Wednesday, September 02, 2015

My visit to the US Open Tennis 2015

I attended the US Open tennis tournament on Tuesday with my daughter. Readers of this blog may recall my previous visits in 2014, 2013201220112010200920082007 and 2006. This was the first time my eight-year-old daughter attended and she loved it - especially the American Express Fan Experience complete with fan court and virtual reality. We attended the Tuesday night session and saw multiple matches including the main event between Andy Murray and Nick Kyrgios in Arthur Ashe stadium with its new, state of the art retractable roof.  Murray won a great match in 4 sets. My photos can be found on Facebook

As in the past, IBM is a major sponsor and provides the website, game scoring, statistics and court side radar guns.  Mobile applications for Apple iOS and Google Android were back again this year as well which made it easy to view news, match data, player stats, live high-definition video, live radio and Twitter feeds from the U.S. Open and players. SlamTracker provides detailed statistics both for completed matches as well as matches in progress.   As in the past, American Express distributed free headsets to follow the play-by-play while the center court match was in progress.   

Fortune Magazine had a great article titled "Why IBM dominates the US Open" if you're interesting learning more behind the technology behind the event. I'll be following the matches both on TV and on my mobile devices leading up to the finals on September 23 and 24.

A few tips on attending the US Open in person:

  • Bring a small backpack with a water bottle or two, a cell phone charger, and a plastic ticket holder to put around your neck. There are lots of water fountains around the grounds to fill up your water bottles.
  • Make a dinner reservation at Aces or Champions. Doing so allows you to enter the grounds early - 5PM entry for a 7PM match.  While the food is pricey, it isn't much more expensive than the food village and you're guaranteed an air-conditioned seat
  • Before going to the restaurant, get your free photo taken at the Mercedes booth with the US Open trophy
  • You should have just enough time after dinner to attend the American Express Fan Experience.  Show your Amex card for free admittance to the members hospitality tent. Have your Amex card swiped to save $10 after $150 in purchases.  Visit the Amex radio booth, show your Amex card and get a free headset radio to listen to the live play-by-play.
  • Head back to Arthur Ashe for the 7PM match. The match typically doesn't get started much before 7:30pm so no need to rush.
  • Take a break from the match and wander the grounds. Be sure to check out some of the smaller courts where you'll get a fantastic view of the match. There won't be any big-name players but you'll get up close and personal. Check out the sponsor booths for free giveaways.
  • Looking for a souvenir? Save your money and buy one at home.  The $45 big tennis balls can be found online for half price. Similarly, you can buy US Open tee shirts online for half price after the open finals. I am a fan, however, of the US Open souvenir soda cup and Honey Deuce souvenir glasses.  I have a collection that goes back a decade. 

SlamTracker provides detailed match statistics

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

4 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10

Earlier today, Microsoft released Windows 10 - the latest and last release of Windows.  I've been running the beta on multiple laptops, hybrids and tablets for months and I'm definitely a fan.  The following are my top four reasons for upgrading to Windows 10:

  1. New and improved user interface. If you're a Windows 8/8.1 user, you know that Microsoft tried, unsuccessfully, to force a touch interface with the new full-screen start screen.  Windows 10 corrects this, brings back a new and improved start menu and adds a new feature called "Continuum" which makes it easy to switch between touch and PC modes.  A brand-new action center brings together notifications and key settings at your fingertips. 
  2. New apps.  Microsoft has brand-new mail, calendar, photo apps, a new web browser replacement for Internet Explorer called "Edge" and Cortana voice support that allows you to talk to your PC (similar to Apple's Siri and Google Now, but much more sophisticated).  While none of these apps are earth-shattering, taken as a whole, they deliver a more complete Windows experience out of the box - reducing the need to install third-party applications.
  3. Speed and compatibility.  Windows 10 boots up fast and runs great on older hardware and peripherals.  
  4. Free. Windows 7, 8, 8.1 users can upgrade to Windows 10 for free for the next year.  There's no reason not to upgrade!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Multitasking on iPad Air 2 with iOS 9 beta

One of the key features in iOS 9 beta is enhanced multitasking for iPad which has three key capabilities:

  • Slide Over: temporarily display and use a second mobile application while still displaying the first
  • Split View (iPad Air 2 only): run two mobile applications side-by-side
  • Picture in Picture: play a video is a resizable window

In the screenshot above, I'm running three applications at the same time using Split View and Picture in Picture with seamless performance.  The three apps are:
  1. Safari - website (left)
  2. iOS mail (right)
  3. Video in a floating windows - "Gravity" staring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney
Today, multitasking applications are limited to Apple apps (e.g. Mail, Messages, Video, Calendar, Maps, Reminders, iBooks, News, Notes, Find Friends, Find iPhone, FaceTime, Clock, Contacts, Game Center, Photos, Podcasts, Tips) but third party applications support is coming in the future. 

