Featured Instructor: Ruben Ruiz, NITLE

Ruben is a Technology Specialist at NITLE. Ruben provides technical support and solutions for NITLE, including technical support for programs utilizing online collaboration and sharing. He also provides user support and access to applications for program planners and participants. As part of NITLE’s Technology Team, Ruben works closely with staff at participating institutions to ensure the mission of NITLE is supported on a technical level. You can learn more about Ruben on his blog.

Ruben is leading the Delivering Online Services to Mobile Devices Workshop at Camp.

We had the opportunity to ask Ruben some questions about mobile computing.

How did you become interested in mobile computing?

It was an evolutionary path that started with a simple question, “How do I capture a point of interest that could be shared with others?” As I started to share my thoughts online, the need to encapsulate such nuggets of inspiration drove me toward reducing my digital entry footprint. It became apparent to me that the only device that was with me at all times was my cell phone. Not only can I quickly push updates to others, I can also pull information about those I follow without the need to anchor myself to a desktop computer. Social interaction and mobility go hand-in-hand. There are times when you are out and about where you create mental notes about things you experienced or things you would like to know more about when you gain access to a computer. With the rapid development of smart phones, such activities can be performed immediately in the field generating near similar results found on a desktop computer. Events and experiences can be shared at near real-time capacity with those that have similar interests. To be able to harness this new found freedom of our community with the right combination of mobile software and hardware, has sparked a new found passion from within myself. This is what I hope to share with others.

What are some new and exciting developments in the field today?

Smart phones have been around for a while now from established vendors like Blackberry, Microsoft and Symbian, but it was the release of Apple’s iPhone that changed the landscape forever. Replicating near desktop functionality with an intelligent UI and gestures, the iPhone not only has opened the eyes of the public to the possibility of mobile computing but but also to execute it in a very inviting hardware package. Since the release of the initial iPhone and the follow-up, iPhone 3G, the field has grown even larger as Google released their first attempt in the mobile software realm called Android. Android offers developers and manufactures to “openly” develop software and design hardware that is in stark contrast to Apple’s mobile initiative. Expect 2009 to be the year of the Android as we witness vendors utilizing Google’s OS beyond just handsets like the recently announced Movit Mini from GiiNii. Returning from near extinction is a favorite vendor that ruled the PDA era, Palm, as they reassert themselves into the mobile market with new software, WebOS and hardware, the Palm Pre, to match. Not waning to be left out, established players are frantically updating their aging mobile infrastructure in hopes of keeping up with the new breed of agile OSs that not only ushered in a refreshing approach to managing mobile data but also create an inviting atmosphere to a community that will play a major roll in the survival of any platform, the developers. The year 2009 is looking to be a great year for those looking for a new phone.

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