Category Archives: iPad

Tablet smackdown: iPad vs Surface RT in the enterprise

IPads are already making their way into businesses via bring-your-own-device efforts with Microsoft Surface RT tablets hoping to follow suit as employees lobby for their favorite devices. But which one makes more sense from an IT perspective?

Read Network World’s other tech arguments.

The two products are roughly similar in price ($500), run touch-centric operating systems, are highly portable and weigh about a pound and a half.

The two most significant differences are that Surface RT comes with both a keyboard and a version of Microsoft Office – Office 2013 Home & Student 2013 RT – which expand the potential corporate utility of the devices.

Third-party keyboards are available for iPads as are third-party versions of Office-compatible productivity suites but they represent more work for IT. A rumor says Microsoft is working on a client that will allow accessing Office from an iPad through Microsoft’s service Office 365.

Office on Surface RT has its limitations. It lacks Outlook but includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, and the Surface RT version requires a business license in order to be used for work. Still, having it installed out of the box is a leg up and gives workers the opportunity to tap into the productivity suite. The keyboard is a big plus.

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When it comes to numbers of applications iPad has far more than Surface RT, and neither one has the number of business applications that support traditional Windows operating systems. Surface RT is a Windows operating system that can’t run traditional Windows apps except for the Office suite specifically crafted for the platform.

Instead, Surface RT has its own class of applications called Windows Store apps, mainly because they can only be bought from the Window Store. They are tailored for touch tablets and must be vetted by Microsoft before they get into the store’s inventory.

They can be developed using XAML, with code-behind in C++, C#, or Visual Basic, and Microsoft has a provision for sideloading custom business apps to Surface RT without submitting them first to Microsoft. Even so, that’s a lot of work to get apps natively on the devices.

Both iPads and Surfaces support virtual desktops, which goes a long way toward making traditional apps available on them. Hosted virtual desktops (HVD) can be costly, Gartner says in a report called “Bring Your Own Device: New Opportunities, New Challenges”. Its research found that “shifting to an HVD model increases the onetime costs per device by more than $600.” Plus proper licensing of iPads for business use is complicated, the report says.

Managing Surface RT is possible via Windows cloud-based management Intune and Exchange ActiveSync for messaging. IPad also supports Exchange ActiveSync. Third-party mobile device management platforms can configure and update iPads as well as monitor compliance with corporate policies. They can also wipe or lock lost and stolen machines. OS X server can do all this as well.

Surface RT comes with security features iPad doesn’t. These include both hardware-based secure boot that checks that the system hasn’t been tampered with and also trusted boot that fires up anti-malware before anything else. That way malware can’t disable the anti-malware before it gets the chance to do its job. The same hardware security module can act as a smartcard for authentication, and Surface RT has full disk encryption.

The iPad has disk encryption but lacks the secure boot features of Surface RT. Its secure boot chain is based on read-only memory and its hardware security module doesn’t do double duty as a smartcard.

NOTE: There is another version of Surface that runs on x86 processors and supports any application that Windows 7 supports. It’s not available until next year, but is actually a tablet-sized full Windows laptop with all the touch capabilities of Surface RT.

That device would beat iPad hands-down if it cost the same, but it is likely to cost hundreds of dollars more than Surface RT.

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5 Things Microsoft Surface Must Do to Beat the iPad

5 Things Microsoft Surface Must Do to Beat the iPad
The Windows ship is leaking in a dozen places, pierced beneath the waterline by very pointy iPads. Where the Mac never really made a dent in Microsoft’s PC hegemony, the iPad is doing so: it’s being handed to children as a first computer, appearing in schools, and running point-of-sale systems for small businesses. If you consider the iPad a PC, then Apple’s the No. 1 PC maker, according to research firm Canalys.

That makes the iPad public enemy number one for Microsoft if it intends to maintain its PC leadership, and the new Surface tablet is Microsoft’s primary weapon. Surface comes in two versions. The Windows RT version matches the iPad on price, but has relatively few apps; all the same, this will be the model at which most consumers look. The more-expensive Windows 8 “Surface Pro” version will run existing business software.

