Friday, February 18, 2011

Beware the solar flare: Did you put on your sunscreen this morning? ;)

Following the biggest solar flare in four years earlier this week, forecasters are warning of unusually high levels of UV radiation today (Friday 18th Feb).

Check out this bad boy...:

In addition they are expecting disruption of GPS systems and Power Lines, so don't be surprised if your trusty Garmin suddenly sends you to Dakar... ;)

In all seriousness though, have you experienced anything today along the lines of the expected disruptions?
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U2's "Claw" stage comes to life in the Mother City...

Capetonians are in for a treat tonight as they prepare to see U2 live at the Cape Town Stadium.
Check out some of the logistics involved behind bringing the now famous "Claw" stage to life...

Hat tip to Patricia for this ;)
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

For the Architects and Engineers: Transparent cement, Floating elevators and more...

I am a frequent visitor to the DiscoveryNews website, and I picked up a few really interesting articles this week about transparent cement, a building with floating, zeppelin-like elevators, and a novel way for structural engineers to determine how healthy a building is using a quick visual check.

Seriously amazing technology - click the linked headings below to check each one out:

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My next phone might just be a Samsung Galaxy - check out this video...

Of late I have been thinking ahead to handset upgrade time, which for me will be in about 2 months.
I have up until now been a firm Nokia fan, but I have been very impressed with the new range of Android-powered Samsung Galaxy phones that are currently making waves in the industry.

Check out this cool video of Samsung's 4 recently launched new models, the Galaxy Ace, Galaxy Fit, Galaxy Gio and Galaxy Mini:

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Truckers strike: Non-striking drivers being beaten and vehicles being stoned in JHB...

I don't normally like being a bearer of bad news, but if you are on the roads today in Johannesburg, please be super careful as the truckers strike is on the go in full force, and in parts of JHB it has been violent.

News reports have made mention of vehicles burning and being stoned around JHB, in areas such as Germiston, Tembisa and Alberton.
Truck drivers are striking for a 20% salary increase over the next 2 years, while The Road Freight Employers' Association has offered a 15% percent increase.

Be safe out there motorists and non-striking truckers alike...!
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Friday, February 11, 2011

Nokia and Microsoft announce plans for a broad strategic partnership to build a new global ecosystem...

Just got this breaking news in my inbox from Nokia...
Must have been what Nokia CEO Stephen Elop was talking about in my earlier blog post...

Nokia and Microsoft announce plans for a broad strategic partnership to build a new global ecosystem
Companies plan to combine assets and develop innovative mobile products on an unprecedented scale
Nokia Corporation
Stock exchange release
February 11, 2011 at 9.30 (CET +1)
London, Feb. 11, 2011 - Nokia and Microsoft today announced plans to form a broad strategic partnership that would use their complementary strengths and expertise to create a new global mobile ecosystem.
Nokia and Microsoft intend to jointly create market-leading mobile products and services designed to offer consumers, operators and developers unrivalled choice and opportunity.  As each company would focus on its core competencies, the partnership would create the opportunity for rapid time to market execution.  Additionally, Nokia and Microsoft plan to work together to integrate key assets and create completely new service offerings, while extending established products and services to new markets. 
Under the proposed partnership:
- Nokia would adopt Windows Phone as its principal smartphone strategy, innovating on top of the platform in areas such as imaging, where Nokia is a market leader.
- Nokia would help drive the future of Windows Phone.  Nokia would contribute its expertise on hardware design, language support, and help bring Windows Phone to a larger range of price points, market segments and geographies.
- Nokia and Microsoft would closely collaborate on joint marketing initiatives and a shared development roadmap to align on the future evolution of mobile products.
- Bing would power Nokia's search services across Nokia devices and services, giving customers access to Bing's next generation search capabilities.  Microsoft adCenter would provide search advertising services on Nokia's line of devices and services.
- Nokia Maps would be a core part of Microsoft's mapping services.   For example, Maps would be integrated with Microsoft's Bing search engine and adCenter advertising platform to form a unique local search and advertising experience
- Nokia's extensive operator billing agreements would make it easier for consumers to purchase Nokia Windows Phone services in countries where credit-card use is low.
- Microsoft development tools would be used to create applications to run on Nokia Windows Phones, allowing developers to easily leverage the ecosystem's global reach. 
- Nokia's content and application store would be integrated with Microsoft Marketplace for a more compelling consumer experience.
"Today, developers, operators and consumers want  compelling mobile products, which include not only the device, but the software, services, applications and customer support that make a great  experience," Stephen Elop, Nokia President and CEO, said at a joint news conference in London. "Nokia and Microsoft will combine our strengths to deliver an ecosystem with unrivalled global reach and scale. It's now a three-horse race."
"I am excited about this partnership with Nokia," said Steven A. Ballmer, Microsoft CEO. "Ecosystems thrive when fueled by speed, innovation and scale. The partnership announced today provides incredible scale, vast expertise in hardware and software innovation and a proven ability to execute."
Please visit for press materials. 

