The Comunicano Daily for Tuesday July 14th 2015


 
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Today is one of those two city/two country/two train days for me. I feel like I'm back in Philadelphia where I started my day there and finished there after a day trip to New York City. Today I head to Brussels for a meeting on the Thalys train, which will zip along at 300 km/hr and has Wi-Fi that I can put to the test.  As for the news, on the topic of speed and the Internet, Comcast has announced their high speed, high priced 2 gigabit service. It comes with a lot of catches so it will be interesting to see what happens with it and just how far it goes. Now..on to the NEWS

 

 
 
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Comcast's 2Gbps internet costs $300 per month with huge install fees

Comcast's faster-than-Google Fiber internet was always going to be expensive, and now the company has officially revealed just how much 2Gbps will cost you: $300 monthly. Gigabit Pro is what Comcast calls its fastest-ever consumer broadband tier, which offers twice the download and upload speeds of Google Fiber for $170 more per month.
 
 

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Microsoft's New GigJam Collaboration App Deconstructs Tasks Into "Molecules Of Work"

Last November, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella hosted a small press event at the company's Redmond, Wash. headquarters. The atmosphere was low-key, but the title-" Productivity: Reinvented"-set expectations high. Though the session did include some demos, it was mostly devoted to whetting appetites for a future in which Microsoft would reemphasize its original mission of creating innovative products that help people get work done.
 
 

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Microsoft has been making noise and news lately. First they have made three key app acquisitions including Sunrise, Wunderlist and an email program that has become their new mobile version of Outlook. They also acquired some talent with those buys and that talent seems to be cranking out some new apps that may revitalize the company that has been lacking in innovation. GigJam looks really interesting as does Tossup.

 

 
 
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Facebook is working on a digital assistant named Moneypenny to help you find and buy products

Facebook Messenger is getting its own virtual digital assistant code-named "Moneypenny," according to a report from news site The Information (paid registration required). But where Apple's Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft Cortana focus on productivity, Moneypenny is actually a way to ask real people for help researching and buying products and services.
 
 

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Nokia is making changes. Lots of changes. Look at the two following stories and you can clearly see a lot of what led to their undoing is leading back to what they plan to do. I still contend they will acquire Jolla as their handset team. Which given the lock up period, and the fact that Microsoft is getting out of the handset business means a lot of ex-Nokians are able to be hired back to be in the handset business.

 

 
 
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Uber Out of the Running for Here, Nokia's Digital Mapping Service

Uber has made no secret of its global ambitions. The company's plans, however, will not include the multibillion-dollar purchase of Here, the main competitor to Google Maps. Uber, the ride-hailing service, is now out of the running to acquire Here, according to three people with knowledge of the talks.
 
 

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Other statements

 
  The following has been posted by Robert Morlino, spokesman for Nokia Technologies July 13, 2015 For 14 years Nokia was the biggest cell phone maker in the world, and the brand became a household name -- one that evoked quality, innovation and human connection.  
 

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Did Satya Nadella Just Kill Windows Phone?

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has never hesitated to undo one of Steve Ballmer's moves. The new boss opened up the company's products for use on rival operating systems, and he has steadily changed the perception of the brand, both internally and externally.
 
 

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CircleUp Captures $22M to Invest in Consumer Brands That Campaigned on Its Very Own Platform

Equity crowdfunding platform, CircleUp, recently revealed that it has secured $22 million so that it may invest in consumer brands that previously received funds through its site. According to TechCrunch, CircleUp's funding round, The Consumer Growth Fund, is set to match investments made on its platform by others, but does not take the lead on funding itself, in order to avoid conflict with other investors.
 
 

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Many Obama alums are moving to the Bay Area where their connections are valued. Tech and politics have never been more intertwined and over time regulatory, policy and growth will be more and more legislated and administered by the D.C. crowd as every branch of government needs to get up to speed on the changing landscape of technology. For ex-White House staffers, their relationships are gold mines for tech companies who need insight, perspective and opinion around who is doing what and may do what when in government.

 

 
 
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The city on the hill(s) for Obama alums

SAN FRANCISCO - Sipping a cup of cold-pressed coffee. Digging into fresh burrata. Walking along the Presidio, laughing about the conference bicycles they saw at a meeting at Google headquarters the other day. That’s where you’ll find what’s become the fastest-growing chapter of the Obama alumni association. Barack Obama was...
 
 

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The Comunicano Daily for Monday July 13th, 2015

 
 
 
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There is no question that technology is changing civilization, life and the law as we know it. All one has to do is realize that services like AirBnB back when they were just BnB's were tolerated and operated under the radar of most regulatory bodies and hotelier rarely were concerned. In New York "gypsy" cabs operated, and when there was something wrong, someone would do something about it, but they pre-dated Uber, and in many other cities there were networks of drivers who worked for cash taking late night partiers home safely, all without cab/hack licenses.  

What we're seeing today though is how technology at the core is disrupting established business markets. Just as Skype redefined how people talk and communicate for less, we're now going to see a whole new wave of Over the Top (OTT) or as pal Dean Bubley calls it "Under the Floor" or  as I have said, "Through the Middle" as the network knows no difference, delivering bits and bytes to endpoints of all types.

SIDE NOTE-It was great catching up with John Furrier and family in Paris. I've known John since the late 90's when we were all trying to figure out the Streaming Media biz long before Apple and others. John now has Silicon Angle humming along as well as a very interesting business social app, CrowdChat that is very timely and looks like a winner.

On the subject of content, and onto the news, is a story out of Australia where the Sydney Morning Herald is signifying a new name for the next generation.....read on

 

 
 
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'Generation Free': How teens have no concept of paying for content online

Trying to get today's generation to pay for anything - including 5 Seconds of Summer's music - is a hard ask. Photo: Christopher Pearce Forget generation Z - today's youngsters are generation "free" when it comes to how they consumer music and TV content.
 
 

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The sharing economy is strongest in the Bay Area as that's where many a "sharing" technology company puts its efforts first. Even with all the lobbying and efforts to bring governments on board, and after laws get passed, being "loved and legal" remains a challenge for the likes of AirBnB and Uber.

 

 
 
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Airbnb brings sharing economy under the microscope - CNET

The sharing economy is hitting a few roadblocks. The latest example: Airbnb and San Francisco. Last October, the city became one of the first in the world to legalize short-term rentals, the kind Airbnb promotes on its site.
 
