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October 22, 2014

mobiForge blog

Detecting Language Preference from the Browser with Accept Header

Some time ago I was on a trip to Germany for the Smashing Mag event. Several websites I visited (including the world’s largest search engine) asked me to confirm my language preferences based on my current physical location. This struck me as a rather inefficient approach to setting language preferences. Especially given the language of the browser is readily available to web publishers as part of the HTTP request.

by mclancy at October 22, 2014 11:49 AM

October 21, 2014

Open Gardens

Predictive Analytics as a service for IoT

 Background

This post is a personal viewpoint based on my teaching (IoT and Machine Learning) at the City sciences program at UPM in Madrid – Technical University of Madrid and at Oxford University (with a mobile perspective).

Predictive Analytics are critical for IoT, but most companies do not have the skillsets to develop their own Predictive analytics engine.  The objective of this effort is to provide a predictive analytics interface for Hypercat. We aim to provide a solution accessed through a Hypercat API and a library. Whenever possible, we will use Open Source. We will also encapsulate industry best practices into the solution. The post is also related to extending the discussions at the event Smart cities need a Trusted IoT foundation

Data and Analytics will be the key differentiator for IoT.

A single sensor collecting data at one-second intervals will generate 31.5 million datapoints year (source Intel/WindRiver). However, the value lies not just in one sensor’s datapoints – but rather the collective intelligence gleaned for thousands (indeed millions) of sensors working together

As I discuss below, this information (and more specifically the rate of IoT based sensor information and its real time nature) will make a key difference for IoT and Predictive analytics.

IoT and predictive analytics will change the nature of decision making and will change the competitive landscape of industries. Industries will have to make thousands of decisions in near real-time. With predictive analytics, each decision will improve the model for subsequent decisions (also in near real time). We will recognize patterns, make adjustments and improve performance based on data from multiple people and sensors

IoT and Predictive analytics will enable devices to identify, diagnose and report issues more precisely and quickly as they occur. This will create a ‘closed loop’ model where the Predictive model improves with experience. We will thus go from identifying patterns to making predictions – all in real time  

However, the road to this vision is not quite straight forward. The two worlds of IoT and Predictive analytics do not meet easily

Predictive analytics needs the model to be trained before the model makes a prediction. Creating a model and updating it on a continuous real-time basis with streaming IoT data is a complex challenge. Also, it does not fit in the traditional model of map reduce and it’s inherently batch processing nature. This challenge is being addressed already (Moving Hadoop beyond batch processing and MapReduce) but will become increasingly central as IoT becomes mainstream.

 

IoT and Predictive analytics – opportunities

For IoT and Predictive analytics, processing will take place both in the Cloud but also more to the edge. Not all data will be sent to the Cloud at all times. The newly launched Egburt from Camgian microsystems is an example of this new trend.  Some have called this trend ‘Data gravity’ where computing power is brought to the data as opposed to processing Data in a centralized location.

In addition, the sheer volume of IoT data leads to challenges and opportunities. For example 100 million points per second in a time series is not uncommon. This leads to specific challenges for IoT (Internet of Things – time series data challenge)

Here are some examples of possible opportunities for IoT and Predictive analytics where groups of sensors work together:

  • We could undertake system wide predictive maintenance of offshore equipment like wind farms for multiple turbines (i.e. the overall system as opposed to a specific turbine).  If we predict a high likelihood of failure in one turbine, we could dynamically reduce the load on that turbine by switching to a lower performance.
  • Manage overall performance of a group of devices – again for the wind farm example – individual turbines could be tuned together to achieve optimal performance where individual pieces of equipment have an impact on the overall performance
  • Manage the ‘domino effect’ of failure – as devices are connected (and interdependent) – failure of one could cascade across the whole network. By using predictive analytics – we could anticipate such cascading failure and also reduce its impact

IoT and Predictive analytics – challenges

Despite the benefits, the two worlds of IoT and Predictive analytics do not meet very naturally

In a nutshell, Predictive analytics involves extracting information from existing data sets to identify patterns which help predict future outcomes and trends for new (unseen) scenarios.  This allows us to predict what will happen in future with an acceptable level of reliability.

