I am off to Scotland this week with Team Diabetes. I will be packing along 2 iPhones, an iPad, a MacBook Air, an iPod shuffle, and these 4 books.
I have collected a number of apps to help me wander Edinburgh with self-guided walking tours. I have the Lonely Planet app to give me all the background I could possibly want on the different corners of the city – but I still don’t trust digital.
Maybe it’s because I’m a print native, but I find it easier to thumb through a guide book than swipe through an app. I can use post its for bookmarks, highlight parts I really want to see, and easily find information on surprises when I come upon them.
I also don’t trust my iOS devices when out of the country. Last year, on a trip to Iceland, I bought a SIM card on Icelandair. Perhaps it was the language, maybe my iPhone was too beaten up, maybe I didn’t know what I was doing, but the roaming prepaid data on an unlocked card experience didn’t work for me. Still, I will try it again this week in Scotland. I have unlocked my iPhone 4 now, and have a prepaid SIM from giffgaff waiting at my hotel.
So while I will try to go digital (again), when it comes to vacationing in foreign countries, I am still partial to books. The battery never runs out on paper. I won’t go over data limits when reading a book. Sure, they’re heavy (why do I have to bring 4 with me), but they’re also free from the library.
So I have some apps for Scotland. I have some books for Scotland. I have many devices for Scotland. But despite wanting to go digital, I still trust paper.
How do you plan your vacations? Do you unplug and leave the phone at home? Do you buy roaming data? Do you unlock and go pre-paid local? Do you use tourist apps or stick to books?
What’s the difference between 4G and 3G? Many phones have both (or LTE for 4G) and switch back and forth between the networks. If you’ve spent any time with the the faster connection, you know that once you see the 3G on your screen, you get a little downtrodden.
It’s a #firstworldproblem, but check out this take on the difference between 4G and 3G:
On May 9, 2013, I has invited to be part of a panel at MRUShift. Here are the notes from the quick talk I gave on how new media needs to slow down, and old/big media needs to stop trying to catch up, and how we all need to tune out of the back channel.
I’m a fan of brief biographies. The sort that you see on Twitter. Mine is 5 words long.
I’m a Dad. I’m a Broadcaster. I’m a Writer. I’m a Media Disruptor.
That, for me, usually means I am trying to bridge gaps between new and old media .. you know, teach it some new tricks and bring old media models forward to deal with the times.
Today, I’m going to go the other way, I’m going to try and teach new media old tricks
[at this point I put my hands on my head and said "Un deux trois, et on ne parle pas"]
My son’s kindergarten teacher uses that to get the attention of her class. They have to stop what they’re doing, put their hands on their heads, and pay attention. I see many of you are clacking keys and scrubbing screens. Try it with me.
Un deux trois et … on ne parle pas.
To play along you had to put your things down, look up at me, and pay attention. This is a crucial tool for a kindergarten teacher to control a class, but look what it has just done for you. Your focus is here, you’re not multitasking, you’re focusing. Your attention is singular.
I’m going to ask that you keep it here for the next 8-10 minutes. That you keep your phones down, your computers closed, and you just sit and listen to me. Old school. No notes. No backchannel. No tweets.
Unions are a powerful force in modern business. Too powerful. The adversarial nature at which they see the employer puts them at an inability to recognize the true nature of business – it changes, it evolves, people come, people go. Unions are stagnant anchors that threaten to kill the very jobs they are sworn to protect.
Vancouver’s two newspapers are about to undergo a radical makeover. Gordon Fisher, the new publisher at the Pacific Newspaper Group issued a very blunt memo to staff this week.
“Future decisions will be hard and must be made with a sense of urgency. Expense reductions have also come nowhere near closing the gap. If these trends continue, and if we don’t find ways to dramatically reduce costs, the answer is clear. The business is unsustainable.”
In summary: Things are bad. They’re getting worse. There will be blood.
While newsrooms have tried to become nimble in creating online content, and trying to find new ways to monetize their content and make up for the shortfall in revenue, there is one thing they have never been able to control: costs.
While the revenue has tumbled off a very severe cliff, the costs have been constant, or have risen. Unions see to that.
Once necessary to protect workers from abuse my companies, unions have gained so much control they threaten to bankrupt their employers with increasing demands. You simply need to look at the contract for CEP with Pacific Newspaper Group. There is a clause that says employees cannot lose their job because of advancements in technology.
