Tag Archives: tablets

Shadow IT and Home Streaming

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Torpedoes in the water!

Several remarkable developments took place this past week that are guaranteed to rock some boats:

1) Streaming gains greater steam. HBO and Apple are near agreement in streaming HBO. The significance is substantial. Subscribers need no longer be directly subscribed to their cable / Fios provider to watch HBO. Arguably, once HBO goes than the others will follow suit, raising the number of streaming services – and with that the death knell of traditional cable / FIOS television viewing rings ever louder. After all, why pay for ‘premium’ cable / Fios service to get the channels for the shows you want to watch when you can simply pay a far smaller fee to simply stream directly. No longer will you have to subscribe to a specific channel and wait for when your show comes on when you can simply stream, pick and choose what you want when you want it?

It should also be noted that this is not only impactful for Apple TV users, but others – Roku top among them – are also going to find this development very fruitful and in turn, continue the growing collapse of traditional television viewing that has been in place now for well over 40 years since cable first started appearing in selected suburban locales.

2) Net neutrality is reinforced. The growing presence of internet streaming perhaps is why some corporate folks are not taking this development too well. Witness Verizon and Comcast’s reaction to the recent FCC ruling regarding ‘net neutrality’, where the cable providers are denied the ability to charge a higher fee for those subscribers who seek faster Internet (ostensibly to stream).

In the meantime, Comcast and Sony continue their sniping, denying PS4 users direct access to view HBO Go (http://www.theverge.com/2015/3/5/8156025/comcast-blocks-hbo-go-sony-ps4) – underscoring precisely why this is a good reason why net neutrality is critical for free enterprise and the curbing of monopolies. While Verizon argues that the FCC is harkening back to the 1930’s with their snide press release written in 1934 type, Verizon is being disingenuous (putting it politely) at best for they ignore the reality that the rules changed back during the Clinton Era and then again in 2007 to account for the reality of DSL (Digital Subscriber Lines) readily brings federal legislation up to the 21st century. With sore losers as these, we should be thankful for the FCC being proactive and progressive.

3) The Growing Presence of Shadow IT. Interestingly, it was revealed our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton allegedly used her office IT services to conduct personal business when in reality, it’s a little more complicated than that (http://www.zdnet.com/article/hillary-clinton-takes-shadow-it-mainstream/). Regardless of your partisan position regarding Ms. Clinton, what’s remarkable is the fact that her home office revealed usage of a home network – something which we’ve written about in the past here on Shockwaverider (“The Office is Dead; Long Live The Virtual Office”). What’s remarkable is that we’re seeing the growth of a phenomenon: the office as no longer being defined by any one location. Consider: what Ms. Clinton basically did was connect her home office to that of her professional office into a network ostensibly allowing her to continue her work away from the main office.

This is nothing new. To a lesser degree many executives practice shadow IT now, taking with them on the weekends home their company phones, tablets and laptops. Now, we’re seeing a new aspect of this trend: creating home networks that in turn, link to the office. This trend underscores an overlooked point: what is practiced or utilized at home inevitably influences what takes place at work. It’s widely known that the growth of iPads and iPhones in the office were largely attributed to executives having their own personal items, only to become enamored of them to the point where they would insist on utilizing the same in the office.

Now take it one step further.

With the rise of Internet streaming, more and more people are finding the need for home networks, whether they did basic such as a Roku or a series of personal laptops and desktops connected via wireless to a single Internet / web portal access point – to something ala Madame Secretary of State, a full-fledged home computer network (for the record, I do the same via a home network, utilizing a 6 terabyte RAID system. It’s really not that hard to do at all and you’ll find a lot of advantages in doing so,…).

Which is apparently what Madame Clinton found, but with the catch of mix and mis-matching: work email spilling over into non-work. It’s always best to practice safe e-mailing. As a former governmental Records Manager, we can expect to see more of these snafus coming up, so expect to see here at Shockwaverider a posting about practicing safe records management in the not so far future.

In the meantime, expect to see more torpedoes and explosions on the horizon as our world continues its evolutionary arc – but have no fear: the Shockwaverider crow’s nest is always on the lookout,…

 

 

 

 

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Fun with Homebrew Networking

home-network-Switching gears for a moment,… I’ve been writing extensively on such large-scale mundane matters as AI (Artificial Intelligence), Neural networks, 3D printers, Singularities (think Skynet), quantum computers, hyperdrive / deep space exploration and, well, you get the idea.

Now let’s bring it all home.

No, I do not speak of buying a copy of IBM’s Watson or getting a neural network of your own, but there is a growing trend that shouldn’t be overlooked: home networks.

If you have a computer, a printer and a cable / FIOS modem, you have a home network – which is pretty describes a lot of U.S. domestic households (in point of fact, home broadband access has doubled in the past ten years, reaching now nearly 77% of the total US population); the same can also be said of many other international households.

Now add modern consumer technology.

