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January 2010

Microsoft - You Do Let Me Down Sometimes....

Sunday, January 31, 2010 0

The whole world is talking about iPads and tablet devices right now - and I'm trying my best not to write what could become a whole book on the subject - my USB memory tag is full of posts on tablet devices that I just can't bring myself to post in fear of turning my blog into a site dedicated to tablets (Note to self possible blog/book title; "Addicted to Tablets").

What really is working up right now though it the amount of coverage that Apple are getting for being so "innovative" with their tablet device. Looking back at the history however reveals that Microsoft had this device in mind in the mid-to-early 2000's - it was called "Microsoft Origami" and it was designed to be the device in between the PC and the mobile phone.

Just watch this video:

All of the ideas that have gone into the "Apple iPad" were already realised and poised for implementation by Microsoft (bar possibly the eReader stuff - which doesn't appear in the video). The reason they didn't fulfil that potential? They were too busy re-writing Windows Vista in order to stay relevant on the desktop. They were also too busy fighting off Sony and Nintendo in the game and entertainment industry with XBox 360 and Project Natal.

As we discovered from Steve Balmer's keynote a couple of weeks ago, Microsoft still have an exciting future and plenty of new products that can compete in the pipeline - they just have to step up and deliver them.

I posted a video a while back demo'ing the "Microsoft Courier" - a dual touch screen notepad that is styled like a personal organiser or notebook. Its an ideal replacement for both - the differenciating element between the Courier and the iPad is the use of the stylus. Apple seem to favour the touch of the finger to perform every task, where Microsoft are much more broad minded and combine handwriting, voice control and touch -- it's a far more versatile device.

Right now my message to Microsoft is this -- stop with the prototyping and demo devices that showcase all of the major developments you have made, and get making these devices for those customers who really want them. The Origami concept didn't take off because the technology at the time let it down, but the ideas were all good with far more potential than possibly ever originally anticipated.

So, Microsoft - you've had your time to address the Windows Vista downturn, the sales of Windows 7 have returned Windows back from the dead, the XBox division is as popular as ever, the Zune is finally a music player people are willing to be seen and show off with and even launched Bing.com as a geniuine challenge and alternative to Google; now is the time to go back to those Origami concepts that have been forgotten, get the Cloud computing working, sort those mobile phone platforms out too and connect all of the devices together.

Microsoft - you've let me down on the tablet - but there is still time to fight back. Don't let me down again, as the slogan goes "Your Potential, Our Passion", don't forget your own potential Microsoft, ignite our passion for your devices and software -- please!

Another Shot In The...Apple?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 0

Yesterday I wrote about DoubleTwist muscling in on Apple’s iTunes space and offering music synchronisation for Android phones and other branded MP3 players and smart phones on the T-Mobile website. I speculated that it could finally be an end for some iTunes users to free themselves of Apple’s bloated iTunes software.

Today, Google have taken a swipe at Apple too in the phone market. Google Voice – which is not yet released here in the UK, allows you to control all of your telecoms needs and mask it behind a single number. For example, you right one number to contact me and depending on who you are, what number you call from or what time of day it is, I can divert you to my mobile phone, my desk phone, my home phone, all three or straight to voice mail.

The idea is that never again will you have to change your number just because you change one of your phone numbers. Simply update Google Voice with your new numbers and keep your primary master number.

Last summer Google released their Google Voice application for the iPhone – it was approved by Apple and those invited into the beta downloaded and enjoyed the service. Then inexplicitly Apple decided to reverse their decision and pulled the app from the store, blocking any existing copies of the application.

This lead to a number of high profile iPhone users ditching the phone in favour of Android. An FCC investigation was then started involving Google, Apple and AT&T in a bid to try to work out who had pressured who to get the application banned; Apple claimed the app mirrored existing functionality of the iPhone (something which is prohibited by Apple’s terms and conditions - apparently), and AT&T were accused of pressuring Apple to ban it as it replicated the functionality of the mobile network by adding an additional layer of call routing that wasn’t controlled by the AT&T network.

Today though, the story takes on an additional twist – Google have re-written the application as a web service that can be run directly from any smart phone browser – making the need for an application entirely redundant.

