Recently in Computing Category

Love your smartphone? Huawei thinks you could love it more

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At Huawei's most recent innovation day in Milan, there was a lot of talk about innovation in Europe, research and development centres, and the highly anticipated 5G. 

Quite clearly very passionate about the technology, chief Huawei device designer Joonsuh Kim told me that the main aim for him was to make people fall in love with Huawei devices. Kim hopes to provide consumers with something other than just technology.

He said: "Literally we are touching the consumer's heart. That means you can feel that you are emotionally engaged with a Huawei device."

To Kim, the device is all about user preference, and he believes that once consumers start adapting to their devices, they will want to use them for everything. 

He states that even though the Huawei brand may not be big yet, it's starting to get through to consumers. Its aim it to deliver users with a "pleasant surprise" through usability, comfort, and a perfect combination of hardware and software.

When building the concept for a phone, Kim considers several user scenarios to make sure there is always a device that caters to what consumers want - including the ability to have multiple SIMs, a more professional device which is lighter for increased portability, low-cost devices, or a personal-only device.  

The design team make sure that the hardware appeals to the user they are targeting, providing particular features to appeal to different types of audience such as business professionals, young users and entry-level users. 

Kim also believes that using Huawei's knowledge and connectivity in networking, it can be a leader in 5G when the time comes. 

During a presentation on device innovation, Kim used Angelina Jolie as an example of a perfect human being (following up by commenting that although she might have been considered the most attractive woman in the world, that was several years ago... ouch) and that aesthetics are very important when targeting the appropriate market. 

It just goes to show that even the smallest tweaks in design can make the biggest difference to consumer behaviour.

INFOGRAPHIC: The real cost of business downtime

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Many a business has suffered the wrath of IT downtime, and in 2013, networking firm Enterasys claimed that businesses grew when investment had been made in important business backbones, as sufficient preparations are in place should things start to go downhill.

This infographic from TSG shows the effect downtime can have on small to medium sized enterprises, including what can cause outages, the knock-on effect that outages can have, and a formula that can be used to calculate how much a downtime can cost an organisation. 

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INFOGRAPHIC: The importance of communication

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Valentine's Day is upon us, and as we text, email, PM, snapchat, IM and tweet our loved ones a special message, we realise the importance of communication in this technology-centric age. Many a relationship has failed due to lack of communication, and cloud-based communications provider j2 Global has made this special infographic to display how better means of communication could have saved these doomed movie relationships:

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Happy Valentine's Day!

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Huddle for Office - A new integrated experience

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It has been a busy year for Huddle, with its launch of the Huddle Note app for collaborative file sharing and its partnership with Tibbr for file sharing in the cloud.

Now, Huddle has announced that it is integrating with Microsoft Office to allow employees to collaborate on documents in the Huddle secure cloud via Microsoft Office applications.

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Users will be able to save their work directly into their Huddle accounts through Microsoft Office, and Office documents such as Powerpoints, Word documents and Excel files will have the Huddle comments stream alongside it to allow users to interact and collaborate on work.

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Huddle believes the next step for business is to move into the cloud, and provides content collaboration platforms for enterprises and governments. http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240212784/Barnardos-uses-Huddle-Note-for-collaboration-and-communication

Huddle for Office integration will allow users to save documents directly to the Huddle cloud, comment on files directly from Office applications, view recent files instantly and track changes, comments and updates via Huddle's full audit trail.

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Alastair Mitchell, Huddle CEO, said: "Skipping between the applications on your desktop and cloud service to share information and discuss files with people is time-consuming and disrupts your workflow. With Huddle for Office, you can continue working in the desktop tools you're used to, but all of your feedback, files and updates are stored and shared in Huddle's secure cloud.

Huddle's Office integration is available now. 

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Stephen Fry explains the evolution of technology

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Databarracks has teamed up with Cognitive Media to produce this neat little animation describing the journey of mankind through the ages of technology. And who better to narrate such a video than gadget-man Stephen Fry.


From the abacus to neural networks, Fry talks us through the business computing revolution, explaining how utility based computing has evolved into cloud computing, increasing the availability of powerful technology to even the smallest business.

Fry rounds up by explaining the key components that Databarracks provides for business success: communication, collaboration, customer relations, logistics, human resources, finance and enterprise resource software - described as the "lightbulbs of modern computing."

It's just a bit of fun, so if you have five minutes let Fry talk you through the revolution of business computing that is cloud technology. 

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British Airways deploys Panasonic Toughpads to help turnaround time for flights

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I was invited to take a flight to the Isle of Man with BA Cityflyer to see a demonstration of the Panasonic Toughpad, which is used for flights from London City Airport to keep tabs on flight data.

As our plane landed, a transfer of several paper documents occurred - one of the things this new innovation is working to reduce.

