Archive | February, 2014

Boeing Black- a smartphone set to self destruct

Boeing BlackAs Apple releases yet another much needed security patch for users and hackers continue to exploit security in mobile phone operating systems; consumers are still at rick of having their data compromised. This could end with the Boeing Black

If you’re like me you often make impulse purchases, thankfully I don’t ever do that at a store where I can make many impulse purchases at once, instead I’m likely to use Amazon, or another internet store to impulse buy until my heart is content, or I have exactly what it was I “needed” to get.  Thankfully my iPhone 4S, a dinosaur in the smartphone world,  hasn’t been breached, and my account or credit card numbers compromised as of yet. But that day could come shortly, without any notice.

Insert Boeing, the aviation giant, with their smartphone the Boeing Black which offers consumers a modified Android platform, and hardware about  twice as heavy  as the Apple iPhone 5S. In no way, shape or form is this handheld device a marvel of hardware wonder. However, the Boeing Black offers unparalleled security for its users.  Not only does the device encrypt calls and data usage but it offers a self destruct mode. “Any attempt to break open the casing of the device would trigger functions that would delete the data and software contained within the device and make the device inoperable,” according to the filing documents.

While it is likely these devices won’t soon find their way into every palm in America, it does seem like a great fit for enterprise companies looking to safeguard data and telephone calls, and especially governmental offices who have recently raised concerns over the security of Samsung, Apple and Blackberry hand held devices.

Though likely not available until the fall, this device could conceivable stir the pot, and at least cause more traditional handheld device manufacturers to revisit their security strategy and offer patches and fixes to correct glaring holes in their devices.

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Netflix to pay Comcast- good or bad?

netflix comcastAccording to an article in Monday’s Wall Street Journal, Netflix will pay Comcast for access to the Internet Service Provider’s (ISP) broadband network. While this seems innocuous and a like a stellar gesture by the online streaming giant, it poses significant threat to, and perhaps foreshadows the end of Net Neutrality as we know it.

Some of you may recall this piece by Josh Srago, entitled “Did the Courts Just Slow 4k Acceptance” in which Srago talks about the possibility of an a la carte internet experience, a schematic in which users pay per package to access the content of their choice, whether its news, streaming video, finance etc.

This first step towards that slippery slope has both good, and bad, implications. The positive side of it is that Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings and the company have decided to pay for the costs to Comcast preventing further difficulties accessing content. According the WSJ, a study found average speeds of prime-time streams dropped 27%. While the company has struck a deal to ensure higher speeds for years to come, in the future it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for either Netflix’s costs to rise, or ISPs to start charging consumers based on their data/application usage.

There are still a number of pending articles of legislation ahead of congress and eventually the supreme court that might mitigate the potential of an a la carte internet. I, for one, hope the net stays neutral and users aren’t required to pay additional fees to gain access to services, applications or information. But, the FCC has historically stayed away from regulating ISPs and the net in general, unable to gain regulatory control under “common carrier” which they have used to regulate telephone companies.  What do you think about this? Do you think the implications are good or bad? Would you rather have an a la carte internet experience?

photo credit: Eric Blattberg/Venture Beat

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consumer technology- not all bad, really

Consumer technology in small huddle room

This is a companion piece to the article I wrote on Consumer Technology Consuming the Enterprise.

As a higher-ed technology manager YES! I have my gripes about consumer technology infiltrating and starting to replace some of the technology customers are requesting in projects. Don’t get me wrong, buying a consumer display vs buying a professional display for a conference room that might be utilized once a week for two hours definitely makes sense. But as I outlined in my previous article, there are legitimate causes for concerns, from my vantage point, with saturating designs with consumer technology. This isn’t to say all consumer technology is bad, or evil, per se. In fact, there are several amazing products that enable me to design a little bit better that are built on “consumer technology mindset”

There are several categories where consumer technology influence have caused professional, enterprise-level, manufacturers and developers to change their product offering to offer better solutions at a more desirable price point. Here are several of them:

Video Conferencing: Years ago, it used to be if you wanted to host a video conferencing with another office, or a remote employee, you need a sophisticated, and involved, teleconferencing system. However, thanks to the consumer market demand and integration of services such as Skype, Microsoft Lync, google hang outs with legacy teleconferencing systems like Polycomm, Cisco Tandberg. Notable products in this category: Vaddio EasyUSB products and AV Bridge, Microsoft Lync and  Blue Jeans Networking.

