I know quite a few developers looking at the issue of app security so when @DominicTravers tweeted me this excellent app security primer, I thought it was definitely worth a quick post.
Dominic highlighted the deck presented by Scott Alexander-Brown at RSA 2014 last week. It’s titled: Assume a hostile environment: securing mobile data in the app. Here’s the embed:
[ Insert moan here. ]
At the moment I’m buying tickets on a daily basis because of how and when I’m traveling into London, so my commute is exceptionally frustrating. It’s a first world problem, yes, but I remain continually pissed off that I have to keep on dicking about with its of paper to enable me to travel.
If I buy a weekly, monthly or annual ticket, I am obligated to mess about with a stupid photo card and paper ticket.
I had to check myself today as I fumbled for my ticket, checking to make sure it says “RTN” on it rather than “OUT”. Almost exactly the same pissing technology we’ve been using since someone thought of putting a steam engine on rails.
Don’t get me started on queuing for the fracking ticket vending machines. At peak times in Waterloo the queues are often 6 or 8 people deep. You regularly miss the train you could have caught because you didn’t have the right piece of paper at the right time. Or, more accurately, because the rail company couldn’t take the money off you fast enough. Here’s the photographic proof.
In case you live in Wales, or deepest darkest Sussex a la Rafe Blandford and don’t ever have to deal with queues of folk, here’s what the ticket machine mess looks like at rush hour:
Every single one of those people has a smartphone, a data plan, and probably either an iTunes account with a credit card, an Amazon account, a Tesco Online account, you know, everything that normobs (“normal mobile users”) tend to have nowadays.
Walking through Waterloo last week I was prompted to examine just how stupid things have got with South West Trains when I saw this gloriously horrific bunch of toss of an advert:
That’s right. They’re advertising the fact that you can buy your ticket online and… here’s the science bit… print it out at the station only TWO hours later. Amazing! Technology! Online! Internet things!
Who authorised that statement to be stuck into a promotional campaign, eh? I can only imagine the various committees and compliance folks involved in that decision. Clearly, nobody was embarrassed enough to recognise that this statement is the complete opposite of what we all expect. Indeed it shows just how rubbish the whole system must be if this is the best that can be done.
If you actually have to qualify that ‘online’ means ‘a minimum of two hours’ — and you have to do that in the flipping advertisement’s call to action, oh dear. Oh dear, dear me.
I am significantly disappointed that South West Trains are still obviously gazing starry-eyed at this new thing called ‘online’ when the rest of the planet has gone mobile.
Let’s get past the ‘two hour’ thing and get to the reality of mobile. I got on a plane last week to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress and didn’t use a piece of paper once. [Set aside the passport thing]. The legendary British Airways app did all the work for me. It was seamless and a pleasure to use.
Wouldn’t it be nice to do this with the morning and evening commute?
Probably by 2020.
No doubt there is a strategy paper somewhere at South West Trains entitled something like “Project New World” which includes a bullet point near the top of a list that reads, “mobile ticketing”.
It’s not as though this stuff is unproven. Or complicated.
Masabi, one of the leaders in the field of mobile ticketing, managed to deploy mobile ticketing for MTS in San Diego in two weeks. Two weeks, dear reader. From contract signing to live. TWO weeks. TWO FLIPPING WEEKS. That appears to be how long it takes for someone in South West Trains to finish decorating the bullet points on version 28 of their Project New World strategy paper.
As I write this post, a polite chap from South West Trains walked through the carriage and asked to see my … paper ticket.
I duly showed him.
Why am I even having to do this?
It does my brain in, it really does.
I could live with it years ago when Masabi were showing off this sort of thing on Nokia handsets that, for the period, were amongst the very best devices you could possibly buy. Back when even being able to install an application on to your Nokia phone was a significant, significant experience that only the serious geeks could achieve. Mobile train ticketing obviously wasn’t consumer-ready when the average person was fretting about the cost of sending hundreds of texts a month and when data plans were a glint in the milkman’s eye. But now? You only have to look at the legions of folk getting on any British Airways flight [other airlines are available]. On some flights I’ve been on, paper is in the absolute minority.
You know I’d settle for an Oyster-style service that enabled me to dispense with paper tickets.
I won’t hold my breath though.
Give it 6 years and, you know, by iPhone v12, maybe it’ll be a reality.
Just a quick reminder for the legions of readers who use 3. If you haven’t already noticed, you’re now using 4G. There are obviously a few caveats. To use 4G, you need to locate yourself within the 36 large towns and cities that have already been provisioned (e.g. London, Birmingham, Manchester, Reading, Liverpool). You also need a 4G-capable device.
A whopping 1.7 million 3 customers have got 4G devices now, though. And they’re all now able to use 4G where available. Some devices will need a software update for compatibility but in most cases it should be automatic. And of course you don’t need to bother getting a new more expensive price plan like you would need to do on the likes of Vodafone.
If you haven’t yet seen the wonderful little 4G icon pop-up on your phone, don’t worry. 3 will have their 4G service live in 50 cities and 200 towns by the end of the year and by 2015, 98% of the population will be covered.
At 10pm I had a call with San Francisco.
I write it like that, because it sounds cool.
In point of fact, the chap I was due to speak with is the height of cool. One of the Valley’s uber-connected dudes.
I phoned him at 10pm as I boarded the train and sat down. Firstly, he was quite surprised I opted for an actual old-skool telephone call. He was expecting some kind of Skype, FaceTime or VoIP thing. I had to quickly remind him that I live in the United Kingdom and that means nothing happens when the train moves.
I had to further explain that the best I could hope for was an audio call.
I could hear him wince.
I had to declare, before we began our chat, that I had about 14 minutes available before I would probably be cut off. I could feel him looking at me strangely from 6,000 miles away.
“I shit ye not,” I had to explain, “Seriously, the train departs at 1012pm. Two minutes into the journey, we’ll be travelling way too fast for anything to actually work properly.”
