So, petulant HSBC picked up their ball and set their sights on Hong Kong. Again. And then to no one’s surprise, they decided to stay in London. Again.

Maybe being handed the tickets and having the door held open wasn’t expected. Looks like we’re stuck with them. What if they had decided to go? HSBC threatens to go. Would we get by without them?

What if they had gone. What if all the banks decided to go. What would happen?

Would the economy fall apart, or would we actually be better off?

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Paying for the things you want in the blink of an eye. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it? You don’t sign, or PIN, or even touch. But who’s to say its you buying? How NFC back-end fraud detection must get smart!

You see, this speed carries one big penalty. Security. Not for the device, for you. The transaction is now so fast, it can’t be fraud-checked conventionally.

“Contactless” means just that. No contact from either side – counter or customer. There’ll be no alerts, no chance to stop a fraudster. Or is there?

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I can’t believe how fast this technology is developing. Everyone seems to be at it. Mobile is big and NFC seems to be flavour of 2011.

NFC- fastest way to empty your wallet so far. NFC uses your mobile phone to part you from your hard-earned money instantly. You don’t have to touch, key in or sign anything. Just wave your phone about.

Well, I say you – but what I really mean is it doesn’t necessarily have to be you, just anyone who happens to have your phone.

And I’m really, really not happy about that.

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The Internet and freedom. Two words we always believed couldn’t be separated. Recent events have shown otherwise. How The Internet has replaced the pen as tyranny's great adversary

Now this isn’t a commentary about the rights and wrongs of the Egyptian unrest. This is about freedom and our right to unhindered expression.

Egypt’s demonstrated that regimes can just turn off dissent at the flick of a switch. Could we suffer the same fate in our increasingly Orwellian society?

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Oh, how we would all love a new bank. A bank that did everything right. Perfect. Sorry, you’re dreaming. That’s not going to happen. we may not see a new bank, but we can string them along... The current banks operate a virtual cartel, effectively shutting out any new player. Now while the boutique banks may focus on specific products and find a niche, Chances of a new NatWest or Barclays appearing are small.

But there is a way to get a better deal. We just need to leverage the old deal…

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What a pity violent student riots took the spotlight away from real people power. Maybe we will yet see the Government shamed into action. vodafone too big to pay taxes?

While many at the lower end of the earnings spectrum are genuinely suffering, banks and big corporates seem to have been granted some financial immunity.

In fact it beggars belief…

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I feel I may soon know how the guy felt when he suggested the world wasn’t flat. I’m no where near as visionary – but I may get vilified all the same… When technology doesn't mirror life - why Internet security is wrong. Imagine this scene… You walk into a retailer – any retailer – with a stolen wallet. You pick a range of expensive goods. As long as you have the PIN or the cash, you can take away whatever you want, unchallenged.

No checks, no ID, no second glance. Now, let’s go online…

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Asus puzzled me. Great tech, but somehow it misread current consumer trends. Finally here’s something that may hit the mark.

Wait – put that credit card away. Don’t get too excited just yet. Both the Asus ePad Transformer and Slider are still at the mock-up stage.

But as Android devices, they’ve had the courage to break ranks with the rest of Microsoft’s serfdom and could have a hit on their hands.

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Another snowy morning. Another day’s news of travel woes and broken services. Wasn’t this supposed to be the age of technology?

technology seems forgotten as snow falls...

Looking around my neighbourhood, middle-management cars struggle past on route to some distant office to connect to some services located somewhere else. They’ll sit at their desk to phone customers who again, will be somewhere else. Noticed the common thread here?

Read more Comments Off on getting away from it all this Christmas

Finally, its here. What we’ve all been waiting for since Sun shone into our lives. Oracle’s launched a Cloud version of Open Office. Finally, here's Open Office for the Cloud!

There’s not much details about it as yet – like how much it will cost, for example – The Oracle site just provides a PDF about it. What I can say at this point is it remains 100% compatible with Desktop Open Office, retaining Open Document formats as well as PDF. It’s MS Office compatible, too.

But the site mentions a £33.00 charge for Desktop Open Office…

Read more Comments Off on Oracle Cloud Office: great idea, but…

This question never seems to go away. When is a freedom fighter not a terrorist? Well, the answer of course depends on your perspective. Do they have a right to tell us and who has the right to stop them?

And nothing is crystallising global social opinion more than the WikiLeaks battle. But its only when we look beyond this that we see the real battle lines.

Think hard before deciding. Because what is being done is done in your name.

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Our eyesight. Its the most developed, critical and relied on of all human senses. And probably why we make such beautiful things.

Basically, we like what we see. Or rather we tend to buy what we like the look of. How about web browsers?

experienec how the web can look, with Google's Chrome...

