is a 5 MP camera, that is also taken from One (M8), designed for selfie-lovers. So far, J butterfly is shaping up to be what some had hoped One (M8) would be.

On the front, there is also a 5-inch Super LCD3 display with a resolution of 1,080 by 1,920. But, sadly, the BoomSound speakers are nowhere to be seen; HTC is trying to make up for it with JBL'S High-Performance In-Ear Headphones. The company is launching Dot View cases for J butterfly.

Inside, there is a 2.5 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, with 2 GB of RAM and a 2,700 mAh battery to back it up. J butterfly ships with 32 GB of internal storage and a microSDXC card slot, the latter of which can be used to extend the capacity by up to 128 GB.

As far as connectivity goes, J butterfly offers 4G LTE and WiMax 2+ cellular network support, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0 as its main highlights. It is also water and dust-proof. It comes in at 145 x 70 x 10 mm and 156 grams.

HTC, as you might expect, is slapping its own Sense user interface on top of Android (KitKat), which I find to be quite attractive on One (M8). That means the usual software add-ons are included in the mix.

Sadly, unless you live in Japan, you cannot buy J butterfly. But, if the past is of any indication, HTC may launch an international version of the smartphone, which moniker will most likely start with "Butterfly" (the last one in the series is called Butterfly S). The only thing that I have a problem with is the design, which is clearly not optimized for the (small) 5-inch display without the BoomSound speakers on the top and bottom.

XP is still used in 53 percent of businesses

group young business it network server room solving help support

It's around three months since Microsoft pulled the plug on support for XP, yet according to a survey carried out by Adaptiva at May's TechEd North America, 53 percent of respondents are still running the old OS in their organizations.

Just under half (43 percent) of respondents to the survey represent companies with more than 10,000 nodes (desktops, laptops and servers), including 13 percent with more than 100,000 so there are potentially a lot of business XP systems still out there.

Naturally this raises concerns, 25 percent of respondents were worried about security, while 15 percent had purchased extended support from Microsoft. The biggest obstacle to migrating from Windows XP was seen as application compatibility (29 percent), followed by time (15 percent), cost (4 percent), and user training (2 percent).

When asked about migration plans, Windows 8 proved more popular than expected with 17 percent planning on moving to Windows 8 or a mixed Windows 7 and 8 environment. Respondents are wary of automating OS migration, 32 percent were concerned about getting the task sequence right and 27 percent citing WAN bandwidth their biggest obstacle, and 19 percent pointing to lack of storage at remote locations.

Although cloud usage is growing 81 percent said the cloud had no impact on their ability to update and patch operating systems. Also 7 percent said the cloud made it harder to perform basic system management functions.

BYOD doesn't seem to have had much impact on desktop use either with a massive 99 percent of respondents saying the introduction of smartphones and tablets had caused no significant infrastructure shrinkage.

Photo Credit: dotshock/Shutterstock

It is game over for Windows Phone

game over

Microsoft, it is time to reconsider your Windows Phone plans. The tiled smartphone operating system's market share came in at a tiny 2.7 percent in Q2 2014, dropping from the 3.8 percent it claimed in the same period of last year. As a result, Windows Phone saw a 28.94 percent decrease year-over-year in market share, caused by low shipments of only 8.0 million units in the second quarter of the year, 0.9 million units less than in Q2 2013 when its shipments were at the 8.9 million units mark.

The data is from a new report issued by research firm Strategy Analytics, which adds "Windows Phone continued to struggle in the United States and China", the first two largest smartphone markets worldwide. There, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech places the platform at 3.8 percent and 0.9 percent market share, respectively. That is lower than in other markets such as Australia, where Windows Phone was able to reach 5.3 percent market in Q2 2014, as well as some parts of Europe.

Windows Phone was not the only smartphone OS to post market share losses in Q2 2014, as iOS also dropped to 11.9 percent from 13.4 percent and BlackBerry followed suit with a decrease in market share to 0.6 percent from 2.4 percent (in the same respective quarters). In Q2 2014, Apple shipped 35.2 million iPhones, 4 million units more than in Q2 2013. BlackBerry, in contrast, shipped just 1.9 million units, which is 3.8 million units less than in the same period of last year when the Canadian maker shipped 5.7 million units.

