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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Future Shop Sucks 3

Somehow i was sent back to line to start all over

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© 2011 Future Shop. All rights reserved. For personal, noncommercial use only.

Future Shop Sucks 2

Its a coffee maker

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Please do NOT close this window, or else you’ll lose your place in line.

This queue is being used to improve your shopping experience as our checkout is at capacity at the moment. Once you're through the queue you'll automatically move to the first step of the checkout process. We appreciate your patience.

Sale items are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and the inventory availability will be updated in your shopping cart.

© 2011 Future Shop. All rights reserved. For personal, noncommercial use only.

Wow u guys need help

Futureshop Sucks on online ordering

Trying to buy a coffee maker and 1 hour later still wAiting

After all your upgrades the online experience is still a nightmare


You’re almost there!

Queue StatusStart

Please do NOT close this window, or else you’ll lose your place in line.

This queue is being used to improve your shopping experience as our checkout is at capacity at the moment. Once you're through the queue you'll automatically move to the first step of the checkout process. We appreciate your patience.

Sale items are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and the inventory availability will be updated in your shopping cart.

© 2011 Future Shop. All rights reserved. For personal, noncommercial use only.


Come on guys get on board with Amazon Cloud computing

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Otter Box Reflex iPad Case Review

I have been using Otter Box products for quite some time but have only used their traditional Otter Box 1000 boxes to protect photographic, electronic and radio equipment.

Having many other types of devices I searched for products that would protect my iPad or iPhone and took a spin over to, and bingo they had tons of stuff of interest to me.

Since I use my iPad a lot for business, photography or Ham radio uses, I find myself I need to protect my expensive iPad from harm.

I have been using the Otter Box Reflex case and so far its been a real life saver or should I say money saver.

The rear case slips on very easily and has some slight padding but what makes it unique is that it uses air cushioning effects to protect the device. I dropped the unit and it landed on its corner and the iPad was not damaged in any way. Otter Box designers call these Reflex Zones. Trust me they work.

The rear slips off easily so I can slide it into my Xtreme Mac charging stand or If I am using a different case if I am doing something else like maybe needing waterproof case.

Also included is a easy snap on and snap off screen protector shield that also doubles as a stand. I can easily take the shield off and use it as a stand watching movies on the airplane doing business travel. The angle is perfect even when the rude passenger in front of me reclines their seat back as soon as the plane takes off.

As usual the Otter Box products have legendary build quality

I loved the Reflex case for the iPad so much I got one for my wifes iPhone. Addition: i almost forgot but the creative design engineers also found a way to enhance the sound quality of the speaker. They have molded a section behind the speaker with a channel that improves the sound with a horn effect if you will.

Secure your iPad with Otter Box "The Latch"

I have been using Otter Box products for quite some time but have only used their traditional Otter Box 1000 boxes to protect photographic, electronic and radio equipment.

Having many other types of devices I searched for products that would protect my iPad or iPhone and took a spin over to, and bingo they had tons of stuff of interest to me.

Since I use my iPad a lot for business, photography or Ham radio uses, I find myself I need to secure my expensive tablet in ways maybe others may not.

The Latch is a multipurpose accessory that does so many things and can be used with the various Otter Box cases like the Defender, the Commuter or the Reflex.

The latch comes with a hand strap, a lanyard, a shoulder strap, a head rest attachment, leg strap and an angled stand. It all fits into a small carry case. It also includes some carabiners for attachment to the unit.

This versatile accessory does so many things .

Below are examples in how I use it is as follows:

The hand strap allows me to securely hold the unit.

The lanyard allows me to hang my iPad off my neck and have the unit in front of me.

The Shoulder strap allows me to carry my unit off my shoulder.

The head rest allows unit to be attached to a car headrest so that videos can be watched at eye level quite easily. This is a clever accessory. I even used this on an airplane to watch iTunes rentals.

The leg strap allows you to secure the iPad to your leg. I haven’t really used this.

The angled stand is also handy to use the iPad on a table and the angle allows the glare off lights to be reduced and easier to view.

There is a 4 point screen cover that is the core unit that all straps and cords attach to.

This has been an excellent accessory to have in my kit bag and has been very useful.

Check out the website for more information and videos of its use

List Price is $50

BTW, My employer has an excellent application that allows the iPad to be voice enabled using wifi and can be used as a business grade IP telephone.I am seeing industrial and medical users adopting the iPad in these environments and the Otter Box Latch is perfect for these uses. Highly Recommended

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bankrupting of Avaya Telecom Implosion The bankrupting of Avaya from the inside out

This is a very interesting article with some financial analysis training as a bonus

Written by JMHawkes a consultant at SonicMG

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A BIG BIG Day at Amazon Today: New Kindles and the New Fire tablet

Amazon today showed off three new versions of its e-ink digital book reader Kindle.

The company unveiled the Kindle Touch for $99. It also showed off a 3G version, which will sell for $149. A cheaper and smaller non-touch control Kindle will sell for $79.

The lower price points represent an aggressive push by Amazon to further its lead in the e-reader market as other entrants such as Barnes & Noble's Nook pose a growing threat.

The Kindle Touch is thinner, smaller and lighter. It features no physical controls, allowing the user to use their left hand to navigate through a digital book.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos touted the new price points, saying Amazon is "making premium products at non-premium prices." Inc. on Wednesday unveiled the Kindle Fire tablet, the latest--and possibly biggest--challenger to Apple Inc.'s dominant iPad.

Enlarge Image
Amazon/Bloomberg News

Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet

The Fire tablet has a 7-inch screen and can access Amazon's app store, streaming movies and TV shows. The device will cost $199 and will be available Nov. 15, with pre-orders starting Wednesday.

By comparison, the lowest price for a new iPad is $499. The Kindle doesn't offer a cellular connection, working only with wi-fi. It also doesn't have a camera or microphone.

"We asked ourselves, 'Is there some way we can bring all of these things together [web, movies, apps, books and games] into a remarkable product offering customers would love?'" Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said at the company's launch event in New York City. "Yes, the answer is Amazon Kindle Fire."

Bezos noted that all the content on the Fire will be backed up remotely on Amazon's servers at no cost to the consumer.

"This is unbelievable value," Bezos said. "I really want to stress this point: These are premium products at nonpremium prices."

8 Tips for a Successful Conference Call

Conference Calls are the norm in business today so it’s very important to ensure that they are successful. I was on a 40 person conference call once and it was a big joke. I am sure no one was paying any attention because at the end the call there was no call to action on a RFP response for a $10M deal. Guess what? The outcome was a disaster but then that’s how it works in the world of Telco.

1) Set the time well in advance of the call. We’re all busy, our schedule’s are full. Set the time of your conference call far enough in advance to allow your audience to fit it in to their existing schedule.

2) Help them remember with your reminders. Help your audience remember by reminding them several times prior to the time of the call. We recommend reminders one-week, one-day and one-hour before the time of the call.

3) Use Clear and Thorough Instructions. With each reminder, use clear and thorough instructions to join the call. That includes the conference dial-in number, the conference codes, what to do with each, when to do it, and what they will experience at each step.
Oh, and the time of the call, in multiple time-zones is important, too!

4) Know the features on your conference call and how to use them. There are many easy-to-use features that serve to enhance your reputation by creating a productive conference call for your attendees. Make sure you know how to use them prior to the call. Mute parties if needed and ensure the idiots who go on Hold understand when they do so we get to hear music.

5) Set an Agenda. The best way to make the best use of everyone’s time on the conference call is to send a prepared agenda prior to the start of the conference call. That helps everyone prepare in advance their expectations and possible participation.

6) Start on time. Nothing communicates disrespect like repeatedly failing to start a meeting on time. Nothing loses enthusiasm and participation like the failure to start a meeting on time. Set the right tone, right from the beginning with starting on time.

7) End on time. You had a great conference call. The presentation was flawless. The participation was enthusiastic. Now end the call on time. That helps insure the subsequent word-of-mouth for your call and YOU is positive.

8) Call to Action. Is there one? if so make sure that responsibilities and tasks are assigned with a plan for follow up.

Bonus Tip: Make sure that callers are not on cellphones or using Skype as lousy connections start to make the call difficult if parties cannot be heard, background noise, or poor quality IP connections.

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Day in the Life of an Employee using the ShoreTel Communicator Unified Communications Productivity Tool

Employees that work for employers that have purpose built IP Telephony platforms are a lucky bunch indeed. These employers have realized the immense benefits available to them by using desktop applications, softphones, collaboration tools and IP centric network connectivity. The employee is now able to enhance their productivity in an anyplace, anytime, anywhere environment. The following example shows how a mobile Communicator application, IP Softphone, Instant Messaging and collaboration tools allows employees to work smarter.

Working smarter allows me to get my work done in an efficient and productive manner.
My ShoreTel communicator client and Mobile Communicator application really helps me stay connected anytime, anywhere and any how especially working across 3 times zones with North American colleagues.

The brilliantly simple approach that ShoreTel has taken with its solution is that the Communicator client is included for every user and requires no additional servers, hard drives, licenses or complex fat client software to be loaded up on laptops.

Add the brilliantly simple ShoreTel Mobility application on my iPhone (Blackberry, Nokia and Android supported as well). For me it’s a simple download from the iTunes Store and some sever settings added in the options tab.

