How not to demo your product to a law firm

Today’s Slaw post:

I was involved recently in a demo of a product that a vendor was trying to sell to our firm.  I won’t identify the product or vendor, because this is not about the product itself.  The vendor did two things that did more harm than good.

The first problem was the vendor’s approach.  They were quite proud of the product, and launched directly into its advanced and cutting edge features.  But they ignored the basics.  So anyone observing the demo who was skeptical of the product in the first place, or not comfortable with change, or felt the cutting edge features were not necessary would be turned off right from the start.

A much more effective approach would have been to start with: “Our product has some advanced features that can make your practice easier and more efficient, but let’s start with the basic functions to show how easy it is to use every day.” 

The second problem was that the demo was done in part by a person who used their computer to remotely control a second computer that contained the software being demoed.  That technology works, but is never as efficient as using the computer directly.  So delays and glitches caused by the remote aspect are perceived to be problems with the product.

Blackberry fans rejoice

Todays’ Slaw post

As you are no doubt aware,  RIM Blackberry finally brought its new operating system and a new phone to market this week.  The first phone, the Z10 does not have a keyboard – a first for Blackberry. 

So will this save Blackberry?  My take on early reviews is that Blackberry fans will like the new phones, and they will probably result in fewer people trading for iPhones, Android phones or Windows phones when their Blackberry terms expire.  But it probably won’t result in a mass of people giving up their iPhones, Android phones or Windows phones for a Blackberry.

The practical reality is that all 4 of these smartphone platforms are good products.  Phone buyers tend to be passionate about their brands, and often somewhat irrational in their decision making.  The best phone always doesn’t win. For example, the new Windows phones are very highly rated but don’t seem to get the attention they deserve.  Some people make a big deal about the number of available apps for particular types – but the real issue is whether the right apps are available to suit your needs. 

For Blackberry’s sake, I hope this does mark a turnaround.

For the record, I have an Android phone, an iPad, and use Windows systems both at work and at home.

Is a smartwatch in your future?

My latest Slaw post:

Many people don’t bother wearing watches any more because its so easy to check the time on our phones.  But that may change as watches move from just telling time to being a display device that works with our phones.  A Datamation article entitled 5 Tech Trends That Will Bring Back the Wristwatch explains why.

The 5 trends:

  • Multi-screen functionality where devices work together
  • Wearable computing
  • Voice interaction
  • eInk displays that are thin and consume very little power
  • Bluetooth 4.0 that consumes very little power

See, for example, the Pebble watch, a Kickstarter project that is now shipping.  I’ll take a black one, please.

CES this week

Today’s Slaw post:

The Annual Consumer Electronics Show is underway in Las Vegas.  Despite some commentary that the show is old or outdated, it occupies floor space equivalent to 393 basketball courts and attracts 150,000 people. 

The tech press, such as CNET, is of course there in droves. 

Some of the interesting things so far include:

Laptops that convert, flip, slide roll, …

Next generation Intel chips that boost ultrabook performance and battery life

Massive 4K (very high resolution) TVs

Flexible screens

Internet of Things gadget makers announced the creation of the Internet of Things Consortium to promote their emerging industry and discuss best practices.

Continued movement towards the smart home and smart TV

3D printers

A 1 TB flashdrive


Gadget Nirvana

My latest Slaw post:

Apple announced a new iPad mini yesterday as expected, along with upgrades to several other products. Surprisingly, an iPad 4 is now available, just a few short months after the iPad 3 was introduced. Apple is a master of innovation and marketing, and somehow manages to make evolutionary changes to its products seem revolutionary.

But they are not the only game in town.

Microsoft has an event on Oct 25 to launch its Surface tablet, on Oct 26 to launch Windows 8, and on Oct 29 to launch Windows Phone 8. Early reviews show they are solid products. I find these new Microsoft products interesting. The Surface tablet has a lot of features that will make it easier and more seamless to use than an iPad. Corporate IT departments will love them. But iPad users may be slow to switch, as many of the apps we use with the iPad are not yet available. For example, iPad users using apps like pressreader, newsstand or flipboard won’t switch until those are available for Microsoft products.

Not to be outdone, Google also has an event on Oct 29 where it is expected to launch its next generation Nexus smartphone, new tablets, and an update to its latest Jelly Bean software.

For the record, I use Microsoft PC’s, an iPad, and a Google Nexus phone. They are all good products, even though each one has subtle advantages and disadvantages. Each one also has its fans and detractors to the extent that it is sometimes difficult to know how realistic either positive or negative reviews are. For example, there has been some criticism that the Windows 8 surface RT tablet operating system won’t run full office software – just pared down versions. But that is the nature of the tablet beast – and is the same approach taken by Apple and Google.

Top 10 Legal Issues When Taking Your Business Online

Today’s Slaw post

I presented today at the London Bridges to Better Business conference on the top 10 legal issues when taking your business online, along with colleagues Mana Khami and Mike Mumby who presented on other top 10 legal issues. I thought Slaw readers might like to see the slides.

David Canton online business

Mana Khami top 10 – employment

Mike Mumby top 10 business



Apple announces iPhone5

Today’s Slaw post:

Apple just announced the new iPhone 5. Some of the features Apple is touting:

Thinner and lighter – apparently the world’s thinnest smartphone. A bit taller than before, which give a bigger screen (close to 16:9)and better colour. Apps designed for the current screen size will be letterboxed like a TV.

It includes LTE for most major US and Canadian telcos. (Apparently no NFC, though.)

It has a new, faster, more energy efficient CPU (the A6), and longer battery life.

Of course an improved camera.

Enhanced audio.

