Friday, September 01, 2006

New Blog!

Yep, I've up'ed and moved my blog... To the great new Blog platform from those fab people at Six Apart - Vox!

My blog is now at and there's some tremendous new features, so go take a look!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Just how much is new?

I've been charged with putting together some end user training this week, taking an organisation's users forward from Notes 5.0.11 to 7.0.1, and it has been a fascinating reintroduction to the Notes world.

To be honest I had forgotten just how much has changed between those releases, and so much of it giving true business value back to the users. Of course, there have been some "nice to haves" including such interface changes as colour-coded messages and so on, but additions such as integrated instant messaging, Domino Web Access, support for Linux/Mac have made a real difference to both organisations and their users.

Sometimes looking back is as important as looking forward, and often we forget how far we've come...

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fascinating Outlook vs. Notes survey

Very unscientific I know, but this survey has yielded interesting and slightly surprising results:

"Lotus Notes Email Vs. Microsoft Outlook

Microsoft and IBM both own massive cash cows. Mooo. Microsoft sells Outlook/Exchange. IBM sells Lotus Notes/Domino.

Microsoft and IBM are both developing new non related Enterprise 2.0 stuff.

The point of this survey is not to consider blogs and wiki stuff, but instead, just to simply ask users today which tool they prefer as an email tool."

Having just finished at a business where the corporate standard is Outlook and Exchange, I can heartily say that as a humble user I initially hated Outlook with a vengance, and even after 12 months of coming to terms with its differences (both positive and negative) I still found it woefully short of the user experience that Notes offers. Therefore I wasn't surprised at this result, but given that the wider view is still that portrayed by the Notessucks and UI Hall of Shame websites of a few years ago, I am really pleased by these results. It's great to see.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Sametime 7.5 now available, early too!

Heard from Ed...

The new version of Sametime has been released early, and is now downloadable from Passport Advantage. This is great news, and is another demonstration of the new-found energy and investment in the Lotus development team. Great to see...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Lotusphere 2007 Registration Open

Lotusphere 2007 Registration Is Now Open

Here we go... the start of the march towards the best software related conference on the planet, Lotusphere.

I'll be there, hope you will be too!

Friday, August 04, 2006

New Sametime/Quickplace conference, London, Sept 27-29

Collaboration University -- Advanced Training for IBM Lotus Sametime and QuickPlace

Looks well worth attending...

Monday, July 10, 2006

"Hell freezes over" shock announcement

Oh sorry, no that should be "IBM released Notes on Linux" shock announcement.

After years of pleading, and IBM saying "there isn't a big enough market", and more pleading, and IBM saying "it's too difficult", etc. etc. we finally have a Linux-based Notes client.

Even better, it doesn't need IBM Workplace Managed Client as originally suggested, so we have a fully standalone version of Notes for all those difficult-to-please techies out there.  At first it is only supported on RHEL4, but SUSE support will soon follow.  I'm sure there will be requests for other distis (Debian particularly) but I am surely there is no technical reason why it should not work.

Therefore, by the end of this year, we will have the full latest, greatest R7 Notes client running on Windows32, Windows64, Mac OS X, and Linux.  Now that's real choice for y'all...

technorati tags:, , ,

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Now I'm all for getting kids to love arts and crafts, but....

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Growing old... watching Windows XP install

Is it just me, or should there be a better way now? Wanted to give my Thinkpad R40 a clean start, so thought I'd get it back to factory settings using the Thinkpad restore CD (now a chargeable extra on Thinkpads BTW), then bang on Service Pack 2, the latest security patches, the bare essentials of security (Windows firewall), Firefox browser (rather than IE) and my VPN client etc...

However, here I am over 4 hours later, and it is still only at the installing SP2 stage! Now I know an R40 (P4M 2.2GHz, 1GB) isn't the latest greatest kit these days, and laptop hard disks and DVD-drives are notoriously slow, but four hours just to do a reinstall and patch seems ridiculous!

Especially when comparing it to my Macs (you knew that was coming didn't ya!) where a restore to factory settings takes 30 mins at most and the latest patch release (10.4.6) is only 60MB or so - a total of at most an hour.

Windoze really is bloatware these days!

