Behavior, Content, Money – 3 Things you should never give away for free!!!

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SmartWatch showdown – Pebble .vs. the rest

Posted by bcmoney on October 19, 2016 in IoT, Mobile with No Comments

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English: Picture of a wristwatch band, showing...

Picture of a wristwatch band, showing in detail the locking mechanism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pebble, a company and SmartWatch brand started by Eric Migicovsky in 2012, set the standard for SmartWatches and in many ways single-handedly ignited an entire SmartWatch industry, totally separated (yet later tightly integrated) to the Fitness Band & Activity Tracker craze which was separately growing. Each of these types of products fall within the broader Wearables market, and often get lumped in with a plethora of other devices which are all considered to be part of the “Internet of Things (IoT)”. The goal of a SmartWatch product (other than generating sales and profits for its company) in many cases, is thus to be capable of acting as a “control platform” for the IoT. There is much promise in being able to be more productive and manage one’s digital lifestyle, without being one of the so-called “SmartPhone zombies” who are constantly staring down at their smartphones rather than interacting with the people and world around them.

As a device, the SmartWatch promises to maintain the level of “constant connectivity” society, work and family/friends have come to expect of one another somehow in this crazy hyper-digital modern era, yet teases at the possibilities of a little relief in manageability and having information available but only taking out your phone to “dig in further” when absolutely necessary. In short, it makes it that much easier to ignore the constant buzzing, vibrating, bell chiming & ringing of SmartPhones as they receive Message Center Notifications, SMS texts, IMs, Chats, Emails, Calendar event updates, Video conferencing sessions (Facetimes/Hangouts/Skypes), and yes how quaint, even still occasionally Phone calls. At a glance you receive notifications pushed over to the watch from the phone via Bluetooth and can see at a quick glance without taking out your phone whether a given piece of distraction is truly worth your time or not at a given moment. Time is valuable, and watches not only help you be more timely but when they are smart they help you manage your entire life better as well. It also helps simplify keeping track of your physical activity (if you’re into that sort of thing) without needing a myriad of other wearable fitness gadgets. Let’s take a look at how the various options stack up, premising it with the following graphic which represents the “Hollywood-fueled” somewhat unrealistic dream of what a SmartWatch can do for you:

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Mobile device use, WiFi, 4G and SIM cards in Japan

Posted by bcmoney on December 28, 2015 in Mobile with No Comments

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English: Photo of a SIM Card from a Japanese F...

English: Photo of a SIM Card from a Japanese FOMA cellphone sold by NTT DoCoMo in March 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post will summarize a solution I’ve settled on for using a North American smartphone or mobile device for a short period of time in another country (doesn’t have to be as a tourist but for any stays less than the 1-3 year contracts the Telcos’d inevitably try to reel you into, even if you’re only in the country they operate in on a Student Visa). Specically this time its Japan, and the real trick, trying to do it without breaking the bank. While these instructions are pretty specific about travelling from Canada with a device from one of our country’s Telcos to Japan trying to get on their infamously exclusive yet impressively fast Mobile Data Networks, they should work with little modification to go from any country to any other (just ensure the portable mobile data device you use supports the data network type of the country you’re travelling to, some are still stuck on GSM, some only support 3G, some have killed off 1G-3G now only offering 4G/LTE, some are even testing 5G, so it varies greatly and you must get a basic understanding of the network types from your origin country and the destination country in the very least). See wikia’s landing page on Pre-paid SIM cards (and supported data networks) for a rough guide by country or try the WillMyPhoneWork brand/model/country lookup tool.


How I did it

For my setup I’ve relied on the use of a MiFi portable hotspot which I fortunately had already gone through a contract on at home in Canada. This type of device basically sets up a WiFi network wherever you’re going, using a Pre-Paid (or Pay-As-You-Go) SIM card to piggyback a connection off of the data network. Be sure to deactivate any data/voice roaming, cellular data, or voice network functionalities on your core device. On the iPhone6/iOS9 for instance, you can do this under Settings –> Cellular –> Cellular Data Options –> [Roaming Off] and flipping Cellular Data off and also going to Carrier and turning off Automatic setting which is likely set by default.


Hotspot Device

Brand: Novatel
Device: MiFi 2 (5792 model) 4G LTE mobile wireless hotspot

This device is offered by Bell & Bell-Aliant in Canada, and worked quite well for me when travelling in Japan:

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Dusting off my 2008 cover letter to RIM on BlackBerry’s future, rejected job application

Posted by bryan on October 27, 2015 in E-Business, E-Commerce, Mobile with No Comments

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The Research in Motion headquarters, based in ...

The Research in Motion headquarters, based in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While backing up some files to an external hard drive from my older one, I recently came across an old Cover Letter which had accompanied my resume in a job application I sent to Research In Motion (RIM) back in Summer of 2008.

It’s interesting to look back at, because I recall back then being very frustrated with the state of the Mobile industry in North America (particularly in Canada). These feelings were only magnified by my time spent in Japan 2006-2008, a country which at that time was a clear leader in Mobile technologies and in the global consumer electronics in general. Since then, Korea and China (two other countries I was fortunate enough to have spent some time in during my Graduate school vacations in between terms) have now caught up in terms of innovation and even surpassed Japan’s leading Mobile technology companies in sales as well.

Back then companies (again particularly China & Korea but many European firms as well) were sending some of their top experts and technologists to Japan to do market research with and/or attempt to poach talented Japanese engineers from, the likes of world leading Japanese tech companies: Sony-Ericsson, Panasonic, Sharp, Toshiba, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, Fuji-Xerox, Konica-Minolta, Nintendo, Softbank, NTT, KDDI, etc. The goal was of course to glean as much information and consumer insights as possible from the country which boasted the fastest home fiber internet speeds, mobile internet speeds, mobile data usage, and mobile revenue per unit (ARPU) in not just gaming which usually comes to mind when thinking of Japan, but all application sectors.

