Tag Archives: iPhone

Book review: The Snowden Files by Luke Harding

Edward Snowden's spy-novel-type book helps readers understand more about government spying
Edward Snowden’s spy-novel-type book helps readers understand more about government spying

The Snowden Files is a good, factual spy book, which makes you think more about data privacy, whatever your current view is.

When we started doing some work with Bitcoin at Endava a few people sent me some interesting article about The Dark Web. Bitcoin and The Dark Web are unfortunately intrinsically linked. The Dark Web is a fascinating subject and I’m working on a more detailed post for future publication. One of the avenues this subject sent me down was online privacy.

I don’t mind that government spy on my electronic communications. I have nothing to hide. I belong to countless social networks and comment on other websites, so I probably have a large digital footprint. I don’t mind that the government can switch my phone on remotely (according to Snowden it’s easier on an iPhone), and listen to the microphone without me knowing – they have more important people to investigate than me. Continue reading Book review: The Snowden Files by Luke Harding

What is Digital?

Self-service - a key trend in digital projects
Self-service – a key trend in digital projects

Many organisations are finding themselves asking “What is Digital?” It’s a difficult question which sounds easy at first. After all, isn’t everything that we do today that involves electronics, digital in some shape or form?

If an organisation has a CTO (Chief Technology Officer), why does it also need a CDO (Chief Digital Officer)? If an organisation already has an IT department, why does it need a digital one too?

So what is digital?

To me, digital is a mindset. In the 1990’s we’d have called it a paradigm. It’s all about thinking slightly differently to classic IT. Continue reading What is Digital?

Apple & Facebook’s staggering results

We keep hearing stories about young people leaving Facebook in their droves. And how consumers are buying Android phones in multiples to Apple. Or how China’s growth is stuttering.

Don’t believe the hype.

Facebook and Apple have released their quarterly results, and both are staggering. Continue reading Apple & Facebook’s staggering results

My 2013 Favourites for Gadgets, Books, Apps and Industry Awards

At the end of every year, I’ve listed my highlights of the previous year. See the post from 2012 with links to previous years. Here are some of the highlights from 2013:

Favourite New Gadget

An unflattering photo wearing Google Glass
An unflattering photo wearing Google Glass

There are several contenders from 2013. After 4 years with my previous work laptop, I took the plunge and went for a new convertible tablet/ laptop, the Dell XPS 12. It’s good, in fact the speed is still as fast as the latest laptops in the office, but my original intention was to stop using my paper notepad, and the XPS with the touch screen just can’t replace it. If you are looking for a decent laptop and have the budget available, I recommend the XPS – but keep a paper pad close by.

I also swapped from my iPhone 3GS (or as I preferred to call it, my “iPhone Classic”) to a Samsung Galaxy S4. I prefer the Samsung to Apple in every area except the lack of the red underlining for misspelled words, and that alone is almost a showstopper.

Continuing the Google theme, in December we bought Google Glass at work, and I’ve used them as much as possible. Google Glass is the future without a doubt, however I think it’s a generation (of users) too early. After watching colleagues and some customers struggle to use them in the office, it’s fascinating to watch my kids use them so naturally.

The prize for my favourite between these three? Sorry to wimp out, but it’s a tie between the laptop and Glass.

Favourite Book

I don't agree with all of it, but it's still my favourite read of 2013
I don’t agree with all of it, but it’s still my favourite read of 2013

I’ve been fortunate to read several good books this year. Removing the fictional titles (I rarely read fiction but my ex-manager at Endava guaranteed I’d like a particular author so much that he’d pay for the books if I didn’t like them), here is my 2013 reading list:

  1. The Intention Economy, Doc Searls
  2. The Tao of Twitter, Mark Schaefer
  3. Search Engine Optimisation: An Hour a Day, Jennifer Grappone & Gradiva Couzin
  4. The Psychopath Test, Jon Ronson
  5. Total Recall: My Unbelievable Life Story, Arnold Schwarzenegger

I recommend all of them.

The Tao of Twitter provided inspiration, and results, of higher levels of engagement on Twitter.

I’ve recommended the SEO book to everyone I’ve met this year who has shown interest in natural SEO – it’s written in a simple, friendly manner with practical suggestions on almost every page.

The Arnie book caught my eye at Heathrow airport on one of my business trips this year. If you’re unsure about the book, just read the back cover – you’ll be surprised how much he’s achieved in his life.

However the award for my favourite book goes to Doc Searls. I didn’t like (or perhaps a more appropriate word is ‘appreciate’) some of his earlier work such as The Cluetrain Manifesto, and even in The Intention Economy I didn’t agree with all parts of the book (my major criticism is his firm view on open source – why isn’t his book open source if he believes in it so much?) If you need some inspiration for corporate digital transformation, this book will offer it. At Endava we are working with large consultancies who list The Intention Economy as mandatory reading for their senior directors.

