June 27, 2017 brianradio2016

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Google announces an awful lot of stuff. So it’s sometimes easy to see something new, get cautiously excited, and then kinda forget about it a few months later.

That’s exactly what happened to me with the announcement of add-ons for Google Docs and Sheets on Android last summer. Google trumpeted the news of the launch from its official blog almost one year ago:

We know many of you consider your mobile device as your primary tool to consume business information, but what if you could use it to get more work done, from anywhere? We’re excited to introduce Android add-ons for Docs and Sheets, a new way for you to do just that. Whether it’s readying a contract you have for e-signature from your phone or pulling in CRM data on your tablet for some quick analysis while waiting for your morning coffee, Android add-ons can help you accomplish more.

Pretty intriguing, right? As someone who uses Docs both on the desktop and from my mobile devices, this definitely caught my eye. Sure, Docs does enough to satisfy my mobile productivity needs as-is, but — as you probably know by now — I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to make my technology more useful and efficient. This seemed like something with a fair amount of potential.

At the effort’s launch, Google announced nine initial add-ons for Docs and Sheets on Android — “seamless integrations” provided by a select group of partners (with one app also provided by Google itself). The initial list wasn’t exactly expansive, but it looked like a promising enough start:

June 27, 2017 brianradio2016

For over 20 years, Microsoft stomped on its competitors and then defended itself against the resulting antitrust lawsuits. But with desktop Windows waning in importance and its desktop software rivals largely gone, Microsoft seemed to have turned a new leaf. Or had it?

In the one software sphere left where it still has rivals — antivirus and security software — Microsoft is up to its old anti-competitive tricks. Late last year, Eugene Kaspersky, founder of the eponymous antivirus company, said, “When you upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft automatically and without any warning deactivates all ‘incompatible’ security software and in its place installs… you guessed it — its own Defender antivirus. But what did it expect when independent developers were given all of one week before the release of the new version of the OS to make their software compatible?”

Kaspersky did more than just blog about it. First, he complained to the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service, which opened a case against Microsoft for “abusing dominance.” His company, Kaspersky Lab, followed up this June by filing more antitrust complaints against Microsoft, with the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office.

Kaspersky claimed in his blog, “Microsoft uses its dominant position in the computer operating system (OS) market to fiercely promote its own — inferior — security software (Windows Defender) at the expense of users’ previously self-chosen security solution. Such promotion is conducted using questionable methods, and we want to bring these methods to the attention of the anti-competition authorities.”

June 27, 2017 brianradio2016

Dual ports pump out 39W of power to simultaneously charge power-hungry USB devices at full speed. Charge compatible devices up to 80% in just 35 minutes with Quick Charge 3.0. Patented PowerIQ and VoltageBoost deliver high-speed charging to non-Quick Charge devices. Anker’s Quick Charge Dual USB Car Charger is discounted right now to just $25.99. See this deal now on Amazon.

This story, “57% off Anker Quick Charge 3.0 39W Dual USB Car Charger – Deal Alert” was originally published by TechConnect.

June 27, 2017 brianradio2016

Some products should never have been made, but flops like Coke 2, Bic’s ‘she-pen’, and Nokia’s N-gage still hold valuable lessons for innovators. To remind people of their value, organizational psychologist Dr Samuel West, has opened the Museum of Failure in the Helsingborg, Sweden.

“The point of the museum is to show how important failure is for success when it comes to innovation. We need to accept failure,” West tells ZDNet.

European innovators haven’t accepted failure in the way Silicon Valley has, but West notes that Silicon Valley firms often forget his second message about failure.

“Silicon Valley has the right attitude when it comes to innovation and not stigmatizing failure. Unfortunately, even Silicon Valley companies are horrible when it comes to learning from their failures, so they make the same mistakes over and over again.”

This point seems pertinent to startups experimenting with consumers’ appetite for connected sex toys and talking dolls without thinking about security and privacy.

The Museum of Failure includes the Trump: The Game; Harley-Davidson Hot Road eau de toilette; Bic for Her; Coke 2; and a Swedish bike among a collection of 60 product flops. It’s also filled with tech flops, from the Apple Newton to Microsoft’s Zen phone.

