Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Power stations

I just watched a talk given by Shai Agassi on electric cars, and part of his vision was about petrol stations, obviously in an electric car we're not filling a petrol tank, and in his vision we're not even filling a power tank, so to speak, we're swapping and going - swap the dull battery for a fresh battery and keep going.

It's a reasonable suggestion, we already do exactly that with our gas tanks for BBQ's - I pop down to the local petrol station swap the tank over, pay a fee and come home.

And that got me thinking - there was a recent article about speech powered phone batteries, but really, by the time it's come to fruition it won't be required, or in the real world it will be clunky and probably lead to disappointment.

So what do we do??

Well, there are companies out there at the moment that, for a fee, have vending machines setup where you get charge your phone or mobile device and move on, but who has the time?

So in tandem with swapping the car battery/fuel cell over for a fresh one, why not swap the phone battery too, then you never have to worry - phone's flat, cool get a fresh battery and move on.

For iPhone users, sorry it probably won't work for you guys, the price of being cool huh?


Monday, 16 May 2011

The deconstruction of telstra - where are we with this??

Something that often surprises me is that the deconstruction, or structural separation of our largest communications network hardly gets noted in the media these days despite representing a fundamental change in the way our telco's will operate with one another.

To recap, let's start with what happens at the moment - well, as we know Telstra was born out of Telecom when the Howard government first began its privatization of the Telco beast - and because it was the first it owned all the networking hardware, so when Optus entered the market, Telstra wholesaled services to them, and then to the other players in the market, which includes all the ISP's - what the means for the market is that Telstra has the ability to keep the wholesale prices high through their Whole division, to support greater profits within their Retail division. 

The theory is that if Telstra is structurally separated into two stand alone operations, one is the network wholesaler, and the second is the Telstra the retailer that buys it's services from the wholesale the same as all the other networks and network related co's, we should see pricing for services reduced, because now they're all on the same playing field - well, that's my hope anyway.

So where are we at the moment? Telstra were due to submit it's plans for separation to the ACCC on April 1, but that didn't happen, and now they have been given a further 90 days to do so.

It's something that fundamentally has to happen - and we've seen this sort of thing in other countries like the UK where British telecom was separated, and side from the currently arrange Telstra enjoys as being anti-competitive in a capitalist market place, the other issue is that Telstra has become a beast too big to govern, i.e. they are so big they stop having to worry about being bound by laws that other companies wouldn't be able to get away with.

I think that's the reason why Senetor Conway didn't involve his special powers to forcibly separate the company himself and instead give a 90 day extension to Telstra to get their plan together.

I understand Telstra doesn't want to separate their business, but it's not all doom and gloom, look at Bill gates, he's still got stacks of cash after Microsoft were forced to give up it's monopolies within numerous countries, including the US. Plus what's the alternative? Telstra dig their heels in, don't get a slice of the NBN and at the end of the day still have to relinquish their wholesale business?

So I know I'm waiting with baited breath to see what happens next!!


Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Esendex SMS and the modular mind!

Iit's probably not the right thing to do to talk up your own services outright via a blog, in fact it's down right vulgar, but I'm going to do it anyway.

So when a potential client looks at our service what do they see, they see we have Echo, our web to text application which is as far as our clients are concerned the centre point of the service where you're able to not only send SMS messages to one or more handsets, contacts and groups, but send Voice SMS (text to speech) too. Check the status' of sent SMS and Voice SMS by batch or individual messages, but set up new users and setup email addresses to send out via their own email applications like Outlook, Lotus Note, Groupwise and so on.

Then we get to Email SMS, where clients send out emails that get converted to SMS as well as PC SMS, a small but very handy Windows based desktop application and of course our Esendex SMS API too.

It's fast becoming popular belief that the notion of a "self" isn't correct, and in fact as people, individuals we're modular - this means that in my head, your head, every one's own head are a collective of modules that make us think and behave in certain ways in certain situations. In fact Dr Robert Kurzban who recently wrote a book called "Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite: Evolution and the Modular Mind" explains that if we talk about situations, in fact these modules will have us thinking, yet if we're placed in that situation we could very well behave in the opposite manner - this is because of the modular mind and the fact that there is no real self, but a bunch of selves - so on that note, if you ever feel lonely, try talking to the other modules in your head?

