NewDelhiTimes.org: Barcamp, Delhi

I have been thinking about how many conferences in the past year I have missed because I have been too busy being a corporate drone. Considering that I am going to be broke soon (while trying not to be a corporate drone), I hope I might have the opportunity to attend a barcamp instead! Gaurav of NewDelhiTimes.org has announced a Barcamp in Delhi. The theme is around the “Next Generation Internet: web 2.0, mobile computing, and a lot of other cool stuff”. Since the camp is to be held on Saturday, March 4th, I am going to have to miss it. I will be in India only after April 10th. If I could help it, I would definitely not want to miss out on it. Head on over to Gaurav’s blog and read the introduction.

Great work, Gaurav, now we know the sudden silence on your blog only means your working really hard behind it.

Application Security: Instant messaging and Mobile computing

Business week published articles on adoption of two new models centered around application security. There appears to be tremendous potential for vendors in this space. What does not make sense is when Software applications and (web) services introduce new loopholes and these models thrive on closing those loopholes. I don’t appreciate the inter-dependency. Instead, I would like to see companies who build these applications and services to fix the loopholes and offer monitoring and prevention services. This would imply that the associated cost to the customer may rise, but I don’t see why companies cannot guarantee the integrity of their systems.

Do not misunderstand me – selling your knowledge of exploits and vulnerabilities is not what I argue against. Instead, I would like to see the responsibility of fixing and prevention lie with the maker. I also realize that “dumb” users are a hard problem and are the source of many issues. I am specificially aiming at exploits that target design weaknesses (for example, being able to ‘hijack’ the host machine threw a instant messaging application). Similarly, handset provider Nokia and Symantec sell anti-virus solutions to the end user, while I would think every PC or mobile platform should already ship with these services built into the the platform.

IM Security is one tough sell. The article discusses companies (startups) in the business of providing monitoring and prevention of attacks over IM networks.

Mobile viruses, if not now soon. The article discusses the threat of viruses infecting mobile information systems, handsets and the potential for disruption and spread.

Palm Treo 700w: The ‘W’ stands for Windows!

An interesting development, the newest version of Treo now ships with Microsoft Windows Mobile. This CNet article nails it right on the head – “Treo 700w: a marriage not made in heaven“. It’s an in-depth review, the author has found many pain points with the new handheld and its OS. While I did feel he was being very picky, overall I found him to be scarily accurate. For example, there seems to be a mismatch between the buttons implied meaning and its true function.

Palm didn’t help matters by adding a prominent OK key, which actually means just the opposite. That is, instead of Yes, Go or Forward, it means Cancel, Back or Stop. You use it, for example, to cancel out of a dialogue box or window, to backtrack to a previous screen, or to close a menu without making a choice. It must have been designed by the same person who, in the full-blown Windows, put the Shut Down command in the Start menu.

However, for that one mistake, Palm has succeeded in getting so many other things right. It involved tremendous effort for Palm since this development required them to throw out their existing Palm OS. Is it a move in the right direction? With any dramatic changes you also get a number of new aspects that will not seem to work as they did in the original version. I would echo the authors views, the replacement OS will not appeal to the core Treo user group. I would also add that eventually Treo fans will warm up to the new device. Palm will try to ensure that with the next few software upgrades.
RIM ought to sit up and take notice. It appears to me that if RIM were to guarantee the vitality and appeal of the BlackBerry handhelds, they should take their role as a device and mobile software platform developer seriously. While they are backed up by their decision to stick with the J2Me spec. they must also exploit the generality of the platform by providing more frequent hardware enhancements (not just one upgrade annually). Just providing the best email solution ever is not going to provide the steam necessary to prevent Microsoft from dominating the device space. The BlackBerry is a key device for the corporate user group and I hope it stays so.

To conclude, what is more important to RIM? Handheld sales or revenue from data-flow? I can’t answer that question definitively. RIM will probably continue to license BBConnect to other platforms and vendors to ensure its hold on mobile email. I would strongly suggest a greater share of the handheld market as a higher priority.

Rediff: BlackBerry Connect for the Nokia 9300 now available through AirTel, India

Article: “Airtel’s BlackBerry: Not too hot” – Rediff.com, Dec 16th. 2005.

My take, author’s spelling – not too hot! But then let me not miss the real theme of the article. The author is not the only one to complain about the poor memory available on RIM devices (I believe he is talking about permanent storage memory). BBConnect devices are one way to get around such limitations. Surprisingly, India got BBConnect before the US did. Could it be that the outstanding case with NTP is delaying BBConnect’s introduction to the U.S. mobile market? There are also a few standard BlackBerry features missing on the BBConnect device. For example, wireless synchronization of your contacts and calendar.

Exchange 2003 SP2 mobility features against BlackBerry Enterprise Server.

Older post: What’s under the hood of Exchange 2003 SP2. How are the new features a real challenge to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server? Could it potentially convince users of Exchange 5.5/2000/2003 + BES to switch over to Windows Mobile devices instead? I would love to know.

An update: In order to work with Windows Mobile clients, Exchange 2003 with SP2 maintains a HTTPs connection with each client. It is over this secure connection that new email is ‘push’ed to the handheld as it arrives. From “Exchange Server 2003 support for mobile devices“.

New with Exchange Server 2003 SP2 is Direct Push Technology, enabling a seamless push e-mail experience for compatible devices. Exchange ActiveSync uses an encrypted HTTPS connection established and maintained between the device and the server to push new e-mail messages, schedules, contact information, and tasks to the device. Synchronization is much faster with enhanced data compression translating to a faster experience when sending and receiving messages. The Exchange ActiveSync protocol also provides for control over mobile devices, including new abilities in SP2 to provision and enforce device security policies.

