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A fool and his money….

And the madness continues…

DON’T BUY THIS CRAP! Give your money to charity or burn it as a piece of performance art! But don’t buy this crap!

This makes me so annoyed! Do something useful with your money….please!

More Musings on Consumers and Cloud

I must stop looking at Kickstarter, I will end up bankrupt but it does give some insight in what is going to drive the Cloud and Big Data from a consumer point of view.

From Ubi to Ouya to Memeto; these are all new consumer devices that are going to further drive our relience on the Cloud and Cloud Services. The latter being a life-logging device that could drive the amount of storage that we require through the roof; they believe that an individual could be generating 1.5Tb of data per annum, they really don’t need a huge amount of customers to be generating multiple petabytes of data per year. And if they are successful, more devices will appear, some offering higher resolution, some potentially starting to offer video….

Many people will look at such services and wonder why anyone would be interested but it really doesn’t matter…these services are going to make today’s services look frugal in their use of storage.

And then the growth of voice recognition services where the recognition has been driven to the Cloud and causing a massive increase in the growth of compute requirements.

Throw in non-linear viewing of media and services like Catch-Up TV and we have almost a perfect storm…

Do you need a desktop?

Work provide me with a laptop which spends most of its time locked to my desk. It’s quite a nice business laptop but really I can’t be bothered to carry it around. On occasion, when I’m working from home and realise that I am going to need access to some of corporate applications which require VPN access, it’ll come home with me but mostly not.

To be quite honest, even my MBA doesn’t travel that much, up and down the stairs is about as far as it goes. It is quite the nicest and most practical laptop that I’ve ever owned but I think we are getting close to the stage where a tablet can do almost everything that I need where-ever I am.

I was thinking as I was working today whether what I was doing required the traditional desktop experience and could I simply use my iPad as the access device instead. The answer is mostly yes, almost all the applications that I use are generic enough that there are good enough replacements on the iPad or they are accessed by a web interface anyway.

There are a few blockers tho’ at present

1) at present I can’t get my iPad onto the corporate wireless, this means that I can’t access a number of key applications due to ‘security’ restrictions but I can access email which appears to be our preferred file delivery/transfer mechanism.

2) I need a real keyboard to type on, there is a limit to how much I am prepared to type on a screen keyboard. I could overcome this relatively easily by bringing a bluetooth keyboard in.

3) Wired Ethernet is a necessity when working in some of our data centres or secure areas.

4) Unfortunately, I struggle without PowerPoint and Visio unfortunately; I can cope without Word, Excel is a little more problematic but it’s manageable. Keynote is nice but it makes a real mess of rendering PowerPoint in my experience.

5) Working on an external display is often a much nicer experience than using the tablet screen, even tho’ the retina display is the wonderful. But I have both the HDMI and VGA dongles which gets round this. But I wish that Apple could find a way to put a mini-DisplayPort on the iPad as using the adapters means that I loose any chance of using a USB device. Not important most of the time but very useful for transferring files from cameras and other devices.

But then I started thinking some more, perhaps I don’t really need a tablet either for work. Perhaps a smartphone which I dock would do? What we could do with is a standard dock for all mobile devices which charges, displays on an external screen and allows input from a standard keyboard/mouse.

Planes, trains, hotels and the like could simply provide a dock and you would end up carrying even less. At that point a device the size of a Samsung Note or Kindle Fire becomes a very interesting proposition.

And yet, I still expect to keep my PC desktop for some time….why? It’s still the best serious gaming platform out there. But for almost everything else I could probably manage with a mobile device.

Shiny, shiny..but I fancy a slice of Pi!

So I’ve splashed out on a new iPad; I had an original iPad which was being eyed up avariciously by little Bod and I decided to make us both happy. I’m a great Dad like that, deeply unselfish ;-).

There’s little to write which has not already been written, the screen is gorgeous and leads to interesting speculation about the screens which might make appear in the more traditional Apple products and it is certainly snappier than the original.

I’ve tried the voice input and it works surprisingly well; a big chunk of this has been dictated using it but I am not entirely convinced by voice input in general. Still if anything, it might be good discipline for me as I allegedly talk very quickly at times.

It’s just a better iPad and if you like the iPad you’ll like it and if you don’t like the iPad, you’ll still not like it. But it does get better with each iteration, I still think that the trick with Apple tech is to take every other iteration; that way you get a reasonable delta between them.

