Tag Archives | smartphones

Pew Releases Study on Younger Americans’ Reading and Library Habits

EbooksMore than eight in ten Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 read a book in the past year, and six in ten used their local public library. At the youngest end of the spectrum, high schoolers in their late teens (ages 16-17) and college-aged young adults (ages 18-24) are especially likely to have read a book or used the library in the past 12 months. And although their library usage patterns may often be influenced by the requirements of school assignments, their interest in the possibilities of mobile technology may also point the way toward opportunities of further engagement with libraries later in life. Continue Reading →

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Consumer Electronics Show 2012 – Notes and Takeaways

The theme of the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show was all things connected all the time anywhere and everywhere. According to Parks Associates, more than 920 million connected devices will be sold worldwide in 2012, and revenues from operator-provided cloud-based value-added services will exceed $8.5 billion by 2015. CES product displays did not diminish any of these estimates.

The ability to perform similar functions on various sized screens is increasing. Whether you have a smartphone, tablet, notebook, or large screen OLED Television, internet access to sites, search and social connections will expand in 2012. Below are a few highlights.

Mobile Redefined

Mobility and mobile devices are no longer optional or an add-on to our business and personal lives. The connected home and connected offices have been described for many years as a home network or office network. Today, connectivity makes every device linkable. Not just devices we call computers, but appliances, remote controls, video cameras and the automobile. The car Henry Ford started with now has its own computer based internet connection so you can get traffic reports, weather updates and be connected to the National Public Radio broadcast archives to listen to most NPR programs from any date at any time. This is internet radio on wheels.

More Books

The old term was computer or personal computer. Then the personal devices became a single unit that one could carry anywhere. The books evolved – Notebook, Netbook eBook and now Ultrabook. Ultrabooks come from the folks at Intel and have screen sizes from 11 to 13 inches, weigh less than 3 pounds and are priced less than $1,000. 

Digital medical
Doctors’ offices have been mandated to go digital. Tablets and other mobile devices are being used everywhere from the operating room to admitting. More than the hospitals and doctors, devices, apps and cloud based services are providing DIY medical control for the individual. Companies like Withings have scales, blood pressure cuffs and monitors for both babies and adults. These devices are digitally accurate and when used transmit the readings to a smartphone app for storage and uploading to your account on their website. 

These highlights may not be enough for you. Just fire up your favorite search engine and search other articles about any of the more than 3,700 vendors that were on display. Change on the technology front is constant. Whatever device you see today, feature updates will occur in less than one year. So if today you need 3D television, Digital Maps, More Games, et al, the time to buy is right after the super bowl. If you can wait, go ahead, knowing that the device you have with an internet connection links you to the world of a lot information (sometimes called stuff).

One announcement of note – Microsoft said they will no longer exhibit at CES. This action is worth watch as the big electronics companies – LG, Sony, Panasonic and Pioneer are expanding their product lines with televisions, streaming players, DVRs, Portable everything. This includes managed content that will be exclusive a period of time. For example, “Angry Birds” will have its own channel on LG.

Imagine relaxing on a quiet, sun drenched beach listening to surf roll in over the sand. You reach into your beach bag and pull out a portable device that enables connection with Unlimited Priorities Site so you can read this blog, check on upcoming U-P events. You then close the device and return to your relaxation knowing more than when your feet first touched sand.

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Learning Can Travel an Unlimited Distance

Computer Based LearningWith the population tipping past the 7 billion mark, there is an increasing need for resources that assist with how people learn. Scholars, educators, mentors, and teachers are finding new ways to interact with students, employees, friends and people for the sharing of knowledge and wisdom.

Computer based education is not a new idea. However with so many new discoveries and information content accessible, learning opportunities about for individuals, employee groups and customers around the planet. The old learning paradigm was for each person to go to the location of the instructor – elementary school, high school, university/college, adult education center, corporate training facility. In this environment, teaching and learning was either 1 on 1 or in groups. It was all live information delivery.

Computer based education was a concept originated in the 1960’s at the Urbana campus of the University of Illinois. It was called PLATO. As one of the network participants for DARPA research, a few engineers collaborated on design the PLATO hardware. The software required original thinking and involved individuals with differing backgrounds including several with no computer background.

PLATO was constructed as a timesharing system. This was the forerunner of what we now call the internet. A special-purpose programming language called TUTOR is used to write educational software.

Today, education proliferates throughout a very mobile, very wireless world. Therefore, you should be asking about to take advantage of distance learning and information transfer. Here are a few examples:

  • What subject do you want to learn?
  • What information do you want to share with customers, clients and friends?
  • What training is needed by your work force – full-time, part-time, contractors?
  • How does new information get distributed and learned by everyone connected to you?
  • Can distance learning provide a more cost-effective approach to training and learning?

Distance learning has the unique capability for students to learn at a pace that works for them. The teaching source can be a human speaking live, a prerecorded human, video tutorials, slideshows, audio casts, audio books, webcasts and webinars.

