Turbotodd

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

Archive for December 2012

Holiday Shopping And Streaming

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Santa brought Turbo a new (used) set of vintage 1988 Ben Hogan "Redline" blade golf clubs...whether or not they'll do anything to help lower his handicap remains to be seen!

Santa brought Turbo a new (used) set of vintage 1988 Ben Hogan “Redline” blade golf clubs…whether or not they’ll do anything to help lower his handicap remains to be seen!

Well, I hope you and yours are having a happy holiday season, wherever in the world you may be.

I just returned from a wonderful visit to see my parents and some extended family up in my hometown of Denton, Texas, where we were treated to our first white Christmas in three years, the snow billowing down starting around mid-day Christmas Day, and plunging the Dallas/Ft. Worth roads into a virtual ice skating rink.

As for the Christmas holiday shopping season, Sarah Perez with TechCrunch just reported that Amazon.com once again came out on top, in terms of online satisfaction.

No big surprise there.  I conducted a large portion of my own holiday shopping via Amazon, and received everything I ordered within a few days. I also treated myself to a set of Ben Hogan 1988 “redline” blade golf clubs, which I discovered on eBay for a very agreeable price. Unfortunately, the weather in Texas has kept me off the golf course (now back in Austin, I hope for that to change in the next few days!).

Of course, if you were trying to watch movies on Netflix on Monday, you might have found yourself watching a blank screen. Due to an Amazon Web Services outage, Netflix viewers were treated to bags full of coal starting around 3:30 PM on Monday, AWS’s third major outage this year.

Myself, I went on a “Redbox” binge over the holiday, discovering some recent titles for $1.20 a pop (including the latest Spiderman!), only to discover they’ll be bringing some competition to the streaming realm with the introduction of “Redbox Instant,” expected to go into private beta sometime soon. Redbox Instant is expected to match Netflix’s monthly streaming subscription price of $8 U.S.

Whatever your preference, it certainly looks like more and more Americans will be viewing filmed entertainment on devices other than their TVs. Another TechCrunch story reports that one in four Americans now owns a tablet computing device, with such devices now even having overtaken the number of e-reading devices like the Kindle (again, I did my fair share here over the holidays, giving out two Kindle Fire HDs as family gifts. Now I can only cross my fingers my family will use them!)

Regardless of your preference, the story goes on to say that one in three people in the U.S. now owns some kind of tablet or e-reading device, and this data before the full gamut of holiday shopping data has hit analysts’ spreadsheets.

One such analyst, Strategy Analytics, has Apple’s iPad still leading the pack, with Amazon and Samsung quickly narrowing that lead.

So what did Santa bring YOU for Christmas, and better yet, what did Santa YOU give others???

Written by turbotodd

December 27, 2012 at 10:56 pm

IBM To Acquired StoredIQ

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IBM today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire StoredIQ Inc., a privately held company based in Austin, Texas.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

StoredIQ will advance IBM’s efforts to help clients derive value from big data and respond more efficiently to litigation and regulations, dispose of information that has outlived its purpose and lower data storage costs.

With this agreement, IBM adds to its prior investments in Information Lifecycle Governance. The addition of StoredIQ capabilities enables clients to find and use unstructured information of value, respond more efficiently to litigation and regulatory events and lower information costs as data ages.

IBM’s Information Lifecycle Governance suite improves information economics by helping companies lower the total cost of managing data while increasing the value derived from it by:

  • Eliminating unnecessary cost and risk with defensible disposal of unneeded data
  • Enabling businesses to realize the full value of information as it ages
  • Aligning cost to the value of information
  • Reducing information risk by automating privacy, e-discovery, and regulatory policies

Adding StoredIQ to IBM’s Information Lifecycle Governance suite gives organizations more effective governance of the vast majority of data, including efficient electronic discovery and its timely disposal, to eliminate unnecessary data that consumes infrastructure and elevates risk.

As a result, business leaders can access and analyze big data to gain insights for better decision-making. Legal teams can mitigate risk by meeting e-discovery obligations more effectively. Also, IT departments can dispose of unnecessary data and align information cost to value to take out excess costs.

What Does StoredIQ Software Do? 

StoredIQ software provides scalable analysis and governance of disparate and distributed email as well as file shares and collaboration sites. This includes the ability to discover, analyze, monitor, retain, collect, de-duplicate and dispose of data.

In addition, StoredIQ can rapidly analyze high volumes of unstructured data and automatically dispose of files and emails in compliance with regulatory requirements.

