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August 27, 2014

MobileMonday London

Mobile Miscellany, 20 August 2014. Demo Night mid Sept, free passes to SDP Global Summit & discounts to our Autumn Academy..

DEMO NIGHT IS BACK 16th SEPT - APPLY TO DEMO...

Demo Night returns on Tuesday (yes, TUESDAY) 16th September and here is your opportunity to apply for a chance to do a 3 minute demo (no slideware) followed by audience questions.

As well as being a lot of fun, our Demo Nights (e.g. last September) have been an important step for many past presenters: a place to meet funders, find collaborators, get feedback, get some fame and of course, it's a chance to showcase the creativity and diversity of the community! There are no winners and losers - just a great chance to be part of one of the most entertaining events of the year!

Demo Night will take place at Informa's 10th Annual Service Delivery Innovation Summit (see below) at Thistle Hotel in Marble Arch, London. If you want to demo, you need to be quick! Apply here by 2nd September and good luck.

You can also register for the event here.

FREE DEVELOPER PASSES TO INFORMA SUMMIT, 16th & 17th SEPT

See a range of case studies from operators & third party developers showing examples of successful service innovation including Deutsche Telecom, Amazon and TomTom. Innovative service delivery from within the cloud will feature heavily, with a wide variety of panel discussions & opportunities for audience debate. Get your free pass here with this priority code: I859D/MM.

NEED TO KNOW MOBILE? THE MOBILE ACADEMY, IN CONJUNCTION WITH UCL, RETURNS SEPT 30th - DEC 2nd

Extremely well rated by our alumni, the fifth season of The Mobile Academy will start on 30th Sept and runs Tuesday and Thursday evenings until 2nd December. With sessions designed to give a grounding across business, design and technology, you will get need-to-know practical advice, tool-kits and one on one advice from industry experts who will share tips that you just cannot get from the text books. Develop new ideas in the heart of the tech scene with a diverse group of participants who will ready to share their skills and experience.

Discounts for Mobile Monday London-ers of course, whether you are from a large organisation, SME or are applying as an individual, enter "MoMoLo" at registration.

That's all for now - we'll be back in touch to let you know when registration is open to attend Demo Night. In the meantime, do get your applications in for Demo Night, nab your free summit pass & feel free to get in touch with contact@themobileacademy.org.uk if you have any questions about the autumn course.

by Julia Shalet (noreply@blogger.com) at August 27, 2014 09:38 AM

August 26, 2014

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Cross-Compiling Tcpdump for Android

Tcodump on androidIn a previous post I described how to use a Raspberry Pi as Wi-Fi access point and how to trace the data traffic of my smartphone in real time using tcpdump and netcat. The next logical step is of course to directly trace the network traffic on the smartphone. This has the big advantage that it's not only possible to trace the Wi-Fi traffic but also traffic that goes over the cellular interface. I've laid the foundations for this a couple of weeks ago by installing CyanogenMod on my Samsung Galaxy S4. Unfortunately, though, CyanogenMod does not include tcpdump in its standard image.

There are some sources on the net that provide pre-compiled tcpdump executables for Android but since these are not well known I had a hard time trusting them. Not that I think they are not trustworthy but I just don't know them at all. So I had to find a way to get a trusted executable. At first I thought that I could perhaps use a tcpdump executable from one of my Raspberry Pis as they also run on an ARM processor. That would have probably worked if the Raspberry Pi used static linking for it's executables, i.e. bundling all libraries required into the file which is required for Android. Raspian, like most other Linux distributions, I imagine, however, uses dynamic linking with the libraries in separate directories. O.k. so that was not an option.

After doing some more research I came across a 3 piece post over on the Symantec blog (see here, here and here) that explains in detail how to cross compile tcpdump for Android from the original sources on a Debian system. Fortunately I had something close to this, an Ubuntu 12.04 in a virtual machine on which I can easily try things without backing anything by creating a VM snapshot to which I could restore later-on to undo all changes. It turned out that cross-compiling the sources is not very difficult at all as only the original source and the gnu cross compiler. As I was using Ubuntu I had to install additional packages which is not described in the Symantec posts but the error messages are quite straight forward. Also, I had to set 'LDFLAGS=-static' in the tcpdump 'Makefile' as mentioned in the comments to the third part of Symantec's description.

