Turbotodd

Ruminations on IT, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘mobile internet’ Category

Speak Slowly In Your Regular Voice

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Happy Monday.

I just returned from a nice long weekend with my buddies out in West Texas, where we held our annual “South Austin Gun Camp.”

Don’t worry, nobody was hurt…well, save for that Easter Bunny pinata which made too compelling a target for our collective target practice to resist.

Speaking of targets, they were mostly old beer cans and paper zombies, but a good time was had by all and the weather mostly cooperated for our three day camp out.

I include in this post a pic of one of the shooting activities I semi excel at, which is skeet shooting (called “Olympic Skeet” in the Olympic games, the U.S. team for which I will not be selected for anytime soon).

Turbo takes out his pent up frustrations on some harmless clay pigeons in the wilds of West Texas, while also basking in his short-lived technological  disconnectedness.

Turbo takes out his pent up frustrations on some harmless clay pigeons in the wilds of West Texas, while also basking in his short-lived technological disconnectedness.

Today, however, it’s been email catchup and back to work.

Out in West Texas, I had limited access to any technology. My LG Cosmos II scantly picked up a Verizon signal, so every once in a while I would get a data dump so I could scan my personal email.

The lack of data connectivity made it a little difficult to keep up with the Sweet 16 results and the PGA event in Houston, but I was able to play catch up on those once back at Turboville late Sunday afternoon.

In the “While You Were Out” category, I noticed this story about Nuance Communications’ efforts to release “Voice Ads,” a “new mobile advertising format that lets people have a two-way conversation with brands.”

For the record, I’m a big Nuance (and voice dictation/speech recognition, more generally) fan, but the idea of my talking to a brand made me laugh out loud.

What happens when the brand can talk back to me?

“Hello, Budweiser. I’ll have one of you.”

“Could I see your ID, please?”

“Excuse me?”

“You asked for one of me. I’m Budweiser, an adult alcoholic beverage, and you must be 21 or older to speak with me, much less consume me. Could I see your ID, please?”

“Sorry, I left it at home.”

“I’m sorry, too.  You must be 21 or older to talk to this Budweiser.”

Upstart Business Journal has all the details, ‘splainin’ that Nuance has already signed up marketing partners like Digitas, OMD, and Leo Burnett to reach the approximate 100,000 app publishers out there in the world today.

And no question, mobile marketing is a huge market — I’m just not sure how many people are ready to talk to their brands.

If they are, it’s surely to help them get something useful done. I can easily envision this mobile app from JetBlue sometime soon:

Why am I so late, JetBlue Voice?”

“Your plane was delayed.”

“Why was my plane delayed, JetBlue Voice? I need to get to New York. I have a meeting!”

“Could you please enter your confirmation number?”

“It’s in another part of my smartphone, and I can’t find it because I’m talking to you. Don’t you have voice recognition or something?”

“Perhaps you could call back another time when you have your confirmation number. Thank you for calling JetBlue’s advertising.”

No no, NOTHING could go wrong with mobile voice advertising!

A Mobile Summary

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I’m going to have to start naming this “Mobile Monday.”

Because on Mondays, it seems like there’s always something of import to occur within the mobile space.

I guess one could say that for every other day of the week, and maybe it just seems more notable to me on Mondays.

In today’s case, it was Yahoo’s announced acquisition of Summly, a mobile app that has a unique algorithm which helps summarize news stories and which was started by a 15 year-old programmer, Nick D’Alosio.  The Summly took Apple’s “Best Apps of 2012″ award for Intuitive Touch capability.

So of course the first thing that will happen post acquisition is that the app will be REMOVED from the App Store starting today.

Does that seem counterintuitive or is it just me?

Kid writes app, app receives a gazillion downloads, Yahoo buys app, makes kid rich, Yahoo removes app from App Store.

Only in the tech industry.

The idea, of course, being that someday soon the capabilities of Summly will find themselves embedded in other Yahoo apps.  Yeah, and I’ve got some great swamp land in south Florida that I’d like to show you.

Turbo recently shelled out a little over a hundred bucks for the daskeyboard Professional Model S. This keyboard features Mac-specific functions such as media controls, brightness controls, command and alt/option keys, eject and clear keys. The Professional Model S for Mac is “plug and play” with your Mac computer and updated to also include media controls.

Turbo recently shelled out a little over a hundred bucks for the daskeyboard Professional Model S. This keyboard features Mac-specific functions such as media controls, brightness controls, command and alt/option keys, eject and clear keys. The Professional Model S for Mac is “plug and play” with Mac computers and updated to also include media controls.

On the topic of mobile, nobody’s ever really created a good mobile Bluetooth keyboard that’s portable and, preferably, folds up…and I’ve tried just about all of them…Kickstarter, anyone?

But I am VERY happy with my new daskeyboard keyboard, which I’m going to tell you all about now.

When I’m working at home, it’s like hearing a machine gun emanating from my office (They don’t call me Turbo for nothin’, and it mostly had to do with my typing speed…How else would you expect me to be able to generate all these blog posts!?)

I saw daskeyboards for the first time last year at SXSW, but I was able to contain my credit card.  This year, I decided to jump in headfirst.

With a discount, I was able to get the daskeyboard Pro Model S for about $100, and though that might seem like a lot for a keyboard, when you spend as much time every day in front of a computer as I do, it seemed like a pretty good investment at the time — and that turned out to be the case.

Remember those original IBM AT and XT (and later, PS/2) computers where you could use those clickety-clack Model M keyboards? Well, daskeyboard has reinvented that PC keyboarding past, and you can now go clickety-clack at 90 words per minute with the lightest, softest, but clickiest touch you can imagine.

