Technology

BoxWorks 2014 Recap

BoxWorks iPhone AppAs a person who has worked for a long time in the IBM Software space, I’ve been to a ton of IBM conferences. This past week, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and go to BoxWorks, the conference for box.com.

For those unfamiliar, box.com is a cloud-based secure enterprise file sharing and collaboration service. It’s a new hip company that’s been kind of an analyst darling as of late. I brought it into our organization a couple years ago now, and usage has grown quicker than anything else I’ve ever worked with. My rep has been bugging me to go to the conference for the last couple years, so I finally said yes and made the trip along with 5800 others to Moscone Center in San Francisco.

Out of the gate BoxWorks felt very techie. I walked in the door and was pointed to a bank of iPads. I entered my email address and they printed my badge on-demand. I was just handed the badge and lanyard. It included a very brief printed schedule and $100 worth of credit in the Box store.

I really liked not being given a bag that I may or may not use. I was able to go to the store and choose from hats, shirts, bluetooth speakers, chargers, books, mugs and pens. It was a nice way to get some swag, but to choose exactly what I wanted. It was different and nice touch.

The schedule was unnecessary because the BoxWorks app was so good. It let you choose your schedule, get push notifications to remind you when sessions were about to start, it gave you info on each speaker, sponsor and more. They did the app right and I lived in it the whole show.

The opening keynote brought CEO and co-founder Aaron Levie on stage. He’s a young, goofy, charismatic leader of the company. He wore a suit, with bright blue tennis shoes and socks with the clouds from Mario Brothers on them. Being a cloud company, it was a funny touch.

The thing that really stood out, is that you know this company is his baby. And he’s passionate about his baby. It’s not like the IBM cycle of putting an executive in “Lotus” purgatory for a couple years before they move them on. Don’t get me wrong, IBM Social Software has had some great leaders over the years, but that post was never a destination for any of them, it was a stepping stone along the way. I think it’s a completely different animal when you have a leader that is so deeply engaged.

He did a great job interviewing Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks and then academy award winning Jared Leto of movies and music (30 Seconds to Mars) fame. Both claimed to use Box heavily and loved working with the company. Leto even let his Oscar travel through the audience so people up front could get selfies with it. Pretty cool move. I spoke to several folks who said Jared was truly a big fan, and had shown up to several events and even lunch at Box on occasion.

The theme of the interviews were about leading and being entrepreneurial. In fact those were the themes all week. Every single keynote touched on leadership, and with speakers like Andrew McAfee, Jim Collins and Jeff Weiner, they definitely knew what they were talking about. I always came away from those sessions inspired and ready for action. I thought that was an excellent tactic, and something you could tell that Box was really passionate about.

There were technical sessions as well, and those were also very good. That said, as a pointy-haired boss, I connected more with the leadership messages along the way.

Now even though box.com is a huge silicone valley darling right now and I love the product, their new announcements were a tad funny to me. They announced a workflow engine for document routing and approval, and they also announced enhanced metadata.

The metadata were nothing more than forms with drop downs like Notes has had for two decades. And well, workflow was something we’ve done with Notes since its inception too. That said, the crowd loved them. It was like they were the best features ever created. It was, for someone like me, really bizarre.

Here’s the thing though. We’ve known forever how great using forms and workflow is. And box.com is not going to do anything that much better than Notes. The difference is marketing, plain and simple. Box did one thing brilliantly in its secure file sharing and is now adding things to enhance the experience. And they tout each advance, and show how useful it is. You see articles about box.com everywhere, and advertising where it makes sense. And they integrate with everything they possibly can. They play nice. Hell, there’s even a box.com widget for Connections.

They also have salespeople who actively sell it rather than alternatives, but that’s a whole other blog post.

Anyway, what is old is new again. And it makes me wonder what could have been, or what could still be if IBM really put some muscle behind Notes and Domino. But they haven’t, and they won’t, and that’s definitely sad.

It was definitely cool to see how a hip young startup does a conference, and IBM could certainly learn a thing or two. BoxWorks might be on my agenda every year. We’ll see.

