Blog, featured, General

Podcast – What’s Old Is New Again

15 Nov , 2013  

SECURITY.EXE Podcast

 

 

I’m happy to let everyone know that Alan Shimel and I are podcasting together again!

We’ll have a podcast up very soon. Stay tuned.

Cloud, featured, General, IT, Network

Network Virtualization: Next Battlefront for Your Data Center

3 Sep , 2013  

Everyone’s very familiar with server virtualization technology (VMware, Hyper-V, Xen, KVM); creating virtual server instances instead of matching server hardware up with a single operating system. Most medium and many small sized business have carved out a server virtualization strategy and are well down the path of virtualizing the computer room or data center. Virtualizing servers is an established best practice.

What you may not realize is the heated battle between vendors to virtualize the network is in full gear (network virtualization or Software Defined Networks). Combatants include well established companies such as Cisco, VMware and IBM, open source initiatives like OpenStack, university research programs, and industry organizations and standards including OpenFlow (ONF), NfV (ETSI), and OpenDaylight (Linux Foundation).

Consider network virtualization an open battlefield where new entrants and established players see an opportunity to unseat traditional network vendors, most notably Cisco. During August 2013’s VMworld Expo, VMware pre-announced their NSX network hypervisor. HP and Juniper co-announced plans to integrate VMware NSX with their respective SDN controllers and Layer 2 gateways.

Keeping up on all that’s happening in network virtualization can be challenging for network engineers and IT managers in small-to-medium sized businesses. What’s occurring is more than just an incremental move to virtualize elements within of the network. SDN and virtualization are fundamentally redefining how we design and think about data networks, emphasizing software functionality over traditional network hardware, dynamic network creation/reconfiguration through OpenFlow and network controllers, collapsing network functions into multi-purpose network devices, and performing network administration tasks through APIs and scripting languages such as Python and Django framework. These represent substantial, if not fundamental, changes in how we design and manage networks today, and the network engineering skills necessary.

What should IT and network engineering organizations do to prepare for network virtualization?

  1. Build new network engineering skills through exposure to existing server and storage virtualization technologies, and script development with Python, Django and web services (popular scripting languages used in SDN open source initiatives).
  2. Leverage existing virtual network technologies such as software-based network elements (firewalls, load balancers, etc.) including those provided through Amazon Web Services, network vendor offerings such as the Cisco Nexus platform, open source and 3rd party software options (Kemp’s load balancer for example).
  3. Review and educate you and your team on the virtualization strategies of your current or desired key vendors. Keep in mind their strategies can range from supporting industry collaboration and open source, to more defensive and proprietary approaches.
  4. Outline for vendors your interests and plans for network virtualization.
  5. Require vendors begin to virtualize traditional hardware-only network products and appliances. You can bet your enterprise IT counterparts are doing the same.

Short URL to this post: http://goo.gl/f6eGkm

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Apple, Cloud, featured, IT, Mobility

Google Pushes Apple To Improve iOS 7 For Business Users

12 Jun , 2013  

iOS_7Thank you Google Android for pushing Apple to bring iOS current with iOS 7, sort of. Talk to most anyone and they are mildly excited about the coming changes to the iPhone/iPad operating system. While many of us, business users included, still love our iPhone and iPad devices, true innovations in iOS have been slow in coming. Apple has been unable to match the pace of innovation of Android devices. Many of iOS 7’s new features can be directly attributed to existing features in other versions of Android.

iOS 7 is more of a UI facelift than a leap in innovation, with very useful additions such as easy access to common settings, Activation Lock, multitasking, auto updating of apps, and more notification improvements (which recent iOS 6 updates struggled to improve). But the new “flat” UI design along with these useful improvements are just that, improvements, not the true innovations we expect from Apple. iOS 7 shows Apple is playing catch up more than staking out any claim that iOS 7 is a mobile OS game changer.

There are important features in iOS 7 business users will find helpful. AirDrop means less emailing and texting of photos and contacts to someone nearby, make FaceTime VoiP calls over Wi-Fi to save cell phone minutes and international roaming charges, the new Control Center makes switching in and out of Airplane Mode quicker when getting on and off the plane while juggling your carry on bag, seamless automatic joining to wi-fi networks that support the Wi-Fi Alliance’s Passpoint technology, and a small but helpful feature is the Clock app icon now shows the correct time including second hand movement (sorry, that always bugged me).

ios7_for_businessThese new iOS 7 features are helpful, but as a business and consumer user, I wanted much more from iOS 7. If you aren’t a Pandora user then iTunes Radio is marginally interesting. iWorks apps are very long in the tooth and integrating then into iCloud doesn’t do much for Microsoft Office users, and filters for pictures and built in flashlight features mean a few less 3rd party apps, yawn.