 

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OTT player and  client, YipTV is clearly hitting the cable guys hard. Their pricing was far below what others were charging and now it seems the price point is being validated as Comcast is in the same pricing strata with a different content mix. Just like VoIP was a disruptive force in telco, OTT TV will change the content delivery game.

 

 
 
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Comcast Offers Its Alternative to Cable TV, Using the Web

Comcast, the country's largest cable operator, is responding to the rush of new streaming television alternatives with the start of its own web-based offering that includes a bundle of broadcast networks and the premium cable network HBO. The new service, which costs $15 a month, represents a bid from a mainstream cable company to stay relevant to a new generation of viewers.
 
 

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Apple are masters of rumor management and they always have been. As you read the stories flying around this week keep in mind that the rumors build based on facts that find their way out the hallowed walls of the company. And, most rumor mongers tend to feed off of one another. Still hearing what's up these days continues to keep the company on the upswing. New iPods are a great idea, as with Wi-Fi proliferating and faster and more stable broadband becoming more available, you can use it with almost any VoIP or conference calling service, video chat or messaging app just like your iPhone.

 

 
 
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Apple is planning for EPIC iPhone 6s sales based on consumer satisfaction report - The Hoops News

Apple is planning epic things for the iPhone 7. After the success of the iPhone 6, it would be hard to imagine that the company would be able to follow it up with the same type of success.
 
 

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Seven ways iOS 9 will change your iPhone

OS9 features a lot of small changes that add up to one big one. When you first boot up the iOS 9 beta on an iPhone, things don't seem that different. Same old apps, same old homescreen, same old camera. With a few minutes, this familiarity begins to fracture.
 
 

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Apple to Introduce New iPods on Tuesday - Clapway

According to the French website iGen.fr, whose track record's in good standing, Apple will be announcing a whole new iPod lineup on Tuesday, July 14th. Just when many of us believed that iPods would no longer be getting any updates, Apple brings in a whole new update for Apple Mp3 player fans.
 
 

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Redefining one's business is never easy. Target is setting out to do this. No easy feat for the company that suffered one of the retail world's largest data breaches ever,

 

 
 
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Inside Target's Tech Funhouse and Search for Its Next Billion-Dollar Business

San Francisco is home to technology. Now it's home to perhaps the most technologically-advanced house, too. Inside a new store on Fourth Street stands a mockup of a Victorian-style house, complete with gingerbread trim and a three-panel bay window - but made entirely out of acrylic.
 
 

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Google is making sharing easier on Google maps, but  as I tested today from Paris, the maps have to be from maps.google.com not .FR or other "local" country maps, which likely has more to do with the service being rolled out than anything else. All that aside, it works fast and is a great way to do your "research" on the laptop of desktop and then send to your mobile device, regardless of OS.

 

 
 
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Now You Can Send Directions From Desktop Google Maps To Your Android Device

It can be convenient to pull up directions at a PC while you're sitting at your desk, but you're not going to lug that thing outside to the car when it's time to hit the road. That means you have to get the directions to your phone or tablet, which often means just searching a second time.
 
 

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The Comunicano Daily for Friday July 10th, 2015

 
 
 
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The VC world is on a authoring trend this week around content, the story and the deck. To me, this is all one big world and further underscores the concept that Bill Ryan is espousing around the brand narrative. As someone who thinks more like an ad guy mashed up with an ambush marketer and publicity pro (everyone knows I hate the term PR guy) the whole idea of content being king is nothing new here. But it's nice to see content now getting its day inside the sacred halls of Venture Capital firms...

 

 
 
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Why Is Every VC Suddenly Obsessed With Content Marketing?

Venture capitalists. When you hear the term in the startup world, it's met with a ton of very immediate, very opinionated reactions. These range from the good ("I wouldn't be where I am today without my investors") to, let's just say, the less than good.
 
 

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Apps, API's and cloud services are all merged and converged with what we like to call a Mobile First approach leading the way. This is where mobile device management is going to be super important, something we learned when we at Comunicano supported Nukona up through their acquisition by Symantec.

Cord cutters and the new "never corders", a term most often used by YipTV founder, client and long time friend Mike Tribolet (ex President of Vonage at their start) are driving this as the demand for new services that are more about "them" than ever before is rapidly rising. The winds of change and the market that YipTV serves are the same markets that will drive these change because they live mobile first.

Yesterday Amazon rolled out a whole slew of new services that not only further pushes their efforts into infrastructure, now they want to be more of your IT department, replacing old systems with new that run on the AWS cloud. 

 

 
 
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AWS Debuts New Tools for Cloud Developers

Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS) announced several new services for developers using its cloud platform during the keynote address of the AWS Summit that opened in New York today. Among the announcements were: a device farm for mobile testing; an API Gateway for setting up back-end services for mobile, Web and other apps; a revision control service called CodeCommit; and a software release automation service called CodePipeline.

 
 

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New Amazon app development tools sweeten the pot

AWS isn't content to stop at infrastructure -- now it's after its customers' application code, a prospect that tempts some, but has others wary about cloud lock-in. Amazon Web Services (AWS) made several products generally available here at AWS Summit this week.

 
 

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Amazon unveils new weapon in its fight to dominate software services

Amazon is continuing its push to make its massive cloud computing business a full-service IT shop Thursday, at an Amazon Web Services conference in New York, the company detailed a new service that specializes in a type of technology known as an application programing interface, or API.
 
 

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Just as Amazon is making moves to give you more to work with at the customer level, AppAnnie, long known for the stats around what app is being used by whohas just gone one step farther, linking in Google Analytics to tell app devs more about their app and what people are doing with it.

 

 
 
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App Analytics: First Stores, Then Ads, Now User Engagement! - App Annie Blog

When you've successfully released a few apps - or even your first - tracking their performance can start getting complex. With this complexity comes more tools, dashboards and APIs. While all the data you're checking is valuable, so is your time.
 
 

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Never to be beaten to the punch, or punch line, T-Mobile's colorful CEO John Legere announced free calling and roaming to Mexico and Canada this week. This changes the paradigm that many an MVNO focused on those transborder markets focus on, as now the 3rd biggest carrier is becoming imperialistic before AT&T which just sunk a lot of money into Mexico gets there.

