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July 29, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

The Martian - A Book Review

O.k. this is a bit out of the ordinary on this blog, but apart computers and networks I'm also interested in spaceflight. Over the weekend I've come come across "The Martian" by Andy Weir due to a recommendation of an online ebook store and found it so outstanding that I had to write a few words about it here...

The story is about an astronaut in the near future stranded on Mars after a mission abort has gone horribly wrong and about his quest to survive until he can be picked up. Finally a book about Mars again that is not about astronauts encountering hostile aliens that want to kill them. What stands out is not only the storyline with lots of turns, twists and surprises, but also how closely the story is weaved around NASA's plans to send humans to Mars and the technology existing and under development. Also, the writing style and the protagonist's character and humor make this book a page turner. I usually take my time reading books but I went through this in two days (i.e. nights) flat. I just couldn't put it down, it's an extraordinary piece of work. 10 thumbs up!

by mobilesociety at July 29, 2015 05:45 PM

July 28, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

LTE Roaming With 1 Mbit/s - They Must Be Joking...

This week, another network operator in Germany announced that they will start LTE data roaming on 1 August. For two reasons, however, the announcement is more than a little bit strange.

First, they are not only a year late to the game but they will only start with three foreign networks while their competition already have roaming agreements with several dozen networks around the globe. The second restriction is even weirder: LTE Roaming data speeds are limited to 1 Mbit/s and nobody knows what that is good for!? While my LTE data roaming speeds easily surpass 20 Mbit/s they want to limit their customers to 1/20 of that. No way this would work for me because I regularly use LTE data roaming for notebook tethering.

Hm, that makes me wonder if they are bundling a couple of old E-1 lines to connect to their roaming hub and are afraid of massive overload if customers want to use the technology as it was designed!? ;-) Sorry, an announcement like that needs to be ridiculed.

by mobilesociety at July 28, 2015 03:59 PM

July 25, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

How To Pretect Against IPv6 Leakage in an IPv4 VPN Environment - Part 1

Last year I had a post that one has to be careful about establishing an IPv4-only VPN tunnel over a network interface that has a public IPv4 and a public IPv6 addresses assigned to it. If the DNS server on the other side of the VPN tunnel returns IPv6 addresses and the network stack on the client side prefers IPv6, which is usually the case, then the connection establishment will not go through the VPN tunnel but right around it via the physical network interface.

Quickly said at the time and quickly forgotten again as well as IPv6 connectivity is still rare these days. But those days are over as my mobile network operator of choice now supports IPv4v6 connectivity. When tethering my notebook via my smartphone now it configures itself for IPv4 and IPv6. That also means that I immediately get unwanted IPv6 leakage while using my VPN.

Some Mac and PC VPN client software used by some VPN providers seem to have built-in protection against it. On my Ubuntu systems, however, the OpenVPN client unfortunately does not. The only way to fix this on the client side is to disable IPv6 permanently or temporarily.

Ipv6-local-configAs I'd like to use IPv6 in general, I don't want to disable it permanently. A temporary alternative for Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections is to to restrict IPv6 to link-local use as shown in the screenshot on the left. The problem is, however, that a new Wi-Fi connection that one creates e.g. at a hotel or exhibition venue will have full IPv6 enabled again and it's more than likely that one forgets to turn it off manually after initial connection establishment.

But why do DNS servers on the other side of an IPv4-only VPN actually have to return IPv6 addresses? I use Witopia for some scenarios and their DNS servers happily return IPv6 addresses. I wish they wouldn't and it makes me wonder why they are doing it when their VPN service is limited to IPv4 anyway!?

Fortunately, I use my private VPN servers for most of my VPN needs. They also return IPv6 addresses but here I can change the behavior of the DNS servers behind the VPN server to only return IPv4 DNS results. As configuring that was a bit tricky I'll make a separate blog post out of that. So stay tuned if you are interested!

by mobilesociety at July 25, 2015 08:50 AM

July 24, 2015

Cloud Four Blog

Shifty Tile Flyouts

Although my favorite projects will always be those that allow us to re-evaluate a user experience from the ground up, sometimes that isn’t realistic. That’s where Responsive Retrofitting comes in: The process of making small, surgical changes to existing interfaces to improve the small-screen experience incrementally.

Each and every retrofit is a little different, but patterns do emerge. In the past couple of years, I’ve noticed one particularly challenging bit of UI that’s cropped up multiple times for multiple clients.

Illustration of tile-based interface with flyout

Here’s how it works: We have tiles separated into rows and columns. Each tile represents some form of summary content; contact info or payment options, for example. Selecting a tile (or clicking an “edit” button therein) expands a flyout below with some sort of form content, which spans the entire available width and “pushes” down any tiles below.

Every time I’ve encountered this, it’s been implemented in the same way. Because the design is fixed-width, the number of columns in each row is predictable. Flyout elements are simply inserted between rows:

<div class="Tiles">
  <div class="Tile">
    <div class="Tile-content">
      Tile 1
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="Tile">
    <div class="Tile-content">
      Tile 2
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="Tile">
    <div class="Tile-content">
      Tile 3
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="Tile">
    <div class="Tile-content">
      Tile 4
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="Flyout is-open js-flyout">
    <div class="Flyout-content">
      Flyout 1
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="Flyout Flyout--2of4 js-flyout">
    <div class="Flyout-content">
      Flyout 2
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="Flyout Flyout--3of4 js-flyout">
    <div class="Flyout-content">
      Flyout 3
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="Flyout Flyout--4of4 js-flyout">
    <div class="Flyout-content">
      Flyout 4
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="Tile">
    <div class="Tile-content">
      Tile 5
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="Tile">
    <div class="Tile-content">
      Tile 6
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="Flyout js-flyout">
    <div class="Flyout-content">
      Flyout 5
    </div>
  </div>
  <div class="Flyout Flyout--2of4 js-flyout">
    <div class="Flyout-content">
      Flyout 6
    </div>
  </div>
</div>

See the Pen Shifty Tiles: Part 1 by Tyler Sticka (@tylersticka) on CodePen.