Apple’s web site gives a paragraph description of iOS 7 and business, describing capabilities that make it easier to manage app licenses, wireless configuration, single sign-on, better protection for personal and work data, and data protection for 3rd party apps. But there isn’t even a link to take you to a more in-depth description about iOS 7 and business. I want to hear a lot more about these features and hopefully we will soon.

Short URL to this post: http://goo.gl/J83V8

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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featured, IT, Social

Rise of the Social Business

10 May , 2013  

In addition to the commercialization of IT, BYOD, and the use of personal cloud services, mid-sized businesses are grappling with how to manage, adopt and embrace social media as a tool for internal business collaboration and communication. Social media has proven its value in our personal lives, through the sharing of ideas, opinions, stories and personal status. In the business context, social business tools can bring similar benefits to employees and staff, serving as a platform for communication and collaboration that breaks through traditional organizational and communications barriers.

Generational Shift In Communications

Why do mid-sized businesses struggle with the internal use of social media? Like a majority of the current workforce who didn’t grown up in a world enveloped with texting and social media, businesses are experiencing the effects of the generational shift to this new model of communication. In a subtle but fundamental way, social media doesn’t rely on the same large message, sender controlled communications model inherent in email, fax, telephone and voicemail. Business oriented social media tools appear at odds with the tried and true communication methods relied upon for decades.

How is social media different than traditional communications? Lets use email as an example. With email, control of the content and who consumes that content is sender controlled. The sender specifies the audience (one or multiple recipients) for which the information is intended, and the sender by in large is in control of who receives the email. Unless the email is forwarded, only the a limited set of intended individuals can access the contents of that email. Additionally, email messages can be of any length, frequently containing lengthy, rich content and attachments.

Social media flips this traditional communication model on its head. The sender is no longer in control of who receives their communications; the universe of “followers”, friends or potentially anyone (including automated processes) can consume content when it’s sent. The sender likely never knows who consumed their content, unless recipients reply, converse or direct message the originator. Content consumers have total control over who’s content and what content they wish to view, follow and be in conversation with. The sender’s content is “out there” for virtually anyone to consume, often by content consumers the sender may never know.

Social media tools often enforce message size limitations, such as Twitter’s 140 character limit which drops to around 117-118 characters when a URL is included. While other social media tools such as Facebook don’t enforce such a limited message size, social norms emphasize brevity, shorter and more frequent messages that often include URLs to articles or additional content. Lengthly and verbose posts are ignored by most content consumers and go unread. The same brevity norms apply to text messaging.

Understanding the fundamental shift of social media aides in increasing user adoption and makes it easier to understand how social business tools can increase engagement and knowledge sharing, and better facilitate collaboration compared to traditional communications tools.

Increasing Social Business Adoption

Digital social interaction isn’t new to mid-sized businesses; it’s already happening via email, instant messaging and online forums. The challenge is getting the frequently long threaded email chains out of email and into conversational social business tools, where broader groups of participants can interact. Migrating from online forums to social business tools such as Yammer or Jive is less challenging than getting users to try tools beyond tried and true email. It’s often too easy to live out our work day in Outlook, versus expecting users to take the conscious steps of using an alternative tool.

New applications, particularly unfamiliar social business tools, can appear intimidating and users often need compelling reasons to try out something new. Here are five ways to help encourage interaction on social business tools.