 

 
 
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T-Mobile claims it now has more subscribers than Sprint, cuts roaming charges in Mexico and Canada

If you're not reaching, engaging, and monetizing customers on mobile, you're likely losing them to someone else. Register now for the 8th annual MobileBeat, July 13-14, where the best and brightest will be exploring the latest strategies and tactics in the mobile space. The upstart U.S.
 
 

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Up in Canada, or as pal Alec Saunders calls it, Canuckistan, some ingenious marketers have figured a way around the high calling and data rates in the more populated provinces. Buy plans in markets where service is cheaper, market and export it to the rest. Interesting, but one has to wonder if its a loophole or if the CRTC will shut that down like Bernie Parent used to do to the opposition in the halcyon days of the Philadelphia Flyers. Back then, the bumper stickers read "Only The Lord Saves More than Bernie Parent." Well maybe these folks in Canada have found a way to come close when it comes to saving!

 

 
 
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A 'black market' for wireless cell service has popped up in Canada

Two articles at iPhoneInCanada.ca and AlphaBeatic.com tell the story of one enterprising Canadian who takes advantage of a loophole to provide substantially cheaper wireless cell service for a one-time $100 payment. How exactly he does it appears to be unclear, but it involves pricing discrepancies in Canada, where lower-populated provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan see much cheaper cell service.
 
 

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Pals Frank Kelcz and Chris Wade were doing pioneering work for the UK Trade and Investment group a few years back when they were both serving as business ambassadors to the USA to bring investment to Britain. While Kelcz and Wade have moved onto greener pastures, it looks like their pioneering missionary work is paying of now for the UK as Cisco announced a billion dollars of investment heading that way. Sometime people do the work, while others later on get the credit.

 

 
 
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Cisco To Invest $1bn in U.K. Tech Industry Over 5 Years

Network-equipment giant Cisco Systems Inc. said Thursday it will invest $1 billion in the U.K. digital economy over next five years, through venture capital investments in local startups, education programs, and job creation. "Europe is leading in digitalization," CEO John Chambers said in a phone interview. "In the U.K., Prime Minister Cameron gets it."
 
 

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Growing up in the events business tickets were always a pain. As the agency that helped launch StubHub back in the early part of this century, we've seen firsthand how they changed the way people buy and sell tickets, creating a market that previously was dominated by ticket brokers and scalpers.  Now the market is becoming more interesting as rivals to TicketMaster and Fandango continue to come to market. And, these upstarts are getting big dollar backing because the market is so ready for change. 

 

 
 
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Funding To Global Event And Ticket Startups Hits High On Back Of 2 Big Deals

Investors are placing big bets on marketplaces for event and movie tickets, including US-based SeatGeek and Chinese movie ticket-purchase app, Weiying. The multi-billion dollar event & ticketing industry is dominated by category giants including eBay's StubHub and LiveNation's TicketMaster (NYSE: LYV, Mkt Cap: $5.56B).
 
 

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Roaming costs business money and staying connected isn't cheap. That's the results from study conducted by Rethink Research. As someone who spends more than half a year on the road annually, there's tricks to not being disconnected, as I wrote on VoIPWatch a few weeks ago. 

 

 
 
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Connectivity for travelling workforce cost businesses £855m last year

European and US employees travelling on the job cost businesses around £855 million in one year in connectivity costs, a study claims. Keeping employees online while travelling in Europe and abroad through roaming, pay-on-demand WiFi would have cost £1.42 billion in 2014, Rethink Technology Research, who conducted the survey, said.
 
 

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No industry is more familiar to me than travel.  For years I have been telling hotel guru Peter Koehler, GM of the Intercontinental in San Francisco and others in that business the role technology will be playing in the future of the guest experience. That day is more than here as the infographic below shows us...

 

 
 
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Stay-enhancing tech at hotels

A new survey of hotel guests across North America shows guests' love affair with mobile technology.

 
 

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The Comunicano Daily for Thursday July 9th 2015

 
 
 
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Business Rockstar host Ken Rutkowski dubbed Comunicano's Senior Strategist, Bill Ryan, "The Master of the Message" and I often refer to Bill as "Senor Story" as Bill has refined the art of the story with his 20 plus year deployment of "The Architecture of Identity" to a razor sharp focus around what today is known as the Brand Narrative. That's how "the story" can be told and retold by others as if you told it yourself over a variety of mediums. But it doesn't start or end with "the deck."

To us, there's the "deck" which is a series of "talking points" and then there's the "leave behind" which is much more complete and which has a lot more information shared. Sadly largely due to PowerPoint usage over time the "deck" and the "leave behind" have too often become one in the same and the misapplication of each is at a point where it's gotten ridiculous.

Well a holy war is breaking out over the idea of the "story" and "the deck" with investors. Our first two stories are each worth a read....and then you can decide what's best for you.

 

 
 
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People love stories, not decks

Jason Calacanis recently invited me to speak on the topic of presenting to potential angel and venture investors at the Launch Incubator Spring 2015 class in San Francisco. In preparation, I asked some friends in the industry for their pitch advice.
 
 

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In Defense of the Deck

My partners and I have noticed an interesting trend over the past few years: an increase in the number of entrepreneurs who prefer to pitch us without the use of a presentation deck. On one hand, this is totally understandable. Many believe that PowerPoint decks are emblematic of the type of bureaucracy disparaged in Dilbert cartoons.
 
 

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Another bun fight is making the rounds, and this is about MONEY. The question posed over the weekend started in the New York Times about how many angels should a startup take on. Now VC's who are well regarded are making sense out of the discussion. I'm siding with Upfront's Mark Suster's views simply because he presented relevancy in his post.

 

 
 
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For Start-Ups, How Many Angels Is Too Many?

Shortly after presenting her start-up to potential investors at a conference, Nancy Hua was bombarded by eager suitors. A little more than 48 hours later, the Silicon Valley entrepreneur had amassed about $2 million from wealthy individuals known as angel investors. The total number of angels that Ms. Hua raised money from: 21.
 
 

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How Many Angels is the Right Amount for a Startup to Have? | Bothsides of the Table

If you follow the Twittersphere you may have noticed several people weighing in on this recent piece by Mike Isaac of the NY Times, asking " How Many Angels is Too Many?
 