Given a choice, few would go for a conventional TV over a flat screen HD beauty. The quality, colour depth and sheer pleasure it is to watch is amazing.

Contrast this to web browsers, which don’t cost thousands, they’re actually free. So why don’t we go for the best there is?

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Take a good look at this picture. This, my friends is a 1956 Fender Stratocaster®. Savour this moment. Because you’ll never experience it through an iPod.

The Fender Stratocaster - the guitar that made rock and roll

iTunes gives you fast downloads and lots of stuff to load on your iPod or iPhone. What you’ll never get to listen to is great music quality.

You’ll never hear that Strat. Sure, you may hear something that’s a bit like a Strat, something will be missing. And while video has innovations like Blu-Ray and HD, iTunes is sending audio back to the dark ages, a blurry sketch of the real thing.

So why is Apple killing music?

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I guess every executive’s PA must be starting to think about it at this time of year.What do I get my boss for his secret Santa?

The tie and cuff links won’t do. So last year. The colour-coordinated boxer shorts?Well, no. That suggests you know a bit too much about him.

So what on Earth do you get the kind of man who’s got everything – and who’s corporate-raided everything else?

for the exec who has everything - everything on a stick.

Well, everything on a stick of course. The Verbatim Store ‘n’ Go Executive. Cool. Very cool!

Available in 8 to 64Gb with a rapid 200x write-rate. But he won’t understand that.Just tell him its real stainless steel. Did I mention it was cool?

Read more Comments Off on storage as an icon: what every boss needs

Some time ago, I did a round-up of Cloud-based project management software.Projects have been a big part of my life, so I knew what I was looking for.

Application value changes over time. Better, worse, cheaper or more expensive.One now stands out. Wrike. So I’d like to update my review.

LANZen Strategy's review of Cloud-based project management applications found Wrike to be a great option!

Wrike brings social networks to project management – let’s see how it works…

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I guess most people today now realise how important it is to have a good web presence. That’s fine, but what if you don’t have any web design skills, don’t want to spend a couple of grand and find Twitter, well a bit limiting?

This could be for you. It’s called posterous and it’s the answer to your prayers.

when you havn't got a blog - you've got posterous!

There’s no need to write a lot more about this. Its pretty much self-explanatory. The site’s designed well and easy to use. Go for it!

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Sometimes I despair at the appalling state of the UK’s broadband services. It’s truly horrific.

Here is an ex-state monopoly supposedly “competing” with a number of other providers, but what the public is actually getting is simply a re-badged service provided by BT.

The BT infrastructure is antiquated and decaying, virtually on its knees from years of under investment, yet being milked dry by greedy BT accountants.

UK customers in the meantime are being sold services by unscrupulous suppliers who’ve probably never been near a phone exchange, let alone have any network of their own.

But let’s just put the subject of BT’s steam-powered infrastructure to one side for a moment, I’m worried that BT may well be tilting the tables even more in their favour.

Imagine this. You own the exchange where all your competitor’s connections are housed. Who would know if you simply unplugged them for say, two minutes every now and then?

BT’s service wouldn’t have to be that good if the competition’s kept going off line, would it?

Read more Comments Off on talk-talk: a little more walk-walk is required

A cryptic question for you. When’s a webpage not a webpage, or a browser not a browser? The answer of course is when its not doing its job properly.

The web’s big thing is that it began standards-driven and is constantly refined over time. Whatever you want to code, there’s a right way to do it. If you don’t stick to this, that’s OK. But don’t expect anyone to read your content or use your browser.

HTML as a markup language does its job pretty well. Everything works as it was intended, which considering how much is there and how long its been going is amazing, really.

Sometimes someone comes along and for whatever reason, decide to do their own thing. But world domination aspirations apart, Whatever you view and wherever you view it on, you’ll see what the author intended you to see.

Microsoft screwed everything up with Internet Explorer. It used unbelievably sloppy coding. But they finally fixed it and with Version 8, its not too bad. But then along comes Opera.

So how does Opera manage to get everything so wrong?

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Sitting on my desk I have a wide-screen, 24-inch monitor. Good for you. I can hear you say. Stick with me on this one. there’s a point to me telling you this.

My web statistics show that 90% of visitors are using 1200×800 resolutions as a minimum. Tablets like Apple’s iPad have similar broad screen landscapes.

But that’s only half the story. Lots of my visitors use SmartPhones, like iPhone or Android. Resolutions for these is similar, but they use a sliding window.

Web design follows user hardware, that’s why most sites used an 800×600 screen canvas. This layout is now less common as we move to wider displays.

A website’s real estate has a value, which roughly follows the page layout of a newspaper. What you see first is premium, what you have to scroll around to, less so.