And here's the command to trace the cellular interface once tcpdump is up and running on your Android phone and to save the traffic into a file on the SD card:

tcpdump -n -i rmnet_usb0 -s 65535 -w /storage/sdcard1/trace.pcap

Happy tracing on Android!

by mobilesociety at August 26, 2014 09:56 AM

Open Gardens

New futuretext web site is now live

Over the last two years, I have been refocussing my work and much of that is now complete

 

Have a look at the new futuretext site which reflects my emphasis on Machine Learning and IoT – both for projects and teaching

 

by ajit at August 26, 2014 07:25 AM

August 25, 2014

Kai Hendry's blog

How much does it cost to run an Archlinux mirror on EC2

AWS

Singapore kindly gifted http://hackerspace.sg/ with 500SGD of AWS credits.

Since the mirrors http://mirror.nus.edu.sg/ and http://download.nus.edu.sg, which are two separate competing groups from the NUS which oddly try to outdo each other in incompetence, have had several issues mirroring Archlinux in my two year experience of using either of them, I thought lets use these credits to host an Archlinux mirror!!

After much head scratching with the AWS jargon of {ebs,s3} and {hvm,paravirtual} EC2 Archlinux images, I launched an "ebs hvm" instance of m3.xlarge.

I got a nice 80GB zpool going for the mirror and everything was looking good. However, now to do the budgeting.

On demand pricing is $0.392 an hour

There is roughly 9000 hours in a year. So that's $3528. Eeeek, over budget by just 3000 dollars!

Ignoring added complexity of Spot and EBS enhancements, a one year resevered instance under "Light Utilization Reserved Instances" (I am not sure what that means) is 497 dollars! Yes!!

I'm told "Light utilization means that you will not turn it on all the time". For 1 year I would need heavy utilization!

So a m3.xlarge would be: 981 (down payment) + 24 * 365 * 0.124 = $2067.24, about 1500 dollars over budget.

Oh and bandwidth?

Well, a mirror is going to be a network whore. AWS charges for bandwidth. I tried their calculator (since I couldn't figure out what they charge per GB) with a lowball 1TB a month in and out and that costs almost 200USD.

Wow that's expensive! AWS EC2 (+ 500SGD credit) isn't suitable for an Archlinux mirror! :(

Digital Ocean quote

For a machine with at least 50GB, you would need Digital Ocean's top tier machine, with

  • 64GB / 20 CPUS
  • 640GB SSD DISK
  • 9TB TRANSFER

BUT that is 640USD a MONTH !!!

Lessons learnt

Running a mirror is pretty darn expensive with the typical cloud providers on offer today. No free lunch.

August 25, 2014 07:43 AM

August 24, 2014

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

The Hosts File on Android Against Obtrusive Advertisement

I don't mind some advertisement on websites as long as it's not obtrusive. Live and let live. On the desktop that line has long been crossed with major news websites looking more like a Las Vegas casinos than news websites. So I've been using Adblock Plus for many years there already and I'm always shocked when I switch it on and see how the unfiltered web 'really' looks like these days. On the mobile side, ads were somewhat more subtle on the web sites I frequent, at least until recently.

Within a short time, however, the three news websites I visit daily on my mobile have started to push ads into my face with full screen pop-ups or keep showing me the same stupid ad over and over again. Sorry, that's it, you've pushed me over the edge and I had to resort to countermeasures. Adblock Plus is available as well for Android but unless there is no alternative I don't want a proxy in the system.

The alternative is to make use of the 'hosts' file and block ad serving domain names. This requires root access to the device but that's not a problem on CyanogenMod. Also, I've already modified the hosts file to keep apps and the OS from frequently calling home so it was little effort to also include the domain names from which the ads come from.

Actually I'm a bit shocked at how many domains I had to block to get back my peace on three news websites. Here's the list of domains they include in their pages that have nothing to do with the main content:

