BranchInfo 2010 BranchInfo 2010 BA

Friday, April 29, 2011

Amazon Elastic Cloud Compote

If you use Foursquare, HootSuite, Reddit and Quora- or read blogs like this - you know that Amazon had a great big fail whale last week.

Their Elastic Cloud Compute turned into Elastic Cloud Compote when they accidentally flooded the secondary server during a common network change procedure.

Trouble is, those social networks don't have a cool fail whale like Twitter.  

Foursquare, for example, has this little weepy princess.  This is not exactly how either the users or the providers felt about the outage.  At least I know I didn't.

Closer to the mark for me is probably something like this.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How NOT To Enable Your Web Apps for Mobile Viewing

Neil McAllister at Infoworld put up a dynamite little checklist of pitfalls to avoid when designing web apps that have a mobile life, too.

So here's what you do if you want mobile users to mock you, and your website.

Use tooltips.  Mouse-over or roll-over controls require, duh, a mouse.  Use lots of them.
Use lots of interface widgets.  You can't grab 'em on a little smartphone, and tablet users don't need 'em.
Create multiple panes with their own scrollbars.  Drives users nuts as they try to scroll around your big page on their little phone, only to find multiple scrollbars you need a stylus to grab.
Dictate how text will appear.  Inflexible text won't line up right on a smartphone.
Dictate the page format.  Especially a butt-pain and invites a hide-and-seek game to find content, navigate and interact when pivoting orientation.
Preload lots of images and fat content, useful or not.  Slow, slow, slow on smarphone OS.
Use lots of Flash, especially for interface.  Won't work at all on iOS... and unpredictably elsewhere.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

iPhone Location Tracking on Congressional Radar

A couple of days ago, The Guardian in the UK started something of a firestorm with an article about a "secret file" on the iPhone that records and stores the latitude and longitude of the phone's recorded coordinates along with a timestamp.  This has been going on since last June, and as much as a year's worth of coordinates could be stored.

Yesterday, Warden and Alasdair Allan, the data scientists who discovered the file, presented their findings at the Where 2.0 conference in San Francisco, (where BTW, Jack Dangermond gave a keynote on community collaborative mapping).

Well, today the U.S.Congress got involved.  Referencing the Guardian article,  Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts sent a formal letter of inquiry to Steve Jobs asking what's up with this.  Obviously, such a cache of locations on a phone could prove a huge privacy invasion and wreak damage and havoc in any number of ways should the phone be lost or subject to unauthorized access.  Jobes now has 15 days to respond about why the data is being collected and to explain how this file does not violate Section 222 of the Communications Act which requires expressed customer authorization for such a file.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Bony Fingers

ComScore research shows that Americans spent over a billion dollars shopping on their smartphones in the first three months this year.  Sounds like a lot, but it's less than 3% of all e-commerce sales for 2011:1.  Why?  Smartphones have certainly become ubiquitous enough, expected to reach 50% penetration of Americans sometime this year.

Bony fingers.  That's why.  You need skinny, little, bony fingers to establish accounts and buy confidently online.  And that is only after you have mastered squinting and gesturing at slow loading pages filled with minuscule pictures, to even get to the part where you have to enter data - like your 16 digit card number, etc.

Who does this really well?  Amazon.  
  1. They've been doing it a long time - they realized in 2006 that mobile was not going to simply be an extension of the web.  
  2. It's primarily value-added for existing customers whose data is already captured, so you can
  • one-click shop; 
  • shop with a bar code; 
  • shop by voice; 
  • and search with auto-fills.
Otherwise, Mr. and Ms. Retailer, work your fingers to the bone, and you know what you get.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tablet Adoption in the Enterprise

As Android phones become ubiquitous and come to dominate the market, tablets are a completely different issue.  Until Android becomes a secure platform, the iPad and the soon to be released BlackBerry PlayBook (pictured left) will dominate whatever enterprise adoption occurs, possibly over the next couple of years.  Android tablets will find their place in business, but won't be enterprise ready for A-while.

Never before has user adoption of a mobile device challenged corporate IT as fast and as broadly as the iPad has.  As you probably know, Apple is as surprised as anybody and can't manufacture nearly enough to meet the demand.  And they are definitely finding their way to work - new Forrester research shows one out of four companies using or planning to use tablets.  Are they secure enough to be on a corporate network?  Forrester says Yes.  And so do some pretty big banks.  The early applications are a little weak in terms of justifying hard ROI on iPads, but it's clear that they are a boon to meetings, electronic documents, and field applications in sales and service.

Perhaps the greatest concern?  All those tablets sucking a mobile bandwidth that is not designed for, and can't accommodate, tons of fat content; and extending reach via Wi-Fi is not cheap.  What to do?  Well, enterprise users, enjoy all your YouTube and streaming video over wireless networks now, because we will be locking it all down before you know it.