  1. If you know Facebook, you can use social business tools. During a meeting, one participant sited his reason for not using Yammer was due to his lack of knowledge with how to use the tool. The answer provided to him was actually very simple; he already knew how to use Yammer because of his experience using Facebook. Re-enforce with users that social business tools operate very much the same way as the social media tools they already know.
  2. Lighten your Inbox load. Who doesn’t suffer from too much email in their inbox? Everyone can relate to solutions that alleviate influx of email into their inbox. Suggest to users that social business tools help move those annoying email threads they are frequently cc’d on to a more appropriate tool where you can more easily chose to participate,  follow the conversation thread (versus fragmented email conversation threads), and manage your notification level.
  3. Asking the question can be more important than the answer. Asking the right questions can rapidly create engagement amongst staff who have views and ideas on the topic. Put questions out there and see what topics and types of questions generate the most interaction. Post questions such as; “What is the one thing you would do to most improve customers’ experience when doing business with us?”, “What’s the best product you’ve recently discovered?”,  “What could we do to improve our presentations?”, “Why is our company a great place to work and what could we do better?”, and “How would you reduce calls to customer service?”.
  4. Create opportunistic social collisions. When senior leadership posts on a social business tool, employees pay attention. It often creates an implicit expectation to join in. If the CEO posts about a topic, or encourages employees to participate, it’s a pretty strong message to everyone that we should all join in. And there are many ways to create opportunistic collisions through content that engages staff. Social business tools often include the ability to host an online poll. Create an area to post about interesting and thought provoking posts, industry related news, and feedback about company products or events. Or create a section about ideas for innovation.
  5. Integrate important content with your social business site. Most mid-sized businesses already have an intranet, likely in a wiki or content management system such as Drupal or Joomla. Integrate social business tools into your intranet and other frequently accessed internal content. The opportunity for interaction is much greater if users are already going to the intranet to get a form or lookup information.

Short URL to this post: http://goo.gl/HbBNp

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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featured, General, IT, Mobility, Uncategorized

The CIO Role – From Tech Manager to IT Services Broker

27 Mar , 2013  

Recently I was asked to define the role of a CIO in medium-sized businesses so I thought I would share my thoughts and research on the topic. There are many definitions of the CIO’s role. Traditionally the CIO role is defined as managing technology for the business and managing how information is utilized. Views vary whether the role is best served by a business person or a technologist.

In fact, the role of CIO has changed significantly  in medium-sized businesses over the past several years. Once viewed as order takers and leaders of the “techie group”, CIOs now work with the CEO and senior executives to understand current and future business goals, develop technical strategies that enable and facilitate those goals, bring technology enabling opportunities to the business, and create alignment within the IT organization and across its actions.

Effective CIOs see the big picture, understand and anticipate where the business is going, anticipate what challenges may be faced and what opportunities might arise that can be leveraged to benefit a medium-sized business.  CIOs take the initiative to distil changes in the technology marketplace, translate those changes into business value, surface technology-based opportunities, innovate and experiment, and lead cross-organization initiatives to achieve the strategic and tactical business goals.

As an example, the CIO must anticipate the impact of changes from a workforce that is more mobile, works from many locations, uses multiple devices (corporate and personally owned), and has “consumer expectations” of IT technology.

The CIO’s new role is to serve as a broker or conduit to business and technology solutions, assist in re-engineering business processes, educate the organization about potentially valuable technologies, and negotiation with and manage vendors. Most importantly, the CIO facilitates the organization’s access to online services, business applications, hardware and software tools, and technology-based services.

CIOs constantly ask themselves and the organization questions such as:

  • What are the impacts of business decisions on how we work, who we hire, and what business processes must change?
  • Are we capitalizing on technology for shareholder/member value and business profitability?
  • How do we foster a high-performance, creative and collaborative culture?
  • How can we better empower the organization with technology to make it more productive, efficient and lean?
  • What new innovations can IT bring to the business?
  • What technical skills are needed, and how do we develop internal staff and leverage external talent?
  • How do we identify and leverage the company’s knowledge resources?
  • What information exists or is needed by the organization, and how can we transform that information into company-wide solutions?
  • What new or changes in technologies have implications to the business?
  • What can IT do to be more efficient and effective in our use of technology?

Sources for this post: In addition to my own views on the topic, there were also several useful resources if found as part of my research. Some views matched up very well, while others held a differing opinion. Feel free to check out these resources.

Short URL to this post: http://goo.gl/fzH5K

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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Apps, Cloud, featured, IT, Mobility

Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC) Strategies for Medium-Sized Business

6 Mar , 2013  

 Short URL to this post: http://goo.gl/E0kiL

Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC) is here and will only increase its presence in medium-sized businesses. iPhone users store company information, including files and emails, in their personal iCloud account. Staff utilize Dropbox and Evernote to manage confidential business information, notes and files. We should only expect continued growth of this trend and our best approach is to get ahead of it, not in front it.