To do this, we must

a)      Identify patterns from existing data sets

b)      Create a model which will predict the future

 

Doing these two steps in Real time is a challenge. Traditionally, data is fed to a system in a batch. But for IoT, we have a continuous stream of new observations in real time. The outcome (i.e. the business decision) also has to be made in real time. Today, some systems like Credit card authorization perform some real time validations – but for IoT, the scale and scope will be much larger.

 

So, this leads to more questions:

a)      Can the predictive model be built in real time?

b)      Can the model be updated in real time?

c)       How much historical data can be used for this model?

d)      How can the data be pre-processed and at what rate?

e)      How frequently can the model be retrained?

f)       Can the model be incrementally updated?

 

There are many architectural changes also for Real time  ex In memory processing, stream processing etc

 

Hypercat

According to Gartner analyst Joe Skorupa. “The enormous number of devices, coupled with the sheer volume, velocity and structure of IoT data, creates challenges, particularly in the areas of security, data, storage management, servers and the data center network, as real-time business processes are at stake,”

Thus, IoT will affect many areas: Security, Business processes, Consumer Privacy Data Storage Management Server Technologies Data Center Network etc

The hypercat platform provides a mechanism to manage these complex changes

We can model every sensor+actuator and person as a Digital entity. We can assign predictive behaviour to digital objects (Digital entity has processing power, an agenda and access to meta data). We can model and assign predictive behaviour to multiple levels of objects(from the while refinery to a valve)

We can model time varying data and predict behaviour based on inputs at a point in time.  The behaviour is flexible (resolved at run time) and creates a risk prediction and a feedback loop to modify behaviour in real time along with a set of rules

We can thus cover the whole lifecycle – Starting with discovery of new IoT services in a federated manner, managing security and privacy to ultimately creating autonomous, emergent behaviour for each entity

All this in context of a security and Interoperability framework

 

Predictive analytics as a service?

Based on the above, predictive analytics cannot be an API – but it would be more a dynamic service which can provide the right data, to the right person, at the right time and place. The service would be self improving(self learning) in real time.

I welcome comments on the above. You can email me at ajit.jaokar at futuretext.com or post in the Hypercat LinkedIn forum

 

 

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by ajit at October 21, 2014 09:43 AM

Brad Frost Web » Brad Frost Web | Web Design, Speaking, Consulting, Music, and Art

IndieWebify.Me

I’ve really wanted to explore the Indie Web movement a lot more. Philosophically the whole thing really resonates with me, but initial cursory glances left me wondering where to start. Indiewebify.me looks like a great checklist/starting point.

by Brad Frost at October 21, 2014 07:42 AM

October 20, 2014

Brad Frost Web » Brad Frost Web | Web Design, Speaking, Consulting, Music, and Art

“I Don’t Know”

I think it’s high time that we got rid of the stigma attached to “I Don’t Know”. This is especially relevant in the web development industry – where the technologies we use come and go as fast as the speed of light.

My friend and fellow Pittsburgher Jason Head hits the nail on the head.

Get comfortable not knowing everything, because increasingly there’s just too much to know.

by Brad Frost at October 20, 2014 08:44 PM

Kai Hendry's blog

Experiencing CoreOS+Docker

Docker Logo

Once upon a time there was chroot (notice, it's just 50LOC?!). chroot was a simple way of sandboxing your application. It didn't really work as well as some people wanted and along came Docker, which is a front end to LXC. It works, though it has a LOT of SLOC/complexity/features. Docker is monolithic and depends on Linux.

Today we have general packaged distributions like Debian & Archlinux. Their main fault was probably being too general, poor abilities to upgrade and downgrade. Along comes CoreOS, a lightweight Linux OS with (a modern init) systemd & docker. CoreOS is also monolithic and depends on Linux.

I've attempted to understand CoreOS before, though since I needed to move Greptweet to a VPS with more disk space... quickly... I "deep dived" into CoreOS & Docker and here is my writeup of the experience. Tip #1, the default user for CoreOS is "core", e.g. ssh core@178.62.119.197 once you get for e.g. your CoreOS droplet going.

Dockerfile

The 20LOC Greptweet Dockerfile took me almost all day to create, though this was my favourite accomplishment. I studied other Archlinux and Ubuntu docker files on Github to give me guidance how to achieve this.

