If you are using Rails and Passenger and upgrade to mountain lion, you’ll need to do a bit of tweaking to get them playing nicely again. Here’s what I did:
Passenger & Apache
The Mountain Lion installer will replace your http.conf file in /etc/apache2/ with a new one. After doing a diff and discovering no important differences, I simply put my old one back (marked by Apple as httpd.conf.old in the same directory). However, I had to comment out this line:
# LoadModule bonjour_module libexec/apache2/mod_bonjour.so
Because that module no longer exists in 10.8. As noted here, Apple have removed the sharing toggle for Web Sharing (Apache) so, use these commands to start:
sudo apachectl restart
sudo apachectl stop
sudo apachectl start
Somehow, my upgrade to 10.8 introduced/changed my root mySQL password. I don’t have one, for development purposes, so I had to find a way to remove it again. For that I did the following:
1. Stop MySQL
2. Run sudo /usr/local/mysql/bin/mysqld_safe –skip-grant-tables
UPDATE user SET Password=PASSWORD(‘YOUR_PASSWORD’)
WHERE Host=’localhost’ AND User=’root’;
Where did SVN go? I don’t know, but it wasn’t in its usual /usr/bin/ position after I installed 10.8. Nowadays, you can install the command line developer tools independently of the gigantic 3gb Xcode package. Installing that small package bought me back a latest version of SVN, as well as GCC and a number of other useful tools. You can download it here after logging in with your Apple ID.
Please note, the 4.4 version of the command line tools will not be available there until after the official launch of 10.8 Mountain lion.
Lets face it, iOS Maps uses up too much of your data package. If you don’t believe me, try this:
- Check your data usage in Settings -> Usage -> Cellular Usage
- Reset it, or take a note of the value
- Go to Maps, and search for a city youve never viewed before in map
- Zoom in a few times, and pan around for 30 seconds
- Check your data usage again
- That’s right, 2-3 MB for that small privilege!
The problem isnt just the amount of data itself, but the fact that it gets deleted soon after you download it! Why? The maps app on the iPhone has a very small, ~22MB cache. So even if you use your home WiFi to pre-download all you need for your week away to Paris, it’s likely you can only access a tiny bit of your previously viewed maps before you need to download again. And for that you need cell access, to drain more data from your monthly allowance (or force you to sell your house to pay for roaming fees), and patience.
1. First you need to jailbreak. Luckily this is possible on all devices, including the iPhone 4S (at time of writing).
2. Now there are a number of existing solutions you can try. However, I found (at time of writing), some are difficult to understand, and none of them work with Google Maps or iOS5. In case this changes, and because it’s likely my solution will one day fail, I’ll list some of them here:
- OffMaps - http://www.offmaps.com/ - Doesn’t need jailbreak, but uses OpenStreetMap not Google Maps and costs money
- OMaps - http://omapsiphone.com/ - See above.
- iphoneofflinemap - http://code.google.com/p/iphoneofflinemap/ - Supposed to enable your Maps app to save for offline use, but doesn’t work in iOS5
- Maps Enhancer - http://moreinfo.thebigboss.org/moreinfo/depiction.php?file=mapsenhancerData – See above.
- iMapsManager - http://imapsmanager.ru/mapConverter/mapConverter_eng.htm - Converts maps downloaded with the google maps downloader tool. Doesn’t work with iOS5
- Try the below (with iOS 5.0.x)…
We are going to modify the cache database to stop it deleting old map tiles, thereby allowing it to increase in size indefinitely. Don’t worry, its not as hard as it sounds.
- Find and Copy the /var/mobile/Library/Caches/Maps/MapTiles/MapTiles.sqlitedb file to your Mac / PC (you can do this using a file copying program such as iExplorer [http://www.macroplant.com/iexplorer/], or using ssh).
- Open it with an SqlLite database reader. I used MesaSQLite [http://www.desertsandsoftware.com/?realmesa_home] for Mac.
- Add the following trigger to the database by executing the following query:- “CREATE TRIGGER prevent_delete BEFORE DELETE ON image BEGIN SELECT raise(IGNORE); END”
- Quit Maps on your iPhone
- Copy the MapTiles.sqlitedb back to the same location on your phone, replacing the original
- Ensure the file has the correct permissions, owner: mobile, 775. You can use terminal, ssh, or even iFile (an app available in Cydia) to do this.
- Restart your iPhone.
Now try it out! It’s best if your on a wifi network, but 3G will do. Pan and zoom around the map all you like, and after a few minutes check the size of the MapTiles.sqlitedb file. It should grow beyond 22Mb, and when you go back to previously visited places, it will load instantly, and without need for network.
