Thursday, August 19, 2010

New Teleplace CEO

Tony Nemelka has just been named CEO of Teleplace and I couldn't be more pleased. I have had a number of discussions with him and some of the exceptional people he is bring with him since he started working with the company, and I am really impressed with his vision for the direction for the business and the clear focus he has on customer value. I am very proud that the company has been able to attract someone of Tony's caliber to be the CEO. No question that the company was ready for this next step. Greg Nuyens did an exceptional job positioning the company technically - Teleplace is the best collaboration platform in the world today, by quite a wide margin. Now it is time to leverage that technical advantage into a market advantage as well.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Chief Innovation Officer

About three months ago, I joined Lockheed Martin STS as their Chief Innovation Officer. I have been wanting to pursue a project that was quite different from the direction that Teleplace has been going, and after about a year of discussion, it was clear that the direction I wanted to go and what Lockheed Martin was looking for fit extremely well.

It is too early to talk about what I will be doing, but if it works the way I think it should, it could have some very big results and may have an impact on everyone someday. I can tell you it is a very different world inside of a big company - there is still a requirement to be entrepreneurial and sell the ideas, but once a big company like this gets behind it, the resources available are simply amazing.

More to come for sure...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Palm Pixi Rox

I just bought a new phone, and it wasn't an iPhone, but it is still very cool. I have been planning to buy an iPhone as my next communication device - all my friends have one. I am very glad that they no longer feel the urge to demonstrate how cool they are by showing me some stupid picture or new app on their iPhone - except for Frank, of course.

So why didn't I buy an iPhone? Well, it is a bit complicated. My family has five phones with Sprint. I actually had a Rumor, which is a pretty good texting phone, but not much use for anything else. I was reasonably happy with it, though the blue-tooth quality was pretty poor. It was not too useful in California - unless you are married to the governator. Sprint is pretty good for quality of reception, but I always thought the selections of their phones sucked. A few years ago, I decided I needed a Blackberry and tried to upgrade at Sprint. Believe it or not, they would not sell me one. They only sold them to businesses. Morons. I did buy a Blackberry from someone else and carried two phones. I dropped the Blackberry after a while, because I realized I could almost always check my email with my MacBook, even when I was traveling.

So why the new phone? Somehow, I must have either dropped or stepped on my Rumor. I had made two or three phone calls earlier in the day from my office. I put it in my pocket and went downstairs to talk to my wife and while I was talking to her I received another call. I took the phone out and pressed the answer button and then saw that it had a big crack in the center of the screen. Worse, the voice quality on the other end was totally garbled - like some sort of electronica convolution filter. It was basically toast. I needed my phone to work this week, as there are many things going on in my life (that I will be writing about soon) so whether I liked it or not, I had to go visit the Sprint store for a replacement.

When I got there I had a few nice surprises - first the selections of phones was not terrible. In fact it was getting interesting. No iPhone of course - this wasn't AT&T, but they had an Android phone and yes, they finally were offering Blackberries to real people, and a they had the new Palm WebOS-based phones. I was interested in the Google phone, but a friend of mine had just bought one and was trying to take some pictures in the bright sunlight. The screen was unusable. Also it was kind of big and bulky - sort of like what the old Soviet Union might build if they were trying to make an iPhone knock-off.

What really caught my eye was the Palm Pixi. It is the smaller and slightly cheaper brother to the Palm Pre (which had the very strange commercials last year). I like small phones, as I already carry too much hardware in my pockets. The Pixi was actually smaller than my old Rumor (which really wasn't that small) and it was a real smart phone. Better yet, Sprint was offering a hell of a data plan where my family's monthly costs, which did not include data, would actually drop with the new plan which did include it. The phone was $200 with a $100 rebate - including a new two year contract, but now, even that was pro-rated. Sprint is definitely getting aggressive.

So now the review of the Pixi. In a nutshell, it is terrific.

Here is a list of pros followed by cons:

Pros
- Setup was trivial. The guy at the Sprint store did most of the work and I had a working phone with all my contact info when I walked out.
- The phone perfectly integrates with Gmail, which is my main email connection these days. It pulled all of my contact info into the phone and I was immediately reading the most recent emails.
- It supports Google Calendar, which my wife and I share. And it issued calendar alerts. Very nice.
- It is quite small, but the built in thumb-keyboard is quite usable. It took a little getting used to, but it works fine and has a nicer feel than my Blackberry or my earlier RIM device. I do love the size - it is quite thin and feels very nice in my hands.
- Sprint's wireless network performance is great. I was at a Starbuck's with a friend of mine and wanted to show him a video I had posted to YouTube. He tried to access it with his iPhone, but I had it running on the Pixi well before he even had an connection. He never did get it to work, but he was using the AT&T network and not the local Wi-Fi.
- Web browsing works pretty good, given the size of the screen. Certain sites, like Boing Boing are excellent, because they have a mobile version automatically loaded. Amazon was a bit crappy, surprisingly.

Cons
- The text is too small, especially for us old guys.
- The sound volume is not quite loud enough, even with it maxed out.
- When I called my mother, she said the sound quality on her end was echo-y, like I was far away from the phone.
- I tried to read a PDF document using the included Adobe reader app, but it didn't word wrap, so this was basically a lost cause. Seriously - if I zoom into a document using PDF, you really need to provide an option to wrap the text so I don't have to scroll left and right.
- Camera quality is poor. Good enough for a random picture now and then, but it won't replace my Casio Exilim.
- Takes a long time to charge (maybe 4-5 hours?)
- Charge lasts about 3 days with use. Since it was a new phone, I probably did more with it than I normally will in the future, so this probably caused the battery to drain quickly.
- Some apps re-orient based on the orientation of the phone. Others don't.
- It really needs a search app that has instant access.

Overall, this is a great non-Android Google phone. It is really nice how cleanly and easily it interfaces with my Google life. And I love the size. It is really quite elegant. It has only been three days now, so let's see how it holds up over the next few months.

As an aside, I had a rental car last week - a Ford Flex. This included the Microsoft Sync software. I might comment more on this later, but short answer - it was terrible. I actually liked the car (more of an SUV actually), but this software was really opaque. After linking it to my now sadly demised phone via BlueTooth I could not figure out how to get to the phone interface to make a call. I nearly had an accident trying to figure this thing out. I never did figure out how to use the built-in GPS for directions. Luckily I had my Garmin Nuvi with me. Sync is Bad Bad Bad. If anyone from Ford is reading this - I did like the Flex, but will never buy anything with Sync installed.