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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Google Nexus 4 Phone - Wheel 1.0 Beta

Hey, Apple is not the only one to try to re-invent the wheel.  Does this phone really have no next gen net support?

Gosh, Google, embrace the android fragsphere already.

This is a good camera, but... NEXUST.

Apple Maps Sent Me To Hell!

You know folks, just because you have a pocket calculator does not mean that you forget how to add 2+2.

Maps and GPS are the same way.  You are not supposed to simply accept what they tell you.

But, there was so much recent controversy over Apple maps ostensibly stranding some poor dumb tourismos in the Aussie outback, that Tim Cook had to write us a letter and heads rolled.

Fortunately, not as a result of the vengeance of native peoples.

Anyway, you are supposed to be able to tell the difference when you
are entering this hell, left; and Hell, Michigan, right.

Courtesy of Google Maps, which is a dumb wheel to reinvent, best to incorporate (and for biz, likely into an ESRI solution).

Also, we have an old saying.  When you are knee deep in crap you don't need a map.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Rick Majerus - Good Man, Great Coach, Late Mac Adopter

We lost Coach this week, and I don't mind telling you, I cried.

I first met Coach in 2004 at a business conference in San Diego, in the hot tub at Le Meridien on Coronado Island- and with the two of us big guys  in there, we pretty much had it to ourselves.  and we talked for hours, and hours, about everything.  I got to learn more about life than I ever had from anybody in that time.

I learned that an explosive first step and a good family gets you to the pros, because that is the easiest way to glimpse talent and to know whether a kid will be coachable.

I learned where to get the best pizza in MY town, in any town.  Rick truly knew food, he was more gourmet than glutton, despite what you've heard.  And he told me, "all the regional styles of pizza you see each have their merit."  Which is really how he saw people.  If he was tough on you, it was because he expected a lot.  He was a no-kidding Jesuit and aimed very, very high at all times.

What I am proud of is, I turned Rick into a PC user.  He knew that other coaches were using PCs, and for a long time, to evaluate talent.  That, Coach could do, and did do, all over the world, Australia, Eastern Europe, he was the first to recruit there.  What he was fascinated by, and why I chose a Macbook for him, was the communications angle, what it could add to how he could reach kids.

He sure reached me.  Told me I was a good guy.  I told him, there is only one You, just like there is one John Wooden, and I learned equally from both of you.  The difference is, Rick was human, and Coach Wooden was like a God.  I could never approach myself to even say "Hi" to him at Pauley, where he was real easy  to find, and still is.  His seat in the new Pauley glows.  If you look real close.

If you are local, or in St. Louis tonight, there is a memorial for Coach Majerus tonight, Friday, December 7, 2012 at 3:30 p.m. at Chaifetz Pavilion on the SLU campus. The funeral service is private, but will be held tomorrow, Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 11:30 a.m in Milwaukee's Church of the Gesu, 1145 West Wisconsin Avenue.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Drumbeat for CES 2013 - CES 2012 Disappointments

Is it December already?  It must be, because CES is right around the corner.

Looking back, I'm kinda disappointed.  I really loved the two most hyped products from last year, the Nokia 900, and the Samsung Note.  And they really have underperformed in the market.

The 900 is a real GPS with real emergency response type data in it from Nokia having purchased our friends at Navteq.  It should have been great for business logistics.  But, despite being updated (right), it is just sitting there - as a Windows phone, it is clearly in last place.

And the Note was what I wanted, and what I thought a lot of my associates would want, more convenient than a tablet, works like a phone.  Ended up being neither.  Even with its update as well.

So, what am I about to see, what are WE about to see?  More on that to come.

- Joe Lackow

Monday, December 3, 2012

Drumbeat for CES 2013: Does Whispercast Signal Mass Adoption of Tablets for Business?

Content is king, we all know that.

But, as tablets reach the mass adoption phase, it is becoming clear that CONSUMING content on a tablet rather than on a PC is king.  RPM primary research shows a strong increase in penetration among business users.  And this Holiday season, the early sales numbers clearly show that tablets are THE hot electronics gift this season.  The question is not whether to get one, the question is now which one to get.

And, the answer to that question will dictate to content providers what platforms to develop on. 

Obviously, iOS has led the way and created the category.  And, we show it is still the overwhelming preference of business users.  But what now?

Kindle Fire appears to be the what now, and is driving both form factors and price points down, down, down.  As in, a startling $159.

At that price point, this is going to be about way more than consuming content, it is going to be a major collaborative tool.

For business.  Welcome to Whispercast, Amazon's attempt to satisfy both user and IT demands (good luck on that one, Jeff).

