When will the iPhone 6 come out?

Friends and colleagues who know I follow Apple developments closely often ask me “When will the iPhone 6 come out?”. I thought I’d create a quick summary blog to answer this question as best we can without absolute confirmation from Apple.

To answer this question it may be helpful to look at recent history:

  • The first iPhone was released on June 29, 2007
  • The iPhone 3G was then released on July 11, 2008
  • The iPhone 3GS was released June 19, 2009
  • The iPhone 4 was released on June 24, 2010
  • The iPhone 4S was released on October 14, 2011
  • The iPhone 5 was released on September 21, 2012
  • And finally the iPhone 5C and the iPhone 5S were released on September 20, 2013

I would therefore expect the iPhone 6 to launch either on September 19th or September 20th 2014.  I would not be surprised if Apple launched their new iWatch on the same day.

The new iPhone 6 will probably initially launch with a larger 5.5 inch display and will be followed in October / November by the smaller 4.7 inch display.  The main features will be a new display coating made from Sapphire crystal, a faster processor, higher minimum memory and probably some additional sensors and improvements to Siri.

As I hear more I’ll update this blog post.

What PC should I buy for my parents 2014?

This is a question I get asked by someone every few months so I thought I’d write a quick blog post about it.

When you buy or recommend a PC/Laptop/Tablet etc to someone you should know that you are going to become their personal IT Helpdesk 24 x 7. If you’ve ever tried talking someone who is only familiar with the basics through Anti Virus updates, Windows updates or Windows pop-up messages which are terrifying to normal people you’ll know what I mean. I once had a late night call from a relative who was really worried about having done something ‘illegal’ after reading some unhelpful message that popped up from Windows.

What do they really want to do with a PC/Laptop?

These days I would completely avoid buying a laptop/PC or Mac if all people want to do is surf the web, do emails and occasional word processing. Instead they are better off using a simple tablet device (see below). These are a perfect all in one solution and are not subject to complicated software updates, installs, anti-virus etc. They can be set-up with external keyboards and easily pair with the current crop of printers from the likes of Epson and HP over WiFi.

I’d only recommend looking at a Mac or PC if they have a lot of video, photo’s, accounting, word processing, presentations or special software requirements.  Even then most of these can be done surprisingly well these days on iPads.

For example if you want to write a novel then I wouldn’t recommend trying to do it on your iPad but if you just want to maintain a CV and write a few letters if would be fine.  Also if you want to use Accounting software like Sage to be compatible with an Account you may be better off using a Mac running VMWare or a PC – although again Cloud based solutions like Xero work very well.

Mac or PC?

I work with both Mac’s and PC’s (and numerous other systems) but these days I always recommend people buy a Mac rather than a PC unless there is a good technical reason for wanting a PC.

Why Mac rather than PC? Well it goes back to my opening comments about you becoming your friends personal IT helpdesk 24 x 7. These days Apple do such a great job of providing technical support and after sales service it’s a joy in comparison to trying to sort most PC hardware problem out.

Generally I recommend people treat themselves a Mac Book Pro or Mac Book Air. If anything goes wrong with it they can make an appointment and drop in with it to their local Apple Store – job done!  I also recommend that people get an Apple Time Capsule. These are simple WiFi based backup drives. They make sure all the content on you laptop are safely backed up – automatically. If the worst happens and your laptop fails completely you can just take the Time Capsule and you Mac Book into the Apple Store and they’ll fix the laptop and then restore it from the latest backup on the Time Capsule.

There is simply no where now that I would trust on the high street to provide this integrated high quality level of customer care for a PC based product. That’s not to say that there aren’t some good computer stores out there but the service and experience will be much more variable.

Apple iPad or Android Tablet for Parents?

If it’s for the children to play with then either an old second user iPad or a cheap Android base tablet. If it’s for your parents then go for the iPad.  I’m not knocking Android, technically some of it’s latest versions have features you won’t see on the iPad for a few year if ever.  The iPad is however a much more refined and curated experience more suited to busy people who just want to get on with emails, surfing, editing documents etc rather than learning how to tweak hundreds of settings and install lots of software from all over the Internet.  To date the iPad has proven to be much more secure than Android. There is Anti-Virus software for the iPad but I don’t know anyone who has ever used it, on the other hand it’s recommended on Android because of it’s open nature.

