I’ve seen my fair share of pictures and videos of earth in the past but none of them have been quite as captivating as this one by Michael König:
Hopefully that will be enough serenity to get you through the rest of the working day 🙂
(I’ve decided that instead of my usual 500+ word crap post that I’d churn out when I can’t find anything good to write about I’d instead just post something short that I found interesting. Those kinds of posts are mentally exhausting and I don’t particularly like them afterwards. At least I can’t be mad at something as beautiful as this!)
It was just under 2 years ago when I wrote my first (and only) post on smartphone virtualization approaching it with the enthusiasm that I do with most cool new technologies. At the time I guessed that VMware would eventually look to integrate this idea with some of their other products, in essence turning user’s phones into dumb terminals so that IT administrators could have more control over them. However the exact usefulness was still not clear as at the time most smartphones were only just capable of running a single instance, let alone another one with all the virtualization trimmings that’d inevitably slow it down. Android was also somewhat of a small time player back then as well having only 5% of the market (similar to Windows Phone 7 at the same stage in its life, funnily enough) making this a curiosity more than anything else.
Of course a lot has changed in the time between that post and now. Then market leader, RIM, is now struggling with single digit market share when it used to make up almost half the market. Android has succeeded in becoming the most popular platform surpassing Apple who maintained the crown for many years prior. Smartphones have also become wildly more powerful as well, with many of them touting dual cores, oodles of RAM and screen resolutions that would make my teenage self green with envy. With this all in mind then the idea of running some kind of virtualized environment on a smartphone doesn’t seem all that ludicrous any more.
Increasingly IT departments are dealing with users who want to integrate their mobile devices with their work space in lieu of using a separate, work specific device. Much of this pressure came initially from the iPhone with higher ups wondering why they couldn’t use their devices to access work related data. For us admin types the reasons were obvious: it’s an unapproved, untested device which by rights has no business being on the network. However the pressure to capitulate to their demands was usually quite high and work arounds were sought. Over the years these have taken many various forms, but the best answer would appear to lie within the world of smartphone virtualization.
VMware have been hard at work creating full blown virtualization systems for Android that allow a user to have a single device that contains both their personal handset as well as a secure, work approved environment. In essence they have an application that allows them to switch between the two of them, allowing the user to have whatever handset they want whilst still allowing IT administrators to create a standard, secure work environment. Android is currently the only platform that seems to support this wholly thanks to its open source status, although there are rumours of it coming to the iOS line of devices as well.
It doesn’t stop there either. I predicted that VMware would eventually integrate their smartphone virtualization technology into their View product, mostly so that the phones would just end up being dumb terminals. This hasn’t happened exactly, but VMware did go ahead and imbue their View product with the ability to present full blown workstations to tablet and smartphones through a secure virtual machine running on said devices. This means that you could potentially have your entire workforce running off smartphones with docking stations, enabling users to take their work environment with them wherever they want to go. It’s shockingly close to Microsoft’s Three Screens idea and with Google announcing that Android apps are now portable to Google TV devices you’d be forgiven for thinking that they outright copied the idea.
For most regular users though these kinds of developments don’t mean a whole lot, but it is signalling the beginning of the convergence of many disparate experiences into a single unified one. Whilst I’m not going to say that anyone one platform will eventually kill off the other (each one of the three screens has a distinct purpose) we will see a convergence in the capabilities of each platform, enabling users to do all the same tasks no matter what platform they are using. Microsoft and VMware are approaching this idea from two very different directions with the former unifying the development platform and the latter abstracting it away so it will be interesting to see which approach wins out or if they too eventually converge.
I have to admit whilst I admired the spectacle of New York I didn’t much care for the fast paced city. The consent hard sell from street merchants, the inattentive people on the streets that would make no attempt to give way to anyone else and the constant unpleasant smells hadn’t really endeared it to me. Couple that with constant pain and I had a rather grim view of the city, slowing my rise from slumber this morning. Still I’m not about to waste my time over here so after spending way too much time getting ready we headed out for a really late breakfast at a nice french restaurant with an art deco finish.
We were still without a proper internet connection in our hotel room even after I had found a good plan on T-Mobile that would solve all our problems. For some reason it was refusing to tether to my laptop meaning that the lovely unlimited Internet connection I had acquired was trapped inside the confines of my iPhone. One solution was to get a wireless broadband modem that I could put my SIM card into and I saw that Office Depot stocked them. We headed over there to see if they had one but all I could find were the contract ones, leaving me to try and track one down somewhere else. We hopped over to a Radioshack to see if they had one but it was pretty much the same deal so I decided to leave it for now.
Wanting to tick off a couple of the attractions we’d bought into we had set our sites on the statue of liberty. Not wanting to trek the entire way down there on foot we tried to figure out the maze that is the New York subway system. After plotting the route on Google maps I noticed that it had a train option which did both the train transfer as well as the departure times. 20 minutes later we were at our destination and heading towards the dock that would take us out to the island. Before we could board we had to go through an airport style security scan where they announced we’d be the final boat for the day. We knew we’d taken our time getting here but we thought we’d still have some time up our sleeves, obviously not. The trip over and the island itself were pretty uneventful but it’s still immensely popular with the island teaming with people even this late in the afternoon. I got some choice photos of the monument before sitting down to enjoy the sunset on our boat ride back to Manhattan island.
By the time we got back it was almost night time so we decided to go to the Empire State Building so we could see New York City lit up at night time and get some good pictures while we were at it. It didn’t take us long to find it after exiting the metro station we came out of with the building tower over everything with its electric blue luminescence. The book had told us to come back after 9pm to beat the crowds but no less than 20 minutes later we were up at the top level. From every side of the building we could see city lights stretching out to the horizon, providing a stunning canvas for me to work my camera on.
With that out of the way we set about looking for a place to have dinner. I had found a korean barbecue place on Yelp that we started walking to but no less than 2 minutes into the walk did we find a microbrewery with an attached restaurant. The prices were good and the food sounded amazing so the estimated 15 minute wait was well within our limit. Whilst we waited I grabbed us some drinks from the bar with Rebecca selecting a long island iced tea and I grabbed one of their oatmeal stouts. It was a nice thick beer with a distinctly coffee aftertaste providing an ample distraction whilst we waited for our table. The dinner that followed was well worth it too with Rebecca getting exactly what she expected (doesn’t happen often) and I enjoying a 12 oz new york strip steak with a blue cheese dressing. Our walk back to the hotel was one of satisfaction and happiness without the pain I had suffered the day before.
I opened this post saying how I hadn’t really cared much for this city but that all changed today. Whilst anything mired in pain will always have a grim look to it today proved that there were many redeeming features for all the small bothers that got to me. Once I solve the small problem of tethering my iPhone I will have worked out all those little problems that have been gnawing at me since I landed here and hopefully I can get that done early tomorrow morning. With us mastering the subway system (thanks to Google) so much more of the city has opened up for us and I can’t wait to take advantage of it.