 

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Crowdfunding is far from dead. And, TILT, with their latest raise has proven that there's money coming into the company. I guess though in light of the news today, I wonder how many angels they had and just what story they told in their deck....NEXT

 

 
 
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Tilt Raised Around $30M At A $400M Valuation In Its Most Recent Funding Round

TechCrunch is hearing from sources that Tilt has raised around $30 million in its most-recent funding round as it pushes to expand internationally. Much of the company's ambitions this year are set on its international expansion as it continues to grow in Canada - where it launched last year and is growing faster than Tilt did in the U.S.
 
 

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Logitech, one if the most hallowed names in hardware, is changing their name to LOGI. Back in 2008 Comunicano client SightSpeed was acquired about a year before LifeSize was also acquired. Today's news focuses all about the hardware and gear that Logi is known for leaving me to speculate on the future of the software side of things at Logi. Smart money would be on a spin out.......

From the start of the SightSpeed acquisition and then the LifeSize one, all I've heard is how the fit that seemed "so LOGIcal" just wasn't working. Add in that Logi has a really deep "hardware culture" you can quickly see why software, especially with two early companies that understood SaaS models long before others did, would be struggling to grow inside there. Then add in the fact that leadership of Logi wasn't really local and things just didn't happen as planned.

 

 

 
 
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Logitech Is Changing Its Brand Name To Logi For... Reasons, At Least On Some Products

Logitech is older than I am. Not too much older, mind you - the Switzerland-based computer accessory company was founded in 1981 - but old enough that I can remember my dad using a Logitech keyboard on the home-built desktop he ran on a desk in the closet, back when having a computer in the living room was still a social faux pas.
 
 

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With the new Apple Music, the integration of Beats into it and lots of competition in the streaming music space, Spotify is trying to keep Apple from taking their one-third bite of the "apple" so to speak by suggesting people subscribe not via the app, but via their web site. Spotify knows Apple can't be anti-competitive so this is a rather smug move. Smug until Apple pulls their next rabbit out. Patents. Between Beats and iTunes Apple has loads of patents, and a war chest to buy up many more that are surrounding the streaming and real time download business. But then again, a healthy Spotify is also good for the music business as the labels of tomorrow are no longer WEA, Columbia, Mercury or Polydor. They are spelled APPLE, SPOTIFY, GOOGLE, etc.

 

 
 
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Spotify urges iPhone customers to stop paying through Apple's App Store

Spotify is trying to raise awareness around the fact that it's cheaper to subscribe on the web instead of through Apple's App Store. The leading subscription music service plans to email iPhone customers the below note encouraging them, if they haven't already, to start paying at Spotify.com and save a few dollars.
 
 

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Sometime a wire beats wireless. Google seems to think so and has made an Ethernet adaptor for their Chromecast streaming device. But they sold out in a day....talk about demand or maybe just an underestimation of the market.

 

 
 
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Google's Chromecast gets a hardwired Ethernet adapter

Google's Chromecast is one of the easiest-to-use and most widely supported TV streaming sticks out there, but the only way to use it has been over a Wi-Fi connection. If your TV is out of range or your airways are too crowded, there really hasn't been a solution.
 
 

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The war between Twitter's Periscope and Meerkat is heating up and becoming a feature war. Meerkat is going the "make everyone famous" approach adding a "cameo" mode to their personal video app.

 

 
 
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Your pals can broadcast during your Meerkat streams, if you let them

To let viewers feel like they're part of the action, Meerkat announced a new feature that lets you ask for some crowd participation. The video-streaming app now has a Cameo tool that'll allow broadcasters to hand the reins over to viewers for up to a minute.
 
 

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I've been using a few "Assistant's as an App" lately. It may be my Amazon Echo that by the sound of my voice adds items to my ToDoist To Do list, or the Meekan Schedulerwhich works inside Slack and helps me not double book or overlap meetings by alerting me to conflicts that come up as many others can add or change meetings on my calendar. I've been using Assistant To to schedule meetings with others but now we're seeing even more coming....

 

 
 
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Why 'Assistant-As-App' Might Be the Next Big Tech Trend - Nir and Far

Whenever I feel uncomfortable writing about a topic, that's when I know I should write about it. So here goes. This article is about how a new way of designing apps changed my life. But to explain the power of this trend, I need to tell you about poop.
 
 

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The Comunicano Daily for Wednesday July 8th 2015

 
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It's always fun to watch the moves in big business. A few years ago Microsoft acquired Nokia, largely to help them with their hardware business. At that time, Nokia then was also partnered with Siemens to form NSN on the infrastructure side of the house. Now NSN is all owned by Nokia, and the handset division is owned by Microsoft. But as our first story tells us, that's coming to an end or sure looks that way.

 

 
 
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Major Job Cuts Expected at Microsoft

Microsoft plans to announce a major new round of layoffs as early as Wednesday, as the company seeks to further cut costs amid a shifting technology landscape. The layoffs are in addition to the roughly 18,000 employees that Microsoft said it planned to let go a year ago, according to people briefed on the plans who asked for anonymity because the details were confidential.

 
 

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But there's more to the Nokia story. One of the bright light divisions that got lost in the transition at Nokia was Maemo, a next generation Operating System (OS) that was to be the flagship to replace Symbian. The team there went off and formed Jolla, and in turn built the Sailfish OS. Yesterday we learned the company is being split into two. The reason? Smart money has Nokia snapping it up to reenter the handset business.

 

 
 
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Mobile Maker Jolla Splits In Two, With Sailfish OS Its First Order Of Business

Software or hardware? Finnish mobile device and Sailfish OS maker Jolla has always intended doing both. But that could be changing. Today the company announced it's forking itself, splitting its business into two. One of those businesses will be fully focused on pushing its Sailfish software platform forward.
 
 

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Years back pal Tom Carter, now at F5 Networks, co-invented and successfully patented the concept of the Wi-Fi network being an extension of the mobile/cellular network. That technology, called Voice Call Continuity (VCC) was first brought to market by former client BridgePort Networks is now owned by CounterPath, whose advisory board I sit on. Well Tom and Bodie Wilhoite's vision is now coming to fruition as more and more mobile operators embrace Wi-Fi calling, but the real vision of disruption is coming from elsewhere, namely Google with ProjectFi that is so close to the original vision that I recall hearing from Tom that's it's very eerie to see it all unfold.