So now I have a succinct file that describes Greptweet's environment to function. I found it astonishing the container for running a PHP app on Nginx is almost 1GB!

Yes, I need to re-implement greptweet in Golang to greatly reduce this huge bloat of a dependency!

Read only filesystem on CoreOS means no superuser or what?

I was hoping CoreOS would do away with root altogether. I'm seriously tired of sudo. I noticed read only mounts, whilst trying to disable password ssh logins to avoid loads of:

Failed password for root from $badman_IP port $highport ssh2

In my journalctl. Ok, if they are going to fix the config of sshd_config I thought, maybe they would do away with root?! PLEASE.

Haunting permissions

I hate UNIX permissions, hate hate hate. So with Docker your data is mounted on the host IIUC and your app stays firmly containerized.

But when your app writes data out on to a mount point, what THE HELL should the permissions be? I ended up just chmod -R 777 on my Volume's mountpoint, though I should probably have used setfacl What a mess!

User/group 33

How am I supposed to log CoreOS/Docker?!

I'm confused about Volume mounts. I run Greptweet like so: /usr/bin/docker run --name greptweet1 -v /srv/www/greptweet.com:/srv/http/u -p 80:80 greptweet, and /srv/http/u/ is where the data lives. But HOW am I supposed to get at my container's logs? Another volume mount?

How does CoreOS envision managing httpd logs? I don't understand. And how am I supposed to run logrorate!? "One step forward, two steps back" is playing in my mind.

Init

A jarring thing is that when you run a docker container, you IIUC are expected to run one process, i.e. the httpd.

Unfortunately with nginx, to get PHP working you need to run a separate (FastCGI) PHP process to nginx httpd, hence the Greptweet Dockerfile uses Python's supervisor daemon to manage both processes. Urgh. I copied this paradigm from another Dockerfile. Tbh I was expecting to manage the process with systemd inside the container. Now I have Python crapware in my container for managing nginx/php processes. Suck.

NO Cron

Greptweet used cron to create backups, relay stats and generate reports. Now AFAICT I don't have the basic utility of cron in my container. Now what?!

WTF IS CRON IN COREOS, I NEED IT BACK!

Update_engine

As mentioned in my previous blog on CoreOS, I was quite excited about have "free" updates to my core host system. Sadly after looking at the logs, I'm not impressed.

There is no visibility to the actual update.

Furthermore I noticed locksmithd which I think reboots the machine, but I'm not sure.

Oct 18 03:11:11 dc update_engine[458]: <request protocol="3.0" version="CoreOSUpdateEngine-0.1.0.0" updaterversion="CoreOSUpdateEngine-0
Oct 18 03:11:11 dc update_engine[458]: <os version="Chateau" platform="CoreOS" sp="444.5.0_x86_64"></os>
Oct 18 03:11:11 dc update_engine[458]: <app appid="{e96281a6-d1af-4bde-9a0a-97b76e56dc57}" version="444.5.0" track="stable" from_track="
Oct 18 03:11:11 dc update_engine[458]: <ping active="1"></ping>
Oct 18 03:11:11 dc update_engine[458]: <updatecheck targetversionprefix=""></updatecheck>
Oct 18 03:11:11 dc update_engine[458]: <event eventtype="3" eventresult="2" previousversion=""></event>
Oct 18 03:11:11 dc update_engine[458]: </app>
Oct 18 03:11:11 dc update_engine[458]: </request>

I've glanced over https://coreos.com/using-coreos/updates/ several times now and it's still not clear to me. As an operating system maintainer myself for Webconverger updates, our gitfs upgrade system is MUCH CLEARER than how CoreOS updates are handled. I wonder wth Docker 1.3 is going to hit CoreOS stable.

Keeping my Archlinux container uptodate is also a bit of a mystery to me...

CoreOS packaging is just WEIRD

It took me way too long to figure out how to enter a Docker 1.2 container and have a look. nsenter will be replaced by Docker 1.3's docker exec, but the way it installed was very intriguing.

In fact package management in CoreOS eyes I think means starting a share/privileged container and mapping it back to the host system. That's a pretty darn wild way of doing things imo.

