Archive for category Vendors

How Google is Useful

Recently I blogged about Orientating around Android Devices.   While I did mention the use of applications and services in that post, I didn’t call out any in particular.

However, this screen shot, demonstrates one really useful service, I have become increasingly fond of and reliant upon.

That service is Google Now

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As a reasonably frequent traveller the information provided is succinct, timely and ultimately useful in assisting me plan, and schedule my actions.

As it covers a number of topics, including sport, useful local information, etc, and it is available on the desktop too – it is a pervasive, multi-device digital assistance.

Certainly in terms ecosystem and service, lock-in and increasing consumer dependency, I think Google Now, leads the field.

What do you think?

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Orientating around Android devices

 

At the start of May I received a replacement for my broken Blackberry 9300 Curve.  I am very glad to say it wasn’t another Blackberry, instead I received a Sony Xperia M – a reasonably modern Android phone running Android 4.3.

Moving to an Android based phone, has been a boon for me as it will nicely compliment my Nexus 7 tablet.  In fact the commonality of Google and Android is the basis for an almost complete repetition and synchronicity of many of the applications and services I use.  I still use a Windows operating system on my laptop, but is not a conflicting factor, as many applications and services are also accessible via the Google Chrome browser.

While of course the Microsoft Windows desktop operating system is still very dominant in terms of usage in the laptop | desktop space and more so with Windows Surface tablets.  Having such good quality access to applications and services  on two Android form factors (phone and tablet), has made me question the necessity of remaining on Windows as the operating system of choice for the laptop device.

Already core Windows Office suite applications and services (Outlook | MS Word, Excel) etc. are already or being made more tablet or browser compatible.  Think of the Office 365 service, and the Office Web Apps functionality, so further diminishing the requirement to have an actual application installed onto a Windows operating system as a necessity.

While most enterprises can’t consider abandoning Microsoft Windows as a device platform altogether, I think the personal consumer and many SME/ SMBs could strongly consider the possibility of an entirely Android (and here I stretch the term a little to include Google Chromebooks) based device eco-system.   Google Chromebooks are now a maturing and full featured alternative to the Microsoft Windows based device. 

Of course Apple also offer a very compelling set of devices, coupled to a very well integrated operating system and application set.  So both Google and Apple offer opportunities upon which to orientate or consolidate on to bring more common device harmony into a business.  We should not discount the option to consider a more explicit Linux based desktop system, such as Ubuntu or Linux Mint etc.,  though having tried them for a while, I believe they will always remain a more niche player in the desktop | laptop space, especially with such dominant competition from Apple, Google and Microsoft.

This brings in a further opportunity to consider moving away from device centric applications and data,  and how the virtual desktop (VDI) and application virtualisation options also need to be considered along side the choice of device eco-system.  

Other aspects to factor into these considerations include

  • Data and content storage and delivery – will this all be cloud based – e.g. Google Docs or Microsoft O365 – or are there other factors to be considered?
  • Do certain use cases necessitate the use of a local application and data set?  (e.g. Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Project)
  • Device management strategy – patching and updates – how will they be managed and delivered

Having also tried a Google Chromebook, (having used one while on a holiday break),  I can see how it could easily cater for 85% of the work and processes and I engage with as an Information | Knowledge worker.  Only that I need to work with and build fairly complex spreadsheets (using Microsoft Excel) is keeping a Windows based operating system as a necessity.  I do also wonder how well a device such as Google Chromebook caters for multimedia activities consumers need around managing and connecting with peripheral devices like cameras and editing videos etc.

More and more frequently I’ve seen the Apple Macbook Pro (or the Osx UI – via web meetings) appearing, and presume those users are benefitting from a harmonised device experience between the Apple Mac and their iphone device. 

Of course Microsoft also offer their Windows Phone based devices, which also offer a similar integrated operating system and application set.  However, the application ecosystem for Windows Phone devices, doesn’t offer the same breadth of application support and availability that Apple and Android devices users have at their disposal.  Which for me is a detractor for opting to orientate around a complete Microsoft Windows device ecosystem.  Though in terms of UI design and strategy, I think both Apple, Google and Microsoft offer are continuing to recognise the need for distinct and yet harmonious and cohesive UI across all their device form factors.

As both device manufacturers and application developers, build services that accumulate pertinent personal data sets (photos & videos, music collections & playlists, quantitative data (location & travel, health & exercise metrics)), so increasing data transfer inertia or lock-in.  I think consumers will need to seriously consider which particular eco-system and device arrangement makes sense for them, as it look likes it will turn into a long term affair, and with not insignificant hurdles to overcome to move or transfer across manufacturers.

  • Do you share this view?
  • Have you already made a considered choice around a particular device set or eco-system? 
  • What were the determining factors for you?   