The content order’s pretty messed up, but it works as intended. Or it would have, if it hadn’t been for that meddling Ethan Marcotte and those media queries of his. When you throw responsive into the mix, that predictable column count we depended on goes right out the window:

Animation of responsive tiles with flyout

We could listen to resize events and move the flyouts around with JavaScript. But you and I both know that’s a bad idea. Let’s see how we can solve this problem with CSS alone, maybe even improving the content order along the way.

To Float or Not To Float

If we revise our markup so that the tiles and flyouts are unified (instead of separated by arbitrary “rows”), we’ll discover that the floats we were using to arrange tiles side-by-side do not handle change well. Depending on which tile flyout is expanded, subsequent tiles attempt to float around it, resulting in an inconsistent (and frankly, upsetting) experience for wider viewports:

See the Pen Shifty Tiles: Part 2 by Tyler Sticka (@tylersticka) on CodePen.

Well that’s it, then! Floats don’t work, we need tiles to float, time to throw in the towel and handle this with JavaScript.

Not so fast!

Instead of floating the tiles, we can steal borrow a technique from the SUIT CSS grid component and use display: inline-block instead. Combined with vertical-align: top, the tallest tile in a row should push down everything beneath it (just like a tall image in a line of text would affect adjacent rows).

Let’s give it a whirl:

See the Pen Shifty Tiles: Part 3 by Tyler Sticka (@tylersticka) on CodePen.

Success! Even as flyouts shove their way between rows, the tiles retain their horizontal position.

But those flyouts are still awfully narrow at larger sizes. Let’s fix that.

Manifest Destiny

Our goal is for the flyouts to occupy 100% of the available width across all viewports. So far, they’re only ever as wide as the tiles themselves. If we’re decreasing tile widths at larger breakpoints, we should also increase flyout widths by the same factor.

If you’re using a preprocessor like Sass and you hate solving the same math problems over and over as much as I do, now’s a great time to write a mixin to handle this logic across multiple breakpoints:

@mixin generate-tile-grid($columns) {
  .Tile {
    // divide the available width by the number of columns
    width: (100% / $columns);
  }
 
  .Tile-flyout {
    // extend beyond the tile width by the same factor
    width: (100% * $columns);
  }
 
  .Tile-flyout:before {
    // adjust the position of the flyout caret
    left: (100% / 2 / $columns);
  }
}
 
@media (min-width: 30em) {
  @include generate-tile-grid(2);
}
 
/* etc. */

Here’s where that gets us:

See the Pen Shifty Tiles: Part 4 by Tyler Sticka (@tylersticka) on CodePen.

So close! The widths are correct, but we haven’t accounted for the tile’s changing horizontal position. Let’s revise that mixin we wrote, using :nth-child selectors to offset the flyouts per column:

@mixin generate-tile-grid($columns) {
  .Tile {
    width: (100% / $columns);
  }
 
  .Tile-flyout {
    width: (100% * $columns);
  }
 
  // for every column in this grid
  @for $column from 1 through $columns {
    .Tile:nth-child(#{$columns}n+#{$column}) {
      .Tile-flyout {
        // offset the left margin by the number of preceding columns
        margin-left: (-100% * ($column - 1));
      }
 
      .Tile-flyout:before {
        // adjust the caret position similarly
        left: (100% / $columns * ($column - 0.5));
      }
    }
  }
}

Drumroll, please…

See the Pen Shifty Tiles: Part 5 by Tyler Sticka (@tylersticka) on CodePen.

…and boom goes the dynamite.

In Practice

Because this technique is initially counter-intuitive (at least to me), I kept the examples pretty simple. If you’re still a little fuzzy on how this interface pattern might work in practice, here’s a more complex demo involving hypothetical payment methods and their associated edit forms. Tap or click a tile to toggle:

See the Pen Responsive tiles with column-spanning flyouts by Tyler Sticka (@tylersticka) on CodePen.

Having retrofitted this type of UI multiple times now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t voice some concerns I have about its usability. Because the vertical position of subsequent tiles changes as flyouts expand and collapse, it can be frustrating to use on smaller screens without a nightmarish amount of fragile and jank-inducing scroll management. If redesigning is an option for this pattern, I recommend reading Luke W’s post about dropdowns for some much more straightforward alternatives.

Or better yet, drop us a line. Solving these problems is kind of our thing.

by Tyler Sticka at July 24, 2015 08:58 PM

July 23, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

How To Configure OpenVPN So I Can Return to LTE

On my commute to work I make good use of the excellent network coverage along the railway track. LTE coverage is almost perfect, but just almost as there are a few locations where my data session is handed over to the 3G network. Once on 3G the only way back to LTE, at least for now, is for the network to set the device into Cell-PCH or Idle state so it can search for LTE and return autonomously. That unfortunately doesn't happen in my case as my OpenVPN Server sends a UDP keep-alive packets every 10 seconds, thus preventing my smartphone I use for tethering to return to LTE. It's not that big of a deal as 3G is quite fast as well so I hardly notice the difference. But I'm a perfectionist... So I had a closer look at the OpenVPN sever configuration (in /etc/openvpn/server.conf) and noticed an option for keepalive timers:

keepalive 10 120

The "10" suspiciously looked like the 10 seconds interval that keeps my 3G connection in Cell-DCH state. After changing the line to

keepalive 30 120

the UDP keepalive packets are now spaced 30 seconds apart. That's more than enough time for the network now to set my device to Cell-PCH or Idle state, which in my case, happens after around 12 seconds of inactivity. Shortly after, my tethering smartphone then changes back to LTE.

Perfect! And on top of all this I might even save some battery power as fewer packets are sent and received now.

 

by mobilesociety at July 23, 2015 05:43 AM

July 21, 2015

Cloud Four Blog

Final Responsive Field Day Speakers!