I think that for most people, an iOS based device could replace their home computer which leads me to wonder why Apple haven’t gone the whole hog yet. An Apple TV with access to the AppStore and a keyboard&mouse could for many replace their home computer. Of course, Apple would have to allow iOS to use a mouse but it might well be worth the compromise.

We have a device which is pretty close to that in the form of the Raspberry Pi, a device which is closer to Apple’s roots than any of their current devices; I can certainly see Woz appreciating what they are trying to do with the Pi.

Hopefully the Pi will generate a new ecosphere around it and show the way. It would be nice to have a device that was affordable, open and useable. It might just be the spur for all of the big boys to do something similar. I do like my shiny, shiny but I do sometimes hunger for old days.

Internal Pre-Sales

I’ve long argued that there needs to be more movement between vendors and users; I think that there is immense value, especially for vendors who can sometimes be isolated from the trials and tribulations of the end-user. And at times, as an end-user it is useful to understand the pressures and the reality of the vendor world. I like to say that ‘I may take the piss in some of my requests but I do know of what I ask…’ But of course having worked both sides of the fence, I would say that!

However as we move to more service focused IT delivery organisations; perhaps there is real value having worked in a vendor in a pre-Sales capacity; especially if you have learnt to use ears and mouth in the right proportions. Do we need a new role of ‘Internal Pre-Sales’ and is it really a new role?

Unfortunately, I think that the answer is for many organisations that it is a new role but it shouldn’t be. Learning to listen to customers should not be a big surprise (although even amongst some vendors, you’d think it was) but it is debatable whether we would be in the situation we are today if we had all been a bit better at listening and grokking what we were being told.

Listening to the problems and the desires of our users is what we should be good at and unlike a vendor, we potentially have the whole paintbox to play with; we are not stuck with EMC Blue or IBM Blue or HP Grey etc. We can build our service offerings out of best of breed if we want.

Yet we often carry on like the most arrogant vendor in the world? Why is that? Is it learnt behaviour from our vendors or have they learnt it from us? Hard to say!

Our Design and Architecture teams should be doing this but often they are too busy playing with the latest toy and failing the Business. This is not any individual’s fault but a failing in a culture which is very introspective and often closed. Too often we focus on telling each other how cool a technology is as opposed to listening to the Business about a cool problem that technology might help them with.

But we can learn to sell and market; our business is our Business and we should know our verticals better than anyone. Marketing should not be a dirty word; selling should not be anathema. Funnily enough, I think if we got better at it, I think that the vendors might concentrate our selling to us rather than our Businesses. We should have the advantage and the vendors should want to partner with the most likely winner; it makes more sense that way!

[partially inspired by Chuck’ Blog here and riffing on the theme of needing different people for today’s IT world…thanks for inspiration Chuck]

Bod’s Stuff of the Year

It’s bit late but if you still have some Christmas shopping to do, here’s a few ideas of things I’ve liked over the past twelve months.

Anyway, hopefully there are a few ideas for late Christmas presents or even some New Year’s retail therapy. Do your bit for the economy and spend, spend, spend!

Gadget of the Year

Don’t care which model you get but Amazon’s e-reader is probably the must have for any geek. It slips into a large coat pocket and you can have your favourite books with you where-ever you are. The only problem with it is that it is far too easy to buy books and you will find yourself spending more than you used to on books. But for me, it’s my favourite gadget.

Geek-out Extravaganza

It might be expensive and completely indulgent but if you are a Star Wars nut; then Star Wars: The Blueprints is a must have. The packaging is gorgeous and the content, especially from the filming of the original series, is sublime. Treat yourself, you’ll love it. Just hide the receipt!

Games(s) of the Year

I am already loosing sleep to Star Wars: The Old Republic (had a great gaming session with Storagezilla) but my Game of the Year is not really a game but a collection of games; can I recommend that you all support the Indie Games industry and especially Humble Bundle, some fun games at pocket money prices and you get to support independent games companies and charity at the same time.  There are other indie games bundles out there, it’s worth keeping an eye out for them.

Fiction Book of the Year

There’s been some great fiction this year, Neal Stephenson told a cracking tale in Reamde and really hit form again; William Gibson’s Zero History was full of ideas and great fun but for me, a new City Watch tale from Terry Pratchett was always going to be the highlight. Snuff takes Captain Vimes into the country and out of his beloved city, as he struggles with the duties of Lord of the Manor, he stumbles into a murder. The ensuing tale is Pratchett at his best.