#Ad blocking
127.0.0.1   ad8.adfarm1.adition.com
127.0.0.1   googleads.g.doubleclick.net
127.0.0.1   stats.g.doubleclick.net
127.0.0.1   mobile.smartadserver.com
127.0.0.1   www.google-analytics.com
127.0.0.1   pagead2.googlesyndication.com
127.0.0.1   ads.stickyadstv.com
127.0.0.1   pixel.rubiconproject.com
127.0.0.1   t1.visualrevenue.com
127.0.0.1   beacon.krxd.net
127.0.0.1   rtb.metrigo.com
127.0.0.1   c.metrigo.com
127.0.0.1   ad.zanox.com
127.0.0.1   cm.g.doubleclick.net
127.0.0.1   ib.adnxs.com
127.0.0.1   ih.adscale.de
127.0.0.1   ad.360yield.com
127.0.0.1   ssp-csynch.smartadserver.com
127.0.0.1   ad.yieldlab.net
127.0.0.1   dis.crieto.com
127.0.0.1   rtb.eanalyzer.de
127.0.0.1   connect.facebook.net
127.0.0.1   platform.twitter.com
127.0.0.1   b.scorecardresearch.com
127.0.0.1   sb.scorecardresearch.com
127.0.0.1   ads.newtentionassets.net
127.0.0.1   ak.sascdn.com
127.0.0.1   fastly.bench.cedexis.com
127.0.0.1   probes.cedexis.com
127.0.0.1   linkedin.com
127.0.0.1   x.ligatus.com
127.0.0.1   d.ligatus.com
127.0.0.1   a.visualrevenue.com
127.0.0.1   radar.cedexis.com
127.0.0.1   www.googletagservices.com
127.0.0.1   pubads.g.doubleclick.net
127.0.0.1   farm.plista.com
127.0.0.1   static.plista.com
127.0.0.1   video.plista.com
127.0.0.1   tag.yoc-adserver.com
127.0.0.1   ads.yahoo.com

Yes, that's from just three news portals. Quite shocking...

by mobilesociety at August 24, 2014 06:48 AM

August 21, 2014

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

Designing an Effective Donate Form

I reached out to the Pittsburgh Food Bank last year about helping them redesign their website largely because I was having a hard time figuring out how to give them money.

So as part of our redesign of the Pittsburgh Food Bank’s website, we want to make the donate experience more visible and usable.

Ember

We’re still working hard to finish up the form design along with the rest of the site, but wanted to share some of the things we’re considering as we design the donate form:

  1. Be visible
  2. Cut out the noise
  3. Break big tasks into smaller steps
  4. Use buttons for input
  5. Provide smart defaults and suggestions
  6. Articulate impact
  7. Inline validation
  8. Use proper input types
  9. Reduce the number of taps
  10. Automatically generate city and state info
  11. Use single-field credit card input pattern

Be visible

We’re including the donate form above the footer on almost every page of the site. There’s still a dedicated donate page, but by including the donate functionality on each page we’re hoping users will be inspired to donate after reading about the Food Bank’s many wonderful initiatives.

Cut out the noise

It’s important to create an interface that helps users focus on the task at hand. For key tasks, such as a donate form or an e-commerce checkout form, it’s often a good idea to remove superfluous elements that can distract users. Including a simplified header and footer (a la Amazon’s checkout) and removing sidebars and other auxiliary content will help users accomplish the task faster.

Break big tasks into smaller steps

Another way to cut out the noise and help users focus is to break the form into smaller chunks. This reduces the cognitive load on the user, and also presents a much less intimidating form than exposing all fields at once.

Use buttons for input

Buttons are more approachable, more tap-friendly, quicker, and more visually appealing than a select menu, traditional input or radio button. We’re using buttons for the donation amount, with an optional input field if the user wants to donate a custom amount.

Provide smart defaults and suggestions

Many people (myself included) don’t know what a typical and appropriate donation to a food bank looks like. By providing some representative suggestions, we’re able to guide the user into the appropriate bucket. Barack Obama’s campaign donate form provides a series of button selections for common donation values:

Ember

On the food bank’s donate form, we’re also pre-selecting a reasonable value to guide users into donating a worthwhile amount.

Articulate impact

Donate form messaging

It helps for people to know the impact of their donation. Right now we have simple (placeholder) messaging that helps users understand how far their donation will go. We’re still working on the messaging and display of this info, but it will certainly help create a connection between the financial donation and the real impact it will have to alleviate hunger.

Inline Validation

There’s nothing worse than submitting a massive form only to be scolded to go fishing to find your erroneous fields. Inline validation can help users fix their problems while they’re still focused on the general area. We’re using the wonderful Parsley library to validate our inputs as users exit fields.

Reduce the number of taps

An important overall goal of a form is to reduce as much as humanly possible. The less work the user has to do the more likely they are to complete the form. Simple things like combining fields like “First Name” and “Last Name” into a field simply called “Full Name” reduces the amount of taps the user has to endure.

