Business gadgets

I have the power….. (now anyway!)

I’m a professional nomad.

I neither work from home, nor from a specific office. I live from my rucksack – in fact, my Swiss Gear laptop job, thanks to the slimness of my laptop, is sufficient for me to travel for 4 days without anything else. OK, so the shirts get a little creased, but no more so than on the daily commute, and before anyone asks, there’s always daily clean underwear and shirts.

It’s not uncommon for me to go 12 hours in London between umpteen locations for meetings and never touch a desk. This poses a problem; modern electronic equipment, such as the branch of Dixons in my rucksack (two phones, iPad, laptop and a MiFi) seems to have gone full circle with battery life. The first Motorola mobile phones lasted for just a few minutes…… then Nokia in the late 90s appeared to have produced a hydrogen fuel cell by accident as the 6110 and its ilk would last for what seemed like years, even playing Snake constantly. And now, I am lucky to get 2-3 hours full use out of the Apple equipment and maybe 4 out of the laptop with the extended life battery.

If Shakespeare wrote Richard III today, I am sure the famous line would be “A socket, a socket, my Kingdom for a socket!”.

I know you can eek out more life by using more Wifi over 3G/4G, or disabling 3G/4G and relying on 2G/Edge and disabling push email/notifications and lowering screen brightness, clearing background apps and whatnot. That essentially, with each step, reduces the smartphone more and more back towards its Nokia 6110 ancestor and, for the professional nomad, makes life more and more difficult.

I’ve long known about portable battery backs, things to give a quick boost in charge to a phone; brilliant if you’re broken down at 3am on the side of the road, but an extra 20% wouldn’t cut it, not in the slightest. I then discovered there are packs out there that (in technical lingo 14000 miliamp Hours in capacity) can charge the devices that demands 10W/2A outlets, like the new iPads. Not only that, some can charge another device at the same time, albeit at the lower rated output used by older devices. In layman terms, 14,000 mAh is about 7 full iPhone 5 charges, or just short of one full iPad 4 charge.

This was a godsend of a revelation; not only could I do a full 12 hours out and about without a socket, I could do another day too. Best of all though, it gets over the fact that almost every Premier Inn in the country doesn’t have a socket by the bed, which is infuriating for the average smartphone user.

It also has an unintended side effect. Despite the model I chose being brickish and garish white, it attracts attention. On more than one occasion pretty ladies have inquired as to what it is at the bar; so it seems I have somehow lucked upon the modern day equivalent of a Gucci filofax!


More good reads:

Disappointing news re mobile charger power consumption.

Business mobile connectivity

iPad tracked whilst on TNT overnight delivery

tracking photo of iPad loaded onto lorry at the TNT depotWill Curtis is a hard working boy. He is to be found out and about around the country installing, fixing, advising, surveying and performing other general communications industry related engineering tasks.

Last night, somewhere in deepest Britain, he pitched up at  a specialist purveyor of overnight succour, a little home from home for the next three days. Blow me down, settling into a small lime juice in the bar, the lad realised that he had left his iPad at home.

Now Will uses some work applications on his iPad. The iPad also uses a secure Timico SIM to connect to our corporate network. He called Fiona in the office and arranged for it to be delivered overnight to his hotel.

When it was shipped the iPad had GPS enabled and Will was able to track its physical progress using his iPhone and the “Find my iPhone ” app. The photos show the progress this morning from the TNT depot to the hotel. V cool if you ask me.

Imagine the relief on Will’s face when he   turned up in the hotel reception to greet the courier and pick up his parcel.

In fact Will would have been able to time his breakfast (All Bran with fruit and semi-skimmed milk) knowing the exact location of the delivery van. On the screen of his phone he could watch the ipad “drive” into the car park and, I imagine, dab his lips with his (crisp white) napkin rising from the table only as the courier was getting out of the vehicle.