Drat! That's what I should have done with that old PowerMac!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Mac Lab at Microsoft

An amazing tour of the Mac Business Unit labs in Microsoft. What a huge amount of kit, and therefore unexpectedly large commitment they have made to the Mac platform. Awesome stuff.

Mac BU Tour Link

Monday, February 27, 2006

What if Microsoft marketed the iPod?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Finally gone and done it - the SPV M5000

After my previous post extolling the virtues of the SE p990i I thought long and hard about which smartphone to get next, and waited and waited and waited, and finally couldn't wait any more and so bought the SPV M5000.

I will write up my findings on here as soon as time allows...

Does Notes really suck? And either way, who says it does?

A posting entitled "I Love Lotus Notes" got my attention last month. Here was a guy willing to stand up and counter many of the anti-Notes comments that are out there in the blogosphere. As we all know, Notes has long been a "love it or hate it" app - one that developers and administrators have loved, and some users have hated.

Now, my view (as someone who has at one time or another sat in all three camps) is that there are indeed things to dislike (I still think that "sucks" or "hate" is too much, and is disrespectful to those who have spent lifetimes developing the product, or implementing it at your site) about Notes, but there are no more things to hate that in any other significant software product - Outlook, IE, Word, Photoshop, Oracle etc. etc. They all have their pros and cons, their standards and quirks, their intuititives and their gotchas - that's just how it is.

This is the way of life - if I went back through the cars I have owned or driven in my adult life, each one of those would have features that were standard and intuitive (pedals, door handles, sun visors) and those that were irritating, niggly or nonsensical (switch positions, useless stereos, appalling tyre wear etc.). The same could be said of houseold appliances, computers generally, or my VCR! Technology is an inexact science, things aren't perfect and in all likelyhood, never will be. Users have different expectations, likes, wants and needs, which will never be fulfilled by one product, vendor or technology - if that wasn't the case, then the technology wouldn't be the vibrant sector it is and CES and other trade shows wouldn't have the thousands of stands that they do.

So given all that, we end up with sites like Notes Sucks, as well as blog entries saying "I hate Outlook" and thousands of others. Richard Schwartz has conducted an interesting piece of research on just how many of these sites are out there. That's the power of the Internet I guess - everyone gets to say their piece, to vent their frustration and to kick out at others or products that they perceive to fall short of the mark. Free speech is a double-edged sword.

My reason for writing? An article in the Guardian yesterday entitled "Survival of the Unfittest", extolling the author's perception that Notes is "used by 120 million people, of whom about 119m hate it", and proceeds to use dubious and ill-judged journalistic licence to prove his point, mostly by cutting and pasting from sites such as those listed above.

I will leave it to others such as Ed Brill and Ben Rose to tackle this article itself (please make sure you read the comments on each page), but my stance is that personal views are one thing and every user is entitled to hold, discuss and argue them to others. Where a journalist crosses the line and misuses and abuses his position in the media to not only state his own opinion, but to claim to voice the opinion of 119m others on the basis of a few anecdotes, rants and blog entries then he deserves to be hung out to dry.

Who knows how many other more serious Guardian artcles have been thrown together in this way? I for one will not be buying the Guardian again...

Monday, January 30, 2006

30 years of Apple video

This is awesome... Beware it's big, but some cool chap has put together a montage of most of the great Apple ads over the years, showing the evolution of the products, the marketing and the direction of Apple. Highlights include Kevin Costner in the Lisa ad, the amzing 1984 Superbowl ad (including iPod in this version - someone's been tampering) and the latest iPod and Intel/iMac promos.

Just pitty the chap paying for the bandwidth!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Flying car

Oz flying car takes reader flak | The Register

The Reg has this great photo taken from Google Earth. Much as I'd love it to be a flying car, I think there must be a more likely solution? Billboard advertising maybe?

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Missing... Lotusphere

After attending the last two Lotusphere events in Orlando, plus the last three events held in Europe, this year my change of job means that I can't attend LS06 starting tomorrow.

To be frank, I'm gutted...

