I Like My Leap!

leapWe all know that Shawn loves his mobile phones. It’s constant quest to find the optimal UX to suit my needs, sense of aesthetics and visual challenges. Last week, through the generosity of conference organisers I picked up a BlackBerry Leap running BB10.3. It’s oddly (perhaps) the second BB I have personally used (I was tempted by the Passport – hey, I do really like different – but it was too pricey for a discretionary purchase).
Back in 1998 we (my business partners and I) acquired little inter@ctive 950‘s – in front of the market and the cherished gadget of choice amongst techie geeks. It wedded me to being connected at the hip to my co-workers and being able to share an immediate experience across distances via a ‘smart’ communication device. I was asked to return my 900 when I parted company with Ardesic in 2001 and strangely despite being quite enamoured of my BB experience fought the urge to be so connected. I hear snickers at that line from those that know me. Continue reading

A Month with Mango (Windows Phone 7.5)

Nokia Lumia 800In an effort to keep my mind open to changing technologies and avoid drinking the Mac Fanboy kool-aid, I have spent the last month using a Nokia Lumia 800 as my primary smartphone. It has been an eye-opening experience and I will say at the outset I am not yet ready to switch back to my iPhone 4S.

(20 June 2012) I was disheartened to learn that Nokia decided to orphan my phone a couple days after writing this. I feel quite shortchanged to be honest and this stems from complicity between Microsoft and Nokia. As the following discussion shows I was very impressed by Mango 7.5 but found that there are some shortcomings. When I purchased this phone I deliberately acquired what was the best WP7.5 phone available. Little did I know its days were already numbered and with the announcement of WP8, existing Lumia’s will not have an upgrade path. I have never participated in such an intentionally orphaned platform before and feel shortchanged for having made a commitment to give WP a chance. Apparently Nokia was aware on shipping that future version soy the OS would not be supportable on its shipping hardware. They are selling hardware today that will not run the current software in a few short months. As a consumer – shame on Nokia. I gave them a chance but honestly feel that they have not done the same for me. Nokia got my €450, but it is the last they will get from me.

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The Europeana Data Exchange Agreement and Irish Cultural Institutions

I had the privilege of chairing a symposium organized by the Irish Manuscript Commission which invited participants from a variety of Irish cultural institutions to discuss issues arising from the new Europeana Data Exchange Agreement. Presentations from Jill Cousins, Director of Europeana and her colleagues, Georgia Angelaki, Paul Keller and Lucie Guibault sought to bring clarity to the new agreement and the issues emerging from the online presentation of digital cultural artefacts. Continue reading

When a Good Pad gets Better

ipad2 manual.gifSure enough O’Reilly have introduced a new version of their iPad: The Missing Manual series, aptly named iPad2: The Missing Manual. Like all Missing Manual series, content is at the overview level attempting to cover the complete range of questions a new user might have of a particular technology. The book has all the good stuff when it comes to troubleshooting though and this is a particularly good missing manual.

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Data Analysis with Open Source Tools

dataAnalysis.gif Data Analysis with Open Source Tools by Philipp K Janert is a simply superb, solid and exhaustive synthesis of instruction, workshops and hands-on exercises designed for those serious about conducting professional data analysis. This is not a lightweight undertaking. This is a serious get-down-to-it and do-it-right kind of manual. The author (as has been mentioned elsewhere) is passionate about his subject and it shows. He knows how to convey the most complex concepts in an approachable and effective way.

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The Art of Community by Jono Bacon

artofcommunity.gifIn The Art of Community, Jono Bacon tackles the task of explaining how to attract, build and maintain productive collaborative online communities. Bacon has had impressive credentials to author such a book and draws from his experience skillfully. With over ten years experience in the open source community he has the hands-on experience with initiatives such as community manager for Ubuntu, KDE and OpenAdvantage.

The book is organised logically with a healthy selection of applied chapters in designing a strategy, understanding the sociological aspects behind community formation, through understanding community health and dealing with issues that arise. Continue reading

Of Mice and Me

I feared the trackpad. I am not the biggest fan of the trackpad. I gather that my namesake, the CTO at Synaptics is responsible for some of the biggest breakthroughs as the trackpad gained laptop cred during the 1990’s and trackpoint.jpgso I feel a little loyalty if only by association. However, my favourite means of input is the TrackPoint – the little red nubby (that becomes less red real fast) that the IBM ThinkPad is most closely associated with. This is a very personal area. I know many users that could just not get used to using a single finger on an ultra-sensitive tiny joystick. The cursor and they could not become friends with the TrackPoint in the equation. Random survey indicates most people still carry a mouse with them and connect it – this is the case for TrackPoint as well as trackpad users. I am glancing around the coffee shop right now and frankly I am the only one relying on the built in tracking device. There’s a lot of users with big mice and small mice, but mice nonetheless. There is even a user carefully balancing one on the arm of an easy chair – that can’t possibly be comfortable. Continue reading

Feel the Pinch

I make quick note of the announcement of Nokia’s new Haptikos technology previewed at the Red Ferret Journal. haptikos.gifThe technology takes the touch screen that we all know (and love ;-)) and coordinates audible and tactile feedback that allows for simulation of screen keytaps. The comparison with the iPhone’s multitouch is obvious, but one cannot but wonder how gestures could be vastly improved if you could actually feel the pinch on screen. Seriously. This seems the direction that Nokia is working and this preview explores a few of the little technical details that have challenged engineers thus far and still stand in the way of more sophisticated physical interactions with the screen. ‘Nuff said…this is an amazing technology trajectory. Nokia has very limited coverage at their ‘Way We Live Next’ website.

Eyes and Ears on Site

Information Aesthetics, a consistently clickable and notable blog, has Fernanda Viégas reporting back from theinfovis.gif InfoVis Conference in Sacremento this week. She has posted a geat summary of the keynote address by Matthew Ericson. Brent Fitzgerald blogged yesterday about the panel that he, Fernanda, Martin Wattenberg and Hans Rosling are presenting as well. Taking a look at the conference programme, I could not but wish I was there. Thanks for Fernanda (and hopefully Brent) for giving us an experience as close to being there as possible.

By the way, today is the day of Fig, 7 Brumaire, An CCXVI.

Update: Something local and exciting: Social Networking Week at the University of Toronto. Fernanda is speaking on Friday.

Glance a Little Further Back to See the Future

Perhaps there is an inner historian within me. The latest spate of reviews featuring the iPhone versus this challenger and that has me thinking that at the pace that we move today we don’t take enough time Psion5Mxto reach a little further back to consider our forward progress. This case in point, everyone evaluating the iPhone or the iPod Touch (hereafter ITouch – as I am sure Apple would have rather called it) seems to be pitching it against the Nokia N95, HTC Kaiser, or the latest Blackberry. All appropriate for being the current flavour of the market – and when it comes to cell phones, they have such a limited shelf life. How long does the average phone remain current these days? Despite Apple’s slight revamp of the iPhone, I will go out on a limb and suggest that it may have greater longevity than most. However, not because for technical prowess, but to Apple’s marketing panache. Nonetheless, as I look at the comparisons, I am struck that we might best be able to gauge how much of a technical marvel it is by comparing a little further back. Continue reading