  • A key benefit of distance learning is the ability for each student to
  • Use instant replay to watch something a second, third or fourth time when needed
  • Access links to supplemental information such as images, maps, definitions, more detail
  • Teaching materials will be the same throughout the enterprise

There is a lot to consider when you seek to teach people in your organization or community. Learning capacity is embedded within every laptop, tablet and smartphone. Mobile connections enable the knowledge transfer to be extremely effective.


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Smarter Phones Need Smarter Websites

SmartphoneMore and more Internet users are using smartphones to browse the web. In July of 2011 The Pew Research Center issued a report titled “Smartphone Adoption and Usage” (Download Full Report as PDF). It found that over 85% of smartphone owners access the internet or email on their smartphone. Over 65% do so on a typical day.

One quarter of smartphone owners say that they mostly go online using their phone, rather than with a computer and roughly one third of these “cell mostly” users do not have a high-speed home broadband connection.

Smartphone Statistics

In recognition of this change in browsing habits Google has enhanced its mobile webcrawler to act like a smartphone to better index websites that are crafted to work well with these newer devices.

With the number of smartphone users rapidly rising, we’re seeing more and more websites providing content specifically designed to be browsed on smartphones. Today we are happy to announce that Googlebot-Mobile now crawls with a smartphone user-agent in addition to its previous feature phone user-agents. This is to increase our coverage of smartphone content and to provide a better search experience for smartphone users.

One new feature we’re also launching that uses these signals is Skip Redirect for Smartphone-Optimized Pages. When we discover a URL in our search results that redirects smartphone users to another URL serving smartphone-optimized content, we change the link target shown in the search results to point directly to the final destination URL. This removes the extra latency the redirect introduces leading to a saving of 0.5-1 seconds on average when visiting landing page for such search results.

Is your website friendly to mobile visitors? With smartphone use growing, the online face of your business needs to be ready. Unlimited Priorities can help you by providing a fresh look at your online presence and solid advice for practical changes.

Photo by Ohmega1982

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Your Voice Matters

Reviewing the last 111 years, it is easy to check off how technology has reduced physical labor:

•    Cars replaced walking and horses
•    Planes went from dirigibles to propeller driven to jet engines
•    Automatic transmissions replaced manual stick shifts
•    Digital photography replaced film
•    Remote control boxes replaced television rotary dials

Use of voice as an input device also has evolved from the early days Speech to text programs have been around since the 1980s. Voice to text software was launched by Covox in 1982 for the growing personal computer industry with the IBM PC in the lead. Another company founded in 1982, Dragon Systems, continues to be the leader in the speech recognition. Scansoft, Inc. now owns and manufactures their well-known product, Dragon Naturally Speaking.

Voice recognition is not just for getting documents created. For example:

•    Cordless and cell phones introduced us to voice activated dialing
•    GPS mapping and directions equipment allow for voice commands
•    Cars have a growing number of voice activated requests
•    Appliances all over the house and the office are emerging for everyone

An article about the voice control evolution appeared in the December 07, 2011 issue of BusinessWeek. The information points to all of the rumors about Apple TV, Microsoft Xbox 360 game console and the growing number of electronics vendors – Samsung, LG, Sharp and Sony, etc., gearing up to move from button and touchpad controls to voice command and control.

One of the current salvos being launched is Apple including interactive voice recognition, SIRI with their new iPhone 4s. Asking about the weather or the stock market or directions is standard stuff. Any actions that one can do with finger touch are potential for SIRI. You can say ‘send a text message’, then say the recipient’s name from the contact list, confirm which phone number, dictate the message and send.

This is pretty basic stuff. By 2013, voice commands will be everywhere. Saying words distinctly helps with today’s voice input. Alabama born and raised speaks very differently than one from Maine. So the advances in technology will enable tone and inflection differences. After all, we can discern when someone is speaking with a “happy voice” or an “angry voice. There is at least one project underway that will detect a person’s mood by verbal cues.
Today’s Siri and Xbox voice control are growing in use. The expectations are that Apple’s TV set will have voice command; New Windows Operating Systems for PCs and Xboxes will have gesture and voice control; and Google will implement voice activated search beyond what is accessible now. It is also clear that Google TV will return.

The consumer electronics companies will promote interactive TV talk through voice-enabled apps for smartphones and tablets. Xfinity/Comcast already has a downloadable app that provides for customer programming of the DVR. At the TV, remote control functions can be issued through the smartphone’s internet connection. Comcast is testing the addition of voice-control features. LG, Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung and Sharp will all test similar apps.

Each family member will be able to set their own Voice commands to program show recordings, change channels, access the web. OF course, there could be the battle of the voice controls that will have to be managed by some responsible person, such as an adult. Those individuals who are push-button phobic will have a some speaking issues as they learn how to talk what version of CSI the actually want to record. As with all technology advances; it can be anticipated that the transition to the new will be easier for some, harder for others.

