I am not a gamer, but I have an Xbox 360. I got it when Kinect was introduced and when they shifted the focus to entertainment. I am a happy customer, paying for Xbox LIVE Gold, and cannot wait to get the XBOX ONE.
Here is my attempt at using Data Explorer in Excel. I used it to extract Sachin Tendulkar’s runs by ground/location from ESPNCricinfo’s excellent Statsguru feature.
It was such a breeze to bring up the stats, get the URL, import it into Excel via Data Explorer and get running right away.
Then came the complications – there are some grounds like The Oval which are not really cities or locations. Also, there are some places like Surrey that default to US cities with the same name.
With some help from Dan English (@denglishbi) I was able to clean it up by concatenating the opposition name to the ground to at least get the country right.
The next issue was that since I was using the opposition name to derive the country, and since ESPNCricinfo does not distinguish between home and away, or include that as a column, all the matches showed up as “v “. So I had to run two queries on Statsguru: one for home where I then hard-coded “, India” and another for away where I added “, ” and .
Then I used “append” in Data Explorer to merge the two data sets and then threw in a Power View Map on top of that data.
Sorry, the sexier part of this experiment, the Power View report is not visible on Excel Web App, so you will have to download it.
Overall, I came away quite excited and pleased with Data Explorer and how easy it is for business users to build compelling analytics. Find more info at the Data Explorer for Excel blog.
Much has been discussed among Windows Phone (and Windows 8/RT) circles about lack of podcast features in the phone and lack of a native app on big Windows.
I am a big podcast listener. Not huge, but I do listen to a few podcasts regularly. In fact, so regularly, that I have formed a nice list of things I would want in an ideal podcast app/service. The reason I put app/service is because we are now no longer in a single device world.
- Native apps for my devices: I use Windows Phone, Windows 8/RT and Windows 7. I would like native apps for at least phone and “Windows Store”.
- Catalog: Big enough, and fresh enough catalog so that I don’t have to add podcasts by URL.
- Easy subscribe settings: Options during subscribe should include auto downloads, number of episodes to keep, episode delete settings, etc.
- Remember played position: For each podcast, for each episode.
- Cloud: Sync settings, subscriptions and played positions to the cloud. Configurable setting for syncing on-device episodes to the cloud as well.
- Refresh/check for new episodes: Check for new episodes when app is opened, automatically. Also, check on a schedule that can be configured and have a default. So if the default is 3am and 3pm every day, I know when I get up and am ready for my commute, there may be some fresh episodes waiting for me. Same, with a 3pm check for the commute home.
- Playback speed adjustment: Must-have for me, at least 1.5x.
Some bonus territory items:
- Playback in the cloud: If my subscriptions, settings and on-device episodes are synced to the cloud, I suppose I should be able to play those episodes from the web too. That would take care of machines which don’t have native apps, for example Windows 7 or Macs/iPads/iPhone/iPod.
- Discovery: Based on what I have subscribed to, and perhaps extending it to my social networks, suggest other podcasts.
- Live tiles: I don’t care much about getting notified of new episodes, so I put this in the bonus territory. Live tile notifications of new episodes.
- Usage notifications: Notify (via live tile or otherwise) me about space used being above a certain threshold, or unplayed episodes going above a certain threshold.
Things I don’t care about but I have seen in some apps:
- Visual niceties: Like the tape player in the iOS app. Don’t care about it since I always lock the phone screen anyway.
- Social sharing: I don’t share either while listening or otherwise, so I don’t care about that feature.
Too much to ask? Is there any podcast app/service that does this already? I think Downcast on iOS comes very close in terms of functionality but they are only on iOS so far, but have expressed that they may look at WP with no real commitment provided. The iOS Podcasts app does not seem to delete episodes after they are finished which is a bummer (either a bug or a feature, but either way, a bummer for me).
None of the Windows Phone 3rd party apps do auto-download yet. There are some in the process of getting released with promised functionality but none generally available yet.
The native Windows Phone feature does not have a manual check for new episodes, and there is no clear understanding when exactly it checks for new episodes. Besides, there is no corresponding app on Windows 8, and of course, there is no playback speed adjustment.
Let me know if you find any compatible apps
Some pics from last night. I took screenshot of the viewfinder to show what the naked eye can see. See the actual image that the phone camera took.