I hate calling things a “such-and-such killer,” but Microsoft needs to at least slow the iPad penetration of iPads in business and claim a part of the consumer market. How can the company do that? Here are five paths to take.

Developers, developers, developers. Windows RT has fewer than 3,000 apps. The iPad has 250,000. Microsoft needs to beg, borrow, or steal to pump up the app count for RT. Fortunately, the company has plenty of experience with this – it’s managed to nurture more than 100,000 apps for Windows Phone even with that platform stuck in single-digit market share. Bring that experience to bear with the Surface and apps should ramp up nicely.

Bring Xbox to Windows RT. XBox is Microsoft’s most beloved consumer brand. And unlike the PS Vita and Nintendo DS, the Surface has enough horsepower to run pretty good approximations of Xbox games. Microsoft needs to bring as much of the Xbox experience as possible to the Surface. Once again, the company has done a pretty good job of this with Windows Phone, and it can do an even better job with the more powerful hardware here.

Reclaim Ground With Small Businesses. Small businesses are increasingly moving to iPad-based point-of-sale, order-taking and management systems. This major disruption has been brought on by Square and its ilk, and it’s cannibalizing the stodgy old world of retail business systems. Square’s Jack Dorsey has hinted at a Windows Phone app coming, but Square isn’t the be-all and end-all of small business systems. Microsoft needs to seize the day with custom Surface packages with hardware and software priced competitively to iPad solutions for different small business categories such as retail, real estate, and transportation.

Be Enterprise’s Best Friend. IT managers love a good relationship, and Apple has been cozying up to formerly PC-only shops, explaining to them how they can replace virus-prone, heavy PCs with light, secure iPads. Microsoft still has the infrastructure to take this back. Make sure that Surface RT can be managed with the same tools as enterprise Windows 8 installations, and then promote it as something that has all of the advantages of the iPad with more familiarity for Windows-friendly IT departments. If Microsoft wants to lean on SkyDrive, it needs to be enterprise-ready and secure enough for financial and legal firms.
Make Other Tablets Look Like Toys. Microsoft Office is the Surface’s greatest strength. It must integrate perfectly with the Office used on desktops, both from a user perspective (with even complex formatting intact, and features like version-tracking working properly) and from an infrastructure perspective (working with secure servers, domains, and policies.) Microsoft Office is, for better or worse, the backbone of American commerce. If Microsoft can make the Surface look like the only truly serious tablet, then it has a solid chance.



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Intel sneaks out quad-core Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E processor for under $300

If Intel’s six-core Sandy Bridge-E CPUs were too rich for your blood (and wallet), the chip giant is now giving you a more affordable option. The Core i7-3820 sports only four cores, but it also carries a much lighter price of $294. The new chip has a higher clock speed than its siblings at 3.6GHz, but […]

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If Intel’s six-core Sandy Bridge-E CPUs were too rich for your blood (and wallet), the chip giant is now giving you a more affordable option. The Core i7-3820 sports only four cores, but it also carries a much lighter price of $294.

The new chip has a higher clock speed than its siblings at 3.6GHz, but its Turbo Boost maxes out at 3.9GHz like the Core i7-3960X. It also has only 10MB of cache, while the 3960X comes with 15MB and the i7-3930K includes 12MB.

The 3820 is priced lower than the Core i7-2600K, despite having some key advantages (support for quad-channel memory and PCIe 3.0), though it requires a new, pricey X79-based motherboard. Would you rather get the new CPU and motherboard, or go with the older processor and cheaper LGA 1155 motherboard? Let us know in the Talkback section.

Bill Gates: I’m cool with Steve Jobs dissing me

Some relationships become competitive. And some have competitiveness at their core.

The latter surely was the case between Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Apple’s Steve Jobs. So no one could have imagined that Jobs would have offered too many conciliatory quotes in Walter Isaacson’s biography.

In an interview with ABC News, Gates says he’s thoroughly and utterly cool with Jobs tossing zingers his way.