Nuance, maker of the popular Dragon dictation software suites is what Apple has used for Siri as well. It appears that many manufacturers have turned to them to help transform remotes instead of eschew them. Nuance’s Thompson says TV, DVD, and set-top box makers are all working on models that look more like iPhones, some with touchscreens rather than that gaggle of unused buttons. Some of the prototypes are designed around a single prominent button that activates a microphone, he says. Cost will be a challenge, since such a device would need a microphone and Wi-Fi antenna instead of the infrared sensors now commonly used.

Nuance has estimated that 5% of TVs could be voice controlled by Christmas 2012. Of course, there are several problems to solve, such as which command takes preference, and how they would distinguish commands from normal conversation. But, there’s hope. SRI International, the company that worked on Siri before spinning it off into a separate company, has been working on solutions. They’ve been working on a project that can discern people’s moods by verbal cues, something that may potentially be used to differentiate commands.

Mike Thompson from Nuance Communications continues to say that interactive remote controls will have touchscreens rather than buttons. This is similar to the Logitech Harmony series of remotes. For Harmony, there are several different screens that change the action of the button that is pressed. 

Vlingo, an App maker, introduced voice Apps for smartphones late last year. They are expected to announce a voice recognition product for TVs at CES 2012.

We have all marveled at Dick Tracy’s wrist radio. The TV series, Knight Rider, was all about a car that could act better than its human star. Robots have been demonstrated that respond to voice commands and conversation. SIRI on the 4s is a real world demonstration of voice interaction. The key is the capability for human to speak and machine to hear the same thing. If you tell your automobile’s GPS mapping device that you want to go to Las Vegas; be sure that the directions take you to Nevada rather than New Mexico.

People are getting used to seeing others walking around talking to the air that surrounds them. These are people with a Bluetooth headset that is synced with a smartphone that is connected to cellular tower that sends the signals out into cyberspace. It is not just messages and conversations. Voice will be used to open the garage door, turn on the house lights and start the oven warming up to 400 degrees. It will be a novelty for upscale users only at the beginning. Prices will drop quickly and more will be in use by the end of this decade.

Video cameras are expanding along every city streets and intersection. As voice technology advances, we will have embedded microphones in our house, office, cars and all ‘smart’ devices. Devices will be listening to jump into action just as Captain Kirk expressed his commands starting with the phrase; “Computer …”

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Technology Trends 4U — 2011

Written for Unlimited Priorities and DCLnews Blog.

Richard Oppenheim

Richard Oppenheim

As 2011 fades in, it is time to look ahead and make predictions of what is anticipated for the next year. Sometimes this is called planning, sometimes guessing. My goal is to offer some educated guesses for your 2011 planning activities.

In the November issue of DCLnews Blog, I wrote a synopsis of 2010 technology pronouncements – “The Digital Forest“. That article’s last paragraph is repeated here for emphasis:

The flood of digital data will deliver more to watch, more to read, more to store and file. We have choices to make to avoid being strangled by data overload. We can all join hands, virtually, and seek wisdom as to what works best for us this month. There must be an App for that.

The digital data tsunami encircling planet Earth will grow as more content from every corner of the galaxy will be loaded onto one or many data libraries. You can choose how and where to dive into the oncoming torrent of data. It is not recommended that you find some remote mountain top and just watch the content flow accelerate.

In 2011, developers will continue their unceasing delivery of gadgets, life-changing products, life-interrupting services, and many opportunities for us to be amused or amazed or confused with how to use and/or escape from changing technology. A lot of the choosing process will have something to do with your age and how you use technology today. For the age factor, the dividing bar is set at about 35ish.

  • Born before 1975, computers and other technology resources were learned as a teenager or adult as an appendage for your life
  • Born after 1975, computers and other technology were part of your growing up and integrated within your life

There are lots of illustrations (have some fun and make your own lists). One of the more visible examples is the transition from film to digital photography. When picture taking required film, and then a store to print using special paper and chemicals, there was one superior film, Kodachrome. As you read this, know that Kodachrome is no longer. Kodak stopped film production in 2009. The last place to develop and print Kodachrome stopped its operations on 12/31/2010.

Things change, technology changes things with increasing velocity. Trends analyses are important to highlight what has been, what is no longer here, and what is coming.

Content Trends

The going forward trends begin with technologies that support increasing volumes of content and connectivity. How often one uses e-mail is another age indicator. Younger folks prefer online chats and text messaging. Facebook has supplanted Yahoo and other sites as a major communications hub. Email sent to more than one person requires inserting multiple addresses, use of ‘cc’ or ‘bcc’. Facebook and text messaging and twitter provides immediate broadcast to a large population. FB reports that it processes over four billion messages daily.