 

 
 
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Project Fi Review: Google Masters Wi-Fi Calling, But Needs Better Phones

For millions of us, Google is the backbone of our digital lives. So it's a little incongruous that to get to its many services, we generally go through carriers such as Comcast, Verizon or AT&T. In a few towns across America, Google has eliminated the middleman and started providing broadband service.
 
 

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GigaOm Research is returning. And not soon enough. In an era where there's never enough insight, perspective and opinion, GigaOm's cadre of analysts always provided a very timely perspective. Sadly with the shuttering of GigaOm as we knew it, the last few months have left a void. Thankfully, the new owners are going to refill that void as pal Stowe Boyd shares the news with us.

 

 
 
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Rebooting Gigaom Research

On March 9 2015, Gigaom ceased operations because of the insolvency of Giga Omni, the corporation behind the scenes. As part of that cessation of operations Gigaom Research also closed its doors, and the network of analysts, editors, researchers, and other staff - built over years - was disbanded in one day.
 
 

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Ever wonder how a company's story gets told?  We at Comunicano like to call it the "Brand Narrative" and today's piece in Medium provides a very insightful read on just how the company rises, falls and rises again to be sold another day. It's a great read if you are a marketer or communications pro or junkie.

 

 
 
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How the Tech Press Forces a Narrative on Companies it Covers

The tech press moves like clockwork, fitting company narratives into a predictable arc. Here's how pros deal with it. I don't remember who told me company narratives were like a clock. I was at Google, where I'd taken a job on the communications team despite zero experience in communications.
 
 

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With the movers and shakers of content, media and technology all in Sun Valley for the Allen & Co. annual soiree, rumors will always abound. One that seems to be making th rounds is FaceBook buying Twitter. Given Twitter is searching for a new CEO, the time could be ripe for an acquisition, but given the current climate in D.C. on M&A and how consolidation of growing markets is viewed as bad it may not be as likely.

 

 
 
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Will Facebook buy Twitter?

Will Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey get caught huddling at the Duck Pond? That's a hot question as Allen & Co.'s annual Sun Valley media conference kicked off Tuesday - and some of Facebook's key investors are hoping and praying that the answer is "no."
 
 

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Over in Europe the right to be forgotten in search engines is available. But not so in the USA. A consumer group is advocating that the Federal Trade Commission looks into why Google isn't offering that same opportunity to those domiciled in the USA.

 

 
 
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A consumer group wants Google to give Americans 'the right to be forgotten'

A consumer advocacy group is urging the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate why Google has not given American internet users the "right to be forgotten." In 2014, a European court mandated that Google remove search results from individuals when asked, if the results are irrelevant, outdated, or otherwise inappropriate.
 
 

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Every Monday, I join long time pal and tech media star Ken Rutkowski on his dailyBusiness Rockstars 'cast (now video and audio) that is heard on CBS's Play.it and over 180 radio stations across the USA. During my weekly appearance I highlight a few new apps or services that can help business people do their job better or run their business more efficiently. So, in that tradition of "finding something new" today's app is "Telegram" a messaging app that works cross platform and adds some neat features like enhanced privacy.

 

 
 
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Telegram: the best messaging service you're probably not using

Every week or two a new update brings another new feature to Telegram. Photo: Telegram What Messaging App do you use? I've tried them all, settling on Telegram as my favourite cross platform chatting client. But what is the point of a great chat service if none of your friends are there?
 
 

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Why Do FaceTime Audio, WhatsApp and Viber Sound Better? It's HD Audio!

Running in 4G/LTE and being a big "latch on" user of Wi-Fi as I wander around Europe, and for the next while, Lisbon has me staying in touch more and more by voice vs. email and text messaging with friends far and wide. Depending on the person, some still use their mobile number, but more and more of my travel buddies, those other nomadic types I know from Australia and the UK are far more reachable using other means.

For starters I'm finding some like Viber while others like WhatsApp. Still others are massive users of FaceTime, and a few holdouts are still on Skype and the uber-geeky crowd is on Wire. But what is common to all the services being used is one thing that separates them all from the mobile phone. Each and every call is in glorious HD quality voice. When I'm on with someone on Viber or WhatsApp it's like a T-Mobile to T-Mobile call back home. Clear, crisp, rich and robust audio.

The more I use HD, the less I like regular calls, but alas until the entire telco world goes HD, thankfully we have those alternatives available to us.


Why Not Enough Wi-Fi Over European Skies

Here in Europe, other than Norwegian Air, Wi-Fi on flights is a missing link to my travel. It seems according to the recent Skift report, others feel in-flight connectivity is important too.

Let's face it, I love to fly on Wi-Fi equipped planes in the USA because it keeps me "connected" and when I get off the plane my inbox isn't jammed, and I know more of what is going on around me where I land. That's why, when Virgin America first launched their service with Wi-Fi on every plane I pretty much stopped flying Southwest where I was an 30+ flight a year "A" lister. As other US based airlines added Wi-Fi their flights with Wi-Fi became my chosen carriers, which meant Delta right behind Virgin America.

Wi-Fi on European airlines right now is best summarized in this report. Though it's "coming" it is still a ways off.

 


Working Anywhere Isn't Hard. It Just Takes Planning

Over the past five weeks I've gone from living in beach community of Solana Beach, just outside of San Diego, to go on a quest to be a truly global nomad, working from anywhere and functioning, time zones aside, as if I was still there. This working elsewhere mode includes traveling through nine airports in seven countries and staying in 12 different "residences" or hotels, including three AirBnBs, two winery hotels, and seven traditional hotels.

I can safely say that with planning and research, it's not hard to be working anywhere, but having experience sure helps. By experience, I mean traveling to the places you know well enough, but more importantly have the broadband infrastructure and other essential services in place to make sure that "working anywhere" is possible. But after ten years of being a global road warrior so much is changing I figured it is time again for a refresher and some tips on "living like a local" are now more timely than ever.

Here are a few observations:

1. Hotel broadband is never as good as residential broadband except in certain circumstances. Case in point. The Conrad St. James prior life as an Intercontinental provided Royal Ambassadors with 100/100 in-room Wi-Fi and Wired connectivity. Now the best I could get was 50/20. It was still very good, but a shock to have been "slowed" down. Still this is far better than most hotels.

On the other hand, whatever MamaShelter in Paris has been doing with Wi-Fi since I started staying there years ago continues to get better. I don't remember what my speeds were, but an in-room iMacs serving as an access point and entertainment center makes life easy. Speeds are awesome, and the bandwidth is always stable.

