Archive for category Mobile Collaboration
I’ve recently added a Google Nexus 7 to the set of devices I use. As a home based worker, I’m used to many aspects of remote working, and optimising the my use of the laptop and mobile phone (e.g. 2nd monitor, blue tooth headset). However, this month my working location will be office based but away from home, which I thought was enough of a watershed moment to see how a Smart tablet format device would fit into my device mix.
- Blackberry Curve 9300 (Blackberry OS 6)
- Google Nexus 7 (Android Jellybean 4.2) (16GB)
- Lenovo Thinkpad X61 (Tablet) (Windows 7 x64)
Interface & UX:
All the devices have an touch enabled capability of some level.
The Blackberry has a touchpad control, but not a touch sensitive screen. This is an improvement on the physical trackball device, and not an hindrance on the device of this size, and physical keyboard is a more than adequate input option. The only occasional inconvenience I experience on the blackberry is that the screen is now pretty small compared to many smart phones in the market, so coupled with many mobile enabled websites having been optimised for touch based navigation, the speed and mobility around some web sites can be a little cumbersome.
The Nexus 7 was a refreshing surprise to how easy and simple a completely touch and screen based device can be. Also with Android Jelly bean 4.2, the touch screen keyboard is gesture | swipe enabled so that with a little practice I am get fairly adept at completely spelling a word with 1 touch and motion of the finger across the keyboard. The swipe | gesture feature really is great, and with combination of the well designed device hardware and evolution of the Android OS, I don’t have any regrets about waiting until now before purchasing such a device.
I was also waiting for tablet OS which was able to support multiple user profiles, as my family will also have access to this device, so being able to separate use profiles for different individuals is very useful. It’s often been said that Google Play doesn’t have app ecosystem or content breadth to compete with Apple or Amazon, having had the device for a little over a week I don’t find either to hold any substance any longer. Google Play is a well integrated content and application store and I have not been stuck in finding the applications to access my content – in fact these 1st few days have been a little mind blowing as the sheer amount of content available through applications like Google Currents, Feedly, Flipboard and Pocket have given me a quandary about which application to use for what content or content category.
You will notice that there is also a Physical Keyboard dock (blue tooth connectivity) for Nexus 7 which also acts a hard case cover, and stand. I thought that this would be a useful addition in case I needed to do a lot content creation on the device. Combined with the Kingsoft Office suite, I can use the Nexus 7 as a netbook format device as well.
The Lenovo Thinkpad has a resistive touch screen which responds to a stylus and has a flip and rotate function on the screen. But I have never found that much more than a novel feature, though the flip and rotate screen feature is useful in small face to face group meetings.
It is my workhorse content input and creation device, and I need both a physical keyboard and mouse, as well as a large additional monitor to optimise my productivity on this device. My activities in content creation and communication often requires the need for multiple applications and windows to be in operation. The main laptop screen of 12.1 inches is too small to make multi window navigation and application use convenient. I frequently find the text size or content needs to be reduced in dimension to make that application window fit correctly to fit into the screen.
Integration of Content and Services:
Cloud and Mobile enabled applications are so well established that this has been fairly straight forward. Obviously the Blackberry has full enterprise service integration, and can also support a multitude of consumer email services etc. In terms of Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) Evernote has been my application of choice for a long time, and that is always been a leading light in multi-platform support so it was simple to extend Evernote from the Laptop and Blackberry onto the Nexus 7.
I’ve also been a reasonably long time user of Synology NAS devices at home for home digital content (photos, movies, music etc.) The Audio and Photo playback application work without hitch, and I think it won’t be long until the video playback application is out of beta. Certainly the download | file moving application made it easier to move content (music and movies) onto the Google Nexus. I was also able to populate Google Play with my music library too. So that means with Google Play Music, Synology Audio App, Spotify and Tunein Radio there is no shortage of music content on my mobile devices. The Nexus 7 will come into its own as a content device when I purchase a good blue tooth speaker and use it to entertain the children when the family travels together. Though, I must add as an aside – well done to United Airlines, who I flew with recently, for having a great on-demand music library – listened to Alison Strauss, Bon Iver, Robert Plant and The Black Keys – many more were available too.