Volume use of all things technology is increasing at an ever-increasing rate. In December, IDC research issued its 2011 prediction report. The IDC report stated:

…the biggest stories of 2011 revolve around the build-out and adoption of this next dominant IT platform (in our view, the industry’s third major platform) — defined by a staggering variety of mobile devices, an expanding mobile broadband network, and cloud-based application and service delivery, with value-generating overlays of social business and pervasive analytics, generating and analyzing unprecedented volumes of information.

IDC estimates that in 2011, there will be 330 million smartphones sold worldwide and 42 million media tablets. IDC predicts that the PC-centric era will end as over half of the 2.1 billion people who regularly use the Internet will do so using non-PC devices. By mid-2012, non-PC devices capable of running software applications will outsell PCs. Demand for tablets, with Apple’s iPad still leading, will increase as the tablet platform takes off in emerging markets.

The other large growth is what is now called ‘Cloud Computing’. IDC predicts that 80 percent of new software offerings will be available as cloud services in 2011. As I discussed in the “The Digital Data Forest” the growth of content from all sources needs to be incorporated for any future business or personal planning. IDC states:

The ‘digital universe’ of information and content will expand by almost 50% — to almost 2 trillion gigabytes. Businesses are drowning in information — and still want more, creating big opportunities for ‘big data’ analytics and management.

You may be worrying about how to keep up with the constant process known as ‘change’. With technology, change will always happen. David Pogue, writer for the NY Times, said in a November 24, 2010 personal tech column:

Forget about forever—nothing lasts a year. Of the thousands of products I’ve reviewed in 10 years, only a handful are still on the market. Everybody knows that’s the way tech goes. The trick is to accept your gadget’s obsolescence at the time you buy it, so you feel no sense of loss when it’s discontinued next fall. (The other trick is to learn when that’s going to happen: new cameras in September and February, new iPods in September, new iPhones in July…)

Your Trends, Your Way

Oprah Winfrey’s new cable network, OWN, has started. With the content from many devices – Phone, Tablet, TV, et al, everyone will be able to create his/her own private networks. The preliminary name for my network is RON. It is not a rival for OWN.

Using available resources from the cable company, various internet providers, smartphones, and friends, there will be one or more networks for each person on the planet. Comcast (Xfinity) provides click through buttons on shopping sites for direct purchase over the internet connected TV. They also provide a smartphone app that allows users to directly program their at-home DVR.

This is just one example of the integration between the internet and the cable/satellite signal deliveries. Sales of DVDs and other physical storage devices will quicken their decline over the next few years. Internet TV access will enable customizing a group of networks that link together. Note that all major sports, NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL have each created their own channels. Companies of all sizes will deliver information using video and audio through their own production or linking with entertainment providers.

Connecting with an overflowing inbox will need assistance. A new app for the iPad, Flipboard is a personalized magazine creator app that aggregates nine online media sources, grabs content from links posted such as Twitter and Facebook (including photos and video), and then presents that content in an easy-to-read, magazine-like format.

Continuing this trend, the concepts supporting social networking will expand with companies adapting to the use of social networking for brand identification, commentaries, and announcements. User support will expand with online chats and direct video calls, such as Skype provides. Professionals, lawyers, accountants, and advisors will also expand this form of client connection.

Retail sites, including eBay and Amazon, are integrating with social networks. Facebook announced that shoppers who go to Amazon.com can log into Facebook and get recommendations for purchases based on their declared tastes in music and movies. In November, eBay rolled out Group Gifts, a way for Facebook friends to chip in together for a gift. Facebook is also building analytic tools to let retailers learn more about who’s drawn to certain products. Amazon’s iPad app, Windowshop, shows images and lets users browse as if they were inside a store. Available at www.windowshop.com.

Wister.com is rolling a social style network that enables users to upload review of businesses, such as restaurants, entertainment facilities and even comments about retail and non-retail businesses. Other users can agree or disagree with comments. If a store gets a bad review, the store will have 48 hours to respond to the review. This form of sharing goes farther than just a tweet or Facebook post as the comment will be accessible by anyone on the Wister site.

Information sharing will expand exponentially. Current uses include: calendars, contacts, emails, photos, music, and the younger set’s need for sharing current actions. There are a growing variety of software to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets and other business reporting. With all device connections, collaboration will expand providing user friendly features for annotating, note insertion, and image editing. Service sites like www.basecampHQ.com, will provide even more ways to spread the information around the office and around the world.

Mobility Essentials

Key mobile trends to watch in 2011 include: a lot more smartphone apps, event-based marketing, and many location based services. Wherever you are, your hand held device knows the map coordinates and the surrounding streets, buildings, and weather.

New GPS apps will integrate location with content about your past behavior or your calendar to suggest activities that may be appropriate where you are. Initially, you will have to request this information. The upgrades or premium services will support push technology and deliver content to you like an alarm clock. Retail marketing will integrate geo-targeting apps with a database of your purchase history, likes, and dates such as birthdays to make recommendations, alerting you to specific store locations. Already exiting apps, such as RedLaser, can help you locate the same products for lower prices. Future apps will have that information ready without any specific key click required.

