Friday 28 December 2012

connected car, home (and bike) m2m finally becoming reality with e-cars?

A few things have come together over 2012 to make me think the connected car is finally becoming a reality (but then next year has been the year of mobile payments since 2006...)

Firstly, earlier this year my colleague Keith, himself looking at getting an all electric car and on the subject of an "emerging apps" project for a client, suggested that electric car apps, and electric cars are finally becoming "desirable", with the app providing the knowledge gap and easing the pain of adoption.
Nissan Leaf app allows the user to see charge, start aircon, etc remotely
Some of which is the info and even "geek chic" of having an app to see the level of charge the car as, and probably more importantly to constantly have in your pocket proof that you can see of how wonderful a human being you are by being so green. No doubt the urge to occasionally tweet and post about this from said mobile also happens...
Electric vehicle parking and charging point opposite two cafes in Berkeley Sq.
The charging point in Berkeley Square in London (pronounced like Barclay if you are from a country that misspells the word colour) in Mayfair is a great perk of going electric, for now at least: drive into central London using the preference lanes, without paying congestion, parking in premium locations with free top-up of juice and a caffeine jolt for you opposite.

Secondly, I recently paid a visit to one of the Scottish and Southern Electricity (SSE) offices in Scotland, or Scottish Hydro as it is known there, precisely the Waterloo Street office in Glasgow where there is a marketing suite at shop floor level. For those who do not know, SSE is the leader by a long way in the UK in hydro and wind power generation, and so SSE have the right to boast a little about these efforts with a very well put together marketing suite where customers can walk in and even try and electric vehicle.
A visit to a showroom like this makes you want to trade in your mobile with all-you-can-eat tariff for a  car
In this showroom are a couple of blah cars (I really cannot be bothered looking them up) but there was the adorable Renault Twizzy, which will soon be joined by other e-cars people actually want, all the way up the the amazing Fisker Karma. Next to them are electric scooters, and while I am aware of the universal and long-lived appeal of the Vespa, there was nothing that got me excited in any way, neither did the e-bikes there.

Having said that, you only have to look at the audi e-bike video, especially with its associated app to ease (and tease) the change.

More real world are bikes like the specialized turbo which have gone for an integrated computer rather than an app, but we all know that people really want either their phone docked here charging, or at least in their pocket to control the device and keep it locked from reasonable levels of temptation. It would not be hard at all to add Bluetooth or wi-fi to the existing computer (the one that controls the electrics, not the display unit!) and have some smartfone goodness to check the state of your battery before you go to bed without having to brave the dark and cold of the garage...
The specialized turbo makes e-bikes a must-have, but how do you check its charge remotely?
If you are not electrified so far, Garmin or some 3rd party apps like Torque can give you a feel or getting info from your car as covered in my app blog. Anyone who is a cyclist will already have a Garmin Edge500 or Edge800 to ensure all the glory detail is captured.
Connected car made easy with Android
The final step is controlling your house, which is now well on its way from companies like lightwave rf allowing you to control your spend and lighting and heating from your armchair; even if that armchair happens to be in your local cafe or your club. As silly as this may sound, I have been using it for a while and its actually very useful, from being able to turn the lights on from your phone when you have a coffee in one hand and your breakfast in another, you plonk yourself in the sofa in the dark and turn the lighting slowly up as the caffeine seeps in, what can I say, its the little things!
Controlling your lighting by room or mood or form a far is where it is going 
So where is this going and, more to the point - why is it all coming?

  1. Well, for one, the smartfone has come of age, which for the likes of Sonos and controlling, who managed to get the early adopters with a dedicated controller, this key extra hardware and cost has gone away. 
  2. This also means one device does all, you control your car and your bike and your music and your TV and your... from one device
  3. The pain of adoption is lower - the main thing stopping the e-car is: where do I charge, where do I park, how will I know when... the answer is: its all in an app!
  4. the measure of the benefit it tangible (and if you are socially inclined, shareable) which means in simple marketing terms, that its easier to get early adopters, who in themselves market to the me-too market who in turn will promote to the mass market...
So what are we waiting for? Well some things never change; just like with convential cars - I was drawn in by a Renault Twizzy and ended up configuring a Fisker Karma - I just need to settle somewhere in the middle.