As the parcel was coming up the steps to the hotel front entrance Will nodded his thanks to the waitress and strode purposefully to reception.

Damned efficient. More pics below

End User internet

this is a true revolution we are seeing – one for the ladies

My wife, whom I dearly love, said to me this morning “I’ve had an idea”. Ordinarily on hearing those words my body is programmed to sit down in a safe place and surround myself with cushions to stop me getting hurt when I fall over. As it happens we were still in bed so I was already in position, so to speak.

She continued: “I think I’m going to get rid of all my recipes and just use the iPad in the kitchen”. She has dozens of folders containing recipes collected over the years. They spill over the shelves in our utility room and are now apparently looking a real mess. Apart from the fact that the utility room will look tidier her point is that most of these recipes are now available online and despite the fact that she has spent hours lovingly filing them into categories – chicken, beef, bread, welsh rarebit – you get my drift – it is still far quicker for her to find the right recipe using the iPad.

I can see the comments coming. “that’s obvious”, “whey didn’t she think of this earlier” etc etc. This may be the case for the savvy internet users amongst you (ie pretty much everyone reading this blog) but there is a section of society that didn’t grow up memorising the html links on the side of the pram.

She does have a laptop but that is rarely used if the iPad is available because of the boot up time and the portability. In fact the laptop serves more as a media server for watching iPlayer on the TV screen (at which we all marvel 🙂 ).

So there you go. The digital revolution has passed another major milestone – 2012 the year the paper recipe disappeared from common usage. I would welcome inputs highlighting similar evidence of societal change from around the world wide web.

PS I realise that I was treading a somewhat fine line with the title “one for the ladies”. However in our house Anne won’t let me do much cooking as I take far too long and make far too much of a mess and likely polish off half a bottle of red wine whilst doing it. Not being very worldly wise I have made the assumption that this is a normal state of affairs. If I am wrong I apologise but the headline stays :).


End User mobile connectivity

Mobile data usage – phone versus tablet

I use a couple of SIMs on a day to day basis – phone and iPad. The phone is always with me whereas the iPad is not.  The iPad is also more likely to be used in an area where there is WiFi. Needless to say if WiFi is available this gets used in preference to 3G in any case – longer battery life, faster and cheaper connectivity.

The usage patterns are as follows:

Month/device May iPad May phone June  iPad June Phone
Bandwidth usage (Bytes) 320,270,336 1,241,365,504 262,217,728 662,842,368
Days out of office 6 7

Clearly the phone gets used more than the iPad for accessing data. There doesn’t seem to be much correlation between days out of the office and usage though not that this small sample is particularly scientific. My days out are usually to London and typically I will leave my ancient laptop technology behind in favour of the tablet – lighter and good enough for most uses though not for any serious work.

It looks as if I am using between 1Gig and 1.5Gig of mobile data a month which is hugely more than the average of 200Megs (according to TMobile in January when they slashed usage allowances from 3Gigs to 500Megs). I may not be the average user but this must surely be the way of things to come.

End User net neutrality phones piracy

BBC iPlayer on iPad and Android – high quality – blessing or bandwidthbuster & what about the TV license? :)

iPlayer running on iPad and Adnroid HTC Desire HD

The twitterstream was full of references to the new iPlayer App for iPad and Android this morning so I naturally dived in and downloaded. I have to say the experience is top quality on both. The colours are great and the TV is very watchable on both size screens.

What really came into my mind though was not the fact that I now had a new app on my devices but the fact that this was yet another driver for bandwidth use and also the question of the TV license.

Cisco internet growth forecast

The chart on the right is Cisco’s growth forecast for internet bandwidth use – a 4x growth between 2009 and 2014. Much of this as you can see is driven by video. The Y axis legend is in ExaBytes/Month!

A one of the World’s best content provider the BBC really is one of the drivers of this (Ok YouTube et al are also contributors) and making iPlayer easier to access on more and more devices adds to the proliferation. Of course this also adds to the pressures on ISP networks and fuels the NetNeutrality debate butthat is not for this post. Grown up ISPs will manage their way through.