June 27, 2017 brianradio2016

The Apple iPhone: 2007, meet 2017


Reviewing our original iPhone review

Reviewing our original iPhone review

A decade after testing the first iPhone, CNET editors annotate their review to see what they liked, what they hated and how the phone has changed.

I know that it’s popular to hate on the iPhone and spread predictions of its impending doom, but what surprises me isn’t how popular the iPhone is now, but that it survived the first couple of years to become the influential cash-generating machine that it has become.

Also: Six features the iPhone 8 needs to stay ahead of Android | Get your iPhone or iPad ready for the iOS 11 public beta | This is what the iPhone 8 will (probably) look like | Steve Jobs was driven to create iPhone by obnoxious Microsoft guy with stylus

I’m just going to come out and say it — the original iPhone was junk. I know, that’s a scandalous thing to say, but to say otherwise is to do a disservice to the memories of the awesome handsets of the time. Call quality was terrible, it didn’t support multimedia messaging, and data speeds were slow even for 2007 because Apple chose not to support 3G.

It wasn’t even a phone first. You had to fire up the Phone app — although we didn’t call it an app back in the day — to make calls, which seemed strange for a phone.

It was also pretty awful as an iPod. Four gigabytes of storage on the base model really didn’t go that far (and Apple knew this, because it binned it in September of 2007), and Bluetooth 2.0 didn’t support stereo.

The iOS operating system — it was called iPhone OS back then — was also very lacking, missing even basic features such as the ability to cut/copy/paste (we had to wait until iOS 3.0 for this feature to finally appear). There was also no support for third-party apps, and Apple relied heavily on Google to make up the shortfall in its services (of the 16 “apps” that appeared on the iPhone’s screen, the Maps app used Google Maps, and there was a built-in YouTube app).

It’s not until you go back to an early iPhone or iPod touch that you really appreciate how far along iOS has come. Back then, even platforms such as Windows Mobile had a massive features advantage over what Apple had to offer.

So how did the iPhone survive?

While some would point to the “Apple effect” and how after the iPod there was huge consumer interest in the company, and that it was this that propelled the iPhone into the stratosphere, I’m skeptical. Someone who was happy with their iPod doesn’t automatically become the sort of person who was going to shell out hundreds of dollars for an iPhone that’s tied to a contract.

Nah, I don’t think the success of the iPhone was down to the iPod.

What I think made the iPhone what it is today was a combination of two things.

First, excellent design. Yes, a slab that’s mostly screen seems obvious, but it’s clear that Apple put a lot of engineering effort into making the iPhone that way, and that meant making unpopular compromises, such as making the battery non-removable.

A testament to just how good the initial iPhone design was is how little it’s changed. Yes, the phone’s gotten bigger and thinner and such, but the overall design remains the same. In fact, the biggest change Apple made to the design outside of the bigger screen has been moving the headphone jack — it started out on the top, moved to the bottom with the iPhone 5, and then eliminated with the iPhone 7. Outside of that, some materials changes, tweaks to the dimensions, and swapping the 30-pin port for Lightning, the original iPhone design has survived the test of time.

Another factor in the iPhone’s success was the quality of the display. The 3.5-inch 480×320 touchscreen display wasn’t just nice to look at, it was really smooth to use, something that couldn’t be said of most touchscreens back in 2007. Apple cut a lot of corners with the original iPhone, but not when it came to the display, and that was a clever move because it was the bit that people interacted with the most.

I truly believe that if the display had been poor, the iPhone would have sunk into oblivion like Apple’s other foray into phones, the truly execrable Motorola Roker E1.

The other thing that made the iPhone great was the browser. I trash-talk Safari a lot, but back in 2007 mobile browsers ranged from terrible to really, really terrible. Safari was a breath of fresh air, and turned mobile browsing from being a chore to a pleasure. It’s impossible to describe how bad mobile browsing was before the iPhone. You just had to be there to appreciate just how easy web browsing on the iPhone was compared to other devices.

It was a total game-changer, and it was amazing how much real browsing you could do on a 3.5-inch display (despite the painfully slow cellular speeds).

