Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Converged Communications - who, why, where, when.

As much as ten years ago the buzz word in the telephony industry was convergence - no one was really sure what it was and what to do with it, it was a mixture of telephony and Instant Messenger in those days.

Riding my bike into the office in the mornings gives me a great opportunity to reflect on things, plus the oddest ideas just seem to pop into my mind, it must be something to do with wearing ear plugs and petrol fumes...  This morning I was thinking about conversations we were having in the office last week with Marketing and Communications people.

On one side of the fence we have the Marketer's (I always get this impression of a French gascoin, with feathered hat, sword, shouting "one for all..."), who want to 'get out there' and interact with the customers, and on the other side the Communication people, who need 'a strategy' before they will commit to interactions.

They are both right.  Yes we do need to interact with our customers.  Yes we do need a strategy.
Who are our customers?
What medium do they prefer?
What content do they want?
Who is responsible for providing the content?
Who will do the 'interaction' thing?
Where does the return for the effort come from?
When is the best time to interact with the customers?
Who has the budget?

The biggest issue that an organisation faces, seems to be the possibilities for interacting with customers is expanding at a phenomenal rate, 10 years ago no one had heard of Facebook, it was Friends Re-united, 5 years ago no one had heard of Twitter, 2 months ago no one had heard of Google+ - so how can you come up with a reliable strategy when the playing field is changing on an almost daily basis?

The question I was pondering this morning is 'who will be doing the interactions'?  From the Marketer's perspective, they would need to interact with customers, should the Communications Department be the ones talking to customers?  In fact neither is the best option, most companies have already the perfect people for interacting with customers, those on the front line - Customer Services.  Our Customer Services Department already interact with our customers, by telephone and e-mail, all day every day - so they just need the tools to add the extra strings to their bow for Tweets, Video Calls, Hang Outs and whatever comes over the horizon tomorrow....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

EverNote v OneNote

At the moment, within my organisation, the EverNote application is blocked for users, and the reason that I can see why it is blocked is because it is seen as 'Personal Network Storage', which could be seen as a security threat to our business, yet Microsoft OneNote is not blocked and does a similar function.

I say OneNote does a similar function because to all intents and purposes it does organise notes, clip web pages etc. but what it fails to do, is be totally device independant, i.e. it doesn't work on the Blackberry devices, OneNote is also lacking in functionality compared to EverNote.

EverNote integrates with more Apps, Browsers etc. than OneNote, there are more developers out there working with EverNote, there is more EverNote funtionality. I do not want to plagerise other people's Blogs, so I will just point you to The iPad Fan Blog which gives a good idea of what partners are working with EverNote and how versaile Evernote can be.

You can also check out EverNote.com (that is if your organisation doesn't block it).

In my opinion EverNote compares to OneNote in the same way that iPod compares to Zune - Microsoft just doesn't make the grade...

Friday, August 12, 2011

iPad2 cover story

There is a myriad of cases, covers, folios and shells out there for the iPad2, the choice on covers alone on amazon.co.uk stretches to over a 1000 hits, so what to go for?

As a little experiment, I have purchased a few to see what they are like, the folio, the smart and the hard (with keyboard) - it all sounds like the Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but far from it.

The folio case was a top of the range leather number, that came in a well packaged box, and looks similar to a Filofax. The iPad snugly fits in and is protected both front and back, there are also pockets etc. for the American Express and Tesco's Club Card, the cover, can also be used to prop up the device for easy reading etc.  For the high flying executive in us, this was a very professional looking cover, but was also the most expensive.

The iPad2 Smart Cover is a completely different animal.  The Smart Cover clips onto the iPad via magnets, and like a roller blind, covers the screen of the iPad.  When you want to use your device, you just flip it over and it sticks to the back, alternatively the roller blind effect can be 'rolled' to form a stand for view the iPad upright.  There are a couple of downsides from my point of view: 1) it is only landscape, i.e. it swivels on the long edge, therefore you cannot 'prop' the iPad up on portrait mode, 2) it only protects the screen, not the back of your £400 investment, and 3) I think they are a bit on the pricey side for what the are, probably because they are endorsed by Apple.