[Side note: 4G on EE is excellent — I can more or less watch Netflix from Waterloo until about Fleet — roughly 40-odd minutes. But that’s because there’s a degree of buffering going on. It’s sadly not a full connection, all of the time.]
So bad are my expectations for using voice on the train that I actually explained to the chap that when we got cut off, that was it. I said I wasn’t going to dick about phoning him, speaking for 20 seconds, getting cut off, phoning him back, getting cut off and so on.
“When I get cut off, we move to instant message, right?”
Lo and behold, dear reader. What happened 14 minutes into the call?
I felt like the proverbial mind reader. The call dropped.
Somebody please get me a satellite phone.
You know what, I’d love to get a sat phone and see if you can actually use these things properly. Could I sit on the train, by the window and maintain a phone call at, say, 40 miles per hour? I don’t know because I’ve only used a sat phone on a desert island.
[I took an Iridium sat phone to an island in the Maldives for a Mobile Industry Review Desert Island Special a good few years ago. See the posts and the pictures here.]
Yes it would be a pound-per-minute to use the sat phone, but guess what, that’s roughly what I was paying to call California from my Vodafone connection that doesn’t really work.
So there you go. If you’re reading, Iridium, can I borrow a sat phone for a day? Would that fix things? Would I actually be able to do a phone call on a moving train with an Iridium device? Is that what it takes nowadays for these basic things to work?
I do wonder.
And for good measure, here’s the satphone photo I took whilst in the Maldives. (The device and the service worked perfectly.)
I am hoping to crowdsource a list of mobile industry headhunters. Can you help?
Now and again I’ve had emails from senior executives in and around the mobile industry contact me asking if I can recommend any headhunters. Sometimes it’s because the executive in question is keen to exit. Other times — and more often than not — it’s because they’re looking to retain an agency to help them find a particular individual. And although most big companies tend to have a few go-to agencies they use, there’s always room for more, especiallßy if it’s a key hire.
If you’re looking for work, or if you’re looking to hire, a list would be useful.
I’m thinking I should list out the individuals I know or have come across, linking to both their LinkedIn profiles and their company websites. I’m aiming for a good list of those who work in the mobile world but I don’t think they need to be limited only to that industry, given the mobile now underpins or penetrates almost every basic industry.
I won’t bother listing email addresses to save the individuals from the perennial nightmare of spam — but LinkedIn is a perfectly good way of connecting with them.
Let me start it off with this one:
- – -
I’ve met Charles for coffee and found him a pleasant, informed, focused individual. Although I’ve no direct experience working with him, a few people in my network have nodded sagely when I’ve mentioned his name, so that can only be good news.
Updated — I’ve got the first recommendation already:
I’ve not met Thayer yet — I’ll try and right that shortly — however the recommendation comes from one of the UK’s brightest and most influential mobile experts.
- – -
There we go. I’ll add a few more shortly.
Now, over to you. Who do you rate and recommend? Bonus points if you’ve actually been placed by them or if you’ve hired a good colleague via them. Please do email me with your recommendations (email@example.com) or comment with a name/company below and I’ll get them added above.
I am accustomed to spending thousands going to Mobile World Congress. Typically, this is a straight business expense for me. I have to be there. It’s a great opportunity to discover new technologies, services, companies and individuals. Perhaps the biggest reason for going to MWC is the networking — and this shouldn’t be under valued. Yes, it’s possible to meet many people at other points throughout the year, the magic with MWC is that everyone is ready to meet, to explore, to ponder new ideas during this particular week.
This year, I had some significant work commitments. Normally I fly out on the Saturday or Sunday beforehand and I routinely stay through until the following Friday to make sure I can get round all the meetings and stands I need to. This year, I could only go for one day. It could be any day.
I picked Tuesday.
I reasoned that although it’s traditionally one of the busiest days at the show, the supporting infrastructure around the city is usually pretty quiet.
I wasn’t wrong! Here’s how I did it:
- I booked a British Airways flight about 30 days prior. London Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5 is most convenient for me and I managed to get a return economy flight for £133. I selected a 730am departure. This put me on the ground at Fira Gran Via about 1030am. I then booked the last (if memory serves) flight out of Barcelona at 825pm, returning me to London at 940pm.
- Consider the virtues of BA versus anyone else. Efficient service, you can use their mobile app and you get a sandwich and a drink. And Terminal 5 is brilliant.
- Getting from the Airport to downtown Barcelona or to the Fira is usually an absolute arse when I arrive on the Saturday (and particularly the Sunday) because there are so many other people trying to do the same thing. Monday, I understand, is even worse. Whether it’s a taxi, train, bus, whatever, the delays mount up pretty quickly. I used the free-of-charge shuttle bus that whisked me from the Airport door to the Fira in about 15 minutes. Excellent.
- I had to pick up my badge. That was highly simple. I didn’t bother with paper. I just presented my NFC-enabled phone with my pre-reg details loaded and my passport. I got my badge a moment later. Boom. I think I was ready to rock in Hall 1 by about 1107am. I know this because I did an Instagram tweet about this point.
- I spent about 6 hours in the halls meeting people. This is absolutely not ideal — I’m used to spending days wandering around — so I had to keep on target continually, especially as I’d arranged a few interviews.
- By about 5pm I began to think about exiting. By 530pm I had made a serious commitment to exit. I used the GSMA’s MWC app to confirm that the taxi queues outside the Fira Gran Via were already at the 20-minute mark. It’s important to give due consideration to the logistics required to move tens of thousands of MWC people around Barcelona. There are delays. I didn’t want to get stuck in a ’20 minute’ queue that took 80 minutes. I have heard (and experienced) similar.
- Which brings me to the hack suggested by seasoned MWC visitor, Rafe Blandford. He recommended I get the bus or the tube to ‘somewhere else’ (e.g. Placa Catalunya or Placa Espanya) and pick up a cab from there. I hesitated for a few minutes watching the taxi queue grow and resolved to give this a go.
- The tube/train stop is just across the road from the Fira. I popped across and found very helpful transport staff on hand to help with the ticket machine. I purchased a 2.85 Euro one-way ticket and hopped on the next train to Placa Espanya (where the old MWC events used to take place at Fira Montjuic).
