Tablets: RIP?

September 22, 2012

By Doug Miller

Being constantly connected is critical for my work so when I was leaving for a 4 day business trip recently, I looked at my arsenal of devices and selected a range of connectivity solutions that would give me lots of options for keeping in touch. As I walked out to the door to the airport, I had the following in my carry-on bag:

  • An HTC Titan II Windows Phone with LTE on AT&T’s network which also was enabled as a mobile wireless hotspot when needed.
  • A Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7 Android-based tablet with LTE on Verizon’s network and also capable of being a mobile wireless hotspot.
  • A small Acer notebook computer running Windows 7
  • An Intel-based tablet computer running Windows 8 RTM
  • A 3G USB stick that connects to AT&T’s HSPA+ network which can be used with either of my Windows devices
  • A Sprint 3G/4G Overdrive portable wireless hotspot device

I have a first generation, WiFi-only iPad but decided to leave that at home.

So what did I find worked best to keep me connected?
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After BlackBerries, what’s next for government mobile users?

August 28, 2012

By Doug Miller

RIM has historically been the device of choice for secure mobile communication in the government market. The BlackBerry phone offered unique business-oriented capabilities but lacked sex appeal to draw consumers to its products. Yet for government agencies that needed to supply their workers with a robust, secure cell phone, the business features won out over giving users a device that was “magical.”

Now with the rise of BYOD (“bring you own device”) in government agencies, RIM is suddenly no longer an appealing option for consumers who are now asked to buy their own device and bring it to work. As attractive as BYOD is for budget planners, BYOD has the potential to be a nightmare for IT support staff that has to support and manage what seems like an infinite range of smartphones with different operating systems, security capabilities, enterprise features and quality. I believe, what is more likely to happen is government IT staff will provide users with a list of recommended devices and only support users of those devices for government communications needs once the device has been properly secured and configured. Some agencies, like the NSA, may want to stick with closely-managed, government-issued devices but will be looking for alternatives to the BlackBerry.

Does anyone have the ability to both address the security needs of government IT policies but also provide a range of products that will appeal to consumers? Until recently, I thought Samsung had a good shot at doing this. Now with the recent Apple-Samsung patent trial outcome, it is worth revisiting the options.
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Lenovo, why are you killing the ThinkPad?

August 14, 2012

By Jeff Gould

I’ve been a ThinkPad user for 15 years, ever since I switched from Mac OS to Windows for my primary work machine. The reason for the switch: back then the Mac version of Netscape’s browser chronically lagged IE for Windows in functionality and speed. Although never thrilled with ThinkPad’s performance relative to its price, I loved the keyboard and the trackpoint (that funny red button in the middle of the keyboard that serves as the mouse). The all-black plastic body wasn’t the most stylish on the market, but it was acceptable.

But lately I’ve begun to have second thoughts. I’m even coming to believe that Lenovo secretly wants to kill the ThinkPad. Why? Because Lenovo has abandoned any pretense of trying to keep up with Apple as a manufacturer of premium professional laptops.

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FTC’s Google Safari Settlement: Impact on Government Computing

August 9, 2012

Why we need a criminal investigation to finish the job the FTC couldn’t

By Doug Miller

By just about any accepted definition, Google’s overriding of default security settlings and unauthorized intentional access of Apple’s Safari web browser on users’ systems that led to the recent FTC investigation and settlement should be considered illegal hacking that warrants criminal investigation. That is, Google surreptitiously loaded executable code onto users’ devices, ran that code to weaken the browser’s security settings, and then used the weakened security environment to load third-party cookies to enhance the relevance of ads displayed to the user. This was done to provide Google with revenue from the additional ads. Since advertising generates 96% of Google’s revenue, the motive for hacking seems clear. Hacking for profit is against the law. Google should not get a pass for what is a criminal act.
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Is Wozniak really wrong?

August 7, 2012

By Doug Miller

Steve Wozniak’s recent comments on how cloud computing is going to cause “lot of horrible problems in the next five years” and comments such as…

with the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away

… has sparked wide-ranging commentary in the media and blogosphere.

One of the more interesting reactions was one published by David Linthicum on InfoWorld in an article titled “Wozniak is wrong about cloud computing.”

One of the points Mr. Linthicum makes is…

I suspect he’s referring more to consumer-oriented clouds and social networking sites that leverage your information in exchange for use of their services.

Both of these folks raise some valid points. However, to Mr. Wozniak’s claims, if you go with the right cloud solutions with the right privacy agreements and terms of services, the data ownership and protection issues should be properly addressed – right? Mr. Linthicum’s point that this is more about consumer-oriented clouds raises questions as well.

Is Wozniak right or wrong? The answer may be within our control.
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Safari-gate: Did Google break government computing laws?

May 3, 2012

By Doug Miller

On February 17th, the Wall Street Journal reported that a researcher working for them discovered that Google ran hidden code designed to circumvent the security settings on Apple devices that use the Safari web browser. While much of the coverage of this revelation has focused on consumers and whether the action may have violated laws or the consent agreement between the FTC and Google, little has been written about the impact for public sector customers. Public sector customers are big users of Apple devices and these users are governed by a strict set of unique regulations and laws. Given the circumstances of the events here, the question needs to be asked: did Google break any of the laws or regulations that restrict entities from accessing or changing government computing systems?

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