What makes ShoreTel unique is that the communicator tool allows the ability to provide Extension Assignment that can provide the functionality on any telephone. It can be your home telephone, a mobile telephone, a hotel telephone or even a pay phone in Rome.

ShoreTel Communicator for Mobile allows you to temporarily assign your ShoreTel extension to your mobile phone and use your mobile phone hardware as your ShoreTel phone. It allows you to use the mobile phone to dial calls from your ShoreTel extension, answer incoming calls to your ShoreTel extension, and manage your ShoreTel extension mailbox.

ShoreTel Communicator for Mobile installs on your mobile phone and appears as an application on the display of the mobile. The application provides subsets of many of the features found on ShoreTel Communicator installed on your computer including Quick Dialer, call history, call handling and voicemail access. In addition the application provides features that facilitate connecting your mobile phone to your ShoreTel extension.

ShoreTel also has the Roam Anywhere dialer that uses Wi-Fi to make and receive ShoreTel extension calls. This is a huge saver of minutes and allows users to not incur expensive roaming and long distance charges.

• 5:30 a.m. Wake up, shower, shave and out the door. I have a client meeting in Chicago and need to catch the Go Train. As I wait for the train I use my Mobile Communicator to assign my office extension to ring on my iPhone. If anyone calls my Austin, TX DID number it will ring in on my iPhone. Checking my corporate emails, I need to provide a status update to a teammate in California. I use communicator to dial his number and the tool then calls me back with a call into his voicemail. I just saved myself some long distance charges using the tool that connects the long distance as a local call. Some people call this “Twinning”.

It is also brilliant that I have now enterprise vice enabled my iPad 2 tablet for making and receiving corporate calls using the Mobile Communicator.

• 7:15 a.m. A short walk to the Fly Porter Shuttle bus stop. My iPhone keeps me in touch while on the way to the airport.
• 7:45 a.m. I use the Porter Wi-Fi to open attachments on my iPhone saving me data bandwidth usage charges.
• 10:00 a.m. I take a short train ride from Midway Airport and am at the Michigan avenue customer location.
• 11:00 a.m. Laptop plugged into guest cubicle and a quick check of emails and voice mails for any urgent items. I enable the Extension Assignment and now have all my office calls routed to my softphone. Back to my guest cubicle for a conference call with the marketing team while waiting for the customer meeting to start.
• 11:15 a.m. Dan, my Manager in Kansas City sees I am connected with available presence information and through Instant Messaging asks me to join a meeting with a Partner for later this week.
• I continue my work as if I was in the Austin office, making and receiving telephone calls with clients
• 4:00 p.m. I leave Chicago for my flight to Toronto. I have used the Extension Assignment feature to now have all my office calls routed back to my office telephone and the Outlook integration changes my call handling mode to go directly to voice mail as it sees my calendar entry as unavailable.
• 7:00 p.m. On my drive home from the airport, my iPhone senses the Bluetooth in the car and uses Location specific information to automatically route all calls to my cellphone. Win, our Mobility Product Manager calls me and since he called my extension number, the ShoreTel system knows to send the call to my iPhone.
• 8:30 p.m. After dinner and helping the kids with homework in the kitchen, I use my iPhone to check emails and make a few calls using my home Wi-Fi network. I use my iPad to prepare a draft PowerPoint presentation. Dan calls me and the call comes in using the Wi-Fi mode on my iPhone. He is 3 hours behind so I set up a calendar entry for 10pm to do a quick review using our whiteboard application.
• 10:00 p.m. I am now in my home office and on the corporate LAN and Dan and I review the draft. Seeing that Brenda in the Sunnyvale office is on-line using the contacts field of Communicator, we ask her to participate and add some content. We can see that Cassandra in the Tucson office is on-line and Instant Message her that we have an opportunity for her with a multi-site customer that she needs a heads up on.
• 11:00 p.m. Done! Time to get some rest.

Whether simplifying day-to-day communications, streamlining the work of contact center agents and supervisors, or making it easier for mobile workers to stay in the loop, ShoreTel Communicator puts intuitive communication and collaboration tools at end users' fingertips.

ShoreTel Communicator delivers unified communications (UC) in an intuitive interface and is available in diverse environments such as Web browsers, Windows, Mac OS, Citrix, iPhones, BlackBerry, and Nokia mobile phones. With minimal training, users across job roles can master a full suite of versatile tools for managing real-time communications on their computer or mobile phone, moving seamlessly between voice, video, or IM as needed.

ShoreTel Communicator provides integrated advanced call management and quality desktop video in a highly customizable interface that is easy to set up. In addition to tight integration with Microsoft Outlook, it offers instant messaging (IM) functionality that gives users the power to contact people in remote locations, have sidebar conversations during calls, or to bring several people into a chat session.

Pre-built integration of enterprise and CRM applications (such as Salesforce), calendaring, and workflow, raises the bar on customer interaction by putting data where it's most needed. ShoreTel Communicator can also integrate with third-party information and applications via a rich set of application programming interfaces (APIs).

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Google Buys Motorola Mobility – Armed and Ready to move forward in mobile communications in a big way.

Google Buys Motorola Mobility – Armed and Ready to move forward in mobile communications in a big way.

I have ten thoughts on the strategic importance of this very key acquisition and the brilliance of Larry Page taking an aggressive position forward.

1. Google missed out on the 6000 strong Nortel patents and acquires over 17000 Motorola patents. They actually bid “pi” or $3.14159 Billion. The so-called “Rockstar Bidco group” of Apple, Microsoft, Research In Motion, Sony, Ericsson AB and EMC. Google is finding itself having to protect the company with all these patent infringements.
2. Google wants to be in the game and as access to the internet has expanded to mobile devices the past decade, so too has the demand for even faster wireless data connections. The future is LTE and 4G. Mobile search and mobile payment tools are the fastest growing market segments. Remember when Steve Jobs went ballistic when he saw the first Google android prototype?
3. The “Google Phone” will become a reality and with their clever Android software platform the missing link was control of the hardware platform. The Motorola acquisition makes this happen.
4. The Android cool factor disappears as it becomes mainstream. Now that Google is a legitimate manufacturer the software developers may not have that open source playground anymore. Android will become proprietary.
5. Google now has a set top platform to expand its Google TV or even Googleflix offering. Search now embeds itself even further into the consumer’s home. Remember Motorola was a leader in wireless Ethernet routers and adsl modems back in the day.
6. Samsung and HTC are going to be worried as Google moves from partner to competitor status.
7. I think Nokia will get purchased by Microsoft and I think Microsoft may buy RIM. Rim patents are worth at least $10 Billion based on the recent Nortel and Motorola patent evaluations.
8. Google is taking a long term view to having the resources and platforms to protect itself from Microsoft and Apple.
9. Google is investing into hottest technologies are Cellphone payments, location technology, automobile-Internet, QR codes and 4G/LTE.
10. Patents, patents and more patents but in the end the hardware is key, if not Google could have bought InterDigital that has over 8000 patents for a lot less.

Motorola: The Leader in Innovation and a Mobile Pioneer

Motorola has a long history in being on the leading edge of communications technology. Its brand is well known in the 2 way radio and cellular handset business.
Motorola is solely focused focusing on mobile technologies and has authored volumes of books and holds many patents.

Read through the timeline and through the static and noise in the wireless spectrum it will become very clear on how strong a signal Motorola really is.

1928 - Motorola is founded in Chicago, Illinois by Joseph and Paul Galvin in September of that year as Galvin Manufacturing Corporation. Its first product was a battery eliminator that allowed battery operated radios to run on household electricity.

1930 - The name "Motorola" is created as the brand for the first commercially successful car radio. It is the combination of the word "motor" for car, and "ola," which the Galvin’s believed on the idea of mobile sound. The brand essentially means "sound in motion." Motorola releases a car radio.

1936 – The Motorola Police Cruiser radio receiver is launched.

1943 -1946 Motorola becomes the defacto messaging platform for the allies in World War II with the Handie-Talkie SCR536 Radio.

1946 - The beginnings of the cell phone. Motorola's equipment is used to make the first in-car telephone calls over Illinois Bell's radiotelephone service in Chicago in January.

1955 - Motorola's stylized "M" makes its first appearance.
1956 - The company debuts its first “Handie-Talkie Radio Pager”, calling it a "new standard in personal communication.” It immediately becomes a popular replacement for overhead paging in hospitals and factories.

1969 - A Motorola radio transponder relayed the first words from the moon to Earth in July 1969. The transponder aboard the Apollo 11 lunar module transmitted telemetry, tracking, voice communications and television signals between Earth and the moon.

1973 - The modern cell phone starts development with the debut of the DynaTAC. The famous brick cellular telephone.

Motorola DynaTAC1983 - Ten years after the company shows its first prototype cellular phone system, the FCC approves a commercial version of DynaTAC in September. The phone would not be available at retail until the following year. Arguably the first cell phone accessory also makes its debut: the "VSP" (Vehicular Speaker Phone) allows for hands free operation.

1986 - Motorola’s Bravo pager is released, which would go on to become the world's best selling pager. The Six Sigma standard for measuring quality improvement processes, was invented by Motorola researchers.

1989 - The MicroTAC makes its debut.

1991 - The company plays a crucial role in the development of GSM, introducing a system and phones in Germany. The technology now is a global standard used in nine out of 10 phones in operation worldwide today.