- Boom! I hopped off the escalator and immediately spied three empty cabs (with their green lights on) waiting for business. I strolled across and jumped in. I was at the Airport 20 minutes later.
Now, I actually could probably have stayed on location for another hour or so — but I wanted to leave enough room to avoid missing my flight. I was playing it very, very safe. (I should also have tried out Hailo which is available in Barcelona.)
Leaving at 530pm allowed me to avoid the crazy queues. Indeed things were beginning to get rather busy by the time I got on the train, with queues for the tube backing out quite far. It’s rather amazing how quickly things get clogged up when thousands of people have the same idea.
So if I’d left it any later, I worry that I could have arrived at Placa Espanya and found zero cabs. And then not have been able to find a Hailo.
I’m pleased to report that this methodology worked nicely. I got to take in *some* of the show. However I have also been able to balance this with my work commitments — and I’ll even be able to go along to the NotAtMWC event taking place in London on Thursday!
My total expenditure was thus:
- BA flight: £133
- Barcelona tube ticket: £2.50 (roughly)
- Taxi from Placa Espanya to Barcelona Airport: £20 (roughly)
- So rough total: £156.
There’s one other key consideration point with Mobile World Congress: Getting in the door costs money. At least £600 for standard entry to the exhibition. There are ways of avoiding this. If you’re particularly keen to avoid having to buy a pass (who wouldn’t be?), I strongly recommend developing a relationship with one of the bigger industry players. They receive an allocation of tickets that they routinely give away to anyone they deem deserving. Some of the niche players with stands also get a bundle of tickets that they often don’t bother using. Again, strike up a relationship — talk to them and see if they can help. They often go to waste.
Don’t forget that if, for example, you buy thousands of pounds of text messaging credits every month from a supplier, the chances are they probably have a stand or a presence at the show and could probably be pressed into giving you one of their spare tickets for next year.
Press passes aren’t an option for most — they’re incredibly difficult to come by. The GSMA rigorously filter out anyone who’s clearly just knocked up a blog the week before in the hope of getting free entry. If you genuinely start an online mobile publication and prove yourself across the year, you should be able to get a press pass. The GSMA are really clear here, though — there’s no automatic guarantee that you qualify — and even past approval doesn’t mean you get in the door automatically the next year.
Finally, if you’re a speaker, you obviously get a free badge — a very funky gold one. It’s definitely worth ‘submitting papers’ to the MWC conference team for 2015 soon if you’d like to participate. This is also quite a stretch simply because there just isn’t a lot of space available so you’ll need some stimulating ideas and a bit of credibility for the GSMA to consider including you.
Right then. MWC in a day. Done!
I’d very much welcome your suggestions and hacks in the comments.
Bring it on. I can’t wait. I’m getting on the plane in 8 hours.
I am not going to print my badge. Instead I’m going to use the Mobile World Congress app along with my Photo ID to get my badge. Paperless entry, finally!
And, in an MWC first for me, I’m going to actually try and use the PayPal buy-food service and see how that works. I’ve always been way too crazy busy at past events.
I’ll let you know how I get on.
See you there!
It’s Day One of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and I’m in the UK, getting organised for my flying visit to the exhibition tomorrow. I’ve spent the evening reading the various different press releases from Samsung and wondered just how they were managing the Unpacked Galaxy S5 announcements on YouTube.
I searched “Samsung Galaxy S5” on YouTube. Well, actually, I got so far as typing, “Samsung ..” and YouTube autocompleted the rest. Rather useful.
The first result?
I hit the down arrow and then Enter.
I spotted this Samsung Mobile Galaxy S5 introduction video and noted it was just 3 minutes long. Short and sweet.
I clicked and had a look at the description text:
Live from #UNPACKED in Barcelona, we go hands-on with the latest addition to the GALAXY series and the new wearables.
Join us behind the scenes with host Frankie Vu as we get up close and personal with the Samsung GALAXY S5 and Gear Fit. The new S5 is equipped with a faster, more robust camera, improved durability, a 5.1-inch Full HD Super AMOLED screen, finger scanner, and heart rate monitor, to allow greater integration with your day-to-day life.
“Just 3 minutes? Excellent,” I thought to myself and clicked. Note the key feature highlights are already there for me to read.
It’s excellent. You see the very personable Frankie Vu welcome you — but without the usual third party publication gubbins. Frankie dives straight in, taking us through the features of the S5 and also giving us a bit of background on the new Galaxy Gear watch devices too.
Here’s the video itself — 3 minutes tells you, more or less, everything you need to know about the Galaxy S5.
Time was you used to have to wait for the bloggers to get their videos edited and live. But why wait? And why risk the lack of control? Just go to the public directly with your own bloggers. Yes the video is produced by Samsung and will obviously be positive, but if you’re after information, if you’re a consumer (or a big Galaxy fan) keen to find out what’s coming, this video does a phenomenal job. There’s no messy sound. No shaking cameras filming in shitty light conditions and no, ‘errs’ and ‘emmmms’ from pressured video bloggers trying to read off a spec sheet.
Most public relations and marketing folk know this is the way ahead. The trouble is, it’s quite a bit of commitment to go this far — you need a proper video production outfit and you need dedicated resource with the balls to get the data out there on-time without having to seek multiple approvals. If you think about the organisational logistics needed to get this video out to market, that’s a big ask for a lot of slow moving corporations.
Still, stunning work Samsung.
This is a problem for a lot of publications. I’ve sat through about 5 other videos from leading mobile and technology publications each doing their best to introduce the new S5. All of them are poor knock offs.
Oh, they’re fine. They do a lovely job.
But not a patch on the Samsung video. I think it’s the fact Samsung’s Frankie clearly knows his stuff. He’s rehearsed. He’s had the opportunity to perfect the delivery and get to know the specifications back-to-front. The lighting is excellent. He doesn’t look forced or sound stressed. And he’s clearly got a world class video production team sitting behind him making the output look simply effortless.