The Toughpad is essentially a more practical upgrade from the previous Panasonic Toughbook, and is used in combination with Electronic Technical Log (ETL) software from NVable to record and sign off flight and maintenance information.

The airline wanted something durable and practical. There can be no room for error of any kind during flights, especially hardware failure. The Toughpad meets these criteria, as not a single Toughbook or Toughpad device has been returned for repair in the years that BA has been using them. It also has better battery life and is 50% lighter than the Toughbook.

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Dave Cooper, line maintenance manager for BA CityFlyer, explained that there are mandatory documents that must be signed for every flight so that all of the people involved in the flight process know how many times an aircraft has flown and when checks need to occur.

The Toughpad and NVable ETL software allow this information to be entered via the tablet and immediately transmitted to the BA Cityflyer maintenance system so that engineers and flight crew can access the information. The quick availability of data has contributed to reduced turnaround times for flights, and also cuts down on mistakes made when information is transcribed from paper into digital systems.

When showing me the system, he pointed out the maintenance list for the plane we were on. Some of the items on the list had a bright yellow exclamation mark next to them - not the most comforting sight to see when in the air. He assured me that it just meant the plane would need examinations carried out later that day, information that had already been transmitted to the maintenance system.

Once we were safely back at City Airport, I asked the pilot Klaus Egge how the Toughpad had improved the data recording process. He admitted that the Toughpad method reduced human error, and that using the Toughpad in the cockpit is much more convenient than paper or the previous Toughbook.

He said that automatic functions, such as warning when inspections are due, are a great benefit of the new system. "In the past we'll have to check that manually by paper," he said. "It will be more accurate which is probably more important, the most beneficial part is that it will take away mistakes."

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Huddle partners with Tibbr to provide micro blogging for the enterprise

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Huddle and Tibbr have announced a strategic partnership to connect customers with each company's innovative cloud and social solutions.

This partnership will allow Huddle users to use Tibbr's social platform to connect, share and manage their content in the cloud, from within the Huddle environment. Tibbr customers will be able to attach Huddle files to their updates for information and feedback, while remaining in the Huddle cloud.

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Companies now realise they need apps - files for content and an interface which is connected to major file systems. "Users are demanding a seamless experience," said Alastair Mitchell, CEO, Huddle, and they are looking towards cloud solutions such as Huddle, Box and Google Drive. 

Customers are also looking for social platforms to compliment their cloud offerings.

Mitchell said existing users of Huddle were asking the company to recommend a social platform, and Huddle was unofficially recommending Tibbr.

Now, new and existing customers of Huddle and Tibbr will be recommended the other platform and be given a free trial.

Mitchell said that before the partnership had even launched, Huddle managed to secure a major deal with a US federal agency, which has now moved entirely into the cloud.

"These are multimillion pound deals," he said. 

He said that companies are saying 'we're moving people into the cloud' but not completely committing, "Now they're moving ten thousand people into the cloud."

Tibbr had previously had a partnership with Box, and has now chosen to partner with Huddle for content collaboration. "This repositions our position in the market," said Mitchell. "And it shows are we are delivering solutions to larger and larger organisations."

Tibbr was launched by TIBCO the enterprise software company in 2011 as a social media system for the workplace which potentially allows a company to reduce and remove email. 

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MessagEase - the alternative touch keyboard

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We started off texting using a numerical keypad on our Nokia 3310s. Slowly and painfully keying out "How r u m8?" by repeatedly sequencing through a group of letters sharing a button with a number on your handset. 

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Next came predictive text, where our phones acted clever and would try to guess what you were typing through single key presses. But this didn't always go to plan. 

One of the decent things BlackBerry did was popularise the QWERTY keyboard, so we all went back to typing out full words on our smartphones, fingers frantically moving across the screens.

Now, there's MessagEase, a new text input technology designed particularly for smartwatches, smartphones, wearables, tablets, and smart TVs. The keyboard is designed for two finger usage - capitalising on new technology's small retail estate. 

The video below shows how the nine large keys can be used with only two fingers. It looks rather baffling - but so did predictive text messaging when it first came out.

Ready as an app for iOS, Android and Windows 8 tablets, the technology could revolutionise typing if it can get on the smartwatch bandwagon - a screen which is particularly smaller than what we are all used to. 
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REVIEW: The i-stay laptop organiser bag

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I've had an issue with laptop bags for quite some time. Either they're too bulky, heavy, not in anyway attractive, or look so much like a corporate laptop bag they should have been embroidered with "STEAL ME NOW" on the front in glitzy letters.

However, my main niggle with laptop bags is the way they weigh down on one shoulder and inevitably end up falling off your blazer-clad shoulder and awkwardly landing in the crook of your elbow mid commute.

