My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: January 2011

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Samsung and the Galaxy of Tablet and Phones - Lucky Charms for London Olympics 2012

England is a paradise of women, the purgatory of men and the Hell of horses.

John Florio, Second Frutes (1591)


Samsung came out swinging in the early part of 2010 as the only contender against the Apple iPad as stated in my blog article on Administrator Kirk’s Geezam blog entitled “Samsung Galaxy - Apple iPad's contender for the Christmas”. To be straight honest, they have not been doing very well, having made a disastrous decision to sell the Tablet on contract as opposed to treating it like a computer.

Thus, their sales have been lackluster, having sold one million Samsung Galaxy (1,000,000) units as stated in the article “Samsung puts Galaxy Tab sales at one million”, published Friday December 3, 2010 1:58 pm ET by Barry Levine, newsfactor.com, Yahoo! News.

Samsung’s smartphone, the red hot Samsung Galaxy S, has known better days, now with three million (3,000,000) units and counting as per the article “Samsung ships 3 million Galaxy S smartphones”, published December 3, 2010 8:04 AM PST by Don Reisinger, CNET News - The Digital Home. Either way, Samsung did not beat the Apple iPad, hence the ribbing as The Contender (2011), not a competitor as per my blog article entitled “Apple and the iPad 2 - Honeycomb, Chrome and the DragonSlayer”.

However, these articles, albeit making great reading, are spurious in their sources, so the warning of Caveat Lector applies. Thus confirmation of these numbers have now landed in my lap, confirming sales of ten million (10,000,000) Samsung Galaxy S smartphones worldwide.

Here is the breakdown, folks: four million five hundred thousand (4,500,000) units sold in North America and two million five hundred thousand (2,500,000) sold in EU and the “brawta” going to the International customers as stated in the article “Samsung moves 10 million Galaxy S phones in seven months”, published January 3, 2011 1:09pm by Phil Hornshaw, Appolocious.

The Samsung Galaxy Tablet also riding the Google Android 2.2 aka Froyo wave, helped Samsung cross the finish line with a record performance in sales, brandishing two million (2,000,000) Samsung Galaxy Tablets sold. This helped to push the Korean company into record setting territory in it Fourth Quarter with 3.43 trillion won, up 13% from 3.04 trillion won, with year on year sales of 41.87 trillion Korean won, a 7% gain over 2009.

So says the statistics in the article “Samsung's revenue, profits rise in 4th Quarter”, published January 28, 2011 6:40 AM PST by Don Reisinger, CNET News - The Digital Home and corroborated by the article “Samsung posts record year, with help from Galaxy Tab”, published January 28, 2011 3:35pm by Phil Hornshaw by Phil Hornshaw, Appolocious.

So how do they fare against the Apple iPad S, possibly to be launched in the period of Thursday February 3rd 2011 and Thursday February 10th 2011, the launch window for the Verizon Apple iPhone? Which may possibly the period in which Apple’s WWDC conference will be held?

Not to mention the possible unveiling of the White Unicorn, the Apple iPhone 4.0, the newly minted Apple iPhone 5.0, the Apple iPad S and other refreshes, if any? All speculation neatly cobbled together in my blog article entitled “HTC and Honeycomb - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”!

Not good would be the answer to the initial question, if the article “Guess what could stop the Tablet Revolution?”, published January 24, 2011, 11:30am PST by Ryan Kim, GigaOM is to be believed. iSuppli, the component analyst, is expecting sales in 2011 to top fifty seven million, six hundred thousand (57,600,000) units worldwide, up from the previous years forecast of seventeen million, one hundred thousand (17,100,000) units, a whopping increase of approximately 237%.

If theses figure hold, (iSuppli is usually on the money!), this could effectively be a text book example of the London Olympics 2012 Effect, as Apple is expecting to cash in on the Pre-Olympics hype and people desire to watch the games streamed live or delayed on their Tablets.

Ditto that for any device that can be used to view the games, especially portable devices, such as smartphones, smartbooks and Tablets. 3D HDTV will also ride on this wave, with expectations also high for increased sales this 2011 as prognosticated in my blog article on Administrator Kirk’s Geezam blog entitled “3D HDTV - Next Big Thing or Next Big Niche”.

Expect streaming services, such as the Apple iTV and the premier Roku Box in the United States of America to feature their content prominently – once they lock in the content licenses.

Same too, for Jamaican free-to-air broadcasters Television Jamaica and CVM TV, who are now having to compete for advertising eyeballs from LIME TV and Net2Vu IPTV devices, now exclusively being retailed by Amazing PC! Local Telecom Provider Digicel probably knows this too; hence their strategic support of the Samsung Galaxy Tablet as noted in my blog article entitled “LIME TV and IPTV - Kill and Kill Again and the London 2012 Olympics”.

Also explains why Jamaican and American Telecom Providers are ramping up their 3G and 4G Networks as observer in my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers and 100MBps - Diamonds are Forever”.

More reason for Amazing PC and Watts' New to team up and begin offering these
Lucky Charms cum products before London Olympics 2012. Tickets are now on sale, as the Games are now only eighteen (18) months away, as stated in the article “London 2012 celebrates 18 months to go”, published 27 Jan 2011, London Olympics 2012!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Nvidia and the GPU Supercomputer - Go Speedracer

Build me straight, O Worthy Master!
Staunch and strong, a goodly vessel
That shall laugh at all disaster
And with and whirlwind wrestle

Longfellow, The Building of the Ship

GPU’s are the “next big thing” in super computing! So says the recent upset in the supercomputer world. The People’s Republic of China’s supercomputer aptly named “Tianhe-1A” is now the fastest supercomputer of them all as stated in the article “China unseats U.S in supercomputer rankings”, published November 14, 2010 10:00 AM PST by Erica Ogg, CNET News - Circuit Breaker.

The statistics are stated in the article “China grabs supercomputing Leadership spot in latest Ranking of World's Top 500 Supercomputers”, published Thursday, November 11 2010 at 22:42, Top 500.

