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15th July 2014:
New company vehicle :-)

The new Honest IT company electric bicycle, a Pedago Comfort Cruiser. 48 volt lithium ion battery powering a rear hub motor. 7-speed Shimano derailleur gear for pedal assist. It really flies along the flat, and helps you up the hills. Battery charging takes around 5 hours and costs 10p a day. Range on a full charge 20-25 miles.

Check out the Pedego Europe website here.
Pedego from front Go to the Pedego Europe website Pedego from rear

Passionate Steve Ballmer

Gates and Ballmer the business partners

Gloomy Ballmer
24th August 2013:
Steve Ballmer to retire within 12 months

The pressure has been on the Microsoft CEO for some while from industry pundits, financial analysts and his own board. He has presided over a period in which Microsoft has missed the boat. The Q2 market share figures in the USA tell a story. In search, Bing 17.4%, Google 66.7%. In smartphones, Windows Phone 3.7%, Android 79.3%, iOS 13.2%. From a company that bloomed in new markets to one that plays catch-up - unsuccessfully. The pattern has been seen before: IBM, Novell, Sun. As the wheel of success spins and grows, so another wheel - of failure - begins to rotate in the other direction. An apparently inevitable consequence of age, maturity and just getting bigger.

Steve Jobs stated that there was no software industry before Bill Gates. He also said that one of Gates' greatest achievements was "partnering". The mission may have been a PC on every desk and in every home, but Microsoft would "stick to its knitting" - software - while others in its eco-system delivered the rest of the dream. This has become blurred with Surface and Windows 8; the old partners are uncomfortable. Ballmer has launched the latest re-organisation to transform Microsoft from software house to a "devices and services" company. He's not going to be around to see the shift completed. Will the vision be as clearly understood?

Not that it's been a bad career. He's travelled with Microsoft most of the way. Deeply passionate - if you cut him open, you'd find that Windows logo inside. He joined in June 1980, the 30th employee, the first business manager hired by Gates. His personal wealth is estimated at $15.2 billion. Under his tenure as CEO, Microsoft's annual revenue has grown from $25 billion to $70 billion, while its net income has increased 215% to $23 billion.

He's given us some great video moments. Remember the monkey dance? And selling Windows 1.0?

15th June 2013:
Apple sitting pretty?

Apple have been launching again at their World-Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco this week. Lots of noise around iOS7, Mavericks and the new Mac Pro.

There's concern about Apple after Jobs left us. A stock price of around $700 in September 2012, $430 today. Tim Cook is a good operations man. They still have our own Jony Ive, who we're pleased to see topping and tailing the iOS7 video. It's not the same, but maybe it's good enough.

The latest announcements reveal products that are very interesting to look at with sound progressive engineering inside. The new Mac Pro (pictured right) is dramatic. iOS7 is an attractive re-design with functional enhancements. Is Apple still leading the innovation game? Let's wait and watch.
New Apple Mac Pro 2013

Big Data tunnel
12th June 2013:
Good Big Data

As we are overwhelmed with news about the dangers of Big Data, it is worth thinking about good uses, data as a tool for enrichment.

Of course, it is ... big. Wikipedia (we know its shortcomings) even has an entry in its "list of time periods". Yes, Big Data alongside the Iron Age and the Napoleonic Era. 

A great place to start before we turn to the moral issues is with our own Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the world-wide web. His data-centric TED talks in 2009 and 2010 were an inspiration, compelling in the same positive way as his initiation of the WWW. The first was a “call for data”, the second a review of what he had witnessed in response to the call.

Another recommendation is the website of LOD, the LinkingOpenData project. It’s fairly heavy-duty, but if you want to dig into the data story, it’s an interesting source. One astonishing element is the Linking Open Data cloud diagram. See what you make of it!