For the first time in a number of years, I really do feel that the IBM/Lotus strategy and market position are first class. The products (ND7, WCS2.6 and others), marketing (boxing gloves ads that are appearing everywhere) and personnel are really taking the fight to Microsoft. In addition, MS are doing themselves harm with their botched "Red Bull" conversion tool hype, with the leaking news about Exchange 12 (64-bit only, Jet engine reliance etc.) and the thousands of customers that are still on Exchange 5.5 - including my own current employer. Remember Exchange 5.5 is of the same vintage as Domino 4.6 - can you really see customers running business-critical email on a Domino/Notes system of that age? The two-lane highway of 2004 is also now a distant memory thankfully, Domino and Workplace are part of the same product plan with the same planned destination. It is a great message.

Secondly, the Lotus community is stronger than it's ever been in the past. The Blogsphere is bringing key individuals in the community together, driving innovation and development forward, deriving real customer value for those that were too small to really have focus around Domino/Notes in the past, and above all delivering products and solutions that are world-class.

Finally, Lotusphere is the place to be. Its a combination of learning, networking, socialising and having great fun that cannot be matched. I'm hearing all about the plans for meeting at ESPN, for the Turtle party, the HADSL giveaways, JAMfests, the Blogging forums and BOFs, and I am truly, madly, deeply missing it. Next year - I'll be there!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Revealed: The Secret to Selling on eBay

Looks like this Rover fanatic has come up with the answer...

His eBay listings show a certain flair, and this one in particular caught my eye! Wonder if it would work for SatNav!?

SteveShow now available to stream

Looks like it is available in Quicktime format now, with MPEG4 to follow...

But why isn't it on iTMS? Surely that's the way Apple should be distributing these things now - just perfect for watching on your iPod on the way to work...

Mac Book Pro

As the proud owner of 4 Powerbooks (1.5GHz 17", 1.33GHz 15", 550MHz 15", 500MHz 15" - yeah I know, I must get round to eBaying the last two), I have to say that I wasn't expecting the replacement Powerbook to be one of the first Intel Macs on the block - all the pre-announce chat and rumour was focused on the Mac Mini and iBook replacements. Looks like Apple finally got their wish to completely fool the rumour sites!

Also, the Powerbook seemed too focused on the pro market, given that most of the professional software (Adobe CS2, Soundtrack Pro, Final Cut Pro etc.) aren't likely to be in Universal (that is Power and Intel compatible format) versions anytime soon. Finally, the size and profile of the Powerbook looked too difficult to shoehorn in a new processor (even if it was to run cooler).

However, new Powerbook is what we have - the horribly named MacBook Pro...

First up, the name... I know they probably had to move away from "Power"book given that it is so clearly linked to the IBM PowerPC chipset, but I cannot believe that they could come up with a less unwieldy name than MacBook Pro! To me, it sounds like some kind of eBook Reader, rather than a top-of-the-range laptop. Also, one supposes that this means that the new iBook will now become the Apple MacBook, or should that be Apple MacBook For Those That Cant Afford a Pro!?

Secondly, there are some odd omissions for me, the lack of Firewire-800 (this is really going to cheese off a lot of Pro video and music engineers that have invested big time in FW-800 peripherals), and the reduction of the PCMCIA slot to the new ExpressCard/34 slot (I know PCMCIA has been dying a death, but then I would have abandoned the slot completely and provided a third USB2.0 port).

However, the biggest concerns for me relate to battery life - the new Intel Duo Core chipset is not thought to be particularly power-efficient, and the signs are that this one is probably going to give less battery life than the old Powerbook - it has an 85W power supply for example.

But there are so good aspects too - 3x-4x processor speed improvements (note this won't give an overall performance bump of that ratio - the rest of the components will still run at the old speeds), new power supply with magnetic connector (how many times have I nearly pulled my beloved Powerbook onto the floor by tripping over the supply), built in iSight camera and FrontRow, plus brighter display. Plus it should run both Mac OS X and Windows (though the latter is still up for discussion).

All in all, a good though not perfect improvement to the Powerbook, but Steve you have to get that name changed! Most of all though, you have to feel sorry for those that bought a new improved Powerbook just 3 months ago when the new displays were added. I am sure glad I sold the 1.67GHz 15" one that was given to us as an insurance replacement back on November!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Intel Macs announced today

Here's the new Intel in Macs ad... It's been a while coming but now it's here, perhaps it ain't so bad after all!

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Progress in Iraq?

