Technology

Repost: Microsoft makes more from Android than from Windows Phone 7

HTC agreed to pay Ballmer and his cronies $5 per shipped Android set. Citi says that HTC has sold 30 million sets, adding $150 million of fresh greens to Microsoft’s piggy bank.

Now, Microsoft sold two million Windows Phone licenses over the same period, which accounts for $30 million dollars using an estimated license fee of $15 for each Windows Phone shipped.

Source: Gizmodo, Citi

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Business, featured

To Gold-plate Or Not To Gold-plate?

We have already looked at context switching, now we look at productivity itself. Which aspect do we consider? We will look at how much work needs to be done to achieve the target.

Let’s start off with the titled question, anyone with knowledge of project management will have heard of the term Gold-plating. Gold-plating means to keep working on the project/product past the given functional requirements to enhance it. It is usually known that the technical perfectionists are most likely to carry out gold-plating a product in hopes that the client will appreciate their efforts and initiative.

The question is whether and when it is acceptable to carry out gold-plating?

I will talk from my experience at university. Any project or coursework given to us had clear requirements of the output. We knew exactly what we had to achieve and how much our reward (marks) would be. We worked to achieve that goal and did not improve our answer further. Whatever gold-plating we carried out was in the presentation of the results and in the reports.

When a project is assigned, there is also a budget that is assigned with it. If the functional requirements are well-defined from the beginning and the reward agreed, there is no need to go past the functional requirements. If any initiative needs to be shown, it should be shown when defining and agreeing the requirements with the client. The client might appreciate the gold-plating but will not usually penalise if it is not done. Sure if it is a software project, make sure the interface is usable and neat but no need to add fancy effects which might later become annoyances.

Last year I was a technology forum hosted in London by one of the largest Investment banks showcasing their trading software. The project manager was telling us how a couple of members of his team had worked few extra hours to enhance the interface by adding eye pleasing fading effects etc. , but only for the traders to feedback saying these effects were slowing down their speed and were annoyances. The development team had to spend more time removing all the effects and keeping the interface simple. This cost them a lot of time and also morale. This time could have been spent well developing the next iteration or working on another project.

A lot of project managers will attest that the project cost could have been lowered and completed in a shorter time if it wasn’t for gold-plating their work to impress the client. Fair enough that the first couple of times, a little gold-plating can be done to impress the client and retain them for longer periods but it cannot be done every time and in the long run. Another cause for gold-plating is over-estimation of budget. Just because the expenditure in completing a project to functional requirement is lower than the budget, doesn’t mean that the extra budget needs to be spent. If the client accepts the functional output according to the requirements, they will probably be impressed more knowing that the project was completed with lower costs than the estimates.

So what is the answer to the titled question? Well it depends what the motivations are behind gold-plating. If it because there is budget left for it, then there is no need to gold-plate the output. If the aim is to impress a client and reel them in for longer term then gold-plating is acceptable or when presentation is important. Gold-Plating can also cost money and time affecting not only that project but others as well. The outcome and reward of gold-plating should be carefully assessed for each project.

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Technology

XXXX_ Furniture Range

A Dutch company has brought a new range of furniture which is unlike anything before. Thanks to designer Yuya Ushida, The XXXX_ Sofa and XXXX_ Stool are very unique. The Stool sits one but the sofa can sit either one or probably 3-4 people.

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This is the sofa above, small isn’t it? Can’t fit more than 2 people on it but wait, what’s this?

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I can now fit several people it! This is a unique mechanical design by Yuya Ushida made of sticks and rings allowing it to expand and compress.

The stool version is of course a lot smaller. If you wanna know how its built, you can order the stool as a DIY kit.

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Amazing design and functional too!

Source: Dezeen Design Magazine

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featured, Technology

Android ADK (Accessory Development Kit) + Project Tungsten

Moments ago at Google IO, the Android open Accessory Development Kit (ADK) was announced. This is a great move to open up the Android ecosystem and allow developers to build android compatibility in to their devices. One of the commercial examples shown was an exercise bike by LifeFitness. Using the ADK, they were able to interact with a game on the Android phone by cycling. the controls were simply the speed and difficulty of cycling effort. Another example was switching on/off lights in a room. Well, they actually played with the lights in the conference centre itself.

Android @ Home

Demonstration of Project Tungsten. Reference Hardware Hub connected to speakers. (The Hubs are small cubes between the speakers.)

Another feature of the Android OS shown was Android @ Home . This is a framework primarily for home automation. It is completely open, free and requires no registration or validation for use and development. Project Tungsten is an initiative which shows an example of application of Android @ Home. The Android Hub as it was called is reference hardware running the Android OS along with the Android @ Home framework. Any Android device is able to interact with this hub. The example use demonstrated was streaming music directly from Music Beta by Google to this Android Hub controlled by the Xoom tablet. The process was described as the Hub receiving track information from the tablet and then independently retrieving the music from the cloud.

Predictions

There are some home automation solutions already but they do not integrate well with out mobile devices. Google’s ADK and Android @ Home is a way for Google to enter this space and also expanding its ecosystem. Where I see this going is, there will be a Tungsten Hub or similar capabilities built in to consumer devices such as AV receivers, TVs, Digital Photo Frames, etc. Google already has Google TV which might be phased out once Android @ Home matures. This will definitely rival AirPlay, however, its implementation will be closely monitored to look for quality of applications and hardware. Apple has AirPlay integration with third party hardware manufacturers so it will be interesting to see how fast the same hardware manufacturers take up Android @ Home framework and how Google will control this.

Apple or Microsoft do NOT yet have a ADK present for their OSes currently. Apple currently approves 3rd party devices with AirPlay meaning quality control but does not allow any independent developer to develop hardware with AirPlay capabilities. Microsoft has its own Media sharing in the Windows platform but not on Windows Phone 7 yet.

Source: Android ADK , Music Beta by Google

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Technology

MS Office Mathematics Plug-in

This official free plugin by Microsoft is simply amazing. This is for Word and OneNote 2007 & 2010. Those who use OneNote already know that if u enter a simple arithmetic equation it calculates automatically. such as you type “2+3=” and press the space bar and OneNote will fill in the result “5” at the end. However, this does not work in Word. It is particularly important in Word since a lot of reports are written in Word and may require calculations. You can use the equation editor and just solve the equations using this plug-in.

This plugin goes beyond this. you can enter any equation with any number of variables and it can either solve for all the variables, plot 2D or 3D graphs. you can enter a table of data and plot simple graphs. Calculates complex arithmetic, integration, differentiation, complex integrals, etc.

Very simple to use, enter the equation in Equation editor and right click the equation and select the calculation to perform. for multiple equations, select multiple equations. It recognises subscripts as variables and superscripts as powers. I have found this plug-in very useful for my university work. Really this is for anyone who works with a lot of math.

Hope you find this plugin very useful.

Thanks

Source: MS Office Maths Plug-in

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