Sometimes you wonder….

For those early adopters of us the CES show in America is a chance to learn about some new gadgets being brought to market. This is a show of boys toys at their best. I am really tempted to buy a quadcopter… This is clearly one of life’s essentials!


But the most bizarre thing I heard about this year was the ipotty. The picture says it all really. It’s a potty connected to an iPad.

The idea is that this contraption will keep kids entertained whilst ‘using’ the potty. It will be a distraction. They won’t mind spending hours playing angry birds whilst performing bodily functions. Importantly the stand on which the ipad sits can be rotated – so they could write an essay or watch Die Hard. But remain until their business is done. The target audience is six months to three years.

I have a couple of observations. Firstly you will definitely need the optional splash guard – to protect your most valued (iPad). I think the warranty might be invalid if the ipad is ‘dunked’. Secondly why limit the age to three years. What about those forty-somethings? Surely this will allow us to remain ‘always-on’ even when we go for a pee? A missed opportunity I think… I can see the next version on the drawing board right now?

No such thing as a free lunch?

Although it’s an American study – I am guessing that the UK is no different. From a new poll of just over 1,000 New Yorkers it was found that:

* less than 20% of employees take a lunch break
* 39% eat lunch at their desk
* 28% report taking no lunch break at all
* More than 80% state that a “proper lunchtime” is a thing of the past

I’m not surprised. Our lives are so busy that the eating thing is just something we need to do to help us through the afternoon. It punctuates the working day – and has become almost a distraction.

It is compounded by the fact that we are now ‘always on’. Our phones distract us with their constant ‘ping’ as emails, texts or reminders pop up. Some people now have two phones – a personal one and a work one! we have iPads or Galaxies – and carry laptops around with us. We hanker after wi-fi points.

You do wonder if this is all healthy? Missing lunch is bad; sitting eating it in front of that big flat screen thing is worse?

Perhaps we should make the effort to get up – walk around and go and sit somewhere else to eat lunch? I was going to start today – but note that I have a meeting. Hmmm…

Microsoft – playing catch-up?

Incredibly Microsoft have a new product! You probably won’t have seen one before – it’s a tablet style computer…

This is their advert – you can queue for it from the 26th.

Oddly if you bought one of those Apple IPad things or a Samsung tablet – this might be a bit behind the curve?

There was a time when Windows were at the forefront of technology – pushing the boundaries. I have no doubt that this new tablet will be a capable machine – but it looks for all the world to have copied the APple and Samsung machines?

Apple – the grip loosens?

This week there were numerous column inches taken up with the story that Apple was now the most valuable company in the world – worth around $623bn. Steve Jobs has left an indelible mark on society – and on the financial markets.

But is this all correct. In fact the most valuable company in the world is likely to be a Saudi Aramco. Saudi Aramco has proven reserves of 260 billion barrels of oil – a fifth of all the oil in the world. And then there’s 283 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves (the fourth largest in the world). These companies are not easy to value, but it is estimated conservatively that it is worth around $1.25trillion – double that of Apple.

It doesn’t really matter as much of this is paper money – and fortunes can change – although if I were a betting man, I might put my cash into oil rather than technologies.

It pains me to say but I wonder if the Apple crown might be slipping. The iPhone 4 is now showing it’s age and the secretive Apple bods aren’t announcing a date yet for the 5. It will need to be good, because there is no doubt that the Samsung Galaxy S3 is a fantastic piece of kit. I have spoken to a number of people who think it currently out-shines the IPhone.

Then there’s the Galaxy Tab – head to head with the Ipad. Again, the Galaxy is quite comparable.

People still like Apple stuff because it works. But you are rather tied to what Steve Jobs is prepared to let you tweak. The Samsungs on the other hand are much more able to be personalised due to their operating system. I met an Architect in the week – he showed me some of his work on an iPad – I suggested that these devices had made this sort of presentation so much easier – he agreed, but pointed out that the photos had to be shown in the order Mr Jobs chose! His colleagues used a Galaxy Tab – they had no such issue.

Interesting times?