Augmented reality is also on its way. Based on your location, you can request images and information for how the surrounding area appeared in a prior time period. Redrawing of the geography would include other buildings, no buildings, etc. depending how far back you want your reality augmented.

Handheld devices can identify, for example, when a policeman or doctor was in the vicinity and immediately alert them to an emergency. Your device will also be able to tap into video cameras around the corner, some location you are going to, or at your house. A few years ahead, this video image will be able to alert you to traffic, crowds or some other identifiable situation.

Sustainability Needs More Energy

Technology can help reduce wasted energy, space, and natural resources. New technologies are available that help organizations become more energy efficient, implement new ways to distribute goods and services in a more sustainable manner, and enable safe and renewable sources of energy. For example, in 2010, Google announced its 5 billion dollar commitment to an off shore wind farm along the Atlantic coast.

The U.S. Department of Energy is allocating funds to support the research and development of clean, reliable energy for buildings and transportation. Applicants include teams from university, industry, and national laboratories. Under the program, the grantees will conduct cost analyses for different manufacturing volumes to help gauge the near-term viability and long-term potential of new technologies.

One of the hot suppliers of alternative energy is Bloom Energy. Today, commercial electricity costs about 13 cents per kilowatt-hour. Costs with a ‘Bloom Box’ are between 8 cents and 10 cents per kilowatt-hour and break-even after installation in less than 5 years. A few of Bloom’s customers include eBay Inc., Cypress Semiconductor Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Safeway Inc., and Wal-Mart. Replacing fossil fuel suppliers with clean and easy to maintain fuel cell boxes also eliminates any need for combustion.

Google’s web application PowerMeter, enables users and electric companies to track energy consumption. A monitor kit attaches to your electricity meter and transmits data via Wi-Fi. The web app will show how much energy is used. This application is currently being used in San Diego.

Smart meters will track electricity data with fine-grained detail. Home broadband connections opens up online electricity monitoring to a much broader base of potential customers.

Trends and You

Technology products and services are coming fast and their arrival speed is accelerating. It is not possible to keep up with trends, to know what to buy, to avoid feeling confused and late to the party. If you are feeling overwhelmed, it is O.K. to step back and ease up on yourself.

It is very important to understand and accept that these trends are coming and will not stop just because you may have worries. Identify what you, your company, and your friends are using, and do your best to stay compatible and collaborative. Hiding in a haystack will not help and the haystack will blow away. Technology will continue to expand everyone’s ability to connect with greater frequency and with a lot greater volume of information. Finding ways to best use this expansion for your benefit is a trend that you need to pursue in 2011 and beyond.

About the Author

Richard Oppenheim, CPA, blends business, technology and writing competence with a passion to help individuals and businesses get unstuck from the obstacles preventing their moving ahead. He is a member of the Unlimited Priorities team. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/richinsight.

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The 2010 Digital Forest: Any Data, Any Time, Any Place

Written for Unlimited Priorities and DCLnews Blog

Richard Oppenheim

Richard Oppenheim

As 2010 fades away, let’s take a short look at the technology products and services that will continue to impact our business and personal activities. With marketing, both professional and viral, in full work mode, it is likely that you already heard about most of these 2010 developments. Every development is built on what has been engineered over the past decade. This does not mean that there is nothing new. Rather, it is to say that we are using stuff a whole lot more.

A lot of what happened this year is an evolution of developments from prior years: 3D movies are hot, 3D television is beginning, smartphones are getting smarter, the Apps flood continues, e-books are outselling paper books, e-book readers and software are growing, YouTube and Facebook are having substantial user growth, Wi-Fi hotspots are everywhere and new gadgets for everyone from babies to seniors are in stores and online.

It started with sortable punched card, moved to computer mainframes and transformed electronics with the Bowmar calculator and digital watch. This year, the growth of everything digital can be seen, heard and transmitted from any place to any place. Pictures from the Cassini satellite orbiting Saturn 2 billion miles away are fascinating and a long distance photo op. Mars is a little closer. The Rovers were supposed to work for three months and they are in their sixth year. Digital photography with its instant access is changing the landscape of entertainment, news reporting and information sharing.

It is the new age of the candid camera as scientists, explorers, E-reporters, movie makers, amateur videographers, family photographers, musicians, students, teachers and lots of others share digital pictures from around the globe and far out into space. Digital is also impacting what we do with what we say. Instant messaging, text messaging, and email is replacing lots of voice to voice communications.

