The payments industry, like Las Vegas, is a classic case of something being conjured from nothing. The Las Vegas that we know – the turbo-charged cluster of hotels and casinos – has been in existence for about 80 years. It was established on the strength of an idea, and is now the 31st most populous city in the United States. It’s a testament to the resilience of the financial services world that a whole city can be conjured up on nothing less than the sanctity of the transaction – the payment, the wager, and the tip – and funded by all the associated value that is bundled with those most simple of commercial exchanges.
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Xero now has over 4200 accountants and bookkeepers globally helping small business owners transition to the cloud using Xero. As more and more of these advisors start to plan their own journey, one brilliant cloud bundle from Microsoft – Windows Intune – has largely gone unnoticed, yet we’re finding it to be of huge benefit to our partners.
Windows Intune replaces some of the functions normally provided by your IT support folks. It makes sure you have instant access to a full inventory on hardware and software, ensures every machine has up to date anti-virus and even enables you to automatically install software remotely on each PC.
We came across Windows Intune as part of a series of pilots that we commenced at the beginning of this year working with systems integrator HubOne. One of the accounting practices that we engaged in this pilot was Hansens and in addition to an Office 365 migration with Exchange, Lync and Sharepoint online, Intune soon emerged as a highly valuable addition to the suite of tools to be considered.
In London last week, ICAEW President Mark Spofforth hosted a roundtable discussion on technology trends to which I was invited. The ninety-minute meeting covered a broad range of topics; innovation, the role that consumers now have in setting expectations for IT and a variety of technology matters.The topic of IT literacy in particular caught my attention, as earlier in the week I had been pondering the changing definition of IT literacy after observing the way my nine-year old daughter was using technology for a homework assignment the prior weekend.
Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel whose silicon has been at the heart of the last forty plus years of computing, came up with Moore’s Law in an article in Electronics Magazine in April 1965.
Moore predicted, with what turned out to be uncanny accuracy, that the number of ever shrinking electronic transistors you could place on an integrated circuit would roughly double every two years. And, upholding Moore’s prediction, the CPUs at the heart of the personal computer revolution went on to become progressively smaller – and therefore cheaper – and more powerful right in line with that expectation. Indeed, they say Moore’s Law is good for at least another ten years.
Earlier this month Intel Labs shared their prediction that the size and power requirements of meaningful compute would approach zero in around seven years from now. What they meant is that by the end of the decade, processor production methods will have advanced sufficiently that they’ll be capable of fabricating chips powerful enough to deliver a meaningful, everyday amount of processing power delivered from an integrated circuit that will be so tiny that it might as well be invisible, or at least be capable of launching a new generation of ubiquitous, out-of-sight computing in everyday objects.
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Confession: I’m a bit of a conference and meetup junkie.
I love attending events like WDCNZ in Wellington yesterday. They provide you with a great chance to talk to the speakers and to chat with other people who work in your field – to share your thoughts and techniques.
If I’ve learnt something or come away with a different perspective then it’s time well spent.
Welcome to the Xero Live Blog for WDCNZ: tech talks for web devs! It’s all happening in Wellington today. This is the premier conference in New Zealand targeting solely the developers who deliver software on the World Wide Web. It’s in-depth and technical and full of tips and techniques from leading experts.
Four of us from the Xero dev team will keep you up with the action – that’s Tokes, Liam, Ronan and Matt! We Do Photography’s Jason Naylor will be supplying the pics.
Follow the conf also on Twitter with hashtag #WDCNZ – programme details on the WDCNZ website .
Click here for latest content.
9.05am – 10.40am with Tokes
OK – all set up ready to go. Room is filling up with web devs – my kind of crowd…
So, there’s this primetime TV show that runs in the UK several times a day. Every day since around 2008, its lead characters bumble from one crisis to the next and the frankly ludicrous plot seems to twist and turn in ways so that are so implausible (yet eerily predictable; they always seem to come up with a new plan and then somehow completely blow it) that it makes Dynasty look like a fly-on-the-wall documentary about eastern European salt mines. Occasionally the characters pose for smiley group photos even though they secretly hate each other. And it’s not hard to see why they hate each other, as they are on the whole a miserable collection of the sort of people in society you’d find it impossible to relate to, never mind build any affection for.