StoredIQ brings powerful, innovative capabilities to govern data in place to drive value up and cost out.

StoredIQ brings powerful, innovative capabilities to govern data in place to drive value up and cost out.

“CIOs and general counsels are overwhelmed by volumes of information that exceed their budgets and their capacity to meet legal requirements,” said Deidre Paknad, vice president of Information Lifecycle Governance at IBM. “With this acquisition, IBM adds to its unique strengths as a provider able to help CIOs and attorneys rapidly drive out excess information cost and mitigate legal risks while improving information utility for the business.”

Named a 2012 Cool Vendor by Gartner, StoredIQ has more than 120 customers worldwide, including global leaders in financial services, healthcare, government, manufacturing and other sectors. Other systems require months to index data and years to configure, install and address information governance. StoredIQ can be up and running in just hours, immediately helping clients drive out cost and risk.

IBM intends to incorporate StoredIQ into its Software Group and its Information Lifecycle Governance business.

Building on prior acquisitions of PSS Systems in 2010 and Vivisimo in 2012, IBM adds to its strength in rapid discovery, effective governance and timely disposal of data.  The acquisition of StoredIQ is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2013.

Go here for more information on IBM’s Information Lifecycle Governance suite, and here for more information on IBM’s big data platform.

Ooh Ooh That Smell — IBM’s 2012 “5 in 5”: Innovations Of The Senses

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IBM released its annual “5 in 5” list yesterday, the seventh year in a row whereby IBM scientists identify a list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.

The IBM 5 in 5 is based on market and societal trends, as well as emerging technologies from IBM’s R&D labs around the world. This year, the 5 explores innovations that will be underpinnings of the next era of computing, what IBM has described as “the era of cognitive systems.”

This next generation of machines will learn, adapt, sense, and begin to experience the world as it really is, and this year’s predictions focus on one element of the this new era: The ability of computers to mimic the human senses — in their own manner, to see, smell, touch, taste and hear.

But before you try and spoon-feed your iPad some vanilla yogurt, let’s get more practical.

These new sensing capabilities will help us become more aware, productive, and help us think — but not do our thinking for us.

Rather, cognitive systems will help us see through and navigate complexity, keep up with the speed of information, make more informed decisions, improve our health and standard of living, and break down all kinds of barriers — geographical, language, cost, even accessibility.

Now, on to our five senses.

1) Touch: You will be able to touch through your phone.  Imagine using your smartphone to shop for your wedding dress and being able to feel the satin or silk of the gown, or the lace on the veil, from the surface on the screen. Or to feel the beading and weave of a blanket made by a local artisan half way around the world. In five years, industries like retail will be transformed by the ability to “touch” a product through your mobile device.

IBM scientists are developing applications for the retail, healthcare and other sectors using haptic, infrared and pressure sensitive technologies to simulate touch, such as the texture and weave of a fabric — as a shopper brushes her finger over the image of the item on a device screen. Utilizing the vibration capabilities of the phone, every object will have a unique set of vibration patterns that represents the touch experience: short fast patterns, or longer and stronger strings of vibrations. The vibration pattern will differentiate silk from linen or cotton, helping simulate the physical sensation of actually touching the material.

2) Sight: A pixel will be worth a thousand words. We take some 500 billion photos a year, and 72 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. But computers today only understand pictures by the text we use to tag or title them; the majority of the information — the actual content of the image — is a mystery.

In the next five years, systems will not only be able to look at and recognize the contents of images and visual data, they will turn the pixels into meaning, making sense out of it similar to the way a human views and interprets a photographs. In the future, “brain-like” capabilities will let computers analyze features such as color, texture patterns or edge information and extract insights from visual media, having a potentially huge impact on industries ranging from healthcare to retail to agriculture.

But please, no Escher drawings, at least for now…that’s just plain mean.

3) Hearing: Computers will hear what matters.  Ever wish you could make sense of all the sounds around you and be able to understand what’s not being said? Within five years, distributed systems of clever sensors will detect elements of sound such as sound pressure, vibrations and sound waves at different frequencies.

It will interpret these inputs to predict when trees will fall in a forest or when a landslide is imminent. Such a system will “listen” to our surroundings and measure movements, or the stress in a material, to warn us if danger lies ahead.

I’m ever hopeful such systems will be able to “listen” to my golf swing and help me course correct so I can play more target golf!

