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Combined feed of articles published by Jake Ludington in a variety of publications.



Published: Thu, 01 Oct 2015 23:22:00 +0000

 



HP EliteBook Folio 1020 Review

Sat, 23 May 2015 17:43:40 +0000

HP sent me a pre-production EliteBook Folio 1020 to test drive back in November 2014. Despite it being not quite finished, I was impressed with the overall performance and was recommending the 1020 to anyone who would listen. In April 2015 HP sent me a final build of the EliteBook Folio 1020. Weighing in at 2.68 pounds (1.2kg) this 13-inch package packs a business-class punch that can handle almost any workload you can think to throw at it. My biggest takeaway is that this is a great product that I recommend for anyone who wants a business class 13-inch notebook. Let me elaborate a little more about why I think this is my favorite new laptop. 2560x1440 Touch Screen Many millions of marketing dollars have gone into convincing us that 1920x1080 is the optimal display resolution for most monitors. If all you ever intend to do with your computer is watch Netflix, I might agree. For productivity, more screen real estate is a highly desirable commodity. While the EliteBook Folio 1020 is available with a 1920x1080 screen, it really demonstrates its full potential with the 2560x1440 touch screen display on the unit I'm reviewing. You can see more rows in an Excel spreadsheet. Side-by-side document comparison is significantly easier thanks to all those additional horizontal pixels. For creative work, Photoshop and video editing tools also benefit from the total resolution. HP Premium Keyboard Keyboard feel is one of the most important factors I consider when making a laptop purchase decision. If typing feels good, I'm more productive. The 1020 keyboard is my favorite laptop keyboard to date. Apple tends to set the standard with their laptop keyboards, which are arguably among the best. I use a MacBook Pro daily and I find the EliteBook Folio 1020 keyboard to be noticeably better. The key travel feels natural allowing me to maintain typing speeds that are more like what I expect from a desktop keyboard. Keys are also backlit, which is vital for working in environments like darkened conference rooms and airplanes or even simply sitting at home on the couch watching television. ForcePad Trackpad The Synaptics ForcePad technology used to power the trackpad is pressure sensitive instead of relying on physical clicking for trackpad interactions. Earlier implementations of the ForcePad in HP products like the EliteBook Folio 1040 were frustrating to me, but the company got things right with the EliteBook Folio 1020. Gestures are easily recognized and intuitive, much like using them on a smartphone. One of the function buttons allows you to completely disable the ForcePad, though I'm not entirely sure why this would be desirable. Webcam and Microphone Laptops aren't known for webcam and microphone performance. The cameras typically underperform in low light and the microphones are inherently noisy. The HP EliteBook Folio 1020 outperforms both stereotypes. While the webcam definitely generates visual artifacts in darker rooms, it holds up well in all the places you might expect to engage in a video conference. The microphone shines at background noise rejection, making it easier to do video calls in places where your control over room noise is less than ideal. Battery Performance I have two main criteria for measuring battery performance which have nothing to do with a specific number of hours. My first criteria is will the battery survive a cross-country trip from SFO to JFK while being used for a combination of video playback, writing, photo editing, and web browsing. My second measure is finding out whether the battery will survive as I carry the laptop around on a typical day, opening it periodically to work on any of the things that may come up throughout the day. The EliteBook Folio 1020 passes both of these tests with flying colors while using the HP Optimized setting. Memory, CPU and Storage The 1020 ships with 8GB of RAM and a 5th generation Intel Core M processor. Because I edit video frequently, I'd really like to have 16GB of RAM, but for any other activity, I don't feel constrained by RAM. On some machines I've[...]



HP Duet Pen and Paper Folio Demo

Sat, 09 May 2015 21:41:35 +0000

I don't find myself writing on paper very often these days. I still know plenty of people who prefer taking paper notes.

At the HP Global Partner Conference, I got the chance to demo the new HP Duet Pen that ships with the HP Pro Slate 8 and Pro Slate 12 Android tablets.

The Duet Pen is designed to be dual purpose, allowing you to write directly on screen as a stylus or in combination with the HP Paper Folio. The pen is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon digital pen technology and works extremely well. My handwriting isn't the greatest and I had no trouble using the stylus and having it feel as natural as a pen would.

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Much like the DotPen from Dot-Tec and the Evernote Jot Script 2, the Duet Pen fits neatly in this new category of stylus products that are designed to let people actually work the way the can be most effective. If handwritten notes are your thing, you won't be disappointed with the Duet Pen. One challenge for me in using other stylus products is they tend to feel a bit squishy, which results in trying to find the perfect balance of pen pressure and hand angle in order to write something legible. The Duet Pen on paper gives all the tactile feedback you expect from putting pen to paper and puts your writing in a digital format too.

The Pro Slate 8 and Pro Slate 12 tablets both come with some HP apps that are optimized for use with the HP Duet pen, like HP Notes. There are additional apps promised to be available in the Google Play App Store.

It's also worth noting that the ink in the Duet Pen works on any paper, but using the Paper Folio lets you automatically capture your paper notes in an electronic format.