2005 Diary from Eliot Weinberger

Happy New Year

All the best for 2006 everyone! Thanks for reading...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

View from Nice - HP Software Universe 2005

The joys of IT conferences - travel to some exotic destination for a week, and then only get to see the inside of the airport, hotel and conference centre! It isn't all it's cracked up to be!

So far, HPSU2005 has been an interesting trip (we travel home tomorrow), with some good contacts made. This has been a sea-change event for me, in that for the first time I have spent more time in 1:1 and HP:Partner meetings than in the actual conference sessions. It makes sense as all the key people are in the one location, and (to some extent) away from the normal work stresses and people calling on their time. We have been particularly lucky in that our HP relationship folks, distributors and partners are all here, along with a handful of customer contacts. In that respect, it has been a real success.

In addition, Nice seems to be a fabulous conference location. The conference centre (the Acropolis) is large, accomodating and easy to get around. There are loads of hotels within walking distance of the conference, and the choice of restaurants is extensive. The airport is only 15 minutes from the centre of town too - a welcome change!

However, I have to say that in comparison to other conferences (Lotusphere (many times), Planet Tivoli, IBM Software University etc) I have attended in the past, HPSU has been a disappointment in a number of ways.

  • The technical content (yes I know I'm supposed to have left that behind!) has been limited, particularly around new products. HP has only released two significant new/revised products here - Service Desk 5 and OV Dashboard - which given the supposed breadth of HP's OV solutions, and market-leading position, has been very disappointing.
  • The exhibition area, though big and well designed, is approximately 90% HP-manned stands. This again contrasts significantly with previous events, where a thriving ISV community has given a 60/40 or even 50/50 vendor to ISV split. This concerns me as often it is the ISV products that drive the vendor to further market success, particularly in a mature prodcut segment such as systems management.
  • The numbers attending have been fairly low - with approximately 3,200 here on the first day. However, this has steeply declined since then, to probably 1,500 today. I think this is down to a number of things, but principally that the event is too close to Christmas, and that HP offer reduced-price Business Days tickets for just the first two days. Now I do realise that Business Execs will not be able to give up a huge amount of time to an event such as this, but effectively giving them a Get Out clause after half the event seems strange to me. Again, this contrasts with Lotusphere where there are business-focused sessions and events for the duration of the event.
  • The main evening's entertainment at a cold out-of-town racecourse does not compare well with trips to Universal Studios in Orlando (Lotusphere again), or even an Amadeus-themed gala at the Hapsburg Palace in Vienna (Planet Tivoli). Need to try harder HP!
So, all in all, a bit of a mixed bag. Too significant to miss, but not 100% what I was after... C'est la vie!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Manning the stand

It was the PocketGPS meet in Basingstoke this last weekend, and given that the hotel used was all of 3 miles from UK SatNav's home, it was thought that it was too good an opportunity to miss. Therefore, the guys manned a stand, selling the full range of SatNav systems and accessories.

The meet was very busy with approximately 500 customers and exhibitors squeezed into a small conference hall that ideally would have held only half that number. Exhibitors included Navman, Tomtom, Garmin and AVMap themselves, plus other luminaries such as The AA, ALK (CoPilot) and TeleAtlas. Although the stands were small, the exhibitors had a lot to offer with some new systems, new software and a lot of technical knowhow. Everyone appeared to be very knowledgeable about their topics, and their was a lot of lighthearted jousting about the relative merits of the products on show. The PocketGPS raffle was as popular as usual, with many new SatNav systems being given away. ALK also gave away large numbers of their new CoPilot software, leading to somewhat of a stampede to say the least!

Given that the week prior to the meet had been such a busy one for new product shipments, UK SatNav had a lot of new kit on the stand, including: Tomtom One, Tomtom Rider, Becker Traffic Assist 7914, Garmin Nuvi 350 and Garmin StreetPilot 2720. The Tomtom One seemed hugely poular, mostly due to the low price and the much publicised new chipset (SiRFStar III) which offers much faster GPS seeks, and better coverage. Given that the Nuvi has this chipset too, but it isn't mentioned on the packaging or specification sheets, I think Garmin are missing a trick there...

It was a great show, and many thanks to Mike Barrett and his team at PocketGPS for organising it. UK SatNav are sure to attend the next meet given the experience at this one.

What on earth??

With thanks to Volker...