4) Taste: Digital taste buds will help you to eat smarter. What if we could make healthy foods taste delicious using a different kind of computing system built for creativity? IBM researchers are developing a computing system that actually experiences flavor, to be used with chefs to create the most tasty and novel recipes. It will break down ingredients to their molecular level and blend the chemistry of food compounds with the psychology behind what flavors and smells humans prefer.

By comparing this with millions of recipes, the system will be able to create new flavor combinations that pair, for example, roasted chestnuts with other foods such as cooked beetroot, fresh caviar, and dry-cured ham.

“Top Tasting Computer Chefs,” anyone?

5) Smell: Computers will have a sense of smell. During the next five years, tiny sensors embedded in your computer or cell phone will detect if you’re coming down with a cold or other illness. By analyzing odors, biomarkers and thousands of molecules in someone’s breath, doctors will have help diagnosing and monitoring the onset of ailments such as liver and kidney disorders, asthma, diabetes, and epilepsy by detecting which odors are normal and which are not.

Already, IBM scientists are sensing environment conditions to preserve works of art, and this innovation is starting to be applied to tackle clinical hygiene, one of the biggest healthcare challenges today. In the next five years, IBM technology will “smell” surfaces for disinfectants to determine whether rooms have been sanitized. Using novel wireless mesh networks, data on various chemicals will be gathered and measured by sensors, and continuously learn and adapt to new smells over time.

Watch the video below to listen to IBM scientists describe some of these new innovations and their potential impact on our world.

Written by turbotodd

December 18, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Newtown

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Sandy HookIt’s difficult to think about or concentrate on anything other than today’s horrific shooting tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

I just watched President Obama tearfully try to share his thoughts and sentiments for the victims and their families on behalf of the American people, and once again we shake our heads at such massive and senseless violence.

I used to live in Westchester County, and worked in Somers, a stone’s through from Newtown up I-84, and to imagine such horror in as lovely a rural Connecticut town as that…well, it reminds us how precious life really is.

For those of you out there with children, I’m sure you’ll be hugging them that much harder and closer this evening, thankful for their well-being and safety.

For those in Connecticut who were directly or even indirectly impacted by the shooting, I can only say to you the majority of the American people share the sentiment and compassion of our president.

In the time of a holiday season, we should have the opportunity to be joyous and celebratory as we prepare to travel and be with our respective families, and instead, this.

I can only say for myself, I’ll be much more appreciative of the time I get to spend with my own family for the holidays, and in the meantime, offer my condolences, thoughts and prayers for our friends in Connecticut.

Right now, I would imagine they need all the love and support they can get.

Written by turbotodd

December 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm

The SMB IT Spending Zeitgeist

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In Spiceworks' "State of SMB IT 2H 2012" survey, mobile is moving on up. Tablets continue to grow in SMBs and in the last 6 months, adoption has tipped to over half (53%) of SMBs supporting tablets on their networks.  The number of companies supporting tablets (53%) is on the verge of reaching the 59% of companies who manage smartphones on their networks.  Larger organizations are driving this trend towards more tablets in the workplace.

Click to enlarge. In Spiceworks’ “State of SMB IT 2H 2012” survey, mobile is moving on up. Tablets continue to grow in SMBs and in the last 6 months, adoption has tipped to over half (53%) of SMBs supporting tablets on their networks. The number of companies supporting tablets (53%) is on the verge of reaching the 59% of
companies who manage smartphones on their networks. Larger organizations are driving this trend towards more tablets in the workplace.

It’s that time of year.  Google has released its 2012 Zeitgeist, telling us what’s on the minds of the world’s searchers.

Facebook, not to be out done, has released the Facebook Year In Review, “a look back at the people, moments and things that created the most buzz in 2012 among the billion people around the world on Facebook.”

Now, go and ask folks what they think about Facebook’s everchanging privacy controls, and we’ll see if the Facebook Year In Review gets soon revised.

But I’m actually more interested in a big report from a small, but growing networking software and social business upstart located right here in Austin, Texas.

Spiceworks connects 2.2 million IT professionals with more than 1,300 technology brands, and offers its IT management software through a novel ad-supported model. In turn, it claims to “help businesses to discover, buy and manage $405 billion worth of technology products and services each year.”

Spiceworks just released its semi-annual “State of SMB IT Report,” a collection of statistics, trends and opinions from small and medium business technology professionals from amongst their community.

This December’s study is the seventh edition, and claims to “keep the pulse on the happenings of small and medium business IT professionals and IT departments.”