You can see in the video demo I did that the pen works for left handed people like me. It also works for all you righties out there too.

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Greyhound and the Internet of Things

Sun, 08 Feb 2015 20:52:08 +0000

Most weekdays find me riding an Amtrak connector bus from Santa Cruz to downtown San Jose, where I hop the VTA light rail to an office a few stops North of the city center. While the start of my journey is highly predictable, road conditions and traffic patterns make the arrival time less predictable. For my return trip, I almost never know when the bus is going to arrive, so you can imagine my surprise when the CIO of Greyhound Lines started talking about all the cool things his company is doing with Internet of Things sensor technologies to improve safety and efficiency in their own bus fleet.

Chris Boult, CIO of Greyhound Lines, was part of a panel at the recent CIOsynergy event in Dallas, Texas. From the stage, he shared some great examples of ways Greyhound is using sensors.

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One of the key advantages highlighted was the ability to use sensor data without needing proprietary technology for analysis. IoT sensors are more open, which allows for data collection and analytics to happen in the best tools for the business rather than being limited to the proprietary solutions provided by sensor vendors. In theory this allows IT to be more agile in their approach to data analysis and should translate to delivering business outcomes at a faster pace.

From a cost saving perspective, Greyhound uses sensors to reduce idling times when buses are stopped, which reduces fuel usage and also cuts back on unnecessary emissions. Boult shared examples about using sensors to track bus locations, to help make sure drivers are following appropriate routes, which theoretically shortens times between stops, makes the routes safer for passengers, and would eliminate fuel usage for deviation from the official bus route.

As a frequent bus passenger on a competing service, I was excited to learn that Greyhound Lines will soon offer customers the ability to see where the bus is in real time. This is particularly helpful for making sure you don't end up waiting additional time for a bus that won't be arriving when it was originally scheduled.

You can watch my interview with Chris Boult below.

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Making the Shift from IT to Business Technology

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 05:48:12 +0000

When used together, the letters 'I' and 'T' are practically a swear word inside big companies. When a software application only runs in Internet Explorer, it's IT's fault. When paperwork needs to get filled out in triplicate just to add a new user account, IT is to blame again. When a software upgrade delivers three weeks late because the scope kept evolving, no one but IT is getting yelled at. For many parts of an organization, the letters N-O might better represent the perceived role of IT. The IT leaders I know tend to live on the bleeding edge of technology in their personal lives. They upgrade their phone every time something new comes out. They build sophisticated home networks so their kids can have a Minecraft server on one node while another node serves up video on demand from a custom-built home media server. These same men and women go to work, where they manage teams dealing with antiquated systems that often lack the kinds of features we've come to take for granted in the consumer world. The systems are almost always mission critical and have a significant technical debt associated with modernization. Maybe you can identify with this very scenario in your own life. Even if you aren't managing the team that's keeping these outdated solutions from failing, it's very likely you are using one or more of those systems in your daily work. How did things get so disconnected in the working world? It's easy to point the finger at the CFO and claim that if she hadn't made IT justify expenses, everything would be fully modernized. Instead of squeezing every last dime from your procurement budget for network cables and memory upgrades, maybe IT would have deployed mobile tools that allowed the sales force to deliver quotes in real time to prospective customers. Budgets for IT have certainly trended smaller in recent years, creating the need to do more with less, but the reality is far more complicated. If you want to point fingers, start with a moment in time, not a person or team. That moment in time for your company was the one where IT became decoupled from all the aspects of the business used to define success. When the marketing team slapped each other's backs for delivering 40% year-over-year growth while reducing cart abandonment by 15% during this year's holiday buying season, who invited the CIO to the party for delivering the throughput and infrastructure required to allow the website to handle all those additional requests? The answer is likely that the CIO wasn't invited, because IT is viewed as a cost of goods sold. It's a given that the website should just work. Those shrinking budgets I mentioned earlier aren't tied to any of your company's key performance indicators. Nobody spelled it out that using servers in the company data center was certainly cheaper than developing a hybrid-cloud infrastructure, but the lower cost also meant that some customers wouldn't be able to make a purchase for your ecommerce site during peak buying season. If that's how your current company culture thinks, it's time for a change. The information technology you use today is really the integral business technology that helps your company deliver it's specific value proposition. The marketing team can't be successful without a strong partnership with IT. The customer support team can't focus on delivering happiness to your customers unless their systems are integrated and operational with the help of IT. Your remote sales team can't operate with real time pricing data for customers when IT hasn't optimized application delivery for mobile. This cultural shift won't happen overnight, but it needs to start somewhere. Headspring, a company specializing in application modernization, identified five keys to delivering business technology in an impactful way. These aren't things your IT organization needs to adopt simultaneously, but your company is more likely to succeed when they happen in concert. If I had to sum up the five keys in [...]



HP EliteDesk 800 Desktop Mini Giveaway

Fri, 23 Jan 2015 05:54:58 +0000

I was out of the office traveling for about a week earlier this month. When I got back, one of my coworkers commented that they weren't sure I still worked in the office because my desk was so clean.