PS In case you were wondering – my iphone 5 is on order!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged , , Iphone 5, market capitalisation, , Saudi Aramco, tablet, Value

The iPhone 5

You will know that I’m a Mac addict user. I have the compulsory iPad, iPhone, MacBook Air, iMac, Apple Tv … etc.

Our contract at work is just running out on our telephones, we have had iphone4 for 18 months and generally speaking they have been excellent. Apart from a few broken screens I know few of our 40 users who would want to go back (well there are a couple of Luddites in my Leicester office who like the Nokia 6310i- but they use typewriters too).

It is rumoured that there will be a major upgrade to the iPhone – making version 5 – and the date is apparently set of September 16th. We have our names down. I wouldn’t go back to any other device – the iPhone just works. I use it for my emails / diary – and occasionally for making calls!

But I was also interested to note that a new iPad is potentially on the cards – a smaller version than the current model. I use my ipad a lot – especially when I’m travelling. I wouldn’t write a report on it, but for checking emails, browsing the internet and watching presentations it is superb.

I think we are on the cusp of Business seeing the real benefits of the iPad as a presentation tool. I have seen Architects use them to great effect. I sam motor manufacturers at the Geneva Motor Show use them. This week we were discussing MIPIM 2013 – and how we showcase Nottingham. More than one of our ‘team’ suggested that we all use iPads to carry a very portable presentation / film / data. I can see a real advantage in this – a smaller iPad might be even better…

Portable Speakers….

I bought some small portable speakers in New York four years ago – they were really good, but they got a bit wet last year at the Isle of Wight Festival. It turns out they weren’t waterproof and so emitted a hiss in protest. Irritating at the best of times. They got binned.

So I have been looking for replacement. Ideally so that I can listen to my iPod / laptop when I am away. An external speaker is a necessary luxury!

The solution has been found in the form of a Jawbone Jambox. I bought it in the shop girls don’t get – the Apple store in the Meatpacking District of New York. It was $199, so not cheap.

It is fantastic. The sound from the tiny little box belies its size. And better still it connects to my phone and laptop by bluetooth (although there is a dinky little red flat wire for a speaker connection). It also has a microphone so you can use it for ‘hands free’ – the reception is really clear. I haven’t used it for conference calling, but it looks as though it will handle this with ease.

It’s an impressive bit of kit, really well built, cool to look at and sounds as good as some hi-fi systems! The battery life is around 10 hours too. It could have almost been made by Apple – it’s so good!

It now accompanies me everywhere – so when the need takes me I can do Tiger Feet on the train or wherever…

Human progress…

Over the break I attended a funeral of an old client; he was 89 years old. At the Church I was thinking that this wasn’t a bad innings.

But the address by his son made me think. He talked about what his father had seen in his lifetime. Early memories were of travelling to and from the church in a pony and trap – to seeing a man walk on the moon. This was obviously a quantum leap. But the moon landings were over 40 years ago.

In that time, we may have not explored much further physically but our world at home has probably changed beyond recognition (and belief). And this is mostly through technology.

90 years ago, I suspect an iPad showing real time Sky news from the other side of the world would seem impossible. But then so talking at a computer to someone in China on Skype would too. My 12 hour non-stop flight to Shanghai would have been the stuff of dreams. But also consider the advances in medicine – one invention from Nottingham was the MRI Scanner – a magic machine which looks inside you in glorious 3D. Amazing in 2012, let alone in the 1920′s!

I then heard an interesting argument on the radio about how the technology was intruding into our everyday lives – email, twitter, Skype, mobile telephones. I blogged before about how some people were looking to switch some of the technology off – because it has been too distracting. Some nay-sayers are suggesting that the world is going to blow up with information overload. But the flip side to this argument is that we have heard it all before. As each new technology has been invented, there have been skeptics.

Amusingly I cam across this quote from some ‘British experts’ from 1900 – they said, “The telephone may be appropriate for our American cousins, but not here, because we have an adequate supply of messenger boys.”