The debate about the TV License fee is however another issue. The BBC has said that it is not going after non license payers watching using iPlayer online:

“Well, the number of homes that currently have no television licence, but that do have broadband subscription is currently estimated to be infinitesimally small. The chances are if you want to watch BBC TV programmes via catch-up over the web, you are also watching some BBC programmes at other times, live or time-shifted, via a TV set, and will already have a TV licence. ”

This situation will possibly change quite quickly over the next few years.

You only need a license if you are watching live TV which the BBC is now promoting using the iPlayer App. My question is whether the BBC is able to identify online users? The chances are they will only have an IP address to go at which is going to raise the same issues as we currently see with the Digital Economy Act and the RightsHolder industries (of which the BBC is a member). Unless that is the BBC has some spyware embedded in its iPlayer App that somehow records data on who is using it – via  iTunes username perhaps?!

The other notweworthy point is that apps like this are also fuelling the demand for newer faster smart phones. The iPlayer App for Android needs a fast processor to run Flash. It will inevitably evolve towards more and more HD content which will use more and more bandwdth and need faster and faster processors etc etc etc.

We do live in interesting times. BBC statement on iPlayer here.  BBC position on TV License for online streaming here. Header photo (click to see more) is of iPlayer App running on both iPad and HTC Desire HD (Android).

More TV related stuff:

Sony 4K Ultra HD TV

TV detector vans – the truth

Boring TV & better things to do.

End User phones

The HTC Desire HD – Android review two months in a step up from my old Nokia N97

phonebox in snow in Lincoln Bailgate

I get asked what I think of my Android phone – I seem to have a wave of friends whose contracts are now up and are looking to move (predominantly from a Nokia!)

My first observation is that the moves are typically away from a Nokia and the question is Apple or Android? A second observation is that none of the phones being considered are cheap and people are signing up to spending £850 or so over two years, including the bundle, on a handset that they are almost certain to want to churn at the end of their contract. Such is the pace of development. That’s the equivalent of buying a new 42″ plasma/LCD TV every year!

My two month old HTC Desire HD is the best phone I have ever had. Before that I had a Nokia N97 which was also at the time the best phone I had ever had but the HTC is streets ahead of it.

The biggest leap forward is in usability. Everything is intuitive and easy. Next is the huge range of apps you can download for the device. This is not unique to Android but it is collectively for the industry a big step up from where we were before. There may well have been apps available for older generation handsets but today it is more natural for people to use them. If anything the difficulty is trying to decide which app to use – there are just so many of them.

The apps are also better designed for their environment. For example on the N97 I had a Facebook App that used to give me problems when leaving the house. The device didn’t easily switch from WiFi to 3G and the Facebook app kept complaining about “not having a connection to the network” – a nuisance when I had just set off in the car and didn’t want to fiddle about with the phone. It was easier for me to use the 3G connection most of the time rather than keep switching back and fore from WiFi.

On the HTC Desire HD this is never a problem. It isn’t a problem on the iPad either so I imagine this is a “generational” improvement in software. Using 3G does pose battery life problems though so I do take real steps to prevent this, normally by keeping the phone disconnected from any data network unless I particularly need to use it. With careful management the battery lasts me a whole day and if I know I am going to be “hammering” the phone I take advantage of any opportunity to recharge it.

The Apps I use are TweetDeck, Voice Recorder, Mail, Camera, Messages, Search, Gallery, Internet, Four Square and AudioBoo. I also have Skype on there but more from the notion that I feel I ought to have it than because I really use it. In fact I very regularly use all but Skype and AudioBoo and I’m planning on doing more audio posts.

It isn’t a phone anymore. It is clearly a personal communicator – it’s just that the PC acronym has already been taken.

