Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Microsoft's Online Business

Microsoft was late in understanding the importance of the Internet and responding to it. It appears they're behind the curve in the latest online shift as well.

Microsoft's lost eight years online: More than $6 billion down the tubes:

Has the software giant ever made money online? The good news: Microsoft has delivered a profit here and there since it has been consolidating online results. The bad news: Those profits are few and far between.

Let’s roll through the numbers.

Fiscal 2010 - operating loss of $2.35 billion on revenue of $2.2 billion

Fiscal 2009 - operating loss of $1.65 billion on revenue of $2.12 billion

Fiscal 2008- loss of $578 million on revenue of $2.2 billion

Fiscal 2007 - loss of $732 million on revenue of $2.43 billion

Fiscal 2006 - profit of $5 million on revenue of $2.3 billion

Monday, August 16, 2010

Kids, the Internet and the Future

Free Technology for Teachers: Where Will Kids Put the Internet in the World?:

Read Write Web and Latitude recently conducted a survey of children in which they asked the kids to share the things they think computers and the Internet should do. As you might expect some of the responses were very imaginative. I look at the results of the survey as a preview of what computers and the Internet will do in the next decade or two. If you don't want to read the reports here and here, at least watch the video below summarizing some of the students' responses.

Latitude 42 Study Findings: Where Else Will Kids Think to Put the Web in the World? from latddotcom on Vimeo.

Tom Sawyer and ADHD

Some interesting observations from Joanne Jacobs

No place for Tom and Huck — :

If Tom Sawyer were a schoolboy today, he’d be diagnosed with ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), writes Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post. And maybe CD (Conduct Disorder) too.

What would the treatment be?
These days Tom and Huck would be on Ritalin. And Aunt Polly would be on Prozac.

Dell Streak

The Streak is something between a tablet and a smartphone, but doesn't fare well when compared with either tablet or smartphone.

Dell Streak: Too little, too late:

The Dell Streak tablet-smartphone crossover went on pre-sale Wednesday, tackling Apple’s iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone devices in one go. The Streak, however, sends mixed messages regarding its size, price, and viability as a replacement to any of your Apple devices. So, can it make the cut?

The Streak arrives in the U.S. after several delays (it was available two months ago in Europe), and will cost $300 with a two-year AT&T contract, or $550 without. It has a 5-inch touchscreen, works as a phone as well, and comes with Google’s Android 1.6 mobile operating system. In a nutshell: too little, too late. Here’s why.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Blackboard and Accessibility

The Blackboard juggernaut (monopoly?) keeps rolling ...

Blackboard Earns Certification for Accessibility to Blind Students:

The National Federation of the Blind Thursday gave Blackboard, the e-learning giant, its top accessibility certification. Blackboard is the first learning-management company to earn the certification, although federation spokesman Chris Danielsen says the group had not tested all of Blackboard's competitors

State Scraps Science Test Requirement for Students

Not good news for STEM ...

Education Week: State Scraps Science Test Requirement for Students:

Idaho is scrapping a rule that would have required high school students to pass standardized tests in science before they graduate, starting with the class of 2013.

61 Special Ed. School Heads Make More Than N.J. Gov.

Hmmm ...

Education Week: 61 Special Ed. School Heads Make More Than N.J. Gov.:

It's not clear whether salary caps that Gov. Chris Christie wants for New Jersey's school superintendents would apply to private schools funded with tax dollars. An analysis by The Record newspaper found more than 60 administrators for the state's 171 private special education schools earn more than the $175,000 cap.

AMSER - Adding Two Vectors

amser - adding vectors.png

Applied Math and Science Education Repository - Adding Two Vectors:

This website from David M. Harrison of the University of Toronto's physics department provides an animation of the addition of two vectors. Instructors may use this animation in explaining the concept of adding vectors and demonstrating the steps involved.

Textbooks for the iPad

CourseSmart For iPad: Free App With 90 Percent Of ‘Core Textbooks’ Available:

Students have another choice when it comes to electronic textbooks. CourseSmart has released an iPad App, and the company says that 90 percent of the “core textbooks” out there are available.

The iPad and Autisim

Jim Dalrymple shares the story of Shannon Des Roches Rosa and her Autisitc son Leo. Amazing ...

iPad hailed as a “near miracle” for Autistic boy:

“After Leo spent five minutes with his iPad, I realized that any assumptions I had about it being merely a bigger or a more breakable iPod touch were idiotic,” writes Des Roches Rosa. “It’s a tough little device. And for Leo, the larger scale of the iPad makes everything he wants to interact with just the right size, and therefore totally accessible. He may have a hard time writing on paper or typing on a computer keyboard, but he is a world-class iPad swiper and tapper, and his excellent visual memory means he can use that swiping and tapping to navigate between apps and videos with precision.”

