Category Archives: tools

Seven Days with my iPhone 4S

I must confess, I held on to my 3GS for the full 2 years and I just finally got my iPhone 4 back in May. I really have been enjoying it, and by 2:30pm, on the day that iOS5 came out, I had quickly updated my phone, but had no plans to move on to the 4S.

When I was watching the 4S introduction at the Apple event a few days earlier, I remember immediately answering a poll on Mashable.com where they asked “Would you be upgrading to the 4S?” I quickly answered “No” and thought that was the end of it. But I am always interested in in these new devices so I keep a close eye on the technology. I was very intrigued by some of the new features of the iPhone 4S especially the voice control from Siri as well as the expected improved performance and speed.

On October 14, just a week ago, as I was heading home from some errands in the mid morning, I decided just to stop by my local AT&T Store. I noticed some barricades for the line and I noticed there were just two people standing at the front door (a worker and a customer). In fact, I didn’t even realize it was a line and just walked right for the door and was stopped. I had no intent to buy, but thought I would just come by and check out the excitement for the phone. (There wasn’t much, by the way.)

While waiting, I realized I could simply renew a family member’s contract (who was quite happy with her iPhone 3 – she uses it for phone calls!) for another two years and go ahead and get my iPhone 4S. I would just have to transfer it to my account. About an hour later, I walked out with the brand-new iPhone 4S 32GB unit and plans to sell my only five-month-old iPhone 4 on eBay.

So it’s been a week and I have some first impressions. First of all, the performance is indeed great. I ran a few benchmarks on the 4 and the 4S using BrowserMark from RightWare. (bit.ly/brmark) . When I ran it on the iPhone 4 running iOS 4.x, the reading came back 34,253. After the upgrade to iOS 5, that same device scored 53,353. So just by upgrading to iOS5, I saw a 55% increase in the benchmark. I ran the same on the new 4S and got a blazing 85649. That’s 2 ½ times the speed as my former iPhone 4 running iOS 4.x. The iPhone 4S is FAST.

I’ve been experimenting with Siri. In fact, I am dictating this now because Siri, not only is your personal assistant, but also provides a voice input for any application that would normally use the keyboard. I find it works well and gets most of the words right. Siri, on the other hand as a helpful assistant, is a bit temperamental. Yes she can read my calendar, tell me the weather, and do a Google search, but more often than not, when I need her, she cannot understand me and way too often, cannot connect to the Internet. Siri is a cloud-based app that depends on access to Apple servers in order to do anything other than local dictation.

I never really like talking to anything or giving verbal command in general. I enjoy talking to people through my phone but not to my phone, so I’m not sure if it will ever catch on for my normal routine, but it is an interesting feature nonetheless. I’m sure in time it will improve, but for me, Siri as a personal assistant is nothing more than a novelty.

Another nice feature is the introduction of shortcut keys, a little-known feature of iOS5. They have taken the much maligned “autocorrect” feature and allowed you to create your own abbreviations that help you rather than introduce errors. Nice concept! If you go into Settings, General, Keyboard, you will see the ability to create keyboard shortcuts. I created one for my email address because I type it so many times as a login entry.

Another feature of iOS5 that I certainly like is Twitter integration. For me it means being able to tweet directly from a picture. Now, it’s not such a big deal to add a picture in my Echofon client, but tweeting directly from the photo viewer is a nice plus.

The iMessage feature certainly looks good. It is an alternative to text messaging but, like FaceTime, it only works with the with Apple devices. We would be better off if we could get an open standard for this in the future. I’m sure the carriers don’t like this new competitor to their overpriced text-messaging feature.

The camera certainly is an improvement. Pictures are crisp and clear and the video is hi definition. Built in photo editing features also add convenience. Unfortunately you have no standard definition choice for video. So, here we go using up much more storage than we need. Plus, HD adds a lot of time to share your videos on YouTube or other services.