In the past ten years (concurrent with a growing population utilizing home broadband services) we’ve seen the introduction of such things as:

* iPhone’s, Androids and Window smartphones;

* online music / movie / Television streaming services;

* remote storage and shared file services;

* explosive growth of tablet peripherals (iPad, HP’s, Samsung, etc.).

And increasing, all are being offered at rather inexpensive pricing; ten years ago the mere mention of several of these items for home use would’ve elicited a polite chuckle. Not any more.

It’s becoming increasingly obvious that it is to one’s advantage to both themselves – and their family – to seriously consider establishing a home based network.

To be honest, not everyone needs a cloud based service, but considering the growing diversity of technology and services, it’s not a bad idea to consider setting something up that’ll enable you and you family to take advantage of what’s out there.  And if you have a  home-based business or just do occasional work on the side, then you need to consider establishing a home based network.

Given the ever-decreasing cost of storage nowadays (you can buy an external 2 Terabit drive for $200 or under; two years ago the very idea of such storage at these low prices was considered absurd: not anymore! Now, one can literally set up a home network RAID -Redundant Array / hard drive systems – similar in scale to what the pro’s use for their operations).

Home networks can be as simple as simply connecting an external hard drive to your home cable / FIOS box router, or linking  to your Play Station / Apple TV – or even more, depending upon the size and scope you wish to undertake. And incidentally, if you have a small business, the size and scale of a home network can also be utilized to service a small business environment (albeit with different considerations, depending upon the nature, size and scope of the small business involved).

There are a number of help guides out there for review (personally, I think this is probably the best I’ve come across so far, but there are many more: http://www.howtogeek.com/67015/how-to-plan-organize-and-map-out-your-home-network/); regardless of how you go about it, here are several key considerations you need to think about:

1) Ecology – what environment are you going to exist within? Are you a Windows-based household? Are you big on Android / Play Station or you’re an Apple household? This is important as you will find one dirty industry secret is that not all equipment functions well on all systems. Some external hard drives don’t play as well with, say, Apple as they would with Window’s based environments.

2) Purpose – what is your specific purpose for undertaking this? Just because I’m writing about this doesn’t mean you should go out and get yourself a home based network: it’s just an idea for consideration  (albeit a rather good idea). Some things you can do rather well without the hassle – like backing up your files on Google docs (despite the fact that it was down the other day) or Dropbox (despite the fact that data stored can be accessed by some folk without your knowledge you can always encrypt your files) or Time Machine (which, BTW, can sometimes fail).

3) The Long Term – things change fast. Five years ago, the iPhone didn’t exist; now it’s everywhere – and with that, the introduction of ‘apps’ and the revolutionary change that’s brought to our world. Having a home based network – with some planning – can better enable you to deal with any new developments and take advantage of routines and services you never considered.

4) Ease. It’s gotten a whole lot easier to do these things on your own at home. What was something that required a CompSci degree / background some 15 years ago is now commonplace throughout a multitude of homes. Now, it’s relatively easy to take the next step and take control of your data on your terms and in your way.

There are other considerations worth checking out:

* DVD backups – at the risk of incurring the wrath of the RIAA and other associated members, one idea is to back up your various ‘items’ onto your home network (and mind, only for your own personal viewing!). In this manner, you could organize your ‘items’ into pre-specified folders and assign user rights / access. Want to keep the kids from watching your old Sam Peckinpah films? Here’s one way to do just that.

* True Multi-Media capability – your home network becomes your library, enabling you and your family / friends / colleagues to access files at will (within limits, if you so wish) at any time without imposing on anyone else. Your kids could have their own ‘homework folder’ – and you can have greater peace of mind knowing that their access to ‘questionable’ websites can be better controlled (insofar as you can do so) via the installation of various port access controls.

* VPN – With a home network, you now have the capability of a true Virtual Private Network. With your home network you could (depending on how you arrange your cable / FIOS system) enable access to your files remotely regardless of where you are in the world and view them while on the road so long as you have Internet access.

* Small business support – with a home network, your business can now be enhanced, allowing authorized / controlled access. To be sure, Dropbox / Google Docs are excellent, but with a home network, you can consider doing such things as iServer or a true business network functionality via a viable VPN that you alone can control at will.

* Entertainment options – in the coming decade (if not sooner) we can expect to see major changes within the cable / FIOs market as to how we view our various shows on our televisions / computers (note how the two are becoming more and more interchangeable). With a home network, you’ll be far better able to deal and take advantage of these changes as they develop.

* Additional Back-up – sure, you have Time Machine, Dropbox and even Google. But in the event that your outside internet goes down, wouldn’t you want to be able to still access movies, shows or music? Now with your home network – so long as the electricity keeps flowing – you can do this. And BTW: one important aspect to consider is including a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) which can also serve as a surge protector and prevent your network from being ‘zapped’.

Homebrew networks reflect a greater, growing trend: the growing expansion and greater utilization of technology at home, creating a real platform for other practical uses and applications.