As if that was not insult enough to the Americans and EU, the bastion of Democracy, the People’s Republic of China’s National University of Defense Technology, located in Tianjin, rubs more salt into the wound.

This is because China have relegated the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility’s Cray XT5 “Jaguar”, located in Tennessee coming in at 1.75 petaflop/s running Linpack benchmark to second place. China’s “Tianhe-1A” supercomputer is now the No. 1 with a speed of 2.57 petaflop/s.

For reference, a “flop” is a float point operation and represents a mathematical calculation.

Granted, their computer was built from off-the-shelf cobble together components, mostly American and European

It is nothing more than a Chinese utilization American Intel and Nvidia GPU (Graphics Processor Units) running on a Linux Distribution.

Professor Charlie Zender, Earth Systems Science at the University of California at Irvine, commented, saying, quote: “So we find ourselves admiring an achievement that certainly couldn't have been done without the know-how of  Silicon Valley and an operating system designed mostly by the United States and Europe; It's a time for reflection that we are now at a stage where a country that's motivated and has the resources can take off-the-shelf components and assemble the world's fastest supercomputer”.

GPU’s are becoming a defacto blueprint in the super computing world, as the next sets of planned supercomputers are GPU’s.

So says  NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) Director Thom Dunning, who sees the bright side of this announcement from 2010 as stated in the article “NCSA Director: GPU is future of supercomputing”, published October 29, 2010 4:31 PM PDT by Brooke Crothers, CNET News Nanotech - The Circuits Blog: anybody can build a supercomputer.

Plus, graphic solving of complex computing problems will always be faster than heavy computation, a discussion the scope of which is beyond even myself, save to say for a simple analogy.

Finding the volume of an irregular shaped solid object by displacement is more easily done than scanning its Cartesian coordinates into a computer and has the computer fill in the space with points, Monte Carlo style, which may take longer.

Not a very good example, but should just scratch the surface as to the advantages of graphics manipulations vs hard numeric computations.

Nvidia’s GPU’s are certainly getting some advertising for their efforts, having being taped by Cray Supercomputing for their next big Supercomputer project as stated in the article “Cray taps Nvidia chips for large supercomputer”, published September 21, 2010 10:33 AM PDT by Brooke Crothers, Nanotech - The Circuits Blog.

So it seems that GPU’s are the next big thing in supercomputing. Case closed.

But wait! A problem still persists: Heat dissipation. Though I do not own a supercomputer, I do know as a fact that the Cray Supercomputer uses liquid Freon to cool the supercomputer during operation.

Albeit technical details as to the cooling of the Tianhe-1A are not forthcoming, most certainly superconductors would be most helpful in reducing the heat dissipation, as computers could operate at a lower temperature.

Still, the implications for Jamaica, which has three (3) Universities, namely the University of Technology, the University of the West Indies and the Northern Caribbean University is obvious.

Jointly, they can, as a demonstration of the computing prowess of the Caribbean, build a supercomputer with assistance from Intel and Nvidia as a clever means of having a supercomputer in Jamaica for research purposes without having to break American laws as it relates to the export of sensitive technology such as very strong encryption or powerful computers.

Heck, Telecom Provider CLARO may even be interested in sponsoring and proving support for such a joint venture, garnering support and advertising for their soon-to-be launched LTE (Long Term Evolution) Network – which I think is a tad too fast but great for interconnecting such a supercomputer using a Dedicated 100MBps Wireless Link.

Provided all the niceties of QoS via ISO9001 certification are in place as stated in my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers and 100MBps - Diamonds are Forever”.

Director of the Center for Molecular Biophysics, Jeremy Smith, at the University of Tennessee, puts it best, quote: “What you find historically with these supercomputers is they become the normal machines five or 10 years later that everybody uses; The Jaguar machine that we're so amazed at right now, it could be every university or company has one”.

USA, the next big challenger to supercomputing dominance may just be coming from the Caribbean, Speed Racer (2008) Style!

Friday, January 28, 2011

When in Roam (ing) carry a attocell - SnapDragon and The Tourist


Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

Charles d. Warner, In Hartford Courant (c. 1890)

Sounds a lot like the Berlin Wall of International Roaming and International Calling just lost yet another stone: abnormally high fees. It is no secret that Telecom Providers in the United States of America make billions from overcharging from International Calling and roaming. Until now that is!

Not surprisingly for many to learn, Google is behind it, deciding to be a part of the solution instead of complaining of the climate that the Telecom Providers have created with regards to International Roaming and International Calling, Google Voice not withstanding as discovered in my blog article entitled “Google and Google Voice - The World is Not Enough”.

A Silicon Valley start-up, backed by Google called Ubiquisys is marketing a attocell that is so small, it can fit into your carry-on luggage and can travel with you whenever you go on International trips as stated in the article  Coming Next: Carry-on base station for travellers”, published Wednesday January 26 2011 by Tarmo Virki, European Technology Correspondent, REUTERS, Yahoo! News.

What is so big about that? It is the World's first personal base station for International travelers, as other companies such as Huawei, Samsung Alcatel-Lucent and even Cisco Systems already make femtocells – just not for International travelers. This means that a lot of saber-rattleing in board room negotiations may be going as I put pen to paper.

This as yet another stone in the previously impenetrable Berlin Wall for American Telecom Providers which may soon be coming crashing down this Summer of 2011. Contract Plans on smart phones as well as the burgeoning M2M (Machine-to-Machine Communications) of which NFC (Near Field Communications) is a big part may soon be their only bread-and-butter money-maker as opined in my blog article entitled “AT&T, NFC and M2M - Cashless Society and the Internet of Things”.

This means those days of paying for International Roaming or resorting to using Google Voice, Skype or even Satellite Calling may be over, provided that this smartphone-sized doo-hickey, as the Americans are wont to say, that works over Broadband Internet is small enough to fit in your carry-on luggage.

