Category: Tech Co.s

My 2012 Predictions

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By , December 21, 2011 2:00 pm

Hello?? Is this this on?

Moses, it’s been a while since I posted here, but I thought I’d at least get some thoughts down as how my predictions for 2011 went and to share what might come out in 2012.

So here are my ideas for 2011:

  • More mobile – who really cares what the latest computer is? Everyone is buzzing about phones. Between the fast revisions, portability and dropping price, the promise of capable computing in your pocket (as opposed to the office/den) is appealing to everyone
  • Social everything – we’ve seen how powerful Facebook has become, and it’s not going to weaken anytime in the future. There might be some ripples with Diaspora or other new services, but if they don’t use existing services as a rooting point, they are not going anywhere. To make change, you’ll have to convince a planet wide mob.
  • Bandwidth battles – net neutrality will come to a head again and there is going to be more available, but the providers are going to find more ways to charge for it
  • Text will still rule – even though video and audio will be easier to capture and transmit, people will still post and communicate using letters.
  • Education might actually get the hint that social and mobile compute is something that should be given consideration – well I can hope

So how did I do?

  • More mobile – I think I got this one pretty good. Mobile is eating everyone’s lunch as we go into 2012
  • Social everything – Occupy, Arab Spring and many more history changing events were enabled by our social tools. If people thought that social was only for loners and geeks, they should think again. I got this one.
  • Bandwidth battles – Almost. In Canada, we got a half solution, but we also are offered far more wireline based (including Wifi) than before.
  • Text will still rule – yup, got that one as well. txt messaging has only got bigger.
  • Education might actually get the hint that social and mobile compute is something that should be given consideration – Not being on the ground there, I don’t know how I didn’t but I don’t think any real traction was made there.

So what are my thoughts for 2012?

  • Even more mobile – cheaper and smarter, but not at the same time
  • IP Soap Opera will have some manner of climax – the litigation over IP and patents is embarrassing for everyone involved. I have a hunch though that something is going to wake the litigants up (including Apple) to this fact.
  • Social everything – more than ever before, it will be the glue that knits together separate experiences.
  • Social nothing – our social tools will become old… allowing them to get really useful.
  • Alternative interfaces – Between Siri and Kinect, I’m sure there is going to be some significant traction in the realm of data entry into systems that are increasingly ubiquitous.

So, hopefully I’ll post again next year to see how I did, but in the mean time, I’m still hoping to change this blog into one that is more photography oriented. The problem is of course time. Between work, family, and starting a business, there hasn’t really been time to reflect. I hope that will change, but if not. I’m still sharing all manner of thoughts on edtech, teaching, tech in general and photography on G+, Facebook, and Twitter.

Happy Holidays everyone!

Google’s Google Me – Social Circle/Social Content

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By , August 9, 2010 9:10 am

So I was logging into my work machine this morning and I accidentally hit return after I had put my name into Chrome’s magic bar. So Google diligently went off and performed the vanity search on just my first name. The result this time was different than before. I noticed a new BETA tag.

Google had pulled up not only me, but people who I have in my address book and their content as well – in a “Facebook turned inside out” manner, it seems that they have taken the original ideas behind Pagerank and Backrub and made it social.

If I go and take a look, I get some interesting results. Some of the returns make sense, others don’t. But not bad for a three letter search parameter. At this point, it is certainly geeky and likely not something anything other than edupunks geeks would get into in the educational realm, but the fact that Google is starting to search socially suggests that things are certainly going to heat up soon between Google and Facebook.

Google Buzz First Impressions

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By , February 10, 2010 11:44 am

Well, I’ve got to try Buzz and I have to say that I’m underwhelmed. The system works well for sucking in content (sometimes quite delayed), it allows for content to be reposted to one’s Google Profile, but not back out the the original site. The interface itself is like Friend Feed, but lacking the links back to the longer stories/posts Friend Feed used as a paradigm to allow for posting to other services. Buzz isn’t aware of content in the Gmail system, so you can’t share pictures/videos/links into your buzz network from your email and finally, the interface to get back to the setup for connected sites tends to hide.

The bonus? Well because it links into Reader, it gives people a reason to get back into Google reader and start to star and share things from there again.

The iPad – not a netbook, not an iPhone, not a…

By , January 27, 2010 12:56 pm

Well not anything other than a big hand held game console. Apple had tried before with the Pippin, but for the life of me, and without productivity apps, this is a consumption device. Granted, productivity apps can come through the cloud, but right now, this device is just a client. You might be able to manipulate some content, but not really create it.