Back in the day, when companies used to try and do this, they’d stick a slightly sweaty PR dude in front of a wobbly handycam and spend most of the video trying to be as non-corporate as possible but failing miserably. The bloggers back then did a phenomenal job of giving you access to the tech ‘there-and-then’ from the show floor, complete with the noisy high-energy atmosphere.
Today is the first time I’ve seen a video that made me not want to bother wondering what the ‘geeks’ think. Indeed, watching the competing videos from other publications from the point of video of a semi interested consumer, I recognised that time is up for the tech geek bloggers.
I write this as being one of the chaps who, with some good eloquent colleagues, did a lot of this sort of thing years ago. It actually got so annoying trying to pitch these things on camera that we ended up just getting the PR reps to do their standard introduction on video.
There is a time for critique and opinion, yes — but not delivered more or less real-time as the chap on screen spends 9 minutes twirling the phone at you whilst he tries to think of smart things to say. Give me the basic facts now and then I’ll read-up on it later on.
Or… if I’m anything like many of Samsung’s legions of Galaxy fans, I’ve already bought it. I just wanted to know more about what I’m going to be buying.
Nice work Samsung. And to the other hardware manufacturers out there, take note — this is how you do it. By all means let the media do their own shakey-cam videos, but make sure your own friendly product pitch is front and centre, first.
Update: Ben in the comments below reckons Samsung should have been way more blatant with the video, explaining that Frankie is giving the Samsung view as opposed to his own independent perspective. I think that’s a fair point.
It is Mobile World Congress time next week so therefore I present the following tips that should be rather useful for newbies — although I hope some regular attendees might find some use from them.
Right. Here we go…
- Passport: Do not lose your flipping passport. I always keep mine *on* me. Make sure you’ve got a photocopy in Evernote or Dropbox.
- Your MWC badge: Take it off when you exit the venue. I know this is a simple dullard tip but I’m always amazed when people forget — or when they deliberately keep it on because they like the look of it. It is a walking advertisement to the hordes (and I do mean, HORDES) of Barcelona thieves and vagabonds.
- Your valuables: Think carefully about whether you need to bring your £2,500 camera. Don’t be surprised to return to your hotel room and find it missing from your rucksack as one blogger colleague experienced a few years ago. Not good.
- Plan your time properly: It’s all too easy to decide that since everyone who is anyone is there, you should meet them. Don’t over stretch. A few years ago I thought I could easily do one 20-minute meeting every hour. No. It’s nigh-on-impossible because everyone else is late… because you just don’t realise how flipping big the place is. Don’t forget to allow for the random ‘fancy meeting you here’ connections.
- Battery. You will look stupid — seriously stupid — when your top of the range smartphone is out of battery by 11am. It will be, especially if you’re trying to connect with people and, even worse, if you’re trying to do demonstrations to people. Your phone will have to work triple time just to try and squeeze it’s signal through to the many transmitters around the venue. With tens and tens of thousands of people all trying to do the same thing, your battery won’t be able to hack it. So, take multiple phones. Sim swap if necessary. If connectivity is important to you, definitely think about getting a Mophie battery pack so you can charge your devices. And remember, MWC is when even the best mobile phones look really stupid — when you remember that, yes, Nokia did have it right years ago with their approach to managing battery life. Your 3310 will last the whole of MWC. Your S4 or 5S won’t even see midday — so allow for needing to demonstrate your app or service at 1am in the morning to someone very important.
- Team Whatsapp: Other messaging apps are available of course. But get your whole team on Whatsapp or something like that with a live connected chatroom. That’s one of the most effective methods of staying in touch with a disparate set of people at such a venue. And let’s face it, a lot of the communication is mission critical, particularly when the CEO of Vodafone has just arrived on your stand and your boss has decided to go and get a ham sandwich somewhere.
- Remember to eat: Have a huge breakfast if you can. But, there’s a better way ahead and this one comes from Rafe Blandford — the man who writes the infamous All About Symbian and All About Windows Phone sites. Blandford fills his suitcase with Mars Bars whilst in the UK and then takes at least 4 of them out each day in his ruck sack. It’s a very, very smart move and one that I’ve started doing regularly too. If you’re being serious with your meetings, food will be your lowest priority. And standing in large queues will not appeal. By 11am on the Tuesday you’ll be screwed, especially if you missed breakfast and managed to eat 5 tiny canapés the night before. Mars Bars. Seriously. You can wolf them down whilst you’re walking to the next hall.
- Parties. Don’t forget that a lot of the networking is done after hours at the hundreds of parties and events that happen throughout Barcelona. There are a series of excellent party lists — I’ll try and tweet some as I discover them.
- Get some sleep. Although it’s tempting to stay up late and do the party thing, if you’ve actually got to deliver a service level (i.e. be able to speak competently to customers on your stand), I strongly recommend getting to bed as soon as you can. Most of the MWC attendees do zero exercise for the whole year, spending all day at the office sitting on chairs. Imagine the shock to the system when you have no choice but to walk 10 miles a day for almost a week. Don’t underestimate the shock to the system.
Now, here’s a selection of tips from the wider MIR Twittersphere:
@Ew4n Never rely on public wifi spots.
— Aleksi Moisio (@funktio) February 18, 2014
That’s a good one Aleksi.
@Ew4n pretty obvious, but as tempting as it is, don't get really drunk as you won't be on top form
— Joe Neale (@Joe) February 18, 2014
Very sensible advice from Joe.
@Ew4n comfortable shoes
— Patrick Smith (@patrickjpr) February 18, 2014
Short and sweet Patrick … but a seriously important point, especially for women. Think twice about the funky shoes. Choose the ones that you can actually walk in.
@Ew4n take time to plan who you need to see rather than just wandering. Hugely trying and leaves too much to chance otherwise.
— Ben Fletcher (@BenFletch) February 18, 2014
Ah yes this sensible advice Ben. It’s way too easy to just think, ‘right,… I’ll just see what’s going on in Hall 8,’ and then wasting 2 hours of prime networking time. Get searching and connecting with people right now, ahead of time.