What they couldn't see was the disorganized jumble of crap I have stored in my file drawers.

The reason I keep my desktop free of clutter is to help me stay focused on work while I'm trying to get things done. It's my personal desktop Zen.

To help you achieve your own desktop Zen, I want to give you the chance for a desktop makeover. I recently did a video about the HP EliteDesk 800 Desktop Mini, which is a small form factor desktop that packs a serious punch.

Think of the HP EliteDesk 800 Desktop Mini as an opportunity to reclaim your desktop.

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One HP EliteDesk 800 Desktop Mini will be given away. I'm going to keep this giveaway fairly simple. The are three ways to secure your spot in the giveaway:

Post a photo or video of your current desk configuration on Instagram and tag the post with both #HPElite and #DesktopMakeover. Feel free to tag me on Instagram (@jakeludington) as well, though that isn't required.

Post your photo to my Show us your work space group on Flickr.

Share a photo or video of your current desk configuration on Twitter and tag the tweet with both #HPElite and #DesktopMakeover. Feel free to mention me (@jakeludington) in your tweet as well, though that isn't required.

All posts must be made by 11:59 PM Pacific Time on 30 January 2015. The computer will be given to one entry selected at random from all entrants. If you submit your entry using all three options, all three will be included in the random selection process.

While I like to keep things simple, here is the fine print for the giveaway:

  • You must reside in the USA or Canada to be eligible because this is a North American computer product.
  • The giveaway is for a PC that ships with a keyboard and mouse in the box. No monitor will be included.

Best of luck to you! You can read more about the HP EliteDesk 800 Desktop Mini on the official HP product page.

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Sometimes Quitting is Okay

Sun, 04 Jan 2015 18:08:57 +0000

Closing out 2013 was a chaotic time in my working life. The project I moved from Seattle to Silicon Valley to be part of was on the verge of getting acquired. The deal wasn't finalized and it was unclear how long it would take. We still had work to be done, but a great many things were in limbo as we waited to see what our fate would be. It was this uncertainty at work that helped shape the goals I set for personal accomplishment going into January 2014. In a video at the beginning of 2014, I laid out my three primary goals. My plan was to run 1000 miles in 2014, write and publish a book, and publish a new video each day. I ended the year with 1001.7 miles, enough pages to fill three books, and 159 videos in my daily video quest. While that reads like I only completed one of three goals, I'm happy with the amount of writing I did despite not publishing a book. I intentionally stopped doing the videos because the goal no longer made sense. Understanding Why You Set Your Goals Part of the reason I set a goal of a new daily video was to make sure I had a tangible deadline to meet each day. The uncertainty at work made it likely that there would be many days where work would feel chaotic. Having a daily output I had control over created some order in that chaos. By the beginning of June, we were several months into the post-sale transition at work. There was something of a weekly rhythm again with enough deliverables that it felt less chaotic. My biggest reason for making a daily video was fading away. The video project also stopped being fun. It felt like a chore to try and come up with a video topic each day. Every project or goal faces challenges at some point, but when I looked at the big picture outcome compared against how I felt about the daily output, I didn't see any reason to keep making videos for the sake of having a total of 365 at the end of the year. So I quit making daily videos. When Life Changes, Change Your Goals It's okay to modify or quit your goals when they no longer fit the reason you set them. I accomplished what I needed to with making the videos. I had a daily deliverable when I needed it. I learned some valuable lessons about recording, editing, and posting videos from an iPhone every day. But I didn't feel like I needed to continue to make videos daily. So I stopped. Consciously stopping work toward a goal is just as important as being conscious of the reasons you started in the first place. When the reasons for starting no longer align with where you want be, it's okay to abandon the project and refocus on other things that hold greater importance. As we enter the time of year when most of make resolutions, set goals, or develop intentions for the year ahead, I encourage you to think about why you are choosing the goals you set for yourself and allow yourself the permission to abandon any goals that might not align with the direction you are currently heading. The feeling of letting go can feel just as joyous as the satisfaction of completion. [...]