Ad Hoc Presentations: With the advent of everyone’s favorite trade show buzz phrase “huddle rooms” (also accepted “huddle spaces”) the emphasis on easy to use, small footprint presentation and collaboration equipment has increased tremendously over the past few years. Now the technology isn’t completely revolutionary, but a lot of home AV technology has been incorporated and improved upon to offer better connectivity in this space. For instance, building on consumer technology for wireless display between cell phones, tablets and computers has resulted in several key products that are being considered for AV designs I’m currently working on. Notable products in this category: Barco ClickShare and Crestron’s AirMedia (for powerpoint or other static content).

Consumer Level Displays: I have one conference room on my campus that isn’t terribly big and when it was previously designed the designer specified a 40″ professional display for the space. Looking back, when that room was built, it was likely this was the “bees knees” of technology, and certainly the price reflected it. Certainly at the time the room was built there was a huge, HUGE trade off between your average consumer grade display and professional display products. Thankfully, from a cost perspective, the gap has lessened between the two and I’m able to incorporate improved consumer grade displays into my enterprise level designs. A very popular professional display company sent me their updated pricing sheets yesterday and it seems I can buy 5 consumer displays for the price of one commercial display; or roughly 3 commercial displays for the price of a new car. Improved products in this category: Sharp Aquos and Samsung

The bottom line of my ongoing debate between whether or not to incorporate consumer elements into designs for enterprise level systems is making sure I can get the desired functionality of what the client’s want with a reliability and quality that will last for a lengthy period.

Have you used any consumer elements in your enterprise design? The comments are yours.


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Consumer audio visual technology is consuming the enterprise

Smart TVAt times there are various things that frustrate me about being a higher-ed audio visual technology manager, least of which is the state of college cafeteria food. Call me grumpy, or persnickety even, but from time to time I stir myself into a small uproar over certain things I hear from customers or suggestions on audio visual systems improvement. Don’t get me wrong, I love and solicit all sorts of feedback from users, colleagues and technology managers to help me determine what works or doesn’t work about a configuration or proposal. Lately, the majority of the feedback I receive is alerting me to a dangerous course: consumer technology infiltrating the design requests of enterprise audio visual requests.

I know I am not the first person to write about this, I’m sure I’m not the first person to experience this, and that’s why there’s a comments section, but a cause for concern when I’m working through the programming phase, on audio visual systems,with the over saturation of consumer grade technology in the enterprise. Whether it’s departments wanting to outfit learning or meeting spaces with video conferencing which consists of a $50 webcam and Skype or Google Hangouts, or presenters who ask why legacy technology systems don’t have the ability to wirelessly display content from their phone even though their brand new TV can do it? Never mind the fact that no one really presents from their phones.

Users are so inundated with consumer technology, it is almost seeping out of their pores. As I sit in meetings and hear requests for projectors with built in Netflix apps I cringe. I don’t cringe because I dislike Netflix, on the contrary, I waste a ton of my personal time on the streaming site, gorging on the fantastic array of documentaries in their catalogue. Copyright violation and terms of service violation implications aside, what causes me to cringe about these requests is the fact that users are seeing enterprise systems the same way they are seeing home audio visual systems.

Is this the future of enterprise audio visual systems? Will there be a sizable UI/UX shift to make enterprise audio visual systems and automation more like consumer technology? Will my largest fear of a dystopian app-based society come true?

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