As for my experience in Prague, the Courtyard by Marriott was far better than the Four Seasons where the speeds even when upgraded were never more that 6/6 while the Courtyard was 20/20 or greater. In Vienna, the new Renaissance was fine with speeds at 10/10 but the Intercontinental in Vienna the Internet was far better and more stable, all over the hotel using a very solid Swisscom installation.

But this is where AirBnB for the business traveler wins hands down. In the three AirBnB apartments, I have been in so far my speeds have been 100/15, 10/2 (for a one-night weekend stay) and 100/12 consistently. Why? I'm asking each owner if they have fiber or ADSL. If it's fiber, and right to the dwelling it's going to rock, and it does.

Rule of thumb is thus, put yourself on a fiber (broadband) diet where you can. In every case so far, I've been able to get AirBnB hosts to verify their broadband connectivity and where it's available, have them switch to a Fiber connection from ADSL. This type of broadband means a world of difference, as working from apartments, is the same almost as if I was working from my own home.

2. Mobile Devices, Data, Voice, and Text.

Rule number one. Never roam. Rule number two. Have an unlocked phone. Rule number three. Have enough credit on your last country SIM that lets you log on when you land. Rule number four-buy local SIMs.

This is where it can get complicated so follow along closely. If you're simply making a series of one-day visits to countries, then none of this likely applies to you. In those situations the time involved will be costly, but if you are spending three or more days in a country, or visiting the same countries over and over again in short duration and live a data intensive life like me, consuming over 100 megs of data a day when not on Wi-Fi (which is essential to use) you will need a local SIM on your smartphone and tablets or you will pay the price.

For many this is where Truphone will help as their plans work in 66 countries but its not LTE/4G (yet) in many, and it doesn't matter, though I have a need for speed as I use data side communications services more and more for calls over WebEx, GoToMeeting, Skype, Wire for voice and Google Voice, WhatsApp and iMessage for text. Those apps/services and 4G/LTE makes communications often as good or better than wired broadband in some places.

To use mobile broadband like a local, or to get as much speed and high-grade connectivity, you do need the latest models of iPhones, iPads and Android devices, but when you buy them, make sure they are not "operator editions" but are truly "world phones."

My iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with my iPad Air2 have all the radio bands needed to work around the globe at the highest speeds available (with China being a slight exception). Buying these saves hassles, and prevents being on slower networks. For example, the T-Mobile USA unlocked editions lack the 4G radios that work at 4G in Europe except in a few situations. Once you have the real global devices, the speeds you expect all become available. Android devices require you to read and see what they have, but the OnePlus One is my chosen Android mobile solution.

When choosing a wireless operator you have to take in two network factors-speeds and coverage. To do this use Google Search and enter the mobile operator's URL and the words "coverage map." That will show you where they offer coverage and what speeds (GPRS, EDGE, 3G, 4G/LTE)

This means as time goes on things change. For example, in the Czech Republic my initial research showed that T-Mobile would be my best choice. Then as I did more reading, I learned how Vodafone, when they came into the market, went LTE, and sure enough Prague speeds and network were super reliable.

In Vienna Austria, I quickly learned that no one sold 4G mobile phone service for smartphones on pre-paid, but that Telekom Austria sold 4G/LTE for tablets. That meant my iPad was going on A1. What I also found out from the research was that the best network outside the major cities was also going to be A1 from Telekom Austria. Where again I thought either T-Mobile or 3 (Drei) would have been good for me, I would have been on 3G on the iPad and given I was in the wine country half the time I was in Austria, and where the wineries are not always as tech savvy, the LTE/4G on the iPad more than a few times saved my bacon when it came to conference calls and one on one calls using Skype or a variety of Voice over IP providers.

In France, I was a fan of SFR for many years, but the winner these days is Bouygues Telecom. For starters in Paris, they have really good coverage but in Bordeaux I never didn't have 4G/LTE. I've got a SIM from Orange also but while they have the biggest network, much of it is still EDGE in the wine regions. The bottom line for me in France is you have to look at the coverage maps and decide which carrier is for you where you will be. In my case, I hedge and have SIMs with both Orange and Bouygues in my SIM pack.

In Portugal, Vodafone has gone from number 3 to number 1 in speeds on 4G. It used to be Optimus (now NOS) on my iPad but the past year my two trips have shown that research pays off, and the coverage in Cascais has been improved and all along the train ride. That said, if I end up in the Alentejo or Algarve and coverage falters I'll just grab SIMs from MEO (Portugal Telecom) if the Vodafone coverage is sparse and pre-paid SIM's are available everywhere.

In London, 3 used to be my favorite and they remain my steady choice as they started from an all 3G network, however with the merger of Orange and T-Mobile into EE and EE's commitment to LTE-A (a for what they sell as Double Speed, their service has become my first choice. Both provide easy online management, with the key being to buy what you need and not oversubscribe to more than will do the job. Even Vodafone has improved their coverage, so when it comes to the UK, look at the coverage maps and drill down on what speeds are offered where, and then decide who has what you need.

While many may think that T-Mobile USA's global roaming is a good deal, the speeds are variable across the globe. For a quick email check in, and simply map usage it does the job, but if you are heavy app user or plan on making VoIP or Skype calls, forget it, and go local. 3 in London has a "feels like home" program with free roaming. That is enough of a reason to grab a few SIMs and keep them topped up with credit and use them in countries when I first land if I'm not sure I can roam with others before buying local SIM's and I need to check email.

As far as staying connected to the folks back home, pointing a Google Voice number to your Skype In and then forwarding Skype Out to your local number works well. So does Switch.co. And since both offer Do Not Disturb modes you can turn them off when you're sleeping.

3. You Gotta Have Wi-Fi and you need Boingo

Finding Wi-Fi access these days is pretty much like locating running water, but like running water, you need to locate it, and sometimes, even pay for it. That's where Boingo comes in. Having a Boingo Mobile account is a very useful addition to the mobile arsenal. For $9.95 a month (first month is only $4.95) you can connect two mobile devices. Boingo also provides an instant log-on feature called PassPoint in the USA, and a free VPN service as well. All in all for the price the amount of access around the globe, especially at International airports, makes Boingo a very good option. On top of that there's a global plan, a North American one, and specific offers for different parts of the world.

