Pondering Big Data Before MWC over Spicy Tuna

Rich Tehrani : Communications and Technology Blog - Tehrani.com
Rich Tehrani
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Pondering Big Data Before MWC over Spicy Tuna

This weekend I am attending a wedding in Florida just before I take off to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. As luck would have it I was doing a demo with the founder of the new Pele King of Football App who happens to be down here with me. The app is really cool by the way and I hope to cover it in a later post. While doing the demo, my iPad came loose and hit the table. It was in a Logitech keyboard which doesn't hold the iPad in a perfectly secure manner. Long story short, the iPad now has a loose wire causing the screen to be covered in grey snow unless you bang it repeatedly against the table.

Normally, this wouldn't be an issue. I would give it to my IT department and they would deal with it. But in this case I am heading to Barcelona after the trip which means I needed to get a new iPad. First off I tried to sync the iPad with my Asus ZenBook but for whatever reason, syncing was taking forever. I have noticed the once speedy ZenBook has gotten slower and slower over the years. I credit continuous Microsoft patches for the problem.

This meant I had to use iCloud - normally something I am not thrilled to do if a free and theoretically faster alternative exists. I upgraded to the first paid tier in order to have enough storage space and off I went... Five hours later it was all backed up. Verizon has been kind enough to send me a review unit of one of their wireless hotspots sometime back and I try not to load it up with too much data. This is why I switched to hotel WiFi which as is often the case was slower than Verizon. No matter though as I was leaving to go to a pre-wedding party and had to hit the Apple Store later on Lincoln Road near South Beach in Miami.

I decided not to deal with the Genius Bar as I didn't have an hour plus to spare. I was going to get a new device and once repaired, my old iPad was to go to someone else in the company. My ever-alert IT department told me upgrading from a 4th generation iPad to an iPad Air would require a Nano SIM which is all well and good but GiGSky just sent me a SIM card to test in the iPad while in Spain. You may remember I covered their international data solutions some months back. It was a full-sized card and now needed to be cut to Nano SIM size. I called a few large mobile phone stores from Verizon and AT&T and none of them could cut it. I then decided to try searching for phone retailers thinking a smaller reseller would be able to help me. This led me to YP.com which had a list of companies fitting my criteria. I called eight in a row and the numbers were all bad... Out of service or other issues. Then I found a few retailers who picked up the phone. The first could not help me but the second was a T-Mobile reseller and charged $5 per SIM to cut them. Problem solved.

Of course all this worrying made me hungry - pretty much everything does. So I started looking for a sushi restaurant. First I used the Google app on the iPhone and it gave me the Zagat ratings of restaurants in the area but for some reason there was no information on distance to the restaurant which was the most important consideration. I told you I was hungry, right? Instead I tried Siri and it took me on a tour of Florida for twenty minutes which ended at a Farmer's Market. Then I got a bit more analytical. I decided to call the restaurants before proceeding. A few calls later and I got a restaurant a few miles away that answered on my second try. So here I am at Sake Thai & Sushi Bar where the food is good, the service quick but my waitress seems better-suited to an occupation that does not require human contact. I get the sense the victims in a morgue wouldn't be thrilled with her disposition but I digress. After all, I am here for the food, not the conversation.

You read articles on TMCnet and our family of sites and magazines about big data and how it has the power to revolutionize the world but we can't seem to connect the database of the telephone company with search services such as Yelp, Siri, YP.com and Google. To be fair, Google hasn't sent on a wild goose chase on this trip but it has in the past. My thinking is - if a telephone number is disconnected, remove the company from your listing. Makes sense right? This is an area where I imagine TargusInfo or Neustar should be playing.

I need to thank Verizon for their wireless assistance on this trip - with it I was able to use the phone for voice and the hotspot simultaneously for data. iPhones still can't transmit both at once on the Verizon network. I recently upgraded the hotspot to the Jetpack MHS291L which may be one of the best products I have ever reviewed as it has tremendous range and the battery lasts ten-plus hours. Interestingly I was away when I upgraded this device as well and it too required a Nano SIM - so I cut it myself with this awesome tool I ordered from Amazon. Of course I left it at home! My only remaining concern is I think the Jetpack is locked so I won't be able to use it in Europe with a local SIM card.

In conclusion - we in the media get excited about new opportunities like big data but it helps to take a moment, pause and reflect on the fact that even the most basic data challenges like scrubbing restaurants with cancelled phone numbers from a widely accessed database hasn't been accomplished successfully yet.


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