BlackBerry Playbook — I kinda want one but I kinda don’t

September 28, 2010 2 comments

Well the rumours were finally confirmed yesterday with RIM announcing their entry into the tablet market with the Playbook. And if there’s one thing RIM can do very well it’s slick presentations. Just take a quick look at this promotional video:

Pretty nice, eh? But we have to push through RIM’s wow factor and take a closer look at what they’re actually bringing to the table. The web technology support is very good.

  • Flash 10.1
  • HTML5
  • CSS3
  • Webkit

These are all nice to have in a device that will be heavily used for web content. Apple has stated that Flash is too buggy and uses too much battery life so they like to do things their way and force others to follow them – fine. If that’s what they like to do then they can continue doing it but there’s a reason why it took until Internet Explorer 9 for Microsoft to follow web standards. Sometimes taking the lead and going away from the norm works. Sony won with Bluray but lost with their mini-disk system. The web is filled with flash content and I think support for flash is very important in today’s web environment. The other 3 standards are also a really good thing to pack into the device but that will be standard on all tablets anyway.

RIM has marketed this device as a “business” tablet and I can understand where they’re coming from. Partly because they need to flex their marketing muscle and try really hard to make people understand that this isn’t an iPad killer (more on that later). But, when it comes down to it, did you actually expect anything else from RIM. Of course a tablet from RIM would come with all the standard security that the BlackBerry comes with! So besides the fact that it’s “enterprise” ready, it’s a regular tablet meant for regular use.

Now the Playbook can connect to your BlackBerry via bluetooth! Ok……so? I mean, that’s pretty cool but that feature is only good for one thing. It’s still a tablet and, as much as some people want tablets to be for productivity, they’re consumption devices. People use tablets to gather and view information — not write lengthy emails or notes or presentations. Maybe typing on a Playbook will be easier than typing on a Storm but it’s nowhere near a computer. This feature is useful for when I want to access the web and I have no wifi around. I can use my BlackBerry and not be confined to the tiny screen. However, with that said, it seems that, lately, any place I have to sit and wait provides wifi so maybe that feature won’t be as useful and some people think.

And speaking of usefulness, where are the apps? RIM puchased QNX just a year ago decided to make the operating system of this tablet completely different than BlackBerry. I’m actually OK with that because, the BlackBerry OS still feels sluggish and a little dated but this just puts a lot of pressure on developers to produce apps in time for the 2011 launch date. If there’s one thing that the iPad has for sure, it’s a lot of apps. And apps make the device — you know it’s true!

But if apps make the device than how can people say the Playbook is an iPhone killer? That’s just plain wrong. I’m sorry but not EVERY tablet that comes out is an iPhone killer. The Playbook is a professional tablet designed with functionality and integration in mind. While I don’t believe that tablets can truly be productive devices, I know the iPad isn’t a productive device. And it’s not trying to be. It’s for a completely different demographic offering a different value to the consumer than what RIM is going after. Kindergarden has taught me that I can’t compare apples to oranges so I won’t try to here. I mean, the Playbook has HDMI allow for presentations. The iPad doesn’t even have a usb port — like I said…..apples and oranges.

So, at the end of the day, I like the Playbook. I think it has some real potential for some killer apps where my calendar, contacts, email, and well……life become integrated all together seamlessly. But with that said, I’ve been doing more than fine without one and I think I can continue doing so. One crackberry is enough, I think….

Categories: Uncategorized

Sixth Sense Technology – Wow!

September 20, 2010 Leave a comment

I’m a little behind on this little snippet of technology but it’s well worth it to take some time and really appreciate the potential of this. The Fluid Interfaces Lab over at MIT have been working away at a concept more than a prototype (in my opinion). Their TED Talk describes the idea of having meta information about your immediate surroundings available instantly in a gesture-intense, floating interface.

The prototype is simple — a small device you wear like a necklace that holds a camera, projector, and internet connection (of course!). The device can recognize items directly in front of the wearer and project additional, relevant information directly onto the item. The talk showed a user checking out a book in a bookstore and having the device automatically recognize the book and project the Amazon rating right onto the cover. Flip the cover to the first page and the device now projects some reviews onto the page!

This obviously has a really big “cool” factor for those a little more geek-inclined but the name itself is also very fitting. At first, I didn’t like the title of “Sixth Sense”. But when you think about it, all of our senses are merely information that we interpret in relation to our surroundings. This device does what we do with our other senses for us and presents only the information that we can digest and make use of.

The possibilities with this kind of technology are really realy cool.

Imagine being able to make video calls against any surface you have available. Imagine having your shopping list available right on your hand as you check item off. Why not have it synced with your list at home over the internet — you know… the one that your fridge keeps track of for you.