“None of that bothers me at all,” he told ABC. He added a finely generic eulogy: “Steve Jobs did a fantastic job.”

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The thing is that, even in the Isaacson book, Gates offered flaming daggers of his own. He called Jobs “weirdly flawed as a human being.” I thought it flattering that he included the “human being” part.

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Jobs, in turn, told Isaacson of Gates: “He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.” Yes, he’d have rather that Gates had been more like, well, him. He also accused Gates of “shamelessly ripping off other people’s ideas.”

Gates insisted to ABC News that wafting off to India was not, in fact, a prerequisite for entrepreneurial success. However, you couldn’t get anywhere in life if you weren’t good at math. (I exaggerate, but only by 0.04 per cent.)

Gates added of Jobs: “Over the course of the 30 years we worked together, you know, he said a lot of very nice things about me and he said a lot of tough things.” Jobs was, indeed, mercurial.

Gates couldn’t resist a little, well, Gatesian perspective. He would like to remind everyone just how much Jobs struggled in the face of Microsoft’s pleasantly left-brained onslaught.

He explained: “He faced, several times at Apple, the fact that their products were so premium priced that they literally might not stay in the marketplace. So the fact that we were succeeding with high volume products, you know, including a range of prices, because of the way we worked with multiple companies, it’s tough.”

Critics of Microsoft might offer that Gates still rejoices in the idea that he simply muscled Jobs out of the market. But for Jobs, Microsoft stood for everything he most disdained– not mass production in itself, but a mass lack of taste.

These were two men who simply thought differently. As Isaacson offered to the New York Times yesterday, Gates was the epitome of what academics regard as “smart”, while Jobs was pure ingeniousness.

You couldn’t imagine them hanging at parties together. Or art galleries for that matter. Though they did– once– play nice in 2007.

In the end, though, both must have known that each secured victory within his own sphere of thinking. Gates dominated the left brains, while Jobs dominated the right.

Apple employees to celebrate Jobs, stores to close

Apple is holding a private memorial service for employees to celebrate the life of company co-founder and former chief executive Steve Jobs.

The service, announced to Apple employees in an email by CEO Tim Cook, is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at company headquarters in Cupertino.

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It will also be webcast to employees worldwide.Apple plans to close its retail stores for several hours so employees can watch the service online, according to a person familiar with the matter. The person was not authorized to speak publicly about the issue, and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The service will take place in the campus’ outdoor amphitheater, according to Cook’s email.

The celebration is for employees to “take time to remember the incredible things Steve achieved in his life and the many ways he made our world a better place,” Cook wrote.

The event follows a memorial at Stanford University last Sunday for friends and family. That service at Memorial Church reportedly brought out tech titans including Oracle chief Larry Ellison and Microsoft’s Bill Gates, as well as politicians including Bill Clinton. U2 frontman Bono and Joan Baez reportedly performed.

Jobs died on Oct. 5 at age 56 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Stallman on Steve Jobs: Tasteless or Incisive?

“I appreciate all RMS has done,” said Mobile Raptor blogger Roberto Lim. “I appreciate what Steve Jobs has accomplished. I appreciate what Dennis Ritchie has achieved. In the end, all these great inventors and innovators together with many others one-upping each other is why I can send this [email] to you half a world away.” Bottom line? “We are now one man down. It is just unfortunate that RSM cannot seem to appreciate this.”

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Well it’s starting to look like 2011 is just going to be one, long roller-coaster ride. No sooner does the prospect of a quiet day loom on the horizon than something happens to turn the world on its ear once again.

In the past two weeks, of course, we’ve had to endure the loss of not just one but two leading figures in the technology world: Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie. That’s been upsetting enough, but — as if we needed any more turmoil — we’ve also had free software guru Richard Stallman expounding his views on Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) former CEO, causing widespread outrage in the process.

“I’m not glad he’s dead, but I’m glad he’s gone,” wrote Stallman, quoting former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. “We all deserve the end of Jobs’ malign influence on people’s computing.”