When we tell people about Responsive Field Day, the most common response we get is, “Wow, that’s amazing lineup.”

My response has been, “And we’re not done yet.”

That’s why I’m so pleased and honored to get to share with you our final speakers:

  • Val Head, our favorite guide on how animation can be used effectively and how it adapts in responsive designs.
  • Steve Souders, whose persistent and patient advocacy for web performance has made the web a better place.
  • Olawale Oladunni and Mini Kurhan, who will share the innovative solutions they designed for Walmart’s responsive hero images.

Val, Steve, Ola and Mini join an already stellar cast:

Thirteen terrific speakers. One amazing day digging into the depths of responsive web design. All for only $175.

If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, what are you waiting for?

by Jason Grigsby at July 21, 2015 05:04 PM

July 19, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

What has Changed In Mobile Computing Since 2009?

2008-2015In a previous post I wrote about what has changed in desktop computing in the last 6 years. In summary not very much, I still use my notebook from back then for some purposes with an up to date operating system for multimedia consumption.  So what about mobile computing and mobile devices, how have things evolved in this domain in the same time frame?

Back in 2008 I wrote a review of how well an entry level phone at the time, a Nokia 5000, could be used for email and web browsing. Back then, the point was to show that even with an entry level device, it had become possible to surf the web and use the device for email communication. It was a sensation. So let's have a look at how the 7 year old Nokia 5000 compares to a similar device that can be bought today.

Price

For my comparison I chose the Android based LG D160, released back in 2014 and which is currently available for around 56 euros, contract free, VAT included. That is only around 60% of the price I paid for the Nokia 5000 at the time, which cost 90 euros. I could have made a comparison to a device that also costs 90 euros today but I wanted to compare two entry level devices and the cost of such a device has come down significantly over the years.

Connectivity

At the time, being able to browse the web with an entry level device was spectacular, today it's a given, nobody would think otherwise anymore. Back then I used Opera Mini with a compression server in the cloud to reduce the size and complexity of the web page. This was necessary on the one hand because the Nokia 5000 only came with a 2G EDGE network interface that could at best transport around 250 kbit of data per second. 3G networks did exist at the time and already covered bigger cities, but entry level devices were still limited to 2G networks. Compression was also necessary due to the processing power and memory having been quite low on the Nokia 5000 compared to today's devices. The LG D160 of 2014 on the other hand comes equipped with a 3G HSPA network interface with data transfer speeds of up to 14.4 Mbit/s. LTE networks are available nationwide today but it's the same story as with 3G for the Nokia 5000 then, LTE hasn't moved down into entry level category yet. What is included today that was considered a high end feature at the time is Wi-Fi, so the device can be used at home without a cellular network. Also, the device supports tethering, so it can be used as a gateway to the Internet for a notebook or tablet on the move.

Screen and Web Browsing

The image on the left shows the Nokia 5000 and the LG D160 side by side and next to a Samsung Galaxy S4, a flagship device back in 2013. While the Nokia 5000 back in 2008 came with a 320x240 pixel screen capable of 65k colors, the LG D160 now has a 320x480 pixel screen with 16 million colors. By today's standards that is a very low resolution but compared to 2008 it is still twice the number of pixels. Opera is still my browser of choice but I have moved-on from Opera Mini to Opera, a full web browser that no longer requires a compression server on the backend as the device has enough RAM and processing power to show mobile optimized and even full web pages without any magic applied in between. At the time it took around 12 seconds to launch the browser and there was no multitasking. Still acceptable then but today, the browser launches in 4 seconds and even stays in memory if no other big apps are running despite the 512 MB RAM, which is a massive amount compared to 2009, but rather little today. GSMArena doesn't even specify how much RAM was built into the Nokia 5000 but the 12 MB of Flash memory for file storage compared to the 4 GB in the D160 today are a pretty good indication of what it must have been. Another aspect I focused on at the time was how fast and smooth scrolling and I noted that compared to the flagship Nokia N95 at the time it was slower and not as smooth. Still usable was the verdict. Today, scrolling of normal web pages via a touchscreen is quite smooth on the D160 and light-years away from what was possible on entry level devices in 2008/9.

eMail

At the time, the email client in the Nokia 5000 was quite rudimentary, with important options such as partial downloads missing. Also, there were few if any email apps for non-smartphone devices at the time to improve the situation. Today, even the 40% cheaper D160 easily runs sophisticated email clients such as K9 mail that, apart from a proper PGP implementation, leaves little to be desired.

Camera, Navigation and Apps

When it comes to built-in cameras, the Nokia 5000 from back in 2009 has a 1 MP camera at the back while today's D160 has a 3 MP camera built in. Both take pictures but they would both be rated pretty much worthless by the standards of each period. But still, the camera is significantly better at a much reduced price compared to 2009. One big advantage of today's entry level smartphones compared to 2009 is the built in GPS chip for a variety of uses from finding the closest Italian restaurant to car navigation. I didn't install Osmand on the D160 but Google maps pinpointed my location in seconds and presented me with a route to a destination almost instantly. An incredible improvement over the state of the art in 2009 in this price category. I mentioned the price tag on purpose as Nokia Maps with car navigation existed in 2008/9 (see here and here) but could only be used on much more expensive Symbian OS based devices. And a final point to make in this review is the availability of apps now and then. Few apps and games existed for entry level devices back then. Today, even the very low cost D160 can handle most Android apps and many if not most games (I'm no expert when it comes to gaming). Also, SMS messaging is quickly dissapearing with most people not caring about privacy and using Internet based multimedia replacement solutions such as WhatsApp instead.

Summary

So while I still use the notebook I bought back in 2009 with the latest operating system version on the market today, the entry level phone from back then is so outdated by today's entry level state of the art that I find quite shocking. Incredible how things have advanced in mobile in this short amount of time.

by mobilesociety at July 19, 2015 09:28 AM

July 18, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

What Has Changed In Desktop Computing Since 2009?

