White Noise

Best HTC One Case? Try these relatively cheap options.

My HTC has turned out to be an OK phone, I wouldn’t say I love it, but its OK, a steady performer. It’s much herald good looks are, in my opinion, vastly over stated, and the 4 ultra pixel camera is about on a par with the iPhone – no better, no worst.  Over all it’s an OK phone.

I’ve had an original HTC case for the thing from day one, I feel much the same about the case, it’s fine, but not amazing. Give the cost, actually maybe I’m a little bit disappointed – it wasn’t cheap.

Away today I drop the phone for the second like in its life, and it looks like the case has given up the ghost.

Cracking stuff - better the case than the phone!

Cracking stuff – better the case than the phone!

So off it was to find a replacementRecently I have been looking for cases for iPads, iPhone, and my nexus 7, its surprisingly hard to find any decent input on what cases are good. And trawling amazon is a pain in the backside. So here are two cases I like for the HTC One, they don’t cost the earth, and offer a decent balance between protection and bulk – although one is fairly massive I guess. Anyway I like them, and they work fine. Enjoy.

This has a kick out stand, good for the kid watching pepper pig, comes with a screen protector, and is forfill by Amazon, so postage if free. it five quid, what more do you want??

This guy is a little thinner, made of TPU, comes from the USA, cost 4 quid, and has free postage. Bargin!

Free Widows, sure, why not?

A long time ago I heard something that made me think that at some point Microsoft will have to make Windows free. I miss read this article on my phone earlier today, so I thought it was happening sooner than I had ever imagined. But no, just an update on the current plan with Windows, RT and phone 8, and where it might be going. Interesting, but not free Windows interesting!

Phones + e-mail = issue!

Phones + e-mail = issue!

 

Why will Windows be free.

To me it’s a no brainer. Sure MS make money from windows – but what if they lose money because of it too? Apple have started to give their OS away for free, Google has always been “free”, Ubuntu and other Linux based open source stuff is of course free, and if Amazon made an OS I bet that would be free! The benefit, as I see it, is that you make you money elsewhere. Google is not really free, Apple OS runs on hardware only made by one company. Ubuntu charge for commercial level support and so on. MS could keep selling their OS to the enterprise, but make the consumer version free. Clearly this would be a little less capable – networking, AD, servers software etc. would not be free, but making the OS free could have some serious up sides.

Everyone using the latest version of  Windows is what MS want. Partly because they want the cash, but also for security and control. In windows 8, they get a bit (30-20%!!!) of every “Metro” software sale – image if that was true of all software sold on the windows platform, in history.  I don’t know the numbers but I bet that is a lot of cash! And in Windows 8 that’s the only way you can get “Metro” apps, nice! Here then Windows is a Platoform, and the more people have it the more softwear sales there will be! Not to mention MSDN subscriptions ;-).

There are other benefits too. Windows is widely pirated, and preventing that is a PITA, for MS, but also for legitimate users. Likewise, old version of windows are a problem, people don’t want to get off them, but MS have to, sort of, support these decade old OS, and it’s a bit of a lose, lose game for them. Drop support, and the tech world are OK with that, but Mom and Pop and disgusted. Keep supporting it, and you’re a bit week, plus you have a “dumb” user base work in a hostile world with a inadequate tool – lose, lose!

Giving the software away to home users also make sense given MS direction toward becoming a devices and services company. Sell them some devices, then sell them some services to run on the device, the tie in is the OS that, while free, sort of (but never overtly) binds the user to the service provider – it’s not a new idea…

 

When will Windows be Free?

Well that’s a hard one to call. I guess somewhere in Redmond chart with a couple of lines on it, one is profit from Window sales to consumers, then other is some most of proxy for lots market to apple and Google. When then cross, is when it becomes free – hopefully a bit before! My guess is somewhere around the back end of 2016, but knowing how slow MS can be, don’t be surprised if that turns out to be 2018!

 

What does this mean for Developers (,developers, developers…)

Well I don’t see it as good news, but only just. It could be good news – but I think to start with it will be a bad news, and with time it will get better, especially if you live in the MS bubble. Clear then!