My experience in Japan indeed taught me a thing or two about “sticky” services, particularly the infamous “iMode business model” by Takeshi Natsuno of  NTT DoCoMo which succeeded by providing a cohesive ecosystem of applications and a flat-rate (about $40 USD/month) unlimited data service, which drove subscriptions through the roof. On top of this, standards and specifications which were simple to follow for developers and which reduced page-size for web content with cHTML then later WAP/WML helped grow the service’s offerings in an organic way. Only now are we starting to see the same sorts of initiatives by Google [LINK] & Apple [LINK] in North America. Over here, very little regard has been made for how to optimize mobile services for users, which is why our Mobile industry is only now catching up to and finally surpassing where Japan was 9-10 years ago. Indeed, we constantly hear reports about the growth of Online/Mobile Video (i.e. streaming ad-supported content like YouTube, Vimeo, etc), On-Demand/IPTV (i.e. rentals or purchases on iTunes, GooglePlay, etc), and OTT (i.e. subscription services like Netflix, Hulu & Amazon Prime Instant Video). However, MobileTV via OneSeg had already reached millions of users whereas SMS texting was just starting to take off in North America (in any meaningful way that resembles its adoption level today).

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The Internet of Things – If this then what?

Posted by bcmoney on January 10, 2015 in Cloud Computing, Mobile, Web Services with No Comments

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English: A technology roadmap of the Internet ...

English: A technology roadmap of the Internet of Things. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “Internet of Things” (or IoT) is an evolution of microprocessor engineering, sensor innovations, wireless communications technologies, and of course the Internet itself. An IoT “thing” could be any natural or man-made object that can be assigned an IP address and provided with the ability to transfer data over a network. For example, inanimate objects (i.e. many cars have more built-in sensors than early NASA shuttles for doing everything from alerting the driver when tire pressure is low to regulating anti-lock breaking systems or airbag deployments during emergencies), animals (i.e. a wild animal tagged with biochip transponder to track position/population size or migration patterns) or people (i.e. an elderly person with a heart monitor device or any other implant or device which tracks health data). In all of the previous examples, “things” are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human, human-to-animal, or human-to-computer interaction. A major question of this Internet of Things is now what the “killer applications” will be. As in, what real-world problems will be solved, what efficiency improvements can be gained or which tangible benefits can be realized for the end user? By connecting more and more devices (thanks to the proliferation of IPv6 addresses, enough to give every atom on Earth’s surface a dedicated IP), we are of course creating more and more usage data,  observational data and metadata about the interactions of these devices and users within the rest of the world, which has also placed even more importance on BigData. Certainly, a big part of IoT will be task automation (the absence of a user during operation of devices and their software),  enabling devices to function more and more autonomously and theoretically freeing up users from manually entering commands via a command-line or clicking/tapping on controls within a user interface. Enter the service If This Then That (IFTTT), which enables you to “wire together” the capabilities of or otherwise integrate data from two disparate sources to accomplish a particular goal. Read the rest of this entry »

How to build widgets following the W3C Widget specification

Posted by bcmoney on June 29, 2014 in Mobile, Web Services with No Comments

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English: an incon to indicate that there is a ...

Icon to indicate a widget. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This post will be a quick & dirty step-by-step guide to building a Widget following the cross-platform W3C Widget specification. For starters I’ll list out the 7 primary W3C specifications on Widgets and 4 specs on their use with Mobile devices (roughly in order of significance):

Now unless you are supporting an instance of one of the legacy widget platforms/portals for your organization, or, have recently been put in charge of building a new “widget type platform” for your company, then I wouldn’t suggest you waste too much time going through all those specs. I’m intending to give you a quick overview here that will save you that pain and give you a sufficient familiarity to be functional with Widgets right away.

What is a Widget?

Whether you call it a widget, gadget, badge, module, capsule, snippet, framed window, representation, implementation, micro, mini, page flake or anything else; a Widget is a small web, mobile, or desktop application that brings information directly to you, so you don’t have to go somewhere else look for the information yourself.

Some widgets are helpful self-contained resources like clocks, calculators, or calendars. Some widgets are static and just display specific information that rarely if ever changes, like a “list of useful links” or some reminder text. Some widgets are more dynamic and let you write desktop post-it notes, convert media files, or see weather forecasts. Dynamic/Interactive widgets really do let you accomplish some incredible stuff, like let you automatically feed Dilbert comics in color straight to your Facebook wall or Instagram followers (or even just to your blog, personal web page, or even your desktop). Widgets can of course also pull data from external sources. Regardless of their type, all widgets are designed to be shared. You can easily send your favorite widgets to friends and co-workers with a single click and email, and anyone who sees a widget on your personal pages can download a version to customize for themselves. The following image from the original Widget 1.0 spec shows how this simplicity works behind the scenes, based on web standards:
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BC$ = Behavior, Content, Money

The goal of the BC$ project is to raise awareness and make changes with respect to the three pillars of information freedom - Behavior (pursuit of interests and passions), Content (sharing/exchanging ideas in various formats), Money (fairness and accessibility) - bringing to light the fact that:

1. We regularly hand over our browser histories, search histories and daily online activities to companies that want our money, or, to benefit from our use of their services with lucrative ad deals or sales of personal information.

2. We create and/or consume interesting content on their services, but we aren't adequately rewarded for our creative efforts or loyalty.

3. We pay money to be connected online (and possibly also over mobile), yet we lose both time and money by allowing companies to market to us with unsolicited advertisements, irrelevant product offers and unfairly structured service pricing plans.

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