Sure it’s also an eBook reader, but I don’t think people are going to pay $1000 for that (I don’t know the price on the device right now, the keynote is in the background), I don’t know if people are going to pay that much for a “take it anywhere” game console.

Sure it’s cool, but I don’t think I’m really sold yet. Now if it is less than the KindleDX, then I might certainly go for it (not having to pay for the 3G connection will help the price). But I guess I’ll have to see it myself to make the call.

I guess I spoke too soon, there is iWork for the iPad.

The price starts at $499 for a wifi version (plus $150 if you want a 3G) – So it’s not that bad, better value than a Kindle right now. Maybe this is the dawn of the smartbook.

My 2010 Predictions

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By , December 21, 2009 12:17 pm

Well 2009 was certainly a transitional year for the type of tech that I follow. We seem to have moved from a world with clear definitions of media type to one where those types are starting to blur. This blurring seems to be due to one factor, the shift toward ubiquitous, real time data. This shift has made an impact on commerce and journalism, avoiding the one place where many would hope it would/could make a difference – education. Perhaps the reason for this is because at it’s root, education is geared to provide a foundation, but this foundation, once built should be using the tools that the “rest of the world” uses, right? Well, that is the conversation that will take forever and will likely never be resolved and in my experience seems to now be related to the fact that in order to exist in the educational sphere, there must be some measure of assessment and there is as of yet, no way to get the assessment tools developed fast enough to match the technologies that are being used. So with that in mind, how might we reconcile this relentless advance of technology with the lead foot dragging of education? Well I’m proposing that we forget about assessment when we are dealing with technology in education in 2010. Rather we look at technology as a way of enabling the communication needed to learn about various parts of the world and deal with the assessments as they are. Perhaps they are antiquated, perhaps they are progressive, but in the end, they are discipline specific and technology is largely discipline agnostic. The assessment of technology use will not actually be done in the classroom, but rather in the halls as students will be the masters of one communication form and instructors of another. Hopefully, there will be enough of an overlap that the two can still communicate.

This does not mean that I’m giving up on integrating technology in education, but rather looking more at what I’ve been saying is the new direction of this blog is – looking at technologies that help advance the story. The story is the learning, the assessment is something else all together.

So with that in the back of your mind, let’s see how I did over 2009. My points from last year:

  • Rise of mobile data/3G in Canada
  • A change in form factor preference
  • Mobile UIs
  • Technology abandonment
  • Photo/Video convergence
  • Rise of mLearning and mobile linked services
  • Net neutrality and Copyright
  • Microblogging going more mainstream and perhaps becoming the search jump point
  • “This is me”
  • The depression/recession/retrenchment

And here is how I think I scored:

  • On the rise of mobile data, well that seems to have happened as data has got much cheaper over the last year and newcomers to the market like Wind Mobile are really helping this. The use of “data sticks” to provide ubiquitous connectivity certainly helps this point get made. There are also more plans out there with unlimited text, which suggests that the telcos are admitting in their own way that it costs less than nothing to handle SMS.
  • The form factor has indeed got smaller and it seems now that Intel has put it’s hammer down and defined what a “netbook” really is, the format is indeed taking off. The use of Android on non phone style devices also points to a change in form factor. The iPhone didn’t really get the accessories to make it that much cooler, but Apple seemed to have other issues with the App store, so perhaps that played into things where developers where not willing/wanting to get involved into big development for the platform. That being said, there were some interesting remote programs as well as the development of hypervisors for the platform that make it more into a controller than a traditional hub. The same holds true with the other mobile platforms.
  • Mobile UIs seem to have had a mixed year. There are more content pages that are delivered in a mobile friendly format, but platform specific UIs (iPhone sites) seem to be dropping off.
  • Technology abandonment, well I should have called this niche gadget abandonment. There are many gadgets out there doing “one offs” other there and none of them seemed to get any traction this year (like the Twitter only Peek), Apps and widgets on the ubergadget seem to be the way that things are getting done.
  • Photo and Video did indeed converge with just about every new SLR body having HD video as a feature.
  • mLearning/Mobile linked and microblogging as the jump search point – well I think I hit that nail on the head pretty good. To the point where the big search engines have integrated Facebook and Twitter into their results. Of course there are many other real time services out there, but now that we see real time data in search, that field is only going to expand and have an impact on the static Web 1.0/1.5 and early Web2.0 content that is out there. New services, if they were to have any real popular geek traction seemed to have at least some type of mobile interface.
  • Copyright continued to grow as did net neutrality. These dry, geeky topics started to come up more often on the news and the public is at least understanding that there is something going on there that they might want to at least be aware of.
  • “This is me” seemed to have a blip this year as Facebook had a “land grab” when it enabled /user account referencing. That didn’t really seem to matter much to anyone as they were already ignoring what it said in the addressbar. People already seem to think of their account in their various SNS to be them, and it seems they don’t need a URL to help that out.
  • Finally the recession, be it over or not, seems to have done one thing – not the scraping for parts that I thought would happen, but rather a bigger move toward virtualization.

