Thursday 24 June 2010

LiveScribe - Review and RFE

It's not often you'll see me do a product specific review or comment, but @JoeBaguley introduced me to a technology that has been really very useful and has no become part of my day working live in a positive way.

Both Joe & I were at a conference and started the first sessions taking notes, me on my tablet PC and Joe on his LiveScribe pen ( - needless to say 4 hours later my tablet battery was flat but Joe's solution kept on going without faltering for the entire day (and the next one for that matter). During a lull in the second day (and whilst my tablet still had it's new battery life that day) I went online and ordered my own LiveScribe setup.

I'm now starting to see people use these in many meetings (@mikiSandorfi being the latest) - everybody I show it to 'gets it immediately' and wants to know costs and where to buy it from, so here's the list of LiveScribe equipment I purchased :-

Mini Leather book
A4 Ringbound Notepads
Pen Refills


  • Great product, it just works
  • Simple to use - naturally being male I've never even opened the manual, let alone read it...
  • Love the variety of notepads - current I make the most use of the A4 sized ring-binder pads, feeling very natural in size, format and usage. But I also carry the mini leather notepad with me permanently in my jacket pocket
  • Makes maintaining an electronic version of your notes & records trivial
  • Battery charge lasts for ages and so it would appear does the 4GB memory
  • Its great to be able to sync & recall the audio directly against the areas you've written

So time for some Request For Enhancements (RFEs) :-

  • Gel nibs - it would be really good to get some replacement gel nibs rather than ballpoint
  • Coloured writing - it would be great to be able to 'set colour' of writing in electronic copy (ie select different pen colours when handwriting regardless of the nib's actual ink colour) - and have the electronic version show these colours
  • Re the desktop application :-
    • Need to have settings for the directory locations for data storage (at least I've not been able to find how to manage this)
    • Option to backup/recover data files used by the desktop application
    • Whilst the OCR search is great, it really does need a built in, and decent, OCR conversion to MS office formats
    • It would be useful to have integration with MS OneNote
    • The desktop desktop application really needs to be working via corporate firewalls and proxy servers

Overall? Sometimes even something so simple and basic as a pen & paper can be improved to a dramatic level that makes something so much more suitable to revised work requirements. Would I buy it again? Absolutely without thinking!

Tuesday 22 June 2010

Respect the Tip-O-Meter

A fair while ago I spent a lot of time working & travelling with a founding partner of a serious change and programme management consultancy firm, now unlike most CONsultants I actually liked, trusted & fully respected Brad & Max and their team of ninja change consultants. This was mainly due to 4 factors :-
  1. Without fail they delivered on everyone of their claims and promises, and never gave excuses - rare then, unheard of nowadays
  2. They were truly knowledgeable, experienced, international in culture & utterly unflappable - these guys really were industry veterans having seen it all. Including people with pasts such as 'submarine commander' there really was little that could throw them of course or surprise them...
  3. They were to first people to introduce me to the value & importance of a graphic artist as part of any major project team - now as @mpyeager stated the other day, you don't hear me say "I was wrong" too often (although I'm more than happy do so when it occurs). However I really was wrong with this, at first I just laughed at why anybody in technology would want an artist - 2 weeks later I agreed I was 100% wrong, ate my words and agreed that one of the key roles in any project is the visualisation artist.
  4. They were really genuine, nice, honest, trustworthy people
Now with all the above taken into account, naturally this team spent a lot of time travelling, in hotels and dining out - and one of the techniques used when dining out was the 'Tip-O-meter'.

In essence this worked much like a chess clock, with a starting time (in this case a figure of cash that the waiter would eventually get as a gratuity reward at the end of the meal) - then at every point people were left waiting for for staff the 'Top-O-Meter' would be set running, each delay or issue slowly debiting the reward. If the servers or place was particularly liked they would be told re the process & value in advance, but not always. Funnily enough when operating on this clear feedback & measurement system service was generally better, particularly in the places not normally expected.

So here's my thinking, it's time to bring out the 'Hype-O-Meter' - this should work on very similar principles except the value on the clock is debited by :-

  • Unsubstantiated claims (functional & non-functional - eg uptime/reliability, performance, TCO etc)
  • Generation and/or promotion of hype
  • Non-delivery of promises and commitments, non-delivery of 'pre-announcements'
  • Whispering privately of FUD (including lobbying of unqualified customer mngt)
  • Vendor activities directed at sniping or negativity re a competitor, rather than engaging & serving the customer 
And whilst the 'reward' on the clock remains there is continued ongoing business, obviously when the clock runs out of time, so does the supplier...

