Back in Action

Sorry dear readers for the unplanned absence. Needless to say some things supercede blogging. In my case I took a hard fall and wound up fracturing some vital stuff, so, after a down month in a noisy hospital and rehab post surgery I have returned, with a hitch in my Gittyup but on my feet thank God.

So what’s been happening? I missed a couple of key conferences but I sure others have done their work so I’ll review their posts and take notes.
Offhand, I see that Samsung has finally emerged to become a major unstoppable force in mobile computing and incidentally launched a bevy of products worth a look.
A few of my favorite apps have upgraded and fixed some of the issues that plagued me. THANK YOU!
On the downside I see that some big player retail stores like Best Buy and Radio Shack have stumbled into tough times.

Best Buy, Buying the farm?

With stocks falling and brick and mortar retailing on shaky footing analysts are predicting the absolute worst for retailer Best Buy.

If true, consumers nationwide will be SOL and will have to go online to buy their gadgets and gear.

Years ago, few saw this coming when we had our choice of Circuit City, CompUSA and Egghead competing aggressively for dominance in a market that is now fading fast into obsolescence.

In my region (Northern Calif.) Fry’s may turn out to be the sole survivor other than those Apple Stores.

I hope I am wrong and wish that Best Buys survives and thrives and over the holidays put money on this hope.

Nonresponsive

This frustrating condition is getting to be constant with apps and OS’s. It is as if things are breaking down and degenerating. The problem here is that the developers and manufacturers are saying nothing nor are they publicly fixing a damn thing for fear of affecting sales.

There is even a more insidious occurrence when in the middle of your work your system freezes and then quits and resets/reboots. That used to happen once a week now it happens several times a day and sometimes once an hour. Now this IS a problem.

Smartphones are really “Controllers”

Now you can really have your world in the palm of your hands and that is no longer just a fanciful cliche.

I have long held the view that we need a device that integrates and controls the various devices, apps and digital elements of our lives and work.

This seems to have become the end game goal of both Android and Apple iOS

Now will come the flow of forms and functions that utilize those platforms to deliver products and services we can’t live without.
I for one am very excited to see what’s next now that I have my best smartphone/tablet (Samsung Galaxy Note 3). Let the controller ecosystem begin.

I had no sooner posted the above article when a story came out of CES that “Smartphones can carol everything. I would suspect the author bit me. Except that I have put forward this argument for 5 full years after supporting “embedded computing” for well over a decade.

So the concept is not a new idea but one who’s time and capability has come now that all elements and factors have aligned including consumer interest and demand.

I applaud any additional industry support in ultimately realizing this approaching vision, however disruptive.

CIS 2014

It is a new year and time for new things courtesy of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Sin City Las Vegas.
Among the myriads of product displays and isles of innovation there are a few that may shape the lives and businesses into the next decade.

The problem is sorting out the prospects from the suspects.

Among the many misses are a few hits. In the next few weeks I will hunt them down and point you at them.

I am most anxious expecting to monitor new products in wearable computing now that Smart Watches are gaining traction and long-rumored Google Glass finally creeping onto the market.

There was actually too much activity in the category of Fitness wristbands. I sense in response to Obama care.

Your Mobile Self

The Mobile You has become just as real as your physical self for some even more so. Philip K. Dick would have easily understood this alternate world. In fact he predicted it and feared the ominous implications of our digital world And masterfully wrote about it.

One set of nnovation Factors  that drives our move to digital personification is the prevalence of Social Media.

If we can only get our Digital selves to pay the bills, show up for work and take out the trash.

State of the Web 2013

2013 proved to be a challenging year for things online. The big story is the massive invasion of personal privacy by everyone and his brother. Companies we thought we could trust sold our data and information to info brokers and that have had tragic implications and impact. Even our own government engaged in this nefarious activity.

It seems that every piece of data we so natively entered in response to every offer has been analyzed and collated to create behavioral profiles that have led to an ultimate form of discrimination when we provide our location data we open up the doors to potential abuse.