I think we might be giving this particular product range a miss this Christmas!

Pee and Poo!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Class ad...

Caption anyone? Thanks Volker...

Gotta get one - Sony Ericsson p990i

Yes, I know, I have only had my Nokia Communicator 9500 for 6 months, but it feels like the time to change already. The 9500 is just too bulky when I already have to carry around a Nokia 8922 that my day job supplies - however I couldn't do without the keyboard or WiFi that the 9500 delivers.

So what is there out there, and the catch here is that the SatNav phone account is with Orange in the UK, who have a limited phone range at the best of times..

Well there's the Palm Treo 650...

which is fabulous in that it syncs well with the Macs we have at home, and has a usable keyboard, plus the 1000s of Palm applciations that are available. However, I've always struggled with the Palm OS, in that it just seems too clunky, and single-tasking. Plus it doesn't have Wi-Fi, so not the one for me...

There's also the Orange SPV M5000, or HTC Universal as most may know it...

This is fabulous new system with touchscreen and stylus, plus a clamshell-style full keyboard. It looks like a great spec, with Wi-Fi, bluetooth and full web browser. However, Mac support is severely lacking, and a 3rd party app would be needed. I also hate the idea of running a Windows-based OS on a phone. My previous SPV E200 crashed too many times while attempting to take calls.

So, I need another alternative. I thought about a Sony Ericsson p910i, but its getting a bit long in the tooth now, and lacks Wi-Fi. However, there is the Sony Ericsson p990i being discussed in a lot of the forums, and a few reviews are beginning to surface. It has the full works - bluetooth, thumb keyboard, stylus, touchscreen, WiFi, FM Stereo, 2MP camera, 3G etc. etc. Plus it is Mac iSync compatible.

If only it was out before 2006! That's a long wait...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Relicore Clarity: Automated application discovery at its best

In the past month or so, we've found another tool to add to the kitbag, and a very impressive one at that. Relicore Clarity automates the process of documenting server and application configurations, by automatically discovering new applications, processes or files on servers in your managed environment. It then maps all interdependencies through a sophisticated Web-based GUI and tracks changes any changes to the enviornment in real time. Great stuff.

This would be pretty good in its own right, but for me the key is that Clarity has interfaces into HP Openview and Tivoli out-of-the-box. In HP's case, this means that the ServiceDesk Change Management Database (CMDB) can be automatically populated by Relicore, creating Configration Intems (CIs) for all the applications on your enterprise or desktop systems. Once in the CMDB, Openview can then create Service Maps (or Relicore can do this itself) within the Service Navigator product that fully map your enterprise application environment.

This really is a super product for any ITIL-compliancy project, particularly one involving HP OV ServiceDesk. For more info, contact either Relicore direct, or their chosen partner in the UK, CompelSolve.

SatNav for RV owners - in a word, BIG!

A solution for those with very wide dashboards, or very poor eyesight, or both... The new Garmin Streetpilot 7200 and 7500 models. With an enormous 7" (480 x 234 pixel) TFT touchscreen, traffic information (as an optional extra), full European maps on board, MP3 facility, and deadreckoning on the 7500, these new models are sure to be as popular as they are big when they are released in Europe in late December.

Recommended prices are yet to be announced in the UK, but are estimated to be £999 for the 7200 and £1,099 for the 7500 model. Professional installation is recommended for the 7500. Looks good!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Google do it again...

You have to admire those folks over at Google, amazing technology after amazing technology, they really are pushing the boundaries.

Try this for size... "Google Local for Mobile":

GLM on phone

Here's the deal - it's a service that runs through a Java application on a number of mobile phones, giving mobile mapping, route planning and local information.

As with Google's browser-based mapping services, you can view either a map, satellite view or a overlaid combination of the two.

Superimposed on this is local business information, currently, but we can see that with Google's penchant for adding advertising to everything, this may be soon added to.

As Digital Lifestyles have found, though currently this does not interract with the GPS-type features of the GSM protocol, this can be unlocked later. Also, with the number of combined GPS/GSM/GPRS devices coming onto the market (Gizmondo for eaxmple), there is nothing to stop Google from moving into the Navigation market too, but with additional advertising/commerce type features.

Clever stuff!


