I’ve run Windows 10 as the Operating System on my work laptop since the start of January.
I’ve been through some ups and downs with the latest version of Windows, and came very close to uninstalling it. Six months on though, I’m delighted with Windows 10. It’s evolved a fair bit, and Microsoft claim it will be ready for general release during this summer.
Before I go into detail, note that I’m running Windows 10 on some pretty beefy hardware – a Surface Pro with an i7 processor, 8Gb memory and 500Gb solid state hard drive. I don’t know how Windows 10 will perform on lower spec hardware. I’m on build 10162 which has been very stable (as in, one blue screen in a fortnight – more details below).
2014 has been another interesting year in the digital world. The end of a terrible recession has forced most companies to place digital at the heart of their strategy. #Fintech has become a recognised term for banks, insurance companies and other financial services organisations trying to update their systems to become ‘digital‘.
Yesterday someone asked me a question which I’ve been asked before but never covered it on this site… “What company do I think is the most consumer-oriented, innovative technology company?”
The context of the question related to Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, who do I rate as the most innovative?
First we need to ask another question – “What is innovation?” To me, innovation is the skill to keep inventing new stuff, to keep redefining products and/ or business models. It’s the constant strive for change for the better, not just the sake of it. Continue reading Who is the most innovative Digital company?→
At the end of every year, I’ve listed my highlights of the previous year. See the post from 2012 with links to previous years. Here are some of the highlights from 2013:
Favourite New Gadget
There are several contenders from 2013. After 4 years with my previous work laptop, I took the plunge and went for a new convertible tablet/ laptop, the Dell XPS 12. It’s good, in fact the speed is still as fast as the latest laptops in the office, but my original intention was to stop using my paper notepad, and the XPS with the touch screen just can’t replace it. If you are looking for a decent laptop and have the budget available, I recommend the XPS – but keep a paper pad close by.
Continuing the Google theme, in December we bought Google Glass at work, and I’ve used them as much as possible. Google Glass is the future without a doubt, however I think it’s a generation (of users) too early. After watching colleagues and some customers struggle to use them in the office, it’s fascinating to watch my kids use them so naturally.
The prize for my favourite between these three? Sorry to wimp out, but it’s a tie between the laptop and Glass.
I’ve been fortunate to read several good books this year. Removing the fictional titles (I rarely read fiction but my ex-manager at Endava guaranteed I’d like a particular author so much that he’d pay for the books if I didn’t like them), here is my 2013 reading list:
The Tao of Twitter provided inspiration, and results, of higher levels of engagement on Twitter.
I’ve recommended the SEO book to everyone I’ve met this year who has shown interest in natural SEO – it’s written in a simple, friendly manner with practical suggestions on almost every page.
The Arnie book caught my eye at Heathrow airport on one of my business trips this year. If you’re unsure about the book, just read the back cover – you’ll be surprised how much he’s achieved in his life.
However the award for my favourite book goes to Doc Searls. I didn’t like (or perhaps a more appropriate word is ‘appreciate’) some of his earlier work such as The Cluetrain Manifesto, and even in The Intention Economy I didn’t agree with all parts of the book (my major criticism is his firm view on open source – why isn’t his book open source if he believes in it so much?) If you need some inspiration for corporate digital transformation, this book will offer it. At Endava we are working with large consultancies who list The Intention Economy as mandatory reading for their senior directors.
Favourite iPhone/ Smartphone App
I’ve had to rename this since defecting to Android!
Strava is still my favourite. It’s the best cycling app available, mainly due to it’s implicit gamification. I sent them some suggestions for improvements which they implemented within a few weeks, so a big “Thank You” there.
A very close second is OneNote. I like how I can create a note in OneNote and it appears on my computer in OneNote. It’s quick to use, and comes with the Microsoft Office stack, so there’s no additional app to install such as EverNote.
How did my 2013 Digital Media predictions from last December turn out?
2013 was due to be another tough year. Still in the depths of the recession, 2013 followed the pick-me-up of the 2012 London Olympics – it was billed as the hangover year. But 2013 proved, especially in the UK, to be a signal of the end of the recession.
1. Many, many new devices will be launched
A number of UK retailers and European super brands launched their own tablet devices – Argos, Tesco & Deutsche Telekom to name a few.
And at the end of the year we’ve seen the launch of the new XBox One and PlayStation 4.
At the start of 2013, Yahoo! stocks were $19.90. I’m writing this article on 17 December, and Yahoo! stocks are $39.51. A double exclamation mark for that!!
The reason for that valuation? According to Comscore, Yahoo! has seen a 21% increase in visitor numbers, and in July had more traffic than Google.
Prediction rating: 10/10
3. Microsoft to return
It’s been a mixed year for Microsoft. On the good news front, Windows 8.1 has helped with the market perception of their latest Operating System. Personally I couldn’t go back from Windows 8, I really like it. XBox One has also helped.
On the not so good news, 2013 has seen a stuttering stock price and the CEO Steve Ballmer resigned.
In neutral news, Microsoft bought Nokia for $7 billion this year – let’s see what happens.
Indoor GPS hasn’t taken off as expected. Google are busy mapping (and recording Street View) as many shopping malls and larger buildings as they can.
