Engineer phones

A week with the iPhone 6 Plus

After a week with the iPhone 6 Plus Dan Lane endorses the bigger screen after using it instead of his laptop on a day out in London.

After a week with the iPhone 6 Plus Tref asked me to write up my experience with the behemoth, but I’m not going to do that. There are hundreds of reviews out there which tell you it’s too big, it’s too bendy or it’s just right. No, I’m simply going to tell you about Tuesday.

After receiving the device on Friday I’d spent the weekend fumbling with it thinking I’d made a mistake buying this comically oversized phone but then came Tuesday.  This was the day the iPhone 6 Plus really shone and I realised I hadn’t made an expensive mistake.

I was due to install some equipment in Telehouse so I threw my kit bag into the boot of my car and made the 2 hour drive from Winchester to Docklands using the TomTom app on the iPhone 6 Plus as my satnav (having purchased a new iOttie windscreen mount because my previous one was too small!). Even though the TomTom app has yet to be updated to take advantage of the larger screen it looked fantastic in the zoomed mode and I much preferred it to my previous iPhone 5s.

When I arrived at Telehouse I lugged my kit bag containing my Macbook Pro and iPad to the rack, I pulled the information I needed to locate and get access to the rack from Evernote and started to install the kit. As well as the equipment I was installing there were various tasks that were documented in Basecamp which loaded nicely on my phone.

I used the camera to upload photos of the cabling changes I’d made to Basecamp for future reference and the photo was so clear and detailed that you could read the circuit number from the cable’s tag. I also used the Slack app to communicate back with the various members of the team who had logged the work. I probably spent about three hours at the rack and my phone was on for most of the time, the battery read 97% when I left having been fully charged by the drive over.

Next, since I was in London I had a customer meeting scheduled. I drove over and met the customer (keeping the phone in my pocket and using my car’s built in satnav this time) and through the meeting I took notes using Evernote on my 6 Plus. Ordinarily I’d use my Macbook or my iPad and at one point I did feel like I needed to place my phone down face-up showing the Evernote screen so he didn’t think I was busily texting someone.

After the meeting I had an hour or so to kill before meeting my girlfriend for dinner so I found a coffee shop and got down to some e-mails and support tickets, again I just did them on the 6 plus using the Gmail and Zendesk apps. This is where it occurred to me that I hadn’t opened my laptop all day not because I made a conscious effort to only use my iPhone but because the iPhone was all I needed – I probably pulled it out of my pocket to check Facebook and noticed there was a ticket that needed my attention and got carried away with some emails.

If I had been on my old 5s I’d have seen that ticket and reached for my laptop but with the bigger form factor and bigger keyboard it was no hassle to tap out reply after reply while my laptop remained unopened in my bag. I was in the coffee shop for just over an hour and a half and I didn’t put my phone down once – by the time I left my battery was still over 65%.

While I was in the coffee shop I needed to do some field testing for our new mobile service – this involved an iPhone 5s I use as test device. I was immediately surprised at how minuscule and cramped the 5s felt after only 4 days using the bigger device and this really cemented my appreciation of the larger screen and form factor.

The phone pretty much stayed untouched while I had dinner with the girl and then served as satnav and MP3 player (via Spotify) for the 1.5 hour journey home – as an experiment I didn’t plug it in and the phone was down to 14% when I arrived home which considering it’d been using GPS, bluetooth, streaming data and had the display on for the whole journey was pretty good in my book.

Could I have done everything I did on the iPhone 5s or the regular sized iPhone 6? Yes, of course! but when I had that device I never did. For me the bigger screen turns it from a phone that happens to do smart things into a small tablet that happens to also be a phone and this encourages more use in that fashion. It’ll never replace the laptop in the datacentre visit as I’d need to pull that out for ethernet or serial access but for the tasks I did on that day it was more than adequate and performed admirably.

Of course your tastes and requirements vary but if you’re undecided between which size to go for and you think you’d prefer a small tablet that happens to be an oversized phone then you’re going to love the iPhone 6 Plus.

broken gear End User Mobile

Broken S4 screen and Oneplus One availability

Broken S4 screen once again in insurance claim and Oneplus One availability is somewhat of a disappointment.

Broken S4 screen once again. It’s either my second or third breakage since getting the phone. I get it repaired under the insurance that comes with my bank account. Fifty quid.

The last time it went I decided that if it happened again I’d use the opportunity to find a new phone. It’s happened again. I’ve looked around for a new phone.

I don’t need to get a new contract and so would be paying SIM free prices. This is ok except that the functionality of my Galaxy S4 is fine. I don’t feel the need to buy the latest and greatest just to have a slightly more curved screen or an optimised power button position – you know what I mean. These new phones offer very little over and above those introduced a year or so ago. If they offered unbreakable screens that might be different.

So I looked around. My instinctive port of call was the Nexus 5. A Google phone without the bloatware. To my surprise I found a newer better cheaper Android phone called the Oneplus One. Great power consumption, great processor etc and running Android CynaogenMod. Looked perfect on the face of it.

In town I popped in to Carphone Warehouse to see if I could touch and feel one. They had never heard of it. That rang a small alarm so I went home and did some more research. It’s mostly released in the US of A but can be easily imported. However the it has a limited support for 4g frequencies and will only give you the higher data rates on O2 and 3 in the UK. I’m with O2 but don’t want to restrict myself from moving in the future. An issue but not a showstopper.

The showstopper for me came when I tried to order one. I couldn’t. Take a look at their webpage. I either had to be invited to buy one by an existing owner or enter a competition. I’m sure that with my vast array of social media contacts I could find someone, or someone who knew someone with a oneplus one.

Tbh I can’t be bothered. It isn’t compelling enough to go to the effort. I’ve paid the fifty quid to repair my broken s4 screen. I’ll wait. Either they will bring out a version with more UK frequencies and launch it without the faff or Google will bring out a new Nexus 5. I hear they have stopped making the existing Nexus 5.

I’ve got loads of posts on broken phones over the years. It seems to be a common thread especially for the Samsung Galaxy range. Check out the category here.

Business events gadgets H/W Mobile phones wearable

A Virtual Tech Gadgets Smorgasbord!

September brings word of new gadgets — smartphones, tablets, cameras, wearables, whatever else — and it all looks so tasty!

Ah, September. Summer holidays fading into memory, work ramping back up, children getting settled into new school routines, a hint of a nip in the air (at least once the sun goes down) as autumn begins baby-stepping into place, and the usual blast of new gadgetry hyper…er, news…no, had it right the first time.

Thick and furious, it seems that this week new smartphone goodness was announced by every player in the space (save for Apple, which has its circled-on-every-calendar iPhone event set for next Tuesday). Most if not all of this activity is in conjunction with IFA Berlin 2014 — Europe’s largest consumer electronics event — though it seems that none of the interested parties could be bothered to wait for the start of the actual event (today, that would be). Among the smartphony gadgets soon to show up on shop shelves are:

  • Samsung: Galaxy Note 4, Galaxy Note Edge
  • Sony: Xperia Z3, Zperia Z3 Compact
  • Microsoft/Nokia: Lumia 830, Lumia 930, and Lumia 730

And those are just the smartphone devices put up for media scrutiny fawning prior to the IFA Berlin 2014’s official opening. Over the next five days similar smartphone announcements are due from HTC, LG, Acer, Lenovo, Huawei, Asus….pretty much everyone except Big Daddy Apple.

As if all of that is not enough, a kit-n-kaboodle of tabletish shiny things are also set for intro (or have already been intro’d), along with some wearable whatnot, and all kinds of digital fun that lies outside of phones and tabs.

It doesn’t take much in the way of deductive reasoning to understand why we as consumers get tech-dumped on during September every year. The mechanisms of hype need a bit of oiling up in preparation for the holidays, interest has to spread from those who are too-in-tune to those who listen to and/or depend on those who are too-in-tune, and the marks…no, no, no…the buying customers need time to get their heads around the cost of the new delights (and time to save coin to buy them).

Only 100 shopping days until Christmas*!

*And 7-8 fewer until Chanukah…but I couldn’t find a website for tracking that.

Business google phones

iPhone 6 release date – trial web marketing

iPhone 6 release date – blog post used for metrics trial

The iPhone 6 release date is no no interest whatsoever to me other than the fact that the event itself is as usual stirring up lots of interest in the online media. The reason for this is simple. Web based businesses usually make their money in three main ways:

  • online advertising based on page impressions and click throughs
  • affiliate marketing revenues – commissions on sales made as a result of click throughs
  • by selling goods and services

The key to making money is to get high numbers of relevant visitors to your site. A site selling cameras, for example, isn’t going to benefit from someone searching for cars. Google tries to help the searcher by constantly refining its search algorithms.

A subject such as the iPhone 6 release date is going to attract a lot of interest from a fairly wide demographic and represents a good opportunity to convert site visitors to revenues from one or more of the above listed mechanisms. All the “mainstream” media are going to want to use such an event to attract visitors and this they very much do. We get a constant dribble of non-news, rumours, “leaked images” and speculation about specifications. All this despite historical evidence that suggests each launch produces a product that is not very different to its predecessor. Apple et al have great marketing teams.

It is easy to see why the media participates in the hype. The featured image is a screenshot of the Keyword Planner tool supplied by Google to help advertisers with their Adwords campaigns. You can see that there are an awful lot of people (and this is specifically in the UK) searching for iPhone related information1. Almost 785,000 785,ooo searches a month. That’s a lot of visits to compete for. It’s no wonder the media is weighing itself dumbing down with “relevant” clickbait even if the clicked to information is scant.

Our plans for the business include organising events but we also in the process of producing specialist brand sites geared at making money from affiliate marketing. There is a lot of money to be made in commissions from the sales of broadband connections, mobile phone signups etc and the space is already fairly crowded. Participants in this market, essentially that of online deal comparison, can easily make seven figure revenues from a single brand if they are at the top of the Google rankings and have a website well optimised to converting visitors to cash.

At we are getting into the process of website Search Engine Optimisation. It’s fairly standard stuff. You have to include relevant keywords both in your metadata and in your content and have a properly structured site with urls also containing keywords. Links, both inbound and outbound from relevant authoritative sites are also important. These are all things you can work on. We have been writing content for over 6 years with 2,328 posts to show for it. For most of this time scant regard was given to SEO.  The process of going through a large number of posts and optimising them for particular keywords is somewhat lengthy but is ongoing ans will hopefully be worthwhile. At some stage soon we are also going to optimise the URL structure and this is something we will need to take great care over. The last thing we want to do is to break a ton of existing inbound links.

In tandem with this we look at the behaviour of visitors when they arrive at the site. In an ideal world you want to keep your visitors for as long as possible and have them click on as many pages as possible. Each new click is s potential source of advertising revenue. Google, with its Analytics tool, provides some help in doing this but doesn’t provide a complete picture of the visitor behaviour.

We have just signed up with Crazy Egg which should give us a graphical representation of the behaviour of visitors to the site. Who clicks where and when. By tracking this information we should be able to improve the site so that more people click on more links. In one sense doing this for is just a learning curve for the real work which will be on subsidiary brands such as (coming soon) which will be our first foray into the affiliate marketing game.

This post, which is using what must be a highly popular search term in iPhone 6 release date (60,500 searches though low competition for the term, presumably because there is currently no money to be made out of the iPhone 6 because it isn’t yet available) is really an engine to monitor the behaviour of readers of the post.

If you are specifically looking for the iPhone 6 release date the word has it it is 9th September. I’m not publishing any images though I did get a sneak preview of the Samsung Galaxy S5 logo before it came out – check it out here.

Surprisingly the iPhone 4s is one of the most used search terms in the UK with 201,000 searches a month.

End User google mobile connectivity phones

Mobile Phone in Spain – Holiday Tech

Mobile phone in Spain is very useful whilst on holiday – this post was written mostly in the shade by the pool.

Some of you will have noted on my Facebook timeline that I have been on holiday for most of August. At the moment I’m in Cala D’Or in Mallorca. Sat in the shade on the hotel terrace looking down on a moored yacht. Abba in the background:) The use of my mobile phone in Spain proved indispensable.

When we got here the first thing I did was to establish the comms position. Hotel WiFi was cheap at only 10 Euros per device for the 12 days of our stay. However I didn’t want to encourage to the kids to spend all their time on their laptops so I opted for the 1 free hour a day per person.