User proper input types

Using the proper HTML5 input types and pattern attributes pulls up the appropriate virtual keyboard on mobile devices, saving users from having to manually switch over to enter a number.

Automatically generate city and state info

Automatically fetch city and state info from ZIP code

Surfacing the ZIP code field first allows us to automatically populate the city and state fields using a neat API called Ziptastic. This reduces the amount of fields the user has to fill out, and as a result increases their efficiency.

Use single-field credit card input pattern

Donate credit card single field pattern

We’re using the single-field credit card input pattern to collect credit card information. This provides a more concise input method for entering credit card info, and testing data for this pattern is showing that users prefer it over a more traditional credit card input. So I’m excited to see how this plays out!

Work in Progress

The site isn’t live yet, so it’s still too early to tell whether the donate form will perform as well as we hope it will. A donation form is definitely a ripe place for some A/B testing, so it will be fun to experiment with over time.

If you have data, techniques, or anecdotes about web form design, I’d love to hear them. One of the benefits of designing in the open is that we’re able incorporate feedback and new ideas back into our design before we launch.

For more info on form design, I’d recommend taking a look at these resources:

by Brad Frost at August 21, 2014 01:31 PM

August 20, 2014

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Think Twice Before You Let Smartphones And Tablets Tether

I'm quite surprised that pretty much the entire industry these days thinks that Wi-Fi Internet connectivity means that there is free, unlimited and ultra-fast connectivity. As a consequence many smartphones and tables are shamelessly downloading operating system updates and other things small and large without asking the user first.

A 150 MB Android update available!? No problem, there's Wi-Fi so it's downloaded by many devices without asking the user first. Now imagine you are hanging off a hotel Wi-Fi that is slow already or even paid by the megabyte. The former is still the norm rather than the exception while the later is rare these days but it still exists, which is why I would never stay in NH hotels if I can avoid it...

Even worse, you ask a friend in a café if you could tether your Wi-Fi only tablet over his phone to the Internet. He graciously agrees despite only having a contract that includes a few hundred megabytes of data a month. After all, a couple of web pages won't hurt!? Well, these probably won't but the 150 MB OS update starting automatically will. And unless you friend keeps his data counter in sight he probably never knows what hit him until a couple of days later when he hits his monthly data cap.

Therefore, think twice before you open your mobile network connectivity for anyone...

Fortunately CyanogenMod on my Samsung Galaxy S4 gives me root access so I've put the domain name of the update server in the hosts file and point it to localhost. This stops the madness and restores sanity so I will not be surprised by a bulk data download while I'm tethering or staying in a hotel.

by mobilesociety at August 20, 2014 08:43 AM

August 19, 2014

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

LTE Roaming Speed Test

Speed-test-smJust a few weeks after I could use LTE for the first time while roaming in France I recently found myself in Belgium's capital for the weekend and could again benefit from LTE speeds while roaming. But how fast is it actually and is there a bottleneck on the link to the home network? The later is quite important as all data is tunneled to the PDN-Gatway in the home network and from there to the Internet. As you can see in the image on the left, Mobistar in Belgium and my home network operator have provisioned the link with ample capacity and I could reach speeds of 20 Mbit/s in the downlink direction and 14 Mbit/s in the uplink direction on LTE Band 20 (800 MHz) cell with a 10 MHz carrier in average signal conditions. Not too bad I would say. And the ping delay of 62 ms for a roaming scenario is great as well.

by mobilesociety at August 19, 2014 07:27 AM

August 17, 2014

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Getting the RAT Indicator Back When Roaming...

Network type indicatorSo there we go, somewhere along the way Android lost the radio network type (RAT) indicator over the signal bars when roaming. I wonder if that has something to do with Americans rarely leaving their country? Anyway, the important thing is that Android is open and flexible enough for someone to come up with an app to fix the issue. After looking around bit I chose the "Network Type Indicator" app and as it didn't want any suspicious rights I didn't hesitate to install it. It works as it should and my smartphone again feels as it should when I'm out of the country. It is even better than the original as I can now see the network type much easier when using the device for navigation in the car. Yes, I like to know what kind of network is around me when driving through the countryside...

by mobilesociety at August 17, 2014 07:48 AM

August 14, 2014

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Ubuntu Brain Transplant - How Far Back Can I Go?