So it seems to me that I hit, or at least ticked each item on my list for 2009. So what am I thinking about 2010? Well in a word… cloud. But here is the list:

  • Augmented Reality – phones and other GPS enabled devices will add value to the world by being able to overlay data that incorporates real time updates, static content and, of course, social data.
  • Increased power of mobile – From payments (PayPal has apps out there now), to creation and management, increasingly you’ll have to be able to do it all mobile.
  • Privacy erosion – we’ll see just how fleeting privacy is, anything that gets transmitted is public, period. We should see much more this coming year, how and why this is the case. But at the same time, the value of the crowd being able to take a peek at what you do will gain value.
  • Decline of traditional transmission – I think (and hope) that cablecos will realize that PVR is the first step in enabling people to get content the way that they want – and that way is file based. I don’t know if the cablecos are going to make this move or if the content creators are, but it’s certainly coming. Fast pipes, big drives and cheap streamers make it very easy to set up one’s home to be able to download last night’s episode of whatever and watch it at a more reasonable time. Apple has some of this going through iTunes, but the system is overly restrictive and I don’t think people like the idea of paying for things twice.
  • Casual Gaming will explode – games on Facebook, Twitter, phones are going to grow and traditional games are going to stagnate… unless they have some social element.
  • Chrome – a non phone web based OS is going to make ripples, especially for those many billions out there who only really surf and turf on their machines. For those who need to handle media files, traditional machines will still be there, but the appeal of the “global roaming profile” will certainly appeal to many.
  • Short URLs – There is a reason why Google and Facebook have got into the game. I think brands are going to go to these to show approval or ownership.

So how does this all work with the “Cloud”? Well the cloud is something that is going to be delivered by only a small group of companies. Google, Amazon are Microsoft are the usual suspects to be able to deliver these predictions. I don’t think they will all come to fruition in 2010, but I’m certain that these will all have a solid start and I’m looking forward to see how the way that we learn from the storied that are enabled by these tools come to pass.

Finally, with another thousand posts over 2009, I have one more prediction. There will be much less traditional blogging. I don’t think I’ll have more than 500 posts next year as the emerging world of the web increasingly values the content that is shared in real time. So what does that mean? Well, in the past, when things happened, people blogged it and you’d use feed readers to keep up with what’s happening. Now ephemeral information and information that may not fit 100% with the theme of a blog will be tweeted or delivered over another such tool. What this means is that the tools that we choose to deliver/share content will be determined not by what we like, but by how long we’d like it to stay around (I’m talking best practice here). So I don’t think I’ll post about updating WordPress, because that is something that I’ll put into the twittersphere because it will only be relevant for a short time. But if something happens during that update that I think might have more lasting value, that will end up in the blog and if there are a number of those events that happen, they can be put into a more traditional site.

With that I’ll wrap up for the year, and effectively into the middle of January. You’ll likely see two more PoWs, but I don’t think there is going to be something earth shattering to blog about, but the tweets will likely come as they have.

All the best over the holidays.

GoogleDNS vs OpenDNS

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By , December 5, 2009 2:26 pm

Well this week, we saw things move one step closer toward the day that Google will complete it’s mission of “organizing the world’s information”. GoogleDNS has arrived and regardless if you think 8 is lucky ( or – I think it was luck that those addresses were free at all) or not, someone is going to come up a winner. Why? Well like the people behind OpenDNS, competition in this rather interesting market can only be good. Google doesn’t yet offer filtering, so right now there is a reason to choose one over the other.

If I have kids over who are going to be using my computers and I want to make sure that everything is above the board, I’ll swap things out for OpenDNS ( That way I can block off things that would make for uncomfortable discussion before it even gets a chance to get going. But if I know everyone is going to be responsible and I need to get results fast, I’ll likely use Google.

Google’s move is likely paired with the launch of ChromeOS – I have a hunch that it will route everything through there and mine that data for revenue streams later. OpenDNS makes money from filtering and it’s other options, so I can’t imagine that Google doesn’t have a plan for monetizing this.

If you want to see how fast Google or one of the other public DNS tools might be for you, check out namebench.