When I recently checked out a "very low end" smartphone of 2015 I couldn't help noticing how vastly different and improved things are compared to smartphones sold a couple of years ago. I'll write a follow up article about this but I think the scene should be set first with a comparison: What happened in desktop/laptop computing since 2009?

I chose 2009 for this post as this was the year I bought a 17" laptop mainly for stationary use to replace an aging tower PC. Since my usage became more mobile since then I had to replace this laptop for everyday use with a smaller device in the meantime. Nevertheless I still use that laptop today, 6 years later (!), for streaming Netflix, Youtube and other things. So while I still use this 6 year old computer any phone from that era has long gone to digital oblivion.

So is that 6 year old laptop old and outdated? I guess that depends on how you look at it. At the time I bought the laptop for 555 euros with an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4 GB of RAM, a 256 GB hard disk, USB 2, a 17" display and Windows Vista. Even if I hadn't upgraded the machine, Windows Vista pretty much looks like Windows 7 which is still widely used today. I could even upgrade the machine to Windows 8 or Windows 10, to be shipped in a few weeks from now and it would still run well on a 4 GB machine. As a matter of fact, many low end laptops sold today still come equipped with 4 GB of RAM. Hard disk sizes have increased a bit since then, USB 3 ports are now standard, CPUs are perhaps twice as powerful now (see here and here) and the graphics capabilities required for gaming are more advanced. But for my (non-gaming) purposes I don't feel a lot of difference.

As I switched to Linux in the meantime my software evolution path was different. Windows was banished from the machine at some point and replaced by Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu's graphical user interface looked different in 2009, a lot of eye candy has been added since then. Today I run Ubuntu 15.05 on the machine and I upgraded to a 256 MB SSD which makes it in effect look no different from my almost up to date notebook. It also still behaves pretty much the same when it comes to program startup and reaction times. The major difference is that the fan is louder compared to my current laptop due to the still higher power requirements of laptops of the 2009 time frame compared to today's machines.

So what has changed since 2009 in the laptop world? Prices have certainly come down since then a bit and many people these days buy laptops in the €300 to €400 range (taxes included). Technical specs have improved a bit but the look and feel is pretty much the same. Companies have started experimenting with touch screens and removable displays to create a more "tablet-like" experience, trying to import some of the fascinating advances that have happened elsewhere since. But that's still a niche at best. In other words, hardware and software evolution on the desktop have very much slowed down compared to the 1990's which was the second half of the home computer area and the decade of the rise of the PC and Windows. Things already slowed in the 2000's but that decade still saw the rise of easier to use Windows and prices for laptops coming down significantly.

Now try to remember what kind of mobile phone or smartphone you had in 2009 and compare that to what you have today and you'll see a remarkable difference to the story above. More about that in a follow up post.

by mobilesociety at July 18, 2015 02:41 PM

July 17, 2015

London Calling

IBM Social Consulting NYC Tweet-up

  • IMG_2490
  • IMG_2486
  • IMG_20150715_190117
  • IMG_20150715_190426
  • IMG_20150715_184624
&

What an amazing turnout on Wednesday 15th July at the Gansevoort Park Avenue Hotel on Park Avenue in New York where some of the IBM Social Consulting team held a tweet-up with key influencers.

Where else could you find Jeffrey Hayzlett, Ekaterina Walter, Jessica Gioglo, Kelly Hoey, Stephanie Agresta, Tami Cannizzaro, Will McInnes, Catherine Glover, David Berkowitz, Amber Armstrong, Samantha Klein and we even had a cameo appearance from Brian Solis at dinner afterwards.

Hosts Andrew Grill and Harriet Ruff were on hand to talk about what IBM Social Consulting does, and also explain IBM’s role in social business.

I was struck by the number of people that said “I didn’t know IBM did that” when we spoke about what we’re doing in the area of social business and workforce transformation, and also that a tweet-up was a very “non-IBM” type of event, and we should do more of these.

Expect the Social Consulting team to be getting very social over the coming months as we expand the team globally and address the needs of our key clients in the area of social collaboration, workforce transformation, talent management and social analytics.

Harriet managed to capture a number of interviews with the guests, and these are presented below with more to follow shortly.

Look out for an IBM Social Consulting tweetup in London, Sydney and Melbourne in the coming months.

You can also view some of the photos from the night in the galley below.

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 July 17, 2015 01:20 PM

July 14, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

VoLTE Roaming - From RAVEL to REVOLVER

Many network operators these days are trying to get their VoLTE system off the ground in their home countries so perhaps by 2016 we'll finally see a significant number of networks using the system beyond the few that are silently up and running today. While VoLTE at the beginning will only work in the subscriber's home country, many network operators are now thinking about implementing the next step which is to also offer VoLTE when the user roams abroad instead of falling back to CS-fallback to 2G or 3G networks for voice calls. Problem is, it adds quite some complexity to an already very complex system.

The solution favored by many so far is to have VoLTE work abroad in pretty much the same way as circuit switched calls. The concept is referred to as RAVEL (Roaming Architecture for Voice over IMS with Local Breakout) and LBO (Local Breakout) and its core idea is to use part of the IMS infrastructure in the visited network (i.e. the P-CSCF) that then communicate with the S-CSCF in the home network. Further, calls can be routed directly to another subscriber instead of going back to the home network first. Docomo wrote a good article with further details that can be found here. One of the advantages of the approach is that the P-CSCF has interfaces to the visited core and radio network and can thus establish a dedicated bearer for the speech path and hand-over the call into a circuit switched channel when the subscriber looses LTE coverage. The downside of the approach is that interaction of the P-CSCF with the IMS in the home network is not a trivial matter.