The new Newsstand features nice. So far, it is just a nice way to pull together magazines. That’s something I will likely use more on my iPad than on the iPhone

One of the real exciting new promises of iOS5 is the iCloud service that allows immediate synchronization of songs, photos and calendar entries. I found it works well with songs, but have been reluctant to try it with photos and disabled it for calendar entries. Using Google calendar I began to see multiple entries and, in some cases, missing entries so I turned it off. I think iCloud shows great promise but I think it can take some time: 1) for me to learn how to use it and 2) to see how it works with other Cloud services such as various Google services and 3) for all the bug fixes to be deployed.

One thing I did notice was that just by default it asked if I wanted to back up my device to the cloud. I thought that was great idea so I enabled it on my iPad, my iPhone and also my son’s iPod Touch. All began to back up immediately and I got a message saying I had used up all of my storage and I needed to purchase more. So the 5 GB provided by the cloud really is not enough and immediately you are encouraged to buy more.

They say the iPhone is really the same on the outside and totally different on the inside. I certainly won’t argue that but I did notice the silent switch moved down ever so slightly, enough that most cases will have a little trouble. It is the switch on the upper left side just above the volume switch that has moved down about 1/8th of an inch. I might just have to carve out my speck case a little bit with a razor blade to make it work perfectly.

Overall I’m pleased with the iPhone 4S mainly for it’s blazing speed. I’m also equally pleased that I was able to sell my old 16GB iPhone 4 for nearly equal the price that I paid for a new 32 GB 4S. Judging from the HD video, it looks like I will need that extra storage.

So, for this early adopter, I found it a good experience to upgrade. It will just take a little more time than I thought to learn the new features, and sorry but in my experiences regarding iCloud, I can’t say “It Just Works!”

So what do you think? Please add your comments below or on twitter. Are you going to spend the money to get the new 4S or can you wait for the 5? For me I am fortunate to have three AT&T contracts in the house and a family where I am the only one eager to upgrade the devices as soon as they come out. So when the iPhone 5 comes out in June or so, I will probably to get an opportunity to upgrade again.

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Filed under Apple, Early Adopter, Innovation, iPhone, tools, trends, Uncategorized

It’s Not About the Tools, It’s About the People

We are all on Google+ now. It’s great because of who is here.

We were all on Quora at Christmas, because of who was there.

We continue to stay engaged on Twitter because of who is there.

We are bored with FaceBook because of who is there.

We use LinkedIn because of who we can find.

We use SocialCast in the Social Business Council because of who is there.

We use Jive with the Community Backchannel because of who is there.

We use Yammer in our jobs because of who is there.

It’s not about the tools, it’s about the relationship. The great thing about any social network is the socializing that takes place there. Yes, the tools are nice and a bad tool set can certainly squelch the conversation. But it’s not about the tools it’s about the relationships.

I’ve had the opportunity to speak with many people over the past few months who are not at all engaged in the social web. The line goes something like this….”I don’t have time for all that social media.” What they are really saying is “I don’t value those relationships and what I learn there. I get all I need from other sources.”

That’s fine. When people start to understand what they can get, the relationships they can build, and what an amazingly large diversity of ideas is out there, they decided to connect.

Many stick with email and cocktail hour networking. That’s fine, I do that sometime too, but I find it is not at all efficient as a stand alone activity. It’s good when I want to go deep with someone, but at a typical event, I can only do that with 1 or 2 people. At best, I’ll touch base with 5 or 10. During that same evening, I can touch hundreds or even thousands through online tools.

Through my BlogTwitterGoogle+ and various private communities, I can keep a conversation going with hundreds and my network can jump into overdrive when needed.

If you don’t want to use the social media tools now and think it’s too geeky, that’s fine. We used to say that about CompuServe and then AOL came along to break the ice among the masses. Then came FaceBook and everybody went online.

It is indeed gone widespread. Google+ may not replace FaceBook. Everyone may not get on Twitter, but in the long run, the mega trend is that, more and more, our lives are moving online. What was once called a “virtual” meeting is just a meeting.