For IT, we can...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Drumbeat for 2013 CES: Giant Tablet Invaders from Space

Yes folks, it's that time again, where a young man's (or not so young anymore man's) fancy turns to thoughts of...


While I was enjoying my sabbatical, we have evidently been attacked by giant tablets called "All in Ones".  About time!  We've been enjoying "Donald Rumsfeld Computing" while standing up to our 42 inch Samsung touchscreen for YEARS now.

Of course, the damn thing weighs a ton and cost over $3,000.  This 23 inch Lenovo costs less than $700, and it's the whole thing, all in one.

Well, almost.  As you can see with the Dell here, there is no integrated input device!  We are still stuck with keyboards and mice. 

Not to mention Windows, Icons, Menus and Pointers that are as old as...

a computer.  Want to see what's really happening?  Just walk down the street and notice how truly ubiquitous the smart phone has become.  And how, thanks to leaders and visionaries like ShoDogg and other, that smartphone is about to be thrown onto a touchscreen for which IT will be the input device.  And not just for entertainment. 

Just ask the Donald, Rumsfeld that is.

Joe Lackow and Thomas Ballister contributed to this report.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Commodore Ate The Apple

My dad drove a hack in NYC for many years after WWII, and so did Jack Tramiel.

A death camp survivor who met his future wife in Auschwitz, Jack - not Apple, not Tandy - went on to found Commodore Business Machines and the mass market for personal computers.  It was his VIC-20 that was the first PC to sell a million units; and his Commodore 64, the first multimedia PC (audio), sold 20 times that, a billion dollars worth.  And his technology was fueling revolutions long after he left Commodore (to found Atari) - the Amiga, upon which the Video Toaster was based, won an Emmy of 1993.

Tramiel was like a mirror image of Jobs.  They were both extremely difficult to work with and even harder to work for, but that's where similarities end.  Tramiel was ever the Machiavellian businessman, seeking to reach the mass market and make a ton of money while conducting war against competitors; Jobs, ever the visionary, creating design so compelling that business success just flowed from it.  It was almost like PCs were LSD, and Tramiel played Kesey to Jobs' Timothy Leary.

Jack Tramiel died on Sunday, but his formula is immortal.  Hire the very best engineers, but run everything else on a shoestring and slash costs.  Then, slash prices.  Reach the mass market.  Vertically integrate.

And, above all, try to be a mensch - and everything else will work out.  Also so unlike Jobs, Jack was a vital philanthropist.  I will never forget him.

(Corrections have been made to this post.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Riding On The Metro

The Consumer Preview of Windows 8 has been out for a few weeks now, and if you are interested enough in the future of computing to be reading this - especially if you are on a touchscreen or tablet - you really should download it yourself and check it out.  Don't let it overwrite your Windows 7 or earlier, though, because you will end up having to buy Windows 8 whether you like it or not.

But.  The bottom line remains, this is a touchscreen and tablet release with the desktop bolted underneath, and while novices and Apple users and mobile users and those who love clean design will love it, business and Windows users probably won't.  Because while it does let you get at things you really need more quickly via Metro tiles, it does not offer much to the traditional desktop user, and the removal of the Start button is going to throw some people for a loop - and there is no way to hack it back, as there was with the Developer Preview.  And since it works differently whether you are using touch (it's all about edge gestures) or mouse (it's all about corners), this might prove confusing to some folks, almost like using a schized-out OS.

On the plus side, those who saw the Developer Preview from last September's BUILD conference will find the horrible green background gone, and apps here that are much more polished and closer to prime time (if such a metaphor even holds any more, especially for this audience!)  and, for those of us who love keyboard shortcuts, those are there - Ed Bott points out a few of the most useful, of which I find these most key (pun).

Windows key + comma Peek at the Windows desktop
Windows key + Q Search Apps
Windows key + F Search Files

Should you be riding on the Metro?  Or are you a smitten desktop lover feeling caught on a track that goes only one way?

Friday, January 13, 2012

CES 2012 - The CES We Know & Love Is Back

As CES closes today, the major impression we carry away is that CES Is Back.  The show was much more fun, much more dynamic, and much bigger than it has been since the economic collapse.

The numbers back it up, nearly 2 million feet of exhibit space, 5,000 press and analysts, 140,000 attendees.  Taken as 1 building, the South Hall 1,2 3 and 4 is one of the worlds largest buildings.  And with so many product intros, more than in many years, some are bound to stick.

Photo: Joe Lackow
The highlights for us, and for many attendees, will be the intro of the Lumia 900 and the hybrid phone/tablet Samsung Note, each very heavily promoted and for once, certainly worthy of the hype, especially the Lumia 900.