How so quickly many people forget! It was not so long ago that Telecom Providers such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile back in 2008 toyed with VERY same idea as stated in the article “Femtocells offer improved Reception - and Revenues”, published October 30, 2008, 5:00PM EST By Roger O. Crockett, INFO TECH - BusinessWeek.

Telecom Providers would sell subsidized CPE (Customer Premises Equipment) device the size of a vertical Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) router that could act in much the same way for their GSM (Global System Mobile) or CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) Network. Femtocells reduces the congestion on their Cell Sites or Node B’s as we Telecom Technicians call them by shunting traffic away from their congested Cell sites.

Somewhat akin to Telecom Provider AT&T providing free Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) in New York and other areas to relieve congestion on their 3G Data Network as stated in the article “AT&T expands free Wi-Fi Hot Zone Trial”, published July 26, 2010 12:14 PM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

Femtocells are effectively a mini-cell tower or Node B in your home. It would extend the Telecom Providers Network without them having to shell out upwards of US$500,000 to improve their Network coverage. Better yet, the customer would have to pay US$100 or less for the device and monthly fees to host the device in their houses.

Well, the American customers smelt a rat. Was not the improvement of the Telecom Provider’s Network responsibility of the Telecom Provider? Why do we have to pay to expand their Network, never mind our opposition to the construction of new Cell Sites? Analyst at Informa spoke the obvious to Reporter Roger O. Crockett, quote: “There's a dirty little secret. The femtocell benefits the carrier more than the end user”.

So the plan backfired as the word got out that even when subsidized, Telecom Provider would force you to pay a monthly fee or even a contract just to get better service which you are already paying - and not getting. Eventually, AT&T backed down and began issuing letters in July 2010 stating that the femtocells were free as stated in the article “Ask and ye shall receive a free AT&T femtocell?” published July 12, 2010 3:22 PM PDT by Stephen Shankland, CNET News - Deep Tech.

Guess in the end Telecom Provider AT&T got the much desired improvement in coverage and thus reduction in congestion and customers got the satisfaction of being able to finally get rid of their old Landline. Win-win all around! So this announcement of an even smaller version of a femtocell, called an attocell that works exactly the same way, is a welcome delight to the ears of the International Jetsetter, The Tourist (2010)!

Truly, this is truly a SnapDragon (1993) that you can put in you bonnet while on some on International locale on your vacation abroad, as you do not have to worry about Roaming Charges. The bigger implication, however, is for International Calling, as possibly this device can work here in Jamaica, giving Jamaicans yet another tool along with Google Voice, Skype and the Magic Jack to make foreign calls.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

HTC and Honeycomb - Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon


Wonder is the feeling of a philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder

Socrates, Plato Theotetus

It seems that in all the furor and “ooh-ing” and “ahh-ing” over the Motorola Xoom (pronounced zoom!), HTC, the little unknown Taiwanese company, has again slipped into the background. Like the Mavado song Starlight (2010), this company went from nothing to something as chronicled in the detailed expose article “A former no-Name from Taiwan Builds a Global Brand”, published October 28, 2010, 11:20AM EST by Bruce Einhorn, TECHNOLOGY - BusinessWeek.

And what a fascinating tale! From making phones for other companies to making their own branded phone the Google Android powered T-Mobile G1 in 2008. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) indeed!

However, their greatest coupe thus far was being the manufacturer of choice for Google’s debutante, the Google Nexus One in 2009. However, HTC has the proud distinction of being the first to define an Apple iPhone competitor, a justly deserved title in the article “Taiwan's HTC: iPhone's Quiet Challenger”, published Sunday September 5, 2010 10:29 pm ET by Joe McDonald, AP Business Writer, Yahoo! News.

Phones emerged from their design studios worthy of its name, the HTC Droid Incredible on Telecom Provider Verizon and the first WiMax 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.11n) smartphone, the HTC Evo 4G on Telecom Provider Sprint’s Network, creating HUGE overwhelming demand – and the legendary smartphone shortage of the summer of 2010 as stated in the article “HTC Evo 4G, Incredible shortages make room for Droid X”, published July 12, 2010 7:44 AM by Jared Newman, PC World.

The Apple iPad Tablet had now racking up nearly seventeen million (17,000,000) Apple iPads sold worldwide in 2010 alone with a projected forty four million six hundred thousand (44,6000,000) in 2011 and seventy million, eight hundred thousand (70,800,000) projected for 2012 (just in time for the London Olympics 2012!) according to analyst IDC as stated in the article “IDC: Apple iPad secures 87 percent market”, published January 18, 2011 1:50 PM PST by Don Reisinger, CNET News- The Digital Home. So what is HTC planning for the Tablet scene?

For one, they had decided, wisely, to await the coming of Google Android OS 2.4 aka Honeycomb as stated in the article “HTC waiting until next year for Android 3.0 Tablet?”, published Wednesday September 15,2010 12:53 pm ET, Yahoo! News. Well, folks, it looks like some news is surfacing as to this mystery Tablet that HTC is planning to bring out.

Word has it that the HTC Tablet, codenamed the “Flyer” is a bigger version of their HTC Desire smartphone and is running on Google Android OS 2.4 aka Honeycomb packing a Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor (graphics display?!), 2GB Internal memory extendable with a 32GB SD card slot and the usual motley crue of power slurping Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.1n), GPS, Bluetooth, etc, which one would assume to be now standard on a Tablet.

The debutante will makes it grand appearance in March 2011 and as with its smartphone presence, may indeed be the belle of the ball. Battery life not included and three (3) other models each sold separately!

So says the following articles:

2.      Report: HTC Planning Three Android Tablets in 2011”, published January 20, 2011 5:09 pm by Mike Isaac, Wired.com\
3.      HTC rumoured to be readying an Android Tablet for Q1 2011”, published September 20, 2010 4:22 PM PDT by Scott Webster, CNET News - Android Atlas.

So, as if that is not enough to make you “Desire” this Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), recent details coming straight out of mouth of The Tech Herald solidify the cooling liquid metal into a solid polymorphous crystalline structure – my keyboard waxes melodic again!