Do any of you call your FaceBook friends “virtual” friends? Do you call these virtual conversations? No, it’s a wall post, it’s a message, it’s real interaction.

Social is happening, it is happening in different rates for different people, but there is no going back. As my friend Chris Rollyson says, It’s an “and” world, not an “or” world. We keep getting more ways to connect, as a result we are more connected, and finally we can innovate and move faster.

That is just what’s happening. Don’t deny it.

So go ahead, get social. You can start by connecting with me on TwitterLinkedIn, or Google+ and while you are at it, subscribe to my blog.

See you online!

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Filed under collaboration, community, conversations, Early Adopter, GooglePlus, microblogging, productivity, social, social media, tools, trends, twitter, web2.0

Seven Days with Google+

The Google+ introduction is a major tectonic shift in the social software landscape. It’s aftershocks will be felt for some time to come

I received my invitation to join Google + last Wednesday evening from @ITSinsider.  It was a bit of a surprise.  I had just heard of the launch a day or two earlier.

Since then, it’s been a daily party like I have not seen with any other SNS (social networking system) launch.  We had heard something about Google’s Social Circles back during SXSWi, but the launch turned out to be just a rumor of what was to come just four months later.

iPhone in browser mode

My first take will be a little different from most because my time with G+ has been almost exclusively on an iPhone 4 or iPad 2.  Of the 15 or so hours I’ve been on G+, only about 15 minutes or so have been on a PC.  Even though the product is optimized for the full PC / Mac OS or Android mobile OS.  I must admit, even with its many flaws, the iOS experience is good enough to keep me coming back.

Here are my first impressions.

Central to the User Experience is the circle concept.  We all socialize in various circles. Google+ has made that literally the metaphor.  G+ daily offers me up to 500 invitations to add to my circles.  If the person is not yet in G+, they will get an invitation.  If they are already in, they join into my circles and I begin following and sharing with them.  (Be patient, G+ is still throttling invitations.)

Since I have not use the PC version with a webcam, I’m missing out on Hangouts – multipoint video chats.  That will come in time. I expect very good value for work groups and enterprise applications of this feature.  I also expect integration with Aple products with the forward facing camera (lal multi user FaceTime). With the recent introduction of Apple’s FaceTime and now Google’s new Hangout feature, perhaps personal video conferencing will finally reach the tipping point to general adoption.

I’m also excited about the ease of adoption.  Google+ has quickly added most of my social graph to their SNS and the conversations are quickly turning to real substance other than just discussing Google+ itself.
So what are my takeaways so far?

iPad in Desktop Mode

1. This is going to be big.  Google+ has scaled very quickly showing robust, well thought out features. It works easily on many platforms, combines access on any device to central cloud storage, performs well, and has already attracted the necessary early adopters

2. This will evolve quickly.  Google is known for quick iterative innovations and promises constant upgrades and introduction of new features.  They also appear to be leveraging many of their various products without any sign of internal power struggles that will derail progress.

3. Facebook and Twitter have a real competitor now. Most early comments have been that Facebook should be scared, but little has been said about Twitter also being in Google’s sights.  With the recent announcements of tight integration between Twitter and Apple’s iOS, it looks like the Google+/Android camp is stacking up as a good alternative.  It might even be a three way race of the rumored Facebook / Skype entry materializes.  Anyway, like Facebook, Twitter has been acting monopolistically as of late (terms of service, acquisitions, apathy to partners)  It is good to see a
product come along that offers a viable alternative.

iPad in Mobile Mode

4. Enterprise 2.o is in the game plan for Google+.  All the talk about Consumer and Facebook should not hide the fact that Google+ coupled with Google Apps will offer a powerful platform for enterprise collaboration, eating away at the SMB market first and later moving up the food chain to the Fortune 500 market.  E2.0 stalwarts such as Jive Software, Socialcast, Yammer, IBM Connections, and, to a lesser extent, SharePoint will see Google+ providing a new alternative in the young and growing Enterprise 2.0 collaboration market space.