I've been BATTLING TO GET TMUX running. It was suggested that this screen CoreOS install guide might help me. There is also an odd "toolbox" alias to a Fedora container with tools, but it doesn't map back to the host. All this for a terminal multiplexer. OMG.

Starting your Docker container in CoreOS was non-trivial

Here is Greptweet's service file.

CoreOS's launch guide was a bit strange to me. Am I supposed to publish my Greptweet image, so the docker pull works? It could be a lot simpler I feel. I.e. why doesn't the docker daemon manage/start the containers itself!?

Conclusion

I think the basic idea of lightweight host OS (CoreOS) and containers (Docker) has legs. I just wish it was as simple as chroot. Now I'm left thinking how Ansible/Chef/Puppet/Vagrant did such a bad job compared to the Dockerfile. Or perhaps blaming VPS hosters who never really got a decent API together to move/expand/inspect their VPS volumes.

Gosh, how did we get into this mess?!

So now system administrators now run hypervisors aka CoreOS and spin up VPSes aka Docker containers all by themselves. Seems like another level of abstraction that empowers system administrators but at the same time there is going to a raft of bugs/pain to enjoy with this "movement". It's also slightly concerning that CoreOS/Docker seems to fly in the face of the Unix philosophy.

October 20, 2014 05:50 AM

October 19, 2014

Brad Frost Web » Brad Frost Web | Web Design, Speaking, Consulting, Music, and Art

Atomic Design at Webdagene

Webdagene is an absolutely phenomenal conference. This year they went all out and held the conference at the massive Oslo Spektrum.

I had the pleasure to give a workshop, give a talk about atomic design, and close out the conference talking about being more open.

Here’s the video:

And the slides:

by Brad Frost at October 19, 2014 11:46 AM

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

My First Prepaid LTE Experience

It's taken a long time and still today, at least in Germany, most network operators reserve their LTE networks for their postpaid customers. In recent months, this has somewhat changed in Germany with the fourth network operator also starting LTE operations and allowing their prepaid customers access from day one. These days their LTE network is also available in Cologne so I had to take a closer look, of course with a prepaid SIM and a €2 per 24 hours data option that gave me up to 1 GB of unthrottled data.

Data rates I could achieve were not stellar but not really bad either. Under very good signal conditions I got close to 30 Mbit/s in the downlink direction and about 10 Mbit/s in the uplink direction. Closer examination revealed that they are using a 10 MHz carrier in the 1800 MHz band which should allow, under very ideal conditions up to 75 Mibt/s in the downlink direction (have a look here if you'd like to know how you can find out which band and bandwidth your LTE network operators is using). But no matter what I did and where I went in the city, the 30 Mbit/s was the magical limit. I don't think the air interface is the limit, the bottleneck must be somewhere else. Under other circumstances I would probably be ecstatic about such speeds but with data rates of 100 Mbit/s+ other operators achieve easily, the 30 Mbit/s pale in comparison.

In a recent network test I reported on, CS-Fallback Voice Call establishment times of that network operator were reported to be pretty bad. I can't confirm this, however, so perhaps they have changed something in their network in the meantime. What's a bit unfortunate, however, is that after a voice call the mobile stays in 2G or 3G a long time before returning to LTE. Other network operators are more advanced and redirect their mobiles back to LTE after the call. That makes for a much better experience. Also, I noticed that there's a 2-3 seconds interruption in the data traffic while switching from UMTS and LTE. That means that they must still be using a rather crude LTE Release with Redirect to UMTS procedure rather than a much smoother PS handover.

While the above is perhaps still excusable, there's one thing they should have a look at quickly: Whenever the mobile switches from 2G or 3G back to LTE the PDP context is lost. In other words, I always get a new IP address when that happens which kills, for example, my VPN tunnel every time it happens. Quite nasty and that's definitely a network bug. Please fix!

In summary the network speed is not stellar compared to what others offer today and some quirks in the network still have to be fixed. On the other hand, however, you can pick up a prepaid SIM in a supermarket and get LTE connectivity without a contract.

by mobilesociety at October 19, 2014 02:14 AM

October 18, 2014

Brad Frost Web » Brad Frost Web | Web Design, Speaking, Consulting, Music, and Art

Prepping the right thing

Emil Björklund wrote a very thoughtful follow-up post to my Primed and Ready to Go post about front-end prep work.