Some other beginning’s end…

Some other beginning’s end…

I spent the past week at a conference in Orlando Florida like I have fifteen times prior.  IBM Connect (Lotusphere until last year) is an IT conference that focuses on IBM software and technologies.  It’s been a place where I’ve networked, met lifelong friends, learned all about the software that manages our business, engaged with IBM and had some fun along the way.

I think this might be the last time I’ll make the trip.

Don’t get me wrong, I thought the conference was great this year for the most part.  Having a host (Jay Baer) run the keynotes helped keep things moving.  Online a-lister Veronica Belmont hosted a bunch of events in the social cafe, and that was excellent as well.  American Authors opened the show and rocked the house, Seth Meyers shared some laughs with us, and Scott Adams of Dilbert fame gave a great session as well.  It wrapped up with a really inspiring session from NASA’s Dave Lavery and how the Mars Curiosity Rover came to be.

All of those things were awesome, but didn’t really speak to my business needs.

The opening general session showed a fake bank increase its fake profits with its fake website.  And while for a demo that’s fine, I would have really liked to have seen something demoed from an actual customer.  Call me crazy, but nothing ever works as well as the pie in the sky demos.  Seeing real world use would have made me happier.

And you could tell the old time Notes and Domino crowd hungered for something more tangible.  Hell, when the loudest cheers came for the brief time Ron Sebastian graced the screen, I don’t think that bodes well for your demo.

Next was yet another re-branding.  We’ve been through this before, and I don’t have a huge problem with it, but I really wish IBM would pick an angle and stick with it.  Changing Sametime’s name back in the day worked out so well, why don’t we try it again?  So it will be Connections Chat, Connections Meetings, Connections Mail… and will Connections be Connections Connections?  Is there a Connections Notes?  A Connections Domino?  It wasn’t as clear as it needed to be, and I bet downloading software from Partnerworld will now be so much easier right?  Right?

Next, let’s get to the technical tracks.  I saw a lot of really great stuff, and two of my team presented this year.  That said, my staff could really teach a lot of the XPages classes themselves, so I’m not sure those help us that much when considering paying again for another year.  I know I’m blessed with a particularly excellent team, so other companies probably get a lot more out of those classes.

In past years, almost every timeslot required a decision as to what session to attend.  Sometimes you could find three or four you wanted to see.  It was much easier last year to choose slots, and this year it was particularly trivial.  Other than a few minor exceptions I only had one session that would really stand out to me.  In fact there were several timeslots that didn’t require my attention at all.  I’m just afraid that the technical classes will continue to dwindle, and the HR, marketing and other Kenexa type stuff will slowly take over.  I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

One of the reasons I doubt it were rumors of long time folks responsible for the show stepping aside after this year.  I also spoke to several speakers who said they were done as well.  And these weren’t small name draws either.  People whose sessions you may have attended for years might not make the trip next year.  I just expect that after this year, there will be a precipitous drop off in the amount of things I want to see.

And you know what, that’s okay.  Things change over time, and I’m not really that upset.  Maybe it’s me growing up, the hair getting pointier, or simply getting old.  But I had a great week, and it seems like a great time to move on.

It’s not that we are moving on from IBM Technologies.  Far from it.  We just put in Connections, and will look to roll that out by mid-summer.  We already have Sametime 9 (Er, Connections Chat) in place.  Our business runs on XPages apps on Domino.  All of our mobile devices connect via Traveler.  I’m really interested in the new IBM Connections mail that was shown off (as soon as it’s available on premises.)  So we’re still very much an IBM shop, and that’s not likely to change any time soon.

All in all, I felt that is was a very nice IBM Connect.  I learned a lot, was entertained and got to hang out with people who are genuinely like family to me.  I love this community of people and always will, but the community isn’t tied to one event, or one location, or one week throughout the year.  These friendships will survive whether or not we all migrate to Orlando once a year.  With all the good memories I’ve had of this conference, I’m going out on a high note, and these sixteen years will always be an awesome memory.

Like Semisonic says “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.

Indeed.