It took Leo one day to master the iPad interface and he hasn’t looked back, according to his mother. He is drawing, using spelling apps, and augmentative and alternative communication apps too. Of course, being a kid, Leo enjoys playing games and making music on the iPad as well.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

iPad Is The Preferred Reading Device

This is true in my family. I'm reading books in the iBooks and Kindle apps, my wife reads samples in iBooks, and my mother has been reading voraciously in iBooks.

For Owners, iPad Is Now Go-To Reading Device:

According to a survey of UK iPad owners put forth by Cooper Murphy Webb, people who own iPads are now using them as their preferred device for reading newspapers, magazines and books. Of the 1,034 iPad owners polled via telephone between July 28th and August 10th, 43% use the iPad for more than 10 hours per week, with most of those usage hours taking place in home.

Giving ammunition to the “iPad Will Save Reading” camp, 31% of iPad users prefer their iPad to their laptop, mobile phone, e-reader and print media for reading newspapers and magazines, perhaps due to the innovative presentation of news put forward by aggregator iPad apps like Flipboard and Pulse.

And moreover 41% of iPad owners prefer the iPad for reading books, which bodes well for iPad apps like iBooks, Kindle for iPad, and  Barnes and Noble.


Library of Congress on iDevices

photo 2.PNGphoto 3.PNGphoto 1.PNG

Library of Congress Gets a Mobile App

an approved application that gives mobile users access to the United States Library of Congress Experience went live in the iTunes App Store. The app is compatible with iOS 3.1 on up and will run on the iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad.

A bit on the app ...

When users download the free app, they can take a virtual tour of the library and its collections. The app joins the efforts the Library of Congress has already made at, where users can collect historical artifacts in a customized page.

Each section of the app has tabs for video, audio, pictures and related links to external sites. My iPhone 4 was able to quickly download and play a beautiful video short on Thomas Jefferson after an easy install and sync.

While the offerings on the Library of Congress are limited, relative to the immense collections housed in the main archives, students and curious citizens now have a lightweight, free options to learn more about their nation's history.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Verizon iPhone and the N92

From John Gruber Daring Fireball: N92. He's well-connected to what's happening at Apple and his instincts are usually right on the mark.

engineering-wise, the wheels are turning on N92, the CDMA variant of the iPhone 4. It’s certainly not in production yet, and hasn’t reached DVT status (device verification test — like Gray Powell’s infamous stolen unit), but it is, a few little birdies claim, at EVT (engineering verification test). That’s one step below DVT, which is one step below production. So it’s right about where you’d think it would be if it were scheduled to go on sale in January. The CDMA iPhone is no longer a cold storage, keep-it-alive-just-in-case-we-need-it project.

That doesn’t make it a sure thing.


Cars hacked through wireless tire sensors

A pretty scary hack. You wonder what other systems are insecure in modern autos.

Cars hacked through wireless tire sensors:

The tire pressure monitors built into modern cars have been shown to be insecure by researchers from Rutgers University and the University of South Carolina. The wireless sensors, compulsory in new automobiles in the US since 2008, can be used to track vehicles or feed bad data to the electronic control units (ECU), causing them to malfunction.

Earlier in the year, researchers from the University of Washington and University of California San Diego showed that the ECUs could be hacked, giving attackers the ability to be both annoying, by enabling wipers or honking the horn, and dangerous, by disabling the brakes or jamming the accelerator.

The new research shows that other systems in the vehicle are similarly insecure. The tire pressure monitors are notable because they're wireless, allowing attacks to be made from adjacent vehicles. The researchers used equipment costing $1,500, including radio sensors and special software, to eavesdrop on, and interfere with, two different tire pressure monitoring systems.

The pressure sensors contain unique IDs, so merely eavesdropping enabled the researchers to identify and track vehicles remotely. Beyond this, they could alter and forge the readings to cause warning lights on the dashboard to turn on, or even crash the ECU completely.


The Internet Use in US

Pew Study Claims One Fifth Of American Adults Don’t Use The Internet:

The Pew research center put out survey results today on broadband adoption and Internet use in America. There was one data point that I found startling. According to the survey, 21 percent of American adults say they don’t use the Internet. One fifth of all Americans.