Apple iPhone or Android or Windows Phone for Parents?

You’ve probably guessed by now that I’m going to say iPhone.  If any of the other kit you have is Apple and you’re happy with it then it makes sense to go with the iPhone rather than another brand. The level of easy, quick and seamless integration you get between Apple devices is second to non.

To be honest there are some very good deals on Android and Windows phone. If the budget you are working with is limited then it may be a hard choice between a high spec Android or Windows phone and may be last years or the year before iPhone model.  In my experience most people are perfectly happy with the iPhone 4S, especially if it’s their first mobile like this.

Let me know how you get on. If you have any questions leave it in a comment below and I’ll try and reply as soon as possible.

Best Practice Project Reporting: Summary on a page (SOAP) Template

An eye catching summary status report can transform your project

This may be obvious but it’s worth saying if only because it’s so obvious that it’s easily forgotten when you are busy… Simple, clear, concise project status reporting can transform the success of your project and the way your are perceived by key stakeholders.  Over the years I’ve attended many project management workshops and training sessions and they nearly all focus on the technical aspects of managing and budgeting within large projects. If reporting and communications is considered at all they tend to assume that all your stake holders are equally engaged and skilled at reading summary reports.

Senior management seldom have the time to read through a 30 page progress report, what they want is a Summary on a Page (SOAP). In this blog I will share with you a “Summary on a Page” template that I’ve now used on numerous projects with great success.

You can use this template as it comes but I suggest instead that you or someone in your companies marketing department adapts the colour scheme, fonts, branding etc to match your companies house style or style guide for best results.

Project Summary on a Page Template

 

Let me talk you through this simple one page summary report step by step:

  1. You need to decide on your reporting period. I’d recommend the project manager produces a summary report on Friday after having walked around all the key players to ensure that report is as up to date and as accurate as possible. Doing this on a Friday lets you be clear about what’s been done that week and more importantly be precise about what must happen next week to keep the project on track.
  2. The Management Summary box should be used to give a very brief commentary on where the project is – certainly no more than 100 words. You should leave the bullet points to do most of the talking. Focus on what has been done and then what needs to happen next week, only picking on the 2 or 3 key things that need to be in the management summary. Remember that in a summary “Less is more”.
  3. Key Issues or Key Risks: As a project manager you should be maintaining a risk register.  One the summary report you need to use your skills to pull out the 3 to 5 key risks items that you want to communicate.  Feel free to include the full risk register as an appendix for anyone who wants all the details.
  4. Actions this week: You’ll no doubt have a long action list or work break down from your project plan.  In your summary report pick out 3 to 5 high impact actions that you want to communicate. Technically if you have items on a critical path these really should be on the management one page summary. I always include the full action log / register as an appendix (see below).
  5. Key Milestones: Pull out of your project plan all the key milestones. At a summary level just use simple RAG Reporting (Red=Bad/Trouble, Amber=Slipping/Needs attention, Green=On Track). This lets the summary report focus on the out come or delivery rather than how you get there in detail.
  6. Summary Gantt Chart: I like to include a very high-level timeline or gantt chart just pulling out the key milestones / activities.  You can show plan and actual on here.

Don’t feel constrained by how I’ve used the space in my template.  I’ll routinely rework this from project to project depending on what is most appropriate. In this template I don’t for example have a summary box for Budget but reporting if actual or committed spend is on track is often a requirement on larger projects.

As a project manager I find that focusing on clear concise reporting actually helps me manage the project and find the time taken to produce these reports to be time well spent actually managing the project better. Use the report as a working document, try not to have separate documents so your are not wasting time duplicating content.

Project Action Log TemplateAbove is a simple Project Action Log template that I’ll normally include as an appendix to the summary report for anyone who wants to see the detail. The action log is the detailed list of all the work that needs to happen on the plan and any follow up actions that are identified during project review meetings.

Project Issue List Template

This is the issue list template that I typically use.  The key is to make sure that every issue has a clear owner and a priority (RAG status). You will normally also want a column for the agreed completion date.

TIP: Don’t have a group of people or a department as the owner on issues – make sure it’s a named person with ownership and responsibility for seeing that the issue is resolved to the agreed schedule.

Summary Report on a page template – click here to download

Good luck using the template. I’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions for improvements. I plan to update this template from time to time as a I receive feedback.