They Ain’t Nothing

Apple StoreMicrosoft store
So Microsoft has tried to do the copycat thing of the Apple Store. 



See Apple (top photo) streaming with customers trying out their world-class computers and smartphones yesterday. 



See Microsoft (photo underneath) just a few storefronts down in the mall with nice vibrant colors, but just a handful of customers (the non-red shirts) in the entire place.



BTW, I took a look at the iPhone 6 Plus and liked the size (I thought I wouldn’t) and ordered one (will be nice I hope to actually see the screen on this thing). 



At the same time, I tried the Microsoft Surface, and my wife says to me can you videotape me showing how long it takes to actually try to figure this thing out–piece of garbage!



It was also confusing why the Microsoft store was selling Dells and other companies computing devices–Ah, maybe because they don’t have anything competitive of their own???



Microsoft great try with the overall store (Touche!) but you just don’t have the retail products to compete with Apple–and the piles of Xbox in the rear of the store to draw people in–that wasn’t working either. 



Microsoft still a winner at enterprise computing, but Apple hands-down has you on personal computing–everyone to their corners. 😉



(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)

Leadership Training, Where?

Rapid Learning Institute (RLI) has toilet training for leaders.

No, not toilet training, but T.O.I.L.E.T. training:

Time
Optimized
Intensive
Learning
Experience
Technology

People are short on time for training, so this combines productive training with some downtime that “every worker engages in.”

The kiosk incorporates an “eye-level WIFI-enabled tablet” which launches 6-10 minute rapid learning modules.

This is a lot better than the Reader’s Digest moment of yesteryear.

So don’t be fooled by the toilet in the video, this is rapid learning in quick chunks on important leadership topics such as employee engagement, communications, performance management, and more.

The funny video is a neat advertising mechanism to drive the point home. 😉

Magic Computer Displays

This is some awesome technology from Tactus Technology.

It is called a dynamic tactile touchscreen.

Here’s how it works:

When you want to type with a tablet or other touchscreen display, not only do you see a QWERTY keyboard, but also the buttons actually rise out of of the flatscreen display–for a tactile typing experience.

Using microfluidics, the fluids in the screen actually change shape–and form buttons.

When your done typing, the keyboard buttons melt away back down into the screen.

It all happens in a split second and has negligible impact on power consumption (i.e. less than 1%).

This type of tactile experience with computer displays can be used for tablets, smartphones, gaming devices, and I would imagine even SCADA devices (e.g. for turning a dial, pulling a level, etc. all virtually on a monitor).

Goodbye physical controls and hello magic touchscreen–presto chango. 😉

Apple Designers Lost In The Imagination Orchid

Apple Designers Lost In The Imagination Orchid

Apple which is under competitive pressure to come up with something new—since Steve Jobs, their chief and master innovator passed away—seems like a deer in the headlights, where they can’t sprint forward to the next innovation and instead, they just sit paralyzed in fear and stair dumbly into the oncoming Mac truck called Google and Samsung.

Apple, the pioneer of the mobile icons on your smartphone and tablet that look like what they are, has lost their way—big time.

Their new iOS 7 abandons this intuitive, user-centric architecture approach of skeuomorphism for instead a more amorphous look and feel—where the user has to guess what an icon is supposed to be (check out the unintelligible icons for Newstand or Passbook mobile wallet).

In other cases, there is virtually no significant perceptible change at all (see Messages and iTunes that are just a little bigger) or other changes that are actually detracting from what was in iOS 6 (see Reminders without the check marks, Notes without a notepad look, Settings without the gears, and the addition of clouds to the Weather icon).

I love Apple products—but just like they are flailing with a new backwards-leaning graphical user interface and Siri, the useless automated personal assistant, they are behind in the wearable technology arena, where Google Glass in almost off and running.

There is a reason Apple stock has tanked from over $700 to hovering in the low to mid $400 range,–without the brilliance of Job’s imagination, a laser-focus on perfecting their products, future-thinking functionality, and sleek elegant design–Apple is in trouble.

Will an Apple watch or television be unveiled soon and save the day?

It will extend Apple’s successful running streak, but their distinctive culture of creativity and excellence had better emerge in more ways than an iWatch or iTV for Apple to hold their crown of technology glory. 😉

(Source Photo: Facebook Fan’s of Apple)

Out-Tech The Competition

Emails_jealous

Talking with my daugter today, I learned that times have changed for our children and I realized for us as well.