Next thing I did was source a Spanish sim. Mobistar 1GB for 20 Euros. I needed it to work the sat nav. We had a private transfer from the airport when we landed and had a hire car delivered to the hotel the following day. I needed the Sat Nav to make sure I could find my way back to the hotel the following day after picking up the heir who was arriving a day afer us.

translate_spainAs it turned out the Mobistar sim came in handy for other purposes. Kid3’s specs broke and the nearest optician was in the next town. I found the optician using google and then maps to get there. I took a pic of the street sign in case I couldn’t find my way back to the car.

I also did this in the huge underground car park in the centre of Palma. At least I took a pic of the parking bay number so that I couldn’t forget where I parked – easily done when you are using a hire car. Interesting to see car parks with red and green lights above each bay to indicate whether there was space.

The optician couldn’t fix the specs so we hunted down a supermarket using google maps to buy some superglue. We then used google translate to find out the spanish word for glue and showed it to an assistant.

We used TripAdvisor to determine where to eat each evening. By and large this was highly successful. We mostly ended up with great family run restaurants. Cala D’Or is very touristy and there were a lot of places I’d say were transplanted from Benidorm (though I haven’t been to Benidorm) and geared at the Fosters drinker. TV screens all over the place.

Restaurante Selani was #2 on TripAdvisor behind an Ice Cream kiosk at #1. The food was good enough to engender a very positive response from Kid4, the gastronome of the family. TripAdvisor did however make us 20 minutes late for the table as it took us to a spot only 60 metres away but across the marina. The 60 metres took 20 minutes to walk!

Every pub and restaurant in Cala D’Or, everywhere we went in Mallorca in fact, had free wifi. Whilst I had my 1GB sim the benefit of the wifi was the automatic backing up of my holiday snaps to Google+ which only happens in WiFi range. Upload was consistently slow though.

holiday mobile data usageWith three days of our holiday left I had 120MB left of the 1Gig.  MIght just last. Ran out with two days to go. Usage has been pretty linear and has consisted of mostly twitter, facebook, reading the papers and keeping up with email. We also streamed the Halifax v Lincoln City game (3-2 unfortunately) using iPlayer. After the first couple of days we didn’t need to use the sat nav other than to find the occasional restaurant.

Whilst I had some of my bundle left I preferred to use mobile data that any free wifi that might have been on offer. It was clearly based on ADSL with generally poor upload and download. I also noted that the Facebook mobile experience was not very good. It often timed out saying there was no network connection whilst I could access other sites such as the BBC with no trouble.

We left Mallorca with a healthy tan and some great memories. It was noticeable though that our home FTTC based Wifi was so much better. Everyone heaved a sigh of relief when they got their gadgets out at home.

It might be argued that we shouldn’t have needed any connectivity whilst on holiday. However you can see from my experiences above that having a mobile phone in Spain was very useful.  This technology is becoming part and parcel of our everyday lives and why shouldn’t you have it. My experience of being without a phone whilst it was being fixed also brought me to the same conclusion. Why shouldn’t we use the tech. It is useful.

That’s it for now. Summer is over, holidays are over (for now) and it’s time to get back to work. There is a fairly packed programme on the blog in the run up to Christmas. Check out the schedule here.

Hasta la vista baby.


Bad Stuff Business Mobile

EE Priority Answer – A Tempest in a Tea Cup?

Priority answer service introduced by EE causes twitter outcry but Pete Farmer disagrees

Surfing the Telegraph website in recent days my interest was caught by an article on EE Priority Answer, a new initiative from our friends in Hatfield that offers you the option to jump to the front of the customer services queue (during working hours) in return for the consideration of fifty pence. The resulting Twitter storm (aka The Hamster Wheel of Outrage™) was somewhat predictable:

Sundip Meghani tweeted: “Everything Everywhere, but not Everyone. Disgraceful that EE doesn’t treat everyone fairly.”

Matt Woosie said he would “definitely leave EE” at the end of his contract because of the charge.

John Masters tweeted: “EE, disgusting that you’re charging for priority on query calls. Everyone should be treated equally.”

I haven’t spoken to Mr Meghani, Woosie or Masters on the subject, of course, but I am guessing that there is a basic British principle of queuing that has been offended by EE Priority Answer. I have a great deal of sympathy with that view, after all, as we Brits proudly enforce the custom on a daily basis at the taxi rank or Post Office. It’s also easy to bash EE. I recently delighted in it an open letter to Olaf (their CEO) regarding mid-contract price increases; Voice over IP trade body ITSPA came close to referring them to the Advertising Standards Agency over a Kevin Bacon advert. They also top the leagues in terms of the complaints they receive. In this case, though, despite their being close to my ranking them my “arch nemesis” I don’t think we should be so hasty.

The UK telecommunications market — especially mobile— is rather saturated and very competitive. Thus, a premium product for a premium service at a premium price (like Priority Answer) is a natural evolution of their businesses. And the notion of Britishness I mentioned earlier is becoming somewhat archaic. For instance, EasyJet has offered Priority Boarding for years, and nightclubs theme parks have VIP lanes in which members or others can jump the queue. Our time is becoming increasingly valuable to us, which is why Sainsbury’s deliver in one-hour slots, British Gas services boilers in two-hour slots and, heck, even the Jurassic aged BT Openreach has floated narrower appointment windows. A million more people in the UK now employ a cleaner than did ten years ago, there are apps like Orderella to help jump bar queues on a night out….. First Class carriages on trains always arrive in London first (ever notice that?). I could go on forever.

The crux of it is that many people are willing to pay a premium to save time, jump a queue, or have an easier life, and this has been the case for many years. Others want the cheapest possible way to get a product or service and happily trade their time in return for a reduced price – getting a later train to avoid paying the Anytime rate or rejigging your schedule to get an Advance ticket is no different. We really shouldn’t pretend otherwise. What we should do is welcome innovation, be it technological or in service delivery. The market (consumers voting with their feet) will ultimately decide whether EE’s move is right or wrong.

I suspect today’s Twitter storm over Priority Answer will soon be forgotten.  After all, Easyjet survived the introduction of Priority Boarding and Alton Towers is still going strong despite offering Fastrack tickets. There’s that, and their pedigree in 4G services is still stronger than the competition, which I believe is of far more importance and relevance to one of their key markets than an optional charge for jumping a queue.


End User phones

iPhone 6 photo leak points to rounded edges – oh!

leaked iPhone 6 photo points to rounded edges – analysis

Am on the Isle of Man ferry and have a bit of time to kill.  Now that I’ve managed to book tickets for Wales v AllBlacks. This was an achievement that involved an hour’s wait in a queue, most of which was whilst I was also waiting to get on the boat that was 2 hours late leaving Liverpool. Ah well. Being last on and in the Premium Lounge all the papers have already been taken. It doesn’t matter. I have tinternet and most of the other occupants of the lounge look as if they were born pre WW2 and will need the papers to fall asleep to. Having tinternet I’ve landed on the telegraph website and found a headline about a leaked iPhone 6 photo.

The most startling thing about this is that the telegraph considers this to be a front page news. It’s quite sad really. Why should anyone give a toss what the new iPhone 6 photos look like. I think we must surely have reached saturation in the smartphone marketing stakes. There isn’t enough difference between models to make it interesting any more.

It’s a bit like an advert for a car. It just isn’t possible to make a car look interesting or exciting. You will always have dyed in the wool fans who get hyped up bout a particular model but hey. Get  life…

In the last 10 years I have only had two cars. One was my N reg Peugeot 406 diesel (250k miles on the clock) and the other is my current job, the Jeep Commander. It came as total bemusement to me to find that a neighbour of ours, who was in a company car scheme, spent weeks studying his options before deciding on a Mondeo. Apparently Mondeos were cool – totally dispels the Mondeo man as boring Mr Average myth.

Someone somewhere has probably been able to retire on the success of the Mondeo advert, I’d imagine. Maybe.

Apple have clearly got the marketing clout to keep their fanbois excited about different iterations of their telephone. At the mo. I’d like to ask you, yes you, does anyone really care. If you do care I suggest you look around for something that will make your life more fulfilling. Like doing a 5,000 piece jigsaw or counting the number of sheets on a toilet roll to make sure that they aren’t short changing you.

You get to see it all on It wasn’t so long ago we released exclusive images of the new Samsung Galaxy S5 logo. If you want to see the leaked iPhone photo check it out here.

End User fun stuff google phones

OK Google – we interrupt this holiday…

OK Google ad on TV made me try it out and it worked brilliantly

An ad for OK Google came on the TV. It was all about where to find the nearest cake shop. I immediately tried it. It worked perfectly. Just liked it did on the telly.

It was astonishingly accurate. I’ve since tried it for other things. The weather forecast for example. I said “OK Google , what’s the weather forecast tomorrow?” it not only came up with the forecast for my postcode but a voice spoke it.ok google weather

Voice recognition technology has seriously come of age. I remember years ago buying a Dragon voice rec software package. I used to be the Press Officer for Lincoln Rugby Club. I had a theory that I could dictate details of matches onto my Sony voice recorder and then use the voice rec software to turn it into text.

It never worked. In those days the software had to be trained, PCs weren’t powerful enough and in any case there was too much wind noise for it to have a chance.

Given a suitable mobile data connection I think it would work now with me dictating straight into the phone.

Getting back to the weather forecast one has to be glad that it is looking good for the first day of my holiday:) Plenty of time for it to go wrong yet but I’m sure that OK Google will keep me posted.

OK Google isn’t perfect. I just asked it “what should I wear tomorrow?” It came up with clothing advice sites. That’s not what I wanted. I wanted it to to tell me which combination of shorts and tshirt I should get out of the drawer. It’ll get there.

After that it will need to pre-empt my needs by ordering my clothes for me from the shop. Life will be full of surprises.

Ok Google. Time for bed. No answer required. Just letting you know.

4g Business

Manx Telecom 4G launch

Manx Telecom 4G launch around 12 years after being first 3G trialist

Quite excited to see the Manx Telecom 4G launch. I periodically go to the Isle of Man to see me dear old mam and dad. They live around the corner from the telephone exchange in Peel. One of my old school chums Richard Fletcher works for Manx Telecom and we occasionally get together for lunch when I’m over.

It was Richard who introduced me to 3G at Manx Telecom. Before 3G was available in the UK it was trialled in the Isle of Man as Manx Telecom were then part of O2. The IoM is a nice place to conduct telecoms trials as the population is really the equivalent of a smallish town in the UK.

The 3G trial must have been 13 years or so ago. It’s taken a while to get 4G out. The lack of competition in the Isle of Man doesn’t make for speedy rollout of new services. It’s nice to see it happen now though. The Manx Telecom 4G service may even tempt me to get a PAYG sim – I’m over for the week in August. The family is used to seeing me doing mobile speed tests wherever I go. In fact my daughter, who now lives in Spain, instinctively tells me how fast her broadband is when we hangout of an evening.

Whilst over I usually do a few IT support jobs in the paternal household. This time it will include upgrading the folks to FTTC and getting them a new router. The WiFI is a bit dodgy on the old one as you will recall from this here post. Now that the Isle of Man finally has 4G I’m thinking that the conversation on this blog is going to move to 5G. After all if Mayor of London Boris Johnson is talking about it it must be the right thing to do 🙂

Apps broadband End User fun stuff H/W internet Mobile Net phones

The Hump Day Five (23-July-2014)

The Hump Day Five this week goes to the pictures, gets the picture, migrates the pictures, wants a phone that takes the pictures, and offers a picture of Paris on Summer holiday.


A few days ago a filmmaker friend of mine asked if I would be interested in screening a rough cut of a documentary he has been working on for some time. I was somewhat flattered that he would ask, of course, and I have quite a strong propensity for documentaries, so I instantaneously responded with “Yes, please.”

Not long after I received the details of screening the documentary, and it was at that point that it all started to tweak my interest beyond the subject matter of the film itself, for two reasons. One, the film was presented to me as a video stream via Vimeo (password access, naturally). And two, my friend specifically requested that I promise to watch the film straight through with no breaks and without distraction.

So this is where we are today. Able to grant immediate access to video works in progress via the Internet, and as a result of that delivery method needing to beseech the viewer to take special care to not multi-task when viewing said film via the Internet. Not that I don’t get the reasoning, because I absolutely do, though it does have me thinking that in the not-too-distant future there will be technology deployed to tighten such tasks up. Insistent Streaming? You can watch vwxyz, but you have to do so in Full Screen mode and without screen deviation lest you have to start over from the beginning.

The screening request came across five days ago and I have yet to watch my friend’s film. Really, it is pretty sad that I am finding the idea of being-connected-yet-essentially-disconnected from AppleKory for 90 minutes straight to be daunting!


I’ve been hush-hush for a while now regarding my search for my next smartphone, waiting patiently for the one I had mostly settled on — the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom — to become available in France. I did manage to put my hands on a GKZ while I was in London for’s Pissup in a Brewery last month, and this helped to both move me closer to pulling the trigger and towards establishing a sharper perspective on my decision.