Only this time, you can do it on both Macs and PCs, and you can do it all in black.

Written by turbotodd

March 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Samsung Theatre, RSS-Less Google

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Anybody watch that Samsung Galaxy S4 launch last night on the Webcast from Radio City Music Hall in New York City?

Well, the latest episode of Smash it certainly was not.  I think the entire show could probably have used a dramaturg, but hey, what do I know? The last show I saw at Radio City Music Hall was Iron Maiden sometime around 1985.

But, if Samsung doesn’t exactly have a handle on the number of the thespian beast, they certainly do seem to have learned how to make smartphones.

Once I got past all the drama last night, I was ready to shell out a few hundred bucks to move back into the smartphone camp (I’m currently carrying an LG feature phone from Verizon, because unlike most people, I actually still use my cell phone to TALK to OTHER HUMAN BEINGS.)  I currently depend on an iPod Touch 5th gen for most of my tablet computing (news consumption, email, calendaring, shooter games, travel, etc.)

But at some point, I’m going to create my own harmonic computing convergence and try to come back to one device.

Of course, the price point for an unlocked Galaxy S4 will likely require a second mortage, and that’s if you can even find one.

So I’m also keeping an eye on the downmarket players like BLU Products, a little known player from whom I recently ordered an unlocked feature phone for $35 that I now use as my bat phone.

BLU is introducing a whole slate of new smartphones in April, entitled “Live View,” “Life One,” and “Life Play,” all of which will allegedly be sold unlocked on Amazon and range between $229 and $299.

The Life View model will include a 5.7-inch display (bigger than the Galaxy 5 at 5 inches), a 12-megapixel rear/5-megapixel front camera, 1GB RAM, 16GB of expandable storage, and also a 2,600Ah battery for those lonnngg plane rides to Bangalore.

I imagine that phone will be “good enough,” and you can learn more here on Engadget.

What’s apparently not good enough for Google is having an RSS reader. It was just announced that Google Reader was going to be taken out back to the Google woodshed and shot, as of July 1 of this year, a resultant casualty of Google’s annual “Spring Cleaning.”

To whit I ask, couldn’t they have found something less useful to “clean?”

Not to pile on, but this is a really dumb move for Google, if not for the bad PR value alone (and there’s been plenty of that). Google Reader was a beloved product, if only by the niche social digerati — you know, all those massive influencers with a big social media megaphone.

For my money, it’s a jaded move — Google’s not making any money off Reader, and RSS feeds are notoriously difficult to measure, so why not bury it in the Mountain View backyard? On the other hand, it would be nice for them to keep a useful tool that helps we bloggers keep our blogging sanity, and Reader does/did? just that.

C’est la Google vie…I’ve turned to Feedly online and on the iPod, and Reeder on the Mac, to assuage my soon-to-be Google Readerless existence.  So far, I’m digging the newspaper-ish like layout.  I just hope I can learn how to add and subtract feeds as easily as I was able to on the Google Reader cloud.

As for my post-SXSW-partum depression, the sun’s shining in Austin and I plan to get out and play some golf this weekend.  But I’ll just say this: For me, Best SouthBy ever.  I saw a lot of great speakers and sessions, talked to a lot of cool and interesting people, consumed some of my native city’s great food and drink, and enjoyed myself all the way around.

And for those of you who made it to the IBM party at Haven Saturday night, well how about that?  Definitely NOT your father’s IBM.

The bar she has been raised.

Live From IBM Pulse 2013: Day 2 General Session — IBM Tivoli Customers Share Their Best Practices

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Several prominent IBM Tivoli clients joined IBM senior vice president Robert Leblanc at the IBM Pulse 2013 day two general session to discuss their asset and infrastructure management best practices on the MGM Grand Arena stage.

Several prominent IBM Tivoli clients joined IBM senior vice president Robert Leblanc at the IBM Pulse 2013 day two general session to discuss their asset and infrastructure management best practices on the MGM Grand Arena stage.

If you missed Carrie Underwood last evening in the MGM Grand Arena, well…I’m sorry.

Actually, I’d find it difficult to believe anyone from IBM Pulse missed Carrie Underwood, as the place was packed to the rafters, and Carrie did not disappoint.

In fact, quite the opposite…and judging from the line waiting to get in that stretched all the way back to the MGM hotel elevators, well, let’s just say expectations were high.

And as we move into Pulse 2013 Day Two, we should maintain those high expectations, because it was clear from this morning’s keynote customer interview led by IBM senior vice president Robert Leblanc that today’s focus would be on highlighting best practices in building and maintaining smart infrastructures.

IBM vice president Scott Hebner first kicked the session off, explaining IBM’s continued commitment to open standards (see yesterday’s announcement about IBM’s commitment to using OpenStack), explaining that “Just as standards helped us realize the promise of e-business over the last decade, I think the same is going to occur with respect to cloud computing.”

Scott also encountered an amusing “blue screen of cloud death” moment, where all systems failed, spinning umbrellas appeared on screen (and in the audience), and colorful chaos people appeared from offstage.

An amusing moment, but one with an underlined headline of warning: Thou who doth go too far forward building on proprietary platforms may findeth one’s business in cloud computing chaos!

Scott next handed the baton to Robert Leblanc, and it was time now for Robert to introduce a range of IBM Tivoli clients operating in a garden variety of industries: Steve Caniano, Vice President, Hosting, Applications, and Cloud Computing with AT&T; Robert Pierce, Assistant Vice President, Information Services, Carolina Healthcare; Eduardo Bustamante, Director of Systems and Telecommunications, Port of Cartagena; and Tony Spinelli, Chief Security Officer, Equifax.