Transfer Photos from Cell Phone to PC

Sat, 27 Dec 2014 17:45:31 +0000

Barbara asks, "How do I get photos from my phone to my computer?" Android phones and Apple's iPhone line have dramatically simplified the process of moving photos around from the time that I originally answered this question back in 2006. Instead of needing complicated third party software, in most cases you can simply connect your phone to your computer and transfer the images. If you have an older feature phone that isn't an iPhone or Android phone, I have some suggestions at the end of this article. Copying files via USB Smartphones typically come with a USB cable you can connect to any computer for both charging and transferring files. When you connect the phone to your computer, you will probably see it as a hard drive. Depending on how your computer is configured, the operating system will launch software that automatically prompts you to copy photos and videos from the phone to your computer. If this doesn't automatically show up, you can browse to the phone, just like you browse through other folders and find the photos you want to copy. Automatically backup your photos Even though you can simply connect your phone to your computer to transfer images over, my personal preference for keeping my photos synchronized between my phone and my computer is to use an app on the phone. Apple users can sign up for iCloud, which automatically backs up photos and makes them available from any computer or any other device connected to the iCloud account. Android users can automatically back their photos up to Google Plus. Both default options have some downsides. I don't like Google+ as a backup solution because it's connected to a social network account. Your photos are backed up privately by default, but they are a click away from being public to everyone on Google Plus. iCloud is accessible from both Windows and Mac computers, but if you decide to trade your iPhone for an Android phone, you won't have easy access to iCloud anymore. My personal favorite solution is Amazon Cloud Drive. Amazon offers 5GB of free storage on Cloud Drive or larger plans starting at $10 per year for 20GB. Amazon makes their software available across all platforms. Cloud Drive automatically backs up your photos, if you configure the service to back them up. Photos are then available on any device. Using one of these apps has the advantage of making sure your photos don't get lost. If you lose your phone or something happens that causes it to be reset, anything you didn't backup is gone. By using a cloud app, your photos are backed up giving you both a convenient way to access them from your computer and an insurance plan for when things go wrong. Feature Phones and Older Cell Phones If you have an older cell phone or a feature phone that isn't running Android, transferring photos is a little more complicated. If your phone has email capabilities, you can email the photos to a service that supports email attachments. This requires a data plan from your cell phone provider and some basic configuration on your phone, but it also allows you to immediately send the photos. Another variation on emailing is to send your photos to your Facebook account via email or set up an online account with Flickr (for free) and email your photos to the site. Both of these solutions share the same reservation I have about Google Plus, in that they are connected to a public social network. I operate on the assumption that anything that goes to a social network site has the potential to end up being public. There are some family photos I'd prefer to keep private. At the same time, many photos we take are meant to be shared, so this serves the dual purpose of getting the photos to your computer and making them easy to share with friends. For more on sending images to Facebook check out this article on configuring your Facebook account for receiving photos. [...]



Using Bluetooth for Laptop Internet Sharing

Fri, 26 Dec 2014 05:45:08 +0000

My first foray into using my smartphone as a hotspot for my laptop was almost a decade ago. I managed to configure an old Audiovox Windows phone using Bluetooth, which gave me speeds that were roughly equivalent to a dial-up modem. These days the LTE connection speeds are sufficient to upload a 500GB video to YouTube in about 50 minutes if you are willing to burn through your monthly data quota.

What you may not realize is this hotspot feature is built in to many smartphones and in some cases it's included as part of your existing cell phone data plan at no additional charge.

It's saved me on any number of occasions where I needed to work on a spreadsheet or publish a video in a place where the WiFi was either unavailable or completely unreliable. While I talk about my iPhone specifically in the example below, the steps for using an Android phone as a hotspot are fairly similar.

On an iPhone, enabling your Personal Hotspot is a relatively simple matter. In the Settings app, you can see Personal Hotspot near the top of the list below Wi-Fi and Bluetooth settings.

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To turn on your Personal Hotspot, simply tap this setting and toggle it to the green on position. If you don't currently have WiFi and Bluetooth turned o, you will be promoted to enable them with a message that looks like the one below.

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Once you have WiFi and Bluetooth turned on in the iPhone settings, your phone will show up as one of the available WiFi networks you can connect to from a laptop. When you select your phone's network on your laptop, you will be prompted to enter the password that shows up on the Personal Hotspot settings screen.

In my experience, you typically need to leave the settings screen open on your phone while you are connecting. If you don't the Personal Hotspot won't show up as an option for your laptop to connect to in the available WiFi networks.

Finding your phone in the list of available WiFi networks in your proximity can be a hassle, so I highly recommend giving your iPhone a unique name. If you haven't already named your phone, you can do it from the Settings app by going to General > About and tapping the Name setting. Once you configure this name, it will show up in the list of available WiFi networks anytime you enable your phone as a Personal Hotspot.

Just remember that using your smartphone as a hotspot does burn through your cellular data plan, so keep an eye on data usage. Doing things like uploading large files or watching YouTube videos will definitely use more bandwidth than things like checking email sending small attachments.

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EliteBook Folio 1020 First Look