I like having a good backup strategy and thus have a couple of Clonezilla images of my notebook's SSD. In case my notebook gets lost or stolen I can restore the image on a backup drive, overwrite the data partition with the latest weekly backup and put the result in another notebook and I'm up and running again in no time. The question I had, however, was how close the hardware of the replacement notebook must resemble that of the original hardware for Ubuntu to still be usable.

To find out just that I recently restored a Clonezilla image of the SSD of my PC to a backup drive and installed that in a 4 year old notebook with completely different CPU and graphics hardware and a 6 year Atom based notebook, again with a very different processor, GPU, screen, touchpad and Wi-Fi hardware. That can't possibly work now can it!? Wrong! My Ubuntu 12.04 installation booted and ran perfectly on both systems. Graphics worked, the touchpad worked, the Wi-Fi worked, suspend/resume worked, everything just worked, I could hardly believe it.

Now try that with a Windows installation...

by mobilesociety at August 14, 2014 07:47 AM

August 13, 2014

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Getting A Public IP Address In An Austrian Mobile Network

Drei-public-ipAgreed, for most services used in mobile networks today a NATed private IP address does the job. But there are some applications that require a reachable public IP address such as web servers, VPN gateways, chat servers, etc. Also agreed, these are mostly connected via fixed line connections but in some instances, e.g. for fallback solutions or in places where DSL links are not available, it's great for them to be reachable over a cellular network as well.

Unfortunately support of public IP addresses is seen as a niche service by most mobile network operators and hence they either don't support public IP addresses at all or only via obscure and unadvertised APNs. The more delighted I was when I saw that one of the mobile network operators in Austria is offering to use a public IP address for a connection via their web configuration interface with a simple on/off switch. Great, a mobile network operator who's willing to also cater for those with special applications!

And when thinking a bit more about it it's even more stunning in the light of many alternative fixed line network operators who are also not willing anymore to give out public IPv4 addresses, not even on request. Take a look guys, it can be THAT simple!!!

by mobilesociety at August 13, 2014 11:17 AM

August 12, 2014

mobiForge blog

Mobile-friendliness 101: Adding click-to-call links to a website

Creating a site that works well across all devices can be a daunting task. However, there are some simple things that you can do that can have a big impact on a site's usability. Click-to-call is one such feature: it's simple, effective, and very easy to implement.

read more

by ruadhan at August 12, 2014 04:36 PM

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Switching to CyanogenMod - But There's A Price To Pay For Freedom

While I've been using LTE since the very early days it has mostly been for Internet connectivity so far. When it came to the smartphone in my pocket I was downright conservative and only recently switched to a Samsung Galaxy S4 that comes with LTE. When making the switch I also decided that it was just the right opportunity to also do something about bloatware, crapware, vendor specific launchers and spyware by installing a vendor independent Android flavor.

There are many 'mod's' available these days and CyanogenMod is probably the most well known. So I decided to give it a go, and the pretty much automated installer CyanogenMod offers for a handful of devices made it a quick and hassle-free adventure. Download an app to the S4, download the installer to a Windows PC and let both run. With a few interactions and about half an hour later my S4 booted with a vanilla CyanogenMod Android 4.4.2 image.

The automatic CyanogenMod installer also downloaded and installed the Google Play store and while the device doesn't call 'home' as much to Google and others compared to vendor specific Android versions, there are still frequent interactions with mtalk and other Google services. But since CyanogenMod offers a built in root mode, that's easy to take care of by modifying the hosts file as I described here.

So here we go, my first smartphone with a custom firmware not from the manufacturer and not directly from Google either. A moment to savor, it's almost like in the PC world. But there's a price to pay as some features are missing or don't quite work as I would like them to. For example: When roaming, the status bar only displays an 'R' next to the reception quality bars and omits the network technology indicator. Also, I'm no longer able to disable GSM as I don't like to drop down to 2G for various reasons even if that means I am out of coverage every now and then. That's a small price to pay, however, as even many vendor supplied Android versions of devices with LTE don't allow locking to UMTS and LTE. Another thing that has also disappeared is the Wideband-AMR capability the original Android version activated in the baseband on startup. Together with not showing the radio technology while roaming I miss that the most.