First, he cleared the decks and set up the big picture: Technology is now the number one issue for CEOs, as they recognize it could make or break their success. Big data, mobile, and cloud loom over the horizon as competitive differentiating technologies, and, increasingly, are table stakes.

Security is more of a risk, but going on the offensive beats succumbing to the nastiness of the defensive (read the cyber security headlines lately?).

And yet…and here was the key point of the best practices session…only one in five CEOs feel they have a highly efficient IT infrastructure, one that’s versatile and dynamic and can adapt to the ever-changing whims of an admittedly volatile marketplace.

And Robert delivered more bad news (admittedly, he did so with a smile): 70 percent of CIOs lack proper visibility into their cloud systems, 78 percent are NOT using mobile device management, and 53 percent lack the proper automation of securing their assets.

Oh, and only one in ten feel they have the skills and capabilities they require.

Robert asked each of the IT executives about their respective environments and challenges.

Steve from AT&T observed that “cloud computing is a team game” but that “hybrid types of solutions needed to be deployed,” and he explained AT&T’s partnership with IBM had been key in this regard.

Robert with Carolina Healthcare explained in the field of medicine that “mobility has become a key differentiator” and that the new doctors coming up “expect robust information technology services” or else they’ll find someone else’s hospital to work at.

He went on to explain that Carolina had begun to use IBM’s Endpoint Manager to manage some 38,000 desktops, laptops, iPads and iPhones.

Eduardo had a different set of challenges, operating in a much more “physical” realm in using IT services to better orchestrate the cacophony of trains, cranes, and other moveable assets.  He indicated the Port of Cartagena is implementing RFID in concert with IBM Maximo technologies to better manage and move those assets efficiently around the port, and in the process, adding a layer of analytics to allow for continuous improvement of that physical instrumentation.

And Tony with Equifax got a laugh from the audience when he started by stating that “Everyone in this audience wants me to do a great job,” acknowledging the company has and must protect the information of individuals and businesses around the globe.

He suggested companies need to move beyond simply “naming the bad actors” in the security intrusion front, and instead move to “better understand those bad actor’s strategies and tactics” so they can better prioritize, respond to, and yes, even prevent those incidences from occurring in the first place, something Equifax is doing through the implementation of improved security intelligence using IBM QRadar technology.

“By having better security intelligence on the battlefield,” Tony explained, “you’re better prepared.”

“Not all assets are created equally,” he explained, speaking, of course, for Equifax, but acknowledging a much broader theme and challenge to the gathered IBM Pulse crowd.

Live From IBM Pulse 2013: Dr. Danny Sabbah — The Internet Is The Computer

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Danny Sabbah

Dr. Danny Sabbah, CTO and general manager for IBM Next Generation Architecture, extols on the promise and virtues of the nexus between “systems of engagement” and “systems of record” at the opening general session of IBM Pulse 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, earlier today.

Welcome to the world of the hybrid cloud and legacy application environment, a merger of the front office and the back, the nexus of the burgeoning mobile and social milieu (the “systems of engagement”) with the systems of record.

This was the key message delivered in the opening general session of IBM Pulse 2013 here at the almost packed MGM Grand Garden arena here in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The opening itself was another kind of hybrid, one that featured a number of skilled percussionists drumming in the key messages of the challenges and opportunities facing IT organizations around the globe.

Speed is a constant.  Change is a constant.  Declining budgets are a constant.  What’s the variable?

The opportunity to create new kinds of value for the organization by better fusing business assets, facilities, infrastructure, and data into a seamless and holistic view of the entire operation, one whereby you help your organization better gain increased visibility, control, and automation.

In short, to move from being a cost center to a center of strategic business innovation, and to turn opportunities into outcomes.

Are you prepared to take on this new challenge?

IBM Tivoli marketing guru Scott Hebner entered the stage to set the stage for IBM Pulse 2013, explaining there were 8,000+ attendees from over 80 countries around the globe, and that the depth and breadth and diversity of experience in this room (and we’re talking about a pretty big room…like, as in, Carrie Underwood will be playing this room for Pulse this evening) was unprecedented.

Scott started his opening by asking a few key questions of the gathered infrastructure management faithful: Where does an infrastructure begin and where does it end?  How do we make it become more interconnected and instrumented so we can garner more value from existing assets?

Scott explained that we’re all sitting on a staggering amount of operational data, both animate and inanimate — and not just in the traditional data center, either.  In your tractors.  Your warehouses.  Your office buildings.

And this “operational big data” residing in all those assets is an enormous opportunity, one that allows us to better understand the “exact condition of everything in real-time.” Which means also extracting new value from those assets and, hence, being able to then provide better services to our organizations and users.

But the climbing of this new mountain of data has its challenges.  For one, skills.  IDC expects 7 million new cloud computing positions to come online, 6X that over the rest of IT employment.  That means new skills, new training, new…students.

Which is one of the primary reasons we’re all gathered here in Lost Wages, to come together and learn from the experts and one another, to improve the economics of IT, and to uncover those growth opportunities.

Scott introduced a customer who flew all the way here from down under, in Melbourne, Australia, to share their experience in this new frontier of computing.

Neal Roberts, the CIO of Yarra Trams, is part of a team that oversees the largest tram network in the world, one with 250 kilometers of track and nearly 500 tram cars that travel some 185 million track miles per year!

First, Yarra’s values, which help drive both the team and the trams: Think like a passenger, do Zero harm, and provide Continuous Improvement.

The first two are pretty self-evident, but the third, continuous improvement, takes some concerted and coordinated effort and a lot of hard work.