This isn’t just people who do not use broadband (which is 66 percent of American adults). It also includes people who don’t use dial-up (another 5 percent). These people don’t use the Internet at all. That is like not using the telephone.


'Why Google Became a Carrier-Humping, Net Neutrality Surrender Monkey'

Daring Fireball Linked List:

Ryan Singel for Wired on Google and net neutrality. The most damning bit is this quote from Google’s own weblog, back in 2007:

The nation’s spectrum airwaves are not the birthright of any one company. They are a unique and valuable public resource that belong to all Americans. The FCC’s auction rules are designed to allow U.S. consumers — for the first time — to use their handsets with any network they desire, and and use the lawful software applications of their choice.

It’s not that Google is worse on net neutrality than other companies with a stake in the mobile phone game. It’s that they made such a show of being better, of being on the side of the public interest — before they had a big stake in the game.


More on Verizon, Google, the FCC and Real Net Neutrality

Yesterday, Gordon Snyder shared his thoughts on Verizon, Google, the FCC and Real Net Neutrality?

What's particularly troubling is that Google, Verizon and virtually anyone with a pulse knows that the mobile web is going to dominate the future and that the traditional, fixed Internet as we know it is, increasingly,  going to marginalized. In fact, this is already happening and accelerating.

Conservative estimates are that mobile web browsing will be the norm as early as 2015. What happens to the end-user (you and me) when the mobile web IS the Internet and Verizon controls the "valve" - for a price.

Consider one potential scenario in my industry - education. Blackboard is the market-leader in learning management systems (LMSs), gobbling up smaller competitors (WebCT, Angel) and related companies (iStanford, Wimba, Elluminate). One of the few alternatives to Blackboard are open source LMSs such as Moodle or Sakai. Is there a future where Blackboard pays for priority of mobile traffic, essentially locking out resource-poor open source competitors?

Some interesting push back has come from a seemingly unlikely source Facebook.

Facebook at Odds With Google, Verizon on Net Neutrality:

Facebook Wednesday took issue with Google and Verizon’s proposal to exempt cellular networks from rules that would ensure equal treatment of Internet traffic, saying the social-networking giant supports equal treatment on “both landline and wireless networks.”

The battle lines are pretty clear. Facebook has grown tremendously (500 million users and growing) with no "help" from Verizon or other carriers. As Facebook continues to monetize their users and content, Verizon et. al. want a piece of the pie.

Jeff Jarvis's thoughts Internet, schminternet are worth a read too

I am baffled by the Google-Verizon agreement on nonnet-nonneutrality. I’m mostly baffled by why Google would put its name to this. What does it gain?

As I see it, the agreement makes two huge carve-outs to neutrality and regulation of the internet: mobile and anything new.

So ol, grandpa internet may chug along giving us YouTube videos of flaming cats, but you want to get that while you’re out of your house? Well, that’s the nonnet. I can hear the customer “service” rep explaining this to us:

“Oh, no, sir. That’s not offered on the internet. That’s on the schminternet.”

You want something new? Anything created after 2010?

“Schminternet, sir.”

And transparency in essence creates a third carve-out: So long as the phone company tells you it’s screwing your bits, it’s ok.

But wait. Mobile is the internet. Mobile will very soon become a meaningless word when — well, if telcos allow it, that is — we are connected everywhere all the time. Then who cares where you are? Mobile? doesn’t matter. You’re just connected. In your car, in your office, in your bedroom, on the street. You’re connected. To what? To the internet, damnit.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Top IT Jobs for 2010 and Beyond

Global Knowledge's list of Top IT Jobs for 2010 and Beyond

the hot jobs for 2010 and beyond.

  • Information Systems Auditor
  • Computer Forensics
  • Database Administrator
  • Software Engineers
  • Network Administrators
  • IT Security Manager
  • Virtualization Engineers
  • Project Manager
  • Voice Specialists

Monday, August 09, 2010

Smartphones Versus Feature Phones

I linked (The Mobile Web is Coming) to a report from ABI Research predicting that by 2015, 60% of phones would be web capable. I questioned that timeline as too conservative - here's another study that seems more realistic.

