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Ovi Maps

Nokia Ovi Maps 3D browser application
Ok I didn’t mean to post twice in such a short interval but man is this worth a post.
Ovi Maps has a beta demo for PC and Mac. It’s a browser application requiring a plugin and this is by far one of the most amazing things to come out. Not long ago I saw a demo by this Swedish company showing a very similar thing and I think it might actually be the exact same product. But yeah this is what Bing Maps eventually will look like due to the Nokia MS deal. I quite honestly think that Nokia got robbed blind with that deal considering what they actually have on their hands. This had the potential of destroying Google Maps and I am not exaggerating. The technology needed to create maps like the Ovi 3D ones is about 5-10 years ahead of what Google is currently using and there is very very little that Google can do about that. Yes street view is nice but the 3D maps that Google is using are a complete joke. It might be OK for a MS student, and most Ph.D. ones but Ovi Maps and Nokia have most likely acquired the Swedish military team that got axed not long ago. All this is patented and is literally technology that was never meant to be released in the general public. Except it did. It actually kinda gives you an idea of how intelligent missile guidance systems work. But anyway all the hype aside, come 2012 Bing Maps will have a new and shiny face and hopefully this time around Apple will let us switch the Maps provider too.

As much as I dislike MS I have actually started using Big recently as my default search provider. Most of the times results are cleaner and yes they are different but the search engine feels more powerful.

Oh yeah and Playbook got released with less than promised battery life etc. etc. wooopty f***ing doo RIM! Starting at $500 and well …. it’s an overgrown smartphone except it is yet to receive a 3G module … oops

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Apple and the NFC race

There have been rumours about Apple including NFC capability in both iPad 2 and iPhone 5. Just to be clear about this, Apple has no choice in the matter if they are to sell a high end device. This is not at all the same as LTE. LTE is a network with is currently under consideration by most mobile operators and some have started running trials. Coverage is bad, the chips are still in their first generation meaning that if you want backwards compatibility you have to include a 2nd chip, and at the end of the day all you get with LTE currently is faster data speeds. That might be great for iPad but is hardly anything for the iPhone. Considering that the coverage is currently horrible and Apple revises hardware annually it is no wonder that LTE is not being considered for the upcoming iteration. Actually it probably won’t be considered for the next one either.

NFC however, has been around for many years. The problem was that noone seemed to care about NFC and various IC manufacturers had their own implementation. Well the smart card manufacturers (mostly of Europe) have come to an agreement and there is an NFC standard and an organization that does nothing but promotes the technology. Various pilots were completed and the response is overwhelmingly positive. Telcos and financial institutions are all onboard and have mostly come to an agreement as to the revenue split and all is about to explode. Apple has no choice other than to include NFC. The 2nd half of 2011 will be marked by multiple operators around the globe releasing NFC enabled SIM cards and devices simply have to be ready for them. The way NFC will go forward is with a SIM embedded NFC application that uses the antenna provided with your phone. Now that most likely does not mean the same antenna as the one you use to connect to the telco but the phone has to be NFC enable too. Apple sells premium devices and the NFC cards will first go to premium users so there is nothing to think about and Apple simply follows the needs of the market.

There is however one issue about NFC that is important. See you don’t have to use NFC only for payments. Yes it is a painfully slow connection and you will not be transferring files over it any time soon. However, cleverly designed applications can use NFC for some quite innovative and cool things. And if Apple wants to have the competitive advantage over Android, they simply have to allow developers full access to NFC. Unlike what Google would like you to believe, there is no issue with security. Payment applications are stored on the SIM itself. What that means is that the only way you can access that data is with the SDK that was used to program the SIM. Well I don’t know much but I know this, you can write SIM programs in a way that noone has access to their data and not only that but most of them are exactly like that. Also data out of the SIM for the payment applications would be encrypted and you cannot decrypt AES on the fly on any mobile that will be released in the next 10-15 years.