(I must admit, I took this MG Siegler set of posts a little bit too seriously. I had sworn off that guy, but since his nonsense was being discussed by others I follow on twitter, I had to peek.)
Second, after Ed Bott brings it up and appropriately schools him on how Windows works within the OEM ecosystem, MG goes out and shoots himself in the foot by arguing (like a kid, nonetheless) that OS X was only updated after it became generally available to the public. Well, that is bad, isn’t it? That would mean Apple let a buggy OS out to the masses and only fixed issues a month or so later.
Oh, and that nonsense about calling Ed an “Apple malware blogger”? Sigh. More childishness.
As you may or may not know, we just relocated from the US to Bangalore. While we wait for our stuff to come (shipped by sea), we are living a somewhat nomadic life. The latest temporary residence happens to be a decent hotel, but before that we spent a few days in a guest house and before that, with my uncle and aunt.
For the past week or so, for one reason or the other, both our iPads have not come out of the suitcase. The kids have started going to school so they don’t need entertainment during the day, there was no wifi at the guest house earlier, and there is good wifi here in the hotel but we have a PC that we use a lot and for quick email triage and Facebook/Twitter/ADN, I end up using my phone more than anything else.
As a result, not only have the iPad not been used, more importantly, they have not been missed. We have not once felt like we would rather use the iPad. The kids used to play random games (dress up Barbie or restaurant manager are current favorites) but they have the TV to entertain them after the come from school. For the past several months I have noticed that my use of the iPad has strictly been Twitter, Facebook and the browser. Between the phone and the laptop, I haven’t needed to get the iPad for any of those uses.
This could very well be because we are not settled into “our house” yet. In other words, if the iPad were there on the coffee table, we would of course pick it up than open the laptop. However, I am seriously thinking, if instead of a laptop, I had a Windows RT “device”, I would be absolutely ok and in fact would prefer it. That would take care of the thin-and-light thing that is lying around on the coffee table, and also fits well as a “better computer” than the iPad when hooked to the dock at the desk. So that casual Excel or Word files that I may need to edit on-the-go, can actually be done without fumbling with pinching and zooming to no end.
The kids have enough “entertainment” options outside of the iPad, and even today, there are plenty of games and game-like apps in the Windows Store to keep them busy (and educated at the same time) so they won’t miss the iPad.
There you have it. I am ready to get a Surface RT to replace my iPad 2. At least one of the two that I own.
Two things happened recently which delighted me and I thank cloud-based services (vs. locally installed apps/applications) for that.
When Office Web Apps Preview released recently, I noticed that they were talking about Excel Web App supporting the creation of Forms, but in the preview I did not see that functionality. I was really looking forward to using it because that was one thing I liked with Google Spreadsheets and wanted to see it in Excel Web App. However, last week as I was playing around with Excel Web App, I saw the “Form” entry in the Insert tab! It was greyed out but it was there and I did not even know it. No announcement, no updates to make, just there. Nice.
This morning, when I went to share an article I was reading using the Bitmarklet from bitly, I noticed that they had updated the UI for the same. Whereas earlier there was too much “noise” on the screens within that Bitmarklet window, now it was streamlined and looked much cleaner. Again, I had to do nothing to receive the updated functionality.
Granted, not everyone is comfortable getting stuff updated without their knowing, and granted sometimes functionality could be removed as opposed to added, but still, having a constantly updated “app” in the cloud/on the web is a thing of beauty. I have a feeling the next version of Office is going down that route with the Office 365 subscription and I may be one of the customers willing to pay a small fee for getting seamless updates for my software.
Wow, time has flown. It feels like only yesterday that I was rocking my Blackberry Curve 8300 (no WiFi) and actually proud of it. I did not buy into the iPhone hype when it was released and stayed out, mostly because my Curve had video recording capability which the iPhone didn’t. Believe me, I took some videos on that thing that I still cherish, bad quality and all.
Instead of doing a normal retrospective I thought I’d pick up random articles written around the time the iPhone launched, and laugh at the ones that mocked the iPhone and predicted its doom, some even before it was released. Hindsight is so beautiful, innit?
Ad Age: Why the iPhone Will Fail
Prediction No. 1: The iPhone will be a major disappointment.
The hype has been enormous. Apple says its iPhone is “literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone.” A stock-market analyst says, “The iPhone has the potential to be even bigger than the iPod.”