*I completely reserve the right to change my mind and go again next year, but I don’t think I will :-)
Cheating on the iPhone with the Google Moto X

Cheating on the iPhone with the Google Moto X

As part of my job is to evaluate technologies, and I just cannot help being Android-curious, I decided to give the Google Moto X phone a try.

The Moto X is the first real new phone out of Motorola after Google bought them and started inserting its influence.  As such, it’s a little different and more ambitious than other phones Motorola has released in previous years.

First off, when you order the phone, you have a wide variety of choices through the Moto Maker site.  You can choose the color for the front bezel, the color of the back of the phone, the color of the highlights (buttons etc.) What home screen graphic you want it to deliver with, and whether or not you want it already set up with your personal Google services.

In fact, they now even have a wooden bamboo option for the back of the phone for something truly unique.

So there are thousands of possible customization options (as opposed to black, white and gold.)  I think it’s a very cool thing to do for a phone, but I doubt we’ll see this proliferate to other vendors.  I think it’s simply too much work with too little return for the phone maker.  In addition, many folks utilize cases anyway.  So why customize the phone, only to cover it with a case?  So while cool, I do think it’s kind of a novelty.

Well what about the phone itself?  First off the Moto X runs an almost pure version of Android Kit Kat with very few customizations.  One thing I hate (about Samsung phones in particular) are all the extra skins and bloatware thrown on the device from the manufacturer and the carrier.  The Moto X is very clean software wise, and that makes for a really excellent experience.

In addition, back when I reviewed the Galaxy S3, the software simply wasn’t as good.  The back button would give unintended results depending on where you were, and some of my favorite apps just weren’t available.  That’s not the case anymore.  Pretty much everything I use on a daily basis is available now on Android.  There’s only one big thing lacking, and that’s a good Twitter client.  I tried a ton and nothing compared to Tweetbot or Twitteriffic on iOS. More of a nuisance than a deal breaker.

The additional killer feature on the phone is the fact that it’s always listening for voice commands.  You spend some time training it, but then the phone is always waiting for you to say “OK Google Now.”  Once you do this, the phone wakes up and awaits your voice command.  Doing things like saying “OK Google Now, Navigate Home” or “OK Google Now, Open Rhapsody” are great when you are driving in the car.

For the most part, the voice commands work well, but you do need to know the commands the phone is expecting.  It’s far more rigid when it comes to natural language than Siri currently is on the iPhone.  That said, you have to hit a button to get Siri to start listening, whereas a simple phrase will wake up the Moto X.

This can also be a little bit of a problem, as sometimes other people saying “OK Google Now” will cause your phone to go into listen mode.  It’s supposed to customize to your voice, but I’ve been able to get display phones at Best Buy to respond every time I’ve tried.  So if you are around a bunch of Moto X users, your phone may get confused.

Another nice thing is the screen while in lock mode.  Since the screen is OLED, Motorola can selectively light up pixels to show information.  So if you pick up the phone, or get a notification, it can only light up that information without having to light the whole screen.  This does wonders for battery life.

You would think that having to listen for commands all the time would really drain the battery, but Google has included a low power consumption chip that is doing that listening.  That, along with the selective pixel notifications, really help the phone battery last.  In fact, it’s the best battery life I’ve tested in an Android phone.  Granted I haven’t tested them all, and something like the huge Razor MAXX would probably have more, but either way you will not be disappointed.

Back to the screen for a minute.  It’s 4.7 inches and is really vibrant.  It’s really easy on the eyes, and even looks good in direct sunlight.  The size makes it still usable with one hand too.  My thumb can reach everything it needs to without too much trouble.

The phone itself has a slightly curved back and fits really nicely into my hand.  It’s well made, solid, and feels like I’m less likely to drop it than I am my 5S.  That said, the back is a little slick, and I would prefer it to feel a little more textured or rubbery for lack of a better term.

Next, one of the most important things for me on a phone has to be the camera.  I’m really spoiled with the iPhone 5S and the Lumia 1020, so if a camera is less than stellar, it could be a deal breaker for me.  As for the Moto X, it’s just so so.  It’s not horrible, but it’s not great either.  It was passable to use for a couple weeks, but I felt myself missing the camera on my 5S a lot.

