iPad first impressions

This is an excellent device. Category changer like the iPhone was with smart phones.

I'm typing this post on my iPad with a paired bluetooth keyboard and it is a great combination with a total weight of less than two pounds and no keyboard in the way when I don't need it on planes and trains.

Lots of complaints that this is a consumption device and not a creation device. While that argument is reasonable, I think the contrarian pundits aren't thinking outside the box.

If I could get Coda for iPad I'd be a happy camper....are you listening Panic Software?


Thoughts on the iPad

I'm really excited to add the iPad to my technology arsenal. Here are a few reasons why, along with some things that I hope are present in this generation and what I'd like to see in iPad 2.0

Reasons I want one now:

In the past two years, there have been many times that I've wanted to travel with just my iPhone, but found the interface just a tad bit too small to handle my on-the-road computing requirements. The larger size of the iPad and support for BlueTooth keyboards means I'll be able to have the best of both worlds; a larger touch-screen interface with the ability to hook up a keyboard when I need one.

It's a killer entertainment device. Listen to music, watch movies, or read books and magazines in a great form factor with a 10 hour battery life. Right now I carry an iPod Touch and a Kindle, and with the iPad Apple has unified them into one device. One of my greatest frustrations with my Kindle is the requirement for external lighting, so I'm pleased to have an e-reader I can use in the dark.

I love gaming on my iPhone and don't use a DS or PSP on the road any more. I'm sure the mobile gaming on the iPad will exceed the iPhone platform. Fun.

Support for content creation via the iWork platform means this device can be used for productivity as well as consumption. I just hope the applications can open and work with Office documents (see below).

A touch interface. Longtime readers of this blog will know that I've been a fan of touch interfaces for years and used a Fingerworks touch keyboard as my primary input device at work and in my home office. With this device, we are finally realizing the promise of Apple's Fingerworks acquisition and the Fingerwork's stuff was truly innovative.

Support for iTunes University. This is a really good thing and with the iBook support the iPad becomes a great educational device. As a professor and father, this excites me.

It only weighs 1.5 pounds and will fit in every bag I own. That means this device is easy to take on the road on a trip or to the coffee shop.

There are a few features I hope are supported, but haven't been confirmed yet.

Ability to load iWork, but more importantly Microsoft Office, documents for editing and saving on the device. I'd like to get a Word document via email, open it in Pages, save it in a Word compatible format, and email it back to someone. If I can't do this on the iPad it will greatly diminish its value as a road warrior device.

Play iTunes in the background. The lack of background apps is a bummer, but I'm really banking on the fact that since this is based on the iPhone OS that I'll be able to listen to my music and podcasts in the background.

Support video out for my MyVu classes. There are times when I really don't want to subject the 80 year old Jordanian woman sitting next to me in business class to the latest episode of Dexter. I'm really hoping I'll be able to use my MyVu glasses with this device as well.

Push notifications: I'm hoping that the devices with the SIM option support the push notifications. This takes the sting out of the lack of background apps, but only a little bit.

Here are some things I'm disappointed with that I hope will be added in future generations of the device:

A web cam. I don't need a high resolution camera, but I want to iChat/Skype with colleagues and family.

Background applications. There reaches a point when there are no longer any viable excuses for why background applications aren't allowed on this device and the iPhone. We are at that point now.

Voice input. The combination of touchscreen and verbal commands are the future of mobile interfaces, so the iPad is only half way there.

An always on desktop dock. I want to drop this in a dock at the office and have it cycle through my pictures and my calendar (think a Chumby on steroids).

Integrated mesh networking. If there are other folks on my plane with an iPad I want to be able to play chess against them via some sort of bonjour network discovery mode.

GPS. I'd settle for a bluetooth connection to my iPhone GPS, but I'd love to be able to view GPS enabled maps on the iPad.

[Update - According to this video, Steve Jobs directly confirms that you can write a document in Pages, save it to Word and the then email it. Perfect!]


We all live in the future now...

While I'm not usually one to dwell on the significance of a new decade, 2010 seems worth reflecting on.  This post covers a hodge-podge of issues keeping in tune with this blog's general charter of technology, security, and obscurity.  Hopefully, there's something for everybody.

When I first started working national security issues, 2010 was one of the decades we always forecasted towards for planning and wargaming purposes. It was far enough in the future to put our futurists caps on, but still close enough to be tangible. It was the future. As we enter into 2010, I can't shake this feeling that we all live in the future now.

