Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SKY New Zealand vaults into the 21st Century

New Zealand is a pretty country but it's also pretty slow in coming forward in many areas.

It has it fair share of innovation but some parts of everyday life are still if not 20 years behind but at least 10...until now.

Sky in the UK has made use of user driven options through handset interaction for some time, push the red button, Sky NZ still does not support this type of service.

But this is where competition shows its value, it forces natural monopolies to innovate, and let's be honest Sky TV is a natural monopoly here by being the only digital TV service (which you have to use if you want to get a decent reception so Freeview doesn't count [yet]).

Now Telecom has tied up with TiVo as the sole distributor in New Zealand Sky has had to play catch up, their response iSky.

First impressions, given that the full service isn't launched yet, are good. Finally after years of me seeing other countries extending TV into the computer world with the likes of Yahoo -> TiVo integration for booking and the BBC iPlayer Sky NZ have made a leap of faith.

Through the iSky service you can connect your account to an online account (your SKY ID). You can browse the TV guide and as a MySkyHDi user you can remotely book programmes to be recorded.

It appears that you can now also book pay-per-view films without having either a phone line connected to your decoder or having to phone the contact centre, great news!

From the early blurb it looks like Sky will moving to a full time shifting and place shifting service within the coming weeks. You will be able to have remote access to content that is aligned to your subscription and watch that on a device that is nowhere near your TV, also good news!

In a final piece of competition driven need if you are also a subscriber to one of their partners, e.g. Vodafone NZ, any content you watch this way does not come out of your monthly bandwidth allocation, even better news!

For the first time in a long time I actually feel excited about events that are unfolding here in the North Antartic islands that are New Zealand.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hamazon.com

Amazon has disrupted book sales in the UK and around the globe, to the point where a shipping container of stuff arrives almost everyday at New Zealand Customs to check through all the books that those eager Kiwis have ordered in an effort to avoid the massively overinflated prices for books that are already in their own language.

Now they want to take on Tesco in their back yard with the ability for customers to order their groceries from their online portal.

Looks like you can only order non-perishables, so no emergency pint of milk [yet]. So rather than getting your joint of ham for the Sunday lunch looks like it would be a can of the old Monty Python favourite. So make that Spamazon.co.uk

Monday, March 29, 2010

An appropriate finger jesture?

We all recognnise that not alll devices are made equal. Many handsets try to squeeze in a QWERTY keyboard for convenience, but the convenience is lost as the keys become too small to be useful to many users.

Some four years ago I started thinking about breaking a typical phone into component parts, allowing you to adopt a best of breed approach to phone, camera, music player etc. This relied on some form of Bluetooth hub to facilitate the connectivity and some gadget to use as the input/control device.

A researcher at Carnegie Mellon University has decided that this gadget is you! more specifically your hand and arm. His idea is a Skinput device that allows finger jestures to be used as the control device. He also proposes that the receiver/reader would use Bluetooth technology to send that jesture as a command to the relevant hardware component.

Interested to see if this becomes a reality...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On SIP, Skype, FreePBX and Handsets

Way back in June 2006 I posted this entry on using Gizmo with Asterisk as a SIP gateway.

Skype have just released their latest Beta version of Skype for SIP which can be used with any PBX that supports a SIP service, this could be freePBX, but I still think there is room in the non-Enterprise space for Asterisk on a WiFi router (see the original post).

As we still talk about service and device convergence there is certainly a role for mobile handsets, like Nokia's E series phones, that support a SIP service. This can be used in the office as your desk phone. Skype for SIP will help build the momentum in their foray into the enterprise space. I would still like to think that mobile handsets can be used to fill the void in mobile and unified comms for the office roamers, it would certainly make life easier in the office I currently work in and save a mile or two of cabling running around the desks.