Yes. I have heard anecdotes about the printing facility in the Lower Mainland. A place fiercely protective of the membership. If it is Joe’s job to press button B, and he’s not around – nobody else can press it because they would be showing efficiencies that would mean Joe’s job would be unnecessary. Despite advancements in printing technology that require more machines and fewer people, each job is protected.
I will always a remember an episode of Magnum PI where he visited a little island radio station and watched a woman voice track (pre-record) her radio program. Later in the episode when there was trouble, everyone thought she was okay because they heard her on the radio. Then the pre-recorded piece she did with Magnum in the room came on the air. He knew she wasn’t there, and the wheels were in motion for a rescue.
It was the first time I realized a radio station could go on auto-pilot. It is now commonplace for radio stations around North America to use out of market syndicated programs, or voice tracks in place of live bodies on weekend and evening shows. It’s a great cost-cutting move … until something important happens and you don’t have a live body on air.
The same can be said for social media. Putting your feeds on auto pilot to trumpet brand messages, links, and encourage conversation is a great time saving initiative. I use Buffer to schedule retweets and links of interesting information. Everyday at about :15 past the hour, you’ll get something from me on Twitter.
I don’t use Twitter to necessarily market any specific product, my branding is that of a news and information source. While I do use social media to promote articles I write, I try to keep to the 80/20 rule when posting links and news, promoting others far more often than myself.
Still, when news of a bombing in Boston happened yesterday, I pulled all my feeds from auto-pilot. A tweet about basement renovations, how to find yoga classes with an app, or criticizing political attack ads didn’t seem to fit the tenor of the online conversation.
Unfortunately, there were many many others who kept their feeds on auto-pilot asking people to vote for social media contests, watch shows, and join Twitter parties.
Researchers in Britain, took 390 samples from cellphones and hands and then analyzed the samples in the lab to record the type and number of germs. While 95% of people claimed to wash their hands, 92% of phones and 82% of hands still had bacteria.
16% of hands and 16% of phones carried E. coli bacteria. Those with bacteria on their hands were 3x as likely to have bacteria on their phones. And if there is bacteria on your phone, it’s going to be there for a while.
Fecal bacteria can survive on hands and surfaces for hours, especially in warmer temperatures away from sunlight; it is easily transferred by touch to door handles, food and cellphones, the researchers said. And guess what heats up the more you use it? Yes, so your smartphone is a perfect breeding ground for all sorts of gross creepy crawlies.
Is it any shock then, that as Facebook tries to increase monetization of mobile that they would release their own platform, Facebook Home.
“Today we’re finally going to talk about that Facebook phone,” Mark Zuckerberg announced at the Facebook campus earlier this week. “Or more accurately, we’re going to talk about how you can turn your Android phone into a great, simple social device.”
Mark Zuckerberg is quick to say this is not a Facebook phone. A successful phone would reach maybe 3% of Facebook’s 1 Billion strong user base. Instead, the company has developed an experience for the Android platform that will help it reach mobile users and give them an immersive Facebook experience with Facebook Home.
From the moment you turn on your phone, you see what your friends are doing. Even with the phone locked, the screen will still show photos, updates, and messages. You can chat with friends in any app with something called Chat Heads.
“The home screen is really the soul of your phone,” Zuckerberg said. “You look at it 100 times a day.” And so, naturally, Facebook is going for the soul.
via The Atlantic
On the surface it looks beautiful, and a great step for easily the most used social network. BUT, (and you knew there was a but).. can you trust Facebook?
“Facebook Home is not a story about “making the world more open and connected,” in general,”The Atlantic warns. “This a story about Facebook “making the world more open and connected,” with all the specific definitions the company brings to those ideas.”
Om Malikwrites, “Facebook’s history as a repeat offender on privacy, and playing loose and easy with our data means that need to be even more vigilant about privacy issues, thanks to this Home app/faux-OS.”
Malik doesn’t believe Zuckerberg when he says this is a platform and not an app. He says it is the first hit of a delicious drug that will be free at first, the public hooked, and the true costs only to be revealed later with a full fledged OS.
The Atlantic notes that during his presentation, Zuckerberg freely substituted the words “people” and “Facebook friends” throughout. It was almost as a way to suggest that they are one in the same, and the way we look at the world should be through the lens of Facebook.