A new, smaller “Lightning” connecter replaces the current Apple connector. (It’s about time. They will no doubt make a lot of money selling adapters.)

New iOS6 operating system, including updated Siri voice command.

Comes in black and white.

Price the same as for the 4s.

Pre-orders start Friday. Shipping on Sept 21 in US, Canada, and several other countries.

On Sept 19, iOS6 available for iPad and iPhone 4

For more detail and commentary, check out the tech press, including and

No doubt Apple will sell the iPhone 5 in huge numbers. But the competition is fierce, particularly with the latest Android Jelly Bean OS phones, and the new Windows 8 phones.

Just for the record, I’m sticking with my Samsung Galaxy Nexus for now – even though it is extremely frustrating that the Jelly Bean OS has not been pushed out to it it. (Apparently that is a Samsung issue, not a carrier issue.) Apple has set the expectation that new OSs will be available for existing devices at the same time they are released to new devices. That’s something that Apple’s competitors have not yet got right.

Phone & tablet wars continue

My latest Slaw post:

Apple fans will already know that Apple has scheduled an event for next Wednesday. While Apple did not specifically mention the iPhone 5, it is rather obvious from the invitation.

Rumour has it that the iPhone 5 will be available September 21.

This comes on the heels of the jury decision in the US that awarded Apple a billion (yes, that’s a “b”) dollars in damages against Samsung for violating Apple patents. No word yet on whether it will be appealed, but given the amount of the damage award, and what the decision could mean for the future of Android phones, it would be surprising if it is not.

No matter how that shakes out, though, Android phones will survive and thrive.

The phone and tablet market is not just an Apple v Android race. Microsoft’s new Surface / Windows 8 products will be a compelling choice, especially for business use. Windows 8 hardware will blur the line between tablets and notebooks. Microsoft’s goal is to bring a similar look, feel, and experience accross all devices, whether it be a phone, tablet, notebook, or desktop. Windows 8 products are coming to market in late October.

The good news for consumers and business is that competition in this market is alive and well, and the technology keeps improving. Each has its fans and detractors, and each has pros and cons for different situations – but none of these are bad choices.

Mobile payment guidelines released

Todays’ Slaw post:

The Canadian Bankers Association just released a mobile payments reference model as a voluntary guideline for development of mobile payments at point-of-sale in Canada. In practice this means that your phone will have a mobile wallet that replaces your debit and credit cards. Phones with NFC (near field communications) will be able to use this feature to pay by holding it near a payment terminal similar to how we can now use the paypass feature on our cards. The CBA press release has links to the full guideline, and a summary version.

From the press release:

The voluntary guidelines, technically known as the Mobile Reference Model, will serve as a blueprint for how mobile payment capabilities can be offered in the Canadian market, including guidelines around how information is exchanged among various parties to a transaction including financial institutions, payment card companies, telecommunications companies and merchants. While voluntary, the financial institutions that developed the guidelines are committed to these principles in the mobile market, and these guidelines are intended to create a path to help all market participants move forward in developing mobile payment solutions.

Canadians are looking forward to being able to pay at point-of-sale with their mobile device, and today’s announcement of guidelines for mobile payments in Canada brings this closer to making it a reality. By developing a set of guidelines that all participants in the payments marketplace can work within, the goal is to ensure safety, security and ease of use for merchants and consumers while allowing for innovation and competition among market participants.

It will take some time for the technology to become widely adopted, but expect a lot of competition in this market. Consumers in some other countries are already using this technology. Rogers and the CIBC announced just after the CBA release that they are working on a mobile payments solution.

BYOD raises legal issues

For the London Free Press – April 30, 2012 – Read this on Canoe

BYOD, or bring your own device, is a hot topic. It refers to the trend for employees wanting to use their own smartphones or tablets for work purposes, rather than the ones their employer provides.

Why would an employee want to use his or her own device? It might be a better or more familiar device than their employer provides. Or they might not want to carry two phones. Or their employer might not provide phones or tablets at all.

BYOD can cause headaches for IT departments. It’s much harder to deal with many different types and configurations of devices in the workplace than one specific device or configuration approved by and owned by the employer.

This is a trend that can’t be stopped, and can have advantages to the employer. BYOD raises legal issues that need to be considered as well.

For example, employers usually have technology use policies that allow them to look at whatever an employee does on his work computer or device, even if the employee uses it for some personal use.

The goal is to be able to monitor and deal with improper employee behaviour, such as wasting excessive amounts of time surfing the net, or violating privacy, confidentiality, laws or corporate policies.

But those policies usually justify monitoring based on the notion that the equipment is owned by the employer. Those policies should be expanded to try to include BYOD devices.

It’s unclear to some extent how effective that will be if the issue gets into court, as there are issues of personal privacy connected with employer monitoring of a personal device. But there should at least be an attempt to address the situation and provide a plausible argument for monitoring in certain situations.

Another issue is how to ensure the privacy and security of employer data on a BYOD device. Businesses must keep personal information secure, and need to keep other information secure for various confidentiality and business reasons.

That is easier to do on a smartphone, for example, that the IT department has configured and locked down to require password access, or to encrypt sensitive information, or to allow it to remote lock or wipe the device if it’s lost or stolen.

That becomes more of a challenge when dealing with BYOD. Technology use and security policies should be looked at in light of this. Should, for example, users be only allowed to use a BYOD device if it has a screen lock?

Another approach is to set up systems so that as much as possible remains in the cloud or company-controlled servers, with proper access security. That way, if a device is lost or stolen, the data is not on the device itself.

Access must be simple and easy, though. Otherwise employees will just ignore corporate policy, and will resort to faster and easier ways to get what they want on the device, such as dragging files into Dropbox, or e-mailing them to a personal email account.