1994 - iDEN technology debuts, combining the aspects of paging, two-way communication, and phone calls into a single mobile device.

Motorola StarTAC 200px1996 - The StarTAC is released. Arguably no other phone gains the cult following this device does: it is used by a hardcore group of aficionados for more than a decade. Over 60 million were sold, making it one of the earliest blockbuster devices.

1999 - Motorola debuts its first tri-band GSM phone -- the Timeport -- allowing users for the first time to use the same phone when traveling worldwide.

2000 - The company teams up with Cisco to deliver the first GPRS network to BT in the United Kingdom. The first GPRS phone is released, the Timeport P7389i.

2002 - Motorola introduced the world's first wireless cable modem gateway which combined a high-speed cable modem router with an Ethernet switch and wireless home gateway.

2003 - The company makes its first foray into the smartphone market with the A760, which used the Linux operating system with Java technology.

Motorola RAZR2004 - The RAZR debuts, arguably setting off a trend to go thinner and smaller -- and like the StarTAC, gains a cult following that uses the phones long after the company stops selling them. It held the honor of the bestselling cellular phone in history until it is eclipsed by the iPhone in 2008.

2009 - Motorola takes a chance on Google's new Android smartphone operating system and several of its devices become some of the bestselling models on the platform.
Motorola Mobility

2011 - On January 4, the company announces it will spin off its Mobile Devices division into a separate company called Motorola Mobility. Motorola Solutions would handle all of the company's non-cellular related activities.

August 15, 2011 - Motorola Mobility is acquired by Google in a $12.5 billion transaction. Google calls the move "defensive," aimed at staving off an increasing tide of lawsuits aimed at the Android operating system.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Boingo Wireless sees demand increasing!

Boingo Wireless has been a market leader in providing Wi-Fi access in the USA for many years. Boingo has over 210,000 subscribers taking advantage of hotspots in cafes, airports and restaurants. They also have over a million subscribers logging on for pay per hour service every day. Boingo expects to see an increase in hotspots by as much a 40 present the next few years due to the demand for wireless internet access by its consumers. Naturally the smartphone, netbook and tablet users are demanding more Wi-Fi hotspots due to the surge in device sales.

Boingo is also a key OEM supplier for Verizon and Skype.

Business travelers and tourists should not forget that there is free access at most Chain hotels in the lobby so there is an alternate point for "access" and on a hot summer day - air conditioned to boot!

For the upper New York state traveler, the I90 has Wi-Fi at its traveler rest/gas stops making the toll costs more bearable on your journey to Albany or New York.

Boingo should come to Canada and bring their services to the marketplace. I would call this a pretty easy managed Wi-Fi service for retailers to offer in-store wireless access for its customers. Retailers also have the ability of having others build a solution for them and packaging it as a managed bundle.

Carrefour Planet is the new Hypermarket store

Carrefour Planet is the new Hypermarket store

The French have a new store format called the Hypermarket. They have made the aisles wider, softened the lighting and set up 9 zones of shopping experience. The market zone offers fresh food in a marketplace atmosphere with a focus on the customer experience with sampling and cooking lessons.

The organic zone offers organic brands and their own private bio brand. The frozen food zone offers well you get it – frozen foods.

The beauty zone offers beauty brands and products and a virtual make up consultation and haircut area.

The fashion zone offers clothing with a free alteration service.

The baby zone has all the baby needs and diapers by the bag full. The busy mom will get extra service with a separate check-out area.

The home zone includes storage and home products.

The media zone offers mobile phones, electronics and entertainment media.

Finally the seasonal zone offers an ever changing promo area for products arranged around the 7 different seasons and buying themes.

Again IP technology is a key spend in the in-store technology with digital signage, kiosks and demo centers. No wonder the recent hires to run the large Canadian retailers are coming from Europe.

Carrefour Planet brings innovative design thinking in changing the way consumers interact with their retail customer experience.

The 3 Biggest Call Center Lies and The Customer Experience

It was an interesting day a few weeks ago as I heard a Forrester Analyst nail the whole customer experience right on the head and then had a chat with a few friends who brought up the hilarious nature of contact centers.

Is it really that bad? You are so right its pathetic!

Corporations talk about how the customer experience is so important and how that this high level of service is a key differentiator.

Here are the 3 biggest lies and I just took 20 minutes calling various organizations as a test

1) Your Call is important to us

2) We are experiencing an unusual number of calls and holding times will be longer than usual

3) We are recording this call for quality assurance purposes

These 3 on hold call center messages are the first signs of a company that is not attuned to customer service

Because what they really mean is the following:

1) If it was important we would answer by the third ring or at least 80 % of our calls would be answered within 30 seconds. A ring cycle is 6 seconds so you should get answered by the third ring.

2) That really is saying there are so many complaints we are constantly flooded with calls, our product is so bad people call in all the time to complain, or we only have two agents logged in so it will be a while

3) After being on hold for 32 minutes, punching in your account number, getting bounced a few times and having to provide the account number again …you may get upset and yell and threaten a lawsuit. They will have your threats recorded.

So you end up just emailing the complaint and the following appears:

“Thank You for your message, our award winning customer service ambassador will contact you in 72 hours.”

A week goes by and no response.

The winners in the marketplace will be those that are accessible, listen, take action and care about the customer experience. Those that don’t will only have themselves to blame.

People buy from people, they buy from those that they trust and they buy from those that take a negative experience and turn it into a positive one.

The winners in the marketplace embrace a customer-centric view of contact center economics. I urge every single senior level CXO, every manager to take the view of the customer, and call into their contact center and take notice of the customer experience. Take notes and choose an action plan to fix the inherent issues.

I personally have been recently WOWed by Apple (Total spend of $800), Borders (Total spend of $40), Amazon (Total spend of $50), Durham Radio (Total spend of $120), and Monitoring Times Magazine (Total spend of $16). I am still waiting for Metro to return an email after several negative shopping experiences (Total spend of almost $200) that I will never return to their stores and am so excited that Wal-Mart will open nearby soon and give them a run for their grocery money.

That’s what happens when the retailer does not listen to the customer.

Everyone Wants in on the Grocery Business.

The Canadian grocery business for the longest time has been served by Loblaw’s with 1800 stores across Canada. Smaller chains like Sobeys, Metro and regional chains have also fought for market share.

But the past 10 years the landscape has changed and retailers outside the grocery channel have expanded their offerings in order to increase their share of the consumer’s wallet.

Walgreen, Wal-Mart and Target have all remodeled stores to include a grocery section. Canadian Tire and Shoppers Drug Mart have done similar and even Dollarama has a selection of food products.

I have seen a big impact in the drug store giant Duane Reade in New York City. This has made a huge impact as they have stores everywhere in the city and now can offer the convenience of fresh, packaged and frozen foods. New Yorkers do not have the luxury of big box grocers on 5th avenue to buy their groceries in. DR does fill a void in the marketplace.

Longo’s has taken an aggressive approach to be positioned in the Toronto downtown core with a smaller format store in many areas in the middle of the condo projects. If they add a pharmacy section things could be a bit of game changer.

This has changed the shopping behaviour as consumers are now choosing to make their trips to retailers that offer a wider mix and selection choice. They are shopping at the non-traditional grocers more often and shopping at the traditional grocer less often. In Canada the experience is a bit different as there is less competition for the grocery spends. One consistent trend is the spend at the dollar store.

Loblaw’s has done a great job at offering non-traditional items in their stores to combat the Wal-Mart effect and at one time you could buy furniture and household items (typically they were of poor quality) and they seem to have reduced the floor space for these items. That floor space has been replaced with Joe Fresh clothing line. This has created a success of over $1B in sales at higher margins than a typical bag of milk. Now the Loblaw’s stores are drawing non-customers into their stores seeking the latest in fast low cost fashion. This is working very well for the Joe Fresh line. Shoppers Drug Mart has also taken advantage of this trend with their new format stores have a wall of freezers and an increased selection of food items.

One trend that is very noticeable is the increase in private label products which offer a similar quality product at a lower price point. The Loblaw’s iconic Presidents Choice label is one of Canada’s most trusted brands and has its own marketing flyer. Target does very well with its private labels and the vitamin and pharmacy section are a big volume section in their store.

Loblaw’s is a trend setter with the first store to offer a useful app in the kitchen for the iPad and Playbook called Recipe Box. They have over 900 recipes on file making the question “What’s for dinner” an easy one.

Today’s consumers have more choices in how and where to spend their money when trying to fill the refrigerator with food.

The relevancy to this on a technology perspective is the increase of IP technology. stores need more connectivity and bandwidth to accommodate the POS traffic, pharmacy traffic, digital signage and video security applications.

What the heck is IPV6?

During August 2012 the new internet will be ready to change the way addressing and content will be delivered. IPV6 is a new addressing protocol that will replace the current IPV4 scheme. A typical IP address is and is what the internet uses to move data between devices and servers.

IPV4 was developed in 1981 as a 32 bit addressing scheme which can provide 4.3 billion IP addresses. Today there are more than 2 billion internet devices that require an IP address in order to communicate on the internet. To plan for the upcoming explosive growth a new protocol called IPV6 was developed. This will provide for a 128 bit scheme that will have 340 to the 46th IP addresses. My calculator gave up. But it’s probably trillions of addresses, so we should be good for the next 20 years.

