British Tech Network and New Products at MacWorld/iWorld 2014

SAN FRANCISCO (HighTech Reports), Moscone North, March 27, 2014 – MacWorld/ iWorld 2014. We watched a panel discussion session at the Second Stage presented by the British Tech Network (BTN) with speaker Paul Wheatley, User Experience Consultant and Host at the BTN. Paul and the panelists talked about the pros and cons of a bigger screen on the current or future iPhone, among other topics. He said that consumers are buying bigger iPhones, but the panel still preferred iPhones with smaller screens because they fit better in men’s pants pockets.

The panelists also talked about two interesting new products that they saw at the expo, BearExtender Edge and the Ring. The BearExtender Edge is long range Wi-Fi repeater/ booster that works with Macs, iPad/iPhone, and other devices (PCs with Wi-FI, other phones or tablets with Wi-Fi). The one-piece Wi-Fi repeater block plugs into an AC outlet and has an antenna that repeats/ boosts the Wi-Fi signal in the area. It does not require software or USB connector.  BearExtender also makes a high power standalone USB Wi-Fi radio adapter with an external antenna that increases the range of a Mac’s Wi-Fi signal by nearly four times that of an internal AirPort card. It adds Wi-Fi to older Macs or Windows PCs that do not have a built-in Wi-Fi adapter.

Paul and the panel were very intrigued by a new product called the Ring from Logbar, Inc., a San Carlos, California-based company.  It is a wearable technology product that fits on a finger as a finger ring.  The new Kickstarter funded device transmits hand movements or gestures to an iPhone or other Bluetooth enabled devices. The Ring works as an in-the-air pointing device that drew a largish crowd around its booth. A spokesperson from the Asian firm that is making the device suggested that the Ring is still in beta-test.

MacWorld/iWorld 2014 Returns to Moscone North

SAN FRANCISCO (HighTech Reports), Moscone North, March 27, 2014 – MacWorld/ iWorld 2014. It was refreshing to see that MacWorld/ iWorld returned to Moscone North, MacWorld’s former location of years ago. There were around 30,000 attendees at this year’s MacWorld. The exhibit floor seemed bigger than last year and highlighted more booths that we visited. We spent some time in the MacIT room where companies that had booths gave presentations. While there, we learned about products from Printer Logic, Lantronix, Absolute Software, Parallels, and Crash Plan.

Printer Logic sells an enterprise software app that attaches to Windows 2008R file server. The app replaces print server boxes in the enterprise. A license for up to 50 printers costs $5,000. The spokesperson said that most users have 25-30 printers. Each client driver for Mac/Windows PCs links to the printer app via Wi-Fi that scales very big in the enterprise. For example, the Department of Homeland Security used its service to reduce support calls for print servers that went down. The app solution was more efficient and saved the client money.

Absolute Software makes software that helps organizations manage all types of computer assets: PCs, laptops, tablets, phones, etc. It helps track the life cycle of all IT equipment assets to end-of-life. For example, the software helps Apple track iTunes content licensee IP assets. The firm’s solution helped the Columbine school track tablets, laptops, and thefts from intruders entering its campus. The company puts a special sticker on devices with a phone number to call if a child gets cyber bullied. The victimized child connects to a caring person to talk to and so forth. Absolute Software is also exploring other vertical markets.

 

Bay Area Biopharma Firms Evolve Their Mobile Apps

I recently attended the Apps World North America Conference on Feb. 5, 2014 held at, San Francisco’s Moscone West convention center. The event is driven by the huge interest in mobile apps by mobile device users, developers and device makers.   Since mobile apps are a core technology that makes mobile devices so useful, the subject of developing and commercializing mobile apps has become an important business topic to over 8000 visitors to this interesting event.

Apparently, a number of healthcare companies were doing some work in the mobile apps space that might benefit many kinds of enterprises.  Paul Lanzi, Senior. Manager of the Mobile, Web and Portal Team, Gilead Sciences, gave a talk about the Evolution of mobility in the enterprise. Paul’s team provides the infrastructure to support mobile solutions at Gilead. Paul said that he started in the tech industry in 1994 and worked at Genentech in a similar job prior to his Gilead role.

Lanzi cited recent mobile milestones by saying that change has come rapidly and best practices were learned from various experiences.  In 2012 his company’s apps development grew from 1 to 100 enterprise mobile apps. By 2013, they were creating enterprise apps that employees actually want to use. Going into 2014, he expects to see more of the evolution of enterprise mobility.  Paul said that the most common mobile devices ten years ago were the Motorola Razor and the Blackberry. Lanzi said that developers need to use the idea of Mobile First and said that “In the Net, Net things change really fast.

There are four evolutionary stages of mobility in the enterprise.

Brochureware. He gave an example of his local restaurant took their paper menu and put it on the web. That’s all they did.  He showed that pharmaceutical firms like Gilead or Genentech make brochureware of Rx package inserts. People can go online and read the drug package insert online.  It adds value above a paper version, its low cost, fast to deploy and easy to update.

