Apple stack: A week of working with iOS and OS X

Apple stack: iPhone 5S, MacBook, Air iPad Air

Apple kit: iPhone 5S, MacBook Air, iPad Air

For the next seven days I’m going to work only with Apple devices, software and services. Along the way I’ll write regular updates on my progress.

Working exclusively with the Apple technology stack should be no big deal, thousands of people who do the same. It’ll be interesting to see just how easy it is to make a clean break with Microsoft and Google.

Next week I’ll repeat the exercise staying entirely in the Microsoft world. I may try Google later, that’s dependent on getting my hands on enough suitable hardware, including a Chromebook.

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How cloud computing ruins your sleep

cropped-whatisitwellingtonDo you ever wake up early and instead of rolling over for a longer sleep glance at your phone and start reading work-releated emails?

You’re not alone. As consultant Ian Apperley explained at the New Zealand Cloud Computing Summit, we’re now entering a new way of working where there no longer seem to be hard and fast boundaries between your job and your social life. It’s something he describes as fractilised working and we’re living that way thanks to cloud computing.

Apperley says fractilised working is a move away from a nine-to-five world governed by command and control management style with censored internet and fixed location. All of that belonged to the desktop computer  era.

Instead, he says today’s workers are free to move. We are now always connected, using smartphones,  tablets or other devices to stay in touch with customers and work colleagues from anywhere, at anytime.

He says social media plays an important role in fractilised working, although voice and email are still in there. And workers are now using smartphones to augment their brains to get real-time information.

There are all kinds of productivity advantages and lower costs for companies, meanwhile people are happier and more able to work in ways that suit them.

It’s not all positive. Apperley warns while younger people have grown up as this way of working emerged, older people struggle with some aspects of it. And, he says, there’s potential for disaster when fractilised working is blended with old-style command and control management.

IBM Australia jobs head to NZ?

IBMThe Sydney Morning Herald reports IBM Australia could cut as many as 1500 staff. Many of the jobs will go offshore to Asia and New Zealand.

IBM refuses to confirm or deny the report.

At first sight this could be a good thing. After all we get good, well-paid jobs with a multinational employer. If you want a job with IBM, I hope you’re lucky.

It isn’t all positive.

First, Australia and New Zealand are effectively a single market for tech jobs. Many senior IBM people in the two countries have responsibilities that stretch from Invercargill to Darwin or further. With some of those jobs going to Asia the total pool of work for Australians and New Zealanders will be smaller.

Second, New Zealanders will be among the 1500 getting laid off in Australia. Some may be your friends or relatives.

Third, there’s a worrying implication in the SMH story. IBRS analyst Alan Hansell says he:

wouldn’t be surprised if New Zealand ended up benefiting the most from the cuts. This was because of the country’s cheaper real estate, lower mandatory superannuation for employees and lower labour rates.

Lower superannuation and lower labour rates are not the kind of competitive advantages most countries aspire to.

Up to 1500 Staff to Go in Offshoring Redundancy Drive, Sources Say.

Flexible IT helps companies win talent war

Connected WorkplaceWhat can companies do to make workers happy and attract the best talent?

According to a report from Deloitte Access Economics in Australia, it’s as simple as having flexible technology policies.

That means letting staff work from home some of the time, allowing them to bring their own devices to the office and to use social media. They also like collaborative tools. Get these things right, says Deloitte, and there’s much less chance your best employees will head off in search of greener pastures.

Deloitte uses financial numbers to show flexible technology policies add up to huge savings, but the real benefit is in being able to keep the most productive workers.

The Connected Workplace – War for talent in the digital economy

CamCard rocks on Lumia 920

Business cards

Right you lot, time to get organised

For years I’ve searched for a better way to scan and store business card information. Apart from one minor niggle CamCard running on the Lumia 920 delivers the goods.

Getting card information into the phone is a snap, literally. Simply take a photo of the card, the app reads the information and makes smart guesses about which fields to send the data to in the phone’s address book.

Before you tell me there is nothing special about that, three things mean this works better on the Nokia Lumia 920 running Windows Phone 8 than I have previously seen:

  • The camera takes extraordinary sharp pictures of business cards even in poor light conditions. I’ve tried similar apps on my iPad 2, an iPhone 4 and an HTC One X Android smartphone. None of them managed to take such clear images of cards. This alone, is why the app rocks on the Lumia 920. 
  • There’s plenty of grunt in the Lumia 920 to handle optical character recognition. Results take seconds, not minutes. Earlier card reader apps I tried on iPhone 4 and the HTC One X would time out before delivering results. If necessary, you can edit fields and add notes manually.
  • CamCard integrates beautifully with Microsoft’s People app – that comes standard on Windows Phone 8. I’ve seen nice integration on Apple devices, but frankly that process isn’t so smooth on Android.

I’ve used the CamCard trial version for around a month before paying for the app. The purchase told me it was $6, I can’t tell you if that’s US or NZ yet because the transaction hasn’t gone through my bank account yet. I noticed a few days delay with earlier purchases from the Windows Phone App Store.  

One problem I noticed with CamCard, the app crashes occasionally. It’s not a disruptive crash, but it undermines confidence.

Replaces earlier business card scanner
CamCard replaces a desktop card scanner I used until four or five years ago. It had to go when I moved to Windows 7 and the old, old software would no longer run on my PC.

For a while I used a standard desktop scanner, but the card reading software was so clumsy manual data entry was easier. LinkedIn’s CardMunch does a decent job on iOS and Android devices, but doesn’t integrate as well and you have to wait while scans are sent to real humans for interpretation.

I also tried the $4 ScanBizCards which worked fine, but not as smoothly as CamCard. I was also put off by the $10 a year charge to back-up cards in the cloud – even though I don’t need that feature.