Many ISP and carriers are planning to be ready for the transition. IPV4 is not interoperable with IPV6 so to implement it requires a parallel internet network. Carriers will need two networks to run, but the good news is it will be transparent as many newer devices are IPV6 compatible already. If you are accessing an internet site that has addresses in the new format then the network will carry your data back and forth with no concern.

The national resource organization claims that the current IPV4 addresses will run out by end of 2012 and by then all broadband carriers will have developed their parallel networks to accommodate the new addressing scheme.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

What do Business Travelers want the most?

What do Business Travelers want the most?


The most annoying thing a tired business traveler has to deal with is those Hotels who think that after spending $179 on a room you need to fork out another $15 bucks for Wi-Fi. Even better if you spend $600 a night in New York. Hoteliers should just charge either an extra $10 and bury it in the rate or do what the budget hotels do is throw it in for free and also offer a free breakfast.

Now if the Hotel really feels that they have the right to charge then at least offer a real high speed service with real bandwidth so we can use our video apps with no jitter and Skype with latency free service.

Business travelers make up a big segment of a hotel's business revenue so its important to listen to their needs. Every traveler wants a comfortable bed, good lighting, a large desk and reliable high speed internet access. Health conscious travelers are also asking for healthy dining options and workout rooms. Many hotels when they do a refresh take into account most of those needs.

However, recent stays have identified the need for more electrical outlets. I don't want to travel with a Monster power bar so i can charge my Playbook, my Laptop, cellphone, my iPad, maybe a camera battery, maybe other stuff. Its always the same single outlet embedded in the desk light and the closest outlet is beside the alarm clock. Unplug the alarm clock and you have to reset it in order to set the alarm. Now we know why maids haul a 50 foot extension cord around with their vacuum cleaner because they cant find outlets either. Maybe a high speed internet bundle with a power bar rental, free long distance and a bottle of water starts to make sense for $4.95.

The power outlet issue is a problem and if you you call down to the concierge you may get lucky and maintenance will come up with a power bar for you.

Now the negative aspect of all this you will forget your power adapters and leave them behind. Every hotel has tons in the lost and found. I use a bright red elastic tie that i got with my Think Tank cable management kit and it helps give me a visual but i call also wrap it to my Laptop the $120 power adapter doesn't get forgotten.

Business travelers can be loyal and repeater customers if Hotels think a little bit about the customer experience and put themselves in their customers shoes.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Quick Review of the HP TouchPad Tablet

I had the pleasure to spend some time with the HP TouchPad which is not yet released to the market. It seems to be slated for a July launch in Canada. I was extremely impressed and I really believe that HP is now Apples biggest threat in the Tablet arena. HP plans to distribute it through Wal-Mart and through their on-line portal. It appears that the HP cultists will be the first adopters right out of the gate. A colleague in my office is patiently waiting as he owns several HP computers and LCD screens and is a strong ranker in the HP CSAT scores.

So what makes HP any different, they have the Snapdragon dual- CPU at 1.2GHz, 16GB or 32GB ram, Wi-Fi, 9.7” screen, Adobe Flash support, Front-facing 1.3-megapixel webcam for live video calling,

This is the first time I have seen a battery rating and theirs is 6300mA so I assume this is the standard for the claimed 10 hour run tine.

Ok, so nothing new and all representative of the current electronic technology available today but HP seems to have really taken the webOS software to an interesting level in the way of application organization.

First I got to check out the excellent social connector type application that ties in all your emails and calendars into one simple interface. Bring your exchange, Gmail, hotmail and other pop3 mails all into one email application. This is simple. It also brings all your social tools like Twitter and FaceBook into on application which makes it simple to stay connected and informed within your social network. This will simplify life for those users that don’t want to worry about all of this.

The multi-tasking worked very seamlessly swiping across apps. Pop ups inform you of new emails arriving and I assume any IM would be similar. The Skype application is built-in the OS which is interesting because I am sure Microsoft is a player here as they have had a long standing relationship with HP (back to the iPaq days) and the Active Sync client is still there.

You can also print to any HP wireless equipped printer which again simplifys the user experience.

The marketing folks are thinking smart this time as Angry Birds, Time magazine, FaceBook and are some of the apps available right away. They are talking about a Cloud Storage application to store files and the such in some kind of data locker which I think is interesting for storage of large files.

Another embedded app is the JustType which allows you tot start doing things without opening any applications, write a note, calendar entry or send an email. Again simplifying and organizing the applications into a simple interface.

The Beats Technology is a partnership with Dr. Dre and the sound did sound somewhat better and directly compared to the Playbook it was noticeable.

So HP is doing everything RIM didn’t do and maybe by not releasing the product so fast, HP will not alienate and upset its customers with not ready for prime time products.

HP Marketing is focused on having a working, buggy free, app equipped tablet right out of the gate and that’s the way it needs to be done.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Search Engine Optimization is Important plus Colours

85% of the website traffic is generated by the search engines alone and 90% of the people do not go beyond the first three search pages.

My teenage son and his friends will not go beyond the first page "It is not relevant" thus it is imperative for marketers to be on the first page if not top 3 if targeting the teen market

They love Kijiji but don't use Craigslist. It is because Kijiji is always linked with EBay and offers better visuals.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

4+1 Excellent iPad apps for Presentations

4+1 Excellent iPad apps for Presentations

In the business world, meetings and presentations is what marketing and sales professionals do all the time. However, lugging around 50 lbs. of equipment is very tiring and yes there is a better way. What you need is an Apple iPad and a 3M pocket projector or a small lightweight Panasonic LCD D projector.
So all a busy professional needs is a simple app that allows the creation and transmission of PowerPoint’s and PDF presentations to an audience.
Here are several apps that I am using and have found to be very useful in my day to day activities.
Power Presenter
This app allows the display of a PowerPoint that s been converted to a PDF file. What’s cool about it is that you can mark on the slides with a pen or eraser, email the slides to your audience, or use the whiteboard function. Really $1.99 for an app that can help put a $1000 commission check in your pocket? Gotta love the world we live in today
2Screens Presentation Expert
This app like many others allows presenting, web browsing and whiteboard capabilities. What makes it unique is if you have an iPhone then you can use the 2Screens remote app to use your phone as a remote control. I am a RIM smartphone user so this isn’t of interest to me but my wife’s eyes lit “Hey can you get that for me?”
Sadun’s Whiteboard
Sadun is my new friend and he has a simple whiteboard app that allows different pens and colours to be drawn and projected onto a TV or projection screen. I love how he has the ability to add Text or photos into the slides and the useful undo and erase. Yes you can save and email to clients. The $2.99 is less than a Latte at Starbucks, have the latte anyways Starbucks needs the money to give you free Wi-Fi, just don’t buy a cookie.
I am blessed with 3 wonderful teenagers and they all have varying degrees of “visualness” in their genes. This gives the gift of being able to instantly visualize an idea and take it action. They all have asked for Cork Boards in their bedrooms. Corkulous is a powerful app that gives you an electronic corkboard where you can place photos, post notes, to do lists and info bits. It is really an idea board and the coolness is it can be emailed. Bring your lunch from home one day and save the $5 Subway Sandwich and get this app instead.
This app allows you to take notes and make drawings with your finger pen but I find a capacitive pen to be better. Take your notes and email them to a file. Save paper and save the planet but its going cost you $1.99
Presentation Clock
I may have to do a presentation in front of 3000 people. Sure its scary but I am worried about running out of time. Ever present 46 slides in 20 minutes? Boom Boom Boom your dead. The 7 slide rule is the king of all presentations. This app has a simple countdown timer that keeps you in check. If Moses Znaimer can drop $10k on a timer for his super wonderful IdeaCity conferences, I can be super simple and spend less than a New York Times Thursday newspaper (Hint it’s the food issue).
So for the busy executive or professional business person, you just spent over $700 bucks for a tablet and now you need to prove that is really useful and not just being used as a super 10” iPod for listening to the Best of Yes on the train into work.
Cheers…………… but don’t forget the $50 HDMI cable

Cisco Networkers - Toronto May 19 2011 Recap

Cisco Networkers - Toronto May 19 2011 Recap

The annual pilgrimage out to the Congress Center for a day of learning, sharing and collaboration was here once again. This was the busiest conference ever with lots of customers and vendors in attendance. The Cisco keynote speaker was Dr. Guido Jouret who provided insights into where Cisco is heading especially in the video and cloud network/computing space. The star draw was Mike Holmes of The HGTV show Holmes on Homes who brought a different spin on things. I was sure he was talking about the Human-Powered Deck being IP ready at one point.

The day is all about learning from the 25 speakers. I enjoyed the SIP Trunking where an excellent presentation was put forth with scenarios in a centralized, distributed and hybrid configuration. Thanks to Daryl Sladden for a copy of his Cisco Press book on the subject. MTS Allstream being a leading SIP Trunking provider for the past 8 years with many customers shows we couldn't care less about cannibalizing PRI rates or Centrex contracts. SIP is here to stay with some new announcements to be made soon. SIP offers cost savings and lends itself to cloud infrastructure very easily.