6th June 2013:
"Wearable" really is here

We've seen two bits of news in the last month that indicate that "wearable" computers are genuinely on their way. Google Glass has hit the UK national media; the company's adverts have been everywhere, showing voice, video, map, photo and other applications. Motorola have been at it too, showcasing their password applications, one a tattoo that can be stuck on your arm, another ... a pill you can swallow.

Others will follow, particularly in the medical field. Imagine somebody with a heart condition. A sensor could be placed in the wall of the organ, addressable via an IPv6 connection, which could alert a doctor in the event of a deterioration in the person's health.

Or is this just too much technological invasion?
Google Glass

Motorola password tattoo

Fibre optic cable
22nd May 2013:
Fibre broadband comes to old Stroud

Whoopee! Fibre has arrived at the "top of town" in old Stroud where Honest IT is based. When the service goes live, we are promised 38Mb/s downstream, a step-function change from existing ADSL. Then think about how far we've come from the 9.6K modem. It's just under a 4,000-fold increase.

Of course, the "last mile" is across copper. This is almost as astonishing. A 100+ year old technology providing the medium for 21st century communications. Yes, we'd prefer "fibre to the home", but it's still remarkable.

17th May 2013:
Microsoft's Surface Pro finally arriving in the UK

By the end of May, apparently, although the dealer availability is not yet clear. It's taken too long. If you're a Windows user, particularly in the enterprise, this could be a great tool. All the benefits of tablet and touch with the chance to run legacy applications as well. It's a "proper" computer in tablet form, allowing you to do many of the things that you can't on an iOS or Android device.

However, Microsoft have let others get a head start. Years ago Bill Gates was evangelising the tablet form factor, but let Steve Jobs slide right by with the iPad. And the UK pricing, released after months of delay? Probably too high at a shade under 800 for the 128GB version, plus another 100 for the Type cover. Many will want to pay a lot less. Let's hope they drop the prices later. Along with the introduction of Windows 8.1, the Pro would be useful.
Surface Pro

Windows 8
5th October 2012:
The run-in to Windows 8

Microsoft have announced the launch of Windows 8 on October 25th in New York City. It's a big moment for the company, and particularly for CEO Steve Ballmer, who has had to withstand much criticism from financial analysts and industry commentators over recent months. How will the product fare in what many call the "post-PC era", straddling the world of desktop PCs (in decline?) and the growing tablet and smart device market? It's not clear how either the enterprise or the consumer will receive it. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has not really helped with his recent comments about Windows 8 being puzzling (see article here).

All this against the background of iPad and iPhone success. The tech market capitalisation of Microsoft ($247.44bn) now stands third behind Google ($249.19bn) and, way ahead, Apple (a startling $619.91bn). A year on exactly from his death, what a legacy from Steve Jobs.

17th February 2012:
SEO rant!

Time for a rant against a pet hate - shysters who want to charge ridiculous sums for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) services. Getting the engines to recognise your site is not rocket science, although you clearly need to understand how they work, and how a website is put together.

The big search players will tell you how to make your site popular with them. Both Google and Bing have Webmaster Tools, extensive suites of diagnostic and configuration components, how-to guides, crawl and error statistics packages. Don't believe all that spam (why is it so frequently SEO companies?) or cold-calling. A site's visibility can be raised organically just by following Google's and Bing's rules - which are remarkably similar.

If you really want to spend money to get a higher-than-average profile, you can buy SEM (Search Engine Marketing) from the search companies themselves. Put together advertising campaigns with Google AdWords or Microsoft AdCenter.
Bing Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools

Ted Hoff
7th December 2011:
Ted Hoff saved his own life

Only just found another great story in the BBC Technology pages from earlier this year. Ted Hoff is credited alongside his colleagues at Intel with inventing the first microprocessor, the four-bit 4004, released in 1971. It was originally designed to drive a range of calculators for Busicom, a Japanese electronics maker. He saved his own life? Now 73, he has inside him a microprocessor which controls his pacemaker and hence his heart. Ted appreciates the sense of coming full circle. "It's a nice feeling," he says. Read the whole article here.