This totally laughs in the face of Apple’s AppStore policies and AT&T’s network restrictions – it also opens up the application beyond just the iPhone and Android mobile platforms, allowing Palm and potentially Nokia and Microsoft Mobile phone access onto the Google Voice service.

It also highlights once again Google’s desire to move away from “Applications” and instead offer them as web services that utilise the internet and other cloud based services – which could effectively bring an end to all ‘App Stores’ and wiping out Apple’s App model which has been replicated so closely by others.

The game is changing fast and the existing business models that have served Apple so well these past few years are being challenged and changed again. As always, the Internet marches on relentlessly and existing business models crumble….progress is coming.

BillG Annual Letter

Monday, January 25, 2010 0

Just a quick note to you all - the annual Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation letter written by the great man himself is now up and on the Foundations website.

To read or download click here. Last years was so very interesting, I'm sure this year's will be too -- in fact, I'm off to read now!

Here's A Twist For You....


Following my post on the much rumoured, much expected, much hyped Apple ‘iTablet’ where I rightly pointed out that Apple have managed to snare users and keep them loyal to their brand by producing not only the device, but the full end to end solution (read: buy an iPod and expected to run iTunes to make it work).

Whilst I’ve freely admitted many times in the past – it wasn’t my iPod dying that made me switch from iTunes, but the constant updates and tweaks to the software, coupled with the “sneaky” tactics of trying to make me download other Apple products such as Safari and MobileMe – that eventually lead to me making the switch to Windows Media Player/Centre as my default music player.

Sometime after I made this decision a bunch of Apple employees left the company and made the jump to Palm to work on the Pre smart phone. When the phone was announced just over a year ago, Palm rejoiced in the announcement that their phone would sync directly with iTunes saving users all of the hassle of having to convert or switch their software to manage their music library – a stroke of genius.

Unfortunately, Apple didn’t quite see it that way. Someone else encroaching on their patch was a big ‘no’ in Apple’s closed off approach to software (something that Microsoft used to be really bad at, but have completely changed in recent times). Apple changed their code to block Palm from syncing with their software and thus the game of cat and mouse started.

Today DoubleTwist – an alternative to iTunes that can sync with just about anything, including Apple products (I believe) – have signed a deal with T-Mobile to bring DoubleTwist software to Android devices and potentially other mobile handsets.

It’s quite an announcement as it effectively gives the other mobile phone handset manufacturers and networks a standardised alternative to promote against the company that has caused the most damage to their cosy little world of mobile telecoms. If they were able to boost the profile of DoubleTwist as ‘thee’ player to have, it could also be the start of consumers switching away from Apple hardware to alternative offerings (I’m thinking mainly iPods rather than iPhones here – but it seems music players and mobile handsets are ever more closely paired).

Are we about to see a dent (and I will say ‘dent’ only at this point in time), made in the Apple markets? Watch this space – a change may be coming!

iTablet - iDon't Think So! -- Part 2

Friday, January 22, 2010 0

Part 2 of my post on the Apple iTablet - this was in reply to an email, which came in reply of Part 1. I've decided to respectfully not issue the other side of this conversation as I haven't asked for permission (not that I think it would be a problem you understand):

The success of the iPod/iPhone were Apple's ability to build end-to-end processes that locked users into their service (iPod -> iTunes, iPhone -> AppStore), making it unattractive to switch. Since that time, the game has changed - and other companies build better hardware and more intelligent services (Microsoft Zune players/Google NexusOne - I'll not mention Palm Pre for sanity reasons). Apple have never cracked the PC market because Microsoft dominate.

What I can't understand is where Apple will pitch the iTablet. If its an e-Reader, it uses the wrong technology (Kindle rule at eInk), if its a PC - 90%+ of users will require a keyboard, if its a big iPhone, the question has to be "Why and for what purpose would a user buy such a device?". A tablet device (and I'm not just talking about Apple here), has to serve a specific need for the user to warrant investment -- buying one because of hype is not enough (I know because I've fallen for that same hype on tablet devices before). Anyone who buys such a device purely around the hype without thinking about it will find an iTablet stuck in their gadget draw 3 to 6 months down the line because they won't have a need for it -- the smart phone has already has it beaten on portability, usability, etc.