And you can have all of this for as low as $250 (assuming you already have broadband internet access and a computer).

Might as well get something back from that monthly subscription for cable / FIOS that you’ve been paying for.

(Photo courtesy of bmisitgs.wikispaces.com)

The Personal Computer is Dead; Long Live The Personal Network!

Zardoz speaks to you, the chosen ones! Ah, wither the PC. With the rise of the tablet, rapidly dissolving profit margins and the rising costs of operating software as a percentage of the total PC value (save for Linux PC’s) it’s not surprising that the PC is now fading away. In prior years, one obtained PC’s owing to laptops not having the adequate processing power necessary to manage larger programs (not to mention PC’s having larger screens). Now, with the rise of tablets and laptops, building, selling and marketing PC’s is now no longer a viable business model.

Duh.

In the immortal words of Gomer Pyle: “surprise, surprise, surprise.”

Laptops (i.e., notebooks, MacBooks, Airbooks, etc., etc.) have tremendous processing power – in fact, most laptops today generally match or exceed a number of PC’s out there now. Between operating systems cost, the constant threat of viruses (and the ever-constant cost to keep up with the latest anti-virus software) it’s enough to make one look for other options. And frankly, why do you need all that processing power to support an entire array of programs that chances are, you will rarely – if ever – truly use? And if you’re checking out the laptops, chances are you’re finding out that your needs are going to be largely met.

For businesses, PC’s are increasingly no longer a viable cost item. As just discussed, a PC is an expensive notion. Better to issue laptops – or, as some entities are already doing, issuing tablets.

This is all part of a far greater, more significant trend. It’s not just so much the end of the PC, but rather the evolution of the network – more specifically the rise of the personal / focused network. For the past decades, PCs were stand alone islands who just happened to link to other PC’s via network connections whereby the nature of any given network was determined by the users and the PC’s. Now, it is how you control and access your network(s) – and not the PC – which defines you through service offerings (music, iTunes, video, picture files, etc.) as networks are no longer simply wires and routers: they are living ecologies.

It’s also no coincidence that the PC’s are doomed, for with the advent of Cloud computing who needs a big box to hold your data? Who needs to get a dedicated (large) viewing screen when you can simply interface with your flat screen television and do your homework, give a presentation or conduct a Skype call? Your files can be stored remotely through a subscription service or on a dedicated 4 or 5 Tb home network drive, allowing you to set up your very own VPN (Virtual Private Network) allowing you access files regardless if you’re in Philadelphia or Paris, Moscow or Montevideo, Beijing or Benjaymi?

What clearly holds greater importance nowadays is the network and the speed by which you connect to any network – and, more importantly, how you organize and access your information. Really, aside from screen size why do you need a regular PC? Get a tablet, watch YouTube videos; do your homework on a MacBook and text away on your Android. Or, for that matter, kick back and download your Netfix or iTunes – and if you’re really clever, rip some DVD’s and store them on your network drive (Whoops! Sorry, I disavow any such action for fear of the RIAA zombies).

You get the point. It’s no longer about the box: it’s about the ecology. And it’s all about how you define the ecology you will live, work and play in.

Networks are living things: they have hiccups, have good days and bad days and depending upon your flavor, allow you to do things that previously – hell, hardly five years ago – was not possible. It all depends upon the nature of the services, routine and platforms you’re seeking: IOS / Apple, Android or otherwise how you want to work and play determines the network you’re going to be using.

In days past, it was how and what you put on your PC / box; now, it’s how you set up and develop your network and its ancillary services / routines.

For those of us who are science fiction fans, none of this comes as a surprise. John Boorman predicted this kind of thing (along with Star Trek and a host of others) from his (rather intense) film “Zardoz”, with Boorman’s notion of everyone being connected to a vast impermeable computer network known as the ‘tabernacle’. Made of crystals imbedded in users’ heads, the tabernacle linked users along with an extensive series of libraries (and not just one library, mind you) enabling users to access data, communicate and interact within a community of their peers 24 x 7 x 365.

Looking back, such notions were considered the domain of the ‘weirdo’ or the ‘fanatic’ – or simply the result of smoking too much pot and listening to Yes’s ‘Starship Trooper’ over and over and over: now, it’s gradually becoming true within our lifetime that what was talked about is actually happening (and for the record, I never really got into Yes).

So, if you’re wondering about taking that dive off the deep end and getting into Windows 8, that’s your call, but the Vegas line on this is not good – and the numbers are continuing to drop. In the meantime, this is great time to take advantage of services and sales that are now getting really cheap, offering options that previously were unheard of five years ago. As the old timers will tell you, it was cool to ‘build your own personal box’; now the cool thing is to build your own personal network.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to check out my iTune’s account and see if they ever got around to getting ‘Space 1999’ on for viewing on my iPad while getting ready for my webinar which I’m offering to potential clients.