In short, I realized that as much as I would love to have a Galaxy K Zoom as my next smartphone friend, I will only do so if my carrier (Bouygues) can offer it to me at a subsidized price. They do this with a good many other Samsung smartphones, including the flagship S5 (which costs €599 unlocked, without subsidy, but only €221 paid out over 24 months with a correlating commitment), so I came to expect I could put myself into a Galaxy K Zoom for under €200 (versus €499 unlocked, without subsidy).

No dice. Or, at least, no dice yet. Despite my best efforts to make such a deal happen, and the encouragement of a Bouygues drone who told me he could do so but in truth could not (seems that he was willing to say just about anything to me over the phone to get me to walk in the shop), I remain wanting. And with the Summer holidays descending quickly in France, it seems I will remain saddled with my iPhone 4 at least until the start of September. And with the iPhone 6 announcement likely to take place that month…?


A few months back I made one of those big decisions. You know, the kind that changes everything, after which nothing will ever be the same and from which there is no going back. A paradigm shift of immense magnitude.

Thick, running irony, like motor oil straight from the can.

I decided to change photo management software, from Apple’s not-bad-for-a-toy iPhoto to Adobe’s truly terrific Lightroom 5.

For a good long time iPhoto worked for me. There were some significant bumps along the way, to be sure, such as dealing with the product’s generosity when it came to gobbling up AppleKory hard drive space with it’s need to maintain two copies of any photo that was modified in any way (including simple rotation). For the most part, though, iPhoto and I got along fine, even as my photography skills outgrew the software’s cutesy function set.

I suppose I knew that at some point I would need to move from iPhoto into something more robust, however in dabbling with other photography management packages over the years — window-shopping, as it were — I became fully aware of how difficult and tedious an endeavor it would be, fully switching over. Man, that is one deep and dark path to walk down, and if it wasn’t absolutely necessary…well, I could make iPhoto continue to work for me. That is, until I couldn’t.

For reasons unknown, at right about the same time I was beginning to explore shooting in RAW (though this had nothing to do with the issue), iPhoto stopped accepting modifications made to picture files. The changes I made — upping the contrast or vibrancy of a photo, for example, or cropping an image — would stick, but only until I exited iPhoto. Thus, when I would start the application again, any modifications I had made during the previous session were gone.

Naturally, I google-binged my problem, and I discovered that I was not alone. A great number of my fellow iPhoto users had been dealing with the same problem, and as far as I was able to tell in my digging none of them had come up with a solution short of abandoning iPhoto for one of its competitors..

The writing, as they so (too?) often say, was on the wall. iPhoto, it has been nice. Enter Lightroom 5.

It has taken patience and time to do it to do it to do it to do it to do it right, child…er, move everything over, and I have hit my share of lulls, but a marvelous documentary I saw last Friday about the recently-discovered photographer Vivian Maier kicked me back into it, and finally I am finished. And nothing will ever be the same.


It has now been three weeks since I took AppleKory into the Apple Store at Opera to have one of their supposed Genius folk render opinion and possible solutions for a fan and heating problems. For reasons unknown, the poor girl’s CPU was running regularly at about 90 degrees Celsius and her fan was blowing at the maximum 6204 rpm. A friend who is also my OSX Guru has long told me that I run too many apps and processes simultaneously (foreground and background), and he was convinced that was the problem, but even when I turned just about everything off the CPU heat spiked and the fan in response ran loud enough to her in the next room (quite strange for a MacBook Pro).

The Genius who attended me ran some diagnostics and found no problem. He then, though, suggested that it could be a problem with the thermal paste in conjunction with the heat sink, and that such a repair would only cost €29…and a three separation. Wanting to have a happy and healthy AppleKory, I swallowed hard and handed her over. I then went home and told my Guru that he was wrong (Wrong! Wrong!), and that the problem was not running AppleKory too hard, but that it had to do with a hardware issue.


Two days later the Apple technician called. He told me in broken-but-not-bad English that the thermal paste was fine, and that as far as he could tell there was no problem with my system. “Perhaps you are asking it to do too much at the same time?”, he said. “Anyway, it is ready for you to pick up anytime.”


I retrieved AppleKory soon after, and — go figure — since then she has been purring like a kitten (so to speak…that is, without the noise). I have changed nothing with regard to the software I run or the intensity of such (over 20 Google Chrome tabs open as I type), and yet it is a rare occurrence when her temperature exceeds 80 degrees Celsius or her fan exceeds 5000 rpm (and most of the time both of those numbers are significantly lower…at this moment, 72 and 2588 rpm).

Like the child whose symptoms disappear upon realizing a visit to the doctor is in the offing? Or the sick cat who seems to get better when a visit to the vet is imminent? That Apple technician must be one scary dude, indeed!


Approaching the end of July, it is evident that the France Summer holiday has begun to take hold. Signs are appearing in the windows of shops and restaurants announcing date ranges of closure, the foot traffic on the street is significantly lighter, there are fewer people in the Metro (and fewer trains running, as well), there is a lot less ambient and incidental noise leaking into Chez Kessel. You would think, though, that with fewer people in town taxing Internet pipe capacity that my broadband service would be much improved, wouldn’t you?

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The Hump Day Five (16-July-2014)

The Hump Day Five is on Red Alert this week, getting all Google-y powerful on music in the cloud, Leftovers, and Ping Pong Mania.


Started watching a new TV show a couple of weeks back called “The Leftovers”. If you haven’t haven’t seen or heard of it, the premise is quite simple. On 14-October at a precise moment in time approximately 2% of the world’s population randomly disappears without a trace. Drivers from moving vehicles, criminals from prison cells, babies from car seats, one moment there the next moment gone. It doesn’t take much imagination to see compelling story elements in such a framework, and in fact it is easy to see how the utter chaos of such a situation could become too much of a good thing (entertainment-wise, that is). The creators, though, very smartly opt to confine the drama to a single small town somewhere in America and how “The Departure”, as it is called, has affected and continues to affect the populace three years down the line. Succulent details are offered via ancillary media — overheard radio, television news programs being watched by this-or-that character, etc., not a small amount of Internet-y stuff — and go so far as to include a list of celebrities who number among the 2%. Dark stuff riddled rich with despair, sure, and as television goes it isn’t for everyone, but if you like your diversion disturbing and in-your-face I highly recommend checking it out.


Since late June a new application for both iPhone and Android has been making its way through the zeitgeist in direct response to the once-again-heightening tensions between Israel and Palestine: Kobi Snir’s Red Alert Israel. The idea behind this new app is to alert users of incoming rockets so they can stop whatever it is they are doing and take shelter*. The alerts received (tied directly to Israel Defense Forces and Homefront Command) can be configured quite tightly — there are a great many individual areas, considering the country’s small land mass — and each alert offers allows for comments, which can include prayers and encouragement, as well as — not surprising, but enraging nonetheless — inflammatory notes full of disparagement and outright hatred. Red Alert Israel also includes streaming Israeli radio (in Hebrew) to supplement its alerts with more detailed information (I assume). All in all, it is a noble idea that falls definitively on the side of the angels (and I say this even knowing that there is no Red Alert Palestine equivalent).

So I am sensitive to the dead-serious nature of Red Alert Israel and applaud and support its above-reproach mission, but I would be fibbing BIG-time if I said the image of people running for cover from flying ordinance with their hands flailing high above their heads clutching their phones didn’t loosen a small smile. Got too many episodes of The Simpsons under my belt, I suppose. Please excuse (or feel free to flame me up but good in the Comments).

The Red Alert Israel app is free, as you would expect, though it does run shifting banner advertising, because in these times absolutely nothing should go unsponsored. I mean, think about it…is there an advertiser out there who wouldn’t want their product or service to be associated with the saving of lives? And thus a new business model is born!

*The users in Israel, that is, as it is quite evident that Red Alert Israel is being downloaded and put into use by people living elsewhere..for purposes of showing solidarity, inspiring prayer and greater empathy, to stoke flames of outrage, to feed whatever vicarious needs, perhaps to serve as the basis for gambling or drinking games, etc.


For someone who spends as much time driving keyboards and mice as I do, I really can be late to the party at times. Take cloud-hosted music (aka online music lockers, aka online music storage services). Available in various flavors for a few years now (the majors all bowed in 2011 — Apple, Amazon, Google — whereas an early achiever called AudioBox left the starting block in 2009), it was only this past weekend that I started to consider the idea of throwing some of my music up into the ether for ready access across my computers and smartphone. Naturally, I was aware of the cloud-hosted music concept, but that awareness was mostly relegated to Apple’s iTunes in the Cloud/iTunes Match service, and as I trust Apple’s software and service offerings about as much as…well, not at all, actually, I put up a willful “blind spot” to the whole idea. Of course, it also helped that my music collection far exceeded the 25,000 song limit put on the $25-per-year service by Apple, and that at the start – as is unfortunately so often the case — the service was available to U.S.-based users only.

A couple of years passed, and then along came KoryChrome. And with KoryChrome came promotions for Google services. And with the promotion in particular of Google Play Music — which I learned is now available in France and which includes the ability to load/match 20,000 songs absolutely free — came my revisiting the subject of cloud-hosted music this past weekend. 20,000 songs for uploaded/matched for free? Songs I can access from any Internet-connected computer capable of running a browser (Google Chrome need not be that browser, either), or from any Internet-connected smartphone? All without commercials or listening limitations?

Yeah, I know this party started ages ago, but as far as I am concerned there is still beer in the fridge and it’s still ice-cold.


On the subject of KoryChrome, La Famille Kessel returned to our Pays d’Auge family hovel in Blangy-le-Château this past weekend, and my keen and cool new Chromebook was thus reunited with its power source. And this time that power source made it into my computer bag for the trip back to Paris at weekend’s end. No doubt, a great many of you will now breathe easier and will stop wanting for sleep.


Got struck hard by a serious wave of irony a few hours ago when My Missus and I put The Boy on a train to summer camp. The camp he is attending is called “Ping Pong Mania” (translate from French), and it promises to be exactly that, with 90+ minutes of table tennis play and training each morning and another such session each afternoon. I blush with a certain amount of pride in saying that my kid is really quite masterful at the game, in no small measure because other than ping pong his free time these days is overwhelmingly consumed by Minecraft, Clash of Clans, SimCity 4 Deluxe Edition, youtube videos galore rooted in gameplay and game parody and what-have-you, and a bevy of other sofa-bound veg-and-play games and experiences.

My hope is the next 10 days will find The Boy matched up with other kids his age who are at or near his level. Otherwise, his hesitance to get off the couch and get out in the world (read: separate from his MacBook and iPad and Nintendo DS3) will have been justified…or so he will say and think, anyway. And this is where the irony lies as 32 years ago I remember feeling similar hesitation at heading off to summer camp, too…summer computer camp!

End User Legal Mobile ofcom Regs

What is a Mobile Number?

What is a mobile number – bet you thought you knew!

Seems like a simple question doesn’t it? You would be surprised how many people will answer “07”. Just like some schoolgirls on a bus I overheard once, this presumption can have costly consequences. 070 is designated as Personal Numbering – the old follow me services now largely overtaken by soft clients, VoIP and the ilk, and 076 is radiopaging (yes, apparently they still exist!). Unfortunately, both of these ranges do attract an element of the cheeky through to the fraudulent and criminal with high termination rates…… and the perception of some people that a missed call from an 070 most-definitely-not-a-mobile number is genuine and needs to be called back…. at fifty pence per minute. That’s what happened to the schoolgirls. Perhaps I should’ve warned them, but at the height of the Saville affair I probably would’ve been arrested!

Anyway, by extension you will now have guessed that 071-075 and 077-079 are mobile numbers (strictly speaking Mobile Services in the National Telephone Numbering Plan), and you would be correct. Our friends at Ofcom define this as:

‘Mobile Service’ means a service consisting in the conveyance of Signals, by means of an Electronic Communications Network, where every Signal that is conveyed thereby has been, or is to be, conveyed through the agency of Wireless Telegraphy to or from Apparatus designed or adapted to be capable of being used while in motion;

Wireless Telegraphy has an equally simple definition, offered in Section 116 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 as (paraphrased): electromagnetic signals not exceeding 3,000 gigahertz and not transmitted over a physical medium. Aside from the fact that whoever drafted the bill could have used “terahertz”, the conjunction of the two definitions (and some other basic statutory references) defines a Mobile Service as a telephony or data service capable of being used in motion where part of the media path is transported at upto 3THz in the ether. Simple.