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Google Doodle - Thomas Edison would have been 164 years old today :)

Today (11 February) marks the birthday of American inventor Thomas Edison, and what better way to mark the occasion than with a good old Google doodle...:

Head on over to to see it "in motion"...

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Leaked Nokia memo spells big possible shake-up for the Finns...

An internal memo (apparently authentic) leaked to Engadget earlier today, spells out the clear frustration of Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, at Nokia's inability to keep up with the competition after losing market share to the opposition in the form of Apple, Google and others.
Stephen elop meets the bloggersImage by luca.sartoni via Flickr

I have republished the full memo below - it makes for some very interesting reading and I look forward to see what changes Elop will propose in the near future, in order to try and kerb the downward Nokia trend...

Hello there,

There is a pertinent story about a man who was working on an oil platform in the North Sea. He woke up one night from a loud explosion, which suddenly set his entire oil platform on fire. In mere moments, he was surrounded by flames. Through the smoke and heat, he barely made his way out of the chaos to the platform's edge. When he looked down over the edge, all he could see were the dark, cold, foreboding Atlantic waters.

As the fire approached him, the man had mere seconds to react. He could stand on the platform, and inevitably be consumed by the burning flames. Or, he could plunge 30 meters in to the freezing waters. The man was standing upon a "burning platform," and he needed to make a choice.

He decided to jump. It was unexpected. In ordinary circumstances, the man would never consider plunging into icy waters. But these were not ordinary times - his platform was on fire. The man survived the fall and the waters. After he was rescued, he noted that a "burning platform" caused a radical change in his behaviour.

We too, are standing on a "burning platform," and we must decide how we are going to change our behaviour.

Over the past few months, I've shared with you what I've heard from our shareholders, operators, developers, suppliers and from you. Today, I'm going to share what I've learned and what I have come to believe.

I have learned that we are standing on a burning platform.

And, we have more than one explosion - we have multiple points of scorching heat that are fuelling a blazing fire around us.

For example, there is intense heat coming from our competitors, more rapidly than we ever expected. Apple disrupted the market by redefining the smartphone and attracting developers to a closed, but very powerful ecosystem.

In 2008, Apple's market share in the $300+ price range was 25 percent; by 2010 it escalated to 61 percent. They are enjoying a tremendous growth trajectory with a 78 percent earnings growth year over year in Q4 2010. Apple demonstrated that if designed well, consumers would buy a high-priced phone with a great experience and developers would build applications. They changed the game, and today, Apple owns the high-end range.

And then, there is Android. In about two years, Android created a platform that attracts application developers, service providers and hardware manufacturers. Android came in at the high-end, they are now winning the mid-range, and quickly they are going downstream to phones under €100. Google has become a gravitational force, drawing much of the industry's innovation to its core.

Let's not forget about the low-end price range. In 2008, MediaTek supplied complete reference designs for phone chipsets, which enabled manufacturers in the Shenzhen region of China to produce phones at an unbelievable pace. By some accounts, this ecosystem now produces more than one third of the phones sold globally - taking share from us in emerging markets.

While competitors poured flames on our market share, what happened at Nokia? We fell behind, we missed big trends, and we lost time. At that time, we thought we were making the right decisions; but, with the benefit of hindsight, we now find ourselves years behind.

The first iPhone shipped in 2007, and we still don't have a product that is close to their experience. Android came on the scene just over 2 years ago, and this week they took our leadership position in smartphone volumes. Unbelievable.