What are IT adoption strategies for BYOC? I prefer to be realistic about such trends. IT customers will continue to utilize their own productivity devices, software and the online services they feel will aid them in the work environment, whether it’s sanctioned by the business or not. If IT doesn’t provide them, IT customers will acquire it themselves. If IT attempts to block their use, our customers will just do it anyway. Company policies on these matters aren’t effective because there are no serious consequences for violations, so IT customers use unapproved consumer cloud services anyway.

Business Editions – Finally

Consumer cloud services have taken a page right out of Apple’s “camel’s nose under the tent” playbook: rely on employees to bring consumer cloud services into the enterprise instead of working through the tedious and more stringent IT approval process. But consumer clouds’ success brings with it the message from the business that these services need to add more robust enterprise management, security and user account management capabilities. And many services are beginning to do just that, often in a slow and incremental fashion, but they are making the move towards addressing IT’s needs. Consider the following business-friendly alternatives to consumer cloud services.

Evernote now offers Evernote Business, a hybrid cloud service connecting personal Evernote accounts with shared business notebooks managed by your company. This allows Evernote users within a company to access, modify and manage notebooks controlled by your company, while still maintaining the privacy of users’ personal Evernote notebooks.

Dropbox offers Dropbox for Teams, taking the simplicity of shared folders to the next level. Businesses can create, share and manage access to folders they control, view user activities, control whether company folders can be shared with others outside the company, and enforce two-step user verification.

Box.com and ownCloud are comparable to business versions of Dropbox, while offering much, much more. Box.com is one of the most business friendly and mature file sharing cloud offerings available. Box.com offers passwords and time limits on shared files and folders, activity logging and audit trails, mobile clients, extensive user management, AD and LDAP integration, social collaboration, and a community of application developers significantly expanding upon the Box.com platform.

ownCloud is an open source software, private cloud, internally operated alternative to Dropbox and it possess a significant number of the management capabilities required IT. ownCloud offers content management (including restricting the types of files that can be shared), file versioning, encryption, mobile clients, user management through LDAP and Active Directory, and open APIs. If you haven’t checked out ownCloud, you owe it to yourself to do so.

These are just a few of the medium-sized business friendly cloud service alternatives to consumer cloud offerings. If your IT customers are using services such as Dropbox or Evernote, consider the business edition alternatives we’ve discussed here.

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

 

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Cloud, featured, Games, IT, Mobility

Are you ready for BYOC? – Bring Your Own Cloud

17 Feb , 2013  

Short link to this post: http://goo.gl/q4KGj

A not so subtle undertone of CES 2013 was the expanding presence of the cloud, smartphone and tablet apps that connect consumer products with online user data and services. IT organizations of mid-sized businesses are already familiar with consumer devices, apps and cloud services, including smartphones, tablets, Dropbox, Google apps, SugarSync, Evernote, iCloud, Microsoft SkyDrive and Yammer (to name a few), that utilize online storage and application services. Even though many of these cloud services have little or no corporate IT administration capabilities, services like Google Drive, Evernote and Dropbox are accepted solutions in many small-to-medium sized companies.

More consumer cloud services and devices are headed into the business environment as employees erase the boundaries that separate company approved solutions and technology end users’ use in their connected lives. Health and wellness biometric sensors, wi-fi enabled cameras, audio connected devices, cloud connected cars and trucks, social networking, cloud-based home security monitoring and smart home devices… all types of personal and consumer products represent “connections” end users want to bring with them and access from the workplace.

Consumer technology has shifted from connecting your device to a computer to configure, sync or download data, to registering your device or user account with the accompanying consumer cloud service to perform sync, access data and utilize online services. IT customers bring personal smartphones and tablets into the workplace everyday, expecting to use their consumer devices and accompanying apps as essential productivity and communications tools. This consumer cloud and app bundling is now the norm — Count up the number of apps and online services you use on a weekly or even daily basis. You’ll be surprised at how many cloud services are tied to devices and apps that tag along with you everyday.

All of this represents the next steps beyond BYOD, what I refer to as Bring Your Own Cloud (BYOC). With devices comes apps, and with those apps comes the cloud services they rely upon. Depending on your corporate IT DNA and acceptance of using personal devices connecting in the workplace, BYOC can represent a great opportunity or an even greater challenge to IT’s ability to weave together a suite of productivity tools and applications, while still meeting uptime, interoperability, corporate data protection and security requirements.

