Lenovo CEO in surprise cash splash
By Ian GRAYSON
Every so often something happens in the technology world that makes you feel pretty good. Late last week, Lenovo's CEO did just that by giving away $US3 million to his employees.
Yang Yuanqing decided the bonus paid to him by the company's board, which followed record financial results, should be shared with the thousands of employees who's hard work had contributed to the success.
So he paid the equivalent of around $US300 (which equates to about a month's salary) to some 10,000 of the company's lowest paid employees.
While the immediate effect on the pockets of those employees would doubtlessly be significant, the longer term effect on company morale would be many times higher.
It can be difficult to engender any sort of collective spirit in large organisations, but such a move would do much to communicate that working for Lenovo is more than just about feeding the demands of shareholders.
I wonder if it will spur any other very well paid senior executives in the IT industry to make a similar move?
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Will geo-dodging go mainstream?
By Adam TURNER
How popular will services such as Unblock-Us become for accessing geo-blocked services like Hulu?
Of course there's a difference between popular and mainstream. I'd say geo-dodging has been popular for a few years, via VPNs or new DNS-based services such as Unblock-Us. But when I say "mainstream" I mean your average person on the street. Perhaps someone who has recently embraced the idea of online video and is starting to bump up against those frustrating warnings that content isn't available in their country. As with file-sharing, they're likely to turn to their tech-savvy friends for answers.
Even with a little help from your friends, I couldn't see geo-dodging going mainstream until it became "green button" simple as they say at Xerox (you push the green button and it just works). Until then most people will put it in the too hard basket, which is what content providers are relying on. Bypassing geo-blocking is still far from green button simple for your average person -- particularly as the geo-blocking workarounds keep changing. How simple it is depends on the content you want to enjoy, the gadget you want to enjoy it on and the geo-dodging technique you want to use.
Running a VPN such as WiTopia on a media centre, which can be easily switched on and off from the System Tray, is one of the easiest ways to tap into services like Hulu and Netflix. But your average person doesn't want a computer in their lounge room. The next option is a set-top box which can work with a geo-dodging service. D-Link's Boxee Box is a real winner here because it has a built-in VPN client. Alternatively you might look to a box which lets you change its DNS settings to use with Unblock-Us, maybe an Apple TV or an internet-enabled Blu-ray player. They're cheaper than a Boxee Box, but the trade-off is that you've got access to less content. It's also more difficult to disable geo-blocking on these boxes when you want to access local services. Like I said last week, the results with Netflix can be hit and miss.
It's a handy trick for people prepared to make the effort, but I can't see geo-dodging appealing to the masses for a while. What's your preferred method of bypassing the Great Content Wall of America?
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Another email address variant ahead for Apple's customers?
By Stephen WITHERS
Go back far enough, and email addresses associated with the use of Apple's online services were of the form firstname.lastname@example.org. Then MobileMe introduced email@example.com, but 'grandfathered' existing @mac.com addresses.
Now comes the news that users signing up for new Apple IDs or enabling Mail on an iCloud account for the first time will be allocated @icloud.com addresses. Furthermore, iOS 6 beta 3 users are being given matching @icloud addresses, so quite possibly that will extend to all iOS 6 users once it is released.
Presumably Apple will grandfather @mac.com and @me.com addresses. The amount of effort and resources required to do so is minimal, and a large part of the attraction of services such as iTools/.Mac/MobileMe/iCloud and Gmail is that you get a permanent address regardless of any changes of ISP, employment or organisational membership.
Yes, there is always the risk that a provider will go out of business, but if that's a worry you register your own domain - something I've been recommending for years.
I can't really understand why some people are so emotionally attached to @mac.com addresses (as opposed to the very practical issues around an address that you've been using for many years) and opposed to the @me.com form. With a gazillion @me.com accounts in play, nobody with half a brain is going to think you narcissistic for using one of them.
So is it really a big deal if new users (and at least some existing ones) get @icloud.com addresses as long as @mac.com and @me.com addresses continue to work? No, I didn't think so, either.
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Is the iPhone doomed?
By Alex KIDMAN
I was having a discussion about smartphone sales the other day -- why yes, I do lead that kind of exciting, thrill-packed life -- and in particular the inevitable Android vs Apple bit came up. It's the elephant in the room, especially as Android sales have increased over time. Equally inevitably, somebody in the discussion made the statement that Android sales were increasing and Apple's were decreasing due to people being "sick" of Apple's walled garden ecosystem approach.
I'm not sure I totally agree. Oh, the figures don't lie; there are growing numbers of Android handsets out there, to be sure, and there's undoubtedly a few that have made the Apple to Android jump specifically because of Apple's mantra of control, control, control.
Equally, Apple's success with the iPhone has been nothing short of phenomenal; it was only a few short years ago that the target Apple was chasing was RIM, not Google. That's especially true in Australia, but once you've reached that metaphorical sales peak, where else is there to go?
But in the mass market? I'm not so easily convinced. There's some stellar Android handsets out there -- Samsung's Galaxy S III, HTC's One X/XL and Nokia's Lumia 800 spring easily to mind -- and for the mass market they're very good iPhone alternatives.
But that, I think, is the key. They're entirely alternative handsets. That's a good thing -- I'd much rather have a range of choices when I'm looking for a new phone, and I think the mass market would too.
Buy a Galaxy S III, and you're not just getting Android; you're also getting a larger screen and a different physical phone. Likewise with the HTC, or the Nokia, or, indeed, any given smartphone. I've seen plenty of consumers coo over a particular model of phone in-store, but from what they're saying, make it perfectly clear that the operating system isn't a key factor in their purchasing decisions.
If they can't identify the operating system, what are the odds that they're switching phones to "get away" from Apple?
Image: MJ/TR (´･ω･)
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Buyer AND seller beware. A tale of two videos
By David HAGUE
Two things happened last week that were a sobering reminder of some things we face in this business. Thankfully neither happened to me personally.
The first was the video taken by a “professional” of a school function. My mate quoted on this gig (he’s in the biz) as he has done this function every year for a few years now, but this year, someone “cheaper” came along, supposedly with all the credentials and the best in video gear.
To say the finished product the other party did was ugly would be an understatement. The lighting was poor, the audio almost non-existent (despite having access to a recording desk) and the composition, titling etc abysmal. To cover up the inadequacies, a million special effects had been added turning the whole thing into a dog’s breakfast.
The client was very disappointed, as might well they be, and admits they have learned the hard way that cheapest is not always best.
The second thing is somewhat connected; they had no comeback on the “professional” as no formal contract was drawn up. This meant no standard to work to was set in place or as they are called these days, KPIs (key performance indicators). Of course this also meant the pro had no call on the money for this job, but as they paid up front, it was a bit late for that to be enforced.
I have seen an extreme case of this in reverse. And this should NEVER have happened!
A pro video house (another one not the same one) quite some years back made the most fateful blunder in a society wedding video of having not a single frame of footage containing the bride’s mother! The terms and conditions of the shoot were well and truly spelled out in the contract that had been drawn up, and the client made damn sure it was adhered to by forcing a re-shoot of the whole shebang.
That was an expensive lesson.
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