In fact, Facebook Home should put privacy advocates on alert, for this application erodes any idea of privacy. If you install this, then it is very likely that Facebook is going to be able to track your every move, and every little action.
GPS is enabled in our phones, and with Facebook controlling the information that you send back, it can quickly learn where you live, where you work, where you hang out, and what you do. Honestly? Any phone can really do that, but you have to trust the company and with Facebook there is already a level of trust that has been broken numerous times. Facebook will monitor location data through Home continuously UNLESS you turn off location services. Trust me, you’re not going to keep flipping that switch off and on.
Zuckerberg has said Home will serve ads, in the way Amazon Kindle does. With so much personal information about you through your profile, and movements, expect those ads to be very targeted, and worth a lot of money.
The first Facebook phone, will be the HTC First, but other HTC and Samsung phones will be open to using the Facebook Home platform this Friday. Zuckerberg says Facebook Home will only be available for Android users because of the openness of the system.
We’d love to offer this on iPhone, and we just can’t today. And we will work with Apple to do the best experience that we can, within what they want, but I think that a lot of people who really like Facebook — and just judging from the numbers, people are spending one-fifth of their time in phones on Facebook, that’s a lot of people — this could really tip things in that direction. We’ll have to see how it plays out.
I deleted Instagram when it was bought by Facebook, and I try to put as little personal information as possible in to the social network. I use it as a way to creep on friends, but I rarely post photos or personal stories directly to the network. I don’t like a lot of pages, and I try to keep my presence as minimal as possible.
The end game for Facebook is simple: to know as much as it possibly can about you to serve you perfectly targeted ads. The idea is that Facebook becomes your friend, and those sponsored stories in your stream become so relevant because of all Facebook knows about you, that you won’t even notice. That is when Facebook wins – when the disruptive nature of ads disappears. Home is another step towards that finish line.
My single favorite seasonal app has to be the one from TSN and The Masters. It streams coverage from Amen Corner, allows you to follow specific groups around the course, and gives you a chance to watch The Masters from anywhere. TSN and Global will pool resources to produce original highlights both before and post rounds on location. The app was updated this week to support the retina displays.
There’s a longstanding joke: “Why is it called golf? ….Because f*** was already taken.”
The same line of thinking could be applied to social media in that it’s called “social media” because “passive aggressive” was already taken. Never mind the fact that online communication tears down the real relationships between real friends and replaces them with digital ties, it also takes our non-existent relationships with strangers and adds a digital element.
Before social media if you sat next to an annoying person on the bus, you would simply groan about it and complain to your colleagues, in real life, later at work. Now, Twitter and Facebook are an outlet for everything that affects us throughout the day. From smelly patrons on transit, to loud talkers at Starbucks to poor customer service, everything is instantly shared with everyone in 140 characters or less.
I wonder when businesses will realise customer service is everything – especially now that social media makes bad experiences so public.
I’m guilty of the passive agressive bitching and complaining, I admit it. It seems that blasting out a complaint to the world on Twitter is a way of getting it off our chest without actual confrontation. That may work for complaining about the people on the bus, or the behaviour of drivers, but if you passive aggressively bitch about a business you are holding that brand hostage and not giving them a chance to effectively respond.
BRANDS ARE HELD HOSTAGE
A recent article in Maclean’s opened my eyes to the other side of the equation. Restaurants are being held hostage by everyone with a smartphone. Instant reviews on Yelp, Facebook, Chow Hound, and Twitter matter, and the customer knows this, tossing a following of a few hundred twitter followers in the face of managers.
Amy Lu, a small-time Toronto food blogger with a few hundred twitter followers tossed this at the Windsor Arms Hotel when she arrived early for her tea seating and found that her seat was not yet ready.
Wow, @windsorarms, I’m not impressed by the service so far. Was looking forward to afternoon tea. It better be good or bad review from me.
She didn’t approach the hostess stand to investigate the matter (as perhaps one would have done 5 years ago before the proliferation of social media), she put her face in her phone and passive aggressively blasted the establishment effectively holding them hostage with the threat of a nasty review.