Emil clarifies that it’s while it’s important to prepare as much as possible, it’s dangerous to jump in and start building CMSs and frameworks without knowing what the project requirements are. Developers have a tendency to get a bit too excited about New and Shiny Tools, and that can be dangerous.

I agree completely, and I suppose it’s worth noting most projects I’ve worked on have included high-level tech requirements in the proposal and statement of work. Usually I know before the project kicks off that the organization is migrating to WordPress, or that an e-commerce site will be built in Magento. It’s important to have the right up-front discussions about what technologies, platforms, and tools will be important to the success of the project.

by Brad Frost at October 18, 2014 10:32 AM

This Is My Jam: Rock ‘n’ Roll Lifestyle by Cake

I’ll never forget the first time I heard this song (which was also my introduction to the band). It was played during the credits of an episode of Daria, and I was totally blown away.

But this was before everything was a Google search away, and definitely before Shazaam/Soundhound. The moment was fleeting, and I still recall that frustrated feeling of having something truly unique and original slip away into a commercial break.

It wasn’t until sometime later (months? years?) that the track crossed my path again. This time I made certain not to let the name of the band slip by. After many years, many Napster/Kazaa/Limewire downloads, many CD purchases, and (only) one live show, Cake remains one of my absolute favorite bands.

Thanks, Daria.

by Brad Frost at October 18, 2014 10:18 AM

October 16, 2014

Brad Frost Web » Brad Frost Web | Web Design, Speaking, Consulting, Music, and Art

Primed and Ready to Go

It’s absolutely essential to treat front-end development as part of the design process. However, the (foolish, artificial) line between design and development “phases” gets in the way of true collaboration between disciplines.

This often isn’t due to any malicious intent, but rather because archaic processes and mental models keep disciplines out of sync with each other and prevent teams from working together in a meaningful way.

There are loads of things teams can do to address this issue, but I’m going to focus on what developers can do to make themselves more useful earlier in the design process.

Front-end Prep Chefs

“Welluh boss, nobody gave me any designs to build out so I’muh just gonna sit here on my hands until they uh send me the designs.
—Lazy, foolish developer

This pisses me off to no end.

The role of a prep chef is essential to the cooking process. A prep chef’s responsibilities include chopping vegetables and preparing ingredients so that when the rest of the cooking staff gets into work they can collectively spend their time pursuing the art of cooking instead of tediously chopping peppers.

It is developers’ responsibility to do the work of the prep chef. If developers aren’t busy from Day 1 of your project, there’s something broken with the process. Because boy there’s plenty of work that needs done: setting up Github repos, dev and production server setup, installing CMSs, setting up development tools, etc.

Sure that stuff’s important, but it’s not like we can start immediately coding, right? Wrong. Get to work. Establish patterns. Chuck in your CSS reset. Set up some atoms and molecules. Set up shell page templates.

While you won’t know what the design will look like, you can cover a lot of ground. Making an e-commerce site? You can set up site search, shopping cart table, shell PDP homepage and checkout pages. Making a “web app?” Start marking up the login form, forgot password flow, and dashboard.

Of course this stuff is all subject to change, but by prepping this stuff ahead of time frees your time up to work with (rather than after) designers. Developers can help validate UX design decisions through conversations and working prototypes, can help visual designers better understand source order & web layout, and can quickly produce a fledgling codebase that will evolve into the final product.

process-curves

Front-end developers need to work with designers for the benefit of everyone involved in the project. Failure to do the appropriate prep-chef work ahead of time shortens the development cycle and leaves you spending late nights and weekends at the office the duration of the last phase of the project. You deserve better than that.

So get in early and start chopping those peppers.

by Brad Frost at October 16, 2014 02:06 PM

October 15, 2014

mobiForge blog

iPhone 6: Is Apple Fragmented?

“6 plus users are getting just the tiniest, tiniest taste of android hardware spec fragmentation hell right now” (@zpower)
“Even after an hour of use I'm annoyed with apps that haven't been updated for the iPhone 6 screen size. Hurry devs!” (@isrob)

Just some of the comments on the iPhone 6 release suggest that fragmentation woes have come to the iOS platform.

by mclancy at October 15, 2014 03:27 PM

MobileMonday London

Mobile Miscellany, 15th October, Free Stands at Apps World, Next Event 12th November ...