So to keep visitors happy, how big should a website be. Just how big is your world?

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I love the stuff that comes my way through Facebook. Its a regular part of my daily routine, just as much as checking my post, answering my phone or opening my email.

What’s cool about Facebook is that it’s actually reflecting us. We’re shaping it every day. Facebook is as we are.

But you know, there’s another side to this. No, I’m not talking about some clandestine plot, What I’m suggesting is that Facebook is actually shaping us, too.

OK, so what do I mean by that. Do I mean its changed our habits, like fashion or television?

No, I’m saying it goes beyond that. Way beyond it. I’m saying its changing us as a society.

Read more Comments Off on facebook: a glance at the other side of the social network

Its funny how tech just sneaks up on you. You saw all those people wandering around like a mobile version of the John Lewis electronics section and thought to yourself “Not me”.

Yeah, right!

Then one day you get a PC. And a phone. Next, you upgrade the PC and that iPhone or the latest Android’s looking good. And netbooks are pretty cool. Suddenly, you’re a techy.

Welcome, my friend. To the machine.

Everything goes well until you begin to create data on this stuff. A document on your PC, email attachment on your smartphone or that spreadsheet from accounts on your laptop. Now you’re in trouble.

Well, I’ve found just the thing for you…

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Watch people with smartphones. They seem engrossed. But they aren’t talking, or texting. They’re playing with them.

Its the applications. People are downloading stuff and exploring this latest cool technology. Suddenly the means has become the end. Again.

What do I mean – again?

What I mean is, it seems just like PC’s were when we first discovered them. Exciting, cool. Until Microsoft made it all the same and well, boring.

But this is different. There’s diversity. We’ve got iPhone and Android. Nokia’s joining in, too.

We’re learning stuff, not just using the shiny bits. Could this bring PC’s back to life…?

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No, come on, think about it. Is the PC dead?

Yes and No. Ages ago, experts proclaimed the end of the PC and long live the X terminal. Yet it never happened. Why?

Because applications still needed to be run on the PC as the network infrastructure was not up to delivering them across the wire or the air. Servers didn’t have the capability to run hundreds of users.

But now things have changed. Networks are faster and have greater reach, online storage is a reality and readily available and applications run from servers. Google Office anyone? So why do we need a PC?

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The telephone is 150 years old. We’ve grown up with them, arranged our lives using them. Few of us would be where we are today without them. It’s familiar home technology.

But mobile technology has totally changed the landscape. Driven by a competitive market, development is rapid and costs are tumbling. And mobile’s killing home phone lines.

With 99% of the domestic phone infrastructure and over 80% their revenue derived from it, home phone decline is a major issue for BT. And a testament to their failure to innovate.

BT, like all publicly owned utilities failed to embrace change until privatisation introduced competitive pressure. But it was a case of too little, too late.

Home broadband services have thrown BT a lifeline, but these need a phone line to run on. So with fewer lines and mobile on the rise, where next for the UK’s dominant telco?

Read more Comments Off on BT: where next if home phones continue decline?

I was having a meal with friends last night. And its becoming a habit. Not the going out bit, but finding something to write about when I do. I was asked if I still used my Blackberry.

Well, the answer was I do, but I just use mine as a phone now, I don’t use it for my emails. Reason being, lack of opportunity. Let me explain.

Here in the UK, use of a mobile phone when you drive is illegal. So that’s out the window. One of the many downsides of being an old fart like me is needing glasses for reading. Anything smaller than a newspaper headline and I’m snookered.

Now, that means unless I’m sitting down somewhere, the opportunity for that quick flick through emails is gone.

And most sitting-down places have wireless access. That’s the other reason…

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You can never have too much information. Once upon a time, people used to believe that. But they clearly didn’t have access to the Internet – or email.

The truth is, you can’t have too much information. It provides the essential 360° view that’s always required to make a proper decision. But it must be managed and presented right. That’s something I experienced recently.

Like every strategy consultant, I’ve a mix of clients. Some are big, savvy corporates, some not too IT-focussed small businesses. Each have their own particular issues, but this time, it was a local SME client of mine that learned a hard lesson about information overload.

Let me tell you how they – and I got caught out. Big style…

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That bulging wallet that you’re carrying around in your jacket pocket, jeans or handbag is probably stuffed full of plastic, rather than the cash. But do you really need those cards?

Plastic payment cards are an old technology. Older than the Internet and mobile phones. Back then, They were the only way to buy without cash.

That was then and this is now. The Internet is enabling new ways for us to buy and sell. But the banks make a lot of money when you have cards, so they’d like you to keep them. Maybe its time to think about something that works for you instead…

Read more Comments Off on PayPal: maybe plastic isn’t so fantastic after all