As you know, I have my eye on the Microsoft Courier (the 2-screen notepad), because I can see a need for it. I currently have a notepad at work that I scribble all of my ideas down on -- having an electronic version of that, that works would happily be a welcome addition to my gadget list as a result. A Kindle (or other ebook reader), would also fill a void in my gadget arsenal -- I can see a need for it.

A tablet for the sake of a tablet I can't fathom.....and that's my point - the hype is bigger than the need - it doesn't matter what else Apple announce, users have to have a reason to buy a tablet from *any* manufacturer.

iTablet - iDon't Think So! -- Part 1


During an email exachange with a good friend of mine talking about the potential Apple iTablet speculation and hype, I made some rather bold, but I think justified predictions and I'd like to share them with you here.

My email in full has been republished here - oh and the opening quote is from Paul Carr's TechCrunch post - I'd post the link, but I have it no longer:

"....so many of the journalists anticipating the launch have dropped any
sense of responsibility to their readers and replaced it with cloying fanboyism"

It seems that pure speculation alone and the game changing Amazon Kindle device have spurred the tablet to be "the device of the year". Apple have merely jumped onto the same bandwagon as everyone else.

Microsoft have already beat them to it too - Windows 7 is built around touch and is the first touch screen Operating System that isn't a phone OS. More over, I think they have grasped that touch screen devices need to be given a purpose - the Courier (the 2-screen diary/notepad thing) for example being a device designed for researching and organising. The new HP device they announced last week as a portable tablet - for reading and browsing.

The Apple device is a bit iPhone - so what's the point? If you want an iPhone, get an
iPhone, if you want a reader, get a Kindle. Also, I'm not sure people are going to be able to type on them without dropping them - they've decided to go for a 10" screen (allegedly), so 8 out of 10 people who buy one, I predict will resort back to their PC or laptop with a keyboard within 6 months of buying Apple's device.

Touch screen devices - I believe - need to have a purpose. They can't be all-round devices that do everything -- unless its in a form factor that's truly portable -- and we already have smart phones that fulfil that gap.

Augmented Reality Disruption

Monday, January 18, 2010 0

The two technologies that were predicted to really take off and rocket this year are “Geo-Location” aware applications (such as FourSquare, Gowalla and even Twitter’s built in location), and “Augmented Reality”.

Whilst the term ‘Augmented Reality’ (or AR), is pretty new on most people, I can guarantee that you’ve seen it before. Where Virtual Reality (VR), is a 100% digital version of the world, AR is a collision of the real world and the digital world – where digital information can be displayed against a real backdrop.

You will have seen this on television millions of times before without fully appreciating the technology – digital overlays and signage either in front or behind a presenter – or if you’re an F1 follower, the technical data that is displayed on the screen as you watch the race.

But technology has shifted AR towards the every day use of most people and the latest smart phones apps are pulling digital data into the real world. A good example of this is the Yelp application which helps users find just about any type of establishment – for example, open up the application, tell it you want to know where the local restaurants are and then point your phones camera down the street – the application then uses GPS to determine where about you are and then overlay a digital readout showing you where the closest restaurants are directly on the viewing screen of the digital camera.

Pure brilliance.

But it’s this video that caught my eye yesterday. The US military have developed an application that allows the user to wear a head-up display unit, linked to a Google G1 Android phone, as they peer at what appears to be some sort of generator, the application uses AR to demonstrate to the user exactly how to fix the problem they are dealing with and repair the generator. Here’s the clip:

It really is a powerful application – but it really does demonstrate the potential in AR yet to be unlocked. This particular application could easily be adjusted for civilian use – allowing people to repair their cars or PCs for example.

Whoever develops these new AR applications could really disrupt many, many businesses; car mechanics, PC engineers, teachers, plumbers, electricians, builders, etc, etc, etc.

To steal a couple of quotes from Sarah Lacy:

  • “The most amazing thing about the Internet is how many industries it’s wrecked”
  • “The second most amazing thing about the Internet: The fact that there are still industries it’s barely touched”
It seems the internet marches on relentlessly.

Radio 2 Make the Best Ads?