According to the article “Fresh details emerge regarding HTC flyer Tablet”, published January 26 2011, 10:12 by Steven Mostyn, The Tech Herald the Tablet is not a 10” incher but a 7” inch capacitive touch screen, sporting the HTC Desire's 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8255 and a front-facing 1.3 mega-pixel camera complemented with a rear-facing 5.0 mega-pixel camera. Sweet!

Battery life still not included and no mention of a Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) only version being sold separately as CNET Writer Donald Bell opines in his article “Reasons the Motorola Xoom may fall flat”, published January 25, 2011 8:20 AM PST by Donald Bell, CNET News - Crave! Hopefully HTC will price this device sans a contract and word of a Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) only version should surface – including information on the battery life before March 2011.

By then, the Motorola Xoom will be out, possibly to be launched on the same day, Thursday February 10th 2010, as the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) Apple iPhone for Telecom Provider Verizon as stated in the article “Verizon to start selling iPhone on Feb. 10”, published January 11, 2011, Yahoo! News.

The RIM Playbook, also looking to crash Apple’s Cart, may also spring a shuriken attack on the same date with its Playbook so aptly described in my blog article entitled “RIM and the PlayBook - Blade II”.

The Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) is looking great and is coiled……..tense, waiting to pounce.

Facebook Credits and Online Gaming - The Pied Pipe's Revenge in the Age of Empire


Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught.

Shelley, To a Skylark

The news hit me like a bombshell, but alas, I am in too much pain to really laugh……..or cry for that matter.

No less reputable a source than CNET TV has announced that the long awaited and much anticipated Facebook Credits is now a reality as per the video “CNET loaded - The Tax App”, aired Tuesday January 26 2011 by Natalie Morris, CNET News, CNET TV.

Long Promised? Indeed. As far back as February 2010 actually the supposedly secure Platform which would introduce paid game playing on Facebook was announced, putting Game Developers on alert as per the article “Facebook to Developers: Get ready for Credits”, published February 25, 2010 5:26 PM PST by Caroline McCarthy, The Social - CNET News.

Facebook had long had a system to allow Social Gamers to pay for upgrades to their character (why pay when it is free?) via a variety of payment options – all trusted and secure. Certainly helps that they are more popular than even Google and are effectively the new internet, being only the second most popular online portal due to social Gaming as per my blog article entitled “Google vs Facebook - Age of Empire and TRON Legacy”.

And Social Gaming is part of that draw, hence logically a push to make more money from Social Gaming, as Console Gaming takes a nosedive in terms of profits as stated in the article “Gameworld: A virtual farm turns new ground for game developers” published Thursday March 25, 9:48 am ET , by John Gaudiosi, Yahoo! News.

Social Gaming is all the rage online, with the “free” aspect being the initial draw, then people are hooked like drug addicts, reaching for their wallets as suggest in my blog article entitled “Apple iPad and Video Game Piracy - The Saint”.

Then again, I love “freeness” and I am a Jamaican, so my pragmatism is resplendent in my article, as it strikes me odd that I would wish to pay for playing online games which for the most part are ad sponsored and free.

I wouldn’t even mind if the advertisements were placed inside of the game itself and you made money just by clicking on the ads, such as I had written once about Simone Clarke-Cooper and Simon Crosskill of Smile Jamaica on Television Jamaica fame being part of a game called Simon and Simone Pig Farm as per my blog article entitled “Broadcasting and Facebook - Simon and Simone Pig Farm”.

Heck, I even came up with a similar game idea involving Regina Beavers of CVM at Sunrise Fame on CVM TV as described in my blog article entitled Broadcasting and Facebook - Where in Jamaica is Regina Beaver” in which the advertising in placed in the game and the game makes advertising revenue as well as share some of its advertising profits with the gamers, a surefire traffic draw.

Not to mention being more scientific means of gauging user traffic, creating real time interactivity, a more sensible use of Facebook as opposed to just being an oversized Wall post.

Heck, even paying people to watch advertising and text in the time and program they were watching via an app on a smart phone is more scientific as I had suggested in my blog article entitled “Broadcasters and Marketing - Paid Watching There's an app for that”.

But I find it a tad hard to trust Facebook, much-less CEO Mark Zuckerberg with my financial information after the recent problems with privacy on Facebook as stated in the article “Facebook follies: A brief history”, published May 13, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Caroline McCarthy, The Social - CNET News.

Worse, Facebook now allows geo-location as stated in the article “Facebook will allow users to share location”, published March 9 2010, 1:44 PM by Nick Bilton, the New York Times.

Especially after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg comments on the lack of interest in privacy as stated in the article “Why no one cares about privacy anymore”, published March 12, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Declan McCullagh, CNET News - Politics and Law!

Thus the removal of gifts from Facebook in July 2010 as stated in the article “With Facebook Gifts demise, credits are maturing”, published July 9, 2010 8:20 AM PDT by Caroline McCarthy, The Social - CNET News; the signposts were becoming clearer and clearer as to the coming of Facebook Credit.

Soon, even Target chimed in September of 2011 to offer to sell Facebook Credit in US$15 and US$50 denominations, possibly as they get good advertising traffic from Facebook partnership as per the article “Target to be first to sell Facebook Credit”, published September 1, 2010 11:07 AM PDT by Don Reisinger, The Digital Home - CNET News.

But the surest sign of its coming was when EA (Electronic Arts) Games, a major force particularly in sports gaming both on consoles and in the Social Sphere, decided to jump on the Facebook Credit bandwagon, apparently pleased with the revenue sharing arrangement and the level of security of the Facebook Platform as stated in the article “EA's Social games to run on Facebook Credits”, published November 3, 2010 8:07 AM PDT by Caroline McCarthy, The Social - CNET News.

A 30% cut of all Facebook Credit transactions is a bit steep and was a sticking point among game developers from Zynga. However, they seemingly have come around and are now online with the service integrated into every game, making game play without a-paying impossible.