While Samsung Android tablets have had similar multitasking capabilities for some time, the additions to iOS 9 should benefit both consumers and business users looking to maximize their iPad experience.

iOS 9 is currently in public beta and is expected to ship later this fall with the rumored iPhone 6S

Monday, July 06, 2015

My Apple HomeKit wish list

As an Apple technology enthusiast, I'm particularly interested in Apple HomeKit which promises to "use your iOS device to control any of the accessories that you have in your home, like lights, locks, thermostats, smart plugs, and more."  I have an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch as well as an Apple TV.  Here's my initial short list of home automation tasks:

  1. Garage door. Open, close and check on the status of my garage doors (did I leave one open?) from my Apple Watch and iPhone - both on premise and when away from my house (via Apple TV) using both Siri and touch.   Chamberlain "MyQ" comes closest to this need but lacks HomeKit and Apple Watch support for its mobile app.  Since Chamberlain is an Apple partner, I'm hoping these features will be added.   Amazon sells the MyQ for $100
  2. Lighting. Control lights from my Apple Watch and iPhone both on premise and when away from my house (via Apple TV) using both Siri and touch.  GE recently announced "plans to engineer a color-changing LED compatible with Apple’s HomeKit ecosystem. Embedded with GE Align™ technology, GE’s HomeKit-enabled LED bulb takes smart home technology a step further, giving consumers the ability to automate lighting according to the body’s natural sleep circadian rhythm."   The bulbs are expected to ship later in 2015.
  3. Home thermostat.  I currently have a basic, programable thermostat and I'm interested in purchasing one that offers the ability to "learn" and better control including HomeKit support.
That's my short for Apple HomeKit home automation.  I'd be interested in your thoughts and impressions.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Impressions of Android M and iOS 9 for the enterprise

When Google and Apple announce new mobile operating systems (Android M and iOS 9) I'm interested in what the new features from two unique perspectives: what the new features will mean to me as a user as well as an enterprise user.  As an Information Technology manager for IBM leading mobile adoption and providing Information Technology (IT) support to senior executives, I need to understand how new features can improve the employee experience and the implications (e.g. security, infrastructure, privacy etc.) for IBM's 380,000+ employees worldwide.  The following are my initial impressions of Android M and iOS 9 and the key enterprise features from my perspective:

Android M
The most important enterprise feature for me in Android M is support for fingerprint scanning. While many Android phones already have fingerprint scanners, Google is adding universal support for fingerprint scanning across its entire platform.  This includes APIs that allow integration with Mobile Device Management (MDM) software like Fiberlink MaaS360, Airwatch, MobileIron and more.  Virtually every enterprise I've worked with, including IBM, requires a device passcode both for BYOD and enterprise devices and it's a pain to enter a device passcode every few minutes.  IBM allows its employees to use Apple TouchID both to unlock the phone and to authenticate with IBM enterprise apps. IBM employees overwhelming prefer the user experience of authenticating with a fingerprint vs. entering an 8-character alphanumeric passcode.  I'm hopeful that the enhancements in Android M will allow IBM to deliver a similar experience to Android users.

iOS 9
Apple published an iOS 8 enterprise page last year and I expect this to be updated to include new iOS 9 features. Apple recently published new enterprise developer page with placeholders for additional content so I suspect more iOS9 enterprise features are coming.  Of the new iOS 9 features I've seen so far, the new split-screen multitasking and updated on-screen keyboard, including a software trackpad for iPad are the key will be of particular interest to enterprise users.  These features should go a long way towards increasing enterprise productivity on an iPad.  In addition, for the first time, iOS 9 will have a public beta without requiring a $99 Apple developer account.  This will make it easier for users to get their hands on iOS 9 prior release and provide feedback both to Apple and to IBM on what apps work with iOS 9 and which don't prior to the release so issue can be addressed.