Favourite iPhone/ Smartphone App

I’ve had to rename this since defecting to Android!

Strava is still my favourite. It’s the best cycling app available, mainly due to it’s implicit gamification. I sent them some suggestions for improvements which they implemented within a few weeks, so a big “Thank You” there.

A very close second is OneNote. I like how I can create a note in OneNote and it appears on my computer in OneNote. It’s quick to use, and comes with the Microsoft Office stack, so there’s no additional app to install such as EverNote.

Favourite Award

The Top 100 Digital Agencies Report 2013 – Endava came 17th

A huge well done and thank you to the team at Endava for ranking us as the 17th largest agency in the eConsultancy Top 100 Digital Agencies. The award was presented for our 2011/12 accounts due to Endava’s financial year finishing after the Econsultancy entry deadline, and so next year is likely to look even healthier.

As well as the Econsultancy, Endava also won a number of other awards which we are also very proud of.


This is likely to be my last post of 2013, so I wish you and your family a wonderful festive season, a Merry Christmas, a Happy & Prosperous New Year, or just some good old-fashioned time off.

The value of Amazon’s cloud for consumers

Madonna MusicThis morning I received an email from Amazon to say “Albums you have previously purchased on CD from Amazon are now available in Cloud Player for FREE”.

It’s always a nice surprise to receive something for free, and when I logged on to the Amazon Cloud Player, yes indeed the CDs I’d bought from Amazon in the last few years were all on there.

Half of all the CDs I’d bought from Amazon were gifts for other people. This reminded me of the nightmare I’ve had in the past with registering my children’s iPod Touch devices, and setting up iTunes for them. Or our ‘family’ Spotify account. Or just buying MP3s for my kids.

All of these purchases for other people are against the terms and conditions of use. I haven’t found a legitimate method of buying music for my kids like the old physical CD method. Perversely it’s easier to download music from BitTorrent for other people than legitimate methods. However, I’m completely against music piracy and feel that it’s morally correct to buy MP3s from iTunes, Spotify or Amazon and then give access to my kids.

Amazon has just brought this debate back to life where all the CD gifts for others I’ve bought in the past are now available for me to listen to via MP3s.

The next step will be for Amazon to offer the same service for videos and DVDs. If you bought a DVD film a while ago, you should be able to watch it over the Internet.

There are systems in place such as Ultraviolet which enable users to watch a film irrespective of the original purchase media. So if you bought a DVD or Blu-ray or Internet file for a specific film, you can watch it on the other media for no additional charge.

This is exactly the type of advantages that consumers want to see from cloud services. In fact, consumers don’t want to know about cloud any more than RAID storage, they just want life made easier, and with additional value thrown in as part of the package.

Moving from an iPhone to Samsung S4

iPhone 3GS
The ‘Classic’, aka the iPhone 3GS.
Source: Wikimedia

I’ve had my work iPhone 3GS (which I’ve affectionately nicknamed as ‘The Classic’) for four years now, and as time has been going on, the thing has been getting slower and slower (why does this happen to all computing devices?) I really like the iPhone, and despite successors being released every six months, I hadn’t really pushed hard for an upgrade since the iPhone 5 was released.

A month ago I received an email from my IT department at work:

Hi Bradley,

We intend to replace the old 3Gs iPhones before the end of June with 4G compatible devices. Since iPhone 5 does not reach the minimum requirements for Endava Premium Phones standard, please choose between the below three models by the end of the week, 7th of June:

•         Samsung GS4 [Android]

•         Sony Xperia Z [Android]

•         Nokia Lumia 920 [Windows]

Please confirm the model by replying to this email with your choice.

Also please be informed that the new phone must be kept for the next three years and replying to this email is the confirmation you agree with this term.

Thank you,

Kind regards,

I questioned what the minimum requirements were, but in the interest of your time, the conclusion was that there was zero leniency and we had to choose one of the listed devices.

I instantly discounted the Sony because I know people with Sony laptops and phones. They are always slightly bespoke and never quite work as well as the standard operating system.

The Nokia was intriguing. I owned and liked one of the very first HTC Windows phones several years ago. The two people I know with modern Nokia/ Windows passionately try converting everyone else to the platform, however the app store doesn’t include some of my favourite and most used apps. It’s interesting how I chose a work phone based on the consumer apps. I even went to the support forums of those apps and saw users begging for Windows releases, but without any response.

I asked around and came to the conclusion to go for the Samsung.