It’s about the apps…

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By , November 30, 2009 11:07 am

Many people have been noticing for a while now that the mobile telcos have been promoting the apps that run on their phones as opposed to the OS, or even the specific device. I have no doubt, this was inspired by Apple, and the App Store, but it seems to have spread rather handily to non iPhone carriers as well. With this in mind, I think we have started to see an age of mobile computing that really doesn’t care about the OS that is running the phone as long as there are a collection of apps that will allow the user to get the work that they consider “mission critical” to get done, done. People also don’t want to have to bother with the OS at all when they are using a phone. Form factor also comes into play, as some people like the keyboard and others don’t, but the long and the short of it is that if you want to be able to get to your Facebook on the go in addition to being able to use star charts, you have X number of choices. As you increase the length of the wish list, the number of devices that you would find acceptable drop, assuming you are equally comfortable in any environment.

This last point is important, as if you are not comfortable in the the interface presented on say the Blackberry, and prefer the iPhone app, well then you are likely going to pick an iPhone (or iPod) when it comes time to get a phone. If one of the compromises that you are not willing to make when mobile is the use of physical keys, then you might be forced back the ‘berry, but you might then also consider one of the Android or Symbian phones out there. These sorts of compromises are expected when looking at the smaller form factors, but as the form factor gets larger, people are willing to compromise less and arguably, the definition of mission critical application also changes.

Moving into the netbook space and beyond, you might start looking at being able to do more than initiate and respond to messages. You might want to be able to create and edit, with some degree of sophistication, content. Both MacOS and Windows based laptops provide this functionality, but with different amount of babysitting on the part of the user. The MacOS and Win7 provide “just works” level of operation, while XP, Vista and *nix systems will suffer some with respect to usability. This need to babysit the OS detracts from being able to use the apps that one wants to be able to get to for their work. As the machine gets bigger, physical and connectivity compromises change, but there will always be the need to give and take with respect to something.

Nothing I’ve said here should be rocket science to anyone, so why take the time to write this up? Well, this weekend I got thinking about ChromeOS and what it will take for it to really take off with the non geek crowd. It will be the apps. There are already ‘net based versions of Photoshop and Office and I can’t imagine that with those two suites moving to online offerings, that others won’t follow. Right now, those apps will work on a range of browsers, making compromises for all manner of browser based issues. But if that ‘net app is accessed through Chrome, some of those compromises will likely be mitigated as they would be able to have access to many more resources than they currently can. So if Chrome rolls out with a suite of apps from Microsoft, Adobe and Apple (I really hope Apple is thinking about doing something with respect to a ‘net based Aperture for Chrome), things might just take off, solving another problem users of netbooks and larger systems. That being what the heck should they buy?

This question is what crystallized this post for me yesterday while watching the game with my brothers. Apple has really helped users simplify the purchasing process by presenting the basics – size and price (and charging a pretty penny for this simplification). Windows systems on the other hand are just as complex a buying experience as ever, in large part due to the selection that serves to drive prices down to loss leading levels. So how should someone looking to buy a computer make the choice these days? It should not matter what the hardware is or what the OS is. Google’s move into the OS market might help this out however. If ChromeBooks start coming out next year, the hardware will really become irrelevant. It won’t matter if you get one built by Acer, Asus or AnyOneElse. With Chromium, it won’t even matter if the hardware is Apple, once you boot and login, you have access to what really matters, the apps that you use to get things done.

My take on Google Wave

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By , October 9, 2009 8:52 am

waveSo, everyone out there who has picked up an invite has been posting their reflections on Wave and so this will be one more voice to add. My quick take on this service is that it is a very powerful bulletin board. People involved share a common document and can attach elements just like a regular board. The difference is being able to move forward and back in stages.

So what about the problem that this is waiting to solve? Well unlike a bulletin board that is open to everyone, this is more like email. A conversation that is closed to everyone but the invited participants. Unlike email, the entire body of the exchange sits in one place, like a bulletin board. Like email, this is going to be used for communication and collaboration, but unlike email, I don’t think that this is going to be as accessible on mobile devices (other than Android) for a while. This is certainly going to be something that is going to limit it’s uptake.

So what about my comment about this being the social network for ubergeeks? Well I don’t think that is going to happen. Wave has at it’s core a technology that might help other social networks allow their users to communicate much more easily, but on it’s own, no. It is going to be likely far more useful as a project based collaboration tool in an office or other project oriented environment than in the free wheeling social arena.

I’ll continue to use it in the office to collaborate and as I do, I’m sure I’ll find new uses for it (right now I’m thinking a replacement for Google Notes). And in the end, as my colleague just mentioned… “it can do lots of interesting stuff… we just don’t know what yet”.

The part that sucks? No invites for me to give out just yet.

