Thursday, December 27, 2007

Making Mobile browsing better

Andrew Gray in Australia has created a service that translates standard URL addresses into numbers that make browsing on your mobile phone easier and faster.

The rationale is that a numeric interface is comfortable to use on a mobile phone, anyone who's tried to use the keypad alphabetic interface will certainly agree that it's clunky.

The service is found at http://www.digiturl.com
More information can be found at http://digiturl.blogpost.com

Found on Lifehacker Australia.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Zoops, yet another Social Network

Doing the trawl of the RSS feeds I came across an article from the BBC, Don't be lonely at Christmas time.

A rundown of alternative social network platforms.

Of interest, only because of the business model, was Capazoo. Capazoo has joined social networking with gaming and has created a currency the Zoop. A Zoop is worth $0.01 and can be earned in the following ways

  • Getting Tipped for your videos, music, photos, profiles, and more…
  • Inviting your friends to join you at Capazoo
  • Sharing in our Advertising Revenues
  • Sharing in Capazoo’s Profits
They offer the Capazoo cash card that allows a subscriber to convert Zoops into real cash at an ATM.

This convergence of gaming and other internet usage is not a new idea and has been applied to other functions, like spam reduction. Techdirt had a strong reaction to the email meets gaming idea that might prove to short sighted.

The idea of a form of stickiness like earning currency for activity will be tried in other platforms in 2008 as the disinterest starts to grow. The need to constantly reinvent yourself to maintain interest will the a domain driver through next year as more competition creeps into the space.

Niche networks will start to emerge, where disaggregation will start to occur around communities. There will pressure on today's networks to allow for tighter control and partitioning of networks, in the same way that Plaxo allows you to nominate Friends, Family or Business contacts.

Related articles.

Alec Saunders on Spock
Andy Abramson on Spock
Set Godin on Facebook

One is on YouTube

HM The Queen Elizabeth II has taken steps into Web 2.0 by starting a channel on YouTube.

The move marks the 50th anniversary of her first Christmas Speech to the nation. A tradition that sees the family sit in front to the TV after Christmas lunch to hear the summary of the year from the perspective of the Royal Family.

The content will include this years speech with the hope being that it will bring today's British youth closer to the monarchy.

Go and visit the site on YouTube.
See related story on the BBC portal

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Concrete Cows and an update on WiMax

Last year saw the first mention/promise of city wide WiMax in Milton Keynes, UK.

The combination of ConnectMK and Freedom4 are offering WiMax to residents and small businesses with synchronous speeds of 8Mb/s.

The package is being targeted at home workers who need more upload capacity as they go about their work.

This is being touted as the first commercial application of WiMax in the UK. The main differentiator that is being highlighted is no need for a BT line required to support traditional ADSL services.

This is after successful trials in both Milton Keynes and Warwick. Next stop Manchester.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Spam, is there anything it can't do?

On Click this week there was a short slot about Barracuda.

Their report highlights that upwards of 95% of email now passes directly to Junk Mail.

So apparently Spam can do nearly everything now, as in 100% of activity.

So what can we do about it read Getting Some Control of Email Back

2008 the year of the eBook?

From iTWire.

Predictions on eBook readers and the success of the partnership between Dymocks and the iLiad

VoIP = Voice Over iPod

iPhones baby brother, iTouch, looks very similar but doesn't allow you to make phone calls, or does it?

Engadget has run a series of posts on iTouch hacks that make the iTouch able to make VoIP calls.

Now today they are advertising a free download of a SIP based VoIP client app for the iTouch.

It was only a matter of time before someone found another use for the onboard WiFi connection of this nice looking device.

Thailand Offline Again!

The past couple of months have seen the entire country unplugged from the internet more times than I care to count.

You can always tell it's a national problem when you phone the call centre and end up being on hold for 10 minutes or so. I don't know if this is to stop being hassled or because there really are a lot of people reporting the problem. Suggestions of using IVR updates to handle some of the calls "If you are phoning about internet connection difficulty, there is a problem and we are working on it. Please check back for updates" would be a good option, however it falls on deaf ears.

What I'm not sure of is the cause of the problem.

  • Lack of infrastructure investment
  • More people going online
  • Fragility of links out of Thailand
There certainly is a lack of investment in infrastructure. One calculation suggests that if everybody that could go online went online at the same time each user would get 1.2Kb of bandwidth. As an example to get the copper wire to allow for phone and ADSL services to my home the supplier had to run a cable from a drop point 14KM away as all other drop points were full and they had no plans to add any more. The incumbent, TOT, took more than one year to add a new drop point into the housing complex we live in. This is in Bangkok and within sight of their headquarters.

There certainly is an upward trend of online users. Combine this with an already low investment rate and you stress the system too much.

In the region in the last year there has been other countries that have gone offline. Sri Lanka was out after a ship broke the cable between the island and India. Indonesia was knocked out when an undersea earthquake displaced the fibre that connects it to Singapore.

Is this the internet in general creaking under the strain of the volume of IP traffic generated by VoIP, browsing, downloads, P2P traffic and file transfers of email as companies become more global and more virtual.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Flash in the pod

18 months ago this post made some predictions on flash memory both increasing in size and decreasing in price.

It's time to revisit the concept of the ultimate devise of magnetic drives.

In Business Week's break down of the iTouch that lays out the differences between it's stable mate the iPhone and what is unique to the iTouch the use of Flash memory is raised.

The observation is that the iTouch is the future vision of the classic iPod and along with losing the click wheel in favour of touch screen functions the magnetic drive will replaced by ever bigger (and cheaper) flash memory storage.

The original evolution that was predicted saw the use of multiple flash memory cards to create one large logical drive. In the time that has passed large steps have been taken in Solid State Drives that seems they being used in laptops today.