Then there was the price-cut. Originally, the 4GB iPhone sold for $399, and the 8GB version for $599, but in less than three months Apple discontinued the 4GB version, while at the same time dropping the price of the 8GB iPhone by $200, with early adopters getting $100 store credit (but only after venting their spleen at the late Steve Jobs).

So, some aspects of the original iPhone were terrible, but what was good was not only very, very good, but it also upended the entire mobile device ecosystem, and completely changed the smartphone for the next decade with such force that almost every other smartphone looks (and, as much as possible, feels) like the iPhone.

But no matter how much the competition tries to emulate the iPhone, they just can’t quite capture what makes the iPhone the success it has become.

iPhone turns 10

June 27, 2017 brianradio2016

With the release of the first PCs running Windows 10 S, it’s time to reconsider how you package and distribute your code.

Up till now, Windows has been installer-agnostic, supporting many different ways of getting apps onto PCs: the familiar Microsoft installer, third-party tools, Xcopy, or running an executable file. Windows 10 S takes a different approach, locking PCs down to digitally signed apps, with controlled access to files, delivered by the Windows Store.

There’s a considerable advantage to using the Windows Store for software distribution of your applications in the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) .appx format. For one thing, it handles updates automatically, so you don’t need to write your own update code. It also supports differential updates, minimizing code downloads. But the Windows Store isn’t a Trojan horse to give Microsoft a cut of all your sales. Even in Windows 10 S, you can distribute .appx installers to Windows 10 users directly (aka “sideloading”) or via Microsoft’s Intune management tools—whether for commercial or internal distribution.

However, this change doesn’t mean traditional (Win32) desktop applications can’t run on Windows 10 S, nor does it mean you must rebuild them as UWP apps. Microsoft’s Windows Desktop Bridge tools can take existing your code and wrap it for Windows Store distribution to Windows 10 PCs (including those running the Windows Store-only Windows 10 S).

June 27, 2017 brianradio2016


The Panasonic Toughbook CF-XZ6

Image: Panasonic

Panasonic has unveiled the latest member of its Toughbook range of business laptops. The model name, Toughbook CF-XZ6, gives little away, but this is a 12-inch 2-in-1 detachable laptop/tablet hybrid that slots into the lowest ‘business rugged’ rung of Panasonic’s ruggedness ladder (next up is ‘semi-rugged’, followed by ‘fully rugged’). This means that while it’s considerably slimmer, lighter and more elegant than Panasonic’s military-grade 12-inch detachable, the Toughbook CF-33, it’s not rated to withstand anything like the same levels of abuse.

Designed for mobile professionals requiring a flexible laptop/tablet hybrid that can handle “the knocks and drops of business life”, the Toughbook CF-XZ6 has neither a MIL-STD certification nor an IP (ingress protection) rating. However, Panasonic says that it passes 76cm (desk height) free-fall and 100-kilogram-force pressurised vibration tests.

“I think, in Panasonic terms, the product itself is — dare I say it — sexy,” said Jon Tucker, Head of Product Marketing for Panasonic Computer Product Solutions (CPS), at the UK launch of the Toughbook CF-XZ6 in Cardiff, Wales. “We’re used to doing fully rugged, industrial-looking types of products,” Tucker added, “and design-wise this is the sexiest product we’ve ever brought to market.”



In laptop mode the CF-XZ6 weighs 1.18kg and is 22mm thick. The tablet section weighs 640g and is just 9mm thick. The device has two webcams: 2 megapixels (with IR for Windows Hello) at the front, and 8 megapixels at the rear.

Images: Panasonic

The Toughbook CF-XZ6 measures 288.5mm wide by 223.7mm deep by 22mm thick (11.36in. × 8.81in. × 0.87in.) and weighs 1.18kg (2.6lbs), or 640g (22.6oz) just for the tablet section. It’s powered by a latest (7th) generation Intel Core i5-7300U vPro processor and comes with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of SSD storage. The screen is a 12-inch 10-point IPS touchscreen with a quad-HD resolution of 2,160 by 1,440 pixels (216ppi). The anti-reflective ‘dual-touch’ capacitive touchscreen works with finger input or with an optional Active stylus pen. Other ‘project-based’ options are available with 4GB or 16GB of RAM and 128GB or 512GB SSDs. The OS is Windows 10 Pro.

