Now this is going to sound like some obscure, “out-there” philosophical question. But think about it. Is progress slowing down? Has our spread into the world and the regulation of modern life stopping us now moving forward? Imagine the Wright Brothers today, taking that flying contraption to an airfield. Where would they have made it – and would they have been allowed to fly it?

Or imagine James Watt building his steam engine in a lock-up round the corner. Then imagine the local council or police’s reaction to the noise it made!

Have we lost our reckless invention culture – do we just do Internet apps now?

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A couple of people recently have asked me if I’m ready yet to give up Windows. With virtual players being offered, it was time to try virtualisation. If you really want Windows on Ubuntu - VMWare lets you have it! I’ve just upgraded to Ubuntu 11.04 and with VMWare’s Virtual Player available, now was the time to see what the world of desktop virtualisation was really like. Would virtualisation be the answer to a techy’s dreams?

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Everyone knows how good the iPad is to use. Its made reading stuff cool again. But what about when you have something to write about? Got something to say? iBuildApp is a new self-publishing platform for the iPad.. There’s now a great way to use your iPad to promote yourself or your company. Let me tell you about a publishing platform called iBuildApp.

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Easter of 2011 will probably be remembered as the time the Cloud went down. Bad as it was for Amazon’s EC2, the sky didn’t actually fall on anybody. Bad for some - but not that many. how Amazon's EC2 Easter failure actually makes the Cloud safer...

Maybe the great bank holiday weather took many writers away for the weekend. But the number of “its all over for Cloud” rants were mercifully few.

So, what should be taken away from Amazon’s failure. What have we learnt? Well, its shown intelligent system design is as vital for Cloud as anywhere else. Along with how many “experts” can still talk through their back-ends…

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I’m writing this just seven days before the production Ubuntu 11.04 is released. Now, if you’re on Windows 7, there’s never been a better time to change. Windows 7 provides a great reason to move over to Ubuntu 11.04! So why am I suggesting you change now – what’s so different about this version? Surprisingly, its not so much Ubuntu as Windows…

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When everyone’s talking about bank regulation, you know something’s wrong. And when everyone’s condemning it, you know we need to act. FSA is no authority for bank regulation - its a waste of resources...

Anger centres around the Financial Services Authority. A Cabinet Office quango. But two spectacular failures by the FSA have destroyed public confidence…

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Corporate security people and most security resellers wind me up. Always have. They constantly ignore the lessons life teaches us.

We meet strangers every day. So how come they can’t deal with new devices? We deal with strangers in real life. Why can't security people deal with new devices?

Life is constantly teaching us lessons. We deal with most things it throws at us. Security guys have a seizure when anything new appears.

Take Smartphones and the iPad for example. These guys are paid to know stuff. But they’re crap at doing their job because they can’t cope with the new.

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The financial media all seem to be agreed. The High Street banks are screwed. Restrictive, greedy, self-serving. Banks have been found guilty on all counts.

banking needs a new dawn - but why is it so dark still? Commercial incompetence kills companies in other markets. But not banking. What’s so special about these guys?

What the banks do isn’t all that difficult. Their technology’s an eighties throw back. Could it be that there are other forces in play here?

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The fall-out has still to settle from one of the greatest tragedies of recent times. While the furore and finger-pointing surrounding it will take a lot longer.

Technology is rarely the problem, it's the management of it... I’ve no desire to trivialise this terrible event, but let’s look at what it has shown us.

Given the prevailing circumstances, the technology behaved entirely predictively. The technology didn’t fail, we failed to manage it. Could we fail with NFC?

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It was hailed as the new dawn. Microsoft was squaring up to Google for search. Google looked to have a fight on their hands with Bing. But look at this… why can't Bing find stuff on Microsoft's own site - yet Google can?

This is the bing result for Vista Service Pack 2 on Microsoft’s own download site. Bing can’t find it. No results. Zilch. Nothing. What about a Google search?