I will be giving this combination of devices a good run in while working away so I will probably posting a lot more to the blog in the coming weeks.
They recently released the news that they’ve “decided to shutdown the stand-alone Gist service.”
This makes a lot sense, from looking at the need to further integrate the myriad of social and contact based services we all rely upon and then really embed those services into the underlying platform.
- Since our acquisition we built the BlackBerry Playbook Contacts app and more recently, our team has been tasked with creating the native address book/contact manager for the next generation platform, BlackBerry 10.
- In addition to our core focus on the Contacts app, we have been given expanded responsibility for everything social at RIM including BlackBerry Messenger, Facebook and Twitter apps and instant messaging as well as much of the identity platform, location services and user analytics features.
It’s good to see them acknowledge other players in this space – see their support page
I’ve tried Nimble, and will take a look at some of the others on list.
I wish the Gist team luck in delivering this goal of pulling much more together and integrating services the across the SOLOMO (SOcial-LOcal-MObile) |rich contact management space.
Other sources of SOLOMO material:
Do you think SOLOMO (SOcial-LOcal-MObile) is a growing space for application services?
These work across multiple PIM (email | phone | contacts) and social networking services to bring together a rich and comprehensive profile of your contacts.
Typical service features include:
- Rich contact profiles
- Picture | Avatar
- PIM contact details
- Latest updates on connected networks
- Latest relationship history
- Shared networks and frequent contacts
- Autosuggest of contacts in mail creation
- Contact sync services across devices and between contact management stores (address books)
- Gadget | Extension services to incorporate further services
Since I’ve been using a Blackberry 9300 Curve I’ve been able to use both the Gist and Xobni applications for Blackberry, in addition to the integration I already have with Gmail. (the images above give some idea of the Blackberry mobile UI to these services).
As these systems bring together a single cloud store of contacts, available through multiple form factors and mobile devices. I see stronger pull for these services in an Enterprise or business context. For example in sales, where finding that contact, understanding the relationship history, recent updates etc. could create better lead generation or decision making in pursuing an opportunity. Which is probably why Rapportive are now part of Linkedin.
I am a little surprised there isn’t more integration and support in the enterprise, these type of products could definitely help overcome some of disconnect and lack contact to enterprise expertise and resources that remote workers experience.
Does a unified and integrated view of your key contacts appeal to you?
Are you using these products?
Having been in G+ for a short while now, and joined in with a lot of folks on the G+ field trial, kicking the tyres and joining in on some of the various discussions about it. I wanted to put down some more of mine own thoughts about this interesting platform.
For the uninitiated & curious this is a quick introductory video:
The obvious thing that most people notice is there space and cleanliness of the Google UX, which has sprung from this initiative of Google (Evolving the Google design and experience). Of which I am a fan, as I mentioned in a previous blog post about G+.
Many observers have pointed out that the G+ UI is very similar in layout to Facebook, by using a central column of activity with adjacent switches and controls to help navigate the UI. I presume research on user interface design, indicates that best practise for an information flow format would be a central column feature with blank margins or edges to the browser window to draw in the eye to the core content. Though in my mind it does leave a lot of unused space available in the browser, which could be exploited – perhaps for not for primary content but as supplementary content or additional control features.
However, in spite of this good stuff, I see the following limitations with the current (mid – July 2011) UX of G+ which inhibit my full participation in this platform.
You can only view one stream of activity at a time (a particular circle or the whole stream):
- Compare that to most Twitter clients (Tweetdeck, Seesmic etc.) where there is a lot of flexibility in the number of columns on view combined with the Twitter list feature is a very powerful mechanism for tracking multiple activity streams simultaneously.