We have not considered how this info and data is being used and by whom. For many of us it is too late to put the horses back in the stable. There is years of personal data lingering out there for anyone to use for any purpose.

 

Book Review: The Vigilant Fundraiser

Do you desire fundraising success?

If you run or volunteer for a community organization the start of a new year is vital to your sustainability. This is the time when donation commitments are made and tax deductions are planned wth April 15th just around the corner.

I located a book that could help organizations map out their fundraising efforts in 12 steps. The book is The Vigilant Fundraiser by George Stanois and published by Civil Sector Press. ISBN 978-927375-12-9 (paperback)

There are tons of such helpful books and resources available but many confound and complicate what could and should be a simple process of mapping out your approach. Using 12 concise steps is an effective method.

It starts with Step 1: : Case for Support written by Victoria White.

You narrow your fundraising documents down to a well-crafted description of what your organization does, what your stakeholders and community needs, the impact you are having and making, your key core priorities,how you plan to use provided funds, how the funding will benefit those you serve.

The other steps written by subject matter experts are intended to help you develop a tight strategic funding plan. Much of what you develop will be useful content for responding to RFP’s on and offline.

Because I am a strong proponent of effective processes and this book fits right in my wheelhouse. To date I have read over 50 books on the subject of fundraising and attended hundreds of seminar hours and online webinars.

All I really initially needed was to read a book like this. Too bad for me it came to me after 15 tough years of fundraising struggles trying to figure it all out. Good for you that you can get this important book now and jump right in.

Platforms

We quietly moved beyond simple OS’s and wound up firmly in the realm of platforms. IOS and ANDROID are more than operating systems. They are ecosystems which is another term for platforms.

So what then are platforms?
According to Wikipedia:
A computing platform includes a hardware architecture and a software framework (including application frameworks), where the combination allows software to run. Typical platforms include a computer architecture, operating system and Runtime libraries.[1]

A platform is a crucial element in software development. A platform might be simply defined as a place to launch software. The platform provider offers the software developer an undertaking that logic code (a general term for bytecode, source code and machine code) will run consistently as long as the platform is in place.

So, What Now?:

- CMS solutions are also platforms mainly intended for content development via templates.

- iOS and Android are platforms for devices and developers

This movement towards platforms is exactly the twist that Microsoft missed because they were thoroughly invested in and the proponent of operating systems because that was were they lived and what they controlled.

Now that times and trends have changed Microsoft is having very difficult time redefining themselves and dialing down and scaling back their OS philosophy to become just a platform. Microsoft is still attempting to hold up the banner for Windows/OS.

Users after years of Windows horror stories and overcharging don’t seem to be buying it and aren’t willing to step back into the muddled OS past.

The age of The Platform has arrived!

Unnecessary Daily Updates

I am beginning to wonder about the reason for, and an becoming ever more suspicious of apps that demand daily updates seemingly for no good reason. Are programmers that busy or is something else really the reason?

One issue I have is that those updates cripple my tablet just at the moments I need it most.,    really seldom see much improvement in the performance or presentation of those updated app’s. I couldn’t even edit this post having to wait for some update or the other to complete its mission. This is a problem that will compound itself the more apps you have loaded.
Now I see that an update has disabled my CMS solution so now my work is impacted. FTS.

 

Exploiters Pimping Social Media

Vampires look for inexhaustible sources of blood, criminals go after the money. Scammers look for the deepest source of suckers. At this time Social Media serves these up on a platter. Hackers exploit the holes and openings that weak programming and loose policies present.
The combination of unscrupulous marketers and scammers has created a minefield that is better carefully navigated by the newbie and unsuspecting.

The upshot will undoubtibly be the impending demise of social media and eventually the absolute wariness and distrust by users and consumers.

There will be additional impacts that will dig deep into many of the currently thriving industries and market segments.j

Initial reactions to this post come from folk with vested interests in the robustness of Social Media. Please understand that I am not trying to bring down their altar nor grind axes. I am simply working to see that we improve it to Jake it live up to its potential and promise. This can only be done if we weed out those that would run it into the ground for profit and pleasure.