The other sessions I needed to attend included "Enterprise Cloud Computing" which is the entire buzz word these days and the Wi-Fi 3G offload solution overview. 3G operations was very relevant as many of my retail customers are looking for 3G backup in case of DSL line failure and it can use the new series 8xx routers.
This year Cisco ran an interesting iPhone and Blackberry app for the event called simply “Cisco Events”. I got a chance to try it and it was amazingly a lot of fun. It gave you program highlights, reference materials and a host of social networking apps. I was able to Twitter out comments throughout the day, post up onto the Facebook event site, and share with other users. You loaded it by simply doing a QR code scan with your iPhone.

Conference users were able to use their smartphones to "check in "their attendance at partner booths and Cisco demos to earn badges for a chance to win a Blackberry Playbook. What I found very interesting was they put the QR code at the beginning of the conference guidebook initiating an easy download onto their device and had users up and tweeting in no time. The app included a QR reader for getting more information at booths displaying their symbols. However, I know for sure most booths weren’t QR friendly but this feature is starting to catch on. This will be the new way to use the conference apps going forward and many others will use it and it makes a lot of sense. As an example, those in attendance at Blackberry World all got Playbooks with the RIM Conference app preloaded.

So at the end of a long day of attending the business and technical sessions you come to the realization that it definitely was a day well spent.

Powerful, Portable Playbook Review - First Comments

Powerful, Portable Playbook Review - First Comments

Well I am the proud owner of a Playbook. We all enjoy the Box Opening experience and I found the opening of the box a bit more exciting than the iPad as I already had a preconception of the Apple experience. The wow factor was that it came with a nice sleeve with a cool blue interior colour. No manual whatsoever except for a simple card. I am sure many buyers will go through a sense of frustration with the lack of information to truly get started.

First off the swiping is confusing but once you get the hang of swiping left to right the menu walks you through the steps and Blackberry Desktop software is not needed. You could probably drop by Staples and pick this baby up and get it activated at the nearby Wi-Fi enabled Starbucks.

It updated the software to current 1.03 build 1868 which was 300MB in size. This build includes BBM through the Bridge and Video Chat. The swiping is a bit different than the iPad as it also uses the area around the screen as well. My teens who are Blackberry smartphone bigots but iPad evangelists (having dumped their Asus netbooks) but once they saw the BBM and Video Chat app their eyes lit up. “This is Sick!”. There you go; the teens love the BBM tribe functionality with a kick of video to boot with a host of social networking apps could make this a sleeper product in that market segment. Documents to Go is of no interest to them.

Next step was to load the Bridge app and pair it with Curve OS5. The pairing uses a QR code generated by the Playbook (for a highy secure connection) so your Blackberry needs a QR reader. Fairly easy and once authenticated the mail and BBM apps are a joy on a 7 inch screen. This is a killer feature as it takes full advantage of the multi-tasking capabilities of the excellent QNX OS.

Ok, getting the hang of the swiping is a chore as it is different than the Apple and i keep looking to touch the button to change apps like on the iPad. In fact, I get more confused when I try to use my Kindle and I keep forgetting it has no touch screen.

After digging into the appworld , it doesn’t take long to realize there is no LinkedIn, eBay, WebEx, PayPal or Angry Birds apps. In fact the app list is small but I am sure it will grow. Apple started off with a short list over a year ago, so RIM will catch up. I couldn’t find any mention of how to load any android apps.

The tablet is very solid and not that heavy but my Kindle is so superlight you can read for hours with little fatigue. The Playbook fits in a trench coat and a women’s Coach bag very easily

RIM has done a great job with Bing, Kobo and some business apps right out of the box to make it useful so one can’t complain too much. My wife’s first comments on the iPad was “How come I can’t see the videos John” “Honey send an email to Steve Jobs and complain. So my wife’s first comments were “Does it do Flash?”…YES it does.

The ability to be bridged to my Blackberry means my Playbook can use the existing data plan for data access. This means I can read a book on the train or work on some documents and enjoy unfettered email and BBM all on one device in a true multitasking environment. I don’t know of anyone with the cellular enabled iPad so I cannot comment on how it would work with Apple, but I love my Blackberry keyboard and BBM capabilities and can easily type with two hands. The iPad and Playbook still seem to favour the hunt and peck method and I wrote the Cisco Networkers post on the Playbook and am writing this on the iPad. Why? Well it seems I needed to recharge it and somehow I didn’t think I got 10 hours out of it. I will try a few charge cycles to form the battery to see if it improves but the iPad is a true 10 hours. The Kindle is 2 weeks’ worth of battery life. Battery life is a becoming a big factor in mobile electronics.

So the Playbook has gained some maturity since initial release, the Bridge BBM and Video Chat is a huge offering with the new update and really shows the commitment that RIM has for the product.

Of course they were in a rush to release it and maybe it was a bit lacking at the start but they have really come through with a lot of support and R&D commitment.

So all in all I am somewhat pleased but fully expect RIM to deliver the updates this product needs quickly. I do not want to be recreating the misery and the disappointing Palm Lifedrive and Compaq Ipaq personal organizer experience 5 years ago.

Do not compare RIM to Palm please and it’s not because we are proud Canadians.

Do not compare RIM to Palm please and it’s not because we are proud Canadians.

HaHa my friend who was surprised to get a BBM from my Playbook had commented that he thought that RIM was going to end up as the new Palm. I don’t think so.

I was the first to get the Palm Pilot 1000 personal digital assistant in 1996 and was faithful to the end with memory upgrades, the excellent clip on 300 baud modem and the fold up keyboard. I used to do WAP in those days and paired it with a cable with my GSM Nokia 6190. It was kludged but I did get to POP3 into my account. Worst mistake was the PalmOne Lifedrive at $800 bucks it had a 4GB hard drive and it was very buggy. Palm was really the mobile pioneer (even though I loved my Apple Newton the product did get discontinued) but they had a bunch of spin offs, restructuring and never mated the PDA to a cellphone until it was too late. Palm never really made any money so it was hard to keep it afloat. Now with HP buying the leftovers of Palm I think they have a good shot with the WebOS and the PRE was a multitasking device that had some neat features. Oh I forgot the Handspring TREO which was a very good start and got picked up by corporate America for enterprise use. It sure made RIM work a bit harder at innovation.
RIM knocked out a home run in 1999 with the Blackberry and sales took off from there. The term crackberry gained a lot of press. I think RIM has sold over 60 million of these devices and is a global leader and the Playbook has already sold over 250,000 units. So how can RIM end up in the trash like Palm?
RIM has had great growth the past few years with revenues of $20 Billion a year and since they are an enterprise communication company and not selling musical players and laptops their revenue is going to be different than Apple which did $65 Billion in 2010.
Well how can they? They have over 2 Billion in cash, no debt, spend money on R&D and are very healthy as a company. They also have a lot of enterprise customers with their BES servers and their new MVS (Mobile Voice System) platform is making headway quickly. ShoreTel has also released a MVS application for its mobility client supporting the features and is now able to offer Fixed Mobile Convergence so manufacturers are taking notice. Do you think Steve Jobs would ever do this?
The strength that RIM brings to the enterprise market is their years of experience in that space. The acquisition of the multi-tasking QNX operating system is a smart play and will be the required platform for future applications. They also bar none, have the best mobile security application which includes Certicom Crypto (using Elliptic Curve Cryptography which BTW I had on my Palm Pilot) classes. RIM has a very high security level and is the standard for all others to follow.
The Apple and Androids do not have secure mobile security and recently these devices had hidden location based security flaws. In the enterprise, security is a huge concern and will continue to be so. Also the Blackberry Enterprise Server allows management and control functionality that right now is not offered by anyone else.
With Cloud computing and social networking being more prevalent on mobile devices it’s going to be a safe bet that your data and President Obama’s data will be secure for some time.
So let’s not bash RIM or compare it to Palm, who really started this whole business segment, but take a few moments to praise both of their accomplishments. I think the innovators in Waterloo have more to show us in the years to come and surely HP will pull something off with the release of their new TouchPad (Beat Technology promises better sound).

Internet Bandwidth and Capped limits – What does it mean?

Internet Bandwidth and Capped limits – What does it mean?

Canadians have to feel the pinch of broadband download limits or face the wrath of excess charges at $3 a GB. Naturally the Telcos and Cablecos are trying to protect themselves from the new entrants in the marketplace but at the consumer’s expense of higher and higher monthly fees.

I am a Rogers customer so if they feel threatened by Netflix and AppleTV then they need to offer a better or similar service or enhance their offerings. With the proliferation of HDTV OTA antennas sprouting up on rooftops and Satellite FTA dishes, I can see how shareholders are getting worried about the share price. The past few months Rogers has worked hard to improve their cable and HDTV offering.

So if you have a 90GB plan what does this all mean to the average user?

• One hour of a standard definition movie from Netflix is about 1GB…so 3 hours of Netflix a day for one month
• The average song downloaded is about 5Mb and I seem to get a fair amount of large attachments so that’s 18000 songs a month
• One hour of CBC news at high definition on Apple TV is 1.6GB so that’s 56 news casts or 1.8 shows per night for a month
So if you have traffic that exceeds the 90GB limit then you may be in for a shock when an extra $30, $40 or even $60 shows up on your next bill.

One also needs to be concerned about download speeds to ensure a clear and jitter free or pixelated screen so it’s important your connection support at least a 5MB download speed with the higher the better.