- You may have to be connected to the internet for a second or two when you first load the maps app after a phone restart in order for them to work offline. After that you should be able to close and open it and view all tiles without being online and not using any data.
- GPS does NOT appear to work at all without a network connection in the Maps app or any apps that use Google Maps API in iOS, even if you have perfect line of sight to the sky and the area you’re in is definitely cached. I have no idea why this is. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
- Your maps will eventually become outdated if you live in a fast changing country like China. You may want to delete the cache file at this point and repeat the process above to make sure it’s not limited to 22MB
- Your Maps may eventually have problems, after all this is a hack, though mine hasn’t yet with my cache file at 150mb.
- If your very geeky like me, you can discover the location of the MapTiles database for all the applications other than the official Map app, that use the maps api. One of my favourite such apps is called cartographer. By creating a symbolic link from your modified MapTiles database to the common location for the other apps, you can use the same cache for all your maps related apps!
- One day the tool iMapsManager [http://imapsmanager.ru/mapConverter/mapConverter_eng.htm] will hopefully be updated to allow you to create maps using the google map downloaded toll and load them onto your iPhone.
Ah, how lucky we are to live in the technology age. Personal Electronics just keep getting more convenient, faster, cheaper, and dare I say it, more Star Trek-like. About a year ago I indulged in my first stereo Bluetooth headset (which was an MW600), which have recently started hitting the market. A year on, with the addition of Siri, I now find myself regulalrly tapping my breast pocket, where the device susually sits, scheduling appointments and making calls, rather like I remember Captain Piccard tapping his lapel ‘communicator’ to communicate with crewmates or the computer.
Anyway, without further ado, I’d like to offer a brief review of the Sony MW600 and the Samsung HS3000, along with my overall experience of using such devices day-to-day, to help you decide if they’re for you.
To give a bit of background, both of these devices are a little larger than a pen-top, and clip onto your shirt, lapel, or top pocket. Both have a standard headphone socket on the top, and come with short length wired headphones if you want to use them (In fact, the Sony headphones bundled with the MW600 are excellent in themselves). Both have an inbuilt microphone for wireless calling. Both can pair with multiple devices. Both have play/pause, forward, back, and volume controls for music. Both work with the iPhone (the Samsung is better). Both contain small, irreplaceable batteries which charge in 2-3 hours and last 2-3 days depending on how much music and calling you do.
If you’ve never tried a stereo Bluetooth headset and you’re a bit of geek like me, I strongly suggest you try. It’s quite a liberating experience to have all the audio interfaces of your phone (sound effects, full quality music, videos, and calling functionality) ‘outsourced’ so you don’t need to have a messy cable tugging all over the place when you pull out your phone to make a call or respond to a text.
Why am I very familiar with both of these devices? I first bought a MW600 to try it out last year in 2011, and was thrilled with the experience. I was so thrilled that after leaving it in my jeans pocket and putting it though the wash thus destroying it (but not the earphones, most earphones are surprisingly resilient to being washed, I’ve found), I went straight out and bought a second one. After that one was lost during the new year festival in Edinburgh (I have a slight problem about being careless with even my favourite things), I decided to see if there was something even better in the same class I could try, and thought id give the Samsung HS3000 a try.
Sony Ericsson MW600
Having had two of these, I’m quite familiar with it. It’s rather badly designed. The screen is nice, but the buttons are hard to find, and the volume control is completely terrible. I heard Sony is releasing a other version of this class of device this year, and I hope they manage to sort out the volume. The touch sensitive sliders only works with practice. The device itself is ok to handle and wear. The battery isn’t bad, lasting longer than the samsung. The sound quality is great, especially with the included earphones. However, it does have a problem with distortion and noise at high volume ranges. It includes a radio which I’ve never used. The device sometimes has problems pairing and needs to be reset, but the signal is very strong. It has a rather convoluted way of pairing to different devices which took me a while to get use to. The microphone is not great, causing me to use the phone most of the time rather than the headset when making calls, partly because the background noise cancelling system of the new iPhone 4 is so good. The microphone is not good enough to use with Siri reliably.
