2009 January (2)

Browse Month: January 2009

5 Reasons To Own A Smartphone

5 reasons to own smartphone - blackberry bold picture Last couple of years I spent writing a lot about smart phones – likes of Samsung BlackJack, HTC Tilt, Blackberry and even iPhone. Time has come to combine all the thoughts into bullet points, so here I present you – five reasons why you should own a smartphone.

1. You will look more professional

Yes, whether you like it or not, a person with a complicated phone looks smart. That’s one of the reasons they call it a “smartphone”. Another reason is that your phone (like most of your accessories) tell the onlookers something about you. Smartphone tells them you like to keep things in order. True or not, this brings us to

2. Smartphone makes it easier to organize your life

Just compare an address book on your regular cell phone and smart phone. Not only it is easier to type someone’s e-mail or phone on a regular alpha-numeric keyboard (though downsized) than it is on a 11-key phone pad, it is also easier to retrieve this information, view it on a larger and more convenient screen. And when it comes to managing tasks or notes – it usually takes about couple of years to find and memorize a location of task manager or note keeper. With smartp hone all these options are one or two button clicks away.

5 reasons to own smartphone - Motorolla Startac picture 3. Smartphones are a breeze when it comes to syncronizing them with your PC

Be it a Blackberry, Windows Mobile phone or even iPhone – the amount of effort needed to backup or sync your data with your PC is next to zero. Plug it in, click Sync (if even that) – you’re done. With regular cell phone – good luck figuring out which cable and software would work with your specific model.

4. More ways to get in touch

Long gone are the days when you had to keep ringing until someone picks up. With SMS, e-mails and mobile messengers if you own a smartphone – you are just a couple of keystrokes away from your friends or colleagues. Even if they can’t respond now, they’re sure to read that message, e-mail or IM – and get back to you as soon as they can. That is, of course, if they do own a comparable smartphone.

5. More ways to have fun when you have a spare time

Imagine you are on that never-ending line at the airport check-in, overcrowded downtown NYC Starbucks or just waiting for someone to show up for the meeting. With all the news, RSS channels, online music, movies and downloadable games – no line is too long. Imagine, some people are actually reading books off their smartphones (myself included) and feel good about it. My 40 minute bus ride to lower Manhattan could not be more entertainig with all the reading I’ve got.

As you can see, even the dull corporate Blackberry could be tons of fun. Come think of all the cool Samsungs, LGs or shiny HTCs coming up this year – the fun just never ends.

UPS Surprise

UPS Got Better Usually I try to avoid using UPS, but when both hard drives in my laptop died on a same day and I called Lenovo for replacement – there’s little choice to be had. Last night I found a familiar brown-yellow-white note on building’s doors saying that UPS has made a second attempt to deliver the package. It’s not that I was aware of the first attempt, but who’s counting, right?

Well aware of all the issues facing me I called main UPS number and quickly found out that my package is resting peacefully at the station across the town. We’re only New York City’s most populous borough, with 2.5 million residents and the second most populated county in US, so we only get a single UPS station to pick our packages.

However, much to my surprise, the station is open from 8pm to 10:30pm (that’s right, night hours) for package pickup. Nice location (some warehouse neighborhood), friendly parking spots (half the streets around this huge UPS yard are marked “No Parking Any Time”), easy access (I only had to walk one and half block from the parking spot I found to a small entrance in a fence with no lights on) – all makes it a pleasure to visit and pick up the package.

The staff, though, is very friendly – either on the phone or on the location. I didn’t hit any lines (understandable, given the place and the time) so I got my stuff in well under 20 minutes.

Nice to see a movement in a right direction for UPS. Now if only I wouldn’t have to drive 30 minutes from home to UPS yard – it would have worked much better.

Are You Still Outsourcing?

Outsourcing Latest news on Satyam Computer Services fraud just can’t keep me from returning back to the same question: why would a big company outsource something like an IT services to foreign country. The main reason I keep hearing is that pricing makes outsourcing offerings irresistible. On top of that it removes the need to manage the projects separately, instead feeding requests into a “black box” and getting a ready product on the other end of it.

Well, for starters, if your only competitive advantage is the price – there will be someone who can offer either a lower price, or more benefits for the same money. Add to that language differences (if you ever had a conversation with a tech support “guru” from India you know what I am talking about). Add time differences – whenever you need an anwers in half-hour, your outsourced tech contacts are out of the office. Add mentality difference – or the way things are made to work by “us” and by “them”.

I am even discounting my own experience of fixing things after outsourced help. Just out of pure observation and reading the news, the margin isn’t all that high – I would estimate the average margin at about $10 ,000 – 15,000 per employee vs. an outsourced consultant. On the other side of the scale we have management nightmares, managers having to travel to forein country every month at company’s expense (and being a high level managers they don’t fly economy class – not that I’m aware of).

So instead of having a little more expensive but more readily available local workers companies sign up for cheap labor from overseas, adding management burden, time differences and misunderstandings to the plate. In the end, the overall cost of the finished project would be same or higher then if a local resources were used. And don’t even start me on the quality of the final product

It’s a rhethorical question, but it needs to be asked: when would American companies realize that they are not that rich to buy cheap things?