Prediction rating: 2/10 – perhaps a year or two early
5. Learning to switch off
2013 didn’t quite promote Quiet-modes as much as I’d expected (or hoped). That being said, when I went on holiday in the Summer and told people I wouldn’t have my mobile or laptop with me, they said it was an inspiration, but they wouldn’t be able to follow suit.
Prediction rating: 1/10 – Am I alone??!
6. Context sensitive
Google has become even more context sensitive in 2013, especially on Android devices with the launch of Google Now. 2014 will see new Android releases which push Google Now to the main menu screen.
Unfortunately other websites haven’t followed suit. I’m not sure whether it’s the funding or the want, or the imagination to build a page which could be different for everyone. Either way, we’re not seeing as many context sensitive, personalised experiences as we should.
Prediction rating: 2/10
7. The end of the QR code
Thankfully I haven’t seen many QR codes recently.
The last time I saw one was when I received Google Glass, and it was used to transfer a number of settings from my computer to Glass. So it made a lot of sense. A lot more sense than replacing a human readable, memorable domain name with a QR code – and that’s why I dislike them.
Prediction rating: 9/10 – QR RIP
8. Healthcare apps
Our company healthcare insurance has launch a smartphone app which tracks how much exercise we all do. It groups everyone from Endava together and shows a leaderboard of who’s done the most exercise – a great piece of gamification.
We’re at the tip of the iceberg. In years to come we won’t visit a doctor for routine appointments, we’ll use sensors on our smartphone to communicate with healthcare professionals.
Prediction rating: 7/10
9. Drones buzzing in the sky
My favourite TED video this year was about robotic (i.e. automated, unpiloted) drones. And this month Amazon announced that by 2015 they’ll be using drones for deliveries, assuming legislation is available.
Drones will change society more than any other technology in the foreseeable future.
Prediction rating: 7/10 – A bit too early, but we’re on the cusp of a an amazing change to society
That’s a total of 53 out of a possible 90. Not as good as previous years, although I’d tried to be more adventurous than previous years. I’ll release the 2014 predictions in the next couple of weeks.
The new Premium offering, now in preview (i.e. beta) phase, supports unlimited users, two factor authentication (including phone calls and text messages), to provide a Single Sign On solution across Azure applications, even non-Microsoft ones. If an organisation creates a custom app on Azure, they can add Active Directory as their own branded SSO system, competing with the likes of Facebook Connect, Twitter, and so on.
Organisations have been requesting these types of systems for a while. At Endava we build and host customers’ websites which have millions of users. Identity Management (IM) systems are usually licensed on a per-user basis, which is unaffordable for clients who offer free user accounts, so in the past we’ve usually built custom solutions for IM. Windows Azure Active Directory Premium offers this as a cloud based Identity Management system on a monthly cost rather than per user.
Many IT professionals predict public cloud offerings as the end of private data centres. Other IT professionals think that public cloud is fine for consumer apps, not enterprise level. I believe it depends on what the enterprise is trying to do that makes public cloud an option or not.
Azure Active Directory, especially the Premium offering, significantly strengthens Microsoft’s public cloud offering for the enterprise and provides an affordable IM solution for all websites.
In a rather odd coincidence, both my mum and mother-in-law’s computers have been hacked in the last couple of weeks.
My mum has a Mac and once the hacker got in (we think it was through an email attachment in Hotmail), they changed the computer system settings and the language – which was quite clever because my mum just left the computer on, clicking around trying to get the language back to English. I suspect the longer the computer was left on, the longer the hacker had to make more changes on the system.
Once the hacker had control of her Hotmail account, they sent out emails saying my parents were abroad and in distress, and required some cash to get them out of trouble. The email looked 80% genuine – good enough for some of my parents’ friends to call me and ask if they were OK.
Unfortunately for my mum, I don’t know very much about Macs, let alone being able to look at an Arabic version of Mac OS and get it back to English. She had to call a computer trainer to come over and help return her computer back to normal, including installing some security software.
Hackers managed to get into my mother-in-law’s Gmail account. We still don’t know how they did this. The first we knew of it was when hackers sent an email to my wife (they didn’t email everyone in the contacts – for instance I didn’t get the email). The email didn’t look like computer generated spam, so my wife phoned her mum and recommended she change the password straight away. The password was already complex – I had set it up originally, including a capital letter, numbers and letters, punctuation and a decent length.
My mother-in-law then called a few days later to say she hadn’t received any emails since the incident. I looked at her laptop and the hackers had set up a Gmail rule redirecting all email into the Bin straight away. This was clever because it meant that for all the emails sent from her account, if someone replied to ask whether it was genuine, the reply would have gone straight to the Bin without my mother-in-law seeing it.
I guess the key takeaways are to keep changing the password regularly, and keep it complex. Never ever open attachments in emails unless you really are expecting something and it looks genuine.
The operating system vendors, Apple and Microsoft, and now mobile operating system vendors too, have a tough balancing act. They have to provide a marketplace for third parties to produce security software, but they also have a duty of care to make their systems secure for users. The argument is that if say, Microsoft, bundled anti-virus software with Windows, the third parties would be out of business within days.
However the email providers don’t have such a balancing act, and really should be prohibiting certain attachments to emails, or checking their contents properly.