Category Archives: Technology use

Google+ — one week later

I was just writing an email to someone about what I thought about Google+ one week later. Here’s what I said, unedited:

1. There’s a thrill of the new thing going on. You can start over with your friend lists. Start afresh. And early adopters love new toys.
2. They do photos really well. Sharing with Picasa is really good fun. All my photos are in Picasa. Now Picasa one-click defaults sharing to Google+
3. Google does APIs and tech stuff really well. So I presume that the tools they will make available through Google Labs will be extensive, fun, and flexible.
4. They have a HUGE graph. Imagine the users of YouTube, Picasa, GMail bringing it all together? I spend more time in Google apps than I do in Facebook. Facebook feels like I’m in a separate state. Google+ feels like another little town in my conurbation.
5. Sharing by Circles makes sense. It’s what Facebook Groups should have been. But the interface stunk. I like the little animation of dropping Guy’s face into different circles. It’s fun, and it’s really obvious and easy.
6. Google+ seems to have cleverly hit upon a Twitter/stream idea with following etc., and Facebook private sharing. People are “following” me, but I don’t have to share with them if I don’t want to. They will just see what I make public for them. It’s like Twitter is built in. That’s powerful, and probably the most important point, so should have been #1.

Google+ — the thrill of starting over

Your life got messy. You have friends you wish you could just slough off. You’re bored with most of them, and others you feel you wish you could ignore without seeming rude. So isn’t it fun to start over? There are millions of people joining Google+ and starting over. I’ve spent the whole morning poking around. I go to peer at Facebook from time to time. Same old, same old. Blech. I’m starting over with Google+. Bye bye Facebook. I’ll visit from time to time. But I’m having fun with my new friends on Google+.

I started a Google+ hangout. Nobody joined me, but that’s OK. I was in my pyjamas with my hair akimbo, so it’s probably just as well. I built my circles of hell and enjoyed deciding who should be where. (Circles feels like Groups should have been on Facebook. Not too restrictive. Easy to drag and drop people in and out. Easy to share with who you want (though I have yet to figure out how to make a post Public). ) I found lots of new people to follow, with lots of energetic chat that felt lively and enthusiastic.
It’s fun to start over. I have a whole new circle of friends to play with. I’ll bet many others feel the same way. We get bored easily, and for that reason alone, Facebook should be worried.

Two million songs in one week?

Yup that’s right. The Beatles have sold 2,000,000 songs in their first week on iTunes. Lest you be in any doubt about the power of Apple and iTunes. How could anyone be? It’s my default location for buying or renting any media. Once they complete their inventory of movie rentals and purchases, and offer International titles, I’m all theirs. I’ll bet my family will spend at least $50/month. They are a phenomenon and anyone who tries to innovate past them will have a hard time.

I am Droid’ing… and it’s growing on me

Naturally, given past behaviors, I was one of first in line to get the iPhone 4. I was so excited.

Two weeks later, I returned the phone. The dropped-call experience was a joke — I don’t think I never completed a single call. And forget iPhone to iPhone. My boss Sam Altman also had an iPhone 4. Every conversation we had would have to be re-started four times.

Then I started to get the “you have no SIM card” error.

Bah. I returned it. The Apple store guys were super helpful, and gave me my money back, re-provisioned my trusty old iPhone 3GS, and told me they’d order me a new one and let me know when it arrived.

I never got the notification.

But it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t have picked it up anyway. The bumper I’ll just keep as a souvenir.

Then the frustration with my old iPhone started to increase. I am sick and tired of seeing the green “call fail” button. Really sick and tired of it. And it seemed to be happening more and more.

So that, combined with the fact that I am marketing Android Apps at Loopt (I can’t market something I can’t feel) pushed me into the Android world.

I am now the proud owner of a Droid X. It’s a brick. It’s ugly. It whispers “Droid” at me in a creepy post-apocalyptic manner.

There are some odd things to get used to.

The period button is right next to the spacebar key so all my emails.have.periods.between.words.

It’s weird getting used to a physical button/screen button combination. Apple has taught me to rely on the screen purely. On my Droid X, you have to press the home/back/search buttons at the bottom, and other times you press buttons on the screen. That feels like an odd boundary pusher.

The screen and apps and look/feel seems dark, and weird, and sort of male (I can say that … it’s my blog).

But I love that the calendar App merges all my calendars into one. Yay hey. And everything runs so fast! Particularly our Loopt app!

But most I love the Verizon connection. I can finish a call! Though I have to get a headset, because the thing weighs a ton and it feels like holding a laptop up to my ear. But that’s OK. I can deal with that.

Apple better watch out. People are finding alternatives. It’s becoming cool to dislike the iPhone, and renegade and brave to toss it back and Apple and say “you have to do better.” I’m not going to just suck it up because it’s Apple and I’ve loved Apple since I worked on Macintosh software in 1983. (Literally. I really did.) They have a problem. They need to fix it.

The curious potential of Chatroulette

Despite all the waving body parts of Chatroulette, I keep thinking how unbelievably great this platform could be for fostering interesting interactions between strangers. Check out this video:

Edgier brands are already finding ways to market their brand on chatroulette.

I can see all sorts of ideas around games in chatroulette space, spreading the word on a cause one person at a time, brainstorming with like minded groups if you could just chat with people who are tagged with an interest, like “Dr Who” or “The Monster Raving Loony Party.” Imagine chatting with people at a conference. Demo’ing products. Providing crowdsourced customer support. Think about Good Samaritans — help strangers who are feeling down.