Smartphones to Outnumber Feature Phones in U.S. by 2011:

Nielsen estimates "smartphones" will overtake "feature phones" by the end of next year, presenting marketers with a growing opportunity in the mobile space. Although just 21 percent of U.S. wireless subscribers were using smartphones in Q4 2009, the measurement firm predicts the rate of adoption of such devices to quicken considerably in 2010, eventually surpassing feature phones in the third quarter of 2011.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Grace Hopper - the first hacker


If you have daughters or female students interested in IT, Networking or Computer Science, have them learn a bit about Grace Hopper - pretty amazing story!

vintagephoto: Grace Hopper - the first hacker:

Date: Sometime after 1951??

Context: Grace Hopper examining a UNIVAC computer, holding a COBOL manual in her hand. Grace hopper invented the first compiler - the A-0, in 1949. It used symbolic mathematical code to represent binary code combinations. In an interview, she was asked what compelled her to invent the compiler. She was educated to be a mathematician, and messing around with on-off switches to vaccuum tubes was really annoying to her, and thus was born the first compiler. She hoped it would allow mathematicians like her to do real work and stop screwing around with computers. The COBOL language is a distant child of this first compiler, and a language which she also played a large role in developing.

Interesting Dinner Party Discussions


I love this set of tables. Imagine the great conversations you could have!

Venn Diagram Tables Show Off Overlap Between Good Taste and Living Room:

From the portfolio pages of Swedish design firm Outofstock comes the gorgeously clever Hues set of nesting, venn diagram-inspired tables. Each is crafted from colored waterjet-cut glass and iron legs.

The Mobile Web is Coming

Is your organization ready? Do you have an app? Is your website optimized for mobile devices? Can your customers access your business with just their phones?

I think this mobile web prediction (60% by 2015) is very conservative. Increasingly, kids will demand web-capable phones and as carriers drop their entry-level data prices (e.g. AT&T $15 for 200 Megabits of data per month) more end users will have data plans. Web-enabled cell phones with inexpensive data plans may be the solution to providing greater access and opportunity to the communities we serve.

More Than 60% of Phones Web Capable by 2015:
From laptops and tablets to smart phones, the Web is going increasingly mobile. While not everyone can afford one of these devices, the Web is even creeping onto other, low-cost devices like feature phones and these are becoming increasingly Web-enabled. According to research firm ABI Research, this is a trend that will only continue, with more than 60% of handsets having mobile Web browsers by 2015. 
According to the report, a 60% penetration rate of handsets with mobile Web browsers will double today's rate and bring the total number or Web-enabled phones to 3.8 billion. The phones will have one of two types of browser - a full Internet browser or a proxy-based browser. 
Full Internet browsers will be on all smartphones and a "growing number of enhanced (or feature) phones," says senior analyst Mark Beccue in the release. The other type of browser - the proxy-based browser - requires very little memory and processing power and "can be used on even the lowest-cost phones." The most well-known example of a proxy-based browser is Opera Mini, which downloads highly-compressed versions of Web pages from a proxy server to increase speed and performance.

Life Summed Up

Another great infographic.

Medical Coding Certification
Via: Medical Coding Certification

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

iPad as a Training Tool

Three great pieces!
  1. Lets us practice.
  2. Makes learning more fun (compared to a traditional classroom).
  3. We can have little competitions.
UK soldiers use iPad app to train for Afghan operations:
For the first time, UK troops are using a special app developed for the iPad to learn how to handle a fire mission.

That's when artillery is being fired at the enemy from several miles away.
In early trials at the Royal School of Artillery in Wiltshire, troops have learned the jargon and procedures more quickly than before, when they were sat listening to lessons from instructors.
It's hoped smartphone and tablet technology could be used to speed up training across the army.
Front line
Lance Bombardier Jason Markham from 1st Regiment Royal Horse Artillery has already served in Afghanistan and is in training for a second tour.
He told Newsbeat how it works. He said: "I'd be at the HQ - the troops on the ground would call me for fire support and they'd give me the target location and a description of the target.

"We'd use all of that information to come up with a solution.

"This has been designed to let us practise, so that when we get out there into theatre we're a lot slicker.

"It makes it more fun instead of being sat in a classroom looking at a presentation being given information.

"If you're on a course you can take this back to the block and practise with it, even have little competitions with it."[emphasis added - MQ]
Soldiers back at the CP (command post) have to learn how to communicate with those on the front line, to make sure the right weapons are fired, at the right time and at the right target.

The Internet!

I was reading #4 to my wife, as I was watching TV.