What does this trend mean for mid-sized business IT organizations? As IT leaders we must anticipate users wanting, and expecting, to use more consumer devices, apps and cloud services in the work place. We can either embrace the challenge and determine how to best adapt to IT customers use of BYOC, or deny its existence all the while it is happening around us. My approach has always been to figure out how to embrace what IT customers want to do, help find solutions and strategies to make it work, not ways to shoot down their ideas. Don’t be the traditional IT “Land of No”. (See my post IT can’t say No anymore, Learn how to say Yes.)

In my next blog post, we’ll talk about strategies to help you avoid being the IT Land of No in your quest to embrace the challenges of BYOC.

IBMThis post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

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featured, Games, Hardware, IT, Mobility, Uncategorized

CES 2013 – Day 2 Highlights

10 Jan , 2013  

Day 2 at CES was just as exciting and exhausting, filled with too many products, innovations and ideas to mention. Here are a few highlights.

Sharp IGZO smartphone display

Sharp IGZOSharp demonstrated IGZO, underlying display technology present in Sharp smartphones and to-be-commercial monitor offerings. Bringing improved performance, lower power consumption, and 10 point touch interface technology, what I found most impressive was its responsiveness to the touch interface. For example, scrubbing forward/backward through a video on an IGZO smartphone was smooth and lacked the jumps and starts present on the iPhone (even with Retina). I find the scrubbing scroll bar in iTunes and watching videos difficult to use on the iPhone because of its poor detection of touch and stickiness when sliding the glide bar, whereas it was accurate and effortless on the IGZO smartphone display. Watch this IGZO smartphone demo on Phandroid.

StickNfindStickNFind Bluetooth locator

Stick a small Bluetooth sensor on anything and it’s now easier to find with StickNFind. Utilizing small a small transmitter (quarter sized) emitting a low power Bluetooth signal, tagged items can be located with a range finder type smartphone app. You can also set the app to alert you when the item comes within range. Attach a sticker to just about anything; TV remote, computer, pet, luggage, keys, etc. Stickers operate on watch-sized batteries and can last up to one year. The smartphone app is free but stickers aren’t cheap (2 @ $49.95, 4 @ $89.95 retail) — you can get a price break on them at indiegogo for the next few days.

Corning Gorilla Glass 3Corning Gorilla Glass 3

An incremental improvement rather than a revolutionary announcement, Corning brings us the third iteration of Gorilla Glass. Scratching your smartphone screen has more implications that just the scratch itself — small micro fractures are created all along the scratch, making it much more likely the display will fail in a future stress event. With Gorilla Glass 3, edges along any scratch bond more tightly together and suffer fewer micro fractures. Anything that helps prevent our smartphone screens from failing during a drop is a good thing.

Samsung Galaxy cameraSamsung Galaxy Camera

Samsung’s had an interesting approach to marketing the Galaxy Note (I & II) and now the Galaxy camera at CES, promoting its “artistic” capabilities and image effect features. The entire back of the Galaxy camera is a touch screen where the images are viewed, manipulated and setting changes are made. The Galaxy camera is Wi-Fi connected and will immediately upload photos to Dropbox or other online services. (I would love to have one of these for blogging while at events like CES.) Samsung had attendees lined up again at this years CES, printing attendees’ enhanced photos on tshirts, mugs and small picture blocks.

3 screen Angry Birds3 Screen Angry Birds

In the “just for fun” category, how about Angry Birds spread across three contiguous screens. A bit excessive? Not necessarily, if you love Angry Birds enough. Seeing this made me smile, so I had to include it to this post.

 

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featured, Games, Hardware, IT, Mobility, Uncategorized

CES 2013 – Day 1 Highlights

9 Jan , 2013  

I’m on my second annual visit to CES in Las Vegas. While it’s nearly impossible to see everything, there are products, technologies and companies I wanted to seek out, and along with others I came across while cruising the show floor. Here are a few of the highlights from my first day.

Ubuntu Phone OS

On my list to seek out, Canonical Ltd was a high priority visit. The Ubuntu phone demo didn’t disappoint. Ubuntu takes a decidedly different approach in its UI – no physical phone buttons and the OS and apps maximize screen real estate use by putting options and controls on slide outs from the left, right, top and bottom of the screen.