The issue is deployment. Although having a store will make it easier to deploy a packaged application, there will be 2 down sides. The first is that all devs will need to register somehow with MS, making sure they are on a white list and that their apps are “Good/Secure” – whatever that may mean. A couple of things with this: 1, it will cost you – currently it about 100 dollars – I think – it will get cheaper over time, maybe it will be free at some point, but it will make it hard for someone to develop a little free app, like a bookmark tool, or a Excel Addin [:-)]. 2, it will be “slow”. MS will need to check every line of code, that will take time. Devs will have to learn how to get an app into the store, and all the jazz that will inevitable go with that – time.

All of this might not be big deal if there is a side load option, or something similar available – but I can’t see the desktop shipping in a free version of Windows.

The second issue is that the number and diversity of languages supported will, in-practice, drop through the floor. This is more of a issue. At the moment any one can buy a copy of Windows and use that as a fairly robust template of how to write a coding language that will work on that platform. This can still contiune, but what they wont beable to do is get the code on the mechine in the first place. That gateway will be controlled 100% by Microsoft. In the future there may be a API (or something) for different languages to write deployment against, but that’s never going to be the same. Companies like Adobe might be ok, but small companies that don’t use MS tools will be hard pushed, they will more or less be forced to use MS tooling or die – I suspect.

Maybe its unimportant because desktop development is on its way out – well, maybe in a state of slow but steady decline anyway, time will tell and it will be interesting to see what happen.

Abine Privacy Tools

I’m getting more and more annoyed with everyone in the whole world needing to know everything I’ve ever done on line. Sure I have nothing to hide (well maybe a few things), but that does not mean its OK the track everything I do, right – you don’t follow people around the supermarket do you, that would be odd,  when you for to the pub there not someone there going, “oh, having a pint of Fosters are we”, leave me be!

Anyway, recently I’ve been using a couple of addins for Chrome and FF form Abine. “DoNotTrackMe,” blocks all these loathsome things that link ads up and so forth, so that I don’t see loads of ads for stuff I’ve just bought!!!  and “MaskMe” is a great tool, as it helps you to not have to had out an -email address ever 2 seconds!

You get the idea

Find out more here: http://www.abine.com/

And yes I know I have Google analytics’s on this site, and ads – I never said it was a perfect world!!!

 

A rant on Excel and Bad Ideas.

The great thing about the internet is that anyone can share their thoughts, the problem with the internet is that anyone can share there thoughts. A classic dichotomy if you will.

We see this all the time, people talking utter, utter rubbish about things they don’t understand. As “organisations” have started to blog more and more this issue has increased. The way I see it is like this… If you run “Mega Corps” would you want me bloging for you? I probably wouldn’t. You see I’m not a talented writer, my spelling and grammar are poor and I’m not adept at making my point – as I will now prove. So “Mega Crops” ask the people who can do these things well to blog for them. What actually makes for a good bloger is someone who can think well! See, a bad idea expressed well is still a bad idea. What makes a great bloger is someone who can think and write well – and these types are rare. But still, what would you rather have, an ill-conceived observation expressed elegantly or a quality observation just expressed?

Which leads me to these two blog post, the first one suggests that people who use Excel in the supply chain are doomed, and the second one adds more fuel to that fire.

Beware Supply Chain Excel Users—YOU are DOOMED!!!!

Excel doesn’t excel in all cases…

Now I need to be careful here, I don’t what to offend anyone.

Equally I’d like to address the lack of understanding and insight, or at least offer a counter view. I have some grounds to make these observations, being somewhat familiar with Excel and having worked in supply chain for the last decade or so.

Basically both articles point out the limitations of Excel, principally by comparing the differences between Excel and a Generic ERP system. For example:

“Excel has features that can calculate safety stock by using prebuilt basic formulas such as moving average, standard deviations forecasts etc. Keep in mind that by doing this, an organization will not have the ability to see the entire supply and demand relationship. On the other hand, when the same safety stock is calculated within an application, it will provide visibility to outstanding supplies that need to be replenished; orders can be planned for production; and it can calculate how quickly organizations can turn a forecast into a deliverable product.”