Tue, 02 Dec 2014 14:45:06 +0000

I see literally dozens of new notebook computers over the course of a year. Between looking at review units and examining the new devices my coworkers choose from corporate procurement, I find that there is little variation in business class options. HP changed my expectations when I got the chance to take an early look at the new EliteBook Folio 1020. This is by far the most drool-worthy notebook computer I've used in years. The first thing you will notice about the EliteBook 1020 is the size. It's got a 12.5-inch display in a compact 12.2 inch wide case. The 1020 weighs a mere 2.2 pounds in the Special Edition thanks to a shell made from a combination of magnesium-lithium alloy and carbon fiber and 2.68 pounds for the standard version. For me, this is the sweet spot for notebook computers. Something light enough to barely notice in a bag in a form factor that takes up little space. It's impossible not to draw comparisons to the MacBook Air, but the specs on the unit I tested put the EliteBook 1020 in a class of its own. Below you can see the size of the EliteBook Folio 1020 relative to the EliteBook 1040. You can see a summary of my thoughts about the EliteBook 1020 in the following video or read on for more details. Typically small form factors result in a trade off in features I consider important. The EliteBook 1020 doesn't skimp anywhere. In the configuration I tested, the touch-enabled screen has an amazing 2560x1440 resolution. Nobody else has a notebook computer with a screen that comes close. Some configurations of the EliteBook 1020 offer a 1920x1080 screen, but I couldn't imagine not choosing the higher resolution. Hard drives are SSD in all versions, with options for 128GB, 180GB, and 256GB. I used think I couldn't survive with a drive that small, but after spending a year with a 256GB Surface Pro 2, it's actually the perfect size, particularly when paired with a large SD card in the micro SD slot included on the EliteBook 1020. This is the first laptop I've used with a Broadwell processor - my test unit has the Core M-5Y51, which is the latest mobile Core i5. It performs nicely and brings the power consumption advantages of a 14nm chip. The Core M also makes it possible for the EliteBook 1020 to be fanless. Keyboard and Trackpad I type thousands of words every single day. This makes keyboard performance a factor I consider more than the average user. The keyboard on the EliteBook 1020 is the best notebook keyboard I've ever used. I'm hopeful that what HP is calling the new HP Premium Keyboard trickles down into other parts of their notebook lineup over time. It's a game changer. The trackpad is also best in class. It's the first trackpad that works the way I expect. Most Windows notebooks require me to relearn how to use a trackpad each time I try a new device, this one was intuitive. Battery Life of the EliteBook 1020 HP is promising up to 9 hours of battery life for the version of the EliteBook Folio 1020 with the 1920x1080 display. The higher resolution option and other configuration factors like touch screen and processor speed, along with the apps you use will play into how long the battery lasts in your own usage. Conclusion In the video I said I only had one complaint about the EliteBook 1020. I actually have two complaints, but they are both fairly minor. The one I mention in the video is the number of USB ports. I'd love to see at least four USB ports on every device I travel with. My second complaint is around memory - all versions of the EliteBook 1020 come with 8GB of RAM. As someone who edits video on the go, I'd always love to have more RAM, so an upgrade to 16GB would have been nice. All in this is the best notebook computer I've seen for my usage needs. It meets all the requirements I look for in a new notebook. The case is under 13 inches and the unit w[...]



HP Elite Business PCs for Small Businesses

Mon, 17 Nov 2014 16:27:31 +0000

Small businesses need to carefully consider IT purchases. Buying a consumer-class product might work fine in the short term, but when you need something that...(image)



HP Tablet Point of Sale Solutions

Tue, 21 Oct 2014 00:12:23 +0000

I can't remember the last time I walked into an independent coffee retailer with a traditional electronic cash register. Almost all of the small coffee shops are using a tablet with Square as their payment processing solution. Square is great for small business, but if you run a larger business with several locations and multiple point of sale devices at each location, your POS requirements are probably more complex. Your company likely has it's own merchant account for credit card processing and existing PCI compliance policies. Other backend systems, like accounting and CRM may be directly integrated with your POS. You probably use remote management tools to keep your POS system up to date. But the appeal of tablets as the physical hardware for a POS is undeniable. Windows Tablets as POS Solutions Windows 8.1 tablets may look like a better alternative in a number of POS solutions. With Windows tablets, you can get the same advantages of a highly portable form factor and touch screen interface while having the ability to deploy and manage your POS solution with the same tools you use in the rest of your corporate network. For instance, Windows 8.1 tablets can support the same hypervisor you use for the rest of your corporate network. Windows tablets easily conform to corporate group policies. Any of the remote administration tools you use for updates and security are also fully compatible. The HP ElitePad Mobile POS Solution While all Windows tablets have the ability to support the same virtualization solution and remote managment tools used on the rest of your corporate network, HP has taken things a step further with a fully integrated point of sale solution that scales depending on your business needs. The core of the solution is the HP ElitePad 1000 G2, which runs the 64-bit version of Windows 8.1 Pro. With both WiFi and Mobile Broadband onboard, the tablet can work in a variety of connection scenarios, which is great for a consistent experience with a field sales team. The tablet also comes with 4GB of RAM and a 64GB SSD. It also has 2.1 megapixel front-facing and 8 megapixel rear-facing cameras. An expansion battery can last from open to close in most retail shops. As a retail solution, the HP ElitePad starts to get interesting when combined with the HP Retail Jacket. The back features a hand strap so your sales team won't drop it while walking the sales floor. The HP Retail Jacket also includes a built-in barcode scanner and magnetic stripe reader. All three combine to make the HP ElitePad Mobile POS Solution versatile for everything from retail shopping, to food trucks, to wait staff placing orders and taking credit card payments table side. But wait, there's more... HP MX10 Retail Solution For retailer who want the flexibility of mobility on the sales for or fixed point of sale terminals, the HP MX10 Retail Solution provides a full retail POS. The same portability available in the Mobile POS Solution is still present, with the added ability to snap-in to a retail workstation with receipt printer, cash drawer, handheld barcode scanner, and a variety of expansion ports that essentially make the ElitePad 1000 G2 into a standalone workstation, complete with USB ports, HDMI, Ethernet, and legacy serial port connections. The modular design of the HP MX10 Retail Solution is both one of it's best features, but also a potential drawback from a pricing standpoint. With each individual component, like the cash drawer, the handheld scanner, or an add-on pen for the tablet comes with an additional cost. I don't think this will be a deterrent, since the competing POS options have similiar pricing models without the same versatility you get with a tablet, but it's still worth noting. Find out more about the all of the HP point of sale so[...]