Does Social Media Matter?

Social media in just a few years has completely changed the way we do just about everything from the way we communicate, shop to how we manage our careers.

Social Media is a powerful tool still maturing and expanding into new areas of our lives with potential for greater relevance that is high as are the countless drawbacks that are beginning arise that are frequently driving new users away.

BENEFITS:
* Drives trends
* Provides new means of communication
* Social media has the power to support wide and diverse needs.
* Social media allow individuala a voice in all thins
* Provides marketing opportunities
* Influences Events

DRAWBACKS:
* Lack of privacy and security
* Abundance of scams, malware and hacking
* Constant change for the worst
* Lack of trust
* Poor programming and development
* High costs of Bandwidth and access
* Duplication of services
* Oversatuation of Useless Information and Clutter

CONCLUSION:
Does Social Media really matter? The answer to that differs for each user. Some can plumb the depths and come up with ways to draw revenue and uncover opportunities while it is a time drain for many others hoping to strike it rich.
Social Media matters as much as the watch you wear. It is a tool for some and more like a magic lamp for others.

Half-assed Apps

What I have noticed is that this whole mobility ecosystem is plagued through and through with a multitude of half-assed incomplete and often non functional apps that in no way deliver on their promise nor accomplish what they claim to do. We waste countless hours trying to reign them in and make them do what we need.
Try as we might they do not nor cannot satisfy our ever increasing need for robust apps that actually work.
Even the simplest apps are insufficient to do even the most mundane of functions. I am almost tempted to declare that quality programming is a lost art.

Monitored Behaviors

Long an understated and often misunderstood aspect of online life is the fact that everything you do online tells a lot about you. Marketing companies initially were the ones interested in your practices. Now with the advent and rise of Social Media just about every company in every industry wants to zero in on you. Here is the way!

If you have been less than exacting and cautious in your digital roamings some of the elements of your long-term deeply collected online profile can brand you as just about anything they want you to be or seem.

Late to the Party? (2)

If you are fairly new to the online game, don’t despair. There are trends, market spaces and other such areas of expertise that we arrive at too early or unfortunately for some too late.

Occassionaly we get there right on time for each of us. Timing differs for each.

This event horizon can and usually occur when the stars align and everything is as close to right as can be or as is necessary for us to accomplish our goals and objectives.

Such is the case of those new to or ready to seriously dive deep into the emerging world of digital technology. There are many different doors to come through or paths to competence. There are also an equal number of hinderences and roadblocks in our way as well. No challenge is any bigger than dealing with unripe, untested or incomplete ecosystems These look great at first glace but upon real world use we discover they lacking the tools and techniques needed to get it right.
We have now entered a hoped-for new realm of development when most if not all of what we need is before us.
We may still lack some of the skills demanded to master the pieces and parts, tools and technologies available but there are enough tutorials, webinars, and consultants out here to fix that if we are diligent.

We now have many of the resources and factors in place to jump right in and make a real go of practically any advanced concept from building a simple website to designing the next hot app.

We have:
* Mobile, laptop & wearable devices
* Apps
* OS and Development platforms
* Extensions and plug-ins
* Themes and templates
* Delivery systems
* Notifications
* Social Media Marketing Tools
* Messaging systems
* Learning and Support systems
* Commerce and payment solutions
* Networking solutions

Warning:
Do not get too attached to any one thing to get you there. This is the promise of Content Management Systems and templates but that is hyperbole.

Things are given to rapid unplanned disruption and charge often without warning nor purpose. The best we do is to frequently scan the innovation horizon to assure us that we are about as ready and able as we can.

The User Experience

Improving and perfecting.the User Experience should be the absolute ultimate goal of each and every developer and entrepreneur. It should also be the object of every device manufacturer out thete.
There are several areas that hold great promise such as Notifications, Sharing and many others.
It will.also be very important how the apps we use are integrated into the experience.
Until there are guidelines and baselines we are doomed to the Hell of Chaos provided by the current Heater Shelter ecosystem that is before us now.