What's this got to do with anything? Well, for one it's the reason why the iPhone has done so well - yes the millions spent on marketing has a lot to do with getting the product out there, but Coke spent a fortune on some different flavours that never became successful, no, the reason the iPhone and now Android phones are so popular is because the handsets themselves become an extension of our modular minds - we just aren't conscious of it.

These phones allow you to have all these different apps that don't necessarily fit together in a beautifully synergistic world, but individually work well with our heads because of the modules - bringing this back to Esendex it's the same.

there are lots and lots of ways to use the SMS service, you can send from your web account, you can send from your email, you can send from a wee desktop application and you can send out from your own in house software using the API's to integrate into the service. Why? because that's the way we think - the different ways of using the service are designed to fit you rather than your fitting us.

Think about this, if you want to upload and send to mass contacts you can - have them on a spreadsheet and simply upload and send them out, takes but a few minutes - you can even personalise the messages, send different messages to different handsets and whether you send to 50 or 50,000 handsets it's take but a moment in time.

That's fine, but lots of people don't want to have to log into a website to send a message here and there - we hear you, that's why we offer the ability to send out via your email and have it converted to an SMS, and also PC SMS - which for sending out broadcast messages (i.e. where you don't want a response) is awesome. It's because most people keep their email open all day, so it's handy to send out, and PC SMS starts up when you turn your PC on, and also doubles as a plug-in with Outlook, so again, no need to log into a new program each time you want to send, it sits there waiting for you.

Then there's what I consider to be the top dog in terms of utilising SMS - the Esendex API - and not because it uses the most up to date technology, and not because it's well documented and developers love it, no. it's because as humans we forget - we think we do things we haven't done, and that makes us to a point inconsistent, yet as humans we are desperate for consistency, and when we get it we're as happy as Larry. That's why integrating using the API is awesome because it allows for automated SMS messaging that means high levels of consistency and therefore the best possible benefit from using SMS.

So there you have it, when people ask me "how do we use the service?" the answer is always "what do you want to do?" because what you're doing plays an important role in deciding how best to use the service and extend beautifully with that modular mind of ours!

Enjoy and have a great week!


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

A little bit country and a little bit western

Ah, I'm getting on at the ripe old age of 33, my tastes in life change like coffee, gone are the days of my upbringing drinking International Roast and Nescafe Blend 43, and hello Nesspresso home coffee machine.

Where I notice my tastes changing the most is in fashion - after living in London for a couple of years I admit it, my favourite shop was Topman, I knew what I was getting, it was cheap and it was cool, happy days. Now unfortunately I've come to the realisation that no longer am I able to pull off wearing scrawny jeans and super feminine jumpers and hair cut, I just can't bring myself to do it!

No, but the biggest shock is why I can't help salivate over shops like Rodd & Gunn, Alexander James and Barbour? You know the tweed jackets with leather patches on the sleeves, army green jumpers and expensive flannel shirts, and where the jeans come in two colours, blue and camel.

I just can't understand it, this pull, this attraction I'm having with dressing like a country gentlemen (which I've never been accused of being either), and spending my weekends Bear Grylls style?

It's a mad mad world, but so far I've resisted, but no for too long I don't think!


Friday, 6 August 2010

Video killed the radio star?

Hmm, maybe it did, but the bigger questions is did Samsung's Galaxy S kill the iPhone? Umm, if it doesn't then police are likely to charge the Galaxy S with Grievous Bodily Harm because it's come pretty close!

I got my Galaxy yesterday after doing a lot of deliberation, checking out YouTube reviews, Cnet, etc... I decided that this looked the best option.

I did consider for a bit the Blackberry Storm II, but what let it down for me was the Maps app didn't seem to load as well as other phones, and for me who enjoys nothing more than a creative shortcut or extra scenic route, I need my maps to get themselves together on that front and display before I've missed my turn - note, rules in my car, no U-turns!