Business Intelligence APIs from Clearbit

Mon, 13 Oct 2014 17:18:40 +0000

Are your customers raving about you on social media or are they complaining? If you don't know where your customers hangout on social media, you can't possibly know what they are saying. Plenty of solutions allow you to track keywords like your business and product names, but making the link between an existing customer and social accounts can be tricky, particularly if you have hundreds or thousands of customers.

In many cases, this becomes a reactive process where your company attempts to figure out if the complaint is coming from a customer after the complaint happened by seeing if anything about the social account maps back to a known representative from an existing account relationship. A better approach would be to create a dossier of customer social accounts, which would allow for better relationships before a problem arises.

How can you build out a collection of social profiles? One way is to throw people at the problem and have your customer service team attempt to look up all your customers one at a time. This simply doesn't scale.

A better solution would be to use the data you have about your customers, like email addresses and names, to find your customers with a programmatic solution. Using the public API from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and any other social network you consider important is one way to accomplish this, or you could use an API that aggregates all the social data the way Clearbit does.

Send the Clearbit API a customer email address and the company does the heavy lifting to return all the data from a variety of social networks. Once you get the data, you can store it in your CRM and use it to inform the tools you use for monitoring social networks and engaging with customers.

Clearbit also provides additional API calls for looking up data about companies, verifying addresses, and OFAC compliance screening. While you certainly can build out custom code to do each of these functions in house, something like Clearbit can save you time with a reusable solution that gets you up and running faster than coding it yourself might.

You can try out Clearbit with 50 free API calls per month, with pricing starting at $99 monthly for the full service.

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In-Memory Computing and Data Analytics

Thu, 14 Aug 2014 01:05:44 +0000

One of the recurring themes I'm hearing at tech conferences this year is in-memory computing. At the core of these discussions is the need to make data-informed business decisions more quickly. Instead of taking a snapshot from your data sources and loading the data into a data warehouse for analysis, which can take hours or days to get a a number of solutions are promising analytics side-by-side with your transactional workloads in the form of in-memory computing. What exactly is in-memory computing? Instead of working with data stored to disk, in-memory computing is centered around data stored in RAM or the CPU cache, which gets the efficiency of the direct access to the system bus you simply can't get from reading from storage. The speed of access isn't without it's challenges. Memory is notoriously volatile, though purpose built systems designed for in-memory computing help mitigate some of the risk. The other potential challenge of in-memory computing is the tendency for data sets to grow over time. Some of the in-memory solutions currently on the market require memory to increase as the database increases in size. One of the more interesting approaches to in-memory computing is IBM BLU Acceleration, which combines columnar data storage with a unique approach to data compression that means you don't need the entire database in memory in order to get the full benefit of real time analysis. What is IBM BLU Acceleration? BLU Acceleration is a database technology designed for DB2 that converts row-based data to columns for faster processing. BLU combines a mechanism to prefetch the data you need with CPU acceleration to make working with the data faster than traditional methods. BLU Acceleration performs operations on compressed data to further speed analytics. Using a metadata management layer, BLU Acceleration skips any data not needed to perform data processing. All of this comes without the need for indexing or tuning. How can you take advantage of BLU Acceleration? If you already use DB2, BLU Acceleration is available for version 10.5. If you're already extracting data in order to gather business intelligence or analytics, this seems like a no-brainer. Being able to move from the ETL world of providing analytics far slower than real time to making business decisions on data that's close to real time means it's easier to spot trends as they happen rather than finding out after the fact. The case studies provided on the IBM BLU website suggest that many different industries are benefiting from making a move to in-memory computing. Beyond working with DB2, there's also integration points for your SAP environments as well. For some additional information on how DB2 Blu Acceleration utilizes columnar organized datasets, check out this video: [...]



Intellipaper swivelCards Turn Business Cards into USB Drives

Tue, 12 Aug 2014 00:15:48 +0000

Imagine being able to give out more than your basic information to an important potential client you met in the hallway at that big tech...(image)



Ten Reasons Corporations Stick with Windows

Sun, 10 Aug 2014 18:57:22 +0000

It isn’t hard to find a comment thread somewhere on the Web that includes comments by folks who believe that Windows has no place in...(image)



Is Twitter Blocking App Install Links?