First, I’m just happy to discover they still have a pulse.

The National Federation of Independent Business’ “Small Business Optimism Index,” which is reported monthly, indicated in its November report one of the steepest declines in its history. In fact, it has reported a lower index value only seven times since it first conducted its monthly surveys in 1986.

The Index dropped a full 5.6 points in November, bottoming out at 87.5 (In 2000, by juxtaposition, it was well above 100), indicating something was rotten in November. The Index’s own Web statement suggested “it is very clear that a stunning number of [small business] owners…expect worse business conditions in six months,” and that nearly half are certain things will be worse next year than they are now, with a head nod to the looming fiscal cliff talks, the promise of higher healthcare costs, and the “endless onslaught of new regulations.”

Chicken Little, the SMB sky is falling!

Clouds, Virtualization, And Tablets Are Driving The SMB IT Spending Bus

But fear not, the SMB adoption of new technology is riding to the small business rescue, or so suggests the Spiceworks SMB IT study.

The headlines? Though IT budgets are on the rise in the SMB, hiring new staff is at a standstill. But for those still standing, in the last six months, SMBs adopted tablets and cloud services in fast-growing numbers.

Here are the four key findings:

  • Tablet adoption keeps its momentum and nears smartphone levels. Hardware maintains the lion’s share of IT spend in the SMB.
  • Adoption of cloud services spikes; desktop virtualization shows strong potential. (Can you say “Go long on VMWare??”)
  • IT budgets reached their highest point in the last three years, while hiring freezes are up.
  • BYOD is still a hot topic, though IT pros are split on the issue.

Diving down a bit, on the subject of tablets, 53 percent of SMBs now support tablets on their network, making them almost as popular as smartphones at 59 percent.

Cloud services are now used by 62 percent of SMBs, up from 48 percent in the first half of 2012.

With respect to IT budgets, they’re on the rise, averaging $162K, up from $152K in 1H 2012. But only 26 percent plan on hiring IT staff in the second half.

And on BYOD, whlie 14 percent fully embrace the trend, 32 percent say it works well for some devices, but not for others. Digging deeper, I discovered that smartphones led with 81 percent BYOD support, while tablets only garnered 62 percent.

And somewhat ironically, there’s more support for BYOD in much smaller organizations (defined here as less than 20 employees) than larger ones (50 percent in those above 250 employees).

I would encourage you to go here and register to download the full report, but the top line is this: If you’re an IT vendor looking for budget flush at the end of 2012, desktops, laptops, and servers are certainly low-hanging fruit, with tablets bringing on the most growth.

And on the software front, be on the lookout for disaster recovery and storage solutions (an IT mainstay through downturns), cloud-based solutions, and virtualization software.

Whatever you do make, just make sure you make those new purchases with “Gangnam Style” — and if you have no idea of what I’m referring to, see above with regards to the 2012 Google Zeitgeist!

Turbo Slidecast: Organizing For Social Business

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I mentioned in a post recently that I was to speak at the annual WOMMA Summit (WOMMA standing for “Word Of Mouth Marketing Association”) about IBM’s efforts to better organize itself to take advantage of the social business opportunity.

After lumbering through the SlideShare “slidecast” capability and learning my way around (and no, it really wasn’t that difficult — I’m just a slow learner), I was able to create a slidecast of the presentation I gave in Las Vegas for those of you who may be interested.

As I noted in that blog post leading up to my talk, the general theme of my session there centered on the challenges and opportunities larger organizations face as they go about building their social strategies, and sharing particular insights and experiences we’ve had inside IBM on this front.

At IBM, our social business strategy has very much centered around one of our best market-facing emissaries, the IBMer! If you’ve kept pace with any of our marketing initiatives in recent times, you know that the IBMer is front and center in those communications, most notably in our TV advertising, but also extensively in the digital and social media as well.

But their participation doesn’t end there.

We’ve featured subject matter experts extensively across a wide range of topics and across a range of venues in the digital and social media space, as well as in other public and sometimes private venues (think conferences, events, customer meetings, etc.).

This direction is very much in keeping with IBM’s high-touch sales heritage, but builds on that legacy by making our people more accessible via social venues as well.

So, please, take some time out of your busy day if you’re interested in learning more about IBM’s social business efforts, and hopefully you’ll walk away with some of the actionable insights we’ve garnered that can help you and your organization in your own social business journey.

Just click on the arrow to play, kick back, and relax!

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