Firstly, it’s nice having a phone so responsive. And the screen is incredibly, vividly clear. The phone is physically larger than any other smartphone I’ve seen, although I like it. It’s more like a mini tablet, and considering I don’t have a tablet, its nice having such a large screen.

There are some downsides. After three weeks of use, and I still make loads of mistakes on the keyboard. The space bar seems to be in the wrong position because I join words together with a ‘b’ instead of separating them with a space.

And my big bugbear is that Samsung lost a patent to Apple over the use of showing misspelt words with a red underline. Having been used to this on word processors, web browsers and all previous phones that I can think of, and overusing the ‘b’ key, my email recipients must think I’ve become illiterate in the last month.

The App Store (sorry, ‘Play’) is comprehensive and easy to use – within an hour I’d downloaded all the apps that I’d used on my iPhone. The difference is that on Android, the icons appear in a mess rather than the nice layout of the iPhone. Another hour later and the apps were organised quicker than you can say ‘OCD’.

One of the nice features is that all photos are automatically uploaded to a Dropbox account. To me, this is real consumer cloud functionality because it makes the data more portable, rather than Apple’s iCloud, which isn’t portable, and to this day I still can’t delete my Apple ID.

I like the notifications interface. Whereas Apple displays notifications for each app (with the red circle), Android is more subtle with small icons at the top of the screen, and a scroll down action shows the detail behind the notifications.

Apparently the Samsung is compatible with Vodafone’s 4G network, however the network itself isn’t ready yet. One of my colleagues at work who has a personal iPhone 5 on EE has faster Internet speeds using 4G than I get using Sky broadband Unlimited at home.

In summary, I’m happy with the Samsung because it’s so much quicker than The Classic, but having a super-modern phone that’s predominantly used for emails without a spell checker is more than a hindrance. However I would have much, much rather taken the new iPhone 5.

Who uses Snapchat?

Snapchat logoI had a great discussion with my Dad on the weekend about how the Internet has changed the culture of consumers into a rental model rather than ownership. My Dad has always been into music (he was in a band which released a ‘single’ that hit the top 100 and also supported The Who but sadly that was the end of the Howard-pop-music fame) and to this day he still buys CDs. He’s the definition of a technophobe, although this hasn’t restrained him commercially.

We were discussing the music industry. He still buys CDs. He prefers to go to shops to buy CDs, but this is getting increasingly harder, and accepts that from time to time he has to shop on Amazon, which is delegated to my Mum. I use Spotify, which is an alien concept to him. I described this as renting the ability to listen to an almost unlimited music library, on a monthly basis, but never owning a single track.

In the past few weeks I’ve heard a lot about Snapchat, a successful photo sharing service used by a young user base. When I say successful, naturally I don’t mean commercially – I mean in usage terms. 20 million photos a day are shared on Snapchat, by an audience aged 13 to 23 (so they are almost uncommercialisable from the outset).

The fascinating thing about Snapchat is that when you share a photo with a friend (and you can only share with friends), the photo lasts between 1 and 10 seconds. The sender decides on the longevity of the photo.

It’s interesting to think about my Dad, who will only buy music on a physical forma, and my kids who want to send photos which are temporary. It’s a completely different mindset.

Even after using Snapchat for a couple of weeks, I went to my Activity feed (or whatever it’s called on Snapchat) and looked for all the photos that I’ve sent. Only they weren’t there – everything is temporary.

And then it hit me. We talk about the difference between a digital natives and a digital immigrants all the time, and most of ‘us’ which fall into the latter group think we’re natives, but it’s only when we use applications like Snapchat does the divide seem so wide. Especially when I still like to print out my favourite photos.

New Google Maps review: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

Bert Lance popularised the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in 1977 and two of the biggest IT companies in the World today could do with some reminding.

New Google Maps
New Google Maps – looks nice, but unusable

In September 2012, Apple considered that Google’s Android was such a competitor to the iPhone since the first iPhone appeared, that it was bizarre to continue using Google’s mapping application. So Apple wrote their own mapping application, which has received some severe criticism, and has caused some of the senior management to leave the company.

Google Maps is excellent, and they saw the opportunity to release an [excellent] iOS map app, which I use on my iPhone.

Google Maps, browser version is also excellent. The Streetview is great for becoming familiar with your destination before starting the journey, and the routing is excellent too, whether walking, driving or using public transport.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, said Lance.

Google sent me an invite a fortnight ago to look at the new Maps website, apparently written from the ground up (no pun intended) and I eagerly accepted the invite.

It looks lovely. But it’s awful to use. For instance, the map doesn’t show you where you are. The familiar right-click has disappeared, so you have to type source and destination addresses rather than just right-click on either of them and press ‘Directions to/from here’. Right click now shows a point of interest (usually a business) near where you right clicked, which I haven’t yet found a single practical use for.