In this Miscellany we have opportunities for free stands at Apps World, free places to GLAZEDCon, find out more about Community Based Learning opportunities for your company and a bumper crop of events over at CDEC.

Last Chance: Free stands in the MoMoLo Startup Zone at Apps World, 12th and 13th November

We have a fantastic offer for start-ups at Apps World which is at ExCeL, 12th and 13th November. If you are a company or have a demo-able App that is less than 1 year old, you might like to apply for a free stand in the MoMoLo Startup Zone. (It's worth £1k). A great opportunity to show the industry what you have. Please do that here by this Friday 17th October.

MoMoLo Drinks Reception at Apps World, 12th November

In addition, we are hosting a drinks reception at our MoMoLo Startup Zone on the the first night - 12th November - you can register here plus we get an invite to ride on the Emirates Air Line and carry on at the after party, so you might look to book the next morning off work!

By registering with us, you will also get access to the exhibition, which is free to attend. If you also want to attend the various conference tracks you can enter MOMO15 and get a 15% discount on the ticket price. So, for the reduced price conference tickets, register here and for the drinks reception and exhibition pass only, register here .

Free Places to GLAZEDcon UK 22nd October, London, N1

GLAZEDcon UK is a 1 day conference and evening showcase focused on the latest innovations and opportunities in Wearable Technology and IoT. We have free tickets for the first two to get to the registration page and enter the code MoMoFREE. If you don't make it in time, you can also get 25% of the ticket price with the code MoMo25 (making it £135).

Community Based Learning in Action

Is your business looking to participate in the booming London innovation scene? Perhaps you are interested in a specific aspect of that scene? Or maybe you are looking for an all round good product innovation course for your employees?

We are currently running our fifth season of The Mobile Academy - the 10 week evening course we co-host with UCL where we invite experts from the community to share their broad knowledge with those that are working on new product ideas. We are opening the doors for you to take a look and see what it is all about. So if you want to find out more, feel free to pop by on a Tuesday or Thursday evening before 2nd December - please get in touch with julia@mobilemonday.org.uk.

Connected Digital Economy Catapult Centre announces its Launch Season

The Connected Digital Economy Catapult is promoting over 40 events to launch its new Centre at King’s Cross. The events cover the latest innovations in technology and the creative sector and are free to attend. Find out more here.

That’s all for now - remember to get your application for a free stand at Apps World in by Friday!

by Julia Shalet (noreply@blogger.com) at October 15, 2014 04:16 PM

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Affordable Global Internet Access Roaming Becoming A Reality

Accessing the Internet from a mobile phone or tethering a PC over it while traveling all over the world has been possible for many years. Unfortunately, it was also prohibitively expensive. A solution to the problem was to use local SIM cards but getting them has and still often is a hassle. 2014, however, will have been the year when all that has changed, at least for some of us, fortunately including me. And here's why:

New in 2014: EU Data Roaming For A Few Euros A Month

Earlier this year I reported about the new Euro-Roaming offer of my network operator that lets me use my data bucket that is included in my monthly subscription in all EU countries without any extra charges for 5 Euros extra per month. One price for all countries. Perfect, my Internet access problem is solved, and I no longer need local SIM cards except in really exceptional circumstances.

New in 2014: Global Roaming Prices Reach Affordable Levels

But the EU isn't the world and I also travel a lot to Asia and the US. Again, new roaming prices of my home network operator for global destinations completely changes the game. Instead of 20 euros a day for only a few megabytes, the latest offer for any destination is around 12 Euros per week for a 150 MB bucket. If the data is used up sooner, another bucket can be bought instantly via a landing page. 150 MB is not much by today's standards and I had to buy several packages during a recent trip to China to keep me connected, but compared to previous prices this is heaven and totally usable.