For wireless connectivity there’s dual-band (2.4/5GHz) 802.11ac wi-fi and Bluetooth 4.1, with 4G LTE broadband available as an option. Panasonic offers plenty of physical connections too: USB-C and 3.5mm audio on the tablet section, plus three USB 3.0, HDMI, VGA, Ethernet (RJ-45) and an SD card slot on the keyboard section.



Unusually, Panasonic includes both legacy VGA and HDMI ports on the CF-XZ6, along with a full-size RJ-45 Ethernet port.

Images: Panasonic

There are 4-cell batteries in both the tablet and keyboard sections, with claimed lives of around 6.5 hours and 7.5 hours respectively, making a total of 14 hours. As usual with detachables, the (removable, hot-swappable) keyboard battery drains first when the device is in laptop mode, leaving maximum charge for use in tablet mode. There’s also a dedicated switch that allows you to toggle keyboard-to-tablet charging on and off.

“Any executive would be proud to use this business laptop in front of a customer or prospect,” said Jan Kaempfer, General Manager for Marketing at Panasonic CPS in a statement. “Its stylish good looks and super slim design, alongside its powerful business capabilities and durability bring together all the manufacturing excellence of the Panasonic Toughbook range in one device.”

The Panasonic Toughbook CF-XZ6 comes with a three-year warranty and will be available in July 2017 at £1,539 (ex. VAT).

Read more

June 26, 2017 brianradio2016

Cisco and Apple are looking to expand their partnership across several additional projects by continuing to work together on enterprise networking strategies, Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins has said.

According to Robbins, he and Apple CEO Tim Cook have already identified and discussed multiple collaboration ideas over the course of the first day of Cisco Live Las Vegas.

“Tim and I just spent the last couple hours together after the keynote, and we see that first of all, we built a foundation proving that we can work together in creating innovation for our customers by working together on the same path — and we actually identified a few more opportunities in the last two hours alone,” Robbins told media.

According to Robbins, two of the major points in their partnership see Cisco devices running on iOS and deeper Cisco security integration with Apple devices, ahead of working on extracting more analytics and information from “intuitive” networks.

“As we try to build assurance around Wi-Fi, and, looking at that as an example, being able to get analytics about the Wi-Fi experience from the device itself to feed into that in conjunction with what the network knows gives you a much more holistic view of how you solve that problem,” Robbins explained.

“So there’s a multitude of opportunities for us, and in fact … afterwards there were two or three other ideas that popped up.”

Earlier on Monday, Cook had made a surprise appearance during Robbins’ keynote, saying the two-year-old Cisco-Apple partnership is continuing to grow as the two focus on baking security and control into their enterprise offerings.

“We’ve got a whole new device management system in iOS 11 as well that make rolling out devices simple, and so I think the things that we’re doing together now … there’s more and more and more, and I think together we make up the most secure combination of anybody in the enterprise,” Cook said on Monday morning.

“I think that increasingly is not just important, but necessary.”

Cisco’s SVP and GM of IoT and Applications Rowan Trollope added that on the security front, its Advanced Malware Protection (AMP) and OpenDNS now tie into iOS 11, unveiled last month — for which Cook said would be a public beta “very shortly” — with the two companies also working towards “deeper collaboration integrations” such as native integration with WebEx into iOS calendars.

Cisco SVP of Networking and Security David Goeckeler also discussed Cisco’s new “network intuitive” with Robbins and Trollope, on Monday afternoon telling ZDNet that early field trials with customers are going well, and the feedback will inform the final release of the products.

“This is one of the broadest [early field trials] we’ve done in a long time, whether it’s customers using the Catalyst 9300 to see how that works, and also bringing in all of software-defined access to the DNA-Center,” Goeckeler told ZDNet.

“The switches should be orderable now; the DNA-Center will be another couple of weeks. We feel really good about it, as those customers have given an enormous amount of feedback of how this works, we always take that into development process so that when we turn it on for shipment it’s the best possible software it can be.

“It’s been a really good process, we’ve had a lot of really good marquee customers as part of the process and we’ve just gotten incredible feedback.”