One could argue that it might have been a good idea to let a little more time than just a day pass after Jobs’ death before expressing such opinions; then again, this is RMS we’re talking about.

‘What Everyone Is Too Polite to Say’

Not surprisingly, talk about RMS is just what bloggers have been doing ever since, too — and not always in the most understanding of terms.

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Nearly 1,500 comments appeared on Slashdot alone, but not before even more fuel was added to the fire. Namely, none other than Eric Raymond spoke out in defense of Stallman, while “What Everyone Is Too Polite to Say About Steve Jobs” was a headline that appeared over on Gawker.

So, which is it? Did the free software community’s key spokesman put his foot in his proverbial mouth in a big way, or was he just telling it like it is? Linux Girl encountered arguments on both sides on the streets of the blogosphere.

‘He Has Become a Liability’

“RMS needs to understand RIP better rather than rant about DRM,” said Slashdot blogger yagu. “I think he’s wrong here. He can rant as much as he wants, but in my opinion his rants after Jobs’ passing lack class. Not nice.”

Similarly, “RMS needs to just go away,” consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack told Linux Girl. “It’s not that he was wrong about what he said, but you don’t just go and say something like that while people are mourning.

“I met him a few years ago, and the impression I got was that he is someone who has spent so much time in his little bubble that he has no idea how normal people do things,” Mack added. “At this point he has become a liability to the cause he has been working so hard for. He really needs to stop talking to the press and leave talking to someone more articulate.”

‘An Open Sore and a Laughing Stock’

Indeed, “there’s a time and a place,” agreed Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by “Tom” on the site. “Urinating on the open grave of someone you did not know personally, with no consideration for their friends, family, or co-workers, is simply not done.”

Stallman’s “zealotry” has blinded him to reality, Hudson added, causing him to “brand anyone who doesn’t agree as evil.”

Not only did his approach “put the focus on the messenger instead of the message,” but it also “devalued both,” Hudson asserted. “And because it was so public, those who disagree have two choices — condone it by our silence, or speak out against both the message and the perp behind it.”

In short, “Stallman is like that old comic with one schtick, which he continues to milk because that’s all he’s got,” she said. “He is a kindred spirit to Fred Phelps and Westboro Baptist, demonizing anyone who disagrees with him or his values.”

Ultimately, “he’s become both an open sore and a laughing-stock,” Hudson concluded. “Either the FSF gets rid of him, or they will suffer the same fate.”

‘It Shows RMS Has No Taste’

Slashdot blogger hairyfeet took a similar view.

“It shows RMS has no taste,” hairyfeet said. “What kind of talk is that? Whether you liked his product or not, the man had just died. Hadn’t anyone taught RMS that if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all?”

The episode underlies a bigger problem, however, hairyfeet ventured — specifically, “RMS and his elitist, arrogant attitude.

“You see, with RMS, it isn’t just that he offers free software, it is that he wants you to have NO CHOICE BUT free software,” hairyfeet explained. “I’d say that makes him just as bad or worse than anybody you can name.”

‘Jobs Deserves to Be Respected’

Chris Travers, a Slashdot blogger who works on the LedgerSMB project, is “ambivalent about Apple in general,” he told Linux Girl. “Where I think RMS errs is in blaming Jobs specifically” for the opacity and lock-in of the company’s products.

More open platforms probably wouldn’t be “half of what they are today” without the resulting competition, so “I suppose I end up disagreeing with RMS despite the fact that I totally understand and even to a slight extent sympathize with his points,” Travers explained.

“Jobs deserves to be respected for who he was in relation to the Free and Open Source Software worlds: A serious, capable, and generally honorable adversary worthy of the highest respect,” Travers concluded.

‘Those Crazy Prophets’

Along similar lines, “Richard M. Stallman is entitled to say what he thinks,” Roberto Lim, a lawyer and blogger on Mobile Raptor, told Linux Girl. “We are all entitled to our opinions.”