There is the obvious elephant in the room, which is that my mobile network’s voicemail and call diversion services could be viewed as unlawful; think about a fixed call to voicemail or my mobile diverting to my desk phone – no Wireless Telegraphy would be involved in an efficient design. Actually, the get out is my desk phone is a Cisco 525 and operates over WiFi, so EE can breathe a sigh of relief.  WiFi works under 3THz (though the super fast variants are knocking on that ceiling). But that get out is important in considering that the definition of a Mobile Service is in fact very broad. A laptop is portable. So a VoIP client used over WiFi (or doubly so, over a 4G MiFi) would fit that definition, let alone a soft client on a smartphone. This is why the Internet Telephony Service Providers’ Association (“ITSPA”) has growing concerns about Ofcom’s apparent reluctance to provide these recognisable numbers to its members for the purpose of developing innovative and competitive new services. ITSPA is taking action on this and has formally written to Ofcom seeking clarification — unfortunately as legal recourse is still potentially an option, I can’t go into more detail at this time lest it is prejudiced, but I promise to update’s readers as and when I can!

In the meantime, though, I think we should have a Trefor.Net competition. The winner shall be the reader that comes up with the most entertaining/outrageous design for a Mobile Service that technically fits the definition of Wireless Telegraphy. The greater the stretch, the better, of course, with bonus marks for involving an elephant. The prize is temporary glory, so don’t delay…the comments section below is now open!


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Eurostars Upon Thars

Being a somewhat regular visitor to London over the past 15 years, and having spent more than a year commuting weekly from Paris to a start-up gig there way back in ‘00-’01, I have Eurostar stories to burn. Nothing I could recount, though, compares to the head-shaking cock-up I was a party to this past Friday.

I arrived at the Eurostar departure area at St. Pancras at 15h00 on the nose, ready to flash my ticket’s QR code at the gate. A gentleman in front of me had a problem getting the gate to take his QR, and he waved me ahead. At that moment the gate opened, and with it all happening so fast I rushed right through. A no-no, to be sure, and I knew it (gotta flash your code, otherwise the databases aren’t fat and happy), so I immediately turned around to hand my ticket to the guy who waved me ahead so all could be reconciled. And if that had been all that happened, it all would’ve worked out fine. No harm, no foul.

Alas, as I was handing my ticket to the guy whose entry I had assumed, a Eurostar person jumped in the middle of it all. This woman took my ticket into her hand already full of tickets, working diligently to get not only the guy I mentioned through but others with him as well. That accomplished, she handed me back what should’ve been my ticket, but which I was soon to learn was not in fact my ticket but the ticket of one of the others in the group. Soon to learn, but not quite soon enough as it turned out. Keep reading.

Sneetch Star

Security, Passport Control, a Cadbury Flake purchased, 15h31 train to Paris boarding, up the escalator, down the platform, onto Car 18 and (almost) into Seat 72…which was inhabited by another person with a valid ticket for the seat. My ticket? Valid for the same seat on the train leaving at 16h02. Oh, and the name on the ticket was not anything remotely akin to my own.

Realizing quickly what had happened, I sought out someone in Eurostar-logo-emblazoned clothing to explain my situation to, thinking there would be high-techy solution to it all. Instead I got “Well, all the trains are overbooked today, so we’ll put you on the 16h02 and just hope things work out. Maybe the person with your ticket got on the 15h31. If not, we’ll handle it then.” Thus, Eurostar’s idea of fixing the situation boiled down to this: Perhaps the person traveling with those other people realized he had been handed back your ticket for the 15h31 and instead of staying with his group on the 16h02 he instead bid them a quick “Ta ta! See you in Paris!” and ran to take the 15h31. Oh, and he opted for a different seat than the one on my ticket — although there weren’t any free seats on the train — because he was not the guy I encountered when I tried to take the seat on the 15h31. So just take the seat on the 16h02 with the ticket you are holding and hope.


So I boarded the 16h02, took Seat 72 in Car 18, and waited. Not long. Soon enough, the guy who I originally encountered at the entry gate boarded the train with his group. He saw me, immediately knew why I was there, and together we set off in search of a logo-ed person who could offer much-needed resolution. And this is where things get anti-climatic, because we quickly found a train manager who found me an empty seat in Car 17 using a handy-dandy tablet with some proprietary app connected to some up-to-date database in some datacenter somewhere nearby, and that was that. I would make it home for the weekend, I wouldn’t have to stand between cars or sit on someone’s lap to do so, and I could spend the two hours pondering why some Eurostar trains are 2014-tech-ready while others seemingly are not.

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The Hump Day Five (2-July-2014)


Friday afternoon found me riding the Eurostar rails, on KoryChrome (new Samsung Chromebook 2*), pounding out on a “First Impressions” piece…on KoryChrome. Using Writebox, one of those sometimes-useful writing applications that are intended to take the distraction out of the process, I was about 700 words into it when for reasons unknown I decided to go exploring. A sparse environment — which, of course, is the point — there were only six (6) icons to check out in the upper right-hand corner (which conveniently hide when you aren’t hovering your cursor over the spot), and as I was enjoying my new application and curious about it I thought I’d see what I could do with it.

Faux Leather Stitching!

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty about what the Writebox icons are for (syncing, settings, preview…the usual), except suffice it to say for the one that has me typing here now, a + symbol in the farmost left position on the very short toolbar. That particular icon opens a new Writebox file that effectively dumped my nearly-finished “Hello (again) KoryChrome” post into the ether of lost-forever 1s and 0s.

Infuriation and frustrating, yes, and the prospect of starting the post from scratch makes me shudder (still haven’t gotten around to that, but keep reading)…but from the I-can-rationalize-anything perspective, I am truly glad that as I make my approach on 50 I am still able to touch the hot part of the stove.

*Handed off to me by good ol’ globehopping Tref at our Pissup in a Brewery event this past Thursday at Fourpure Brewery in Bermondsey…if you missed it you are the lesser for having done so, but there will certainly be others so watch this space.


As long as I have the date here pinned to my short trip to London last week, I will burn a line or two on my latest experience with airbnb. Finding a reasonably-priced non-lethal-seeming accommodation for said trip that was within the Underground’s boundaries proved to be quite the challenge (only later did I realize this was due in no small part to Wimbledon being among the other usual goings-on in London), but eventually I did manage to wrangle a roof and bed in the tiny Bermondsey flat of a young couple (complete with an adorable 3-month-old kitten named Binxy). This being my third airbnb experience I was hoping it would be the charm, and I am glad to report that it was just that. If you consider yourself something of a brave traveler and have not yet taken a chance on airbnb or one of the other Internet home-invite services that are shaking up the hospitality industry, well this is me adding to the white noise urging you to do so.


The “Broadband Week” is coming up fast and I am furiously editing away on received submissions. That said, if you have an idea for a Contributor post that aligns with our theme there is still a sliver of time remaining to pitch it and get it in for publication next week. So if you want to see your name up on our marquee, please feel free to contact me directly at [email protected]. I will be glad to help you bring your epiphany to the page.


Last week in London I finally got my hands on a Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, the little-bit-country-little-bit-rock-and-roll smartphone I have been kvelling over quite a bit here since its announcement two months ago, and I was far from disappointed. With new gadgets I wait for that special tingle (usually it comes from putting fingers on the device, but there are no hard-and-fast rules about that), and once I feel that it is just a matter of determining whether its strength is enough to kick me into “Want”. Consider me kicked well and good. Just need to find a way to get my provider to subsidize the pocket beast…


My lead-in KoryChrome tidbit illustrated for the umpteenthsomething time that I could do with a few more smarts, and I expect that my Hump Day Five wrap-up for the week is sure to remove any lingering doubt.

Hot off the Eurostar back to Paris on Friday I found myself in a rented Škoda barreling towards our tiny family hovel in Pays d’Auge’s Blangy-le-Château. Over the 8 years La Famille Kessel has so often made the jaunt that certain routines have formed, including for me the ritual of connecting AppleKory up — power source, monitor converter, USB peripherals, etc — and at visit’s end, disconnecting it all. Sounds simple and is simple, though early on I did once make the gross error of leaving my MacBook Pro power adapter behind. This resulted in a frantic run to the Apple Store Carrousel du Louvre upon arriving back in Paris that Sunday evening to buy a new one. As with all things Apple, the new power adapter wasn’t cheap, but the impossible alternative was to go a few weeks with a single battery charge. And in the end, the €69 I pushed across for it has turned out to be quite a good investment, both for peace-of-mind (it lives in my computer bag, making it possible to always leave the original at home) and from a value standpoint (darn thing has put in 7+ years of service and counting).

So. Routine. Routine is good. And as so often happens when a routine undergoes any kind of change, things go pear-shaped. Last night, just as France was putting the spank to Nigeria to reach the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil quarter finals, the new KoryChrome’s battery slid down to 2% and I realized I had left her charger back in Blangy. Not too long after she became just a sleek good-looking techy brick, and will remain so until the Friday following the next (or until I can suss out a replacement, of course…for a new product that is not yet for sale on the right side of the Atlantic).

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Flying Away on a Wing and a Prayer

I’ve been daydreaming about technology. Again.

Oftentimes you will see me, fingers unmoving on my keyboard, my mind skimming the clouds (not “the cloud”), blissfully imagining features that I want/need/must have in my next computer.

**Cue dreamy fantasy, Fender Rhodes-ish, 1970s-era TV comedy music. Cue LOUD thunder crack.**

…a monster SSD (I recently carved a Samsung M9T 2TB HHD from a sealed-and-not-meant-to-be-opened Backup Plus external hard drive to install in AppleKory, so you know that when I write “monster” I am not messing around…s’gotta be BIG), a good degree of voice command capability, a separate GPU, a battery that can reliably deliver 10+ hours of juice regardless of use intensity, integrated cellular Internet connectivity, and — naturally — MacBook-level build quality across the board…

**Fade out goofy cue-in music underlay.**

Gadget This Gadget ThatIntegrated cellular connectivity. Something of a Holy Grail among a great many of us who drive MacBooks, this functionality has been on my “Features and Functions for AppleKory Upgrade” list (yes, I really do keep such a thing…don’t you?) for so long that I am not entirely sure I can reclaim the pixels. That said, my blue-sky tech whimsy is relegated not only to computers but also to smartphones, those marvelous wonders of technology that by their very nature connect to the Internet via cellular. Regular readers know, of course, that I am deeply ensconced (stuck?) in the the search for my next smartphone, which at this point still looks to be the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom. I have yet to actually put my hands on the GKZ, however, and as my near-decision to be among the Zoomed has me feeling as shaky as it does giddy, I am guessing there is a moment of reckoning waiting for me once the darn thing actually becomes available in France. Early reviews are all over the place, though they all seem to reflect less the smartphone’s build quality and feature set and more the usage values of the reviewers themselves. In aggregate, though, those reviews fall mostly in line with expectation, describing the not-so-little bugger as a “niche product”…a niche that, when described, sounds an awful lot like one into which I enjoy lanyard pass access. Still, it seems that every week there is yet another new player on the field that deserves consideration — just yesterday Amazon’s Jeff Bezos splashily announced his company’s entry to the Smartphone Wars, the Amazon Fire Phone, which has not one and not two but SIX cameras on-board — and until such time as I can try on the Galaxy K Zoom for size (and weight) my musings on the device will be blue-sky whimsy indeed.

**Cue dreamy fantasy, Fender Rhodes-ish, 1970s-era TV comedy music. Cue LOUD thunder crack.**

…ready to perform as smartphone and compact camera, and serving well as both while requiring the precious pocket space of of just one…sharp and responsive camera function, especially in low-light situations requiring tight optical zoom…well-designed apps serving essential and not-so-essential needs…easy and thoughtful interaction and synchronization with AppleKory…elevation of my walkabout effectiveness from the sludgy puddle into which my iPhone 4 currently has it imprisoned…ah, bliss…

**Fade out goofy music.**

Pie in the sky, baby!

So have you gotten the impression that for me it is all about the Internet? Nay, I say! Let’s have a little talk about tweedle beetles…er, cameras (and set aside the fact that many of them these days have some kind of Internet capability, because nobody buys a camera primarily for that). Up front, let me say that nearly four years in I continue to be utterly besotted with my Leica D-Lux 5 (the lovely Leyna). Despite this, however, nary a full day passes without me dropping into some camera review site or another (, I’m talkin’ ’bout you) and gorging myself on the latest this-and-that in the world of photo-taking apparatus goodness. My next camera…my next camera…

**Cue silly dream fantasy whatnot music for last time. LOUD thunder crack, too.**

…weather-resistant…compact size, but with interchangeable lenses…built-in wifi file transfer capability…insanely-high resolution EVF and rearview monitor…somewhat retro…finger-tingling build quality…

**Fade out. End the darn post already.**

Yes, yes, me likes me cameras.