If I had to make a criticism it is that the sound quality of the HTC Desire HD doesn’t match up to the quality of the rest of the device. The speakers don’t anyway. When I use the headset it is great. Also because it is a touch screen phone I sometimes find that my cheek has “ended” a conversation.

The only other gripe is not phone specific and that is the spelling auto-correction sometimes leads me to including words that I didn’t mean so send in a tweet or text. The benefits of the function outweigh the problems and I am happy to live with the added overhead of having to check what I have a written before sending.

From a parental perspective I fear that a new bar has been set in terms of a child’s expectation of a mobile phone. It’s all about money these days. Whilst I realise that I make a living out of technology, part of me yearns back to the days of my youth where nobody had a mobile, the internet hadn’t been invented and I used to put two pence in the phone box outside school to call my mum to come and pick me up from cricket/rugby etc. In fact I didn’t even need to spend the money because as soon as the pips went mum knew I was at that phone box.

Of course I could always become a monk! Click on the header photo and you will see a boy waiting outside a phonebox in the snow for his mum to pick him up. I suppose there are benefits to technology :). He should have used his Android! (he does have a HTC running Windows mobile 6.5 and an iPod Touch!!)

End User phones

What went wrong with the Samsung Galaxy tab?

Richar Wright of Timico discusses Samsung Galaxy tab with Apple CEO Steve Jobs

STOP PRESS – Richard Wright reverts to iPad from Samsung Galaxy tab

Back in the dim and distant days before Christmas 2010 I wrote a post describing how Timico sales manager Richard Wright had switched from the iPad to the Samsung Galaxy tab. Well gadget freak Richard has switched back!

With echoes of the Consumer Electronics Show still swirling around the ether with tales of 26 new tablets on view I thought I would find out why the sudden reversion. Richard’s feedback is provided below:

  • Android Marketplace did not have as much choice
  • A few apps he used on iPad either weren’t available or not written as well. This was especially true when it came to “sharing” eg Stumbleupon – the iPad app shares very easily but with Android he had to download a 3rd party app called Facebook share – also Stumbleupon just puts the url in.
Apps End User phones

iPad total immersion course

I now have an iPad. I got it on Friday. I thought it made sense not to let the tablet world pass me by and in any case it should be handy for my frequent jaunts up and down to London. The laptop is heavy to lug around.

Now I have an iPad I thought I would share my journey with it with you. At least the early part of the journey which coincidentally has had to be speeded up since a trojan fried my laptop.

The iPad was really easy to set up. There were no instructions other than a card pointing out a small number of salient features – screen etc.

internet mobile connectivity

iPhone Nokia N97 iPad Apple consumer versus business

My mobile phone, an N97, ran out of battery yesterday. It normally lasts 2 days but there was a network problem and it kept searching for a GPRS signal. It wan’t really the phone’s fault but it does go to show that battery technology has still some way to go with mobiles, especially as we are trying to do more with the device.

The N97 is supposed to be targeted at consumers.  It has a 30Gig hard drive so all my music fits on it. It also has a nice Facebook widget and I regularly use the camera, the voice recorder and make notes.

I don’t really see a difference between consumer and business applications for these high end phones. People want to listen to music whilst on the move with work.  Business people take photos (mine are usually for the blog), make recordings and notes (I do it because I can never remember things otherwise), update twitter, pick up mails, VPN into the office network etc etc etc.

At Timico there is an increasing demand for the iPhone from our business customers. In fact I think that consumer technology has outpaced what is provided specifically for business use so it makes sense that business people want to use consumer tools.

The iPad is not currently a business tool but that type of device will soon be used by business for all sorts of mobility applications.  Whether the Apple device specifically is it will depend on the applications that reside on it – I suspect not.

It is all going to be highly reliant on connectivity, and battery life, and cost, and functionality, and ease of use, and I’m sure the list goes on…  Anyway all that stemmed from the battery running out on my N97 – streams of thought:)

PS the N97 is the best phone I have had so far.