Category Archives: Application Review

A Review of Google Inbox

New Google Inbox - the names and subjects have been blurred to protect the guilty
The new Google Inbox. The names and subjects have been blurred to protect the guilty

Last week one of my Endava colleagues came over to my desk in the office and caught a glimpse of my Outlook Inbox. The way I organise my email is really simple – unread emails in my Inbox constitute my Items To Do. Once I’ve acted upon the email, or strictly speaking, the item-to-do, I then delete the email. I could just rename the Deleted Items folder as Done – to me it’s the same thing because I keep all the emails in my Deleted Items anyway.

To my Endava colleague, my extra simple organisation of Inbox and Deleted Items was alien – they preferred multiple folders, and Follow Up flags, and categories (which I do use in the Calendar, but not email). In fact, she was most upset that most of her emails appeared in my Deleted Items folder – because I’d acted upon them, and not filed away in a project folder .

Continue reading A Review of Google Inbox

Windows 10 one week on

Last week I handed over my perfectly working Surface Pro 3 to our IT department who upgraded it from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. Here’s my report after spending a week with Microsoft’s latest operating system on Microsoft’s latest tablet/laptop.

Firstly, it’s stable. I have used beta versions of Windows before, from XP to Vista to Windows 8. They all have their own niggles, but Windows 10 is fine. I haven’t had a single crash, despite plugging in all sorts of displays, docking stations, printers and USB devices. Continue reading Windows 10 one week on

My Favourite Gadgets, Books, Apps and Awards in 2014

Following the annual tradition on this site for the last post of the year, here is a list of my personal favourites from the last twelve months. Continue reading My Favourite Gadgets, Books, Apps and Awards in 2014

A British review of US sports and media offerings

Possibly the easiest signup form, presented by Fox Soccer
Possibly the easiest web signup form, implemented by Fox Soccer

This week I’ve been working from our newest sales office in Atlanta, USA. It’s been a great week, and we’ve met some really interesting (and super friendly) people and companies.

During the visit, I spent some time looking at the consumer media offerings over here. The US has often been ahead of the UK market when it comes to television, but the UK leads the world in some web offerings – such as grocery shopping and BBC’s iPlayer, so I wanted to see what the US has to offer. And it’s difficult to do this from the UK because so many sites are geo-blocked. Continue reading A British review of US sports and media offerings

Isn’t Uber super?

Uber - an example of how mobile apps are transforming industries that the web couldn't reach
Uber – an example of how mobile apps are transforming industries that the web couldn’t reach

I’ve started using Uber in the last few days, and it’s transformative to the taxi industry. It’s one of those concepts which makes you think “I wish I thought of that first”. But not everyone agrees, and unfortunately for them, that resistance is probably one of the success factors in any consumer digital transformation offering.

In essence, Uber is a mobile app to call a taxi. It replaces the call to the minicab/ taxi office, and provides more functionality than the old model, because as soon as you call a car, you can literally watch that car drive towards you on a map. Continue reading Isn’t Uber super?

Making Google Analytics easier to use

Instant analytics dashboard through the Google Analytics Chrome extension
Instant page analytics dashboard via the Google Analytics Chrome extension

If you use Google Analytics to measure the number of visitors to your website, you will love the new Google Chrome toolbar add-on. And if you have multiple sites, it will make your job even easier.

The Chrome Extension sits quietly while you browse, until you visit a site of which you have access to the analytics. At this point, a dashboard at the top of the browser window shows various page stats. You can also minimise these stats to just display real-time information for each page.

Continue reading Making Google Analytics easier to use

Facebook and Yammer proving the end is nigh for email

Bet you wish you bought some Facebook shares this time last year?
Bet you wish you bought some Facebook shares this time last year

So much for young users leaving Facebook en masse… Facebook’s latest results (Q2 2014) are simply stunning:

  • $2.91bn revenue (from $1.8bn in 2013)
  • $791m profit (from $333m in 2013)
  • Daily active users (DAUs) were 829 million on average for June 2014, an increase of 19% year-over-year.
  • Mobile DAUs were 654 million on average for June 2014, an increase of 39% year-over-year.
  • Monthly active users (MAUs) were 1.32 billion as of June 30, 2014, an increase of 14% year-over-year. This is an amazing statistic – 18% of the world’s population access Facebook monthly!
  • Mobile MAUs were 1.07 billion as of June 30, 2014, an increase of 31% year-over-year.

Continue reading Facebook and Yammer proving the end is nigh for email

Google Chromecast UK review

2014-03-31 23.39.16I’ve been looking forward to the UK release of Google’s Chromecast device for such a long time now that I’d considered buying a US version and shipping it over. However I was delighted to see them go on general sale in the UK late last week.

Chromecast is Google’s answer to Apple TV, providing a number of services (or apps in fashionable parlance) such as iPlayer, Netflix and YouTube to a standard television. There’s no remote control – you use your phone or tablet (either iOS or Android) to control the device.

And the device is tiny. It looks like a slightly larger USB stick, but with an HDMI plug at the end, to connect into the back of your TV.

Continue reading Google Chromecast UK review

How to try a Chromebook for free

I’ve been seriously considering buy a Chromebook for my kids to use at home recently, but wanted to check whether the kids can get on without Windows before buying a new laptop – so here’s how to try it before buying anything.

Chrome running as a Windows 8 app - more than a browser
Chrome running as a Windows 8 app – more than a browser

Chromebooks use an operating system from Google called ChromeOS, which is mainly based on the Chrome browser. It can’t run Windows applications (or Android) – it can only run web sites, or Chrome Extensions and Applications which you usually download through the Chrome Store.

Continue reading How to try a Chromebook for free

My 2013 Favourites for Gadgets, Books, Apps and Industry Awards

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

An unflattering photo wearing Google Glass
An unflattering photo wearing Google Glass

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.

I also swapped from my iPhone 3GS (or as I preferred to call it, my “iPhone Classic”) to a Samsung Galaxy S4. I prefer the Samsung to Apple in every area except the lack of the red underlining for misspelled words, and that alone is almost a showstopper.

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.

Favourite Book

I don't agree with all of it, but it's still my favourite read of 2013
I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s still my favourite read of 2013

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:

  1. The Intention Economy, Doc Searls
  2. The Tao of Twitter, Mark Schaefer
  3. Search Engine Optimisation: An Hour a Day, Jennifer Grappone & Gradiva Couzin
  4. The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson
  5. Total Recall: My Unbelievable Life Story, Arnold Schwarzenegger

I recommend all of them.

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.

Favourite Award

The Top 100 Digital Agencies Report 2013 – Endava came 17th

A huge well done and thank you to the team at Endava for ranking us as the 17th largest agency in the eConsultancy Top 100 Digital Agencies. The award was presented for our 2011/12 accounts due to Endava’s financial year finishing after the Econsultancy entry deadline, and so next year is likely to look even healthier.

As well as the Econsultancy, Endava also won a number of other awards which we are also very proud of.

 

This is likely to be my last post of 2013, so I wish you and your family a wonderful festive season, a Merry Christmas, a Happy & Prosperous New Year, or just some good old-fashioned time off.