Monthly Archives: October 2010

Which SmartPhone is right for me?

Cellular phones have enjoyed a rapid evolution from grey bricks with displays no better than a calculator to mini PC’s complete with HD multi-touch screens and 5+ megapixel cameras. All at less than half the size they used to be. The term SmartPhone is now an apt description because of what the newer phones are capable of.

The new “standard” for today’s SmartPhone is a pretty tall order when you think about it. They all need to be able to:

-Make phone calls reliably (a difficult feat for some handsets).
-Send and receive e-mail, usually from more than one account at a time.
-Access e-mail attachments such as .doc, .xls, .ppt and .pdf.
-Have access to a calendar for meetings and appointments.
-Maintain a full list of your contacts.
-Browse the internet.
-Play music and video.
-Take high resolution pictures.

How we use these new SmartPhones really depends on what your needs are. To use myself as an example, I use my phone (iPhone 3GS) for nearly everything: It’s my phone, camera, GPS navigator, MP3 player, portable TV, e-reader and handheld gaming system. Others use them simply to make calls and reply to the odd text message or e-mail. It all depends on what you’d like to do with it.

Phone applications, or “Apps”, allow you to get even more out of your phone. Apps are pieces of software that are installed on your phone in the same way that you install programs on your PC. The four major players out there all have mobile application stores to distribute these Apps to the people using their devices. Each device runs a proprietary operating system so the software that is installed on them is different (in PC terms, think of the difference between Microsoft Windows and the Mac OS).

These are the operating systems that run on the majority of SmartPhones out there:
Apple iOS
Blackberry OS
Google Android
Windows Mobile (also known as Windows Phone 7).

Each of these operating systems has their strengths and weaknesses. I’ll try to break them down in very general terms according to the types of users they’re geared towards. Bear in mind that all of the operating systems can perform the standard tasks outlined above and there isn’t necessarily a wrong choice. It all still comes down to personal preference.

I’ll start with the iPhone. I find that they are geared to the multi –taskers, those that want to consolidate many devices into one. Once again using my example from above, I was tired of carrying around my iPod, Garmin GPS, HTC Cell Phone and PSP everywhere I went. My iPhone now does pretty much everything that those devices did in one small package. Now it doesn’t do all of that for free, you do need to purchase additional applications such as games and other utilities from the App store. I use it for work, tracking personal expenses / routines and it’s also a good time killer while you’re waiting for an oil change.

Blackberries are the go-to tool for business users. They are streamlined for the e-mail / scheduling / document viewing involved in day to day life at the office. If you want a good work tool and don’t want to be bothered by extra complexity or thousands of games then a Blackberry is probably what you want. That isn’t to say you can’t install games or GPS navigation software on a Blackberry. They have an application store the same as the iPhones, although fewer titles are available.

Google Android and Windows Mobile run on pretty much any other phone that isn’t an iPhone or a Blackberry. The application stores for these two operating systems are slightly less developed than the iPhone and Blackberry counterparts. If iPhones were for play and Blackberries for business I’d put the Google and Microsoft renditions in the middle between the two. There’s still a lot of room for both of them to grow so I anticipate seeing them get very competitive in the near future.

If I had to recommend a phone to someone looking to pick up something new:

-The iPhone 4 is a good choice if you want to do anything and everything with the phone. The iTunes App store really allows this handset to shine.

-The Blackberry Torch is great if you want a streamlined business tool that can still do the social media / gaming / utility thing on the side.

Those are probably the two hottest phones out there at the moment and I’m sure it would be hard to be disappointed by either of them.

-Al Lefebvre


Social Media – The Hard Part is Staying Current

Well, this blog entry is a bit of a confession, and a warning for organizations embarking on social media projects.

 The confession (and apology) is for our lack of communication on the blog we PROMISED to keep active.  Summer came, holidays came, a couple of key customer projects came, the golf course called, …., and we quickly fell out of the habit.  When we looked last week and saw we hadn’t blogged for 3+ months, it was a real wake-up call.  So, our apologies, and our recommitment to stay active.

 The warning part of this entry is to provide a heads up to the ongoing challenge for any organization committing to engage in leveraging social media techniques for delivering its message.  Regardless of whether you’re intending to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or to write a blog as we are, the hard part isn’t getting started, it’s staying at it. 

 I’ll write more about the many challenges that come with social media in my upcoming blog entries (honest, I promise), but for purposes of this entry the main point is that it takes a substantial and very sustained effort to make it work.  That is, to stay relevant to your readers you have to do it constantly and predictably.  This doesn’t mean writing when you have nothing to say; rather it means making sure you make it be a priority, and that an appropriate amount of time is given to it on a regular basis.

 Those who “get good” at social media, like the tweeters who tweet constantly all day long, understand this need for a predictable cadence to their writing.  For most of us, who are not used to this style of “write it, and the readers will come” writing, it takes time and effort.  Also, as we have discovered, it takes a change in process to support it.  That is, we are now developing an internal process to ensure our blog stays more current for our readers, and making it more of a corporate policy rather than a “hey, we should do this” approach.

 So, we are back.  And with our lesson learned, and our commitment renewed. 


We’re Growing Again – and Increasing our SharePoint capabilities

I would like to introduce Dave Warren, the latest member to join our SharePoint development team! Dave comes from a company where SharePoint was heavily used to manage documents and project resources. His addition to our team strengthens our development capabilities and increases our ability to quickly and efficiently turnaround project deliverables.
Welcome to the team Dave!