The Aluminium Cover with Bluetooth keyboard is another option, personally my favorite at the moment.  Again this slips over the face of the iPad to protect the screen, but does nothing to protect the back of your toy - it is lgiht and reasonably tough.  I use a neoprene bag to slip the iPad into (my gimp bag I call it). 
I bought this item on ebay for about £30 and the quality probably represents that, the keyboard is adequate but not as nice as my Apple keyboard, the Bluetooth seems to be a tad hazy as well, once it has disconnected I find I am having to turn the keyboard power off and on to re-connect.  It comes with a rechargeable lithium battery and a USB charging cable.
You can see by the picture, that to all intents and puroses, the cover is in fact a 'tray' with a keyboard in it, I wonder how long it will take to fill up with crumbs from my toast in the mornings...

I may update this blog once I have played with this item a bit more, but at the moment, it makes writing e-mails, blogs, tweets etc. very easy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bluetooth Keyboard, Mouse and Jawbone Headset

Ok - I have finally managed to get the Bluetooth working properly on my laptop, it took a while but fiddling with the settings etc. I have finally managed to get the Apple Keyboard and Mouse connected plus my Jawbone Icon headset.  Microsoft have not made it easy for bluetooth devices, there are quite a few forum theads out there complaining about the bluetooth functionality within Windows7.

The main issue was around that the devices kept dropping off and not connecting again - I had to right click on the Bluetooth Icon and choose Open Settings, then ensure Allow Bluetooth devices to find this computer was checked, also within the Hardware tab, I clicked on the Properties button, which brings up the windows about the bluetooth module, there was a Change settings button there which allowed me to get to a Power Management tab, the Allow computer to turn off this device to save power was checked, so I unchecked that too.

So a bit about the devices...

Apple wireless keyboard
This is a lovely piece of kit, lightwieght, stylish, lovely design, and works straight off, there are only a couple of down points I have found..
  • There is no delete key, only a backspace key, therefore you still need a normal keyboard to log onto Windows with the Ctl Alt Del three finger salute.  There seems to be a lot of Forums etc. (when you search t'internet) that say you can use the fn + backspace keys, but they never worked for me.  I even downloaded the drivers for the keyboard from the Apple Boot Camp Project, and that did not work either.
  • The other main issue is the layout, I can only assume with Apple, one layout fits all, but it is an American layout -hey ho.  Agian the easy way is to either change the layout of your Windows7 keyboard to US or get a Sharpie pen and write over the keys.  Personally it is not a big deal for me as I tend to touch type and not look at the keys.
The up side to the keyboard and mouse, is the distance I can use them from the laptop is far greater than the normal wireless products, perfect for using on my meeting table as well as my desk.

Apple Magic Mouse
What can I say, it looks stylish, yep that's about it, it looks stylish...
Let's not beat about the bush here, the mouse is a beautiful piece of design, and it does sooo much when attached to a mac book - connect it to a Windows7 machine though and all you get is the possibility to move the cursor, left and right click and look at the design.  Apple have not released any Windows drivers for the mouse, so you just get the basic functions, I can live with that as the scroll option is far outweighed by the fact I can use it on my meeting desk.

Jawbone Icon Headset
This is my favorite gadget, a bluetooth headset that can pair to two phones at the same time, has noise assasin software built in, so I can even use it in my noisey comms room and it looks cool too.
You can just see the Jawbone underneath the big clumpy Plantronics headset.
I have set the Jawbone up on my Avaya One-X Communicator IP phone, and it seems to be working fine, although a bit quiet on the voice... it is certainly a lot more compfortable to have in your ear then the Plantronics.

So I will continue using the bluetooth kit for a while and see how I get on - watch this space...