Fun with SurfacePro and Post-it(R) Notes!


Congratulations, Lyle!

I just got my hands on Delivering Mobile-Friendly Websites with MVC4, authored by my colleague and friend Lyle Luppes (blog). I am really happy for him and this accomplishment.

I am not a software engineer, so I would not get much personal value in reading this book. However, I would not hesitate recommending this work to any software engineer interested in this topic. I have worked with Lyle for many years, on many projects, and I know his work to be thorough. Great job, Lyle! Congratulations on this accomplishment!

At the Epicenter of Big Data Research


I am wiped out as I am on the plane home from my most recent experience at MIT.  This week the topic was Big Data.  Big Data is a big topic around the water cooler these days, so I thought it would be important to learn more about it.  The title of the course was Big Data: Making Complex Things Simpler.  This was a 2 day Executive Education course designed to brief managers and executives on this exploding field.

First of all, if you are interested in this topic I highly recommend making the investment of time and money to attend a future offering.  Professors Erik Brynjolfsson and Sandy Pentland, leading researchers in Big Data present a well-crafted curriculum that connects a great deal of their research around how Big Data now provides the technology framework to do, very quickly, what researchers have done for years – create hypotheses, design experiments and analyze results.  Because of Big Data technologies, organizations can become more data-driven in their operations and/or product development.  Key issues including data privacy and data ownership are discussed as well, but this landscape is changing very rapidly, so it was challenging to go into too much depth.

If you are looking to better understand Big Data technologies, this is not the course to take.  However, if you are looking to spend a few days better understanding the ramifications of Big Data and how they impact organizations, I highly recommend making the investment.  The participants in the class contributed greatly to the discourse, which I appreciated as well. Plus, it was a great place to network and find out what is happening in other industries related to Big Data.

The New iPad Is Here…The New iPad is Here!

At last, the new iPad has arrived.  This post will capture my very early impressions.  I will have more to say after I have gotten to work with it a bit more.

First, the setup was smooth and was done using a backup I had stored in the iCloud.  That was really neat, and it saved a lot of time — I was done in less than 5 minutes.  I was up and running in just a few minutes.  After the initial setup was done, I went back in and changed some sync preferences since this iPad had a little more space so I could carry some movies with me now.

The display is absolutely amazing.  The HD clarity is a big improvement over the iPad 2.  The dictation feature seems to work well also.  The device itself looks almost identical to the predecessor.  If I had to say anything, it might be a tad heavier, but if it is actually it can’t be by much.

More to come later as I use the device a little more.  At this point, I say “well done, Apple!”

Samsung Galaxy Note: Cool Phone!

Samsung Galaxy Note at CES 2012

Perhaps one of the most compelling announcements at the CES event last week was the Samsung Galaxy Note phone.  Their pitch was that this larger form factor phone removes the need to carry a tablet (e.g. iPad) and a phone.  The picture to the right highlights some of the key features.  The most prominent is the presence of a pen/stylus which enables the ability to do very precise drawing and sketching.  It’s thin profile and very soft display make it very easy to use (on the eyes, that is).

Caricatures on the Samsung Galaxy Note

The photo on the right was taken in the concourse of the Las Vegas Convention Center.  People were lined up hundreds deep to get their caricature done by a professional artist on the Galaxy Note.  It was arguably one of the most popular exhibition of the show.  I think it’s a neat device that will probably do well this year.

Here’s a link to their promo on YouTube.

Here’s a blog post with some of the technical details, including lack of an actual release date in the US.

iPhone 4s – An Early Report

I admit it, I was excited last Friday to arrive home and find my shiny new iPhone 4s waiting for me.  Ever since the announcement several days ago, I was very interesting in seeing what the new features could do for me.  I was also interested in how the new iCloud service would play into the overall ecosystem.  I immediately ripped open the package like a little kid at Christmas and got it activated and setup.

Let’s start with the basics.  The new A5 processor does indeed make a noticeable impact on performance, and the upgraded camera is an improvement as well.  Perhaps the most underrated change is the addition of the smudge-resistant coating on the phone.  This was the same as what was done with the iPad 2, but having this on the iPhone was awesome.  I went 3 days before feeling compelled to wipe it off with a 3M Lens and Electronics Cloth.  Perhaps the most-hyped functionality is Siri – the digital assistant that provides hands-free access to the phone’s features.  That description does not do it justice, in practice.  Although it took me a bit to get used to what it could do well, I have learned quite a bit on how to make it work for me.  I extensively use the Notes and Reminder features and feel I have integrated it into my own routine in just a few days.  Here’s a link to a list of commands Siri can recognize.  As a polite Minnesotan, I felt compelled to say thank you, to which it responds with a number of different phrases making it seem very conversational.  This technology has big potential going forward.  At this point the voice recognition is not perfect, but it is pretty good for a first release.  A helpful tip is to spend some time in the Contacts also to add more metadata to your key contacts so you can take advantage of it in Siri (example: spouse).

There already are a number of external blog posts about fun things asked of Siri.  Just for my amusement, I tried the following query to Siri.  If you ask that question a few times, you will get different answers, also.

I have also setup my iCloud service.  There was a little more involved here, but after a little work I now have my iPad, iPhone and Mac in synch.  My favorite part of that feature is the ability to view pictures from all of the devices I have through this service so I no longer need to move them around by hand.

All in all, a very solid release again from Apple.  If you already have an iPhone 4, it may not be a big leap, but if you are upgrading from a 3GS or prior, this is a no-brainer.

Prediction: Amazon Tablet Will Be Relevant

Earlier this week, Amazon claimed and registered the new domain names KindleScribe(s).com.  This brings speculations of a new tablet in the ever so competitive marketplace.  After witnessing how HP’s TouchPad tablet flew off the shelves at a $99 price point, this may have changed the tablet market for the future.  During a time of an unstable economy, consumers have watched how and on what they spend their money.   These current events caused me to wonder if iPad could be vulnerable to a strong competitor at the lower end of the tablet product pyramid. An analysis from Retrevo would seem to also support this hypothesis.  And it appears that Google is probably “the man behind the curtain” as Android on Galaxy tablets is getting beat up recently in the patent battles, especially outside the United States.

Rumors are traveling around the web about Amazon’s tablet which would include a stylus with note-taking attributes on its e-ink display.  This would make the product especially attractive to the student market that would be replacing their notebook computers and looking for a cost-effective alternative to buying traditional textbooks.  Amazon obviously already has the fulfillment arm to make a tablet computer a profitable reality for them.  Not to mention, the following they already have with their Kindle customer base.

A few years ago, I had the chance to meet with Dr.Werner Vogels, CTO of Amazon, and as a result better understand their practice of not discussing things they have not yet done.  But based on this series of conditions, it’s probably true and will no doubt be very interesting.