While the capacity of SD cards hasn't changed much since the original post capacity has increased in flash memory technology with USB pen drives now possible up to 16Gb. If capacity hasn't increased significantly size has certainly decreased. Intel has showed it's latest SSD developments. 400 times smaller than a traditional 1.8 inch HDD and 75 times lighter the 2Gb and 4Gb devices are designed for mobile systems. They are currently extendable up to 16Gb.

Facebook for the crumblies

Too good not to share :)

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/12/so-thats-why-we.html

Monday, December 17, 2007

Social Network Aggregation - Blog Centricity?

There are many social networking platforms and content items that we want to share with our friends, contacts, family members. The problem is that with so many platforms, some of which are very specific, it is difficult to keep track of comings and goings.

Enter a new/revised role for the blog. That of Social Network Aggregation.

Many of the platforms provide some from of publishing aide, call them badges, widgets, gadgets whatever they have the same basic purpose. They allow a blogger to insert elements into their blogs to share content and site links.

Having played with some of these tools the effect can be a very cluttered blog that might send the wrong message. Some people blog on separate themes and want to partition up the content to help the subscriber base. They might blog on technology in one area, management or self improvement in an another.

Blogger has added lots of new features and the blogger community has further enhanced the capabilities of the free tool.

It is already possible to add content to a blog to aggregate feeds from blogs, micro blog updates from Jaiku or Twitter and feeds from some of your social platforms like Plaxo. You can add your wishlist from Amazon to share your wants with your friends and family. You can add contact details into your blog with options including immediate access to you on IM.

You can link blogs together and limit access to some that become mini-sites to your main blog. This allows you to control access to some and not others for you more private elements that you want to share in a limited way.

Blogging platforms are set to extend into the social networking space as people seek more control and dimensions on their business, public and private lives.

You can see some of the possibilities at my aggregation site.

It seems that others are of the same opinion, read the article from Om Malik on Wordpress.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Voice Interfaces on Phones

Ideas on how buttons can be replaced by voice interfaces.

Read my posting on the PhoneTalk blog.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Is Knol a Wikipedia Challenger?

Official Google Blog: Encouraging people to contribute knowledge

Is Knol a Wikipedia Challenger?

Information from the Grassy Knol

Google's latest venture is project Knol. A Knol is a unit of knowledge. Google are encouraging people to contribute within their particular expertise.

Sound familiar? many people are comparing this to Wikipedia which is a very different model. Wikipedia is all about collaborative authoring. Knol is individual contributions posted up on Google to be returned in the page ranks at the top of the search results.

Knol is informed, authoritative wisdom of the individual.
Wikipedia is well meaning, keen, hard working content aggregators looking to share in a collaborative effort.

What is the aim behind the project?

Our goal is to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it. The tool is still in development and this is just the first phase of testing. For now, using it is by invitation only. But we wanted to share with everyone the basic premises and goals behind this project.
Udi Manber, VP Engineering.

What is the real aim behind the project? is there any love lost between Google and Wikipedia? if Google want to displace Wikipedia as one of the key search tools for your average Joe then with this side project they could "adjust" the page ranks in their favour; but they wouldn't ;) would they?

Techno Travel

There has been lots of discussion on Kindle and eBooks in general. Besides the obvious use for reference books by the IT industry, in particular IT consultants that work onsite a lot, there is another use for eBooks and gadgets.

Geek Travel.

Travel is an obvious target. Many people take the opportunity to take 6+ months off and travel the world. Guide books are heavy, bulky objects. There is a rich trade in swapping books at the natural convergence points around the world. Some people plan very carefully and take the required pages with them. But if you've only got specific pages and you want to wander off your trail you're up the proverbial creek without a paddle.

Why not then take all of your books, and some for countries that you might not actually have a plan, with you on your eBook Reader. Something like Kindle, iLiad or Sony Reader.

Go get your travel books from Rough Guide, Travelfish or search through Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree project.

While you're packing throw in your Nokia N810. use the GPS to mark the co-ordinates of the places that you visit so you can add it to Google Maps when you get home. Take some photos with the camera and add the photos with location to Flickr or Google Earth. Take the time to create a cache so your friends can find the exact place you stood/sat.

Don't forget your Symbian Series 60 smart phone! you'll want to run Waymarkr as you walk the streets so you can show your buddies the sights of where you've been. Now slip over to your Jaiku mobile app and add some updates to your travel micro blog.

Not done yet? OK pull the N810 off charge and get to the nearest WiFi hotspot, any Starbucks should do unless your in a city with MetroLan. Logged on? go to Facebook and add some notes to tell people where you've been, where you are and where you're planning on going.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Would Calchas predict the future of the book?

The Greek prophet Calchas might have been successful in predicting the future of the books popularity but what would he have thought of eBooks?

Not so long after the announcement on the Kindle, which in turn has created a lot of coverage around the blogosphere, iRex have announced a partnership with Dymocks books in Australia.

This is significant as it moves the eBook reader into the traditional outlet to harness it's capabilities and potential popularity. Dymocks may be achieve first mover advantage in actively partnering with what other sellers may see as the competition.

The iLiad's on board WiFi connection can be used there in the store to download compatible books (they have to be in the mobipocket format). iLiad's strengths also include the ability to read PDF and display HTML, something Kindle can do with support through the Amazon portal only.

Let's hope that the New Zealand branches also offer the service.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Theory of TiVolution, Darwinian moves in the kingdom of DVR

TiVo, the DVR box that evolved the VCR into the first form of a timeshifting product has been building out a network of content partners in an effort to diversify it's offering beyond TV.

Why? The Techdirt Insight Community has already been asked this year on Video Store 2.0 and the potential impacts of IPTV on the regular broadcasting providers. The reality is that TV scheduling and broadcasting is under disruption and niche vendors like TiVo need to soften the impact.