Me also…I also (Bizarro voice only works in teeny tiny doses) thirst to soar with new-gadget-happy, like all qualifying tech geeks who have over the years read an embarrassing number of comic books and tuned into far too much sci-fi television. I am sorry to say, though, that the wearable-whatever getting most of the ink these days just isn’t getting me up to escape velocity. I haven’t worn a watch on my wrist since 1992, a streak that I cannot imagine coming to an end any time soon, iWatch or whichever Dick Tracy contraption notwithstanding (including this watch). And as for Google Glass, I have never been able to get my head around the idea of wearing glasses for reasons other than dire necessity (2-D cinema-going guy that I am), and more than halfway to my own personal Finish Line I have yet to encounter a pair of sunglasses that looked like anything other than a waste of money. iBelt? Amazon Fire Shoes? A power ring or magic lasso? No no no no no. I don’t daydream about wearing my gadget tech these days…I want it IMPLANTED!

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Fruity Simulation

Watching the World Cup matches over the weekend I was struck not for the first time by the lightning-quick tendency on the part of the players to flop to the turf at the slightest contact with a member of the opposing team.

“That guy’s elbow touched my arm. I am gravely injured and in need of a Free Kick!”
    “His foot tapped my foot, which means I was tripped! Owww! Bring the stretcher out! Rev up the ambulance! Alert the hospital that we may soon be on our way! Yellow Card that serial tripper!”
    “I fell to the ground when so-and-so ran by me in front of his goal, which means he violently knocked me down, and therefore I deserve a Goal Kick!”

Nothing unexpected, of course, as even the most casual fan of the so-called “Beautiful Game” has come to expect an abundance of ugly on-the-pitch acting antics. I didn’t expect, though, to flash so easily to the parallel of Apple’s hair-trigger propensity to sue any competitor that wandered into their path (usually Samsung), claiming an assault on their design and utility, “original” though it may be.

No Diving

“Rectangular mobile phones with rounded corners…that was our idea! We deserve billions of dollars because your phones are also rectangular with rounded corners, and you should not be allowed to continue making phones with that form factor!”
    “A main button…that was our idea! We should get billions of dollars because your phones also have a main button, and your phones should be prohibited from having a main button!”
    “Little square pictures that users can touch to open apps (which is our word for “applications”)…that was our idea! You should pay us billions in damages for having little square pictures that users can touch on your unlawfully integrated touch screens to open applications on their unlawfully shaped phones!”

Extract tongue out of cheek.

Of course, one good turf dive deserves another, and the non-Apple entity in all of this (usually Samsung) has proven fast to counter-sue. All of which just leads to more suing and counter-suing, and so on and so forth…hey, just like the players do in association football (Americans out there are invited to read that as ‘soccer’)!

By this point players of association football — henceforth, I will just write ‘football’ and assume my American readership is sharp enough not to lose the plot — have not just accepted flopping as a reality of the game, but no doubt consider it to be a skill worthy of serious practice (rehearsal?), one that they may be called upon to perform without hesitation at any time or may even be asked to condition themselves to do in certain circumstances. And this goes not just for those playing footy/footie at the highest levels, but through the ranks, all the way down to the kiddie leagues. Really, I mean, does it get any cuter than those five-year-olds rolling to the ground holding their shins and screaming for a Red Card?

Five-year-old behavior. Yup. That rings just about right. Players participating in 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil and the C-Level officers at Apple and Samsung alike…

Fair play? If it ever was it certainly isn’t today, when instead it is gamesmanship that is so often revered and celebrated. It matters not nearly as much how the gooooooooooal was achieved as the fact that it was achieved. Your opponent has gathered up a lethal storm of momentum? Flop to blunt the tide. Need a breather, to regroup? Dive, grab knee, and scream for justice. Innovating not and iterating plenty and wanting to avoid notice of such? Cry out to a referee…er, judge to stop the other guy (usually Samsung) before he can catch up to and stop you.

Now you might be thinking, “OK, Kory. Clever. Bit naïve, though. Football is all about the sport! Competition! The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat! ! Business is just about money!

And I am the one being naïve?

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Watching the Football

Yesterday a friend of mine in the UK asked me if I was “going to watch the football”, stating his own excitement over the soon-upon-us 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil (the official label of the event, if the website is any indicator), and then asking “Have you converted a little? Soccer to you, I guess.”


I actually converted 20 years ago as a direct result of the excitement surrounding the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Of course, the football punditry out there will immediately assume that this American finally clued in that year due to the tournament being held in the U.S. for the first (and so far only) time, however that assumption would not only be disingenuous but wrong too. No, my sports imagination was finally captured by International football in 1994 not because I was swept up in host country hoopla, but because I was living/working/traveling Europe that year and found myself instead swept up in the remarkable national enthusiasm and spontaneous celebrations I encountered in England, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany as the tournament played out. Walking around Namur, Belgium, for instance, on a Tuesday night in early July, seeking out a priced-right-for-a-backpacker dinner, I was left aghast and delighted by the string of cars going by with horns a-blarin’, people hanging out the windows hooting and hollering and waving the Italian flag. The people of one country so unabashedly showing their colors, whooping it up on the streets of another country…what is this International sporting thing, anyway? And then five days later, being fortuitous enough to be in Germany to witness first-hand the crashing out of the Germany team1…I was hooked!

1994. The world turned its eyes and ears to the most commercial country in the world to watch “The Beautiful Game” on television and radio, and only on television and radio. And not a single URL in sight.

When my pal asked me whether I was going to tune into the 2014 FIFA World Cup my knee-jerk first thought was “Will it be available via the Internet?” to which my second thought instantly responded “Are you kidding? Of course.” Sure, I know the games will be broadcast on television, and I am relatively sure the one we have in the main room still works (The Boy watches it from time to time…I think), but it wasn’t until long after I answered my friend’s oh-so-rhetorical question that I even paid a thought to the idea of actually using the device to watch a match.

Football TV

Naturally, the picture the Chez Kessel television delivers is plenty sharp (as so many are these days, we are Triple Play kitted), and something prompted me long ago to wire the sound to come through our stereo speakers (think it was the 2006 FIFA World Cup that prompted that…friggin’ Marco Materazzi, sister-and-mother-insulting classless b*stard), so it isn’t a poor viewing option that had me defaulting to the Internet as my top-of-mind football entertainment resource. It’s just…well…you see…c’mon, you know…it is so much easier to simultaneously Web-out with ⌘+Tab (Alt+Tab for the Windows-fettered readers out there, and whatever-equivalent for UNIX deities and whichever others) than it is via some lap-bound or hand-bound device supplementary to the television.

Addiction. Always lurking, eminently humanizing, and available in oh-so-many forms.

1994. When to the layman “Internet” meant email and bulletin boards and nothing more. The World Wide Web was just starting to poke its head up, and “streaming” was a word relegated to tape data backups.

Without admitting to anything (and there will be no Q&A), I will cagily say here that a long time has passed since I last watched a television program at the time of broadcast (other, that is, than hypnotized channel-surfing-and-staring borne of jetlag). This is not to say that I am accomplishing the impossible, foregoing television entertainment in what is unquestionably a golden age for the medium (too many programs to list, but suffice it to say that I can speak “The Wire”, “The Sopranos”, “Breaking Bad”, “Mad Men”, and this Millenium’s “Battlestar Galactica” reboot with anyone…buncha great UK-produced programs, too!). I do, though, manage to forego the starchy advertising that comes with all of the good TV meat on offer, and without littering my shelves and floorspace with DVD sets gathering dust.

Yes, packaged up nice-and-digital and stripped of its impurities, television for me has come to mean the Internet. And I find it a richer and far more satisfying experience for that, too.     ==>Twenty-three minutes into the sixth episode of Season Two of “The Americans” a reference is made to an earlier plot point that I skied past. Pause. ⌘+Tab to Google Chrome. Type “The Americans episodes ” into the Address/Search field. A quick click and read. ⌘+Tab back to VLC. Un-Pause. Good to go.<==     Of course, certain television events practically demand in-progress viewing — cannot-turn-away news events and, yes, some sporting events (though "condensed" recordings can now be acquired after the fact, such as three-plus hour American Football games boiled down to 58 minutes!) — but these have not kept that really big monitor in our flat's central room from looking more and more novel with each passing season. 1994. Televisions were definitively three-dimensional, whereas the scripted programming they delivered to the quivering and drooling masses was two-dimensional at its very best. Which inevitably brings me back to "watching the football". I imagine that as was the case the last time around, La Famille Kessel will ease slowly into 2014 FIFA World Cup action, eventually ramping up interest as the meaning of the games increases (and if France makes a move, as in '06, getting downright rabid about it all). And as that happens our somewhat dusty black Samsung-emblazoned flat-panel Living Room window into the Global Village (clichés flowing thick and furious here at the end) will no doubt once again find its purpose.   1Is there anyone who isn’t German that likes to see Germany win at anything? 🙂

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So Long 084 and 087 (and Thanks for All the Fish)! welcomes guest contributor Alex Kinch, Founder and CEO of Ziron.

The game is finally up for many ‘rip-off’ 084 and 087 numbers. Thanks to the EU’s Consumer Rights Directive – and the corresponding UK legislation (The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Payments) Regulations 2013), as of 13-June-2014 customers will not pay more than the “basic rate” when calling a wide range of businesses for customer service, complaints, renewals and cancellations. Hopefully by that point the majority of businesses will have already swapped their numbers, however what is really interesting is the reason why this change is taking place and what the impact will be.

Alex Kinch

I may be showing my age, but I remember when the 084/ 087 numbers hit the mainstream at the start of the millennium. For businesses the advantage was clear: profit resulting from the call charges. Understandably, though, this didn’t make consumers very happy, and you can see their point. After all, who wants to be charged a premium rate whilst waiting an age listening to “Greensleeves” on repeat?

Mobile operator Three estimates the cost to consumers at half a billion pounds a year with research and testing company Which? pitting the figure at £385 a year, per household, which is not really small change by anyone’s standards. Thus, it’s no wonder that 67% of the consumers surveyed by Which? thought that these high-rate numbers were being deliberately used to discourage people from calling them.

So with Which? and other consumer rights groups complaining to the government to take action, it is great that something is finally being done to end this ‘rip off’. As with everything, however, there is a catch: certain types of companies are exempt from the legislation, including financial services, gambling, construction, and property sales and rental. There is hope, of course, that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will put pressure on their members to voluntarily comply.

All of this has been good news for the numbering market, as demand for 03 numbers has gone through the roof. It feels as though consumers get that 03 numbers are ‘national’ numbers, but that they are billed like a geographic call. The real question, though, is how this will affect call volume and whether businesses will find other ways to recoup their lost revenue. I guess we will find out next month…

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Gone Down to London to be the King

A visiting friend and I were slated for two days in London beginning Tuesday morning, however the night before My Missus came down with a painful malady I won’t describe here, so instead I put my friend on the Eurostar at the literal crack of dawn and returned home. Quite disappointed — I had been looking forward to hanging in London with my friend for over a month, and to catching up with other friends while in town, too (apologies once again, Tref, for not being able to connect for that beer) — I started pondering whether there was some way I could chase my friend up once my honey bunny recovered. Eurostar one-way ticket? Lessee. No. The price of that seat would be nearly double what I had paid for the original return ticket! Short hopper flight? The cost made that option a non-starter as well. Hitchhike? Really…come on. Then I remembered that back in my own personal Paleozoic Era (read: 2000) I had once taken a bus from Paris to London.

Not remembering the name of the bus company that offered service to London from Paris, I went all Bing on the problem and was soon staring nostalgically at the Eurolines website. Riiiiight. That was it. At the station at the end of the M3 train, whatevertheheck, at Galieni. I first came across an ad banner on the site that offered one-way Paris-London service for €18, shook my head in disbelief, and then very quickly came to disbelieve it when I saw the fine print (45 day advance purchase…my own, if it happened, would likely be closer to 45 minutes advance). C’est la vie. Regardless, the price was bound to still be quite good in comparison to the other options, so I punched my Departing From and Going To into the handy-dandy widget on the page and clicked Search.

€43. I was in business.