What I hate most about travelling to America for work is the huge, heavy laptop bag that weighs on my shoulder in the hour-long queue for customs State-side. Especially in this scenario, it's never just your laptop and its charger, you have a multiude of travel items, as well as business paraphernalia to get you through the trip. I think it is the laptop bag, rather than the nine hour flight that makes me want to hit the hotel mini bar as soon as I've collapsed on my king size bed.

While i-stay doesn't magically reduce your ancient 6kg laptop into a feather light ultrabook, it does distribute the weight across the whole of your shoulder.

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In fact the College of Chiropractors has actually commended the i-stay for its potential to help users avoid musculoskeletal discomfort and to minimise the aches and pains associated with carrying a heavy shoulder bag.

The detatchable strap has two adjustment buckles which allows the special patented i-stay non-slip stap to stay in the centre and comfortably on your shoulder. The strap can be adjusted to a very generous amount, allowing it to easily slip over your head and across your shoulders which distributed the weight even better. However, a larger person might find this option a little snug.

I've been using the messenger bag for a few weeks now and I've found it incredibly useful - and not once has it slipped off my shoulder as I run for the tube.

Feather light on its own, the laptop organiser bag has five zipped compartments. The main one in the middle has a specific secure foam area for your device, while the other compartments allow you to store A4 notepads; magazines; tablets; and smaller items in the front two zipped areas.

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The bag also has two handles which are comfortable to hold, even for longer periods of time. I found myself swiftly picking up the bag by these handles while commuting on the tube, and using the longer strap while out in the open air.

It's black. It's not particularly attractive, but yours will stand out next to the other array of bags out there with its red target-looking logo.

The company also sells a traditional laptop bag, and a rucksack version, as well as 10-inch bags for notebooks or tablets, and a messenger bag.

The laptop organiser bag from the review is £49.99, but the non-slip straps can also be bought individually for £12.99 making a healthy spine affordable.

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Top five BYOD problems and app solutions

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Since the advancement of mobile technology, an office environment has become less and less important in business. Everyone would rather use their mobile or iPad to do their work and the need for corporate issue devices has become less important.
 
But Bring Your Own Device schemes aren't without their problems; employees often overwork or compromise the security of office data. So here's a list of common B.Y.O.D issues, and apps that can help to fix them. 
 
1.      Mobile device management and data protection

Security is the top priority for firms when considering external devices to be used for company business. If mobile device management is not handled properly, this can lead to stresses such as restricting the apps that employees can use on their own phones, which could lead to discontent.
 
This can be resolved by an app that acts as a virtual machine to allow the employee to connect to the office network within a secure environment, such as AppSense's MobileNow or the VMWare Mobile Secure Desktop. This allows the corporations a level of control over security and the device being used and the employee can still use their device as normal; safe in the knowledge that they can do whatever they want with it.

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2.      Device and data loss

Losing your device can be stressful enough without the added possibility of comprising any company data. That's why it is always handy to have an app that will help you find your lost device, such as Find My iPhone. There is also a risk of losing data. Corporations have many safe-holds in place to ensure that work is easily recovered if it is lost; something that many home-users don't consider. If you don't have a device that allows automatic cloud backup then looking into a way to keep data safe is highly advised, even if that is in the form of something as simple as SkyDrive.
 
3.      Over or under working

Bring Your Own device schemes work well for companies, as they allow employees to utilise their time and ensure that they are working whenever possible. But this can cause issues when the employee feels that they are putting more than their fair share of time, especially as the ability to work anywhere often means time spent at home is also spent working.
 
Similarly, when using your own device at work instead of a company-issued machine, there's the temptation to check personal e-mails and get sidetracked by whatever you might use your device for at home. An app such as HoursTracker can easily resolve this, as you can log the hours that you have been working, and what you have been working on, so that you can find out exactly how much time you spend working, and how often it exceeds the amount of time spent in the office.  

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4.      Lack of structure

Merging work life and home life can make it difficult to keep track of projects and tasks due to the lack of re-enforced work structure. As they say "Tidy desk, tidy mind" so understandably if half of your work is done away from the desk, it wouldn't be unusual to find it hard to organise your workload. Applications that already exist on most phones can help with this, such as a calendar. For a more project-oriented app, there's the LiquidPlanner, which allows projects to be planned, and scheduled amongst users, and notes and documents to be shared, to ensure that both employees and corporations are maximising their productivity.
 
5.      Lack of monitoring

Companies will want to have as much control over devices as possible, especially as data exchanged via devices brought from home could lead to a security risk if misused. But this can be an issue with employee owned devices, as they will want to have the freedom of using their device without interference from the company that they work for.

Innovations such as the Samsung Knox and the Blackberry Balance could be the future of B.Y.O.D technology, allowing one device to act as two separate devices, using an app that provides a complete work space which is separate from any personal use of the device, providing the perfect work and home balance. 

Perhaps this is a glance into the future of business?
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