@Ew4n if you’re on a stand, leave it and see other people/stands. Not everyone will come to you.
— Patrick Smith (@patrickjpr) February 18, 2014
Another sage piece of advice Patrick — very important for those who are attending along with their company and expecting to be camped out on the stand. Book some time in your diary to get out to see other people.
@Ew4n buy Berocca, Lemsip and ibuprofen from Gatwick on your way.
— ilicco (@ilicco) February 18, 2014
Ilicco speaks from experience, I think. He’s been to tons of MWCs. Very good idea this. And also, travel via LHR if you can. Terminal 5 is my favourite. Although I have to say Gatwick is doing well at competing. Berocca is required, definitely.
— Lauren McGregor (@laurenmcgregor) February 18, 2014
Ah you’re absolutely right Lauren! If you expect to be disappointed with huge queues and plan accordingly then you’ll be fine.
@Ew4n 1 Be ready to get robbed in Barca 2 Don’t come for one day, you need three to get around 3 Want cool stuff, look for small companies
— Geert Audenaert (@FastGeert) February 18, 2014
Very good. Geert’s right about the ‘cool stuff’ — I highly recommend seeking out the smaller stands at the back of the halls as that’s where you’ll often see some amazingly smart innovations.
@Ew4n pre-paid SIM (roaming Data is expensive & local WiFi unreliable), biz cards (lots), alcohol less, spare phone batteries, plug adaptors
— Liron Segev (@Liron_Segev) February 18, 2014
How could I forget business cards, Liron??? Goodness me. Very good point. Oh… and plug adapters… arrrrgh! Yes don’t forget those. Or chargers.
— Patrick Smith (@patrickjpr) February 18, 2014
And this is reader Patrick showing precisely the sort of attitude you need at MWC. Don’t be afraid to promote yourself. I might even wear my rather bold MOBILE INDUSTRY REVIEW jacket again.
— Jolene Pierangeli (@JPierangeli) February 18, 2014
Can’t forget TripAdvisor Jolene, very good idea, especially when you’re hunting for a good Tapas restaurant!
Well then, if you’ve got any more suggestions please put them in the comments. Thank you for everyone who response to my request for tips on Twitter. I recommend clicking through and following each of the individuals above!
Have a wonderful MWC — and I might see you there. I’m there on the Tuesday.
I’d like to propose a new rule for hotspots. The rule is simple: If my phone identifies The Cloud or BT Openzone, I want it to check that I’m staying in that location for more than 30 seconds before attempting to login, fail to validate automatically and then leave me ‘connected’ without an internet connection.
All too often now I’m getting routinely frustrated wondering why my phone’s internet connection has stopped working. When you’re obsessively using Whatsapp or similar, you notice an interruption immediately. Clicking into the WiFi settings, I then discover that as I’m walking past the local pub in Hook, my phone has decided to join “The Cloud”.
Great. But not really. Because in the time it’s taken for me to walk by the pub, the signal has become strong, middling then weak. And now I need to wait another 45-60 seconds — and walk faster — for the phone to correct itself, drop that WiFi signal and revert back to cellular.
When you’re in the middle of trying to get-shit-done, this is perhaps one of the most annoying experiences. It’s not just iPhone; I suffer routinely on Android too.
The fundamental problem is that these hotspots want you to login. Or at least visit a webpage and click. They don’t force a pop-up though. Or perhaps, more accurately, they’re generally incapable of doing so until you visit a web browser.
Surely it’s time we had a bit of logic added into the phone that will prevent this mind-numbing occurrence?
Years ago, it was simply amazing when it automatically found my home WiFi signal… when I got home. In those days you actually had to manually instruct your Nokia to change the data bearer. Oh, those were the days.
Now, though, I am routinely getting right browned off*. Perhaps the worst is when I’m on the train and traveling slowly. All of a sudden my Whatsapp disconnects or my email starts generating errors when my phone latches on to “The Cloud” care of some passing pub in the distance.
I have arsed about installing certificates and whatnot so that it can get a connection right-away without me having to do anything. I think BTWifi works seamlessly. But inevitably if there’s a BTWifi around, there’s usually a BTWifi-by-Fon (or whatever it’s called). Which my phone seems to want to prefer, all the flipping time. That needs the user to do something to activate it.
Isn’t it possible to construct some logic, dear Mobile Industry, that says if my phone is moving a lot or if I’m clearly walking past the hotspot then joining it would be unhelpful?
The next problem with these hotspots is that I am actually finding them far, far slower than 4G. So actually I’d much prefer to prioritise 4G on my device ahead of WiFi. This can’t be that difficult to actually fix. I’m sure those network wizards at Amdocs have probably already got a solution.
You can obviously just switch WiFi off. That fixes everything.
I’m annoyed that this seems to be the only universal fix. Indeed I am often now finding that in London (where there is more or less ubiquitous 4G) I just keep my WiFi off.
Am I missing something? And are you having the same annoyances? Or is it just me?
* Edmund Blackadder, points if you can remember the name of the episode without Googling.
I’ve been a long time user of Koding — way back when it was called Kodingen. It’s been an absolute life saver for me. I’ve been coding for at least 15 years (mostly PHP) and now and again I’ve found myself out and about, but with the need to actually change something on one of our servers.
Telnet is an option — but if you want to properly sit down at a computer in the middle of nowhere and properly update a few lines of code, Koding has been invaluable. (I actually used it to edit a lot of my services ‘live’ — not recommended, but, sometimes when needs must..!)
The multiple iterations of Koding have now made it into a seriously ideal online development environment. Here’s their overview:
Koding is an online development environment with the goal of simplifying worldwide development and providing free computation and development to everyone. It does this by offering Free VMs for development to anyone. The Koding VMs provide you with a real Ubuntu OS, with a real Terminal, and allow you to work on real code. Python, PHP, C++, C, it doesn’t matter. Even better, they are online. Accessible from anywhere in the world. Even sharable with teams.