I've already had an iPhone 3G and 3GS (yes both, I'm so greedy) and my biggest issue with them was the bluetooth really sucked. I bought a little Suzuki Sport to get around town (which it does beautifully) and got the bluetooth kit so I could be cool and talk whilst driving, but the iPhone when not in use reconnects to the bluetooth every 30 seconds and drives me crazy!

Out of the box, like other reviewers, the Samsungs noticeably lighter, and I think when others talk about it feeling cheap, I think that's what they mean, it kind of feels a bit toy like because of if.

The other thing worth mentioning straight off is the layout of the "Home Page" - at first I thought Samsung had it backwards and the way the applications section was, well I wanted that as my Home Page and then defer to other if I wanted (which I never would). At this point it's worth noting that I don't read instruction manuals, so for those that do, consider yourselves a cheat and also know that you've lost what would have otherwise been a magical period in your lives when you discover things like deleting apps in the home page doesn't actually delete them for sure - so it's like carrying apps in reserve. So I went through and killed off all the apps that were put on there by my network carrier, and then went off and removed pretty much most of the other apps in there. From using the iPhone I knew which apps I was always going to use first, and with 7 pages to put apps on, plus the ones behind that, I could sit on my home page a handful that I'd use regularity, and then going back from there, less popular apps that I'd use and so on.

The moving wallpaper on the screen does look impressive, but I thought it took away from function, making it hared to locate apps, to I took a closeup pic of my watch in the dark and set that as my wallpaper - looks very cool, and the apps stand out with that background - and whilst there, something else that I really like when you flick across to the other pages, the background moves across the picture, so you're looking at a different part of the pic on page 7 than you would on page 1. It's a nice touch that I like.

The bluetooth - the thing that killed the iPhone fantasy for me, works beautifully. From Melbourne, I talked to Julian in London, no problemo's, and then later Catherine somewhere in France, again no problemo's, so I'm wrapped with that.

It's probably worth pointing out that no I haven't played with an iPhone 4, mainly because I didn't want to - having to put some stupid plastic thing around it so my calls didn't cut out, and knowing that OS4 (which I have on the 3GS) didn't fix the bluetooth issue, I was out - plus I know they've spec'ed it up, but it's only a progression of a revolution, where Samsung has begun something here.

There are other cool features, but I think that's more to do with Andriod than the phone - but to say the phone seems to be able to handle all the apps Android has - I've already had a couple of video calls to play around with it (I got one for Lisa at the same time), works beautifully, Google's voice search is amazingly accurate, and I like Vlingo, which is voice command for the phone - although I need to check it out, as part of me thinks it uses the 3g network to go off to interpret what was said before completing the task it thinks was required - also I'd like to see whether they're able to develop the obvious next step of secondary voice commands - i.e. when you want to call someone who has multiple contacts in the phone, it stops requiring you to hit the phone, so only removing a couple of keystrokes - I want to use this phone if I have no fingers man!

Again something for Android, but I also want a xxxx xx xxxxxx xxxxxx xxx, xx xxxx xxxx x'x xx xx xxx xx xxxx x xxx'x xxxx xx xx xxxxxxx xxxxxxx xxxxxx, x xxx xxxx xxx xxxxx xxxx xxxx xx xx, xxx xxxx, xxxxx, xxxxx xx xx xxxxxxx xxxxxxxxx xx xxxx xx x xxxxx xxxxx x xxx xxx xxxxxxxxx xx xxxxx xxx xxxx xxxxxx xxxxxxx?? That's an unbelievable idea, that's a billion dollar idea in productivity and OHS measures! Probably worthy of a Nobel Prize for something? Hmm, let me get rid of that so you buggers can't read my ideas - but know, this is an awesome one, and I'm off to find a small developer firm in a very IT cheap country to get it done!!

Look, so far I've had it less than 24 hours, and for part of that time I was sleeping - but my thoughts are so far so good, whilst initially I did feel a wee bit let down, after playing with it, I perked right up, and I think it's a wonderful phone - does it make me feel special? Well, I pity the fool that just got a new job, and along with that they got an iPhone 3GS only a few weeks before this and the iPhone 4 were due out, not realising it, but for the next 2 years they're on a business plan that doesn't allow them to swap, yeah it makes me feel special - sucker!!


