Sunday, April 28, 2013

More Jelly Beans

Earlier this year I upgraded my Captivate to Jelly Bean  (4.2.1) using Cyanogen Mod 10.1. As expected with Cyanogen it has been rock solid. I even considered switching back to the Captivate for my every day phone. Lack of LTE and the inferior camera kept me on the Skyrocket.

AT&T finally announced the Skyrocket Jelly Bean upgrade (with Butter) on April 10, 2013. Samsung posted detailed instructions.

Similar to the Skyrocket upgrade from Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich, the Jelly Bean upgrade was only available using Samsung's Kies.

As called for, I upgraded Kies. As I read and re-read the upgrade instructions the Jelly Bean update downloaded on its own. As this was the same laptop I used for Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich all the necessary drivers loaded cleanly.

Unlike the Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade I didn't remove the SIM card nor the microSD card. The FAQ specifically said that you could leave them in. I had no problems with either. I did not lose my internal SD storage either. I did not do a factory reset before nor after the upgrade although that is usually a good idea.

The upgrade went perfectly and took about 25 minutes. The laptop is an old IBM ThinkPad T43 and I could see the processor busy most of the time. I'd expect it to be quicker on a more powerful PC.

After the upgrade the first boot went through the normal "optimizing" phase and sometimes I'd see an app start slowly the first time. I presume that this is the Just In Time (JIT) compilation happening.

The Jelly Bean for the Skyrocket is 4.1.2 but I haven't noticed any of the differences between this and the Captivate's 4.2.1. As expected all of the Samsung customizations are carried forward, e.g. TouchWiz and the camera. And you lose a Jelly Bean feature here and there like the widgets on the lock screen. Maybe I just haven't figured that out.

You might want to screenshot your home screens before you start as the upgrade resets them. It also forgets ringtones, etc. Most apps kept their settings.

Jelly Bean is so nice. Here's a screen shot of the in call screen. iPhone users, eat your heart out.

And Google Now, just wow!

I had Googled "Happy Daze" on my laptop looking for the hours of a local hamburger joint. Look at what Google Now did with that signal.

Battery life? I don't know. It's so erratic. You can see my day by day usage here.

There's a lot of whining in the Android forums about the carriers not upgrading their older phones. While all of us geeks want the latest bits as soon as they are available, AT&T and Samsung have upgraded both the Captivate and Skyrocket twice in less than 2 years. I really can't complain about that.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

2013 Honda i-MID

I knew in-car technology was going to come to this.

FASTOY X came to a sudden end recently in a pile of shattered glass and airbag dust.

Since I didn't have the luxury of picking the timing, my shopping for a replacement was somewhat shortened. Buy as usual I headed to my faithful Honda dealer.

I came home with FASTOY XI, a 2013 Honda Accord EX-L coupe with six-speed manual transmission.

I could write a book about the new FASTOY but for the moment I want to focus on one feature, really on one part of one feature.

Several of the new Hondas have Intelligent Multi Information Display (i-MID).

The i-MID interfaces with many of the Accord's systems and communicates it all on one screen. It displays everything from your current MPG to what's on the radio to incoming text messages.

But this post is all about one other capability of the i-MID. Honda has externalized many of the car's settings to the i-MID so you can configure how things operate that have never before been accessible.

I downloaded the owner's manual and captured the i-MID settings screens. There are 10 of them!

The groups are: System Settings, Vehicle Settings, Audio Settings, Info Settings, Phone Settings, and Camera Settings.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

iPad vs. Data Center

Given that I call myself an IT architect, the headline caught my eye.
How the iPad ruined the lives of IT architects
The author describes how consumer technology has affected data center expectations.
In current times however, we’re being asked to regularly provide levels of solution availability that until recently were reserved for the largest of enterprises ...
This comes on continuing escalation of complexity in our solutions. I recall a discussion with the CFO of a Fortune 100 company about her expectations of IT. I related to her the increased complexity of an SAP TCP/IP solution compared to the previous CICS SNA solution. She was understanding of the challenges but that's where we had to go. And not just with the same availability but better.

What has caused this elevation of expectations?
Today ... the consumerisation of high quality IT has happened and is setting the standard for business IT. ... As a result of this turnaround, the role of an IT architect has got even harder, especially in the small- and mid-enterprise sectors where arguably the pace of IT change has never been faster and the lack of IT governance has never been lower.
I think the last point is also key. In my recent experience in medium enterprises (sub $1B) I've found that the lack of governance is a major problem.

Back to technology...
With their iPads always working and Facebook always being online, business users increasingly have the same expectation of the IT systems they use.
One of the business requirements I recently encountered was a CEO who wants to be able to walk into a customer's conference room and project that customer's business real-time. Stop for a minute and think of all the IT capabilities required to do that. Yet Facebook does it all the time.
Helping business users understand, justify, and quantify their requirements is the skill of a good architect, and is a process we can still use to define availability needs even if it’s to show that ultra-high availability needs bring ultra-high costs.
To the aforementioned CEO, it's just the cost of doing business. The challenge for the architect is "selling" that requirement through the organization.
(T)he problem architects now have is the delivery of infrastructures to support these expected levels of 24/7 availability. Quoting 99.5per cent availability SLAs these days suggests to me that we want the business to feel grateful for whenever the solution is available.
The CEO won't "feel grateful for whenever the solution is available."
(T)he answer ... seems to be for everyone but the richest organisations will almost certainly be the cloud. That brings a new and bigger challenge for the IT architect, how do we learn to trust a face-less cloud service provider?
This is why I think of myself a a Chief Worrier.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Windows Phone 8 EOL

Recently Microsoft announced the end-of-life for Windows Phone 8 and established an 18 month life cycle for the platform's operating systems.
Microsoft will make updates available for the Operating System on your phone, including security updates, for a period of 18 months after the lifecycle start date. Distribution of the updates may be controlled by the mobile operator or the phone manufacturer from which you purchased your phone. Update availability will also vary by country, region, and hardware capabilities.
At first blush this is bad.

But it's not. It's great!

Mary Jo Foley's column assesses this. Her position is that what this means is that there is going to be a continuum of Windows Phone operating system versions.

She bases this on the Microsoft Windows Phone team's tweet:
As we’ve said, one benefit of moving to the Windows core is that Windows Phone 8 is upgradeable.
Mary Jo reads this as Microsoft will be providing in place upgrades to the Windows Phone operating system regularly, more frequently than 18 months.

Obviously some equipment may not be capable of newer versions but given that Windows 7 and Windows 8 lowered the minimum requirements even this may not be a problem. We still have to worry about the carriers.

Let's hope Mary Jo is right.