Paul said that enterprise app developers need to watch out for certain things by saying that it is best to avoid making an evolutionary dead end with mobile apps. Paul used a biology evolution example to make his point that crocodiles and chickens have something in common.  At some intermediate points along the evolutionary path, dinosaur-like birds with teeth emerged that became evolutionary dead-ends and went extinct.  Similarly in the PC apps evolution, the keyboard driven command line interface evolved into the familiar windows and mouse click interface.

 Snackable Apps. Its best to mobilize a key subset of business processes, “instead of providing the whole ocean.”  For example, Lanzi said that a business app that enables “Review pending transactions, approve pending transaction” is a very simple user interface. Users at Genentech said “I approve with gApprove even when I’m sitting in front of my computer.”

He said that sometimes you get some surprises.  Once they need to needed to assign support tickets on mobile devices for facility power plant workers.  They had a new app designed, but no one used it. It turned out that a 37-yr-old designed it, but the average age of end-user was 58.  What happened is the workers at that age had worse eyesight and could not read the app. The app had 12 point type.  Lanzi said that mobilize the right part of the process,  get a deep understanding of process, and keep adjusting the app.

Full Business Processes. Paul said that Concur is a complete business process at his company designed for expense reports. Concur has done a great job of adapting with Blackberry and IOS devices.  Lanzi said that developers need to choose the right process and never stop evolving.

Mobile First Enterprise.  Paul said that developers need to consider mobile first, the philosophy, and leadership, procurement, finance, hiring, and so on. Lanzi said that enterprise app builders need to design for change. For example, when Paul was working at Genentech, he said that the sales team in Spain was given iPads to replace laptops. The sales people had to get used to doing work on that device instead of on their laptops and so forth. He said that you can contact Paul on Twitter using @planzi.

Should Biotechs Blog and Tweet More?

On March 21, 2011, I attended the BioConference Live interactive online-only life science conference organized by LabRoots.  LabRoots is an online social network for the science and healthcare community.  Invited to attend the conference were research scientists, clinicians, doctors, and other professionals.

One of the several presentations I attended was a panel discussion titled, “Social Media and Life Sciences: Why should we care about social media (and what you need to know to get started.”  I found it to be very interesting and informative.  Moderator Tina Baumgartner at Accella Group began with a number of questions that she hoped the panel would answer.  Such as, “does social media hold any promises for biotech and life sciences companies, should they engage in social media and what outcome should they expect?”

The panel included Pamela Lund at PL Interacive and Michael Wu at Lithium.  According to Lund, “companies who blog generate 67 percent more monthly leads than companies that do not.  Those that blog and tweet are getting more eyeballs than those that just blog.  Thus causing a multiplier effect for those who blog and tweet.  Biotech companies said that Linkedin was the greatest generator of leads and customers than Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.”

Some other important advantages for companies that use social media include: instant feedback, the ability to respond to colleagues and customers real-time, and addressing negative perceptions, said Lund.  She also offered important things to think about when getting started in social media.  Some of these include finding out who your target audience is, what you should expect from social media, and what would you consider success once you’re involved in social media.  She also discussed the misconceptions and pitfalls of social media such as “social media is not free and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time.”

Michael Wu discussed the importance of influencers in social media and how to find them.  These influencers can cause a change in thought or behavior said Wu.  They can move the consumer down the “purchase funnel” and change their mind so much that they purchase.  Therefore, influencers can be a PR nightmare for companies or they can be a benefit for companies.  According to Wu, “influencers need to have domain credibility, high bandwidth, content relevance, timing relevance, and channel alignment.”

Social media can help scientists gain influence through all those methods previously mentioned.  Michael also mentioned some tools to help scientists gain influence and they include: free social media monitoring with Google Alert, free social reference management with Mendeley, and free relationship maintenance on LinkedIn.

IBM Speaker Discusses Experience with Email App. at USENIX/ LISA Meeting

The USENIX/ Lisa (Large Installation System Administration) ’10 Conference was held at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center during November 7-12, 2010. The event supports attendes from the community of large IT systems administration with education sessions, BOF meetings, vendor exhibitions, receptions, and social networking opportunities.  About 1,500 attendees participated at this interesting event.

I attended a talk about Postfix.  Wieste Venema, a researcher from  IBM’s T.J. Watson Center, gave a talk called Postfix: Past, Present, and Future. Wieste discussed his experience that he had with the postfix mail system over its 12-year history. He said that since its release by IBM as an open source mail system, Postfix has gone on to become a proven part of mail system infrastructure. Postfix is used in ISP server infrastructures that manage millions of email boxes.  Wieste explained that after IBM completed Postfix in 2006, development work shifted the focus to expanding its functions, making it extend to other areas and to become more adapatible to changing demands such as resisting external threats from malware.

Speaking of external threats, Wieste made a special observation about the problem of persistant overload that occurs before the smtpd connection filter.  He noted that there was prior work in the field such as OpenBSD spamd, MailChannels, TrafficControl and work by M. Tokarev.  He said that spammers can setup networks of millions of hijacked PCs called ‘zombies’ to invade and overwhelm email servers with spam junk.  Postfix helps email systems resist zombie attacks.

I also attended a few more talks, the vendor exhibition, and two receptions. My observations of this conference made it clear to me that attendees can gain many benefits of the various educational sessions, BOF meetings and personal networking opportunities that the USENIX made available.

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