Project Natal

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By , June 3, 2009 11:31 am

I know I’m late blogging about this, but I’ve been busy looking at Wave and trying to find out as much as I can about Natal. The end result on both is that there is surprisingly little, but the promises are considerable. I’ve signed up for my Wave account and I’m seeing that some people on Twitter and in the blogosphere have played with it and are liking it quite a bit. If you can put the ideas of Natal together with the data management of Wave, you are really getting close to the Minority Report interface for all manner of content. If you haven’t seen the promo video, take a look at this – and appreciate the irony of a MS demo being delivered by Google:

The only issue that I can see right now is getting people used to pantomime to control. I can’t imagine MS not wanting to get into the prop market as well and selling wheels and swords and all manner of other props. It’s going to be interesting to see the stories of the first person to go through their TV.

This idea has real credibility in my mind with the stuff that Molyneux has done with Milo:

This technology is going to really change games, and hopefully it will enter other applications quickly.

Waving farewell to silos – or are we?

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By , June 1, 2009 11:55 am

Google’s Wave is supposed to be the answer to “what would email look like if it were invented today”, but the more I hear and read about it, I think that it might be more “what would interactions on the web be like if they were all invented today”? With the understanding that the ideas for Wave come from having lived through early versions and that Wave only looks like what it does because we have elements of old paradigms present and refined. If this were all invented today it might all look like <gets ready to duck><ducks> Twitter <cautiously pops back up> for all we know. But enough of the “if today” conversation, what could come from Google’s latest creation?

To the common, slightly geeky user, I think Wave could really become the ideal social networking tool. Geeks have specialized silos to store all their bits and pieces, they use tools like RSS to pull them into this place or that. As a last resort, geeks can use a direct link to post their content to forums or other systems as needed. These people have likely been hesitant to use Social Networking tools like Facebook for the grey space that used to define who owns what. But to the masses, social networking sites are their silo. They drop all thier pictures, their writing and their personal information there without very much thought. This may be a side effect of having a generation of ‘net users using LMSs at school.

If Google succeeds, then there will be this great world of data that “just is” and through the magic that is Wave, gets connected up into conversations that happen with variable levels of synchronicity to allow for collaboration. But a problem still exists insofar that the geeks will still need to store their data in their specialized silo and the non geeks will still need a general silo. Google’s solution to this might be the “federated” model of servers – which is great… but who is going to want to do it?. I can’t see Facebook all of the sudden thinking that it would be a good idea to use set up a Wave server to allow their users to collaborate with non users and the same is likely true with all manner of other SNSs and other services out there. Of course, if Wave is all that it is purported to be, then these other companies might just make the leap for their users. But what if the common geek and the common ‘net user aren’t the main audience for this service?

If the main design ethos behind this technology was to rethink email and the main users of email are now within corporate and the main place that people would need to collaborate is at work, then the office space might be where one should be looking to see what Wave might be all about. The “enterprise” market is all about communication and collaboration and there are many tools to allow individuals within these corporations to achieve this end. If there is a company that wants to hoard all it’s data, but still wants people to work together, the possibility exists for a “standing wave” (my term/attempt at a pun) that doesn’t move data anywhere outside it’s definition. Other companies might want to come up with an easy way to have teams of people collaborate between silos should the need ever arise, and it seems that Google has that covered as well.

So which enterprise (if any) want to be able to both hoard and share data? Well… I would think Higher Ed (and education in general) would love to be able to share when needed, and protect the rest of the time. Thinking simplistically, universities and school boards are almost all now using an LMS to be able to store most, if not all content related to their mission in one place. This is fine for most of the day to day activities of the enterprise, but not for those odd times for when outside users are needing access. Sure the host instition can provide guest access through many means, but this is a cludge as the user likely has content at the home location that might be useful in the collaboration. Bringing this content over is often a hassle even if both institutions use the same system. Wave might be able to change this.

In Higher Ed, this might mean that researchers would be able to collaborate with ease as “Wave Enabled” (I call TM if nobody else has used this term) institutions would be able to use permissions to allow the guests access to the host institute with ease and then be able to move content back and forth with ease and all through one U/P combination. This of course is one of the more exotic situations that might come about. A far more mundane example would be students taking courses. If Wave is used as the interface to an existing or future LMS (Wave based or not) students will have, for the first time, an LMS that is based around the idea of collaboration and not simply storage and presentation. Micheal Feldstien has a great writeup on this here.

So when all is said and done, we might not be saying farwell to silos, but with tools/ideas like what Google has put forward, we are starting to punch out windows to allow those inside those silos to “Wave”. If you are still interested in other takes on Wave, check out – this writeup on ComputerWorld.

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