4. Make The Network Yours

In my AirBnB apartments, I've made them "mine." At least when it comes to technology. Given I'm on extended stays I brought along my Apple Time Capsule which has 802.11ac in it. While I also carry an Apple Airport Express, which lacks 802.11ac (as of now) so while that's good for hotels, given properties can get speeds up to a Gigabit, it makes sense to have the gear that works that fast. What you need to do usually is either wire in directly to the router or if you don't have hardwired access, extend the existing wireless network. Be sure to use DHCP to the cable or fiber modem, and then go into bridge mode, that way you avoid IP address and NAT conflict issues.

5. Make Your Place Feel More Like Home

I love Apple TV and the ability to watch the programs I want, and honestly, TV in foreign countries other than news is often lacking. Connect the Apple TV to your wireless or wired network and the content you already have is with you everywhere. To get around geographic restrictions on content from Hulu and Netflix, use MediaHint. What's great about this is you change your DNS settings on your devices and then it opens up your universe to the content you're already paying for anywhere you are. This is far better than a VPN as it doesn't slow down the traffic to your devices either plus it works as either a browser plug-in or a setting. Another great gadget in your bag to carry along is a Google ChromeCast. This lets you have a big monitor wherever you so don't forget the HDMI cable. In some cases, hotels lock down the ports and the ability to add on your devices but here is where being in an AirBnB location changes the game. It's more "open", and you don't have to Hack the House like you often have to "Hack the Hotel."

My favorite "gadget" along for the ride is the Amazon "Echo." It has become my virtual assistant. I use it as an alarm, as a temperature and weather reporter and most of all as a music source. You see, like using MediaHint, Amazon has it configured in such a way as it still thinks it's back home in California. Once you overcome the fact that you can't use any time zones outside the USA, it all becomes easy. For example, just add or subtract the time zone differences when you ask what time it is. But if you ask "specifically" what time it is in your current city by name and country, or make a similar request for weather, you get your local information. What I like is the ability for the Echo to provide me a verbal overview of my calendar for the day, plus to add things to my ToDo List. And with an IFTTT recipe, I can easily have entries populated onto my ToDoIst To Do list. I can also create similar "recipes" to add to my "shopping" list and then have that emailed to me as well or simply review it on my mobile ToDoIst apps.

6. You Have to Have an Office Address

If you're going to be residing somewhere for more than a few days and it's not a hotel, don't get in the trap of the post office being confused. In my case in Lisbon I'm in a security guard/concierge building, so I have someone who can receive packages (and provide local advice as needed) but delivery people and postmen are not always up to date on things. For that reason, I took a "local" office address in one of the Regus locations. I had my Luggage Forward shipped baggage sent there, and knew from both Regus and Luggage Forward when it was received, thus not burdening the AirBnB hosts or worse, my bags not being delivered because someone wasn't home or worse, a different guest was in the property that would have been very confused, and possibly declined the delivery.

7. Credit Cards and Your Addresses

Nothing is more challenging than being out of your hometown and using credit cards these days as the banks are all getting more security attentive. Visa is deploying its Mobile Location Confirmation technology powered by Comuncano client Finsphere which uses your mobile phone as the validator that you're where your card is, but that's just getting rolled out by Visa member banks so it will be a few more months before that is the salvation. For now here are a few tips that are very helpful:

Notify your card issuing and online banks of your travel plans. Most now have (finally) an online form to do that. Provide dates and countries of your travel plans. In the case of American Express, you can provide "alternate addresses." This is a big boon as some service providers locally in theory won't accept foreign country issued credit cards, but what it seems to be is the "lookup" that occurs. I've found using a local address on file with Amex works around some, but not all of those situations. Plus it lets AMEX know where you will be.

8. Getting Around

Being spoiled by Uber in the USA isn't just a hometown thing. In most cities I've been in of late I've used Uber far more than local cabs, but when there's no Uber using the taxi or metro is a good thing. Buying local bus, rail and train passes or local rechargeable cards for transportation is far easier than fishing for cash or fumbling with a credit card, plus it makes you less vulnerable to pickpockets which in tourist areas is always a problem.

Uber can sometimes be a challenge so remember to do the following:

  • Make sure you have your local mobile number up to date. You can do this from the app or the Uber website. If you can't just email their support team.
  • Don't expect the maps to be accurate.
  • I make a point of calling the drivers or sending them a text with specific details on where they can find me or what I am wearing.
  • Surge pricing. In some markets when UberX is in Surge Uber XL or Black isn't. For about the same price you can get a better ride.
  • If at an airport, confirm where the pickup location is with the driver. Often it's not the same place as the taxi's or Limos for UberX. I like to use the "departure" level as there's usually less chaos and confusion.

There are also local apps usually for taxi services. Just know that your costs are higher than Uber but in most cases outside the USA the fares are far better (Paris is a challenge as the fare starts when the driver goes to pick you up.)

9. Living Local

I miss Amazon Fresh. Seriously. Order what you want and the next day, or even the same day it's at your door. Well, in Lisbon El Cortes des Ingles' SuperMercado which happens to be the best market in the city delivers. And while I'm not residing that far from the store, carrying bags of groceries without a shopping cart in 88-degree heat isn't my idea of fun.

Enter their app and web shopping page and their delivery. I'm finding this type of grocery shopping, and delivery service is available in more places like London, and there are a rising number of multi-merchant services like Hubbub that are spawning globally. But just as I've found home delivery in Lisbon it's thriving as well across France with Intermarche and in the UK with Waitrose amongst others.

10. Staying Connected to The Team

It doesn't matter anymore where you are. Crossing time zones is the same as crossing the street. Using services like Slack, HipChat, GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, UberConference, Yammer, Skype keeps me connected.

Having a great headset is a key for calls. Invest in NOCS or a high-quality brand. Don't go cheap.

Using music services like Pandora on the Amazon Echo, Spotify, Apple iTunes and even YouTube music keeps me jamming along. Operating the business on Google Apps for Work or Office 365 solves the "I need the file now" problem when everyone else is asleep. You can also make great use of workforce collaboration tools like DropBox, Box, BaseCamp and others. Automating processes with Zapier and IFTTT makes things faster and eliminates manual labor. Services like 99 Designs and Fiverr, plus FancyHands give you a virtual workforce army allowing you to get work done while your team back home is asleep.