I can’t help but wonder what will come next?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged , Moon, MRI Scanner, progress, Sir Peter Mansfield, Technology, telephone

The paperless office

It was a few years ago that this phrase was born, a sort of utopian world where you no longer needed a pen and paper. We would speak at computers or type away. It wasn’t something that I could do easily. I like scribbling ideas and notes in my Moleskine books.

Latterly I had settled on a squared book, which contained pages of sketches, notes, to-do lists and minutes of meetings. It was a great aide-memoire.

But I have seen the light. And gone paperless (well almost).

I have had an iPad for some time (actually since the day they were launched) – but a few weeks ago, I got an iPad2 – and swapped my old machine with a colleague. I found that I wasn’t using the 3G capabilities – and he wanted that facility.

The new bit of kit spurred me into action and I decided to see if I could manage without my notebook. And since 10th October I haven’t scribbled anything in it. It is partly because I have discovered Evernote – which is a free App – and one that synchronises with my iPad, macbook air, iPhone and iMac. It is really clever – it lets me clip things to it – web addresses, PDF files and the like. All of my projects are in one place. I can add to notes and they are sorted by project.

Alongside this I am using DropBox and Iprocrastinate for my to-do list and for sharing documents respectively.

It was interesting to be at a clients office last week – and be able to discuss some land with him – by showing him a crystal clear OS map on my iPad – rather than one of my sketches! Of course, I could have printed the plan off, but I didn’t know I was going to be discussing this particular matter when I went to see him. As I build up the notes and database, I can see this method of working becoming more useful.

And just in case, for the moment, I am carrying my notebook around… I wonder what a psychiatrist would make of that! Safety Net?

It just works?

It’s always an interesting time of year when Steve Jobs takes to the stage in San Francisco at the WWDC. Previously announcements have included the iphone and ipad. But this weeks was different – it was about the software.

There are always some fascinating statistics during a keynote and this year was no exception…

The market is shifting; Apple grew its revenues by 28% in the year – against PC sales falling by 1%. Apple now has 44% of the phone market – with 200 million devices in circulation worldwide. The ipad has been a massive success – selling 25 million units in 14 months! And itunes is now the largest music store on the planet – selling 15 billion songs since it started. There are now 425,000 Apps for sale in the AppStore – and 14 billion have been downloaded…

But Steve Jobs kept coming back to his favourite phrase, “it just works”. And this is true – that is why I became a mac fan – you don’t have to spend hours searching for ‘driver discs’ – the system just works. You plug something in and it knows what it is.

The real star of the keynote was icloud – which is clearly the way forward. In essence you are now going to be able to have copied of all of your documents held on the cloud – and automatically synced to all of your devices – automatically. For me this will be brilliant. I already use the idisk facility offered by mobileme, but the new system looks brilliant and much more user friendly. Whats more its going to be free.

The question will be whether I sign up for the new itunes service which will look through your itunes library for all fo your ripped music and then ‘convert it’ into itunes music for downloading and synchronising with all of your devices. I am waiting for details of this, but this looks to be an interesting move…

Apple and the ipad2

My ipad is nearly 9 months old – and in the world of technology that is a lifetime it seems. I blogged about the birth here.

So, on 25th March 2011 a new ipad will be born. It’s 33% thinner and 15% lighter. And the battery life is now extended to 10 hours. It has also got 2 cameras – which were anticipated in the original.

So will I get one? In a word – no.

I use my ipad a lot – I think it is great, but I don’t need the cameras, nor does the size of the machine worry me. The battery life is brilliant – I think I charge it probably once a week? I haven’t tested it from full to flat – but I am guessing that it is around 6 hours.

I have used it as a mini laptop – but I have to say that it doesn’t replace my trusty 13″ MacBookPro – which goes everywhere with me. It has been in New York and Cannes this month – and next week it will accompany me to Shanghai.

I think I still need a keyboard! I find typing lots on the ipad to be too hard. But it is great for reading mail and news.The screen quality is superb – and shows off the photographs from my various trips brilliantly.

I am a fan of Apple kit as you probably know if you follow my blog. But I am not as sad as the ‘early adopters’ in the USA – who seem to worry if they are three hours behind their fellow Countrymen in getting their hands on the new kit. You can read the rather sad story here.