Practically, Windows Phone is in the same boat as BlackBerry, as these are the only two platforms which registered losses in both market share and unit shipments in Q2 2014 compared to Q2 2013. Apple's iPhones grew in shipments, but were unable to keep pace with Android smartphones. The open-source OS' market share rose to 84.6 percent in Q2 2014, up from 80.2 percent in the same period of last year. Its shipments also increased to 249.6 million units, up from 186.8 million units.

"Android's domination of global smartphone shipments reached a new peak in Q2 2014, with an impressive 85 percent of all smartphones now running Google’s OS", says Strategy Analytics. "Android’s gain came at the expense of every major rival platform. BlackBerry saw its global smartphone share tumble from 2 percent to 1 percent in the past year due to a weak line-up of BB10 devices. Apple iOS lost one point of share to Android because of its limited presence at the lower end of the smartphone market".

Strategy Analytics Smartphone OS market share Q2 2014

Photo credit: Luis Louro/Shutterstock

Google Glass: The pinnacle of wearable technology? [Review]


Begin a sentence with the phrase "most anticipated gadget ever" and tradition dictates the words "Google" and "Glass" must follow shortly after.

Unceremoniously launched into public consciousness from a plane hovering over Google I/O, Google Glass has been one of the hottest topics in tech since 2012. Two years on and the smart specs are still the gadget every technical guru desires; to some it's "an overwrought headband", to others it's the wearable future of modern technology.

Still, it's not all been smooth sailing. In California headlines were rocked back in April when a woman was attacked for wearing the controversial kit. No longer a geeky gimmick, Glass is equal parts wearable harbinger and political symbol. The embodiment of privacy concerns and megacorp ambition.

But strip all that back, and what do you have? Or perhaps more pertinently, what's it really like to use?


The first rule of Google Glass is you must always talk about Google Glass. You have no choice -- it is literally a computer on your face, and that's pretty conspicuous.

Even though the smart specs will attract a lot of attention, they still command an elegant design. A thin titanium frame with adjustable plastic nosepads anchors Glass to the bridge of your nose, while the right arm of the frame houses all the hardware.

Ironically, there is no actual glass here -- Google Glass has no lenses unless you buy special clip on ones separately. Instead at the front there is an inch long prism that projects the heads-up display, as well as the 5-megapixel camera.

It's incredibly futuristic, though not in an ostentatious way. The thicker right-hand frame doubles as a sort of touch-screen, allowing you to scroll through the menu system by flicking your finger along the smooth control. This is a nice touch (quite literally) given that voice control can sometimes be inaccurate, but it does mean that the frames can sit a little lopsided due to the heavy weight of all the hardware.


Get all notions of phablet-sized, 6in screens out of your head. With Glass, the panel is built into the right side of the headset. It works by beaming light into a clear prism of glass, which then rebounds out and reflects into your eye.


The result is a translucent, glowing image that appears to float in front of you. Google says it's like looking at a "25in HD screen from eight feet away," but if you have sight problems it can be more like a blurry mirage wobbling a mile away from your squinting eyeball. Thankfully there are prescriptive lenses available with Google Glass, but that will add a few extra digits to the Google Glass price tag.

We also take a little bit of issue with the word "HD". Google has told its developers to work with an array of 640 x 360 pixels, and while individual pixels aren't immediately apparent the level of detail is definitely limited compared to an HD display.

Colors are also slightly muted; an image will project more like a retro, passive-matrix LCD than a modern OLED display. Still, the contrast is surprisingly good considering the image is partly see-through (so you can see where you're walking.) The only time it slips up is in bright sunlight, when definition can be lost slightly.

It's key to stress though that all the viewing is done through your right eye. For quick browsing of emails that's not too bad, but if you want to surf the web or watch a video that's more than five minutes long, it becomes painful. Your optic nerve was not designed to focus intently on a very precise area for extended periods of time. Sadly.