The sharing and collaboration looks utterly brilliant.
Right now they’re giving away an extra 1GB of storage (5GB free, in total) to every user. So if you’re a curious developer (I know there’s a lot reading), I strongly recommend having a look.
If you use my link, instead of a 4GB free account, you’ll get that 5GB one.
Here’s the link: https://koding.com/R/ewanmacleod
Today’s FT is reporting that…
Samsung is opening 60 stores across Europe to sell its mobile phones, tablets, laptops and wearable technology in partnership with Carphone Warehouse, the UK retailer. By working with Carphone Warehouse to create a store concept, the South Korean technology group will compete directly with Apple, whose flagship high-street shops have boosted sales for the US group – and strengthened its brand among less technology-focused customers.
This is either a car crash waiting to happen. Or it’s a brilliantly inspired move that’s been long, long overdue.
My first instinct was to consider a true Samsung store to be rather exciting. Only last weekend I was admiring a rather stunning Samsung refrigerator belonging to some friends we were visiting. It was seriously smart — not only was it plumbed into the water supply (with a filter!), it also had a little mini door within a door to enable quick access to milk or similar items.
I’m all over Samsung’s mobile offering, but I’m less aware of their wider product range. So a Samsung dedicated store is something that makes a lot of sense to me. The cross fertilisation opportunities of such a store could be rather profound.
But this deal above is just ‘mobileish’ — so phones, tablets, laptops and wearable jazz. I can see why — because Carphone is the partner.
If I am looking at a new Galaxy — and if I’m one of the many millions of happy Galaxy users, I’ll probably be keen to pop in at least once a year to have a look. And whilst I’m there you could be wowing me with your TVs, Fridges and baby monitors.
The FT article reckons Samsung is planning 60 new stores for Europe, a quarter (i.e. 15) of which will be UK based. The fundamental challenge for both Samsung and Carphone will be to do a decent job of these dedicated stores: If you’ve been into one of the tired Carphone stores, you’ll know what I mean. Some stores are perfectly fine, but others are filled with worn out shelves showing off rubbish plastic phones hanging by twisted security wires. I hope that’s not what they’re planning, or what the stores will become.
I happened upon this post by Naoki Hiroshima over at The Next Web today and it did hit home, especially because I am a Google Apps user, just like Naoki.
The quick summary is this: A rather smart individual wanted his @n Twitter account. Rather unique I’m sure you’ll agree. In order to get it, the hacker made a serious of smaller social engineering hacks at Naoki’s domain registrar and payments provider. Shocking. But incredibly, incredibly effective.
Here’s the first para:
I had a rare Twitter username, @N. Yep, just one letter. I’ve been offered as much as $50,000 for it. People have tried to steal it. Password reset instructions are a regular sight in my email inbox.
As of today, I no longer control @N. I was extorted into giving it up.
It’s prompted me to address how I’m handling a lot of my activities online. Not that anyone will be after my @ew4n Twitter account. I had to stick in the ‘4’ because that lucky chap Ewan Spence got there before me!
Does anyone have any advice on the best domain name registrar to use?
And is it worthwhile getting a registrar with two factor authentication?
I’ve decided to do Mobile World Congress differently this year. I am flying into wonderful Barcelona for just one day. In and out on the same day. I booked a flight a few days ago — £133 in total. I kid ye not. I’m flying in and out of Heathrow Terminal 5 on the Tuesday.
I can’t justify the full four days this year, unfortunately. Or, let me put it another way, no one is paying me. And I have to answer to my wife.
But I really do want to be there and poke my nose about. I will, alas, miss all the brilliant opportunities for connecting and the media hotspots such as MobileFocus and PepCom. Alas.
I am looking forward to seeing the action, though. My plan is to do a whirlwind tour of the stands and then find Rafe Blandford from All About Windows Phone, do some recording for the 361 Podcast and see what he makes of the event. Blandford will (I gather) be there for the whole week. Lucky chap.
I think I might have some giveaways if anyone’s thinking about going to MWC but doesn’t have a ticket. I just have to confirm a few things and then I’ll get a post up.
Are you heading to MWC?
With MWC just around the corner I thought I’d do a quick note about VisuallySocial. If you’re in PR/Marketing, you’ll probably be in the advanced stages of planning how you’re going to manage your senior stakeholders and their “dominate MWC” target. It’s a big ask when dozens of giant companies are planning on spunking millions on the event to boost their profile.
One possible solution for you might be to have a chat with Patrick and his team at VisuallySocial. You might not have come across them but if you create social media content for your business, they’re definitely worth a look.
What do is immediately add branding to social content for you — it could be a watermark logo to a photo, or pre-roll and post-roll to a video. And then, the branded content is immediately posted on your social channels.
They did a project for me at Bizcrowd at the end of last year and it was great – check out the videos here: http://www.youtube.com/user/bizcrowd/videos
Now I know there are other tools that can do some elements of this, but these guys do it all so smoothly. Not only that, but they can provide a team to create all the content for you too if you need (if you’ve got a stand at MWC for example). That’s what we did for Bizcrowd and they were super efficient.
Check them out — insist on speaking to Patrick Smith and tell them I sent you and they’ll look after you.
I’ve been meaning to get this one blogged for a little while. I was giving some thought over the Christmas period to my best device of 2013. (And I should point out: Although I’ve used the word ‘device’, I also mean the accompanying service.)
EE’s 4G service has been nothing short of phenomenal. I’ve been testing out their service courtesy of the Huawei E589 MiFi unit they sent me back in late 2012.
I was momentarily concerned by the size of the E589. It’s huge — for a MiFi — and there’s no replaceable battery. A problem, you might think, if like me, you’re accustomed to your MiFi units working for 60 minutes before running out of battery. I used to keep multiple batteries for my old MiFI units to help keep me connected when I really needed it.
The E589 feels like at least double, if not 2.5 times the size of the old MiFi devices I used to have. For good reason, though. I’ve routinely been able to get almost a full day of use out of the E589. It’s the first MiFi I’ve ever used that I’ve used as set out in the press releases — i.e. a ‘personal hotspot’.