Non-Fiction Book of the Year

The sad and expected demise of Steve Jobs lead to the early release of Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography. I think it is a credit to Steve and his family that this rounded picture of him was allowed. A deeply flawed genius; this book does not shy away from the flaws whilst painting the picture of the driven genius. If you love Apple or even if you hate Apple, it’s worth reading and perhaps reflecting on the bit of Steve which is in us all, certainly Biography of the Year. Pencil Me In: A Journey in the Fight for Graphite is a allegorical tale of technology introduction in education; I think many of my readers will both find relevant and fun [especially recommended to Chuck Hollis and Matthew Yeager].

But my non-fiction book of the year is The Party: The Secret World of China’s Communist Rulers: 1.3 Billion People, 1 Secret Regime; as power continues to move eastwards and China continues its rise to become the dominant economic super-power, this book details how China has pulled itself out of the doldrums and transform its economy. Anecdotes are well used to demonstrate ideas and why China will not transform into a Western-style democracy any time soon.

Album of the Year

I’ve enjoyed House Of Cards by Emily Baker, Suck It And See by Arctic Monkeys and especially enjoyed the collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica in the form of Lulu. The return of Atari Teenage Riot’s aural assault was a welcome return by the Teutonic terrors, Is This Hyperreal?.

Still, I have to agree with the Mercury Music Prize panel and make PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake my stand-out album of the year. As English as it gets, PJ’s anger and passion for our homeland’s current place in the world is a powerful piece from an artist who never fails to push our buttons.

Computer Component of the Year

SSD, get one! It changes your desktop experience, I use the Crucial variations but do your research and transform your desktop computer.

Kindling the Fire

Obviously many people are going to use the same very obvious pun but hell, I’m not going to apologise. Amazon have finally launched their tablet and at first glance it does appear to be a bit of a rush job to be honest; no 3G, no GPS, no cameras and no microphone. This not an iPad 2 replacement; if you still want a iPad, you are probably going to buy an iPad and if you already have an iPad, you will probably wait another six months for the iPad 3.

And it’s not really a Kindle eReader replacement; yes, they’ve refreshed that range and they look nice but the Fire isn’t an eReader. Colour e-Ink is a year or two away for a consumer device and that’s probably the thing which will convince me to change away from my Kindle Keyboard 3G.

Amazon know people love their Apple stuff and to try to compete with this visceral and illogical love is madness; what Amazon know is that people want to consume content quickly and easily via many devices. They also know how to use the Amazon experience to encourage stickiness and further business; I don’t think that the ‘Amazon Recommends’ algorithms are that great but I do find myself adding things to my basket which it recommends on a disturbingly frequent basis.

This is going to give Apple a real headache over time; how many iPads are only used for content consumption? How many people really use video-chat?

Yes, a camera and a microphone would be nice but I suspect that’s not a show stopper for most people; if you are in the market for a tablet, you most likely already have a smart phone with a pretty decent camera.

If the Kindle Fire allows me to use my Audible library and my Kindle library in a seamless way, that’d be a big win. And as long as it runs Spotify, that’s my music sorted for the time being.

Still, that said; I’m probably not going to rush out and buy a Fire….well not for myself, there’s a ten year old who would love one. Of course there is a problem with this, when the inevitable Fire-2 comes out with the bells and whistles, she’s going to want one and I don’t want to be lumbered with a second rate bit of kit.

Now if Amazon were really clever; they should go and buy OnLive; a tablet which came with an OnLive subscription, that’d give everyone a headache.

Your media and your life is moving to the Cloud….its going to get harder and harder to resist.

My New Favourite Thing

I love my Kindle, it’s just about the best thing ever; I can carry hundreds of books around with me and I am almost never without it except for one place and it’s a place I really like to read in…


And finally, I have a solution and I can now read my Kindle in the bath without fear of it getting wet.

The Case Logic Water-resistant Kindle 3 Sleeve; it seals my Kindle into a nice water-resistant case which has a double seal and a velcro closure. The plastic window seems nice and clear and it is easy to turn the pages. So with the really excellent battery-life of the Kindle, I can now spend hours in the bath reading!

I am a happy and clean Storagebod! If you have a Kindle and like reading in the bath, this is highly recommended!