Eurolines typically runs seven buses from Paris to London, four of which I consider to be reasonable at my creaky 49 years of age (no overnight buses for me, outside of dire circumstance), and seeing as My Missus was seemingly coming around from her epically bad night-before and recovery morning I began focusing on the 15h00 bus (arrival at London Victoria at 21h30). At some point in the mix I thought I saw the word “wifi” in association with the Eurolines bus trips, and while that wasn’t a decision-maker I did find myself lightening to the prospect of a 6+ hour bus ride knowing I would be able to extend myself beyond the confines of the coach.
My Bus

As morning morphed into afternoon My Missus remained asleep, sloughing off the awfulness and catching up on lost winks. Just as I began shifting my bus plans to Wednesday morning, though, she popped up not-quite bright as a penny but somewhat shiny nonetheless. Before long my girl was breakfasted (at 13h30) and talking about going into work for the afternoon. I made a few noises about hopping on the bus to catch up with my friend, quickly received a sincere and truthful “Oh, you should definitely do that!”, and began once again to look forward to two days of London-style this-that-whatever.


To AppleKory I went, fingers a-flyin’. I bought a ticket online for the 15h00 bus, printed the ticket out, threw a few essentials into my computer bag (like I had time to put a proper bag together…yeah, right), confirmed that my camera would be along for the ride (you want to know my camera’s name, inquisitive reader, I just know you do…information not forthcoming today), threw on a jacket I probably wouldn’t need and bolted.


Marcadet Poissonniers station, the M4. Change to the M3 at Réaumur–Sébastopol, direction Galieni. Short delays at many stations along the way, the tick-tocking clock in my head growing louder as said clock’s hands move ever-closer to 15h00. Pulling my ticket out of pocket to ensure Galieni is my target and discovering the small print that says — translated from the French — “Arrive at the station no later than 30 minutes before departure.” (it is 14h41 at this point, 19 minutes before departure and still two stops from the station). Uttering profanities, mental image of pounding the Metro train doors to hurry things along. Galieni. Dashing for the Eurolines station.

14h52. I am stepping on the proverbial skin-of-my-teeth, which has dribbled out of my mouth and under my shoes.

Check-in accomplished, I board the bus and find my seat. Sweat glands working? Check. Respiration at full capacity? Check. Skin temperature at maximum tolerance? Check. And then I start to relax. The on-board wifi can wait. I just want to feel the road moving under the bus wheels and exhale until Morpheus drags me off for a short doze. And soon enough that is exactly what happened.

Roughly an hour later I am awake. I am also hungry, having not eaten a thing since breakfast and not being able to grab any kind of a nibble at the bus station in my haste to make sure I was on the right side of the vehicle’s doors at departure. “Swallow it, Kory.”, I say to myself and I do. All I need is a little distraction, and if the Internet isn’t good for that it isn’t good for anything. I pull AppleKory out of her warm cozy place, fire her new self up (she is a whole other creature since I replaced her 1TB hard drive with a 2TB over the weekend), and start looking for trouble…er, the Eurolines wifi.

No dice. No joy. No wifi. On my bus “wifi” may as well have stood for “wishful fantasizing”, as there was no such service (the Eurolines website does say “free wifi**” with the ** indicating “**Available on most of our lines”…wishful, indeed). Thus I found myself relegated to whatever entertainment media I could find on the aforementioned 2TB hard drive. Another “C’est la vie.”


Compared to the Eurostar at just a little over two hours, even with wifi the six-and-a-half-hour Eurolines trip to London promised to be quite the slog. In truth, though, even without the wifi I would have to dig hard to slag it with anything approaching conviction. Comfortable seats, the consistent steady motion, travel companions without evident psychoses or hygiene challenges, a clean and usable waste management facility; for the price the Eurolines bus service has to be tossed onto the far too small “High Value” heap.

Following a very curious journey through the Eurotunnel — the driver drove the bus INTO a huge enclosed train (parking it right up behind another bus, with a truck then driven in and parked right behind us), which itself soon began to move — we were in the UK, barreling our way to London. Before long, Lewisham…passing by the Kia Oval (lights on, cricket match in progress!)…arriving at Victoria Coach Station.

I alighted with iPhoneKory in hand (still my not-so-smartphone, for now), knowing there had to be a Nando’s somewhere nearby.

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Me and My Pebble Steel

Steve Hodges is the Managing Director of Astro Communications, Ltd.

So I am a fully ‘out’ closet techie. Really. Having starting in comms when ADSL was a pipe dream and you could get 9.6Mbs on your Nokia phone, I suppose I joined the technology industry just after those that created it and ahead of those lucky enough to feel as though they have always had email/internet/mobile phones. In the last 20 years some interesting and useful products have come and gone — Rabbit Phones! BT Home Highway! Even the old Palm TRIO! — and about a trillion products have turned up look like technology used simply for the sake of technology.

I have an HTC One Mini for work (which I love), an iPhone 5 for personal use, a standard Lenovo Twist laptop for day-to-day, and an iPad for out-and-about. I also carry a MiFi device “just in case”, all of which keep me connected, productive, and agile.

Yesterday I took delivered of my Pebble Steel watch. Second only to Google Glass (when it turns up), I felt when I read the reviews that the Pebble Steel watch could possibly be the most exciting advancement in technology since the smartphone. A member of my management team wears a Sony SmartWatch, which is just too…‘Speak and Spell’-looking for my liking. I am sure the uber-cool can get away with it, that is if is your style guide, but for me — dressed in a suit and tie most days, normally rocking an Omega Seamaster Professional (yes, like James Bond), driveing a Volvo 4×4, life complete with chocolate Labrador — it simply wasn’t for me.

Pebble Stone 1

The Pebble Steel arrived in a beautifully crafted box, complete with leather strap, metal bracelet, and magnetic charger. Its face is just big enough to display a few lines of text (monochromatic text, which is a shame), but is not so big that it looks as though you accidentally left your diving watch on following the weekend. It has three chunky, easy-to-use but unobtrusive buttons on one side, and one on the other. In my view, the Pebble Steel has the looks of an elegant timepiece.

Out of the box, the Pebble Steel just needs to be paired with your phone via an app, and you are on your way. Box to brilliant in under three minutes. The notion of how it delivers its information is a little more complex, though, as it requires the installation of a number of apps (the watch can only take a maximum of eight at any given time, however they are quite easy to interchange), of which there are plenty to choose from on Google Play.

2014-04-05 20.58.42

The documentation that accompanies the Pebble Steel watch states that the battery will last about five days, and that the device is waterproof to a practical level. Also, the Bluetooth connection is robust, and thus far I have had no trouble maintaining my information feed upon leaving my phone on my desk and wandering around the house or office.

At the start, I loaded a calendar app, a notifier app, a weather app and a navigation app. I do want to clarify that these apps don’t have much in the way of functionality in themselves, that they take the capability from my phone which pushes notifications over Bluetooth to the Pebble Steel which then passes information back. When a notification arrives on your wrist, you can set it to subtly vibrate and let you know there is something to look at. No more reaching for the mobile every few minutes!

Aesthetically and technologically the Pebble Steel watch is exactly what I had hoped for and more. In fact, I truly believe it exceeds delivery against all my “I need one of those because….” justifications. Just last night while in the house I was receiving tweets/SMSs and email previews on my wrist. Calendar invites were turning up, too, and without as much as a glance at my desk I knew what I needed to know and could ignore the beeps and vibrations from my phone regarding the things I didn’t. And this morning I was able to leave my phone in my bag and wander through my calendar appointments, preparing myself for the day ahead without once popping open the laptop or picking up my phone.

Pebble Steel 3

Out and about, while walking to the train station, I was able to see notifications of new emails and also see when an incoming phone call was coming in, all without fumbling around in my jacket for my mobile. I rejected the call from my Pebble Steel, but had I had a headset on I could have simply answered the call and used the call control from my wrist. I went to the ticket machine at the train station and scrolled through my calendar until I found my reservation number in my diary entry for the day, with the ticket collection number and seat reservation at hand. It even gave me turn by turn instruction on my walking route by paring with google maps on my HTC via the Nav app. Of course, I could have done this all with my mobile, but now I can leave that in my bag or jacket and get instant notification of anything I need on my Pebble Steel. Oh, and it also tells the time!

Functionally the watch has already justified its cost (£151 ($279), plus the £35 import duty). I will have to change some of my day-to-day set up, improve my email filtering, and set up my “Do not disturb” notifications to ensure that I am not woken up in the middle of the night by a barrage of overnight spam, but this is a tiny price to pay for having such a useful piece of technology at hand.

Other aspects of the Pebble Steel that I have yet to investigate properly include the music and phone dialer app — I can control the music and the voice functions of my phone from my wrist while driving in the car — and the extended from-your-wrist camera operation functionality (personally, I doubt its practical benefits, but I am sure it will appeal to and find use with many).

As for criticisms, I guess it is all a matter of perspective. Would it be nice if the Pebble Steel had a touch screen? Maybe. Would it be better if it came with a colour, high resolution face? Possibly. Would it be better if it had a mic and speaker so I could talk to my wrist? Not better for me, but I am sure it would be better for someone out there. Would I prefer to be able to delete, forward and/or reply to my messages? I think so, but there might be an app for that as well.

Considering what I was hoping for — the ability to leave my phone in my bag, jacket or office and get real time notifications of emails, SMSs, tweets, phone calls and other useful information — the Pebble Steel is simply perfect, and it looks the part too. I am delighted with the new high tech addition to my PAN set up. It get five out of five for looks, five out five for build quality, five out of five for ease of use, and six out of five for practical application!

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RER B to CDG Terminal 2

For some time I have been thinking of writing a post while on the move, to see what that might bring to the page. Hardly original, the idea is somewhat out of my wheelhouse, if for no other reason than the fact that I truly loathe typing anything longer than a text message on a virtual keyboard. Not that I have some kind of a hoity-toity “They aren’t true keyboards” attitude (though I do, and they aren’t), but as a touch typist who has been clocked at 120 wpm (words-per-minute, for the acronym challenged) I find it wickedly frustrating to have to look at the keys to form the words that are in my head…not to mention slow down said head to capture the whatnot those words form. Still, being a staunch proponent of digital progress (mostly), for you, friend reader, I will endure. And perhaps even have a little fun, too.

I first thought to try my hand at mobile writing with the no-longer-so-recent (February) announcement that Microsoft was offering an iOS7 version of their Office 365 applications for free. As the Guv’nor of two iOS7-cursed devices (the iPhone 4 I whinge here about replacing on a somewhat regular basis, and an iPad Mini pass-me-down), this news pricked my eyes, and I quickly grabbed up the apps for both Word and Excel. I didn’t fire ’em up for use right away — AppleKory and my keyboard hadn’t left the building, so why bother? — but I was content knowing I had the apps, for…well, whenever.

One day shortly thereafter, it was whenever. I was at Cafè Lomi, just sitting there watching the wheels go ’round and ’round (I really love to watch them roll), when I thought I’d go all mobile-writer-guy on the good visitors of I pulled iPadKory from my bag, coded it, and punched the icon for Word. Nice looking app. Opens straight to a New Document page, serving up all kinds of document templates, such as Brochure, Invoice, ProposalSchool Newsletter. Colorful. Friendly. Microsofty.

I punch New Blank Document. I get a Word-looking page with a orange bar near the top that reads Read-Only. To create and edit, activate with an eligible Office 365 subscription.

2014-05-14 00.41.58

Hmm. That doesn’t sound very free. Or friendly. I do happen to have an account, though, so maybe it wants that (though I was already thinking how lost the casual first-time user without such an account would react on seeing the top-screen note). I punch Activate, which leads immediately to a Subscription dialogue. All of a sudden I am no longer having fun. In for a penny, though, right? I follow the path of dialogue windows, employing my credentials as needed, until I am finally staring at Buy a Subscription. I only need to shell out $99.99 a year to use my sweet new free Office 365 iOS7 application!


Disillusioned, discouraged, and feeling just plain ‘dissed, I slapped iPadKory shut, threw it in my bag, and left for home. “I didn’t really want to write a post on a tablet using a virtual keyboard anyway. Phooey.” And the Word app? Deleted, with prejudice (except, that is, for my reinstalling it today to check my memory for this post and to grab screenshots).

And that is where it all would have stayed — at “Phooey.” — had Google not made their own announcement of a free Google Docs app a couple of weeks back. Of course, I immediately DL’ed the app, and this time I launched it forthwith to make sure it could actually be put to some use.

Voila, enablement. And as for writing on the run and virtual keyboards? Well, I made it this far…

2014-05-14 01.39.06

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Invest Wisely to Get the Best from VoIP welcomes VoIP Week contributor Dan Winfield, Co-Founder and CEO of Voxhub and 2014 ITSPA Council member.