The History of RickRolling Via: Medical Coding Certification

Via Jane's Pick of the Day

Twitter Abbreviations YNTK

Technical Twitter abbreviations:
  • MT = Modified tweet. This means the tweet you're looking at is a paraphrase of a tweet originally written by someone else.
  • RT = Retweet. The tweet you're looking at was forwarded to you by another user.
  • DM = Direct message. A direct-message is a message only you and the person who sent it can read. IMPORTANT: To DM someone all you need to type is D username message.
  • PRT = Partial retweet. The tweet you're looking at is the truncated version of someone else's tweet.
  • HT = Hat tip. This is a way of attributing a link to another Twitter user.
  • CC = Carbon-copy. Works the same way as email.
Conversational abbreviations:
  • IMHO = In my humble opnion.
  • AYFKMWTS = Are you f---ing kidding me with this s---?
  • GTFOOH = Get the f--- out of here
  • OH = Overheard.
  • NFW = No f---ing way
  • IRL = In real life
  • NSFW = Not safe for work.
  • FML = F--- my life.
  • FWIW = For what it's worth.
  • QOTD = quote of the day
  • BTW = By the way
  • BFN = Bye for now
  • AFAIK = As far as I know'
  • TY = Thank you
  • YW = You're welcome

Monday, August 02, 2010

More WiMax Rollouts

Some colleagues and I were comparing speeds recently at a conference in Dallas. While 4G from Sprint is not available everywhere, it's fast when you can get it. We measure 10 Megabits per second in Dallas.

Sprint Gifts 4G Service to Parts of California, Delaware, Florida and Michigan Today:

Today, Sprint (NYSE:S) unveiled 4G service to populous areas of California, Delaware, Florida and Michigan. With today's launches of Modesto, Calif., Stockton, Calif., Jacksonville, Fla., Wilmington, Del., and Grand Rapids, Mich., Sprint boasts 48 metropolitan areas enabled with the new mobile broadband service, which allows for Internet traffic at super fast speeds.

Mobile Payments Coming ... Again

Every couple years, I see a concept video and a story about the impending explosion of mobile payments. It hasn't happened yet - at least in the US, but maybe this is the right time and this ATT-Verizon joint venture will make it happen.

AT&T, Verizon to Target Visa, MasterCard With Smartphones - Bloomberg:

AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless, the biggest U.S. mobile carriers, are planning a venture to displace credit and debit cards with smartphones, posing a new threat to Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc., three people with direct knowledge of the plan said.

The partnership, which also includes Deutsche Telekom AG unit T-Mobile USA, may work with Discover Financial Services and Barclays Plc to test a system at stores in Atlanta and three other U.S. cities that would let a consumer pay with the contactless wave of a smartphone, the people said. The carriers have been searching for a chief executive officer.

The trial would be the carriers’ biggest effort to spur mobile payments in the U.S. and supplant more than 1 billion plastic cards in American wallets. Smartphones have encroached on tasks ranging from Web browsing to street navigation and now may help the phone companies compete with San Francisco-based Visa and MasterCard, the world’s biggest payments networks.

Consumers, particularly younger consumers are driving this:

Mobile technology for banking and payments is reaching “a tipping point,” with younger consumers leading the way, Mercatus LLC, a Boston-based consulting firm, said in a June 7 study. More than half of U.S. consumers, and almost 80 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 34, will use mobile financial services within five years, according to Mercatus.

“Rapid and broad-based consumer adoption of mobile financial services is imminent” as people rely on their phones to manage every aspect of their lives, said Mercatus Managing Partner Bob Hedges, former head of retail banking and payments at Fleet Bank, in an interview. “Consumers want it to happen.”

The credit card companies are not standing still either.

MasterCard and Visa have been investing in their own mobile solutions. Visa and Richardson, Texas-based DeviceFidelity, have developed technology that can transform phones consumers carry today, including Apple Inc.’s iPhone, into a payment device that can store multiple card accounts, said Bill Gajda, head of mobile for Visa.


Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sad But True ...

Ballmer (and Microsoft) still doesn't get the iPad:
Microsoft still doesn't understand why its Tablet PC concept has repeatedly bombed over the best part of a decade. Apple sold more iPads in its first three months of availability than PC vendors sold Tablet PCs in the whole of last year; in fact, the number of iPads sold in that period is likely to eclipse the number of Tablet PCs sold both last year and this. But still the company is persevering: stick a regular PC operating system on a laptop, give it a touchscreen, and then take away the keyboard and pixel-perfect pointing device. Ballmer even reiterated the company's position: slates are just another PC form factor.


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