12. The Work Day

You're out of the usual time zone, so setting up your day with your calendar focused on maximizing the day is key. I take my dinner 8 hours later than the west coast is at lunch. So 130 there is 930 in Lisbon and London. When I'm in Paris or anywhere on CET, I work it 8 or 9 hours apart. If I know I've got a call scheduled for after dinner, I just eat a bit earlier. Living in an AirBnB apartment means cooking in or having a delivery for those times. The mornings are my writing time and then around 11 or so I split for a few hours. Grab a workout, go for a walk, run errands (laundry) or just grab an early lunch or late breakfast.

Working across time zone is never easy. Add in Daylight Savings Time and when that arrives and ends in different parts of the globe is confusing to even the most experienced traveler. I make extensive use of the paid version of World Time Buddy. It helps me know what time it is where and allows me to easily suggest times for calls. You can also add time zones to Google Calendar and set up your smartphone or tablets with clocks for the more frequently looked up time zones but by having all the times in front of you in World Time Buddy life is simpler.

I'm also making great use of Assistant.To to get one on one meetings set up for either face to face or via a conferencing service. By choosing times that work for you, it then sends out the options and loops into Google Calendar, notifying everyone that the meeting is set up.

13. Gear Up to Go To Work

Recently I bought a new 12" MacBook, choosing the CTO edition with the biggest and fastest solid-state drive, memory and processor. It was the best move I could have made. It's as light or lighter than my iPad, fits in my snug and functional mini Tumi shoulder bag with the iPad, cables, chargers and backup battery for my iPhone, and more importantly has enough horsepower to get me through the work day, The 12 inch screen is bright and the audio is amazing. The key is the weight and power combination. It's fast and light and for people on the go, it is the best Mac out there and since I don't work on heavy graphics or any complex spreadsheets, what this has is more than enough.

14. Airports, Airlines, and Lounges

I am not anti-EasyJet or RyanAir, but I do admit that cutting costs has its challenges, but in reality the best United or American Airlines experience isn't much different than flying the discount airlines of Europe. But there are options so using SkyScanner.com or their mobile apps has given me all kinds of visibility into local routes and flights, plus the airlines own websites. The key is to find the routes and days they fly, and where they go head to head, often the mainline carriers are only a few dollars more, much like Southwest and JetBlue force in the USA.

As for getting work done, investing in Priority Pass is a given. While some lounges are accessible via the American Express Priority Pass relationship, not all are. Armed with their card and the app on your smartphone puts you in striking distance of lounges all over the world. Just learn what it means to be airside or pre-security side as the difference can mean a made or missed flight. Inside you'll find the usual amenities like hot coffee, snacks, drinks and of course Wi-Fi, and often it's better than the airport's own.

Signing up for programs like the UK's new Registered Traveler programme means getting into the country faster. While in the EU a USA chip passport carriers no sway, it will now in the UK with the start of Registered Traveller. Much like Global Entry in the USA, getting in the program takes more time than getting in the country. But once you're in, you're getting in much faster, without any long lines making this an essential for the frequent flyer into the UK.

Apps like TriptIt and FlightBoard as well as FlightStats keep me sane with alerts and flight options. There's no worse feeling when you're flights late, and you have a connection. With these apps you not only know what's going on, you end up finding your options faster, allowing you to go to the gate not wait for some customer service person to get to you in line.

Wrapping It All Up

The bottom line is that it's not really that hard to be working from anywhere. And as the on-demand economy, the app economy and the virtual workforce all merge, being local in a foreign land won't be as hard in the near future as it was as recent as ....yesterday.

 


T-Mobile, Comcast and An Ignorant Media

Maybe it's me, but when I first heard the rumor of  T-Mobile and Comcast getting together I had to look sideways and wonder how short the memories are of the reporters and editors who were quick to toss Comcast into the ring. Today, we're seeing Comcast do what they have to do. Stand down and stay away.

And the why is Verizon and the sale of spectrum back in 2011, and with it, some rights and responsibilities tied to the sale that they and the other cable operators all agreed to as CNN's Money reported back in 2011.

Beyond the cash infusion, the deal makes long-term sense for the cable companies. As part of the deal, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House can become wholesale providers using Verizon's network. That means they can bundle wireless service with their "triple play" cable, Internet and land-line phone options.

But what this also likely means is there are some non-competition clauses in the deal also which would cost Comcast additional cash to get out of as well as the FCC, DOJ and SEC matters all relating to competition.

Comcast stepping back was the right move, and the only move. But I have to wonder why no one asked the question how buying T-Mobile would affect the 2011 deal with Verizon and all the less public aspects of that which keeps things in check between the two companies who at best don't really like each other, but who know they need one another on a variety of levels.


A Travelers Trick

Often times we book flights on airlines that sell tickets under code share agreements with other airlines. Case in point my first of three "Lufthansa" flights to Prague at the start of the trip back in May was on United to Houston, while my two continuation flights were on Lufthansa. Check in on either airline, using the passenger name record (PNR) or what we usually refer to as our record locator, didn't work, and what's more, after some digging around and a call to Lufthansa it was discovered that there actually was a different PNR for the United leg of the flight even though that wasn't in any of the original flight information. 

But checking in wasn't prohibited. It was just not possible using the information that was on the itinerary. What did work was the electronic ticket number and therein lies the key to checking in and more.

Tomorrow I am flying to Paris, so naturally the ticket was purchased on Air France, but it ends up that the flight is really an Austrian Airlines flight. The check-in reminder alert that arrived by email over night from AirFrance advised that automatic check in wasn't possible, and even going through the process on their web site, ended up with the same result.

That was when I remembered the e-Ticket technique and went over to Austrian Air's web site.  As soon as that information was entered, and a vital piece of information it is, my world changed. Not only was the check-in process now available, it was offering seat selection, the opportunity to purchase additional baggage and what's more, a pre-departure upgrade option to business class. SCORE. I grabbed the business class seat, paid the upgrade fare of 139 euros, which when combined with the original fare was still a bargain (and a relief) and I'm on my way, checked-in and ticketed.

Here's the bottom line. Codeshares as they are called, especially on international flights are more common now than ever before. Knowing your way around the codeshare system will make your life easier, stress free and likely give you some perks you didn't know about. The key is to know that your electronic ticket number is not your PNR and that's the key to unlocking your flight options on the airline your actually flying on.