Starting in, I want to say that this is only my second blog piece on (the first being The Smoking Rooms of Net Neutrality, published yesterday), so please excuse me if I state the bleeding obvious. Yes, I know this site’s readership is a refined audience, one with Gig connections, fibre thing, flashing lights and fancy equipment — the whole package — however I am aiming today at normal businesses that might stumble over here via Google.

I’ll try to explain.

VoIP is the most sensitive service that graces computer networks. It needs love and care to ensure that it performs as a telephone service should, for every call, over and over, 24 hrs a day. And to push it around, it craves low latency, as well as highly available constant bandwidth connectivity with reliable networking equipment. Ironically, for many VoIP is about saving money, yet the less you spend the less likely the chances are that it is getting the environment it needs. All of which is why you need to invest wisely to get the best from VoIP.

As a council member for ITSPA I can safely say that the vast majority of member service providers have invested well in their data centres and equipment. If you are a business that uses one of these providers and you are having quality problems, then 90% of the time (or more) it is your lack of investment that is to blame.

At Voxhub we often receive calls from people saying that they have poor quality VoIP from another provider and want to hear about what we can do better. Many years ago my first thought would have been that their problem had to do with their provider and I would have sympathised with them. Today, though, I go further and try to work out precisely why they are experiencing poor service. After all, there might be some underlying reason for the problems that we wouldn’t want them to bring over, should they opt to switch to our service. It never takes very long to realise that 90% of the time (or more) the cause of the problem is a lack of investment on their side, the most likely candidates being poor cabling, cheap routers, and single Internet connections that are shared between computers and phones.

Sadly, a lot of businesses don’t invest in their Internet connections for any type of on-line service from which they plan to draw benefit, so any advice I give from this point forward applies to investing correctly to benefit from any VoIP, cloud, or on-line service used by your business. Of course, I cannot say precisely how much should be spent, and I think that for the smallest business investing doesn’t have to mean spending very much at all. I would suggest, though, that when you invest you think about the following to help put things in perspective:

1. Don’t cut corners. Consider your goals and be careful not to erode them by being too cutthroat or going too cheap.
Service Provider: “We have a proven 4 minute abs program for rippling muscles, guaranteed.”
You: “Can you do it quicker? I have seen that available on-line for 3.
2. Put your VoIP outlay in context by comparing it to what you spend on other business expenses.
I know of a company that spent hundreds of thousands on fine wood floors for their new office and still took convincing to spend any money on good network equipment. If you have no problem buying an iPhone as a business expense then you have should have no problem spending half that on a router that is used by your whole company every day of the week.
3. Imagine you are investing in an invisible team member.
Everyone agrees that ‘Investing in People’ is essential for good business. As such, it can really put things into perspective to consider any Internet/VoIP investment you make as an invisible team member, a “person” who is relied upon by everyone in your business for all of your essential services, telephone, mail, administration, banking, security, and even employee happiness (if you let them watch cat videos and essential World Cup events). If you don’t make the right hiring choice you will end up getting poor attendance, under achievement…in essence, a “person” that lets down your whole team.
4. VoIP may not work on a network just because the BBC website loads quickly.
I am sorry to say it, but at some point the finer details become important. Working out what you need to invest versus what you have already invested requires some evaluation expertise. At Voxhub we take on this responsibility for our customers, providing advice, verified equipment, and testing tools for networks that tell us our customers what kind of performance they are actually getting.

Somewhere along the line you will need expertise and advice, whether the quantifying comes from your own team, your IT company, or your VoIP provider. Once you find the right source of help, trust them and let them deliver for you…then be sure to hold onto them and don’t let them go!

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Will OTT VoIP Apps Destroy the Telecoms Industry? welcomes VoIP Week contributor Alex Kinch, Founder and CEO of Ziron.

As soon as the Telecoms industry came to terms with the WhatsApp acquisition and what it could mean for their SMS revenues, CEO Jan Koum dropped another bombshell: the company would be launching voice services from Q2.

For many this announcement spelled the end. Surely operator executives around the world should start packing their suitcases and call it a day. After years of racing to the bottom the industry has finally hit rock. Well, not quite. In my view, it’s high-time these doomsayers started to examine the opportunities that come with the increase of OTT voice apps (mVoiP), rather than demonising the unstoppable tide of technological evolution.

The ‘telco industry camp’ and the ‘mVoiP camp’ needn’t be enemies. There is room a-plenty for them to co-exist, at least for the foreseeable future. News reports would have you believe that the only people using landlines are rural dwelling anti-tech luddites, however Ofcom has reported that in the last statistical year call volumes from both fixed and mobile phones were in excess of 100 billion minutes. Their report states that 82% of adults still use a home landline – but only 28% of adults use any form of VoIP. The report also said that there are currently 82.7 million active mobile subscribers in the UK, but a report from Analysys Mason clarifies that only 20% of them are active mVoiP users.
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It is essential to keep in mind that mVoIP isn’t new, as in recent years a host of mVoiP apps have launched, including Fring, Nimbuzz to Viber. We’ve had a long time to come to terms with mVoIP apps and adapt business models accordingly. The key is to think about how you can value, rather than trying to stand in the way of change. At least one popular OTT app has been conducting trials with traditional telcos, in which calls from the PSTN made to a user’s regular GSM number are intercepted and delivered to the app instead of via the SIM. This kind of forward progress must be embraced. We must ask, “How we can add value and work together to deliver an enhanced customer experience?”

Massive scope exists for smart VoIP operators that can act as a gateway between the old world of the PSTN and the new world of OTT apps. As someone that has been in Telco for more years than I dare ever admit, I remember similar hysteria taking hold ten years ago when Skype first became popular. Today, Skype is feeding and contributing to the Telco industry, driving a third of the world’s phone traffic. The fact is that Telecoms is evolving, and,to survive we are going to have to evolve with it.

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The Conception and Birth of a New IP Handset welcomes John Bennett, Managing Director snom UK Ltd

There are five mainstream manufacturers of IP handsets active in the world today, and for the business client, service provider or reseller seeking to select a handset supplier it can be difficult to evaluate the differences amongst them. Price is an obvious criteria but that reveals little about the expected handset life, quality of voice and the durability or usability of the handset, all of which contributes to the user satisfaction and the lifetime cost of the handset. Two reliable options for evaluation are (1) references from existing users, and (2) a good look at the manufacturing process.

A reliable quality manufacturer will operate an in-house research and development team. Interoperability and the ability to work with a very broad range of PBX and hosted service providers on the market are absolutely key in the specification of IP handsets.


The design, development and manufacturing guidelines for IP handsets are quality, security, interoperability, a practical and aesthetically pleasing design, and inclusion of features that meet the needs of modern communications. Products must be stable, functional, efficient, durable, and must provide a quality in which customers can have confidence.

Defining the Designer Baby

The starting point for any new handset development is with the customer, customer feedback is key to understanding what is working, what is not, and what is needed, what is liked or disliked. It is particularly important to understand the end user experience both for handset use and from a deployment and manageability point of view. A good way to develop such understanding is to process and analyse any returns or repairs working in close collaboration with development and production teams. This has an immediate benefit for the customer as minor modifications can be quickly integrated into production. It is perhaps even more important in that a constant and systematic analysis of complaints and faults allows companies to produce reports and identify trends and issues, thus allowing for continuous product quality improvement and the development of new devices that meet customers’ requirements and deliver high levels of reliably in the long-term.

It is also important to track the changing technology trends to ensure that handsets meet tomorrow’s needs as well as today’s, and to take into account the need to easily adopt new technologies into the business. In today’s business world, key capabilities are remote provisioning, support for virtual private networks (VPN), CTI solutions and integration with Microsoft Lync.

Once the specification is agreed to the next stage is the prototype build followed by market testing. Manufacturers should maintain a close relationship with key end customers that allows for market testing of new handsets, to establish they are not only fit for purpose but that they provide customers with a solution that will excite and motivate them to continue to buy their product.

The standards of the tests to which a manufacturer will submit their products are another key indicator of handset quality. Manufacturers should have very strict criteria, and before approving a handset to move to full production the phone must successfully pass various drop tests and tests on the electrical interface. One characteristic that is of particularly importance is maintaining highest standards of audio quality, not just at first production but on-going as the handset will likely be exposed to heavy use for five years or more. Products should be regularly subjected to audio tests and careful measurements taken to determine and resolve audio deterioration.

Product Birth is only the Beginning

Once the prototype has been approved the manufacturing process goes ahead full steam. Material selection and build quality has an effect on both the audio quality and the durability of a telephone handset. Developers should continuously monitor the production process, and handsets should be spot tested to ensure that quality standards are met. During the production not only should the operational performance of the handset be monitored and tested, but also the entire response frequency of each phone. The smallest difference in build quality can adversely affect the phone quality, and this can involve anything from build impacting on the audio quality to introduction of a specialist coating that prevents the discoloration of handset keys and ensures the handset durability.

Regular analysis and systematic review of problems or complaints can ensure that product quality is maintained and improved to effectively meet user needs.

So what should you look for when evaluating IP hone handsets? I recommend you consider the need for in-house testing and fault evaluation and feedback, a process of continual improvement rather than a throw-and-replace approach, and a controlled and monitored manufacturing process, all of which will ensure a high quality and durable solution.

VoIP Week Posts:

Business phones UC voip voip hardware

Ten Years of VoIP – Happy Birthday! welcomes VoIP Week guest contributor Colin Duffy, CEO of Voipfone and ITSPA Council member

ITSPA and Voipfone are both 10 years old this year so perhaps it’s a good time to look back at how the industry has developed.

Back in 2004, VoIP was just becoming sexy; Skype had made a big impact on international telephony revenues and was in the public eye — particularly amongst students and those with family overseas. Perhaps more importantly for the industry in general, though, was the acceptance of two technologies: SIP (Session Initiation Protocol, which has become the international standard for VoIP telephony) and Asterisk (the brilliant open source PBX software that allowed anybody to build a telephone switchboard either for their own office use or as a Hosted Service Provider). The combination of these two technologies has efficiently killed the old TDM-based PBX and is well on the way to killing ISDN circuits.

Of course, VoIP couldn’t have been as successful as it has become if it wasn’t for the growth in broadband provision to home and office. In the early days, ITSPA was concerned that the entire industry would be strangled if the Internet Service Providers blocked VoIP, and net neutrality was a much-discussed issue. As it turned out it, ISPs have not stood in the way of VoIP and the two industries have learned to live together fairly peaceably, give or take a few issues surrounding the routers of end-users. Now, the main net neutrality issues correlate to the mobile networks, some of which are grimly determined to keep VoIP off their networks, despite advertising the Internet as a main selling point. (The Internet minus some of the services that the Internet provides is not, in my view, the Internet, it’s Internet Light.)

We also dealt with VoIP regulation worries. Ofcom seemed determined to treat VoIP as something requiring separate legislation, in a ‘there be dragons’ sort of way, whereas ITSPA took the view that this was not necessary. ITSPA lost that argument, however, and — in one of the strangest of many strange meeting I’ve had with Ofcom — we managed to convince it that VoIP Service Providers needed to provide 999 services. Burning grannies were a big thing at the time…

End User gadgets H/W Mobile phones

Zee — Double Oh — Em!

Regular readers — at last count there were five of you out there — are no doubt on pins and needles waiting for me to once again pick up the narrative of the search for my next phone, and today is the day I scratch the associated itch. Not that I have made a decision and followed through on it yet, mind you. No, in fact a new contender entered the mix this week, one that could very well draw out the process into early summer (though hopefully not beyond)…the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom!

S4 ZoomIn my previous posts on this subject that has all of you talking, I rhapsodize on the camera being the all-important feature for me in selecting a smartphone, and just from that standpoint the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom is an obvious entrant. The fact of that matter, though, is that I was underwhelmed and even disappointed by Samsung’s previous It’s-a-Camera-No-It’s-A-Phone (last year’s Galaxy S4 Zoom) and never figured it’s second incarnation would do anything to change my mind. Clunky, boxy, heavy, ugly, and weird (not in a good way), the Galaxy S4 Zoom is a regular Frankenstein device, one that looks like it was cobbled together from leftover state-of-the-art gadget components and made to look synergistic through the careful application of molded white plastic and polished chrome. Of course, it isn’t all about form factor (or in simpler terms, its “looks”), but the device’s technical specs and the photos that flowed from it onto the Internet were far from money enough to make the repugnant attractive.

At best, as phones go the Galaxy S4 Zoom made a marginal camera; and as cameras go, a marginal phone.