So choose your plans accordingly to avoid excess charges or maybe the new wireless entrants with their 3G unlimited data plans will make a lot of sense. If WIND mobile ran an ad campaign called the “Cut the Cord” program and threw in a HDTV antenna they may just become a bigger worry to their competitors.

*****To clarify the point I was trying to make in context of the response I got from Rogers (by the use of what I believe to be Avaya Social Media Manager and I now have a real world example that it fast too) was that the use of streamed video content from Netflix or Apple TV ends up using bandwidth that is charged by the amount of download to the customer. I was not aware of the Online TV service Rogers offers and will have tio investigate if I need to connect my iPad to the TV with an HDMI cable or if it streams off the HDTV box.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The 3 Biggest Call Center Lies and the Customer Experience

The 3 Biggest Call Center Lies and the Customer Experience

It was an interesting day a few weeks ago as I heard a Forrester Analyst nail the whole customer experience right on the head and then had a chat with a few friends who brought up the hilarious nature of contact centers.

Is it really that bad? You are so right its pathetic!

Corporations talk about how the customer experience is so important and how that this high level of service is a key differentiator

Here are the 3 biggest lies and I just took 20 minutes calling various organizations as a test

1) Your Call is important to us
2) We are experiencing an unusual number of calls and holding times will be longer than usual
3) We are recording this call for quality assurance purposes

These 3 on hold call center messages are the first signs of a company that is not attuned to customer service
Because what they really mean is the following:

1) If it was important we would answer by the third ring or at least 80 % of our calls would be answered within 30 seconds. A ring cycle is 6 seconds so you should get answered by the third ring.
2) That really is saying there are so many complaints we are constantly flooded with calls, our product is so bad people call in all the time to complain, or we only have two agents logged in so it will be a while
3) After being on hold for 32 minutes, punching in your account number, getting bounced a few times and having to provide the account number again …you may get upset and yell and threaten a lawsuit. They will have your threats recorded.

So you end up just emailing the complaint and the following appears:
“Thank You for your message, our award winning customer service ambassador will contact you in 72 hours.”

A week goes by and no response.

The winners in the marketplace will be those that are accessible, listen, take action and care about the customer experience. Those that don’t will only have themselves to blame.

People buy from people, they buy from those that they trust and they buy from those that take a negative experience and turn it into a positive one.
The winners in the marketplace embrace a customer-centric view of contact center economics. I urge every single senior level CXO, every manager to take the view of the customer, and call into their contact center and take notice of the customer experience. Take notes and choose an action plan to fix the inherent issues.

I personally have been recently WOWed by Apple (Total spend of $800), Borders (Total spend of $40), Amazon (Total spend of $50), Durham Radio (Total spend of $120), and Monitoring Times Magazine (Total spend of $16). I am still waiting for Metro to return an email after several negative shopping experiences (Total spend of almost $200) that I will never return to their stores and am so excited that Walmart will open nearby soon and give them a run for their grocery money.

That’s what happens when the retailer does not listen to the customer.

Shared versus Dedicated IP Hosting - what is more effective?

A friend who is working through a start up needs to figure out how he wants to set his servers up and why he really needs a dedicated IP address and not a shared one.

Shared versus Dedicated IP Hosting - what is more effective?

In today's World Wide Web - website designers and webmasters around the world must know the difference between shared and dedicated IP addresses. Most web hosting companies do not offer dedicated IP addresses for their clients. Why? Before we can attempt at answering this question, we should further define and clarify the differences between the two.

Shared IP Address - Every web server around the world is assigned an Internet Protocol (IP) address. An example of an IP address would look something like: [126.703.4.151]. Most websites on the world wide web are hosted on shared IP addresses, meaning that one server with one IP address can hold several domain names.

In the not so distant past, every domain used to have individual IP addresses. Recently, the allocation of IP addresses has been stricter due to the fact that there is a finite amount of addresses in existence. Now servers have the ability of determining a domain request through name servers. Example: is found by NS.REBELNETWORKS.COM where the name servers are tied to a specific IP address.

Dedicated IP Address - A dedicated/unique IP address is not shared by other domain names; it is unique to your domain name and your space on the server. This means that if someone types in the numeric form of the IP address the same domain will always appear in the browser. Dedicated IP addresses are considered to be premium real estate on the internet and most web hosting companies charge extra for their client to have one.
"We saw this as real eye-opener in the industry. Instead of asking our customers to pay for a dedicated IP, we have included it with every package we sell." Domenic Macchione, President of Rebel Networks

Usually dedicated IP addresses are used for large web sites, secure e-commerce web sites, or other individuals that are willing to pay for such a premium. Dedicated IPs give websites the ability for complex hosting and offer more flexibility. The benefits of having a dedicated IP address are:

- Private SSL Certificate - SSL certificates are needed for accepting credit cards online. Most web hosting companies usually offer a shared SSL certificate where clients can share the web host̢۪s server-wide SSL. This is not recommended if you intend on having a very secure online store.

- Anonymous FTP - Anonymous FTP is a method of sharing files on the Internet. Anonymous FTP means a server will allow anyone using an FTP software access to a public directory. This service is called Anonymous FTP because the user name used to sign in is "anonymous." To enable anonymous FTP many web hosting companies will require a dedicated IP for the anonymous FTP function to work properly.

- Private Domain Name Server - An example of a name server would look like this: [NS.REBELNETWORKS.COM, NS2.REBELNETWORKS.COM]. Since all web hosting companies provide you with their DNS servers, you don't need to have your own. But if you choose to have your own name server you will need to have a dedicated IP address to do so.

Another benefit of a dedicated IP address is that website will have more control over their search engine results. Presently, search engines along with many telecom and internet service providers around the world have been fighting to block spam activity. This has been accomplished through blacklisting IP addresses that have spammed in one way or another. Since shared IP address users are mixed together on the same server IP with many others websites, innocent web sites have been blacklisted from search engines.

In short - individuals who would like full control over their website, e-commerce web sites who need their own SSL certificates, and individuals who want to fully optimize their website for search engine results should consider a Static IP address.

Microsoft spends $8.5 billion to buy Skype and VOIPGURUs IMHO

Microsoft spends $8.5 billion to buy Skype

Holy honeydrops looks like Google and Facebook won't be buying Skype anytime soon

So what is actually going on here?

Lets face it Microsoft has been dropping down the charts of innovation lately. Google is the biggest search engine, FaceBook is the biggest social network site, Android has become the fastest growing mobile device (including tablets) operating system, Microsoft owns the corporate desktop and also the personal pc desktop, RIM still owns the corporate Smartphone, Apple is taking market share in the Smartphone arena, Skype is the biggest VOIP brand, and yes Apple owns the tablet and portable music market right now.

So in the emerging post PC world i have no idea what to do with the legacy companies like AOL , Palm, and Hayes the modem maker but i can assure you the disruptive innovators are feverishly working in a garage in Palo Alto, Trento and Ottawa right now.

So Microsoft has somewhere like $50 billion in cash and generates another $15 billion in free cash so they can really afford the purchase. Do like Cisco - its cheaper to buy an existing platform and bring to market a lot faster than building from scratch.

Skype has about 100 million active paying users and over 600 million registered and using it occasionally for free. It’s available on practically every Smartphone, PC and tablet device worldwide. It is the world’s best known brand for free or cheap internet based VOIP telephony and video based calls. It also includes instant messaging and presence as a bonus.

Microsoft now has the ability to integrate Skype into their desktops and the Windows Phone 7 very easily. Just imagine having a truly integrated Skype client that can receive calls from your cousin in Bulgaria as easily as receiving a local call. Sure we have it today but its still not truly integrated the way it could be when you own the source code.

Microsoft would also seek to introduce Skype into the Xbox (probably a platform with more IP ports than Nortel ever had) , and why not Outlook, Word, or even do a click to call through PowerPoint.

Avaya has already arranged a partnership for a Skype client for their Aura IP telephony platform. Imagine calling an Avaya based contact centre through Skype on your Smartphone or tablet while at Starbucks sipping a Pumpkin Soy low Fat Latte with double foam and free Wi-Fi.

Imagine Skype embedded in Microsoft’s Lync Enterprise platform and integral to OCS. Now maybe we have a game changer in the business enterprise space. Every business grade IP telephony manufacturer has shifted their R&D to software based SIP applications that will replace today’s touch tone telephone. More and more are hanging up on the Telco’s and cancelling their copper based service.

If Jobs doesn’t do it with the iPad 3 then Ballmer better hurry up and get Samsung on board for the WindowsHomeControl smart screen on their washer/ dryers and refrigerators. "mommy the dishwasher is ringing. ......Get the phone...pick it up...mommy ...get the phone!"

Its coming folks and ya’ll laughed when i predicted Wi-Fi technology would change the internet forever

So Microsoft has accomplished many things with this purchase:

• Access to over 600 million registered users with a global brand
• Shut out their competitors from buying Skype
• Speed to market with a communication app that works on everything already

So hopefully Microsoft wont screw it up like EBay did. The bought Skype for about $2B 6 years ago hoping that it would be ideal to connect EBay sellers with EBay buyers in the auctions but this never worked out and EBay took a big loss. Hopefully they won’t change the Skype brand name to Zune or Vista either.

The egos wont allow it but RIM and Microsoft should partner up next! And take Yahoos to the altar as well for an interesting 3 way play.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Trump Hotels – How Ivanka Trump uses Social Media to keep their Hotel Guests Happy with an awesome Customer Experience!