Now here's a thing... Google for "failure" and...

a Google bomb, me thinks!

itSMF Conference, Brighton

Just spent nearly a week down at the itSMF conference at the Brighton Hilton Metropole, managing a stand that the company was running. It was a great week, with some good positive conversations with customers, the odd lead, and a great chance to learn where the ITIL Service Management push is heading.

The conference was entitled "Pragmatic Service Management" which I thought was spot on. The ITIL movement has been very descriptive in the past, effectively stating that this is the standard, and you must adhere to it. This has effectively forced all company that wish to be ITIL-compliant down the same path, no matter what size the organisation or the IT infrastructure being managed. It is clear that this isn't working as well as it might, and a more pragmatic, adaptive approach is required.

Most vendors and service providers represented at the event seemed to have come to the same conclusions at the itSMF, and were trying to work with customers on a modularised process-change approach, with focus on the measurable business benefits (especially cost of course) that would be realised from ITIL-adoption. In particular, those companies offering consultative approaches rather than product-driven solutions seemed to be popular with the attendees.

The only downside for me was that the conference was split over 3 floors of the hotel, and the exhibition itself was split into 4 small halls. As exhibitors in the green hall furthest from the sessions, it was tough getting the customers to spend enough time on the stand. Forunately, next year, the conference is to be held in Birmingham in a much bigger location with a single exhibition hall - should be an event not to miss.

Magellan Roadmate 800 Review

At UK SatNav, they have run the Roadmate 800 (RM800) for a week or so now, and first impressions are very very good.

The high end Magellan range (700, 760 and now the 800) have always been very impressive units with great feature sets, lovely screens and data entry and very large address books with multiple-destination routing. This contrasts with the entry-level Roadmate 300, which is best forgotten, and about which we will say no more...

The brand new RM800, released in early November 2006, offers a vastly reduced price compared with the RM760, at just £549. This now brings it into the realm of the Tomtom Go 700 and Navman iCN550, both of which are great systems, but do have gaps in their feature lists. As you can see from the product details on the site, the RM800 adds full MP3/AAC playback and photo viewing to the RM760 spec, plus a rechargeable battery (roughly 2 hours duration) and (for me at least) the key features of 3D birds-eye view and multi-destination-optimisation.

The MP3 playback works fine, though the speaker is a little tinny. Sound playback through the headphones is very good, and will easily suffice for the odd trip on the train etc. The unit is a bit bulkier than an iPod but obviously gives you the navigation features too - it is far thinner than both the TTG700 and iCN550 though. Photo viewing is great too, though I am struggling to find an application for it! A 240v mains supply is provided, so you could leave this at your workplace to charge the unit for the journey home. As the unit is battery powered, I imagine it would be great for finding streets on foot in the Big Smoke. A 20GB hard drive provides masses of space too.

Address entry and routing has worked flawlessly. Both the buttons and touchscreen are very tactile and work well. The unit does only have 5-digit postcodes, but as discussed previously, this really isn't an issue. Only 2-5% of your time with a Satnav system is spent entering addresses, it's the rest of the 95%+ that matters, and the RM800 excels. It has the latest NavTeq maps (so superior to the TeleAtlas ones in cheaper units), and offers many different options for each route. The unit also has the acclaimed SmartDetour functionality for routing round delays on the road. POIs can also be imported onto the unit (camera locations etc.) Very impressive.

The screen is bright and very clear, and the long flexible mount will put the unit close to the driver for those with poor sight. The unit is supplied with both screen protectors and a good case, so the screen should stay in good condition. The 3D view is clear to follow, and cleverly is combined with detailed schematics of each turn as it is approached, before automatically returning to a wider view. The unit also automatically switches to a more muted night-time view (cleverly mapped to the time AND date, so seemingly matching dusk time) which avoids the blindingly bright displays at night that other units (Navman iCN650 for example) suffer. The RM800 also has the nice feature of a chime that coincides with the turning being suggested, thus avoiding distracting the driver at busy junctions/roundabouts, and a bar at the bottom of the screen that graphically demonstrates the progress to the next turn. All nice, intuitive, thoughtful features.

In summary, we liked it, a lot! A great system for the Executive that drives a lot of miles each year, or for those that travel by public transport that would appreciate the combined GPS/MP3 functionality. At £549, this is great value too.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]

It had to happen!