New in 2014: Fast Networks And LTE Roaming

When I visited countries such as China in previous years I always noticed how slow even 3G connectivity was. While it could have been the local network I suspect that connectivity between the visited network and my home network was rather underdesigned. Again, when I was recently in China, 3G connectivity was fast and totally usable. I'm delighted! Also, 2014 is the year when LTE roaming agreements finally started to fall in place. Over the past months I've roamed on foreign LTE networks in quite a number of countries and I've achieved data rates of well of 20 Mbit/s. Not that 3G networks are slow but seeing that LTE indicator in the status bar is still something special and promises fast data rates.

New in 2014: Viginti Band LTE Phones That Also Include 5-6 UMTS Bands

While LTE roaming in Europe for European customers is not a problem from a mobile device point of view, getting LTE connectivity in other parts of the world has been another matter altogether so far as North America and China use different UMTS and LTE bands. 5-6 band UMTS and LTE devices have been available for a while in Europe but these unfortunately did not include bands for other regions. But again, things have changed dramatically for the better. One popular smartphone now boasts support of 20 (!) LTE bands and 6 UMTS bands. This includes all major LTE and UMTS bands used in Europe, North America and even the TD-LTE bands used in China. That's especially good news for global travelers no matter where they come from because true Global UMTS and LTE roaming has now become a reality. I'm more than delighted!

I've been using mobile Internet access while traveling for pretty much a decade now. 2014, however, has brought about an as dramatic a change of my usage behavior as the introduction of local prepaid SIM cards for mobile Internet access had many years ago.

by mobilesociety at October 15, 2014 03:49 AM

October 14, 2014

Cloud Four Blog

Project Management is BS: an inspirational meditation for modern PMs

This past week, I had the luxury of attending the Digital Project Management conference in Austin. If you are a project manager and you haven’t heard about this group of awesome digital PMs, you are missing out. The first time I attended one of their events, I thought, finally! These are my people! People who actually do what I do at Cloud Four. My tribe.

What do I do, every day? What do digital project managers actually do? It’s mundane stuff, folks. In any given day, I write a ton of emails and Basecamp threads, review lists — many, many lists, in many different forms. I pester people in every way imaginable. (Letters. I’ve written actual letters at times.) I listen, a lot. I run conference calls, I Skype, I Hangout, I Slack, I SIP into meetings. Today, I slacked, then hangout, then called the same person in a 10 minute period. This is not glorious work.

It occurs to me frequently that this is work that really anyone could do. In fact, the tools we use are often designed so that anyone on my team is empowered to use them. 

Want to schedule a meeting? Great! Lucid Meetings makes this really simple. It even walks you through agenda creation and attendee selection! (You know you need an agenda for every meeting, right? Make them good ones, too.) Want to ask the client a question? Perfect! Hit them up in Slack, or Basecamp. You don’t need me.

Sometimes it feels like the work we do is complete BS.

This is not the most encouraging thought to be having about your chosen career.

But here’s the thing: the reason we have project managers at all is because most people are not thinking about these things. Your project team is so heads down on the work they are doing that they don’t think about the overall project progress, or the political implications of asking a certain question, or just the right way to deal with that nagging change request. They don’t worry about the overall budget impact of that bug that was just found in QA, or how the hell you are going to schedule one extra sprint when you’ve got two other projects starting that same week.

They just don’t. But YOU do. And YOU are really freaking good at it. 

[cue the inspirational music]

YOU wake up in the middle of the night, wondering why that one stakeholder didn’t seem engaged in your kick-off meeting that day.

YOU can’t shake that feeling that something isn’t right about that call you just had with your developer. She didn’t really say anything, but you know something is off and how to suss it out. 

YOU know exactly how to load your project teams to maximize efficiency without overloading them. 

YOU can evaluate a budget overage, report it to the customer, and offer alternatives that are actionable and clear.

YOU inspire and motivate your team to keep on keeping on. 

YOU see patterns of inefficiencies in your organization and have ideas on how to address them. 

And this is not just about making sure that someone (anyone) is tasked with these types of things. It’s making sure the right person is leading it.

This stuff is our DNA. And it’s not mundane or ordinary. It’s essential, technical, precise, and difficult work. It’s hard and soft skills. It’s invisible, yes, but like my ever-so-talented colleague Tyler Sticka described it, we’re like the project’s nervous system. The developers, designers, and other project team members are like arms and the legs, moving the body around, but they’d be paralyzed without a good PM to make sure signals are going where they need to be.