Streetview now takes over the page with a tiny map, and you can’t drag the ‘person icon’ to see a different area on the map. To get back to map mode from Streetview used to be obvious – there was a traditional close button, now it’s an almost hidden, size 8 font hyperlink.

Google Maps is a big step backwards. As a client used to say every time he moved up a Windows version, “I’ve just downgraded to the latest version”.

How to deal with Internet services that are closing down

Death of Internet servicesThere has been a lot of discussion on the web this week regarding three separate services: Google Reader, Evernote and Posterous. I have talked about how our Internet trust will be broken soon, and each of these three vendors have demonstrated this in their own ways.

Google have shut down their Reader service. It doesn’t bother me too much – the service was satisfactory, nothing more, and I prefer to read RSS feed in Outlook. Reader was a free service, and its users’ main complaint is how it knocked other services out of the market only to stop the product years later when everyone has gone bust.

Evernote announced that it’s service has been compromised, “…but don’t worry…” passwords haven’t been compromised. What its users don’t understand is that the content in the thousands/ millions of notes probably was compromised. So if you used an Evernote page for passwords or other confidential data, well, it’s probably not so confidential any longer.

And while Posterous announced a while ago that they would be shutting down, I’ve spent a few evenings this week moving this very blog from Posterous over to a new provider. I’ve actually bitten the bullet and moved the blog over to my own personal server. I just didn’t want to go through the hassle of moving it again.

Playing Devil’s advocate, the services above are free. You pay peanuts (or nothing), so you don’t get a chance to say “Hey, I was using that…”.

As a learned friend of mine once said, “Today’s gift is tomorrow’s expectation.”

So what’s the advice for the future?

Firstly, corporates take note. If you use these services, be prepared for here today, gone tomorrow. Use PaaS (Platform as a Service) vendors – Salesforce, Google Analytics, Endava (shameless plug), etc., but make sure your data is transferable, accessible and secure (not necessarily in that order).

Secondly, consumers need to be similarly aware. I have a simple approach – I assume all new startups can be gone in an instant, and are operated by a fourteen year old in their bedroom somewhere dodgy. Only once the trust builds up will I invest more time with content.

As I mentioned before, Google Reader doesn’t affect me. Posterous… well, whenever I’ve been to blogger meetings, everyone is talking about WordPress and I felt like I was on the wrong platform.

Evernote is the one that has annoyed me the most, because it’s (present tense) such a great product. But I can’t trust it. And my corporate security guys have said we can’t use it any longer (or any similar services).

So I’ve started using OneNote again. A few guys in the office use OneNote, and since I got the new convertible Ultrabook, OneNote makes sense. And then I discovered the OneNote iPhone app, which syncs with my laptop… and boom! I now have an enterprise version of Evernote.

Whilst writing this article I noticed that Menshn has shut down as well. Menshn was a great idea, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first users invited. I say it was a great idea, although I hadn’t logged on for a couple of months, so it hadn’t quite replaced my preferred social networks.

But the morale of this post is that if I had invested huge amounts of time and content, I’d be pretty miffed at the moment that it’s now all gone.

Why Apple and the fashion clothing industry are so similar


I met someone recently who works in the fashion industry and I was surprised that she manufactures her clothes in the UK, in London.

The rationale was both the quality, although she said that with enough training there are other cheaper countries which could eventually match the UK quality; and the time to market. She said that there are other fashion companies moving to the UK because it’s difficult to justify garments sitting on a container ship for several weeks on their way from Asia to the UK.

The same is happening in the technology industry. Apple has announced it will begin manufacturing Macs in the US. One reason for this is the publicity of job creation. Another reason for this is to speed up the time to market – something that Tim Cook has spent his career doing in supply chain management.

I recently bought a new Dell laptop. We placed the order during the first week of January and a couple of days later we heard that the laptop won’t be shipping until February 11th. 

This week I was told that shipment won’t be before February 28th. 

It is hardly surprising then, that Apple’s hardware financial results are simply outstanding at the moment, and that Dell is having trouble. You can’t increase revenues if your products are unavailable for purchase. 

This is one of the key reasons Apple is so successful – a consumer can walk into a shop or buy online, and have the product instantly. The consumer can then take out their credit card and start buying apps straight away.

Apples are fashionable devices. That’s another reason the company is so successful – as soon as the new [version of] iPhone, iPad or iPod comes out, people want to buy them. Apple then offers the [fashion] buzz and purchase immediacy. 

So then, it’s no surprise how the world of fashion clothing and technology are aligning.

Photo courtesy of Digital Cat on Flickr