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Visual Magic with Word Lens

Google recently acquired Quest Visual – the developers of Word Lens – the incredible language manipulating app, that translated language in real-time while using input from the mobile device’s camera.

Word Lens

The app is currently available for free via Google Play.

To see how amazing it is – have a look at the video

It is currently available for Andriod, iOS and even Google Glass

For any traveller or language enthusiast this has a must have app.

And for Google  this plays very nicely into the Language and Translation service portfolio e.g. Google Translate

  • Have you used Word Lens?
  • What other mobile language tools would you recommend?

 

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When Google Replies– Voice Activated Search

Google has had voice enabled search services on multiple devices (mobile, desktop, laptop, tablet) for a while (see >> “search by text, voice, image”).

However, at the recent Google I/O (2013) they announced a “conversational” search experience which has been extended to the browser and desktop experience.

This means Google search responds to an audio search request with an audible answer.

Voice search starts with a click on the microphone icon in the search bar.

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giving the “Speak now” prompt

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and then the “Listening…” prompt

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it captures into text the voice request spoken…

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The search result returned show all the usual feature giving and provides an audible voiceover of the summary text from Wikipedia (where possible).

It also often says “Here is some information about [request]”.

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Often the request is not picked up or understood correctly and the following appears:

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Interestingly, the voice accent and gender are different for different Google domains.

e.g. (google.com – female voice with an American accent, google.co.uk – male voice with an English accent)

At the moment I find it a little flaky and error prone but I presume it will continue to improve as more people engage verbally with Google.

Have you started making use of this service?

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Sweet Suites of Integrated Mobile Forms

I had intended to post this a long time ago, closer to this generation of devices launches, but the opportunity passed.

However, I still thinking it is fascinating to watch the portfolio of devices these internet and manufacturing giants are assembling.  Much of the commentary and opinion has been developed much further elsewhere, however, even collecting images these device suites together on the same page and admiring the aesthetics is reason enough to post.

By announcing the arrival of the Nexus 4, and Nexus 10 to complement the existing Nexus 7Google have intimated that the application and content state within a mobile user experience across a related set of devices, is as a complete and integrated experience possible to date.  Of course this is not the 1st time it is has been brought together, but Google’s  Nexus | Android is certainly aesthetically and technologically appealing.

 

Apple with iOS offer that experience with their iphone, ipad mini and ipad too.  All synchronising via icloud.

Apart from the mass of OEM hardware manufacturing specialists bringing products to the market place, Amazon and Microsoft are the notable service companies making a inroads into the mobile device market.

Almost standing apart Samsung has that oft commented upon position of being a hardware partner with any of these key internet giants, as well as offering a portfolio of devices of its own.   Very much making the market work for it in more than one way.

Samsung-devs

Certainly I see the consumer having benefitted from the general evolution of touch based mobile devices, initially championed and established by Apple , and brought to extensive commoditisation and choice through the market entry of Google, Amazon and Microsoft.  Of course there are other players now making moves Ubuntu and Mozilla, as well as Blackberry still trying to retain a market position and relevance. 

If nothing else this post will represent a moment in technology evolution, capturing the phase of the commoditisation and proliferation of these touch based mobile devices.

Do you have a favourite device or vendor?

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Now actively using Amazon Glacier

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I’ve written a couple of times about the recently released AWS service AWS Glacier:

While I reflected on some Enterprise based use and benefits. However, my personal interest lies in using AWS Glacier for providing long archival storage for personal data (photos, videos, and music).

Now that AWS S3 integration with AWS Glacier is available (see announcement),  and that Synology NAS natively support back up to AWS S3 (see feature description).

So I’ve been testing the AWS Glacier vault integration with the storage buckets I have in AWS S3.

The AWS S3 Test folder linked to AWS Glacier  has the following common software binaries:

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Notes from AWS S3 documentation:

Therefore you don’t need to connect|link AWS S3 to AWS Glacier vaults yourself.

I’ve used the following transition rule:

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I’ve been able to confirm the following events work seamlessly:

  • Items with ‘Storage Class – Glacier’ are not overwritten | re-copied by the scheduled back up process to the S3 bucket.
  • Deleting items – delete in the S3 bucket and the Glacier vault.
  • Overwriting a file (same filename), re-creates it in the S3 bucket, and then it is transitioned to Glacier as per the rule sets.
  • The Prefix setting needs to use the full directory | folder structure in the target S3 bucket to the location of the target files.

I will now start transitioning my other S3 bucket stores from AWS S3 – RRS to AWS Glacier.  I will track the charges and costs of storage and data transfer as this process goes forward, I do anticipate a spike in data transfer costs for the bulk migration of content from AWS S3 – RRS to AWS Glacier

Are you thinking of using the AWS Glacier service?

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Key Links for SharePoint 2013

These are some key links for SharePoint 2013:

Overview Video of Microsoft SharePoint 2013

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