So, that said, I did go back to my iPhone 5S.  It wasn’t just because of the camera, but it was due to very few reasons.

  • Lack of good Twitter client
  • So So camera
  • iOS eco-system lock in
  • I like the fingerprint reader on the 5S
  • Power and headphone jacks on opposite ends of the phone

Okay, I know this last one sounds kind of dumb, but I mount my iPhone in the car for my commute.  I plug in a cable to the AUX cord on the car for audio and I plug in a lightning cable for power.  On the iPhone, they are both on the bottom of the phone, so the cords come out on one side.  On the Moto X, having one cord come out each side was a little unwieldily.    Very dumb minor thing, but it does affect me.

As for the eco-system lock in, Messages is a biggie.  In addition, my family shares an iTunes account that allows us all to share software, and they all have iDevices.  As such, I save a lot on money when buying applications on iOS.  If I buy something on Android, it’s just me.  So it’s not that the ecosystem is better at this point, it’s just where I happen to live most of the time.

All of that said, this was truly the first Android phone that made me think I could ditch the iPhone.  It’s well made, sleek, feels great in the hand and has some unique features that make it stand out from the rest.  If you like Android, you will love this phone, guaranteed.  If you are an iPhone user, this just might make you want to switch.

The anodized aluminum grip of Apple’s Messages

Since my day job is running an IT Department, I like to keep up with all different kinds of technology. I’ll often get equipment to test out and utilize in order to be able to talk about it intelligently and give the appropriate pros and cons.

To this end I recently obtained a Nokia Lumia 1020 smart phone. It runs the Windows 8 Phone OS and sports a 41 megapixel camera. It’s a very nice piece of hardware, and takes amazing pictures. It doesn’t have all of the applications I normally use on my iPhone, but I could live without some of those for the most part. The thing that really locked me in ended up being Apple’s Messages app.

Messages is the app on the iPhone that you utilize to text other phone users. It also has clients that run on Mac computers as well as the iPad. It’s very convenient to set it up everywhere. When people send you something on Messages, it shows up on all of your devices at once.

You can associate your phone number as well as any number of email addresses to your Messages account. I think at this point, you can find me by my cell number and something like 6 different email addresses. This is awesome, yet it really locks you in.

You see, while testing phones, I used a SIM card adapter to move my SIM card from my iPhone to the Lumia. I was able to fire up the Lumia, make and receive calls, and connect to the internet via LTE. Everything was awesome, until someone tried sending me a text via Messages.

Since I have Messages set up on a couple of computers and an iPad in addition to my normal iPhone, any time someone on IOS tried to send me a message it went to those devices and not the Lumia. I even had my wife try to send me a message using only the phone number, but, since her contacts had that number tied to my email addresses, it automatically sent through Messages anyway and bypassed normal SMS.

Unfortunately, the only way to avoid that is to go to all of your devices and disassociate your phone number from your Messages account. Once you’ve killed off the phone number, then people texting directly to that number should be able to get through. But the problem is all of the folks on IOS with your email address in their contacts. Those will still try to send via Messages rather than the phone number. So to really make sure you receive everything as a text message, the best bet is to disassociate everything from your Messages account.

It’s a pain in the ass sure, but it’s really the only way to do it. Otherwise you are bound to miss something coming through.

I do this for a living, and figuring it out and taking care of it was a pain for me. I can only imagine the normal end user trying to leave the platform. It would be a nightmare. So kudos to Apple, they’ve done a good job of locking you in a way that’s very friendly on the feature front, but a huge pain to ever get out of.

Rather than staying full time on the Lumia for as long as I wanted, I just switched back to the iPhone. It wasn’t the lack of Instagram, Flipboard or Sonos that ultimately killed Windows 8 Phone for me, it was the grip Messages has and my laziness to play whackamole in all my settings. Well played Apple, well played.