Here's why...

Devost's law of exponential change

Massive change becomes twice as easy every 36 months. The fuse of societal, technological, and scientific change will become increasingly shorter over time. Although change might occur more quickly (e.g easier) over time, that is not to say that some change won't be devastatingly hard, even when occurring on a compressed time-frame.

Change will be accelerated by factors of globalization, including increased connectivity and the spread of global memes. More significantly though, by almost an evolutionary adaption that makes us more accepting of massive change. It feels like we are increasingly wired this way. Market meltdowns, mass casualty terrorism, pandemics, and rapid-paced technology adoption prepare us for living in a world where change happens on massive scales and fast.

Therefore, the more things change, the more they will change (vice the more they stay the same). Change on steroids also means that our ability to alienate is also exponentially enhanced, if not intentionally, then certainly as a result of massive change that is not universally adopted.

Technology Issues

The past decade has brought us some incredible technology as well, and the next decade will build upon advances heralded in over the past few years.

Our lives at our fingertips

I've got the whole world in my hand. With the introduction of the iPhone 3GS last year, I'm able to cover about 95% of my computing needs for short periods of time (several days) using a device I keep in my pocket. In fact, 2009 marked the first time I've traveled without a laptop since they were introduced and I certainly didn't miss the last 5%. The iPhone, which is a relatively new technology, was certainly a game changer and our advancements in that area will benefit from Moore's law in the coming decade. Having purchased all three iterations of the phone, I've got them scattered throughout my house like tissue boxes.

It has been interesting to contrast this immediate access to information during my father's recent holiday visit. My father, who designed chip cooling systems for IBM in the late 60's before returning to the family logging business does not use computers. Questions like "I wonder how old Dick Clark is?", "What year did Bobby Orr retire?" are all answerable in seconds. He was amazed at the absence of a outside thermometer at our house. The elementary school next door has a complex weather station I can tap into from my iPhone, so why bother when temp, wind speed, etc. are all immediately accessible. You can read about the 23 devices my iPhone has replaced.

I think smart-phones will further become phone-computers and we'll have better storage and bandwidth that will make them essential equipment. The biggest improvements will be at the interface level with the introduction of motion-based gesturing, advanced voice recognition, and advanced voice response systems. There is no reason to be fumbling with multi-touch in two years and we'll be talking to our phones (as well as on them) as our primary interaction mechanism. With the introduction of the Apple tablet in early 2010, a generation of technologist will be able to experiment with an entirely new form factor and groundbreaking interface components, so 2010 will start off with a technological bang.

Ubiquitous bandwidth

Telecommunication carriers be damned, I think we are moving towards and environment of ubiquitous high speed internet access that will be delivered over fiber and wireless. When I moved into my house 6 years ago, I had to put an antenna on my roof to try and catch a wireless signal several miles up the road. Later, I invested in a T1 line with gave me 1.5mbps for $400.00/ month. Today, I've got fiber to the house and bandwidth of 50mbps available for $150.00/month. I often get T1 speeds over cellular networks as well.

With ubiquitous bandwidth, the lines that define where we work, play, and learn indistinguishably blend together for better or for worse. We'll get more, pay less and that will drive innovation across lots of different platforms. I didn't start using the term cloud computing until a few years ago and now it defines my digital existence. Most of what I care about digitally is accessible via the cloud whether it be my music collection or an essay I wrote a decade ago. With additional bandwidth our dependence on the cloud will not only increase, but we'll all become part of the mobile cloud as well. Want to know how traffic is on the toll road? My phone should be able to tell the cloud and we'll all be gridlinked in our gridlock.

Virtual worlds

Regular readers of this blog know that I've been watching the development of virtual worlds like Second Life very closely. Virtual worlds have become places of employment, enjoyment, and societal petri dishes for a wide-range of cultural experiments. In seeing Avatar last week I was struck by the narrative in which the main character Jake describes how he couldn't tell which world was real and which was a dream and that his avatar world seemed like the real-world to him. Three years ago I met several people in Second Life who expressed the same feelings about the virtual world created by Linden Labs. Immersion in virtual worlds will accelerate as the worlds become more complex. The implications of this immersion are much more complex than most are willing to acknowledge and we'll just start to touch upon them in the coming decade as they serve for the precursor to complex cultural and religious debates we will encounter should we ever achieve some sort of singularity.