Khudsiya Quadri, Technology Evaluation Centers

And

“I completely agree with the author that there is a big risk to SCM Professionals who rely too heavily on Excel.  There are all the reasons listed in the article such as  lack of collaboration, visibility, control and no ability to perform “what-if” scenarios.  I would like to add some additional thoughts to this discussion.”

Monique Rupert,  21st Century Supply Chains

So, Excel has limitations creating what if scenarios, and pre built basic functions!! Clearly not Excel experts! Another common theme is that Excel is not very good for collaboration, information sharing and data security…

It is almost impossible to control the integrity of spreadsheet data and access to the spreadsheet.  With multiple people accessing the spreadsheet and no security, how can anyone have any confidence in the data?

Monique Rupert,  21st Century Supply Chains

Well true. Sharepoint (etc.) might help here, but that’s another issue. So basically don’t use Excel as a database. Fair enough but…

Comparing Excel to an ERP system is like comparing a Motor Bike to a Train Network. It’s just stupid. Telling people not to use Excel because it does not have the same capabilities as an ERP system is likewise really bad advice. Excel is different to an ERP system, we could easily re frame the argument the other way around and draw the conclusion that ERP system are the work of the Devil!

In fact, lets do just that.

Beware Supply Chain ERP Users—YOU are DOOMED!!!!

ERP systems are slow expensive complex beasts, with poorly documented calculation methods, inflexible font ends, and limited reporting capabilities. I recently talked to a number of supply chain professional and was shocked by how many of them are using their ERP systems in blind faith that the system are optimised for their needs. In the fast passed global supply chains of today, how can these default settings and calculation models possibly be right for your business?

Consider yourself doomed if you ever find yourself using an ERP system for any of these:

Reporting and Analysis: ERP system can out put reports in a number of formats, but typically they cant build well constructed dashboards, which are tailored to your companies specific needs, and/or ones that can be quickly adapted and changed over time as the needs of the business change. And forget it if you want to do some sort of analysis that the System Architect didn’t think you’d need to do in the 2 month he was specifying the system for your company 3 years ago. (Not that that would ever happen of course…).

Changing the model: ERP systems provide various forecasting tools, is getting the best results from them a skill or a science? Do you even know what equations are being used, it’s unlikely because this is the IP of the vendor, and what about data sources, is that data from the Spanish plant accurate, if it’s not can you do anything about it? Not all that flexible are we!

Your team just grew: Better get your wallet out…

You want someone form out side the organising to use the system: No.

You have a new data source that you’d like to add to the model: Humm, can you see where we’re going…

And so on…

In conclusion neither ERP systems or Excel can doom your supply chain and comparing one against the other as a way to high light a weakness is a logical flaw. Neither ERP systems or Excel are inherently good or bad, badly designed and/or used spreadsheets are a business risk, just like a poor quality ERP system or ones that are used poorly are a risk. Each “system” has strengths and areas where their use makes sense, and this are extremely well document. Likewise the “miss use” of Excel and the motivations for this are also well document, and note – not all of them are unreasonable.

I take exception to the two blog posts because as well as misrepresent the capabilities of Excel, they also give poor or misleading reasons as to why it’s use is dangerous, also they both take one or two valid, but already extremely well understood points, and extrapolate them to reach irrational end points.

So were doe this leave us?

Well, here are some of my thoughts on what you should do to help you avoid risks if your using spread sheets (for anything really)

  • Design you spread sheets well from the ground up (here, and here for help)
  • Understand connected or discounted data sources
  • Learn how to connect to enterprise data bases.
  • Learn about versions, and version control and try to apply it
  • Think about risk, and except it explicitly if you have to

And there ended the rant ;-).

Read this, its (about) the Law

A while back JW notice that some clever chap had been ripping content from his, and other peoples Excel blogs, and reposting it, un attributed. A bit more dig from part time PI Deb Dalgleish unearthed a few sites, all belonging to the same chap, with yet more content theft. Some of the stuff was from this blog, and I tried to get Microsoft to take it down. No luck there and I gave up.

Today I saw a tweet from Jimmy saying that he’d just raised “another” DMCA

Don't mess with the Jimster

Anyway, yesterday I listen to this podcast from Dot Net Rocks, which is about copyright trademarks and so on in software. It’s really interesting, and might be useful.