And want to get really scary? How about live TV that includes “let’s hear what random people think about XYZ?” A whole new spin on reality TV. Could be ads you run with the results. How about customer surveys? “Hey, I’m with such and such brand, what do you think about …?”

Interesting. Can’t wait to see what happens.

My first weekend with the iPad

So naturally I was waiting in line for the Apple store in Palo Alto to open so I could get my Kindle immediately! Back in October, I was already planning this. The verdict? While I could live without one, I definitely don’t want to. And certainly my family won’t want to!


Sophie trying out the iPad in Starbucks

It was a family affair:

  • My kids downloaded Scrabble and various Tap Tap games.
  • My husband played a good number of games of Solitaire.
  • I read the New York times — app isn’t nearly deep or rich enough. Why cut out all that content?
  • I watched movies on the fab Netflix app — though the screen is so mirror like I kept seeing my face in it. Didn’t like that — and it’s hard to watch with more than one person.
  • I watched part of a TV show on the ABC Player.
  • I downloaded one or two books, but I can’t see doing a lot of reading on this.
  • I accessed my Kindle library on the Kindle app. A definite improvement on the Kindle experience. But where is the ability to annotate?!
  • My husband played with the Weather Channel map and talked endlessly about where the snow was falling (and therefore where he should be skiing.)

I can really see this as a terrific travel device. It’s so, so much easier than carting around a laptop. If you’re not planning on a lot of work that involves typing, then it’s just right.

It’s not a device for sharing with others, unless you’re playing a game of some sort. Even then, it’s crowded for two.

Buy some really good screen cleaner and a soft cloth of some sort. Greasy finger marks show up easily.

Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.

Reviewing the Pew Research Center Report “The Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change.” (I know I don’t need to tell you that the Millennials are 18-28 year olds.) As this audience represents the vast majority of the people I “talk” to and about every day at Loopt, as well as at other companies, it’s worth drilling down on what makes this generation tick.

This is a generation of adults that are confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change. They are less religious, more racially diverse, and on track to become the most educated generation in American history.

Here are some identifiers:

  • 8 in 10 sleep with their cell phones by their bed.
  • Nearly two-thirds admit to texting while driving.
  • Three-quarters have a profile on a social networking site.
  • One-in-five have posted a video of themselves online.
  • Four-in-ten have a tattoo — about half have two to five, and 18% have six or more. (70% say their tattoos are hidden beneath their clothing.
  • One-in-four have piercings in a place other than their ear lobe
  • Most have placed privacy boundaries on their social media profiles.
  • 37% are unemployed, or out of the workforce; but 90% say they have enough money or that they will eventually meet their long term goals.
  • Two-thirds are cautious about dealing with other people — is the “war on terror” and other fear-mongering making this generation just less trustworthy and more cynical about their fellow human beings?
  • One in four say they don’t belong to a religious affiliation, but that doesn’t mean they don’t “believe” — just as many pray as their elders did in their youth.
  • Six-in-ten are raised by both parents.
  • One-in-five are married.
  • One-in-eight were ‘boomeranged’ back into their parents’ homes due to economic circumstances.

These stats are interesting. They represent facts. You are either married. Or not. Tattoo’d. Or not. But what’s even more interesting to me is their self-perception. When this generation were asked what makes their generation unique, they answered:

  1. Technology use (24%)
  2. Music/pop culture (11%)
  3. Liberal/tolerant (7%)
  4. Smarter (6%)
  5. Clothes (5%)

You can read the report to see how other generations perceive themselves. Also fascinating.

The whole report provides validation for what I see every day. That the Millennial generation is the one that leads the rest of us into new forms of behavior and new technology use. From Facebook to Texting to Chatroulette. Older generations who ignore what Millennials are doing, especially in the technology arena, do so at their peril. Accept, learn, and embrace. Some of it is crazy. All of it is truly fascinating.

I miss my vinyl albums

I was reading this article from Digital Music News today “Recording Industry In 2009: Albums Down 12.7 Percent, Digital Still Gaining” that reports vinyl LP sales in 2009 were up 33% to 2.5 million.

What’s that? Vinyl LP sales? Really?

It got me thinking. You know what’s missing in listening to music today? That tactile experience of opening an album and placing the LP carefully on the turntable, being cautious only to hold it by the outside edge. Maybe cleaning first. Maybe blowing the dust off the needle. Then after that first crackle and hiss, sitting on the sofa, having a ciggie and a cup of tea (I am English after all), and studying the liner notes. It was all such a ceremony.

We worshiped listening to music back then. It was such an effort that you had to stop and listen carefully. Today it’s just too instant and easy.

Evony Video Game Ads

I’ve had cause to review Evony ads recently. Users I’m working with now find them offensive. I can see why. They range from Victoria Secret style underwear to borderline violent with obvious phallic symbols. Still. It’s a free world. I just choose not to use the service.

What’s interesting to me is how their ads have evolved.

Here’s a terrific blog post about the subject of Evony ads:

Naturally I was curious. I visited Evony. There’s simply nothing you can learn about the service without signing up! Crafty!

I want to get me one of these

I can’t wait for the Apple’s tablet. Sorry, Amazon. I have a Kindle. I just don’t like it. For a start, I keep poking the screen trying to navigate. I hate the flash as it moves through pages. I hate the keyboard. (Anyone remember the 80s Peanut chicklets? It’s worse.) I hate the searching. Sorry, but I just don’t like any of it.

Now, this. This looks tasty:

Could Apple save the magazine and newspaper industry too? Is there no end to its awesomeness?

And Apple is clearly feeding the frenzy of speculation with leaks about how Apple users would pay almost anything for the tablet. Errmm. That might include me too.