Thanks to Volker...

Although, at Sony have had the good sense to now pull all the Rootkit DRM-protected CDs, a "sorry" would still be welcome though...

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

BirdFlu epidemic hits Paris

As the owner of 4 chickens, I was starting to worry about BirdFlu, but maybe it does have some positives!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Web - can we ever escape it?

From The Register:

Opera is to supply its browser for the TopSeries in-flight entertainment system Thales sells to operators of the larger Boeing and Airbus planes. So next time you are browsing the web at 30,000 feet, you know who to thank.

The company says its browser was selected because it can be deployed easily in so many languages, including Arabic. Opera describes this as its "internationalization features" (don't ask us), and notes that this includes support for bi-directional scripts.

Brad Foreman Thales' VP of in-flight entertainment systems said: "The Opera product is an excellent fit to our system architecture. It provides the flexibility and utility that our customers are asking for."

So, not content with most of us spending our working lives (and increasingly our leisure time too) staring at a web browser logo spinning whilst waiting for more pointless images to download (excluding this page, of course), now we can do it whilst travelling too! Sometimes technology moves faster than it needs to I feel!

Garmin Nuvi - the perfect travel companion?


These lovely new SatNav units came into our sticky paws today - the Garmin Nuvi 300 and 350.

In many ways, they appear to be a perfect gift or purchase for the travelling businessman. Combining the now standard SatNav features such as importable POIs (Camera locations anyone?), WAAS GPS accuracy and the new SiRFStar III chipset (giving improved GPS signal in most conditions), the Nuvi adds great new ideas such as MP3 player, picture viewer, and audio book player. However, for me, where it really scores is by integrating features that travellers have always needed - world clock with alarm, optional language converter and currency conversion.

Therefore, this really does seems to be a great travel companion. Now, you're probably thinking, my PDA could do all that so what's the big deal? Well, where I've always felt that dedicated transferable SatNav has scored over PDA-based solutions is in making them intuitive, efficient and fool-proof to use. I wouldn't feel comfortable giving a PDA and bluetooth GPS receiver plus assorted cradles and cables to one of the more senior members of my family, as I just know I would be getting the support calls for weeks... Whereas, the Tomtoms and Garmins of this world are succeeding in making the devices truly user-friendly.

In my opinion the Nuvi is one of the sexiest of the devices available today, with beautiful styling and very classy build. With the TMC traffic-avoidance module optional on the 350, it really does make a compelling story.

Friday, October 14, 2005

I'm shocked...

Did you know what your icons were getting up to whilst you were making that coffee?

I'm shocked...

Latest Notes/Domino R7 videos available for download

Thanks to Ed, here are the latest videos used in the Notes & Domino 7 launch events last week. They are so good and relevant, that I for one realy hope that they get made into full TV ads - ther deserve a wider airing than to those that are already ND devotees.

There are two versions - watch out because they are quite large:

Take a look, they are well worth seeing if you are contemplating a review of your messaging infrastructure, or if you need another reason to get your boss to look outside the MS box.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Credit card fraud down by 29% (or is it?)

Well hurrah for Chip and Pin!

Spotted on the BBC News site this morning...

The Association of Payment Clearing Services announces that:

Fraud involving the stealing and counterfeiting of debit and credit cards has fallen 29% year-on-year in 2005"

Well that is a triumph... Except that:

"But the figures are incomplete as they do not include card fraud over the telephone or internet. In addition, the figures do not include fraud committed when cards go missing in the post."

Err yes, umm, well those are kind of obvious omissions right? Cos if I steal a card, am I more likely to use it face-to-face in a pub or shop, or to use it for an anonymous transaction over the Internet - now there's a tricky one! Secondly, somehow they exclude numbers where cards go missing in the post, and therefore I also assume that Identity Theft is also missing from the numbers.

Well let's give the banks their dues, in-person fraud is down by 29%, therefore:

"Between January and June these types of card fraud cost banks £89m, compared with £127m for the same period in 2004."

But, and here's the rub, it isn't the banks that are hurt by card fraud. And it isn't the individual, as they claim their money back from the card company. And it isn't the card payment gateway/machine providers as they claim no responsibility whatsoever, even when they are supposed to authorise the transaction and validate the card-holders identity.