That coordination increasingly takes place between the line of business and IT organizations.  And Mr. Roberts explained that “We’re all facing the same challenges. Trying to manage the velocity of change, and to become centers of innovation while reinventing the customer relationship.”

For Yarra, that meant driving a symbiosis of asset management and location information, the so-called systems of record, with the real-time notification opportunities of social media data.

It goes a little something like this: The rains come, puts a tram out of service when it gets flooded, the operations center is notified, the operations center schedules a dispatch to fix the train, the schedule is altered, data is streamed to the public cloud (including a mobile app for tram users) to notify them automagically the train schedule has been disrupted/altered, the tram eventually gets fixed, all goes back to normal.

Yarra Tram

Yarra Tram of Melbourne, Australia, uses IBM Maximo asset management technology to bridge to “systems of engagement” and inform Melbourne citizens when trams are out of service so they can make other arrangement.s

No problem, the trams are back to running on time.

Dr. Danny Sabbah, CTO and general manager of IBM Next Generation Platforms, picked it up from there.

Dr. Sabbah observed that we are truly at an inflection point, and that since last year, the key themes which emerged around securing the cloud, mobile, and embedded solutions, have only become more important, and that we’re now seeing this increased integration of public cloud data and the existing services.

That is again the important nexus to focus on, because it is from that nexus that we’ll see increasing value unlocked by organizations around the globe, and it’s a new stage in the evolution of technology and the importance of data.

Dr. Sabbah included a key example: Mobile devices are anticipated to account for 40% of access to all kinds of business applications in the next few years.

And as a result of this, big data is joining mobile and cloud as the next must have competency.

“Devices are becoming more intelligent and communicating even more data,” Sabbah continued, and we’re getting “smart buildings, smart grids, and smarter healthcare. None of these are operating in isolated silos.”

“The convergence of these technologies,” he explained, “is driving the Internet of things.”

And yet intelligent interconnection and instrumentation is making it increasingly hard to balance efficiency and innovation. Sabbah explained, “The drive for innovation drives a commensurate need for technology optimization” and that optimization is what helps free up finite IT resources for focusing on innovation.

That is also another reason IBM has put so much muscle behind its PureSystems line of technology, with the express intention of freeing up people, time, and money from mundane operational tasks of server administration, data routines, etc., so they can work on value added projects!

The new cloud and mobile-based “systems of engagement” spoken of earlier, along with the systems of record from the past 40 years of computing, aren’t going away, and in fact, the opportunity for these systems to interact and interoperate extracts new value.  But that requires flexibility (read: openness) in their infrastructure design, because different workloads are coming together — some require new levels of optimization, others new levels of maintenance, and some towards speed of delivery.

But, ultimately, flexible architectures allow us to mash up new services, so that those organizations who build flexibility into their infrastructure DNA are those “most poised to win.”

Getting there will require rapid iteration and the continued “reduction of confused and conflicting infrastructure and software.”

“It’s not the network that’s the computer,” Sabbah wound down.  “It’s the Internet that’s the computer.”

IBM Unveils Comprehensive Mobile Portfolio

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IBM Mobile First

Click to enlarge the infographic.  As the first new technology platform for business to emerge since the World Wide Web, mobile computing represents one of the greatest opportunities for organizations to expand their business. Based on nearly 1,000 customer engagements, 10 mobile-related acquisitions in the last four years, a team of thousands of mobile experts and 270 patents in wireless innovations, IBM MobileFirst offers an array of solutions that helps businesses connect, secure, manage and develop mobile networks, infrastructures and applications.

 

IBM is going big on mobile.

Today, the company unveiled “IBM MobileFirst,” a comprehensive mobile strategy that combines security, analytics, and application development software, with cloud-based services and deep mobile expertise.

Using IBM MobileFirst solutions, businesses can now streamline everything from the management of employee mobile devices, to the creation of a new mobile commerce app that will transform their entire business model.

Today’s move by IBM builds off of its experience helping nearly 1,000 customers become mobile enterprises, and takes advantage of its thousands of mobile experts and 270 patents in wireless innovations.

IBM has made 10 mobile-related acquisitions in the past four years alone.

IBM also announced an expanded relationship with AT&T to provide developers with tools to create faster, richer mobile apps and services for customers. For instance, organizations can now quickly incorporate payment and messages into their apps.

With this expanded partnership, the AT&T API Platform, featuring IBM Worklight Adapters, will enable the more than 31,000 members of the AT&T Developer Program to quickly create and securely deploy enterprise apps that improve subscriber engagement and customer loyalty.

With these adapters that support AT&T’s ecosystem of APIs including those for speech, SMS, device capabilities, notary management and payment, developers can quickly and securely create rich, business-ready apps across a variety of platforms including iOS, Android and Windows.

Through IBM MobileFirst, IBM is providing companies with the essential tools to take advantage of new business opportunities being enabled by mobile.

A Broad Portfolio of Mobile Solutions

To be successful in embracing mobile for driving revenue growth, clients must have an integrated strategy for mobile, cloud, big data, social business and security. Today’s announcements from IBM help clients harness these complex technologies to drive innovation and growth.

IBM’s mobile solutions portfolio provides the key elements of an application and data platform with the management, security and analytics capabilities needed for the enterprise.