The show is called the News.
And with the exception of the salaciously illustrated phone hacking scandal that has made for some truly outstanding relief lately, I don’t think I’ve seen a day go by since 2008 without some kind economic crisis story utterly dominating the social conscience of the Northern Hemisphere.
While the features of computers and smartphones are converging fast, they are not the same. A click is not the same as a tap, a monitor provides a much larger canvas than a mobile screen and mobile internet sometimes seems to have more in common with dial-up than with broadband.
These are the trade-offs that the designers and developers on my mobile team deal with. They need to take features from the browser-based version of Xero, then condense them into an intuitive, positive smartphone experience.
We talk about these challenges all the time, so I took a couple of the guys down to a local coffee shop to have a chat about a few of the things we’re working on.
These guys have their work cut out for them – but they’re up for it. We’re working hard at adding things like bank reconciliation and an Android app to the Xero repertoire. More news soon. In the meantime, you can download the latest version of Xero Touch from the iTunes appstore.
I was going to be strong. I was not going to cave. I wasn’t even going to go into an Apple store.
I didn’t want the new MacBook Pro with Retina display. I’m all sorted with a MacBookAir 13 and have a 27″ Monitor set up at home that works well. The new MacBookPro annoyingly has a different MagSafe power connector and it’s actually higher resolution than my 27″ display at 2800×1800 pixels – the rest of the Apple product line hasn’t caught up. The new MacBookPro would muck up my set up. I’ll wait.
I’m currently on holiday and the hotel I’m staying at is is only a few hundred metres from a Mac store. Not that I needed anything but thought I may as well go in and see the new machine.
Your first impression is that it is slim. Not Air slim but surprisingly slim for such a powerful computer. The screen looked ok, nice and clear but it didn’t look big. So I went hunting in the settings …
Wow! It wasn’t that the screen was clear. It is that it has massive resolution. Small but still very readable. There is so much space. My MacBookAir felt like a postage stamp.
I caved. I wanted one.
This week I’m lucky enough to be one of 6000 developers converging on the Moscone Center in San Francisco for Google’s annual developer conference, I/O.
Google are a bastion for the classic software developer who loves to tinker and experiment. Their culture of engineers encourages constant experimentation and finding out what sticks.
I have to admit I’m 50/50 on this approach. I see its appeal: let smart people do whatever they want and see what happens. But in reality it often leads to some really fragmented devices and disparate approaches. For example, developing for an Android device often means buying 10+ test phones/devices and trying to work out quirks and bugs with all the different capabilities and devices. These differences mean Android software has to work in a range of different environments, with a range of different interactions which can sometimes result some really bad user experiences.
As a result of that culture, they’re really hard to pin down in terms of strategy – even though Google is one of the heavyweights in the tech industry! However, judging from this event, it looks like Google are focusing on the consumer market. They want to get involved in and integrated with every part of peoples’ lives – no matter how “sacred.”
This point was particularly clear in the final focus of this year’s keynote, with Sergey Brin taking the stage to introduce some stunt men who proceeded to deliver a set of Google Glasses
To be frank, the glasses fill me with a sense of revulsion. As the demos went through a new mother interacting with their baby, I thought of my own kids – who I try to keep as far away from technology as possible. I figure tech will play an increasingly large role through the rest of their lives, so why would I wear some bad glasses on my face just to capture a smile? It would put a barrier between my kids and me. But Google see things differently; they want to be involved in this relationship.
Google also announced their tablet – the Nexus 7 (Nexus 6 is skipped due to its pop culture meaning). It’s clearly a race for the bottom of the market. The Nexus seems like a great device, but it’s definitely closer to competing with the relatively cheap Amazon Kindle Fire than the iPad.
They also showed the Nexus Q, a digital jukebox that you access from your Android device. I’m discounting it for now because I think it’ll have a very hard time competing with the Apple TV.
As the iPad becomes a favourite of the enterprise conference room(thanks to people like diligent board papers), Google’s less-expensive product releases indicated (to me) that Google are going after peoples’ homes and leaving the boardroom to pricier Apple and Microsoft.
More importantly, though, I think it’s very telling that all of the product demos at I/O were mobile devices. The future is definitely mobile, and before long the only people who need true computers are going to be the people who create the software behind these mobile devices.