Steve Jobs
6th October 2011:
RIP Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs has gone. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. For the rest of us, it's the loss of a great innovator who shaped our landscape over the last 30 years. We remember with fondness our first Macintosh back in the eighties. Such a feel to its case, such a clean interface, the real plug-and-play. Jobs always had an instinct for the market. He backed the graphical user interface. He backed music players. He backed photos on a 'phone. So from the lows of the mid-nineties, today, with a market value estimated at $351bn (227bn), Apple is the world's most valuable technology company. But it's not just money that defines his and Apple's success. It's also a matter of style and creativity. Not for nothing is an Apple product the luvvie's (check out Stephen Fry earlier this year) device of choice.

Listen to the words of his Stanford Commencement speech in 2005: "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."

19th September 2011:
iPad at Fulham FC

The steady march of the iPad continues. Didn't we see an iPad 2 in the hands of the lovely Lara Pulver, playing Erin Watts, Chief of Section D, in Sunday's episode of "Spooks"? Well, now we hear the the football community is using them for security. Check out this article in The Register. "Fulham Football Club has rolled out a new private cloud-based security system that enables its staff to remotely monitor crowd activity using devices such as Apple's iPad tablet, allowing it to cut its server footprint down from 36 to six. The new private cloud technology infrastructure links Fulham's Craven Cottage stadium and its Motspur Park training ground. Previously the club used a network of six VHS recorders and 27 cameras to keep an eye on fans but this stand-alone storage infrastructure system was costly and difficult to manage and maintain, according to Nicolas Pendlebury, Fulham's head of IT, as tapes needed to be manually scanned and cameras checked before each match."
iPad at Fulham FC

IBM PC with man in office
Tim-Berners-Lee and blackboard
16th August 2011:
Big anniversaries - the IBM PC and the WWW

The last fortnight has seen two big milestones in the history of our technology, celebrating two inventions that have changed our world.

The original IBM PC, the personal computer that helped launch an industry, made its debut at a press conference at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on 12 August 1981. Yes, that's 30 years. Nobody, not even IBM, had any idea how pervasive it would become as a standard. The key to its success lay in an open architecture which allowed many others to enter the hardware market, the so-called "clone" manufacturers. At the same time, software developers could write to the standard and a whole eco-system of applications grew. Today, analysts are predicting the decline of the PC. Even one of its original creators, Mark Dean, still working for IBM, says that his primary computer is now a tablet. See a silicon.com article with Mark's comments here.

On 6th August 1991 - yes, that's 20 years - Tim (now Sir Tim) Berners-Lee published the first ever website, resulting from development after his original proposal at Cern in 1989. We don't need to say much about the effect the web has had on our private and business lives. It's interesting that Tim, and Vinton Cerf with TCP/IP, have not become fabulously rich on the back of their inventions, merely legends in their chosen field. Others have made the big money. For more pictures from Computer Weekly click here.

August 3rd 2011:
Microsoft goes big on "The Cloud"

We've just finished reviewing the big Microsoft partner conference of last month. Plenty of commitment to the cloud. As CEO Steve Ballmer said in his keynote speech, they're "all-in", very focussed. Lots of talk about Office 365. Lots of jargon to digest: "on-premise" computing, the "private cloud", the "public cloud". But do they really mean it, or is it lip-service? Hedging their bets? Probably. What does it all mean to Joe Public? One thing is for certain, it places huge emphasis on the network. Great Internet connections are not a nice-to-have in the cloud. Is it the end of the desktop and related local applications? Not yet. Mind you, it does feel like the computer world is coming full circle. The PC was a liberation from the mainframe men in white coats in distant data centres. It brought you control of your own computing power. Is that independence now going back out? Cloud could be the right term for it. Anyway, it's worth taking a look. Steve Ballmer's keynote is probably the place to start. Click here.
Microsoft World Partner Conference

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