We have some brilliant sources of innovation inside Nokia, but we are not bringing it to market fast enough. We thought MeeGo would be a platform for winning high-end smartphones. However, at this rate, by the end of 2011, we might have only one MeeGo product in the market.

At the midrange, we have Symbian. It has proven to be non-competitive in leading markets like North America. Additionally, Symbian is proving to be an increasingly difficult environment in which to develop to meet the continuously expanding consumer requirements, leading to slowness in product development and also creating a disadvantage when we seek to take advantage of new hardware platforms. As a result, if we continue like before, we will get further and further behind, while our competitors advance further and further ahead.

At the lower-end price range, Chinese OEMs are cranking out a device much faster than, as one Nokia employee said only partially in jest, "the time that it takes us to polish a PowerPoint presentation." They are fast, they are cheap, and they are challenging us.

And the truly perplexing aspect is that we're not even fighting with the right weapons. We are still too often trying to approach each price range on a device-to-device basis.

The battle of devices has now become a war of ecosystems, where ecosystems include not only the hardware and software of the device, but developers, applications, ecommerce, advertising, search, social applications, location-based services, unified communications and many other things. Our competitors aren't taking our market share with devices; they are taking our market share with an entire ecosystem. This means we're going to have to decide how we either build, catalyse or join an ecosystem.

This is one of the decisions we need to make. In the meantime, we've lost market share, we've lost mind share and we've lost time.

On Tuesday, Standard & Poor's informed that they will put our A long term and A-1 short term ratings on negative credit watch. This is a similar rating action to the one that Moody's took last week. Basically it means that during the next few weeks they will make an analysis of Nokia, and decide on a possible credit rating downgrade. Why are these credit agencies contemplating these changes? Because they are concerned about our competitiveness.

Consumer preference for Nokia declined worldwide. In the UK, our brand preference has slipped to 20 percent, which is 8 percent lower than last year. That means only 1 out of 5 people in the UK prefer Nokia to other brands. It's also down in the other markets, which are traditionally our strongholds: Russia, Germany, Indonesia, UAE, and on and on and on.

How did we get to this point? Why did we fall behind when the world around us evolved?

This is what I have been trying to understand. I believe at least some of it has been due to our attitude inside Nokia. We poured gasoline on our own burning platform. I believe we have lacked accountability and leadership to align and direct the company through these disruptive times. We had a series of misses. We haven't been delivering innovation fast enough. We're not collaborating internally.

Nokia, our platform is burning.

We are working on a path forward -- a path to rebuild our market leadership. When we share the new strategy on February 11, it will be a huge effort to transform our company. But, I believe that together, we can face the challenges ahead of us. Together, we can choose to define our future.

The burning platform, upon which the man found himself, caused the man to shift his behaviour, and take a bold and brave step into an uncertain future. He was able to tell his story. Now, we have a great opportunity to do the same.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Google celebrates the birthday of Jules Verne today...

Head over to and check out their new logo today - it's a bit interactive since you can toggle the joystick on the right to move the image around.
Keep 'em coming Google!
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Monday, February 7, 2011

This just in... NOKIA - All-in-one business smartphone - the Nokia E7, arriving in stores shortly

Just got this in my inbox from Nokia:

Espoo, Finland - The highly anticipated Nokia E7 will begin arriving in stores in select markets this week, with broader availability building up quickly in several markets.
Nokia E7_3Image by NokiaConnectZA via Flickr

With its tilting 4 inch ClearBlack display, full qwerty keyboard and a fast access to a wide variety of apps directly on the homescreen, the Nokia E7 is the key to having a successful day in or out of the office. Importantly, the device supports business applications from leading enterprise technology partners including Microsoft and IBM.