In addition to meeting mobile-specific requirements, the portfolio provides for rapid integration between social and cloud services as well as back-end technologies that help secure and manage strategic business processes. Key aspects include:

  • IBM MobileFirst Platform – New updates include expanded capabilities of IBM Worklight to simplify deployment. It also features single sign-on capabilities for multiple applications. A new beta of the Rational Test Workbench for mobile helps to improve the quality and reliability of mobile apps.
  • IBM MobileFirst Security – IBM extends its context-based mobile access control solutions and expands mobile application vulnerability testing with support for Apple iOS apps with the latest release of AppScan.
  • IBM MobileFirst Management – New updates to IBM Endpoint Manager include enhanced support for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs and increased security standards that are critical to governments and regulated environments.
  • IBM MobileFirst Analytics – IBM is expanding its Tealeaf CX Mobile solution to give enterprises more visual insight into mobile behaviors so they can better understand where improvements are needed and create exceptional and consistent consumer experiences across mobile devices.

To provide organizations with maximum flexibility and accelerate their adoption of mobile computing, these solutions can also be delivered through cloud and managed services.

A Deep Set of Mobile Services for Clients

Enterprises are embracing the mobile revolution at a rapid pace. IBM has thousands of mobile experts to help clients understand how industries will be transformed in a mobile world, based on client engagements across more than a dozen industries.

The IBM MobileFirst portfolio features several services to help clients establish mobile strategies, design and implement mobile projects. These include:

  • IBM MobileFirst Strategy and Design Services – Clients can tap into IBM expertise to map out a mobile strategy for employees and customers, and key experience design skills from IBM Interactive to build compelling mobile experiences. IBM’s new Mobile Maturity Model can assess how a business is progressing towards becoming a mobile enterprise, while new Mobile Workshops help clients develop applications, architect infrastructure and accelerate their mobile progress.
  • IBM MobileFirst Development and Integration Services – IBM offers services that help organizations roll out a mobile infrastructure and manage mobile application portfolios and BYOD environments. Enhanced Network Infrastructure Services for Mobile provide IT network strategy, optimization, integration and management. Mobile Enterprise Services for Managed Mobility help manage and secure smartphones, tablets and devices across a business. Mobile Application Platform Management helps speed deployment of mobile infrastructure to develop mobile applications more easily and quickly.

An Expansive Set of Mobile Resources and Programs for Business Partners, Developers and Academics

According to IBM’s recent Tech Trends Report, only one in 10 organizations has the skills needed to effectively apply advanced technologies such as mobile computing.

To help overcome this skills gap, IBM is rolling out a series of resources to help its ecosystem of developers, partners and academics tap into the mobile opportunity and augment existing skills or develop new ones.

These include:

  • Developers – IBM today is announcing a relationship with AT&T that will enable developers to enhance mobile apps by using IBM Worklight to access AT&T’s APIs in the cloud. Now, developers have another tool with AT&T to quickly and easily create apps with rich features such as speech recognition and rapid payment. IBM is also rolling out new technical assets on developerWorks and CodeRally, a developer game community.
  • Business Partners – With Ready for IBM MobileFirst, Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) can also embed mobile technologies into their solutions and Software Value Plus now provides mobile certifications, workshops and incentives for resellers and systems integrators.
  • Academics – To help train the next generation of mobile developers, IBM is offering new faculty grants for curricula development. IBM is also making IBM Worklight available, free of charge, for the classroom and via online training to teach both students and faculty to develop for mobile environments.

IBM Global Financing, the lending and leasing arm of IBM, can also help companies affordably transform into mobile enterprises.

Credit-qualified clients can take advantage of simple, flexible lease and loan packages for the IBM MobileFirst portfolio — some starting at as low as 0% for 12 months with no up-front costs — allowing businesses to acquire essential technology and services while managing cash flow more effectively.

To learn more, visit the IBM MobileFirst site.  You can also follow @ibmmobile, #ibmmobile on Twitter, and see IBM MobileFirst on YouTube, Tumblr and Instagram.

Also, watch the video below (3:46), for it paints a broad, comprehensive, and gorgeous “picture” of the enterprise mobile opportunity and challenges.

IBM MobileFirst Announcement Coverage:

Turbo’s New Hammer

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Image

Turbo’s new “hammer,” a Samsung Chromebook that he loyally bought from IBM client Best Buy when he was supposed to be out just grabbing lunch. Read the full post to determine whether Todd will keep his new hammer and whether or not it’s worthy of a life lived mostly in the cloud.

I’ve not written a personal technology post in a couple of weeks, but I had occasion to acquire some new technology recently, and I decided that must change.

First things first: Never let me loose in a Best Buy with a credit card.  It’s not a pretty sight.

Which is precisely where I found myself last week during a lunch break, when I allegedly stepped out to get some food.

Of course, the place where I was getting the food was also close to where the Best Buy is located.  So, one thing led to another…

And to be fair, if not to myself, then to the telling of the tale, I didn’t wander into the Best Buy without having in my mind’s eye a certain technology I wanted to check out.

Mind you, I never had children, much to my mother’s chagrin, so my indulgence IS the acquisition of new technologies, of all varieties.  I could open a museum dedicated to the long dormant carcasses of technologies past.

Some of them I could make a good argument at the time I needed them, others I would have a difficult time in making that case to a mock court filled with sympathetic nerds.

But regardless, it is my passion and weakness (that, and golf).

Now for my juicy rationalization on this particular lunch break: Though I didn’t need a new computer, I wanted to try something new.

That’s as rational as it’s going to get.

Hey, it’s better than going out and buying a Porsche on a lark, right? Or a motorcycle of some kind, which would surely get me killed!  At least this Chromebook won’t kill me, I thought as I walked through Best Buy the parking lot.

So I walked into the Best Buy and *specifically* wanted to check out the Chromebooks.  That would help me limit the damage.

I already told you, this wasn’t an entirely rational act, although there was plenty of rationalizing as I went through the door.

Also, how’s this: Best Buy is an IBM client! When I buy stuff from Best Buy, I’m helping support a customer who helps support me because they buy our stuff!

