Libretto is back!

August 9, 2010

I recently talked about how the age of mobile is now. In that post I talked about how I once had a Toshiba Libretto (long since sold on eBay).

Netbook News have posted that Toshiba have announced the release date of a new Libretto.

Toshiba have finally given a solid release date for the Toshiba Libretto W100 dual screen notebook “thing” over in Japan. Last we heard it would be arriving late August but the official word now is that the W100 will go on sale and ship on August 11 next week, so it’s certainly ahead of schedule

So currently Japan only, and no news if it will ever get to Europe. Lots of nice Sony devices have never arrived despite sucess in Japan, so I am holding out no hopes for the Libretto. The price is quite expensive too, about $1100.

What’s interesting about this device is that it has dual screens. One main screen like any other laptop and a touch screen that is used instead of a keyboard. Not sure how that would work in practice though.

I quite like the look of this, don’t think I will get one even so.

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The age of mobile is now

July 21, 2010

I have been talking about using mobile devices for a long time now, well before I started working at Gloucestershire College (and all that MoLeNET stuff), well before my time at the Western Colleges Consortium (and that Mobile on a VLE presentation).

Despite protestations about screen sizes, lack of power, inferior operating systems, we are now seeing the rise of the mobile device as the next big step in computing.

The first computers were BIG and clunky and you didn’t just use them, you booked time slots to use them.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers!”
Attributed to Thomas Watson of IBM, but in fact no evidence to say he ever said it.

Computers then became the mainstay of business, something to do business on.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”
Ken Olson, president/founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.

With the rise of the personal computer and importantly the explosion of the internet in the late 1990s, not only did we see computers in the home, we also saw a lot more personal computers in education.

Laptops at this time were expensive, but small portable ones were available, I really liked the Toshiba Libretto that I bought at that time.

In 2000 I was working at @Bristol in the centre of the Bristol Harbourside, one project we worked on was using the HP Jornada  and using JetSend technology to “squirt” URLs to the device that would then access the webpage over (what was then) a spiffy wireless network.

It was at this point that I could really see some real benefits of using mobile devices for learning, and using devices that weren’t laptops.

Over that decade we did see the emergence of the laptop over the desktop, more and more people would buy a laptop rather than a desktop for their main computer.

During that time I did a lot more work on using mobile devices for learning, focusing on multimedia content on devices such as PDAs, Media Players and mobile phones.

I remember in about 2001 driving up the M5 and getting stuck in one of those traffic jams in the early evening. My wife was watching the Matrix on my iPAQ PDA. I had converted a ripped DVD (uh oh I know) that I had converted into a MPEG1 video file, placed on an IBM Compact Flash Microdrive and played it back on the iPAQ using PocketTV. As she watched the film people in the cars looked into ours in awe and curiosity about what was that glowing light in our car. Of course today everyone can do this, but at the time it was both clever and geeky!

“I’m not convinced people want to watch movies on a tiny little screen.”
Steve Jobs of Apple in 2003.

The seminal presentation of mine, Mobile Learning on a VLE, at the JISC 2006 Online Conference really got a lot of people thinking about using mobile devices and put my name out there as a leader in mobile learning.

There were many others at that time who were also following the same journey as myself, people like Mick Mullane, Lilian Soon, David Sugden and others. We were all very passionate about using mobile devices for learning.

Despite our passion, we still heard the resistance from practitioners (and sometimes from learners, but usually practitioners) that the screens were too small, they weren’t powerful enough, battery life was too short.

We, with others, were very much involved in the MoLeNET programme and that has had a huge impact in FE in kick starting the use of mobile devices for learning.

Mobile devices in the last few years have also dramatically changed too. Mobile phones have moved on from phones that just made calls and SMS, to mobile computers. Apple have also changed the landscape, first with the iPhone, then the iPod touch and now the iPad.

“There are no plans to make a tablet, it turns out people want keyboards…. We look at the tablet, and we think it is going to fail.”
Steve Jobs of Apple in 2003.

Innovation now is in the mobile sector of the market, these are the devices that our learners are buying and using.

The age of mobile is now.


Firefox Mobile Browser

December 22, 2009

Fennec, the mobile version of Firefox, should be with us in a few days.