The Ongoing Notes “Legacy” problem

On an IBM WebcastLast week I was honored to part of a webcast that announced the worldwide launch of IBM Notes 9 Social edition.  I was able to speak about how our company uses custom applications built on XPages and Domino to run our business.  I also spoke as to how Traveler has helped our workforce be more connected, and how we are looking forward to integrating Connections into our Notes investment via Activity Streams and embedded experiences.

As the Director of IT for our company, I’m always trying to work with the best technologies to meet our needs.  Those are not always IBM technologies.  We use vendors like Microsoft, EMC, GoToMeeting, Salesforce.com, Basecamp and Box.com.  I tend to choose the best platform to fit our specific needs, whatever they may be.  I’m not simply an IBM fanboy.

That said, we’ve built the software that runs our business on XPages and Domino because it’s a great platform.  We can’t buy off the shelf software to manage our business, it simply doesn’t exist.  We could buy project management and warehousing programs, but it would be very hard to bend them to work the way we need.  That’s why Domino is such a strong platform.  I have a very small staff of very skilled developers who have built amazing applications that our business relies on to manage every bit of work we do. We have built it to fit our business processes exactly, and we can add in features at a very rapid pace.  We integrate everything including our Microsoft ERP system, and I couldn’t be happier.

So why am I writing a blog post mentioning “legacy” on the day the brand new IBM Notes 9 Social Edition is released?  Well, it’s because the market still sees it as legacy.  There has really been no discernible marketing to the contrary.  I’ll give you three quick examples that have all happened in the last couple of weeks.  All were manageable, but I can’t believe I even have to deal with them.

First, a client of ours had been auditing our warehousing software.  A German IT Auditor questioned (with much disdain) why were were using Lotus Notes instead of a “pro” warehousing system, and stated that the fact that we used Notes was a red flag.  This was from a very large, very well known organization, yet this IT Auditor considered Notes legacy and worthy of disdain.  It was even insinuated that nobody used Notes anymore.

I explained our reasoning for using Notes and Domino much like I did above, and then touted a brand new release of the product as well and over 100 million users worldwide, yet I feel that it fell on deaf ears.

The second one was an executive asking one of my employees what our “exit strategy for Notes” was?  When the exec was talking with people from other companies, and some of our clients, the general consensus was that Notes was dead and people couldn’t believe we were still on it.  So the executive assumed we had to be moving off of it soon.

Part of that is on me, and I need to continue to do a better job of internal marketing, but the reason I HAVE to do so much in the way of internal marketing is because there is little to no external marketing.  You really don’t know that Notes exists unless you deal with IBM on a regular basis.

The last thing that happened was a simple offhanded comment on the This Week In Tech podcast.  I don’t remember the context but the host Leo Laporte stated how he hated Notes and would never use it again.  Granted, this man hadn’t touched the software in over seven years, but he was still attacking it.  I’m sure he has no idea how nice the new client is, or how good the development environment is in XPages.  Yet, he still made that statement that was heard as fact by tens of thousands of listeners.

Those of you that know me, and have read this blog for nearly a decade know that I will take IBM to task when it’s warranted, and I will give credit where credit is due.  Obviously I believe wholeheartedly in Domino as a platform.  I wouldn’t use it otherwise, and I wouldn’t take time out of my busy schedule to record customer testimonials or get interviewed for quotes for press releases.  I am very publicly on record with the fact that Notes and Domino is the platform from which our business is run.

Today is a watershed moment.  IBM Notes and Domino 9 Social Edition has been launched and it’s the best the product has ever been.  It’s truly a great piece of software with so much potential in the right hands.  It would be really nice if the tech universe starting seeing it that way. I would just like the perception of Notes to get better in the marketplace, because right now perception doesn’t match reality, and hopefully IBM can work on changing that.

Bucket List: Visiting the TWiT Podcast

Bucket List: Visiting the TWiT Podcast

I’ve been a huge fan of Leo Laporte since his days at MSNBC’s “The Site” and TechTV.  Many years ago he started the TWiT Podcast Network.  TWiT started as This Week in Tech and expanded to tons of different programming options.  It’s all free and much of the tech news and punditry I get on a weekly basis comes from listening to those podcasts on my way into work.

