Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Predictions for 2005

Today's Independenthas predictions for 2005 which are common at this time of year.

Some of the highlights from the piece are:-

"The rise of broadband will lead to internet devices that can do a limited range of things (such as internet radio, or a barcode reader that can "Googlefridge" a recipe from whatever objects you scan past it)."

"3G phones will start to sell big, but video calls won't until screens get a lot bigger. Viral film clips for phones will be a huge hit, but sent by Bluetooth rather than expensive video messaging."

"Really good text-to-speech and speech-to-text programs will emerge, using the power of the fastest chips. You'll get e-mail read out on your phone, voice-mail turned into e-mails and be able to interact via Bluetooth headsets with your machine from a distance."

"Go wireless. With broadband, get a wireless router that sits between you and the link: it's harder to hack and it's easier to move the computer around. But ensure you password-protect your network and, if possible, the router."

I agree with a lot of what Charles Arthur has written, I already am a big user of Bluetooth, Broadband and VoIP. What would I add? In a similar vane to the text-to-speech comment I would say that we can look forward to more Anoto based solutions which ofer script-to-text using bluetooth and OCR. It has proved a hit with some police forces and hospitals who have had issues with training workers to use tablet pcs and keyboards.

Be interesting to see how the predictions look in 12 months time in terms of accuracy.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Now mobile phone masts can be buyilt right next to schools.

The Independent reports that Minsters give into legal ruling that health concerns should not prevent rapid riase in the number of transmitters.

Now working in the Mobile Industry I have to say that I have some interest in this. The first this that caused concern was a few months ago when the CTO of one of the UK's networks said that, he would not allow a transmitter to be built near his home or child's school.

Last week the same paper reported that some 8,000 new masts are to be erected around Britain over the next three years as the 3G system expands. Now having paid a very large sum to the Government for just such a service why should anyone be surprised that the Networks can build without formal planning permission?

If I had spent £23 billion then I would expect a little help from the guys who took my money to help me get a return on my investment. My only advice is make friends with someone who works in a senior position for one of the Networks and if you can afford it send your children to the same school as them.

Phone booths resurrected

The Wall Street Journal has a great feature on how having ripped out eight million plus phone boxes they are making a return. This time without the phone!

Now some restaurants, libraries and other businesses are slowly bringing back phone booths. The interesting snipit is that "the quest for privacy drive 98% of Americans to go to another room or outside when talking on a cell phone. Some retreat to a toilet to make calls; "few things are more irritating than having to listen to the sound of toilets flushing during an important conversation" says Sprint's wireless-phone-etiquette spokesperson.

As well as custom designed booths from Finish furniture designers costing $thousands the old fashioned cast iron red British phone booth is popular.

My only concern is that here in London the restaurant owner is likely to place such booths next to the toilet door just where we get no coverage and so we are going to have to still put up the lout who shouts on his phone when you are enjoying a meal.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Broadband wireless goes head-to-head with 3G

vnunet has yet another piece questioning 3G following a report from Analysys. What we have is someone commenting on work by another about WiMAX replacing 3G.

Now what I have a problem with is the fact that WiMAX is not likely to be available for at least another two years, even T-Mobile will have built a 3G voice network by then!

NTT DoCoMo are at present developing 4G technologies that DO use broadband wireless to improve data speeds and network coverage, nowever these are not for voice they are for value added services. Whilst I do believe in the validity of some claims for VoIP at the enterprise and techie need of the market I feel that we are a long way off mass market adoption. This being the case just how do you think you Granny is going to make a call over a broadband network?

Looking at a number of recent VoIP implementations all I can say is that a Chief Executive is happy to be without his email for a few hours or days each month but he is very upset if his phone does not work! This being the case I just dont think that we are very close to seeing the roll out of mobile voip.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Handicapping Social Networking Business Models

Stowe Boyd wrote back in March an interesting piece on Social Networking on the darwin website. Now I have been using social networks all my working life. The last few years has seen a number of these networks become on line as well as offline groups.

Whilst helping to run Digital People it became obvious that with people becoming more time poor there needed to be somethinbg that allowed people to connect when they were ready rather than just turn up for beer and friendship.

Over the years I have attended events run by such diverse groups as Company of Friends, Ecademy, Ryze, European Technology Forum, TEN and MIT Club of Great Britain. I agree that the issue is "who's paying and who's invited?" Without such knowledge now am I to know if my membership of the network is worthwhile or just another marketing pitch.

When Ecademy went online it became an interesting place, then as it grew an could no longer fund itself via corporate sponsorship it changed to a model that was chargeable but still allowed basic members to interact with the community. Now with falling renewals the owners have decided that Power layers with those that pay and the more you pay the more power you have! Thus in doing so the Management have removed all content that does not fit with their own views and repeat offenders are asked to leave the community.

LinkedIn has been a very good tool for my business over the last year, allowing me to build bridges with organisations I have lost contact with. However the cost is that I find myself in the middle of a number of chains from people I have no understanding of seeking to do business with contacts who I am sure would not like to be snowed under with such requests. The network is more business than social and so is excellent in joining up people but it does not have an area where you can enter into a discussion and thus "find" new connections based on the strenght of your intellect and experience.

I guess that what is needed is to join a few of these and play an active part, if you find them useful then pay something towards the cost of running the service. This payment does not have to be cash it could be content or services!

However whatever it is that you decide to do do not stand and watch interact.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Remembering we all need downtime

Tony Hallet writes an interesting feature on how "Advances in mobile and wireless technology can please employers by leading to improved productivity but are too many staff unwisely working longer hours, the victims of 'connectivity creep?"

This is something that has concerned me for the last few months, as someone who runs a small consultancy I am aware that clients buy into what we do not just because of price bvut also because of speed of responce. People work for me rather than large firms because I do not want them to be in the office all day and night. However I am coming across a number of intelligent people who have allowed themselves to be dictated to by the firms email system via their Blackberry.

I do not think that a smart device is a smart idea! Giving somebody something that allows them to work anyplace anytime is not a responsible act. What is needed is for everyone to respect the time and space of those who the interact with. The most effective people I work with use technology as a tool rather than always reply to every email, text message, voicemail as soon as they receive them evem when it annoys me that it is so.

I would be interested to see if its a cultural thing, with Italians and French executives not "suffering" the same connection issues as their English and American co-workers.