Let's see, perhaps there's a way to get some of these things back. I'll keep you posted.

by mobilesociety at August 12, 2014 07:03 AM

August 11, 2014

London Calling

Why I’m staking my career on the growth of social business

andrew-presenting-squareI have been working in “social” for some time. I worked out recently that I was “blogging” before it was even called blogging!

The @Forum section of my personal website (seen here in an archive.org snapshot from March 2001) was providing my views on the new digital economy some time ago.

Back in 2009, I joined Visible Technologies in London, and as many know I was the CEO of Kred from 2011 – 2013. This was the formal part of my “social media” career where I provided tools and advice to blue chip clients on how to measure and manage their social media presence.

My move to IBM in October 2013 was a deliberate shift from social media to social business, and it is important to explain the difference.

I define a social business in the following way…

A social business is an organization
whose culture and systems
encourage networks of people
to create business value

Note the words I have highlighted: culture – people – business value. No mention of fans, followers, likes, Facebook or Twitter – just real business value.

This what my C-Suite clients want to hear. When anyone mentions social, they immediately think Facebook and Twitter and the conversation and the preconceptions become those related to social media and not social business.

You can see me explain my shift towards social business in the video below, shot by the Drum as I spoke with Jen Faull while we drove around the streets of London in the back of a black cab.

So back to the title of this post – why am I now betting my career on social business and not social media?

I passionately believe that the future of social now lies in companies that realise they need to become a social business and not just “play” with social.

I am now attending meetings where clients have specifically asked me to present to them on social collaboration.

Social collaboration is where internal tools such as IBM Connections, Yammer, Chatter and Jive are used to connect and enhance companies.  For me, internal collaboration is the new way of working, and in the future your value to an organisation won’t be what you know, it will be what you share.

Before I joined IBM, I posted some lengthy reviews on a report from my good friend Brian Solis at Altimeter group on “the evolution of social business”, and it was this report that absolutely convinced me that the future of social was not in the “media” part, but the “business part”.

The opportunity for those companies that become a true social business are way beyond having 1 million likes on Facebook.

A social business uses social to hire and retain the right people, it uses social to ensure that complaints on social business get to the right department.

A social business doesn’t rely on email, they collaborate in real time and share the knowledge of the whole company with each other.

A social business knows instantly how to find subject matter experts – because they make themselves easy to find.

Becoming a social business is not easy though. Far beyond simply putting up a Twitter page, buying a social media monitoring tool and having a social media command centre, the move to becoming a social business involves a significant culture change.

One of the attractions of joining IBM is that we really do “eat our own cooking” when it comes to social business and the culture changes.  Every day I see the impact of how being a social business makes us more efficient and delivers incremental value to our clients.

In pretty much every client meeting, I recount the story of how IBM became a social business, with hundreds of thousands of people using our internal social network on a daily basis, and how for many of us, social is becoming the norm not the exception.

Clients respect that for such a large and diverse organisation as IBM to be embracing the power of social business, then they can learn from our own journey as we help them change and become an organisation that collaborates and shares by default.

In my career, I have been fortunate to work with some amazing people, and also lucky enough to have been ahead of the curve on web, online, mobile and social trends.

Following my instincts, I am now betting the next stage of my career on social business, and I think it’s a pretty safe bet.

If you enjoyed this blog post you may like other related posts listed below under You may also like ...

To receive future posts you can subscribe via email or RSS, download the android app, or follow me on twitter @andrewgrill.



You may also like ...

by Andrew Grill at August 11, 2014 10:40 AM

August 10, 2014

Open Gardens

Why I signed a petition in favour of Amazon at change.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

I supported this change,org petition in favour of Amazon – Stop fighting low prices and fair wages with the following comment

While I may not agree everything Amazon does, I think Amazon has created a level playing field for a whole set of new content creators. In that sense, in future – it will serve new content creators better and  lead to more innovation. Existing publishers can never do that. I also agree with the ebook pricing argument from Amazon. Also, as a customer of Amazon – they have my goodwill and trust. I cannot say the same of any other traditional publisher(with the exception of O Reilly – who are very non traditional also). Thus, I believe – from the past record – Amazon will continue to innovate and serve its content creators and customers better than existing publishers  

by ajit at August 10, 2014 06:14 AM

August 08, 2014

London Calling

Social Customer Care 5 years on – new report

Guy StephensMy good friend and fellow IBMer Guy Stephens (@Guy1067) is well known as a pioneer in the social customer care space, having been involved in the early days of social while at Carphone Warehouse.