Now of course is a great time, if you are an International user of Facebook to get yourself a PayPal and a Virtual Visa Credit Card in order to access this service – if you’re that into Facebook!

Helps too that Facebook has deals tied up with Microsoft Bing and Skype as noted in my blog article entitled “Google vs Facebook - Age of Empire and TRON Legacy”.

But then if the Platform is a secure as Facebook claims, then Credit Cards and PayPal may be a thing of the past, as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the Pied Piper, plays his tune – and all are entranced by Facebook in this Age of Empire III.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jamaican Transport Sector and Excel Motors Limited - Russian Roulette and Top Gear


The true University of these days is a Collection of Books

Carlyle, Heroes and Hero-Worship

It seems that Jamaica is poised for great things in the Transport Sector, as Senator Mike Henry, and his Ministry of Transport and Works is in the news more often than should be regular. This issue of transportation via Planes, Buses and Trains was such a theme last week that it was my featured blog article: “JUTC and the Downtown Municipal Transport Center - Planes, Trains & Automobiles”. Surely, he must be tired of his name being called up in every thing locally!

Still, the grumbling persists, now with Downtown Commuters suddenly resigning to the reality of the Downtown Municipal Transport Centre. Now, they chew their mouths against it, reflecting on its long term viability as their next moot point. So says the man on the street and backed up by the follow-on article entitled “Commuters fear downtown shuttle service unsustainable”, published Sunday, January 23, 2011 BY DONNA HUSSEY-WHYTE Sunday Observer staff The Jamaica Observer.

Lick them for six!

Poor Commuters, blissfully unaware that the Shuttle Service will soon be contracted out to a Dedicated Government Contractor, most likely subsisting on Advertising Sponsorship on the Contractors Shuttle Bus, as very little in wear and tear occurs in such a short distance. Thus this Sunday January 23rd 2011, my article is basically part update, part expansion, the spotlight thrown by itself on the problem that touches the lives of every Jamaica: Reliable transportation!

Great plans are afoot, with the Railway system soon to come on stream as stated in the article “JRC close to resuming the Passenger Rail Service”, published January 4, 2011, 11:54 am, The RJR Communication Group and expanded upon in my blog article entitled “JATOO and the Transportation Revolution in Jamaica - Babylon by Bus”.

Diesel powered Trains, by the way, can be powered by LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) via simple modification. Throught this article, you will not stop seeing this three-lettered acronym as it will be repeated oft, as Senator James Robertson, Minister of Energy and Mining, is spot on with LNG!

Everyone can see that the JRC (Jamaica Railway Corporation) is gearing up to restart passenger service on our islands decayed and dilapidated Railway Network! First time, too, many Jamaican will be traveling in a train!!!!!

Aircrafts too will not be left out with the Senator Mike Henry, and his Ministry of Transport and Works placing their cards on the table, James Bond style and pushing ahead with ambitious plans for Vernamfield Aerodrome cum Air Academy in Clarendon (please let it be a Virgin Intergalactic spaceport!!) as stated in the article “Henry to make Cabinet submission on Vernamfield in Clarendon”, published Tuesday, January 04, 2011, go-Jamaica.

However, difficulties abound that were not highlighted in this Gleaner Article so Caveat Lector !

Add to those difficulties is the protest about the recent necessary rebranding of the St. Ann Aerodrome to Ian Fleming Airport as stated in the article “Ian Fleming Airport sign defaced”, published Tuesday, January 18, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner and echoed in the article “Storm over Airport Name”, published Sunday, January 23, 2011 by ALESIA EDWARDS Sunday Observer staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

Much Ado About Nothing (1993), Shakespeare Style and Storm in a teacup!

Jamaicans are not familiar with the concept of Branding, which the Prime Minister Bruce Golding grasps perfectly as stated in the article “Ian Fleming Airport strategic decision - PM”, published Friday January 14, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner and is clearly explained in the follow-up article “From Jamaica, Ian Fleming gave the world James Bond”, published Sunday, January 23, 2011, The Jamaica Observer.

Plus, as far as I am concerned, Ian Fleming was not anti-establishment, a traditional moot point among Governments Internationally when choosing to name State Property after someone. Thus arguments for Bob Marley and Marcus Garvey fall flat, as both sang and fought respectively against the respective Governments of their time.

Thus, naming the Airport after Ian Fleming effectively allows the Government of Jamaica to collect a “Creativity” Tax for deriving inspiration from living in Jamaica in his villa which tousled his moist cerebellum (brain, people, brain!!). Ian Fleming produced those masterpiece spy novels that later became the James Bond 007 movies, hence the naming of the airport.  Simple!

Some work for Jamaicans may also be coming our way al la repairs done to JUTC (Jamaica Urban Transport Corporation) Yellow Buses as stated in the article “JUTC to renovate Buses here”, published Monday, January 17, 2011 by COREY ROBINSON Observer staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer.

Hopefully, the JUTC Buses will be made to run on LNG (Liquid Natural Gas) as the People’s Republic of China has the intention of doing with their Public Transport System as stated in the article “JUTC to renovate Buses here”, published Monday, January 17, 2011 by COREY ROBINSON Observer staff reporter, The Jamaica Observer and slyly suggested in my blog article entitled “JUTC, Challenger and LNG - Journey to the Center of the Earth”.

WE got tons of LNG coming from Venezuela as stated in my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and Natural Gas - Genesis of the Hydrogen-electron Economy”, but the People’s Republic of China can pitch in too at reasonable prices – we will certainly buy!

Especially now as the IEA’s (International Energy Agency) Anne-Sophie Corbeau, a Senior Gas Expert, has declaring that the world now has a combined total of two hundred and fifty years (250) of Natural Gas Reserves as stated in the article “IEA doubles global Gas Reserves Estimates”, published 20 January 2011 at 18:06 GMT by Roger Harrabin, Environment analyst, BBC World News. This is once Shale Gas extraction in the US of A is factored in along with all those other recent large “supergas” well finds in the last decade.