Trump Hotels – How Ivanka Trump uses Social Media to keep their Hotel Guests Happy with an awesome Customer Experience!

The Hotel industry has become very social with Expedia and Yelp taking hotel ratings to heart. It’s those like Ivanka (executive vice president ) who really understand the Customer Experience that is bringing customer service in the hotel industry to heart. The Trump Hotel Collection has been offering Facebook reservations for around six months, and Ivanka Trump has been taking advantage of her personality-driven brand. Ivanka is known to tweet out hotel specials to over a million twitter followers. However, she is one of the few Hoteliers that understand how things work. Once a guest makes their Trump Hotel reservations through Facebook, A hotel attaché will call the guest and ask about personal preferences : which newspaper do you prefer?, any special amenities required?, What room temperature do you enjoy? This goes above and beyond exceeding a customer’s expectations and sets the stage for an enhanced Customer Experience. In fact, if you have a small child that needs a crib in the room the crib will even show up with a Teddy Bear. Now that’s creative thinking and a way to exceed a customers expectation. With rooms at the Soho Trump in New York a starting at $399 a night, they are not overpriced because the Westin Hotel charges similar but Ivanka strives to Trump one over the competition.

I personally have stayed over 300 nights in a specific hotel chain if not more and stayed with a specific brand and can only say that only one hotel reached out to me in a very personal and human interactive manner over the past 10 years– that was the Westin Grand Hotel in Vancouver. The Starwood properties group will always send a satisfaction survey out to guests but if you have a bad experience they never acknowledge the concerns that you raise in the survey. So a guest will stop replying to surveys and then change hotel brands to one that cares.

Can it only be that The Westin Grand in Vancouver is a hotel that truly appreciated a repeat customer? Sending emails stating how happy they are that you chose their hotel or even ignoring complaints doesn’t’ count. Starwood does get extra points because the W Hotel and Aloft hotel banners do offer free airline ticket and hotel folio printing in their lobby kiosks. Not every traveler has a printer or laptop with them and this can be a very handy service. Some Starwood locations have a business center with free use of a computer and a printer that really sends the message that they care. However, a lot of other properties expect you to pay $10 an hour or more to use this facility (even for casual use).

The business and vacation traveler can be a particularly fickle bunch because they expect a better customer experience when paying over $200 a night. Free internet is expected in all areas of a hotel property and now luxury brands are looking to provide guests with free use of Apple iPads, RIM Playbooks, Smartphone and other devices to their guests that can enhance their stay and bring them back for more.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Defining Cloud

Defining Cloud

Cloud, Cloud, Cloud it is all about the cloud. Soon Starbucks will be in the Cloud as well (why not many use them to access the cloud with their Wi-Fi enabled Latte)

The heavy internet pundits such as Amazon, EBay, Google and even deliver computing services to multiple customers simultaneously through the internet. This is considered Cloud Computing.

But what is the Cloud?

Cloud is simply the delivery of IT services on a subscription basis that can be accessed from any Internet connection. (Wired or Wireless) that offers customers the benefits of economies of scale and shared infrastructure.

There are five key elements that define Cloud:

1. Offered ‘as a service’—and ready to use;
-This can be software such as or Google Maps (SaaS)
-This can be platform as a service such as Google Apps or Microsoft’s Azure (PaaS)
-This can be Infrastructure as a service such as Storage Services (IaaS)

2. Rapidly scalable—available on demand, with the ability to add or remove resources as required;

-Turn up additional services easily without disruption

3. Shared—multiple customers sharing the same resources and underlying infrastructure;

Economies of scale in using services and not having to worry about technology outlay or resource management

4. Pay-per-use—a metered service that can be provided through different pricing plans;

Monthly subscriptions to services

5. Web-enabled—provided using Internet-based technologies

Ability to access services through browsers as opposed to thick or thin clients

RIM Playbook First Impressions April 15, 2011

RIM Playbook First Impressions April 15, 2011

I had a chance today to play with the RIM Playbook today for an hour and it’s a very impressive tablet.


Dual Core 1GHZ ARM processor with 1GB of RAM – allows speedy response and the ability to multitask applications.

QNX Neutrino OS – space shuttle software arrives to the tablet market

3 MP front and 5 MP rear Cameras – can shoot HD video

HTML5 Browser – supports Flash (which Apple will not support)

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Network interfaces - Cellular interfaces to come

Security – Tethered to Blackberry Smartphone for access to BES servers.

It definitely has the legendary RIM build quality feeling kind of hefty in your hand, but not heavy, just the feel of a solid built device. The back is rubberized and has a nice grippiness to it. Having a Kindle, I was very comfortable with the size of the unit. The Kindle is plasticky and its back is slippery so one needs to be a little more careful holding it. I do find my iPad to be a different experience to use after using the Kindle to read for a few hours. The iPad is obviously larger and better to read PDF magazines and watch videos. The Playbook was very comfortable to use and actually can slip into my jacket pocket. I think this size is ideal for the busy business user. Naturally, a larger screen version will come to market later this year. The Playbook is a professional grade device in the palm of your hand.

The OS works very well and I did not experience any bugginess but I was limited to the applications on hand in the device. The multitasking works very well. I was able to display a 1080 video to a monitor while surfing the web. No hiccups and the video quality was superb. This is an ideal device for showing videos to customers at the table or with a pocket projector in a boardroom.

The lack of applications is going to be a difficult one at start although there will be the ability to run android applications. However, I think the real true business applications will come about as software developers realize there is a new market to cater to. Sure, Apple has a lot of applications but how many of those are useful and how many of those are real. I do not call a zippo lighter app to be useful at all. I think when the corporate world sees the many gaming apps on the Apple iPad it doesn’t seem to be a true business tool. Remember, Apple has had a 1 year head start so there will be more apps but I think RIM will drive the need for more intelligent applications better suited for the business user. Apps are coming for those that are patient.

The top selling feature I believe the Playbook will bring is the security aspects required for the business community. The safe BES servers are what President Obama uses and have been cleared by all the triple letter agencies. Many corporate IT departments have the BES server so adding on the Playbook application isn’t a big deal. Also RIM will be more open to IT departments than the very closed Apple ecosystem that Steve Jobs invented...

Do not dismiss the Playbook, its an excellent device with a bit of a slow start to get sorted out and the poor press will defiantly bring that up, but RIM has been a very very “Fast follower” I was surprised to see how well of a great job they have done in a short timeframe. RIM has nailed the user experience very nicely and it was a very intuitive experience using the device.

Look at the other manufacturers that are actually now very late to the tablet arena. Motorola Xoom has not taken off, and where is HP’s WebOS tablet? And of course Asus, Dell and the others have not done much lately. It will be an interesting time when these come out and the shoot out begins.

Word to Go Application

This was a very easy app to use and I was able to start taking some notes with it right away. The 7” Playbook makes it easier to take notes while standing as the larger iPad becomes more cumbersome as you do need two hands to hold it.


The Dual core processor and leaner QNX OS allowed the apps to work very quickly and smoothly. It is very noticable how fast it works. Putting the Samsung TAB beside it is very easy notice how it lagged behind when opening apps and the browser would glitch at times. RIM did a great job in getting the CPU right out of the box. No wonder Apple had to double the speed with their A5 process or in the iPad 2.

Zero Buttons

The QNX software also allows a very simply method of accessing applications. Since it allows multitasking there is no need for the Apple Button. The built in bezel buttons allows swiping to occur fairly easily.


The ability to view Flash on the web works very well and I had no glitches. I don’t know how important it is to the user but for me it hasn’t been an issue. I am not sure if I will miss it on my iPads.

So RIM has done an excellent job with the Playbook, it does need some work on the application side and its security feature will be a huge selling point for the business community. I think this will be the market that the Playbook will play in as a companion to the Blackberry Smartphone. RIM still has work to do but I would not rule them out or write them off yet.

RIM Playbook or Apple iPad?

Well as an iPad user and iPod Touch user, I am very happy with the Apple tablet and there is some great apps that work on the apple OS only. I also own a Kindle which the 7” screen is a great reader and I find the screen to be easier on my eyes for extended reading. As a business user I think the Playbook will be a great tablet and ion that case my employer can pony up the cash for the tablet so I can pair it with my corporate email address and BES management.

These are all tools that work better for specific applications, more so than others, and the consumer gets to choose which is best for them. Unfortunately, for geeks like me I have to have several devices.

Location Based Technologies are a Game Changer

Location Based Technologies are a Game Changer

May Smartphone’s and mobile devices (tablets and Netbooks) have built in location based technologies (GPS). This allows the application to know where you are and share that information with other users or local businesses. Look up local restaurants and post reviews after eating or get coupon deals while looking for a place to eat. What is still unexplored may be the gaming application that uses the location information in an interactive way. Regardless, many users use the application to see what their friends in the area are doing and keep in touch that way. Hmmmm looks like Tony is at Thai Magic and Robert is at Wing Machine……OH and that’s interesting my ex-girlfriend is at Wing Machine as well.

Here are a few apps that use location based technologies:

Yelp and Urbanspoon helps you figure out where to eat and review restaurants.