What is a brand to do in the face of these threats? I have long argued that bloggers give themselves far more credit than they deserve when considering themselves media and demanding access to events, but in a world where the collective wisdom of the crowd is relied upon so heavily, a nasty experience by a savvy (not necessarily influential) user can quickly float to the top of the heap and last forever. Amy may only have 750 followers on Twitter, but Yelp is accessed by millions.
Lu was given a spa gift certificate by the hotel as a gesture in light of her negative experience. And, like food to the ducks at the park, this sort of response will only encourage the passive aggressive behaviour from the peanut gallery. It will inflate the self importance of the social media crowd and, instead of dealing with problems one-on-one, they’ll continue to complain with their megaphone.
I asked a friend of mine who owns a group of high end, popular restaurants how she handles the social media.
In the beginning, I’d actually panic when complaints would come in. If you can imagine, trying to find one body on a Saturday night in a room full of 400 other people, when their avi is Barbie, is nearly impossible and so stressful. Regardless however, I did my best to find as many as I could and make the situation right.
I’d say that 99% of the tweets we deal with in a day are positive, but we can’t be perfect for everyone all the time.
Regardless of who the tweeter is, they are a customer. Bottom line. They deserve the courtesy of a response and an attempt to make the problem right.
Media is a funny thing. I don’t play to media or to bloggers. I don’t RT random blogger reviews whether positive or negative. I can’t say I’ve ever gotten bullied like that article, but people definitely try to push their weight around.
IF YOU’RE ON TWITTER, YOU HAVE TO LISTEN
What my friend is doing is the right first step – she’s listening. If you are on Twitter with your business, the message you push out is far less important than the message you are hearing. Twitter is a valuable tool for business to monitor opinion and to manage reputation.
I have tweeted bad experiences with major brands before. I didn’t get passive aggressive, I used Twitter as a way to directly addressed the brand. One responded with a request for a detailed email, the other ignored my tweet altogether. Even after giving details in the email, my issue was left unresolved.
If a brand is on Twitter, they are showing they are willing to be responsive. Not responding to tweets is like putting out a 1-800 number and never answering the phone. Similarly, if a brand is going to engage a customer, they need to see it to the end. Leaving it hanging is just as bad as not responding.
HOW TO COMPLAIN NICELY
1. What would you have done 5 years ago? You’d call, write a letter, ask to speak to a manager. It would be a one-on-one issue that would be handled privately. Try that approach first.
2. Don’t add a character or word before Tweeting at the brand so your entire stream sees the tweet. @ them directly. If they follow you, ask to take the complaint to DM before addressing it. Give the brand a chance to do properly by the problem before you lash out passive aggressively to your entire audience.
3. Threatening a bad review if you don’t get satisfaction only makes you look like a spoiled brat. Yes, the brand has to take your threat seriously, because Yelp, TripAdvisor, Twitter, and Facebook all matter, but you’re being a terrorist. You’re scaring the brand into helping you, and I wish more brands could afford to not negotiate with terrorists like Amy Lu who hold brands hostage.
It’s a two way street of common sense, really. Think about how you would handle the situation face to face, and take that approach to social media. Be polite, be discreet, listen, engage.
APP OF THE WEEK:Yelp [free]Urbanspoon [free]
When customer reviews are done right, they are very useful. Yelp will help you find restaurants around you when you’re in a pinch, and even offer up specific menu advice.
If you have no idea what you want, playing menu roulette with Urbanspoon will give suggestions and advice from users.
Spring is here and a lot of talk is about fashion. Tech is in fashion too, as in wearable tech. If we are in the era of mobile now, the future is wearable. Already we have clothes that easily adapt to the cords we like to use to listen to music, but it will become bigger. Our bond to technology is getting more and more personal – are we becoming The Borg? Check out the wearable technologies that are on their way or already here:
Google’s Glass initiative has been making headlines for a few months and really is the shining example of the future of wearable technology. I think it’s over the top. As it stands now, wearing glasses to check your email, video conference, take pictures, or photos, or get more information about places you’re visiting isn’t going to take off. But you can see where the future is headed.
We are attached to our phones as computers, and Google Glass is just one way technologists are imagining the interface disappearing between human and computer. You don’t have to take it out of your pocket, you’ll have it on your face, on your wrist, or somewhere else that is easily accessible. Google Glass shows us that we will become the Borg.