I was delighted to read that the has just released a collection of the views from 16 leaders in the social customer care space.  You should download the report and set aside some time to read it.

5-years-of-customer-care-cover

Guy has assembled an amazing mix of views, from Dave Carroll of United Breaks Guitars fame, through to Frank Eliason formerly of @ComcastCares.

The full list of contributors is below

customer-care-authors

Frank Eliason, Citibank: @FrankEliason
Richard Baker, Carlsberg Group: @TheIntrapreneur
Graeme Stoker, Freelance Digital Consultant: @Graeme_NCL
John Bernier, Lubrication Technologies: @BernierJohn
Dr Natalie Petouhoff, Constellation Group: @DrNatalie
Esteban Kolsky, ThinkJar: @EKolsky
Bob Thompson, CustomerThink: @Bob_Thompson
Barry Dalton, Strategy&: @BSDalton
Colin Shaw, Beyond Philosophy: @ColinShaw_CX
Vincent Boon, Standing on Giants: @VincentBoon
Wendy Lea, GetSatisfaction: @WendySLea
Mitch Lieberman, DRI: @MJayliebs
Kate Leggett, Forrester Research: @KateLeggett
Dave Carroll, United Breaks Guitar: @DaveCarroll
Martin Hill-Wilson, Brainfood Extra: @MartinHW
Joanne Jacobs, 1000heads: @JoanneJacobs
Joshua March, Conversocial: @JoshuaMarch

What is interesting is that while many of the contributors have founded, and lived through the early days of social customer care, many of them suggest there is still a long way to go for most companies.

What I am seeing as I speak to IBM clients from some of the world’s most recognized companies is many of them have much to learn on how to truly provide excellent social customer care.

Social Customer Care in my opinion needs to get out of the marketing department and become integrated into all parts of the business.

An Airline that receives a tweet about a lost bag should not have that handled by the marketing team, but instead it should be passed direct (triaged automatically using smart analytics) to the baggage team for action.

Even in recent weeks, I have interacted via social, email, phone and online with a well-known organisation that appears to be doing social “well”. I can report from a consumer perspective that every process I encountered was broken, and only when I spoke to a senior executive at the company by phone this week (bypassing all the protocols and reaching out to the head of social via a DM) did I have any real comfort that the issue I was experiencing was being addressed.

I still think that social customer care has a long way to go, and as Guy asks in his piece at the end of the report – “What will social customer care look like in 5 years’ time”.

Download the report now! It is one of the best pieces of work I have seen on this topic yet.

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by Andrew Grill at August 08, 2014 03:16 PM

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

My Truecrypt Exodus Has Begun

Ubuntu-encryptA few weeks ago the Truecrypt project spectacularly imploded and Steve Gibson over at GRC has a good summary of the event. Many people, including me, always liked the idea of Truecrypt being open source but were quite skeptical of the authors being anonymous. Now that they've abandoned their project and also don't want it to be continued by anyone else it's time to think about alternatives.

Initially I used Truecrypt because there was nothing else available on Windows XP. Then I used it's advantages in cross-platform compatibility to share a file container so I could use my Thunderbird email client on Windows and Linux depending on which machine I used at a time. But I've moved on and I no longer have Windows machines at home. So cross-platform compatibility is no longer necessary.

As a consequence, I've been on the lookout for other options and on Linux, dm-crypt looks like a good alternative. In Ubuntu, and likely also in other Linux distributions, dm-crypt is straight forward to use. When formatting a new hard drive or usb memory stick, Ubuntu's "Disk Utility" offers a simple way to encrypt a new volume with dm-crypt as shown in the image on the left. When the USB stick is later-on plugged-in again, the file manager automatically asks for the password. Perfect! Encrypting hard drives for backups works in a similar way. 

So when I recently ran out of space on my backup hard drives and had to buy new ones, I went for dm-crypt instead of Truecrypt. Call it a natural migration away from Truecrypt without much pain as my backup software doesn't care if and how a drive is encrypted. Also, it seems that not too far in the future, my 500 GB notbook SSD needs to get replaced with a 1 TB variant as those virtual machine images just keep growing. A good opportunity to ditch the Truecrypt container I use for especially sensitive data and replace it with a dm-crypt container file or partition.