Loopt allows you to see which friends are around you

BrightKite can also manage photos and status updates

Gowalla is a location based travel game that rewards users for visiting different locations

AroundMe helps you find a variety of services, stores, and restaurants near you

Foursquare combines the community features of a good location based social network, with the competitive features of a scavenger hunt

Moximity is a location based app that allows you to connect with friends in your vicinity, and see where they are at the moment.

Introducing the Apple iPad 2 an IDC Analyst report

This is a reprint of Krista's viewpoint and I am a fan of her work

When the first iPad launched last year, Jobs described it as “magical”. So does that label apply to the iPad 2? It’s always a tough act to follow the wonderment of the first born child. In this case, iPad 2 has some incremental features and functionality that set it apart from the first version, including:

• Rear facing HD camera, and front facing VGA camera
• 33 per cent thinner 8.8mm (13.4mm)
• 15 per cent lighter: 1.3 pounds (vs. 1.5 pounds)
• Two colours – black and white
• Up to 2x faster CPU and up to 9x faster graphics
• Dual core processors
• 3-axis gyroscopes (aids in gesture-based actions, navigation and gaming)
• Running iOS 4.3

These features will also help the iPad 2 remain competitive with the competition that will be in the market in 2011, and will have many features and functions that were missing in the first iPad. Samsung, Motorola, RIM, and others are not in the market yet, but have been announced and expected to launch in 2011.

Related stories

Although bleeding edge adopters bought their iPad’s not even 1 year ago (iPad was first available in Canada end of May, 2010) some may still pass on their existing ‘old’ technology to kids – parents or friends and opt for the latest and greatest. Other early adopters may put off purchasing a new iPad so soon, and wait for the iPad 3, for which rumors have already begun. Why? iPad 2 may not have enough of the “magic” for some existing iPad owners to upgrade just yet. The iOS upgrade that was made available recently could provide enough added functionality such as multitasking to hold off until the 3rd version of iPad. And while the devices are affordable at a starting price of CAN$549, they still put a dent in the wallet.
So how will Apple succeed with iPad 2? By continuing to build on its economies of scale that it holds over other vendors in the market. Apple’s brand and loyal following of customers will also help drive sales, but arguably the most important factor longer term will be its ecosystem – the community of developers and hence, the 350,000 plus apps it has available to run on its mobile devices and over 65,000 native apps for iPad, increasing its value to the end user.

There is room for competition for those vendors focused on niche markets. RIM is well positioned to win the hearts of business users in Canada who are already invested in BlackBerry devices, and trust the security inherent in RIM’s devices and brand name. Apple’s iPad2 does not support flash either, impacting the user experience while Web browsing, and opening the door for competitors. There were also some issues with iPads being returned recently due to the touch screens acting up. Customers may dismiss that as part of the bleeding edge experience and working out the bugs, or it could impact their next media tablet selection. As for the old inventory, it’s expected to come down in price to help clear shelves, while the new devices will maintain the same price structure as before.

iPad 2′s incremental features will help keep the momentum going and drive continued adoption and mindshare among early adopters and the mainstream alike… at least until Apple comes out with another magical surprise. Abracadabra!

Krista Napier, is an IDC Canada senior analyst specializing in Canadian emerging technology

Protect your PBX From Hackers and Phreakers!

Theft of long distance service, telecommunications services and toll fraud come in many different forms. Understanding your telecommunications system and the techniques used by the criminals are key to limiting your vulnerability to this type of crime.

1. Learn about your telecommunications system:
• know the safeguards, the inherent defenses and security features;
• determine the vulnerabilities;
• ensure staff are trained in safeguards and procedures.

2. Know the access paths that open doors to fraud:
• Direct Inward System Access (DISA);
• Voice-Mail System;
• Remote System Administration (Maintenance Ports);
• Direct Inward Dialing;
• Tie Trunks and Tandem Network Services;
• Modems.

3. Monitor and analyze your systems information:
• Study call detail records and review billing records (exception reports may provide a warning sign);
• Know calling patterns and review them;
• Review voice-mail reports;
• Monitor valid and invalid calling attempts whenever possible.

4. Know the signs of a security breach:
• Complaints that the system is always busy;
• Sudden changes in normal calling patterns such as increases in wrong number calls or silent hang-ups, night, weekend and holiday traffic, 800 and WATS calls, international calling, and odd calls (i.e. crank/obscene calls);
• Toll calls originating in voice-mail;
• Long holding times;
• Unexplained 900 (Chat Line) calls;
• High tolls for any unauthorized trunk extension.

5. Secure your System(s):

System configuration:
• Restrict access to specific times (business hours) & limit calling ranges;
• Block all toll calls at night, on weekends and on holidays;
• Restrict call forwarding to local calls only;
• Block all 10XXXX calling from your PBX if this service is not necessary
• Block, limit access or Require attendant assistance to overseas calls;
• Establish policies on accepting collect calls and providing access to outside lines;

• Educate switchboard operators and employees about "social engineering" (i.e. con- artists trying to obtain calling access or transfers through a PBX);
• Secure equipment rooms (lock up all telephone equipment & wiring frames);

PBX (Private Branch Exchange) and DISA (Direct Inward System Access):
• Change default codes after installation of new equipment;
• Never publish DISA telephone numbers;
• Change your DISA access telephone number periodically;
• Issue a different DISA authorization code for all users and Warn DISA users not to write them down;
• Do not use sequential access numbers;
• Use longer DISA codes (minimum 7-9 digits) and change the codes regularly;
• Disconnect telephone extensions that are not in use;
• Restrict DISA access at night, weekends and on holidays (Prime time for fraud);
• Block or restrict overseas access;
• Program your system to answer with silence after five or six rings (Hackers look for systems that answer with a steady tone)
• Identify invalid access attempts to your DISA and route them to an operator;
• Implement DISA ports that drop the line when an invalid code is entered;
• Program your PBX to generate an alarm when an unusual number of invalid attempts are made, and to disable the port after a set number of invalid attempts.

Voice-Mail Systems
• Establish controlled procedures to set and reset passwords;
• Change passwords regularly;
• Use maximum length passwords for system manager box & maintenance ports;
• Prohibit the use of trivial, simple passwords (i.e. 222, 123, your last name, etc.);
• Limit the number of consecutive log-in attempts to five or less;
• Change all factory installed passwords;
• Block access to long distance trunking facilities, and collect call options on the auto attendant;
• Block or preferably Delete all inactive mailboxes;
• Limit your out-calling;
• In systems that allow callers to transfer to other extensions, block any digits that hackers could use to get outside lines, especially trunk access codes;
• Conduct routine reviews of the status of your system and system usage.

Remote Access Ports
• Block access to remote maintenance ports and system administration ports;
• Use maximum length access codes and change them regularly.

• Use maximum length passwords and change frequently;
• Eliminate three-way calling on all extensions used with modems;
• Disconnect modems that are not in use.

Now this is an interesting story “How Apple Dodged a Sun Buyout”

Now this is an interesting story “How Apple Dodged a Sun Buyout”

At a Churchill Club dinner, former Sun executives Scott McNealy and Ed Zander discuss why the company didn't buy Apple in 1996, the real beginnings of cloud computing and why Linux should never have SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Would there be iPhones, iPads and iPods on the market today if Sun Microsystems had been able to close a deal to buy out Apple in the mid-1990s?

No, says former Sun CEO Scott McNealy. "If we had bought Apple, there wouldn't have been iPods or iPads ... I'd have screwed that up," McNealy conceded
"Back in late 1995 early '96, when we were at our peak, we were literally hours away from buying Apple for about $5 to $6 a share,” said Zander, who had built Sun’s software business into a powerhouse and was rewarded with promotion to president by his mentor, McNealy.

“Honest to gosh, I was at an analysts' meeting in San Diego on a Tuesday morning and was getting ready to announce that we were going to buy Apple. I don't know what we were going to do with it, but we were going to buy it. (Apple) had no CEO at the time, Steve (Jobs) wasn't there, but we didn't get it. Why didn't we buy it?"

"We wanted to do it," McNealy said. "There was an investment banker on the Apple side, an absolute disaster, and he basically blocked it. He put so many terms into the deal that we couldn't afford to go do it."

Sun Microsystem was ahead of the curve in other areas. For example, McNealy says Sun can take credit for developing the concept and fundamental elements of cloud computing.

"We invented all the elements of cloud computing at Sun. Remember, our tagline was 'The network is the computer.' We came up with TCP/IP, the first NFS (network file system), and Java. All those things are the basis for cloud computing today and they all still work really well."

McNealy was also responsible for open source development: "We invented open source at Sun, taking the first open source operating system (Sun co-founder Bill Joy's BSD Unix) out of Berkeley. We open-sourced TCP/IP, Java—a long list of really important IT building blocks. Other companies, like Red Hat, might have monetized it better."

Retail Mobility and WiFi Hotspots

Did you know that close to 40% of retailers plan to add Wi-Fi Hotspots for Customer Access within the next 24 months? By giving mobile access to shoppers, innovative retailers are able to wirelessly link shoppers to:

• product descriptions
• reviews and ratings
• video demos

By connecting to consumers mobile devices, these interactive marketing techniques are creating more unique in-store experiences that are helping to drive impulse purchases and keep consumers returning to the store for repeat visits.
Mobile couponing and mobile ordering also are growing in popularity, with more than 30% of retailers reporting plans to add those apps in the next 24 months.