Since I’ve been such a fan, I really wanted to visit the studios where the TWiT podcasts are recorded.  So, during a business trip this last November, I made it a point to drive to Petaluma, California to see everything in person.  It was a great experience, and I got to meet Leo, and panelists Baratunde Thurston and Nick Bilton.  They couldn’t have been more gracious.  It was a great thing to check off the bucket list.

Anyway, for those of you interested, here is my photo album of the experience!

We live in the future

We live in the future

A couple of weeks ago I flew to the US west coast for a business trip.  Mid-flight I tweeted the following:

I’m at 38,000 feet, playing Words with Friends, listening to NFL Sunday Countdown and drinking a screwdriver. THE FUTURE, I AM IN YOU!

I had my iPad in hand and was connected to the WiFi in the plane.  I was streaming a football game in the background, checking Twitter and Facebook and playing Words with Friends.  It really struck me how insanely cool that is.

As a kid, I would have never envisioned the internet, tablet computing, online real-time multi-player gaming or streaming audio.  Much less while mid-flight.  Oh and that tablet device houses thousands of songs, dozens of books, comic books, magazines, and several feature films, all in the palm of my hand.

I landed later in San Francisco, then drove to Petaluma, California to watch one of my favorite podcasts record live, This Week in Tech with Leo Laporte.  Think how unusual podcasting is? When I grew up we had a couple local radio stations and you had to listen to what was on, and only what was locally available.  Now anyone can record a show (in high definition nonetheless)  and make it available for download to people the world over.  Folks like Leo can make careers in podcasting and have fans anywhere.

Then driving back to San Francisco, I drove through a mountain tunnel, and then over the Golden Gate Bridge.  What amazing feats of engineering.  Humans continually amaze me, and it’s insane how far technology has come in my lifetime.  I can only imagine how things will be 10, 20, and 30 years from now…

The future, I am in you, and you feel awesome.

My Brief Lusty Fling with the Galaxy S3

Recently my long time love, the iPhone, had been seeming a little distant.  We had fallen in a rut, the two of us.  We did the same things, never switched it up, and life became kind of boring. Maybe it’s a mid-phone release cycle-crisis, but I was yearning for something more, that spark, that sexiness that was lacking.  That’s when I saw her.

The Samsung Galaxy S III.

She was beautiful.  Thin, gorgeous face, lightweight, and curves and buttons in all the right places.  I’d never been in a relationship with an Android before.  Sure, I had a couple dates in the past, but never really committed.  So I thought that this time I would give it a shot.  I would go full on Android and see if the grass truly was greener.

At first, everything was new and exciting.  Connecting to my Google services was a snap, and installing Lotus Traveler worked like a charm.  Then as the courtship continued, we started to visit all of the same old haunts.  Foursquare, Dropbox, Foodspotting, Facebook, Twitter, Rhapsody, Yelp, TripIt!, and even 1Password welcomed us.  Everything was comfortable and familiar again.  A new coat of make-up perhaps, but everything worked as expected.  Getting them from the Google Play store was pretty decent as well.  Seemed easy to shop and find what I was looking for, and clicking them brought them right down to the phone nicely.

The S3 wasn’t afraid to mix things up either.  “You don’t like the default launcher?  Let me try on something more comfortable.  I have an entire wardrobe I could switch into.”  And for role-playing, let’s just say she wasn’t afraid to be Chrome or Firefox or Dolphin if I really wanted her to be. Flexibility, oh yes.  She had some kinky new things she wanted to try too, like tapping other phones and swapping data.  And while hot, unfortunately it was hard to find many others in the crowd that swung that way. When we did, it was really exciting the first time we tried, but after that we would get disappointed when everyone didn’t want to play. It’s still kind of an underground community, but I think more people will become uninhibited as time goes on.

But some aspects of her personality really got to annoy me after awhile.  She kept notifying me of things over and over again, and I couldn’t easily convince her to only tell me about the things I wanted to hear.  She wasn’t a very good listener either as time and again she would screw up or ignore easy to understand requests. She also seemed to wear out more quickly than iPhone did.  I could spend marathon sessions with iPhone no problem, but Galaxy S3 got tired and always wanted to go to bed early. Even when she would stay up, I could never please her with only one hand.  She always required that I used both my hands on her tall frame.