That’s pretty good, you must admit.  I was about to close the deal with myself and I hadn’t even yet seen the Chromebook.

By now, I’ve walked past the mobile phone section of Best Buy, which for me is like a person who has a gambling problem having the willpower to walk through Caesar’s Palace without stopping at a blackjack table.

But I did it. And I kept on walking…past the 3D TVs, the Internet-enabled fridges, past the camera section (Wait, I’ve not bought a camera at least in a year!), and on into the computer section.

I asked the friendly sales guy if they had any Chromebooks on display, and he said, in fact, they did. Two models, one from Samsung, and one from Acer.

The Samsung had a 16GB hard drive, and the Acer, I think, a 128GB drive.

Of course, you’re missing the point with a Chromebook if you’re thinking about how much hard drive space there is.

The whole point of a Chromebook is to live almost entirely in the cloud.

And this was my goal. To see what it was like to live in the cloud.  Another rationalization. “I have to go live in the cloud, because…I must know what THAT’S like!”

That and to support one of IBM’s great clients, Best Buy, by buying more stuff from them.  Our client.  Who buys our stuff.

I know, I have a problem. I just want you to know how my mind works.

The nice sales guy answered a bunch of questions I had, machine gun fashion, Amy Poehler style, and then mentioned they had an “open box” of the Samsung, a return.

“Why’d they return it?” I asked him.

“Because, I don’t think they realized what they were getting into buying a Chromebook.”

Then, I saw the price. $216!!!  Aha, even better, I was going to benefit from the misery of another customer who had returned the thing because they didn’t understand they were going to have to live in the cloud.

I could feel my credit card literally melting in my back pocket. Like it was oozing between the seams and burning down my leg like hot wax.

“And can I bring it back if I don’t like it?”

“Thirty days,” he smiled.  Well there you go!  If I don’t like the thing, I’ll bring it back (Fat chance that was gonna happen, but it gave me an out).

The sales guy left me there to play with the Samsung Chromebook some more, but it was a no brainer!

$216 for an item that was listed at $249 and for which I’d seen folks charging close to $300.

So I bought it, the endorphin rush carrying me out the door back to my car.

It was supposed to come with 100 GB of free storage from Google for two years, but because it was an open box, the doofus who bought the thing and returned it, had cashed in the free storage and I was left to buy my own.

That’s okay, because as it turns out, I don’t need a lot of storage. I’m mostly saving small text docs.

And now, let me explain my net summary of the Chromebook experience thus far.

First, I’m a writer, first and foremost. So I like writing on something I like to write on.

Whether a typewriter, in a specific word processing app, or on a keyboard that has just the right feel…well, that’s the point: You know it when you feel it.

The Samsung Chromebook has the right feel, for me.

Second, less is more. For basic productivity, so long as you have a good Internet connection, most everything you need is in the Chrome cloud.

Writing apps, presentation apps, spreadsheets, games, music (Pandora, etc.)…

IF you need anything else that’s specifically hidebound to Mac OS or Windows or even Linux, the SAMSUNG CHROMEBOOK IS NOT FOR YOU!

Third, I haven’t had to try and use it offline yet. Though I’m told a number of the Google apps work great offline, I haven’t yet gone there. So, stay tuned for more on that.

The ONLY thing that doesn’t yet work that I want to work is Netflix…and, I’m told, Google’s working on it (they’re having to do some recoding due to the ARM processor used in the Chromebook).

Everything else has been great, including, as mentioned, job one, the ability to write.

I found an application in Chromebook called “Writer” that’s free and that’s where I’m writing this post. My post saves every few seconds to the cloud, autosave extraordinaire, voila…no lost posts, no local OS or app crashes.

And the Chromebook display is gorgeous.  The multitasking is no problemo, due to the light footprint for Chrome.

And you know something else, I think one of the things I like most about it is its simplicity.  It just works!  The operating system doesn’t get in the way, as it so often does when I’m using Windows or Mac OS or even Linux.

The footprint is SO light there’s really not much there to crash!  And after twenty years of fighting operating systems, I have to say, this is one helluva breath of fresh air.

This is the network computer as it was being banted about in 1998, that’s actually come to fruition because the bandwidth has matched the application capacity.

Ultimately, it’s pushing technology the hell out of my way so I can get real work done.  What a concept!

And yes, this is mainly a “second” computer for me, but it’s a powerful second computer, and because so much of my life is now spent in the cloud, and considering that a computer is for me like a hammer is to a carpenter — well, that’s how I ultimately justified the purchase: I got myself a new hammer for only $216, and I’m out there just hammering away nails like it’s nobody’s business.

So before you go spending $800+ on that 128GB iPad, make sure it’s going to do what you need to do…that can’t be done on a $216 Chromebook!

Written by turbotodd

February 5, 2013 at 10:12 pm

BlackBerry’s Uphill Battle

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So, tomorrow’s the big day.

Research In Motion is formally introducing its BlackBerry 10 operating system.

Will the industry yawn and wonder what part of the mobile wilderness that RIM the BlackBerry has been wandering, or will it welcome the potential for new innovation with open arms?

We shall see, but there’s been no end of speculation and expectation appearing in the blogosphere.

For IT professionals, The Wall Street Journal’s Clint Boulton indicated CIOs should be prepared to ask (and get answered) a few key questions.

They center around pricing, upgradability of BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server, interoperability with iPhone and Android, and the like.

The broader question is what will drive demand? Will the market be receptive to the new phones and software behind BlackBerry 10, or are iPhones and Androids “good enough?”