- I am not sure the web UX of G+ will develop a multi-stream UX soon (I may be wrong). Though I expect on the release of the API – 3rd party clients will provide this feature pretty rapidly.
- Perhaps Google will allow users to create additional tabs|spots for favourite streams here would be a possible solution?
(For example, I already use the Google+Tweet integrated extension – so it can be done)
Circles are missing activity notification features:
- Currently UI indicates the displayed stream by highlighting it in a red font. But it provides no information about the status of activity in other circles|streams you may be interested in, therefore your decisions on where to view next are more pot-luck than driven by useful information. This could be fixed by providing..
- An unread count for each circle (though will that make it feel like email all over again?)
- Give new post indicators (e.g. change of font colour of updated circles, or place updated circles at the top of circles list, blinking circle icon etc.)
- Indication of new posts in a stream by a different background fill colour, like unread marks, but that fade on scroll or mouse hover.
- Obviously, this is more applicable when viewing a particular circle stream, rather than your whole activity stream, but knowing what circles are active or dormant should be indicated visibly to assist your management of the G+ service.
G+ needs more than just Circles (in their current form):
- Circles are great, they help out a lot. They help channel, tailor and focus the conversation to an audience that grasps the tacit context and content around the information shared. Also these are the early days of G+ – so we need to give Google a fair crack of the whip and respond to feedback etc.
- However, my gripe is this. Circles provide a method to categorise or filter people and how you share with them, but not necessarily where content should be shared. Or actually where to find that content again…
- I feel this leads to a random spray (scatter gun) of information and knowledge across G+ which users find hard to grasp and navigate. Which is why I think we’re all mostly talking about G+, rather than other things. see this example
- I’m sure Google will be working on this, but I feel there needs to be either an implementation of public circles or topic specific pages|groups.
- Then not only does the individual user have the ability to post content in context or to the right audience, but community|shared knowledge actually has a conceptual container & residency. Therefore if you’re interested in “X” you join the page|group about X, and as a consequence find the associated experts, latest information, debate etc. Then you can create your own related circle to be your receiving filter for that information stream.
- To me it just seems to be something missing in G+. Each one of us is creating our own circles of content consumers and creators, with very little reference apart from our own social graph. Which seems fine for private or intimate level of social kinship. But at a community sharing level I think there needs to be a higher level of visibility on the nature of content shared or purpose for sharing. To build and cement connections in that community, as well to motivate, inspire and drive it forward. Do you disagree? Do you think G+ can seed such strong communities without that conceptual framework?
I hope Google does address some of these issues soon, as I feel a little reticent to fully engage in the platform, as at some level I’m not quite comfortable with this scatter gun approach to content sharing. I think this is partly because of the richness of the conversation factor within G+, it seems that as a platform more deserving of quality discourse and sharing, so it feels important to do that in the place of most social value – and I can’t tell where that is in G+.
I feel it is more deserving than Twitter, because of fully developed conversation model (chronicled comments and stream), and the removal of the character limit on the individual post or share. And also more deserving than Facebook, because at the moment it remains free of commercial interference … whether that will continue? That is probably unlikely as Google will need to monetise the platform at some point, and that’s bound to mean more than just Adsense links.
So I go where many of the leading technorati (an example list) have already gone… played about Google +, drawn their conclusions & evaluations, then posted and shared their thoughts with many peers and watchers (at least the vocal ones).
So I won’t past comment on Google +’s evolutionary history or how it compares against the usual suspects. If you need that information please visit your preferred search engine.
What excites and interests me about Google + is the slickness of integration with basic and existing services that Google has delivered with this primary iteration of the service through general UI revision. Gmail, Google Chat, Photos etc. are all plumbed in well (perhaps not exactly as people wish, but that’s why the feedback button is there).
They’ve combined these key services and nicely presented them in the revised Google UI – which provides sensible toolbar menu and workspace with simple clean lines and uncluttered space in the browser. The top right-hand side being particularly useful with the constant presence of the notifications and share menu, along with the context|service sensitive help and setting options. All this I’ve easily get used and start taking for granted immediately.
