The eyes have it

So it looks like the next tech battlefield will be our eyes, with first Microsoft last year and more recently Google announcing plans to make information more readily available to us through platforms that are literally ‘in our faces’.

This week Google unveiled their Google Glasses aka ‘Project Glass‘ which will enable the projection of information right in front of our eyes as we need it. Last year Microsoft Research announced ‘smart’ contact lens that could be used to not only display data but also support people with Type 1 diabetes to monitor their blood glucose levels. For those that haven’t seen the promo for Google Glasses here it is

Both of these, and I am sure any competing products that are in the pipeline, will be truly disruptive developments. Education will finally get the shake-up it needs – imagine being able to just look at an item and then gain access to information on the Internet about it without having to open a stuffy textbook. Exams will never be the same again, somehow I cant see teachers asking students to remove their glasses or contact lens before entering an exam can you?

Advertisers and marketers will have a whole new way of interacting with consumers, literally popping their marketing message in front of us in a way we can’t avoid unless we close our eyes. Driving will be radically altered. We have a ban on using mobile phones in New Zealand unless it is through an approved hands-free kit. What will happen when emails and other data starts appearing in front of us? Sure aviation has had HUDs for years, but in fairness the skies at 30 000 feet are not as crowded as a downtown street! Will we need to have smart cars that can block signals as soon as we step into the vehicle?

For your average consumer on the street there are potential benefits, such as map directions right in front of you and augmented reality games. Have to wonder though, people are already walking around like mindless zombies staring down at their phones, will this just make them worse? And what about information overload? We are already more connected than we were 50 years ago, what potential health risks will being plugged in 24/7 create?

To quote Bob Dylan, the times they are a-Changin’ – only time will tell if it is for the better or worse, but one thing is certain, they will be transparent.

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Extending the Nokia Lumia 800 battery life

I have been really impressed with Nokia Lumia 800 since I got it, but one thing that started to be an annoyance was the battery life. I would charge it in the evening then find it was down to 20% in the morning. Wifi and Bluetooth are both off, and Microsoft Exchange email is set to push – the same set-up I had with my Samsung Galaxy. I decided to play a little with some settings and the first thing I changed has had the biggest impact. That was turning off ‘Feedback to Microsoft’ – turns out that is constantly running and therefore draining the battery. Turning this one thing off has taken overnight usage from 80% to a measly 10-12%. Here’s how to do it.

From the home screen, slide left to show the menus, then down to Settings

In Settings, go down to the bottom, until you see Feedback

Tap into the Feedback option and slide the indicator to ‘Off’

As much as I like to send feedback to Microsoft to help improve the product, battery life is a lot more important to me.  Nokia has scheduled an update to improve battery life (see image below for release in NZ or to click through to the Nokia site for other countries) but I see my Lumia is already on that release.

Has anyone else got any battery saving tips they can share?

Gen-i ICT2012 Conference in review

I had the pleasure of attending the Gen-i ICT 2012 roadshow/conference yesterday at Telecom Place. It was split into two parts: FWD_LIVE and bizgo. Almost predictably Gen-i rolled out their tried & true video clip about a future that is not so far away

The FWD_LIVE session had a focus on the fibre rollout and included briefings from Gen-i, Chorus and Huawei. Was interesting to see some of the stats around this, such as 30 000 kms of fibre is already in the ground around the country. A couple of customer stories highlighted the value having a fast internet connection can offer. Fletchers for instance purchased Cisco’s Telepresence to reduce travel costs between NZ, Australia and the USA and it is made possible because of a fast reliable fibre connection. The session was rounded out by a panel discussion, in my opinion a bit of a waste of time as there were a handful of questions only. There was the predictable question for Dr Bernard Lee from Huawei:

After a half hour coffee break the bizgo session started. This was more of a general ICT vendor session with HP, Cisco, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Trend Micro giving 15 minute presentations on their wares. Couple of highlights here for me.

  • HP have a Windows 8 powered tablet coming at the end of 2012
  • They also have a E5000 server which is essentially Microsoft Exchange 2010 in a box – all the hardware and software preconfigured to ‘just work’
  • Microsoft Lync of course, a personal favourite
  • Motorola showed their latest handset, the Atrix 2. It can transform from a mobile to a laptop by connecting into a dock. Very cool!
  • Nokia flashed their new Lumia range. As a user already of the Lumia 800 I can attest to how freaking awesome it is!
  • Trend Micro showed off some Deep Security stuff for VMs, interesting stuff particularly around VDi instances

You can see all the tweets from the session here

On that subject, was very cool to have a tweet screen going – any tweets using the conference hashtag of #ICT2012 were displayed. I managed to get a laugh from one of the HP presenters; his offsider said he would buy anyone a coffee if they asked him about a product. Naturally I sent this out to the Internet for everyone to take him up on his offer!!

All in all it was a really good way to spend an afternoon. The bizgo sessions were only 15 minutes and maybe a bit more value would have been achieved from allowing 20 minutes. Saying that, there were stands on-site where attendees could see the vendors up close & personal and ask for more information. Only downside for me was not winning a prize at the end.

Nokia Lumia 800 review

Thanks to Gen-i and The Leading Edge I have taken receipt of a brand new Nokia Lumia 800 handset. As a Microsoft house, I am keen to see the senior team use Windows mobiles instead of the Android ones but up until now there hasnt really been anything of quality to use. The Lumia 800 promises to work well with Sharepoint so I am giving it a test drive.

Unpacking was nice, instead of the usual lift off boxtop we pull the innards out, revealing the handset. Drilling through the packaging we get the users manual, a rubberised protective case and then to the lower level with headset, USB cable and wall charger. I like the idea of a round charger, fits MUCH better into a power board, unlike pretty much every other charger that seems intent on taking up at least 2 sockets. Searched for a battery, before realising it is already in the handset and has a partial charge. In the had, the handset feels nice, curved edges and a weight that says ‘I am here’ but not too much that suggests its a brick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The setup of the handset was quick and painless. Sign in with a Windows Live account and a Nokia account and you are done (or sign up for them as you go). For me the portrait keyboard is a little small, but even with my big fat male fingers it was responsive and no errors were keyed.

So onto setting up corporate email. On other handsets this has been painful, having to enter email addresses, domain logins and OWA settings. With the Lumia I entered my email address and password, it came almost straight back for my Active Directory username and password and then it started syncing, and fast! 174 Contacts were copied from the SIM in seconds and I was ready to go. I was ready to test the Sharepoint integration so connected the phone to the corporate wireless network, clicked into Office and into Sharepoint. As expected, it couldn’t load my live site as it is running SP2007, but it prompted me to open it in a browser. I did that was was really surprised at how fast it loaded and how usable it was. Flicked into a document library and opened a spreadsheet faster than I could on my laptop!

I am in the process of upgrading to Sharepoint 2010 so pointed the Lumia at the UAT site. Instantly connected and had all the sites and libraries available. One thing I did note was the look & feel goes out the window, you have a list view instead of the traditional website view as can be seen in the photo to the left. Undecided how I feel about that right now, from a navigation view it does make it easier and faster, but if I am investing in branding I want to see it.

The Marketplace seems good. I know a lot of people have said there is nothing there (well okay only 60k apps versus 500k for Android or whatever the numbers are) but quantity isn’t always a good measure. There are plenty of good free and paid-for apps available right now, and I would be almost prepared to argue that the ones there are more useful than a lot on the other two OS’s. Going to spend a bit of time today and over the weekend seeing what else this bad boy can do I think, but initial thoughts are bye-bye Android, hello Microsoft!

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