Thu, 03 Jul 2014 17:13:20 +0000

Yesterday I clicked on a link shared by the @TechSmith Twitter account and was presented with the warning message you see above. I tested this in both the Twitter app for iOS as well as the Twitter experience on the Web. After doing a quick search for the ad.apps.fm tracking URL used in the tweet, it appears that Twitter is blocking all links that use a tracking URL from mobile advertising analytics provider Flurry, which is where the ad.apps.fm URL originates. If you make iOS apps and you're attempting to track app installs, this is a disaster. The average Twitter user is likely to see the warning and bail on following the link. Why is Twitter blocking Flurry links? Twitter follows the links to their final destination and even displays a Twitter Card for the App Store for links that go to the app install. If you do a search for ad.apps.fm on Twitter, you can see a number of these Twitter Cards in the result. Here's a screen grab from the since-deleted tweet from the @TechSmith Twitter account showing the Twitter Card. That bit.ly link was redirecting to the Flurry link before ultimately passing the user to the App Store (as the Twitter Card indicates) Clearly a link that can be followed to the App Store is not a phishing site or a site that is going to download malicious software on to your computer. Maybe you could argue that Flurry is gather intelligence about the user who clicks the link and therefore the link is classified as one of the "spam sites that request personal information," but I don't buy that. Based on the App Store Twitter Card that gets displayed, it looks like using Flurry links give you the benefit of running an app install campaign on Twitter without paying Twitter for the campaign. In other words, blocking the Flurry links appears like it could be Twitter trying to flex its financial muscle to force app developers into paying for install campaigns. Nobody wins while Twitter is blocking app install links. The user loses because Twitter is inaccurately flagging links that go to one of the best vetted destinations on the Web – the iOS App Store. Sure there are plenty of Apps I would never want, but they all passed the fairly rigorous validation process required by Apple. And on top of that, a false-positive warning message has the potential to cause users to ignore all warning messages. The app developer loses because they are forced to either forgo all the potential users who will shy away from that ominous warning or find a new tracking provider that Twitter hasn't blacklisted. Even Twitter loses here. The advertising ecosystem needs third-party tracking. If I'm running campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, AdMob, and all the various other mobile advertising platforms, I need to be able to manage all those campaigns in one place. Twitter preventing that third-party tracking will only result in mobile app advertisers spending less money on Twitter. Twitter could be working with advertisers instead If I make the assumption that Twitter is blocking Flurry URLs in an attempt to get advertisers to use Twitter download campaigns, it seems like there's a better way to approach the issue. Twitter should be finding a way to add value through their campaigns, not blocking the existing value an app developer gets by using a service like Flurry. For instance, Twitter could pass additional data about the install that can't be gleaned from using a Flurry link. Or maybe Twitter could simply require that promoting a post with a third-party install tracking link requires a specific campaign type. There are plenty of other links that appear on Twitter that do take the user to potentially harmful desti[...]



I went #DigitallyDark for 36 Hours

Wed, 25 Jun 2014 15:38:05 +0000

Going digitally dark and giving up my phone for 24 hours extended to something between 36-48 hours. It was actually pretty easy. I did make note of all the times I thought about reaching for my phone, to check the score of the Mariners game, or to look up a restaurant, or to kill time while waiting in line. I do a lot of using my phone as a pacifier when I'm waiting - I'm guessing I'm not alone on that one. It was much more difficult to get into a mindset of worrying about where my device might be. Because I knew that I had simply turned off my phone and stored it, I wasn't worried. Since I couldn't manufacture a sense of dread, I started to document the various things someone might have access to if they had my phone. I did a video montage of some of the highlights. If you take anything away from my going digitally dark, it's that you should have a plan for protecting your data should your devices go missing. Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail all let you log out your device remotely, for instance (I'm sure there are other services with a similar feature). By logging out, you reduce exposure. If you take the extra step to configure automatic data backup to cloud services for things like photos and data, you could use a remote wipe feature to completely remove your data, knowing that you could easily restore the data when you get your device back. At that point, something like Absolute LoJack helps you locate your hardware, but you don't need to be in a constant panic about what someone might be doing with your data. To close out the Absolute LoJack Challenge, I'm doing a giveaway. I lucky individual will receive a family pack of five 1-year Absolute LoJack Premium subscriptions. To participate, you need to do to simple things. First, leave a comment on my video about going digitally dark (this video). The second thing you need to do is like the Absolute LoJack Facebook page. Do both of these things no later than 29 June 2014. A random selection will be made from all participants on Monday, 30 June 2014. If you're one of those folks who prefers to avoid Facebook, YouTube, or both, feel free to skip the giveaway. You can still save 30% on a 1-year Standard or Premium Absolute LoJack Subscription for the device of your choice by visiting the Absolute LoJack Challenge page and using the code DARK30 when you checkout. [...]



Don’t Forget to Look Up

Sat, 21 Jun 2014 17:59:29 +0000

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You just lost your smartphone, now what?