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iPad rumours – a critical overview

Apple is staying true to it’s business plan and will release a revision of the iPad this year. Just like with other hardware lines, it will most likely come in the first half of the year and just like the iPhone, it will be a much needed upgrade that will make a few of the opponents by the device.
There have been a lot of rumours floating around the Iterweb but most are absolutely mental. So here is my logical and a bit pessimistic overview of what has been said. However, if all you care about is if you should splurge for an iPad now or wait for the revision here is the skinny on the subject. If you get gadget envy (and most of us do) them wait. iPad 2 will bring some much needed updates that make the device a much better personal computing device. If however, you are thinking of buying an iPad as a business tool then there is no reason for you to wait. Yes there will be an updated hardware and yes the next version will be faster but you don’t need the camera or any of the other incremental upgrades.
So here are the top rumours:

4x faster multicore GPU:
Yes, there will be a faster GPU and it will probably have 2 cores. Will it be 4x faster in real life, probably not. Will it have more that 2 cores? Absolutely not. 2 cores are already pushing the power envelope quite a bit and considering that adding 2 more will double the power requirements don’t hold your breath for it. But the good news here is that while 2 cores might not seem impressive the new GPU to be used in iPad 2 is a considerable upgrade to the current one. If my life depended on it, I would actually guess that Apple will include the lowest option for the GPU which probably means a single core with the new architecture. This will reduce the power drain and make your device have an over 10 hour battery life.

A retina display – this one is a bit tricky. I wish Apple would bring a 2048 x 1536 display, however that is wishful thinking. In order for Apple to get the iPad to run at the same level of performance as the current generation they will have to increase the price by about 50%. Retina displays, which a bit different than standard high definition display still require that the developer uses a high resolution graphics in order to achieve the promised clarity. Now what this means for your graphics is that they quadruple in size (well almost due to compression). So essentially the GPU will have to load 4 times the textures and you will need a 4x faster GPU to achieve the same perceivable performance. Apple will need at least a dual core GPU of the new generation in order to provide a better performance than the original iPad. Now while this is achievable, it is also expensive. To make matters worst, Apple will need to up the storage of the device because larger graphics need more storage. Think about it this way, is Apple were to include a 2048 x 1536 display this will essentially require game developers to create games that run at that resolution on a GPU that while very powerful for a mobile device, is nothing compared to a desktop one. Now computer and console games both have very powerful CPUs and yet never play games in 2048 x 1536 resolution. Why? Because it takes a considerable processing power to push that many pixels. Even if the hardware required would be put in an iPad, the battery life would be 3 hours max under gaming conditions. That’s simply not an Apple device!

Camera Not there will definitely be a camera and we all have known that since the release of the first gen. iPad. For crying out loud, there even is a space for one in the case! There have been some rumours about a 1mp camera on iPad 2. 1mp really? I don’t think so. Apple will probably include something like a 1 mp camera on the front of the device, so that you can use video calls (facetime/skype). If I were a betting man (and I am) I would say that there would be a 2nd camera on the back and that would probably be a 3mp one. Why not 5? Because the 5mp camera that Apple uses is too thick and too hard to fit in. But that’s alright because you are never going to really use the camera for photography. Actually the only reason why Apple would include a camera on the back side, is so that they can let you share what you see without flipping the device over.

New body Yes there will be a new body. Will it be plastic, probably not. Apple invested millions in aluminium machining technology and they would be mad to take it out of the iPad.

SD card reader In what world does that make sense? Apple will probably never include an SD card reader. A removable storage solution will require a rethink of the iPad as a business idea. iOS let’s you buy media from a strictly controlled store, etc. etc. etc. The point is, that you do not have a standalone device. You can do quite a few things on it, but essentially you need a computer and while moving data to an iOS device is a strange process, it is an established one. Including a removable storage would require a rethink of that model. So sorry but no SD card or any other removable storage for that matter.

Improved speaker Probably yes. I think you might see a dual speaker solution this time around. iPad case is large enough and 2 speakers will make a difference especially when watching videos.

2nd dock connector would be nice but would mess up the device aesthetics so no way.

The rest would stay about the same. You will get better specs for the CPU, GPU, speaker. Improved design for the case, will get an adapter for micro USB chargers (required in the EU). What Apple will say is that you get an improved screen with better multi touch display. And it will be improved but not by much. The new gestures will make the device quite unique and would make Android tablets look a bit silly and very crude.

[edit] NFC – it is not essential technology for the iPad since it will be useful only if you pick the 3G version up but it is very likely to show up on the next iteration of the tablet. There are quite a few cool things that you could do with the new technology although certain types of applications already exist albeit using inferior methods of product recognition (photo of a barcode).

If you have head of any other *significant* upgrade leave a comment.

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What would you like to read about next?

