E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

iPhone

Reflections from 2011 – The Year of Mobile, Again

Tenerife - Mount Teide in the WinterIt’s rather interesting to see the kinds of conversations that one gets to embark on in the offline social networking world while on a couple of week vacation break (By the way, hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas time, as well as a Happy, rather Prosperous and very Healthy New Year 2012!!). It’s even more interesting when some of those conversations have been going on around what we have done and learned in 2011 and right off it all turns into personal reflections for what’s happened throughout the year. Just like in the virtual world, I guess, like I am doing with this series of blog posts. So continuing further with that set, just the other day one of my offline good friends asked me what I thought was a rather interesting twist, which would be a good intro for this article as well. He asked me what was the biggest disappointment I experienced in the past year that I could have done without. My short answer: Technology. The long answer: here is why.

Technology is a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong, there is no doubt about it. I am sure we all agree with that statement. It’s helping shape up and change radically all aspects of our society as well as the corporate world. It’s helping us understand how we can keep striving successfully for the ultimate goal for every knowledge worker out there: work smarter, not necessarily harder. It’s essentially helping change who we are and what we do. Yet, some times it’s utterly disappointing to see how far we are from what we all know we could have at this age in 2011.

This year we are about to finish has been an incredibly hectic and exciting year with plenty of amazing happenings and unforgettable events altogether. For me, it’s been one of the busiest and most fruitful, too! With plenty of business travelling and frenzy at work one learns to build a certain level of expectations that you would want to see met, so you can keep up being rather productive and effective, which is what matters at the end of the day. Specially, nowadays: effectiveness continues to beat efficiency any and every time. But it looks like we are another year onwards and we are not there just yet. Let’s see it with the most crippling example I can think of, based on my own first hand experiences …

If anything, 2011 has been the Year of Mobile. And, finally, if I may add that, too, myself! But has it really been that way? Well, in my experience, it hasn’t. Another year gone by and another big disappointment, because we keep suffering from the very same problem we have been having for the last 5 years, when we were first commenting on the huge opportunity for the mobile world to disrupt everything around us. We keep seeing a good amount of tremendously powerful reports and insights on why every year we seem to be experiencing the year of mobile and yet, it just doesn’t happen. At least, in 2011 with yours truly.

Yes, I do have a smartphone (An iPhone 4S which I love to bits, too!); yes, I do have an iPad (My favourite tablet by far and for a great number of reasons that I have recently picked up, once again, on my Google Plus profile, but more on that shortly…); and yes, I do have a MacBook Air, which is as light as you probably could get nowadays with heavy computing tasks. Yes, in short, you could say that I’m a fully empowered mobile worker. I work from home most of my time; I travel quite a bit to conference events, summits, customer meetings, workshops, seminars, etc. etc. I work quite often at airports, at hotels and various other locations. Work is me, I’m work. I am a road warrior, too, I suppose, with a clear mission: work happens around me. It’s no longer a physical location, but more of a state of mind. So my expectations have become rather high when I want technology to work just like I want it to. Alas, it just doesn’t happen. It keeps failing time and time again, which is rather disappointing, to say the least, if not too frustrating altogether most of the time.

Over the course of the year, and as I keep living “A World Without Email“, I have had a growing and continued need to stay connected for as long as I possibly could. Living on the Social Web does that to you; you need to be constantly connected. Social networking tools do not understand the concept of working offline, apparently, or so it seems, so you expect that technology will come up to the rescue, yet, it keeps failing. Why?, you may be wondering, right?, since we are just about to finish another “Year of Mobile“? Well, hardware wise I would probably venture we are there and pretty nicely: with smartphones and tablets taking the enterprise by storm it’s no surprise how keen and very much willing knowledge workers are to even bring in their own devices at work. Yet, we keep failing to deliver at one key issue that most people keep ignoring time and time again and not even sure why: Connectivity. Or, better said, lack of reliable, scalable and sustainable connectivity. The telcos. The (mobile) carriers.

I am not sure about you, folks, but that has been *THE* major challenge for me for 2011. Trying to stay connected, while on the road, to keep being productive with the Social Web. Time and time again, while attending & presenting at conference events, for instance, access to the Social Web has been rather patchy, whether through free wi-fi hotspots, or even paying for the connection it hasn’t worked the way I would have wanted it to. In fact, while I’m writing this blog entry I am realising one of the various reasons why there have been long periods of silence on this blog, and various other social networking sites, was just, basically, because I was not connected to the Web or because it was just so slow that it was rather unbearable to try to get anything done. Ever tried connecting to the Web from your hotel room, whether on a free wi-fi or paying up to 22€ per day to just reach out to the Web? Yes, exactly!, that is what I mean! A complete waste of time, energy and effort just increasing the levels of frustration more and more by the day. I still find it quite amazing what a huge business opportunity there is out there and yet no-one seems to want to pick it up accordingly.