We should reject and neglect confusing and inadequate interfaces, solutions that solve no problem nor offer any capability worthy of our time and attention.

Comcast Customer Backlash

I’ve been seeing polls and ratings that clearly state that Comcast users absolutely hate the service. I am not sure way there is no organized revolt or effort to reform the service. 

Prices steadily increase without reason nor notice and customer service is usually totally unwilling to work with users in any way requested or required.

I started with an account that charged $84 per month. That has escalated to $240 per month with no additional services requested. I have maintained the account for 6 years and figure I have paid near to XX,000 in total.  That alone should get me some respect by Comcast but it doesn’t cut ice with a monopoly like Comcast.

Zuck to dominate mobile future?

Fast Company displayed a picture of a wide-eyed almost crazed Zuck. My immediate reaction was I can’t trust him any more than I could Bill Gates back in the day.

Anyone that plans to dominate brings with him hidden agendas, pre-conceived notions, prejudices and deep seated bias that Wil have the effect of retarting digital innovation and opportunities for progress for others.

I cannot single him out without admitting I hear similar grumblings about Google and Amazon. It wasn’t so long ago that Apple also raised concerns.

In reality there is more than.enough of a marketplace to go around but in the pure American charactet of the accumulation of abundance through greed some must have it all.

As for Zuck I still must ask “can we really trust that man?”

Being the seriously skeptical type I answer NO! I may be wrong and hope to be proven so but until then I’ll be wary and on the look out for the signs of meglomania.

Amazon’s Google Template

When one huge company like Google winds up the hottest player in the whole tech game they pioneer a pattern there that can be utilized as a template for others to emmulate that are looking to quickly climb to the top on the backs of the leaders in order to become one.

Such is the recent emerging case that explain Amazon’s newest moves. They are even recruiting Google talent to freshen their ranks with innovative talent.

Innovation aggravation

What is happening in the world of Smart watches echoes what has slowed down advances in other devices. Early interfaces fall way short of promises and expectations. Users quickly jump off the band wagon and search for other trends better executed. Now there are teams working hard to explore new ways allowing us to better play with our gear.

Google shouldn’t sell domains!

If Google is allowed to sell domains they would be bound to eventually begin giving priority access and rankings to domains and sites they own or maintain.

All this would fly directly in the face of and seriously go against everything that net neutrality is/was about.

If this move is allowed it might be a death blow to the concept of level digital playing fields and fairness.

We will monitor this situation as should each of you.

Next Gen Notifications

For me notifications have been the hit of my newest devices. I have the distinct feeling however that we may have reached the apex of what they can now do for us. With tons of Smart watches and other gadgets perched to emerge there needs to be some deep thought put behind where and how far we can take notifications and what we will need in the near and far future.

FirePhone: Word On The Street.

Only yesterday I had two non-geek associates tell me that they are going to pop for one. Somehow the Scuttlebutt is working. A groundswell upon release could lead to another popular leading device. Apple and Samsung had better wake up someone is on your trail.

In each instance they parroted some feature or function that they heard about and that they thought was pretty cool. Nothing really that the current crop of leading smart communication devices can”t do.

Android Everywhere in Everything!

I predicted several years back that I was absolutely positive that Google would eventuslly extend Android into everything they could.

Much like Microsoft tried to leverage Windows only a mere decade earlier Google is ready to push Android as far as it can possibly go. That strategy can and will include into Chrome Browsers, wearable devices of all sorts, automotive integration, Interactive TV, Home automation and beyond.

It should be no surprise that they see Android as a real OS. This fulfills Microsoft’s worst fear. No longer is Apple’s iOS the only competitor for them to fear.

Diversity in the Digital World

Everytime I see a group shot or roster of an IT company’s staff I an given to wonder where the 70′s and 80′s efforts to bridge the Digital Divide and move towards greater cultural inclusion went wrong.