Sunday, January 10, 2010 0

Following on from my last post, do Radio 2 just make the best TV adverts ever?? This is absolute genius....

Then there are these two classic examples of Radio 2's commitment to music....shame about Russell though....I still miss him from the airwaves!


Hello Friends & Thanks For Tuning In....


Tomorrow a new era in radio history starts.....that's right, Mister Christopher Evans of former Radio One savior and Breakfast Show presenter returns to the Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2, taking over from the legendary Sir Terry Wogan.

I personally cannot wait. As a long time Evan's fan, and listener of the Radio 1 and Virgin Radio Breakfast Shows, its the show he was born to present - and taking over from Terry is an absolute honor I'm sure Christoph will fully relish and deliver the perfect show to start the new era at Radio 2 (the UK's most popular radio station lets not forget).

What makes it more interesting is that after the Russell Brand 'Sachsgate' scandle and the departure of Jonathan Ross from the BBC come June this year, I believe Evans to be the last real radio broadcaster who will move into the pages of legend and radio history. I think that Brand was perfect poised to take over as the 'Celebrity DJ' mantle from Evans - reaching out to the young people of Britian as thee talent to keep the medium alive, but alas no longer, Brand's reluctance to return to the airwaves restricted to only one-off specials at this time.

So, here it is then - the last great hope for radio and the last of the 'Celebrity DJ's: Chris Evans, BBC Radio 2, Monday to Friday 7am to 9:30am. 88 to 91 FM, tune in or miss out.

Reasons To Remind....Highlights

Saturday, January 9, 2010 0

Just found this video - if you don't have an hour and a half to spend, here's the highlights show in a nice and compact five minutes:

Reasons To Remind....


The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), at the very start of every year has always interested me - the presentation and amalgamation of a whole years worth of work from all of the very biggest and some of the very smallest electronic and technology companies.

Last years device that captured me was the Palm Pre - and I waited almost a whole year to get my hands on one - and reading some of the improved features coming along to the Pre that were discussed at CES this year, its renewed my belief that this phone was worth waiting for.

Also last year Windows 7 was launched - and if you happened to read my top 5 technologies of 2009, you will know that the new Microsoft Operating System was on that list and I value it very highly. I've had it installed on my laptop and Media Centre PC for some time now and I know I'm only scratching the surface of just what it is capable of.

Even so, its easy to forget sometimes - especially for me, who works with older incarnations of Microsoft products every day that their products are sometimes aren't as perfect as we'd all like to believe. But watching the latest KeyNote from Microsoft at CES this year, has reminded me just how far Microsoft has moved so many vertical markets along; computing in the home and work space, gaming, entertainment, social media, music, internet connectivity, and so much more.

If you have an hour and half to spare, I urge you to go make yourself a coffee now, turn up the sound, click play on the following video, open it up to full screen and sit back and watch and be amazed just how much Microsoft is still part of the technology scene and the vast coverage of devices and markets they touch - its then that you really do realise just why Apple are no where near them in terms of their computing/technological efforts. It also reminds why Google, despite their ventures into new markets are still so far behind in some respects and how Microsoft have responded to things like search, maps and video.

Sit back and I hope you enjoy as much as I did.....

An Open Letter Offer To The BBC

Friday, January 8, 2010 0

An Open Letter To The BBC.


Dear Director General,


I am writing to express interest at the up and coming opening position you have for an hour long TV show on Friday evening come September.  Whilst I have no television experience, I believe I would be able to fill this slot with my own brand of comedy entertainment and chat with special guests.


I already have an idea for the name of the show “Friday Night With Craig Butters”.  My plans are also include bringing each guest on to a musical song which will be sung live by the in-house band of the show - “4 Lesbians and a Cello”.


The format of the show is then pretty simple – 3 celebrity guests are brought out to promote their latest wares and they chat a little bit about some amusing stories.  At the end of the show a live musical performer will sing before the titles roll.


I believe it to be a ratings winner.


As an added bonus, I am also free on Saturday mid-morning for any radio work that might be available.  I like music and believe I can converse with the public and any special guests who may have been coerced either into the studio or on the phone.


Unfortunately, I know squat about films – but I do have a friend who would be eager to present such a show if you wished to commission a series. 


