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.

Con­tinue read­ing

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.

Con­tinue read­ing

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.

Con­tinue read­ing

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