Fri, 20 Jun 2014 05:32:24 +0000

I’m going Digitally Dark for the next 24 hours as part of the Absolute LoJack Challenge. This means that for the next 24 hours, I’m...(image)



READYACTION Turns Your Smartphone into a Wearable

Mon, 09 Jun 2014 19:05:57 +0000

When you think wearable cameras, the first products that come to mind are likely GoPro and Contour devices. What if there was a solution out...(image)



What is IBM BlueMix?

Mon, 19 May 2014 03:59:04 +0000

BlueMix was one of the most talked about topics at IBM Impact this year. In a nutshell, BlueMix is IBM's platform as a service built on Open Cloud Architecture and Cloud Foundry, with the intent of simplifying many of the commonly repeated tasks facing developers on a regular basis.

BlueMix provides the building blocks to quickly deploy things like commerce solutions, reduce application and infrastructure provisioning, as well as scale with compute and storage as needed for the application. As BlueMix was being described to me by several different people at IBM Impact, I couldn't help but think of it as being something akin to Heroku.

You can find out more about IBM BlueMix in this interview with Stephen Kinder from IBM Impact.

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Program a Drone in 20 Minutes

Tue, 29 Apr 2014 19:01:40 +0000

Remote controlled drones were everywhere at NAB earlier this month. At IBM Impact this week, the Drone Zone is showing off just how easy it is to write code to control drones. During the conference I spoke to Josh Carr about how he wrote code that enabled multiplayer control of a drone using Node-RED in just over 22 minutes. Find out how he did it in this video interview:

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The Internet of Things Will Run on Java EE

Tue, 29 Apr 2014 15:22:41 +0000

Node is one of the most popular frameworks for people building controllers for the Internet of Things. Node is lightweight and flexible, but it's not the only option. At IBM Impact, Technical Evangelist Tom Banks demonstrated a remote control car powered by Raspberry Pi and Arduino boards that was also running WebSphere Application Server Liberty Profile. If you aren't familiar with WebSphere Liberty (as it's known for short), IBM developerWorks offers a great intro to Liberty Profile. The key thing here is that IBM wanted to demonstrate how Java EE can be used to power the Internet of Things. IoT doesn't require you to necessarily change the way you do application development and maintains all the power and flexibility you have in other development environments.

Watch the interview with Tom Banks for a closeup on the technology in the RC car and his view of the IoT.

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Why I Quit Using My Fitbit

Tue, 28 Jan 2014 04:13:00 +0000

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My Favorite Gadget Purchase of 2014

Sat, 25 Jan 2014 05:49:21 +0000

A foam roller may seem like a fairly boring purchase, but after trying to keep myself conditioned for running without one, I learned that rolling was one of the best ways to keep my legs in the game for the long haul.

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Three Ways to Reduce Clutter

Fri, 24 Jan 2014 05:51:05 +0000

If you want less clutter in your life, these are three solid ways to cut down and focus on the stuff you care about.

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Living with Less

Thu, 23 Jan 2014 02:43:19 +0000

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The Gift Economy

Wed, 22 Jan 2014 05:10:19 +0000

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How to Promote a Webinar

Tue, 21 Jan 2014 02:53:54 +0000

Webinars are a great way to learn something new. They can cover just about any subject imaginable. A well-produced webinar offers nearly everything a live,...(image)



Seattle Seahawks Beat the San Francisco 49ers

Mon, 20 Jan 2014 04:12:55 +0000

Maybe if I stay in Silicon Valley long enough I will eventually become a Bay Area sports fan. For now, my loyalty lies with Seattle.

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What Does Workplace Mobility Mean?

Fri, 17 Jan 2014 20:59:06 +0000

What does having a mobile workplace mean to you? Is it the ability to respond to emails and instant messaging conversations from your phone? Is...(image)



Putting a Stop To Writers Block

Fri, 17 Jan 2014 03:55:54 +0000

Everyone who writes eventually goes through lulls where it's harder to put words on the page. Here's a strategy for putting an end to writers block.

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Three Things You Might Not Know About Me

Thu, 16 Jan 2014 03:53:59 +0000

Just in case you were curious, here are three things you might not already know about me.

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Why Video Publishers Need an Email List

Wed, 15 Jan 2014 03:51:42 +0000

If you make videos, you should also have an email list. Here are some reasons why.

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A Process-Driven Approach to Productivity

Mon, 13 Jan 2014 22:08:53 +0000

Want to be more productive? Take an operational approach by creating productive processes.

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Can You Tell a Story in Six Seconds?

Mon, 13 Jan 2014 03:44:21 +0000

Six seconds is not a lot of time. When Vine launched, giving users a six second limit on video length, the initial response was cautious....(image)



Roadtrip to see Sandhill Cranes

Sun, 12 Jan 2014 22:05:54 +0000

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Should A-Rod Get More Than 162 Games?

Sat, 11 Jan 2014 22:02:48 +0000

How much punishment is enough for A-Rod in his violation of the Major League Baseball performance enhancing drug provisions?

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What’s New in HP Tablets?

Sun, 29 Dec 2013 22:34:18 +0000

The tablet form factor has really started to hit its stride in the business world. What started out as a nifty consumer product has quickly...(image)