So I’ve realised that Google + is almost the sort of connected set of services and social connections where I could use and work everyday. Until now, I’ve not had a visualisation of a connected web worker interface and services that flow and connect together so well as Google +. Perhaps that means I’ve missed something somewhere, or only had fleeting interactions with such a platform available elsewhere?
So why do I think it’s particularly suited for supporting the workplace?
These are my call-out features that make it a potentially great Enterprise collaboration platform:-
- Google chat conversations that remain active and sync’d no matter which Google service tab you have have active, keeping continuity of contact and context.
- Google +’s Hangouts (video conferencing) present a step change for multi participant video chat services, with intuitive launch and privacy controls. This will be an excellent service for remote teams.
- Google +’s profiles are well done, with key controls and updates, to help viewers choose how they wish to interact with that person. It’s certainly made me think Google account profiles, are an important digital business card as well as sign post to the rest of your digital identity.
- Google +’s sharing and circles, are there to help drive adhoc collaboration and project activities forward. Helping people target conversations and activities to relevant individuals and groups. Combined with the notification & filter features, your attention handling overhead is reduced. So you can focus on updates when they come in, but otherwise dedicate your focus elsewhere and let things move on in the background.
- Google has done a good job of the activity stream implementation so far, delivering different filters/views on your stream via the circles categorisation. Activity streams are more effective than an email inbox in helping an individual track a large flow of data in a loosely coupled manner, as well providing a more flexible engagement and participation model.
- Gmail and Mobile integration (Huddles – group texts) (primarily Android currently), are already well done and obviously be subject to further improvements in future iterations. It’s also all browser based so the form factor, OS or the resources of the end-point device are not so much a limitation of the service but help to extend it’s reach and serve mobile users better.
It’s not complete by any means so there’s a couple of key things to come that Enterprise will be interested in:-
- Google Apps, the current Google Enterprise services, look a great prospect for integration with Google +. It will interesting to watch how that implementation takes shape, and the security and identity features they put into manage privacy, identity and content publication needs. They’re already done some implementation of dual accounts in the Google+ toolbar, and you can switch IDs see here: account switching
- Google + API, another great prospect to integrate both consumer services and enterprise grade application services.
So I’m going to be interested to see how Google + evolves, there’s certainly being no lack of expertise and feedback for Google to exploit to help it change Google + in the right manner. It’s certainly good to have a strong disruptive influence in the social networking market place.
Today I noticed an interesting feature buried at the bottom of the Google Chrome “under the bonnet” options.
(screen clip of the Google demo account)
Google Cloud Print is a beta service
Google talks about it as :
“Google Cloud Print makes printing more intuitive, accessible and useful, by allowing you to print to your printers from Google Cloud Print enabled apps on any computer or smart phone.”
It also talks about using:
“To connect your printer to Google Cloud Print, you will need to install the latest beta version of Google Chrome on a Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 computer that’s connected to your printer. Once installed, enable the Google Cloud Print connector in Google Chrome.”
However, I enabled Google Cloud Print using the current stable version of Chrome : 9.0.597.94
This was the Test Page that came out as a result…
The Google Cloud Print (parts of the) Printer management interface looks like:
Where can I print from?
We’re working hard to provide Google Cloud Print integration with many Google products and services, the first of which will be Chrome OS.
So I look forward to using handhelds such as smartphones and tablets devices to be able to send print jobs to your own printer, well from virtually anywhere.
And with shared devices (amongst friends, family, colleagues) you could send material to particular people or a particular location, again from about virtually anywhere.
I think there should be an authorisation|approval step for prints sent to your device from those it is shared with, otherwise you could easily get printer spam, which would be similar to fax message spam.
But overall this is great stuff, so bonus points to Google!
Mobility & Augment Reality (growing up fast)
More granular view of Blackberry upgrade process – and some feedback writing on the tablet too (part of)
On using hand writing on the tablet.