At the same time, “as much as I like the open source community, sometimes I think some of them act like those crazy prophets predicting the end of the world,” Lim added. “Actually, those guys are less insane — one day the world will actually come to an end.

“I appreciate all RMS has done,” Lim continued. “I appreciate what Steve Jobs has accomplished. I appreciate what Dennis Ritchie has achieved. In the end, all these great inventors and innovators together with many others one-upping each other is why I can send this [email] to you half a world away.”

Bottom line? “We are now one man down. It is just unfortunate that RSM cannot seem to appreciate this,” Lim concluded.

‘A Crime Against Humanity’

As on Slashdot, however, others thought Stallman had a good point.

“RMS has it right,” blogger Robert Pogson told Linux Girl, for example.

“Steve Jobs was an enemy of Free Software and freedom to use PCs flexibly,” Pogson explained. “He was often a ‘partner’ of M$. His ‘walled garden’ approach to software is a blight on the world.

“His exclusion of competitive technology is a horrible abuse if not illegal,” Pogson went on. “His concentration on high-margin markets to the exclusion of those on the other side of the Digital Divide is a crime against humanity. His patent-trolling should be a trigger to eliminate software patents.”

‘Champion of the Rights of the User’

Martin Espinoza, a blogger on Hyperlogos, took a similar view, he told Linux Girl, noting his explanation on Slashdot.

“The time to make the statement is while it is relevant,” Espinoza wrote.

“It is critical that we receive this message — not you and I, maybe, but as many of the wide-eyed legions of Apple as can be reached,” he added. “Because what Apple represents is precisely the same thing that Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) or Sony (NYSE: SNE) represents: a dearth of choice.

“Stallman might be an egotistical ass, but he is certainly the foremost champion of the rights of the user,” Espinoza went on. “Some programmers don’t like that, so they don’t like the GPL, and they don’t like Free Software. They call it a virus and they would prefer to stamp it out rather than have to deal with something so confusing.”

In short, “other people can make the same point in a month, and a year, and reach other audiences, but this point needs to be made now and it needs to be made well,” he concluded. “Stallman has done both.”

How Apple’s iPad is changing the computer world

With or without Steve Jobs, Apple’s [AAPL] iPad isn’t just a PC replacement, it’s a completely new solution that will define the next-generation of computing, no matter how long the analysts take to recognize the device as more than the equivalent of a PC.

iMusical iYouth


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It shows 24-students in a music class at a UK school working together with an adult music teacher (Neil Johnston) to create a release-quality track using 24 iPads.(You can buy the song on iTunes in the US right here.)

The song is completely original, and guitars are linked to the iPad using Apogee Jam while drums and vocals are recorded through iRig Mic and M-audio midi keyboards, themselves all plugged into iPads.

“The iPad is a breakthrough device for the classroom because the opportunities are endless for app integration within an education curriculum,” Neil Johnston (@storevanmusic), the music teacher featured in the video above, said to me. “For us, with music, the iPad now allows all students to be engaged in the learning and performing process.”

All aboard

This is a big deal, because it boosts inclusion, he explains. “Before, the kid who struggled to play an instrument was given a triangle and told to sit out of the limelight, trying to keep in time. Now that kid, can open up GarageBand and press some chords on a guitar or piano. That kid is now involved with their classmates, that kid is engaged, having a great time, and learning too! Our project was never about replacing real instruments, it was about an engaging music lesson, where every student had a role to play and could take part.”

Johnston will fly across to the US this fall to tour New York and beyond, where he’ll be hosting sessions inside Apple retail stores, I hear. Watch this space for details.

This isn’t the first remarkable use of an iPad in music, or in the classroom. Look around and you’ll find many, many more (including three at the end of this story), but it is an interesting reflection on just how much impact a device which is under two years old has already had across so many industries.

The evolution of both the PC and the Post-PC will both go down on the world-changing track record of Apple’s ex-CEO, Steve Jobs. However, the significance will extend far beyond that: Apple is defining the new generation of computing.

Incidentally, the UK experiment above prompted Sting to say: “I’m very impressed… Your use of studio as classroom and technology as teacher is exactly what we need to maintain music as a vital part of the curriculum.”