This is what really made the push to watches happen. Pebble started as a Kickstarter idea, seeking crowdfunding for their model. With a goal of $100 000 to make a few watches, they made $10M in a matter of weeks. After many delays, Pebble started shipping recently. In the meantime, other manufacturers saw the demand for an interface that can handle the quick things you want to do on your phone. Dictate, swipe between songs, answer calls, time a run, these sorts of things have moved to the watch as Samsung, Google, LG, Apple, and others are rumored to be heading down the path.
Tourism Calgary and designer Paul Hardy teamed up last year to create a dress that answered the question: “What’s in style in Calgary?” The inspiration for the design came from the crowd-sourced tweets on what people saw as fashion in our city.
Nicole Scherzinger‘s Twitter dress was a little bit of a different concept as it actually displayed tweets in an LED fabric on her body. Cute Circuit has designed similar displays for the likes of Katy Perry, but Nicole’s was labelled the world’s first Twitter Dress.
Then you have Dita Von Teese‘s 3D Printed dress. 3D printing uses a printer to layer plastics, and create 3 dimensional objects. People say it could be used to print replacement parts, game pieces, and in this case – a dress. Dita Von Teese wore this webbed fabric adorned with thousands of Swarovski crystals.
APP OF THE WEEK:Cloth [free]
This app will help you manage your wardrobe. Start by categorizing everything you have, take pictures of your favorite outfits, and the app will help you build outfits Everyday, Event, Evening, Vacation, or Work.
You can even have outfits sorted by the weather. A forecast will pop up alongside suggestions for outfits you have worn in the past based on the weather. As one reviewer said “this is the best weather app I’ve ever had.”
Computers are infiltrating every corner of our life. While the iPhone has been hailed as the greatest invention in recent memory, the innovations that are turning cars into computers are astounding.
This weekend the Calgary Auto Show is underway at the BMO Centre, so here’s a look at some of the ways cars are becoming computers.
They could drive themselves right now if we’d let them. If you really wanted to, you could program an address into a dash panel, climb into the backseat and wake up 7 hours later in Saskatchewan. It could happen – if we’d let it.
Google has been leading the charge of self-driving cars after announcing their self-driving project back in 2010. The idea was to “make driving safer, more enjoyable and more efficient.” Apparently you can’t do that with a person controlling the wheel.
So it’s legal, but could you trust it? Google has had cars roaming the planet for their Street View project, and in over 300 000 miles driven, there has been only one accident – and a person was behind the wheel. The driverless vehicles have racked up 50k miles and still have a clean sheet.
The idea is, that by 2040, you won’t need a drivers’ license to operate a vehicle, they’ll do it on their own. People are still a little uneasy about the idea of giving that control to the machines, so they’re inching us in to the idea. Park assist, where the vehicle parallels itself, is just one way they’re softening us to the idea of self driving cars.
Still a doubter? Watch this blind man take some friends through the drive-thru.
THE DIGITAL DASH
The biggest place you’ll notice the computerization of cars, is on your dashboard. Dials and knobs are replaced by touch screens and apps. Think of everything you can do in your phone, and that can be done in cars. GPS systems are now in-dash. Backup cameras are in-dash. And if you really want to pimp your ride, you’ll find dvd screens up front too.
One story this week has raised eyebrows that car radios could soon disappear from dashboards. In the computerization of the car, there is thought that eventually it will have wireless capabilities without the need of a bluetoothing phone. Instead of a car radio, you’ll pull up a digital service that will let you select from online streaming stations, apps, and all the sorts of ways you currently listen to music on your smartphone. We already have things like that with Pioneer‘s App Radio dashboards. GM and Ford quickly said they were committed to radio.
Ignitions are changing rapidly as well. It’s gone from a key, to a fob, to a start button in many vehicles. Soon, our smartphones will the device that turns the car on, a notion that the industry calls a move towards security – until your phone battery is dead or you drop it in the toilet.
If you can’t afford one of these fancy new cars, you can still bring computers to your older model this spring. Automatic is a combination app and hardware unit that will launch this May for $69.95. The Automatic Link talks to your car’s onboard computer and uses your smartphone’s GPS and data plan to upgrade your car’s capabilities. It works with just about any car sold in the United States since 1996 to accesses its fuel, mileage and engine information, and then sends it to the iPhone over Bluetooth.