There are three ways to capture images with Google Glass. The first is by hitting the shutter release on the top right of glass -- simply click it once to take a picture and revel in analogue tradition.

The second is simply by saying "Ok Glass, take a picture". Voice control is a key part of the Google Glass experience, which we'll delve into more in a moment.

Lastly, you can also set up a "wink" function. This means that simply by shutting your right eye, you can capture a shot in an instant. The idea is immediate memory capturing, so if Road Runner suddenly blitzes past your office you won't be caught unawares.

Trouble is, this is also the most irritating mode of the three: Glass often can't tell a blink from a wink. Get a speck of dust in your eye, and once your eyes stop streaming you'll realize you've maxed out Glass's memory with snaps of the back of your hand. We swiftly disabled the feature.


The camera itself is 5-megapixel, and while it won't capture the super-high resolution images of your smartphone, it's decent enough to snap every day moments. In bright lights outdoors you can capture some genuinely good shots, but in poor lighting conditions the photo will come out grainy. For video you can capture 10-second videos by default (in 720p), or longer videos by tapping on the side of the frames twice.

Battery life

However, all this bites into the battery. Crack the case open (which we do NOT recommend) and you will find an aging TI OMAP 4430 processor, paired with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. The battery size, however, is a bit more of an enigma with no official confirmation of how much juice you'll get.

Still, while we can't give you an exact size we can tell you that the life is poor. In an average day of normal use (checking emails, taking short pictures and videos and navigating to a few spots round the city) the Glass lasted only five hours before dying. When the whole point of wearable technology is to almost forget it's there and live your life around it, having to charge the Glass at regular intervals is a glaring problem.


Despite the fact that any average Joe and his tech-savvy Granny can now pick Google Glass up off a virtual shelf, the sad fact is that these are still very much prototype specs.

That's not to say that Glass is not a trail blazer. It has the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with technology, but right now it offers users very little apart from being a glaringly obvious conversation starter at parties.

While it has a slick design, excellent Google Now features and solid navigation around the interface that relies on head-tracking, it's also outrageously expensive with poor battery life and a limited number of apps.

Glass has sadly fallen victim to the real issue plaguing most wearable technology today -- the fact that you're trying to shrink the tactile tangibility of a smartphone's screen into something much smaller, in this case an inch long glass prism.

If you're an early adopter with deep pockets, by all means flog a kidney and buy the Google Glass as soon as possible. It's an incredibly fun toy, but at the moment that's all it is. For all the rest, give it another two years and wait for the second -- or even third -- generation.

The simple fact is that two years down the line from its first unveiling, it feels like Google Glass is still wrapped up in cellophane; still switched off; still folded in the box of its potential.

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

Big data is transforming every industry, from health and education, to farming and energy


Big data is already making a big impact all over the world. Large corporations, world organizations, and governments have hopped aboard the big data bandwagon, hoping to utilize new sources of data to improve operations and increase productivity among many other reasons.

It's easy to see from the latest technology news how such massive organizations can benefit from big data considering their available resources and history of using the technology. Finding ways big data is impacting life outside of large, urban areas may seem a little more difficult.

However, big data is already making inroads into rural and suburban communities with promising results.


Big data has the chance to totally revolutionize farming as we know it. While farming has always sought to use new technology to improve crop output, big data is helping farmers take the next big leap into providing food for a growing population.

In this new age, tractors come equipped with sensors that work to collect data on seeding rates, crop yields, ground conditions, and other factors that prove vital in day-to-day farming. The benefits that could be gained from this newly gathered data are intriguing. From the collected information, farmers and seed companies hope to produce more crops while working on the same amount of land.

Combining data from fields and weather patterns may help farmers prepare for extreme conditions which might otherwise damage crops. Big data from genomic analysis can also help scientists engineer crops that are drought-resistant.


Large universities already know about the benefits of big data, but now the same advantages are trickling into smaller schools at the elementary level. Standardized tests have always been used as a way to measure student performance, but now schools can use those tests and other assignments to gather even more data on their students. From that data, teachers and administrators can determine patterns and chart individual performances that will help them tailor the ways that they teach their students. In this way, students will get the help they need much more quickly by having their own individual action plan made by teachers.