As a result, network operators have started thinking about a simpler solution in the GSMA REVOLVER group which has resulted in a 3GPP study item referred to S8HR (S8 Home Routing). S8 is the packet switched interface for LTE between a home network and a visited network. The 'Home Routing' part of the abbreviation already indicates that this solution is based on routing all IMS related things back into the home network without any involvement whatsoever of IMS network components in the visited network, thereby drastically reducing VoLTE roaming complexity. In fact, apart from the MME having to set a parameter in the Attach accept message, the visited network is not aware of the UE's VoLTE capabilities and actions at all, everything is sent transparently to the P-CSCF in the home network via the home network's PGW. In other words, IMS signaling and voice traffic takes the same path as other LTE data from roaming subscribers today. Another interesting thought: VoLTE roaming via S8HR would be like an OTT (over the top ) service...

Needless to say that reduced complexity results in a number of disadvantages compared to local breakout. Another Docomo paper, an article by Telecom Italia and a recent post over at the 3G4G blog give a good introduction. One major issue is how to handle emergency calls by roaming subscribes. The challenge of emergency calls for the network is to direct the call to a local emergency responder (e.g. the local police station). As S8HR does all things related to IMS in the home network there is no way to do that. As emergency calling is a regulatory requirement and unarguably an important feature it needs to be dealt with. The simplest solution is to instruct the mobile to do a CS-fallback call in case of an emergency. A more complex solution is to use the IMS in the visited network for emergency calling. But I wonder if the additional complexity is worth the more elegant solution? After all, 2G or 3G network overlays will be present in most parts of the world for a very long time to come, so why bother? Or if one bothers, perhaps bother later?

The second, equally problematic drawback is that calls in the visited network can't be handed over to a circuit switched channel (SR-VCC) when the subscriber runs out of LTE coverage. Again, the IMS in the home network has no way to communicate with network components in the visited network. 3GPP is investigating solutions but it's likely that in case they come up with something it's not going to be a simple solution. Perhaps S8HR is not less complicated with SR-VCC support than RAVEL? It remains to be seen.

The big question is whether not supporting SR-VCC is a showstopper for S8HR? After all the OTT competition (Skype, etc.) can't do it either. But I suspect it's going to be a showstopper for many network operators as this is a clear disadvantage over traditional circuit switched voice roaming. On the other hand, mobile devices could have an option for the user to disable VoLTE roaming if they are really bothered by it. I suspect most people won't as SR-VCC mainly plays a role in high mobility scenarios, e.g. in moving cars and trains. One could even think about putting logic in mobile devices to detect roaming and high mobility scenarios and then preferring CS calls over VoLTE if S8HR is used. That would push the issue from the network to the mobile side, but still, perhaps it is worth a relatively minor effort on the mobile side instead of going to great lengths to implement it on the network side. And again, after all, the competition can't do SR-VCC in the first place...

by mobilesociety at July 14, 2015 05:41 AM

July 12, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Tomi Ahonen: What if Microsoft sold Nokia back to Nokia?

Until September 2010 I must have been one of the most outspoken and enthusiastic Nokia fan around. The future was great, the future was bright, Nokia was embracing open source and promised to migrate from the somewhat aging Symbian OS to the open source Meego operating system for its upcoming devices. The day Nokia announced that an 'Ex'-microsoft manager is to become the new CEO of Nokia was more than just a shock for me. How could an 'Ex'-Microsoft manger possibility continue with open source!?

The day of the 'burning platform' memo marked the not quite unexpected but still abrupt end of my Nokia fandom. Meego and open source to be abandoned and to be replaced by a closed source Microsoft Windows Mobile, you can't imagine a more drastic 180 degrees in a company strategy and what I would have liked Nokia to do for me. 5 years later Nokia is no more, bought and destroyed by Microsoft and now completely written off from their books due to a complete failure to make Windows Mobile a success.

While I don't mind that Windows is not getting a foothold in mobile it's a shame Nokia and its great ideas withered away. While most of the tech press has already written of Nokia the smartphone company, my favorite mobile analyst Tomi Ahonen has three great scenarios for Nokia the smartphone coming back but not as a Microsoft subsidiary but as a part of Nokia the network infrastructure company. Microsoft wants to get rid of what's left of Nokia mobile while the original and still existing Nokia wants to make a comeback in mobile. Based on lots of insight and historical knowledge it's a brilliant piece of analysis of what could now happen. I just wished those in charge would listen and show dome good sense, at least this time...

by mobilesociety at July 12, 2015 04:46 PM

July 09, 2015

Cloud Four Blog

Responsive Field Day Tickets On Sale Now

Hooray! It’s ticket time! Tickets for Responsive Field Day are now available, and they’re just $175. Register now!

Responsive Field Day

Three more speakers

It’s not just tickets we’re excited about—we’re also ready to announce three more stellar speakers:

  • Marcy Sutton, a superhero to us from her work on Angular’s accessibility and as co-leader of Girl Develop It Seattle.
  • Sophie Shepherd, who shares the lessons she’s learned designing Ushahidi’s open source pattern library.
  • Tom Dale, a driving force behind Ember FastBoot, which brings server-side rendering to client MVCs.

Marcy, Sophie and Tom join an already illustrious list of speakers:

To be honest, we’re still a bit stunned that we were able to get such an amazing group of speakers. And we still have three more speaker slots to announce!

Get your tickets ASAP!

Look, this is the first time we’ve done something like this so we don’t know how fast tickets will sell.

All we know is that a lineup like this has never been in Portland before and the event we modeled Responsive Field Day on has sold out every year.

So I suggest getting your tickets ASAP and letting your friends and co-workers know to act soon so they don’t miss out.

by Jason Grigsby at July 09, 2015 05:39 PM

July 08, 2015

London Calling

What happens when you invite influential bloggers to @Wimbledon?

For the last 2 years, I have been inviting key social media influencers to Wimbledon to tour the IBM behind-the-scenes operations.

As many people know, since 1990, IBM has been the Technology Partner for Wimbledon, and as part of this we show our key clients behind-the-scenes to showcase the power of an IBM supplied end-to-end solution with the scale of Wimbledon.

Last year, David Terrar was one such blogger, and he delivered a very positive view of our operations. You can read more at social.bz/dt.