This may explain why certain ethnic groups are ignored, bypassed and not marketed to thus many consumers are without a voice in the shaping of our digitally connected future.

It may be willful or accidental whichever it is actual.

How to we fix it? Can it be fixed? Who is even working on fixing it?

Google I/O 2014

From first impressions most folks were impressed and inspired by the announces made at Google I/O 2014. The list of haps are all over the place from Google TV to Android Wear.

There were some enticing treats for developers, users and device manufacturers.

So all in all the event was a smash hit. I need to get back to my office and compile my takeaways and notes. I’ll get back to you here tomorrow (Thurs.) with my quick event summary of what I thought was most significant or at least worthy of notice.

The Android Car Initiative was a hotvl button in that Google lured major car makers to come on board and equip new cars to be Android ready straight off the lot.

What’s Next?

I am still asking about what new innovative trend do we have coming? Our last prediction of Wearables is clearly underway and booming.

I will still put my money on the concept of “controllers” and see many of the newest Smart watches incorporating whole sets of controller features and functions but even that seems a subset trend. Trends are manly platform concepts and developments that support other innovations and sub-trends.

The NEW PRODUCT push is ON.

With all these new products, new product announcements and leaks one could easily be confused as to which way to go, when to dive in and which purchase to make or which products to adopt.

This is strange because up until recently there was no movement. With so few products or choices it was easy for consumers to go for Google’s Gear or Samsung’s latest phones. All of a sudden everywhere you look there’s new stuff.

Whether any of these new devices are worth taking a good long look at may be quite a daunting task for many.

What one must keep in mind is that in many cases your choices may be about adopting a platform.

Some companies like Samsung try to straddle most platforms existing and soon to come. Others like Apple continue to attempt to force/inspire users down one specific path often at their peril.

Google establishing wearable platform

Google Wear may be to wearable tech what Windows was to computing back in the days.

Apple may have waited too long and created too little to slow what could be a jugernaunt.

With Google Wear we should see a development platform put in place that will radically change the nature and pace of new wearable products coming to our Android watches.

It will be curious to see how Samsung and others react to this incursion into their territory.

Permissions Aplenty

If you have never fully read a full list of permissions you are routinely granting commercial companies to access, I think it would be very wise and absolutely informative to take a hot moment to check them out for yourself. You will be shocked what they can do (with your permission).

For example I just read through the permissions Evernote frequently requests access to.

Without thinking about the potential consequences users are allowing them to do almost everything besides sleeping with your spouse or renaming your children. Those may even be in there.

It should then be no great surprise when some of those companies turn to the dark side and attempt to exploit your person, your privacy, or your information.

Android Talkback is Incredible

There lies buried in Androids UI a feature meant for the visually impaired that is useful for many other users also.

Talkback needs to be mastered to be useful but once learned it can help alot and just in you really need it some day you know its there and have a headstart on its use.

With it you can navigate or have onscreen text read back to you.

The problem may be that no one really knows it is there so limited usage could possibly cause its demise.

So if you are an adventuress Android user please take a few moments to give Talkback a spin.

How companies steal Innovation

There are sneaky ways some companies get ahold of small developers best efforts.

Scraping apps, stalking trade shows, zealously deconstructing open source offerings and straight up stealing code are a few of the easy ways big players “enhance” their internal development efforts by borrowing from little guys.

They have lawyers and make the rules so it is no wonder the game is skewed in their favor and the playing field is not level.

Though ill form and bad-mannered it happens more often than we think.

Commercialized Updates

Have you noticed that some updates only forcefit advertising gimmicks and tracking schemes into your favorite apps.

In my case an app named Notepad that I have used faithfully for over a year was once pristine until recently pop-ups and commercial banners started to show up to clutter my note taking experience.

If this is an example of what developers need to do to survive and prosper then the app ecosystem will eventually fade away and die.

The issue is that all this BS sneaks in on top of updates and upgrades. Once made You are then urged to upgrade to premium commercial-free versions in order to disable the nagging ads.