I'm glad to see that they're moving in the right direction with new partnership announcements in the content and importantly user/community generated content spaces. It's been a slow and steady approach to becoming a true media company.

Announced this week are partnerships with Music Choice giving TivoCast subscribers access to a store of music videos. Combines this with the rollout of the previously integration with Rhapsody and you get a learning device that can help you comb that music video store to match your taste. It's all about control.

In a further extension of their content sharing, Family Private Network, which initially saw a YouTube like service partnerships with Google's Picasa and Photobucket give you the ability to share your photo's with your community. This moves TiVo into an enabler of one dimension of Social Networking.

This week also saw tighter integration with Amazon's Unbox service. This deal has been in the making since February. This moves the dependency on the schedule to an alternative portal for buying your favorite show or film. On the back of the Kindle release this relationship also strengthens Amazon's role as a multi media content provider.

There has been lot's of comment generated from the ad service in lieu of fast forwarding through the broadcast version. The move into less TV dependent content should reduce the need, let's hope.

The other realization from TiVo, something Telco's could learn, is the intangible asset they have in the form of their user base. They have entered a deal with NBC to provide viewing statistics, so maybe their data is becoming useful to someone.

There are some features that I'd still like to see on the DVR box. On board WiFi, get rid of the USB dongle and further elevate this former DVR into the domain of multi media centers

Promising developments to show that some players are starting to get it.

Churn, Churn the Wheels of Change

Social Networking sites have become really popular. The growth is being driven primarily by Gen Y'ers with young Gen X'ers following up.

However Gen Y is known as being quite fickle and will go looking for the next big thing if something changes. A trait that has suffered cell phone operators has started to be felt in the growth world of Facebook, MySapce and Bebo. The trait of churn.

Many users, for many reasons, have churned away from MySpace and headed over to Facebook. The reasons need to be analyzed and addressed if the share is to be maintained. Why do users churn? are they looking for more control, more privacy, more applications, less stickiness. Stickiness is usually a strong point. However one of the best example of stickiness going wrong is AOL. They make it very difficult to change ADSL vendors. One reason is the way that your email contacts are so difficult to retrieve to import to a new service like Gmail.

Bebo has recently announced support for Google's Open Social API set. Plaxo also supports this new standard that should allow better integration between social platforms. This will allow users to migrate between services and allows for the social networking equivalent of the Telco MVNO (like Ampd, ESPN Mobile etc) i.e. services that cater for a niche market or have a core brand that they wish to promote.

Something like iLike where the users share a common interest in music and get news updates, free music downloads from their favourite artists combined with the ability to network with people with similar tastes.

This not only affects the social networking sites but is starting to become visible in the business networking platforms as well. Established business network provider Linkedin could well be under pressure from Plaxo. Being a member of both I am seeing the same names appear across the platforms. Linkedin has been changing has recently offered a news service that is context sensitive to your company and competitors. Some of the restrictions have been lifted but the strength of Plaxo is it's crossover approach. With one dimension for business contacts, another for friends or family it allows the user to tailor which content is visible and shared based on which circle the connection is in.

Untying the Apron Strings

As part of the process of changing jobs I am try to move central control from my soon to be ex-company laptop to my own machine at home.

I have already followed a good set of instructions on moving my iTunes library, even though I lost all of my podcast subscriptions. Overall the process was greatly simplified by the fact that I use a USB disk to hold all of the podcast and music files.

The next big thing for me is to break the ties from my browser(s). I use bookmarks a lot and was looking for something useful to keep my bookmarks in synch.

I was playing with the idea of using Jetpaks which I have found to be extremely useful for collating and aggregating links I am using for specific research. But before I took the plunge I had a quick walk around to see if this was something easier then the good old export/import process.

I found many, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, including Foxmarks and Google Browser Synch.

I decided to try out these two:

BookIt is an extension of the export/import method that creates an online central repository of bookmarks that you can then use to synch up other machines and browsers as this supports both Firefox and IE. One of the features that I liked was the ability to copy or merge in the case of duplicates.

2Go was equally useful in terms of supporting both IE and Firefox. You need to install a small application on each subscriber/publisher and this is used to handle the export/import process. The one downside that I found with this application was the ease that it was confused by non-standard characters. Some of my bookmarks have Thai characters in them which meant that some weren't synched at all.

All in all I think I prefer the BookIt method as it is easy to browse the repository and clean up old or unwanted links. Although I haven't yet tried the synch back process as I need to wait until I am at my new central machine. Update to follow.

More ideas are available from here

Monday, December 03, 2007

Reading by Kindle Light

I was really excited to read about Kindle from Amazon.

I have been interested in the idea of a book reader for some time as I use a lot of reference books and read a lot when traveling. I still enjoy the book experience but it's not convenient to lug a load of books around with you as you move from hotel to hotel.

The other benefit is the ready access to English language books which aren't always easy to find in Thailand, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia etc.

I have written about how book readers still could evolve to be more akin to reading a book but that is some time away.


So what is different about Kindle compared to it's peers...

  • uses e-ink to save battery power
  • wireless access to Wikipedia
But most of the differentiators are in the wireless delivery and browsing ability to the content portal from the device.

Knidle uses EV-DO to deliver the book, up to 200, on to your device. You can also use the USB connection to manage the content from your PC.

The only problem is that today Amazon isn't shipping outside of the US and the EV-DO network is Sprint only.

I really think that Amazon is on to a winner I just hope they accelerate their plans to broaden their geography...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Finally a real use for the camera phone

During some research for a submission on the Techdirt Insight Community, on the use of camera phones, I stumbled across ShotCode.

The basic idea is to use your camera and Bluetooth connection to read a simple circular barcode on a poster or object. The code is interpreted and further information is sent back to the handset for you to read.