Monday 2 July 2012

IBM water cooled supercomputer innovation

Having worked on computer designs and other IT hardware design, I often despair at the lack of, or the lack of innovation in cooling devices. This may seem silly, but actually has a huge impact on how we use IT. For example, I have a few browsers open now, and the fan on my laptop is driving me up the wall, over the traffic outside or the buzz of my Monday morning to-do list in my head :)

It does not stop there, granted in most of western world is OK most of the time, but for the few (days/weeks) per year that we have a heat wave they just cannot cope, which for most of Africa, for example means a lot more of the time... and the rest of the time the cooling is overkill that is using necessary energy.
A bonded graphite heatsink using F1 technology and used in aircooled super computing

The extreme is data centres, they are growing in demand and are presently cooled by air conditioning, which is powered by generators and is already probably 50% (?) inefficient and generates huge amounts of waste heat and condensation, to then cool computers by air within cabinets which is grossly inefficient: to put this in context, its almost like sitting in your car with the air-con on full and wearing a woolly jumper and jacket just to keep your laptop cool on a summer's day... or instead, you could buy an aquarium pump that could work off of your mobile phone battery, and to be honest not even a radiator, a few litres of water would be enough... in winter you would need to leave the top of and evaporation would cool enough to run most PCs... even if you run a super-computed overclocked extreme gaming machine, with a small wall radiator like you find in small halls or guest rooms you would be well away as long as the volume of water was there.

Many of these centres even struggle using expensive formula one derived carbon graphite heatsinks... which I kind of like, O have one at home, quad core xeon size, and is perfect for cooling my porridge in the morning :)

So I was glad to hear about IBM building water cooled data centres and publicly showing what they have saved for the building they are in.

But what does it mean for the household that is all "clouded up"? well there will be a few, however, the other day I needed some old pictures of mine, so i went to my trusty NAS... after getting board of a gigabit connected LAN to one of the fastest wireless routers there is (netgear WNDR 3700) I started using a tablet, which for some perverse reason is faster than a top end laptop, but still it is slow... I eventually got a 4 year old laptop with a 500gb drive, copied over the folders I suspected having the content, went for a coffee and when I got back I sorted through them all in 5 mins... what does this mean for most? well, 500gb was good for copying the 100gb to 200gb of 6mp images I was sorting through... in two years time this will be 1tb of 15 to 40 mp images and a bunch of videos, and we will need desktops or some kind of servers again... only without the fans and the need for uptime all the time and not costing a fortune the rest of the year to overcool for those 2 weeks... 

How will you cool your super computer / server in the home of the future?

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Blenheim triathlon countdown begins

Just three weeks before my first, and probably only tri event this year... Blenheim 2012 only two weeks to build pace and beat last year's time... will start the countdown here, and in the meantime you can donate to a great cause if you so wish here.

The aim is as close to 1:25 as possible, knocking 10 mins of last years's 1:35.... read on Blenheim 2012

Spotting Pippa while crossing line @ 2011 Bleheim Triathlon

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Nokia Money axed - Innovation

Innovation that is pulled is not necessarily a failure
There is a huge stigma to failure, of innovation but there need not be: especially if the innovation has been carried out by a major corporate. A great example of this is Nokia Money being axed. There is no mistake to be made, mobile money is as much the future  ... read more on the updated innovation page

Thursday 23 February 2012

Triathlon post

I am finally updating the guide for rational people to triathlon for those (ever more) people looking to this as a way to get both the discipline and the reward to get properly fit in a very rounded manner again (swim, bike, run works pretty much all the major muscle sets). It also pays off in your professional and personal life, as long as you get the balance right.

read more here:

Thursday 9 February 2012

Technology & Innovation

Have added the first phase of the technology and innovation page,

based on extensive experience of creating new products and services within mobile and IT for over 10 years, which will be being evolved over the coming months as I:
  1. update the archives from the old blogs, 
  2. add views from books and reports, as well as 
  3. insight from the real world of innovation in technology, which requires a complete rethink each time across the whole value chain if technology is to be successful all the way from:
  • Defining board strategy to working internal teams to make sure it is genuine innovation and not just a sum of parts available to product managers who are told they want it launched for Christmas or yesterday
  • Working  with agencies and internal marketing and finance and product teams, and UX, etc, etc to create brand, price and other "P's" as a product whole, not in silos with conflicting interests (and conflicting views of change and risk)
  • patenting to maximise value of final point, extend exclusivity & maximise first user advantage or revenues
  • to problem solving with developers, suppliers, and system integrators to get real innovation delivered (everybody likes the idea, but when they realise they have opened a can of worms they tend to a) drop it, and worse b) never touch another can again
  • negotiating new contracts with distributors and retailers innovation even has knock on effects here, where a lot of products that made it ball the way here then sadly fail
  • to expanding and even sale, acquisition or trade...

Friday 27 January 2012

London Eye Galaxy Tab Wall

So, when your competitor is being a pain in the ar.. (sorry, these patent wars are ridiculous) ..see if you can put the unsold stock to work and why not scoop some great PR while the lawyers are busy limiting consumer choice...