Now that the visceral appeal of the Lumia 900 intro at Monday's Nokia conference has worn off, the reality has set in.  And it is even better.  As a GPS unit as capable as any GPS out there, with serious Navteq navigation quality data instead of consumer-level Google or Bing maps underneath, combined with a 4G smartphone on AT&T's network, this promises to be the low cost logistics solution many of us have been waiting for.  Smart phone navigation was not up to snuff.  And now, it is.  And this Nokia re-entry rocket will also put a lot of digital cameras and software to bed, with its powerful ability to do wide angle high res images without cropping.

We should also mention a couple of technologies we saw at CES that we are trying to pull into our little world of GIS, mapping, and location based services and advertising.  One of them is Shodogg, "Videos Best Friend", which is designed to allow users to "toss" fat entertainment content i.e. TV and movies from device to device wirelessly and trnsparently.  We see business applications for Shodogg, allowing users to plug into and share and collaborate on streaming presentations regardless of the device they have; and we see a LOT of potential in tossing Call To Duty (and other games) from device to device.

We also like Boogie Board, which is designed to do away with paper notes and save trees.  The basic model (left) does just that, especially useful in a family household where it will revolutionize the fridge note.

But the upscale model (right) lets you use USB to get what you drew or wrote on the Boogie Board into your computer.  And that is a whole other deal, useful for students and artists and physicians and a host of other users and applications.  And we think, with a little tweaking, we can turn it into a really, really inexpensive and nifty little digitizing tablet that we can use to get small paper maps and other GIS (and CAD) content into our PCs where we can work with them with robust tools.  Stay tuned on Boogie Board.

Among the other cool and interesting stuff we saw - solar panels storing energy and powering portable devices; the iM Watch mobile phone controller; the continued evolution of Square as a payment system; the giant LG 3D panel and a number of first generation 3D games.

And as we leave the amazing venue that is Las Vegas - after gambling only on the blind grab-bag gifts from White Basin at the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian for the ladies - we breathe a sigh of relief that America, and the world, seems slowly to be turning the economic corner.

And we can't wait to see the Lumia 900 this spring.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back In The USA - Nokia Returns with Windows Phone on AT&T

Photo: Joe Lackow
The 3rd ecosystem of the mobile revolution - Windows Phone - is poised to join Android and iOS in the "mobile ecosystem wars" with the introduction of the Lumia 900, Nokia's new 4G smartphone.

And I want one.

It's got a super long life battery.

It's on AT&T's great 4G net.

It has a super-black gorilla glass screen, a pure clear black that empowers startling color.

A sophisticated set of wide angle cameras, with the back capable of super wide angle, uncropped, unchopped, very high resolution images.

It's "bold, beautiful and balanced" - in other words, Apple-like.

It includes Nokia Drive at no cost, GPS based navigation empowered by Nokia's Navteq street map data.
Photo: Joe Lackow

  It's on the rapid development fast track, developed brought to market in under one year - with Steve Ballmer (photo, left) present in person to tell us so.

And in doing all this, it "brings out the best in Windows Phone", "the 1st real windows phone".  It "stands apart from the crowd, with a rich and differentiated ecosystem."

Is it just hype, or enough for Nokia to successfully re-enter the U.S. market?  We think it just might be.  It will be available this Spring.

And for now, we are out at Red Rocks Canyon contemplating it all.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

CES 2012 Trends to Watch

After 20 minutes of establishing a PC to projector connection in an SRO roomful of tech types, the 2012 CES kicked off with a press briefing presentation of major trends from the past two years, like 3D and tablets - and what to expect from this year's show.

The CEA research team specifically highlighted 3 major trends to watch for this year.

Photo: Joe Lackow

Morphing of computers.  Convergence continues, but suddenly the computer is morphing into a number of different devices, interconnecting and synched - but pulling computing out of computers into other devices, while pushing device function into computers, can be expected to cause quite a bit of friction.

Photo: Joe Lackow
The Year of the Interface.   The Internet Enabled Experience now refers to easy to use and increasingly transparent interfaces to allow users to corral content from multiple sources in multiple locations.  In other words, simplicity with richness.

Prevalence of personalized devices.  Boy, is it no longer one size fits all in the electronics world.  Personalization and customization make your product your own, leveraging a hardware core and development frameworks that are just "open enough" to allow 3rd parties to develop and add value for platforms.

Photo: Joe Lackow
Stay tuned for much, much more from beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada as we elaborate from CES 2012 all week.