Prediction No. 2: The media will blame the execution, not the concept.
Instead, the iPhone is going to fail because its design is fundamentally flawed.
First, the iPhone ignores the main reasons that the iPod succeeded: simplicity and ease of use.
Second, the iPhone crams too many functions into a single box.
Third, users will detest the touch screen interface due to its lack of tactile feedback.
An iPod with just a cell keypad on the back would have been, may still be, a smash hit product for someone. But the iPhone as currently consituted? Forget it.
Because its designers forgot Platt’s First, Last, and Only Law of User Experience Design (“Know Thy User, for He Is Not Thee”), that product is going to crash in flames. Sell your Apple stock now, while the hype’s still hot. You heard it here first.
The Register: Why the Apple phone will fail, and fail badly
This one is a great read because all the reasons mentioned in the article are exactly what Apple destroyed with the iPhone. Incredibly, a lot of the same type of chatter is heard now for the TV business, except the bad guys in control are the Hollywood mafia and not the carriers. We shall see how that story unfolds later in 2012.
Commsday: THE LONG VIEW: Why the iPhone will fail
But then – and here’s my prediction part – something strange will happen. In a week or two the fuss will fade and people will start to realise an important point: it’s just a phone, and not a particularly “smart” one at that. And then people will start to find flaws in it, because let’s face it, version 1.0 of anything is going to have flaws, particularly something loaded with sensitive radios and electronics like a mobile phone.
And finally, there’s the competition. The likes of Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG won’t be idle bystanders as Apple tries to do to the mobile phone market what it did to MP3 players with the iPod. Building a mobile phone isn’t rocket science – it’s much more complex than that. And the traditional guys have been doing it for the best part of 20 years.
It’s hardware, it’s proprietary, so I really planned on keeping my mouth shut about it. But there is one point I have decided to make, one related directly to this beat, which is the real reason I believe the iPhone will, at best, disappoint in the market.
Open spectrum. We don’t have much, and we are nowhere near getting more.
The iPhone is nothing more than a luxury bauble that will appeal to a few gadget freaks. In terms of its impact on the industry, the iPhone is less relevant.
First, Apple is late to this party.
Next, the mobile-phone industry depends on cooperation with the big networks.
Lastly, the iPhone is a defensive product. It is mainly designed to protect the iPod, which is coming under attack from mobile manufacturers adding music players to their handsets.
The best one, by John C. Dvorak on MarketWatch: Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone
There is no likelihood that Apple can be successful in a business this competitive. Even in the business where it is a clear pioneer, the personal computer, it had to compete with Microsoft and can only sustain a 5% market share.
What Apple risks here is its reputation as a hot company that can do no wrong. If it’s smart it will call the iPhone a “reference design” and pass it to some suckers to build with someone else’s marketing budget. Then it can wash its hands of any marketplace failures.
It should do that immediately before it’s too late. Samsung Electronics Ltd. might be a candidate. Otherwise I’d advise you to cover your eyes. You’re not going to like what you’ll see.
(Thanks to Kevin Nunez for reminding me about Dvorak’s classic.)
Finally, a couple of point-by-point mythbuster pieces by Tom Reestman, which in fact were inspiration for this blog post: Red Ferret’s list of “serious problems” with the iPhone touchscreen, and What a shock. Another BS (Baltimore Sun?) list of reasons to avoid the iPhone.
Oh, how the world has changed. “Late to the party” is now Motorola and Nokia. “Carriers control the whole thing” is now flipped over to carriers like TMobile begging to get the iPhone. “Too complex” is now flipped over to the iPhone being the simplest and the most intuitive user interface.
Let’s all use this 5th anniversary of the iPhone to thank Steve Jobs and everyone at Apple who opened this new world up for us, where it’s not just smartphones but mobile, highly-connected devices that help to get work done more efficiently and in more places than ever before.
Hat tip, iPhone.
If you are not aware of the “Blown Away by Lumia” contest, it is the Nokia’s version of “Smoked By Windows Phone” contest started by Ben Rudolph of Microsoft, at the 2012 Consumer Electornics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Nokia took that contest global, and here are some videos of former Miss World Priyanka Chopra competing with challengers with various smartphones and beating them. Quite cool, although she comes off as a bit too chirpy.