What is available to many large hospitals across the nation is now a possibility for smaller hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices. Many of the advances from big data are being used for the treatment and recovery of patients. Doctors are now getting access to vital patient records through mobile technology such as smartphones and tablets.

That same technology can also analyze the symptoms doctors input and calculate viable treatments that would be effective for the patient in need. The data also takes into account all the latest research, meaning any recommended treatments are up-to-date. In essence, these advances using big data allow doctors to make more informed decisions at a quicker rate, meaning more quality for patient care no matter where they may live.

City resources

Smaller cities and towns now have the ability to manage their resources even better now that technologies that analyze big data are more affordable. In one example, some small towns in New Jersey are investing in big data services to look at making trash pick-up operations more efficient.

The idea is to compare automated garbage trucks that use only one operator to older models that require two workers. Other areas are looking at the possibility of using big data predictive analysis to better manage resources for police by identifying parts of the city or town where crimes are most likely to happen.


Energy conservation is usually on the minds of many city council members, and with big data, smaller cities and towns have the chance to help save on energy costs. In Dubuque, Iowa, the city is placing sensors on utility meters in order to collect data on how people and organizations within the city are using water, gas, and electricity.

The city is also using big data to track how people are moving around the city in their vehicles. This is being done to analyze transportation and traffic problems and see if there are any possible solutions. With a better understanding of these issues, the city may end up saving money by keeping energy costs low.

Big data is not just a big part of life for large cities and metropolitan areas anymore. The spreading technology is starting to make an impact in suburban and rural environments, affecting more lives than ever before. Expect the spread to only increase over time as people become more familiar with how big data can benefit their lives.

Gil Allouche is the vice president of marketing at Qubole

Published under license from, a Net Communities Ltd Publication. All rights reserved.

mercredi 30 juillet 2014

How to access Windows 8.x emoji on a desktop PC


The touch screen keyboard available on Windows 8.x tablets -- like Microsoft Surface, for example -- gives you access to a wealth of emoji you can use in chats, emails, comments and so on. As well as the usual smileys, there are hand signs, hearts, cartoon characters, vehicles, weather symbols, and many more to pick from. Just select the character set you want at the bottom of the keyboard.

If you’re not using a touch screen device, but still want to access these characters you can.

All you need to do is right-click the taskbar, go to Toolbars and select Touch Keyboard. A virtual keyboard will open, and you can click on the emoji key and select the characters you want.

A Touch Keyboard button will be displayed in the taskbar, so you can quickly access the virtual keyboard, and the emoji collection, as and when required.

Why I'm still right about the BlackBerry Passport (and other things)


What a firestorm! I sort of knew going in that my previous entry, "Do NOT buy a BlackBerry Passport until you read this", would evoke a heated response from the BB faithful. However, I never imagined there will still so many dedicated BlackBerry fans out there. Over 200 (mostly scathing) comments later, and I can feel the rage (the "Zionist" quips, in particular, were hilarious).

Another pundit might try to backtrack in light of such unrelenting animosity. But not me! The potent combination of unbridled hubris and geographic isolation have emboldened me to double-down on my original assertions. So, instead of dancing around the issues, I’m tackling a few of the major objections head-on to show you why I’m right (and you’re all wrong) about the BlackBerry Passport.

First up is the "business user" objection. Many have pointed out that the Passport is designed specifically for BB fans, with features that benefit users who have traditionally skewed towards physical keyboards and other signature BlackBerry elements. They claim that I’m missing the point by focusing on a market of users for whom the device was never intended.

My response is that I agree with their analysis of the Passport’s feature set: It is indeed designed for hardcore BB fans. However, as was the case with the Playbook, the buzz around BlackBerry’s "funky" new phone has greatly broadened its potential appeal. Which, in the case of a device like the Passport, is a very bad thing.