The fact is that this is just one more step to integrating our lives into one seamless experience. Where I can have the information I want given to me right away and I don’t even notice the intricacies involved. That’s both awesome and scary at the same time!

Categories: Business, fun, Techy Stuff

Re-branding is important

September 20, 2010 Leave a comment

People often make excuses for not getting stuff done. So, I’ve had a few people — yes….. people read this blog — ask me if I

ever intend to start posting again and the truth is I always did. I just made excuses like “I’m too busy” or “I have nothing to write about”. Fact is, there’s always something to write about and I’ve just been lazy!

So it’s time to re-brand. I was a little focused on tech stuff earlier on while

starting the blog up but that won’t be the case anymore. Just like a good diet, I’m going to go for balance this time around. It’ll be a new face, a new feel, and a new start.

Categories: fun, Info

tinyHippos is up and running!

January 8, 2010 1 comment

The mobile market is getting bigger and, more importantly, cooler. I’m now part of a small startup that is specializing in creating products to help developers in the mobile space as well as consulting services for mobile projects. We specialize in multiple mobile platform but don’t take my word for it, check the Blog out here.

Why a blog, you ask? Because we’re all about community and we found that the best method of sharing our successes and tips with the mobile developers and clients is through blogging. Have a project? A question? A suggestion? Drop us a line!

Categories: Uncategorized

JIL SDK Beta – Serious mobile widgets without the serious…. well theoretically

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

If you haven’t heard of the new JIL platform ( yet, I’m sure you’ll come by it pretty soon somewhere on the interwebs. Basically, JIL can act as a middle layer allowing developers to write simple widgets that can easily access the different features of the phone. It’s cross-platform and provides full PIM integration as well as access to other phone hardware, including the accelerometer and GPS.

The only problem right now is that it’s still in (super) beta. I say “right now” because the potential of the JIL SDK is so big, that I’m sure it will be able to do everything it boasts soon enough. And now is probably the best time to hop on board the JIL train since very few developers have experience using it — you’ll be the front line for the next generation of widget development.

Major phone manufacturers have already stated their intention on supporting the framework so we’re not too far off from being able to create small application-like widgets that work on a variety of phones running a variety of Operating Systems — all working off one code project. As I continue to develop on this platform, I’ll keep posting issues and tips as I come by them :-).

Categories: JIL

Oracle and Sun Just Got in Bed Together

April 20, 2009 1 comment

Well, Oracle just acquired Sun Microsystems and I think that’s some pretty big news. In case you don’t know, Oracle makes a wide variety of applications but it’s most predominate is its Database Systems application. Sun Microsystems, while mainly a hardware company, is probably best known for Java and it’s OS Solaris. So, it’s kinda interesting to see a purely software company acquire a “hardware” company.

I’ve neve really seen Sun as a hardware company — probably because I’m a student and just haven’t had any real experience with the company’s products. So I still see Sun as a company that makes software with some hardware backing. 

The funny thing about this acquisition is that this will be another huge company that can offer their customers a full end-to-end solution. It’s another Intel, or IBM but, in my mind, it might even be bigger. An assortment of Management apps and suites for business use coupled with an OS and JAVA has got some real potential. Oracle’s previous acquisitions has cost them a little though in layoffs so we’ll have to see what happens here. Sun currently employs 33 000 employees and Oracle employs 86 000 — that’s a big new-to-not-new ratio.

Either way, I’m pretty excited to see what comes of all this. This can have some significant impact on the IT sector of business locally and globally.

Categories: Business, Techy Stuff

Business Year 4: Learn Through Observation

I’m a double degree student at Wilfrid Laurier University taking Business and Comp Sci and I’ve noticed 1 very specific truth over the last 4 years of schooling.  While most logic-oriented people can learn computer science on their own (with considerable effort and passion), the same is not true for business. Look around. The people that are good at business didn’t have a great idea when they were 30. Some had them when they were 15 and thought: “I think I can sell this to people”. 

These people are pioneers and none of them think through all the different models and theories they learned about business in class. Hell, of all the speakers I’ve gone and listened to, most relied on instinct and clever thinking to get ahead. Computer science is a little different. While instinct and creativity is great (and needed to be the best of the best), you can’t write code without knowing the intrecacies of the language. Period. You might be able to do code reviews and debug it without knowing every little thing but the true breakthroughs happen with people who eat, sleep, and breathe it.

I’ve been in university for 4 years and, so far, I’ve learned that my business courses can be learned through observation. So far.

I hear it gets better 🙂

Categories: Uncategorized