I also think virtual worlds pose some interesting financial questions as well. How much is virtual property worth? For example, someone just paid $330,000.00 USD for space station in a virtual game. That is more than most real-world houses cost. What happens if the server crashes, or worse, if the company that operates the game folds? With gaming companies have to start setting up endowments to allow for continued virtual world operation considering the extensive financial investments users are making?

Artificial Intelligence

I don't think we'll see true artificial intelligence in the next decade, but there is no reason why we won't see significantly augmented intelligence software bots in the next five years. The first components of these augmented intelligence systems will be to help us organize, manage, retrieve and interact with our digital lives. While enhanced user interfaces will help us deal with information and communication overload, they'll only get us so far. Why should I manually check into FourSquare when I arrive at a local bar?   I'm also ready for the day when my phone automatically dials my wife when I get in the car to head home at night (or at least asks me if I would like to call her). These will be the little steps that will drive the augintel (go ahead, the domain is available) space and we'll soon two camps; the augs and the nonaugs walking down the street.

Geo everything

Location, location, location. There are hundreds of blog posts talking about the importance of location data in the next decade, so I won't re-invent the wheel here. I'll only acknowledge that I agree this is a critical area/capability and also highlight that space-time travel data is analytic super-food!

Display technologies

I'm less interested in the next 65" LED display and more interested in where MyVu is in 10 years. I expect that in 10 years we'll be talking about the personalization of display technologies as screens get embedded in eyeglasses and other head's up displays. The MyVu glasses changed the way I travel and give me a big entertainment screen in half a pound of portable plastic and silicon. In the next decade, I do expect to wear my computer most of the time.

Security and Emerging Threats

Two primary areas of my professional expertise, terrorism and cybersecurity, will have continued prominence over the next decade.

Adversaries will be able to engage in attacks of disproportionate impact for the foreseeable future and we'll face a multitude of complex threats for which we are not currently adequately prepared.

Mass casualty terrorism attacks will continue to be a reality in the coming decade and despite the fact that bin Laden will be captured or killed, we'll continue to see attacks against Western targets by AQ linked adversaries. It is highly likely one of those attacks will include a weapon of mass destruction.

Self-organizing cells continue to be an emergence concern (sorry couldn't resist the pun). While the damage a self-organizing group might be able to cause might be limited, they present an incredible law enforcement and intelligence challenge. To that end, we'll see the re-emergence of transaction and pattern-based intelligence analysis initiatives as subject-based analysis will continue to face shortcomings in countering self-organizing groups. As big a fan as I am of the human aspect of intelligence analysis, some sort of augmentation is going to be required. The recent failed Christmas attack is probably a great example of why research and development in intelligence software is needed.

We'll also need new tools to enhance collaboration. To that extent, it was disappointing to see two great experimental platforms shut down in 2009 (ugov and Bridge) as I was a user and supporter of both. What we need is more disruptive test-beds like these, not fewer. To that extent, I'll continue to fund the GroupIntel Network (www.groupintel.com) which has grown to over 250 intelligence and security professionals conducting some interesting collaborative analysis.

Cybersecurity has finally fully emerged as a legitimate national and economic security concern and will see tremendous growth (both in e-crime exploitation and counter e-crime budgets) in the next several years. We've seen economies of scale indicating that hundreds of millions of dollars are being made via electronic fraud activities and the lines are blurring between cybercrime and information warfare in unanticipated ways. In some instances it looks like states are viewing and utilizing cybercrime infrastructures as extensions of state power.

Unfortunately, we haven't solved the cyber-strategy issues just yet. I look forward to working with folks like the CCSA (www.cyberconflict.org) and Department of Defense to address some of these deficiencies.

A lot of what I said about Cyber last year is still applicable this year, so rather that regurgitate it, I'll just point you to my post entitled "The Year of Living Cyberdangerously"

Other security issues on my radar screen going into the teens include:

Mexican criminal insurgencies - My friend John Sullivan and I have been promoting some collaborative analysis of this issue for a couple of years now via the GroupIntel Network. However, the potential for increased cross-border criminal insurgency from Mexico into the United States is inevitable at this point.

Convergence - The blending of national, criminal, terrorist and other non-state gray area actors will be an issue of concern in the coming years. My interest in this area was first piqued by research done with my colleagues and friends Walter Purdy and Sebastian Junger on the Tri-border region. As it turns out the TBR is probably a good model for what we will continue to see in the future.