Dealing with her schizophrenia Dissociative identity disorder about email was a nightmare too. It was a little too much with having to switch between mail, and a GMail client and a Traveler email client.  I mean, pick a mood and stick with it will ya? She even sported three different messaging clients by default. I just never knew what I was going to get. Lastly, she was inconsistent. Sometimes I would push her buttons, and how she responded today might be different than how she responds tomorrow. It sometimes became a guessing game trying to figure out how she felt.  It became tiring after awhile.

So as of today, I’ve broken up with Galaxy S3.  Sure, she’s sexy, and we had some incredible nights of passion, but quite frankly, iPhone really gets me better.  iPhone really knows how I like to work it, and will be there for me when I need her.  There’s a lot to be said about someone you can rely on, and iPhone has never let me down.  Despite our rut, I still love her, and probably always will.

All of that said, the Galaxy S3 might be your personal dream girl though, so feel free to date her, I won’t be mad.

Galaxy SIII Pros

  • Great Camera
  • Big Screen is gorgeous and easy to read
  • Light and Thin
  • Flexible Software Choices
  • Connects great to Google Services
  • Near-field communication features
  • Expandable storage

Galaxy SIII Cons

  • Big Screen is too hard to work one-handed
  • Multiple clients for email and messaging
  • Lack of consistency in apps (menus and such)
  • Battery Life isn’t quite as good as my iPhone
  • Plastic outer shell feels a little cheap
  • Lack of notification granularity
  • Default storage (without additional card) tops out at 16 GB
  • Back button was sometimes inconsistent
  • S-Voice was no where near as accurate as Siri

 

CES 2012

Amex CES #ces12For those of you that don’t know, I work in the trade show industry.  I’m the Director of IT for a premier exhibit marketer.  We do everything related to exhibit marketing.  Design, Build, Warehouse, Ship, Install, Tear Down etc.

Since I’m on the back-end IT side of things, I normally don’t go to the show floor to see how things happen leading up to an event.  This year I decided to change that, and go see what takes place before an event.  I figured I might as well go big and hit the Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas.

In a word, overwhelming.

This show is absolutely huge.  On the CES website they state that there are 35 American football fields worth of exhibit floor.  I walked all of that.  Every day.  For three days straight.

I walked it on Monday, before the show was open to the public.  I had my exhibitor badge and got to wander and check everything out.  This was about 20 hours before the show went live, and it’s amazing how much work still has to be done in that last period of time.  I honestly was floored by how much teams for every exhibit do in that last day.  They had been setting up for a week already, and still had tons of fit and finish work to do.

One Tuesday I got there about an hour before the doors open, and I was able to once again walk around before the floodgates opened.  There was still polishing and vacuuming and tons of other things going on everywhere.  Teams really do make the most of their time.  :-)

I spent the day walking the floor again, taking pictures, and checking out various products.  I just wanted to take in the enormity of things, so I spent most of my time walking and checking out differing booth designs and how different categories of products related to each other.  It tends to become sensory overload really quickly.  There must have been 40 premium headphones vendors and just as many iPhone case manufacturers.  Those were just two of the many categories of products.  But even though we in the tech industry enjoy CES, this is really a show focused on the average consumer.  People buying TV’s, cell phones, tablets, stereo equipment, accessories, car stereos etc.  Sure, many manufactures showed off ultra-book designs to compete with the likes of Apple’s MacBook Air, but that wasn’t the big focus.

So I enjoyed it, but since it was my first time, I ran around and looked at everything fairly superficially.  I think in future years I would probably plan out what I wanted to look at first and map out where I wanted to go.  It would make for a less harried experience. That said, I really have a new admiration for the people that put these events and booths together.  The work put in is simply mind-boggling.

In all, CES is an awesome behemoth of a show and worth a trip to other gadget addicts out there such as myself.  It’s absolutely overwhelming in every sense of the word, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing :-)

If you want to check out my photos of some of the various booth designs.  You can find them here.

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