Cisco has 75 early field trial customers using the technology to ensure it is ready to go, including NASA, Accenture, Wipro, DB, and Royal Caribbean Cruises.

During his keynote, Robbins said the network intuitive will enable the scale, complexity, and security required by the billions of devices to be added to the internet in future, predicting that many as 1 million new connections per hour will be added by 2020.

Cisco’s network intuitive comprises three parts: Encrypted traffic analytics; the DNA-Center, which is the command centre and analytics platform of the new network; and a series of programmable IoT-, cloud-, and mobile-ready switches called the Catalyst 9000 series.

The global launch of intuitive network will see the DNA-Center available in early August, encrypted traffic analytics to ship in September, and DNA-Center network analytics available in October, while several switches in the Catalyst 9000 series are available now.

According to Robbins, Cisco had to modernise iOS in order to develop its DNA-Center.

“We had to rewrite iOS to a modern data model, API-structured operating system,” Robbins explained.

“That then allowed us to launch DNA-Center, which is fundamentally the command centre for the network.

“It also is a major analytics platform … where we are going to stream the analytics, and we now have the ability to provide insights, context, and analytics from the application to the datacentre, to the core enterprise network, and combine it with all the threat-intelligence we have in our security portfolio.”

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Cisco Live in Las Vegas as a guest of Cisco

June 26, 2017 brianradio2016

Ten years since Apple’s iPhone went on sale, here are eleven ways the device has profoundly transformed the enterprise.

The BYOD moment

The popularity of iPhone drove enterprise everywhere to permit employees to bring their own devices to work. Employees loved the power of the iPhone and while competitors have sought to fill the same space, fragmentation and poor security mean Apple’s platform continues to dominate enterprise mobility and the company is carving itself a strong position in the future of enterprise IT.

Followed by BYOC

Bring Your Own Device has morphed into Bring Your Own Computer. The success of the iPhone in the enterprise has driven a rapidly growing number of businesses to invest in Macs, rather than PCs. Windows remains dominant, but its empire seems to be weakening, particularly following IBM’s revelation that Macs are significantly cheaper to run than PCs.

Changing working practise

iPhone has ushered in fundamental shifts to the way in which enterprises work internally. The move to digital transformation and all its related technologies and benefits is forcing smart firms to tear down the silos that existed between various departments to seek out brand new ways of working. Enterprises have also had to shift the way they look at tech, moving away from traditional monolithic approaches toward a more permissive and productive environment in which users can work on any device, with data and apps that can come from anywhere. “I think the iPhone was probably one of the most impactful pieces of technology to come into the IT world since computing, VMware VP and chief information security officer Alex Tosheff told Network World.

June 26, 2017 brianradio2016

When working with microservices that communicate over the HTTP protocol, you will want to use correlation IDs to track individual requests. Because requests might flow through many services that are spread across multiple systems, tracking them with correlation IDs will be your only hope of detecting and diagnosing errors that might creep into the middleware systems. This article discusses what correlation IDs are, why they are useful, and how they can be used in ASP.Net Web API.

What are correlation IDs?

Let’s assume you have implemented a microservices architecture. In an application comprised of microservices, different aspects of incoming requests will be handled by different microservices, all working asynchronously on their specific tasks and ultimately coming together to generate the response. Now, if something goes wrong, how would you determine by looking at the logs exactly where the request failed? Your logs might contain millions upon millions of log messages. It would be a daunting task to find the relevant log entries among so many messages.

The basic idea is that you may want to track every request. Because the request may be executed by different service components, you need a way to tie all of these service components to the request. Here’s exactly where a correlation ID comes to the rescue. A correlation ID is a unique identifier that provides a way to correlate all of the different micro tasks to the same macro operation. By ensuring that all of the responses contain the same unique identifier, you allow for the tracking and debugging of each request.

Using correlation IDs in Web API

ASP.Net Web API is a lightweight framework for building RESTful services that can run over HTTP. It has been the framework of choice for building RESTful services in ASP.Net for quite some time now. In this example, we will implement a message handler to store a correlation ID in the response header, so that we can send that ID back to the client.