Microsoft Tablet: Plan B?

December 10, 2012

By Doug Miller

With the recent launch of Windows 8 and Windows RT, it appears the jury is still out on how well these two new platforms will do in the tablet space. I have to say as an early x86-based Windows 8 tablet user there are definitely pros and cons of Windows 8. For example, while it is nice that you can run legacy Windows apps on Windows 8, running these on a tablet is not always the greatest experience since fat fingers don’t do as good a job with traditional Windows apps as a mouse and keyboard. Even Microsoft’s own Office 2013, which uses the old Windows user interface for Outlook, Word and Excel, feels awkward on a Windows 8 tablet.
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European Data Protection and Cloud Business Models on a Collision Course

November 26, 2012

By Doug Miller

Last week I attended the Europe Data Protection Congress 2012 in Brussels hosted by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP). After three days of attending sessions, listening to some of the best-known European experts speak about data protection and privacy, and talking to dozens of other attendees, I walked away with one very clear observation: European data protection interests are on a collision course with the current business models of companies such as Facebook and Google which rely on personal data to thrive.
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Google – Let Us Opt Out of Your Data Mining Machine

October 16, 2012

By Doug Miller

The French data protection agency (aka the CNIL), acting on behalf of a large group of European data protection agencies, today announced that it was taking action to push Google to make a number of changes to its privacy policy that came into effect earlier this year.

One of the big issues for the CNIL is the lack of control for the user over the amount of data that is collected when you use a Google cloud service or how that data can be used. There is no opt-out for users if they don’t want their browsing habits and internet content mined for the purpose of enhancing Google’s search or displaying more relevant Google ads.
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Google+ for Business: Read the Terms

October 1, 2012

By Doug Miller

On August 29, Google announced a preview of its Google+ social networking offering as a premium product for business. Google+ for Business will be made available to contracted Google Apps customers (including Google Apps for Business, Government and Education). This is exciting news for Google Apps customers who want to take advantage of Google+ in their workplace but want more control over how the service is used. Some of the key features include:

  • Private company sharing
  • Private online video meetings
  • Ability to restrict user’s posts
  • Ability for administrators to control default company settings

However there is one thing company owners need to be aware of that may not be obvious with this new offering. This service is not part of the Google Apps suite – at least not yet.
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Tablets: RIP?

September 22, 2012

By Doug Miller

Being constantly connected is critical for my work so when I was leaving for a 4 day business trip recently, I looked at my arsenal of devices and selected a range of connectivity solutions that would give me lots of options for keeping in touch. As I walked out to the door to the airport, I had the following in my carry-on bag:

  • An HTC Titan II Windows Phone with LTE on AT&T’s network which also was enabled as a mobile wireless hotspot when needed.
  • A Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Android-based tablet with LTE on Verizon’s network and also capable of being a mobile wireless hotspot.
  • A small Acer notebook computer running Windows 7
  • An Intel-based tablet computer running Windows 8 RTM
  • A 3G USB stick that connects to AT&T’s HSPA+ network which can be used with either of my Windows devices
  • A Sprint 3G/4G Overdrive portable wireless hotspot device

I have a first generation, WiFi-only iPad but decided to leave that at home.

So what did I find worked best to keep me connected?
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HTC – the other Windows Phone manufacturer

September 10, 2012

By Doug Miller

clip_image002I have been reading about the debacle of faked Nokia Lumia 920 images and video and I am amazed that everyone talks about Nokia as though they are the only manufacturer of Windows Phones. In fact, HTC has the brilliant Titan II Windows Phone now that already has features Nokia is trying to pretend it has.

I switched from using a Samsung Infuse Android phone as my primary smartphone to an HTC Titan II running Windows Phone 7.5 last May. I had originally gone with the Nokia Lumia 900 but ended up taking it back when I experienced the dreaded pink-spot-in-white-background-pictures bug. I then tried the HTC phone and found it to be one amazing device. It supports both HSPA+ and LTE fast data connectivity on AT&T’s network (including using the phone as a mobile hotspot), includes a 16 megapixel camera and has an excellent 4.7 inch screen. The device is rock solid and I really like Windows Phone OS as a mobile platform. It just works. It is my most reliable email device. Phone calls work really well from the People tile or if you create individual tiles for your friends. The performance is always fast and consistent. It doesn’t crash. It is great – except there are a number of key apps that are not available on Windows Phone (DropBox, RoboForm, various music apps, boating apps, Flipboard, a useable Skype, etc.). So I have tended to go back and forth between using the Android-based Infuse and the Titan II. The Android phone has lots of apps and works okay but tends to be unreliable. Last week I had problems with a new app draining my battery in an hour, the GPS simply refused to work and performance is very inconsistent. So I am back with the Windows Phone this week.
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After BlackBerries, what’s next for government mobile users?

August 28, 2012

By Doug Miller

RIM has historically been the device of choice for secure mobile communication in the government market. The BlackBerry phone offered unique business-oriented capabilities but lacked sex appeal to draw consumers to its products. Yet for government agencies that needed to supply their workers with a robust, secure cell phone, the business features won out over giving users a device that was “magical.”

Now with the rise of BYOD (“bring you own device”) in government agencies, RIM is suddenly no longer an appealing option for consumers who are now asked to buy their own device and bring it to work. As attractive as BYOD is for budget planners, BYOD has the potential to be a nightmare for IT support staff that has to support and manage what seems like an infinite range of smartphones with different operating systems, security capabilities, enterprise features and quality. I believe, what is more likely to happen is government IT staff will provide users with a list of recommended devices and only support users of those devices for government communications needs once the device has been properly secured and configured. Some agencies, like the NSA, may want to stick with closely-managed, government-issued devices but will be looking for alternatives to the BlackBerry.

Does anyone have the ability to both address the security needs of government IT policies but also provide a range of products that will appeal to consumers? Until recently, I thought Samsung had a good shot at doing this. Now with the recent Apple-Samsung patent trial outcome, it is worth revisiting the options.
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