Decline of nation states - Not quite sure where I stand on this one yet as I see two distinct possibilities at opposite ends of the spectrum. While the science fiction fan in me observes indicators that the role of the nation-state will decline, I can also envision the rise of hyper-nationalism as well. I think we'll observe entities at both ends of the spectrum in the next decade, but not sure which is the pervasive trend. With the significance of shadow economies and the increasing role of corporate interests in international regulation, we'll all feel like we are living in Bruce Sterling's world from time to time.

Homeland Security - While our homeland security apparatus continues to focus on serving the bureaucracy at the federal level, I expect that we'll see a lot of critical homeland security issues solved at the State and Local level. Give me a DARPA style entity focused exclusively on State and Local and I'll give you 100X better return on your security investment versus what is achieved at the federal DHS level. Several self-organizing initiatives that have suffered budgetary and political pressures (think Terrorism Early Warning Groups) will re-emerge in response to emerging security concerns from future attacks. In the past decade we've taught a lot of folks to fish and in the teens we'll let them get back on the docks.

Science

In the next decade I think the most consequential scientific issues will fall into two simple categories; genetics and space. I'm an expert in neither but fascinated by both. To that end, I hope we really start exploring space again.

My 2010 Wildcard - Gov 2.0

In the past year I've been very interested in the Government 2.0 movement.  I sponsored a Gov 2.0 barcamp and attended a major conference on the topic.

You rarely encounter so much passion and capability aligned towards one goal, so I'm optimistic there's a "there" there. However, I think we going to have to see the conversations go much more granular and grassroots to see any real momentum. Also, with the move towards Gov 2.0 I'm fully cognizant of the fact we'll likely get Gov Vista Home Professional Edition along the way as well.  It's an acceptable risk.

I wrote a post summarizing my reaction to the Gov 2.0 Camp last March that is worth taking a look at if you are interested in the topic.

Final thoughts

Someone once told me that every generation uniquely thinks they live in the most interesting and challenging times.  I think they were probably onto something.

To that extent, I certainly feel like that is the case with my generation, but it is hard to contrast with things like the introduction of international aviation or World Wars that saw the loss of millions of lives.  I do feel like we are standing on the precipice in so many interesting and scary domains that we'd better fasten our seatbelts for the next decade.  I'd welcome your thoughts so let me know what you think in the comments below.


Your Movements Speak for Themselves: Space-Time Travel Data is Analytic Super-Food!

This is a must read blog post by Jeff Jonas -

Mobile devices in America are generating something like 600 billion geo-spatially tagged transactions per day. Every call, text message, email and data transfer handled by your mobile device creates a transaction with your space-time coordinate (to roughly 60 meters accuracy if there are three cell towers in range), whether you have GPS or not. Got a Blackberry? Every few minutes, it sends a heartbeat, creating a transaction whether you are using the phone or not. If the device is GPS-enabled and you’re using a location-based service your location is accurate to somewhere between 10 and 30 meters. Using Wi-Fi? It is accurate below10 meters. (Jeff Jonas)


23 devices my iPhone has replaced

iphone-converge

I started thinking about what a converged device the iPhone is and compiled this impressive list of devices I used to carry that are now replaced by my iPhone.  This is an unprecedented level of convergence if you ask me.  A quick informal tally shows that the iPhone is replacing $2700.00 dollars worth of equipment and several pounds worth of gear.

1) Blackberry - I used to carry a dedicated Blackberry for email in addition to my phone.  Most users will just use their Blackberry as their phone, but I was never really happy with the BB form factor as a phone.  The iPhone serves as both my email retrieval device and phone.

2) Phone - See above.

3) iPod - My iPhone has a built in iPod.  No need for a dedicated device, though in all honesty I usually carry my iPod Touch or Classic with me on travel as well.

4) Nuvi GPS - With built in GPS (and soon turn-by-turn directions) I've had no need for a dedicated GPS device.

5) Sirius portable player - I used to carry a Sirius radio portable player on travel for access to commercial free music and talk radio.  With my iPhone I can stream Sirius over 3G or WiFi.  Unfortunately, there is no Howard Stern which may be a deal breaker for some users, but not for me.

6) RSA SecureID - With the RSA application, no need to carry a separate token.

7) eBay/PayPal SecureID - Another iPhone application eliminates the need for either of these devices.