I look forward to hearing your reply and hope contract negotiations are completed quickly.  My advice – snap me up now, before its too late.


Kind Regards,

Craig Butters

Web 3.oh?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 0

A while ago I read speculation that “Web 3.0” was due to be based around the idea of ownership and selling of digital assets. Today the news has filtered around the web that the highest selling virtual good was sold today for $330k (a virtual space station if you’re wondering – the story can be found here).

Whilst that is all very well and good – it really was only a matter of time before we started making investments in virtual goods as something else we could spend our money on, as if the real world wasn’t expensive enough – I’ve seen two news stories that use Web 2.0 technologies for real-world savings.

It’s worth noting that both of these stories seemed to originate from within the US.

The story basically goes along the lines of businesses in the US offering discounted goods in return for the customer proving that they tweeted out an endorsement of their product/service. Also, those cities covered by Foursquare are also getting in on the offers to – check into an establishment with your geo-location, prove it and get a discount. Good examples of this are a pizzeria, tweet or check in your location to your followers and get a 20% discount on the price of your order – or prove you’ve been enticed to try the pizza out from a recommendation tweet from a follower and receive a similar discount.

In a world where Google has made billions from selling advertisements alongside their search results, it seems logical that businesses are getting in and rewarding those who provide free advertising for their business or have been willed into trying something new on a recommendation from the social networking sites.

Obviously those businesses with a good reputation and a good service will then rise to the top of these social networking recommendations and could potentially offer much greater reward in return, whilst those places that do not offer good services or products slide backwards until they discover the correct formula for their business to succeed.

It is active, real-life feedback which will make or break businesses if they do not respond to customers who know what they want. This last week and a bit, I’ve visited Nando’s chicken on two occasions and whilst they run a loyalty scheme every time you make a purchase if they were able to combine this with social networking they’d not only reward the loyal customer with free food, but also actively boost their profile – even if that persons tweets manage to entice one person to try their food, it’s another sale.

The world is changing and it appears to be built on advertising. Forget virtual goods, I’d like to see this model define Web 3.0 in some way.



Following Mike Arrington’s list of top things in tech 2009, Jason Calacanis of Mahalo fame recently put together his list of top in tech which you can find here. Right there in the middle of his list was his electric Tesla Roadster car which was included alongside the following rant:

RANT: For over a year, I haven’t visited a gas station and have been able to
give the finger to the bastards in the Middle East who believe that women and
gays are about as valuable as dogs, and that the freedoms we enjoy in the United
States are the root causes of all evil. If Obama had any leadership ability, as
opposed to his consensus-building nonsense, he would have taken the billions
we’re going to spend in Afghanistan and simply spent that money on electric car
and solar subsidies in America. We have to stop wasting our money building
schools and bridges for backwards societies that don’t appreciate them and start
spending that money on energy independence. There is no reason we couldn’t put
solar panels on every rooftop in America, and electric cars in every driveway,
instead of spending money fighting enemies that don’t want the freedom we’re
promoting. Sorry about the rant, but I’m really frustrated that Obama, who I
voted for, is such a disappointment. He was supposed to bring some innovation to
politics and his policies feel no different than the failed strategies of
Cheney/Bush (in that order). If I was president, I would cut our losses in the
Middle East and stop sending any money there, instead investing it in nuclear,
solar, wind and EVs. This is such an obvious solution to everyone except the
idiots we put in power. Shame on all of us. END RANT

It absolutely amazes me that the Americans have openly come out and criticised Obama one year into his Presidency – particularly over healthcare and Iraq. The healthcare thing I admit I don’t really get; he saw a way to improve it and on the back of his “change” campaign that got him elected he tried to change it for the better, only to come up against a backlash of protest. Here in the UK we have the NHS – and whilst we complain about it and dream of it being vastly better, its still a lot better than having to deal with insurance companies every time you need to visit the doctor or hospital and charged for your care like in the US.

The “War On Terror” bit however, I don’t really know why Obama is under being judged so harshly, it wasn’t his war he inherited that problem from the previous administration and has had to progress with an aggressive strategy that he perhaps wouldn’t have pursued had the US not been so far into Iraq that they are now committed to finding a suitable exit strategy.