That’s my first look.  So much more can be said, but there will be plenty of time for that in the future.  The Google+ introduction is a major tectonic shift in the social software landscape.  It’s aftershocks will be felt for some time to come.  So find me on Google+ ( http://gplus.to/jimworth ) and let’s continue the conversation.  I look forward to adding you to my new Circle of Friends.

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Filed under Early Adopter, enterprise20, Google, GooglePlus, social business, social media, social web, tools

Facebook Today, Reminds Me of AOL in 1998

I find myself more and more leaving the constraints of Facebook and stepping out into the deep end of the social web.

 
 It was an interesting time, 1998. The early Internet starter kits were beginning to make it out. Netscape had introduced a nice browser. Microsoft was playing catch up with Internet Explorer. Mozilla was still around. The Internet was a wild west.

EBay and Amazon were just starting to get traction. There were a few tools for creating websites, and a few email services, but it was a rough time with people stumbling around in an attempt to reach out and publish information on the web. You needed a webmaster, well versed in HTML page markup or PERL scripts, to do anything worthwhile online.

In the late 1990s, the Internet was not a fun place for the masses. It was difficult to get around, set up an email address, or share files. America Online had just begun carpet bombing the US with millions of free AOL CDROM disks delivered through the US Postal Service in an attempt to snag as many subscriptions as possible.

The appeal was clear. Families in record numbers were buying their first desktop computer, loading up AOL, connecting their modem and beginning to share pictures, email, and news stories with each other. AOL started in the mid 1980s as a private network, but was quickly morphing into a gateway and a guide for the Internet by the mid 1990s. The famous “AOL Keyword” had become a universal locator for web content. Families in the millions jumped onto the internet through the safety of AOL. Soon AOL was flying high, valued large enough to buy the traditional media company, Time Warner. Just about then, the bubble burst and we all came back down to earth, ready for a new wave of innovators on the web.

A few years after the crash, Tim O’Reilly coined the phrase Web 2.0, and a few college students started building The FaceBook to allow students an easier way to connect and share with each other. As AOL was descending and the Time Warner merger began to look like the biggest corporate failure of all time, the social web began to take shape. Twitter, YouTube, Digg, Del.icio.us, Myspace, and Facebook began to gain ground with the early adopters. By 2009, Facebook was starting to gain real traction and in 2010, the new platform had a breakout year with Time Magazine granting “Person of the Year” honors to its founder Mark Zuckenberg.

Facebook is nice. It’s teaching us all a new language of “Likes”, comments, status updates, tagging, and general open sharing of our lives. While allowing us to share among close friends, it is also pushing the limits on privacy, and teaching us all to read the fine print as we all become more and more comfortable with expanding the circle of trusted friends that we share our lives with. Messaging on Facebook is so easy, many have abandoned email all together and just “Facebook” each other (that’s sending a note through Facebook). People often don’t know an email address, but find their friends by name and send them a message. Chatting is all the rage as well. Groups connect, share their lives, and expand their friendships online, blurring the lines between virtual and real.

Many people and businesses are using Facebook now as their primary branding website, drawing on the large population online. But at the same time, early adopters and web savvy professionals continue to push the envelope using twitter, flickr, youtube, twitpic, tweetchat, about.me, instagr.am, foursquare and a host of other “wild west” style social media tools. The social web is fully functional and all functions that are now done in the safety of Facebook are also done in the openness of the social web without the restriction of a closed circle of “friends.”

AOL put fences around the Internet in the late 1990s and allowed families and newbies a safe way to navigate, read news, follow “New Kids on the Block.” The public could share with each other online and join along out loud whenever a new message was delivered: “You’ve got mail!”

Just like AOL back then, Facebook today puts fences around the social web allowing an easy way for families and newbies to share photos, status updates, “likes”, and news of Justin Bieber in the safety and security of a protected social web environment. The real social web continues to thrive and innovate. I find myself more and more leaving the constraints of Facebook and stepping out into the deep end of the social web.