Exchange 2003 SP2 will now also have many of the remote management and security enforcement features that the BlackBerry Enterprise Server offerss. For example, administrators can now enforce the degree of security for Windows mobile passwords for every device connected to the Exchange server. See “Better Together: Windows Mobile 5.0 and Exchange Server 2003“. If I read correctly, a Https connection (over the existing wireless data connection) will still be initiated by the client and will be ‘kept alive’ – which leads to obvious questions on efficiency and scalability. This set of add-ons is enough to make an Exchage 2003 administrator to decide for the free SP2 addon instead of BES.
If it were to come down to which platform is a better option, Windows Mobile just steals the edge. Windows Mobile OS is supported by Microsoft, there are several applications available for the platform, the platform is available on a variety of devices. In contrast, BlackBerry technology is available primarily on the BlackBerry handset which comes in two standard flavours. Both flavours have greater appeal amongst prosumers (when compared to Windows mobile), but fail to match the wider feature set available with Windows mobile devices. For reasons unknown, RIM has yet to introduce expansion slots, voice recognition technology and other premium features for the BlackBerry. GPS navigation is only available with Sprint/Nextel’s 7520 (see “GPS navigation with your BlackBerry“). Partner devices including the Nokia 9300 with BlackBerry technology on-board were only recently made available in the U.S (see “BlackBerry on the Nokia 9300“). The hope is that these devices will fill in the void for prosumers who demand such features. At this time, the 9300 is the only partner device announced by RIM for the U.S handheld market.

Now for some speculation. It is not hard to see that Microsoft’s Windows Mobile leadership would look to level the handheld market such that the BlackBerry device is no longer perceived as a niche (read mobile email) device. Such a market would be driven simply by the number of productivity applications offered by every type of handheld (for example a PDA, or phone first). If the device were to lose it’s existing aura, BES cannot compete against the free handouts that Microsoft will distribute with Exchange 2003. These enhancements are also a great temptation for established corporate networks running with Exchange 5.5.

My hope is, RIM will continue to innovate and maintain leadership in terms of technology and alliances with other technology partners. It will continue to offer a wider range of applications that leverage advancements in wireless data connections (and not just mobile email).

BlackBerry 7130e

RIM has a new addition to their phones that also does e-mail line-up (the 7100 series), the BlackBerry 7130e. It has not yet been announced on the VerizonWireless website, it has been announced on BlackBerry.com and other BlackBerry fan sites.

Excerpts from FEMA officials’ e-mails

Just so that you are aware, I hate inept babus who hold high government posts in India, are corrupt and arrogant… I hate the ones in the U.S just as much. One of the FEMA officials in the Superdome had a BlackBerry and was in constant touch [BlackBerryCool] with FEMA HQ.

Marty Bahamonde a FEMA insider was sent to the New Orleans Superdome as Michael Brown’s “eyes and ears�?. Bahamonde was armed with a Blackberry and tried to sound the alarm numerous times about breaking levees and the growing danger inside the Superdome. In an email directly to his boss Michael Brown,

Also see this article [Seattle PI].

-Bahamonde to FEMA Director Michael Brown, Aug. 31, 11:20 a.m.

“Sir, I know that you know the situation is past critical. Here some things you might not know.

Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water. Hundreds still being rescued from homes.

The dying patients at the DMAT tent being medivac. Estimates are many will die within hours. Evacuation in process. Plans developing for dome evacuation but hotel situation adding to problem. We are out of food and running out of water at the dome, plans in works to address the critical need.

-Sharon Worthy, Brown’s press secretary, to Cindy Taylor, FEMA deputy director of public affairs, and others, Aug. 31, 2 p.m.

“Also, it is very important that time is allowed for Mr. Brown to eat dinner. Gievn (sic) that Baton Rouge is back to normal, restaurants are getting busy. He needs much more that (sic) 20 or 30 minutes. We now have traffic to encounter to get to and from a location of his choise (sic), followed by wait service from the restaurant staff, eating, etc.

-Bahamonde to Taylor and Michael Widomski, public affairs, Aug. 31, 2:44 p.m.

“OH MY GOD!!!!!!!! No won’t go any further, too easy of a target. Just tell her that I just ate an MRE and crapped in the hallway of the Superdome along with 30,000 other close friends so I understand her concern about busy restaurants. Maybe tonight I will have time to move my pebbles on the parking garage floor so they don’t stab me in the back while I try to sleep.

BlackBerry Connect for Treo

Additionally, RIM may have some announcement regarding Palm’s Treo.

RIM hopes to create it’s own Buzz [Market Watch]

Palm said that it sold 470,000 Treos in the most-recently reported quarter, up 160% from a year ago. By comparison, Research In Motion last reported adding 592,000 Blackberry subscribers in its first quarter.

RIM will update Wall Street when it reports second-quarter results on Wednesday.

In response to the hoopla, Research In Motion is gearing up for announcements of its own this week.

Balsillie said the launch of a Treo-Blackberry product is imminent. “We’ve been working in a Palm/Treo partnership for a while.”

A Treo and a Blackberry combination sounds intriguing given that both are top brands for anyone that wants an e-mail mobile device.

But analysts I’ve spoken with are unclear about just what kind of new Blackberry Treo product Balsillie is referring to.

Additionally, a Blackberry connect is already available for the Treo, according to analysts. The question is: Why isn’t Palm marketing it?

Balsillie wouldn’t get into details about the company’s partnership with Palm, or other announcements, only to say, essentially, stay tuned.