Thus, as intriguing as I continue to find the idea of a smartphone-camera hybrid — and as inexplicably pleased as I was to find a ‘K’ in its name — I approached the announcement this past Tuesday of the the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom with strong reservation. Sure, considering technology’s incessant march I figured that the concept’s second iteration would be more pocketworthy than the first (not much effort required). Also, there was little doubt that the GKZ’s extensible lens would supplant the one unfortunate hardware “Huh?” feature of it’s Galaxy S5 older brother, that being the heart rate sensor on the back just under the camera lens. Still, even the most nimble companies typically play Generation Leap-Frog in responding to critical/customer feedback (the secondary reason, I am sure, that Apple changes their iPhone numbering only after running an interim ‘S’ generation*), so though I thought “better” was highly likely I had no expectations that the Galaxy K Zoom would begin to approach “good” prior to Gen-3.

Surprise, surprise.

Until I have had an opportunity to actually see and touch the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, of course, the value of my take on this fingers-tingling-BIG-time gadget is akin to that of the pixels on your computer monitor. That said, the device presents as the first true realization of a smartphone-camera hybrid. It it contoured like a cell phone (and only a cell phone…no mistaking this hot number for a badly-designed compact camera…or a cheap 1970s walkie-talkie), yet has a true glass lens that delivers 10x optical zoom. And unlike its predecessor, which required that the zoom lens be extended manually, the GKZ extends automatically a la a compact camera (and wicked fast, too). Also, this very-cool-and-seeming-even-cooler-the-more-I-read-about-it smartphone offers a 4.8 inch HD display, comprised of a Super AMOLED panel protected with Corning Gorilla Glass. And the primary camera has a 20.7-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, too!

K ZoomSo the Galaxy K Zoom has form and it has function. Though to make a usable value assessment — and perhaps a purchase decision — I still need some idea of the carrier-subsidized price, and at this point the number of rutabagas that will be required in exchange for the new shiny has yet to be revealed. Oh, and then there is whether the GKZ will even be available in France (as of this writing it is only set to launch in Asia). Hence, while the picture presented is quite fine, it is not quite yet in full focus. Still, this new character in the Quest for Kory’s Next Smartphone adventure — drama? thriller? comedy? — has considerably shaken up the narrative and perhaps necessitated a rewrite of the ending (gotta punch those metaphors until they cannot punch back, I always say).

* The primary reason Apple runs an interim ‘S’ iPhone generation? Come on. So they can pluck maximum cash from the pockets of the legions of lemmings who are unable to bear life without the very latest iteration of the device in their possession, of course.

Related posts:

broken gear End User phones

Day 8 without the SGS4 – all callers are anonymous and Spitfire-less posts

sgs5 logoThere is light at the end of the dark tunnel of phonelessness. Emails have been received:

(from the insurance people) Good news, Your mobile phone has been repaired and is on its way back to you by our courier DPD.
Kind Regards,The Repair Team.

(from the courier) Your Lifestyle Services Group order is due to be delivered on Tuesday 6th May by DPD. Please ensure that someone is available to sign for your delivery. Lifestyle Services Group

(from the insurance people) Good Evening,Your handset has been repaired and will be despatched within three working days by courier and will need to be signed for.Kind Regards,The Mobile Phone Insurance Claims Team

This is indeed good news although the third email also mentioned that I “should receive a text or email from DPD confirming your one hour delivery window”. The text didn’t provide me with that window and I have a meeting in town that morning so I could miss them. Will have to look into that one.

In my Day 5 without a phone post I mentioned that screen size and response time were the two main factors going against the Galaxy Mini. A few more days and I now realise that the fact that I don’t have my address book in the phone is a real nuisance. I don’t know who is calling or anyone’s number when I want to call them. Now I could stick my Google credentials in and get all that but it will confuse the phone as it already has Kid4’s info in and I don’t want to mess it about. To all intents and purposes I’m treating it as a good old fashioned mobile phone (a GOFMP – the POT of the mobile world).

Perhaps more significantly is the lack of a camera. Yesterday I spent the day at the Lincoln RFC grand opening with former club captain and TV sports anchorman John Inverdale cutting the tape. There were loads of photo opportunities. Blokes  struggling to play rugby again having hung up their boots years ago for example. It was a hot day!

We also had the best Spitfire flypast it has ever been my privilege to see. We get these a fair bit in Lincolnshire as the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is based here. I often find mysef running out of the hause to look up to the sky when a Spit or the Lanc flies past. Yesterday we knew exactly when the plane was due and it duly arrived to order. It flew in low as if on an attack run. Did this three times then after the last waggled its wings and off it went. The Spitfire was low enough to very easily read the wing markings and would have been a perffect photo or video opportunity for sharing with (avid) readers of the weekend section.

Alas this was not to be as I will not get my SGS4 back until Tuesday. As you know.

It has to be said I miss my phone. I realise that there was once a time when we walked the earth without such appendages. People will say it didn’t seem to harm us but consider this. Average life expectancy has gradually increased during my own lifetime. This will be down to a combination of many factors and some of these factors will involve the mobile phone.

I’m not talking about a device I can use to make phone calls on the go. I’m taking about the all singing all dancing computer I use to track my walk times to work, send highly relevant and often amusing tweets and Instant Messages to friends around the globe, monitor the movement of shipping across the maritime world, post interesting blog articles from wherever I am, read the papers, send and receive emails, mark emails as spam (:)), translate menus into a recognisable language, check my finances, help me find a destination when I’m on my way somewhere for the first time, find train times, book train tickets, plan holidays, serve as a timer for the perfect poached egg, find bbq recipes, watch TV, get involved in video hangouts, research business opportunities and contacts, take photos and make videos. I’d better stop. The list is endless. I do it all from my mobile phone. Making phone calls is a very minor part of its functionality.

I have missed my phone.  The one thing I haven’t missed is checking the damn thing every other minute to see if there has been an update! Nevertheless I am very much looking forward to getting it back which will, I’m told, be sometime on Tuesday. Hooray


Seriously mixed up of Lincoln

Follow the broken SGS4 screen saga and other related posts:

Day 5 without the broken SGS4 – big screen/little screen/responsive screen
Day 3 without a phone
First night without a phone
Mobile phone insurance claims
This iPhone is dead

End User events fun stuff gadgets google H/W internet mobile connectivity UC wearable

Band Camp Coincidences

Google Glass. Telephony. Synchronicity

At my age, you would think that I would be long past adolescent self-consciousness; that I wouldn’t feel awkward with the geeky way of thinking. A girl that I had a crush on back in the 2nd Grade said to me, “You talk funny. You talk like a scientist.”, referring to my vocabulary. At that age this wasn’t a compliment, nor was it really a criticism. It did not, though, bode well for any potential romantic entanglements.

On the way to the conference I find myself sitting next to two attractive, well dressed middle-age women, three abreast in the aisle seat. We start the long first leg of the flight with a little small talk. We are flying together from Dallas to Albuquerque, where they will leave the plane prior to its flying on to Seattle (my destination).

“What’s in Seattle?” they both ask.

I feel like I’m on my way to band camp. What do I say to them? I tell the truth.

“I’m going to speak at a conference on Content Management – a technology conference.”, I say.

“Oh. Technology stuff.”, from which they return to conversing among themselves for the remainder of the flight. It’s fine. I wanted time to think, anyway, to be quiet on the plane so that I could figure out what I am going to talk about at the conference. I booked the conference before deciding to leave my last corporate job. I opted to keep my commitment, though, and now I need to put my presentation in my own voice.

The plane is landing in Albuquerque. The small talk starts again, and it turns out that the two women also live in Austin. I hear them say something about two local radio hosts known as JB and Sandy. I ask a question regarding Sandy. They fill me in. It’s friendly, partly because we’re parting way in five minutes.

Nobody sits next to me on the Seattle leg of my flight, and I have time and space to think, to figure out a theme for my talk. I’m basically speaking on the lessons learned over the last year as a software team trying to buy the next generation of the solution instead of building the next generation of solution.

“Choosing a system is like a plane trip…”

“Choosing a system is like traveling through Mexico…”


broken gear End User phones

Day 5 without the SGS4 – big screen/little screen/responsive screen

sgs4Almost sounds as if I’m someone talking about being in rehab when I say it’s day 5 without the phone. I still find myself picking up the temporary replacement, the Galaxy Mini, as if I’m about to use it to access twitter and my other regular internet haunts. I don’t use it for anything other than voice and sms.

Kid4, whose phone the Mini is, has now adopted Kid3’s old but cracked GalaxyS3. Kid3 in turn is using my Nokia Lumia 920 which he seems happy with (must get it from his mum – I never got on with Windows Phone). Kid4 walks around clutching the S3 in a way that he never did with the Galaxy Mini.

I asked him what was better about the S3 compared with the Mini and the answer was “bigger screen and more responsive”. I think that, in a nutshell, is also my perception. Although for me the S3 is old tech it is still better than a small fistful of a phone because it is more usable. Handset manufacturers have been pushing the boundaries of screen size because clearly the punters prefer bigger.

The limitation is the size of people’s hands and their thumbspan, if such a term exists (if it doesn’t it does now). The responsiveness of the phone is a combination of the design, processor and software, and its speed of access to the outside world, ie the internet. Using the SGS4 over 4G as opposed to 3G is generally a much better experience.

I am informed, via email channels, that my S4 is now in the hands of the repairers and expect it to be dispatched within three working days. That must mean I get it next Wednesday which will be good timing because I’m off to London on Thursday and won’t want to carry any baggage aka Chromebook – lightweight baggage though that may be.

S4_thumbI have generally tended to have three sorts of problems with my phones: something wrong with the USBport/charging mechanism, broken screen and recently a software issue that destroys the micro SD card. One assumes that the latter will get fixed with revisions of software. The USB issue would go away if I used contactless charging. I don’t know where that tech is at. Does anyone use it?

The broken screen could be solved by using cheap disposable screens that don’t necessarily have to be part of the actual phone itself. I assume Bluetooth has the bandwidth to manage the interaction between screen and processor. I’ve discussed this before and the more I think about it the more obvious it is.

Why do we need to bother taking the phone out of our pocket or bag? It would be much safer there. Less likely to get left on the table at the cafe and less likely to get smashed or dropped into a bucket of water.

The one scenario where this probably doesn’t work is when I’m using the phone as a camera. In this case I’ll need a bit screen on the handset. There has to be a way to make it work. I use the camera a lot.

Come next Wednesday I doubt Kid4 will want his Galaxy Mini back. It looks destined for a drawer. I will hopefully have a perfectly serviceable S4 back from the menders and move forward with a nagging doubt that what I really want is a native Android phone without Samsung software clutter but with a detachable disposable screen and a great camera with at least 10x optical zoom, though 20x would be better.

There ya go…

End User phones

The global nature of business today – Samsung Galaxy K launch in Singapore

Just Googled “Samsung Galaxy K launch”. The first two results were websites in India – NDTV and Times of India. This surely highlights the global nature of the world in which we live in. Admittedly the launch was in Singapore but what difference should that make?

The accompanying adverts were for UK based products and services. What is amazing is that we can run a business as a global business talking about macro level subjects of interest that transcend boundaries.

The Guardian majors on this. Most Guardian Technology posts cover subjects that are a good read irrespective of where your computer is. The problem now begins when you want to try an compete in this global market. The Times of India will have far lower overheads than the London based Guardian for example. OK it can’t have lower overheads than but then again they probably have more people writing for them.

Taking a peek at the Guardian I note that they don’t even appear to be carrying the story, certainly not at the time of writing this post. Is this a sign of maturity? The need to maintain exclusivity by keeping out of saturated blanket news items which after all the launch of the new Galaxy K is.

Most online publications will have no chance of getting to the top of Google rankings for a subject such as a Samsung phone launch. Most moneys, certainly in the affiliate marketing game, are to be made by the top ranking site in any given space. This in itself does pose a problem for the likes of Samsung. If it isn’t worth covering a story because every man and his wordpress account will be saying the same thing how do they get their message out?

For the likes of Samsung this is simple – they just chuck cash1 at it. For Fred in his albeit hi tech shed it’s a lot harder. It makes getting noticed really difficult but I guess this makes success stories even more deserving. Your product/service/idea must be good to have hit the headlines.

The answer has to be to focus on a niche. The trouble is that there are so many niches, so much going on it is difficult to keep that focus. In the meantime I am half looking out for a new phone, at least whilst my battered and broken Samsung Galaxy S4 is at the menders. If Samsung want a review of the new K they know where to find me:)

Other great related posts:

Day 3 without a phone
First night without a phone
Mobile phone insurance claims
This iPhone is dead

samsung galaxy k launch on google

ndtv gadgets

times of india on galaxy k

1 Email me for bank details if you work for Samsung