Certainly an interim solution to look into in Jamaica as it relates to the so-called problem of “cleaner diesel” and thus enabling the importation of flex-fuel vehicles as stated in my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and Jamaican Policies on Vehicle Importation - Gattaca”, and Diesel powered European vehicles that the EU is abandoning for All-Electrics.

The Politics of lowering import duties can be trashed out in Parliament. Savings in Reduced Oil importation and an increase in vehicle purchasing power among cash-strapped motorists – not a bad combo and a one- two punch combo, The Contender (2011) Style, against the Recession’s Effects on Jamaica!

Curious how this theme of LNG seems to be permeating everything in Jamaica, as most vehicles can be easily modified to run on the fuel, significantly reducing fuel usage as stated in my blog article entitled “LPG and the Challenger Transport Co. Ltd - A Cheaper Fuel”. So if this is true, why does the JGRA (Jamaica Gas and Retailers Association) not support this, as opposed to pursuing the route of cleaner diesel?

Even stranger is All-Electric Vehicles NOT being supported by Kent LaCroix, President of the Automobile Dealers Association (ADA) and others as stated in the article “Is Jamaica ready for Electric vehicles ?”, published Friday, October 01, 2010, The Jamaica Observer.

Meanwhile more of their members have died off since 2010 AD as stated in the article “25 used car dealers drop out of market” , published Friday, January 21, 2011 The Jamaica Observer, leaving John Public to speculate that the fight is divided between the younger set who are pressing for vehicle importation but an older set still wanting vehicles that use traditional Diesel and Gasoline fuel as my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and Diesel Sulphur Content - Casino Royale”.

So it is heartening to see that aside from Challenger Transport Company Ltd (926-6414), another innovator is now steadily on the rise, that being Patrick Marzouca. Mr. Marzouca’s fledgling ten (10) year old company, Excel Motors Limited, is now getting the much needed recognition it deserves.

His company, Excel Motors Limited, based out of Savanna-la-Mar, St. Elizabeth, has been manufacturing a set of 1500cc five-speed automatic engine Island Cruiser Sports Vehicles tailored for the Tourist Market in the Turks and Caicos Islands on request from their Government since November 2010 as stated in the article “Cruising Jamaica Style”, published Sunday November 21, 2010 by Brian Bonitto, Special Assignment Editor, The Jamaica Gleaner.


His vehicle, the Island Cruiser, is a speedy little thing designed and made here in Jamaica by this Florida University trained entrepreneur. It tops out at 170 Km/h and, in his words, quote: “It has a 70-inch wheel track and equipped with structural roll bars which are part of the chassis. It's like you are sitting in a protective box which makes it very safe”. His words speak volumes for his other vehicles too, namely the Island Pick-up, the Wasp and the Gabrielle.

With a two (2) week turnaround time from chassis to completed vehicle, US$15000 (US$30,000 with air conditioning!) is not too bad a price. Especially considering that it is made from easily moldable and fixable fiberglass and its durability is well tested in the Turks and Caicos, as the salt air would have rotted a heavier aluminum alloy frame vehicle.


But like this article that is Transportation themed, the follow-up article by the same Gleaner Writer Brian Bonitto is where Mr. Patrick Marzouca’s line of vehicles sparkle. After only receiving an order of three (3) vehicles initially from the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, he is now faced with a surge in business, this time with a request for approximately thirty (30) of his rugged contraptions as stated in the article “Cruise control: More Ja-made cars for Turks and Caicos”, published Sunday January 23 2011 by Brian Bonitto, Special Assignment Editor, The Jamaica Gleaner.

And why would they not? After all, with a forty four mile per gallon (44 mpg) rating, it could escape the gas-guzzler tax if it were to be exported to the United States of America. Its fiberglass construction makes it a tad hot for the tropics, especially if painted black, necessitating bright reflective colours – perfect for tourist roundabout vehicle. But even more interestingly, thanks to its engine construction, it can be modified to run on LNG.

Ironic words in Jamaica, a country not known for manufacturing muchless vehicles, now exporting vehicles while the import business is slowly dying off as stated in the article “25 used car dealers drop out of market” , published Friday, January 21, 2011 The Jamaica Observer. Marzouca sums it up best, quote: “Finally, my vision for the cars has been recognized”, making this article worth reading, as he has played the game of Russian Roulette (2010), Rihanna Style and has come out victorious!

Thus, when word gets out as to the success of this vehicle in the Turks and Caicos, do not be surprised if the next time you hear of Excel Motors Limited, they will be on BBC Top Gear! Or more Caribbean Orders, be it local or Jamaican!

Then later some Chinese Investor would have sunk VC (Venture Capital) money into his company to make an All-Electric version of his lightweight design. Sky High (2005) is the limit of what once can achieve with determination a little “elbow grease” as the American are wont to say and some well needed VC funding as our Transport Sector develops…..

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Broadcasters, LIME TV and IPTV - Kill and Kill Again and the London 2012 Olympics

And Noah he often said to his wife when he sat down to dine,
“I don’t care where the water goes if it doesn’t get into the wine”

G.K. Chesterton, The Flying Inn

According to a friend of mine who works at Huawei, LIME TV, quote, “a shot” as evidenced from the article “Thousands watch Buju on LIME Mobile TV”, published Wednesday, January 19, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner. 

Buju Banton's Before the Dawn Concert provided the catalyst for its “successful” launch as chronicled in the article “Hundreds line up for LIME Mobile TV to watch Buju”, published Friday, January 14, 2011, The Jamaica Gleaner, with people happily chucking in their old phones for new ones, Aladdin (1992) style!

I also share my Huawei friend’s enthusiasm, as this may be my first blog post where I actually wield a double-edged sword at the now nascent technology that is LIME TV – and its incredible success, which despite the lateness of this article has not gone unnoticed. Administrator Kirk of the Geezam Blog struck blogger gold. 