In the second quarter of 2010, the Nielsen Company analyzed mobile usage data for teens in the United States. American teens may not be texting all the time, however, this survey discovered that, on average, they send or receive 3,339 texts a month, more than six per every waking hour, an 8% jump from last year. (Source: blog.nielsen.com)

The survey also showed that a few years ago, the major reason for a cell phone was security. Today, 43% claim texting is their primary reason for getting a cellphone. For the young users, texting is a lot faster than voice calls. While voice interaction rises and peaks at age 24, only adults over 55 talk less than teens. Teen females, who are more social with their phones, average about 753 minutes per month, while males use around 525 minutes.

The volume of images, videos, audio, documents are at an ever increasing rate.

  • People are watching 2 billion videos a day on YouTube and uploading hundreds of thousands of videos daily. In fact, every minute, 24 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube.
  • Nielsen reports that YouTube is pushing out about 1.2 billion streams every day!
  • Family and business pictures are uploaded to web based albums for viewing and printing.
  • PDF files attached to emails are replacing fax transmissions.
  • On-line storage is used for sharing information from calendars to reports.
  • Cloud/web based applications support business applications.
  • E-commerce means that companies can display their inventory on-line and sell direct.
  • Maps and directions display roads and traffic up to the minute.
  • Music libraries have replaced turntables for vinyl records and CDs.
  • On October 6, 2010, Twitter announced processing of more than 86 million tweets each day.
  • over 1,000 TPS (Tweets per second)
  • 12,000 QPS (queries per second)
  • over 1 billion queries per day

(Source: engineering.twitter.com)

The volume of content is growing exponentially. According to UC, San Diego, every day, more than 34GB of information passes before our eyes that we consciously or unconsciously process. Whether it’s in the clouds, in your office, on your home server or in your portable whatever device, the sound of data traffic grows louder. The need for ever larger data file cabinets is obvious.

Data Storage Disk

The old file storage – letter, legal, albums, 3 ring binders, red ties, and file folders were okay for paper. The new digital data volumes need the new data storage. This table shows the terms for measuring data volume.

Currently, new computers have a minimum 160GB capacity for internal hard drives. External hard drives with a capacity of 1 terabyte are now under $100.

1 Bit=Binary Digit
8 Bits=1 Byte
1000 Bytes=1 Kilobyte
1000 Kilobytes=1 Megabyte
1000 Megabytes=1 Gigabyte
1000 Gigabytes=1 Terabyte
1000 Terabytes=1 Petabyte
1000 Petabytes=1 Exabyte
1000 Exabytes=1 Zettabyte
1000 Zettabytes=1 Yottabyte
1000 Yottabytes=1 Brontobyte
1000 Brontobytes=1 Geopbyte

Mobile as a Lifestyle

The integration of wireless capabilities with brick and mortar commercial locations took large leaps forward this year. In the beginning, Wi-Fi was only available with paid subscriptions or pay per hour fee. While there are exceptions, most commercial locations – hospitals, hotels, airports, etc – have free Wi-Fi. This year, Starbucks changed its policy and made Wi-Fi connections free and accessible. In October, the Starbucks Digital Network was added with exclusive content. This network is in partnership with Yahoo, which means more exclusive web services will be added.

According to a Pew Research survey, lots of mobile gadgets are being purchased. (Source: pewresearch.org)

  • 85% of all Americans own a cell phone.
  • 96% of 18-to-29 year olds own a cell phone.
  • 76% of Americans own either a desktop or a laptop computer.
  • 47% of American adults own an mp3 player such as an iPod.
  • 42% of Americans own a home gaming device.
  • 62% of online users watched video through a sharing site in April.
  • 19% of users also download podcasts.

With video becoming the major growth area of the web, devices and communication lines will have to be able to handle this increased traffic volume. With easy access to a network, Apps will drive the next set of computing use. New services that have in-app commerce transactions will become the driver for new Web sites.

While most folks (41%, according to Accenture) use their devices for phone calls, everyone loves the Apps on their handset. Total Apps continue to expand. As of this writing, Apple has 280k, Android 100k. This is a growth market, over $17.5 Billion has been spent in app downloads.

Smarter Smartphones

The major equipment announcements always are led by a single product that creates the demand for copycat development. This happened with microcomputers (Apple, IBM, Compaq, Osborne, Radio Shack, et al), cellular phones (Motorola, Nokia, Siemens, Ericsson, et al). The growing world of Smartphones is still led by Apple’s iPhone but there is a growing list of vendors.

Apple’s iPhone was available for sale on June 29, 2007 with long lines of people waiting to be among the first. Many camped out overnight. This year, on June 24, Apple delivered the next upgrade to this line, the iPhone 4. For the third quarter of 2010, AT&T reported activating 5.2 million iPhones, the largest number of iPhone activations in any quarter to date.

Google’s Android operating system and Microsoft’s Win 7 Mobile are chasing Apple’s iOS 4. The race is skewed to Apple, as they still hold the mindshare for innovative products. Blackberry and Palm, now owned by HP, are playing catch up. Motorola and Verizon released the Droid X in July of 2010. Verizon and Samsung have announced the release of the Samsung Fascinate for the fall of 2010.