Plenty of tech and mobile companies have had their time “in the wilderness,” and there’s nothing to focus innovation and R&D like dwindling market share.

I was a faithful BlackBerry subscriber for several years, before the lure of the more user-friendly environment of the iOS operating system drew me away from my last RIM device, the BlackBerry Bold.

Looking back, there were a few things I especially liked about RIM’s earlier offerings.

Most notably, the real-time, secure email capability. At a time when I was traveling extensively, there was nothing like being able to walk off the plane and crank up my Bold to find out what had happened in my world the prior 10 hours I was in the air.

I also liked the ability to synchronize with my work calendar — nothing like missing a meeting because you didn’t know it was even happening.

What I didn’t like? The inability to easily introduce new applications and content, most notably music and video (vis a vis iTunes), and yes, that all important road warrior time killer, games. I could only take so many bouts of “Bricks” or “Breakout” (It’s been so long, I forgot what the game was called!)

The application universe also always seemed so limited with RIM, so if they are going to “break out” of the wilderness, that app ecosystem is going to be key.

But only if the OS is up to the task.

CNET’s Roger Cheng explains we can expect two new devices at least, the Z10 and X10, a touchscreen and keyboard version, respectively, and that they’ll be available in February.

As far as apps are concerned, Cheng indicates BB 10 will launch with 70,000 apps.

Though that pales compared to the number of iOS and Android apps currently available, it’s a start, and the real key will be are they the RIGHT apps (the ones that help the mobile warrior stay productive, informed, entertained, and sane on the road, and yet have enough attraction to pull in other demographics).

Creating awareness through marketing will also be key to RIM’s renaissance. The “mindspace” for mobile has been increasingly dominated by the Apple and Google juggernauts over these past few years, and we can hardly turn our heads without seeing Samsung’s TV spots suggesting the iPhone is your our parent’s geriatric mobile device.

RIM hasn’t been part of the conversation for…well, years.

But I think RIM’s challenges are much bigger than awareness. The proof is going to be in the pudding, or in their case, in the user experience.

Design of a useful, attractive and compelling user experience may not have been MORE important in a new product launch in eons, because despite having the early advantage in the mobile smartphone space, now every new experience (including the BB 10 is) going to inevitably be compared to another, existing experience like iOS and Android.

Between that, the desire for a rich apps ecosystem, and getting the word out to a skeptical public — well, over the next few months, let’s just say we’re going to find out how much Motion their Research has as they try to convince loyal, “pry this mobile device out of my cold, dead hands” users out of their comfort zone and into the land of the unknown BlackBerry.

Written by turbotodd

January 29, 2013 at 9:01 pm

Every Kiss Begins With Kay

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Kay Jewelers

IBM and Signet Jewelers Ltd., the largest specialty retail jeweler in the U.S. and U.K., have worked together on a major e-commerce strategy and digital marketing redesign for Signet’s national U.S. store chains, Kay Jewelers and Jared, the Galleria of Jewelry.

This week the retail gurus of the world have been hobnobbing at the Jacob Javitts center in New York City as part of the National Retail Federation’s annual gathering.

So I thought it an appropriate opportunity to highlight a retail partnership between IBM and Signet Jewelers Ltd., the largest specialty retail jeweler in the U.S. and U.K..

IBM and Signet have worked together on a major e-commerce strategy and digital marketing redesign for Signet’s national U.S. store chains, Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry.

Building A Multichannel Strategy 

The initiative has transformed the multichannel experience for Kay and Jared customers and resulted in consistent sales growth, including a year-over-year increase of 49 percent in online sales as reported in the company’s recently announced holiday sales for fiscal 2013.

To advance its existing multichannel retail strategy and supplement its e-commerce and information technology expertise, Signet Jewelers U.S. Division engaged consultants from IBM Global Business Services and its digital consulting and design practice, IBM Interactive.

IBM and Signet U.S. collaborated to develop a unified strategy for delivering a more consistent, branded and personalized customer experience to Kay and Jared customers everywhere they shop — whether in a physical store, online or via mobile.

Key components of the multi-phased strategy include the launch of new transactional mobile sites, which enable customers to shop and purchase Kay and Jared products from their mobile phones, and a redesign of the Kay.com and Jared.com websites, which went live before the busy holiday shopping season.

The new sites combine best practices in optimized navigation and functionality, making it easier for shoppers to find, compare and purchase products online, along with new custom features that deliver a more guided, personalized shopping experience for which the company is known.

For instance, shoppers can now chat live with a customer service representative, compare product details side-by-side to help determine their selection, track recently viewed items and much more.

Mi amigo Paul Papas, IBM’s Smarter Commerce Global Leader for Global Business Services, had this to say about the partnership:

“Much of Signet Jeweler’s success in building Kay and Jared into two of the most trusted retail brands can be attributed to the expertise and superior customer service they deliver to create a world-class shopping experience. In an industry known for being married to tradition, Signet Jewelers is a shining example of how bricks and mortar retailers are redefining the customer experience and embracing digital channels, like mobile and social, as part of their overall strategy to deliver personalized interactions to their customers at every touch point.”

Behind the Redesign 

Initially starting with tactical enhancements to the Kay.com and Jared.com websites in late 2011, Signet U.S. launched complete redesigns of both sites in October 2012.

Signet introduced new mobile sites for each brand with transactional capabilities in mid-November.

The company has also launched a mobile app available on iTunes and the Android Market and introduced catalogs on the Google Catalogs app to tap into the growing population of mobile shoppers.

To elevate Signet’s social media presence, the company worked with IBM to define an engagement strategy, which Signet U.S. has begun implementing by launching a social media presence for Kay and Jared.