This year, I invited two more key influencers, Neville Hobson (@jangles), and Alan Patrick (@freecloud).

While both of these Gentlemen are not IBM clients, they have a whole other level of influence amongst some of our key markets.

Neville is a formidable blogger and for more than 10 years has run the FIR podcast. Frankly, when Neville talks, people listen. He is one of the most respected voices in the digital and social world and it was a huge coup to get him down to Wimbledon.

His blog post is fantastic, and his huge readership will now see the magic IBM delivers at Wimbledon, and we get access to a whole new audience.

You can see the headline of his blog post below, and read it in full at social.bz/jangles

Equally socially eminent is Alan Patrick. He has an audience of over 500,000 per month on his Broadsight blog. and he is also well respected and trusted in the world of social business and social data. His blog post looks at the data aspects of Wimbledon and delivers high praise for Watson.

You can read his blog in full at social.bz/freecloud

The great news is that both Neville and Alan were blown away by the data rooms, Watson and especially interested in what we are doing in the social area.

I must give a huge thanks to Sam Seddon, IBM Wimbledon Client Executive for once again believing in the strategy to host influential bloggers. Also huge thanks to Chris Thomas,  Tighe Wall, Harriet Ruff, Sarah Fardon from IBM and Helen Weal from the AELTC who showed us the social command centre, and data scoring boxes.

Access to these behind-the-scenes aspects of our involvement at Wimbledon was invaluable in ensuring the best possible coverage in their posts, and it shows!

How are you using key influencers like Neville and Alan in showing off the unique parts of your business to a whole new audience?

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by Andrew Grill at July 08, 2015 08:17 AM

July 04, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

How To Pretect Against IPv6 Leakage in an IPv4 VPN Environment - Part 2 (Server Side Changes)

While being excited about the availability of IPv6 from my mobile network operator of choice the disadvantage that comes along with it is IPv6 leakage when using Witopia's VPN service with OpenVPN on Ubuntu. For some strange reason they answer IPv6 DNS AAAA requests even though their product only tunnels IPv4 packets. My OpenVPN server setup at home on a Raspberry Pi had the same behavior so far but as it is under my own control I started looking for ways to change that.

At first it looked as if it would be a straight forward thing to implement. But the first look was a bit deceiving and in the end it took a bit of more tinkering before the DNS server queried through the VPN tunnel only returned DNS responses for IPv4 A-requests and empty results for IPv6 AAAA-requests.

The OpenVPN Server setup I have linked to above relies on a DNS server already present in the server's network to also answer queries from remote OpenVPN clients. As there was no way for me to change that DNS server's behavior I had to setup a separate DNS server on the OpenVPN Server Raspi and then reconfigure OpenVPN to point clients to that DNS server.

Bind Comes To The Rescue

On Linux, "bind" is one of the most popular DNS server. While it is probably overkill to use "bind" just as a DNS request forwarder it does offer a nice option to return an empty result for IPv6 AAAA-requests when sent over IPv4. Here's some more background information on the option. For this option to work, bind needs to be compiled with a special flag to recognize the "filter-aaaa-on-v4 yes;" configuration option. Unfortunately, bind on Raspian does not come configured with it so I had to compile bind from scratch. That sounds more difficult than it is, however.

But perhaps your distribution set the correct flag before bind was compiled so my advice is to install bind from the repositories first and see if it works with the "filter-aaaa-on-v4" option. If it doesn't it can be uninstalled before downloading and compiling bind from it's source. Also, it has the benefit that all configuration files are already in place which are perhaps not put into the right directories when compiling from source.

Installing Bind From The Repositories

Installing bind from the repositories works with a simple "sudo apt-get upate && sudo apt-get install bind9" command. Afterward, uncomment and modify the following section in "/etc/bind/named.conf.options" to enable DNS query forwarding to the upstream DNS server used in the network:

    forwarders {
         8.8.8.8;
    };

Once done, restart bind to see if the configuration change has been accepted: "sudo service bind9 restart". If no error messages are shown on the console, bind is up and running.

Check If the IPv6 Option Works

In the next step add the IPvt6 filter option to the same configuration file and also allow queries from other networks by inserting the two additional lines marked in orange below. This is necessary as the OpenVPN clients get IPv4 address from a subnet that is different from the subnet that the OpenVPN Server uses on the backhaul link:

options {
    directory "/var/cache/bind";

    //...

    forwarders {
         8.8.8.8;
    };

    //...


    dnssec-validation auto;

    auth-nxdomain no;    # conform to RFC1035
    listen-on-v6 { any; };

    filter-aaaa-on-v4 yes;
    allow-query {any;};
};

Once done, do another restart of bind. If an error message is shown that the filter option is not supported some extra work is required. Otherwise, you are almost good to go and the only thing that is required for OpenVPN clients to query this DNS server instead of the previous one is to change the DNS option in the OpenVPN config file as shown at the end of this post.

Compile and Install Bind From Source

Before proceeding, uninstall bind again with "apt-get remove bind9". While this removes the binaries, it leaves the configuration files including the one we have modified in place. Now download and install bind with the following commands as described here. As there might be a more up to date version of bind at the time you read this it might be worthwhile to modify the version number in the commands accordingly.

apt-get install build-essential openssl libssl-dev libdb5.1-dev
mkdir bind-install
cd bind-install
wget ftp://ftp.isc.org/isc/bind9/9.9.7/bind-9.9.7.tar.gz
tar zxvf bind-9.9.7.tar.gz

fakeroot ./configure --prefix=/usr --mandir=/usr/share/man --infodir=/usr/share/info --sysconfdir=/etc/bind --localstatedir=/var --enable-threads --enable-largefile --with-libtool --enable-shared --enable-static --with-openssl=/usr  --with-gnu-ld --with-dlz-postgres=no --with-dlz-mysql=no --with-dlz-bdb=yes --with-dlz-filesystem=yes  --with-dlz-stub=yes  CFLAGS=-fno-strict-aliasing --enable-rrl --enable-newstats --enable-filter-aaaa

make install

Some patience is required as the process takes around 45 minutes. But once done everything is ready and an "/etc/init.d bind9 start" will start the service, this time with the ipv6 filter in place as the configuration file we modified further above is still in place.