- Design – 5/10
- Usability – 4/10
- Bluetooth Reliability (with iPhone) – 5/10
- Stereo Sound Quality – 7/10
- Microphone Quality – 5/10
- Sound Volume – 6/10
- Battery – 7/10
- Included earphones – 8/10
- Price – USD 30-40
After doing some research on alternatives to the Sony Ericsson, I put the Samsung HS3000 on my shortlist and decided to give it a try. Overall, I like it more, and it’s further increased my usage of headsets. The main reason is that it’s more usable! At first, the lack of screen and smaller battery worried me, but I have quickly learned to love this device, even though it’s still lacking the polish of a mass market device. The design is much better. Its smaller, and fits more neatly on my lapel. The buttons are not that accessible but they’re better than the MW600. It pairs easily with the iPhone, faster and more reliably than the MW600, and works with multiple devices. The signal strength is not as good, and will break if you are more than a few metres from the phone and turn your back. The sound quality is about the same as the MW600, maybe a touch poorer. The microphone is quite good, and even while mounted in a shirt pocket it works with Siri. A luxury. The bundled earphones are not great. The battery is probably 30-40% smaller capacity than the Sony Ericsson, and it’s frustrating not knowing what the level is because there’s no screen (there’s only an audible warning). Overall, it’s a joy to have.
- Design – 6/10
- Usability – 6/10
- Bluetooth Reliability (with iPhone) – 7/10
- Stereo Sound Quality – 7/10
- Microphone Quality – 7/10
- Sound Volume – 5/10
- Battery – 5/10
- Included earphones – 5/10
- Price – USD 30-40
I’ll keep this short. This kind of device, wireless earphones, microphone, connected to your smartphone, is going to hit mass adoption in the next few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple even got in on the act. I’ve had such fun in the last few months trying a few early attempts out. In terms of these two devices, until we get a better integration of both of their advantages and improve on their disadvantages, it’s really about your preferences. Bigger battery, integrated radio, better earphones – MW600. Better, slicker all round device, with neater pairing and good microphone – HS3000 (just remember to charge every few days). Either way, happy Star Trekking!
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
Apple TV Advertisement, 1997
Every day at 3:10pm when I was seven years old, I would get start to get excited, because school was about to finish. That meant in just a few minutes I could race home and carry on with my drawings. My father was the headmaster, and he had decided to buy a Macintosh for the school bursar, who happened my mother, to do the accounting. Using a computer saved her hours of filling in forms and doing manual calculations, but that was not why I was excited, as I perched myself on her office chair and double clicked ‘MacDraw’. I would play for hours in this simple application, letting my creations come to life, experimenting with digital ink, simple lines, circles and patterns on the black and white screen.
Macintosh Operating System 1.1, 1984
When I was 13 I got my first mac, and although I didn’t know it at the time, it was just after Steve Jobs returned to Apple. I remember seeing a poster at my high school with the Apple logo, that simply said ‘Think Different’. I liked that a lot. It didn’t look like an advertisement, it looked like advice for life. In the mid nineties Windows was taking an aggressive lead in the home computer OS m
arket and I was made fun of by my friends for using and defending Apple. When Mac OS X came out in 2000, I was very excited because it was based on UNIX, more powerful, safer, and more stable, but my excitement only made my friends laugh more. Interestingly, now half of them have iPhones which run the mobile version of OS X: iOS.
It is a reminder that Apple was not always cool and popular, a reminder that the company made a monumental comeback at the hands of Jobs. After his return in 1996, he swiftly began work on the iMac and the iPod, launched in 1998 and 2001 respectively, and thus began a line of increasingly popular products designed with high utility, yet beautiful simplicity. Jobs has left behind a legacy of products that have revolutionised personal computing, and changed many lives for the better. It’s hard to imagine what the personal computer, music, and phone industry would be like if it wasn’t for Apple. You may not agree with Apple’s closed product philosophy, but you can’t deny their massive influence in multiple markets. Jobs has left us a lasting legacy of amazing products and ideas, and a company with a mission to continue innovating and transforming our experience of a product. This is his first gift: the legacy of products and market changing innovations.
But what of the man himself? How do we make sense of the overly critical, hypersensitive, super-passionate genius who frequently behaved in ways we wouldn’t tolerate in even the most forward thinking and modern organisation? I think the answer is, most of us can’t make sense of it, but we can still learn from him. The idea that someone with so much darkness was also able to rise up so high is not unique, of course; it is the paradoxical nature of every hero in every good story ever told. Somehow it’s the controversial ones, the flawed ones, and the ones who are at extremes in the personality spectrum who make a dent in our universe, leaving the rest of us behind in the dust, stunned.