[ABOVE: An iPad orchestra plays us to the post-PC future.]

This is the real deal

iPads and similar devices will become the defacto way that people use computers. Laptops are too big and smart phones too small. For many, the iPad is the perfect size — but the key to the future isn’t the technology — that must become ever more pervasive, but the apps. Apple’s app empire is its key differentiation, raising the value of its solutions far above those from everyone else.

HP’s move to launch a fire sale on its TouchPad will soon be emulated by all the other tablet vendors (bar Apple) who will perhaps realize that it isn’t enough to talk about tech specs, and make sure a device runs Flash (which no one really likes), but you need to resonate with consumers.

And the way to resonate with consumers is to create devices which offer all the creative possibilities of a child’s toy, alongside all the productive capabilities of a Mac and all the time-wasting potential of a television, a good book, or radio. And you get all this with the iPad, iTunes and, in future, the iCloud ecosystem.

No one wins a price war

Price is a factor. The HP fire sale saw a few foolish customers waste a hundred dollars or so on a device which will never see a software update, and which has no app market. The sale has raised some cash to offset HP’s losses, but customers will quickly tire of a device they can’t upgrade, and can’t purchase software for. Though some may enjoy installing Linux on the things, that hardly constitutes a mass market.

The success of the sale ably illustrates that there is space in the market for a cheap tablet — but can you make a cheap tablet? I don’t think so. Those cheaper devices just don’t have the build quality, the operating system, the screen, the interface, they just don’t match up. Also, last time I looked, components were hard to find…

This means that for the present, Apple will maintain its tablet market lead until 2013 at the earliest. Given the company has today begun manufacturing components for next year’s iPad 3, there’s no end in sight for innovation yet.

What would Steve do?

That’s because people at Apple ask themselves one thing in the morning and one thing at night these days, “What would Steve do?”

Reflect on this: The interesting thing about a company collectively and individually asking itself that question is that the result might actually be a post-Jobs renaissance of innovation, as even the guy in the back room suddenly comes up with a great idea.

Stay hungry. Stay foolish. Do what you love. That’s a statement of philosophy that can’t be matched by any dry focus-group-led discussion on Megahertz or memory.

The iPad goes to war

iPads and other ‘consumer’ tablets are becoming standard tools in the battlefield — and may migrate to other high-stress work

It’s not often you hear a defense contractor promoting “consumer” devices such as the iPad, but in the last few weeks, military manufacturer Harris Corporation has been pitching to journalists the iPad’s utility in the battlefield. The iPad is used to to send video of what the drones see, present real-time tactical maps, and analyze that information to direct military engagements, as well as to act as a communications and command console.


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Harris sells communications gear: portable 3G and Wi-Fi setups that let the military create battlefield “bubble” networks when and where needed. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan apparently winding down, I suspect its public marketing effort is meant to entice police and other first responders to consider using its gear in situations like the Hurricane Katrina aftermath, as well as the northern Japanese earthquake and tsunami a few months ago.

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Such “bubble” networks are not new, though it’s clear that they’ve become much more important to today’s military to keep troops, drones, reconnaissance systems, and the like all linked together for the increasingly technological, networked methods of warfare practiced by the U.S. military. What does seem to be new is the portability of such gear; it’s designed to be set up by pretty much anyone, notes John Delay, chief architect of emerging business solutions, so it can be used more often and in more places.

But the iPad? That’s new — in the past, very expensive custom devices would have been created to handle the battlefield communications, view the reconnaissance images, and direct the drones. And they certainly didn’t have the battery life or light weight of an iPad, which are both major advantages in the battlefield.

Of course, those custom devices cost tens of thousands of dollars each, whereas a top-of-the-line iPad 2 costs $830. The military can afford to stockpile lots of iPads at that price, replacing any damaged in the battlefield easily and making them available to many more troops. Plus, an increasing number of troops — who tend to be younger and technologically adept — are familiar with them and with smartphones, helping speed critical training.