I’m trying out this tablet interface while I travel back home on the train,
by writing the blog post with the digitizer pen.
While it’s quite slow in comparison to my type speed, I think practise
will see that improve. Or perhaps not, it takes a lot of micro management
of the pen to produce the degree of accuracy required.
On doing the Blackberry upgrade.
I’ve recently done an upgrade of my blackberry handset software.
Previously, this had to be done with a degree of trust, and felt you were
flying blind through the process. This time I have to report, the steps
are made Visible to a much greater depth.
[Ok, got fed up of writing with the pen here!, it's a nice interface but
too fiddly. Perhaps I need more patience!]
The desktop manager version (5.0.1) is much improved in offering the
following view of the process.
You need to tick “show details” to display this level of information, so
you can see less if that suits.
Having visibility of completed and current step status is very reassuring.
Letting you exactly where you are up to with the process.
I especially like the warning about the very long individual steps
Certainly in the future I’ll have a more confident approach to the upgrade
process. Compared to just seeing an almost static progress bar on the
desktop, and just an endlessly rotating egg-timer on the device itself -
don’t you just hate that!
As a follow on to my recent post, I’d thought I post my thoughts on what I’ve discovered about keeping these devices (small computers after all) in good working order.
Handy maintenance tips
This post from BBGeeks is a great start point:
Some of the less obvious or well known which may deliver a good return on the performance are:
- Delete your Event Logs
- Use the BlackBerry Memory Cleaner
However, if things get really bad you may need a more comprehensive option… wipe the device and restore.
Blackberry Wipe and Restore
This is a fairly well documented process and I followed the step by step outlined here:
The stuff about Java Loader Cmder can be a little tricky, especially on an x64 system so I also found this post useful.
I also changed the choice application (it’s a 16 bit app from the install) with the 32 bit one from the system root.. (Windows\system32)
This is a screen shot of the DOS interface warning before the wipe!
Using the Javaloader interface was rather clunky, and sometimes the connections were flaky, it may be useful to have another laptop or machine to run it that doesn’t have an internal USB hub. Or you could run the commands via the command line see – here.
I also found that I could wipe and install with the battery still in the device, rather than removed.
Unfortunately, unlike an OS upgrade upon the rebuild I wasn’t able to restore the applications I had been using previously. This I had to do manually, which where possible I did via Blackberry App World, however, it is another consideration to take into account when contemplating a full wipe.
What I will try and investigate and post about in due course is the BlackBerry Master Control Program (MCP) – it could make all this a lot easier.
With the growth of near real-time content becoming prolifically available and therefore harder to be selective about the content that is contextually relevant to yourself. I have found the use of Notify.me a useful tool to help the filtering and parsing of flow of information around me.
The essence of Notify.me is pretty simple feed it an RSS/Atom feed (add some filters if required – very useful for verbose streams), select your preferred notification method (instant messenger, mobile phone, email, desktop or web) and then sit back and wait.
So far I’ve preferred to receive updates via the IM option. I’ve not used the conversational AI IM bots, but find the those that provide news and other information to user via the IM clients as particular useful. Especially as IM clients are so pervasive, desktops apps, browser based plugins, and mobile applications – you never far from IM connectivity!
These are the useful alerts I using Notify.me for so far:
- My Twitter (mentions/replies/@’s) as it can sometimes get lost in your tweet stream, and I want to remain responsive and aware of them as and when one is posted. For me this added dimension bring an element of the IM conversation to Twitter in a simple easy to use manner.
Otherwise the applications I’ve used are sports based…
- Tracking the BBC Sport web site football feed for Manchester United related news
- I’m also trying out a Twitter feed for the wickets and scores related to the Ashes – not a ball by ball account, but important score line updates.
In all these cases the filtering mechanism has come into play, as the feeds I’m using are more verbose that the content I want to be delivered, and so the filtering options for Notify.me are very handy.
Is anyone else using it?