It is probably harder for a western mind to understand this paradox than an eastern one. In the West we tend to categorise things, as indeed Jobs often did himself, as either good or bad, perfect or terrible, you either like it or you hate it. Here in Asia they have a better grasp of how everything, including people, are both positive and negative at the same time. Jobs was a both the Ying and the Yang, pulled to both extremes, highly brilliant and highly flawed. For the rest of us swimming around somewhere in the middle of this sea of consciousness, trying not to appear too stupid in life, he doesn’t make much sense.
Steve Jobs, 1984
Yet to Jobs, it’s likely most of the rest of us didn’t make sense. Much of his character traits appear to echo a deep-set belief that ‘You are already naked’, meaning your days alive are limited, so why waste time conforming? “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.” Jobs said during his speech to Sanford Graduates in 2005. How many of us would like to truly be able to live every day as if it’s our last? Jobs left behind him a trail of evidence of someone who consistently managed to fight passionately for what he believed in, rather than succumb to the drone of acceptability. He is living proof that it is possible to live a high engaged, energetic life following your heart.
And then there’s his massive and very public moment of failure, which is the most important part of his stranger than fiction story. Jobs’ dark side caught up with him, and still under the spotlight of public attention, he was forced out of Apple, the company he’d almost single handedly built. But he quickly picked himself back up and got back to doing what he loved doing, showing the world he was not through. His failure also taught him about his dark side, and in turn enabled him to grow. This theme of growth through failure is one of the most important lessons of life, and again, his life story is proof of this. Real heroes are not perfectly shiny, and they have all, in one form or another, suffered a great setback in their lives. Rather than being a straight – running success, Jobs was knocked hard, only to pick himself up again, eventually to return to Apple.
Apple Market Cap, 1981 – 2011
And what a comeback – a more mature, but equally determined man, who’d been but a youth when he left, returned to lead Apple to one success after another. Some call it ‘the greatest second act in the history of business’. Jobs proved that perseverance and great passion in what you do can overcome the inertia of what the world told you you just couldn’t try to do. In a world that whispers to us to be balanced, stay cool, and get an MBA, Steve Jobs carved out a completely different path, showing that other realities exist beyond what most of us take for granted. And so it was that the boy of 70s counter-culture California, determined and unafraid to fail, gave us his second gifts: that of his story.
When Jobs died an early death, I began looking back at his life in more detail, and these powerful themes of passion, failure, and the paradoxical hero popped out of his story. Despite having been an avid Apple product fan my whole life, I realised that the gift of his inspiration; his larger than life personality, was worth a lot more than his products. He not only gave us the Macintosh, the iPod, and the iPhone. He taught us to work hard for what we believe in and what we love. He demonstrated that the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who really do. And he truly showed us the meaning of ‘Think Different’. Thank you, Steve, you will be missed, and appreciated, for a long time.
Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011
Nick Adams, November 2011
This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by the late Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.
“ I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.
The first story is about connecting the dots.
I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?
It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.
And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.
It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.
Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.
My second story is about love and loss.
I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.
I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.
I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.
During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.
I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
My third story is about death.
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.
I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.
This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960′s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.“
This years VMworld conference, notably now one of the biggest and most important events in the IT world, was dominated by one theme: Consumerization. Not even having yet found a place in the Engish dictionary, you’d be forgiven for wondering what the word means. No, it’s doesn’t mean people doing more shopping, in fact it’s specific to the IT world and describes the trend of technologies to spread from the consumer IT market to enterprise (e.g. Mobile Apps), rather than the traditional path which is the other way around (e.g. the PC). Do you use your personal mobile phone to check work emails or write work related notes? Do you bring your personal mac, PC or iPad to work? Do you use MSN messenger, professional social networks, or document syncing services for work? Do you find your personal software and favourite websites easier to use and more functional than the ones your business offers? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you represent the fast growing number of employees who are changing the way corporate IT managers are looking at the world. We are moving into an era where consumer technologies are penetrating all aspects of our lives, particularly the workplace.
The interest from enterprise vendors in this trend is clear; VMware CEO Paul Maritz’s and CTO Steve Herrod lead this year’s VMworld conference with mobile and application focussed keynotes, despite VMware having its technology roots firmly planted in IT infrastructure and server virtualization. They launched their new ‘Project Octopus’, a system that allows users to sync and store documents in a secure environment, similar to Apple’s recently announced iCloud, and T-Cloud’s SecureSync but focussed on enterprise. Some say it will be difficult to pull users data away from this consumer dominated space, with their data already spread around services like Dropbox, Google Apps, and soon iCloud. Others believe enterprises need to lock down their data and create virtual ‘silos’ which span servers, PCs, tablets, and mobile devices and keep corporate data safe and protected from the increased risk of theft or hacking. Whatever the success of VMware and other enterprise vendors in ‘enterprise-ifying’ these popular apps, one thing is for sure, today the growth of data and success of enterprise IT depends dramatically less on a corporate top down approach and more on consumer expectations and habits.