Thursday, 22 July 2010


The other night, I was at my parents place, with the wife away where else would I go to get a meal I didn't have to pay for - and your mums cooking is always good news isn't it? And we got to talking about how people may look back in their lives, at the changes in the world, etc...

Working in the bug bad world of IT, there's always a sense of chasing, chasing the next thing, the next product that will improve peoples lives, that hook early adopters and not the lat adapters. In fact one of my favourite books, The Next Fifty years, by a whole bunch of experts within their own fields, express as futurists what they think we'll know, want to know, and generally what life will be like - it's really interesting, but what about how we will feel, what will we think looking back and how will we be perceived.

Ah old people, you can't legally kill and you can't eat them - as a young boy I'd look at my grandfather with his cheap record player turning Al Jolson records, and that along with the TV were the two most advanced pieces of technology in the house, yet I thought to myself it would have been really interesting to see now how he and possibly his father viewed their world when compared to ours - no they don't have what we had, and what they did have were primitive versions of our stuff, but they began life around the start of the 1900's, the beginning of the century that took us from the first electric street lights to putting man on the moon, an escalation in knowledge and technology that they wouldn't have seen coming.
I think about that now. Amazing things like Moores Law - great guess, but to be controversial, he was probably one of a number of academics at the time that had an opinion on the matter and turned out to be the one that was right. In fifty years, and I'm hopefully (or not) still alive and in my early eighties I wonder how will I view the years that I was in my prime from a technological point of view - will I reminisce about the wonder of mans movements forwards, or because I grew up in a time when technology went from the Vic 20 to the iPad within 20 years, the pace was so fast, that I'll have been desensitised by the speed of change that I won't have an opinion on it, or what opinion I have will be faint?

Who knows?

At some stage space travel, even if it's only just outside of the Earths atmosphere is inevitable - hotelling half way to the moon will happen, as a species we're just that arrogant to do it, and what makes me laugh is that 50 years after the first trip happens, the news of the day will cover it, and young beings will sit and laugh at the oldies talking about it, as by then that will be something that's been taken for granted :)

What an incredible bunch of people we are.

Monday, 1 February 2010


I've already spoken about the benefits of using the API's, customer select the functions/features you want to use, consistent approach to the application you are using the messaging for, keeping track of all comms within the same application and so on, but what's this ReST API about?

Well, we've always had a couple of API's, which were then bundled up into different coding languages called SDK's to make it easy for the developer to select the SDK depending on the language they used and then go off and implement the API within a few minutes - as long as everything else had been done.

The problem is that there are a huge number of languages out there, and that sometime meant that the developer did have to recreate the wheel to a certain extent, whereas that's not necessarily so with the ReST API.

For me the ReST API has two key advantages over the old Form POST and SOAP and ActiveX API's - it's a lot more lightweight, meaning that the servers and PC's don't have to process as many lines of code in order to complete the task at hand, which is always a good step, and secondly it support a wider range of coding environments.

Additional advantages beyond that is I think it's a lot simpler to use, and for a lot of new applications ReST seems to be the path they are going down anyway which means going forward when old application get redeveloped and new ones are born, then ReST is a go way to go.

Even beyond that, the benefits of the ReST API allow for a much wider range of functions to be added at will too, without a lot of labour required and for the customer I guess that equates to functions and features coming out a lot quicker than the otherwise would do.

So why is everyone looking at ReST anyway?

Well according to wikipedia, the goals of ReST are;

  • "Scalability of component interactions
  • Generality of interfaces
  • Independent deployment of components
  • Intermediary components to reduce latency, enforce security and encapsulate legacy systems"
So it means that with the ReSTful architecture you can scale the application easily, have a broad range of languages using it, independently knock up different components of the application, and it's quicker, better security and you can still keep your old system either because it still works or it's too expensive to redevelop.

Pretty good reasons huh?

I think so.