So how do you do this??? I was long thinking Samsung should sponsor galleries, like the Hockney instant art exhibition in Paris, or even sponsor schools to get kids doing their art on tabs rather than paper (if you go beyond a bit of art the commercial questions may be raised again) but this is is one better and I want one in my hall, and my kitchen, and...

It all raises some interesting questions:
  1. given the complexity and cost of big screens being made touch, is the concept of the interactive wall and the interactive table, more likely to be multi-tab than big screen? After all, you can adapt the size and shape, for example an oval could be made of a centre of 9" tabs and 7" ones at the sides and even the odd smartphone to fill in
  2. is the "no market for 7" tabs" debate irrelevant, as our experience of tabs will be big tab, small tab, multi-tab, or is this just a one-off
  3. can we do this with all the useless picture frames in the world and finally have a use for them... oh, no, I forgot, they have no connectivity, intelligence or anything... and picture frames are still a lamentable waste of a screen and an SD card slot...
  4. Have mobile operators found a new way to up their tablet sales - get four tabs for for three and a few "adaptimount" :)
  5. can you do this with your old smartphones and 
  6. what software is used to synch them - I want!
  7. Is this further proof of what I have long been a believer in; using your tech for marketing, get it out there, use samples for PR as Nokia did in the good old days, its cheaper than above the line, and gets real experiential marketing...
The original sources of this info for further reading below:

Monday 23 January 2012

CES sparks the end of the PC tower?

I have just watched BBC Click's second instalment from CES. BBC click is part of my weekly must consume media, and I often have to watch it a couple of times as I get distracted by some of its content half way through (I also watch it the first time during the weekend when a siesta has been known to occur...)

The opening scene was a very amusing spoof of a PC tower being buried in the middle of the Nevada Desert Interesting spoof, and an interesting feature on towers and computing trends, however i do not
agree with their view that we are all going tablet this and ultrabook that just because there were no PC towers on the CES floor and as such PC towers will disappear. Moreover, the view was that you may still see them in offices.... which I think is the first place they could all but disappear! There are a few reasons for this:

1) we heard the same with the netbook, it was going to replace PC towers and of course hit low end tower sales, but all netbooks did was diversify and actually increase overall PC usage and add more users in a household - However they did not, and would never have the power, storage, expansion ability, or screen size; pound for pound that would keep people coming back to PC towers.

2) tablets, ultrabooks, and CES are all still very high end - And require the high end knowledge of cloud and NAS and a networked home to use properly, back up and stream to and from. Many people still plump for a 15", 17" laptop and a desktop with storage to back up to.

3) The trend is also going ssd, further putting pressure on storage and a big desktop with ssd boot and a meaty hdd..

4) high end is getting tech savvy, running 2 or more OS , running media servers and more, developing for two or more environments with VMware... All of which needs memory: 12gb of memory to run for an i7 desktop costs £60... For ultrabooks 12gb is impossible or expensive

4) hd slrs, hd cameras, 20mp cameras... They all create massive files that cannot be edited via NAS let alone the cloud and are easiest done on a meaty desktop with a huge screen

5) screens are getting bigger and cheaper, everybody will soon have a spare 22" tft, 32" hdtv, etc and for everyone that gets an apple tv or a ps3 plugged into it, a lot will go to video, audio and image editing duties

6) Geek chic: PC Towers are still in the ford model T era, with some modern tuning... there is plenty of mileage in the personal computer in various guises, from personal supercomputer to personal hoarding computer, just like the scooter, bike, train, plane and segway, chronic overcapacity or overpricing have been able to spring the demise of the car...

Finally, to my "moreover" point; if the tower disappears anywhere, it will first be in the office! With more travel and home working and outsourcing / contracting plus the huge trend to 'bring your own pc" i would say the first place they would disappear would be offices... And with it IT staff will finally get people to stop using local storage, back up, etc, etc.

Apart from that, all that is left is to go to iPlayer if you can, or the video on the site ... other video acquisition method (ahem) if not, and enjoy the montage in the dessert, and a very pleasing geek fix on BBC click.

Wednesday 18 January 2012

Moving over to Blogger

Well, it has been fun, moving over to blogger from custom blogging pages...

I had been looking to move over for a while, and reading great, complex blogs like DC Rainmaker's excellent Blog made me realise blogger was probably the way forward. I did however have one major issue, and now two.. (more on that in a bit).

My major initial issue was that all the blogs I liked used 3rd party templates which look great filled with content, but not that great in the transition, adding a template is also not as straightforward as it may seem, as you have three ways to add them, each with their pros and cons, and then you may well lose support for other upgrades, etc. A key example of this is the new mobile templates - if you use a custom template you can only have the "default" mobile template which will not match you full blog. Additionally there were elements from some I wanted and elements I did not want, by the time I had messed with a 3rd party template I made the call to start from scratch!