Each brand platform is focused on engaging consumers in the spaces that are most relevant to them, like Facebook and Twitter, to develop and sustain relationships, build loyalty and foster brand advocates who shop both in-store and online.

To help define Signet’s e-commerce strategy and roadmap, IBM executed research that included a customer segmentation analysis, voice of the customer surveys and in-store observations.

With deeper insights into customer needs and distinct shopping scenarios, as well as the capabilities required to support them online, Signet U.S. was able to deploy an integrated solution that extends the Kay and Jared in-store shopping experience to the web and mobile platforms.

About Signet Jewelers Ltd

Signet Jewelers is the largest specialty retail jeweler in the US and UK.  Signet’s US division operates more than 1,325 stores in all 50 states primarily under the name brands of Kay Jewelers and Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry.  Signet’s UK division operates more than 500 stores primarily under the name brands of H.Samuel and Ernest Jones.

Go here for more information about IBM Smarter Commerce and here for more information in specific about IBM’s Retail expertise.

Building A Smarter Home

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One of the memes that seems to be jutting out from the first hours of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas centers around this notion of the “Smarter Home,” and IBM has jumped in head first.

Earlier today, IBM, STMicroelectronics, and Shaspa announced a collaboration to tap cloud and mobile computing for manufacturers and service providers to provide innovative ways for consumers to manage and interact with their homes’ functions and entertainment systems using multiple user interfaces such as voice recognition and physical gestures for a smarter home.

Yes, it looks as though we’ll finally be able to do something more productive with our appliances and air conditioning systems than simply yell at them!

A “smart home” brings networking functions together, creating a gateway that connects a television, computer or mobile device with smart meters, lights, appliances, plugs and sensors within the home as well as services from outside. Parks Associates forecasts that more than 8 billion devices will be connected on the home network by year-end 2015.

In Las Vegas this week during CES, the three companies mentioned will demonstrate a TV linked to ST’s Home Gateway, running software from business partner Shaspa, and connected to the IBM cloud.

Through sensors, the system can monitor home parameters such as temperature, carbon dioxide level through a wireless or batteryless IPv6 network, or human motion within the home. The data can be communicated to a smartphone or tablet via a wireless router. I

n this way, the homeowner can offload much of the home management to the cloud and interact with the system using event and time-based preset scenarios.

The companies anticipate that this initiative could allow consumers to use any device capable of running apps to manage a variety of personal activities such as viewing their home’s energy consumption; controlling security, heating and lighting systems; activating home appliances such as washing machines; monitoring health and assisted living conditions; or engaging in e-commerce.

Sony Bravia, Let The Pizza Guy In!

For example, a person with limited mobility could gesture to the TV to unlock the front door, turn up the heat or check vital signs. This project represents the future of electronics technology as sensing devices and equipment seamlessly respond to user needs and requests, emulating the way humans sense their environment.

In this project, ST’s Home Gateway and Shaspa’s embedded software acts as a bridge between the home and cloud services provided by the IBM SmartCloud Service Delivery Platform, which gives electronics manufacturers a cloud platform to manage smart devices and rapidly introduce new consumer services.

The gateway, based on a STiH416, provides the physical connectivity, provisioning and management middleware, application protocols, and interfaces for connecting and controlling the “Internet of Things.” The connected-home System-on-Chip runs software including Linux and a service management system compliant with the OSGi industry standard.

The infrastructure for the gateway-cloud service operation is provided by Shaspa’s GUI and application software.

Going Mobile In Your Living Room

IBM Worklight, in combination with the Mobile Interface of the Shaspa embedded software, is the mobile application platform that enables end users to control and manage their homes from their personal devices. The mobile platform is used to build the application, connect the app to all the sensors within the home, and manage all events that take place.

IBM software such as MQ Series and Worklight helps transmit the data to mobile devices. Data captured in the cloud supports the discovery of new insights through advanced analytics.

“Smarter buildings are an essential part of the journey towards a sustainable world, and this building-to-cloud system shows that connected living is becoming possible today,” said Oliver Goh, Founder & CEO of Shaspa. “This secure, scalable offering with be the enabler for ecosystems, enabling the fast creation and deployment of value-add services.”

The idea of an intelligent home that uses technology to enhance the lives of its occupants is far from new; in fact, it was a major theme in the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. We are now in a position to realize the intelligent-home dream with systems that feature scalability, interoperability and security built-in from the start. This requires collaborations among leading players across the ecosystem.

The demo will be shown at two venues near the Las Vegas Convention Center: A private, invitation-only suite at The Encore Hotel (ST) and The Venetian, exhibit meeting room 2405 (IBM).

About IBM Cloud and Mobile Computing
Mobility is fundamentally transforming the way people live, work, play and make decisions. As the first new technology platform for business to emerge since the advent of the World Wide Web, mobile computing represents one of the greatest opportunities facing organizations.

With an array of solutions that connect, secure, manage and develop the networks, infrastructure and applications that run the growing number of devices. IBM is enabling governments and industries to reinvent their business and reach customers, employees, partners and other constituents in completely new ways.

You can learn more about IBM’s Mobile Enterprise solutions here.

IBM has also helped thousands of clients adopt cloud models and manages millions of cloud based transactions every day. IBM assists clients in areas as diverse as banking, communications, healthcare and government to build their own clouds or securely tap into IBM cloud-based business and infrastructure services.

IBM is unique in bringing together key cloud technologies, deep process knowledge, a broad portfolio of cloud solutions, and a network of global delivery centers. For more information about IBM cloud solutions, visit www.ibm.com/smartcloud. Follow on Twitter @cloudchat and on our blog at www.thoughtsoncloud.com.

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