I do love Calacanis’ optimism for changing the US and the world for the better. A shift away from traditional fuel sources towards solar power units on the roof of every American home, Nuclear power, harnessing wind power all to make that change to the electric car and away from fossil fuels would be an absolute World-changing commitment to make and more than likely a very popular one to make by Obama and for him to lead the world in a new radical approach.

There’s a scene in the “West Wing” where fictional President Jed Bartlet proclaims that despite a Presidents four year term, there isn’t enough time to everything that they originally set out to achieve when they made the decision to run for office – especially in the first four years. The first year is a learning year and to adjust the strategies that were already in play from the previous administration (a task even more complicated I’d imagine if taking the White House over from the opposing party), and then they have two years to achieve their goals, followed by the last year campaigning and running for re-election.

My point is that you can’t change the world over night and that trying to achieve everything you set out to achieve in a short space of time, especially where agreement and consensus has to be achieved between a large group of people (the American People, Congress, opposing parties, etc), can’t be an easy balance and environment in which to achieve everything – especially with new challenges being presented in amongst trying to achieve these ideas every single day.

Is it up to Government to change the world? I hope so, but it’s also the responsibility of everyone else to change too, there’s no reason why you can’t go and purchase an electric/hybrid car or a solar panels on the roof of their house. Obama can still make radical ideas work, but he needs more than a year to make these things happen – here’s hoping that Calacanis and the rest of the Tech industry does their bit to help change the world in the meantime.

Burst Of Web 2.0


Liking this....

...apparently its a bunch of Web 2.0 people celebrating the "Burst of Web 2.0".

My Top 5 In Tech: 2009

Saturday, January 2, 2010 0

I’ve totally stolen this idea from Mike Arrington (of TechCrunch fame and fortune), but it seems every year for the past five he’s put together his top products in Tech that he uses most regularly – and I thought it was such a good idea, I’d jump on the bandwagon and write up my own top products in Tech that I use all the time – only I will limit mine to my top 5.

Before I start, it should be worth noting that what follows is my own opinion only and that throughout the year its likely that items on the list will change as my technical preferences change and mature. So without further a-do here it is, my top five for 2009:

NUMBER 1: HP Pavillion Tablet

The one item I could never be without – my laptop. Whilst its getting old now (its into its third year of service), it still remains the device that gets used most often and for the most number of purposes.

Whilst the machine is dubbed as an “Entertainment” machine, it really is a good all round machine. Whilst I hardly use it as a tablet – mainly because I can’t get away from the keyboard, I do find myself every now and again pressing against the screen to select items.

Over the past few weeks it has developed a bit of a overheating issue but I think that’s only because I tend to use the machine in bed too and often the fans and ventilation points get covered over. I’m hoping like hell that the issue doesn’t develop further – as I really would miss this machine.

Earlier in the year I bought a Samsung NC110 Netbook for work, and whilst the netbook platform has really took off these last couple of years – for me a full, proper laptop will never be replaced.

NUMBER 2: Twitter

Twitter has been around for a good few years now and it seems that I caught the wave just before it really took off and exploded into the mainstream of just about everything; TV, movies, magazines, etc.

I reluctantly signed up for Facebook years ago and whilst I think that social platform certainly has its place on the internet, I still find that Twitter is the networking platform for me – and I certainly think that it has far more potential within it for further growth into other services and platforms that have the ability to connect the world 140 characters at a time.

Just as the SMS text message increased in popularity and took the emphasis away from telephone calls towards text, Twitter has done the exact same thing but to email and Instant Messaging – but is still not yet done. The service could easily be the delivery platform for mobile payments, online e-billing, subscriptions, a real genuine news delivery platform, a competition platform and a lot, lot more.

I’ve been actively tweeting all year and whilst I find the service invaluable, I think 2009 really has been a breakthrough year. And part of its appeal and growth has been down to my next item….

NUMBER 3: Palm Pre

The smartphone is one of those essential devices of the day; they can do just about everything you could ever possibly want to do with a miniature computer that fits in your pocket – and its all come about because of the paradigm shift of making applications mobile and an ever connected network of devices/applications/information/people.