Customers who listen to the buzz and mistakenly purchase a Passport thinking it’s just like any other Android or iOS handset will quickly bump into the very real compatibility and app selection issues that have plagued BB10 from the beginning. The resulting high return rate, coupled with the inevitable scathing reviews from journalists who have no clue about BlackBerry or the design philosophy behind the device, will create the same kind of negative media spiral that doomed the Playbook.

None of this would be such a big deal if, as a company, BlackBerry was willing to settle for simply maintaining its legacy customer base. But years of belt-tightening and cost-cutting -- not to mention the unceremonious axing of underperforming products, like the Playbook -- have shown that the folks from Waterloo have little patience for small volume platforms with niche appeal.

BlackBerry’s shareholders want the company to do more than just tread water. They want it to start growing the business again, and the temptation for BlackBerry to oversell its portfolio in an effort to tap into the larger consumer market may be too strong to resist. In other words, all of the ingredients are in place for a repeat of the Playbook fiasco.

The remaining comments mostly fall under either the "you’re a shill for Apple/Google/Microsoft" category, or the "you’re a discredited journalist with questionable ethics and thus should be ignored" mantle (yet you took the time to comment).

With regard to the first line of attack, I consider it a badge of honor any time I get accused of being on some company’s payroll. And when I successfully provoke a response from two or more major camps within any 30 day period (as I have here on several occasions), I give myself an extra pat on the back for a job well done.

And as for the "discredited journalist" comments, seriously? Four years later and people are still beating that old horse? Larry Dignan’s "Watergatian" effort to discredit me dug up what, exactly? That I ran a small, one-person consultancy firm? Check. That I really did have huge Wall Street clients, like Morgan Stanley, who site-license my software? Check. That I never actually falsified any data or otherwise published anything demonstrably untrue? Check.

In fact, the only thing this buffoon ever managed to "pin" on me was that I once used the name "Craig Barth" to separate my very real, full-time job supporting Morgan and others, from my very frivolous, part-time gig as a shock-jock blogger for InfoWorld. And even then, he got the story wrong when he claimed that Mr. Barth was some fictitious character I created.

After all these years, I’m still amazed that nobody ever thought to ask what the "C" stands for in "Randall C. Kennedy" (hint: it rhymes with "Greg"). Or bothered to do a vital records search (I’m notorious, after all) and thus discovered that (surprise) I wasn’t born a Kennedy.

Let it go, folks. And meet me back here in a year so I can say "I told you so!"

Photo Credit: Mihai Petre/Shutterstock

Jitterbit connects SAP to the cloud

Enterprise cloud

SAP is the world's most popular ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, but a recent survey by HCL Technologies shows that integration with their existing solutions was the biggest obstacle to 45 percent of SAP users when implementing cloud technologies.

Integration company Jitterbit has announced a new SAP Connector that lets businesses integrate their existing processes with SAP whether they're on-site or in the cloud. Certified by SAP and running on Jitterbit's Harmony cloud platform it offers faster integration and is compatible with SAP's latest HANA in memory appliance.

"Businesses are clamoring to bring on new cloud technologies, but integrating them with existing solutions and on-premise systems in an efficient and secure manner has proved to be an enormous headache," says Jitterbit Vice President of Marketing and Business Development Andrew Leigh. "The Harmony SAP Connector will empower companies to embrace new technologies and realize amplified value from their existing applications by offering the only integration solution delivered on a unified cloud platform, which is both easy to use and quick to get up and running."

The new Connector is optimized for SAP customers operating in specific industries, including manufacturing, retail, automotive, and energy. It allows companies in these sectors to streamline critical business processes like customer service and field service, breaking down departmental barriers across the organization. Businesses will also be able to get increased value from their back-office SAP systems by connecting them with new technologies that make use of cloud, mobile, and social media innovations, as well as the internet of things.

It's the only integration tool for SAP that runs on a unified, multi-tenant cloud platform, allowing customers the agility, speed and support that the cloud offers. It also offers a graphical interface which means business users can set up and manage connections without the need for specialist API support.

You can find out more on the Jitterbit website.

Photo Credit: Vallepu / Shutterstock