Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Forget Office, People use Google Apps Now

A couple of years ago, I got a Chromebook for my birthday. My Dad told me they were ridiculous and a waste of money, arguing that there was no point in buying a computer that can't even run Microsoft Office.

I didn't see the inability to run such programs on my Chromebook as a problem. I wanted one because I believed (and still do believe) that they're the best notebooks for accessing the web quickly, free of hassle. At my age, (16) to be able to efficiently access social media applications, and entertainment services such as Netflix and YouTube is of greatest importance. I saw Google Apps and their parallel cloud services as a perfectly adequate way of doing my school work.

My Dad dismissed Google docs as stupid, and thought I was stupid for using them. However the more I used them, and the more I used the Google Drive, the more I preferred it them to Office. Google Apps offer flexibility: I can start a piece of work at home, and then finish it and print it at school. I decided cloud services is where it is at. It just made sense to me.

Nowadays, people want technology to be as simple and as efficient as possible. Cloud services can fulfil these requirements brilliantly. Take Google Docs for example, you can access your documents on your laptop, tablet, smartphone, and on any other computer you may find yourself on harmoniously, without the requirement of any hardware such as a USB stick. The harmony between different devices is very appealing; its simplistic, but extremely beneficial. People don't mind that Google docs might not be as advanced as Office. The fact that its essentially office stripped to the bare necessities, doesn't matter. The advantages of the cloud features is considerably greater than the disadvantages.

I have always felt that young people such as myself are the people that really know what's going on with technology.  We are the primary consumers, and we're the innovators. We seem to understand what will take off, and what will flop. Over the past year or so I've seen a massive increase in the number of people abandoning the traditional; Microsoft Office, for Google's cloud alternative. What really matters nowadays is connectivity, and simplicity, because it's these two things that ultimately effect productivity. Google Docs ticks both these boxes, as it's user friendly and simple, as well as being well connected via the Drive.

When I first told my Dad that Google's office and cloud services was the way forward, he laughed. However, yesterday he informed me that the company he works for, Trimble Navigations (listed on NASDAQ, and made revenue of over $2 Billion in 2012) had signed a corporate deal with Google for the business use of these services.

Lessons learnt? Parents should listen to their kids when it comes to technology, and forget Office, it sucks.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Apple the Religious Cult

This is Jony Ive, he's the Senior Vice President of Design at Apple.

What Apple have is what all their rivals envy and crave for. A ridiculously large, ridiculously loyal, and ridiculously clueless consumer base that will worship Apple products, and buy them religiously, no matter how crap they are.

This allows them to make stupid introduction videos like this one for their new products. They love to shove this man in a room, and make him subtly say 'we know you'l buy our crap anyway so we shit out anything we can think of'.

Apple take their consumer base for granted; only they can get away with saying stuff like 'the Iphone 5C is a distillation of what people love about the Iphone 5' and claim that an Iphone is an experience rather than a frikin' phone. I was shocked when my first Iphone's antenna defaulted for no reason and I had to get it replaced. I guess it must just be part of the experience.

The Senior Vice President for Software Engineering says in the video that the 5C is 'built on a foundation of features that people know and love'. That's why I was shocked when my phone decided to delete all my contacts for no reason whatsoever. But judging by the number of Iphone users on the internet complaining about the same software malfunction, this must be one of those lovable features?

 Apple love to whitewash their flawed products because they know that's all they need to do to make their religious cult go out and buy whatever new crap they have to sell. But eventually, if they don't fix these small problems that often occur, people are going to get fed up, and polishing the turd will no longer work for them. This marketing strategy will stop working eventually.

They need to stop taking their cult consumer base for granted and stop claiming each product is even more perfect than the last before I just can't take it and die.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Let's Regenerate the North

A reflection on the BBC documentary 'Mind the Gap'

Evan Davis' documentary looks at the threat the capital imposes on the rest of the UK. London as  a major world city, if not the major world city has earned the capability of attracting investment and business from all corners of the world. However in doing so, it has managed to cast a shadow over the rest of the UK. The city sucks the best qualified professionals, not only from across the country, but the whole world to work for the most attractive, flashy businesses that are all based in London.

Why? They want to live in the busy, evolving, cultural centre that is London, and work for the best people they can, who are also in London. It's a vicious circle. The capital marries two key features which make it so successful, it is both a fashionable place to live, and a productive place to work. Along with a wealth of history, diversity and art, it has truly become one of the most attractive city in the world to live, work, and play.

As well as this threat, the country does owe a lot to the city, which vitally acts as the poster boy for the country, generating wealth that does, to some extent, dissipate across the rest of the country. Even if the majority remains in London.

I don't think there is an opportunity for any of our cities to grow into a real competitor to London. But like the documentary says in the second episode, there is an opportunity for cities like Liverpool, Manchester, and Leeds to develop into something similar.

These northern cities all have an industrial background, that is historically important to the development of how they look, and their culture. People love this old industrial feel that they offer, and when regenerated the old docks, mills, and factories become trendy and cool places to live and work. Take for instance the Albert Docks in Liverpool, once derelict docks, now a beautiful and thriving commercial zone in the city centre. We need to encourage investment in these cities, to capitalise on these opportunities.

These sort of redevelopment areas are especially attractive to the younger generation, they're trendy places to be and to live, They're also cheaper alternatives to London, but still in a city centre with lots to do. That's one of the attractive aspects of redeveloping old industrial buildings, they're often central.

Albert Docks - example of successful redevelopment
We also need to encourage business in these cities. And I don't doubt that with more investment from the government, and from the private sector, this can be done. I personally think this would be done most successfully, if the local governments where given more money to invest themselves, or even if a committee was set up for investment in the north, containing council representatives, constituency MPs, and representatives of local business of the areas mentioned, in order to come up with large-scale plans for investment, and put them forward to  both Westminster, and private investors in a similar fashion to the London Docklands Development Corporation of the 1980s. But with some representation from local government.

With investment, there is no reason why these cities can't become a hub for the north of England, and make more of a reputation for themselves on the international stage. Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds all have unique, rich cultures and histories that ought to be taken advantage of.