For quite a while — at least half a year — I used the E589 together with EE’s service (more on that in a moment) to connect two iPhones, a Sony Xperia Z and an iPad (and sometimes a MacBook).
So fast and so reliable was the 4G service from EE in the areas that I worked, it was ridiculous for me to bother with the Vodafone connectivity from the iPhones. Even my 3 connection — usually the fastest — was left in the dust.
Of course things have changed in the market now that the other operators have launched their 4G offerings. Still, EE is way ahead. They’ve activated more areas than anyone else so far and I do feel that their experience knocking out the kinks back in late 2012 has meant I’ve been able to depend on their super-fast connectivity without any exceptions at all. I can’t think of a time when I’ve been failed by their connectivity or speed.
So good is the connectivity that I’ve been able to watch Netflix for the first 20 minutes of my train journey out of Waterloo. That was amazing back in 2012 when everyone else was lucky enough to get a pointless ‘E’ signal from their operator. It’s still hugely impressive.
Many developers I know operate at peak efficiency throughout London thanks to their trusty E589s on EE giving them a desktop-class internet service wherever they are. (The only problem is if your client’s office is in a bit of a rubbish area for connectivity!)
And the fact that I am still regularly using my E589 when I’m staying in hotels in London really illustrates that the long running saga of decent hotel WiFi is still a total arse.
Which is why I do take a lot of confidence from the fact I’ve got EE’s E589 in my bag. You never know when you actually need decent, super-fast connectivity — or, more often than not, when someone you’re working with needs to get their own machine connected.
If you’re a true road warrior and you’re regularly frequenting the (growing) areas already activated by for EE 4G (see: EE coverage checker) then I strongly, strongly recommend both the E589 and EE.
Everything in green is activated for EE 4G already:
It’s about time I stopped using the noddy BT wireless phone when I’m working at home. I often have to participate in lots of conference calls so I really need a headset. Not only is it useful to be able to bash away on the keyboard during a call to make notes, it’s also a lot more comfortable.
I could, of course, make use of all sorts of mobile gadgetry but I value the standard landline telephone connection much more when I’m doing conference calls. I don’t want to be the arse that regularly cuts out thanks to the occasionally patchy mobile signal. It’s not ideal when you’re participating in board meetings and dropping out. So my mobile phones are out.
I’d like to use a decent, comfortable headset. But the first problem I have is that the noddy BT landline DECT devices don’t support headsets.
The actual phone line is at the other side of the house so I need to be able to wirelessly transmit from there. And still use a headset.
The next question is what kind of headset to get. Probably a Plantronics one, yes?
Any suggestions for decent DECT phones that support headsets? And any suggestions for headsets?
I was quite drawn to this Plantronics one on Amazon:
Update: Here’s the noddy one I’m using at the moment (“BT Graphite 2100″):
Update 2: I think Amazon knew I was coming after this recommendation from gcatteral in the comments:
Thank you for all the emails and comments I’ve had from readers berating me for being so stupid. It’s in reaction to this post: I’ve got 200gb of photos on Picturelife and they’re not backed up: Am I nuts?.
The overwhelming view is yes. Yes I am nuts, especially when we’re talking about irreplaceable photo (and video) memories.
I engaged the Picturelife customer support team about the possibility of them offering a dual backup option where my data is stored in their huge Amazon bucket and also ‘backed up’ or duplicated via another bucket or service.
It’s something they’ve said they’re going to look into. This is good news. I don’t want to have to manage my own 300gb photo data store myself, but I do want to ensure I’ve taken the right approach for protection. I really don’t subscribe to the view that I need to have the data physically located in my house, on my own computer. Absolutely not. I want it managed by someone who knows what they’re doing.
But yes, dear reader, I recognise I have been flying by the seat of my pants depending on Picturelife alone. I don’t even think the team at Picturelife would like to be responsible — exclusively — for my data.
So I’ve moved everything to my own Amazon S3 bucket that Picturelife is still interfacing with. Here’s the status:
I’m not sure what happened to those 2 outstanding files. I’ll sort them out shortly.
So I now have direct control of the data. And I can get it downloaded and backed up.
I still remain a Picturelife user and I’m hopeful they’ll implement an addition to the service shortly to guarantee backup.
I’ve a question for you about the importance of connectivity in the retail environment. I’d like to determine if I’m an absolutely ridiculous edge case, or whether you’re feeling it too.
I set out a scenario last night whereby I made extensive use of Whatsapp to help my wife decide precisely what present she’d like for Christmas. This involved me wandering around a shop in Bond Street following the sales person and snapping various photos to send to my wife 50 miles away.
My Vodafone 4G connection is normally pretty good. But last night, I was actually using my own personal MiFi hotspot to connect to the internet.
Here’s why: Selfridges.
I had originally visited the world famous department store on Oxford Street to have a browse about and see if anything caught my eye. I was pretty surprised to find that my Vodafone 4G signal was almost non-existent, continually.
The first thing I wanted to do was to send my wife a Whatsapp location status (“Selfridges & Co”) to surprise her. (Normally at that time of night I am usually at the office!)
I couldn’t get a connection. My iPhone was struggling to maintain GPRS, let alone Edge or 3G. I wouldn’t have minded if it actually worked, but as I typically have experienced on Vodafone for years now, it’s rare that these other mediums actually work. It’s practically useless telling me I’ve got a GPRS connection when I can’t do anything with it. I really would have preferred super-slow to pretending.
As I strolled around Selfridges I thought that the store team must have recognised this connectivity challenge and installed WiFi. Not that I could determine. In fairness I did see a BTWiFi hotspot pop up once or twice but I was looking for a dedicated, store-branded service. It’s certainly possible that Selfridges has arranged for super high quality BTWiFi — but often my experience with BT is limited. And I couldn’t be bothered to faff.
I’m a BT Infinity customer. I’ve setup my phone to automatically roam on to BTWiFi. Not FLIPPING ONCE has this actually ever worked.