Some usage examples:

  • History of maintenance in a server room, a code on each rack or machine
  • Further information on an object, great use to get kids interested in museums
  • Advert context, show times for a film
I was also talking to a family member about how to make the London Underground more user friendly for foreign visitors. I like the idea of using ShotCodes on the station that could give visitors an idea on what is available near this station (shops, sights etc) and potentially how to get there IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE. A different code for German, Chinese, Thai etc.

The use of this concept could finally allow camera phones to jump into the average user who wants to do more than social networking.

The good news my contribution was used so you can read the full story on camera phones at PhoneTalk.

Getting some control of email back

The pet peeve of most of us today is the amount of spam that we get. When gmail was invite only the combination of a semi-closed community and a pretty good spam filter meant that the volume was far less than I would see in Hotmail or Yahoo mail.

Unfortunately that seems to have changed, although as Joe Duck comments Gmail say it is reducing.

I have taken some steps to get some more control, starting with Yahoo. After reading Om's posting on add-ons to outlook I had a play with Boxbe and configured it against my Yahoo account. Fairly painless to do but I really want to run it for a while before commenting further.

One of the features that stands out though is the "access charge" that they levy and share with you for passing on your account details to a company that your Boxbe profile suggests would be interested in you.

This resonates with a discussion I had a couple of years ago with a friend of mine on an overall revamp of the email eco system. If you were to charge micro-money amounts to send email then this would go a long way to reducing spam.

If we were to extend the Boxbe model then some form of revenue sharing that encouraged sensible, some would say ethical, use of email could be a great way to enter the market.

At the end of the day the only sure fire way to keep spam volume low is to keep on the move. Change your email address frequently and partition up your life. I have taken the approach of having parallel email address that I use for specific purposes (blog comments, work, banking etc). This has certainly helped keep the volume of spam down on some of those accounts.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Blockbuster hedging their bets on PicoP?

When Blockbuster said they were looking to get into mobile distribution I assumed they were thinking of mobile handsets and I forgot all about ultra mini projectors like Microvisions PicoP.

Combining a projector equipped handset with a download from Blockbuster makes the same sense as an iPod with a cable to view on your TV.

Remember the shot in "The Island" where Ewan McGregor projects his video conference from his mobile phone onto the wall, well imagine that being a film...

Orient Expression is on the move



We're moving to New Zealand in the New Year to start the next chapter. I plan to post more frequently as I will get more time and not so much travel.

Technology Applied - Compact Calendar

David Seah and his very well put together Printable CEO Series has shared his compact calendar for 2008.

There are many country specific versions available from his site and his readers. I have modified the data for Thailand for 2008.

Take the time to have a look around his site, it's well worth the time.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Location, Location, Location

Location based services are set to be one of the growth areas for mobile devices through 2008.

Previous posts here on the general subject of LBS and usage and contributions to the Techdirt Insight Community on GPS and personal navigation discuss the combination of LBS with franchises or focus usage.

On example was a potential partnership with The Lonely Planet inspired by Loki, see the Loki Plant Guide.

Engadget today posted on Google's cell site location service (I'm making an assumption that it uses cell triangulation in lieu of GPS).

For general use location based services don't, in my opinion, need to be metre level sensitive. Google's neighbourhood level approach should be enough for the average user.

The evolution would be targeted ad, mobile location context adsense. So expect to see small (Mom and Pop) businesses using the service to increase publicity.

Mobile Blockbuster

In a follow up on previous postings on Blockbuster:

Engadget have posted that Blockbuster are considering a deal to get their content on to mobile handsets.

The actual details are still under consideration but there is some debate as to the value of the scheme. I have contributed to the Techdirt Insight Community on how video needs to adapt and one of the natural conclusions is mobile device distribution.

Before I had my iPod I would have questioned the benefits of mobile on small screen devices but you get used to it and when you travel a lot and spend a lot of time in hotels and planes the potential market is there (but small).

It does depend on which mobile devices you consider. If you limit yourself to mobiles then questions marks are probably valid, think battery, screen size and interruption from calls.

However expand the scope to devices like the Nokia N810 and you could be onto something.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Would you like WiFries with that?

Golden Telecom and the Golden Arches have teamed up to provide WiFi equipment and services in the 175 McDonalds outlets across Russia.

Starbucks has long been the haunt of out of work or writers block authors looking to catch up and some work. Maybe the trend is moving away from Half Fat Latte to Big Mac Meals as the staple of the budding writers.

I expect we'll hear the inevitable cheery question "would you like WiFi with that?"

Boradband Express - East Coast Line to get WiFi

It was a joy to be able to use WiFi when traveling from Edinburgh down to Peterborough. Had to pay for it though as I wasn't in First Class.

However good news is that now that National Express have been successful in their bid to operate the East Coast main line, replacing GNER, they plan to extend free WiFi to standard class passengers.

For a journey like Peterborough to Edinburgh the train will certainly become a real alternative to flying. The company I work for has offices in both Cambridge and Edinburgh with frequent visits required. The preferred option is EasyJet. Today with heightened security, a trip to Luton airport, wait times, lost baggage, delays and a trip from the airport at the other end the train is no slower than flying. Add in free WiFi and the happy little workers can still book billable hours on the way.

Black Thursday and Friday - the days that Skype forgot

Skype took a big credibility hit on Thursday when an unknown number of people could not log in to the one of the most well known VoIP clients in the market today.

Take a deep breath and hope this is some glitch in the software and not the limitation of the peer to peer network capabilities.

The problem started out as a login problem and there people started receiving delayed IM sessions hit the client. The IM sessions have often been a bit flaky and I often receive a delay in getting them (upwards of 2 days in some cases). Thinking back I wonder if this was the start of a problem that mushroom clouded for them on Wednesday/Thursday depending where you are in the world.

They have been working hard to fix the problem and for me at least service seems to be more stable. After a laboured login I at least maintain a session now.