OpenVPN modification

The last step now is to tell the OpenVPN server to point new clients to this DNS server. This is done by modifying the push "dhcp-option DNS x.x.x.x" option in "/etc/openvpn/server.conf" file, with x.x.x.x being the IP address of the Raspberry Pi. A "sudo service openvpn restart" activates the change.

Verifying That Everything Works

The next time an OpenVPN client device connects to the server, all DNS requests for AAAA records are getting an empty response. This can be verified e.g. by typing in "dig youtube.com AAAA" which should return an empty result and not an IPv6 address. Another option is using Wireshark for the purpose.

And that solves my OpenVPN IPv6 leakage issue without any modification on the client side!

by mobilesociety at July 04, 2015 07:29 PM

July 02, 2015

London Calling

I’m building a Global Social Business Consulting A-Team @IBM, come join us!

Those eagle eyed London Calling readers may have noticed a slight change to my LinkedIn profile a few months ago.

Back in April, I was promoted to the role of Global Managing Partner, with responsibility to build out our Global Social Consulting practice.

As per the LinkedIn description, this is a brand new role in our IBM Analytics Business Unit, and my role is to bring together the best of IBM’s Smarter Workforce and Social offerings, with world leading consulting services, to develop fully-integrated software and services packages.

My first role in IBM was in our Global Business Services arm, which is the pure-play consulting arm of IBM.

In this new group, we straddle the consulting arm, and the software business, meaning that the team has a unique view of multiple parts of the business. My peers are IBM veterans Jeff Schick, Debbie Landers, Maria Winans and Katrina Troughton, and I report directly to Senior Vice-President Bob Picciano.

Our team is blessed with a range of experience and expertise in many areas of IBM’s existing products and solutions, and as well we have some recent recruits from industry.

You would be joining one of the most exciting and social groups in the company, and as anyone at IBM will tell you, once you’re an “IBMer”, you really get to understand how amazing IBMers truly are.

I still pinch myself every day that after just 18 months in the company I’m now in my dream role.

So the really exciting part of my role, apart from working with some of the best and brightest social minds in IBM, is that I can now recruit a Global Social Consulting A-Team.

Who am I looking for?

So to make the A-Team, you have to be the best at what you’re doing, and I’ve probably heard of you already, seen you speak at a conference, read your book, or passed you in the corridor on the way out from a competitive pitch for a client.

Right now, I need senior, experienced people that I can send into the c-suite to explain to our clients what social business is, and how we can fundamentally improve their business using IBM’s social tools, products and consulting know-how.

You’ve also sold millions of dollars worth of social tools, social consulting or advice over the last few years, and are hungry to sell more.

You also have an amazing social profile, and audience and you are socially eminent in your own right – and yes, if you join IBM I’ll want you to keep blogging, tweeting, and speaking at events to further the IBM message, and also help increase your already high level of eminence.

Also, so as to ensure we don’t waste each other’s time, please NO recruiters, headhunters or agencies. If I can’t find an A-Team via social, then something is wrong!

In the future I will have more junior roles, and I suggest that you get in touch with me later in the year, or attend one of our Tweetups I will be hosting in New York (15th July – follow me @AndrewGrill for details), London, Sydney and Melbourne in the coming months.

Now before you send me a message via my contact form to say you’re keen to know more, read my post from May 2013 titled “Will we start to see the rise (and fall) of the social business guru?“. I’ll ask you about the post if we get to chat by phone or in person, so do make sure you read it first!

I look forward to hearing from you.

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by Andrew Grill at July 02, 2015 09:26 AM

July 01, 2015

London Calling

Wimbledon is the most popular grand slam on social media says @Repucom

wimbledonlogoI have been a big fan of Wimbledon, and back in 2009 before I joined IBM, I went to the Championships as a guest to blog about their use of an Augmented Reality app called Seer – read more here.

Now I am at IBM, I have been very fortunate to be able to attend the Championships and host clients and bloggers, and show them the magic “behind the scenes”.

In 2014, I hosted David Terrar, who posted a fantastic summary of what he saw here, as well as Gabrielle Laine-Peters. This year I am hosting Neville Hobson (@jangles) and Alan Patrick (@freecloud) – all well known in the Social Business circles in Europe.

As such, and with my role as the Global Managing Partner at IBM running our Social Consulting team, I have a vested interest in how Wimbledon is doing on social media.

It was with interest that I spied a report in the Sports Business Daily quoting  a report by Repucom.

The key findings from the report I have summarised below, and the full report can be found here.

Wimbledon is the biggest and best Grand Slam tennis tournament when it comes to engaging and maintaining its social media fan base around the world, a study by Repucom, the sports and entertainment intelligence experts, has found.

Wimbledon is leading all Grand Slam tournaments when it comes to engaging and maintaining its social media fan base. Wimbledon has more Facebook, Twitter and Instagram followers than the Australian Open, French Open and U.S. Open, with a combined fan base of more than 4.1 million. Roland Garros is in second place with a social media fan base of 3.7 million.

Not only is Wimbledon’s fan base bigger, they’re also “noisier”. Twitter buzz (analysed by tracking the most popular keywords and hashtags associated with each tournament) peaked during the 2014 final with over 585,000 posts. This number was almost double that of any other Grand Slam.

The chart above (Source: Repucon) shows Twitter mentions per day for each tournament in 2014 (measured seven days before start, throughout tournament and seven days after)

This fan base is also engaging more with official content across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and engagement can be translated into potential media value for partners. Using Repucom’s social media valuation methodology, Wimbledon posts which centred on score updates are almost 33% higher than the other grand slam opening days so far in 2015.