8 ) WiFI SIP phone - My iPhone has a SIP phone client that I use to connect to my SIP provider over WiFi from anywhere in the world.

9)  PSP - I'm happy enough with the iPhone as a gaming platform to leave the PSP at home.

10) Nintendo DS - I gave this to my daughter after buying an iPhone.

11) Digital camera - I wouldn't want to photograph my cousins wedding with the iPhone camera, but for out and about daily shots it works great.  I can also upload and email photos from the device on the go.

12)  Flip Video Camera - The iPhone 3GS replaces my Flip video camera with a larger capacity, built in editor, and ability to upload my videos to the Internet directly from the device.

13) WiFi signal locator - My iPhone can tell me which signals are nearby.

14) Amazon Kindle - For long trips, I'll still bring the Kindle, but for day to day and short duration travel, the iPhone Kindle reader works just fine.

15) Police Scanner - Several iPhone applications allow you to listen to local police scanners.  My favorite is WunderRadio.  While you lose the proximity aspect of tuning in what is nearby, most major cities are well covered and can be listened to from the iPhone.

16)  Radio - With Internet streaming of most major radio stations available, there is no need for a separate radio unless you trying to pick up a specific signal.  I'm usually not and there is something glorious about listening to your favorite NYC radio station while in LA

17) Travel Alarm Clock - The iPhone built in alarm capability has you covered.  I don't even use the alarms in hotel rooms any more.

18)  Portable TV - Honestly, I only carried this on a handful of trips, but with my iPhone and Slingbox application, I can watch TV anywhere I can get a WiFI signal.  In addition, I can watch shows recorded on my DVR at home.

19) Portable Voice Recorder - The iPhones built in application (or any of the dozens for sale in the App store) handle my voice recording needs.

20) Calculator - Until the iPhone I never could use my cell phone's built in calculator without extreme frustration.

21) Compass - The battery to the digital compass I had attached to my laptop bag died and I just removed the compass and threw it in a drawer.

22)  White noise machine - I don't personally travel with this device, but we do when traveling with the baby.  With the ambient noise application on my iPhone, we can leave this one at home.

23) USB Key - My iPhone works as a drive to share files wirelessly with my laptop when needed.

Devices that I wish my iPhone could replace:

1) Verizon MiFi - If tethering becomes available at a reasonable price, the MiFi could be left behind.  However, I love the MiFi so much, I'll probably keep it around for a while.

2) Laptop - For some trips, I'd love to leave the laptop at home.  If I could get a portable bluetooth keyboard that dream would become a reality for short trips.  Unfortunately, the onscreen keyboard is just not sufficient for major tasks or SSH sessions.

I'm hoping to update this with a follow-on post on the 10th anniversary of this article in June.  To see what I'm up to these days, be sure to visit DEV Group.


What will stick in Second Life?

It's been a while since I've posted about Second Life, but this article at Venture Beat sparked some thoughts:

The media narrative about Second Life and virtual worlds is starting to get past the hype stage, past the bashing stage, and is beginning to resemble reality. VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi has covered this shift in a thorough Q&A with parent company Linden Lab’s CEO Mark Kingdon.

Public misperception of Second Life and the virtual world landscape is beginning to change as we see what it means for the evolution a new global culture and economy. (Venture Beat)

Given that we do seem to be moving past the hype stage in SL media coverage and the environment seems to be growing slightly again, I'm curious as to what use cases will be persistent and what sort of communities will solidify in SL.

I still see it as platform for collaboration and expect that we will see additional tools for sharing data and creating 3D reference libraries. When I first posted about SL 3 years ago, I noted that using SL felt like using the first versions of the web. A bit clunky but with lots of potential. I'd still like to see better capabilities in rendering web objects in SL, but my guess is we will see lots of development in that area in the next 18 months.

The music community is also thriving in SL. I'll admit that the few times I've logged on in the past months were simply to stream a live DJ or music performance. There are some really talented people in SL and it is a great platform for discovering new artists.

There still seems to be an active gaming community in SL as well. Games are not my thing, but some of the most active communities revolve around gaming.

Of course, the dark side of SL will also continue to thrive. I look forward to Linden Labs implementing some controls that will allow for searches against places and events to not always littered with promotions for the second life adult community.

Overall,I still think there is a strong role for 3D immersive worlds like Second Life in technological future. I've downloaded but not installed Suns new virtual world platform and have watched with interest some of the Windows client only environments. What use cases, if any, do you see for 3D virtual worlds?