At first it was hard to tell as with Skype normally being so efficient at finding a connection I assumed it was the flaky ADSL infrastructure at my end in Thailand doing it's normal drop the connection on the paying customer. After the standard restart procedures Skype was still sickly so a quick ping of the heartbeat blog made me aware of the problem.

It certainly sends the message that much of this technology isn't quite ready for mass adoption of business. The Telco's are probably rubbing their hands issuing "I told you so" but don't rest too well as I'm sure that the busy little Skypers will plug whatever hole appeared and service will be back disrupting again soon.

See what others have to say

Om Malik
Andy Abramson
The Register

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Good Wibrotions - Mobile WiMax or Wibro goes PDA

The Solutions and Content Exhibition Korea (SEK) has just finished and there has been some focus on Korea's own Wireless Broadband (Wibro).

WiMax, as it's more globally recognized, is very active as a technology in Korea and they represent the bleeding edge of the use and deployment of the 802.16 standard.

The Bangkok Posts Tony Waltham was in Seoul for SEK and you can see his write up of his experience with the WiMax Muni Net from this link.

Samsung took the opportunity to show off there newest Wibro phone, the PDA M8100. As it's only available in Korea today the only write up from the vendor I could find was in Korean so I can share the write up on UberGizmo.

I might be heading to Korea for a couple of months in August so it will be good to experience Wibro first hand. If it happens expect some write ups here.

For a round up of SEK read Tony Waltham's article in the Bangkok Posts Database weekly supplement.

Public Phones as WiFi Hotspots... round 2

Almost one year ago I posted on this blog about how operators that have invested in public telephone networks could still use the asset today in the day of prolific mobile phone use.

This was the convergence of two main ideas

  1. Using street lights as Wifi Hotspots, they are everywhere and they are powered. Also as I noted if you combine with broadband over power line (BPL) you also don't need to invest in new cabling and the convenience of no minimal disruption that no digging brings makes this compelling.
  2. After the limited success of Ionica and their fixed wireless network a case for fixed wireless today.
There is a summary available on Telegeography of how TeliaSonera are looking to adapt their network of phone booths to become WiFi hotspots. The math has to make sense as the revenue stream from these assets has to be impacted by mobile use. Though somewhat redundant functionally they still represent real presence for the operator on the high street and so any use that can be found for them must be good.

We are now starting to see the first wave of mobile WiMax devices appear so 802.11 and 802.16 would both be valuable. This adoption of the other network using WiMax and UMA could be Wireless' own VoIP disruption.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The evolution of Personal Navigation Devices

I have just read an interesting post at the Register on soe recent announcements for GPS in the UK.

This comes close to me completing a challenge question on the Techdirt Insight Community on the future of personal navigation devices.

I do believe that, with the number of mobile handsets now sporting GPS and a handful of Bluetooth GPS device available that you can connect to your mobile, GPS and Location Based Services are ready for large scale adoption.

You can read my insights from here:
PNDs for Pedestrians
PNDs for Vehicles

Telmap has an interesting spin on the collaborative and community aspects that I mentioned. And it will be interesting to see how the Vodafone & TomTom deal evolves.

If you are a Jeteye user you can also access my Jetpak.

UMA lowdown

UMA, the technology that allows WiFi and GSM convergence should be a natural evolution for carriers. The infrastructure costs are less than GSM and if you read my post on how carriers could use the volume of home WiFi hotspots to build out their network, FVNO, then it should be compelling.

Katie at GigaOm had written a good lowdown for those who want to be in the know on UMA [not Thurman]

Monday, June 25, 2007

The sweet side of biofuel

Here in Thailand the Government have been pushing gasahol pretty hard. Gasahol is blended petrol and ethanol.

The trouble is that Thailand loves the Honda Civic and it's VTEC engine, apparently VTEC doesn't like ethanol very much, however I wonder if it would like something a bit sweeter.

Researchers at University of Wisconsin are two years away from producing biofuel from natural sugars (Fructose). The upside is that a sugar based biofuel is 40% more dense than corn based ethanol and this means more fuel once fractionated. Initial studies have shown that a sugar based fuel cell could power an engine.

Read the article on iTWire

The other option here is biodiesel, which uses palm oil and is one of the projects of HM King Bhumipol. Australia opened a palm oil based biodiesel plant last year and is set to produce 140 Million litres per year.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Films come to life... almost: Laser Fusion Power

In an article that reminds me of the file Chain Reaction a team of scientists are looking at the possibility of creating energy from fusion using lasers and sea water.

The technology is theoretical at the moment and faces some challenges in laser development, more powerful and faster cyclical rates.

There is a very good write up on the process on the BBC Technology mini site

Drive 2.0 revisited

Less than one year ago I posted this article on how flash memory could evolve and replace traditional drives with moving parts.

Well Fujitsu are following this path by using Samsung produced SSD in their Lifebook Q and B laptops.

And the trend is set to continue with Intel now producing a flash memory drive that is set to replace magnetic hard disk drives.

This is good news for battery life. The reason why an iPod can have good play times is that the solid state drive doesn't have to use energy to spin for reading. Putting SSD technology in laptops will extend the life of the battery for mobile use and allow us to break away from offices for longer. It might that people traveling in business class can actually conduct some business as the battery should now last longer than 2 hours :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Films come to life... almost: Power from Leftovers

In a development that reminds me on the face of it of that clip in Back to the Future when they raid the dustbins to fuel Mr Fusion.... the latest development on alternative energy is using your leftover food to generate methane and hydrogen.

In the 90's there was a fad about wormeries. The basic concept is put your food rubbish (highly selective) into a bin with [tiger] worms in and get a form of liquid fertilizer tapped of from the bottom.

The fuel process is similar in the food rubbish is dumped into vat-like generators. Microbes break down the rubbish and in the process the resulting gas, typically methane and hydrogen, can be tapped of from the top and used in specialized vehicles.