But you may be wondering, hang on for a minute. Both your iPhone 4S and iPad are 3G enabled; and you also have got a 3G modem you can use for the MacBook Air; doesn’t that help out a bit? Well, not really. Yes, I do have that extra kind of connectivity, but, once again, it hasn’t delivered really much. As a starting point, as soon as I leave Spain, which is when most of my business travelling kicks in, I’m out of 3G coverage, as well as good use of the 3G modem, since I don’t want to incur in the ridiculously high costs of international roaming, which, to a certain point, are starting to become a joke, on all of us, poor end-users (even on the literal sense, too!).

So that leaves me out to use the 3G and the 3G Modem while in Spain, right? Yes, but the results are equally disastrous. Every month I’m paying about 120€ to 130€ (Yes, I know, very pricey!) just to stay connected and while one expects to be able to make it, the reality is that 3G coverage and broadband penetration in this country has got a lot to be desired for. For many times I have been travelling to mainland Spain, to rather big cities, right in the city center, and yet the 3G connection is incredibly poor. Knowing that the Social Web is just out there, waiting for you, and yet you can no longer reach it as you would have liked can surely be a rather disappointing experience and what a complete turnoff!

Yet, it looks like no-one is doing much to try to improve things where I feel should be much improved. Stop us, end-users, to keep being ripped off time and time again by telcos and whatever other mobile carriers, for very poor connectivity, while paying huge costs for it. No wonder I have been rather frustrated throughout the year with regards to how little I have remained hooked up to the Social Web over the course of time. I keep wondering when will the European Union start coming along to protect our rights to information and staying connected without having to pay through our noses and fight the good fight. It’s starting to become a far too frustrating experience altogether, so when I bump into rather interesting and enlightening short video clips like “Mobile Year in Review 2011” one cannot but have a chuckle or two thinking how, unless things change drastically with our current telcos and their abusive policies, we will keep longing for that “Year of Mobile” to kick in at some point in time in the next 5 to 10 years. Right now, it’s not even there, by far!

Ohhh, and that’s not all of it, on my next blog post I will share with you folks Part II of why technology has been the biggest disappointment for yours truly for 2011. And this time around social technologies themselves. Then there will be a final follow-up article where I will share further insights on what I plan to do in 2012 and beyond to try to tame that frustration and attempt to get the most of what it is still a rather poor experience of interacting with technology and the Social Web. It’s going to be a revolution, for sure, but one where I am no longer willing to pay through my nose for it, even if that means changing radically what the Social Web experience has been like for yours truly in the last 10 years … I think it’s a good time now to make a stand and take back what has always belonged to us. The Web and the use we make of it.

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My Top 5 iPhone Apps of the Week – Week #1

My Top 5 iPhone Apps of the Week - Week #1 I guess that with 47 million iPhones sold throughout 2010 and with 20 million plus already expected for Q1 in 2011 there is very little I would probably need to add about the tremendous impact of the iPhone within the smartphone market, whether for business or for personal use. Or both. So earlier on this year, around mid-summer, and after having waited for a couple of years, I, finally, took the chance to upgrade my good old 3G iPhone and get back on track with things with the iPhone 4. Thus, I got my hands on one. Yes, the very same one that dealt with the antennagate, which I never saw, nor experienced, by the way, in the nearly six months I have been using it extensively all over the place, including abroad. And counting … Certainly, one of the major gadget highlights for me for 2010, specially, since it allowed me to reacquaint myself with that good old concept of smart mobility without continuing to have that feeling I have been missing something for a while…

And so far the experience has been phenomenal, to say the least! It’s helped me get reacquainted with a good bunch of the iPhone Apps I fell in love in the first place when the iPhone 3G was still usable, plus a whole bunch of new ones that have come along rather nicely in the last few months. So when I resumed my blogging activities after a rather long hiatus not long ago I mentioned over here how, very soon, I would also be opening up a new series of blog posts, pretty similar to the My Top 5 iPad Apps of the Week, but instead of just sharing my favourite iPad Apps, I would also start sharing my iPhone Apps, with pretty much the very same flow, including the iPhone Game of the Week. That way folks, who may be interested in learning what interesting and rather helpful Apps there may be out there that I have been using lately, would have an opportunity to check them out themselves as well.