Gov20Camp Reaction

I'll admit to being a bit skeptical about Gov20Camp when I heard that attendance was going to exceed 500 people.  While I am familiar and comfortable with the concept of a bar camp unconference, I just hard a hard time imaging how you organize such a large group.  I was one of the first sponsors of the event and did so with the expectation that 50-100 really smart people would get together and share ideas.   I had a hard time imagining what would happen when amplified by a power of 10x.  I'm happy to say I was wrong and this was a tremendous event.

Given that no agenda was set until the attendees arrived and proposed topics in the open introduction, the event had some incredibly rich content and discussions.  I was reminded of the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference circa 1993-94 time frame where you had the right mix of brainpower, passion, and talent to allow big ideas and actions  to emerge.  Organizations like the EFF were just starting to get their legs and a lot of us were trying to figure out exactly what the implications of these emerging technologies were.  We had a lot of ideas and made a lot of predictions and while a lot came true (because we worked to make them true), I think most of the folks from that era would agree that we got a lot of things wrong and a lot of what we got wrong was based on an inherent bias to underestimate the potential that lay before us.  As Bruce Sterling noted a few months ago:

When you can't imagine how things are going to change, that doesn't
mean that nothing will change.  It means that things will change in
ways that are unimaginable. - Bruce Sterling

From the sessions I attended yesterday, I think the biggest challenge is not going to be "think different" but rather "think bigger".  In his closing remarks during the Us Now film panel Mark Drapeau noted that despite being the number 2 trending term on Twitter all day, none of this matters without scale and engagement outside this community of enthusiasts.  This issue of engagement is the biggest challenge that the Gov20 community faces.

In several of the sessions I also noticed a tendency to focus too narrowly and drill down into the weeds on issues that matter to us immediately versus the long-term implications of the issues.  Gov20 privacy is not about how you set up your Twitter profile, it is how you create a construct that facilitates both privacy and participation across the spectrum of social media technologies.  To that same extent, setting up your organization on Twitter does not a social media strategy make.  While I realize that baby steps and technology adoption are important, we need to think bigger.  Everyone at that conference probably agrees that Twitter is a tremendously enabling technology, but the real question is not how we use Twitter, but what does Twitter 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0 look like and how do we create strategies and change the dynamics of government to allow for the adoption of current and future enabling technologies?  If you are struggling with Twitter 1.0 implementation now, just Twitter about it on #Gov20Camp and I am sure you will get dozens of volunteers willing to help you out.

I was also incredibly happy to see such strong engagement by State and Local participants at the Camp.  I truly believe that the State/local environment will be the proving ground for a lot of these technologies as they can more easily handle the issues of scale and scope.  Social media volunteers should be looking to help these organizations engage and provide the proving ground for how Gov20 works.  I noticed participants from as far away as King county Washington.  Kudos to them for making the trip and being so thoroughly engaged.

I also hope our technologists and web 2.0 gurus were paying attention to the technology requirements emerging from the many panels.  I noted several opportunities for creating enabling technologies that are needed right now.  For example, a vetted directory of legitimate government users on Twitter was a requirement I heard emerging over and over.   If you want to follow King county, how do you know it is a trusted source and is the real King county?  A trusted directory would be easy to implement and score a home run right now.  A few smart techies pulling all-nighters and a handful of volunteers are all you need.  I'll buy the pizza and mountain dew!

It will be interesting to see the splinter camps form that will also allow for deep diving on particular issues.  For example, I've already signed up to participate in the camp that looks at how technology can be used in emergency situations.    While I imagine that Gov20Camp will continue to be a successful event for years to come, these focused initiatives will also be essential.

Overall, this was an incredibly rewarding event and I am proud to have participated and sponsored it.  I regret I can't make it to day two, but with three kids and a full Saturday agenda, I would need some family2.0 technologies to make that possible.  Good luck on day 2, I'll be watching the stream and checking out the live blogging so please step-up and keep them up2date!

    These posters starting emerging throughout the conference. I am not sure who       was greating them, but they were outstanding. I'm secretly hoping it was our high school student volunteers.
These posters starting emerging throughout the conference. I am not sure who was creating them, but they were outstanding. I'm secretly hoping it was our high school student volunteers.

Google Voice impressions

Google Voice is an interesting service and seems to work well. A couple of observations:

1)Voicemail is not forwarded as an attachment via email. Every other service I have tested does that.

