5 Gadgets You Should Buy Now Instead Of Later

Everyday we have lots of news about the latest gadgets from Tech blogs and social networks, and everyday we tell ourselves to wait … wait until the reviews are out, wait until the better versions are out or the prices are dropped. Yes, it’s me; but of course, YMMV.

However, there are times that I cannot wait but go ahead to buy the overpriced, not-well-tested gadgets, then find out I should have bought those earlier because the gadgets are soooooo good. And here are 5 gadgets that I think you should buy now, instead of later.

I traveled a lot and really like to have a pair of headphone that can play good music as well as cancel all the background noises. I have other noise cancellation headphones before, but the Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphone is really the best one. This in-ear headphone is lightweight, delivers excellent sound quality, and extremely comfortable. Many times I would turn on the noise cancellation mode in busy cafe or packed subway train such that I can have some quiet time to read. If you have lots of good songs in your mobile device and like to enjoy those even in a noisy environment, this is for you.

bose-headphone

So you have a good pair of headphone with noise cancellation feature, then it’s probably about time you shall get the Kindle Paperwhite (second generation) to restart your book reading project. The screen is simply stunning, and you can read it under bright sunlight or in the dark. Best of all, your eyes will thank you as the other non-ePaper digital readers really will hurt your eyes.

Kindle Paperwhite

Other than a pair of headphone and a good book reader, another essential travel companion for me is a good DSLR camera. I’m never a fan of Canon, Nikon and Sony, but became a big fan of Olympus about 10 years ago (I really love their E-1). So when they released their excellent OMD E-M1 last year, I bought it without skipping a heartbeat (note that I already got the E-M5, ooops). A solid, weather-proof, and responsive camera that will never disappoint you in terms of image quality.

OMD-E-M1

Another “gadget” that travel with me all the time is the Macbook Air. It’s my work computer, research tool, programming machine and social networking platform. That’s not much you can complain about the great machine, but for me I want one more USB port – to charge my iDevices and without syncing. Yes, I can get one of those power supply plug charger, but instead of getting extra bulk I bought the Twelve South PlugBug World. It’s an All-in-one MacBook global adapter with 2.1 amp iPhone/iPad charger – perfect. And the bonus is, this world edition comes with different plugs for different countries.

plugbug

The last gadget that I wish I had bought earlier is the MIO Alpha I. It is a watch and it is also a strapless heart rate monitor. Yes, you read it right, it is strapless (!!). In addition, it can synchronise the reading to the RunKeeper app with Bluetooth, such that the app can read out the heart rate to you during your exercise. If you like to track your heart rate while jogging or running. Get one, period.

mio alpha

So, those are my picks, what are your 5 buy-it-now gadgets ?

 

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Cloud Security Standards for the rest of us

Couple of weeks ago I presented a session about Cloud Security Standards in the yearly ComputerWorld / KornerStone Cloud Security Forum, and one question kept popping up in the event was – “Why Cloud Computing ?”. That puzzled me a bit as I thought all of us aware of the benefits of Cloud Computing – services on demand, pay as you go, and improve development agility etc. etc. So I answered the question with another question :

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 9.28.29 pm

Yes, why not ? As you may expect, the typical answers from the floor were “Poor Security !” and “Concerns in Data Privacy !” … Those are concerns, I agree, but those are not facts. Instead I believe the first few things the business users and CTO / CIOs shall consider are some other psychological barriers.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 9.28.33 pm

Those barriers are very real, because once you performed a proper risk assessment of deploying Cloud into your business, and also tackle those barriers, you will find security and data privacy are not major concerns; but more on something the company and the IT team shall handle and tackle professionally.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 9.29.00 pm

And what I meant by handling professionally is before jumping to the conclusion that Cloud Computing is not secure, first ask yourself questions like when and where to use Cloud; outline the Service Level Objective you need; review the people skill set, process and change management maturity; and then lastly look for technical solutions.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 9.29.08 pm

With all that said, one will still question how one can make sure the cloud services (IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) are secure. And that’s I think where Cloud Security Standards can help. It’s not a secret that we have dozens of Cloud Security Standards in the market, and in fact, all of them are important and relevant.

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With so many standards and guidelines, it is rather difficult to tell, whether a Cloud Services Provider (CSP) is already conform to certain standard(s), if you are now shopping for CSPs. Or hard to convince the customers that your company is conforming to certain standard(s), if you are one CSP. The only way I think, is thru Certification.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 9.29.33 pmI believe with proper certification process, regular review and listings of all certified CSPs, customers can easily find the best CSP they want. With the same token, CSPs can easily prove to their potential customers that they are doing a good job.

So Cloud Security Standards may be not easy to define, complicated to comply with; but with certification process, it is easier to make whole things more fruitful to the standardisation bodies, the CSPs and the Cloud Computing customers.

 

Joni Mitchell and Cloud Computing

It may sound very strange, I mean, how can Joni Mitchell, the Canadian musician, song writer and painter remotely relate to Cloud Computing ? Yes, it’s that strange.

