Tag Archives: microsoft

e-Book Readers, are they the future?

On Ollie Bray’s blog a comment was made on Ollie’s post about e-Books.

Neil commenting on the blog said:

I don’t think e-book readers will cut it. They will please a few – gadgeteers and the followers of Oprah (or would that be Jonathan Ross over here?) – but I think they will only be a niche product. After all, you can already read e-books on many phones, netbooks and PCs, so why would you want a specialist device?

Which would you rather spend on – a class set of Kindles (at £175 each) or a set of iPods touches (@£149)? No-brainer really. ANd you are never going to get a head to spend that kind of money twice.

I do agree that in terms of functionality that the iPod touch (currently) is superior to the Kindle, but you do need to ask what functionality are you looking for when purchasing a device.

I am going to disagree with  Neil about the e-Book, personally I think they are going to be one of the next big technologies.

Many negative things were said about early mp3 players and notably the iPod. If you go back to 2001 the following comments were made which are not exactly positive about Apple’s music player.

The iPod does cost considerably more than the nearest competitor with a portable hard drive…

…analyst Tim Deal dinged the $399 price as “a little high.”

“I question the company’s ability to sell into a tight consumer market right now at the iPod’s current price.”

“Apple lacks the richness of Sony’s product offering. And introducing new consumer products right now is risky, especially if they cannot be priced attractively,”

Stephen Baker said that the iPod will likely stand out for its large storage capacity but predicted that the device may have trouble digging out a niche in the market.

The iPod has “good features, but this is a pretty competitive category,” Baker said. “The question is whether people want that robust of a feature set with that high of a price.”

Look where the iPod is now!

Let’s take Niel’s comment:

After all, you can already read e-books on many phones, netbooks and PCs, so why would you want a specialist device?

If you rewrite this as

After all, you can already listen to mp3s on many phones, netbooks and PCs, so why would you want a specialist device?

That’s what many people said about the iPod and the early mp3 players.

e-Book readers are supplementary to netbooks, iPhones, iPods and PCs, not replacements.

They also have one big advantage over those devices for e-Books and that is battery life.

I have to charge my iPhone on a daily basis, I charge my e-Book reader once a week.

For me the Kindle and Sony Reader are generation one devices, and as the technology matures and changes I expect to see better and smarter products.

The rumours are that Apple and Microsoft will both release an e-Book Reader type product in the next twelve months. These devices will certainly raise the profile of e-Books and the market for devices to read them.

A new kind of barcode….

So what’s this then?

A new kind of barcode....

Any ideas?

If you’re thinking it’s just a abstract graph of some kind, well you’re not quite correct.

Nor is it my new logo!

Neither is it an abstract representation of the readers of this blog.

Well if you’re thinking it must be some kind of mobile phone barcode then you’re going down the right path.

I mentioned QR codes on this blog ages ago… back in September 2007 as it happens and this is not a QR code, but it works in a similar fashion.

It’s a Microsoft Tag.

Yes Microsoft have developed their own version of mobile phone barcodes, which require their reader and require you to register in order to create them.

It’s all very typical Microsoft.

mstagsplash1

You can download a reader for your phone from gettag.mobi and when I did from my Nokia N73 it recogised my phone and I downloaded a .sis file which installed the application onto my phone.

In order to create a barcode (or should I say tag) you need to register and have a Microsoft Live ID.

You can then create a barcode for an URL or text. Though I did see that if you include an URL in your text, when you read the barcode, the reader takes you straight to the URL and you never see the text. So no chance of including your blog address in some biographical text for example. You can have a thousand characters in your text barcode, but I found I needed less for it to work (about 980).

There are only three options for the barcodes in terms of format, pdf, wmf and xps. You can specify the size of the code in terms of inches (no metric measurements here).

There are no web versions available, and on a superficial level you can understand that, why would you need an online version of a mobile phone barcode, just use the computer to access the site.

It did appear to work faster than my Kaywa reader and goes direct to the website rather than through the advertising supported Kaywa site that happens to me when I use a QR Code.

Overall I am not sure about this, not sure if it will catch on or whether we should stick with QR Codes.

Nah, stick with QR Codes.

Windows in the clouds

Windows in the clouds

Microsoft have launched a preview of their new cloud computing service, Azure.

Windows® Azure is a cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management environment for the Azure Services Platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage Web applications on the Internet through Microsoft® data centers.

On demand computing means that you don’t need to download applications to your computer, you can just use them from any computer.

Some of the key features of Azure include:

  • Build, modify, and distribute applications to the Web with minimal on-premises resources.
  • Perform services (large-volume storage, batch processing, intense or large-volume computations, etc.) off premises.
  • Create, test, debug, and distribute Web services quickly and inexpensively.
  • Reduce costs of building and extending on-premises resources.

Well does this mean that now Microsoft has gone into the clouds, that cloud computing is mainstream?

Microsoft to move into social bookmarking

According to Mashable, Microsoft will be moving into social bookmarking.

According to Microsoft Evangalist John Martin, the company is set to release a product called “Social Bookmarks” this week. The product sounds a whole lot like del.icio.us, and will initially be deployed on MSDN and TechNet, so look for it to be mostly hardcore techie bookmarks for now. Features include bookmarking (presumably via a bookmarklet), tagging, and a web-based account where your bookmarks are stored.

Social bookmarking as seen on sites such as Del.icio.us, Digg and Stumbleupon allow users to collect (or bookmark) their favourite sites online and share those bookmarks with their friends and others.Microsoft to move into social bookmarking

Microsoft is cutting the cost of putting Windows XP on low cost laptops

BBC reports on how Microsoft is making it easier and cheaper for manufacturers to put Windows XP on the current plethora of micro low cost laptops (such as the Asus EeePC) that are currently very popular.

The price cuts will only be available for ultra-portable laptops that meet a strict set of specifications.

The move is widely seen as an attempt by Microsoft to bolster its market share in one of the PC industry sectors showing growth.

Low-powered laptops, such as the Asus Eee PC, are proving hugely popular in developed nations and in projects trying to bridge the digital divide.

I am sure that (depsite the ease of use) the fact that many of these cheap laptops run Linux have put off many a purchaser (as does Mac OS X put off potential purchasers of the Mac) the fact that you will soon be able to have Windows XP on the laptop without a huge increase in the cost of the device will make these low cost laptops even more popular.

Microsoft is cutting the cost of putting Windows XP on low cost laptops

Regardless of whether we think these are good or bad devices, I have certainly seen quite a few now in the college, including one a student was using (with Windows XP on it) and a Three 3G dongle for access to the internet.

I think more and more of our learners will start to buy these. One of the main attractions other that price is the portability, the small size means it is very easy to carry on the bus or in a bag as you move around college. Before if you wanted a small micro laptop, the only real choice was from Sony and these cost a lot, five or six times the current price of the Asus EeePC.

Expect to see more of these devices in your college.