For more see the Technology Review.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Power 2.0: Solar Collector

In an innovation that could cut the cost of solar energy technology in half. Soliant Energy now provide a solar concentrator.

One of the application problems of solar panels has been how to get the maximum efficiency out of the installation. One solution has been to mount the panels on a pole that allow sun tracking.

The system from Soliant bypasses this need, which makes the panels subjected to wind conditions, by using traditional roof panels with individual panes that can track. The panes reflect the light to a row of photovoltaic cells.

Read more from Technology Review.

Solar Store-y

This is the first of a series of new posts on how the electricity we use and the we use it is up for disruption, loosely termed Power 2.0 to stay in the trend of the 2.0 boom.

For some time I have been looking to build a house here in Thailand and I am very keen to generate as much of our own power needs as possible. The emergence of alternative energy in Thailand is not very strong as today power is quite cheap. Thailand is blessed with an average of 12 hours of sunlight year round, yet the country still heavily relies on oil for electricity production.
There are quite a few hydro electric dams in the country, mostly place by the King.

One energy source, the Sun, is up for some changes as EGAT (Electrivity Generating Authority of Thailand) now agree to buy back any surplus energy. This change in the economics means that you could now recover the costs within 10 years opposed to the potential 20 to 30 years before. You can tell then that solar today is cost prohibitive.

One of the key challenges of solar is how to effectively store the energy. Batteries are improving and one of the best uses for solar energy is hot water or pumped water so you can use a gravity fed water supply over the more common pumped supply.

MIT, via the Technology Review, are working on a system that use photosynthesis. The basic process is to use algae and encourage them to grow with sunlight. You can then use this to release hydrogen. Some years away from a practical application but worth keeping an eye open.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What's the story - Product Portfolio Management

There's a new beat on the street, the use and benefits of Product Portfolio Management.

The current leader is Tribold.

The intention is to get products to market faster, this is targeted at Telecom companies with a known time to market problem. The idea centralize the product management function that has a single view and representation of a product. This can then be shared with CRM, OSS and BSS systems.

With powerful reporting that can show take up of the offering and the unified product master when CRM, OSS and BSS will be in synch this should be a great boost for offering promotion to market. It's also not limited to telecom as this is a problem that many enterprises face today with disparate applications using the data (CRM, Self Care, Financials, Manufacturing, Distribution).

The great enabler for me is that will allow MVNO's to communicate their product vision to OSS and BSS provider of choice. The trend will be for pick best of breed billers for market segments, for example converged solution at the youth or business market and a less capable (and therefore less expensive) solution at pure voice users. Having a single view of a product means that IMS provisioning will be more simplified. With any product any screen provisioning attributes will vary by subsystem. A PPM solution will allow for that.












The benefits to operators is also making the migration to or between vendors easier. With a central repository for products it you wanted to switch from Siebel to SugarCRM this doesn't mean a mass migration of the whole product catalog, a new interface to pass the existing representation from PPM to CRM should make the process faster and more efficient.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cellphone PC's the new batch

There has been many attempts to make PC's as small as possible or to equip cell phones with as many PC features as possible.

The realization that as wireless broadband gets more prolific and todays workforce is more mobile than ever before the need to have small, capable PC's is very real.

Palm aired their approach, the Foleo at D: last week. Touted as a Cell Phone Companion it has many of the features required by a PC and uses the phone to create the connection.

Now Taiwan is pushing it's pledge for the space. For a long time Taiwan cell phone manufacturers have understood the need for cell phones to have a full keyboard, Dopod and HTC both have handsets with slide out keyboards. Now they are looking at full PC features in small units.

Via Technologies are launching the Nanobook. A small but powerful PC that at less than 1 Kilogram is looking for convenient portability.

Asus are launching the PC 701 or Eee. At 2 pounds, WiFi and solid state storage this mini PC should be well priced. Price has always been the problem for uptake in the past with most of the devices that have tried to drive this space.

Of course if you believe the adverts from Nokia then the new form that the PC has already taken is the N95. Nokia is trying to shape the Mobile Internet Device (MID) space with eraly entries of the 770 internet tablet and it's new brother the N800. I think I will wait a bit longer and see how the technology evolves to see where the feature alignment heads, more towards voice and PC convergence or compromising some features for size. For me the latter would be best as there is already a lot of confusion with many of the current smart phones that promise the world but compromise on the quality of the core function, voice.

PC over IP - The Teradici Effect

Teradici are hoping to blur the lines between PC and Data Centre.

Their solution allows a use to view multiple screens and control the blade PC over IP. This is kind of like the dumb terminals with a new edgy deployment.

The intention is that all of the computing power is performed offsite in a centralized area, the Data Centre, and this will save on power and maintenance costs as the engineers are co-located with the hardware and therefore don't have to go out to the client site for basic maintenance.

The Teradici Company
Article found in the Wall Street Journal

Sunday, June 03, 2007

How will Telco's need to adapt in the Web 2.0 world

The internet is adapting faster than ever before. Web 2.0 is seeing innovation at an increasing rate and social networking platforms, mashups, online collaboration and Software as a Service (SaaS) is showing what can be achieved and still have customer service as a core value.

Telco's are renowned for over engineering seeking the elusive 5 9's (99.999%) when in reality less is more. Skype can suffer lower voice quality but generally the quality is more than adequate for the average user. Compare this to mobile call quality from a network centric operator and where the results can be shocking.

The Web 2.0 is driving customers into new levels of collaboration and the Generation Me subscriber expects more from their services. Increasingly the need to immediate response and low cost means that the Telco's have a real challenge, despite the impact [or not] of Skype, Jajah, Gizmo and Vonage, the reality is that the Telco style of service is not good enough for the average Joe Punter.