No word on a release date, developer information is on the website, there will be an online store similar to that on Ubuntu desktop. And yes, users will have access to the Ubuntu command line. If Canonical plays their cards right, Ubuntu phone could be a big hit in what’s generally considered to be a phone OS market already owned by Apple and Google. HTML 5, QML, Qt Framwork and an open source model could make Ubuntu phone a favorite with techies, jail breakers and open source advocates.

3D Printers

While I’ve heard about 3D printers, it was even cooler to actually see two of them in action; one that prints with heated mesh and another that lays down a polymer as thin as 6 nanometers. Sample items at the show were chains (motorcycle), gears, computer mice, and many others. Used primarily to create prototypes of to-be-manufactured objects, seems we’re at the beginning of what this technology might bring to us.

Samsung Smart Life

Is the TV remote control a thing of the past? I think so, to be replaced by your smartphone and/or tablet. Not just to control the TV, but to manage everything; home devices, lighting, HVAC, energy consumption, multimedia, etc. Samsung had a nice “home life” demo.

Sony SimulView / Full screen multi-player gaming

If you’ve played multi-player console games, you’re experienced split-screen gaming. The screen is carved up in half or in quadrants for 2, 3 or 4 players — a big compromise each player makes, sacrificing major screen real estate.

Sony had an amazing demo of SimulView. All players utilize the full screen for their own view of the game, simultaneously. To separate their respective views, players wear passive glasses, making the screen appear to only show their view of the game.  Now, play the game using SimulView on an 83″ 4KTV and you’ll be impressed too.

Sensors, sensors, sensors … collecting lots of big data.

Whether it was a device simulating a Ferrari formula 1 race care steering wheel, or body monitors that help you lose weight and maintain your health, sensors are appearing in just about everything. Sensors are everywhere and we’re only at the beginning of their proliferation.

An interesting question: Will products, services and companies want data from the products we use, what can they do with it, where will that data live, and what privacy concerns arise? If your workout body monitor asks you if you’d like to participate in their product improvement program by sharing your data with them, should you?

Mobile, Smartphones and Tablets

If it’s not gone mobile yet, it will. Smartphones and tablets are taking the place of PC apps and specialized hardware control devices. Mobile and tablet apps where everywhere, reporting information from Wi-Fi home weather station sensors, controlling strange little roll’y balls that almost emoted a Star Trek tribble-like personality, and NVIDIA powered tablets embedded as the UI and control surfaces in Tesla and Audi cars. The primary use case for smartphones is rapidly being displaced by our universal ‘life’ remote, used to display content and information, and control so many objects throughout our daily lives.

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Apple, featured

HyperCard’s 25th Anniversary

12 Aug , 2012  

Welcome to HyperCardSaturday was the 25th anniversary of Apple’s HyperCard, a visual stack and card-metaphor database and application tool for the Mac. HyperCard introduced many Mac users to some basic object oriented programming concepts, though HyperCard’s HyperTalk scripting language was somewhere between a quasi object oriented scripting tool and a Visual Basic-like language.

While working at EDS, we used HyperCard on a number of projects; creating a personal information manager app called Executive Desktop, and using HyperCard as an interface to back end systems and dial up stock quote services. Creating stacks (apps) in HyperCard is how I wound up with my top-notch Advanced Technology Projects team in a meeting with Bill Atkinson, HyperCard’s creator, showing him our apps and asking questions about future HyperCard capabilities, and later demoing our apps to Apple CEO, John Sculley, not long after Steve Jobs unceremonious departure from Apple.

HyperCard proved to be much more than just a card and stack-based database and scripting tool. It was also a fast, lightweight prototyping tool. But HyperCard was so versatile it suffered from somewhat of an identity crisis; was it an interactive encyclopedia, digital instruction manual, contact list, database or programming tool? It was all those things but to fully understand HyperCard, you had to use it. HyperCard’s versatility may have been what led to its eventual downfall, after being shuffled off to Apple’s Claris software division.

Looking today at HyperCard’s early implementation of the hypertext concept, you can see it could have become something of an early web browser. I remember reading somewhere Bill Atkinson saying if HyperCard had been created in a network-centric company like Sun, it would have been a web browser. Even so, HyperCard was both innovative and a very fun environment for work, experiment and play.

Thank you Bill Atkinson and HyperCard.

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