Sure there are topics that are near and dear to my heart but I thought I’d try something a bit different.
Here is a poll for upcoming topics. Vote for the article that you would like to read here and I’ll write about the one that gets the most votes. Depending on how popular the other ones are, or how I feel about them, I might write a bit about them too.

so go on, cast your vote

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meeh and a bit about discrimination sensitivity

i’ve had the longest Friday ever. It is really annoying when someone higher up the chain is being a total ass and you have to pretend that you really don’t care much and supposedly go along with him/her. Today I realized that the UK is not nearly as discrimination sensitive as the US is. There was this *sales guru* that I talked a bit about. Same guy that got very close to making me hate my job in the last couple of days. The prick is a bit old school and today he was sitting in the middle of the room and telling 11 people how women tend to be treated differently than men in business. How women are expected to be stupider than man and how man give them  special attention once they proved themselves. And then he kept going on and on in the same spirit for 10 minutes. Apparently he thinks that women are more reliable to call you back then man. For 10 minutes I was sitting there not believing my ears. I know for one the term special treatment in the US is borderline sexual harassment. Apparently what happened today is quite acceptable in the UK. Well at least none of the women in the room seemed to be offended by any of what was said or the manner in which it was. Ok, granted that the actual meaning was benign it seems like English people are not very sensitive when it comes to gender inequality and quite possibly racial inequality.

Who knew that the UK is a lot less sensitive than the US when it comes to discrimination …

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On educations and management

I just watched a video that summarizes and clarifies everything that I believe about education and that I have found out through being taught both the proper way and the wrong one. And well if you have half a brain you know that there is something wrong with the way that you have been taught in school.

Education aside I think they hit the nail right on the head with the corporate analogy and what they are saying about managing. I have spent the last 2 days with this self proclaimed sales guru trying to convince me that I should do things his way. There are a lot of things that the prick does wrong but what relates to the video is

1) you don’t segment something like a sales pitch and analyse it sentence by sentence (almost) and then tell me what I could have said better.

2) you don’t just feed me sales theories and your askewed view of how to sell

 

You don’t do 1 because it is not important for your wording to be in any particular way. What is important is that you have a goal and you do not forget what the objective is. Yes be respectful and yes be human and kind and empathetic and do follow your own style. There is no write or wrong way to sell. The single most important thing when selling is that you find your own voice. Your sales pitch has to feel natural and it has feel like you and someone else talking about your product. It is not about you promoting your product. It is about you and your customer discussing the customer’s business and the two of you discovering a void that can be filled by your product. It is a in a way about need but it is more about want and desire. You are filling the company’s need but the personal desire of the company rep that you are talking to. And this you can only do if your are natural and real and are yourself. You see a good salesman does not pretend to be someone else. Forget all the BS that people tell you about being such and such character. If you are a technical person be a technical one. There is nothing wrong with being the knowledgeable salesman. You see at the core of the process it is much like finding friends or should I say making new friends. You are yourself but you do look out for signs of boredom and you do behave.

As far as #2 goes … well you simply don’t do this ever. I don’t care about your life experience. I need to try doing something and face a problem in order for it to get me thinking and for me to be ready to learn. Then we need to have a discussion where you, the teacher, ask me questions that stimulate me thinking and not regurgitating and only if I cannot make a decision do you help me. After I have made up my mind then you can tell me what you think and let me decide which one I like better. And this is the only way that you can stimulate creativity in a company and coincidentally it will cost you less. You see the way it works is there are several roads to fulfilling your employees needs/desires. Money is certainly one, benefits another, etc. However, what noone will ever refuse and what will make each one of your employees think long and hard before they consider leaving the company is job satisfaction. And if you allow for creativity it will lead to job satisfaction and I do not mean eventually. So as a result you will have to pay a bit less for your work force and you will have loyal employees. Well that’s something that is worth it’s weight in gold and something that you cannot achieve by enforcing common rules and regulations.

And yes I know it is a business and yes I know that some rules are required. However, the main rule should be to follow the company’s short term strategy and to do everything you can to make the company look good.

 

And look I am not discovering a new continent here. These are pretty much some of the principles that Japanese businesses are build on. It’s just insane how hard it is for the western manager to learn from his/her eastern colleagues. And if you ask me it’s a damn shame too …

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OS X installer security

So today I was installing iLife ’11 and I noticed that Apple has started signing their installer. It is nice to know that the company is actually taking a proactive approach to security and making it a bit easier to know where a file came from regardless of what channel you used to obtain it. it is not a required part and even if the certificate is invalid you can choose to trust it  but you will get a warning message. This is much better than what any other OS provides currently. Windows is the closest one allowing you to specify a company that created the executable in the properties of a file. Only that stuff is not signed and I can easily create a file that looks like it came for anyone I choose to. It’s a bit more difficult to do so with OS X and yes I do realize that it is just the installer that is signed and not the executable itself.

Anyway another step in the right direction for Apple!

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