The wish of IMS and it's any content any screen with it's foundation of SIP based connectivity may not be fast enough for tomorrows consumers. Maybe the cold hard truth is that Telco's need to get out of service creation and marketing and concentrate on their core competency, operating networks.

In an insight for Techdirt I concluded that Telco's need to facilitate the network operation and open up for more MVNO's and companies that know how to bundle content. This is likely to come from cable and media companies who are used to dealing with a fickle customer base and therefore have to interact more closely with them.

In another insight for Techdirt on the disruption that is now seen in TV and Video new business models, more aligned to Web 2.0 and consumer driven content production, was my conclusion for that industry.

Today's Telco's need to understand what mass collaboration can do and how brands are now being created, and broken, on the internet. To succeed the Telco will need to collaborate closely with the end user and content providers to create more depth and width of services that supply the needs of Generation Me subscribers. This means learning how to be more open and use Web 2.0 platforms to change the dynamics of the transaction.

Download the insight "Adapt a Telco to Survive"
Download the insight "Video 2.0"
Read the article on Light Reading "Why Telco's need Web 2.0"

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Blockbuster to start download service

Almost one year ago I wrote up an idea on how distributors, like Blockbuster, could stay in touch with the speed of innovation that technology and internet usage is experiencing.

This was an idea about how Blockbuster could use WiMax as a distribution platform.

Yesterday Lionsgate announced that Blockbuster are due to start a download service similar to the recent announcement that iTunes will start a movies download service.

The timing comes just after a wrote an insight for Techdirt on how TV is up for disruption in the light of TV and film distribution that is being driven by web TV services like Kyte and Joost.

You can download the insight from here.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

PC in the Palm of your hand

Another news piece from D: All Things Digital is the new device from Palm, Foleo.

The Linux based device could give one of my favourite devices the Nokia 770 a real run for it's money.

Key Features:

  • 10 Inch screen
  • 2.5 lbs
  • 5 hours run time
  • Bluetooth
  • WiFi
  • Opera
  • Hot sync with in range phones
All in all a promising looking product. I would like to get my hands on it and have a play.

See more from the Wall Street Journal

Just Scratching the Surface

The announcement from D: All Things Digital yesterday was the coffee table PC aka Surface.

This is Microsoft latest move into hardware (following XBox and Zune). The large interactive surfaces uses five cameras to detect location and movement.

The intention is to have the surface identify the object and allow the user to interact with it, examples:

  • transfer files, by WiFi, from the camera to the PC
  • see which services are available and book seats for shows etc
  • deduct balance from prepaid cards - this one is currently aimed at the Casinos
There is a good write up here from the Wall Street Journal

Wireless SaaS

Software as a Service (SaaS) has been disrupting traditional software business models for a few years with providers such as Salesforce.com providing enterprise level systems through a hosted service.

The mobile market is ripe for the same treatment, the early example was Blackberry, but how else will the SaaS model evolve cellular communications as we understand it today?

You might like to read the insight that I wrote for the Techdirt Insight Community, you can download it here.

It's Good to Share - not Skype but OrangeFone

In a move that might change the landscape of mobile operators Vodafone and Orange have chosen to share their radio access network and their new UMTS network elements.

This is to give them a predicted saving of 20 to 30 percent in operating and capital expenses for their 2G and 3G networks over the coming years.

A trial of this sharing was announced in the Spanish companies of the two firms in the back end of last year but this was only for 3G networks.

The potential for a working model like this is huge in built up areas where there is already cell saturation and no way for new players to enter the market or where existing players have poor coverage.

A report has been written that says that for this to work effectively a third company needs to be set up to cover the operation.

This is for the passive equipment and not the radio frequencies or transceivers and in many ways mirrors the not-merger of NokiaSiemens hardware vendors that support Vodafone and Orange.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Techdirt Insight Community

I recently signed up to join the Techdirt Insight Community, and was selected.

The community is a distributed think tank like blob of bloggers that can work on items that interest them. Companies hire Techdirt to get analysis and feedback on key challenges.

One example that I filed some insight on was "Adapt a Telco to Survive". I was lucky enough to have my thoughts highlighted as one of the top three and received my first payment through PayPal.

Having just finished reading Don Tapscott and Anthony D Williams' book Wikinomics it's very refreshing to see an outlet, an ideagora, where I can contribute within the same domain and have the possible benefit of being paid for your efforts.

Many of the subjects are open so that I can circulate the insight so I might start uploading summaries here.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Mobile IM revisted

Some time ago I posted about MixIt. At the time the nearest competitor that I knew of was Agile. But Agile only supported SIP based IM clients. I just had another look as I start to prepare an insight for the Techdirt Insight Community and I see that Agile now has Google Talk as a listed supported IM clients.

There are more and more players emerging into this space EQO allows for integration with IM and Skype using a GPRS connection to allow you to make Skype calls. This is ideal if you have a plan that supports as much as you can eat but operators in Thailand (DTAC, AIS, TrueMove) are very slow in adopting such plans even though their ARPU is really poor anyway for data services.

Jangl has announced some significant upgrades to their service. They claim to be able to map a phone number to all email accounts in the world. I am very interested to find a service that will allow me to create a collection centre to be used as I overlay David Allen's Getting Things Done across my working and private life. Jangl seemed like a good start but doesn't support Thailand (or Indonesia) and using my SkypeOut number does not allow me to call in and verify my number. I'll guess I'll have to wait until the next time I'm in the UK then :(

A good prospect for me is the service from Intellisoftware. I think I can use that to capture my actions for GTD, more on that later.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Me I Meebo

While playing around with my new favourite collaboration tool, Jeteye, I saw that it was possible to save IM's as well. This led me to Meebo.

Meebo allows you to embed an IM client into your website or blog through a widget that you can configure as MeeboMe.com.