The Tablet

The major consumer product announce in 2010 was Apple’s iPad. Other companies had developed touchscreen technology, such as Microsoft’s Surface technology. CNN, other news programs, and every forensic crime show have them. The iPad created a whole new consumer category and a lot of public interest. Currently, 25-30 other tablets are in the pipeline. Samsung and Blackberry have been announced. Others are on the way. iPad distribution will not only be at the Apple store and website this Christmas, as new outlets distributing it will include Wal-Mart, Target, AT&T, and Verizon.

Tablets are used for games, entertainment and, especially for the younger set, a laptop replacement. The growth of tablets with expanded wireless networks and digital content is having a huge impact. The iPad is the fastest-selling tech device in history. According to Bernstein Research, the iPad has sold an estimated 8.5 million units and having a measurable effect on PC sales. An October report by Gartner predicts that tablet devices used to access media will reach sales of 19.5 million units in 2010. Gartner also predicted that sales would reach a staggering 150 million units by 2013. (Source: gartner.com)

Eye Test

The range of screen sizes may require an eye test to determine which screen size is right for what we want to do. Smartphones typically have 3–3.5 inch screens, the iPad’s LED-backlit display is 9.7-inches. Research in Motion announced that its new Blackberry Playbook tablet screen will be only 7 inches. Samsung’s Galaxy tablet also touts a 7-inch screen. The HP Slate, which is geared towards business professionals, will have an 8.9-inch touchscreen.

Computer netbooks have a 7 inch screen, laptops range from 13 – 17 inches. External monitors are typically 20 – 27 inches. Attaching one extra monitor is standard today. Adding two monitors would provide 3 screens to display a lot of information from multiple applications.

For the home entertainment center, flat panel displays are getting better. 60 inch screens are in the $2,000 range. There are a few 100 inch screens – for $100,000. High definition and 3D will drive this market and prices will range from just under $1,000 to bundles in the $7-8,000 range. Several vendors, such as Sony, LG and Panasonic are delivering full systems complete with internet access to movie sites.

Computer vendors are delivering television enabled boxes as stand-alone (Apple, Logitech) or built into the television (Google, Netflix) that will provide internet and movie access.

PBS announced the beta launch of a new PBS.org, featuring local content from member stations. The launch includes the release of PBS for iPad and the PBS App for the iPhone and iPod Touch. PBS states that it wants to become a multi-platform media leader, delivering programs through television, mobile devices, the Web, and other platforms, such as classroom interactive whiteboards.

The Social World

Social media is not new this year. The growth of the big and little players needs to be recognized. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitters have millions of members with most consumers using all three sites. These sites are a growing resource for 1 to 1 and 1 to many communications. They are changing the way mailing lists and marketing messages are being used.

Other Items of Note

  • Microsoft: Windows 7 OS celebrated birthday #1 (10/22) with the announcement that it has sold over 240 million copies. Office 2010 full product was released, receiving lots of praise.
  • Cloud computing has everyone’s attention – IBM, HP, Google, Oracle, Amazon, Microsoft, AT&T, others.
  • Nanotechnology is a very hot area of science and engineering, for many applications, most notably medical. Learn about the tiny world of Microbots and Nanobots.
  • While electric cars are still a small percentage of car sales, they are on everyone’s radar. Tesla is delivering its sports car, Chevrolet Volt has been demonstrated, and Toyota Prius hybrids draw customer praise. Even the diminutive Smart Car has announced an electric model.
  • Alternative energy developers will get a boost from Google’s $5 Billion commitment to an offshore wind farm.

The flood of digital data will deliver more to watch, more to read, more to store and file. We have choices to make to avoid being strangled by data overload. We can all join hands, virtually, and seek wisdom as to what works best for us this month. There must be an App for that.

About the Author

Richard Oppenheim, CPA, blends business, technology and writing competence with a passion to help individuals and businesses get unstuck from the obstacles preventing their moving ahead. He is a member of the Unlimited Priorities team. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/richinsight.

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Dan Tonkery on the iPad and the Future of Technical Publications

Written for Unlimited Priorities and DCLnews Blog.

Dan Tonkery

Dan Tonkery

The much-anticipated iPad has arrived! Consumers, publishers, and video game developers are on cloud nine. What can the technical publications industry expect?

The iPad has finally arrived. This magical and revolutionary next-gen tablet computer with its online library of books and magazines, music store, and theater from Apple is now available. Industry pundits claim this device will change the future in publishing and may be the transformational product for our society, equivalent to the introduction of the television or print itself.

The iPad is a very hot looking product that can be used in multiple fields such as entertainment, business, and education. The device is a 9.7-inch touch-screen tablet computer that features a multimedia e-reader and mobile Web surfer. Since Apple’s release of the iPhone in 2007 they have become the leader in mobile devices and the release of the iPad will continue that leadership position.