I wonder if, in a few years, Facebook will grow to enormous market value, purchase one of the Web 1.0 or traditional media companies and then go through a similar self-destruction as the openness of the full social web takes over. History does have a way of repeating itself. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below or online (on Twitter).

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Filed under collaboration, community, conversations, Early Adopter, microblogging, productivity, social, social media, social web, tools, trends, web2.0

My Personal Technology Hype Cycle

This week, I’m looking at Tumblr, Ubuntu Desktop, SCVNGR and a few other technologies. Over these first few weeks of 2011, I’ve checked out Quora, Instagram, and Hot Pursuit (from EA) just to name a few. Some people say I’m tech savvy, others say I spend too much time with the “magic box” (iPhone), others say simply “I don’t know how you find the time for that”. Most just don’t care.

That’s fine with me. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am curious and I don’t mind taking a few risks with my time in order to discover useful innovations. Like all innovative people or organizations, success requires a bit of risk taking. We see it with the most innovative companies, they spend millions and sometimes billions on risky endeavors. They know that many of them will fail and turn into a waste of time and money. They try to ensure efforts are focused, but failure is simply a cost of innovation. You will make mistakes often, but the payoff is great. As a entrepreneurial friend once told me 1 in 10 startups hit it big, so he keeps doing them, sometimes several at a time. Eventually he expects to hit it big.

The same goes with innovation and personal productivity. If one is willing to invest the time (that’s my case, because I don’t have millions or billions of dollars), some of those investments will pay off.  Others will be a waste of some time.

As I was thinking it through today, I was taken by the simplicity of Gartner’s Hype Cycle curve. Gartner is famous at posting these hype cycles for various topics such as Social Software, Emerging Technologies, or Consumer Mobile Applications. They are so famous, there is even room for a Hype Cycle Parody piece by CIO columnist, Thomas Wailgum. His work from last summer was definitely tweet worthy.

So I thought, maybe I should paint a similar picture for my particular interest in technology. This is a fast moving cycle and will be quite different in 6 months. It also will not match your personal hype cycle since we are all drawn to different technologies for different reasons and priorities.

Anyway, I think you might find this interesting. You will find some items where you relate, but I expect more often you will find differences. That’s fine. That’s how we learn. I look forward to hearing what is on your personal hype cycle and where it falls on the curve.

So here is the first ever Jim Worth Personal Technology Hype Cycle, January, 2011 edition:

Technology Trigger: Focus.com, MacBook Air, iPad 2, iPhone 5, Ubuntu Linux, Tumblr, SCVNGR

Peak of Inflated Expectations: Instagram, Quora, Pandora, Pulse, Posterous, WordPress

Slipping down the slope: EA’s Hot Pursuit, Win 7, Google Reader, Eventbrite, Barcamp

Trough of Disillusionment: Yammer, Foursquare, Gowalla, Angry Birds, Ustream

Slope of Enlightenment: Instapaper, About.me, Kindle, Newsgator,

Plateau of Productivity: iPad, Twitter, iPhone 3gs, PBworks, Google Analytics, Blogger, Socialcast, Google Groups, MyWi hotspot

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Filed under productivity, technology, tools, trends

2 Months with my iPad

Welcome to all the new Global iPad owners.

Here is what I’ve learned since I got mine as an impulse buy on the US launch Day, April 3.

My favorite apps / ways of working:

Twitterrific for tweets
Weatherbug for weather
Instapaper for saving tweets
Amazon Kindle app for my books
Facebook on the safari browser
Yammer on the browser or iPhone app
Google maps
Gmail as the default mail client
Netflix for watching the instant queue
Planets for sky gazing

What are your favorites?

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Filed under Apple iPad Innovation, apps, Early Adopter, how to, Innovation, IPad, mobility, productivity, technology, tools, trends

What is and How to Twitter Video

>Found this “How to” Video on the UK Telegraph: Video

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Filed under Early Adopter, how to, how to tweet, Innovation, microblogging, social, social media, tools, twitter, Uncategorized, web2.0