This occurred when Horace Cunningham's, a member of our freelance stable of writers at the Geezam Blog , got an exclusive. Telecom Provider LIME gave him a LIME TV, specifically the ZTE-G N290/Aeon to try out and as such, he was able to utilize and rate the device as per his article on the Geezam Blog entitled “LIME Jamaica Mobile TV Review”. Unlike TechJamaica, no one can accuse Geezam Blog Freelancers Writers of bias; we are Telecom Provider agnostic!

“Successful” in quotes, as its success is still hampered by the usual problems that traditionally plague Telecom Provider Networks – congestion, my prediction in my blog article entitled “Broadcasting and Digital Switch Over - Back to the Future to compete with LIME TV”.

Techies on TechJamaica reported problems with the device, albeit it is good to note that the original poster codenamed “Tammi” has a bias, being allegedly a Telecom Provider Digicel employee as asserted by other posters in the forum thread entitled “LIME TV - Not so good!! (pity)”, posted January 18 2011, by Tammi, TechJamaica.

Hopefully, this “Tammi” is not Tami Chynn, otherwise it would appear that she is also living a double life akin to Carletta Deleon aka the Pet Tales Chick aka “Dilly” of Smile Jamaica on Television Jamaica fame. Now for the sharp side of the double-edged sword……

“Tammi” of TechJamaica fame much gloried experience is in line with my predictions, as I knew that congestion would have gotten the better of the service. Had I been able to find further evidence of congestion on LIME’s 3G Network, it would have lent credence to my earlier theory.

For despite being advertised as a DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcast – Handheld) service, LIME TV is actually a rare type of VAS (Value Added Service) within a VAS as predicted by my blog article entitled “LIME and LIME TV - Lara Croft Tomb Raider”. For their credit, here is LIME TV’s assertion of DVB-H – “LIME TV | How it Works”, viewed Saturday January 22 2011, It’s on LIME TV. Tomatoes to customers, who got their Buju Fix that weekend of January 15th 2011.

Media obfuscation at its best! Better than the article Edward Taylor sponsored piece entitled article “The people and ideas behind Mobile TV”, published Friday, November 12, 2010 BY EDWARD TAYLOR, The Jamaica Observer as it is on Telecom Provider LIME’s website!

Still, a fly persist in the ointment aside from the obvious problems that the service has with congestion. This problem is one which I much opined in my blog article entitled “LIME TV vs Digicel's Samsung Galaxy Tablet - Call of Duty Black Ops”: The competition is better – and may be packing the 3D HDTV heat if CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2011 is anything to go by.

Telecom Provider Digicel’s Samsung Galaxy P1000 Tablet is packing the heat, as NetFlix and Hulu streaming are very much possible on the device for sub US$9.99 on a thirty (30) day contract.

Heck, the Samsung Galaxy Tablet can, along with other Tablets and eReader such as the Amazon Kindle conceivably replace newspapers or even help to rebuild Jamaica’s flagging subscription market as suggested in my blog article entitled “Digicel, Samsung Galaxy Tablets and Newspapers - Tomorrow Never Dies and the Paper Man”.

Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11n) is set for a major expansion by 2012, as free-to-air broadcasters are effectively “cyber squatting” on valuable spectrum desired by Telecom Providers and Broadcasters, a windfall of “White” Space frequencies and much desired lower frequency spectrum much coveted by Telecom Provider for Data Services as per my blog article entitled “Telecom Providers, 100MBps Broadband and the Broadcasting Commission - Redemption Song

Add to this melting pot the two (2) month old company straight out of Barbados named Net2Vu that provides streaming IPTV Services (blog review article coming on this product soon!!!) and we are talking competition that will take advantage of the expansion of the Wired and Wireless Broadband in Jamaica! Affordable IPTV Services are here!

Net2Vu providing up to one hundred and fifty (150) streamed cable channel as stated in the article “Net2Vu - Subscription Plans”, viewed Saturday January 22 2011, Net2Vu – with prices that are competitive to LIME TV as stated in the article “LIME TV | Pricing & Plans”, viewed Saturday January 22 2011, It’s on LIME TV. Not to mention pack more channels than LIME TV as per the article “LIME TV | Channels”, viewed Saturday January 22 2011, It’s on LIME TV.

This fits exactly with my prediction of people “cutting the cord” of their Cable Providers and opting to stream content over the Internet as opined by CNET News Reporter, Marguerite Reardon in the article “With Internet TV, Cable wins even if it loses”, published October 29, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength and predicted in my blog article entitled “Broadcasting and Digital Switch Over - Back to the Future to compete with LIME TV”.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs “hobby”, the much adored iOS stepchild, the Apple iTV and the number one (1) IPTV device, namely the Roku Box, will not be far behind in making a beachhead in Jamaica, as Wired and Wireless Internet access improves as stated in my blog article on Administrator Kirk Geezam Blog entitled “3D HDTV - Next Big Thing or Next Big Niche”.

This article I gave glasses free and Universal Glasses 3D HDTV the thumbs up – just in time for London Olympics 2012!

So in addition to Streaming IPTV Services coming to box bread out of Television Jamaica and CVM TV mouth, future improvements to these Platforms may be packing the Big Guns in the form of support for 3D HDTV.

Certainly explains the sudden launch of LIME TV, Net2Vu and the International expansion NetFlix as stated in my blog article entitled “JDX and PayLess - First Dove of a Coming Recovery”; their outlook is long term, indicating that this was apparently all well planned. More coincidences with the conversation about the future with the so-called Shurpower Engineers in April 2009! Fascinating!

Makes the coming of DSO (Digital Switch Over) to HDTV among the Local Big Three (3) Broadcasters by 2012 AD look all the more likely than the much bandied about 2015 AD date as stated in the article “Timeline set for digital switchover; Broadcasting Commission, media group disagree on pace”, published Sunday November 21, 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Thus, folks take my foolish advice! Future proof yourself and buy a 3D HDTV as stated in the article “TV purchase alert: In the Digital Age, HD is king, says regulator”, published Sunday November 21, 2010 The Jamaica Gleaner.

