Playlist – Week 0

Recently I’ve been posting quite a lot of music, so rather than a constant stream of sounds, I’ve decided to consolidate my latest toe tappers in a single weekly post. In no particular order:

Why companies fail

The fall of HMV from an agency perspective, a good read:

Hubris, arrogance, a feeling of invincibility. Companies fail for many reasons and there was probably a bit of all three involved with HMV but as I read today about Kodak selling off its valuable patents to stave off bankruptcy, I see many parallels with HMV.  A company which was overtaken by the march of technology faster than they could ever imagine and which by the time they started reinventing themselves and diversifying in to other areas, it was too late.

Why companies fail – the rise and fall of HMVPhilip Beeching

Sinofsky’s CES report

What’s Hot:

Mobile. Stating the obvious, mobile is front and center for every product.
Design language. The design language in use for both hardware and software is trending towards a clarity and minimalism–turning over the screen to the app and the customer. There’s a lot less glowing and translucency.
Build quality. Across the board products are getting better.
Service integration. It was hard to find a product that did not integrate with the web and back end service in some way.
Social integration. The integration of products with social networks is technically an easy thing to do (these networks are motivated to have more updates flowing in) so it follows that many products now integrate with networks.
Broadening of Moore’s law. We all know how MIPS increased over time. We then learned how available storage increased over time. We’re now seeing this increase in bandwidth usage.
Connected life. For sure, the connection of our lives to the internet continues as a trend. It is really amazing how many analog things are being digitized—door locks, luggage tags, mouth guards, and more.

What’s Not:

3D. 3D was really big last year and you really had to work hard to even find a booth with glasses at all.
Storage. There was a lot less in the way of storage technologies—hard drive cages, USB drives and sticks, media storage cabinets even.
Waterproof. Last year it seemed like every booth had a fish tank holding a phone or tablet. While there were plenty of waterproof cases and a few waterproof devices, it might be that people go rafting with their tablets less than product folks thought :-)
Media boxes. There used to be a seemingly endless array of boxes that distribute photos, videos, and music around a home network.
Digital cameras and video cameras. The ubiquity of high quality cameras in our smartphones makes it tough for most of us to carry a second discrete camera.
Gesture based TV. The excitement of gesture based control of TV was all but gone. Last year every TV had 10’ of space in front of it so the demo folks could control it by gesture. 

Learning by Sharing: Snark-free CES observationsSteven Sinofsky

Ubuntu going mobile

Canonical has announced it’s launching a mobile OS in 2014, quite a long time in the mobile space. It’s Interesting that they don’t have any hardware partners yet, but that’s probably part of the long lead time as well as giving developers time to write apps.

In Mark Shuttleworth’s introduction to the platform he mentions that the OS has been written to work with existing Android hardware and kernel so they’re obviously looking to tempt manufacturers away from Android.

Ubuntu’s direction of travel has been going this way since the Unity UI was introduced a couple of years ago and there were stronger hints of Canonical’s mobile interests at their developer summit a few months when they announced Ubuntu for Android.

One of the carry overs from the desktop are Web Apps, which allow apps written in HTML to access a JavaScript API that interfaces with the OS to behave like a native app, integrating with notifications, messaging menus and the HUD. Along with Firefox OS it reinforces the web as broadest platform available to developers and it’s aspirations as a first class citizen on vendor platforms.

A potential issue I can see with the swipe and gesture UI used on Ubuntu for mobile is it’s lack of discoverability. To my mind it’s like Mystery Meat Navigation without at least the possibility of seeing the mystery menus first. I’m sure they’ll come up with a clever way of teaching users the gestures, but it seems like it could be a stumbling block for a large number of people.

Ubuntu has done well in Enterprise with their server offering, overtaking Red Hat in powering the top million sites earlier last year and they certainly seem to be doing ‘one OS everywhere’ better than Microsoft has managed so far with Windows 8. The move into the mobile space is Canonical’s first step into the post-PC era that is clearly defining the next computing epoch which is one that sorely needs greater plurality.

New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Unit testing. One of those things I’ve been meaning to do for ages, but never quite get around to.
  2. Service orchestration. Deploying with Git is awesome. Ubuntu JuJu and Chef look like they take things to the next level.
  3. Build prototypes. I got burnt a couple of times this year on projects that looked straightforward to do, but got blindsided by functionality that wasn’t fully considered. Building prototypes earlier on in projects should highlight these pain points quickly.
  4. Write more. Because it’s nice to blog.
  5. Hardware. I got an Arduino last year and I’ve got access to a Raspberry Pi as well. Time to do something interesting with them.