You can get a multi way conversation from your site(s) in parallel in browser at Meebo.com. The thing I like about Meebo is that I can also connect to any SIP client and have a consolidated list of my contacts and who is online and offline. I can set my presence globally and this cascades to all of the clients. No more having Yahoo say I'm in a meeting and MSN saying that I'm available.

The application of this client is for on demand client service or similar real time contacts from your web presence.

A great little b-web product.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A view on Vista

Back in March of this year the BBC posted an article on their supersite about the problems with Microsoft Vista and access through the UK broadband providers.

"Other net service firms have also admitted that the appearance of Vista has caused some hiccups for users."
The problem is coming from the new system not being able to run the installation discs that are supplied. Now in May my family in the UK have purchased a new Acer laptop from Tesco and are still suffering problems getting online, all because of a disc.

The real problem is that nearly all of the providers in the UK send you an installation disc and an USB modem for service provision. The installation of the modem requires the disc and this is where the problem arises with Vista.

The dictionary.com entry for Vista has the following defintion.

"a view or prospect, esp. one seen through a long, narrow avenue or passage, as between rows of trees or houses."

"a far-reaching mental view: vistas of the future."

The intention from Microsoft was always the latter definition but the reality for the average UK end user is, unfortunately, the former.

This narrow view is this fear of letting people know the modem settings. The easiest solution for me is to give the user the modem settings and let them use that to configure, view a www window, their modem. This needn't even be a modem that supports wireless as the initial configuration is typically done over a cable anyway.

If the providers want to be helpful instead of bundling unreliable USB modems bundle a USB to RJ45 (ethernet) adapter for those people that don't have a LAN port on their machines..


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

An Eye for Jeteye

I have just listened to the Lifehack.org podcast with David Hayden of Jeteye.

As soon as I got the chance I registered and straight away I have found the product to be extremely useful and a great booster for me.

The theory is simple. Rather than wander around and create bookmarks use Jeteye to collect objects (files, links, videos etc) into a jetpak. The collection process is a simple but effective drag and drop interface which is very intuitive for today's users. The collection is then stored and highly available from your account page on Jeteye.com.

This jetpak collection can then be shared, with the usual controls over actions, which is a real boost for collaborative and virtual teams.

I'm definitely going to be using it to collect objects around some of my projects (as in the GTD term) and I am going to try and see if I can find a way to overlay it into my organization.

Maybe there are plans to allow a company to deploy it standalone inside a corporate network. It's such a powerful tool for me I could see it easily displace some of the quickplace stuff we use today.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Past, Presence and Future

Some 18 months ago I wrote a post on Presence; Presence of Mined.

I figured it was time to revisit the subject of presence and see what is being said today.

The first post of interest is a piece over on ThreeDimensionalPeople is presence a red herring.

The core themes for presence not stacking up are:

  • unbound data means that everybody knows where you are, or aren't. This allows for negative reinforcement of people's opinions unless....
  • you can slice up you world and have your presence set my subscriber. This is the same process that you can perform in Yahoo Messenger by group and individual settings (but not Skype [yet]) but if you tried it then you know how time consuming it is, and this is their point. The other point for me is you need to be careful that your worlds don't overlap, otherwise you need to be able to control which setting takes precedence... the presence precedent
  • Context centricity, presence needs to be more subjective in how it's set [and received]
So where does this leave the players in the space today and in the future?

Andy Abramson, VoIP Watch has a nice piece on how (if at all) you can turn presence into cash money. It's worth a read as a great way to set context in the domain where it merges with voice revenues.

Before you read on it be worth taking a trip over to Wikipedia and looking at the key concepts from the collaborative publisher.

Chris Gare has written a very informative post on some of the key challenges today, the problem of too much access and maybe too many presence engines. He has part of the solution as PresenceWorks to control a global view of your presence from YIM, MSN, ICQ etc.

GigaOm were able to interview Alec Saunders (Iotum) about the TalkNow presence engine for Blackberry. This is aimed at bringing presence from the IM platform to the normal voice instrument to control what is termed as "telephone tag".

The real innovation in here would be combining this with roaming. I know that when I am away from Thailand I often resign myself to either leaving the phone on and running the risk of taking a non-important call (at my cost) or turning it off and maybe missing something important.
This binary state is ripe for changing and allowing authorized people to get me roaming and others not. Ideally the middle state of receive the call, but not connect and allow me to choose. I know this is as simple as look at your phone and see the number, but "private number calling" doesn't tell me a lot.

For some up to date stats on why presence matters read through Gary Kim on IPBusiness.

Rounding off the current state of presence the key theme for me today is the use of presence avoidance. The interruption management stuff we all get caught doing, making ourselves invisible or appearing offline to hide our true state. The final contributions here are from ConversationWare and Ken Camp.

So what's in the future? a great setter for where presence could, and some would say should, go is from Thomas Howe.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Conference 2.0 revisited

Back in June of last year I posted an idea on what I termed "meeting room in a box" which for me evolved into Conference 2.0.

Trawling around the web last weekend I stumbled across an entry on Lifehack.org on Attend Conferences Without Being There.

Some of the basic ideas and concepts are very similar, in particular the idea of follow up for networking using LinkedIn.

Many of the IT centric conferences are starting to catch on to the idea and this is also being driven from some of the attendees who blog about it during and immediately after the event.

I think that there will soon be a large adoption of these concepts possibly even with access link WebEx after to get paraphrased versions of the keynote speeches, another use for podcasts and video casts.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Blogger Beta is Better

In another blog I have been playing with the new features available in Blogger Beta.

I was very happy with the results so I have moved my blog back to blogspot to enable the use of these features.

  • Web 2.0 features - widgets, UI improvements
  • More of a mashup feel
  • Labels - GoogleBlogger application of categories - easily extended to label (tag) clouds
All in all I have had enough fun with it to make the move back. Update your bookmarks:
http://orient-expression.blogspot.com assuming that you're getting this from RSS.

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