Like Nancy Lyons said in the closing DPM keynote, “We are change-makers, we are thinkers, we are do-ers.” 

That’s some really cool, important BS, if you ask me.

by Megan Notarte at October 14, 2014 09:10 PM

October 13, 2014

Brad Frost Web » Brad Frost Web | Web Design, Speaking, Consulting, Music, and Art

Job Title: It’s Complicated

I’ve been talking to an increasing number of people who struggle to answer the question “So what do you do?” These are UX designers who end up tackling a large part of development, developers who find themselves running strategic efforts at their job, and other jack-of-all-trades people who run the gamut of job responsibilities.

These people are often uncomfortable admitting they don’t know exactly where they fit in within their organization. I’m here to tell you that’s ok.

bricks

I think job roles can be broken into two categories: bricks and mortar. Both bricks and mortar are required to make structurally-sound walls, even though they play different roles.

Bricks

Bricks are solid, reliable, and have clear shapes and boundaries. It’s absolutely important to have team members who are bricks, like the dependable backend developer who’s passion is server setup and management. Or the dedicated project manager who’s sole job is to keep the project on track.

Everyone loves bricks. They conveniently fit into Excel cells, and project managers love that. But while it’s possible to build walls only using bricks, they’re not going to be as stable as they should be. This is what happens at rigidly-siloed organizations. Can brick-only organizations launch projects? Absolutely. Can these projects afford to be a lot sturdier? Absolutely.

Mortar

It’s important for projects to also incorporate people who serve as mortar. Unlike clearly-defined bricks, mortar peoples’ job responsibilities are murky. They fill in the gaps. They can float between high-level and in-the-weeds work and work with different disciplines. And while they might have a core concentration (the stem of the T), they have a solid understanding of most areas of a project (the cross bar of the T). Mortar people serve as the glue that helps hold the bricks together, which leads to sturdier projects.

These people are harder to hire, and harder to place neatly into a project plan’s spreadsheet. But they’re just as essential to a successful project as bricks.

Because mortar people are harder to place, they need to fight for autonomy or else they’ll be pigeon-holed into the role of a brick. This leads to frustration and dissatisfaction. Been there, done that.

Build Solid Walls

Our websites are fluid, so our processes and workflows need to match. The trend away from rigid waterfall processes provides an opportunity for organizations to better incorporate mortar people into their projects.

I’d say it’s a great time to struggle to answer the question “So what do you do?”.

by Brad Frost at October 13, 2014 08:54 AM

Eurotechnology.japan

Shuji Nakamura: did he invent the blue GaN LED alone and other questions. An Interview.

Interview for the Chinese Newspaper Southern Weekly about Shuji Nakamura The Chinese Newspaper Southern Weekly interviewed me about Shuji Nakamura’s invention of the blue LED and the background to his Nobel Prize. Here some of my answers. Read the article in Southern Weekly in Chinese language here: 【2014诺贝尔·科学】无人相信的发明 Shuji Nakamura: when he first announced his […]

The post Shuji Nakamura: did he invent the blue GaN LED alone and other questions. An Interview. appeared first on Eurotechnology Japan.

by fasol@eurotechnology.com (Gerhard Fasol) at October 13, 2014 06:09 AM

October 12, 2014

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Will Fiber To The Home Become The New Monopoly?

Those who have gigabit Internet speeds at home thanks to a 'fiber to the home' (FTTH) connection are probably more than happy with their Internet access. I benchmarked such a connection recently and I guess I'd be more than happy as well to have such a line at my home in Cologne. Given some time, perhaps...But I can't help thinking that once a fiber cable is laid into the streets and houses by a network operator, it effectively creates a (next generation) monopoly, as no other network operator will have an incentive to put a fiber into the same ground as well. So the monopoly moves from copper to fiber as once users have become accustomed to fiber access they are unlikely to go back to something that is significantly slower. Again, the only competition could come from cable operators who also have fiber cables close to buildings today and can thus extend fiber connectivity from there to individual buildings. Hm, sounds like operator monopoly 2.0!?

by mobilesociety at October 12, 2014 07:52 AM