Connectivity was a challenge using Vodafone.
So I reached into my bag and activated my trusty Huawei E589 MiFi device rocking super-fast EE 4G. Boom! I was connected.
I left the MiFi on as I walked around the other shops too. During the purchase process, connectivity is actually rather critical.
Witness, for example, the fact I couldn’t remember the name of the book I had to buy in Waterstones for the office Secret Santa. I knew the author. Just not the name.
I waited 2 minutes to speak to a Waterstones helper but then lost patience, fired up my browser and got the answer in 5 seconds. Thank you EE. I then ended up having to wait a further 5 minutes to get to speak to a chap to find out precisely where the book was located in the store.
And yes, I did look to see if Amazon could have got it to me quicker. Alas I needed the book for tomorrow morning so I resolved to wait. Fine.
Frequently I’m out shopping for food with the children and can’t remember the exact brand of butter we need. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when there’s no connection in the local Tesco. Routinely I need to push my trolley to the front of the store and hang about whilst my ‘no signal’ turns into a 3G or 4G connection so I can ask my wife.
Speaking of Tesco, Clubcard holders can often use the Tesco WiFi service (where available). This strikes me as a particularly smart idea.
I had a connectivity problem a few months ago in Las Vegas trying to buy something from Mont Blanc. I can’t remember precisely what the challenge was. I think I was trying to look up the PIN for one of my credit cards (because the main one had gone into that seriously unhelpful ‘fraud’ status, unable to be resolved until the morning, UK time). But I couldn’t get a connection to Evernote.
The team at Mont Blanc lost out on my $800 sale the first night because I couldn’t pay. Because I didn’t have a connection. There was no signal so I couldn’t use my phone’s data connection and the shopping mall’s WiFi was either too oversubscribed by people Facebooking or just rubbish. From memory I eventually went back the next evening and completed the transaction.
I’m still surprised that the simple task of offering easy WiFi for shoppers isn’t something more shops have picked up on.
But then again, is it just me? Am I the ultra edge case? And is it likely to stay that way?
What has your experience been?
As I walked down to the Burberry shop on Bond Street I paused outside Smythson and flirted with the idea of looking in Smythson. They appear to do nice things and it’s a brand that even I have heard of.
To check though — and on the off chance — I thought I’d Whatsapp my wife. I took a snap of the Smythson window as I stood outside, the rain pouring in. I was having to hold the iPhone almost vertical so that the raindrops didn’t interfere too much with the touchscreen. I sent the snap off to my wife. It’s pretty fast with Whatsapp nowadays, especially thanks to the Vodafone 4G.
She was ‘online’ with Whatsapp so came back to me immediately with, “Oh, interesting.”
“See anything you like?” I asked.
“The clutch-bag is interesting, but I don’t like the colour,” she replied.
That was enough encouragement for me to pop inside and have a look around.
My wife and I have what I consider to be a seriously healthy arrangement when it comes to presents: She tells me what works. She’ll define a narrow operating window where the risk for me is minimalised, ergo I am guaranteed to win. We implemented this methodology after I flew back in from San Francisco one weekend — windswept, you understand — with a Burberry handbag just 18 hours old, wrapped, bow, everything. The folk at the Burberry store just off Union Square had assured me that based on my wife’s (fiancé at that point) preferences, this particular model would rock.
She hated it.
Indeed I think I was actually back at the Bond Street Burberry store almost 32 hours after visiting the SF store getting a refund.
Previously I’ve gone so far as to email photos of potential purchases to my wife to let her have the ultimate choice (and dramatically de-risk the gifting process). My wife has enthusiastically the experience. I did the same again in Beijing when I was thinking of buying some UGGs for her.
But I decided to kick things up a gear this evening.
I went into Smythson and had a look around. After a respectable amount of time, Vicky approached and asked if I needed help.
I explained I was after a clutch bag. I had a rough idea what one was, but I asked her to define the concept and give me some examples. I had a brief examine of a few models and then started the Whatsapp process.
Across about 10 minutes I wondered around the store with Vicky doing a stirring job interacting with my wife, through me (on Whatsapp). After about 5 minutes, Vicky had got my wife’s preferences narrowed down to just one model. Seriously, seriously impressive.
I was just the conduit. My wife was at home comforting our youngest who had a temperature on account of getting a vaccination earlier in the day. I took copious amounts of ‘Whatsapps’ and Vicky even suggested photographing one bag against one of the gorgeous navy armchairs in the store, to help my wife perceive the colour of the final choice.
I could feel the squeals of excitement down the wire from my wife.
I bought the bag and a few moments later I snapped a photo of the Smythson bag and Whatsapped it.
Now, I recognise that my wife and I are what you might term an ‘edge case’, however I was interested to note that Vicky from Smythson didn’t bat an eyelid at the purchase process I adopted. She was entirely accommodating — as though shopping-by-Whatsapp is routine. Who knows? Maybe it is. I should have asked!
I can’t recommend this for everyone though. I was rather concerned that the shop might object to me taking photos of everything. I did get some rather annoyed glances when I took a shot of some bags earlier in the evening in Selfridges.
I should also highlight — if it’s not already painfully evident for many of the men reading — that some women will react seriously badly to this approach. Some of my female friends would have been horrified at the apparent lack of thought and ingenuity on my part. It’s almost like phoning it in. Well, it’s almost literally that.
Would you rather have the exact bag you want, or the one that you sort of like? I don’t know.
I’m pleased to have won. My wife is delighted. The surprise was my Whatsapp message. The excitement on her part was rendered across 10-15 minutes and she played an integral part in the experience.
We’ve got the technology nowadays — and the speed — to make this sort of process real-time.
If I was thinking rightly, I could have actually done a FaceTime with my wife. However that could have been a bit more… invasive. As it was, with Whatsapp I was able to fit within the ambience of the Smythson store.
So there you have it: Whatsapp-enabled Christmas shopping.
Have you tried it?
[PS: Ask for Vicky at the Smythson Bond Street Store and she'll help you out.]