Pre-orders for the iPad are over 200,000 units and sales for this first year are expected to be over 5 million for 2010. Apple insiders are projecting sales from eight to ten million. While the initial sales are in the United States, sales in the UK and Canada are projected to start by the end of April.

The iPhone app business created in 2007 is already a billion-dollar business as application developers have produced over 150,000 applications for the iPhone. The app business has created an entire industry. Apps have been downloaded some two million times, and most of those applications will work on the iPad. There is currently a gold rush by developers to create applications for this new platform. Apple has been secretive about the iPad and has been offering developers emulation software.

So who are the early adopters and developers of the iPad? A large group of publishers are working on new apps as they see a golden opportunity to reinvent the newspaper, magazine and e-book with a multimedia touch screen offering video mixed media, 360-degree product walk through and new products with embedded audio, video, and streaming. Now is the perfect time for publishers of books, magazines, and newspapers such as the New York Times, Macmillan, and Penguin to develop exciting new products that offer an opportunity to monetize their web applications and reverse the trend that everything on the web is free.

Publishers are not the only community excited about the new platform. Video game developers, retailers, and educators are building apps for this new platform. What is for sure is that the multimedia products will offer a combination of text, audio, still images, animation, video and interactivity content forms. The range of tools available now will give developers the most creative landscape ever and an opportunity to push the edge of technology forward.

The first version of the iPad will not be perfect as many users want features like a camera, multitasking, a GPS, and support for Adobe’s Flash software, but there are sufficient features to make consumers buy the iPad. The early adopters and market leaders have their orders placed. Many corporations that wanted to buy in bulk were turned away. Expect major corporations to spend millions on this new device as product catalogs, documentation, training and other enterprise-wide applications are developed.

Apple is a big winner with the iPad. The applications from publishers, video game developers, and major corporations marketing their favorite food, car, and beverage are going to provide users with sufficient content to justify buying an iPad. Already Seton Hill University has announced that they will supply all incoming freshman this fall with an iPad and other universities are considering similar action.

So what will the iPad add to the technical publishing and documentation industry? What will the introduction of the iPad have on the community that produces and develops the technical documentation for business and industry, including military applications? First and foremost, the introduction of the iPad will raise the bar on the look and feel of technical documentation. No longer are users going to accept the status quo. The tools that are now available to modernize, upgrade, and reinvent technical documentation are abundant, powerful, and ready to be implemented.

Most of the technical documentation applications build on some variation of XML, and most data conversion shops are experts in building applications and products working in the XML world. If your organization is working with DocBook, then the path to EPUB is straightforward. Hopefully your organization is working in a presentation-neutral form that contains the logical structure of the content, and then it is available to be published in a variety of formats.

What is clear for the technical documentation industry is that future applications are going to demand embedded audio, video, streaming and such features as 360-degree product walkthroughs with video-mixed media. Think for a moment about the documentation for a tank repair manual: how much more educational would it be to offer video and audio embedded in various pages? There is an exciting new world opening up and I think that many of the future technical documentation projects are going to utilize a range of the multi-media features.

The iPad and software tools provide an exciting opportunity to open up the power of art and creativity. The introduction of multimedia eBooks is an example where we have multiple formats, hardware, and software. Developers have many choices now to build exciting products.

Even Amazon with their best-selling Kindle is working on an iPad app. Kindle users will be able to read their eBooks on the iPad. Kindle is the best selling e-Book reader to date but the iPad may make the Kindle obsolete. It was a great tool in its day, but Apple may have leapfrogged it.

The benchmark for the look and feel of technical publications has been raised, and users will be looking and expecting to find image and sound support, interactivity, embedded annotation support and affordability of both the device and the product. Publishers are seeking a new platform that offers Digital Rights Management and an opportunity to shift the user from a free Internet mentality to a paid environment, and it is my belief that users will pay for bells and whistles.

The iPad is the first in a new field of tablet computers. The market is going to explode with new apps. Look for a flood of creativity. The convergence of technology that has brought us to this point has been a long time in coming. With the introduction of the iPad, we have crossed over to a new world that has great opportunity for users, developers, and corporations. The biggest impact on society is going to come from the millions of creative and artistic individuals that are going to build applications for all of these new tablet computers.

The new tablet computers will radically impact technical documentation and the data conversion industry. Since the community is already XML-savvy, working with the standards organizations like the International Digital Publishing Forum to build new expanded standards is a must. Whatever markup language you are using will be modified to include multimedia tools and features. Just think of all the potential upgrades to the various technical documentation projects that have already been completed. There should be work for many, many years. You have an opportunity to bring life into your works. Let the fun begin…


About the Author

Dan Tonkery is president of Content Strategies as well as a contributor to Unlimited Priorities. He has served as founder and president of a number of library services companies and has worked nearly forty years building information products.

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