The BBC reports:

The first mobile phone version of the popular web browser Firefox is “days away” from launch, the head of the project has told the BBC.

The browser, codenamed Fennec, will initially be available for Nokia’s N900 phone, followed by other handsets.

It will later be available for Windows Mobile and Android, however it will be some time before we see it on the iPhone (if at all).

One thing which makes it interesting

The open-source browser will be able to synchronise with the desktop version.

This means you can move from mobile to desktop and back without having to worry about where you were.

As I don’t have the Nokia N900 it will be some time before I get to have a proper look.


Usability of websites on mobile devices

July 24, 2009

Jakob Nielsen has been undertaking some usability testing of websites using mobile devices.

His conclusion:

In user testing, website use on mobile devices got very low scores, especially when users accessed “full” sites that weren’t designed for mobile.

Doesn’t surprise me. Websites are usually designed by designers and often they focus on how it looks then how it works. This is bad enough when using a browser on a computer, but when it comes a mobile device as Jakob’s study shows, it doesn’t work well or doesn’t work at all.

The number of mobile devices is increasing and the amount of mobile web usage is going up as well. Designers of websites and e-learning content need to consider mobile devices now rather than wait until it is too late.

iPhone


Increase in mobile internet

March 20, 2009

The Guardian reports on the surge in mobile internet use:

Google UK today revealed that mobile internet use was surging thanks to the Apple iPhone.

The head of Google UK, Matt Brittin, said iPhone owners search online 30 times more than those who use rival smartphones.

Increase in mobile internet

With the imminent release of the Palm Pre and the Nokia N97 I think we can expect a further increase in mobile internet use.

Just under a year ago I blogged about the increase in the use of 3G because of the increase in the number of 3G dongles. More and more of these dongles were been bought and used, partly I would suspect to availability but also falling costs of 3G.

If you take that increase and combine it with the increase in mobile internet use (over 3G), add in 3G prices falling, you do wonder if the 3G network can cope with all this traffic?

Spread over a city and a town, probably will be okay, however what happens if you concentrate the use of 3G in one space (such as a college or a conference).

Well the SXSW Conference in American suffered 3G failure due to the sheer number of iPhone users at the conference. As Wired reports

AT&T’s 3G coverage map for Austin may look rock solid, but turns out there wasn’t enough connectivity goodness to sate the hordes of iPhone-wielding geeks who descended on this artsy Texas town for the South by Southwest conference this weekend. Was the Verizon and Sprint crowd, usually consigned to the kid’s table at these hip mob scenes, having the last laugh?

Attendees with their beloved iPhone 3G handsets hoping to hook up with friends, find the next party or access Twitter to announce their location are encountering dropped calls, unavailable service or molasses-slow web access from the mobile service provider.

If every student in your college is using a 3G device, an iPhone, another smartphone or a 3G dongle, will the 3G network be able to cope? If the 3G is spread across the different networks, then this may not be a problem. However what happens if all those 3G phone are provided by the college (or only one network works on the college site) suddenly you could find that the 3G network can not cope with the traffic.

We already know wifi can be problematic it’s now looking like that 3G network coverage may also be less than perfect. Something to think about when planning the use of mobile devices and mobile internet in a college or university environment.


Mobile Presentations

March 18, 2009

I have liked Slideshare as a place to put my presentations and store them online and show them online.

One problem was that they used Flash which of course did not work on mobile devices such as the iPod touch or the iPhone.

Today Slideshare announced a mobile version of their website.

We’re quite excited to announce the new SlideShare Mobile website today. Visit http://m.slideshare.com on your mobile phone and you can view any presentation, search through presentations, login to save favorites and even download to your mobile phone!

Impress that client you bump into somewhere by running a quick pitch off your phone! Or review the latest conference presentations you missed while travelling!

As a result it is now easier to put presentations on mobile devices.


e-Learning Stuff Podcast #011: Mobile Learning

January 29, 2009

This is the eleventh e-Learning Stuff Podcast, Mobile Learning.

Download the podcast in mp3 format: Mobile Learning

Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes.

In this show, James talks about what he believes mobile learning is all about.