Well. Let’s take a look. The result may surprise you…

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Quite a reaction last week when the news broke about the RSA SecureID breach. Someone may now know how to compromise two-factor tokens. Technology isn't everything. RSA should tell us that! Whilst every villain knows how to work around two-factor authentication anyway, the exposure of the underlying algorithm should have been viewed as inevitable. Before I’m castigated for saying this, let me explain…

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My apologies for this deviation from my usual style. But we need some help. A lot. Not for some worthy charity, but for a nation. Can Martha Lane Fox show the kind of drive needed to create a true digital Britain? Britain is being dragged deep under water by BT, after we survived the shipwreck caused by the SS Banking’s collision with a financial reality iceberg.

We must divorce BT from the cosy relationship it enjoys with central government. Its smug monopoly on the mechanism for change, its incompetence.

We need a publicly revered figurehead to drive this forward. A digital Joan d’Arc. Martha, we need you.

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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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Society. We hear that word daily. But basically its all about you, me, everybody. Society is the framework that binds us, defines us. How banks should be - great, working together.

We work best together. Get things done. Our lives are richer, we all achieve more. What happens when we build places that divide us?

That’s right. We destroy trust. And no trust means no sale.

Like banks. It’s just not us, its just us and them. And its gone wrong. Unsociable. Maybe we need something better. A social, community bank…

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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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You know, for me, the most frustrating thing in the world has got to be hindsight. And coming up with that great question or comment too late.

People will talk - its what makes us - well, us.

I’ve just attended the Manchester 2011 Information Security Leaders seminar. Inevitably, discussion turned to Facebook use in the office.

Part of the event was an open-mike panel featuring some of the great and the good of the security industry and a couple of leading industry security figures. And Facebook made them nervous.

Afterwards, the question I wished I’d had the forethought to ask came to me…

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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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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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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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Its funny how we can sometimes be carried along by the current without realising. Following the innovation bandwagon, for instance. change is a constant, not a deliberate action! Every businessman knows they must constantly innovate to compete and survive. We shouldn’t get hung up on that word. People can either innovate or they can’t. Innovation isn’t a measurable action, its a mindset.

Every day, I read the endless diatribes about why we can’t innovate here or there. Listen to these coffee-shop philosophers and you’ll want to give up and go home. Hold on though. I think they’ve got it all wrong. Fundamentally wrong…

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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?

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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…

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When talk turns to the Cloud, the hot ticket currently is the location of information. Security’s no longer the biggest concern, its where data is stored which is key.

Maybe the future lies in clouds for the cloud itself – local skyline storage clouds… could this be the future of the compliant cloud? Local Skyline Storage

Cloud players like SalesForce and IBM are looking to their own national storage, but its expensive and inefficient. So why not use a storage Cloud for it?

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Have you noticed how TV media is featuring a lot of web-style graphics recently?

I guess with the closely-tied relationship between web and TV content designers, we shouldn’t be too surprised. After all, the web is becoming …beautiful. Noticed how beautiful the web is getting?

No, our web designers haven’t suddenly become more artistic or talented, they’ve just found new tools. But corporate designers are way, way behind…

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It doesn’t look like National Australia Bank’s woes are going away any time soon. Conflicting stories emerging from CEO Cameron Clyne’s office sure isn’t helping. Time for NAB to get their story straight... First reports suggested that an upgrade failure took down all the Bank’s systems. But as the dust settles, a rather different picture is emerging.

NAB’s prolonged outage initially attributed to a glitch may have been deliberate. If its true, then NAB’s troubles are far from over. They may only be beginning…

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In fact, not a good weekend and probably this week won’t be a whole lot better. Australia’s biggest bank is still off-line after a routine upgrade went wrong.

NAB bank's technology woes continue...

While the other banks may laugh behind closed doors about NAB’s misfortunes, truth is, its a case of There but for the Grace of God goes I.

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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?

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