It used to be that kids would work hard to out-dress each other–who has the coolest outfit, the shiniest shoes, even the best piercing, but now tech is outgunning fashion. 

In my daughter’s school, she says it’s no longer about clothes, but about tech devices–who has the latest iPhone 5, the iPad Mini, the thinnest laptop, the coolest apps, and so on. 

How you dress today is less important than what technology you use!

For us adults, this message was brought home by an article in Federal Times (5 Nov. 2012) entitled “Jeans and flip-flops at work.” 

As the President of the American Federation of Government Employees Union Local 22 stated: “It’s not about dressing up , it’s about dressing down and allowing the creativity to flow.” Similarly, the Director of Public Relations for Young Government Leaders was quoted as saying: “Today’s young leader feel their work makes a bigger statement than what clothes they wear.”

So the pressure is off with the dress code, but what about the technology your using?

Government Executive (1 Nov. 2012) in an article called “Technology Hand-off,” points out the trend of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and as Darren Ash, the CIO of NRC points out “Apple just released the iPhone 5. In the Android market it seems like a new model comes along every month. We can’t keep up.”

And it’s not just the CIOs that are screaming for relief from the incessant change and speed of technology change, everyone is constantly competing for the new technology…from waiting days in line for the next generation Apple device to doing a device refresh every 2-3 years on average, we are addicted to the “latest and greatest.”

One CIO, who was the first in an agency to get an iPad, took it proudly to every meeting, especially in front of the executives–first it made him look very progressive and “with it,” but then as the iPad envy set in, the whole executive leadership soon were carrying the devices as well. 

So out dressing the guy next to you is so blasé, now what’s important is whether you can out-tech them!

Whether it’s clothes or technology, the competition out there is fierce–and the cultural statement is clear–get with it or get run over by it. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Robot Firefighters To The Rescue

Meet Octavia, a new firefighting robot from the Navy’s Laboratory for Autonomous Systems Research (LASR) in Washington, D.C.Octavia and her brother Lucas are the the latest in firefighting technology.These robots can hear commands, see through infrared cameras, identify patterns, and algorithmically make decisions on diverse information sets.While the current prototypes move around like a Segway, future versions will be able to climb ladders and get around naval vessels.It is pretty cool seeing this robot spray flame retardant to douse the fire, and you can imagine similar type robots shooting guns on the front line at our enemies.

Robots are going to play an increasingly important role in all sorts of jobs, and not only the repetitive ones where we put automatons, but also the dangerous situations (like the bomb disposal robots), where robots can get out in front and safeguard human lives.

While the technology is still not there yet–and the robot seems to need quite a bit of instruction and hand waving–you can still get a decent glimpse of what is to come.

Robots with artificial intelligence and natural language processing will be putting out those fires all by themselves…and then some.

Imagine a robot revolution is coming, and what we now call mobile computing is going to take on a whole new meaning with robots on the go–autonomously capturing data, processing it, and acting on it.

I never did see an iPhone or iPad put out a fire, but Octavia and brother Lucas will–and in the not too distant future!

Lead With Technology, Not Trinkets

Toy_phone

RIM, the maker of the Blackberry, continues to flounder, and many organizations are rightfully moving their mobility solutions to the ever more capable iPhone and Android platforms.

Changing the device has the potential to bring the latest technology to the organization, but the risk is that the device is viewed as a “toy” to hand out to the end-users, like doling out duckets to the impoverished in the Middle Ages.

With the latest smartphones and tablets running at 4G and loaded with camera, video, and more than half a million Apps, end-users are more than happy to receive their bounty whether or not it is immediately tied into the business processes of the organization.

In some cases, when there is money to invest to new systems, strategic planning, sound governance, and robust security, the CIO may choose to focus on gadgets instead.

Unfortunately, innovation in the organization is more than about gadgetry, but about how the organization can benefit from the integration of new hardware, software, and information to better carry out the mission.

However, delivering solutions is hard, while buying devices can be as easy as just writing a check.

If smartphones are treated trivially like gifts, rather than as a true game-changer for how people perform their jobs better, then CIOs have simply bought themselves some more time in the corner office, rather than driving transformative change.

Bringing new devices to the organization has many benefits in it’s own right, but the key is not to do it for it’s own sake.

New devices are wonderful, and we want them personally and professionally, but it is the CIO’s job to ensure that IT investment dollars are spent on genuine IT solutions to mission and business requirements, and smartphones and tablets need to be integrated firmly into what we do, not just what we carry.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to macattck)