The Man in the Middle
Regardless of how major IT vendors respond to this trend, I believe it is the CIO and IT managers response that is most crucial. IT managers play an increasingly difficult role of ‘man in the middle’, stuck between a mix of employee demands, software and devices such as iPads and iPhones; and the growing risk of data security, theft, and disaster recovery. IT managers have to balance the potential benefits of consumerization, with the associated risks. And this is not a future trend, it is happening now. According to Unisys’s recent study of 2,820 information worker respondents from ten different countries, over 95% of devices purchased by consumers are also used in a work environment. However, in the same study it was found that 70% of IT managers and employers wanted to standardised devices for their employees. This shows a mismatch between the reality of consumerization in the enterprise, and the IT managers expectations of their system. However, if employers can meet the reality of employee use of personal devices in the workplace head on, rather than just play ‘catch up’ with consumer trends and preference, there is a great opportunity to improve employee satisfaction, productivity, and even lower IT budgets.
And the issue is not just with devices. Many employees use their preferred platforms, applications, and even SaaS as tools in their workplace. I am one of those; a Mac user using Mac apps and SaaS document collaboration tools to aid my work. What does this mean to data security? Enterprise standards & compliance? Scalability? For years enterprise IT and IT departments have failed to keep pace with the rapidly expanding base of easily available and extremely useful tools available to any consumer at the press of a button or swipe of a credit card. This should be a wake up call to managers who want to return IT to it’s once glorious purpose of aiding enterprise productivity, rather than holding back employees and reducing efficiency with legacy software and rules built for the ‘top down’ era of enterprise IT. It’s time for some radical rethinking of software. Luckily, it’s already begun.
Cloud to the rescue?
Enter Cloud. Cloud, or I should say SaaS, is helping bring enterprises back on track, in line with staff expectations of design and interface gained from social networks, games, and smartphones. Services like Google Docs and Baihui allow employees to collaborate, share data, and work from anywhere, in ways that are not possible with conventional IT software. New enterprise software like Project Octopus and SecureSync will allow enterprises to regain control of the data while offering cloud – like sync services to their employees, keeping data safe but allowing convenient access from anywhere. VDI (Virtual Deskop Infrastructure) allows users access to their desktop environment not only from inside the office but securely from outside and from any device, without file transfers or security holes. But even these technologies may not be enough to shift the momentum of users away from their flashy iPad applications and social networks like QQ and Dropbox, which offer similar services. As well as utilising public and private cloud solutions, IT managers need to find clever ways of allowing access to popular services while maintaining security and educating their employees about the risks of data security.
From fear to leadership
With the rate of development in mobile devices, applications, and the consumer cloud, the average employee can now derive more value from personal IT purchases than from their company’s IT department. However, as well as empowering the employee to become more efficient, these consumer technologies in the workplace can represent significant risk to the IT manager. It’s no surprise then, that the obvious reaction to this trend of consumerization is one of fear. However, I believe through a combination of communication with employees, Cloud solutions, and careful policy-making, IT departments can turn this wave of consumer technology into a major strategic advantage for their whole company.
The first challenge is to recognise the trend, gather data internally about what devices and software staff are using, and carefully open access to useful tools and services. Next, the IT manager can provide a suite of matching tools and software such as SaaS applications which reduce risk and increase employee flexibility. Finally, it is up to the IT manager to help employees understand how to best utilise their personal devices and software for work purposes, while educating them about important topics such as data security, and regular backup. A simple idea such as providing a free secure backup service for employees’ mobile devices and laptops can both help win the employee over to the value of the IT dept, and help protect important company information which might only reside on a their personal laptop from loss or theft. Gartner believes the consumerization of IT is the most significant trend affecting the IT Industry in the next ten years, even bigger than Cloud Computing. I believe these two massive trends are fundamentally linked; that IT managers now have a unique opportunity to shift their thinking from one of fear to one of leadership, and to help their organisations gain a competitive edge by empowering staff with next generation, flexible and secure IT solutions.
A day after Facebook launched it’s new ‘Subscribe’ (poor choice of name, too geeky) feature, allowing anyone to effectively follow anyone’s public posts, I noticed this on Zuckerberg’s facebook page. His page has been spammed by someone posting links to their youtube page…