The clincher for me was the new blogger templates, which are customisable, have a mobile specific pages and allow you to customise the template. So, using templates I liked as a guideline I set to customising the template by:
  • First off was removing the Nav bar, yuk, there are just a few lines of code
  • Enabling the mobile option
  • Changing layout to have a navigation menu at the top, three boxes at the bottom
  • Adding an image at the top
  • Adding a favicon
  • Adding the gadgets at the bottom to populate the layout elements
  • Remembering to save!
So, how did it go:

  1. first came this blog, simple, easy to set-up, populate and customise (see customisation below)
  2. This blog DNS (once worked out, see "downs" below) was sorted in minutes
  1. Forwarding the custom domain was not as simple as it seemed, as my web hosting and domain hosting are separate (standard practise) and the domain host's DNS functions do not play ball with google (even though google's FAQ seems to think they do) and so I have my web host doing the funky stuff DNS wise.
  2. Forwarding of my second blog to port over, Mobile Virtual Network Operator, was not as simple, with the DNS unexpectedly taking the full 48 TTL hours vs less than an hour with this blog...
  3. Blogger's handling of 404 and old domain links is dire and not at all what you would expect from the master of slick but simple software and services.. none of my links that have been SEO'd for ages can be mapped over, even if i name the page as per the old page as blogger names the pages x.html, original links in x.htm, x.php, etc will not work
The verdict:

Adopting any new technology is a balance between the benefits vs. the pain of adoption, as analysed by many, but probably best Pip Coburn in his book the change function. However, not all decisions are made on the spot, and even once a decision had been made, there is always a cooling off period and there is always ebay to dispose of products that become a pain over time. This post period is also when you will advise others to not adopt a product or service. Hence my view below of pain of adoption vs benefits over time. The result: adopt, am now changing over all my blogs
The result: Adopt - The benefits over time exceed pain of adoption

MVNO Networking Paris Congress Chair Digest

The MVNO networking congress was a great event, and a very successful one two, just the week before Jayme contacted me to let me know ...

Saturday 7 January 2012

We have moved...

I have moved the old custom blog site over to blogger as I was spending more time maintaining the site than blogging, and the recent blogger updates have made it more like a basic CRM system that can be used for blogging that I originally wanted when I started my various blogs over half a decade ago...

I will slowly be adding the other blogs onto the blogger platform, so there will be an array of archived blogs with a recent date, but I am leaving the original posting date as I import the old posts, unless of course it causes havoc with searches, in which case i will rethink... hope you like the new format!

MVNO Opportunities

My other rant from the linkedin MVNO Industry summit group discussion board (see other below) is defining MVNO opportunities and being honest about the opportunity. There are simplified MVNO dichotomy is that the MVNO pipeline is full of either:
a) big brands, with distribution, but no defined / differentiated product to set it aside from the MNO, which already has a brand and a non-differentiated product thank-you very much
b) the great ideas that do not have the distribution, and even then, cannot focus their product enough around the opportunity.
This is outside those that are MVNO in a box potential, who also grossly underestimate the term "in a box" to mean mvno=easy... and then forget to differentiate and simplify the product...
... the rant was sparked about people talking about the power of mobile to bring customers to a supermarket, and how mobile can supplement their database: supermarkets have an age-old ability to bring customers in, its called the threshold or catchment area of poor buggers who have no alternative if they want to eat... and supermarkets know more about their customers than it is probably better to be aware of if you are of the pelican brief persuasion!

originally posted by Christian Borrman 28:50pm 08/03/11


I have just been through the MVNO Industry Summit Linkedin group and been on a rant! Why? The first was someone asking if anyone if anybody had an MVNO in a box solution. OK: the MVNO has come a long way, the first one took several years, and to be honest, my shortest engagement on an MVNO has been 6 month, and that is when I have joined at least double that time into the process, and I have managed to accelerate the process by at least 4-5 months. MVNOs, along with app stores, are the single most complex products you can launch in mobile, and the technical parts working are just the start. Forget "in a box" and think, what is my box that I will tick in the market. At present, if you look at the mobile consumer as a whole, probably only 5% to 10% of mobile consumers could actually buy a product "in a box" The most part buy a mix of device matched with an almost bespoke tariff, term, contract and other extras, bolt-ons and more, let's not even begin with accessories, ring-tones and the like. Therefore, if you want an "MVNO in a box" think more about if your product that is simple and relevant enough that i would enable a significant market of consumers to buy your product "out of the box". you will then be of enough interest to the market and an MNO that your "mvno solution in a box" worries will practically go away!

originally posted by Christian Borrman 18:50pm 04/03/11