Key features of the Nokia E7:

- Easy access to private and business email
- Create, edit and share office documents and view PDF files with Adobe Reader
- Fast, secure intranet access with the built-in VPN
- High-resolution photos and HD video with the 8 megapixel camera and dual LED flash
- HDMI connectivity to project files, videos and images onto large screens
- 16 gigabytes of on-board flash memory
- USB-On-The-Go, enabling easy file sharing by connecting a USB stick to the smartphone

For business users, Nokia E7 provides direct, secure and real-time access to email, calendar, contacts, tasks and the corporate directory through Microsoft Exchange servers, as well as Office Communicator Mobile, developed by Microsoft for Nokia smartphones, which brings presence and corporate instant messaging.
Additionally, a wide range of entertainment and social services available on the Nokia E7 make it the perfect off-duty companion, and the Ovi Store offers a wealth of apps such as Bloomberg, Angry Birds and Sports Tracker.

The new arrival offers drive or walk navigation in 80 countries. The latest commercial version of Ovi Maps, available immediately via Ovi Store or Ovi Suite, adds visibility to subways, trams and trains, real-time traffic, safety alerts, visibility to parking and petrol stations, speed limit warnings, and improved search and location sharing capabilities. 
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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Do broken noses have magnets in them?

If you read my blog, then you will know that a few weeks ago I suffered a random seizure, resulting in a broken nose and 2 fractured vertebrae.
It wasn't pleasant, and almost a month on I am still having to use painkillers fairly regularly in order to function.

Regardless, life goes on and a lot of good things came out of this particular event.
A broken nose was not one of them.

Broken noses suck, and here's why:
A broken nose, like any other broken bone in the body, takes months to properly heal.
During that time, a reasonable assumption would be that the broken bone in question should be allowed sufficient time to heal.

Isn't it just typical though, that whenever any part of your body is sore or injured, that body part will always be the part that gets accidentally knocked, smacked or otherwise abused in an intensely painful way...
Awaking from a medicine-induced slumber a few days ago, for the most brief of split-seconds I forgot that my nose was in fact not in its normal healthy state.

The subsequent upward hand movement that followed, was aimed at scratching my ear or some other part of my head.
Of course, en route, my nose was in the way, but it should easily have been bypassed and in no way affected by the aforementioned hand.
Not so.

Instead - pure, unadulterated, intense, nose-focused pain, as that same hand made solid side-on contact with my vulnerable schnozz.
There are no words. Just strange grimacing sounds, tons of teeth clenching, face-pulling and a good deal of time in order to let the pain subside.

Now here's the part where you, the reader start to feel just a tad squeamish...:
After a knock like that, a broken nose feels slightly "out of joint" so to speak... so my (totally scientific ;) resolution was to use my hands to firmly support both sides of my nose and squeeze it like hell, along some imaginary straight line.

The faint yet distinctly uncomfortable clicking sounds that followed, were confirmation (at least in my mind), that any damage done by the knock had now been undone and that my nose was fairly straight again...

Seriously though, do you not agree that injured, healing body parts are just waiting to be unintentionally smacked / hurt / otherwise victimized in some way...?

Got a similar story to share? Please tell me I am not alone here... I wanna hear all about it!
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Explore virtual museums around the world, viewing artworks at amazing zoom levels... all online, all free!

Whether you are an art lover, a graphic designer, or just an average Joe, overseas travel is always something incredible, and an opportunity to be grabbed if and when it ever arrives.
If, however you cannot see yourself jetting off anywhere anytime soon, but you still want to feel just a little like you have been touring some exotic European capital, then head on over to

Google Art Project, as the name accurately suggests, is a free, Google powered tool which can be used to take virtual tours of a number of famous museums around the world.

In a similar fashion to the Google's now famous Street View, you can literally (virtually) navigate around inside each room of a museum, and then zoom in on a particular artwork or piece of particular interest.
It has to be seen to be believed - the zoom levels are incredible, allowing you to view even the tiniest cracks in each canvas.
Check this out...:

From this...

To this...

To this...!
I just have to keep asking myself - what more can they do with technology?
To use just Google as an example, when Google Earth launched in 2005, jaws dropped all over the place.
I remember clients of mine spending entire days just exploring the planet and discovering little known locations all over the globe...

Now it's virtual museums.
What's next?

Thx 2 Maggy for this :)
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

How awesome is this album cover...? Cafe Del Mar Ibiza Vol.3: Mixed By Jose Padilla...

This one is an oldie, but I came across it recently while doing a bit of musical reminiscing, and it is one of those cover pieces of artwork that just takes me away every time I see it...

Click on the image for a full size view:

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