Speaking of container files: It's also pretty much straight forward with a couple of commands to create and use dm-crypt encrypted container files. Here's a good overview in English and here's one in German.

by mobilesociety at August 08, 2014 05:49 AM

August 07, 2014

London Calling

If you travel regularly or connect to public WiFi then you need a VPN – here’s why

vpn-securityAs regular London Calling readers know, I travel extensively for my role heading up Social Business Consulting for Europe at IBM.

You can read how I save on international roaming costs via this blog post, and the other thing I never leave home without is my Virtual Private Network (VPN).

I have been using a VPN since 2009 as a way of protecting my online security when using public WiFi at coffee shops, conference venues and hotels.

You may think I am being slightly paranoid, but wanting to always be ahead of the curve, when the Firesheep FireFox plugin was released in 2010, that lets you sniff all of the traffic from nearby public WiFi hotspots, I felt vindicated that I was being smart in protecting my online activity.

Fast forward to 2014, if you access a public WiFi network without using a VPN, then you’re playing with fire – as any medium-level hacker can use Firesheep to view everything you are doing on your laptop.

Many companies provide VPN access to corporate LAN networks, but they don’t always secure all of your browsing traffic, meaning that the geeky looking guy at the back of Starbucks is watching everything you do on Facebook.

The other byproduct of a VPN is it allows you to appear as if you are another country.  As an Australian expat, I often like to catch up on Australian TV.  The ABC and other websites in Australia enable geoblocking to ensure people outside a particular country cannot access content.

The BBC also enables geoblocking, as BBC content is only available people paying the UK Licence Fee of $145.50 (~$180) per annum. So if I am in Germany, and I access bbc.co.uk/iplayer, I see this message:

bbc-geoblock

By using a VPN when I am in Germany, I can appear as if I am in the UK, while also securing my web browsing from prying eyes.

Considerations when choosing a VPN

As mentioned above, I have been using a VPN service since 2009. This means that I have tried a few different providers. This post has been written to help you benefit from my experience in choosing a VPN provider.

The first company I used was Pure VPN. They had a good range of servers and a decent service, but their price was getting a little steep, so in 2011, I moved to Witopia, and only recently have I been looking at other providers.

I tried out Overplay (not bad but awful PC software), and also 12VPN (long list of confusing servers, and the Mac version would not install), until settling on VyprVPN.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I never recommend software or services that I don’t use.

I settled on VyprVPN for a number of reasons.

  1. They own and operate their own infrastructure, including their own private DNS servers.

by Andrew Grill at August 07, 2014 04:22 PM

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

The Shell Makes Android Fell Just Like Another Linux Machne To Me

Android-ShellKnowing something in theory and experiencing something for real are two different things. I know of course that Android is based on a Linux kernel and shares many things with desktop Linux distributions. But it's all nicely hidden under the Android user interface so the concept felt quite abstract to me, even after using 'adb' for a long time and having experience with Debian running on ARM driven Raspberry Pis and all. But when I recently opened a terminal on the device itself and used the shell like I would use one on a PC with a hardware keyboard, auto command completion and on top of that write shell scripts with my favorite shell based text editor 'nano', e.g. to issue the commands to enable write access of the system partition and start the editor to modify the 'hosts' file, it started to feel quite different. Yes, there's really something under the hood I'm quite familiar with and it 'feels' very good indeed.

by mobilesociety at August 07, 2014 06:00 AM

August 06, 2014

Kai Hendry's blog

SIGFOX

I attended an event at Hackerspace.SG Running your IoT devices on a low power, long range network, which showcased Lee Lup's slides on SIGFOX at Singtel.

My thoughts are that the 12 byte payload is not really suitable for monitoring, but more for events.

  • Door closed
  • Bin's full
  • Some significant threshold exceeded

It's not super good for monitoring since:

  • payload is too small
  • there is no accurate time
  • you can't monitor any less than 10 minute intervals

I found the people tracking / GPS use cases to be silly, since GPS needs a lot of power.

SIGFOX lends itself to well known fixed locations.

Fixed locations, such as public property that need maintenance and don't have Internet connectivity for one reason or another.

I'm thinking:

  • alerting to street lamps failing
  • alerting to flooding
  • alerting to when a bin is full & needs emptying
  • alerting when a special door/gate is opened

I like how the SIGFOX station seems to send out Github style Webhook payloads to a payload URL.

August 06, 2014 02:06 PM