From a high level point of view, the mesh of all of these things is truly fascinating for me and one I hope to continue to expand. Choosing the right smartphone – at this time of increasingly new models almost on a daily basis - is a difficult task, however for me it was an easy choice this year.
It wasn’t Apple, it was the return of a childhood favourite: Palm.

Let me get this straight right now – I love this phone. Thought its not the hardware that holds my attention, its the operating system beneath. Palm have worked absolute wonders with the WebOS interface, perfectly combining an OS with the delights of Web 2.0, always on connectivity, in a smooth flowing style. It is an absolute dream to use.

Unfortunately for Palm however, their CEO made bold claims about beating the iPhone and those claims had very little foundation which put a lot of people, who were watching the launch of this device, off. Also, the competition grew wider with the adoption of more smartphone devices picking up the Android OS from Google.

The Palm Pre was my chosen phone however and I’m positive that it is a solid device and its future is far from over just yet. There is a lot more to come and I’m without doubt that Palm will overcome their initial difficulties, they already have a very interesting application strategy with open source.

Time will tell if I am ultimately right in the selection of the Palm Pre or whether I’ll be looking another for platform come my contracts ends in 2011. Right now though, my device, the Palm Pre, makes my list.

NUMBER 4: Panasonic Lumix G1

At the start of 2009, I was encouraged by a friend to take up photography after the bug had recently bitten him. Sceptical at first, pondering where I would find enjoyment from such an activity, I dismissed the suggestion that it would appeal directly to me……then I went out with said friend, who brought along his camera.

Trudging through a field full of cows and bulls as he snapped away taking photographs I saw a small glimpse of the joy to it all. It wasn’t until a few months later that the bug bit and I was drawn into finding out more. On my quest, I stumbled upon the new Panasonic Lumix G1 and as the device is smaller than a the traditional SLR camera it instantly appealed as something I’d be able to comfortably carry around and use as I learnt more.

Its now a few months later and I have to admit that I was wrong to dismiss the lack of excitement to it all – I’ve been totally drawn in and I can’t wait to take snaps to see what I can create. Whilst I admit I’ve still got a lot to learn, I’ve had few flashes of photos I’ve truly been proud of.

The Panasonic Lumix G1 for its size, features and the pure joy of photography has made my list this year with ease. I don’t think I’ve used a camera as much ever.

NUMBER 5: Microsoft Windows 7

Finally on my list is the wonder that is Microsoft Windows 7. I never envy the monumental task that Microsoft have to undertake with every iteration of the Windows OS, not only does it have to beat the previous version, but everyone seems to have an opinion about how that should happen and what improvements should be bundled into the release.

Anyone who followed along with the “Engineering Windows 7” Blog like I did will have seen a million and one suggestions for things that should be improved or changed and descriptions of exactly how to achieve these – being Microsoft, knowing how to create an OS that relates to everyone and does everything in an efficient and productive, useable way is quite some task.

I followed the Beta and the Release Candidate programmes and I eventually purchased two Windows 7 licenses – the first time I’ve ever purchased a Windows license that didn’t come pre-bundled OEM with a new PC or new laptop.

It’s a dream Operating System, correcting all of the flaws and complaints from Vista. It works on more hardware (even netbooks), it works flawlessly with media; photos, music, video – I’m a big fan of Microsoft Media Centre for my television viewing and recording.

Its a delightful Operating System and something that as a techie I can get really excited about.

A New Year Challenge….

Friday, January 1, 2010 0

My very first phone call this year – two-thousand-ten, twenty-ten or 2KX (whichever you prefer) - was just after 9:10am – made to my boss in reaction to an SMS message that landed on my phone seconds before – the year had begun!


Moments later the netbook was fired up and I was dialled into the corporate network once I’d located the security tag and tapped in the encryptions numbers.  Once connected, I was then entered into the world of phone systems, networking, mobile communications and guessing what exactly we needed to do next.


The problem we were attempting to fix is not important, the fact right there and then the working year had started and it started with my boss and I guessing our way through a system we have very little knowledge of, yet hold all of the keys and responsibility for.


It therefore seems that after my return to the company I left two years ago, the next task for this year will be one of tough organisation and a steep learning curve of new systems and new implementations.


It will be an interesting year…..

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