It seems EVERYONE is apparently giddy and gearing up for London Olympics 2012, which if the viewership numbers and Internet Traffic for World Cup 2010 was anything to go by, will  Kill and Kill Again (1981) …and again, the traditional Big Three (3) Broadcasters in Jamaica! Amusingly, Carlette Deleon aka the Pet Tales Chick aka “Dilly” of Smile Jamaica on Television Jamaica fame, would be the perfect face for Net2Vu or NetFlix as most likely she streams their service on her Apple iPad!

Stay tuned as this story develops!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Apple iPad S vs Motorola Xoom - Qualcomm Doubles the Fun


It is a far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.

Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Apple CEO Steve Jobs has had an exciting 2010. First, of relevance to techies, Apple has now moved from being the number five (5) computer maker in the world to the number three (3) in the world behind only Hewlett-Packard and Acer in terms of Global Unit Share.

Apple leapt over Asus, Lenovo, Toshiba and Dell as stated in the article “iPad pushes Apple into the top mobile ranks”, published August 2, 2010 9:20 PM PDT by Brooke Crothers, CNET News - The Circuits Blog () and confirmed by the article “Apple: We're No. 3, We're No. 3!”, published August 3, 2010 10:20am by Eric Benderoff, Appolocious, Yahoo! News.

Apple also earned US$20 billion this fourth Quarter of December 2010 as stated in the article “Apple: More revenue in one quarter than Google will do in a year”, published October 18, 2010, 1:48pm PDT By Sam Diaz, Between the Lines - ZDNET, beating market expectations for Microsoft, its main rival. They also and thoroughly trounced Google, who pundits on Wall Street are betting on garnering US$21.6 billion for ALL of 2010. Clearly, the Apple Cart is loaded with Apples reaped from the Orchard!

Thus another sick leave by Apple CEO Steve Jobs is nothing to worry about, as it may be merely a sign of his company’s success and his superstardom being a bit too much to handle as stated in the article “Apple CEO Steve Jobs to medical leave again”, published January 17, 2011 6:26 AM PST by Jonathan E. Skillings and Erica Ogg, CNET News.

However, as much as the media hawks are already speculating about succession, as if it Apple CEO Steve Jobs health issues were not supposed to be private or they are expecting him to, as the Americans say, kick the bucket, Apple has bigger worries in the form of the Motorola Xoom.

This is where this blog will “occur” its media spotlight – or flashlight as in my case – as albeit we wish for Apple CEO Steve Jobs swift recovery, tit-bit details of his health are not concern enough that it should cause stock prices to drop as stated in the article “Apple share price drops on Jobs health fears”, published Tuesday January 18 2011, by AFP, Yahoo! News.

This, folks, is the smashingly good and spanking straight-out-of-the-plastic standard of what Google Android 2.4 aka Honeycomb can bring to bear against the Apple iPad and the iOS ecosystem in the Tablet Wars. From my critical blog article entitled “Motorola Xoom and Honeycomb - Tablet Evolution in Stormy Weather”, it should be apparent that aside from packing a barometer and a Dual-Core Tegra Processor, first for ANY Tablet, it has some SERIOUS hardware specs on this CES (Computer Electronics Show) 2011 christened device.

This means that speculation as to the Apple iPad S and its hardware being “two of everything”, software and power requirements may be spot on as enunciated in my blog article entitled “Apple and the iPad 2 - Honeycomb, Chrome and the DragonSlayer”. I sound the chime of confidence as evidence has now emerged to indicate that this “two of everything” theme is resplendent in the Apple iPad S’ design – credit to CNET  Writer/blogger Erica Ogg. Two (2) out of two (2) – she is on a roll!

EnGadget recently posted a report confirming a possible shift by Apple away from Infineon, the maker of their communication SOC (System on a Chip) chips used in the Apple iPad and the Apple iPhone to Qualcomm, which is offering Apple a dual-mode chipset that can decode both GSM (Global System Mobile) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) as stated in the article “Report: Future iPad, iPhone to have Qualcomm chips”, published January 14, 2011 5:20 PM PST by Erica Ogg, CNET News.

Albeit I have no official news to confirm this (apologies to all the trolls at EnGadget!), Qualcomm does make Dual-mode 3G and 4G chipsets i.e. chipsets that can work on 3G standards such as HSDPA+ (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) and LTE (Long Term Evolution) a 4G Standard as stated in the article “Qualcomm readies 3G/4G mobile chipsets”, published November 12, 2009 4:07 PM PST by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength.

Please note this is Dual-mode for GSMA (Global System Mobile Alliance) standards, as personally I was looking for support for WiMaX 4G Mobile (IEEE 802.16d, e) as well. But as these chips were in production since 2009 and now integrated on the circuit boards of smartphones by handset makes such as Huawei Technologies, LG Electronics Novatel Wireless, Sierra Wireless, and ZTE Corp of china, Apple joining the party is not surprising, as they do have a habit of signing on to technologies that are proven over time.

Hopefully, these rumours all so well documented on my blog will be more than a flash in a pan mirroring the wishes and desire of the future, as another innovation popping up at CES 2011 and worth noting, is the absence of the Home Button on Tablets as stated in the article  “Tablet makers phasing out the ‘home key’”, published Thursday January 13, 2011 9:34 am ET By Ben Patterson, Yahoo! News.

But this is definitely in keeping with the Apple iPad and Apple iPhone being made world ready as speculated by CNET Writer/blogger Erica Ogg in her previous article on the subject entitled “iPad 2.0: New Design, manufacturing process?”, published November 19, 2010 11:17 AM PST by Erica Ogg, CNET News - Circuit Breaker and confirmed by the article Report says Apple iPad 2 to have 2 Cameras, USB port”, published Friday November 26, 2010 11:43 am ET by Dan Nystedt, Yahoo! News.

February launch of the Apple iPad S as speculated in the article “Report: iPad 2 to ship next February”, published ,  Tuesday December 7, 2010 by Steven Musil, Apple - CNET News, six hundred thousand (600,000) of the White Unicorn 2 strong, is just too far away……