I am not exactly a big fan of Joni Mitchell, but I do love her song “Both Sides Now” a lot. Interestingly, this song is the last one in side B of the album “Clouds” (what a coincidence), released in May 1st, 1969. Yes, it’s almost 45 years ago but the other day when I was preparing a conference keynote about cloud computing, I started iTunes and the first song it played was “Both Sides Now”. Then I found out the relationship …

Let’s check out the lyrics of that beautiful song:

Bows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

As you can see, these four lines kinda described the many shapes of Cloud and Cloud Computing – IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Hybrid and Community Cloud. Then the next four lines:

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

That basically apply to all traditional IT teams, Cloud Computing is now impacting their everyday works. Internal users now can bypass IT team to subscribe to various cloud based services, development team can now set up development environments in the cloud in minutes without purchasing any new servers, and one system administrator can manage dozens of servers in the virtualised environment with ease, in effect only small engineering team is needed.

Lastly, the third paragraph:

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Yes, clouds are all just illusions, if one takes Cloud Computing seriously – perform proper risk assessment (check out CSA Cloud Control Matrix), evaluate cloud solutions and cloud services providers systematically. Most important of all, even you host your applications in the cloud, you’re not transferred the security risk to the cloud. Instead, you are still responsible for the security of your IT systems.

Cloud Computing is real, it is not an illusion. [Both sides now – Video]

Joni-Mitchell

Olympus OM-D E-M1 in Las Vegas

Even though it’s not my the first time in Vegas, but it’s the very first time to have a chance to visit the museums in Vega – yes, I am not a guy to spend any money in the slot machines. Right after the AWS Re:Invent, I took a cab from the Palazzo Hotel to the Neon Museum. It costed me US$ 20 but well worth the money as it’s really hot to walk miles along the Strip to the museum. In Neon Museum you will find lots of old casino and hotel signs. Thru the guided tour, you will know more about the history of the sin city and those neon sign boards.

Then after that, a casual 15 minutes’ walk will lead you to the Mob Museum. If you are a fan of mafia, organised crime and law enforcements, don’t miss it – all the mob stories are explained in great details with excellent photos, audio and visual effects. Then just opposite the Mob Museum, it’s the Fremont Street Experience – don’t miss the show every evening. So after all, it’s really a good way to spend an afternoon in Vegas, if you don’t like gaming like me, and don’t mind some walks.

But of course, the most important thing is I took my OM-D E-M1 to this short trip and here are the pictures …

Timeline of (my) Olympus cameras

Everyone knows me as an Olympus fan, not because I shoot lots of beautiful photos with Olympus cameras but the fact that I bought many Olympus cameras (Digital SLR and Mirrorless) since they launched the revolutionary E-1 camera in year 2003.

Ten years ago, there was really no original digital SLR (DSLR) camera design in the industry as most of them were just a rehash of the film SLR cameras. On the other hand, Olympus’ E-1 was really a ground breaking DSLR as Olympus designed the camera from ground up with many many new and digital photography specific features. So in the last 10 years, I bought eight (!) DSLR and Mirrorless cameras from Olympus and they are – E-1, E-300, E-510, E-P1, E-5, E-P3, E-M5 and the latest E-M1.

I reckon the best way to illustrate this crazy history is through the use of “timeline”. Unlike typical static WordPress timeline plug-ins, I use the interactive timeline script from timeline.knightlab.com. It lets you move along the timeline and click the image thumbnail to launch the blog post I wrote about the camera. Neat …

http://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline/latest/embed/index.html?source=0AlHjesNCmKHpdDZWVnVuVTdOUXdzMkVJN1E1N25WREE&font=Bevan-PotanoSans&maptype=toner&lang=en&height=450

New Olympus OM-D E-M1

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iPad Keyboard Case – The Final Episode

Yes, it’s going to be the final episode of the “iPad Keyboard Case” as I believe I have bought way too many iPad keyboards. In addition, I believe the new iPad 5 will be thinner than iPad 4 and so it is pointless to buy any new keyboards that may or may not fit the future iPads.

So, the latest keyboard I got after months of waiting is the Belkin Ultimate Keyboard Case for iPad. Is it good ? A resounding yes. Is it much better than many others’ favorite – Logitech Ultrathin iPad Keyboard Cover ? Well well …

First of all, the new Belkin keyboard is about US$ 25 more expensive than the Logitech one (as of end August 2013). And it is heavier, thicker, with softer keys and not as sturdy as the competitor (because of the multi-angle design, see below). However, it is really good in a few other areas:

  1. It protects the back of your iPad;
  2. It is heavier than the Logitech, but still lighter than others like ZaggFolio;
  3. It supports multiple-angle viewing (watch the video below);
  4. It can fold flat to become a tablet again (Logitech and others cannot do that), and it is particularly useful when reading ebooks in public transport, without looking like an idiot;
  5. The cover is special designed to enhance the sound flow towards you, it makes the audio sounds a little bit better;
  6. It’s more stylish (I bought the white color version, to fit my black iPad).

All in all, I am happy with the new member of my iPad keyboard family, and will use it for a while … before the next keyboard comes out. And here is a video to see how the keyboard case works with multiple angle set up.