So if you think this makes sense I'm happy to setup and run the 'Hype-O-Meter clocks of doom' on this site - let me know?

[Oh and Max L if you're reading - your wife's painting still hangs on our lounge wall...]

Saturday 19 June 2010

Android recommends...

OK so I've been running Android since the day HTC released the Magic, and am now running both a Magic and a Nexus One. Having used lots of phones & mobile devices, with lots of operating systems and user interfaces I'm firmly in the 'Android is great' camp...

So I thought it might be a good idea to list a number of the applications I find useful, first a few web sites I'd recommend for people :-


   Essential Android Software
   HTC Desire Software

Naturally my Android twitter list also has some good people within it :)

Android applications that have lasted the test of time and are still installed on my daily Nexus One are as follows :-

Google Search by Voice, Google Translate, Google Sky Map, Listen, Finance, Bump, Floating Image, RealCalc Scientific, Unit Converter, Shopsavvy, Layar, SSI gTasks, chompSMS, Twidroid Pro, F1 Live Racing, London Tube Status, Stopwatch, UK Expense Checker, LED Scroller, Call Location, Phonalyzer, BeebPlayer, TED mobile, Exchange Rates, EboBirthday, Scoreboard, Ocado on the Go, Google Goggles, Gesture Search, Google Earth

GPS Status, Adobe Reader, Android System Info, Taskiller Full, Astro File Manager, Wifi Analyzer, MyBackup Pro, Antennas, RF Signal Tracker, Dindy, Power Manager Full, Autostarts, RoboTop, SMB File Sharing, Bubble, Turbo Mandlebrot, Save MMS, aTrackDog, No Signal Alert, Network Explorer, MagicMarker, Send2Printer, Upload 2 Nas, 

Ringer Toggle, WiFi OnOff, BlueTooth OnOff

Radiant, Robo Defense, Tower Raiders, Laser Reflections, iDemolished, Trap, Toss It Pro, Jewels, Replica Island, Age of conquest, Totem, Friction Mobile, Asphalt, Madagascar Puzzle

I also used to use :-

  • Locale - great for location aware automatic execution & scheduling of tasks useful but too expensive now
  • Lock 2.0 - but not sure need not re Android 2.1

So please let me know what Android applications or utilities you've found worthwhile :)

Friday 4 June 2010

Claims Justification

So often we hear press releases, blogs, whitepapers, tweets, marketing powerpoints or spoken (or whispered) claims concerning IT technology or (increasingly) architectures, about subjective & relative statements (faster, cheaper, more available, better, sexier etc) BUT

How often is any justification, edvidence or proof given for this?

I'd go so far as to state that claims without justification aren't just unhelpful to anyone, they are downright dangerous :-
  • Sets false expectations, that can never realistically be achieved - thus positioning everybody for a dismal future of perceived failure
  • Wastes customers time having to evaluate the claims and justify what that actual possibility is and the context required in order to achieve such claim (if at all possible)
  • Detracts from the real positives that genuinely are out there in vendor land (honest there are some but you need to look very hard)
  • Ruins the credibility of the parties making the claims
  • Destroys the trust the customer has in the party making the claim, which means all future claims will have to be validated 
One of the better things of the evolution of humans is that in early times quacks made random & often fraudulent claims, however through scientific method we've moved into an era where claims made in that area are now fully validated before being accepted. Why does this appear to be so hard for IT technology providers?

So to be clear, if you make a claim on performance, availability, functionality, commercial benefits etc be sure to be able to justify the claim objectively with facts & evidence showing how the claim was formulated and any assumptions or prerequisites. Next you must be prepeared to share this information with exactly the same forum and audience you made the original claim to.

If you don't justify your claims expect me to a) shout loudly that you make fiction based claims, b) ignore your claims totally, c) regard your company & technology with considerable disdain...

There are words for people who make frequent claims without justification - and do you really want to have the life-span and popularity rating of a politician? If you can't, or won't, justify your claims then I'd very much prefer you don't make any...