Max Barnett, Repucom’s Head of Digital (UK&I) said: “Wimbledon’s use of archive footage among other content themes, or as we call them, “fan stories”, are what drives the tournament’s dominance in tennis while staying true to their strong, brand values. Here fans are not just kept up-to-date with scores during the Slam, they are given exclusive “behind the scenes” access delivered direct to their mobile devices. All this content is packaged up in engaging infographics and short format video.

Great to see how Wimbledon uses an array of rich content to bring the tournament to life for those who can’t actually attend in person.

One way that IBM is helping the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (or AELTC – the full name of the club that runs Wimbledon and owns the grounds at SW19), is by providing them with an internal Social Command centre to surface this great content in real-time during the tournament.

See a sneak peek below (this is only visible to the AELTC so I can’t share a link unfortunately).

Keep an eye out for blog posts from Neville and Alan after their visits to Wimbledon, and of course follow @Wimbledon for all the best Championship news and views.

I really think I have the best job (and team) in IBM!

PS I’m hiring globally for Social Business Consultants. I am building the World’s leading global Social Consulting team. Contact me if you’re interested or meet me in New York on the 15th June – details soon – follow me @AndrewGrill to get the location.

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by Andrew Grill at July 01, 2015 10:53 AM

June 28, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

LTE-only when 3G gets crowded...

While 3G networks are still doing pretty well in most parts of Europe due to HSPA+, 64QAM, dual-carrier, etc. etc., I was recently at an airport where the 3G cell covering my location seemed to have severe uplink congestion problems. Ping times were normal while only little data was transmitted in the uplink direction but immediately skyrocketed to several seconds whenever the uplink was somewhat more loaded with screen sharing and a VoIP calling. A bit of a let down.

But then I remembered that my phone I used for tethering was on LTE just a couple of minutes before and must have been redirected to 3G due to a low signal level. So I decided to lock the phone to LTE-only with an app I discovered recently. Who needs circuit switched mobile telephony anyway...!? Despite the signal level being really really low (a single signal bar was just barely shown every now and then), both uplink and downlink were much faster than what I could get over the 3G cell that was very strong in my location. Signal strength isn't everything.

Generally, I think the network operator bases thresholds for moving between network technologies are a good thing to rely on. In some cases such as this one, however, I'm glad I can make the choice myself.

by mobilesociety at June 28, 2015 06:33 PM

Skype is 20x Cheaper During Intercontinental Roaming For Me Compared to Traditional Voice Calls

Every now and then I travel the world and stay in places where I'm charged 2.50 Euros a minute for the privilege of making traditional mobile voice calls with my mobile phone to someone back home. Needless to say that long calls for €150 per hour have to be avoided if at all possible. These days, however, Skype or other VoIP clients that run on smartphones come to my rescue in combination with a 15 Euros for 150 MB roaming data package.

So what's the price difference to those 2.50 Euros a minute circuit switched mobile calls? When not using video, Skype uses around 20 kbyte of data per second which is around 72 MB an hour. In other words, that 150 MB data roaming package for 15 Euros buys me around 2h worth of Skype calls, i.e. a Skype call to another Skype user costs me €7.50 when roaming. When used to call a fixed line phone, add a euro or two. In other words, despite using an expensive data roaming package, that Skype call costs 20x less and I'm sure my home network operator still has a good margin on roaming data. Hour long mobile calls 10.000 miles away from home have just become sweet again.

And a nice bonus: When calling other Skype users, voice quality is way beyond what's possible with circuit switched mobile calls between networks and continents. No WB-AMR anywhere... The only downside: Should your connection drop down to 2G during the call that's rather an abrupt end of the conversation. So in mobility scenarios, circuit switched mobile calls still have an advantage, at least until that 98% coverage requirement is reached.

by mobilesociety at June 28, 2015 06:23 PM

June 20, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Cruise Ship and Remote Island Internet Access

Some people would probably still say today that they don't need or want Internet access when going on vacation on a cruise ship or to a remote island. But I suppose their number is on a steep decline and cruise ship operators are investing in Wi-Fi Internet access on their ships not only in special areas but in cabins as well. According to this article (in German) the pleasure costs between 25 euros per week for "social media" access to 99 euros for 3 GB of data for a week on a ship of one of the major cruise lines.

The article doesn't mention what kind of backhaul is used but it's likely to be satellite. There's different kinds of technologies and (one of?) the latest and greatest seems to be from O3b, a company about which I wrote a post in 2008. It looks like in the meantime their medium earth orbit satellites (at an altitude of 8.062 km) are up and running and their public list of customers includes a cruise ship operator (though not the one mentioned in the first post linked to above) and remote islands. The specs advertised on their web page is a top speed of a single transponder of 1.6 Gbit/s and round trip times of around 150 ms. Each satellite has many independent transponders that can direct their beam to a specific area which hints at the capacity and user experience that can be achieved even if several hundred people on a ship need access simultaneously. Here's a video that demonstrates how the system works with two antennas that track the satellites.

And a final thought: I wonder if the uplink/downlink ratio on a cruise ship with lots of people posting their pictures and videos to social media websites is significantly different from the "land" average!? So apart from pleasing customers, a cruise line you probably can't get any better advertising than people posting their pictures in real time to Facebook...

by mobilesociety at June 20, 2015 10:11 AM

June 10, 2015

Martin's Mobile Technology Page

Tim and the GSM Logo - Some Nostalgia

Tim-and-the-gsm-logoSome heart warming nostalgia today: For some time now, the GSM logo initially designed at the end of the 1980s and used on a lot of GSM related products in the decades afterwards is rarely to be seen these days anymore. But there are some who still use it on new products. Have a look at the new 2015 Telecom Italia SIM card I've recently been given. It's not big and prominent anymore but still there. I wonder what the intention was to put it there. Perhaps by someone with nostalgia in his or her heart? We'll probably never find out but it made me smile nevertheless. And just in case you wonder what the meaning is behind the for dots in the logo, have a look here.

by mobilesociety at June 10, 2015 06:00 AM