No, it is the retailer every time! When a card holder reports that their card has been used fraudulently, they tell the bank, the bank takes the money back from the retailer (plus a "chargeback" admin fee), and it is up to the retailer to prove that the card transaction was not fraudulent. This is a process that rarely succeeds, is very time-consuming, and when your business is taking a few high value transactions every day, that is a tough risk to have to accept.

So, conclusions:

1) I grudgingly admit that Chip n' Pin has made a difference in face to face scenarios. You just have to wonder why they've had the system in Continental Europe for at lest 10 years before we in the UK agreed it was worth a try.

2) It doesn't make a jot of difference to internet or phone transactions, which is where the majority of fraud takes place.

3) The banks that are making £ billions of profits every year are all to eager to take the credit for the change, despite the fact that they aren't the ones to suffer, and actually they didn't bear the costs of the change to Chip n' Pin either - the retailers are the ones who had to fund new POS systems, card readers etc. It is time they took responsibility for the flaws in their products and systems, and bore the brunt of the risks they present.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Don't say Rabbit!

Some nice Friday afternoon humour (thanks to The Register)...

The BBC reports that posters for the forthcoming Wallace and Gromit spectacular The Curse of the Were-Rabbit on the south-coast island of Portland will not contain the word "rabbit" out of respect for local tradition which has it that the mere utterance of the word causes quarries to collapse entombing local workers forever in killer cement.

As the BBC explains: "Because burrowing can cause landslips in quarries, residents of Portland, Dorset, instead call the creatures underground mutton or furry things." Accordingly, the W&G publicity will carry the alternative slogan "Something bunny is going on".

Weymouth and Portland mayor Les Ames illuminates: "If the word rabbit is used in company in Portland there is generally a bit of a hush. In the olden days when quarrying was done by hand, if one of these animals was seen in the area, the quarryman would pack up and go home for the day - until the safety of the area had been reconnoitred. It is an unwritten rule in Portland that you do not use the word rabbit."

I've personally always found the yokels down that end of Dorset a bit strange (hailing from Poole myself), but you would have to wonder how they would react to posters for a film adaptation of Macbeth...

Have you seen the latest Domino ad yet?

With thanks to Ed, here is the latest ad from IBM, showing that they finally have a handle on how to market the great product that is Notes&Domino. For years we (that is the IBM reseller/influencer community) have been telling, coercing, convincing, hell even proving that Lotus have the beating of Microsoft in the Collaboration (aka Groupware) marketplace.

At last, we have the marketing effort, and more importantly, the advertising nous to outwit the marketeers in Seattle. Its a great ad, smart, funny, hard-hitting, and above all product-focused. Way to go IBM!

Stonking new Personal Media Player arrives...

Lovely surprise in the post today from our favourite electronics distributor...

The PMP3520 personal media player from Directed Mobile Media. Lovely little unit, 3.5" screen, with features like the following:
  • Built-in 20GB HDD (can act as PC external storage),
    • up to 5,000 songs or 80-hours of video clips in your
    • pocket.
  • USB 2.0 OTG can be used as master or slave.
  • FM radio
  • Clock/Alarm/Date Display
  • Voice recorder
  • 3.5” Digital Screen
  • MPEG4 SP/DivX 3,4,5 /Motion JPEG/WMV9 audio/video playback
  • MP3/WAV/WMA/AAC/LPCM/ADPCM audio playback
  • Still Image playback (support various digital camera picture format, JPEG, GIF, TIFF, BMP)
  • Support DivX DRM
  • Slide Show with audio
  • Build-in DivX and/or MPEG4 video encoder, as well as MP3 audio encoder
  • Audio/Video Recording/Capture (PVR)
What that lot means is that it is a picture viewer, MP3 player (incl AAC format), movie viewer (plays DivX), FM radio, and for me the killer app is that it acts as both a USB master and slave, thus meaning that it can act as a repository for photos and other data whilst away from a full PC - great as an all in one device whilst on holiday.

Haven't really had a chance to play yet, but will place a full review up here in the next week or so, and no doubt we will be selling them at UK SatNav ASAP - yes I know its not really core to what we do, but the market for these PMPs is growing all the time, so we need to be in the business. Besides, it is mooted that the next version of the PMP3520 will feature built in GPS too.