A Quick Update

I have been unable to post the last couple of weeks as I have been tied up with a bunch of stuff for work (don’t you hate it when work gets in the way of blogging?). Anyway, I have a couple of posts which I have been working on which I hope to post this weekend – one is a followup to my previous post New Product Ideas – How hard can it be?, and will talk about some thoughts I have on actually generating and selecting new product ideas. The other is just some ramblings I have on Bubble 2.0 – questioning whether we (the tech world) and the whole “Web 2.0” community are blowing another bubble, complete with silly valuations, ridiculous buyouts, and not much real business sense. I have not finished writing it yet, so I do not know what my conclusion will be – you will find out when I do (or the other way around).

Things that should just work – my smart phone

Ok – so I got a new toy this week: a Palm Treo 700wx smart phone. I have never been a really big fan of the whole smart phone/blackberry kind of thing, mostly because I am rarely away from a computer long enough to need another eMail device. But, the company was upgrading our cell phones, and since I do not really use a phone much (I think I get about 4 calls/year), I decided to go for something that could do something other than talk. I also figured it would give me a chance to do some Windows Mobile development experiments. I have had the device for 3 days now, and I really like the form factor/engineering of it. Unfortunately, I have not had a chance to do much else with it, other than look at it.

Our provider has not yet figured out how to hook it in to either their voice or data network (even though they supplied the phone).

So, while I was waiting for that to work, I decided to play with it from the local side, by hooking it up to my PC. That is when I hit another problem. The install kit for the phone does not recognize Windows Vista (which I am running). After a bit of digging, I realized that I do not need to install the ActiveSync software, as Vista has the Windows Mobile Device Center. So, I download that, get it installed, and plug my phone into the USB port. Windows recognizes the new device on the port and proceeds to install the drivers. All seems happy. I launch the Mobile Device Center. Unfortunately, my phone does not show up as connected. I spent a significant amount of time playing with it yesterday – working through various troubleshooting guides I have found. Still no luck.

This should not be this hard. To me, this is in the category of “things that should just work” – especially since both devices are running versions of Windows. Maybe I expect too much.

I will repeat myself on this…

This should just work!

PS – anybody who has made this work, please leave me a comment with any suggestions you might have!

 PPS – why are data plans so insanely expensive in Canada, compared to the US? It cannot just be market size – is it just because they can get away with it?

LE1700 – New Tablet from Motion Computing

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I see Motion computing has release a new Tablet PC – the LE1700. Looks pretty nice, though not too much different than the LE1600 on the outside. Then again, I love my LE1600, so I am not sure what I would change about it. Obviously, the new Core 2 Duo processor, and support for up to 4 gb of RAM are both nice enhancements.

I would still like to see some tablet vendor, somewhere, do something innovative witht he power connector. Just having it stick out the side does not seem to work. Anytime you are using the tablet in tablet mode, so much torque is put on the connector that in time, it cannot help but get loose. A solution to this cannot be that hard. I mean, how about simply recessing the socket, so that the plug does not stick out. Or, put a clip for the wire to shield the plug from some of the torque. This is still my one main reliability complaint about slate tablets.

Still looking forward to getting an LE1700 though J.

Research Expo for the University of New Brunswick Faculty of Computer Science

This week I attended the Research Expo for the UNB Faculty of Computer Science. This is the 4th year they have held this event, and I have attended every year. I enjoy the opportunity to see what research is being done, talk to the researchers, faculty and students, and hopefully explore opportunities for collaboration between the Faculty and industry in New Brunswick. The format for the event has remained pretty much unchanged from previous years, with undergraduate and graduate students presenting posters of ongoing research, and faculty members presenting short (~10 minute) talks on their activities. One variation this year was the invitation of industry representatives to speak alongside the faculty presenters. The idea is to encourage collaboration between industry and the university by giving the university better visibility into the research activities in industry, and into the issue which industry is trying to address. I was happy to be invited to be one of the industry speakers.

All of the speakers, and especially the students presenting posters, deserve a great deal of credit for taking the time to participate in this event. While all of the research activities are interesting and worthwhile, a couple jumped out at me, either because I was previously unaware of the work, or just because it is cool J.

The first I would like to point out is a presentation by Dr. Dawn MacIsaac regarding work at UNB’s Institute of Biomedical Engineering. I was not aware of the work they were doing in the area of using artificial intelligence to control powered prosthetics. I admit I know very little about this, but I found their work impressive, and would encourage people to check out their site.

Among the industry presenters, I was intrigued by Dale Ritchie’s talk regarding his new business, Pitch Mobile, developing audio based learning games for mobile devices. I look forward to seeing how this progresses – it is cool stuff.

Among the poster sessions, I think I was most impressed by Microphone Efficacy for Facilitation of Mobile Speech-based Data Entry by Scott Durling, Jo Lumsden and Irina Kondratova. This is an area of personal interest for me, and I spent quite a bit of time talking to Scott about their work. I was impressed.

Finally, there was an announcement of a new UNB Faculty of Computer Science SOA Lab, supported by Sun Microsystems.

Brad Nickerson and many others deserve a lot of credit for continuing to put this event on – I think it is really worthwhile. I look forward to next year’s event!