2)SMS integration is very nice and is one area where Google is ahead of the curve.

3)Granularity in settings is severely lagging. For example, I can not pick whether to ring my phones in sequence or all at once. I also can't set it ring a certain number of times. I can not disable voicemail on the service (e.g. to always get the voicemail on my iPhone with Visual Voicemail). All services I've become used to.

4)There is only one widget badge to use...take it, leave it, or design your own.

5)Transcription is a nice service, but spotty at best.

6) No ability to port numbers into the service.

7) I'm worried about my number for life changing. This already happened to me once when the service was GrandCentral. I hope Google has a better handle on things.

If you are looking for a neat solution backed by a big player, Google Voice is worth taking a look at. However, if you need an enterprise class or small business solution, I would still recommend FreedomVoice or RingCentral, with RingCentral being my preferred vendor these days.


Kindle2 - initial review

I'm a big fan of the Kindle1 and decided to splurge for the second generation of the device.  Thus far, I've got to say I am happy with my purchase, but here's my twenty-four hour review.

Software interface - The software interface is significantly improved in a few key areas.  The most drastic change is the fact that the menu can now be navigated via the four way joystick which makes it a bit more intuitive.  I also like the fact that the screen refreshes quicker making the menus a little less cumbersome to work with.

The reading process is the same with faster refreshes and now includes a handy report of how far you are into the book (offered up as a percentage).

I also like the addition of the archive as a way to park my read books in the cloud with the ability to re-download them at any time.  This is a nice way to reduce clutter, but allows you to re-download without visiting the Amazon web site.

Graphics a crisper and noticeably improved

The most significant improvement for me is the fact that periodicals (like newspapers) are only kept for seven days unless your choose to save them.  My biggest gripe with the earlier Kindle ws the fact that papers had to be manual deleted and it was a very labor intensive and time consuming process.  At one point, I was subscribed to the Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Mecury News, and Investors Business Daily.  I cancelled them all simply because I got sick on manually managing the content.  Given I submitted a feature request to Amazon on this issue, I am pleased to see it got addressed.

The hardware is sexier and has the coveted "Apple" look.  Honestly, while I like the new look, I think the first Kindle felt better in my hands.  I would not want to use the Kindle2 without some sort of case as it is too slick to comfortably hold.  Also, while the old Next Page button was a pain, I got used to it and got in the habit of locking the screen as I put it away.  The new Next Page button requires just a little too much effort.  I am sure I will get used to it as well, but right now I'd have to admit to liking the old next page button better.  Sure if I handed it to someone, they would advance the page, but how often are you passing your Kindle around unless you are Robert Scoble at a SV party?

As mentioned above, the joystick is a great improvement and I like the addition of a big and easy to locate home button.  I'd have loved to have a dedicated screen lock button, but I am sure I will get in the habit of hitting the power switch to put the device in screensaver mode.

The loss of the SD slot does not concern me.  I never used the old one and with the ability to archive to the Amazon cloud, I don't think I will ever be concerned about storage space.

The text to speech capability is nice, but I don't see myself ever using it.  If I wanted to listen to the book, I'd get it on Audible.  I suppose it would do in a pinch and for those times when I don't want to stop reading, but need to get in the car, but so far I see a very limited use case for it.

All the other features are comparable to what I had with the Kindle 1.  Store still works great, etc.  Not much improvement there, but none was expected.

If your new to the Kindle, this is a great device as far as I am concerned.  If you already have a Kindle, I'm not sure the improvements justify an upgrade.


Social media science fiction book recommendations

Saw this interesting list and decided to come up with four additional books to add to it.

The first four SF books you should read if you’re working in social media

My additions:

Eastern Standard Tribe - Cory Doctorow

Great story with a backdrop of feeling connected via what time zone you are online.

Global Frequency - Warren Ellis

What happens with average citizens try to change the world as part of a real-time reactive global network that can handle any challenge. This is a graphic novel, but exceptionally done. You can also find a pilot for the failed TV project if you search in the right places.

Interface - Neal Stephenson
What if our political candidates reacted to our Twitter feeds? I'm Cool enough to have a copy of this published under the name Stephen Bury, the pen name Stephenson originally used until he was outed.

Gridlinked - Neal Asher
Trying to save a civilization with extreme grid withdrawal.

If you enjoy them or have any additional recommendations, comment below.