At the same time, and just like for the iPad Apps, it would give me an opportunity to create a record, an archive, of the ones I have been sharing already over at Twitter, under the same hash tag: #elsuapps before they all disappear into thin air, like it’s happened in the past. Now, I do realise how this series of blog posts are actually going to be much shorter than the iPad Apps ones and, eventually, I wouldn’t be surprise if both series of entries would merge into a single one as the reach and impact of the iPad become more and more apparent and we can move in right into what matters: sharing the odd tips here and there on really helpful Apps that perhaps you should not miss out. Nor me! Because, as usual, I would want to also welcome folks to leave in the comments section their favourite picks, tips and suggestions of Apps I should give a try as well and eventually incorporate into #elsuapps at some point in time…

Thus without much further ado, and hoping you would find this series of shorter posts on iPhone Apps somewhat helpful, here we go with My Top 5 iPhone Apps of the Week – Week #1:

  • Instagram: Yes, indeed, I am a visual human being, a visual learner, and, while on the move, Instagram is one of the latest mobile social networking tools I have joined just recently and I am finding it an absolute delight to, back again, enjoy fully both moblogging and photoblogging the way they should have been from the start: fun, fun, fun! Perhaps even what Flickr Mobile should have been altogether, from the start… My username in there is the usual one as it is everywhere else (i.e. elsua) and I guess to try to describe it is probably going to remain a challenge, so I would advise you to check out the picture I shared below a couple of days ago and which will probably describe pretty well the overall experience! Go ahead and give it a try and feel free to reach out across and start sharing some of those amazing pictures with your mobile social networks!
  • WhatsApp: If you happen to live in a country with the most expensive rates for SMS in Europe, you would probably be very very helpful for this rather nifty iPhone App, like I am, since I happen to live in such a country where the SMS fees are the most expensive in Europe by far, and if you go abroad and send an SMS msg., it’s even worse (Thank you very much, Movistar!). Like I said, if you want to stop sending SMS messages altogether, but still keep in touch with colleagues, friends and relatives, specially, in these times, without spending a penny more than what you would if you were to send an SMS from abroad with my mobile provider, WhatsApp is an essential, must-have, can’t-miss-out App. Period. Nothing else to add further other than being very grateful to the developers for helping us all save tons of money and still keep in touch with everyone!
  • Viber: You may have recently seen, or experienced, the issues Skype had with a rather long outage that took the service down for a good number of hours and back then you were probably already wondering about what potential alternatives you may have out there, right? Well, on the iPhone, there are several of them out there, but my favourite one so far, and way ahead of the curve from most of the others, is Viber. Have a look into this YouTube video to see how it works and go and install it right away! Another good, helpful way of reducing your mobile phone costs. Oh, and just like the short video clip states, it works!

  • Dragon Dictation: If you are already familiar with voice recognition software, you would know there are plenty of really good options out there for most operating systems; my favourite on the Mac has been, all along, MacSpeech Dictate (Which has been recently re-branded as Dragon Dictate for Mac), so when I first heard that Dragon Dictation was becoming available as well outside of the US I just couldn’t help bounce up and down sharing the excitement; this was one of those iPhone Apps I have been looking forward to for months and, finally!, it was available to us all! And, boy, does it work beautifully?!?! It surely does! If you are tried of typing or you just want to capture that quick thought, while on the go, Dragon Dictation is all you need! Another, must-have, essential App for your iPhone!
  • Bayo Bongo: And, finally, here we go with the final iPhone App for this time around, which happens to be the iPhone Game of the Week. This time around dedicated to one of my favourites, Bayo Bongo. It may seem an easy to play game at the beginning, but, to be honest, as you move forward to higher levels you will experience what it is like multi-touching on such a tiny screen as the iPhone’s, just to keep up with the game itself! Fantastic, addictive and rather immersive altogether! Oh, and here is another tip, there is an iPad version for it, too! And goodness! It changes the whole game altogether on how you can interact with both hands as an amazingly fun game to experience. Highly recommended!

And that’s it, folks, for this time around! Hope you get to enjoy some of those various iPhone Apps mentioned above and stay tuned for upcoming blog posts where I will continue with the series of #elsuapps for the iPhone. Oh, and don’t forget to share your favourite picks in the comments as well!

Gran Canaria - Christmas in Las Canteras Beach in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

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